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I am new here, this is going to be extremely long- or, My week of Hell.

2020.11.23 23:43 Megraptor I am new here, this is going to be extremely long- or, My week of Hell.

CW: Self Harm. Kind of unintentional, but it's still self-harm. I am seeing a therapist, and I fully intend to bring it up with him when I talk to him next. I labeled the part in bold if you want to skip it too.
Alright, that's out of the way. I am new here, let me know if I'm doing anything wrong here and I can amend it. I formatted this for another sub and used T-rex fossil names but it didn't work there, so I might miss some things when I reformat it. Also, this is going to be extremely long because this is one continuous story that lasted 6 days. I'm talking like 4,000 words long. You've been warned. Skip to Saturday if you want the uber-drama part.
Alright, let's get started. I chose the "New User" flair, but any of the "advice wanted" ones work. Seriously, I don't know if I'm the "Just No" here, if this is actually an SO problem, or any of the others. And I'm a fan of "give it to me straight" so go for it if you want.
Let's set the stage with characters. We got my SO. We've been together for 7 years, engaged for 3, and I haven't married him yet because I should have posted here about 6 years ago. He's 27. I'll just call his family in-laws cause they basically are. FIL is in his late 50s, and MIL is in her mid 50s. There are two sisters, older- 29 and younger-24. We'll call them SIL-Y and SIL-O for younger and older. My SO has his own car, in his own name and all that. The family only has one car for the three people that live there.
Monday, November 16th, I wake up to my SO coming up with a look that meant something was wrong- very wrong. Someone died. It was his grandma, mom's mom. He's not super close with any of his family, but a death is a death, and this was his first family one. I've lost all my grandparents, so I know how stuff goes. So we discuss what we want to do, and he says they are having an in-person service and that he wants to go. Now, this is COVID times and we had to travel to a different state- we live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I wasn't keen on that, but it's not my grandma, I'm his support. So I decide I'll make the 8 hour trip with him and I'll be there for him. Get in at around 11 pm, and everyone is asleep. We settle in and sleep too after talking to the sleepy SIL-O about where we are staying. BIG DEAL THOUGH- we finally get to sleep together in the same room, after 7 years. MIL and FIL wanted us to be married before that, cause super Christian, but they didn't have enough beds for everyone.
Tuesday: So we wake up, and most people aren't around. SIL-O is somewhere around, MIL is with her dad (the grandpa), FIL is outside doing yard work, and the SIL-Y is still in Oregon. SO is working too, as he has a remote job. I'm just reading some of a book I brought. I do a few things, feed the cat, help with dishes, and it's a pretty chill time. The parents get home around 3 pm, I say my greetings and then just hang with my guy. They want to order Chinese food, that's fine by me, cause it's a favorite of mine. I tell them what I want, they put the order in. I have dinner with them, and they talk about local people that I don't know- I'm not from the area, I'm from a small western Pennsylvania town, and this is some small Connecticut town. I guess there was a divorce in the extended family, and FIL called the guy a bastard for leaving his wife- without many details besides all the kids moved out. That's how FIL is- basically, he's a pushover to his wife, but a bully to other people. It's pretty uneventful, and afterward, I just hang with my guy. They want my SO to pick up SIL-Y at an airport on Thursday 2 hours away at 5 am. SO is fine with that.
SIL-O wants to come along when we pick up SIL-Y so she can meet up with her boyfriend in a city 2 hours out of the way. Not a problem, my SO says. I kinda raised an eyebrow. She has been diagnosed with BPD, and she can be... a bit much. She's got a problem with alcohol and weed- she relies on both to deal with her issues and well... her family. But she's getting help... unlike the rest of the family. She also says he'll cut our hair if we want, which we both could use. We agree to that too, cause I've been wanting a haircut. She also suggests I dye my hair green, but even though that's a dream of mine, I... don't think that's something I should do before a service. For the rest of the night, we just chill and read.
Wednesday: We get up, SO does some remote work but can't focus. His family stresses him out due to their... demanding nature. MIL had this idea that she wanted to give me the diamond from her engagement ring. I... really don't want it, and I'm incredibly uncomfortable with this idea. She is very manipulative and says stuff like "(name) would like if you did (thing) for them" when in reality she wants it done for her. She tried to present this as a gift, but I'm wary of this kind of stuff, cause it attaches strings to me- I grew up with an alcoholic father, so I have my fair share of family issues. I wiggle my way out by saying that the Chinese food didn't sit well with me- it didn't, I have some gallbladder issues. She was also having meatloaf for dinner with her dad, which I hate meatloaf and I can't really eat meatloaf due to gallbladder issues. Chinese I'll deal with the pain... not meatloaf. She doesn't like that part and says "It's not about you" and I just kinda say "oh okay sorry" I'm a mouse of a person usually. Plus she scares me. But I still get out of it, so MIL and SIL-O.
I get a text from my sister about what Pennsylvania just did- They essentially said you must quarantine for 2 weeks if you go out of state or have a negative test. This starts on Friday. The service in on Friday, we leave Sunday morning to take SIL-Y back to the airport at 3 am, get to the airport at 5 am, and back to Pittsburgh by 12 or so, just in time for the Steelers game. Anyways, I immediately am all "Fuck, we have didn't plan for this, and we have no food back home, and we don't know where to get a COVID test around this area." I tell SIL-O that "we can't have haircuts from her boyfriend, sorry" and she has a bit of a fit. She said, "but he made time for you!" I explain as calmly as I can that Pennsylvania just put out new rules and we want to make sure we test negative. She kinda is angry, but comes back 20 minutes later and apologizes. I accept it, and we move on. We do agree to take her, but we won't get out of the car.
SO and I go out to the garden shop he used to work at, spend some time talking to his old boss and coworkers, and I as a gift from my family to theirs, get some Amaryllis for his parents. This was something I had planned on doing and had been asked to do the PA COVID news, but I still have some guilt about it. Return home, chill, parents come home, love the flowers. Apparently, it was grandma's favorite flower. Score. Afterward, we eat dinner that SIL-O made dinner but not as a family. We eat and watch a movie with her, then go to bed at 10 cause we need to leave at 3 am.
At one point during the day, MIL told SO that he will read some bible verses at the ceremony. Not asks. Tells. Corinthians something, I grew up on a farm and I was too busy to go to church. He practices it and just goes with it. Oh also, he's told he's a pallbearer too. Not asked. Told.
Thursday: I wake up in gallbladder pain at 3, tell SO, hey, I can't go cause I didn't sleep well. He understands and had said I don't need to go. He leaves to go pick up SIL-Y with SIL-O, and I sleep. I wake up to him returning, the parents are gone. He said that it was pretty ugly cause SIL-Y didn't like that they went 2 hours out of the way for SIL-O. I wake up, SIL-Y says hi, and then goes to the basement room with a bedroom. So it's just me and SO for a bit. We chill, SO takes SIL-Y to the grocery store... and the liquor store, cause SIL-Y is basically a Wine Aunt and whines if she doesn't get her way. I stay behind and chill cause I need it. They get home, SIL-Y starts cooking vegetarian lasagna, cause she's a vegetarian, SO and I hang out. MIL had picked up FIL and SIL-O, we eat dinner- it's great, but the cheese is not a great thing for me. Family argument happens, like every dinner, I just sit quietly. Afterward, we go for a walk, cause walks help with my pain and gets me away from the family. We get back, people are all chilling in their rooms, so we do too. Bedtime.
Friday: The service is today. I get pantyhose from SIL-Y cause I didn't have any to bring with me and didn't have time to get any. Roll out of bed, get dressed, make sure it's appropriate cause I have only one black dress and it's borderline little black dress, the hop in SO's car. It's me, SO, SIL-O and SIL-Y in his car, MIL and FIL in their car. SIL-O asks if she can vape CBD, SIL-Y tells her no, SO mediates, as he always does, and allows her. I sit quietly. Both the sisters put on headphones. Get to the service. Social distancing, masks, all that. Good. I hang out in the back, apart from SO due to lack of seating. He reads his bit, SIL-Y reads her bit she wrote up, and MIL tries to push SIL-O to go up with SIL-Y but she's bawling and doesn't want to. SIL-O does not like her mom At All, and MIL doesn't really respect the whole BPD thing. So when MIL hugs her, she just sobs more. I stay standing and as far away from that as possible. There's only immediate family there, so it's pretty sparse- the grandparents had two girls together, plus Grandma had one from a previous marriage. MIL and her sister are there, their half-sister is in Germany unable to attend. The aunt's twins (one dude, one chick) are there, with their SO, and a few other people. Less than 20 people in total.
During the service, I have two missed calls from my house- the phone was silent, but my watch buzzed to let me know. I go outside afterward and call- everything is fine, my dad just wanted to know what was up. Oops, forgot to tell them that the service was today. Meet up with people, drive to the burial plot. Along the way, I find out my sister is in the ER with an allergic reaction to Claritin. Ironic. She's in an entirely different state from PA or CT, but I still wanted to make sure she's okay. Also, my mom lost her cell phone, so I had to help her get into the joint account we have and find it so she can talk to my sister. All in between the service, burial and get together afterward. People find out, say sorry about my sister, but she recovers and is released. Burial happens, nice weather so it goes fast. Then the get-together. Masks all off, and lots of alcohol- in fact no non-alcoholic beverages besides water. I don't drink, I have a long line of alcoholics in my family so I just don't even tempt it. My fiance also respects this and doesn't drink at the party either- he's too uncomfortable to drink there. We keep our masks on too, but we immediately get told to take them off by MIL. Yes, she's conservative. So is the FIL, the grandpa, and the grandma was some big shot in the local Republican government. So is the aunt, her husband, and her son and maybe daughter. SILs are ultra-liberal, but of different flavors- SIL-Y is "I want to be cool and woke liberal" and SIL-O is "artsy Liberal." SO and I are "we just want healthcare and intelligent advisors liberal." But besides this, politics don't come up.
Anyway, this is uneventful. I talk to the uncle, the chick cousin's boyfriend, and the dude cousin. Mostly I play with the dog and follow SO around. Eat some food that's not great for my gallbladder too. After a couple of hours, around 3 pm, we get ready to leave. Gather the sisters, go home. Parents get home. Sit quietly and talk to people- this stresses me out cause FIL is drunk and I get stressed around drunk people (lol alcoholism in my family does that), but I just say bits here and there. Pittsburgh comes up- with the age-old question of "is it a Mid-Atlantic City, or is it Mid-West?" I say it's neither, it's Appalachia. SIL-Y says Appalachia isn't a culture, it's a region. I say "oooooh yes it is, it's got folklore, music, an accent- all of that". She says "no it's the same as Eastern Washington and Oregon cause it has the same demographics (white people are all the same or whatever), I know cause I lived in a town outside of Pittsburgh for 6 months and read Hillbilly Elegy!" I get a bit uppity and say "SIL-Y, I've lived in Appalachia for 28 years of my life, it's absolutely a culture." She gets a bit huffy and goes downstairs. I continue to sit there and talk with the parents, Steelers come up, and then SO and I take a walk so I can blow off steam.
During the walk, I tell him his family is stressing me out- MIL is being overbearing to me, FIL being drunk, SIL-Y being condescending to me, and SIL-O being... well... BPD and all over the place- usually talking about her boyfriend. We get back in, decide to have a snack. SIL-Y comes up, has a snack with SO and me. I have a piece of pastry, and the platter and dome it came in are empty. I throw the platter away, and SIL-Y gives me a weird look. I go to throw the dome away, and she comes rushing over and says "Oh that's recyclable don't throw that away!" Except... it's not. It's the wrong shape, only bottles and jugs really get recycled anymore. I tell her that it isn't and she insists "Yes it is! See this number here? 1's are recyclable! You just need to wash it!" So I just say "plastic recycling is a very complicated issue. Do you know where your recycling goes?" And she gets huffy and says "Oh it goes to Seattle! It would make me feel much better if you would just recycle this!" and walks out of the room. But I know she's wrong. You see, I studied environmental science in college, and I have been keeping up with the mess that is plastic recycling. China shut off imports, most plastic goes to landfills, is burned, or to another developing country- I could write a dissertation on it. Instead, have an NPR article on it. Anyways, SO knows that I know this, I put the dome down by the sink, and we go back outside for another walk where he admits it was a hilarious interaction- and I agree, hilariously frustrating. She basically "mansplained" something I know very well- all while being wrong. We come back in, and go to bed.
Saturday- DRAMA EXPLOSION DAY- So the diamond thing got moved to today. Before we leave, MIL tells us about some fancy place she went to that's also an event venue. She raises her voice and gets uncomfortably close when she says the word "wedding" when explaining what kinds of events they do. She also totally breaks HIPA by telling us about a patient at this medical place she works, but whatever. Anyways, MIL is going to use SO's vehicle to take me to it. SO says absolutely not, it's his car, he'll drive. I'm thankful, I like him around. SIL-O comes along too cause she wants some CBD oil at a store- she had lied to SO and said it was tampons. We stop, SIL-O goes in, and MIL rants about how SIL-O's therapist and doctor won't tell her about stuff and they want to kick her out in April. MIL's phone dies, so she starts using SO's to coordinate stuff with people. SIL-O comes back in the car. We stop at the jewelry place. The Jeweler is a cool dude, I'm big into gems and geology, so we discuss some neat things. But MIL is trying to backseat what we do with it- she wants me to have a ring- I do not have an engagement ring, cause I wanted to live together over a stinking ring, and I'm too active and I stick my hands in rocks, dirt, mud, and water to pick, catch, and touch things in nature. She left, and we went back to discussing what to do with it- pendants, not rings. In the end, I just took the diamond with me... cause I don't want it. But saying no isn't a possibility with this lady.
MIL also decides she wants to cook lunch for her dad. That's fine, he just lost his wife. We stop at the grocery store to get some food, and, I stay in the vehicle, SO goes in to use the bathroom and get me Advil cause I had a killer headache and period cramps... and SIL-O walks off to a random bookstore down the road? He comes out, I tell him, and he's just frustrated. But when MIL comes out, ooooh boy. So we drive to one, but they don't think she's there, so they go to another one. Turns out she was at the first one. They squabble, but then we get to the grandpas. I say hi, go to the bathroom, and just sit on the cool bathroom waiting for the meds to kick in. MIL tries to get me to help her cook, but I'm too crappy feeling. SIL-O helps instead. I come out, talk to the grandpa more, and talk to SO. We explore the house while they eat, and then we go and talk some more. Anything to stay away from MIL.
We leave, and then MIL starts rushing us to order dinner for us because the Thai place has a lunch special. She also insists she pays for all of us, but we need to keep the order for 5 people under 50. SO says he can cover himself and me, don't worry. She gets huffy and insists she pays for everyone, I say "I don't need anything then, my gallbladder has been hurting." She raises her voice and says "you don't want anything?!" I say I'm not feeling well. Then they sit there trying to figure out what everyone wants, and they start arguing over what to get SIL-Y. I actually for once, raise my voice and say "We need to remember that SILs are vegetarian and so we need to accommodate them. Also, SO and I are fine, really, we can cover ourselves." I also mention I'll get some green curry so I just blend in. MIL goes between quiet and back seat driving. There's a point where she freaks out cause she thought a car was merging into the lane we were in and she starts screaming about said car that was merging into the lane next to us. This causes a huge fight and she starts screaming about how she feels personally attacked.
(This is the self-harm part!) During this, I have a mini panic attack from all this, and for the first time in like 15 years, I dig my fingernails into my arm that I bleed and leave nasty marks. I grew up with my parents fighting and yelling is something that can cause panic in me. As a teen, if I felt trapped it would sometimes lead to me scratching myself like this. But since then I have learned healthy coping mechanisms like walking, communication, and all that jazz. But here, I felt trapped in the yelling, and I had no other healthy outlet in that vehicle. I'm in long sleeves though, so I hide it. We order food from the Thai place, and it takes three damn calls to get the order in due to this argument about payment and what people want, I felt so bad for the person on the other side. The rest of the ride home, I just keep SIL-O talking about her boyfriend and 90 Day Fiance because it's amusing, and it keeps MIL from talking. SO gets a text from SIL-Y asking why we're late, I answer it and let her know it's my fault cause I took too long at the jewelry place.
We get the food, we get to the house, I pull SIL-O aside and show her my scratches, cause she's had self-harm issues too. I start crying and just say I can't deal with this I just want to go home. She gives me a hug. I go to SO's room, calm down and clean up after sobbing a bit, he comes in and comforts me and kisses my scratches, and go out and eat Thai food. Uneventful. SIL-Y asks SO if he can drive her to the tavern she used to work at later, and he says no, we need to be up early- it's about 5 right now, and we didn't want to run after her late at night cause we need to all get up at 3 am! We chill, and 7 PM comes around. SIL-Y starts on him again, this time trying to guilt-trip him. She says "but you took SIL-O 2 hours out of the way, this is just a 5-minute drive!" and "My friend drove up here to meet me!" (Then why don't you get your friend to pick you up?) But we'd have to also pick her up at ??? o'clock, because SO is the mediator in this family. He says no. Once, twice. Oh great, now MIL and SIL-Y are yelling at him to just take her and stop being so selfish.
I. Fucking. Snap. All week, SO has been doing things for others, driving them places, buying things, sharing things. He said no. He means no. So I come out out of his room and stand next to him and say loudly "SIL-Y do you really want to go out drinking tonight?! We have to be up at 3 am!" I wanted to also say "SO said no, he means no." But before I can, she says "what the fuck is your problem Megraptor?!" And MIL, like a motherfucking T. rex, comes running out of their room and tells me to back off and blocks me in the hall. I run out of the house, no shoes on, and just run off the property and have a breakdown. I was sick and tired of watching my SO be bullied. I cry and sob and SO comes out. I tell him I can't be around his family and I can't watch him be bullied and become a spinless person like his dad. I told him that I have resorted to self-harm, something I haven't done in years. I told him they scare me, and I want to leave and go home. I tell him I don't think I can continue this relationship if I have to be around them. He goes in, grabs me a coat and shoes, and we walk around and discuss what happened. I call my sister, talk to her a bit too. We figure out solutions to scenarios like if they kick us out, try and talk to us, etc. We return around 9ish, which means we missed this 8 pm family video call that was going on. By then FIL has come home from work then. I scurry to the room, and just kinda sit there. SO talks to FIL, and SO comes in, and says "we've been asked to leave immediately." In a way, I was happy to gtfoutta there. But it was 9, and we were 8 hours away from Pittsburgh.
We pack quickly. I forgot a pair of socks, him a pair of boots. SIL-O said she'll mail anything we forgot, and gave me a big hug- the only person to say bye to me. I tell her to keep in touch, and she's the only one in there I really like right now, and that I have my own issues with PTSD and such- weird how the one with BPD is the most reasonable one to me... We leave. We discuss what happened, how he feels. He just wishes it didn't blow up, and hopes he work things out with SIL-Y. I agree- I say they were dogpiling him and I hated to watch that so I stepped in... and got us kicked out. They don't need to like me though, but I'm sure I'll be demonized after this. I felt awful about that part, but he doesn't seem too beat up over it. He's kept his family distant since we moved out and us together. We drive for 8 hours until 4:30 am, and we get home. And then crash.
Sunday: Wake up with two cats on me. Have a cup of tea. Tell my parents the story- they aren't surprised as they have met MIL and FIL before. I watch the Steelers game with SO. 10-0, he owes me a Steeler's jersey for the Thanksgiving game. I owe him scratch-made chocolate chip cookies with nuts from a silly bet- if he didn't cry at the service, he got cookies. If he did, he got cookies- always cookies. We'll figure that out.
So congrats if you got through this mess. You can have cookies too if you read it all.
TL;DR This is the first time that I'm treated like actual family instead of a guest by my SO's family. And I hate every second of it. Basically, MIL was trying to make me an extension of her, like she has the rest of the family. Instead, I defend boundaries and get kicked out, with tons of drama in between.
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2020.11.16 16:02 rusticgorilla Lost in the Sauce: Barr's DOJ shut down investigations of Trump and admin officials

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.


On Saturday, Trump announced on Twitter that he has put his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign's long-shot post-election legal challenges. Other people on the team include Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis.
  • Giuliani worked with a Russian agent to smear Biden. diGenova and Toensing tried to get the Justice Department to drop charges against corrupt Ukraine oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Powell represents Michael Flynn and champions "deep state" conspiracies. Ellis said gay marriage leads to pedophilia.
NYT: Mr. Trump turned to Mr. Giuliani earlier on Friday in reaction to the latest setback he faced in court, this one relating to votes in Maricopa County, Arizona… A half-dozen other Trump advisers have described Mr. Giuliani’s efforts as counterproductive and said that he was giving the president unwarranted optimism about what could happen… In an Oval Office meeting with aides on Thursday, Mr. Trump put Mr. Giuliani on speakerphone so the others could hear him. He angrily accused the aides of not telling the president the truth
Giuliani’s conspiracy-riddled rant at Four Seasons Total Landscaping was so disastrous that it “scared off many of the lawyers” recruited to argue election-related lawsuits. Politico: “Campaign officials described the episode as disastrous...there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani’s antics are thwarting the president’s legal machinery from within.”
Two major law firms have withdrawn from Trump campaign cases as his legal challenges crumble. Arizona’s largest law firm Snell & Wilmer dumped the RNC and Trump campaign effort to challenge votes in Maricopa County. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur is abandoning Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania's popular vote for Joe Biden.
  • In one day (Friday), nine cases meant to attack President-elect Joe Biden's win in key states were denied or dropped - seven in Pennsylvania, one in Arizona, and one in Michigan.
The new federal chief information security officer, Camilo Sandoval, has already taken leave from his day job to participate in a pro-Trump effort to hunt for evidence of voter fraud in the battleground states. The group, Voter Integrity Fund, is a newly formed Virginia-based group that is analyzing ballot data and cold-calling voters. Sandoval was officially appointed on Nov. 4, 2020, but lists his starting date at October on his personal LinkedIn page.
WaPo: Sandoval is part of a hastily convened team led by Matthew Braynard, a data specialist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. Another participant is Thomas Baptiste, an adviser to the deputy secretary of the Interior Department who also took a leave to work on the project. Braynard said in an interview that several other government officials on leave are also assisting the effort, but he declined to identify them.
Media’s role:
  • Facebook Cut Traffic To Leading Liberal Pages Just Before The Election: Liberal page administrators who spoke with BuzzFeed News said that their reach declined by as much as 70%, and still hasn’t recovered.
  • Facebook Live Spread Election Conspiracies And Russian State-Controlled Content Despite Employee Fears: The social network’s live video tool has recommended videos featuring misinformation and the hyperpartisan views of Trump allies leading up to and following election day in the US.
  • In the week after the election, Trump’s postings dominated Facebook, accounting for the 10 most engaged status updates in the United States, and 22 of the top 25. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” was his top post.
  • YouTube Is Doing Very Little to Stop Election Misinformation From Spreading
  • Social media app Parler receives financial backing from conservative hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, The Wall Street Journal reported. Parler turned into a kind of de facto home for conservatives’ protests against the election— including the persistent “Stop the Steal” campaign— after the race was called for former Vice President Joe Biden. Several high-profile conservative social media personalities encouraged people to abandon Twitter and Facebook because of their moderation policies, and instead follow them on Parler.


Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, still hasn’t signed the official letter that would allow the incoming Biden team to formally begin the transition. House Democrats are assessing options to force the GSA’s hand, which could include summoning Murphy to the Hill to testify or suing her. “Obviously, Congress could file suit against the GSA administrator for failing to do her duty. We could seek to get a court to, in fact, issue an order
Her ascertainment is the legally necessary precursor to the government’s assistance to the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Team. It releases $6.3 million dollars to the team, which is funded by public and private money; a loan of expanded federal office space and equipment; access to government agencies that will begin sharing information and records about ongoing activities, plans and vulnerabilities; national security briefings for the president; and other support.
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently confirmed that it is not providing national security briefings to the president-elect. The Defense Department has also reportedly indicated that it will not meet with the Biden-Harris transition team until Murphy formally affirms the apparent winner.
One of the officials fired in Trump’s latest purge was helping prepare for the transition to the new administration. USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick was removed abruptly to make way for a Trump loyalist after she had been supportive of transition planning, including the preparation of a 440-page manual for the next administration.
The GSA’s refusal to enact the transition has locked Biden’s team out of crucial Covid-19 pandemic data and government agency contacts. The president-elect’s Covid-19 task force has been trying to work around the federal government by connecting with governors and the health community.
  • The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, called on the White House to allow contact with the Biden team, saying “It is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.”
White House’s Office of Management and Budget is considering 145 new regulations and other policy changes they could enact before Biden’s inauguration - rules that will be challenging to undo once they are finalized. Critics and supporters of the administration say they expect a final burst of regulations to be finalized in the weeks before Jan. 20.
The rules under development include policies that the incoming Biden administration would probably oppose, such as new caps on the length of foreign student visas; restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of scientific research; limits on the EPA’s consideration of the benefits of regulating air pollutants; and a change that would make it easier for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, rather than employees with more robust wage protections.
Last week, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said they’re preparing for a second Trump term. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon (clip). Pompeo then doubled down on Fox News (clip). “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” Navarro said on Fox Business Friday (clip).

DOJ interference

Attorney General William Barr stopped career prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section from investigating whether President Trump broke any laws related to his conduct with Ukraine last year. The section was initially given the green light to pursue “a potentially explosive inquiry” into Trump, but after the Senate acquitted the president during impeachment proceedings, Barr sent the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section were also prevented from bringing charges against former interior secretary Ryan Zinke by political appointees atop the Justice Department. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told prosecutors that they needed to gather more evidence and refine the case against Zinke for lying to Interior investigators.
  • The investigation into Zinke stemmed from his decision to block two Native American tribes—the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan—from opening a casino in Connecticut. Zinke’s office had been lobbied heavily by MGM Resorts International, which had been planning to open its own casino very close to where the tribes intended to break ground.
Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Barr on Friday to rescind his memo allowing election-fraud investigations before results are certified. "It was developed and announced without consulting non-partisan career professionals in the field and at the Department. Finally, the timing of the Memorandum's release thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics," the prosecutors wrote.
An internal Justice Department investigation found that federal prosecutors who oversaw a controversial non-prosecution deal with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 exercised “poor judgment” but did not break the law. “They just say he used poor judgment, and that's their way of basically letting everyone off the hook while offering some sort of an olive branch to the victims that we acknowledge weren't treated perfectly,” said Brad Edwards, who sued the DOJ in 2008 on behalf of Epstein accusers.

Immigration news

Eastern District of New York Judge Nicholas Garaufis (Clinton-appointee) ruled that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting DACA program applications and renewals. Therefore, in a win for Dreamers and immigration activists, Garaufis said the changes were invalid.
The judge described an illegitimate shuffling of leadership chairs at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, for the predicament of Wolf's leadership and that of his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan.
"Based on the plain text of the operative order of succession," Garaufis wrote in the Saturday ruling, "neither Mr. McAleenan nor, in turn, Mr. Wolf, possessed statutory authority to serve as Acting Secretary. Therefore the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority."
  • There's a renewed push to get Chad Wolf confirmed as Homeland Security secretary -- a position in which he's been serving in an acting capacity for a yearr -- before Inauguration Day. In the past week, Homeland Security officials spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office about bringing the nomination to a floor vote in the coming weeks.
Within the last six months, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the Trump administration filed 75 lawsuits to seize private land along the US-Mexico border for the border wall." People right now are having to choose between their health and their homes," said Ricky Garza, a staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, a legal advocacy group.
After a series of price increases, Trump’s border project will cost taxpayers $20 million per mile of border fence. A review of federal spending data shows more than 200 contract modifications, at times awarded within just weeks or months after the original contracts, have increased the cost of the border wall project by billions of dollars since late 2017.
DHS has expelled unaccompanied immigrant children from the US border more than 13,000 times since March, using the coronavirus as an excuse to deny children their right to asylum. Previously, unaccompanied children were sent to government-run shelters as they attempted to pursue their asylum cases.
Migrant children from Central America are being expelled to Mexico, where they have no family connections. The expulsions not only put children in danger - the policy violates a diplomatic agreement with Mexico that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border.
The House Judiciary Committee released a report on the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border, revealing that the federal agency that cares for migrant children was not told about the policy. The chaos contributed to the inability to later reunite parents and children.
The Trump administration is trying to deport several women who allege they were mistreated by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center. Hours after one detained woman spoke to federal investigators about forced hysterectomies at a Georgia detention center, she said ICE told her that it had lifted a hold on her deportation and she faced “imminent” removal. Six former patients who complained about Dr. Mahendra Amin had already been deported.
Northern District of Illinois Judge Gary Feinerman (Obama-appointee) blocked a key Trump administration policy that allowed officials to deny green cards to immigrants who might need public assistance Advocates who had feared that the policy would harm tens of thousands of poor people, particularly those affected by widespread job loss because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Microsoft said it has detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers. “Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials.”
Two census takers told The AP that their supervisors pressured them to enter false information into a computer system about homes they had not visited so they could close cases during the waning days of the once-a-decade national headcount.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday signaled it’s unlikely to tear down Obamacare over a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the landmark health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh strongly questioned whether the elimination of the mandate penalty made the rest of the law invalid. Kavanaugh appeared to signal on several occasions that he favored leaving the rest of the law intact if the mandate is struck.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was sued last week by four whistleblowers claiming that he abused his office to benefit himself, a woman with whom he was said to have had an affair, and the wealthy donor who employs her before retaliating against the members of his staff who reported him to the FBI.
The Trump administration is rushing plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the inauguration of Biden, who has vowed to block oil exploration in the rugged Alaska wilderness. Biden’s efforts could be complicated if the Trump administration sells drilling rights first. Formally issued oil and gas leases on federal land are government contracts that can’t be easily yanked.
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2020.10.30 14:35 YodaIsReal Shadowpeople

Has anyone ever heard of the shadow people making a buzzing sound? And being inter-dimensional travelers? It is discussed in this podcast: Spectral Skull Session Episode Seven: Shadow People.

This is the show description:
The most commonly encountered cryptid is also one of the most terrifying. Chris and Dane discuss true stories of encounters with shadow people from Jason Offutt’s book “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us.” After that, we interview Jamie, a Connecticut woman who has been haunted by the shadow people for years.
RSS feed:

Download episode seven as .mp3:
Google podcasts:

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2020.10.02 06:58 Dvldude78 Some of my Elan story and what led up to my stay at this vacation resort.

I will make it as short as possible. Exact details of some things I will leave out just because. I will also leave out real names except known staff. The 2 people I care about that dont need to be dragged into this will simply be Bestie and Crush.
I found out I was being sexually assaulted by our neighbor. I only found out because I got nosey. Initially I thought I was living it up. Mom found a babysitter for her late nights being a bartender and he allowed me to have my friends over to his house with a pool, smoke cigs, weed, drink or whatever basically. He'd always make sure I was home and in bed before she was. Usually my friends left before it was too late. He had a full camper just incase anyone needed a place to lay their head. At the time there wasn't much for console video games so his computers were also an awesome thing and the collection of dirty VCR tapes, some having my friends and I on them. I found out he was molesting 3 of us when we would pass out drunk and stoned. All were my good friends 1 being my best. We were all between 10-12. All of that after a few months worth of counseling for something that happened to me around 5 years of age that still isn't clear to me at all. My family has always been tight lipped or overlooked certain behaviors. At the time I felt this stuff at my neighbors was my fault and it still haunts me, I still feel partially to blame even though I've made contact with 2 of them and they assure me theres no hard feelings. My best friend and I still have not seen each other in over 20 years, he's moved on and up while im stagnant. I still can't imagine seeing him again even though hes never lived more than a few minutes drive from me.
I didnt know who to turn to. I didn't know if my friends knew. I believe I was 11 at this time and the only thing I could think of was our local State Police. I mustered the courage to go and tell them and I was laughed out the door. Protect and Serve 🙄🙄. So I just became defiant when it was time to go back over there by refusing to go. My mother was an alcoholic in those years and thought whooping my ass was going to change my mind. Instead of looking into why I was acting out, she continuously made me go there. Which is the reason for acting out and running away only to be caught by an officer that laughed me out the door, "I knew you were a problem child" (Bardelli) he said during our drive to the station.
A short time later I was in M.S.J. (Mount Saint John) a boys home in Deep River Connecticut. It housed teen boys from around the state. Occasional fist fights, some gang activity and pervs. Ages were 12-18.
Who was I supposed to tell this stuff to? All these kids were talking about sex with girls or stealing cars. I'd done neither. At this point, i hadnt told my best friend because the state stepped in immediately and shipped away. Never had a chance too after running away. It seems like pedos have this radar about them and can sense already weak or victimized kids. One tried to get friendly and expressed verbally he liked me and we should be friends. He looked like a grown man, 18 or so, I split from M.S.J. first chance I got.
When I was caught a few days later begging for change to feed myself, I couldn't go home so what else was I to do. I already felt alienated from everyone. The cops brought me to Long Lane, Middletown C.T... That place was nothing but a Gladiator Camp. Held the worst of the worst teens. I was the only white kid, from a small town, and really didnt understand gang activity but learned real quick fighting 2,3 kids at once. I did win my share of 1 on 1's but these were tough inner city kids that couldnt afford to take that loss to a "white boy" so I'd catch one later. I learned to fight well and had no choice in doing so. To the staff and older kids, mostly gang leaders, us younger kids were made to fight for their amusement and initiations. But hey, atleast I wasn't getting raped regularly in the evenings by older kids. That was just the gay kids 😥😥. Ages at L.L were 10-18. Atleast 3 times a day i had to defend myself mostly losing due to their size or numbers. Another time I was there was a little easier because of my 2 friends. I was the tougher guy amongst my friends at home but fighting wasn't the norm. That went on about 12 months. My mother came to visit, hugged me, felt the lumps on my head, lumps on my back and asked about them, I was some what honest. Told her not to worry and not to say anything. To this day I dont know if she did but they did move me the next day to a secured housing unit and asked why, they felt I was a security risk and was gonna run. I was down there, the Unit, for about 6 months. That was also pretty rough but this was the norm as I could make out so far. One day a 6'+ city kid, huge dude, got mad at a staff member during chow and used a milk crate to smash his face. Peeling his face from the hair line down to his bottom lip and chin, blood was getting everywhere as he ran around this small cafeteria, only seated 24 small. Only one way out, past that 6'+ kid. The other staff was pinned against the back lunch tray door by the tall kids buddies so no help arrived for awhile. This seemed racially motivated but idk. The black staff wasn't injured. Seemed like we were held hostage for awhile with the repeated thuds on the already leaking staffs head and body with the crate everytime he said sorry or made a noise. Eventually the A.P.O.'s(agency police officers)arrived. Back to our rooms. No, I didn't find anyone there to help me with what happened at home either... the root of all this. I'm sure theres a write up about that attack somewhere. 87 staples was what I heard was needed to put his face back together. It was early 90s and in unit 4.
Seemed like the next day, an Elan recruiter was there to fill my head with promises of a summer Camp atmosphere available to me if I wanted. Hippy woman wearing Birkenstocks, long brown hair named Claire Woodman. Softball and soccer on the weekends, plenty of swimming, absolutely no violence, and Co-ed. Groups daily to talk about anything we wanted that would never leave the room and I'd be safe. She had obviously been informed of the assault. I agreed to their minimum 18 months verses another 6 months here due to the violencs my safety and sanity. She sealed the deal with the smokes or gum that was available weekly. Hadn't tasted gum or cigs in 2+ years at that point.
The day before leaving, I met a kid in the unit that just came in. He was the only other white face I'd seen in awhile and was in the next room. We chatted through the vents and we talked about how much time we had left. I told him I was headed to Maine. He basically finished my sentences and informed me it was all b.s. No, that couldnt be true. I remember his name. I remember alot of names to this day. I was never a punk, i just couldnt always win and didnt have eyes in the back of my head. So anyways, this kid had to be lying. I was headed some place better, he was just jealous they didnt pick him is what I told myself.
I was transported to Tewksbury Ma I think, close to N.H. border where a car was waiting with 2 older teenagers and a driver. Grabbed some food from Mc Donald's and headed north. Not much talk, but atleast I was outta there and wasn't being transported around with cuffs and shackles which is what they did at Long Lane any time you were out of the unit. All in all it seemed better. Yes, many were brought to Elan after they were taken by force in the middle of the night from their homes if you've read other stories. Just not me.
We arrive and I could see the lake, it was fall of 92 I think, definitely fall. There was also a basketball court in front of my building. We entered the building and i saw other kids walking around, some with clip boards, some girls, there wasn't any cells or steel doors anywhere. I did have to immediately take a shower and use lice shampoo. I wasn't one they had forced a hair cut upon arrival as other accounts may have said. They took all my belongings but it wasn't much at all. They didn't take my clothes, just washed them and gave back. They were all plain colored which was a requirementfor new residents attire. Nothing that possibly portrayed gang activity or a certain appearance you normally kept at home. "Image" is what I learned later it was called. By then it was evening and I was already in the dorm. They showed me my top bunk with an already made bed. Introduced me to my big brother or buddy, either term was used. He told me he'd find me in the morning and that we had alot to do. Fell right to sleep. The 2 teenagers that picked me up in Tewksbury I also remember.
I still dont remember what time wake up was, 6-8 but we were all woken up at the same time with a blasting radio as the night owl(resident that rose through the ranks of their hierarchy) screamed "Good morning Elan 3, feet on the floor house wake up" with a real emphasis on stretching those words out. I remember his name also and had a huge nose. The song was 'Yellow Submarine' by the beatles. Almost as if he'd taken a deep breath between 3 and feet. Everyone leaping to the floor, some immediately going to brush teeth, some immediately making their beds, pretty chaotic first thing in the morning. Big brother was there immediately, as if he was woken up early to take on this role. He showed me how to make my bed with perfect perfect 45° angled hospital corners on all 4 corners of the bottom sheet, 4 finger length above and below the fold for the top sheet with hospital corners at the foot of the bed, tight enough to bounce a coin. I remember that I was not impressed with those sheets because of the coloring. I'm sure they were originally white, now they were a mixed grey and brown tye dye. Long Lanes sheets were always white and cleaned. I did ask if I could have different sheets, he simply stated that I could have my parents send me some when I hit strength (higher positions in their hierarchy) and these were mine until then.
Everyone filed downstairs, taking a left at the bottom of the stairs, passing doors on on either side. Into a medium room and taking a right. Passing a broom closet on the left and taking another left into the dining room. We took food from a center place in the table according to the houses hierarchy. I was 3rd instead of forth because the kid across from me was 'shotdown'(lowest position). That all went smoothly, next came the M.M. (Morning meeting). I was thrust infront of what seemed like a 100 kids but it was more like 70, boys and girls. I was supposed to scream "good morning elan 3" and read this paper. I raised my voice and said that, next I hear someone say "nope, cant hear you". I did it again, with the same result. Atleast 5 times I repeated this. Always the same result. Staff walks up, snatches the paper, I didnt get to read because my "good mornings" weren't loud enough and told to sit down. I asked "wasn't I supposed to read that" he responds with "dont fucking talk back to me, take a seat". I respond "okay then" and go to sit down. Nope, responding at all when given a directive is apparently talking back. I had to get a V.R. (verbal reprimand) If you haven't already read about V.R's and T.T's (talking to) here's a quick reference. Stand in front of door, someone inside shouts knock, you knock. They shout "who is it" and you shout back your name. My knocks weren't loud enuff, stating my name wasn't loud enough, both had to be repeated several times. When I knocked louder, a completely different staff emerged and screamed in my face asking who I thought I was to be banging in "HIS" door like that, knock again. It was either the knocks or me saying my name that wasn't up to par. I hadn't even made it into the room yet and it seemed like that process repeated for an hour. Eventually my knocks were satisfactory, came in and was faced by four chairs. Staff and 3 residents. Jeff Gottlieb was in the 3rd chair from the left. Just starts yelling. I hear the words "image", swear words,"continue to be reprimanded","Our house" repeated over and over. Jeff stops, 4th chair starts his yelling, at this point I'm not listening. 1st chair goes, 2nd chair goes. I'm obviously already not liking it. I leave the room and my big brother is outside the door. Now it's his turn.
I'm going to assume if you've already been there or read about it, you know the rules of the place, about the hierarchy, and about strength and non strength, the basics. Oh and the guilt letter home was rejected atleast 5 times. Your guilt letter is something you write home to your parents/parent telling them every single thing you have done in life that they know or don't know. No matter how honest you were, they would always reject it hoping that you would reveal more in the next one. A control tactic I became very aware of that was used on a constant basis. The 5th try they had felt I was honest about.
What was next after my big brother was done getting yelled at was a run down of the rules and schedule. What I couldn't do, he probably should've just said everything I was allowed to do because it was less of a mouthful. No where was any swimming listed. No where did I see soccer, no where basketball or softball. I asked my Dallas about this, he tells me hes been there about a year and hasn't been swimming ever, and sometimes they play soccer or softball on the weekends depending on the staff member. Missy Estes, favored soccer and Bob Oldham favored softball but its getting cold so not to expect much until next summer because of the snow. First time hearing the word Mud season. I say, "you mean spring" he says "nope, we dont have spring, its mud season". I thought to myself, even the seasons are a mess up here. I wasn't in any encounter groups the first day that's not to say I didnt hear any yelling because there was plenty while we were in our groups, just not ours(encounter groups are where you verbally attack the person or persons that have upset you recently). At the time I thought alot of people were getting V.R.'s and knocking. There's actually alot that's either slipped my mind or I've blocked out, couldnt tell you which. I know there was 2 or 3 groups after M.M., atleast 3 groups between lunch and dinner and 2 groups after dinner before going upstairs. Shower, sleep and repeat in the morning. Repeated EXACTLY the same in the morning for a couple days. On my 4th day I was in my first encounter group. Every single person got their "feelings off" on me(verbal shock treatment). I believe the staff makes the schedules the day before of who is in who's groups when they tally up the slips people drop on one another for different feelings you get throughout the day .
Day 7 was a little different. Someone in Elan 8 was caught in an escape attempt and they were were given a 3 house G.M. (general meeting.) All 3 houses piled into ours, each resident carrying their own chair. Apparently this guy didn't like what was going on either because it was the 10+ time he'd been caught trying to run. It was starting to get cold outside and they made sure he only had access to a tank top and short shorts, no shoes and he had 2 pairs of socks on. Probably to ensure he wouldn't attempt again with so little clothing. He stood at the far end of the room while staff one by one walked around continuously pointing at him and told us how much we were supposed to dislike him, how it was our fault he was doing this and he wasn't going to change unless we changed him. Then they spoke/yelled a few things directly at him. Personal stuff like his parents divorce was on him, somethings about his school etc. Then when I thought this was all done because they just laid into him. Rosenberg says "get your feelings off". I wont ever forget this. People rushed at him lining up less than a foot away, between 3-5 people at a time were SCREAMING at him. Distinct guttural phrases were just pouring out of their mouths. He just stood there, blank faced staring past them, seemed used to it. I could visually see the spit flying from their lips as they formed these sentences full of insults, swears and whatever to hurt the kid. Over and over this happened until every person had gotten their feelings off. I knew from that point on that I wasn't going to be the staffs weapon or under any circumstances was I going to victimize other kids and NO FUCKING WAY was I going to open up to anyone about what happened to me. I wasn't one to fight anyone either unless they first put their hands on me.
As I was piecing together what i just witnessed waiting for these people to leave, i hear " Damon get infront of the house". Same shit wouldn't you know. Brought up my arrest, 🙄 how I ran away, how my mother was a single mother and with my attitude(not participating in their program and doing what I want)probably the reason she was. Then they proceeded to tell all 3 houses why they should also be mad at me. "Get your feelings off", these kids rushed me(ages 12-18 at that time) and seeing them doing it to someone was pretty rough. Having it done to you was something else. Not one of these kids I knew nor did they know me, up until an hour ago had never even seen 2/thirds of them. Most were from other states. How could they have any anger towards me? How could me minding my own business, quiet as a mouse all week make them hate me so much? Still they rushed at me frothing at the mouth and the only comparison I can think of is pigs rushing a trough, bumping and pushing pushing each other out of the way. Some lifted a leg while inhaling, others gripped their clothes for leverage, some bent over at the beginning of their one breath sentences and were standing completely upright when their sentences were done to only repeat. Some even sounded like farm animals while force fully inhaling. Quite a few mastered gleeking while screaming. I think that's the word. It's where you can send streams of spit in certain directions and no one notices unless they know how to do it themselves or know what to look for. One of the craziest things I've ever witnessed to this day. As all these beet red faces continued with their spit laced misdirected anger, the insults degrading and threats, all brought me to how Byron told me it was all b.s. and atleast if at Long Lane I knew what was up and I had only 6 months left there if I stayed.
This may or may not be relevant. These friends of mine from home, I held of some importance because I had no other friends because we moved alot. I had 2 pieces of mail given to me in my second week. One from my best friend and one from Crush. She was 1 year older. She said she had a crush on me and missed seeing me and Bestie told her where I was and my mother gave him the address. Bestie's letter consisted the basic buddy talk. Crush was and is a sweetheart. In my head she showed me the faintest hope while I was there. Even though I only got 3 letters from her in my first month, they were the only correspondence I got the entire time. I kept writing 1 letter a week for 6 weeks maybe everytime they let me out of the corner. In my letters to Bestie, I confirmed what happened. I told him I was sorry and didn't know it was happening at all, to any of us and kept repeating sorry. He never responded again. Crush didn't either. In my last letter to her, I asked that she personally give him a note. Basically it was the same as my last to him. I thought his dad may have been stopping our mail because he knew I got arrested. Nothing back.
Meanwhile at the summer camp it was business as usual. I wouldn't participate. Every 3 days or so they would take me out of the corner and make me scrub floors or toilets, mostly toilets all day(on only your knees, face in toilet with one hand holding you up, never to rest and if your legs rested from being in that 45° angle, you'd have to start over)and by the way, these things were already cleaned. Everyone in the house had chores except high strength. After a day of scrubbing, sleep and then in the morning do the M.M. like they expected. Still I refused. Another G.M. and back in the corner, which is where I ended up after that 3 house G.M.. this went on for months. I tried convincing myself to just make it easier on myself and just yell, everyone else was. Fuck them kids, they were yelling at me. Then I thought, what if they were hurting like i was, some stranger degrading them is gonna hurt more. No, I stood up to bullies and wasn't going to be a follower. I will say the corner was piecefull without all that yelling unless certain people were on corner post. Oh yeah, the signs, yes I did wear those degrading signs around my neck when not in the corner. I never had laces, managed to play soccer twice my entire time there, again not while in the corner. That's when the staff realized I was fast and they allowed me to participate against the other house in a relay race. Even then it seemed like they would let me out of the corner the night before, participate in race, next morning not yelling and back to the corner. I could've refused to participate in the race but I was bored and wanted fresh air. Besides, leaving me in the corner would make 2 other people stay back to watch me and left their teams short. As much as I liked the corners peace and quiet, it wore on me. If I crossed my legs in the corner when certain people were my babysitters, they'd get physical. Push up on me until I was forced to adjust. Most times ending up in restraints, sometimes the ring. I refused to show any aggression yet still ended up in the ring several times. Another humiliation was pinning me to the floor, hog tying me and buzzing my head. The ring was simply a ring of kids to keep you inside, the same as boxing rings. It's kinda hard to dodge everything and not take repeated punches so I did fight back as long as I could. After a couple of rounds of them replacing new people, its exhausting. Every round a different resident was your opponent so to wear you down quicker as you tired with no breaks.
The second G.M. I remember the most was also a 3 house G.M. and at that point I was just numb to everything. This one I was rolling my eyes at everyone and once everyone was done, i simply said loud enough for everyone to hear that they were mindless and not one of them knew me to be saying any of these insults. Staff response was, "anyone have more feelings to get off", there went round 2 of all 3 houses foaming at the mouth on the staffs command. Back in the corner. I think it was 7 days 2 weeks, who counted by that time. This time when they let me out, they walked me out and all 3 houses were already there. The last 3house G.M.s started off for someone else and I was included because why not, they were there already and I watched them all file in. This one I had no idea they were all there. I dont know if they had them come in the back door or I just blocked out the noise of them entering the building. As I walked out in front of all of them, this time with an escort on either side of me for some reason. Something was different. There was more staff. Seemed like all the staff were on duty at once. Must've been 10. Every other G.M. I had or witnessed had 2 maybe 3 staff present. These fucks read Bestie's letters outloud infront of all three houses, people laughing, making sideways glances at one another, snickering, giggling. Another staff read my letters to him outloud, including the one I sent with Crush's and another staff read Crush's letters also outloud. I knew then, my mail had never gone out and who knows what they kept. Crush's wasn't that damaging thinking about it as an adult. Basically Crush saying she felt so bad I was here and when she saw me was gonna give me the biggest of hugs, maybe a kiss if I was lucky, teenage flirting, harmless now in our eyes as adults yes, but my response I got personal admitting to never having been kissed, never being with a girl just stuff that would make teenagers react. Those letters were all I had from ANYONE. I had nothing, no pics, no other mail, hadnt talked to my mother at all the whole time there and it had been more than a year at this point combined with L.L. They had already thrown that in my face in past G.M.s Telling me my mother gave up and didnt want me back, contacted the state and elan to tell them that. I was the reason my little brother was acting out and would follow in my footsteps if i was allowed back etc. I was believing this shit at this point. I had given up on my mother because, how would they know some of the things they said in past meetings if they hadnt talked to her. These mf were sadistic. Reading my mail to everyone admitting to being sexually assaulted and in more detail than I care to share while writing this, bringing my friends there etc, just on and on. Maybe they read more mail recieved at elan they never gave me, idk. I wasn't counting pages. I was watching these reactions of other kids, wondering how this was funny to anyone, hoping someone, anyone would say fucking something in my defense looking to some of the milder staff to step in and say something like this isn't right. I couldnt be the only one. Could I? In past G.M.s everyone lined up and all and you could see anger or just the expression of anger. This G.M. as these angry faces were spitting their usual bile, funking and flexing with their usual rhythms and barnyard noises that I had usually managed to see right past, I couldnt zone out this time, I couldnt concentrate on so and so's pimple and make jokes in my head. I couldn't think about how nice it was gonna be to go home....home to what, she didn't want me. I couldn't turn my head or look down. My ears were locked on every word that came out of their mouths. It seemed like I looked at everyone single person, normally ignoring them, their words and spit as it landed. This time I felt it ALL. This time as I looked around could see people rows back bouncing with such eagerness to get closer and begin their pigs at the trough shoulder bumping. Others even laughing a few dudes winking as if to insinuate I was asking for what happened to me and yes it was my fault what happened to my friends. I felt it all this time to my core even occasionally flinching as their intentional streams of saliva landed on my face which I never did before. Yep, they had broken me. I needed OUT.
So, this time when I got out of the corner, I played their game for my plan to work. Although I never yelled at anyone directly, I did yell good morning elan 3 every morning for a week. At that point, it wasn't dehumanizing anyone so why not yell. In those encounter groups people got their feelings off on everyone, I made the motions of gripping the chair and tensing up only to purposely falter with excuses like I wasn't ready yet or saying I was embarrassed blah blah. They were still impressed I was attempting to participate they let it slide. On the 7th day they put me back at the position which everyone starts and I chose kitchen worker. Which got me my laces because kitchen floors were slippery. Another added kitchen benefit was, after dinner clean up, kitchen personnel got to go up stairs and take showers while everyone else sat around the dining room waiting for the last of the groups. Yeah, I was out. As soon as I got upstairs, made a little travel pack of extra clothes, a hat and whatever else I could find quickly that was weather appropriate all stolen because I had nothing of my own and at this point didnt care about how they felt about their shit missing. The other kitchen person which surprised tf outta me, was all about it but could never bring himself to go alone. Out the window we went, down R.R. (rural route)#5. That was the quickest most direct route off the property. Usually when people split they'd run into the woods, get turned around or lost and then be tracked down. Made it to the main road, followed it off in the cut a bit as to avoid cars. Made it to the highway and headed south.
That's all I got so far.
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2020.05.11 01:28 foieblah aj1bwcx12k

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if writing about this is something I’m even allowed to be doing, but I’m alone in my car and it’s 3 AM and I’m too nauseous to think about food and I’m too anxious to sleep and I just need to get this all out in the open while I still have the chance. _
To start off, I was never dealt the best cards in life. An only child in a very messy family situation, I developed my share of mental illnesses and some unhealthy coping mechanisms quite early in life. It wasn’t anything horrific, just the typical angry parents going through a divorce. I thought heading to another state to attend college would help screw my brain back in the right way but the clinical depression and heavy drinking kept me from ever leaving my room. A semester later, I was asked to leave.
The one silver lining here was my uncle. Specifically my uncle and his family and their house which was located about a 30 minute drive from where I was staying. They helped me when my parents had other things to deal with, and they took me in. Living with them had changed my life entirely. I was able to see a therapist, I started working at one of the local restaurants, and my cousin somehow got me to quit drinking.
That girl was an absolute delight. I don’t know if you had one of these groups when you went to high school, but Morgan rolls with this crowd of straight edge kids, but they’re dressed up very cool, like that dark punk style of clothing. I don’t know all of her friends except the three that are closest to her. When I moved in, Morgan and her pals spent time with me, they kept me distracted when I was at my worst.
Now, these girls did not partake in any booze or drugs, but they were absolute suckers for the paranormal. Scary movies, those dumb internet rituals, they fucked with it all. Personally, it’s not my wheelhouse. I never believed in supernatural shit, and I still don’t. Hanging with them during the day is fine, but when they get into their little night time sleepover shenanigans, I’m more comfortable locking myself in my room and just doing my own thing. That day, ‘my own thing’ involved applying to some online universities, so Morgan knew that if I wanted to hang, I’d do so on my own accord.
The current pandemic meant that schools were closed, which meant Morgan and her friends spent their days talking through those Zoom Session things and occasionally staying over, which her parents were cool with, considering these girls were basically family.
That day, their little crew came in and they were nonstop chattering. I swear they haven’t been this excited in a while. Usually my uncle is able to halt their conversation for a minute or two, just to get that temporary peace and quiet, but he and my aunt were doing a quick trip to check on my parents, just to make sure they were keeping safe. Their selflessness is not a trait that runs in the family, but I pray that I somehow inherit it from them anyway.
Back to the girls, while one of them opened a window or two to cool down the house, another one is playing this little song, this nursery rhyme on their phone, but it sounds creepy. It’s that Three Blind Mice song song, but it’s like they made someone sing it in that stereotypical creepy little girl horror movie way. Breathless, monotone, generally unsettling.
They found the video on that app, Tick Tock? Tik tok? Usually the videos I’ve seen are pretty funny but this one was. It wasn’t scary? Just kind of odd. A random user had sent one of Morgan’s friends the link to the video.
It was a drawn picture of the three blind mice, with the song as the background music. There were three messages that came on the screen:
“Performing in Waltham, Massachusetts”
“Time, location, and further details will be sent shortly”
And that was it. The username for this profile just seemed like random letters and numbers which, at least in my eyes, made it seem like some kind of stupid spam account? Maybe some kind of student project. The girls were adamant that this was something spooky, but honestly, besides the vocals and the fact that the ‘performance’ was happening in our town, nothing really screamed ‘horror’ to me in that video.
It was about 8pm when my uncle called and said him and my aunt were staying in Connecticut for the night, something was up with the car and they’re getting it checked tomorrow, and could I make sure Morgan and her pals aren’t leaving the house. I agreed and was promptly showered with words of gratitude, despite the fact that babysitting Morgan was about as difficult as babysitting a sunflower seed. The worst I’ll get tonight is maybe some loud giggling in the wee hours, which is where her and the sunflower seed differ. I inform Morgan of the situation, let her know I’ll be upstairs doing online school related stuff, try to keep things down, etc etc.
She agreed, though she sounded a bit absentminded as they were trying to find that 3 blind mice video again. One of her friends offered that the account was probably taken down. Another one claimed they typed the username wrong. A friendly squabble echoed through the living room. Things were good. They were supposed to be good.
At 12 AM I came downstairs for late night snack related reasons. The TV was muted in the background and the girls were drowsily laughing on the living room floor, their phones shining urban myths and creepy games in the dark. A half finished large bottle of soda sat near them, barely illuminated by the phones. One of them thanked Morgan for the soda, which resulted in more laughter, another one then questioned who even buys that brand anymore. I grabbed some water and some relatively healthy granola bar and made my way back upstairs. I almost felt the urge to stay after hearing their voices, so tired they sounded delirious, but lighthearted.
Feeling drowsy myself, I finished my snack, closed my laptop and within minutes I was out. I swear I fell asleep at that time. But I did wake up a few times during the night.
I woke up to that sound, the three blind mice song, and a healthy amount of whispering. It was around 1 AM. Maybe 1:15. I wasn’t one to make noise complaints, especially as a guest, and I was used to waking up here and there due to Morgan and her friends’ late night antics. I fell back asleep with ease.
At 3:30 AM I woke up again. The song hasn’t stopped playing but it was so soft I paid it no mind. It was a different version of the song, like a more friendly sounding chorus. Definitely more soothing than the original I had heard. What woke me up was the foot steps. And the moaning. Again, as long as they were in the house, I wasn’t going to complain.
It was at 4 AM when the applause woke me up. Not loud, but unexpected. I wondered what old school movie nonsense caught their eye enough to unmute the tv. I wondered if the scraping and gurgling sounds came from the TV as well, or was simply a video playing on their phone, in unison with the movie.
At 12 PM, I woke up and made my way out of my room. It was only a minute later when I saw a friend of Morgan’s lying on the bottom of the stairs, her face scratched, the tips of her fingernails still raised up to her closed mouth and eyelids.
At 12:04 PM, 3 minutes later, I saw her missing leg, lying next to two other legs from the two other girls.
At 12:10 PM I saw the two friends, curled into each other near a corner of the living room, each of their remaining legs were interlocked. It would’ve looked like they were comforting each other if it weren’t for their hands, permanently frozen into claws, as though they died right as they were trying to pry open a mouth and an eyelid.
Morgan’s body was in the kitchen, located directly below my bedroom. Morgan’s legs were fine. Morgan’s eyes were open. Morgan’s mouth was open. Morgan would’ve looked unharmed if she wasn’t hovering above a chair that was tipped over, an extension cord around her neck preventing her from ever touching the floor.
It was around 6 PM when the police got all the information they could from me, and Morgan’s distraught parents, who returned only minutes after the authorities covered the bodies.
2 days later, around 10 AM, they told us they were dropping the case. The toxicology reports came back and all four girls had high levels of ketamine, LSD, and PCP in their systems. There were no signs of foul play. The only thing that stuck out as odd was the hot glue residue. The three girls, Morgan’s friends, had their eyelids and mouths glued shut. The scratches on their faces were them trying to open everything up again. No one seemed too alarmed, they chocked it up to some kind of hallucination related excuse.
No matter how many times we all stated that these girls never even had a drop of alcohol, let alone anything harder than that, everyone just said that kids do dumb things, kids get spontaneous.
For the sake of Morgan, and my uncle and aunt, I kept pushing. Eventually, my pushing got me somewhere. The detective that closed the case agreed to meet with me a final time.
He met me outside the station, envelope in hand. Before I could even say anything, he looked at me and said
“Just have a look. I was told to give this to you.” I think he knew I still wanted to say something, because a few seconds later, he adds on
“I’m glad I got a seat. They always pick the best actors”
Somehow, and you can give me shit for this if you want, but that’s what finally got me to back off. You’d think that would fire me up, right? But it’s the way he said it. The tone of his voice, the look on his face.
It was casual, very matter of fact, like mentioning the latest episode of a tv show. He knew something, and he knew that whatever I might say, he was untouchable. They were untouchable. So I went home, and I opened the envelope, and I saw a USB and a business card.
The USB contained a video file. The video file contained a days worth of footage, cut down and edited in an almost charming way.
It begins with the girls and I in the living room, cutting away to a pair of hands placing a large bottle of soda in the fridge. The scene changes, as does the lighting.
It was 12:30 AM when the ketamine in the soda put the girls in a near catatonic state.
It was around 1 AM when several people dressed in black, the words “stage crew” printed on the back of their shirts, propped the girls up, pouring two vials of clear liquid into each mouth. The song is playing.
At 1:15 AM it cuts to fingers pressing eyelids closed, pinching lips together, gently placing a large carving knife in a hand.
At 1:47 AM it cuts to whispering “One leg is a tail, one leg is a tail” into Morgan’s ear. The farmers wife gets to keep her eyelids and her words. The song is still playing. About 20 people shuffle in, they crouch, some have folding chairs. Others brought wine. The stage crew hands out pamphlets in our living room. It’s almost 2.
At exactly 2 AM I screw my eyes shut for two and a half hours. Gibberish leaks out of the only drug addled mouth that isn’t sealed shut. The sound of nails scraping skin and bones breaking are almost muted by the audience singing in the background.
At 3:30 all that’s left is the singing. Some moaning is heard. Two wine glasses clink to the sounds of Morgan, still struggling to speak, but realizing what she had done. She asks what she should do. The only solutions from the crowd are various methods of suicide.
I open my eyes at 4 am, when the chair scrapes the floor and my cousin gurgles and sways from the extension cord. Muffled applauds weave through her final breath. The camera cuts out and the credits begin to roll.
Morgan and her friends named flashed across the screen as the starring roles.
The names of the stage crew, the audience, and previous viewers were all displayed as the credits headed downward. After that came the production’s investors.The names in that video were names you could recognize in seconds. They feed you, they run our country, they provide fuel for our machinery.
Whoever began this venture, made these plays, created this video, they wanted anyone sick enough to participate in a viewing to know that you’ve contributed to their sins. Either everyone is safe, or no one is. Even the thought of revealing this video would result in the death of me and everyone in my immediate bloodline.
The very last cut away appeared. A post credit message, a direct response:
“We noticed that you sat in on a show without paying the allotted amount for a ticket. A month from now, we’ll be filming our new performance, and we are looking to hire additional hands for the stage crew.”
A sheen of cold sweat formed across the back of my neck.
“Please text the number on the business card confirming your spot in our company as a member of the stage crew. If you choose to ignore or deny this opportunity, we will assume that you are opting to perform in a future show as one of our actors.”
“Either way, we look forward to working with you”.

It has been a month since then. The usb and business card were placed neatly back in the envelope and into my traveling bag. My days were spent in my room, avoiding the living room and kitchen. Avoiding my aunt’s wailing and my uncle tearing at the floors because the stains wouldn’t come out.
On my screen appeared a text from Their number. A link to an account. 4 videos so far, 3 of which were re-uploaded from the old account that was previously taken down, and one that was freshly made today.
A second text is sent. The day, the time, the general location, and further details were announced for the stage crew.
I left the house at 8 AM. I made it to a Target parking lot at 2:55 AM. I started writing this at 3 AM.
It is 9:27 AM right now. The show starts tomorrow at 1 AM, but old stage crew got there a few hours ago to set up, and new stage crew has to get there at 12 AM tomorrow to prep the actors for their roles.
I don’t know if I wrote this as a way to mark my existence in the world, or as an homage to Morgan, her friends, and many other victims who will never get justice. Maybe I wrote this as a warning for you all.
My advice? Take my story with a grain of salt, because any admittance of knowledge regarding this organization will not end well for you or your loved ones. But also, if you see a new video uploaded onto that Tik tok account, and that video announces that it’s going to be performing in your town, please leave. Take a 2 day trip. I don’t know how they choose their stage, or their actors, but I do know that once they are chosen, nothing will stop them from putting on their show.
I feel like I have so much more I want to say, but my phone is buzzing and
“251--* sent you a message” is glowing from the screen. They’re finalizing their decision on a location but nothing is set yet.
I was never dealt the best cards in life, but I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got.
Any residents of Buffalo, NY
Leave right now. Just for a few days. While you still can.
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2020.03.13 06:46 isuck_at_fortnite A sneaky attempt to end encryption is worming its way through Congress

There's a chance it might be used to remove encryption so it is very important this doesn't happen but if course it's being proposed as a way to save children from child open and trafficking which is great but still watch out the article below is from theverge
A sneaky attempt to end encryption is worming its way through Congress
The EARN IT Act could give law enforcement officials the backdoor they have long wanted — unless tech companies come together to stop it
By Casey Newton on March 12, 2020 6:00
A thing about writing a newsletter about technology and democracy during a global pandemic is that technology and democracy are no longer really at the forefront of everyone’s attention. The relationship between big platforms and the nations they operate in remains vitally important for all sorts of reasons, and I’ve argued that the platforms have been unusually proactive in their efforts to promote high-quality information sources. Still, these moves are a sideshow compared to the questions we’re all now asking. How many people will get COVID-19? How many people will die? Will our healthcare system be overwhelmed? How long will it take our economy to recover?
We won’t know the answers for weeks, but I’m starting to fear the worst. On Wednesday the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 had officially become a pandemic. A former director for the Centers for Disease Control now says that in the worst case scenario, more than 1 million Americans could die.
This piece by Tomas Pueyo argues persuasively that the United States is currently seeing exponential growth in the number of people contracting the disease, and that hospitals are likely to be overwhelmed. Pueyo’s back ground is in growth marketing, not in epidemiology. But by now we have seen enough outbreaks in enough countries to have a rough idea of how the disease spreads, and to understand the value of “social distancing” — that is, staying behind closed doors. So I want to recommend that everyone here reads that piece, and consider modifying your behavior if you’re still planning events or spending a lot of time in public.
One risk of having the world pay attention to a single, all-consuming story is that less important but still urgent stories are missed along the way. One such unfolding story in our domain is the (deep breath) Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (“EARN IT”) Act, which was the subject of a Senate hearing on Wednesday. Here’s Alfred Ng with an explainer in CNET:
The EARN IT Act was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican of South Carolina) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Democrat of Connecticut), along with Sen. Josh Hawley (Republican of Missouri) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat of California) on March 5.
The premise of the bill is that technology companies have to earn Section 230 protections rather than being granted immunity by default, as the Communications Decency Act has provided for over two decades.
For starters, it’s not clear that companies have to “earn” what are already protections provided under the First Amendment: to publish, and to allow their users to publish, with very few legal restrictions. But if the EARN IT Act were passed, tech companies could be held liable if their users posted illegal content. This would represent a significant and potentially devastating amendment to Section 230, a much-misunderstood lawthat many consider a pillar of the internet and the businesses that operate on top of it.
When internet companies become liable for what their users post, those companies aggressively moderate speech. This was the chief outcome of FOSTA-SESTA, the last bill Congress passed to amend Section 230. It was putatively written to eliminate sex trafficking, and was passed into law after Facebook endorsed it. I wrote about the aftermath in October:
[The law] threatens any website owner with up to 10 years in prison for hosting even one instance of prostitution-related content. As a result, sites like Craigslist removed their entire online personals sections. Sex workers who had previously been working as their own bosses were driven back onto the streets, often forced to work for pimps. Prostitution-related crime in San Francisco alone — including violence against workers — more than tripled.
Meanwhile, evidence that the law reduced sex trafficking is suspiciously hard to come by. And there is little reason to believe that the EARN IT Act will be a greater boon to public life.
Yet, for the reasons Issie Lapowsky lays out today in a good piece in Protocol, it may pass anyway. Once again Congress has lined up some sympathetic witnesses who paint a picture that, because of their misfortune, whole swathes of the internet should be eliminated. It would do that by setting up a byzantine checklist structure that would handcuff companies to a difficult-to-modify set of procedures. One item on that checklist could be eliminating end-to-end encryption in messaging apps, depriving the world of a secure communications tool at a time when authoritarian governments are surging around the world. Here’s Lapowsky:
The EARN IT Act would establish the National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention, a 19-member commission, tasked with creating a set of best practices for online companies to abide by with regard to stopping child sexual abuse material. Those best practices would have to be approved by 14 members of the committee and submitted to the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security, and the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission for final approval. That list would then need to be enacted by Congress. Companies would have to certify that they’re following those best practices in order to retain their Section 230 immunity. Like FOSTA/SESTA before it, losing that immunity would be a significant blow to companies with millions, or billions, of users posting content every day.
The question now is whether the industry can convince lawmakers that the costs of the law outweigh the benefits. It’s a debate that will test what tech companies have learned from the FOSTA/SESTA battle — and how much clout they even have left on Capitol Hill.
The bill’s backers have not said definitively that they will demand a backdoor for law enforcement (and whoever else can find it) as part of the EARN IT Act. (In fact, Blumenthal denies it.) But nor have they written the bill to say they won’t. And Graham, one of the bill’s cosponsors, left little doubt on where he stands:
“Facebook is talking about end-to-end encryption which means they go blind,” Sen Graham said, later adding, “We’re not going to go blind and let this abuse go forward in the name of any other freedom.”
Notably, Match Group — the company behind Tinder, OKCupid, and many of the most popular dating apps in the United States — has come out in support of the bill. (That’s easy for Match: none of the apps it makes offer encrypted communications.) The platforms are starting to speak up against it, though — see this thread from WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart.
In the meantime, Graham raises the prospect that the federal government will get what it has long wanted — greatly expanded power to surveil our communications — by burying it in a complex piece of legislation that is nominally about reducing the spread of child abuse imagery. It’s a cynical move, and if the similar tactics employed in the FOSTA-SESTA debate were any indication, it might well be an effective one.
The Ratio
Trending up: Amazon and the Gates Foundation might team up to deliver coronavirus test kits to Seattle homes. The test kits include nose swabs that can be mailed to the University of Washington for analysis.
Trending up: Amazon will give all employees diagnosed with coronavirus or put into quarantine up to two weeks of paid sick leave. The policy includes part-time warehouse workers. COVID-19 has really been a watershed for tech giants treating their contract workers like the human beings they are.
On the policy front:
The White House met with Facebook,Google, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, andMicrosoft to coordinate efforts over the coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters)
YouTube will begin letting creators make money from their videos about the coronavirus. It’s a reversal of an earlier decision the company made to automatically demonetize videos that talked about the outbreak. That decision angered creators, and now the company has walked it back. (Julia Alexander /The Verge)
On the economy:
Apple is closing all 17 of its retail stores in Italy “until further notice” as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the country. (Mark Gurman / Bloomberg)
The coronavirus outbreak is hurtingAirbnb hosts as travel screeches to a halt. The economic downturn is also impacting airlines and hotels, but hosts have fewer resources to cope. (Erin Griffith / The New York Times)
Travel influencers also say the spread of COVID-19 has impacted their lives and bottom lines. (Tanya Chen / BuzzFeed)
On the office front:
Google is asking all employees in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to work from home due to coronavirus concerns. Employees in North American have already been given the same advice. (Isobel Asher Hamilton and Rob Price / Business Insider)
On the conference front:
The Council on Foreign Relations had to cancel a roundtable discussion about doing business under coronavirus due to, well, the coronavirus. It’s one of many events that have been canceled or rescheduled in recent weeks to do the virus’s spread. (David Welch / Bloomberg)
The biggest trade show in video games, E3 2020, was canceled due to coronavirus concerns. The event was supposed to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center this June. (Jason Schreier / Kotaku)
On the misinformation front:
A Facebook group called “U.K. Preppers & Survivalists” is trying to stop misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic from spreading. One of the moderators said that while people should question news and politicians, questioning doctors isn’t helpful. (Hussein Kesvani / Mel)
Hackers are sending emails with fake HIV results and coronavirus information that infect computers with malware, according to cybersecurity researchers at Proofpoint. The fake HIV emails are designed to look like they come from Vanderbilt University. (Jane Lytvynenko / BuzzFeed)
WeChat users in China are evading censors by translating a viral interview from a coronavirus whistleblower in Wuhan, China. They’re rewriting it backward, filling it with typos and emojis, sharing it as a PDF, and even translating it into fictional languages like Klingon. (Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed)
We need to combat misinformation about coronavirus the same way we’re combating the virus itself: with a communitarian focus. This strategy emphasizes the needs of the community rather than just focusing on the individual, this piece argues. (Whitney Phillips / Wired)
Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are trying to keep up with demand for their software, which allows people to work remotely. The companies have also started giving it away to companies and schools for free, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies. (Rani Molla / Recode)
Here’s the case for why coronavirus quarantines could be good for memes. Finally, some good news! (Brian Feldman / Intelligencer)
⭐Maryland, Nebraska, and New York have all proposed taxes that would force tech companies to hand over a portion of the revenue generated from digital advertising. The proposals mirror taxes countries like France have also considered. Ashley Gold at The Information has the story:
The proposals vary in approach and scope, but they all center around the idea that big internet companies, having built their fortunes in part through the use of consumers’ personal information, should be contributing more to government coffers. The bills, which face mixed prospects for adoption, have drawn the ire of tech companies and other business groups, who say it could be challenging to determine precisely how much of their ad revenue comes from each state. In addition, tax experts said, the proposals could run afoul of federal law.
But lawmakers and other advocates believe the proposals might find favor with voters concerned about the power wielded by Silicon Valley and large corporations in general.
Also: The UK government confirmed that it will levy a 2 percent tax on “the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from U.K. users” starting on April 1st. The United States government has been strongly opposed to the plan. (Shakeel Hashim / Protocol)
After 2016, Americans are alert to Russian election interference and outside attempts to spread discord. But conspiracy theories and vitriol are now coming from influencers in the United States — verified users, many from within the media, and passionate hyper-partisan fan groups that band together to drive the conversation. (Renée DiResta / The Atlantic)
Joe Biden has more than tripled the amount of money his campaign is spending on Facebook ads following a strong showing on Super Tuesday. His spend on Facebook ads in March has exceeded that of Bernie Sanders and President Trump. (Salvador Rodriguez / CNBC)
As big tech companies struggle to moderate content with a mix of algorithms, fact-checkers, and policies,Wikipedia is quietly managing to stave off misinformation with an army of anonymous volunteers. (Alex Pasternack / Fast Company)
Clearview AI let multiple people associated with the Trump campaign use its facial recognition app. Venture capital firms including SoftBank, Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Founders Fund also ran searches. Clearview previously tried to claim that the app was only for law enforcement. (Ryan Mac, Caroline Haskins and Logan McDonald / BuzzFeed)
Microsoft organized 35 nations to take down one of the world’s largest botnets — malware that secretly seizes control of millions of computers around the globe. The move was unusual because it was carried out by a company, not a government. (David E. Sanger / The New York Times)
Content related to far-right candidates in Poland makes up a greater percentage of general Facebook content than of content on mainstream outlets’ Facebook pages, according to researchers at Stanford. Evidence suggests this might be because far-right pages are especially good at boosting engagement on Facebook by posting content simultaneously across their networks. (Daniel Bush, Anna Gielewska, Maciej Kurzynski / Cyber Policy Center)
⭐TikTok is launching a “Transparency Center” in Los Angeles to give outside experts more insight into how the company makes content moderation decisions. It’s one of many moves the company has made in recent months to quell the concerns of US regulators and lawmakers. This one’s interesting. Reuters explains:
The center would later provide insights into the app’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, and offer more details on privacy and security.
Several U.S. agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app, whose popularity among teenagers has been growing rapidly.
More info
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2020.02.29 12:20 58Shark Interviews on Rachel Getting Married

The Presskit (PDF) - Quotes from Demme, producer Neda Armian, DoP Declan Quinn, Hathaway, Bill Irwin and Rosemarie DeWitt. It also explains who some of the people playing the guests and the musicians are, as well as a seating plan for the wedding.
Demme, Lumet on Getting 'Rachel' Married - NPR Fresh Air (25 minutes, also transcript)
Jonathan Demme Interview (Think this might actually be from a DVD extra) (4:58)
Demme & Lumet on Rachel Getting Married - DP/30 (34:18)
Jonathan Demme: The Enthusiast - Hollywood Reporter - Demme talks primarily about music editor Suzana Peric.
From a Demme interview with the DGA:
The sound design of Rachel Getting Married proceeded on the premise that, over the course of this weekend, there were musicians around who would always be practicing or noodling, so the sound was going to be real. We wanted it to feel and sound like a documentary. That was my strongest effort to make a Dogme film; a number of the vows of chastity were honored there, including no music added. There’s so much music in that movie, all recorded live while the actors were working. That was really cool.
Q: You’ve been moving between features, documentaries, and music performance films for much of your career. Have you seen them cross-pollinating one another in terms of developing a style?
What struck me at a certain point was that with features we’re trying to make everything seem real, and when we do documentaries we attempt to make them very entertaining. It’s a wonderful contrast, but I learn something every time I shoot, so in that way there’s been tremendous cross-pollination, but it changes every time for me. For instance, I’d shot a number of documentaries with Declan Quinn, so for Rachel Getting Married I thought it would be exciting to pretend that’s what we were doing. We never preplanned shots, just knew where the staging was and that the actors were comfortable with the scene. Declan was with his camera; I’d be in my chair at the monitor. I’d say, ‘Action!’ and suddenly a shot comes alive. I felt like we were getting better shots than you could ever design.
Q: Looking back at your work to date, you seem to have just followed your interests. Is that how you would have conceived it years ago?
A: No, but I can look back and see phases. There’s the Orion phase and then there was the post-Orion, bigger picture phase. But I also see documentaries working their way into the lineup more, and I love that. After The Manchurian Candidate [2004], which was a huge budget with all the committee stuff that comes with it, I felt burned out and remember seeing Napoleon Dynamite, which was made for like $150,000. I thought, ‘My movie was $90 million, and here’s this other thing, a million times better than Manchurian Candidate. I’ve been making movies for around 30 years; I’ve learned a lot. Surely I can make a Napoleon Dynamite. I’m going to try to do that.’ And that led to Rachel Getting Married. [With Rachel] I felt like I found a new indie niche—much lower budgets and lower directing fees, but a good niche. I wasn’t interested in doing larger budget movies. I had terrific little films, little documentaries; one of the great experiences of my life was making A Master Builder [2013] and Neil Young Journeys [2011]. But these pictures were not being seen very much, and you want people to see your work. Everybody works so hard. Then at that moment came Ricki and the Flash, and ‘wow!’ And it’s a studio movie. Now I’m going to Las Vegas to shoot Justin Timberlake, probably in 3-D. I think I’m in a new phase now. I don’t know where it will lead but I’m enjoying it immensely.
Director's Chair: Jonathan Demme - Post Magazine - More techy questions.
Like falling in love again - LA Times - Quotes from Demme about the film.
Jonathan Demme Interview - indieLondon
From an Interview with Demme about Haiti with Repeating Islands:
PK: One of the films you are showing is “The Agronomist.” I know that you have a deep love for Haiti. Can you talk a little about it given the recent disaster?
JD: Well, I was on the phone earlier today with a young man, a sergeant, in the US Army. His name is Gonzales Joseph. He was calling me because he’s got a camera down there in Haiti. He’s part of the force that responded to the disaster in Haiti. He’s got his camera with him. He’s getting, what he described as, extraordinary and important footage. We were talking about ways to get that up here and what we could do with it once it arrives. Gonzales is, if you can remember the wedding scenes in “Rachel Getting Married” (2008) and there is a guy in uniform who is taking shots all the time with a video camera, cousin Joe. That is Gonzales Joseph. He’s in Haiti as a member of the US Armed Forces. But, he’s got his camera. A camera that he left “Rachel Getting Married” with. That was kind of a gift we all gave him.
But I have to take it back two more steps. He is there because Gonzales and I became pen pals when he was stationed in Iraq, five years ago. He had read about “The Agronomist.” Somehow or other, he managed to see that film in Iraq and he loved it, it spoke to him, and he wanted to get more information from the distributor. They knew I would be interested in this inquiry and we became avid email pals. So that brings “The Agronomist” right up to the minute.
From an Broadway Buzz Interview with Demme about a play he did after this film:
There were so many theater faces in Rachel Getting Married. Was that your idea?
I wanted Rachel to be a completely New York cast and to populate the film with—for me—new faces. I told Bernie, “Bring me your favorites.” One of them happened to be [Ruined and Family Week’s] Quincy Tyler-Bernstine. She was so amazing and agreed to play this little part in the movie. Now, this is the director’s ego at work: When you see someone as fantastic as Quincy, you want to be part of that ascending arrival for that actor. So she was the first person I thought of for the part of Rickey in this play. One of my great joys in this play is that I got to work intensely with her.
From a Goofy Smile to a Baring of Teeth - NY Times - Article about Hathaway, quotes from her, Demme, Lumet and Meryl Streep.
Anne Hathaway Interview - Collider
Anne Hathaway Interview -
Anne Hathaway Interview - indieLondon
Anne Hathaway Interview - Cinema Blend
Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt - LA Times (3:36)
Rosemarie DeWitt Interview - BackStage (3:25)
Rosemarie DeWitt Interview - Slant Magazine (Talks about Rachel Getting Married at the beginning)
Rosemarie DeWitt Interview - The Hollwood Interview/Venice Magazine
From a Tunde Adebimpe Interview with Stereogum:
ADEBIMPE: I was really lucky to be a part of it. Jonathan Demme had used a part of “Satellite” in The Manchurian Candidate. I remember getting asked about it, and we were like, “Yeah, definitely, whatever that guy wants from us.” He is one of my favorite directors. I think something about three years after that, I got a call that he wanted me to maybe try out for this part in Rachel Getting Married. It was a very strange try out. It wasn’t so much an audition — I was supposed to come in and read with Rosemarie DeWitt. Well, actually, no. I was supposed to do a reading by myself and I walked into the room and there’s this big table and the producers are at the table, a couple of other people at the table, and Jonathan sitting there, and I was like “Oh my god, I’m going to have to audition in front of everybody like this? This is really, super intimidating.” And Jonathan was like “Hey! It’s really great to meet you, I love your music.” I think he found out about our music through his son, Brooklyn, a really excellent person. He sat down and was like “I love the music, I just wanted to talk to you about this whole circus.” We sat and basically talked about the bands that he likes. I didn’t ask him, but I remember I was about to say, “Do you like the Talking Heads?” Can’t ask the guy who directed Stop Making Sense if he likes the Talking Heads. [laughs] [That would] be awkward. It was great and we just kind of had a conversation and chatted. And then he said, “Well, cool, it’d be really fun if you could come in and have a reading with Rosemarie Dewitt,” who was playing Rachel in the film, who I’d be getting wed to.
So, I was waiting for that call and I got a call as I was walking down the street. I said “Hello?” “Tunde!” I said “Yeah?” “It’s Jonathan!” “Jonathan?” “Jonathan Demme!” I was like, “Oh, heyyyy, how’s it going?” He said, “I just wanted to call and tell you you got it!” I was just walking down whatever it was, Bedford Avenue, and I just kind of stopped for a second and was just like … you know, the weird moment where you can’t talk. He said, “Yeah, you got it! Come in, we are going to do a reading next Thursday, and there will be fittings in two weeks.” And I was like “Oh man, thank you so much! That’s great! That’s really, really great.” Yeah and then I got into it, got into reading. It was really, really nice to hang out with and meet Rosemarie, who is an incredible actress. And of course, Anne Hathaway just being around. It’s one of those strange things when you’re looking at somebody that you have basically seen in one film or another for a good deal of your life. It takes me a second. Not so much anymore, but it is really odd. It was the same thing with 3D. You kind of have to take a minute to walk and realize you’re just a person standing in front of me and it’s not as weird as I think it is. It was cool hanging out with her, she is really an insanely cool person. And meeting Anna Deavere Smith, who I think is probably one of the best actors in the world, an amazing activist and writer. And Bill Irwin, too. Just all these people, I was sitting down in a room looking around and thinking “Oh, this is a big deal. It is going to be a really heavy thing.” It was just really cool to see how Jonathan operated, too. Everyone on the set set was kind of treated — like the cast and crew were really treated with so much respect, as far as I saw, from him and other people. It was a really warm and welcoming environment. To see the final product … .you know, it’s a really, really heavy movie. It was just amazing.
Oh, and the other funny thing about it was later, Jonathan was telling me: he said, “Yeah, you know, originally we tried some people out for the part, and before you P.T. Anderson was going to do it but he got caught up in a project he had to do.” I think the project ended up being something like There Will Be Blood, or something. [laughs] We just started talking about him and how much we both liked him and Jonathan was like “Yeah, that guy knows more about film than I do! I was [working] in the ’70s and I was making some of the movies that he was talking around. I had no idea what was going on around me. He’s like a living library of film.” It was like a double-edge thing where it’s like, “I’m glad I got this role, I don’t know how I feel about that, though.” I don’t know how I feel about [filling in for] P.T. Anderson. [laughs]
Musicians Remember The Late Jonathan Demme - Tunde Adebimpe's piece is at the end of the article.
From a Debra Winger interview with the Guardian:
"No, I don't have another job lined up," she says, lightly. "But, you know, hope springs eternal." She jokes that the part of Abby, who is the mother of Kym, the recovering drug addict played by Hathaway in a somewhat full-throttle bid for artistic street credibility, is about "as long as an audition tape" - and that in a new economic climate in which, perhaps, more serious parts will get written, she must now be in a good position to land them. "As you know, I've long been ambivalent about the whole movie star thing. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to, uh ... work."
From an Interview with Fab 5 Freddy with Urbananotomy:
Speaking of Jonathan Demme, how did you get involved in his movie Rachel Getting Married?
One of the original producers of Yo! MTV Raps was Ted Demme, the nephew of the Academy-Award winning director Jonathan Demme. So I met Jonathan back in the early days of Yo! through Ted and he was BIG fan of the show and was loving many of the best rappers at that time like KRS One and Public Enemy. Ted left Yo! in the early mid-90s and became a successful Hollywood film director – but sadly, he died in 2002 of a heart attack. In 2003, I was in Jamaica for Christmas vacation and Jonathan was there with his family and we reconnected. It was his first time in Jamaica and he was loving it – my first time going to Jamaica was actually with Ted for Yo! MTV Raps to shoot and interview different reggae artist like Ziggy Marley and Shabba Ranks. Ted told Jonathan about all the things we did and he wanted to go after seeing me in Jamaica on MTV. So Jonathan Demme and I became good friends and when you become a good friend of Jonathan’s he always puts his friends in his movies. So he asked me to be in Rachel Getting Married as a guest at the wedding. Most of the people in the wedding scenes are friends of Jonathan’s. I also worked as a consultant to Ridley Scott and I have a small cameo scene in American Gangster. Denzel Washington has worked with Jonathan and was telling him he really liked working with me, so Jonathan gave me a big scene in Rachel Getting Married.
Would you want your wedding to be like Rachel’s?
No. I want a quiet wedding on a tropical Island paradise.
From a Robyn Hitchcock Interview with Variety
Was he more relaxed working on an independent like “Rachel”?
Well, he didn’t have people from the studio bugging him, so I think he felt liberated that way. But there wasn’t a budget. I mean, he put me up in his New York apartment while he was making the film. Shooting it almost in real time was like actually going to a real wedding, but with de-alcoholized wine; it’s as everybody was in recovery or something. And everything there happens in real time with the music; it’s not added on afterward. There’s a sort of heavy conversation that happens in one of the upstairs rooms, and you can hear a couple of musicians in the back garden playing something that goes with it really well, some doubtful chord. I got the script and I wrote this song, “Up to Our Necks in Love,” so he got me to perform about a minute of it in the [film]. But he just kept giving me extra musicians to perform it with at the wedding: There was a woman who’s not really a musician but she looks amazing, we had Jonathan’s son Brooklyn and his mate Barry. I think there were 15 people (in the band) and there wasn’t a room big enough to rehearse in, so I did two rehearsals with seven and a half people each. Then I think we ran through it once on stage and it was filmed and that was it. And everyone was in character: Anne Hathaway was miserable when I met her; I met her subsequently and she wasn’t miserable. It was fascinating that you were actually walking into the movie. “The Manchurian Candidate” was much more “Okay, we’re going to shoot this scene 20 times and then we’ll keep the best take,” whereas “Rachel” was almost like a wedding home movie.
Jenny Lumet Interview - (Short)
Extract from a Interview with editor Tim Squyres from FilmCraft: Editing by Justin Chang
From a T Magazine article about Production Designer Ford Wheeler:
His first job was unpaid, as the production assistant for the filmmaker Philip Haas, a regular visitor to the store. The second was as a set dresser on “Philadelphia.” Its director, Jonathan Demme, has worked with Wheeler on and off ever since. He calls Wheeler his eyes. “He reads the script, makes a little movie in his head and feeds the look,” Demme says. “What Ford saw, I wanted to see.” As a production designer, Wheeler is responsible for everything from the books on the shelves to the trash in the trash cans — the very content of the characters’ lives. He excels in reality-based films, though some projects come more naturally than others. For “Rachel Getting Married,” Demme told him he wanted the main location, a house in Connecticut, to have the lived-in look of Wheeler’s house in Dairyland, with a lot of memorabilia, only fancier.
Interview with Susan Lyall, Costume Designer; Amy Ritchings, Asst. Costume Designer; Barbara Hause, Costume Supervisor - Frocktalk (Archived)
Jeff Pullman on Rachel Getting Married - Gotham Sound - Chris Newman a recurring sound mixer for Demme, interviews the sound mixer for Rachel, Jeff Pullman.
Demme Does Dogme: Sound Crew Overcomes Obstacles - Interviews with the Sound Crew, including the sound editors and re-recording mixers.
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2020.02.09 16:14 ramonchek Legal Industry Trends: Law Firm News, Diversity Awards and Legal Technology Updates

s we march on to the end of 2019 and into the holiday season, the legal industry continues to buzz with constant development and innovation. Read on to learn about a few of the highlights happening in law firms across the United States, legal technology developments that are changing the way law is practiced, and things to anticipate in 2020.
Law Firm Developments, Hires and Moves
Buchalter recently announced the formation of a new Cannabis & Hemp Industry Law Group This, in many ways, is formalizing a group that has been operating for several years. In 2013, it all began when a client of the firm was tasked with operating a medical cannabis collective. Since then, the group has expanded to over 100 clients in the industry utilizing over twenty-five lawyers across each of its practice groups, demonstrating the broad reach of the cannabis industry. Building on those early experiences, Buchalter’s Cannabis & Hemp Industry law group will assist businesses in the industry across a variety of areas, including intellectual property, tax, real estate and financing. Oren Bitan, Shareholder in the LA office will co-chair the group with Martin P. Florman, Managing Shareholder of the Orange County office. Florman says, “We anticipate significant growth of this industry over the next decade while we continue to offer clients unparalleled expertise in distressed assets, banking and the Bank Secrecy Act, and real estate related concerns in this rapidly evolving industry.”
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, in Denver, Colorado announced the addition of four associates Omeed M. Azmoudeh (Trial Department); Stephanie Block-Guedez (Finance & Acquisitions Department); Molly Kokesh (Trial Department); and Rob McCary (Finance & Acquisitions Department). These additions will bolster the firm’s litigation and finance and acquisitions department, and two of the associates, Azmoudeh and McCary, were formerly summer associates at the firm.
Norton Rose & Fulbright recently announced the election of Jeff Cody as its U.S. Managing Partner, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Cody will also serve as Chair of the U.S. Management Committee. The outgoing managing partner, Daryl Lansdale, says: “Jeff has a passion for our firm, its people and our clients. Our partnership has the utmost confidence in Jeff to provide leadership and vision during a time of change and innovation in the legal profession.”
Cody has been a partner with the firm since 2001, and is based in Norton Rose’s Dallas office. He has significant experience in complex commercial disputes in healthcare, financial and information technology industries; specifically healthcare reimbursement matters, complex stock and asset purchase and sale agreements, and information systems development projects. Cody: “I am proud and honored to be entrusted by my partners with this leadership responsibility. I am confident in the firm and optimistic about our future in this dynamic legal landscape. With leading lawyers across the U.S. and around the world, we stand committed to delivering a superior client experience with high-quality and high-value legal advice.”
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP announced that digital health regulatory advisor Yarmela Pavlovic will join the firm as a partner in its Health and Digital and Technology Groups. Yarmela has extensive experience working with digital health, software as a medical device and assisting life sciences companies as they navigate the FDA approval process. Lisa Suennen, who leads Manatt’s Digital and Technology practice, says: “Healthcare products and services companies at the intersection of technology and health are facing increasingly complex and rapidly changing regulatory processes, requiring expert counsel to plan and engage with the regulatory bodies that make it possible for high-quality health innovations to come to market. Yarmela’s experience will be a tremendous value-add to our already significant capabilities in the digital realm.” Pavlovic, who describes her work as “a mix of legal and consulting” is excited to join Manatt, and says: “Manatt is the ideal next step in the growth of my practice and will help me provide an even wider array of capabilities to both startups and large companies that engage with the FDA.”
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP recently announced the hiring of Phillip A. Casey to co-chair Calfee’s Public Utility Regulatory practice group. Casey has more than 25 years of experience in energy law focusing on public utilities, both in house and within a law firm. His experience includes economic regulatory matters, corporate governance, new entrant certification, and regulatory strategies across jurisdictions. Additionally, he has incident response experience and major litigation management in this field. Casey calls Calfee’s energy practice “an incredibly talented group of experienced attorneys” and he says, “I look forward to demonstrating Calfee’s capabilities and leadership beyond Ohio and throughout the Midwest in this new role.”
Law Firm Awards, Recognition and Achievements
Benchmark Litigation, designed to feed the need for specialized study in the labor and employment practice area, provides rankings based on law firm questionnaires, peer review interviews and client reviews. The publication recently announced its second annual Labor and Employment guide and included three attorneys from Ward & Smith as “Labor and Employment” Stars: Ken Gray, Will Oden, and Devon Williams. Oden and Williams lead the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice and the firm’s Labor and Employment practice, respectively. Gray focuses his practice on employment-related litigation, advising clients from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies on breach of employment contracts, employment discrimination and wrongful discharge matters.
Ballard Spahr was recently named the "Law Firm of the Year" recognition for Litigation – First Amendment in 2020 Best Law Firms by U.S. News & World Report. This was on top of the 25 National Tier 1 rankings the firm achieved across a variety of areas, and especially noteworthy as only one law firm per legal practice earns that designation. Firm Chair Mark Stewart sees the award rankings as evidence of the success of the firm’s efforts to grow nationally in depth and experience. Stewart: “By executing our plan to expand thoughtfully and strategically, and keeping our focus on legal excellence and client value, we are serving more clients better than ever before."
Jeff White of Robinson Cole was recently named a “New England Trailblazer” in the inaugural list by and Connecticut Law Tribune for demonstrating an ability to “move the needle in the legal industry.” White, the chair of Robinson Cole’s Manufacturing Industry Practice, has significant experience on national and international issues related to the manufacturing industry, and this recognition is further evidence of his understanding of the challenges and need for change in some areas facing the industry. White: “With technological advances driving the boom in manufacturing, we need to continue to innovate in the kinds of things we're focusing on. Our job as lawyers is to stay on top of these developments, because they're going to have major implications that manufacturers deal with going forward.”
Under White’s leadership of Robinson Cole’s Manufacturing practice group, the group has risen to prominence as a leader in the field. One of his signature achievements was the creation of the Manufacturing Law Blog, which focuses on issues related to manufacturing rather than casting a wider, more business in general, net. In further recognition of his leadership in the manufacturing industry, in May of 2019 Robinson+Cole was recognized with the President’s “E” Award for Export Service by the United States Secretary of Commerce. The “E” award, established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. Robinson+Cole was the only law firm in the country to receive the honor in 2019.
Law Firm Diversity Recognition
The law firm of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner was recognized for its long-standing commitment to diversity by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, or LCLD. The organization named the firm a 2019 Top Performer and a 2019 Compass Award winner, one of only 21 member organizations that earned both designations this year. The awards indicate a participation in the organization’s programs, such as the Fellows and Pathfinder programs, as well as at least one pipeline program (Mentoring or 1L Scholars).
Bryan Cave is a long-standing member of LCLD, having been a member since the organization began. BCLP participates in the organization’s Fellows and Pathfinder programs, as well as the 1L LCLD Scholars Program and the LCLD Success in Law School Mentoring Program. The recognition came recently at LCLD’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
In more good news about legal industry diversity, the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance recognized fifty-one law firms for having a partner class in 2019 comprised of 50% or more female partners. These firms “tipped the scales” and were identified in the New Partner Report. The Report, a compilation of publicly available information and reported sources, revealed that 41.3 percent of new partners in 138 major U.S. law firms in 2019 were women, an increase of just over 2% from 2018. As well as the annual increase, the New Partner Report showed that women promoted to partnership is on an upswing overall, with an 8.1% increase since 2012, and more firms across the board are promoting partner classes that are more than 50% women, showing a trend towards “tipping the scales.” Click here for a full list of firms that were recognized for their 2019 Partner Class.
Law Firm Accomplishments and Deals
Sherin and Lodgen’s Renewable Energy Team represented Cambridge Savings Bank in developing a portfolio construction bridge and term loan for three ground-mounted solar facilities in Massachusetts. The project, built by Kearsarge Energy, will generate 8.8 MW of energy and features a 1.6 MW advanced technology battery storage component and will be one of the first to be implemented under the SMART program. The battery storage component is especially exciting, as industry analysts think this type of storage has the power to transform the renewable energy development and distribution in the near future. Sherin and Lodgen’s renewable team was led by Bethany A. Bartlett, renewable energy chair, and Colleen V. Collins, of counsel, and Tyler N. Ballew, and included syndicate partners Eastern Bank and Middlesex Savings Bank.
Global law firm DLA Piper represented SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and SunTrust Bank in closing of U.S. $60 million credit facility for Electric Entertainment. Electric Entertainment is a LA based production company founded by Dean Devlin. Devlin is a well-known producer, whose credits include films such as Stargate and Independence Day, and television series like The Librarian and Leverage. The credit facility will finance upcoming projects on WGN and the CW, and develop other film and television projects. The DLA Piper team representing SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and SunTrust Bank was led by partner Tom Ara, co-chair of the firm's Entertainment Transactions and Finance practices, and included partner Afshin Beyzaee and associates Greg Young, Payvand Coyle and Rahul Sajnani (all of Los Angeles).
Looking at Pro-Bono work, during National Pro Bono Week in the United Kingdom, and Hogan Lovells ranked number one in Legal Week’s survey for the firm’s pro bono efforts in the UK. The firm did a total of 27,704 pro bono hours in the UK for 2018, and the publication also recognized the firm’s contribution to a variety of projects, including the Westminster and London Bridge inquests. Yasmin Waljee, International Pro Bono Director of Hogan Lovells called the recognition “fantastic.” She said: " It is not the hours of pro bono that matter but the remarkable impact of the work undertaken by all the firms listed and those that were not."
Legal Industry Trends, Research and Upcoming Events
Legal Technology company InCloudCounsel announced two new software automation enhancements powered by proprietary research in AI and machine learning. The developments are an Automated initial contract review; that automatically scans and flags clauses that conflict with negotiation requirements, helping to ease the negotiation stage and expedite the review process. The next piece comes into play when negotiation is finished--an AI-powered scorecard creates an abstract summary of key terms in the agreement, scanning the final agreement identifying the key terms in the common clauses. These tools were developed with InCloudCounsel’s proprietary technology, and assist attorneys in working more efficiently and accurately, maximizing their efforts to deliver legal services to their clients.
Hadayat Seddiqi, led the innovation process in his role as director of machine learning at InCloudCounsel. Hadayat’s resume includes work on space exploration robots at NASA, quantum computing at the Department of Energy and DNA sequencing software with a biotech startup. He says, “Our artificial intelligence models bring valuable tools to a field that historically has been very difficult to build similar solutions for. Our models are understanding increasingly complex abstract language and concepts – allowing our proprietary AI to automate a growing number of narrow tasks.”
The Legal Marketing Association released its agenda for the organization’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado on March 25 -March 27, 2020. The committee putting the conference together, led by Kristen Bateman Leis of Parker Poe and Jonathan Mattson of BakerHostetler LLP, have put together an agenda focused around the organization’s body of knowledge, with an emphasis on wellness and mental health. The keynote speaker, Baratunde Thurston, a comedian, writer and cultural critic whose resume includes work with the satirical Onion, advisor to the Obama White House and work on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Future Marketing Insights recently released a new intelligence report, projecting that legal transcription investments will increase, and those investments will focus on automation of legal transcription services. The demand for legal transcription solutions is global, and accounts for revenues worth 3 billion, indicated by the FMI insights report. This is anticipated to grow at a Compound annual growth rate of ~6% for the next ten years. The report indicated a heavy investment in legal tech startups in Asia Pacific, driving innovation. Additionally, new and improved Automation and Machine Learning technologies, coupled with Natural Language Processing are expected to fuel growth. Challenges include diverse pricing models and legal formats, and customers are demanding predictability and pricing consistency. The market is fragmented and major players are still jockeying for regional dominance--and focusing on innovation, to make the most of the technologies available.
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2020.01.22 10:28 Rocknocker DEMOLITION DAYS Part 71

That reminds me of a story.
“Rock”, Esme yells to me exasperatedly, as I’m out in the garage trying to fix the winch on my truck, “Your satellite phone’s going nuts. Will you please answer the damned thing?”
I had left my Osmoridium phone in my study as I’m off-duty and elbows deep in a wayward world-weary worn Warn Winch.
“Oh, sorry”, I reply. My, she’s cranky. I know Tash has lately been into everything, but that’s no reason…
“ROCK! ANSWER YOUR GODDAMN PHONE!” Esme orders at great volume.
“Yes, dear”, I rapidly and meekly reply as I run to my office. I guess it’s time for a conciliatory Haagen-Dazs infusion.
I run into the house, trip on the stupid cat, and get waylaid by Lady who insists that now would be a good time for walkies….
Out of breath, after promising Lady I’ll take her for her daily constitutional if she’ll let me answer the damned phone, I pick it up, cue the passcode, and yell into the infernal device: “WHAT‽”
“Umm…Hello, Doctor.” the phone replies. It’s Agent Rack.
“Yes? Sorry. I’m a bit out of breath.” I apologize.
“Sorry. I didn’t catch you in the middle of anything, did I?” he leers, which is difficult to convey over the phone, but he manages.
“Yes.” I snap back, “I was welding on a winch…” but I stop. I knew this was going nowhere.
“Oh?” he replies.
“Yep. Now, Agent, what for can I do you?” I ask.
“How’s your schedule look for the next couple-three weeks?” he asks.
“So far, semi-clear,” I reply. I’ve got some galley proofs to read over on an article I’ve submitted to Science magazine with some other geological types, but I’m holding off on contracts for a time. These last few trips really took it out of me. I need a little R&R.
“Well, I’ve got a request”, he explains.
“Great. More Agency skullduggery?” I wonder aloud, “Or another training mission to some far-flung locale?”
“No. Not this time”, he explains, “It’s more of an interdepartmental courtesy…”
“Oh, lord,” I muse, “Now what?”
“Well, Doctor”, Agent Rack proceeds, “The US Department of the Inferior, in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Mismanagement and the Bureau of Indigenous Affairs was asking us if we knew anyone with mining geological experience. Naturally, your name came up.”
“Um, Agent”, I explained, “I’m Oil Field Trash. I’ve done some mining; coal, hard and soft rock, surface and underground, as well as quarrying, but you know well I’m mostly an oily, drilly sort of guy…”
“We know that”, he continues, “But they are in explicit need of someone with a large amount of geological…”
“Yes?” I ask leerily.
“…and blasting experience…” he adds. I can hear his grin growing over the phone.
“OK, you got me”, I note, “You have piqued my interest. You will not be hung up on now for another 2 minutes. The clock’s ticking, Agent…”
“Umm, yes”, he noted, “They need someone to make the rounds of a number of disused mines in the Southwest, some in New Mexico as a matter of fact, and de-activate them.”
Visions of Primacord and binaries begin dancing in my head.
“OK, you’ve earned yourself a few more minutes”, I reply, “Please. Do continue.”
“If you accept”, he notes further, “You’ll be paired with an accredited Wildlife Biologist. Those mines with populations of bats are to be closed but retaining access for these animals. Those mines without an indigenous winged mammalian fauna will be closed permanently.”
“Whoa. ‘Indigenous winged mammalian fauna’?” I ask. “Since when did you go to school?”
“I’m reading from the prospectus, Doctor”, he replies, icily.
“Ah.” I reply, “When, where and most importantly, how much?”
“When is as soon as possible. Where is New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. Possibly Nevada. How much remains to be seen.” He replies.
“OK. What about materiels?” I ask, “Will I have access to some governmental goodies?”
“If you are referring to explosives,” he continues, “Of course. You will have full access to whatever you need. That includes building materials. You can mix and lay concrete, can you not?”
“Oh, sure.” I reply, “Just ask Guido the Blade. Oh, never mind. He wouldn’t say much from the bottom of the Chicago River.”
“Humor.”, the agent continues, “A most difficult concept. Particularly with you.”
“Yes”, I clarify, “I’m adept at handling concrete. It’s not exactly rocket science, y’know.”
“Good”, he replies, “Interested?”
“As usual, let me ask Esme. If I get the all-clear from her, yeah, I’d be interested. Is it FIFO or DIDO? [Fly in/Fly Out, Drive In/Drive Out].”
“We’d prefer you drive”, he notes, “You already have most of the equipment, and that will save time in the long run.”
“Y’know”, I reply, “rental on my gear is going to cost you…wear and tear, transport, insurance… This is a very ominous assignment -- with overtones of extreme personal danger. I'm a bloody Doctor of Geology. This is important, goddamnit!”
“Yes, we know”, he says somewhat defeated, “Send us your quote by the COB (Conclusion of Business) today. We’ll be back in touch.”
“BuzzBuzzBuzz.” The phone buzzes.
“Hmm. He hung up”, I notice, “How rude.”
First things first. If I’m going to spring this on Es at the present moment, I need to make plans.
“Es!” I yell, “I’m taking Lady walkies. I took my phone. Back in a few!” and I’m out the door, being dragged by our 130-kilo Mastiff.
Luckily, there’s a Stop-n-Rob just on the other side of the sub-division. We head over there and pick up a container of Dark Chocolate Fudge Mocha Chip Trüffel Caramel Custard Marshmallow Triple Ripple, a pint of Peppermint Custard Sandwich Cookie White Chocolate Peppermint Schnapps, and some Butter Rum Custard Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond Bark Pecan Macadamia with Fudge-Covered Peanuts, Lite for home.
I also picked up a pint of Blue Bell Bean Vanilla for me.
It’s not bribery. It’s for maintaining sanity and a sense of normality back home.
They have thermal insert bags, so I purchase one to keep the frozen bounty in its present condition until Lady decides she’s walked enough.
Over a pint of choco-goo, I broach the idea of my traveling to New Mexico for a couple or three weeks.
“Yeah, Es”, I explain, “I really don’t want to go, but hell. It’s the government, and they asked specifically for me. It makes me nervy, especially if I say no and they talk to their buddies at the Infernal Revenue Disservice.”
Not really. It’s a small fib, although I never did let them know about my accounts in Russia’s Sverbank…
Not that that’s illegal or anything.
I think. I hope.
Esme looks at me askance.
“Leaving again?” she asks, “Home alone with the kids. Well, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it…”
“What job?” I foolishly ask.
“Marrying you.” She grins.
Actually, she’s fine with my taking a road trip. It gives her the excuse to order plane tickets for her mother to fly in and sit with Esme and the kids whilst I’m gone. Of course, Esme will tend to this, she has all my pertinent numbers. I’m now on a schedule. And a mission.
“All that ice cream for nothing”, I lament.
“Everything in life has its price”, she smiles at me.
“So, I can go?” I ask her directly.
“Well,” she smirks, “As long as you’re going to New Mexico, you could drop by the Scavada and see what’s on dead pawn…”
“Gotcha.” I smile, “Good thing the Agency’s got deep pockets. This is going to cost me a bundle just to get there.”
“Turquoise”, Esme notes, “Not turtle shell. Oh, silver conchos if Fred has any.”
“Message received.” I smile.
“Well, I need to mail Rack and Ruin my prospectus for this job”, I note, “And now I really need that winch fixed.”
“Rock”, Es says, “Don’t take this wrong, but why not call in Digger? You worry about your Agency contract and let Digger sort out your truck. That thing is evil and hates me but you seem to like it. Let him get it ready for your road trip.”
My 1-ton GMC pickup is a big old truck, and Esme hates it because it’s huge, has a custom 10-speed manual transmission, three fuel tanks, four-wheel drive, and mind of its own.
However, she’s never let me down and I refuse to trade her in.
That’s the truck I’m referring to…
I call Digger and he sends over his top mechanic, Cletus. I pile the bits and pieces of the winch into the back and he drives off to Digger’s garage. He’s going to give her the once over, change all the belts and hoses and charge me a fortune. But, he does excellent work and stands behind it. He even changes and tops off the blinker light fluid. More than I can say for most mechanics I’ve run across.
I work up my contract for the Agency. It’s bog-standard: per diem, travel allowances, Door to Door, Force Majeure clause, Take or Pay; the usual.
I send it off and within three hours, I have the signed contract in my hands along with my contact information, itinerary, and the job description.
It’s actually rather simple work this time. Assay disused mines all over the southwest. If they are home to a bat population, then close the mines adits (portals) so that the bats, but nothing else, particularly humans, can gain entrance.
No bats? Close the portals permanently.
I love vague wording.
Translation: get loads of explosives from the government and blast those fuckers shut good and tight.
Since we’re back in Texas now; yes, we do a lot of bouncing around for the next couple of decades, I’m actually looking forward to the drive to New Mexico.
I decide to take the scenic route. I’ll go down I-10 through San Antonio, to El Paso. Spend the night in El Paso, then drive north to Las Cruces. After that, it’s just due north to Albuquerque and the offices of the BLM. Easy drive, nice and scenic. I’ll leave at midnight, be in San Antonio by 0300 or so, and then spend the morning and early afternoon driving to El Paso.
Overnight in ‘The Pass’, with maybe a bit of a side trip to Old Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez to pick up a few boxes of cheap cigars, and bunk it in for the night. The next morning, I can ease up to Las Cruces, maybe with a stopover in Socorro and visit the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, then scoot up to Albuquerque.
Well, as long as I’m going to stop over in Juarez, I may as well drop in at Los Ojos Rojos, a restaurant/tavern I used to frequent on our annual deer hunts down near Cornudas.
We’d go every year, and most years we would actually take guns.
First, I have to get my truck back from Digger. Until then, time to pack.
Later that evening I hear my truck pull up outside the house. It’s Digger personally delivering my GMC back to me.
“Yeah, welp, Rock; we got’er all saddled and bridled for ya’” Digger says, “Had to upgrade your winch, seems some ham-fisted rod jockey welded some of the contact points clean off…”
I was standing in the driveway with a cross look.
“Which can happen to anyone”, he quickly continues. “Tuned ‘er up, oil change, new belts, checked all the fluids, made sure everything was A-OK. I finally got those tires you ordered, and lookee here. Shit, with these new skins, she looks like a new truck. Got you two spares like you asked; one’s slung underneath and the other’s locked down in the bed.”
The truck looked great. New all-terrain off-road and overland tires, polished Crager high-strength off-road mag wheels, winch with all new mounting hardware and new tow cable. Hell, even got me a new titanium hook-clip for the winch. Impressive. I felt better now heading on down and off the road.
I gasped a bit when he presented me with the bill. He never dings me much for labor, pick up or delivery. But new chrome locking lug nuts, six new tires, a couple of new rims, and all the assorted tune-up and fluids work topped out north of $1,750.
I paid Digger. I also consoled myself that one way or another, the Agency’s going to be footing this bill.
I shake Digger’s greasy hand and thank him. He tells me to take it easy as the Texas Highway Patrol’s on the warpath again. He’s a fountain of good Intel.
Back in the house, I tell Esme it’s all hands on deck.
I need help packing as Esme tells me “You’re hopeless”.
“OK”, I readily agree, “I need two-three weeks’ worth of field clothes, a couple of pairs of field boots, my blasting vest, and my Stetson.”
“Only the bare minimums, right?” Esme chuckles.
“Oh, all that under-armor and socks and such…” I add.
“You’d forget your head if it wasn’t bolted on”, Esme chuckles as she grabs one of my luggage cases and sets to packing me for my journey.
In my office, I start to collect my traveling necessities.
Hmmm…wallet, necessary licenses, and certificates. Check.
Passport? Not this time.
Emergency and road flasks? Check, double-check.
Oh, bother. Only one box of cigars. And it’s too late to head to the mall. Ah, well, now I have a real excuse to sashay over the border in El Paso.
I hope a single box of Fuentes will get me as far as ‘The Pass’.
Now, back to packing.
Bullwhip? Nahhh. I never could get the hang of that thing.
OK, let’s see: Captain America blasting machine. Leatherman. Buck jackknife. Blaster’s pliers. Estwing hammers. Chisels. Gad pry bars. Marsh pick. All those leftover rolls of “Do Not Cross. Crime Scene” tape. Zippo lighters. Fresh field notebooks. Tyvek sample bags. 10 gauge pump Mossberg shotgun. A couple of boxes of double-ought buckshot. 64 ounce ‘keeps’em hot’ travel mug. Cassettes, 8-track tapes, and CDs (my truck goes all ways, musically).
I’ll need to stop in Mancos, TX. to pick up some dry sausage and jerky. Good thing it’s right on the way.
Oh, yeah; my .454 Casull sidearm. And a couple of boxes of hot loads.
I’ll need to procure a quart of bourbon, a quart of rum, a quart of vodka, a case of Bitter Lemon, a bag of limes, a couple of cases of beer… not that I needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious booze collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
We put the children to bed after stories and hugs, and I pack my truck. I forgot I had a ‘safety blitz’, that is, a case of beer stashed behind the seat in my truck. Good. I can stay hydrated much more easily now. Odd, I don’t remember opening it and grabbing a six-pack. Wasn’t like that when it went to Digger’s, was it?
Bah! Never mind. I need to get packed.
I place the shotgun in the Texas-standard Easy Rider Rifle Rack. I have my holster on, but driving while wearing a hand cannon is most uncomfortable. It goes into the metal lock-box between the two seats. Esme helps me load the truck and seeing how I forgot any foul weather gear, she brings out my duster for me.
“What would I do without you”, I ask through a sloppy, wet kiss.
“Die of exposure?” she snickers.
“Nice.” I reply.
I go through my quick mental checklist. Luckily Es remembers that I didn’t mention film.
I troop back in the house and grab a half-dozen rolls out of my office fridge.
“Now do you have everything?” Es asks.
“Yep.” I reply, “Don’t think I forgot anything else…”
“Do you have your Brunton?” she asks.
Back in the truck after retrieving my Brunton compass, she asks me “Galvanometer?”
In the garage, I grab my galvanometer.
I look around furtively to see if there’s anything else I should grab.
Back in the truck, again. Esme is still chuckling.
“If I’ve forgotten anything, I’ll buy it,” I said, hunkering down behind the wheel.
“Contracts? Field books? Pencils? Satellite phone?” Esme asks.
“No, I’ve got all that.” I reply, “Looks like I’m finally good to go.”
Es scans the front seat of my truck which looks like a flea market in Addicks.
“Don’t worry. I’ll sort out all this debris while on the road.” I assure her.
“Just be damned careful. Remember, my mother’s coming in a day or two. Don’t be afraid to call.” She smiles.
“Not a problem.” I reply, “You take it easy with the girls. Maybe go over to Bear Creek and feed the ducks?”
“Don’t let them hear you say that”, Es looks alarmed, “You know what an ordeal that is.”
It’s not feeding the ducks, it’s loading the car and all the preliminaries. Then the inevitable “I don’t wanna” when it’s time to go home.
“OK”, I say, “Just stand down until Oma arrives. Use my corporate card and get her a cab so you don’t have to troop out to the airport with the kids.”
“I was going to ask Sylvia to watch them”, Es nods, “But that’s a better idea.”
“That’s me all over. ‘Dr. Problem Solver.’” I smile.
We embrace, kiss, and I fire up my truck. It catches on the first turn and I note all three tanks are full.
“Only need to stop is to pee before reaching El Paso,” I say to Es, “We’re all tanked up and ready to go.”
“Just be damned careful”, Es reminds me, “You’ve got a family waiting on your return in once piece.”
“Hey, if I can survive Aeroflot, I’m bulletproof”, I say.
Es chuckles deferentially.
“Just drive safely and come home safe and sound.” She tells me.
“Will do, hon!” I reply.
We kiss, I drop the truck into reverse, and chug out on the highway.
I plug a tape into the musical volcano that is my truck’s sound system. 1000 watts RMS, 8 speakers, graphic equalizer. Nothing succeeds like excess.
I’m not certain that the subwoofer was such a good idea for a truck without a crew cab…
“On the road again -
Just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is blowin’ shit up with my friends.
And I can't wait to get on the road again.
On the road again.
Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things no one will ever see again.
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again.”
“Gad”, I think, “What a set of pipes.”
Well, the road trip calms down considerably after all this. The initial euphoria of being out on the road again is replaced by the reality of the fact of the size of Texas and the time it takes going from point A to point B.
No roadmap needed. The trip is utter simplicity. I-10 West until El Paso, then dogleg right up I-25 through New Mexico.
Yawn. It’s only been 2.5 hours and already I’m bored out of my skull.
Coming up to Mancos, I see the Mancos Billy Bob Truck Stop, Tire Salon, Hair Dressers, and International Airport is still open. This is my first stop.
64-ounces of day-old, if I’m that lucky, road coffee. Beef, elk, bison, and turkey jerky. Links of dry sausage. A couple of cases of Lone Star. A bottle of Old Thought Provoker or two.
OK, three.
A bag of ice for the cooler, a bulletproof ham and cheese Truck Stop sandwich, and a bag of chicken crispies.
These are the bits of chicken that fall off other people’s orders. They’re greasily magically delicious.
A couple of boxes of Jack Black cheapo-o road cigars, some scratch-off lottery tickets for Es, and five “Pick 5” lotto picks.
Yeah, I occasionally pay the Stupid Tax. But, I rationalize, you can’t win if you don’t play.
I trundle all this out to my truck and put the coffee, chicken, sandwich, and jerky in the cab.
The rest goes in the cooler in the back, on ice.
For later.
Back headed due west, I fiddle with the radio in my truck. I was a real HAM geek for years (WZ9AXI – KFZ 9605) and this radio proves it. It’s a mobile long- and shortwave receiver, as well as AM/FM broadcast radio. I’m currently fiddling with it trying to find Radio Moscow as I hum down the deserted highway.
It also can pick up certain law enforcement agencies radio transmissions. I’m no lead foot, never a ticket in over 45 years of driving, but I do listen occasionally for weather and road reports.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
I roll into the outskirts of San Antonio earlier than expected. Given the lack of crosswinds, traffic, and the time of night; even with my pit stop in Mancos, I’m way ahead of schedule.
Which is great, as I realize that I’ve been slurping coffee for the last three hours and damn. I need to pee.
I whip into a What? A Burger? joint. I beeline to the head and make a fatter bladder flatter. I feel it necessary to purchase something since I’ve availed myself of their facilities so I go up to the front and order some more coffee.
“Java, java, java” I say, mimicking largeness exponentiated with each recitation.
The tired-looking guy behind the counter grouses, now he has to make a fresh pot. “No one else is going to want coffee for three maybe four more hours.” Damn, grouse, bitch, kvetch.
“OK, mate”, I say, “Forget the coffee, just a medium Dr. Pepper then, light ice.”
He brightens slightly and pours me a huge fountain Dr. Pepper, the largest they have.
“OK”, I say, bewildered, “How much?”
“Zip. It’s a freebie. Now I don’t have to make coffee. Enjoy.” he tells me.
“OK, you’re the boss”, I say, tip my hat, and head out to my truck.
I set this huge drink in my cup holder between the seats. It scarcely fits, so I slurp some of it down. No dice, it’s still metastable. This spills, it’s a soda tsunami.
Struck with an idea, I drain the last few dregs of my thermal coffee cup, grab some ice out of the cooler in the back, and transfer the drink to the iced capped cup.
“There. Not a problem.” I say as I fire up the truck, back out, and head on down the road.
Tooling down the road, its way early, 0-dark 30. Bars are all closed, and it’s before the graveyard shift gets off work. The road’s empty. I whizz past downtown San Antonio and off to the wilds of West Texas.
I’m smoking on one of my Fuentes Canoñe cigars, slurping from my Dr. Pepper, rocking out to Pink Floyd, and making great time. I’m not speeding, no need. I get there when I get there.
Then why the blinkered fucks are there red and blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror?
This thought is counterpointed by the shrill blast of a Texas State Trooper’s siren.
“Oh. Fucking delightfully peachy.” I grumble. I signal to pull over, stop, put on the parking brake, set the blinkers, shift into neutral, kill the engine, and put my hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, in plain sight.
“Tok, tok, tok” goes the trooper’s nightstick against my widow.
“Use your left hand and roll down the window.” He instructs me.
“Yes, sir”, I say as I comply, “Officer, I need to tell you that I am carrying weapons. I’m licensed for CCL, but by law, I must inform you.”
“OK, sir. Thank you for that”, he says. “Let me see them”.
I point with my thumb over my shoulder to my Easy Rider Rifle Rack and he shines his torch up there.
“10 gauge pump? Holy shit” he says.
“You like that, you’ll love this”, as say as I open the action, spill the shells, and hand him my empty, custom .454 Casull.
“Son of a bitch!” he exclaims, “What the hell is this?”
“It’s a .454 Casull Magnum. Used for hunting buffalo. Up close.” I say.
He laughs and hands me back my pistol.
“OK, sir. Can I see your licenses, registration, and proof of insurance?”
“Certainly”, as I hand him the required documents.
“OK, all seems to be in order.” He says, handing me back my paperwork, “You know why I’m stopping you?”
“No sir. No idea.”, I reply, “I wasn’t speeding, that I know.”
“No, but you were drinking. What’s in the cup?” he asks.
“My coffee cup? Why Dr. Pepper. Just got it the other side of Santone.” I note.
“And what’s that smell? You got any Mary Jane in there?” he asks.
“Nope.” As I retrieve my cigar. “Just this Fuentes cigar. Keeps me awake.”
“Ohh, I see. Let me see your coffee cup”, he asks.
“OK”, and I hand him my 64-ounce thermal mug.
He gives it a sniff and says “Yep. That’s Dr. Pepper all right.”
“Told you so”, I replied.
“My apologies, sir”, he continues, “It’s just that it's 0400 in the morning, I heard your music as you cruised past me back there. Then I see a glowing red cherry and you drinking out of a huge mug. Sorry, but that’s looks suspicious to me.”
“Not a problem, officer”, I say, “Best to be certain and make sure I’m not going off to New Mexico with a load of dynamite.”
He chuckles a bit, looks at me, and asks, “You’re not, are you?”
“Actually, yes.” I reply, “I’m not carrying any explosives at present, but I’m off on a job for the BLM, BIA, and Department of the Inferior. I’m a licensed blaster and I’m off to close some dangerous subsurface mines down.”
“Can I see your permit?” he asked.
“Which one? My domestic Master Blaster’s permit? My International Certificates? Or my certified ISEE permits?” I ask.
He just shakes his head. “No one who doesn’t hold all that can’t just make that up on the spot. Sorry to detain you, sir. Have a nice trip.”
“Not a problem, officer. “, I repeat, “Thanks for checking. I feel better out driving on these lonely roads knowing they’re being well looked after.”
“With your arsenal?” he laughs. “Thanks, sir. You have a good one now.”
“I will, good morning to you, sir!” I say brightly, spark up my cigar, take a pull on my Dr. Pepper, and fire up my truck.
He pulls out and it gone in a trice. I just chalk it up to the way things have been going of late and head back down the road, into the wilds of the American Southwest.
Dawn is breaking behind me as the sun slowly slouches up over the prairie behind me. I reach for my sunglasses and find out that, yep, I forgot the damned things.
Looks like we just had our glitch for this mission.
No way I can drive with that bright fusing ball of thermonuclear hydrogen chasing me all day.
A few miles down the road is another truck stop. I wheel in, park, and look around hoping to find a pair of decent cheap sunglasses.
They are either decent. Or they’re cheap.
And I seriously doubt ‘Ray-Ban’ is spelled with two ‘n’s.
I find a decent pair and cough up the $75. Oh, well, the Agency’s going to get this as field expenses. Perhaps they might have real Ray-Bans here…
Back on the road, I’m working on the remaining Dr. Pepper and see my bag of chicken crispies is almost empty.
Been snacking in overdrive, I think.
Oh, well. I drift past Ozona headed toward Fort Stockton. I’m making such good time, I decide to take a break around Fort Stockton and grab some real breakfast. I need to stretch as well, damn stupid back’s barking from all the road miles.
It’s only about three or so hours from Fort Stockton to El Paso, so I’ve got loads of time.
I find a local Ma and Pa roadside cantina. Normally I detest Tex-Mex chow, but there’s just something about breakfast burritos with chorizo and beef jerky.
It’s a Texas thing.
I stop in and it’s still fairly quiet. A few locals fueling up for the day, and me. I find a table and ask for a menu.
The matronly waitress asks if I’d like coffee.
“I’ve had enough coffee for a while” I smile back, “Sure could do with a cold beer, though.”
I was joking about that, but after I place my order for 3 breakfast burritos with salsa verde, she returns with a frosty mug of beer.
I’m not about to argue. It’s cold, it’s here, and it’s what’s for breakfast.
My breakfast arrives and I request another cold one. This is complied with almost immediately.
The burritos transport me back to the New Mexico Cuba Café and their magistra with breakfast fusion chow. The food is good, hot and above all, filling.
I was rapidly becoming blissed. I elect that a single further beer won’t hurt, but decided against it. I still have several hours of driving ahead of me.
The bill comes and I pay the extortionate price of $7. I leave a fiver as a tip. The food and service were that good.
Back on the road, it’s going to be a warm day. Window part-way down, I fire up another stogie, and head generally westward.
I have a reservation at the Super 9 Motel in El Paso. I wheel into town around 1300 hours and realize I’m a bit early to check-in. However, I decided to give it a go. I have nowhere else to be until later that evening.
The hotel was quiet, but my room was ready. Normally, check-in wasn’t until 1500, but since I was already here and the room had been serviced, they allowed me to.
I stashed the shotgun in the lockable toolbox in the bed of the truck, under the step-cap.
I brought the Casull into my room and locked it in the room safe.
I also dragged in my cooler, cigars, and other assorted necessary paraphernalia. Being able to park right in front of your hotel door made things easy.
I locked my truck, set the alarm, for whatever good that would do, and locked the room door behind me.
It’s wasn’t a suite at the Ritz, but it was clean, serviceable and cheap. I don’t always have to have the Executive Suite on the top floor. I’m used to this kind of lodging, remembering back to my Grad school days where I longed for a hotel room as I sat in my tent, being pummeled by a high desert thunderstorm.
I called a local cab company to take me down to the border around 1900 hours. No way I was driving across to Mexico and leaving my truck there. It’s bad enough that I have to leave it here in The Pass unguarded. Plus, I might just possibly have a sip or two while I’m south of the border. No need to drive after something like that.
I take a long, hot shower and flake out for a couple of hour’s kip. It might be a late-night tonight, and I need to give my back some rest.
Luckily, the hotel mattress is made of granodiorite, or so it seemed. I prefer a hard mattress to a soft one, like the ones that usually accompany a suite wherever I go. But this was even a bit unyielding, even for me.
Didn’t matter. I was out like a light in 5 minutes.
I wake after a couple of hours and see that I’ve got just enough time to get everything in apple-pie order before I head to Ciudad Juarez.
There is so much to see and do in Ciudad Juarez.
¡Es maravilloso!
One could visit the Benito Juarez Monument, or go to the Revolucion en la Frontera Museum, or visit the Archeology Museum, or see the Paquime UNESCO World Heritage Site. One could head south to the stunning white sand dunes of the Salamayuca Desert or tour La Parque Central.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
I’m going to visit my old friend Martín who owns “Grandes putos cigarros” down on Camino del Tabaco in Ciudad Juarez. I’ll probably hang around his shop while his employees whip up a custom box of smokes for me.
Then, if the evening proceeds as usual, I’ll take Martín out to dinner. He’ll take me around town and we’ll go to several cantinas trying out different locally indigenous beverages. After this, Martín will try to get me to go to some of the quaint anatomical and animal shows down along Tourist Street (Juarez Avenue). Then we’ll end up at the “World Famous Kentucky Club”, trying to avoid scams, fights, naughty ladies of the evening, and other forms of semi-dangerous adult entertainment.
After which, I’ll pour Martín into a cab and I’ll head back north across the border.
It’s become a tradition every time I’m in this neck of the woods.
It’s exhausting. Well, best get going…
I cab it down to the border and walk across. No passport necessary at this time, my Texas Driver’s License suffices. Once across the border, I spark up a cigar; down here, I think that’s the law, and hail a cab.
Once the flying metal settles down, and the car fires are doused, I choose the least wrecked looking taxi and hope the driver speaks English a bit or I can follow his Juarez Español. I negotiate a fare, part with a cigar, and head off to Martín’s. The evening has begun.
Martín’s shop is a hole in the wall, which belies its grandness. Unobtrusive outside, once in there’s a large series of walk-in humidors, some heavily overstuffed chairs to sit and savor a cigar, and several walls full of lockers where like-minded folks keep their cigars. The whole shop is one huge humidor.
In back is where the magic happens. He has a dozen or so folks who are tobacco masters, hand-rolling cigars. Several are Cuban, who have immigrated to Mexico for this very job.
They’ve trained several others in the intricacies of creating unique cigars. They have a radio blaring Mexican Top-40 tunes, which seems to set some form of cadence. It’s low-tech, low-overhead, and highest quality.
Martín shows me around and introduces me to some of the older tobacco masters. He is proud to show me all the different styles and sorts of cigars his folks can create. Candela, Connecticut, Cameroon, English Market Selection, Colorado, Maduro, or Oscuro wrappers. Short or long filler. Tobacco from around the world, and styles of stogies and sizes to match.
After a bit of looking around, I decide I want a couple-three of boxes of Maduro Double Churchills. 60 ring-gauge (60 divisions per inch of ring), 8.5” in length and dark and oily as can be.
Today, a box like this would be easily $300, if not more. Here I am paying US$100 for three boxes of 25. I pay Martín and give him my hotel information. He assures me they’ll be delivered to my hotel before I leave for New Mexico.
In fact, it was this sort of affair where Martín and I became friends. I was down on a deer hunting trip some years before. It was much wilder and woolier then as Juarez was just another border town. Lots of drugs, lots of gangs, lots of violence. Martín was struggling to make his cigar shop something different. Something legal, something high-quality and high-class. Being new, he didn’t keep much in the line of stock, instead, he had it created, de novo, by workers in the back.
To be continued…
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2020.01.21 13:11 rusticgorilla Lost in the Sauce: Jan. 12 - 20

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind).
  1. How to read: the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories. IF YOU FOLLOW THE NEWS CLOSELY: you likely know about the stories in the Main Course section, so you will be best served by scrolling down to The Sides portion.
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Let’s dig in!


The teams

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed (video) seven managers of the impeachment trial: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (CA) will be the lead manager, assisted by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY), House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (NY), House Intelligence and Judiciary Committee member Val Demings (FL), House Armed Services Committee member Jason Crow (CO), and House Judiciary Committee member Sylvia Garcia (TX). As Pelosi pointed out, she picked a team of litigators, saying “the emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom.”
A couple of days later, we learned what Trump’s defense team will look like: Fox News. Trump has named constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Bill Clinton impeachment-alum Ken Starr, and his successor Robert Ray to his defense team. The three frequent Fox News guests will join lead White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and former Trump lawyers Jane Raskin and Eric Hershmann to round out the ranks.
A glimpse of strategy:
Trump defenders have given us a preview of the argument they’re likely to make during the impeachment trial: “If he did it, so what?” Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told Hannity on Thursday, “if everything the Democrats said is true it's still not impeachable. If everything Lev Parnas said is true, it's still not impeachable.” Dershowitz indicated that he’ll make a similar argument: abuse of power and obstruction of congress are not impeachable.
Former U.S. federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance:
The implications of the Dershowitz/Trump position: Trump & any future president can keep witnesses from testifying & can withhold all requested documents from Congress. Checks, balances & the 3 branches of gov’t are dead. There is no more oversight of anything the president does.
  • Reminder: Dershowitz and Starr both represented pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and played a crucial role in helping him avoid prison time for multiple charges of soliciting and trafficking underage girls. The Daily Beast: “A suit unveiled by Virgin Islands prosecutors this week alleges Epstein continued to traffic and abuse girls as young as 12 on his private islands until 2018, a decade after Starr and Dershowitz helped him walk free.”
  • What a contrast: It remains to be seen how Starr will balance his past arguments with his defense of Trump. For everything Starr says to defend Trump, there will be clips of him taking the opposite position against Clinton. As Paul Rosenzweig pointed out: “Throughout the Clinton impeachment, Judge Starr consistently opposed the invocation of executive privilege and called for all the witnesses to come forward. Trump will have a hard time squaring that historical record with his current conduct.” However, Trump’s selection of lawyers make it clear he is not worried about this; attorneys who speak to his base were valued over consistent legal and ethical positions.

Impeachment schedule

Update: McConnell's resolution has the timing of the trial as follows: Tuesday vote on rules, Wednesday and Thursday House managers opening arguments; Friday and Saturday Trump team opening arguments; Monday and Tuesday next week time for senators to ask questions of both sides; next Wednesday vote on witnesses.
At 12 pm the House rebuttal to the White House brief is due (see below for those that have been filed already). The Senate will reconvene an hour late. What comes next is largely up in the air, as Schumer has yet to release his organizing resolution - the document that proposes the procedure and schedule of the trial. Democrats have discussed forcing votes on witnesses and documents immediately, but Schumer said he needs to see the organizing resolution before deciding the next course of action. It’s likely Tuesday will be a tug of war between both sides, with Republicans trying to put off voting on witnesses until later and Democrats trying to bring up a vote immediately.
Meanwhile, Republican Senators are reportedly contemplating a speedier trial than took place in Clinton’s impeachment, keeping the same number of hours but spread across fewer days. As of the weekend, GOP leaders were considering giving each side 24 hours for opening arguments; 12 hours each of four days. Each side was also given 24 hours for opening arguments in Clinton’s impeachment, but spread across six days total (3 days each). A Democratic aide told Politico that Democrats will object to a rushed trial.
  • The schedule of Clinton’s impeachment trial was as follows: Trial procedures were adopted first, before the briefs were even filed. Then opening arguments were 6 days, questioning of both managers and defense lasted 3 days, then 3 days of motions (including a motion to dismiss and motions to call witnesses), a 7 day break for witnesses to be deposed on camera behind closed-doors, 1 day of closing arguments, 3 days for deliberations (behind closed-doors), and day for final votes (publicly).

Briefs filed

The first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial were filed on Saturday, providing a preview of the opening arguments both sides intend to present. The House submitted a 46-page trial memorandum and an additional 60-page statement of facts; Trump’s lawyers submitted a six-page response to the impeachment charges. Since the facts of the case are likely familiar to everyone by now, I won’t summarize them here. Instead, here are key quotes from each filing:
House managers include new evidence, such as the GAO report (see below), to support their existing argument that Trump should be removed from office. They add that to acquit Trump would be a danger to the country:
”President Trump’s ongoing pattern of misconduct demonstrates that he is an immediate threat to the Nation and the rule of law. It is imperative that the Senate convict and remove him from office now, and permanently bar him from holding federal office… If the Senate permits President Trump to remain in office, he and future leaders would be emboldened to welcome, and even enlist, foreign interference in elections for years to come.”
Trump’s team made a political argument, largely avoiding legal jargon:
“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election — now just months away… The Articles of Impeachment violate the Constitution.”
UPDATE: Trump team's rebuttal filed

Can new evidence be presented?

A critical moment to watch for: Will the President’s lawyers object to the managers introducing new evidence? And what is defined as new will be up to the organizing resolution McConnell tries to pass Tuesday - in Clinton’s trial “new” was defined as anything that emerges on or after the day of opening arguments, but there is a chance McConnell could try to disallow all evidence that’s emerged since the House voted on articles of impeachment last month.
There is nothing in the rules that explicitly states that new evidence cannot be introduced. Instead, it simply says it is up to the presiding officer (Chief Justice Roberts) to “rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy of evidence and incidental questions.”
If a Senator disagrees with Roberts’ decision to allow or not allow evidence, the entire Senate will vote on the issue. A simple majority (51-votes) can overrule the Chief Justice. If this happens, though, things can get more complicated: a Senator can make a point of order that 67 votes are actually required (which can be argued), and Roberts will have to rule if the 51 vote threshold stands or if 67 votes are actually required.

Will there be witnesses?

As explained above, the timing of a vote on witnesses and documents is still unclear - it is up to McConnell to schedule the votes in his organizing resolution, but Schumer may try to force a vote on witnesses immediately.
Some senators have indicated that they are open to calling witnesses. Sen. Susan Collins (ME), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) have reportedly been pressing McConnell for “more than a promise” that he’ll follow the Clinton impeachment resolution that allowed votes for witnesses. Last week, Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) told reporters that he would vote in support of a subpoena for former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s testimony.
51 votes are required to call a specific witness, meaning that if all Democrats plus the two independents vote for witnesses, four Republican Senators would have to cross party lines. However, if only 50 Senators vote in favor of issuing a subpoena, it falls to the Chief Justice to break the tie. There isn’t a consensus on how Roberts will act in such a situation. Harry Litman, professor of constitutional law, argues in The Washington Post that Roberts should break the tie in favor of allowing witnesses. However, others (including Sen. McConnell) argue Roberts will consider any tie to be a failure; in other words, he will not treat his “vote” as equal to a Senator and 50 votes will not be enough to approve any action in the trial.
Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) suggested to McConnell that if Democrats want to call a witness, Republicans should insist on calling a witness of their own. For instance, if Democrats want to call Bolton, Republicans should call Hunter Biden. Anonymous officials present at the meeting told The Washington Post that McConnell “appeared receptive” to Cruz’s pitch.
  • A threat: Sen. Rand Paul threatened moderate Republicans last week, saying that if they vote with Democrats to call a witness like Bolton, he will force a vote to subpoena controversial witnesses like Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. “If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is. If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.”
  • Executive privilege: Two legal experts broke down what could happen if John Bolton is subpoenaed to testify and the President follows through with his threat to invoke executive privilege in a bid to prevent Bolton from answering certain questions - perhaps all of them. It is a detailed piece with more nuance than I can convey here. Essentially, if Bolton wishes to testify the only way to stop him is (1) Roberts ruling Trump’s privilege claim is legitimate, and/or (2) a simple majority of the Senate voting to support Trump’s privilege claim (which can overrule Robert’s decision). If Bolton does not want to go against Trump’s privilege claim, Roberts and/or the Senate can likewise order him to testify anyway. If that fails, it seems the only other recourse is referring to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress - though, the DOJ likely won’t act - or using the Senate’s inherent contempt power to fine or jail Bolton. It’s hard to see the Senate doing so. Therefore, even if called to testify, a witness may still be able to avoid answering key questions in the trial.

Video allowed

The Senate approved the use of video evidence in the trial, ensuring that House managers will be permitted to play clips of Trump, Mulvaney, and witnesses testimony before the entire Senate.
Democrats are particularly interested in playing the clip of Trump on the White House lawn urging Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s combative press conference in which he said Trump withheld military aid to bend Ukraine to his will, before later walking it back. (Politico)

GAO Report

The Government Accountability Office, an independent and non-partisan congressional auditing agency, released a report on Thursday declaring that the White House violated the law when it withheld security aid to Ukraine. The Impoundment Control Act forces the president to spend money that Congress has appropriated. In 2018, Congress approved $391 million in assistance and weapons to Ukraine, but Trump ordered the Office of Management and Budget not to comply with the law.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the decision says. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act… The President is not vested with the power to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law.”
This is not news to the OMB. Throughout the summer of 2019, Defense Dept. Comptroller Elaine McCusker repeatedly warned the OMB that the hold was illegal. Instead of heeding her warning, the OMB hid their intentional disregard for the law - with the assistance of the Justice Dept., all of McCusker’s warnings were redacted in a FOIA release.
Speaker Pelosi:
”The OMB, the White House, the administration broke — I’m saying this — broke the law… This reinforces, again, the need for documents and eyewitnesses in the Senate.” (The Washington Post)

Parnas speaks

Indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas broke his silence last week, telling Rachel Maddow that “everyone was in the loop” of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. “It was never about corruption,” Parnas said. “It was strictly about Burisma, which includes Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”
What did Trump know?
Parnas told Maddow: "President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President."
He went into further detail in an interview with The New York Times: “Mr. Parnas said that although he did not speak with Mr. Trump directly about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions and was told by Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Trump was kept in the loop.”
Who else knew?
Parnas revealed that then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General Bill Barr played a role in Trump’s scheme:
According to Parnas, Pence did not attend Zelensky’s inauguration in May because the Ukrainian leader refused to announce an investigation into Biden. "To my awareness, Trump called up and said to make sure Pence doesn't go there,” Parnas told Maddow (Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified to this same fact before the House impeachment committees). Asked if Pence knew the visit was being used as leverage, Parnas responded: “He couldn’t have not known.”
Rick Perry attended the inauguration instead of Pence. Parnas said that Perry called Giuliani on his way to the event and was told that he needed to convey to Zelensky that they had to announce investigations into Joe Biden. Perry then reportedly called Giuliani after the inauguration to relay that he had successfully gotten Zelensky to agree to the announcement. However, the Ukrainians publicly declared investigations into corruption, without mentioning Biden by name. Parnas told Maddow that Giuliani "blew his lid" when this happened. "It wasn't supposed to be a corruption announcement, it [had] to be about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and Burisma," Parnas continued.
Finally, Parnas told Maddow that “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team” as it related to Trump’s actions in Ukraine. "Mr. Barr had to have known everything," Parnas said. He did not go into many specifics, leaving many to question to validity of his assertion.
  • The Energy Dept. has agreed to begin releasing Rick Perry’s communications with Ukraine officials and associates of Giuliani in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by American Oversight. The first batch is to be released on Jan. 28, followed by productions scheduled for Feb. 4 and March 16.
Nunes implicated
Last week, House impeachment investigators released troves of documents, voicemails, and text messages given to them by Parnas. Friday’s release contained text messages between Parnas and Derek Harvey, a top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Cmte). The messages show that last spring, Parnas was working to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden (including former prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuri Lutsenko). Harvey and Parnas met with Giuliani at Trump’s DC hotel and Harvey passed along Nunes’s contact information just days before Nunes’s number appeared in Parnas’s phone records.
A month ago, the House Intelligence Committee found Nunes’s number in phone records of Lev Parnas. Nunes claimed not to even recall Parnas’s name at the time. However, 24 hours before the Friday drop, Nunes appeared on Fox News to conveniently announce that he remembered speaking with Parnas on the phone. He downplayed the conversation, saying they only spoke about “random things.”
Parnas told Maddow that he met Nunes “several times at the Trump hotel,” but had to work with Harvey because Nunes was under an ethics investigation and could not be publicly seen working with Parnas and Giuliani. Parnas said he was “in shock” seeing Nunes and Harvey lead the defense of Trump at the House impeachment hearings because “they were involved in getting all the stuff [on] Biden.”
Another quid pro quo
The first batch of Parnas documents released by the House reveal a previously unknown quid pro quo involving then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. In WhatsApp messages written in Russian, Parnas communicated with then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko last March about getting Yovanovitch recalled in exchange for dirt on Biden.
Yovanovitch was recalled the following month, told to leave the country quickly and secretly for her “security.” Until now, it was unknown what threats she was facing. Parnas’s messages revealed apparent physical and electronic surveillance of the Ambassador while she was in Ukraine. Current Connecticut Republican candidate Robert F. Hyde kept Parnas apprised of Yovanovitch’s location in often disparaging messages, even seeming to threaten to have associates do something to her “for a price.”
Parnas told Maddow he did not take these threats seriously because Hyde was a known exaggerator and drunk. In fact, Hyde was once involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital and violated a restraining order issued by a DC judge for stalking a female Republican consultant.
  • On Thursday, FBI agents were seen at the home and business of Hyde, reportedly examining Hyde’s role in Giuliani’s schemes. Ukraine has opened a criminal investigation into the surveillance of Yovanovitch while she was in the country and invited the FBI to collaborate.
  • Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took nearly three days to respond to the allegations. He denied knowledge of the surveillance of and threats against Yovanovitch, and said the Dept. will look into it. However, documents released by the House cast doubt on Pompeo’s claim of ignorance: In a February 2019 message, Giuliani stated that Pompeo is “now aware” of the effort to oust Yovanvitch.
A great deal of Parnas has said is backed up by documentary evidence, as well as previous witness testimony. Some of his claims, though, are not corroborated...yet. For instance, the claim that Barr knew about everything needs to be investigated more thoroughly. As Michelle Goldberg writes in The New York Times:
...nothing that Parnas said in the Maddow interview should be taken at face value. Important questions remain unanswered, including who was paying all of the bills. (Remember — he was paying Giuliani, not vice versa.) Parnas’s decision to go public in the first place is hard to fathom.
None of that, however, means that his dramatic interview on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s because much of what he says has been corroborated, and because the very fact that a person like Parnas was carrying out high-level international missions for the president shows how mob-like this administration is.
...Parnas is worth paying attention to because he’s shown us, once again, what Trumpism looks like from the inside. It’s part “The Sopranos” and part, as he put it to Maddow, a “cult.” The qualities that discredit Parnas are the same ones that let him fit right in.
How can the Senate determine if Parnas is credible? Bring him in to testify.


Bribery is good?

A new book by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig revealed (non-paywalled article) that President Trump wanted to strike down a law that prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials, known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump says, according to the book. “We’re going to change that.”
The president, they go on to explain, was frustrated with the law “ostensibly because it restricted his industry buddies or his own company’s executives from paying off foreign governments in faraway lands.”
White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow confirmed that the administration is “looking at” Trump’s proposal to do away with the law. “We have heard some complaints from our companies,” Kudlow added.
As Jonathan Chait notes: “Trump Tried to Legalize Bribery. Maybe He Wasn’t Worried About Ukrainian Corruption.”
  • Tidbit: From the WaPo article summarizing the book - Early in his administration, for instance, Trump is eager to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin — so much so, the authors write, “that during the transition he interrupts an interview with one of his secretary of state candidates” to inquire about his pressing desire: “When can I meet Putin? Can I meet with him before the inaugural ceremony?” he asks...After the two leaders meet face-to-face for the first time...Trump promptly declares himself a Russia expert... “ ‘I have had a two-hour meeting with Putin,’ Trump told Tillerson. ‘That’s all I need to know. . . . I’ve sized it all up. I’ve got it.’ ”

IC not cooperating

Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff said in an interview Sunday that the intelligence community is withholding documents from Congress on Ukraine. Schiff was responding to reports that intelligence agencies were resisting coming forward in public hearings due to fear of angering Trump, saying that “those reports are all too accurate.”
”I’ll say something even more concerning to me, and that is the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine. They appear to be succumbing to pressure from the administration. The NSA in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial.”

Russia hacked Burisma

As the House impeachment inquiry kicked into full gear last November, Russian agents were hacking into Burisma - the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served (non-paywalled article).
...experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma...The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Top Democrats have asked the intelligence community for more information, including an explanation for why they were not told of the hack themselves.
“I have to say, Rachel, I’m a bit distressed to see this for the first time in a newspaper report,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday night. “If the intel community is aware of this, that should have been brought to our attention by now.” (Mother Jones)
  • In addition to investigating the alleged surveillance of Ambassador Yovanovitch, Ukrainian authorities also announced that the country has started “criminal proceedings" around the hacking of Burisma. Ukrainian interior ministry official Artem Minyailo said he has asked the FBI and the cybersecurity company that identified the hack for assistance.

Tax return case update

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Trevor McFadden put the House Ways and Means Committee’s case seeking Trump’s tax returns from the IRS on hold (non-paywalled) pending the outcome of a completely separate case: The D.C. Court of Appeals consideration of Don McGahn’s testimony. House lawyers objected, arguing that the court was risking Trump running out the clock and potentially allowing the subpoena to expire.
McFadden stated that if the House prevailed in the McGahn case, dealing with the same basic issue of standing to sue the Executive Branch, he would be able to more easily do away with the administration’s motion to dismiss (law professors agree with this defense). Some, however, see conflict in his decision: McFadden was not only appointed by Trump, he even donated money to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The possibility that justice delayed could be justice denied is why judges should be expediting cases like this and ensuring that they are decided quickly to avoid any purposeful attempts at delay by the parties. (Slate)

Mueller memos

Last week, the Justice Dept. released a new batch of FBI memos from Mueller’s investigation. One of the key takeaways is the large role Fox host Sean Hannity played in TrumpWorld.
Hannity is mentioned more than a dozen times and emerges as a central point of contact between the president’s allies who were under investigation and Trump himself...In one instance, former campaign chair Paul Manafort describes Hannity as “a close personal friend” who acted as a “back channel” to the president. In another, Hannity counsels Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, after he received an inquiry from Congress.
The Russians were very excited to learn of Carter Page’s connections to Trump:
Denis Klimentov, who is associated with the New Economic School in Russia, said that when Russians learned that Carter Page, whose ties with Russia became a subject of the investigation, was involved “in the Trump campaign in July 2016, the excitement was palpable.”
Conspicuously missing from the latest document drop, however, are memos from the FBI’s interviews with Jared Kushner - even though a court ordered them to be released. Under FOIA guidelines, the Justice Dept. is allowed to redact certain information, but no explanation has been given for the missing documents.

More roadblocks

Attorney General Barr announced (non-paywalled) at a press conference last Monday that future investigations into a president or a presidential campaign will have to be approved by the FBI Director and the Attorney General. This replaces the previous policy wherein a high-level supervisor and an FBI attorney needed to approve of such investigations. The change makes it harder for potential wrong-doing by a presidential candidate to be investigated and raises the possibility that a probe could be shut down for political reasons.
Former director of the U.S. Office of Ethics Walter Shaub: “This is what you get when you allow a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre. The replacement Attorney General is a loyalist who guards the president against the risk of being held accountable to the people. It’s what he was hired to do.”

Treasury IG investigation

Acting Treasury Inspector General Richard Delmar is investigating a tax break created by the Republican 2017 tax bill after reports raised questions about how it was used. The Opportunity Zone program offers tax breaks to investors who put money into specially designated areas, meant to encourage new investment in poor neighborhoods. However, money eligible for the tax break is actually going to luxury projects in affluent neighborhoods.
The president’s friends and family are among those who have benefited from the Opportunity Zone break: Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; Richard LeFrak, a New York real estate titan who is close to the president; Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House aide who recently had a falling out with Mr. Trump; and the family of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
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2019.10.03 16:11 MarleyEngvall connecticut yankee has been created

By Washington Irving THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW (ii.) 30. I profess not to know how women's hearts are wooed and won. To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some seem to have but one vulnerable point, or door of access, while others have a thousand avenues, and may be captured in a thousand different ways. It is a great triumph of skill to gain the former, but a still greater proof of general ship to maintain possession of the latter, for the man must battle for his fortress at every door and window. He who wins a thousand common hearts is therefore entitled to some renown; but he who keeps undisputed sway over the heart of a coquette, is indeed a hero. Certain it is, this was not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones: and from the moment Ichabod Crane made his advances, the interests of the former evidently declined; his horse was no longer seen tie at the palings on Sunday nights, and a deadly feud gradually arose between him and the proprietor of Sleepy Hollow. 31. Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature, would fain have carried matters to open warfare, and have settled their pretensions to the lady according to the mode of those concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore——by single combat; but Ichabod was too conscious of the superior might of his adversary to enter the lists against him: he had overheard a boast of Bones, that he would "double the schoolmaster up, and lay him on a shelf of his own school-house;" and he was too wary to give him an opportunity. There was something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific system; it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in his disposi- tion, and to play off boorish practical jokes upon his rival. Ichabod became the object of whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders. They harried his hitherto peaceful domains; smoked out his singing-school, by stopping up its chimney; broke into the school-house at night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of withe and window-stakes, and turned everything topsy-turvy: so that the poor school- master began to think all the witches in the country held their meetings there. But what was still more annoying, Brom took opportunities of turning him into ridicule in presence of his mistress, and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whine in the most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod's to instruct her in psalmody. 32. In this way matters went on for some time, without producing any material effect on the relative situation of the contending powers. On a fine autumnal afternoon, Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on the lofty stool whence he usually watched all the concerns of his little literary realm. In his hand he swayed a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails, behind the throne, a constant terror to evil-doers; while on the desk before him might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon the persons of idle urchins; such as half munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little paper gamecocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of justice recently inflicted, for his scholars were all busily intent upon their books, or slyly whispering behind them with one eye kept upon the master; and a kind of buzzing stillness reigned throughout the school-room. It was suddenly interrupted by the ap- pearance of a negro, in tow-cloth jacket and trousers, a round- crowned fragment of a hat, like the cap of Mercury, and mounted on the back of a ragged, wild, half-broken colt, which he managed with a rope by way of halter. He came chattering up to the school-door with an invitation to Ichabod to attend a merry-making or "quilting-frolic," to be held that evening at Mynheer Van Tassel's; and have delivered his message with that air of importance, and effort at fine lan- guage, which a negro is apt to display on petty embassies of the kind, he dashed over the brook, and was seen scamper- ing away up the Hollow, full of the importance and hurry of his mission. 33. All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet school- room. The scholars were hurried through their lessons, with- out stopping at trifles; those who were nimble skipped over half with impunity , and those who were tardy had a smart application now and then in the rear, to quicken their speed, or help them over a tall word. Books were flung aside with- out being put away on the shelves, inkstands were over- turned, benches thrown down, and the whole school was turned loose an hour before the usual time, bursting forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing about the green, in joy at their early emancipation. 34. The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half- hour at his toilet, brushing and furbishing up his best and indeed only suit of rusty black, and arranging his locks by a bit of broken looking-glass, that hung up in the school- house. That he might make his appearance before his mis- tress in the true style of a cavalier, he borrowed a horse from the farmer with whom he was domiciled, a choleric old Dutchman, of the name of Hans Van Ripper, and, thus gal- lantly mounted, issued forth, like a knight-errant in quest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in the true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks and equip- ments of my hero and his steed. The animal he bestrode was a broken-down plough-horse, that had outlived almost every- thing but his viciousness. He was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck and a head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burrs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral; but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it. Still he must have had fire and mettle in his day, if we may judge from the name he bore of Gunpowder. He had, in fact, been a favorite steed of his master's, the choleric Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of his own spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as he looked, there was more of the lurking devil in him than any young filly in the country. 35. Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed. He rode with short stirrups, which brought his knees nearly up to the pommel of the saddle; his sharp elbows stuck out like grasshoppers'; he carried his whip perpendicularly in his hand, like a sceptre, and, as his horse jogged on, the motion of his arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings. A small wool hat rested on the top of his nose, for so his scanty strip of forehead might be called; and the skirts of his black coat fluttered out almost to the horse's tail. Such was the ap- pearance of Ichabod and his steed, as they shambled out of the gate of Hans Van Ripper, and it was altogether such an apparition as is seldom to be met with in broad daylight. 36. It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day, the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubblefield. 37. The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fullness of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and frolicking, from bush to bush, and tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety around them. There was the honest cockrobin, the favorite game of stripling sportsmen, with its loud querulous notes; and the twittering blackbirds flying in stable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker, with his crimson crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar-bird, with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail, and its little monteiro cap a feathers; and the blue jay, the noisy coxcomb, in his gay light-blue coat and white under-clothes, screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove. 38. As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. On all sides he beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press. Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their leafy coverlets, and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty-pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of the most lux- urious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat fields, breathing the odor of the bee-hive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel. 39. Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and "sugared suppositions," he journeyed along the sides of a range of hills which look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty Hudson. The sun gradually wheeled his broad disk down into the west. The wide bosom of the Tappan Zee lay motionless and glassy, excepting that there and there a gentle undulation waved and prolonged the blue shadow of the distant mountain. A few amber clouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air to move them. The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a purple apple-green, and from that into the deep blue of the mid-heaven. A slant- ing ray lingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth to the dark-gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop was loi- tering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast; and as the reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water, it seemed as if the vessel was suspended in the air. 40. It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of the Heer Van Tassel, which he found thronged with the pride and flower of the adjacent country. Old farmers, a spare leathern-faced race, in homespun coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles. Their brisk withered little dames, in close crimped caps, long- waisted shortgowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and pincushions, and gay calico pockets hanging on the outside. Buxom lasses, almost as antiquated as their mothers, ex- cepting where a straw hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city innovations. The sons, in short square-skirted coats with rows of stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the fashion of the times, especially if they should procure an eel-skin for the purpose, it being esteemed, throughout the country, as a potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair. 41. Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come to the gathering on his favorite steed, Daredevil, a creature, like himself, full of mettle and mischief, and which no one but himself could manage. He was, in fact, noted for preferring vicious animals, given to all kinds of tricks, which kept the rider in constant risk of his neck, for he held a tractable well-broken horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit. 42. Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel's mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea- table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped-up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger-cakes and honey-cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And ten there were apple-pies and peach-pies and pumpkin-pies; be- sides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly tea-pot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst——Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story. Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his historian, but did ample justice to every dainty. 43. He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer; and whose spirits rose with eating as some men's do with drink. He could not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of all this scene of almost unimaginable lux- ury and splendor. Then, he thought, how soon he'd turn his back upon the old school-house; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and every other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue out-of-doors that should dare to call him comrade! 44. Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a face dilated with content and good-humor, round and jolly as the harvest-moon. His hospitable attentions were brief, but expressive, being confined to a shake of the hand, a slap on the shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing invitation to "fall to, and help themselves." 45. And now the sound of the music from the common room, or hall, summoned to the dance. The musician was an old gray-headed negro, who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more than half a century. His in- strument was as old and battered as himself. The greater part of the time he scraped on two or three strings accom- panying every movement of the bow with a motion of the head; bowing almost to the ground and stamping with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to start. 46. Ichabod prided himself upon the dancing as much as upon his vocal powers. Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to have see his loosely hung frame in full motion, and clattering about the room, you would have thought Saint Vitus himself, that blessed patron of the dance, was figuring before you in person. He was the admiration of all the negroes; who, having gathered, of all ages and sizes, from the farm and the neighborhood, stood forming a pyramid of shining black faces at every door and window, gazing with delight at the scene, rolling their white eyeballs, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear. How could the flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and joyous? the lady of his heart was his partner in the dance, and smiling gra- ciously in reply to all his amorous oglings; while Brom Bomes, sorely smitten with love and jealousy, sat brooding by him- self in one corner. 47. When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sager folks, who, with old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the piazza, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories about the war. 48. This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of those highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great men. The British and American line had run near it during the war; it had, therefore, been the scene of marauding, and infested with refugees, cow-bows, and all kinds of border chivalry. Just sufficient time had elapsed to enable each story-teller to dress up his tale with a little becoming fiction, and, in the indistinctness of his recollection, to make himself the hero of every exploit. 49. There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue- bearded Dutchman, who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron nine-pounder from a mud breastwork, only that his gun burst at the sixth discharge. And there was an old gentleman who shall be nameless, being too rich a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who, in the battle of White- plains, being an excellent master of defence, parried a musket- ball with a small sword, insomuch that he absolutely felt it whiz round the blade, and glance off at the hilt; in proof of which he was ready at any time to show the sword, with the hilt a little bent. There were several more that had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy termination. 50. But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions that succeeded. The neighborhood is rich in legendary treasures of the kind. Local tales and supersti- tions thrive best in these sheltered long-settled retreats; but are trampled underfoot by the shifting throng that forms the population of most of our country places. Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap, and turn them- selves in their graves before their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquain- tance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts, except in our long-established Dutch communities. 51. The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories in these parts was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land. Sev- era of the Sleepy Hollow people were present at Van Tassel's, and, as usual, were doling out their wild and wonderful legends. Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major André was taken, and which stood in the neighborhood. Some mention was made also of the woman in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow. The chief part of the stories,however, turned upon the favorite spectre of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the church- yard. 52. The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent whitewashed walls shine mod- estly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime, but occasionally a fearful dark- ness at night. This was pone of the favorite haunts of the headless horseman; and the place where he was most fre- quently encountered. The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how he met the horse- man returning from his foray into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind him; how they galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached the bridge; when the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree- tops with a clap of thunder. 53. This story was immediately matched by a thrice mar- vellous adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey. He affirmed that, on returning one night from the neighboring village of Sing Sing, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but, just as they came to the church-bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire. 54. All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod. He repaid them in kind with large extracts from his invaluable author, Cotton Mather, and added many marvellous events that had taken place in his native State of Connecticut, and fearful sights which he had seen in his nightly walks about the Sleepy Hollow. 
یہ آپ کی جگہ ہے ایک دوسرے کے ساتھ حسن سلوک کرو۔ [♘] [♰] [☮]
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2019.09.08 00:52 essidus A thousand words wasn't enough? Here's five thousand.

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2019.08.13 23:00 autotldr Senators demand Amazon explain how junk winds up in “Choice” listings

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 64%. (I'm a bot)
The problem is, nobody outside Amazon knows how those choices get chosen... and some of those "Choice" products are basically crap.
Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are calling on Amazon to explain why certain products get that coveted Amazon's Choice badge to determine if the moniker "Deceives consumers into purchasing products of inferior quality."
A research study showed that products granted Amazon's Choice status can see a threefold sales increase-but products that have the badge and then lose it see sales slump by 30%. Amazon introduced the "Choice" feature in 2015 as a way to create a default for shoppers talking to their Alexa-enabled devices to buy goods.
BuzzFeed found dozens of instances of consumers complaining, both in Amazon reviews and elsewhere on social media, about Amazon's Choice products that broke down or just plain didn't work-including a thermometer where the product description itself said the item was "Widely inaccurate."
The letter gives Amazon until September 16 to respond to a whole host of questions about how the Amazon's Choice label gets assigned, starting with a request for a detailed description of the process and whether it's purely algorithmic or if human hands are ever involved.
The Amazon's Choice moniker may mean Amazon is "Actively promoting products with fraudulent reviews" and exacerbating the problem, the senators write.
Summary Source FAQ Feedback Top keywords: Amazon#1 product#2 Choice#3 shopper#4 label#5
Post found in /technology, /SkydTech, /jcm4tech and /TodayTechNews.
NOTICE: This thread is for discussing the submission topic. Please do not discuss the concept of the autotldr bot here.
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2019.06.24 00:13 j259awesome Numerical, A-C 10k-50k

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cripplingalcoholism criterion CriticalTheory Crittersoncapybaras croatia crochetpatterns CrohnsDisease cromch CroppedNorrisJokes CrossfitGirls CrossView CrowdPulledOnStage crtgaming Cruise Crunchyroll CrusadeMemes crusadersquest crypto_currency Crypto_General CryptocurrencyICO CryptocurrencyICOs cryptocurrencynewico cryptography CryptoSoul CryptoTechnology CryptoTrade CryptoTradingFloor Cryptozoology Crystals cs50 csbooks CSEducation CSeventVODs csgobetting csgomarketforum csgotrade csMajors CSRRacing2 css_irl csshelp Cthulhu cuba CubeWorld Cubs CucumbersScaringCats cuddlebuddies CuddlePuddle cuddleroll CulinaryPlating CulinaryPorn CultCinema cults culturalstudies Cumberbitches Cumtown cuntsdownunder Cuphead curb curiosityrover curiousvideos curlsinthesquatrack Currentlytripping cursed_cats cursedcursedcomments cursedgifs custommagic CustomPlayerCutscene cute CuteButHorrifying cutegirlgifs cutekorean cutelittlefangs cutenoobs CuteTraps cutouts cvsreceipts cyanogenmod Cyberbooty cyberlaws Cyberpunk_Music CyberVeinOfficial cyclocross cynicalbritofficial czech CZFirearms
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2019.05.15 06:34 kittehgoesmeow What A Day: Investigation Nation by Brian Beutler, Priyanka Aribindi & Crooked Media (05/14/19)

"What I'm saying is the planet's on fucking fire."—Bill Nye the Science Guy

Guilty Until Proven #MAGA

Attorney General William Barr has ordered yet another review of how the Russia investigation began, which will target current and former Justice Department and intelligence officials whom Trump perceives as his political enemies. This is despite any evidence that these officials broke any laws or otherwise conducted the investigation improperly.
Barr’s review is at least the fifth examination of the Russia investigation's origins. Past congressional and internal DOJ examinations revealed that the Russia investigation began because the Russian government was subverting the U.S. election, trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign, and finding willing partners within it—good things to investigate!
Barr selected John Durham, the U.S. Attorney from Connecticut, to conduct the so-called “review,” but like all U.S. Attorneys, Durham is a federal prosecutor whose job is to investigate and charge crimes.
It is possible, even likely, that Durham won’t ultimately seek to prosecute anyone. He is a career official who has helmed several national security investigations in the past. He has secured the cooperation of intelligence chiefs, including FBI Director Christopher Wray who testified under oath just last week that he had seen no evidence that the government had engaged in unauthorized surveillance of Trump associates. (By no coincidence, Trump has repeatedly smeared Wray in the days since.)
But no matter what, the investigation will disrupt the lives of innocent people and send a chill through the Justice Department, where several Trump-related investigations are ongoing. And if Democrats ultimately decide to launch an impeachment inquiry, no one will be surprised if Trump spins it as a scheme to cover up the “deep state” crimes that Durham is investigating.
Of course, politically motivated investigations like this one are impeachable offenses in and of themselves. And if Democrats allow Trump to get away with it, Trump and Barr will feel free to repeat the practice on Trump’s other enemies, including Democratic presidential candidates.

Under the Radar

In response to orders from the White House, the Defense Department has revised military plans for war with Iran that involve sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American forces or ramps up efforts to build nuclear weapons. National security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom have advocated war with Iran for years, have implied that Iran is trying to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programs. Threat assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the opposite. The Iraq War—lesson not learned!
From Tommy Vietor: John Bolton desperately wants war with Iran. He's famous for cooking intelligence. This is deadly serious. Congress should make clear that there is no authorization for military force. And the press should demand to see any intelligence reporting that could be used as pretext.

What Else

A security flaw in the messaging app WhatsApp allowed attackers to spread software that let them spy on iPhones and Androids. Over one billion people around the world use the app, and if you’re one of them, it’s impossible to know whether your device was compromised. Security researchers believe that the NSO Group, an Israeli firm that produces surveillance technology, created this software.
Donald Trump, Jr., has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June on a limited scope of five or six topics for between two to four hours.
Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) has officially launched his campaign for presidency. He kicked it off with a dad joke, and honestly it wasn’t that bad.
Sri Lanka’s nationwide curfew will be in effect for a second night in a row after violent anti-Muslim riots continued on Monday.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held a secret meeting with racist troll/Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson and communicated with him for work purposes over personal email, which we recall is something that the political media used to think was bad? China, if you’re listening, maybe you can find those emails?
Disney has taken operational control of Hulu from Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal and its shows). You’ll still be able to stream NBCUniversal shows on Hulu for the next year, but after NBC’s streaming service launches, some of the network’s programming will move there. Disney will move most of its television shows and movies from Netflix to Disney+ once it launches in November. Finally we can get rid of cable bundling thanks to... checks notes ... internet subscription bundling?
Elizabeth Warren promised to replace President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a former public school teacher if she’s elected. She delivered the promise before an audience of teachers union members.
The White House “forgot” to invite any American Muslims to its annual Iftar dinner in celebration of Ramadan. Again.
The NBA draft lottery is tonight, and we will finally get an idea of where Zion Williamson will end up. Now would be a good time to reach out to any Knicks fans in your life and make sure they are okay.

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So let’s go! It’s time to stop clicking “remind me tomorrow” on those mental push notifications you’ve ignored for the last 6 months, and finally update your skills for the 21st century. Apply here, now.

Be Smarter

Before they were fired earlier this year, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Ronald Vitiello opposed a secret White House plan to blitz 10 major U.S. cities and arrest thousands of parents and children. The administration fast-tracked cases in immigration court, and when people didn’t show up to their hearings on time, it obtained deportation orders against them and planned to raid their neighborhoods and homes to kick them out of the country. You know you’re pretty bad when Kirstjen Nielsen has to tell you to slow your roll.

Is That Hope I Feel?

Elizabeth Warren has declined an invitation to participate in a Fox News town hall, and used the opportunity to explain why, unlike several of her primary competitors, she won’t participate: “Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists—it’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for [corruption]… I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune [in]... especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers.” Preach.


Sara Benincasa on Twitter: "Kudos to Sophie Turner for infiltrating three of America's most valuable franchises: Game of Thrones, the X-Men and the Jonas Brothers. It's been centuries since a Brit owned our ass like this. George III walked so Sophie Turner could run."
submitted by kittehgoesmeow to FriendsofthePod [link] [comments]

2019.01.18 18:02 autotldr Democrats are furious over allegations Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress — and talking impeachment

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 68%. (I'm a bot)
To Democrats in Congress, the report that President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to lie to Congress looks like a textbook case of obstruction of justice.
The revelation came to light on Thursday night in a BuzzFeed News report citing two unnamed federal law enforcement officials that claims Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about the deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Even as Trump told the public that he had no business dealings in Moscow, he and his children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were receiving regular updates from Cohen about the evolving deal.
There's hard evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie, according to BuzzFeed News' sources, including a cache of emails and text messages in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office that provide evidence that the president told Cohen to lie to Congress.
"Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP," tweeted Rep. Chris Murphy, the Democrat from Connecticut tweeted on Thursday.
If the allegations are true, any collusion between Trump and Russia may have had more to do with Trump Tower Moscow than with influencing an election, and raises new questions about the president's susceptibility to influence through the Trump Organization.
Summary Source FAQ Feedback Top keywords: Trump#1 Democrat#2 Congress#3 Cohen#4 new#5
Post found in /politics.
NOTICE: This thread is for discussing the submission topic. Please do not discuss the concept of the autotldr bot here.
submitted by autotldr to autotldr [link] [comments]

2018.12.08 19:51 itsluchs The Shadow That Feeds.

Wednesday, November 25th 2015. West Hartford, CT. 12 dried grams PE Psilocyben Mushrooms. Male/29yrs/150lbs.
 It was only one night after trying 2 grams of a trusted, bio-chemist friend's homegrown batch when something compelled the eating of the rest of a half-ounce bag. Eight o-clock came around ominously to some gentle medicine music in my empty apartment. In a matter of minutes the remaining contents of the the zip-lock amounted to no more than than a few small bits of fungus left stuck in my teeth. As I washed them down, an uncomfortably eerie and timorous feeling took over as I’m sure parts of my being recognized this as their end or perhaps, new beginning. The reality of the latter was still an unconscious thing; so the energy of it manifested as anxiety. At this point my experience with psilocybin was infantile, my respect and reverence adolescent and the only thing matured was perhaps a blind ignorant courage. Two themes condensed to characterize the first couple hours; a rise and a subsequent fall. After that I will do my best to explain what took place in a fresh perspective, without these last few years of insight and attentive pressure but that is easier said than done. Regardless of how this is told; nothing can replace or quite explain the feeling, an individuals' own experiential gnosis that what it is, is nothing words or descriptions can ever touch let alone contain within a concept or the prison of our subjective meaning. There was nothing person-al about this, it had nothing to do with personhood or any of the characteristics we typically allot to that expression of consciousness. Yet, this was deeply intimate, more intimate than any lover or platonic relation. Intimacy still denotes a separation which of this there is none. ”To define is to confine,” says Mooji correctly. I’ve been able to remember the bulk of this event like it was yesterday and it has since become the bedrock of my being, not simply memory but the one thing to base everything else on. There have been many instances since, driving me both towards and away from this state, however this was the realest, truest, most electrically alive balance I had experienced ever before and it tempts me to claim this absolutely as the prominent realization in this life as well as through any potential prior incarnation, be that a thing. I base this on an aggregation of factors composing the nature of the entire evening and my direct raw experiential awareness and primal mode of being throughout. Nothing of this material world holds a candle to the emergent spiritual substance of our nature. Attempting to condense this, an omittance of infinite detail occurs despite the truth that these words will only blanket, cover, distort and even pervert the obvious simplicity of what is always dynamically alive in ways we have forgotten, arising out of our essence from an apparent nothing. I find it hard to explain anything in life without first recognizing that every bit of it is true magic. I lost track of time after an hour or so, right before things started speeding up; however I maintain a referential chronology of the night and am confident regarding the relative time spent in each state and/or part of the journey/teaching/realization/death/rebirth/awakening. The whole thing lasted well into the next day through the early stages of sheer terror to supreme realization, from empty awareness to unfiltered animalistic consciousness preceding the spiritual heights and depths of divine revelation. I still don’t have it completely figured out and I’m not sure if I will. I’ve only partially integrated as the expanse of our being far surpasses any illusory circumferential reference for balance I try to maintain in centeredness. Self-sabotage maybe, I don’t know. Maybe you can relate. In an energetic ascent my consciousness rose to what I can only assume as a pinnacle or ideal state with an absolute arrangement or mode of being holding a specific familiarity solely to Christ; the perfect male human form and enlightened consciousness. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” gives you an idea as to the nature of a Godly energetic alignment. Squaring the circle, perfect in balance though the image is skewed in imposition, it displays proper proportion. I didn’t hang here long. At the time I couldn’t tell if I was rising to meet Jesus himself or if this was my own Christ consciousness and it didn’t matter because it was over and things were starting to get ugly, real ugly. Pacing around my apartment, the sky outside seemed like a massive infection, like the mushrooms were poisonous and I singlehandedly brought about an unfixable end to this side of the universe as they quickly sporulated my entire experience with a dark, dank, black mold. My legs were now swollen; seemingly 3 times their normal size and felt like rotten tree trunks. I tried stretching and moving to no avail as I was slowly but surely taken over and consumed by a great darkness. I climbed onto my couch and lay there knowing that I was done, I had ruined everything and everyone I loved was going to know that my carelessness destroyed my life as well as theirs. I can’t emphasize enough the emptiness felt here. A complete lack of connection and love. Looking at the ceiling my consciousness ratcheted down, click by click, frame by frame, to a trifold cinematic vision of my brothers, my sister and a friend. As I uncontrollably fell farther and farther the gravity of sinful guilt compressed me to nothing. It was all over. Here I remained for a time, or not. This dark emptiness was void of life. The only perception here was blackness, and bodiless awareness. Then like stars in the night sky; light entered, subtle at first then bright enough to make out the shape and form of constellations. Eyes, thousands of lidless eyes patterned in perfect consistency outlined with what looked like shiny beaded jewels that were eventually revealed as even smaller eyes looking at me from everywhere. I was not of form here and orientation was not a thing. I do recall wondering what or where this space was and the development of a not quite fully fearful feeling taking over as I asked myself, ‘what was going to happen to me?' Some dynamic energetic swishing and churning began to move me and I found myself on the floor, in form, but not the one I started the night in. I was electric, sharp, exact, precise, flawlessly attuned to external stimuli with crystal clarity and none of the judgement or egoic filter to sway or distort the direct impression of the supreme reality that always is. I recognized my oldest sensual capacity as reptilian and the deep truth of Kundalini. I was that of a large lizard perhaps a Monitor or Komodo Dragon. My windows were open and the November cold entered the room passing through me like a breeze. It felt ancient as my being chilled to the core of Connecticut’s outside temperature. There was no discomfort at all, the recognition was quite familiar. Tantalizing even, it just was... cold... not cold in relation to having just been warm, just the reality of cold. There was a home-ness here, a comfort. Laying stomach down I bathed in the feeling of it, as every curl and twist of the carpet spoke to me in vibration; how everything was in a sort of slow-motion, nothing was missing, everything was noticed. I could taste the energetic intricacies of the aether with my tongue; perceive the rumblings of a car traveling blocks away down the road; it was almost overwhelming as I crawled around the coffee table in the ecstasy of pure sensation. There are a couple transitions here that are a little foggy but at some point my vibration rose and my energy warmed. I remember the high pitch and short wavelength of my communicative ability being noticeably faster and skillful though I wasn’t communicating with anyone directly; I was thoroughly engaged in a symphony of beings. With echo sonar I pinged the walls and solids of the room receiving a detailed outline and perimeter to work within. I jovially navigated the speed and responsiveness of dolphin technology as I explored the vastness of a watery continuum. As my wave length stretched and slowed into a blue whale’s song, everything deepened, long and primordial, smooth and knowing, ancestrally familiar like a grandparent or genetic memory but fresh and childlike in play and greeting. Time stood still without the drag of past’s signature or anxiety of a future requisite while the water of life’s currents surged tides of stimulative novelty through the living-room ocean before receding to the self-awareness of a darker now terrestrial embodiment. Prowling predatory vision illumined the pitch night; muscular strength and physical attunement spiritually refined. Ultimate and complete. Black as night, feline as panther, wild as imaginable. Powerful was just a word spoken before. In this state I recognize my source; the shadow that feeds me. Into its effervescent light I osmose, falling into the appreciation of what projects me while breathing and feeling into the rhythms and tides of my heart as it beats to mood. Stretching and flexing the emotional muscle that freedom truly is. Light and dark, equal and out of each other, wholly magical. Enter sound. Pure, unadulterated real sound, as if heard for the first time bringing an ecstatic deliverance of love and relation to life. Tables, lamps, cups and books smashed to the orchestra. Each sound so much itself and harmonic with it all I could hardly contain myself. Vibration supreme, bliss unrivaled, immersion full. Slight hand pain, no bother. The galaxy above shone specific crystalline energies with definite color difference and frequency. My now steady, slow attention to the first, initiated a sequence of downloads substantially made of light symbolized in letters, numbers and hieroglyphs of dramatic technicolor. Ten or so, one after the other for a few minutes each until they faded into the next. Following this, vibrationally the whole experience took a quantum leap, seemingly as if in a vortex, leveled up to an entirely higher, lighter density of reality. It was my first time here. I recognized my infancy and lack of reference. Assumed I new stature and postured a more mature physique with an electric buzz and charge of uncomfortable wattage and intensity. Feeling superhuman. Standing in my room a now painful and identical darkness to the color of the sky earlier, crept into my left hand and I could see it spreading upwards like a plague. Screaming “What the fuck” and shaking my hand vigorously must have scared the neighbors upstairs who to this day I have not spoken to. I heard someone get up and run to the other side of the house ushering in a panic as I feared I would be captured and studied in some sci-fi nightmare. I ran to the bathroom to see what I had become. Looking into the mirror I was blown away to the point of vomiting. I couldn’t believe it was still me... exactly... but with blood all over my face and chest. I stumbled into the living room to find the place ransacked; easily a murder scene with blood in pools saturating the carpet, the walls, the flipped furniture and the ceiling. Even the blinds had been torn down. I pinned up a sheet so no one could look inside. I assumed something terrible was going to happen and my pointer finger was sliced through to the bone with some nerve damage, cut by one of the glasses that broke into the carpet during my melee with sound. I was still heavily under the influence and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep to get back to equilibrium. How was I going to deal with this new reality I found myself as? After a time I called my younger sister to help clean the mess I had made. The look on her face as she entered confirmed the thought that she may think I had killed someone but those who know her also know she wouldn’t bat an eye at the idea and didn’t skip a beat in calling my brother as well to help get everything under wraps and drive me to the hospital for stitches. New carpets and a lot of SimpleGreen hid the evidence well. 
Time passes, things change. The truth of who we are is the deepest, most beautiful mystery there is and brings tears to my eyes every time I marinate in it. There is no separation, only thoughts of.
submitted by itsluchs to Psychonaut [link] [comments]

2018.12.08 16:43 itsluchs The Shadow That Feeds Me.

From Wednesday, November 25th 2015. West Hartford, CT. 12 dried grams PE Psilocyben Mushrooms. Male/29yrs/150lbs.
 It was only one night after trying 2 grams of a trusted, bio-chemist friend's homegrown batch when something compelled the eating of the rest of a half-ounce bag. Eight o-clock came around ominously to some gentle medicine music in my empty apartment. In a matter of minutes the remaining contents of the the zip-lock amounted to no more than than a few small bits of fungus left stuck in my teeth. As I washed them down, an uncomfortably eerie and timorous feeling took over as I’m sure parts of my being recognized this as their end or perhaps, new beginning. The reality of the latter was still an unconscious thing; so the energy of it manifested as anxiety. At this point my experience with psilocybin was infantile, my respect and reverence adolescent and the only thing matured was perhaps a blind ignorant courage. Two themes condensed to characterize the first couple hours; a rise and a subsequent fall. After that I will do my best to explain what took place in a fresh perspective, without these last few years of insight and attentive pressure but that is easier said than done. Regardless of how this is told; nothing can replace or quite explain the feeling, an individuals' own experiential gnosis that what it is, is nothing words or descriptions can ever touch let alone contain within a concept or the prison of our subjective meaning. There was nothing person-al about this, it had nothing to do with personhood or any of the characteristics we typically allot to that expression of consciousness. Yet, this was deeply intimate, more intimate than any lover or platonic relation. Intimacy still denotes a separation which of this there is none. ”To define is to confine,” says Mooji correctly. I’ve been able to remember the bulk of this event like it was yesterday and it has since become the bedrock of my being, not simply memory but the one thing to base everything else on. There have been many instances since, driving me both towards and away from this state, however this was the realest, truest, most electrically alive balance I had experienced ever before and it tempts me to claim this absolutely as the prominent realization in this life as well as through any potential prior incarnation, be that a thing. I base this on an aggregation of factors composing the nature of the entire evening and my direct raw experiential awareness and primal mode of being throughout. Nothing of this material world holds a candle to the emergent spiritual substance of our nature. Attempting to condense this, an omittance of infinite detail occurs despite the truth that these words will only blanket, cover, distort and even pervert the obvious simplicity of what is always dynamically alive in ways we have forgotten, arising out of our essence from an apparent nothing. I find it hard to explain anything in life without first recognizing that every bit of it is true magic. I lost track of time after an hour or so, right before things started speeding up; however I maintain a referential chronology of the night and am confident regarding the relative time spent in each state and/or part of the journey/teaching/realization/death/rebirth/awakening. The whole thing lasted well into the next day through the early stages of sheer terror to supreme realization, from empty awareness to unfiltered animalistic consciousness preceding the spiritual heights and depths of divine revelation. I still don’t have it completely figured out and I’m not sure if I will. I’ve only partially integrated as the expanse of our being far surpasses any illusory circumferential reference for balance I try to maintain in centeredness. Self-sabotage maybe, I don’t know. Maybe you can relate. In an energetic ascent my consciousness rose to what I can only assume as a pinnacle or ideal state with an absolute arrangement or mode of being holding a specific familiarity solely to Christ; the perfect male human form and enlightened consciousness. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” gives you an idea as to the nature of a Godly energetic alignment. Squaring the circle, perfect in balance though the image is skewed in imposition, it displays proper proportion. I didn’t hang here long. At the time I couldn’t tell if I was rising to meet Jesus himself or if this was my own Christ consciousness and it didn’t matter because it was over and things were starting to get ugly, real ugly. Pacing around my apartment, the sky outside seemed like a massive infection, like the mushrooms were poisonous and I singlehandedly brought about an unfixable end to this side of the universe as they quickly sporulated my entire experience with a dark, dank, black mold. My legs were now swollen; seemingly 3 times their normal size and felt like rotten tree trunks. I tried stretching and moving to no avail as I was slowly but surely taken over and consumed by a great darkness. I climbed onto my couch and lay there knowing that I was done, I had ruined everything and everyone I loved was going to know that my carelessness destroyed my life as well as theirs. I can’t emphasize enough the emptiness felt here. A complete lack of connection and love. Looking at the ceiling my consciousness ratcheted down, click by click, frame by frame, to a trifold cinematic vision of my brothers, my sister and a friend. As I uncontrollably fell farther and farther the gravity of sinful guilt compressed me to nothing. It was all over. Here I remained for a time, or not. This dark emptiness was void of life. The only perception here was blackness, and bodiless awareness. Then like stars in the night sky; light entered, subtle at first then bright enough to make out the shape and form of constellations. Eyes, thousands of lidless eyes patterned in perfect consistency outlined with what looked like shiny beaded jewels that were eventually revealed as even smaller eyes looking at me from everywhere. I was not of form here and orientation was not a thing. I do recall wondering what or where this space was and the development of a not quite fully fearful feeling taking over as I asked myself, ‘what was going to happen to me?' Some dynamic energetic swishing and churning began to move me and I found myself on the floor, in form, but not the one I started the night in. I was electric, sharp, exact, precise, flawlessly attuned to external stimuli with crystal clarity and none of the judgement or egoic filter to sway or distort the direct impression of the supreme reality that always is. I recognized my oldest sensual capacity as reptilian and the deep truth of Kundalini. I was that of a large lizard perhaps a Monitor or Komodo Dragon. My windows were open and the November cold entered the room passing through me like a breeze. It felt ancient as my being chilled to the core of Connecticut’s outside temperature. There was no discomfort at all, the recognition was quite familiar. Tantalizing even, it just was... cold... not cold in relation to having just been warm, just the reality of cold. There was a home-ness here, a comfort. Laying stomach down I bathed in the feeling of it, as every curl and twist of the carpet spoke to me in vibration; how everything was in a sort of slow-motion, nothing was missing, everything was noticed. I could taste the energetic intricacies of the aether with my tongue; perceive the rumblings of a car traveling blocks away down the road; it was almost overwhelming as I crawled around the coffee table in the ecstasy of pure sensation. There are a couple transitions here that are a little foggy but at some point my vibration rose and my energy warmed. I remember the high pitch and short wavelength of my communicative ability being noticeably faster and skillful though I wasn’t communicating with anyone directly; I was thoroughly engaged in a symphony of beings. With echo sonar I pinged the walls and solids of the room receiving a detailed outline and perimeter to work within. I jovially navigated the speed and responsiveness of dolphin technology as I explored the vastness of a watery continuum. As my wave length stretched and slowed into a blue whale’s song, everything deepened, long and primordial, smooth and knowing, ancestrally familiar like a grandparent or genetic memory but fresh and childlike in play and greeting. Time stood still without the drag of past’s signature or anxiety of a future requisite while the water of life’s currents surged tides of stimulative novelty through the living-room ocean before receding to the self-awareness of a darker now terrestrial embodiment. Prowling predatory vision illumined the pitch night; muscular strength and physical attunement spiritually refined. Ultimate and complete. Black as night, feline as panther, wild as imaginable. Powerful was just a word spoken before. In this state I recognize my source; the shadow that feeds me. Into its effervescent light I osmose, falling into the appreciation of what projects me while breathing and feeling into the rhythms and tides of my heart as it beats to mood. Stretching and flexing the emotional muscle that freedom truly is. Light and dark, equal and out of each other, wholly magical. Enter sound. Pure, unadulterated real sound, as if heard for the first time bringing an ecstatic deliverance of love and relation to life. Tables, lamps, cups and books smashed to the orchestra. Each sound so much itself and harmonic with it all I could hardly contain myself. Vibration supreme, bliss unrivaled, immersion full. Slight hand pain, no bother. The galaxy above shone specific crystalline energies with definite color difference and frequency. My now steady, slow attention to the first, initiated a sequence of downloads substantially made of light symbolized in letters, numbers and hieroglyphs of dramatic technicolor. Ten or so, one after the other for a few minutes each until they faded into the next. Following this, vibrationally the whole experience took a quantum leap, seemingly as if in a vortex, leveled up to an entirely higher, lighter density of reality. It was my first time here. I recognized my infancy and lack of reference. Assumed I new stature and postured a more mature physique with an electric buzz and charge of uncomfortable wattage and intensity. Feeling superhuman. Standing in my room a now painful and identical darkness to the color of the sky earlier, crept into my left hand and I could see it spreading upwards like a plague. Screaming “What the fuck” and shaking my hand vigorously must have scared the neighbors upstairs who to this day I have not spoken to. I heard someone get up and run to the other side of the house ushering in a panic as I feared I would be captured and studied in some sci-fi nightmare. I ran to the bathroom to see what I had become. Looking into the mirror I was blown away to the point of vomiting. I couldn’t believe it was still me... exactly... but with blood all over my face and chest. I stumbled into the living room to find the place ransacked; easily a murder scene with blood in pools saturating the carpet, the walls, the flipped furniture and the ceiling. Even the blinds had been torn down. I pinned up a sheet so no one could look inside. I assumed something terrible was going to happen and my pointer finger was sliced through to the bone with some nerve damage, cut by one of the glasses that broke into the carpet during my melee with sound. I was still heavily under the influence and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep to get back to equilibrium. How was I going to deal with this new reality I found myself as? After a time I called my younger sister to help clean the mess I had made. The look on her face as she entered confirmed the thought that she may think I had killed someone but those who know her also know she wouldn’t bat an eye at the idea and didn’t skip a beat in calling my brother as well to help get everything under wraps and drive me to the hospital for stitches. New carpets and a lot of SimpleGreen hid the evidence well. 
Time passes, things change. The truth of who we are is the deepest, most beautiful mystery there is and brings tears to my eyes every time I marinate in it. There is no separation, only thoughts of.
submitted by itsluchs to Psychedelics [link] [comments]

2018.12.04 21:37 vanishing_darkweb A Darkweb Site Vanished And It’s My Fault
A couple of years ago, I saw the program Tor in the news. It’s one way people use to access the darknet. I decided to find a tutorial and follow suit. Ever since then, I’ve checked different sites on and off whenever I get bored.
A week ago, I found a thread on some 4chan rip-off site, toting an IP address with something thrilling hosted there. There were barely any comments in response, but it was getting a lot of views. I decided to check it out.
I was lying in bed, well past 1 in the morning, and when the screen changed, I had to squint through both the dark and my tiredness to see straight. On screen were four boxes I could scroll down through, and a chat area at the bottom of the page. The whole site was themed with shades of white and gray. The comment box was themed to look like a Linux terminal. Typical hacker-geek site.
After a second, the four boxes finished loading, and they changed from solid gray to grainy video. Each box held a similar perspective from a camera poised in the upper corner of a room, looking down. The rooms were all dim, but if I maxed out my brightness, I could make out figures lying down on the floor below. The rooms were small, barely large enough for a person to spread out in. It was too dark to make out any detail. Just four figures lying on the floor of separate rooms.
I scrolled to the bottom and found a box with instructions. Here’s what it says:
Commands Via Chat:
\about — Display Details About Captive
\lights — Toggle Lights
\food — Dispense 1 Cup of Food
\water — Dispense Water for 10 Seconds
\flush — Flush Toilet
\family — Play Family Member's Voice
\noise — Play Loud Noise
My subconscious knew what this meant before the rest of me did. I clicked in the new chat bar and typed \lights 1. The number for each of the four cameras appeared as white text in the top left corner, so I put the first camera number as the cam_id.
The browser shot back a response. My command was in the chat log.
I scrolled back to the top, to the camera I had entered. It took a second of lag, but the overhead light near the camera snapped on audibly. The entire room was blasted with stark white light and fluorescent buzzing. The figure on the ground, who I could now recognize as a guy in his mid twenties, flinched in response. He covered his eyes and groaned, pressing his face down towards the concrete floor to hide from the light.
My mouth dropped open at the sight of the room. It was a concrete box. On one side, a small enclave was carved out with a shelf. Far from the camera, but still visible, was a shiny, metal toilet. The types of toilet you would see in prison documentaries.
The guy was butt naked, laying in a concrete… cell.
A prison.
I glanced back at the commands, scrolling fast.
Food, water, toilet…
This guy—no, all these people—were in a prison controlled by some fucked up chat by anyone who wanted to stop by.
I scrolled up again and looked at the url.
Page 1.
I typed in new urls as fast as I could, checking each page as it loaded.
It just kept going, with no end in sight. Every page had four cameras. More than 40 people were being kept like this.
I stopped changing urls and glanced through the page, trying to find some indicators. Who were these people? Why were they here? Who was taking care of them? Was anyone else logged in? When was the last time these people were fed?
The chat logs had no dates. I could see commands on every page, but there was no indication of when they had been typed, or by who. There were no usernames either. No count saying how many people were online and viewing.
On a whim, I typed one of the commands: \about 12.
You are not authorized.
As I read wildly over the pages, I decided to give them a much needed break. Who knew how long it had been since these people ate and drank?
I went down the list of commands, focusing on the right camera to make sure the commands actually worked.
\food 10
I scrolled back up and waited for the real-life lag. A whirring sound filled my phone speakers, and I squinted to see through the darkness of the room. I hadn’t turned on the lights, not wanting to startle the person. I could see movement, but it was too dark to tell. I couldn’t resist. I scrolled down, typed \lights 10, and scrolled back up.
The lights flashed on, and the girl there flinched. She simultaneously tried to cover herself and her eyes from the light. She was kneeling over a pile of what looked like dog food that had fallen off the shelf. I couldn’t tell where it had come from, but it was scattered all over the cell.
The girl was chewing, and had scooped up some food to eat before the lights came on, but now she was just… staring. Watching the camera like she could see me.
“I’m sorry,” I said, out loud. My breath caught in my throat, but she didn’t react. My voice hadn’t carried through the browser. This website didn’t have permission to access my microphone anyway, not that it had asked.
Feeling embarrassed, I scrolled down and typed \lights 10 again to toggle the lights off. I double checked that it worked, then started thinking.
I had been tired before, but now I was wide awake. How many people were there? How long had it been since they had eaten or drank?
My night’s mission took form in my head, and I jumped out of bed. I switched on my lamp and booted up my laptop, setting my phone aside. I navigated to the site, and found it was still accessible.
I’d been secretly worried that it would disappear once I used my laptop. But it hadn’t. And now I could really help these people.
I navigated back to page 1. The first guy in camera 1 was still burying his head in his arms, trying to sleep despite the light.
My fingers flew over the keyboard.
\food 1
\water 1
Now that I was on a bigger screen, I didn’t have to scroll back and forth between the camera and the chat. I could see my commands taking effect. The whirring sounded again, and I watched as dog kibble clattered out of a hole above the shelf and bounced around the room. This got the guy’s attention, because he scrambled up and chased every little crumb, shoving it into his mouth and chomping it loudly.
He’d been starving.
As soon as the food finished, a stream of water could be heard, but I couldn’t see it. It took me a minute to see that it was a small stream coming from the ceiling and dropping directly into the toilet. The guy left the remaining kibble and ran for the water. He caught some on his open tongue, then cupped his hands to collect as much as he could, drinking it at the same time. The guy was parched.
Now that he was standing, I noticed that I could see his ribs. His whole body was skin and bone. He was dying.
The water fountain stopped after 10 seconds, just like the instructions indicated. He finished the last of the water he had cupped, but managed to spill a lot of it onto the floor and into the toilet.
The guy stood there for a minute, hands dripping. He stared down into space, his back to the camera.
He began to shake, and I panicked, thinking the water had been poisoned or been mixed with bleach.
But the guy dropped to his knees, supporting himself on the seat of the toilet, and started sobbing loudly. I cried too. Openly. I watched this… kid cry, kneeling in a cell.
I knew it would be a long night. I got up, snuck to the fridge, grabbed a Red Bull, and closed the door to my room.
Time to get to work.
I went through every single camera on that site. At least, all the ones that were displayed.
My process was systematic. Page by page, camera by camera.
Lights on, two servings of food, two servings of water, flush the toilet, lights off.
The camera angle wasn’t good enough to see if the toilet was clean or not, so I flushed every one for good measure.
There ended up being 16 pages in total. Four cameras per page, made for 64 people being displayed on the site. The first few pages had traces of past commands. The last few had barely any. I could tell by their body types, however, that they were new to the process. They weren’t starving (yet), and had red eyes and fresh tears. Those on the early pages acted like veterans to the process in comparison.
By the time I finished, it was approaching four in the morning. I had to wait for them to eat, then find out the water was running and drink it. It took time, and I had no way to communicate what I was doing. At least the sound of the food motor whirring got them up fast. They knew what that sound meant.
As I worked, I’d analyzed each cell. They were all similar. The camera was angled in a way that I couldn’t see one of the walls. Did it contain a door? Everyone I saw slept within the frame, so I assumed that there wasn’t much more to the room outside of my camera view.
The floors and walls were solid concrete. A small drain under the toilet was the only connection with the outside world I could see. My brain ran through multiple potential layouts. I couldn’t ask them about the cell, and it was infuriating.
By that time, I’d become exhausted again. The Red Bull had done essentially nothing. I had to work the next day, so I closed my laptop and laid back in bed, trying to make sense of the site.
My alarm got me up at 7, just enough time to shower and get to work in time for opening. I spared a few minutes to make sure the site was still online. It was. And, at least on the page I checked, no new commands had been issued.
It was just me.
Not wanting to leave, but doing so anyway, I went to work.
Every chance I had while at work, I checked the site. The cells were all still dark, but I could see some movement. I didn’t want to turn on the lights since I didn’t know their sleep patterns. That was seriously what I was thinking about. I became suddenly worried about their wellbeing.
I sped home after work and opened up my laptop to do my routine again. I spent two hours going through it, moving faster this time. As I went, I opened a new tab for the next page so I could give food, move to the next camera, then come back for water when they were done eating.
With only a couple more pages to go, a shout just about made me jump out of my skin. At first, I thought it was one of my roommates yelling for me. I slammed my laptop closed and looked at the door, but no one was trying to come in.
I got up, shut the door like I should have before, and opened my computer up again. The shouting continued.
“Hey! Hey!”
I scrolled through tabs, trying to find which one of them was yelling. My heart pounded, worried that one of them was injured.
“Hey! Turn on the water if you can hear me!” She yelled. I got to the right tab, and I knew it was her because she was standing, arms wide, facing the camera. It was the girl from page 3, camera 10. The one that had been hiding herself from the camera.
She stared at the camera, waiting expectantly. The camera was grainy, but I could make out her expression. I had already given her food and water, so she knew I was there. Or, I was a minute ago. For all she knew, I was gone already.
I decided to comply.
\water 10
The water stream started up. The girl let her arms drop to her sides and nodded.
“Okay, you’re online. That was day two without food or water before you finally REMEMBERED THAT I’M HERE!” She shouted angrily. I flinched, as if I’d been the one who’d done this to her.
“If you don’t want me to starve, I’d suggest sending more food. Two cups isn’t enough,” she demanded. Her tone was harsh, and I didn’t blame her. She thought she was talking to her captor.
I obliged and sent two more commands for food. Without a second thought, I went back through every tab and sent extra food to them all. I looked away when they scrambled like animals to pop little bits into their mouths. It was dehumanizing for them, and I felt empathy enough not to stare, even though they couldn’t see me.
“Water is yes, toilet is no, okay?” The girl spoke up again. I clicked back to her tab to see her watching the camera again. Instead of eating all the food I’d given, she had shovelled up some into a pile against a wall. In case I didn’t reappear for two days, probably.
It took me a minute to process what she was saying. Water is… oh! For communicating!
I typed my answer.
\water 10
The water streamed. She smiled slightly, then shot a question she’d probably been thinking about for a while.
“Do you know who I am? Like, my name?”
No. The toilet flushed, and she jumped despite herself.
“So you didn’t choose to kidnap me specifically?”
I hesitated. Answering either way would make her think she was talking to her captor. She prodded with “Are you there?”
I flushed the toilet to answer her first question.
“Will I ever get out of here?”
I couldn't answer yes or no. I hesitated. So, lacking an answer, I sent food instead.
She looked over at the food spilling onto the floor, then back up at the camera.
“Does that mean you don’t know?” She asked, astute.
I sent a stream of water. Yes.
“Are you the one that did this to me?”
Smart. I flushed the toilet. No.
“I would ask who you are, but that’s not a yes or no question,” she mused aloud. “Do you know why I’m here?” She asked.
I flushed the toilet. Obviously she was there to entertain sickos on the internet, but beyond that I wasn’t sure enough to answer yes.
“I’m going to trust you. If you really aren’t the one that did this to me, I need you to get help. Find my family. My name is Sarah . I’m 27, from Fairfield, Connecticut. Get... Me... Out.”
She started to cry, sobs breaking up her last sentence.
“Will you do that?” She choked out.
My breath caught in my throat. I knew who she was. I could find her family, let them know she was alive, contact the police. Heart pounding, I knew it was now my responsibility.
I sent a stream of water.
I’ve redacted her last name for reasons that will become clear towards the end of this post.
We responded to each other off and on for a while. She would take a little bit to find a way to phrase her questions as yes/no/I don’t know ones, and I wrapped up my rounds of food and water for the other 63 prisoners.
Her questions were spread out as she thought of how to phrase them. There wasn't too much to talk about, now that she knew I didn’t know anything about her capture or circumstances. Eventually, she ran low on things to say and told me she wanted to sleep. I turned out the lights for her.
I wished I could communicate with the rest of them. The use of the commands as a yes/no communication style was genius. No one else had said anything, and I had no way of initiating that conversation with anyone. They had to reach out to me first.
So far, everyone else was only concerned with eating, drinking, shitting, and sleeping. Most were resigned to their fate. Some cried. Some yelled incoherently and punched walls. None tried to talk to me. No one except Sarah, camera girl 10.
Once I had finished feeding everyone, I started my search for Sarah. I clicked open a search tab and typed rapidly. There were results, but none looked like her. The name was common enough that it would take some effort to sort through everything.
As I hit another dead end, I sat back to take a break. I opened her tab to check on her. She hadn’t spoken, but I wanted to make sure she was alright.
The lights were still out, and her faint outline could be made out on the floor. Sleeping.
While looking over every part of the page, hoping for clues, I tried the about command on Sarah. The same response came back.
You are not authorized.
So who was authorized? It’s not like there was a login or anything.
I sifted through the source code, but couldn’t find anything interesting. I recreated the network requests to the server that it issued, but nothing unknown came back. The site was clean, at least to my skill set.
Time to call in the professionals.
I looked up how to report websites to police, and the recommendation was to send an email, according to the FBI’s tip report website. So, I wrote one.
I composed it in my personal email account, and just as I was about to hit send, I hesitated.
If I submitted a tip, it would be linked to my name. My personal data. What if this site did get shut down and it went to court? They (the ambiguous they meaning anyone who wanted to harm or use me) would know exactly who told the FBI about the site. It was a morally correct thing to do, but was it what I wanted?
In other words, was I painting a target onto my own back?
I copied the text of the email and instead opened a disposable email address. After pasting the email, I addressed it and sent it off. The site allowed you to access that disposable email inbox as long as you kept your tab open, so I left it there, hoping for a quick response.
I don’t remember ever falling asleep that night, but I woke up on my bed feeling groggy. My alarm was ominously silent, despite the sunlight coming in through the blinds. Panic was instant, as I jumped out of bed. My phone was sitting on my desk, completely drained. I hadn’t plugged it in, which mean no alarm.
I raced to get ready, seeing that the time was 10am. I was a full two hours late. My phone was too dead to call in. I plugged it in while in the car, but that wasn’t enough time to get it over 20%.
When I got to work, I did a lot of ass-kissing and apologizing for being late. My manager was pissed. I plugged my phone into the wall of the breakroom and started my shift.
My break was short. I hadn’t packed lunch, so I had to go buy some. By the time I could sit down with my phone, there was only a few minutes left.
I checked the site, and Sarah’s voice came over my speakers immediately. She was talking, but not to me. Someone else. I watched the chat moving below the cameras. The chat log only went back a few messages, so all I could see were lots of calls to changing the lights, and playing loud noises.
While I watched, several people were having jumbled conversations. I couldn’t tell how many there were because there were no usernames.
What’s her name again?
If you guys would stop fucking with the lights, we could have played along.
She was trying to talk to us, we can’t talk back.
Look at her jump.
After that, a woman’s voice came over the speakers.
”Sarah? You there?”
I scrolled up to see Sarah drop to the floor and stick her head in her folded arms. Defeated.
In the chat, someone had typed \family 10, triggering the new voice. A family member of Sarah’s.
“Hey, break’s over,” my manager popped into the breakroom.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Sarah’s scream erupted from my phone. I panicked and hit the power button, silencing the browser. My manager gave me a confused and annoyed look.
“Sorry, I’m coming now,” I said, standing up.
“Leave your phone here,” he commanded, walking away.
I clenched my teeth, waited for him to leave, then unlocked my phone again. Sarah was screaming profanities. I quickly closed the tab and locked my phone again. It went back into the plug, and I walked back to work, hands shaking.
After work, I raced home again and logged into my laptop. The first place I checked was Sarah’s page. It was dark now. The last command issued had been to turn off the lights. There were no timestamps, so there was no way for me to know when that had been.
I didn’t want to start interacting with her when someone else was in the room. There was no count of who was watching anywhere, so I had to just wait and watch for activity in the chat.
I gave it a full 10 minutes before giving in. Whoever had been there before was now gone, so far as I could tell.
I turned on the lights, and Sarah groaned, annoyed.
She sat up and rubbed her eyes before picking a few bits of dog food from her now larger pile and crunching on them.
“Can I have some water?” She asked, her voice hoarse.
I obliged with a stream of water. She moved to it and drank from her hands. I gave several pumps worth of water.
“Is it you?” She asked, not looking at the camera. Her voice was low, like she was trying to speak to me without other people hearing. Which was impossible in this situation.
I sent a stream of water as my answer. Yes.
“Someone else was here a while ago,” Sarah said, running her fingers through her greasy hair and sitting down. “They messed with the lights and played… voices.”
“Are you able to play those?” She asked, looking up at the camera.
Instead of playing a voice, which could have been triggering for her, I sent a stream of water. She nodded to herself.
“You have the same access they do, but I’m guessing that access doesn’t include opening the door, does it?”
I flushed the toilet behind her. She sighed, and it caught in her throat and turned into a sob.
“We need a signal. So I know when it’s you and not someone else.” Sarah looked up at the camera, expectantly.
I racked my brain, trying to come up with a good pattern to follow as a signal.
Eventually, I settled on this one: lights on, water, lights off, toilet flush, lights on, food drop.
I played it once for her, then waited so she could see the pattern. She repeated it back for me, and I answered yes with a water stream.
She sighed.
“Do me a favor,” she almost whispered. “Don’t ever play the voices. Understand?”
She didn’t know that I knew it was her family. I started to tear up when I sent my answer. Yes.
I went through and fed everyone with my usual routine. I had checked my disposable email beforehand, but there had been no response yet. I got angry for a bit, wondering what was taking so long when so many people were suffering.
Instead of brooding, I kept feeding and watering them all.
Sarah made small talk, or as much small talk as you can when you’ve been locked in a cell for God knows how long. She asked if I had found her family yet, and I told her no. She asked if I had told the police, and I said yes. She tried to come up with a good way to find out what I knew so far, which was nothing. It was disappointing to only be able to answer no to her questions.
No progress had been made. It infuriated me. It depressed her.
Eventually she got on the track of trying to guess my name. My name isn’t a standard one, so it was practically impossible for her to guess, but she didn’t know that.
She gave me names, and I answered yes or no. At first, she was fast, rattling them off like counting to a hundred. But once she had exhausted all the normal ones, she took her time with her answers.
I tried looking for more information about her online, but couldn’t find anything approximating her. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no missing persons reports, no info about her at all. I was at the point that I considered getting a list of everyone with her last name in Fairfield and calling to ask if they had a missing daughter.
The city was too big for that, though.
She tried to institute a type of morse code for me to communicate with her, but she was unable to keep up with my light switching to distinguish between a dot and a dash, let alone make out words. We gave up on that idea pretty quickly.
I was just about ready to sleep, and so was she, when she blurted out “What about Marvin? Is your name Marvin?”
The question made me burst into laughter, so hard I was crying. There was no way she would ever guess my name. I decided to help her out and take the name I was given.
I sent a water stream to confirm my new name.
Her laugh filled my computer speakers. “I can’t believe I guessed such an obscure name!” She giggled.
My smile was cut short when I saw new text appear on screen that definitely hadn’t been in the source code. It was in a bright, ominous, red.
Admin is online.
Almost immediately, a message appeared in chat.
Your actions have come under scrutiny.
I stopped breathing.
While noble, your actions are not what this site is intended for.
The admin typed \lights in rapid succession, killing all the lights on every camera on the site. It must have been done by a bot. It was too fast for a human.
Sarah had still been giggling when her lights went out. She stopped immediately. “Marvin?” She called into the dark. I tried to turn the lights back on.
\lights 10
You are not authorized.
The admin typed.
Leave and never return.
I tried the lights again, but got denied every time.
Suddenly, Sarah’s family’s voice came over the speakers in her cell. She whimpered and shifted in the dark.
Leave now, or I will hurt her.
The commands box refreshed, changing to new commands that hadn’t been visible before.
Commands Via Chat - Level 2:
\drain — Open or close the drain
\water-long — Dispense Water for 1 Hour
\tainted-food — Dispense 1 Cup of Food Soaked in Bleach
\hot — Increase the Room Temp by 5 Degrees
\cold — Decrease the Room Temp by 5 Degrees
\clog — Clog and Flush the Toilet
\shock — Activate an Electrical Outlet
\disturb — Play Soundtrack of Screams
\deaf — Play Noise Loud Enough to Deafen
The options were so horrendous, especially when mixed together, that I knew I had no choice. My whole body was shivering as I closed each tab one at a time. When they were all closed, the anger came.
I went for my junk drawers sitting under my desk and yanked one open. Scrambling through the contents, I snatched one of my old phones I kept lying around. I plugged it in and turned it on. The bootup screen took forever.
While it loaded, I put on my shoes and a jacket and left the apartment. It was late, past midnight, but I drove to the closest McDonald’s and sat in their parking lot. With their WiFi, I tried to access the site again from a brand new device on a new network.
The site loaded exactly as you can see it here: All of the cameras are disconnected and just show white noise static. The chat still works, though with the original command instructions in place. But every time I issue a command, it says:
Camera 10 is not connected.
Page 3 is the only one that loads now. No other pages load, they all say the page doesn’t exist. The entire site was shut down and disconnected except for this one page. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a message for me. Like it was left up intentionally to taunt me.
At home, there was still no reply from the FBI’s tip email address. So, since the circumstances had changed, I sent it again, adding what had just happened, and used my personal email address this time. Perhaps having my name attached would add some credibility.
This appears to have worked, because they did respond and said they were looking into it and that they have found where the site has moved to, though they won’t tell me. I’ve been back and forth with them over the last few days. They threatened me, under penalty of a charge for obstructing justice, that I was not to reveal Sarah’s identity or where she was to anyone. They claimed they were working with the family.
Which is why I redacted her last name in this post. For “compliance”.
But, I still had to make this. I’m just a dude whose knowledge about websites and computers is severely limited. I’m learning, but it’s not fast enough. It’s been several days since the site went offline, and that page is still up. They’re still taunting me.
Does anyone here have the know-how to do some forensic investigation on the site? Try to figure out any clues about it? The FBI might be threatening me to keep Sarah’s identity to myself, but I’ll be damned if that means I stop trying to find her.
Please help me. The site address is all over this post for you to see and look through. Any clues could help. Just help me get Sarah free.
EDIT: Subreddits has been created for easier collaboration from different angles. Adding it here for visibility. MarvinARG and RealMarvinHours
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2018.08.27 01:31 Torontos_Angry_Ghost "Active Shooter Drills" - A Curious Pattern (Constant Updates)

Why do so many mass shootings occur within days / weeks of an active shooter drill?
"Cover is the use of an apparently nonthreatening activity to disguise preparation for or initiation of a hostile act. A common example is the use of a training exercise to hide preparations for an attack. If the training exercise was the last in a long series of training exercises which had not led to actual hostile action in the past, this could also be an example of conditioning―hence the tendency to refer to "conditioning and cover."
-- Deception 101 - Primer on Deception by Prof. Joseph Caddell, U.S. Army War College External Research Program
[Prof. Caddell was a Combat Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Air Force (1973-1976) and has taught at the Defense Intelligence College (1977-1993), Air War College (1983-1989), Joint Military Intelligence Training Center (1993-1997), and the National Intelligence University, where he has been professor emeritus since 2014.]
Here's some examples of this (compiled by myself and independently by researcher Rolf Zaeschmar). I will update this thread as I find more:
5-22-1998 - Thurston High School, Springfield, OR
"Fortuitously, a few weeks before the shootings Thurston students had volunteered as casualties during a mock disaster drill at McKenzie-Willamette(a nearby hospital) so ER teams could practice caring for large numbers of injured at one time." (p. 184, Babyface Killers by Clifford Lindecker, St. Martens Paperbacks, 1999)
4-16-1999 - Notus Junior-Senior High School, Notus, ID
"The Notus School Board has been developing a "crisis action plan" for just such an incident." (AP, 4-17-1999)
4-20-1999 - Columbine High School, CO
"Just a week before the massacre of Columbine High School the staff took part in a crisis-handling session prompted by last years string of school shootings around the country..... the staff members at the five-hour seminar discussed escape routes in a shooting attack, how to deal with wounded students and how to notify relatives in an emergency." (Atlanta Constitution, 4-22-1999)
"More than 100 school administrators, including a handful from Littleton, sat through a state workshop Monday [April 19, 1999, the day before], which was prophetically called "Crisis Response — Prepare for the Unthinkable: It Could Happen to You.""
"The main presenters: the Jefferson County school response team." (The Daily Camera, 4-21-1999)
"... in 1997, while still a commissioner, [John] Stone [sheriff of Jefferson County on 4-20-1999] had helped organize a trip to Emmitsburg, Maryland, for county representatives and local organization leaders to attend a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster training course."
"The four-day session, which FEMA designed specially to address the needs of Jefferson County, Stone says, included training and "tabletop" exercises that had improved the county's implementation of "incident command" --a clearly defined incident management structure designating, among other things, command roles, tasks to be accomplished, and a system to assign responsibility for each task." (p. 3, The Shootings at Columbine High School: Responding to a New Kind of Terrorism by Susan Rosegrant, John F. Kennedy School of Government, 2001
9-24-2003 - Rocori High School, Cold Spring, MN
"Superintendent [Scott] Staska says the school was prepared for such an emergency as what unfolded on Wednesday. For they past three years Rocori has held drills to deal with a shooting, the last one was a few weeks ago." (Minnesota Public Radio, 11-25-2003)
11-5-2009 - Ft. Hood, TX
"Pfc. Amber Bahr of Random Lake heard someone yelling and ducked at the sound of gunfire, but she said she thought supervisors at Fort Hood were holding a drill last Thursday." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 11-9-2009)
A large majority of soldiers interviewed initially thought it was a drill. "They had no idea what was going on; everyone thought it was a drill at first"
10-8-2010 - Kelly Elementary School, San Diego County, CA
"Stephanie Durkee, a campus monitor.. said when she asked him what he(the shooter) was doing, he replied, “This is a drill and these are blanks.” ... "And all the kids started running to the doors because we drill them on that for lockdown." (ABC 10)
7-22-2011 - Utoya Island, Norway
"Only hours before Anders Behring Breivik began shooting children on Utoya, the police emergency squad concluded an exercise where they practiced an almost identical situation." (Public Intelligence, 8-30-2011)
7-20-2012 - Batman Shooting, Aurora, CO
"The tragedy that played out in an Aurora movie theater Friday was ironically paralleled as a classroom learning experience in a medical school in Parker [CO] the same day." (Denver Post, 7-20-2012)
9-7-2012 - Normal Community High School, Normal, IL
"At first, some students thought what was going on was a drill because they had been told there would be one in September." The Pantagraph, 9-8-2012
12-11-12 - Clackamas Town Center Mall, OR
"The sheriff said the gunman was also hindered in his efforts to kill more people by a fast police response, quick thinking from shoppers and a recently-rehearsed mall lockdown." (Daily Mail, 12-11-2012)
12-14-12 - Sandy Hook Elementary School, CT
"Sources said that Sandy Hook Elementary had only weeks earlier had a lockdown drill... " Hartford Courant, 3-13-2013
1-10-13 - Taft Union High School, CA
"Minutes before a gunman walked into a California high school, students and teachers had been practicing what to do if the school came under an attack." (Fox News, 1-11-2013)
6-7-2013 - Santa Monica Community College, CA
“The library staff at Santa Monica College had active shooter training just a few weeks before the incident, and that really, I believe, helped prevent future deaths,” [Torrance State Senator Ted] Lieu said. (CBS Los Angeles, 7-15-2013)
9-16-2013 - Wash DC Navy Yard Shooting
Dave Sarr, an environmental engineer, was walking down a nearby street... Sarr had seen an evacuation drill a few days earlier in the Navy Yard. "At first I thought it was another drill," Sarr said. (USA Today, 9-16-2013)
11-1-2013 LAX shooting, CA
"We practiced to this not more than 3 weeks ago," said Gannon at a press conference hours after the shooting. "We took every one of our patrol officers and a couple hundred officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and we practiced the exact scenario we played out today." (Digital Journal, 11-2-2013)
12-13-2013 Arapahoe High School, CO
"A law enforcement official said Arapahoe had just recently practiced an active-shooter drill. ... Student Justin Morrall said students had been trained to move to the corners of classrooms where they would not be visible." (Denver Post, 12-13-2013)
1-14-2014 - Berrendo Middle School, Roswell, NM
"(Berrendo Middle School) has undergone more than one active-shooter training, Burris said, including one as recently as the end of the 2013 semester." (Albuquerque Journal, 1-14-2014)
"Leon says she was walking toward the gym, where students gather before class, when she heard the gun shots. She said she knew they were real, “but some people were laughing because they thought it was fake.”"
"“I guess they had been through many drills,” she said." (AP, 1-15-14)
5-23-2014 - Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, CA
"Operations attended a table top exercise for the May 28 “Active Shooter Drill” at Santa Barbara City College. Multiple agencies were there, “fine tuning” the different roles, protocols, and schedules." (Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District, 4-29-14)
10-24-2014 Marysville Pilchuck High School, WA
CNN host Brooke Baldwin: "I'm getting handed information, so bear with me as I just read this cold: “Local law enforcement under the direction of the Marysville Police Department will be holding SWAT training-” (page turns).. this was actually yesterday. This was yesterday, they held SWAT training, it happened that they held SWAT training yesterday in the area around the school district." (CNN, 10-24-2014)
11-20-2014 - Florida State University, Tallahassee
"Thursday FSUPD Chief David Perry said his department underwent active-shooter training just two weeks prior. That training, along with collaboration with TPD, gave emergency responders the tools they needed to handle the incident." (Tallahassee Democrat, 11-22-2014)
10-1-2015 - Umpqua Community College, OR
College president Rita Cavin says a drill had been run a week before, in a videotaped interview.
2-14-2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL
“It’s unreal,” he [student Tedric Thompson] said. “Just last week we had Code Red drills and I was making jokes. I never thought it would happen to us.” (Palm Beach Post, 2-14-2018)
8-26-2018 - Jacksonville, FL
(1:08) "And we also talked with Randy Weiss earlier to give us some perspective. Now we know the shooting happened at the landing. [Weiss] was able to give us a little bit of perspective by phone, explaining that there was a training [drill] that was actually happening with JFRD during the time of the shooting." (Channel 4, 8-26-2018)
"Firefighters who were participating in a training exercise right next to the mall were treating victims before the first 911 call went out, the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters president tweeted, adding, "Victims ran to them." (BuzzFeed News, 8-26-2018)
submitted by Torontos_Angry_Ghost to conspiracy [link] [comments]

2018.06.19 03:30 quityourcryin Maybe ex bethelites can now find a place to live as old Dumbo hotel will now house the poor and homeless.

Skip to main content   Search form Search Search ALL BROOKLYN, ALL THE TIME June 18, 2018 Broken clouds, 73 °F
Follow us: Facebook Twitter Tumblr YouTube RSS Daily A.M. eBrief Weekly Print Edition Main menu Arts+EntertainmentBookbeatBusinessCalendarLegalCrimeEducation+KidsHealthHistoryLICHNewsPoliticsReal EstateReligionSportsStreetbeat BROOKLYN TODAY To Build A Better Bus System, Ask A Driver Jehovah’s Witnesses’ DUMBO hotel will become low-income housing, sources say  Here's a glimpse of 90 Sands St., a former Watchtower residential hotel that will be turned into low-income housing. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle Now we know what comes next for the DUMBO residential hotel the Jehovah’s Witnesses owned until recently.
A housing provider called Breaking Ground will turn 90 Sands St. into an affordable and supportive residence for low-income working families and low-income and formerly homeless individuals, the Brooklyn Eagle has learned.
At a Community Board 2 meeting on Wednesday night, Breaking Ground President and CEO Brenda Rosen is scheduled to make a presentation about her organization’s plan “to create low-to-moderate income and supportive housing at 90 Sands St.,” an email bulletin from the community board says.
The vacant 30-story residential hotel, which stands beside the Manhattan Bridge on the corner of Sands, Jay and High streets, was constructed a quarter-century ago.
It currently belongs to Manhattan-based mega-landlord RFR. The real estate firm bought 90 Sands St. from the Watchtower for $135 million last year, city Finance Department records indicate.
Kushner Cos. had planned to be a partner in that purchase but dropped out of the deal. Jared Kushner headed Kushner Cos. until he stepped aside to become a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
Kushner Cos. recently sold its stake in the Watchtower's former Brooklyn Heights headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and Watchtower development site 85 Jay St. in DUMBO.
This is the High Street facade of 90 Sands St.
Tenants Would Start Arriving in Early 2020
Recently, the board of directors of Concord Village, a co-op complex near 90 Sands St., sent its shareholders an informational email about Breaking Ground's plans for the former Watchtower residential hotel.
Breaking Ground is in the process of buying 90 Sands St., with an expected closing date in September, the email says.
The information in the email was drawn from a conference call with executive staff from Breaking Ground.
There are 507 apartments in 90 Sands St., 127 of which are small one-bedroom units and 380 of which are studios.
“The one-bedroom apartments will be geared toward low-income, working families and the studio apartments will be provided to individuals who are low-income and formerly homeless,” the Concord Village board’s email says.
Supportive services will be provided onsite for tenants of these permanently rent-stabilized units.
Breaking Ground hopes to start interior renovations in February 2019 and to begin moving tenants into the building in February 2020, the email says.
A spokeswoman for Breaking Ground was unable to provide comment about the plans for 90 Sands St. by press deadline.
Breaking Ground has been creating permanent supportive housing for homeless people since 1990. It currently operates more than 3,500 units of housing in New York City, upstate New York and Connecticut and is developing more than 1,000 additional units.
A Hotel with a Restaurant Like the Rainbow Room
Originally, RFR and Kushner Cos. had planned to turn 90 Sands St. into a 600-room hotel with lodging industry legend Ian Schrager, the co-owner of disco Studio 54 who went to prison for tax evasion and was later pardoned by President Barack Obama.
Schrager planned to build an “observatory-like restaurant” with views of the Manhattan skyline at the top of the hotel that he thought might become “Brooklyn's answer to the Rainbow Room,” he told the New York Post in 2015.
RFR's media contact did not respond by deadline to the Eagle's query about why company executives decided not to go forward with the hotel project. Buzz-worthy new 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge recently opened nearby at the Pierhouse complex in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
DUMBO Heights Is its Neighbor
The 90 Sands St. tower is located at the edge of DUMBO Heights, a hip, tech-oriented office complex recently created by Kushner Cos. and its investor partners from a cluster of former Bible-printing plants they bought from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The residential hotel and the printing plants were combined as a single package of properties the Watchtower agreed to sell to RFR, Kushner Cos. and its partners for $375 million in 2013 — with the proviso that the buyers wouldn't be allowed to close on the residential hotel purchase until 2017.
The Watchtower sold the Bible-printing plants and 90 Sands St. as part of its liquidation of its once-massive property portfolio in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights. The religious organization undertook the real estate sell-off because it relocated its world headquarters from 25-30 Columbia Heights to upstate Warwick, N.Y.
That's 90 Sands St. at right with DUMBO Heights buildings at left.
June 18, 2018 - 4:13pm Related Articles  Vincent Viola plans to put a pool inside old Jehovah's Witnesses property in Brooklyn Heights It will make quite a splash. That's a literal statement, not marketing hype.
Vincent Viola plans to build an indoor swimming pool at his Brooklyn Heights Watchtower residential redevelopment project. … Full Article  Report: Kushner Cos. sells stakes in Brooklyn Heights' Watchtower headquarters and DUMBO development site Bye bye, Kushner Cos. Buy buy, CIM Group. Kushner Cos., which was headed by Jared Kushner until he became senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, has sold its ownership stakes in two big Brooklyn properties that had belonged to the Jehovah's Witnesses. … Full Article    BDE TWITTER FEED Tweets by @BklynEagle Most Popular Most Viewed
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2018.04.18 10:16 alternate-source-bot [Banned] /r/ChristiansAwake2NWO/: Parents of Sandy Hook Victims Sue Right-Wing Radio Host Alex Jones Over Suggesting Tragedy Was a Hoax

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