|Cache||It’s Friday, October 4, so the time has come once again to take a look around the college world and...|
|Cache||Ron Johnson became Wisconsin's Senator because he didn't understand the Affordable Care Act, and hated a program offering more people access to affordable health insurance. He even said...|
And it only got worse from there. In Washington, Johnson's blathering idiocy became the talk of the town:
Johnson plays Trump as Victim, says he's "...never seen a president, administration, be sabotaged from the day after the election: Amazing. Let's remind our clueless Dumb Ron Johnson why that's not true either:
1. Here’s John Boehner offering his plans for Obama’s agenda: “We're going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”
So it's mind-bending to hear Dumb Ron Johnson whine about the supposed "attacks" on the grifting Trump family presidency:
Johnson: "I have never in my lifetime seen a president after being elected, not having some measure of well wishes from his opponents; I've never seen a president, administration, be sabotaged from the day after the election; I've never seen no measure of a honeymoon what-so-ever."Johnson, chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security committee, rambled from one conspiracy theory to another (just like every Trump cultist), and admitted he doesn't trust the CIA or the FBI.
Johnson: "No, I don't — absolutely not. No, and I didn't trust them back then."
So, Nothing like this ever happened under Obama? Trump Investigations plays into GOP Victim-Hood: Here's just a quick reminder below. Note: Remember Trump's own attempts to seek out Obama's birth certificate to prove he was not a U.S. citizen and a secret Muslin:
MSNBC: Republicans made aggressive use of their investigative powers ... matters involving Hillary Clinton, her use of email as secretary of state, her conduct of foreign policy and the Clinton Foundation ... House Republicans unleashed a barrage of subpoenas ... a half dozen GOP-led House committees conducted protracted investigations of the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya ... investigations of the 2009-2011 Operation Fast and Furious episode – a botched initiative against drug cartels that ended up putting guns in the hands of murderers ... investigations into the IRS's treatment of conservatives, and his administration’s loan guarantee to the failed solar-panel startup, Solyndra. And much more.
Who can forget Johnson's imagined "secret society?"
Or this Johnson gem:
Ron Johnson now has his eye on the governorship in Wisconsin. Just a little advice to anyone thinking about moving to a state who's economy is held hostage by the gerrymandered Republican Party determined to not change a thing because after 8 years of control, everything is perfect now; DON'T.
|Cache||Thousands of Indonesians are still in shelters nearly two weeks after a deadly earthquake sparked a stream of fake news and hoaxes warning that an even bigger disaster was looming, the government said on Monday.A state of emergency has been declared until Wednesday, with nearly 135,000 people in evacuation shelters and tents.Many displaced people are too scared to return to their homes in the remote Maluku Islands after the area suffered more than 1,000 aftershocks following a 6.5-magnitude…|
Chronicle AM: NV Gets First Pot Lounge, British Police Force to Provide Free Heroin to Hardcore Addicts, More... (10/7/19)Cache
Nevada sees its first "cannabis tasting room," a New York poll finds continuing support for marijuana legalization amidst the vaping scare, British drug policy upheavals, and more.
[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy
Nevada's First Marijuana Lounge is Now Open. The state's first marijuana tasting room opened this weekend in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Pauite Tribe is operating the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace on tribal land, which gives it a leg up on potential competitors. Under a state law signed in June, local governments are barred from licensing marijuana consumption lounges until 2021, but tribal lands are not subject to the law.
New York Sienna Poll Has Continuing Support for Legalization, Even as Vaping Fears Grow. A new Sienna poll has support for marijuana legalization in the Empire State at 56%, even as nearly as many respondents (52%) support banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices from sale. An even higher number, 61%, support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's emergency executive order banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Half, 52 percent, have used marijuana and 21 percent currently do.
Missouri Patients Won't Lose Welfare Over Medical Marijuana Use. After patients complained that their medical marijuana use put them at odds with a state law that requires welfare recipients to be screened for drug use, the state has revamped its policy. Department of Social Services spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel said that the agency now exempts recipients with medical marijuana cards.
British Drug Advisory Panel Member Quits, Cites Political Interference. Professor Alex Stevens, a senior member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), has resigned over the alleged "political vetting" of panel members by the government. The move comes after then crime minister Victoria Atkins blocked the appointment of Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of the drug policy nonprofit Release, after finding that she had previously criticized the Home Office and called for drug policy reform. Stevens said there was at least one other case of people being denied a place on the ACMD because of criticizing government drug policy. "I have resigned because of my concerns over the political vetting of potential members of the ACMD," Stevens said. "The political vetting fundamentally undermines the independence of the council," Stevens added. "It is supposed to be protected by the working protocol between the home secretary and the ACMD. This does not seem compatible if ministers exclude those who disagree with them."
British Government Replaces Minister Responsible for Drug Policy. Victoria Atkins, who had been responsible for drug policy for the Conservative Party, was quietly replaced in that position over the summer. She was replaced as minister of state for policing, crime, and fire services by Kit Malthouse, but it had been believed Atkins kept the drug portfolio. But on Monday, Malthouse's office confirmed he was now responsible for drug policy. He has recently been speaking for the government on drug policy issues and laying out a hard line against opening safe injection sites.
British Police Force to Begin Giving Free Heroin to Select Addicts. The police force in Cleveland, North Wales, will begin a program to provide free heroin to a small group of hardcore addicts. They will be provided with injectable pharmaceutical grade heroin at a National Health Service clinic three times a day. The idea is to reduce crimes committed by people seeking money to pay for their medications. Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said the program would be available for heroin users "for whom all other treatment has failed and who are known to be the most active criminals in the town as they look to finance their addiction."
Christopher Paul "Chris" Massoglia (born March 29, 1992) is an American television and motion picture actor.
Chris Massoglia was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Christopher and Karen Massoglia. His father is a chiropractor and his mother a homemaker. His parents are devout Christians and Republicans, and Massoglia grew up a fan of Christian pop music (as well as unable to listen to rap music). Gifted with an above-average intelligence, Massoglia was homeschooled by his mother. While his peers were taking third grade-level subjects, Massoglia was taking eighth grade-level courses. By the age of 13, he had enrolled in an online university where his coursework included developmental psychology, Biblical studies, algebra, and American history. He also had studied jujitsu, played piano, trained as a hip-hop dancer, knew American sign language, and rode horses. He was also a stand-out Little League Baseball player. The Massoglia family has, as of 2009, refused to move to Hollywood, preferring to maintain a home in Minneapolis despite the extensive travel for Chris that this requires.
He began attending acting workshops at a dancing academy in his home town of Minneapolis while in middle school, and auditioning for television commercials by creating home-made audition tapes. His first jobs included commercials for Target, Marshall Field's, PepsiCo, and Best Buy.
He began acting in 2003 under the name "Chris Kelly" (sometimes appearing as "Chris J. Kelly") in an episode of the television program Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The same year, he was considered for the part of 10-year-old Sean in the Nicole Kidman film Birth, but the family refused to allow him to appear naked on screen with a nude, grown woman. He auditioned for Spider-Man 2 (getting far enough in the casting process to spend an afternoon with Tobey Maguire) and Bad News Bears (he returned six times for call-backs but was not cast). He spent the summer of 2004 away from auditions to play Little League Baseball; his team (the Robbinsdale All-Stars) won the Minnesota state title that year but did not go to the Little League World Series after losing in the Indianapolis regionals. He appeared in two episodes of Medical Investigation in 2004, and four episodes of the TNT cable television police drama Wanted in 2005. He began using his family name of Massoglia in 2008.
He made his feature film acting debut in 2007 in the motion picture A Plumm Summer, but his most prominent role as of 2009 was as "Darren Shan" in the 2009 film Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Originally scheduled to debut in theaters in 2010, the film was moved to October 2009 to "capitalize on the Halloween season", and opened a month prior to another highly-anticipated vampire picture, New Moon.
His follow-up project was the 3-D horror film The Hole, directed by Joe Dante, He also went on to playing an older Sam, Zac Efron's brother in Charlie St. Cloud, but his role was cut from the film.
Delil Souleiman/GettyLate Sunday night in Washington, the White House announced it was pulling U.S. troops out of northeast Syria to clear the way for a Turkish invasion. The Kurds there who led the fight on the ground that defeated the so-called Islamic State had seen President Donald Trump’s betrayal coming. But still they hoped it could be avoided. “Don’t let the Turks disrupt my wedding,” our translator texted in September prior to our arrival in the region. For more than a year, we have been visiting almost monthly to interview captured ISIS cadres held by the Kurdish and Arab troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as part of a project for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. Trump’s Crazy Syria Move Will Wipe Out America’s Allies and Set Up a Big ISIS ComebackIn September, we saw the Turkish threat to invade at any moment was held off by tense U.S. negotiations in which the SDF made considerable concessions, allowing Turkey to patrol jointly a large swath of territory while agreeing to remove checkpoints and military positions farther back from the Turkish border.“They should put their patrols inside Turkish territory, and not enter Syria,” SDF leaders told us at the time, as they reluctantly acquiesced to U.S. demands.* * *BITTER FRIENDS* * *Many current and former White House advisors counseled against the kind of announcement made Sunday night. Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned last year over Trump’s threat to remove the few thousand U.S. troops in Syria, who not only served as advisors in the fight against ISIS, but as deterrence against Turkish operations east of the Euphrates River. In a particularly bitter post on Twitter, Bret McGurk, who served as the special U.S. presidential envoy for the fight against ISIS from 2015 to 2018, wrote, “Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”The U.S. military learned about the withdrawal plan only after Trump decided on it following his Sunday phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It has pulled out of two small observation posts in the security-mechanism zone near the Syria-Turkey border so far. But no further withdrawals are imminent, according to a knowledgeable source. The military, remembering Trump’s December order out of Syria and subsequent reversal, is waiting to learn if Trump will follow through with withdrawal this time.A recently departed senior Pentagon official considered the pullout a “blatant betrayal” of the U.S.’ Kurdish partners that gives “carte blanche to Erdogan” for a widely forecast bloodletting. “It’s going to be a massacre, that’s clear,” the ex-official told The Daily Beast. “It’s fundamentally wrong. They destroyed the Caliphate.”But the Kurds are not entirely defenseless. Military leaders of the dominant group, known as the YPG or People’s Protection Units (and their female YPJ partners), already were in overdrive in September, preparing for what they had long anticipated—a possible betrayal by their closest ally, the United States.* * *DIGGING IN* * *Alongside every major highway and criss-crossing the entire Northern Syria area, in fields, cities and towns, we saw digging for an extensive system of tunnels. “We’re ready either way,” the Kurdish leaders told us when we asked if they trusted the Americans to keep the Turks at bay.Kurds don’t have much, but their spirit of freedom and their desire to protect their hard-won territory and what they see as their incipient democracy was evident everywhere in September as the YPG troops prepared for battle with a much better equipped foe—the Turkish armed forces, the second biggest military in NATO. But nobody who fought ISIS in Syria in one vicious battle after another has forgotten that the huge Turkish army stood by and did nothing against the Islamic State as its killers carried out genocidal campaigns against Yazidis and Shiites, while abducting, torturing, ransoming or beheading Americans, Europeans, and Japanese, among others. Through all that, NATO ally Turkey was not interested in intervention. Far from it.That was until the White House statement Sunday night, up to which the U.S. military denied Turkey the ability to operate in airspace over SDF controlled territory, effectively making it more difficult to enter Northern Syria to conduct the “terrorist cleansing operation” that Turks insist upon. They already carried out one such operation in Afrin, west of the Euphrates, in January 2018, displacing Kurds and effectively taking over the area, using what Kurds claim are former ISIS cadres to fight for them.Turks view the Northern Syria area of Rojava, and the YPG dominated SDF, as controlled by Kurdish PKK terrorists operating under another name—wolves in sheep’s clothing. Indeed, in times past—until 1998—PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, lived freely in Syria and the father of the current Assad allowed him to train and equip his highly disciplined terrorist group for attacks into Turkey. It’s also true that over time, the various governing parties of Syria, Iraq and Iran have made use of PKK assaults on Turks as a way to exert pressure on Turkish politics. Turkey has suffered greatly from PKK terrorist attacks both inside Turkey and globally, and the PKK is clearly designated on the U.S. and EU’s list of terrorist organizations. In recent concessions to Turkey’s alarm over the SDF, a group they view as being in the hands of the PKK, the U.S. recently added additional individuals involved in the PKK to the U.S. State Department’s specially designated terrorist list. Turkey has also developed drones that fly over the Qandil mountains, in northern Iraq, making it easier to spot PKK movements and routinely send fighter jets to bomb them. In the case of northern Syria however, until President Trump’s announcement late Sunday night Washington time, the U.S. policy was to deny the Turks military incursions into territory where U.S. troops patrol and the U.S. military controls the airspace and claims by Turkey that the SDF is PKK have also been hotly disputed.While Turkey sees the SDF as dominated and led by a terrorist organization, the U.S. has a completely different perspective, viewing the YPG and SDF as valued allies in the fight against ISIS. Indeed, YPG and YPJ (Women’s People’s Protection Units) fighters lost over 1,000 lives fighting ISIS and it is common to see Kurdish men and women in Rojava on crutches, in wheelchairs and otherwise suffering from serious and lifelong injuries sustained in the battle to retake ISIS dominated areas, including Raqqa. While the rest of the world was silent, the YPG and YPJ can also take credit for going to the rescue of the Yazidis on Sinjar mountain in 2014, fighting to stop ISIS from carrying out a massive genocidal campaign in which ISIS cadres captured and enslaved countless Yazidi women, boys, and girls. The men were killed by ISIS, the boys killed or indoctrinated. The women and girls subsequently were raped and treated as chattel. But thousands were able to escape with YPG help.* * *THE PRISONERS* * *At present the SDF houses thousands of captured ISIS prisoners, holding the men in repurposed schools and prisons overflowing with former fighters and in camps similarly run at overcapacity for ISIS women and children. According to a March 2019 UN report, a total of 8,000 Islamic State fighters currently are held in SDF custody. In our recent visits to north and east Syria from May through August, relying on our primary intelligence sources, we were told that approximately 2,000 of these Islamic State prisoners were considered “foreign terrorist fighters” from North Africa, Europe, and the Americas.The same data was also corroborated in an August 2019 press release by the Office of the Spokesperson, Special Envoy of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Ambassador James Jeffrey. Just under a 1,000 of the prisoners are believed to be Europeans. ICSVE has interviewed approximately five percent of those detained. Most appear to have become totally disillusioned, are exhausted from battle and prison and say they want to lay down arms. While there is no specific deradicalization or rehabilitation program applied to them at present and we have been requested by the SDF and also agreed to build one, it’s safe to say the majority are spontaneously deradicalizing and simply want to return home to their former lives after facing a judicial process.The SDF prisons are overcrowded and the SDF leadership repeatedly has expressed a need to ICSVE researchers for technical assistance in dealing with terrorist prisoners and for financial assistance to build at least five prisons. Riots and attempted jail breaks have occurred in SDF prisons holding foreign fighters. Likewise, recent news reporting shows over-capacity has prisoners sleeping next to each other on their sides to be able to fit into small and overcrowded rooms. Three detention centers holding ISIS women and children also are administered by the SDF: Camps Hol, Ain Issa and Roj. According to a UN Report as of April 2019 an estimated 75,000 women and children were being held. Our data suggests that at least 60,000 are Syrians and Iraqis. At least 8,000 children and 4,000 wives of foreign fighters remain in the camp.Women and children live in tents in these camps which are hot in the summer, freezing cold during winter, and leak cold rainwater as well. Dust blows around the camps causing breathing difficulties for some. Women and children have died of typhus, tent fires, and other dangers in the camps. Recently vaccinations have been offered, but many mothers don’t trust the program and refrain from having their children vaccinated. The women cook for themselves and complain that the food provided them lacks nutritious fruits and vegetables. Schools are lacking as well.All of the camps housing women have suffered from ISIS enforcers still dedicated to the group who require the other women to continue to cover themselves and punish those who speak out against them. These women have attacked other women, set their tents on fire, stolen their possessions, attacked, bitten, beaten and stabbed guards and have murdered other women creating a sense of chaos, constant danger and oppression in the camps. Recently a gun fight broke out in Camp Hol, with one woman killed and seven wounded.Foreign fighters from about 60 countries remain in SDF custody. We have interviewed foreign fighters who are nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, the UK, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Dagestan, Turkey, Denmark, Russia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, Indonesia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, Switzerland, Egypt, and Germany. * * *A TRIBUNAL?* * *While the SDF has struggled to contain the overflow of captured ISIS fighters, they have been frustrated by Turkish politics and threats to their very existence. In recent years with the Syrian uprising and rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Turks saw it to be to their advantage to fund, train and equip Islamist rebels that they believed could keep the Kurdish independence movements in Syria in a weakened state or altogether destroyed. The Kurds, meanwhile, fought back in 2015 when ISIS invaded the city of Kobani on the Turkish border and rose up as a valiant on-the-ground force to repel the terrorists. The U.S. led coalition began arming and supplying the YPG and YPJ, and providing air cover, infusing the Kurds with a powerful sense of valor and military might that ultimately led to the complete territorial defeat of an Islamic State “Caliphate” that had taken as its motto “remain and expand.”ISIS is hardly a defeated foe however, with weekly sleeper cell attacks occurring in both Syria and Iraq and the likes of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi still making video and audio appeals to supporters around the world to reinstate the Caliphate, starting with breaking the ISIS prisoners out of captivity.The subject of ISIS captives is one of great importance to President Trump who repeatedly has threatened to release the roughly 12,000 ISIS foreign men, women and children prisoners held by the SDF in prisons and camps. Trump’s view is that each country has to take its citizens back, even countries like Sweden that lack a terrorism law under which to prosecute returnees, and countries like France, which already has a serious militant jihadi prison problem and fears any more potential ISIS cadres inside its penitentiaries. These countries have continued to tell the SDF that an international tribunal can be established in its territory to try ISIS prisoners in place. But the UN Counter Terrorism Directorate and U.S. State Department strongly disagree with this proposal and President Trump continues to tweet that he is simply going to release the prisoners to European countries refusing to repatriate them—even though it is the SDF, not Washington, that has them in custody.In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump claimed erroneously that most of the ISIS prisoners are foreigner terrorist fighters and seemed to ignore that ISIS, even when based far away in Syria, is a very real threat to U.S. citizens and interests. It is “time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to … figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their “neighborhood.” They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”While arguments of who should be responsible to prosecute and hold ISIS prisoners can be made on both sides, in many ways Europe, Jordan and many other countries effectively did “flush the toilet” of their militant jihadi problem by allowing them to freely exit their countries to go fight in Syria, most of them ultimately joining ISIS. The U.S. at present repatriates all of its ISIS fighters bringing them to swift and sound justice at home.* * *ISIS AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY* * *Turkey also has a responsibility in the rise of ISIS, having allowed over 40,000 foreign fighters to cross over its border into Syria, many unabashedly on their way to join the Islamic State. Many prisoners tell us of Turkish complicity with their journey into ISIS-land and being wished well by border guards who winked as they crossed into Syria.Abu Mansour, a 36-year-old Moroccan ISIS emir interviewed by ICSVE in February 2019 in Iraqi prison, told us that he basically functioned as the ISIS ambassador to Turkey, negotiating border issues, the transfer of ISIS wounded into Turkey for treatment, the flow of foreign fighters across the Turkish border into ISIS territory, and other logistics. “The subject of Turkey is a very big one,” he said, “and the mutual interests include the obvious and the hidden.”“Their benefit was that it was a border area and we have a border strip with them,” Abu Mansour continued. “Security is one of them, and they wanted to control north of Syria.” The Turks wanted to control the entire border region in Syria and even into Iraq as far as Mosul, according to Abu Mansour, but they wanted to do it through a proxy force. “So, they wanted to find organizations that would do this favor for them, including terminating the presence of the Kurdish Workers Party [the PKK], without a direct interference from Turkey. At the same time, especially since they were part of NATO, they don’t want to anger NATO, because they need NATO.”By the same token, Turkish President Erdogan’s background as a committed Islamist created a certain sympathy, as did his ambition to revive in modern form the old Ottoman empire, Abu Mansour claimed. “The pretext of [controlling the] Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] is a strong pretext for Turkey, but they have ambitions, as they have entered regions that don’t have PKK in them.” Abu Mansour explained the Turkish and ISIS relationship through his own experiences. In 2013, he said, he was assigned to receive the ISIS volunteers arriving in Turkey, but later, “I supervised the country entry operations, registration as a whole.” Then in 2015, he said, “I worked on external relations, relations with the Turkish intelligence. It started when I was at the borders.” First there was an agreement about passing the wounded from Syria into Turkey, about the border crossing and security arrangements. “Ambulances, especially in critical and serious situations, could go straight to the [border] gate,” said Abu Mansour. “Then a Turkish ambulance takes the case to the Turkish hospitals, and it is followed up inside Turkey. There was a hotline with intelligence who are located at the borders. Most places were available, [including] hospitals in Turkey [and] there was a technical staff of doctors who follow up the case in Turkey. The [Turkish] state was paying for certain operations performed in private hospitals, but most cases referred by the public hospitals were for free.”Abu Mansour said he had “face-to-face meetings with Turkish delegations. Sometimes they represented the intelligence services, sometimes the Turkish army, depending on the issue. “Most meetings were in Turkey on the border strip, but there were also meetings in Ankara and Gaziantep, depending on the issue,” said Abu Mansour. He would travel with a delegation of two or three ISIS people.”Referencing the easy relationship, as he saw it, between ISIS and the Turkish intelligence and military, Abu Mansour claimed, an ISIS emir could “go to Ankara without a problem. They always sent a car, or a bodyguard. At one point, we met weekly, depending on the issue and its importance to Turkey and to us, according to the demand.”The situation described by Abu Mansour raises a question: did the ultimate defeat of ISIS in fact deprive the Turks of the proxy buffer zone they wanted—which they are now invading Syria to establish?Abu Mansour recalled, “Turkey asked on many occasions for a safe zone.” This would be a demilitarized zone where it would provide ISIS with whatever it wanted, but only inside Syrian territories. According to Abu Mansour, , ISIS refused to grant it, and relations started to fall apart. Eventually, Turkey grew sick of the back and forth, and there was also a split in ISIS leadership, with one faction deciding it would take the terror war into Turkey with a 2016 bombing at Istanbul airport. At the time, Abu Mansour was in Gaziantep, Turkey, and the Turkish authorities told him they thought this was an orchestrated act to pressure Ankara. But he says that was not the case. The external security services of ISIS had started setting their own agenda, “carrying out operations everywhere,” Abu Mansour told us. “We reached a state in which they couldn’t care less about politics, and they worked like gangs, [and would] strike anywhere.”While Turkey continues to claim that the SDF, our strongest ally in fighting ISIS, is a terrorist dominated group, many questions remain about Turkey’s own complicity with ISIS. Given that during a bitterly fought war with ISIS, in which many Kurdish lives were lost, that the SDF managed to take control of the area, institute a functioning political system that included granting an impressive array of minority rights and rights to women, the SDF deserves our respect and protection.But U.S. President Donald Trump has put a price on all this. “The Kurds fought with us,” he tweeted, “but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.” That they saved countless lives in the process, including American lives, does not seem to have been a factor.Spencer Ackerman also contributed reporting to this article.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has revealed that he has a neuromuscular disease that has led to a slew of medical problems, including making his eye droop.Duterte, who was in Russia for a state visit, told the Filipino community there Saturday night that he has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune disease that leads to skeletal muscle weakness. He said the disease ran in his family.The revelation came amid continued public speculation about his health. There have been periods when the famously bombastic president has been out of the public eye for days, prompting headlines guessing about his whereabouts and even rumors of his death.But his communications officers have said that Duterte, 74, like any other older person, needs his own personal time.The president revealed the ailment after he apparently made a joke about not being able to look straight at a woman with whom he had danced a duet during the event in Moscow."I have a talent," Duterte said, according to official transcripts provided by his office afterward. "When I look at you, my other eye droops. Do you see? The other eye is smaller. It goes where it wants."He added: "Actually, that's myasthenia gravis. It's a nerve malfunction."Duterte said his grandfather had also had the disease, adding, "So I believe, really, in genetics."The disease often affects the muscles that control the eyes, facial expression, speaking and swallowing, according to the Philippine Medical Association.Duterte came to power in 2016 vowing to rid the country of drug dealers and to wipe out other crimes. Since then, the Philippines' war on drugs has led to thousands of killings allegedly by police and vigilantes, which rights groups have denounced as an atrocity.This year, the United Nations' Human Rights Council voted to examine the thousands of killings linked to Duterte's campaign.Over the years, his public outbursts have included insults against women, the United States and God.In May, the president dropped out of sight for a week, prompting concerns on social media. His aides later tried to quell the rumors by releasing photographs of Duterte having breakfast.One image showed him with the latest issue of a newspaper, suggesting an effort to prove that the picture had been taken on the same day.Last year, Duterte revealed that he had undergone an endoscopy and colonoscopy and that doctors had found he had, he said, "a bad case of Barrett."He was referring to Barrett's esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, in which the contents of the stomach flow backward into the esophagus.The president has also said he has Buerger's disease, which leads to constriction of blood vessels in the arms and legs.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company
An update from Professor Jenks (4:24 PM Eastern, 07 October 2019):
The Chemistry Department at Iowa State University has an opening for an analytical or experimental physical chemist at the assistant professor level. Applications were originally intended to close Sunday night, but software glitches caused problems from at least Friday onward. Those have been addressed and applications will again be accepted through Thursday night Oct 10. The software will close the window at 12:01 Friday morning. We apologize for the inconvenience and are glad to be able to re-open the position for those who were trying to apply. (Contrary to an earlier comment, I do not have access to the names of anyone who had a partial application submitted; such people should also log into the application system again.) https://isu.wd1.
Best wishes to those involved.
|Cache||"Iowans have the ability to show our country what can be, even if we've never seen it before," Harris said during an event on Iowa State University's campus.|
David Hume argues that "love of liberty" in some individuals often attracts the religious inquisitor to persecute them and thereby drive society into a state of "ignorance, corruption, and bondage" (1757)Cache
David Hume argues that “love of liberty” in some individuals often attracts the religious inquisitor to persecute them and thereby drive society into a state of “ignorance, corruption, and bondage” (1757)
|Cache||The Maintenance Electrician is responsible for the shift maintenance performance of a state of art three line stud mill. This job is permanent, full-time.|
From Resolute Forest Products - Wed, 13 Mar 2019 05:40:24 GMT - View all Thunder Bay, ON jobs
|Cache||The Maintenance Millwright is responsible for the shift maintenance performance of a state of art three line stud mill. This job is permanent, full-time.|
From Resolute Forest Products - Tue, 23 Apr 2019 05:40:10 GMT - View all Thunder Bay, ON jobs
|Cache||One of the two companies bidding for a state contract to study Arkansas' public school funding formula was created just days before lawmakers decided to seek bids for the project. - Source: www.arkansasonline.com|
|Cache||Regarding the Oct. 1 front-page article “Va. legislator’s swagger stirs GOP election angst”: “Swagger” is not a word I would use to describe Virginia state Sen. Amanda F. Chase. A self-described...|
What is it? Washington State (3-2, 0-2) looks to break out of a two-game funk in Pac-12 play when it travels to face No. 18 Arizona State (4-1, 1-1).
Where is it? Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
When is it? Kickoff is 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where can I watch it? The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.
Who is favored? ASU opened as a three-point favorite.
How did they fare last week? The Cougars and Sun Devils were both idle this week. Previously, Washington State suffered a 38-13 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City, while Arizona State edged Cal 24-17 on Friday night in Berkeley.
Why WSU will win: If the Cougars can merely match their season average for scoring offense, they’ll have an opportunity to walk away with their first conference win. While ASU has shown some offensive improvement in Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils are still 10th in the conference, scoring 22.8 points per game – half as many as the Cougars, who are No. 1 in the league at 44.8 ppg. The Sun Devils have had one of the conference’s top defenses this season, but in five games, they’ve faced only one top-50 offense (Colorado) and haven’t encountered one that’s scoring more than 35 ppg. While the Cougars dropped consecutive Pac-12 games in 2016, they haven’t lost three in a row since 2014, which was also the last time WSU missed out on a postseason berth.
Why ASU will win: While Mike Leach believes Tracy Claeys’ sudden exit could be a spark for his football team, it’s anyone’s guess how a midseason defensive coordinator shakeup affects preparation and performance on game day. More pertinent than that, though, are all the areas in which the Cougars have struggled defensively this season. WSU hasn’t faced a truly prolific passing attack this season, yet the Cougars have given up 841 yards and seven touchdowns through the air the last two games. Jayden Daniels and the Sun Devils aren’t known for their aerial prowess, either, but ASU’s freshman QB, similar to UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Utah’s Tyler Huntley is a capable runner who can make things happen outside of the pocket and make the Cougars pay if they aren’t disciplined in pass coverage. WSU avoided Zack Moss in Salt Lake City, but the Cougars won’t be able to escape ASU’s Eno Benjamin, who’s rushed for 392 yards and six touchdowns this season.
What happened last time: Due to Pac-12 scheduling rotations, it’s been three full years since the Cougars and Sun Devils met last. In 2016, WSU extended what would become an eight-game win streak with a 37-32 win over ASU in the desert. After Mike Leach accused Sun Devils coach Todd Graham of stealing signals during a mid-week press conference, the Cougars and Luke Falk passed for 398 yards, while Gabe Marks made eight grabs for 107 yards and a touchdown. WSU trailed 14-3 early, but safety Robert Taylor made it a one-score game when he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Cougars scored 28 consecutive points to lead by as many as 17 points.
STANFORD, Calif. – The Washington Huskies’ passing game is broken.
That fact was evident at 10:48 on Saturday night as Chris Petersen’s Huskies trudged in a sad procession toward the southeast tunnel at Stanford Stadium. As they did, the public address announcer boomed, “When the eastern part of the country wakes up in the morning, they’ll see the final score: Stanford 23, Washington 13!”
Senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller walked with his helmet on, head down, his once-white jersey now stained various shades of green and red. The jersey, in this case, was a visual receipt; it spoke silently, but unmistakably, reflecting Fuller’s substantial role in the Husky offense.
Terrell Bynum’s jersey was clean. Andre Baccellia’s jersey was clean. Quinten Pounds’ jersey was clean. Marquis Spiker’s jersey was clean. Austin Osborne’s jersey was clean. Puka Nacua’s jersey was clean.
They either didn’t receive an opportunity, or failed to take advantage when they did.
Indeed, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Fuller was targeted a whopping 17 times Saturday night, and turned in nine catches (and at least three drops) for 171 yards, with a long of 37.
Otherwise, UW’s remaining wide receivers combined for an utterly incompetent two catches for 10 yards … which all came in the fourth quarter. No other Husky pass-catcher was targeted more than five times on the night. Junior tight end Hunter Bryant caught just one pass for 8 yards and dropped a pair of passes that would have extended drives on third down.
Junior quarterback Jacob Eason, meanwhile, completed all five of his pass attempts for 56 yards and a touchdown in his team’s torrid opening drive. He completed 11 of 31 passes for 150 yards and an interception, while being sacked twice, the rest of the way.
It’s been written before, but bears repeating: entering the game, Stanford’s defense ranked 127th nationally in opponent completion percentage (70.6), 126th in opponent pass efficiency rating (170.60), 124th in opponent yards per attempt (9.4), 115th in passing defense (287.4 yards a game) and 111th in touchdown passes allowed (11).
So how did this happen? Or, as Petersen was asked in the postgame news conference, “What needs to change to get the passing game going?”
“That’s a good question. That’s a good question,” he repeated. “(There were) dropped balls, and we’ve got to give our quarterback more answers, too. I know a couple times he was standing back there without answers.
“But you couple that with little protection stuff and he’s running around, and a couple guys didn’t make plays for him. And when you’re not going to get the ball a bunch, you better capitalize.”
Here’s what not-getting-the-ball-a-bunch looks like: Baccellia, UW’s senior starter opposite Fuller, has excelled in three nonconference games – posting 13 catches for 195 and two touchdowns.
But in three games against Pac-12 competition, he has been rendered utterly ineffective, managing just six catches – two per game – for 41 yards. Still, the coaching staff has (perhaps stubbornly) stuck with him. Saturday, he contributed one essentially irrelevant catch for a single yard on five targets.
Senior wide receiver Chico McClatcher, meanwhile, has not caught a pass since the 52-20 victory over Hawaii on Sept. 14. Nacua – a 6-1, 204-pound former four-star freshman – has been targeted a grand total of one time this season, and he turned that target into a picturesque 28-yard touchdown. And it’s not that Puka isn’t playing, either; the highly touted freshman receiver just rarely runs a route. Most often, he enters the game, blocks for a running play and then immediately exits again. This begs the obvious question: they burned his redshirt so he could block?
As for the trio of talented former four-star redshirt freshmen, Austin Osborne has recorded one catch for minus-2 yards this season. Spiker – who holds the California state prep record with 72 receiving touchdowns – has played in three games without earning a target, and 182-pound speedster Trey Lowe has been sidelined for the first six games with an infection.
Petersen often has repeated that those who practice most consistently will earn opportunities in games. But, if Fuller and Baccellia are so much better than everybody else, isn’t that also an issue? If players as presumably talented as Nacua, Osborne and Spiker all can’t earn a target in a lopsided 10-point defeat, who’s really to blame?
When asked if UW’s pass game woes can be traced to personnel and an inability to get open, Petersen said, “I think it’s everything. We’ll look at the tape there. But like I said, I know a couple times we’ve just got to cut our losses. (Eason) threw a couple good balls in there that we didn’t make plays on. We’ve got do a better job, there’s no question, in the pass game.”
In three nonconference games, Eason has completed 77.5% of his passes, throwing for 901 yards and 10 touchdowns with one interception (while being sacked just once).
Meanwhile, in three Pac-12 contests, the former Lake Stevens High School standout has completed just 54.3% of his passes, throwing for 548 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions (while being sacked seven times).
In Eason, Washington touts perhaps the Pac-12’s (and the nation’s?) most physically talented passer. And yet the Huskies rank sixth in the conference in passing touchdowns (11), seventh in completion percentage (65.8), eighth in yards per attempt (8.1) and pass efficiency rating (150.4) and ninth in passing offense (248.8 yards a game).
Too often, Eason has stood in the backfield without any answers. Perhaps that’s play-calling. Perhaps it’s personnel, or coaching, or preparation, or all of the above. With UW’s next three Pac-12 games coming against 4-1 Arizona, 4-1 Oregon and 4-1 Utah, Petersen and Co., have precious little time to improve their suddenly incompetent passing attack.
The Huskies’ jerseys were clean on Saturday night.
Their execution was anything but.
SACRAMENTO, California – A towel on his head and hands on his face, Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere appeared dejected as he sat alone on the Hornet Stadium bench midway through the second quarter.
Barriere was shelved for portions of the second and third quarters after being looked at by trainers for an unspecified injury, but Sacramento State had already established a two-touchdown lead before his initial exit, including a Barriere interception that turned into a 27-yard scoring return.
When the Walter Payton Award candidate returned after a few fruitless drives with backup Gunner Talkington, the Eagles regained their pulse, pulling within a possession of the resurgent Hornets, who then had a clock-eating touchdown drive for a 41-27 lead.
George Obinna then proceeded to add an exclamation point.
Sacramento State’s star defensive end picked up a Barriere fumble in the final 2 minutes and rumbled 73 yards for the Hornets’ in a convincing 48-27 upset of the swooning Eagles.
The Hornets (3-2, 1-0 Big Sky) totaled 471 yards against EWU, their first home win over the Eagles in program history.
The Eagles (2-4, 1-1) were picked to win the Big Sky and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the preseason. With five games remaining, they will likely have to win out for a chance at a playoff berth or a possible share of the title.
EWU offensive tackle Chris Schlichting held back emotion as he voiced his frustration over the loss and the program’s worst start since 2011.
“We have potential All-Americans all throughout that locker room, we have dudes who know what they’re doing, so this is just hard,” Schlichting said. “Especially since you want to win for the fans and win for this university, then you do stuff like this.”
Sacramento State, led by former EWU offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, was also menacing on defense.
Leading the Big Sky in fewest points allowed heading into the game, Sacramento State piled up seven sacks in its first win over an Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 team since 2012.
Hornets quarterback Kevin Thomson orchestrated a lengthy, 13-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to make it 41-27 with 6:16 remaining that took away the Eagles’ momentum.
Thomson, an Auburn, Washington, native, passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Hornets jump out to an early 21-7 lead. He wasn’t sacked.
Elijah Dotson also frustrated the Eagles with 103 rushing yards.
The typically downtrodden Hornets have also shut out Northern Colorado 50-0 and gave brawny Football Bowl Subdivision foes Arizona State (19-7 loss) and Fresno State (34-20 loss) fits.
“We came in with the expectation to win the game, and nobody blinked,” said Taylor, an offensive coordinator at EWU in 2016. “Everyone bought it and it’s nice to see them rewarded with a big win.”
EWU came out hot, though.
The Eagles scored on the game’s opening possession, a 12-play drive capped by Barriere’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Talolo Limu-Jones.
When Barriere left in the second quarter with his team trailing, the Eagles were ineffective. Talkington struggled through a series of three-and-out drives, completing 2 of 11 passes for 27 yards, and was sacked twice.
“We’re depleted, but so what – that’s not an excuse,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “We’re not good enough in some areas. We aren’t disciplined enough in areas. We don’t make enough plays in areas and we hold too much on offense.”
Barriere completed 22 of 42 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns an interception and rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, a statistic boosted by a 92-yard touchdown run in the first half.
“He was shifty, hard to tackle,” Obinna said of Barriere. “Every time he ran out of the pocket, it was an extra effort. But just trusting everyone to do their job is what it came down to.”
EWU’s Jayson Williams hauled in seven passes for 129 yards a touchdown and Dehonta Hayes and a game-high 17 tackles. Hayes was also ejected for a late targeting penalty.
Malibu Times – September 27, 2019 From 2012-13, the 31-acre Malibu Lagoon underwent a nine-month-long restoration process initiated by California State Parks. Twelve acres of wetland near the mouth of Malibu Creek were drained, wildlife was trapped and relocated, heavy equipment scooped out a thousand tons of trash and fill, channels and bridges were removed, […]
WASHINGTON, October 7, 2019 – Recognizing visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced that Matthew Devereaux, of the University of Tennessee, will receive the 2019 Excellence in Extension Award, and two Iowa State University-led teams, will receive the National Extension Diversity Award. Both awards, along with Regional Excellence in Extension Awards, will be presented at a ceremony on Nov. 10 in San Diego, California during APLU’s 132nd Annual Meeting. NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991.
“NIFA is proud to support the national network of extension experts and educators through our land-grant institution partnership,” said NIFA Director J. Scott Angle. “This collaboration brings science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and community members to help them grow their businesses, raise healthy families and support their communities.”
“We applaud this year’s Excellence in Extension and National Extension Diversity Awards winners,” said Ed Jones, Associate Dean and Director of Extension, Virginia Tech, and Chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy. “Their work stands as an exceptional example of the impact of Cooperative Extension for the people in all 50 states and five U.S. territories where more than 32,000 Cooperative Extension professionals serve.”
National Excellence in Extension Award The Excellence in Extension Award is given annually to one Cooperative Extension professional who excels at programming, provides visionary leadership and makes a positive impact on constituents served.
Matthew Devereaux is Interim Assistant Dean and Department Head for Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Tennessee Extension. Much of Devereaux’s work has centered on developing innovative and highly impactful youth programs. Specifically, his research has focused on best practices for positively developing youth in afterschool settings.
His findings show the importance of focusing heavily on a student’s social/emotional development during the beginning of the school year to improve learning as the year progresses. Devereaux’s research has shown students have greater gains in grades and standardized test scores when incorporating significant social/emotional learning programming that teaches students how to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate emotions. He’s also focusing on developing resources on adverse childhood experiences (ACES), mindfulness, quality childcare and early brain development. He’s aiming to examine the impact of positive fathering in future research.
National Diversity in Extension Award The National Diversity Award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism.
Kimberly Greder, Professor of Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Family Life Specialist, leads efforts in Iowa to implement and evaluate extension programs to reduce educational and health disparities facing Latino families. Using Juntos Para Una Mejor Educación (Together for a Better Education), Greder and her teams helped 1,300 Latino youth and parents gain information, develop skills, access resources and broaden networks to help youth identify paths to post-secondary education.
In partnership with the University of Illinois, Iowa faculty engaged 262 parents and children of Mexican heritage in an extension research study focused on testing the efficacy of Abriendo Caminos, a curriculum designed to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity risk. Preliminary findings revealed that families who participated had larger increases in good cholesterol levels, and larger decreases in bad cholesterol and blood inflammation, suggesting improved lifestyle behaviors reducing obesity risk. These efforts led to significant strides in expanding extension’s capacity to engage with and provide responsive programming to Iowa Latino families.
Regional Awards NIFA, Cooperative Extension, and APLU will also present four regional awards for excellence this year. The 2019 Regional Excellence in Extension recipients are:
October 7, 2019
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|Cache||Iowa State at West Va Time: 3:00 PM CST, Saturday (ESPN) Spread: IOST -10 Total: 56.5 Odds c/o 5dimes Iowa State is 3-2 following its 49-24 win over TCU in Week 6. The Cyclones take to the road this week as it faces West Virginia. Iowa State is 10-point favorites in the affair, which has […]|
Good Morning, News: Trump Ordered to Turn Over Tax Returns, Iraqi Police Kill Demonstrators, and Judgement Day for a Local Proud BoyCache
by Alex Zielinski
Police Brutality in Iraq: More than 100 anti-government protesters have been killed by Iraqi police over the past week. The massive demonstrations, focused on the country's low employment rate and government corruption, have been met with live rounds. At least three journalists covering the response have been jailed by the state government.
In Other Attacks on the Press: In the Chihuahua state of Mexico, a photojournalist was shot in the leg by a group of men who interrupted an interview with an alleged drug dealer. The interviewee was killed.
Rowena's Story: A former aid to Harvey Weinstein shares her #MeToo story. In Rowena Chiu's words: "Harvey Weinstein told me he liked Chinese girls. He liked them because they were discreet, he said — because they knew how to keep a secret. Hours later, he attempted to rape me."
Foul Play? The top witness in a Dallas trial who saw his neighbor, Botham Jean, die after a trigger-happy police officer mistook his apartment for hers was fatally shot Friday night.
Turn 'em Over: A federal judge in New York has ordered Donald Trump to release eight years of his tax returns—rejecting a prior appeal by Trump's lawyers. In the Monday ruling, the judge said he “cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process."
Speaking Of Wealthy Dudes and Taxes:
Blame It On Rick: Trump went running to Congress Friday to accuse Energy Secretary Rick Perry of pressuring him to call the Ukrainian President and request an investigation into the Biden family. Perry, who doesn't exactly deny this claim, is stepping down from his cabinet position in November.
Dirty Money? Mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, meanwhile, is calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler to return the $15,500 he's collected in donations from a wealthy US ambassador who's questionably tied to the Trump impeachment investigation.
Homecoming: Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputies met local Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese in the Portland International Airport late Friday with handcuffs. Toese, a violent staple in Patriot Prayer rallies, has been living abroad for the past eight months to avoid assault charges. His first court appearance is this morning.
Shut It Down: Gov. Brown has issued a 180-day ban on flavored vape products in Oregon after two Oregonians die from vape burns. (Now do guns.)
Florida had 62 newly reported cases of hepatitis A last week, bringing the total number of cases for the year to 2,738 as of Saturday, a state Department of Health report shows. Pasco, Pinellas and Volusia counties continued to lead the state with 397, 369 and 244 cases, respectively.
The post 62 More Hepatatis A Cases in Florida, for Total of 2,738 appeared first on FlaglerLive.
|Cache||CO-Englewood, *This position is with a State Farm independent contractor agent, not with State Farm Insurance Companies. (This is non-cold calling position.) Employees of State Farm agents must be able to successfully complete any applicable licensing requirements and training programs. State Farm agents are independent contractors who hire their own employees. State Farm agents' employees are not employees of |
|Cache||Col. Sebastien P. Joly, commander of USACE Mobile District, and James Lyons, director and chief executive officer of the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA), signed the Design Agreement yesterday at...|
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KYIV, Ukraine – As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.
Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.
Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.
But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.
It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.
But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president’s personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
On Friday, according to the news site Axios, Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it had been Perry who had prompted the phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” regarding Biden. Axios cited a source saying Trump said Perry had asked Trump to make the call to discuss “something about an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant.”
While it’s unclear whether Trump’s remark Friday referred specifically to the behind-the-scenes maneuvers this spring involving the multibillion-dollar state gas company, The Associated Press has interviewed four people with direct knowledge of the attempts to influence Naftogaz, and their accounts show Perry playing a key role in the effort. Three of the four spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The fourth is an American businessman with close ties to the Ukrainian energy sector.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Energy Department said Perry, a former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate, was not advancing anyone’s personal interests. She said his conversations with Ukrainian officials about Naftogaz were part of his efforts to reform the country’s energy sector and create an environment in which Western companies can do business.
Perry was asked about the AP’s reporting on Monday while in Lithuania, where he was meeting with officials from Ukraine and other eastern European countries to discuss energy security and cooperation. He said any suggestion that he tried to force a management change at Naftogaz was a “totally dreamed up story.”
“We get asked for our recommendations about people who are experts in areas, various areas,” Perry said. “Folks who have expertise in particular areas. Obviously having been the governor of the state of Texas, I know a lot of people in the energy industry.”
The Trump and Giuliani allies driving the attempt to change the senior management at Naftogaz, however, appear to have had inside knowledge of the U.S. government’s plans in Ukraine. For example, they told people that Trump would replace the U.S. ambassador there months before she was actually recalled to Washington, according to three of the individuals interviewed by the AP. One of the individuals said he was so concerned by the whole affair that he reported it to a U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine months ago.
Ukraine, a resource-rich nation that sits on the geographic and symbolic border between Russia and the West, has long been plagued by corruption and government dysfunction, making it a magnet for foreign profiteers.
At the center of the Naftogaz plan, according to three individuals familiar with the details, were three such businessmen: two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and an oil magnate from Boca Raton, Florida, named Harry Sargeant III.
Parnas and Fruman have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to Republicans, including $325,000 to a Trump-allied political action committee in 2018. This helped the relatively unknown entrepreneurs gain access to top levels of the Republican Party – including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago.
The two have also faced lawsuits from disgruntled investors over unpaid debts. During the same period they were pursuing the Naftogaz deal, the two were coordinating with Giuliani to set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials and push for an investigation of the Bidens.
Sargeant, his wife and corporate entities tied to the family have donated at least $1.2 million to Republican campaigns and PACs over the last 20 years, including $100,000 in June to the Trump Victory Fund, according to federal and state campaign finance records. He has also served as finance chair of the Florida state GOP, and gave nearly $14,000 to Giuliani’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev.
Going back to the Obama administration, the U.S. Energy Department and the State Department have long supported efforts to import American natural gas into Ukraine to reduce the country’s dependence on Russia.
The three approached Favorov with the idea while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas. Parnas and Fruman told him they had flown in from Florida on a private jet to recruit him to be their partner in a new venture to export up to 100 tanker shipments a year of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine, where Naftogaz is the largest distributor, according to two people briefed on the details.
Sargeant told Favorov that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president’s full support, according to the two people who said Favorov recounted the discussion to them.
These conversations were recounted to AP by Dale W. Perry, an American who is a former business partner of Favorov. He told AP in an interview that Favorov described the meeting to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown. Perry, who is no relation to the energy secretary, is the managing partner of Energy Resources of Ukraine, which currently has business agreements to import natural gas and electricity to Ukraine.
A second person who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed to the AP that Favorov had recounted details of the Houston meeting to him.
According to Dale Perry and the other person, Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests.
Dale Perry told the AP he was so concerned about the efforts to change the management at Naftogaz and to get rid of Yovanovitch that he reported what he had heard to Suriya Jayanti, a State Department foreign service officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv who focuses on the energy industry.
He also wrote a detailed memo about Favorov’s account, dated April 12, which was shared with another current State Department official. Perry recently provided a copy of the April memo to AP.
Jayanti declined to provide comment. Favorov also declined to comment.
On March 24, Giuliani and Parnas gathered at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Healy E. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign adviser who once served as deputy communications director for Giuliani’s presidential campaign and as a communications official during the George W. Bush administration.
She is now listed as the CEO of 45 Energy Group, a Houston-based energy company whose website describes it as a “government relations, public affairs and business development practice group.” The company’s name is an apparent nod to Trump, the 45th president.
This was a couple of weeks after the Houston meeting with Favorov, the Naftogaz executive. Giuliani, Parnas and Baumgardner were there to make a business pitch involving gas deals in the former Soviet bloc to a potential investor.
This time, according to Giuliani, the deals that were discussed involved Uzbekistan, not Ukraine.
“I have not pursued a deal in the Ukraine. I don’t know about a deal in the Ukraine. I would not do a deal in the Ukraine now, obviously,” said Giuliani, reached while attending a playoff baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. “There is absolutely no proof that I did it, because I didn’t do it.”
During this meeting, Parnas again repeated that Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, would soon be replaced, according to a person with direct knowledge of the gathering. She was removed two months later.
Giuliani, who serves as Trump’s personal lawyer and has no official role in government, acknowledged Friday that he was among those pushing the president to replace the ambassador, a career diplomat with a history of fighting corruption.
“The ambassador to Ukraine was replaced,” he said. “I did play a role in that.”
But Giuliani refused to discuss the details of his business dealings, or whether he helped his associates in their push to forge gas sales contracts with the Ukrainian company. He did describe Sergeant as a friend and referred to Parnas and Fruman as his clients in a tweet in May.
As part of their impeachment inquiry, House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents and communications related to dozens of people, including Favorov, Parnas, Fruman and Baumgardner’s 45 Energy Group.
Baumgardner issued a written statement, saying: “While I won’t comment on business discussions, I will say this: this political assault on private business by the Democrats in Congress is complete harassment and an invasion of privacy that should scare the hell out of every American business owner.”
Baumgardner later denied that she had any business dealings in Ukraine but refused to say whether the replacement of Ambassador Yovanovitch was discussed.
Sargeant did not respond to a voice message left at a number listed for him at an address in Boca Raton.
John Dowd, a former Trump attorney who now represents Parnas and Fruman, said it was actually the Naftogaz executives who approached his clients about making a deal. Dowd says the group then approached Rick Perry to get the Energy Department on board.
“The people from the company solicited my clients because Igor is in the gas business, and they asked them, and they flew to Washington and they solicited,” Dowd said. “They sat down and talked about it. And then it was presented to Secretary Perry to see if they could get it together.
“It wasn’t a shakedown; it was an attempt to do legitimate business that didn’t work out.”
THE ENERGY SECRETARY
In May, Rick Perry traveled to Kyiv to serve as the senior U.S. government representative at the inauguration of the county’s new president.
In a private meeting with Zelenskiy, Perry pressed the Ukrainian president to fire members of the Naftogaz advisory board. Attendees left the meeting with the impression that Perry wanted to replace the American representative, Amos Hochstein, a former diplomat and energy representative who served in the Obama administration, with someone “reputable in Republican circles,” according to someone who was in the room.
Perry’s push for Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to change its supervisory board was first reported by Politico.
A second meeting during the trip, at a Kyiv hotel, included Ukrainian officials and energy sector people. There, Perry made clear that the Trump administration wanted to see the entire Naftogaz supervisory board replaced, according to a person who attended both meetings. Perry again referenced the list of advisers that he had given Zelenskiy, and it was widely interpreted that he wanted Michael Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-American businessman from Texas, to join the newly formed board, the person said. Also on the list was Robert Bensh, another Texan who frequently works in Ukraine, the Energy Department confirmed.
Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were also in the room, according to photographs reviewed by AP. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he was floored by the American requests because the person had always viewed the U.S. government “as having a higher ethical standard.”
The Naftogaz supervisory board is supposed to be selected by the Ukrainian president’s Cabinet in consultation with international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union. It must be approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet. Ukrainian officials perceived Perry’s push to swap out the board as circumventing that established process, according to the person in the room.
U.S. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry had consistently called for the modernization of Ukraine’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business there. She said Perry delivered that same message in the May meeting with Zelenskiy.
“What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company,” Hynes said Saturday. “That is fiction being pushed by those who are disingenuously seeking to advance a nefarious narrative that does not exist.”
Hynes said the Ukrainian government had requested U.S. recommendations to advise the country on energy matters, and Perry provided those recommendations. She confirmed Bleyzer was on the list.
Bleyzer, whose company is based in Houston, did not respond on Saturday to a voicemail seeking comment. Bensh also did not respond to a phone message.
Perry has close ties to the Texas oil and gas industry. He appointed Bleyzer to a two-year term on a state technologies fund board in 2009. The following year, records show Bleyzer donated $20,000 to Perry’s reelection campaign.
Zelenskiy’s office declined to comment on Saturday.
In an interview Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Perry said that “as God as my witness” he never discussed Biden or his son in meetings with Ukrainian or U.S. officials, including Trump or Giuliani. He did confirm he had had a conversation with Giuliani by phone, but a spokeswoman for the energy secretary declined to say when that call was or whether the two had discussed Naftogaz.
In Lithuania on Monday, Perry said he could not recall whether Bleyzer’s name was on the list provided to Zelenskiy. But Perry confirmed he had known Bleyzer for years and called him “a really brilliant, capable businessman.”
“I would recommend him for a host of different things in Kyiv because he knows the country,” Perry said of Bleyzer. “He’s from there. So, why not? I mean I would be stunned if someone said that would you eliminate Michael Bleyzer from a recommendation of people you ought to talk to about how to do business in the country, whether they’re knowledgeable. It’d be remarkable if I didn’t say, `Talk to Michael.“’