Monday, October 16, 2017

Burn Hollywood Burn..., (Oh and Hollywood for Ugly People Too!)

thefreethoughtproject |  When Bill Clinton was at the height of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, Hollywood was by his side, offering donations for his legal fees, and one significant donor was a man who is now going through his own sex scandal—Harvey Weinstein.

More than 20 women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape. After the New York Times and the New Yorker published in-depth stories detailing the testimonies of women who have been abused by Weinstein—and in many cases, paid off with airtight non-disclosure agreements—the stories have continued to come to light.

Former President Bill Clinton is no stranger to sex scandals. The scandal that received the most media attention came about in the late 1990s after former Arkansas state employee Paul Jones filed a civil lawsuit against him for sexual harassment when he was the state’s governor. During the discovery phase of the case, in which Jones’ legal team was searching for Clinton’s inappropriate relationships, the name of a White House intern surfaced: Monica Lewinsky.

In August 1998, a report from the Washington Post noted that Clinton was being accused of perjury and obstruction of justice regarding his testimony about his conduct with Lewinsky. At the same time, influential members of Hollywood were coming to Clinton’s defense.
The report noted that according to Clinton’s legal defense fund, a total of more than $2.2 million was raised in six months, which was notably more than was collected in funding during the previous four years of his presidency—combined.  Fist tap Bro. Makheru.

You Holding Up the Mirror The Only Thing Worse Than Babylon Seeing Itself...,

TomDispatch |  As in Baghdad, so in Baltimore. It’s connected, you see. Scholars, pundits, politicians, most of us in fact like our worlds to remain discretely and comfortably separated. That’s why so few articles, reports, or op-ed columns even think to link police violence at home to our imperial pursuits abroad or the militarization of the policing of urban America to our wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa. I mean, how many profiles of the Black Lives Matter movement even mention America’s 16-year war on terror across huge swaths of the planet? Conversely, can you remember a foreign policy piece that cited Ferguson? I doubt it.

Nonetheless, take a moment to consider the ways in which counterinsurgency abroad and urban policing at home might, in these years, have come to resemble each other and might actually be connected phenomena:

*The degradations involved: So often, both counterinsurgency and urban policing involve countless routine humiliations of a mostly innocent populace.  No matter how we’ve cloaked the terms -- “partnering,” “advising,” “assisting,” and so on -- the American military has acted like an occupier of Iraq and Afghanistan in these years.  Those thousands of ubiquitous post-invasion U.S. Army foot and vehicle patrols in both countries tended to highlight the lack of sovereignty of their peoples.  Similarly, as long ago as 1966, author James Baldwin recognized that New York City’s ghettoes resembled, in his phrase, “occupied territory.”  In that regard, matters have only worsened since.  Just ask the black community in Baltimore or for that matter Ferguson, Missouri.  It’s hard to deny America’s police are becoming progressively more defiant; just last month St. Louis cops taunted protestors by chanting “whose streets? Our streets,” at a gathering crowd.  Pardon me, but since when has it been okay for police to rule America’s streets?  Aren’t they there to protect and serve us?  Something tells me the exceedingly libertarian Founding Fathers would be appalled by such arrogance.

*The racial and ethnic stereotyping.  In Baghdad, many U.S. troops called the locals hajis, ragheads, or worse still, sandniggers.  There should be no surprise in that.  The frustrations involved in occupation duty and the fear of death inherent in counterinsurgency campaigns lead soldiers to stereotype, and sometimes even hate, the populations they’re (doctrinally) supposed to protect.  Ordinary Iraqis or Afghans became the enemy, an “other,” worthy only of racial pejoratives and (sometimes) petty cruelties.  Sound familiar?  Listen to the private conversations of America’s exasperated urban police, or the occasionally public insults they throw at the population they’re paid to “protect.”  I, for one, can’t forget the video of an infuriated white officer taunting Ferguson protestors: “Bring it on, you f**king animals!”  Or how about a white Staten Island cop caught on the phone bragging to his girlfriend about how he’d framed a young black man or, in his words, “fried another nigger.”  Dehumanization of the enemy, either at home or abroad, is as old as empire itself.

*The searches: Searches, searches, and yet more searches. Back in the day in Iraq -- I’m speaking of 2006 and 2007 -- we didn’t exactly need a search warrant to look anywhere we pleased. The Iraqi courts, police, and judicial system were then barely operational.  We searched houses, shacks, apartments, and high rises for weapons, explosives, or other “contraband.”  No family -- guilty or innocent (and they were nearly all innocent) -- was safe from the small, daily indignities of a military search.  Back here in the U.S., a similar phenomenon rules, as it has since the “war on drugs” era of the 1980s.  It’s now routine for police SWAT teams to execute rubber-stamped or “no knock” search warrants on suspected drug dealers’ homes (often only for marijuana stashes) with an aggressiveness most soldiers from our distant wars would applaud.  Then there are the millions of random, warrantless, body searches on America’s urban, often minority-laden streets.  Take New York, for example, where a discriminatory regime of “stop-and-frisk” tactics terrorized blacks and Hispanics for decades.  Millions of (mostly) minority youths were halted and searched by New York police officers who had to cite only such opaque explanations as “furtive movements,” or “fits relevant description” -- hardly explicit probable cause -- to execute such daily indignities.  As numerous studies have shown (and a judicial ruling found), such “stop-and-frisk” procedures were discriminatory and likely unconstitutional.

Babylon Cannot STAND Honestly Looking At Itself In The Mirror...,

“Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?" 
Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... "
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!" 
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”
usatoday |  The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik is responding to a Twitter storm swirling around her.

She became subject to social media backlash, accused by some of victim-blaming, after an op-ed she wrote for The New York Times was published Friday. 

The essay titled "Mayim Bialik: Being a feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s world," offers her perspective on the scandal involving accusations of sexual assault by Weinstein going back decades. The allegations, which surfaced more than a week ago, have resulted in the influential Hollywood producer being fired from his executive position at The Weinstein Company. On Saturday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dismissed him from its membership.

Late Saturday night, Bialik posted a response to her critics via Twitter. It reads: "I'm being told my N.Y. Times piece resonated with so many and I am grateful for all the feedback. I also see a bunch of people have taken my words out of context of the Hollywood machine and twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on clothing or behavior."

She adds, "Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that's absurd and not at all what this piece was about."

In the op-ed piece, she writes that "I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. ... I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hollywood Pedophilia the Next Shoe to Drop in Babylon...,

ibankcoin  |  Six years ago, former child star Corey Feldman admitted that he and fellow child actor Corey Haim, who died in 2010 from Pneumonia, were sexually molested by adult males throughout Hollywood during their time in the limelight. Haim is said to have received far more brutal abuse – raped at age 11 by a producer, while Feldman was groomed and abused by a man employed by his father at the age of 15.

In a 2011 interview with ABC, Feldman said Pedophilia was the Number 1 problem for child stars, saying “I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere.

And in a 2016 interview – days after actor Elijah Wood gave an interview in which he said “Hollywood has a Pedophilia Problem,” Feldman revealed that he was ‘molested and passed around by men in the industry. The former child actor has refused to name his abusers, citing legal reasons.

Feldman has also written about Corey Haim’s time with Hollywood child-actor manager Martin Weiss, an agent primarily for children who appeared on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel – who enjoyed sleepovers and road trips with his clients. Weiss was arrested in 2011 and plead no contest to eight felony counts of molesting young actors – sentenced to a year in jail but released for time served.

Weiss raped a child actor 30 to 40 times until the age of 15, according to the police report. In an affidavit obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the victim told police that Weiss said what they were doing was ‘common practice in the entertainment industry.’

Weiss was caught when the 15 year old victim went to his apartment in November of 2011 and recorded a conversation in which Weiss admitted to the abuse.

Barbara’s Genuine Outrage – at Feldman…

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mizzou Mandingo Rebellion Aftermath...,

KansasCity |  The University of Missouri system is shaving $101 million from the budgets of its four campuses, resulting in the loss of 474 jobs.

At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, $15.4 million is coming out its budget and 51 positions are being eliminated. That includes the jobs of four non-tenured faculty members of the 18 instructors in UMKC’s popular theater department.

UM System President Mun Choi announced the cut Friday afternoon, speaking to faculty, staff and students on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia where the lion’s share of the job loss will occur. 

“We are facing a period of significant budget constraints that will require us to take bold actions to become a stronger academic institution in both the short and long term,” Choi said.

NYTimes |   It was a moment of triumph for the protesting students. But it has been a disaster for the university.

Freshman enrollment at the Columbia campus, the system’s flagship, has fallen by more than 35 percent in the two years since.

The university administration acknowledges that the main reason is a backlash from the events of 2015, as the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok.

Before the protests, the university, fondly known as Mizzou, was experiencing steady growth and building new dormitories. Now, with budget cuts due to lost tuition and a decline in state funding, the university is temporarily closing seven dormitories and cutting more than 400 positions, including those of some nontenured faculty members, through layoffs and by leaving open jobs unfilled.

Few areas have been spared: The library is even begging for books.

“The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015,” said Mun Choi, the new system president, referring to the climax of the demonstrations. “There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend.”

The protests inspired movements at other colleges. Since then fights over overt and subconscious racial slights, as well as battles over free speech, have broken out at Middlebury College in Vermont, the University of California, Berkeley, and The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Missouri’s experience shows how a conflict, if not deftly handled, can stain a college’s reputation long after the conflict has died down.

Read more here:

If The NFL Mandingo Rebellion Goes To The Mats - It'll Be Complicated

Counterpunch  |  Do employers have the right to force their employees to participate in ritual displays of patriotism?

Many people think they do. Many people think that owners of football teams have the right to make their players stand at attention during the National Anthem.

But if bosses can require their employees stand for the anthem, then what’s to stop them from making them say a prayer too?  It’s the same thing, isn’t it? In both cases, employees are being compelled to conform to behavior that may or may not be consistent with their own beliefs. How does that square with the First amendment or is that rule no longer applicable?

Here’s how the Supreme Court came down on the matter:
“The constitutionally guaranteed ‘freedom to be intellectually … diverse or even contrary,’ and the ‘right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order,’ encompass the freedom to express publicly one’s opinions about our flag, including those opinions which are defiant or contemptuous.”
Supreme Court of the United States in Street v. New York (1969)
Of course, that doesn’t explain whether employees have the right to express their beliefs freely in the workplace or not. That’s an entirely different question, and it’s one that has been answered differently by the owners and the players union. According to MSN News:
“A labor union that represents workers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has filed a charge alleging that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has violated the National Labor Relations Act with his threats to discipline players if they protest during the national anthem. Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed the complaint Tuesday with the Fort Worth, Texas, office of the National Labor Relations Board. It asks the NLRB to “investigate preemptively in order to prevent illegal firings of players.”
Wade Rathke, chief organizer of Local 100, accuses Jones of violating the act, which prohibits employers from intimidating or threatening workers for their “concerted activity.”

Rathke said the NFL has already established that there is no condition of work that requires players to stand during the anthem. He said players have the right to protest and act concertedly at their workplace – the playing field. Jones is violating the act by attempting to prevent them from doing so, he said. (“Labor union files complaint against Jerry Jones over anthem threat “, MSN News)
“You can’t discipline somebody for something that is a right they have under the law, whether that discipline be termination or benching or giving a slap on the wrist or writing up in their files they’ve been a bad boy,” Rathke told ESPN. “I know in the modern age people think workers shouldn’t have rights, but they still do.”  Fist tap Rohan.

Dallas Cowboys Off This Week...,

Counterpunch  |  Jerry Lewis starred in his condescending telethon parade of children with disabilities in what came to be known as “Jerry’s Kids” (though he disinherited five of his own biological kids).  All this has now taken on a whole new meaning with “Jerry’s Kids,” Jerry’s (very-obedient-don’t-talk-back-or-bat-an-eye) Cowboys.

Owner Jerry Jones has now finally and unwittingly tripped himself up, unmasking the Dallas Cowboys in particular, and the NFL in general, for what they are.  He did so by embroiling himself in something that is revelatory now but will be discussed for years, and not for his benefit or that of the NFL.  The latter is openly desperate in admitting every day that their role in society is to unify everyone, when there is no basis for unity and cannot be, unless it is a contrived and ephemeral one for the NFL’s profit.

As the nationally syndicated, well-known (native Texan), and inimitable columnist Molly Ivins once observed, “it is possible to strike up a conversation with anyone at all—CEOs, shoeshine boys, or the barkeep—by inquiring, ‘How about those ‘Pokes?’” as a lingua franca in Texas.  Her point was keen.
In a similar vein, the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht stated that the invisible walls [such as those between the aforesaid CEOs, shoeshine boys, barkeeps, or other contrivances] should be made visible.  Pertinent to our situation, the walls of poverty, racism, police brutality, etc., need to be kept visible, hence the kneeling by football players.  Keep in mind as well that the anthem’s third stanza refers to the killing of slaves, and most were unaware of that before Kaepernick.

Trump wants to keep those and other walls invisible.  As former Bears coach Mike Ditka himself added recently, there has been “no oppression in the last 100 years.”  They coerce this on us by dint of their money and microphones.

Unsurprisingly, Trump called Jones four times before a game, obviously to make sure Jones got what Trump said.  It all came down to an awkward scene with the entire team and Jones kneeling before the anthem and then standing for the anthem. Jones is true to form now in saying anyone kneeling during the anthem will not play.  News accounts say that Trump again spoke with him.   That’s a lot of talk between the two.  Even the NFL Commissioner is caving in to Bush after all.  Trump wants them to be on the same page, his.

Parenthetically, both Jones and coach Garrett were directly or obliquely critical of Kaepernick months ago.  That is not new.

No doubt Trump reminded Jones of how (the media-concocted) “America’s Team” would fare during protests, and that the team is the most monetarily valued.  This is an oddity, given that the team so far has not even been to the Super Bowl in some 23 years.  It comes as no surprise that Jones does not wipe the smirk off his face except for one minute in any one of the past years, namely when he realizes that they’re not Super Bowl-bound.  It is easy to imagine, though, that come February Trump would be grinning ear to ear if the Pokes won that championship.

You see, the Cowboys and the NFL are in tandem with the violence in our society, making the Las Vegas killings rather unremarkable a week after they happened.  Vegas said keep on gambling; Bush said go shopping after 9-11.

unfair play..., (REDUX - Originally Posted 3/30/14)

NYTimes | IN his provocative, passionate, important and disturbing book — part memoir, part history, part journalism — William C. Rhoden, a sports columnist for The New York Times, builds a historical framework that both accounts for the varieties of African-American athletic experience in the past and continues to explain them today.

First, he wants to recast black sports history, transforming it from “the inspirational reel” featuring Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe and the later Muhammad Ali into “a more complicated tale of continuous struggle, a narrative of victory and defeat.” His alternative narrative focuses on the stories of successful African-American athletes who so wanted to be accepted by white society that they failed “to anticipate, plan and organize,” maintained their “wholesale dependence on a racist white power structure,” and showed “surprise and consternation when the money and support” were withdrawn. Even black athletic institutions like Negro league baseball in the 1940’s and historically black colleges in the 1960’s complacently, and fatally, assumed that segregation would assure them a steady supply of athletes.

Second, Rhoden argues convincingly that integration posed relatively few problems for the white sports world, which quickly gained access to a huge pool of cheap talent, but that it precipitated a disaster for a “black industry, practically eliminating every black person involved in sports — coaches, owners, trainers, accountants, lawyers, secretaries and so on — except the precious on-the-field talent.”

Consequently, most black athletes lost their connection to a “sense of mission . . . of being part of a larger cause.” Young athletes, in particular, “dropped the thread that joins them to that struggle” and became, instead, a “lost tribe,” adrift in the world of white coaches, boosters, agents, club officials, network executives — those profiting from black muscle and skill. 

Finally, Rhoden insists on the importance of black athletes and entrepreneurs gaining organizational and business power in college and professional sports: the path toward the “redemption” of his subtitle. His vision here is a little murky, but he knows too much history to feel sanguine about the one black-owned franchise in the N.B.A., Robert Johnson’s (and now also Michael Jordan’s) Charlotte Bobcats.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Denise Young Smith: Google "Stepping and Fetching and Shucking and Jiving"

quartz |  When asked whether she would be focusing on any group of people, such as black women, in her efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse Apple, Young Smith says, “I focus on everyone.” She added: “Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.” Her answer was met with a round of applause at the session.

Young Smith went on to add that “there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” The issue, Young Smith explains, “is representation and mix.” She is keen to work to bring all voices into the room that “can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

theverge |   Apple shareholders rejected a proposal yesterday that would have required the company to improve the diversity of its top ranks. This is the second year in a row that Apple shareholders have shot down the proposal, with just over 95 percent of the vote opposing it this time around — slightly more than last year.

The proposal, submitted by shareholders Tony Maldonado and Zevin Asset Management, asked Apple to “adopt an accelerated recruitment policy ... to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors." Maldonado and Zevin had argued that Apple’s upper ranks were responding too slowly to the company’s own diversity initiatives and that it would ultimately come back to bite them, be it through missing talent or new opportunities.

Does Apple Need to Replace Diversify Its Leadership?

seekingalpha | Summary:
  • Under Tim Cook, Apple became the most valuable, most profitable, and most well-known company in the world.
  • But Tim Cook simply inherited the success created by Steve Jobs, who left him with the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and the whole Apple ecosystem.
  • Assessment of the new products and projects unveiled under Tim Cook reflects a lack of vision and innovation required by a successful tech company CEO.
Tim Cook in many ways is identical to Steve Ballmer, and for the same reasons should be replaced.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), is one of the more controversial CEOs in the world. On one hand, people praise him for the financial successes that Apple accomplished under his tenure. On the other hand, there are those who believe that Tim Cook is not the visionary CEO that a world-class company needs. The following presentation will provide a brief yet thorough analysis of Tim Cook's track record in terms of product and innovation and will conclude that, despite the successes he oversaw, he must be replaced.

markstcyr |   Why I posit the above is for this reason:
Back in May of 2014 I penned the article: “Did Apple Just Become Microsoft?” In it I made the following points. To wit:
“However since the passing of Jobs, quite rightly, there has been an intense spotlight focused squarely on the Apple tradition going forward. Just what new products or changes to existing lines would be forth coming, and how will they be packaged for sale to an ever-increasing market.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) understood that the new management structure at Apple would both need to pay homage to the ever-present shadow of Jobs while also needing to blaze or create new trails free of the ominous Jobs overhang. i.e., Something Jobs would say, “Wow, I never thought of that!” as compared with nothing more than a refinement to an already Jobs inspired creation.
However, it would seem we not only have the latter taking place, but is veering way off the path Apple has been so skillful in avoiding: Buying an also ran business. e.g., The Beats™ headphone line. Some say it’s for it’s streaming music service or some other thing but if that is the case, not putting the money into a true revamp of iTunes seems even more as an un-Jobs move.”
And here we are nearly 4 years later (or 4 product cycles, if you will) and what has been the result of this once “fantastic” partnership? When was the last time you heard anything or any buzz about Beats®? ____________ (insert crickets here.)

Oh, but wait you say, “What about iTunes? It was updated as to allow easier downloading of apps and such for mobile.”

Yes, yes it was. An update that most users will only encounter when they go to update or purchase something, then, find out they can’t do it the way they’ve been doing for-e-ver. i.e., “Oh, wait, I have to do this on my phone now, and not my computer? Wait, how do I…? Wait…what…I mean…WTF!”

I believe this to be a blatant design faux pa. Why? Because if you look at the iTunes of today, it looks no different that it did years, and years ago. The only difference? The “Apps” option is no longer there. This is to “reduce clutter” via Apple’s thinking.

But the same old, tired, antiquated looking and seemingly lifeless iTunes of old? It’s still there, but now with less clutter – so you can see more clearly how lame it has become due to design atrophy.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Culture of Compliance: Every Single One of These Peasants Deserves to be a Slave...,

Counterpunch |  For instance, 20 years ago, I took up a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of a young woman—a state employee—who claimed that her boss, a politically powerful man, had arranged for her to meet him in a hotel room, where he then allegedly dropped his pants, propositioned her and invited her to perform oral sex on him.

Despite the fact that this man had a well-known reputation for womanizing and this woman was merely one in a long line of women who had accused the man of groping, propositioning, and pressuring them for sexual favors in the workplace, she was denounced as white trash and subjected to a massive smear campaign by the man’s wife, friends and colleagues (including the leading women’s rights organizations of the day), while he was given lucrative book deals and paid lavish sums for speaking engagements.

William Jefferson Clinton eventually agreed to settle the case and pay Paula Jones $850,000.

Here we are 20 years later and not much has changed.
Suffice it to say that it’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

From what I’ve read, this was Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.

In other words, everyone who was anyone knew about it. They were either complicit in allowing the abuses to take place, turning a blind eye to them, or helping to cover them up.

It’s not just happening in Hollywood, however.

NBC News Sitting On Ronan Farrow's Weinstein Story IS A Scandal

thedailybeast |  By the time Farrow pitched New Yorker Editor in Chief David Remnick in August, according to multiple sources, he and NBC News investigative unit producer Rich McHugh, among others, had been pursuing Weinstein’s alleged serial groping—and worse—of young actresses and female staffers since the previous December.

Over the course of several months, scripts were prepared and vetted, and Farrow’s and McHugh’s reporting was subjected to various layers of both fact-checking and legal reviews, insiders said, and at one point a senior producer on NBC News’ Friday night show Dateline carefully re-interviewed many of their sources and witnesses, and concluded they were solid.

The vetting process lasted weeks and weeks, through much of the summer, but ended shortly after Kimberley D. Harris, executive vice president and general counsel of NBC Universal, subjected the material to her own review. Since Harris oversees the in-house lawyering of all the company divisions, an NBC source said it would not be unusual for her to review news division material for potential exposure to litigation. And although Harris reports to NBC Universal Chief Executive Steve Burke, a source insisted Burke wasn’t involved in the decision to spike the Weinstein story.

Indeed, according to this account, Harris never formally weighed in, because NBC News had already pulled the plug by the time she finished examining Farrow’s work.

With two such wildly contradictory versions of why and how NBC News spiked Farrow’s Weinstein story, it’s difficult to determine what objectively occurred.

But author and New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta, who has been covering Weinstein for decades and is among the legions of journalists who’ve tried and failed to document his casting-couch behavior, also sat for an NBC interview; at one point, according to witnesses, he turned to the camera and declared: “This evidence is so overwhelming that if NBC News sits on it, that will be a scandal.”

Meet NBCUniversal Counsel and Former Obama Deputy Counsel Kimberly D. Harris

comcast |  Harris provides legal advice to the NBCUniversal senior management team and supervises the legal function, which handles legal matters for all of NBCUniversal’s business units. She also coordinates NBCUniversal’s global regulatory and legislative agenda.

Harris joined NBCUniversal in 2013 from Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she was a partner in the litigation department.

From 2010 to 2012, Harris served in the White House Counsel’s Office, and became the principal Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President in 2011. At the White House, she advised senior Executive Branch officials on congressional investigations and executive privilege issues. In addition, Harris developed and implemented the White House response to congressional investigations, and managed litigation matters relating to the President.

From 2009 to 2010, she was Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division.

Harris first joined Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate in 1997 and was named a litigation partner in 2007. From 1996 to 1997, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Charles S. Haight, Jr., U.S. District Court, S.D. New York.

She serves on the boards of directors for Advocates for Children of New York, an organization that provides legal and advocacy services to at-risk students in the New York City school system, and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Harris is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law.

Harris graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, and holds a law degree from Yale Law School. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and three sons.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trump Trains Elite Monkey Brains How to Perform and Mainstream Dominance

theintercept |  As the controversy over protests during the national anthem grew, President Donald Trump denounced NFL owners as being afraid of the players,” a state of affairs that he called “disgraceful”. The lament fits a pattern in Trump’s war with the NFL, which has routinely been characterized as the president attacking African-American athletes, when, in fact, Trump’s immediate target is one much closer to him: the class and race traitors who make up the owners of the NFL.

One of the most haunting aspects of Trump’s battle with the players has been his consistent refusal to talk directly to or with them. His complaint, that they are refusing to stand during the national anthem, has been directed at the owners, a way to offer up an extra level of disrespect to the players. That refusal continued this week, as Trump spoke directly to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, reminding him of NFL rules he said applied to players around the anthem.

When Trump sparked the national debate, he did so by going right over the heads of the players. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump bellowed at a rally in Alabama in September.

Trump went on: “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it, they’ll be the most popular person in this country.” 

For Trump, it comes back to being popular — with the right audience. But if that carrot isn’t enough, he has the stick of tax and antitrust policy to wield at the owners. 

Like everything else with Trump, his war with the NFL is layered with motivations ranging from the base to the financial to the personal. It hints at his own history with the NFL, his particular vision of rule, and ultimately, a sense of betrayal that has set the league on a collision course with not just Trump, but his supporters as well. 

Trump has commodified a vision of ownership that demands that bosses project complete dominance lest they become traitors to both their class and their nation — and, to the extent that Trump sees himself embodying the national spirit, they are at war with him personally. Through his so-called populist campaign and his TV show “The Apprentice,” he’s democratized that vision, transforming many of his supporters not into would-be apprentices hoping to learn from the great man, but mini-moguls with their own innate, incontrovertible knowledge about who should be “fired” and under what circumstances. Every viewer a king.

Trans-Turing Trains Silly Monkey Brains

hackernoon  |  At the heart of digesting online information is the evolutionary propensity to mine all input as social cues or signals. In the case of the “trending news,” Facebook was presenting a manufactured image of the social world which more closely resembles a world which the curators would approve of, than it does the actual world we live in. This manufactured world is then presented as social reality. No matter what side you come down on, this is no trivial thing.

We humans are built to use attention as a cue for status. We then use status as a signal of mastery for which we are constantly on the lookout to apprentice under. Joseph Henrich and Francisco J. Gil-White, while at the Universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania respectively, describe a theory of “information goods.” They show that humans, unlike chimpanzees, use “relative prestige” to assign status, and then use that status as a signal of what to believe and emulate.

The challenge is that this evolutionary mechanism was developed long before mass media. It developed through direct observation. The hunter getting the most attention is likely the fellow who most often comes back with the biggest kills. Thus, trusting the attention of others to point you in the right way was adaptively useful. The Internet is particularly adept at scrambling these signals. We are built to believe that seeing others give their attention to somebody, or something, signals the ability for that someone to teach you something useful. Therefore we implicitly connect attention with prestige and prestige with expertise.

Granny Goodness President Trump, who has an objectively terrible track record with the truth, provides one example of this. A giant swath of the nation, I assume mostly reasonable and well-adjusted people, describe her him as trustworthy, despite what the other half, which I assume are also mostly reasonable and well-adjusted people, feel is obvious and damning evidence to the contrary. Her His supporters are surrounded, physically or digitally, by others who are paying attention to her him. Therefore, some basic, even primordial, part of their brain signals to them that this is someone who deserves attention, emulation, and trust. They believe in him, at least in part, because of his ability to attract attention signals of trustworthiness. When each of President Trump’s tweets, to his 40 million followers, and now to the whole world, receives hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets, we shouldn’t be surprised that he didn’t need to actually do anything to earn that trust. He just needed to attract attention to himself, and then claim that he deserves the trust. The attention supports claim.

Western Elites Dominated By Filthy-Rich Moral Degenerates

bostonglobe |  While most of us were ignoring the long anti-elite crusade that began as a cynical attempt to paint opposing politicians as arrogant East Coast dilettantes, it morphed into a far more dangerous jihad against expertise at any level of government. To put it in Gilligan’s Island terms, they have taken the Professor and repackaged him as Thurston Howell III.

That helps explain Trump’s response to Vladimir Putin’s expulsion this summer of hundreds of American diplomats and embassy staff from Russia. Bizarrely, the American president thanked the Russian dictator, saying these professionals aren’t needed anyway and the expulsion will save the United States money. (Wrong on both counts. Career foreign-service officers are entitled by law to reassignment.) Yet somehow Trump faced absolutely no blowback from a Republican Party that historically viewed Russia as America’s most dangerous foe. Maybe the diplomats don’t like cheeseburgers.

Of course, the establishment elites are not blameless. Over the years, many of them made confident predictions, about everything from free trade agreements to Middle East strategy, that turned out to be disastrously wrong. After all, it wasn’t just Trump who brilliantly tapped into anti-elite sentiment in the 2016 campaign and turned it into electoral success. So did Bernie Sanders, a septuagenarian socialist who managed to win 23 primaries and caucuses and 13.2 million votes. 

Still, we have reached a dangerous point when an administration whose party controls the White House, both houses of Congress, and two-thirds of the state legislatures can scapegoat thousands of highly experienced government scientists, diplomats, and intelligence specialists, tossing them all into a basket of deplored elites.

It’s time to wage a new war in defense of expertise in government. And if it’s too late to prevent the word elite from being used as a weapon, it’s time to embrace it and redefine it as something good.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Because He Stopped Making Money Or Because He Raped The Wrong Peasant?

charleshughsmith |  If you want to understand why the status quo is unraveling, start by examining the feudal structure of our society, politics and economy.

The revelations coming to light about Hollywood Oligarch Harvey Weinstein perfectly capture the true nature of our status quo: a rotten-to-the-core, predatory, exploitive oligarchy of dirty secrets and dirty lies protected by an army of self-serving sycophants, servile toadies on the make and well-paid legal mercenaries. Predators aren't an aberration of the Establishment; they are the perfection of the Establishment, which protects abusive, exploitive predator-oligarchs lest the feudal injustices of life in America be revealed for all to see.

The predators reckon their aristocratic status in Hollywood/D.C. grants them a feudal-era droit du seigneur (rights of the lord) to take whatever gratifications they desire from any female who has the grave misfortune to enter their malefic orbit.

Anyone who protests or makes efforts to go public is threatened by the oligarch's thugs and discredited/smeared by the oligarch's take-no-prisoners legal mercenaries. (Recall the Clintons' Crisis Management Team tasked with crushing any Bimbo Eruptions, i.e. any eruptions of the truth about Bill's well-known-to-insiders predation of the peasantry.)

Should the worst happen and some sliver of the truth emerge despite the best efforts of the thugs, corporate media, legal mercenaries and PR handlers, then the playbook follows the script of any well-managed Communist dictatorship:the oligarch predator is thrown to the wolves to protect the oligarchs' systemic predation and exploitation of the peasantry/debt-serfs.

Just as in a one-party Communist dictatorship, an occasional sacrificial offering is made to support the propaganda that the predators are outliers rather than the only possible output of a predatory, exploitive feudal status quo comprised of a small elite of super-wealthy and powerful oligarchs at the top and all the powerless debt-serfs at the bottom who must do their bidding in bed, in the boardroom, in the corridors of political power, and in the private quarters of their yachts and island hideaways.

Media reports suggest that the real reason Mr. Weinstein has been fired is not his alleged conduct over the past 27 years but his loss of the golden touch in generating movie-magic loot for the oh-so-liberal and politically correct Hollywood gang that was pleased to protect Mr. Weinstein when he was busy enriching them.

U.S. Justice System Ignores Elite Criminality

libertyblitzkrieg  |  Two very important articles published in recent days serve to once again highlight America’s metastasizing elite criminality problem. A problem which our justice system simply refuses to address.

This corrupt two-tier justice system is something I’ve been focused on from the very beginning of my writings, and I continue to see it as a civilization-level threat for this country if not aggressively addressed and confronted in the very near future.

The two articles in question focus on different aspects of untouchable elite culture in America.
The first relates to the continued fraud pervasive in America’s largest financial institution, while the second covers a thirty year history of predatory sexual behavior by one of Hollywood’s biggest moguls, Harvey Weinstein. 

In both cases, countless people have known and reported on repeated abuses perpetrated by both the institution and the man, yet the U.S. justice system and the vast majority of “elite” culture happily help shield them from justice. Predators are predators, and elite predators are far more dangerous to society that your average street crook, so why does our justice situation deal with it in the exact opposite way?

Let’s start with the blockbuster article published in The Nation by the always informative David Dayen. The article is titled, How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

Here’s just brief excerpt:

Harvey Weinstein: Give Me A Second Chance To Get It Up Again Together...,

HuffPo  | The situation surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations has only continued to worsen.

A desperate email from the film executive surfaced on Monday afternoon, courtesy of Janice Min, a strategist at Eldridge Industries and part owner of The Hollywood Reporter. Min tweeted out a transcribed iteration of an email she claims was read to her “by a disgusted (male) recipient.” She also noted that the email was sent to Hollywood “CEOs, moguls” mere hours before Weinstein was fired from his role at The Weinstein Company.
“My board is thinking of firing me,” the letter reads. “All I’m asking, is let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling. Whether it be in a facility or somewhere else, allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance.”

Black Identity Extremist Stripper Blows Up Miami Dolphins Offensive Line...,

NYPost |  The model behind the release of the video featuring offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting a white powder before a meeting leaked the damning clip in response to the intense political climate, according to recent Facebook posts.

In a since-deleted comment, Las Vegas-based Kijuana Nige said coaches should take responsibility for their actions as players who protest during the national anthem are chastised over their decisions on whether to stand.

“I have plenty of white friends so I’m not making this a race issue. People are missing the point. My point is everyone has to be held accountable for their decisions they roast players over anthems while the coaches be high as s–t and probably can’t sing along,” she wrote, per Obnoxious Boston Fan.
The 33-year-old model also spoke out Monday on social media.

“The white people mad at me like I forced blow down this mans nose and like I recorded it on tha low,” Nige shared on Facebook. “No those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love.

“So quick to make excuses for him but will roast a minority player over an athem [sic], dog fight, weed, domestic issues etc. But y’all keep saying ALL LIVES MATTER STFU!!” she continued.
The relationship between Foerster and Nige is not clear. In the video, he said he misses her.

Less than 12 hours after the recording surfaced, Foerster announced his resignation Monday following one season and four games with the Miami Dolphins.