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    Libyan Investment Authority Didn't Understand What Goldman Sachs Was Selling It
    Photo: AP

    In the High Court in London on Tuesday, a former lawyer for the Libyan Investment Authority testified that the country’s sovereign-wealth fund was “astonished to learn” it hadn’t bought any actual shares through nine equity derivatives trades arranged by Goldman Sachs in 2008 that expired, worthless, three years later. The LIA is suing Goldman for $1.8 billion in losses.

    “There was a sea of confusion at the LIA, which ranged from an understanding that they had purchased shares, quasi-shares or shares with deferred payment,” Catherine McDougall, who was temporarily transferred to the LIA by a London law firm in the summer of 2008, told the court. “I was really surprised as it did not take rocket science to realize that the product was completely synthetic,” she said. “There were no shares involved.”

    Despite the fact that the trades ended up being worthless, the LIA alleges, Goldman made about $222 million from the deal. In an email, court records show, another Goldman executive joked about having “delivered a pitch on structured leveraged loans to someone who lives in the middle of the desert with his camels.”

    The Libyan fund managers were particularly “in awe” of one former Goldman executive, Youssef Kabbaj, in whom they had “complete trust,” McDougall told the court. “I think they didn’t understand how much Mr Kabbaj stood to gain personally from his relationship with them. They were...very effusive and very welcoming and they trusted people. They thought he was their friend.”

    Kabbaj has also been accused of plying family members of LIA officials with prostitutes and lucrative internships. McDougall said she felt “Goldman Sachs had unfairly taken advantage of the LIA’s lack of sophistication,” Reuters reports, “and sold the LIA $1 billion worth of derivatives products the LIA could not understand.”

    In 2008, when she told the LIA’s then-deputy chief, Mustapha Zarti, that she could not see “one redeeming feature” in the trades, McDougall testified, he was furious. At a “stormy meeting” that followed, Zarti confronted Kabbaj. “He launched into a very angry tirade, saying that he had a bad side as well as a good side and that he could come after their families,” she wrote in a witness statement. “Mr. Kabbaj’s face became white in shock.”

    “I expect Goldman Sachs to correct the facts and protect my reputation,” Kabbaj wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal. Goldman’s defense begins on Thursday.

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    Airbnb, Just Pay Your Taxes and Follow the Law and Shut Up
    Photo: FB

    Airbnb is set for a new round of fundraising that would value the company at $30 billion. How do we regulate this ephemeral behemoth before it swallows our urban real estate markets whole?

    San Francisco, the very epicenter of loud ideological battles over the future of housing, had its own idea about how to regulate Airbnb: the city passed an ordinance saying that the company itself could be fined for every user who rented out their apartment without being registered with the city. This tactic of making Airbnb itself liable for the massive black market of short term housing it creates was apparently very effective! So effective, in fact, that the company wasted no time in suing the city over the ordinance. (The company’s argument is that “It is a content-based restriction on advertising rental listings, which is speech.” Which kind of sounds like bullshit! Though I am not a lawyer.)

    Other cities have had success in taxing Airbnb rentals in more or less the same way they tax hotels—something that the company has said it is willing to do, based, no doubt, on the political calculation that collecting taxes from users in exchange for the freedom to operate is vastly preferable to being fined for all of its non-compliant users.

    Airbnb knows that its long-term future depends on reaching a stable arrangement with local governments. Collecting taxes is really no sweat for Airbnb, considering the company’s fantastically profitable business model. It is valued, for example, at significantly more than the Hilton Hotel company, without needing to own, staff, or operate any hotels. But the hotel industry is actually the least of Airbnb’s worries; more significant are cities themselves (and their angry residents), particularly those in which affordable housing is a constant near-crisis. In New York City, a new report says, Airbnb listings “took about 10% of the city’s available rentals off of the market.” That is quite clearly an unsustainable situation in a city that lacks enough affordable housing for its full-time residents. And collecting 8% taxes will not solve that problem.

    Airbnb needs to be taxed and regulated. Airbnb needs to be collecting taxes and ensuring that its users are only renting out apartments that are allowed to be rented out. It’s absurd and insulting for a $30 billion company in such an enviable business position to act as if it can do nothing to see to it that its users are not undermining the very stability of municipal housing in cities around the world. Airbnb gets paid for all those listings; if the listings are illegal, so is their business model. Enabling regular people to make some extra income from their apartments is a good and useful thing. Enabling landlords to turn vast swaths of neighborhoods into off-the-books hotels is not. Airbnb doesn’t necessarily have to be the enemy to housing advocates. Their tax revenue can pay for a lot of housing. And, whether you like it or not, their business model is here to stay. They just have to stop acting like they don’t operate according to the rules of planet Earth.

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    Clinton Correctional Inmate Says He Was Beaten, Deprived of Water After Prison Break
    Image: Getty

    In a lawsuit filed this week, an inmate at Clinton Correctional Facility claims he was beaten by guards, improperly held in his cell for 23 hours a day, and deprived of water and electricity after the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat.

    The suit, first reported by the Press-Republican, alleges that two guards entered the cell of Mattieu Burks, the plaintiff, and “slammed him around,” striking him in the face and body, about a month after Matt and Sweat’s escape in June 2015. Burks alleges that he was subsequently given a punishment known as “keep-lock,” meaning he was confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, and that he remained in keep-lock even after successfully appealing the punishment that landed him there. While there, he claims in the suit, “John Doe correction officials harassed him by shutting off the water and electricity in his cell,” and attempted to deprive him of food as well.

    The suit names a group of correction officers at Clinton as defendants, including Chad Stickney, an officer nicknamed “Captain America” who has been the subject of multiple previous allegations of brutal abuse. It seeks a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.

    Burks worked in “Tailor Shop 1,” where Sweat and Matt also worked, and the suit insinuates that Clinton correction officers punished him because he was aware of the escaped inmates’ close relationships with prison workers such as Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, both of whom were convicted in aiding their escape. “Correction officers were repeatedly threatening and harassing him, telling him to ‘hold it down’ and insisting that he knew nothing about correction officer complicity,” it reads. “Fearing for his safety, plaintiff refused to divulge information to investigators.”

    Burks also alleges that he was abused before the escape. In particular, the suit focuses on an episode in which guards witnessed him socializing with a white female officer. Stickney allegedly then told Burks he was “just another nigger, we will kill you, do the paperwork and no one will care about another dead nigger.” Along with other officers, Stickney then “physically assaulted him by kicking him in the testicles and otherwise roughing him up,” according to the suit.

    Aside from Burks’ allegations of abuse, the suit also provides a window into the environment at Clinton after the escape. As Gawker reported at the time, inmates were kept on lockdown in their cells and forbidden from watching the news or listening to the radio in the following days. According to the suit, one group first learned about the escape from a news chyron that ran below a televised broadcast of the French Open:

    Clinton Correctional Inmate Says He Was Beaten, Deprived of Water After Prison Break

    Update (2:35 p.m.): Leo Glickman, Burks’ attorney, offered the following comment: “We are bringing this lawsuit to shine a light on the utter brutality, criminality, and culture of cover up at the State Department of Corrections. Officers brutally assaulted my client because he knew too much about the involvement of correction officers in the Richard Matt and David Sweat escape. By intimidating and beating him, they thought they could keep their own misconduct in the dark.”

    A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.

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    Earlier today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a brand new video “showcasing security tips for U.S. travelers abroad.” And what a showcase it is. The seven-minute clip, while full of helpful little tidbits, can actually be boiled down to a single sentiment: TRUST NO ONE, AND GET A BURNER PHONE, FRANK.

    The trouble starts from the minute you—played by Frank—arrive at your “foreign airport” destination. Because surveillance will initiate immediately, as you can see:

    National Intelligence Office Warns Americans to TRUST NO ONE Because THEY’RE ALWAYS WATCHING
    Computer screen “from a foreign airport”: YouTube

    Who is doing this surveillance? Why is it happening? What country are you in? Doesn’t matter. Focus on the fact that they’re watching you. Everywhere you go. Forever.

    Hotel time! As soon as you check into your hotel, the receptionist will text her shady friend with your room number. This co-conspirator will then immediately stand directly outside your door until you leave, at which point he will walk in and download all of your precious, encrypted iPad files onto a TV remote, I guess. You will not see it coming.

    National Intelligence Office Warns Americans to TRUST NO ONE Because THEY’RE ALWAYS WATCHING

    Next, we learn that you should limit the electronic devices you bring with you overseas as much as possible. Not just because electronic devices require chargers, though that is a concern:

    National Intelligence Office Warns Americans to TRUST NO ONE Because THEY’RE ALWAYS WATCHING
    Don’t bring these.

    Ideally, you will bring nothing.

    But, you might ask, what am I supposed to do if I need to contact literally any other person? Every time you travel, says the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, use a burner phone. And a throwaway email account. It’s also probably a good idea to set your suitcase on fire before boarding your plane back home. Burn your fingertips. Leave no trace.

    And as the State Department has so kindly tweeted at us time and time again, the chances of another human being finding you even moderately attractive are so absurd that anyone who shows an interest in you abroad is almost definitely trying to scam you. Especially if your new friend “asks a lot of questions” about things like your job or your hobbies, which are not things normal people do to pass the time in line for a taxi. She doesn’t care. She’s too hot for you. You should know this.

    Last but not least, the ODNI leaves us with some parting words of wisdom:

    Assume that when you’re traveling, you have no privacy. And that all of your communication might be watched—no matter where you are...When you’re traveling abroad, others are likely to know of this. You may be being watched.

    In which case, the only way to be really, truly safe, is, as always, to stay at home sitting crosslegged in a faraday cage inside your dimly lit panic room. But remember: Even then, the bad men are waiting.

    The bad men are always waiting.

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    Video Perfectly Skewers the Assholery of OK Go

    No one is impressed by your dumb choreographed videos, OK Go. It’s old. It’s masturbatory. You’re hurting yourselves and the people closest to you, and you need to stop.

    AJJ’s new video for “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” reads like a parody of all the hallmarks of mad-vi internet band OK Go: There’s synchronized dancing (walking in place), balls from a ball pit (potentially stolen?), matching clothes (possibly inspired by The Wiggles), and a man in a chicken suit who does almost nothing. And it was all shot in one exhausting take which demands you to consider the technical prowess involved in making such a remarkable piece of adver-tainment.

    If the video itself isn’t vicious enough, wait for the behind-the-scenes interviews after the video, where every member of the cast and crew celebrates the Artist Achievement that is “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye”—sponsored by Soylent, which also desperately needed to be taken down a peg.

    Thank you for so deftly saying what we’ve all been thinking since “Here It Goes Again.”

    Author’s note, June 29 8:27pm: The views expressed in this post are solely mine. AJJ are nice people who harbor no ill-will towards OK Go or anyone else as far as I am aware.


    SPLOID is delicious brain candy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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    On Wednesday, President Obama criticized characterizations of Donald Trump as a populist, saying that a person who has “worked against economic opportunities for workers” does not suddenly become one “because they say something controversial in order to win votes.”

    “That’s not a measure of populism,” Obama told reporters at a news conference in Ottowa, Canada, CBS News reports. “That’s nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or it’s just cynicism.”

    Obama did not directly name the presumptive Republican nominee, but made the comments after denouncing “demagogues” who exploit “anti-immigration sentiment” when asked a question about Trump’s rhetoric.

    “Let’s just be clear that somebody who labels ‘us versus them,’ or engages in rhetoric about how we’re going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy, that’s not the definition of populism” said Obama.

    “Sorry,” added Obama. “This is one of the prerogatives when you’re at the end of your term. You go on these occasional rants.”

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    "Mutilated Body" Washes Up at Brazil's Olympic Beach Volleyball Venue
    “A construction worker of the Olympic beach volleyball venue observes a dismembered human foot covered with black plastic.” Photo: AP

    On Wednesday, parts of a mutilated body were discovered by a street vendor on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach, “just meters” from the site of a volleyball arena being built for this summer’s Olympic Games, Reuters reports.

    According to Jornal do Brasil, police say “it is not possible” to state the victim’s sex. From Reuters:

    The discovery is the latest to unnerve the city as it grapples with rising crime, a recession and exhausted state finances at a time when it hoped to be celebrating the first Olympics ever held in South America.

    It was unclear Wednesday afternoon what conditions may have led to the mutilated body but a policeman standing guard by a security perimeter confirmed its existence to Reuters.

    Police officials did not immediately return calls to their public affairs office for more details Wednesday afternoon.

    On Monday, civil police officers in Rio de Janeiro went on strike over unpaid salaries, raising already heightened security concerns in the host country currently experiencing an official state of financial disaster, the Associated Press reports.

    One group of strikers even demonstrated at Rio’s international airport, welcoming visitors with a banner reading, “WELCOME TO HELL.”

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    Evil Congressmen Want To Make Living Wage For Minor Leaguers Illegal
    Photo via Getty

    Minor league baseball players don’t make much money. Since 1976, MLB salaries have risen 2,500 percent while minor league salaries have only gone up 70 percent. Players in low-A ball start at $1,100 a month, while AAA players earn $2,150 per month. Monthly wages slowly increase the longer a player sticks around, but they’re only paid out during the season, and players on the road receive a per diem of $25—less than half of what umpires get. Over a five-month season, only tenured AAA players make enough to clear the federal poverty line. And now, a new bill from the House of Representatives wants to limit their earning power even further.

    Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky introduced the “Save America’s Pastime Act” late last week. The bipartisan legislation—Bustos is a Democrat, Guthrie a Republican—proposes to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and create a specific exemption for minor league baseball players (who are not unionized) so that they are explicitly not guaranteed the minimum wage, and thus not allowed overtime pay.

    Minor leaguers are professional athletes, so they’re never going to get widespread sympathy from the public, but MiLB’s wage structure is set up such that that they can barely earn a living while playing baseball. At best, they can break even. It’s tricky to conceive of sports jobs on hourly terms, since the responsibilities of a professional athlete extend so far beyond simply clocking in and out on game days, but minor league baseball players live all of the round-the-clock lifestyle of MLB players, just without getting the pay to justify it.

    The bill alleges that MiLB players need their wages locked in at poverty level and that if players start getting paid at least as much as fast food workers, grassroots minor league baseball is at risk:

    If the law is not clarified, the costs to support local teams would likely increase dramatically and usher in significant cuts across the league, threatening the primary pathway to the Majors and putting teams at risk.

    This is bullshit. Major league owners pay the salaries of their farm teams. MiLB teams don’t need attendance revenue to pay their players, the money comes from the top. As ESPN noted, bumping every minor leaguer’s pay by $5,000 would shake out to 5 percent of Justin Verlander’s salary. MLB made $8 billion in revenue in 2013 (the number is certainly higher now). But the “Save America’s Pastime Act” isn’t about saving money, and it certainly isn’t about saving America’s pastime.

    Bustos and Guthrie introduced the bill in response to a 2014 lawsuit, Senne, et al. v. MLB, et al., that alleged MiLB’s wage structure violated the FLSA. A year ago, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit could be expanded into a class action suit. MLB enjoys federal antitrust status, and the Senne suit threatens that. MLB’s antitrust classification rests on its status as a game, rather than a business. They even justify their pay structure with MiLB’s supposed frivolity, as ATL Redline notes:

    However, Major League Baseball claims that its system is legal as it is not bound by the FLSA due to an exemption for seasonal and recreational employers. The Save America’s Pastime Act would remove any doubt as to whether an FLSA exemption applies and would save Major League Baseball from any future costs if the Senne lawsuit is successful.

    ATL Redline also points out that Bustos has worked for federal minimum wage increases, so seeing her fight to repress poverty-level wages is rather surprising. Turns out Bustos’ father is Gene Callahan, MLB’s first lobbyist. The idea that minor league baseball teams would fold up and disappear because minor leaguers get paid a living wage is obviously wrong, and this issue is clearly about MLB trying to circle the wagons. Bustos is the perfect congresswoman to introduce the legislation, as she can lend the credibility of someone with a tie to baseball history. She’s still full of shit:

    “Whether it was my dad working for the Major Leagues or my late brother Dan who was the head baseball coach at Southern Illinois University, baseball has always held a very special place in my heart,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos.

    Going for the emotional appeal is the most absurd part of this whole absurd bill. MLB is essentially selling the myth that there’s nothing more heartwarming than a cleat stomping on a human face, and politicians of both parties are here to back them. Set this bill on fire.

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    Romney Family Still Wants Mitt to Get in There and Fuck Shit Up
    Photo: AP

    Over the past few months, Mitt Romney has repeatedly stated he will not run as a third-party candidate in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped at least one of his children from hoping that maybe, somehow, his dad will be the next President of Watching the World Burn.

    Acknowledging that at this point he could only enter the race as a spoiler candidate, the former Republican nominee now representing the party’s black bloc said that his family asked him late in the GOP primary to “do it again,” The Hill reports.

    “My wife and kids wanted me to run again this time,” said Romney at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday. “I got an email from one of my sons yesterday, saying ‘You gotta get in, Dad. You gotta get in.’”

    Hell yeah, man. Let’s do this. I mean, what have you got to lose?

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    Right-wing extremism is on the rise, but the original cross-burners can’t get their shit together. “Today’s groups remain small and operate independently,” the AP reports on the state of the KKK. “Kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to...wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white.”

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  • 06/30/16--04:10: 130 Days and a Wake Up
  • 130 Days and a Wake Up
    China prepares for the 95th anniversary of its Communist Party on July 1. Photo: AP

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    Boris Johnson Fakes Everyone Out, Announces He Will Not Run for Prime Minister
    Photo: AP

    After giving a speech in which he touted his accomplishments as mayor of London, responded to criticisms of the “Leave” vote, and outlined the problems facing the next British prime minister, Boris Johnson announced that he would not be running for the position.

    Boris Johnson Fakes Everyone Out, Announces He Will Not Run for Prime Minister
    The Guardian’s liveblog

    “That is the agenda for the next prime minister of this country,” Johnson said at the end of his speech. “Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”

    “My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda that I believe in, to stick up for the forgotten people of this country.”

    The announcement came as something of a shock, as Johnson was widely seen as the (hypothetical) frontrunner. He deferred after his longtime ally, Michael Gove, announced his own bid on Thursday morning: “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” As recently as Wednesday, the New York Times reports, Gove was thought to have made a deal supporting Johnson.

    A slew of candidates have joined the race, though Gove, the justice secretary, and Theresa May, the home secretary, are seen as the leading contenders. May supported the “Remain” faction, but according to the Times was not a particularly vocal supporter.

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    Donald Trump Doesn't Even Want Your Stupid Tax Break For Poor People Anyway
    Photo: AP

    Last week, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys requested that he no longer receive a tax credit afforded to middle-class families in New York City—defined as those with annual household incomes lower than $500,000. The city complied, and about $1000 will be added to Trump’s next property tax bill.

    The whole affair has been completely baffling for a number of reasons—at first City Hall said they’d made a mistake, but then they said they hadn’t—not least of which is the fact that it would appear to undermine Trump’s claims about his wealth. “Because of tax secrecy laws, we cannot say whether or not he is or was eligible,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance said.

    Unless he releases his tax returns, we likely won’t know whether Trump was actually eligible for the STAR credit—or, more to the point, exactly how much he is worth. (His most recent self-evaluation was over $10 billion—this is almost certainly not true, though it could still be quite high.) What we do know, thanks to Crain’s New York’s excellent follow-up reporting, is that Trump is the only ostensible billionaire in New York City to receive the New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR) credit. From Crain’s:

    In order to determine how many of Trump’s peers are getting the STAR credit, we started by turning to the annual Forbes 400, which lists about 60 billionaire New Yorkers. The list is led by industrialist David Koch and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, followed by a raft of media moguls, money managers and real estate developers. (Incidentally, there is only one female New Yorker in the Forbes 400: Joan Tisch.) Forbes reckons that Trump’s fortune is $4.5 billion, or less than half the amount the candidate has claimed.

    Once we had a list of billionaires, we began looking up where they live. Some addresses had been disclosed in the press—for instance, when hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb paid $45 million for a condo at 15 Central Park West. But many others had to be dug up by reviewing real estate records filed with the city Department of Finance. Addresses for about 20 billionaires couldn’t be found, probably because they purchased their homes using limited liability companies that shield their identities. Nonetheless, we were able to find addresses of 38 billionaires.

    According to Department of Taxation and Finance records, Trump is the only New York billionaire (as designated by Forbes) registered to receive the STAR credit. There are, however, two other residents of Trump Tower receiving the credit.

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    Billionaire Egomaniacs Continue to Tag City With Their Names
    Photo: Getty

    America is facing a crisis: some of our most beautiful public spaces are being defaced by the “tags” of selfish, narcissistic individuals. Most of them are billionaires.

    Today, another lamentable ego-driven act of vanity: Ronald Perelman, the dealmaker whose net worth is more than $12 billion, is donating $75 million to the construction of a performing arts center at the former site of the World Trade Center. Some might object that that is enough money to save 25,000 human beings from death by malaria, which may have been a better use of the charitable funds. But they forget that this sparkling new performing arts center will be a place where rich and poor alike can go to hear, say, the opera, as long as they can both buy tickets.

    The Times notes that “In recognition of his gift, the new theater complex, which will sit on one of the most emotionally resonant and most visited spots in the city, will be named for Mr. Perelman.” Perelman has previously paid to have things named after himself at NYU, Princeton, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, among other places. Neither young nor old affluent people shall be able to escape the omnipresence of Ronald Perelman’s name!

    Perelman is also a Republican political donor and the owner of a $4 billion art collection.

    One of the best arguments for taxing away the wealth of billionaires is the way they choose to spend it when left to their own devices.

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  • 06/30/16--08:10: How's Britain?
  • How's Britain?
    Pictured: A Britisher (Photo: Getty)

    Short answer: Not great. Bit of a mess. Long answer:

    What Happened

    Last week, Britain voted to leave the European Union. Liberal cosmopolitans, international financiers and their courtiers, and centrist technocrat types lost to nativists, nationalists, and a few anti-globalism leftists. This is lots of people’s fault, though most people blame some combination of the following:

    • Racist voters
    • Cynical demagogues (politicians, newspapers, etc.)
    • Austerity-pushing, anti-democratic European Union leaders

    The vote revealed a deeply divided nation: London joined Northern Ireland and Scotland in voting remain. The rest of England (and Wales) voted leave. For not the first time this decade, elites were shocked at the depth and intensity of anti-elite resentment outside their exclusive bubbles.

    After the vote, though, lots of bad things seemed to start happening, like the pound losing a ton of value and all the markets going a bit haywire. It turns out that leaving the EU is going to be very complicated.

    Right now, British politicians, including pro-Brexit ones, are urging a slow, leisurely, maybe-indefinite path to actually exiting the EU, which will be a two-year process anyway. The European Union, though—which loves nothing more than exacting punishment on its wayward member states—wants to make the breakup as fast and painful as possible, and also the states that largely control the EU want to ensure that they come out ahead in the divorce—France, for example, wants to supplant London as a world finance capital.

    What Will Actually Happen?

    It is basically a standoff. There are a couple possibilities:

    • The UK begins the exit process by the end of the year, and they eventually end up basically like Norway, which is not an EU member state but enjoys many of of the privileges of membership—including open travel—through its membership in the European Economic Area. Everything is basically OK, after a few years of uncertainty. Life goes on.
    • If Britain insists on restriction of immigration, and France seeks to use its superior negotiating leverage to steal away the City of London’s business, then the EU will force the UK to agree to something like the Norway situation, but crafted in such a way that it deliberately cripples London’s financial sector by blocking them from selling financial services to EU citizens outside of Britain. This is not a great scenario for Britain, though the immigration restrictionists sort of get their way, and the dismantling of London’s financial sector would be a satisfying sight for many.
    • Britain just keeps putting off leaving forever and sort of hopes everyone forgets about the whole thing. This is an actual possibility! As The Guardian reports, “some Brussels insiders are worried that the UK may never trigger article 50, because the two-year deadline for talks would put the leaver in a weak position.” This might even be more likely than an official “do-over” referendum, or the House of Commons voting not to leave after all.

    Or maybe some other, fourth thing will happen. (Everyone else also leaves the EU?)

    How Are British Politics Now?

    Boris Johnson, a noxious toff and the former mayor of London, was one of the primary figures behind the pro-Brexit campaign. The smart set in Britain largely believe that he backed it as a means to challenge Prime Minister David Cameron for control of the Conservative Party, and never expected that the referendum would actually pass. After the vote, Cameron resigned rather than officially triggering the Brexit himself in order to force Johnson, thought of as the probable next prime minister, to pull the trigger. Johnson, meanwhile, did a lot of funny backpedaling, essentially promising that leaving the EU will be totally painless and not lead to anything bad happening.

    Johnson claimed that Britons will be able to restrict immigration from EU countries, but also that they will be free to visit and work in any EU countries they wish. EU diplomats and officials, as you can probably imagine, do not actually plan to allow the UK to keep all the things it likes about being the EU without also having to do things like “contributing to funding the EU” and “following EU regulations.”

    Johnson was expected to launch his leadership bid today, with his Leave campaign consigliere Michael Gove acting as a sort of quasi-running mate. That all went to shit. Yesterday, an email from Gove’s wife leaked to the press, in which she says that Gove doesn’t really trust Johnson and that many Tories “instinctively dislike Boris.”

    Today, Gove—who has said for years that he does not want to be prime minister and would in fact be quite bad at it—shivved Johnson, announcing that he would make his own leadership bid because “Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

    Gove is an interesting figure. He’s former journalist, like Johnson, but unlike Johnson (and Cameron) (and most of the Tory leadership) he’s not a posh Etonian toff. He is a right-wing true believer, who charms journalists and critics with his courtesy and erudition, and who presents himself as someone who genuinely believes his brand of conservatism will create a better and more just world—like a sort of cleverer Paul Ryan. He also never seemed like he was lying when he said he did not want to be prime minister because he’s not fit for the job (The Guardian: “he is famously impractical, he’s not good with numbers, he does not like flying, and some of his intellectual interests border on the eccentric”).

    Here is a Vine of Michael Gove:

    A bunch of other Tories also declared their bids, but Gove’s primary competition will likely be Theresa May, the long-serving Home Secretary (putting her in charge of law enforcement and national security), who was anti-Brexit but not that anti-Brexit. She’s seen as something of a moderate, making her the “anyone but Boris” candidate before Boris got got. But despite her moderate reputation, she’s an anti-immigration hardliner, and not a huge fan of the European convention on human rights. She’s also, according to this one Telegraph columnist’s friend, “the most boring woman in Britain.”

    You would think, with the Tories in disarray and rudderless, that their traditional political opponents, the Labour Party, would be seizing the moment and coalescing around their own leader. Ha, no, of course they are not. Instead, Labour members of Parliament celebrated Brexit by holding a no-confidence vote in their leader, left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, as part of the ongoing leadership crisis that has consumed Labour and distracted them from attacking the Tories for, you know, semi-accidentally leaving the EU.

    The UK’s different parties have very different rules for selecting leaders, but if you massively simplify it, the basic process for the Tories and Labour is similar: Candidates are nominated by members of Parliament, then there is a national vote among supporters of the party. Corbyn’s election was something of an accident of that process to begin with. Labour MPs put him on the leadership ballot on a lark, not expecting him to win against more moderate establishment figures. Then he absolutely crushed the competition, winning 60 percent of the vote, “the biggest mandate in the Labour Party’s 116 year history.”

    Despite that mandate, Labour centrists have never accepted Corbyn as a legitimate leader. The result of the Brexit vote is mainly just a pretext for ousting him, which many Labour MPs have wanted to do all long. It was even reported weeks before the Brexit vote that centrist Labour MPs planned a “24-hour blitz” to “topple” Corbyn after the referendum.

    The coup has run into one little snag: Corbyn refuses to resign, mostly because he is confident that he’d win another leadership election handily—and polls bear this out.

    A poll last month placed him top of the pile in a putative leadership election by a huge margin with 43 percent support. Andy Burnham, who is backing Corbyn and says he won’t run, is closest to him on 10 percent and the only other in double digits.

    The plotters make for a pathetic lot: Hilary Benn can’t even muster 5 percent, Margaret Hodge receives close to 0 percent.

    Corbyn backers claim one reason no plausible non-Corbyn candidate has emerged is that anti-Corbyn MPs have had a hard time finding a candidate who didn’t support the Iraq War. In an particularly bad bit of timing for those Iraq War-supporting MPs, a parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War is set to issue its long-awaited report next Wednesday.

    The only hope for Labour’s anti-Corbyn wing is that they can somehow keep him off the ballot entirely when they hold their next leadership election, though doing so could very well fracture the party completely. Mostly, Labour is just thankful that the Tories are dominating today’s headlines.

    Are Northern Ireland and Scotland Going to Split Off Now?

    Maybe? Sinn Féin has called for a poll on Irish unification, and if the Brexit actually happens, it is exceedingly likely that that Ireland will once again be partitioned, with the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland becoming militarized, and as heavily guarded as it was before the Good Friday Agreement. That could lead to some tensions! A large majority of Northern Irish residents support the status quo, but England just blew it up.

    Scotland might be more likely to vote for independence, which they narrowly rejected just a few years ago. But the logistics are a nightmare. Just like remaining part of a non-EU UK turns the Irish border in an EU border, with customs checks and roadblocks, Scotland leaving the UK does the same thing to the Scottish-English border, which has been rather, uh, open for 300 or so years.

    There is maybe some sort of scheme by which England and Wales could leave the EU while Scotland and Northern Ireland remain, without formally breaking up the UK; that, combined with the “Norway option,” might lead to a roughly satisfactory-to-most compromise. But never underestimate the incompetence of the Tories, or the propensity of European Union officials to settle on the option that is least desirable to the greatest number of people.

    Anyway, that’s how Britain is. Thanks for asking!

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    Yusaf Mack Will Be Whatever You Want Him To Be
    Photo: Reality Dudes Network

    In late 2014, professional boxer Yusaf Mack did something no one else in his sport, active or retired, had ever done: He performed in porn. Gay porn. The scene he shot as “Philly” with DawgPoundUSA existed quietly on the internet for about 10 months, amazingly, until word of the video began to circulate around his hometown of Philadelphia and local reporter Jenice Armstrong interviewed him about it. He claimed to be straight, and said the sex he had with the men in the video resulted from him being drugged. After DawgPoundUSA issued a strongly worded rebuttal that threatened legal action, Mack revealed his initial story was “all a lie.” Mack issued a press release in which he called himself bisexual, and then he went on Philadelphia Fox 29 to say he’s gay. Later, he said he was attracted to trans women (“I’m attracted to trannies...I don’t like nobody muscle like me,” is how he put it). Mack told Broadly he hooked up with trans model Sidney Starr in January.

    When I talked to Mack via Skype yesterday, he told me he’s “try-sexual” (meaning he’s open to experimenting). He moved back to Philadelphia after a brief stint in Los Angeles, earlier this year, he’s now attempting a gay-porn “comeback.” He recently filmed some scenes for the gay porn company Reality Dudes (link NSFW) under its “Reality Thugs” imprint. He points out that he’s the first professional boxer to come out, though what that means in this case, for today at least, is that he is out as someone who will have sex with whomever he wants for whatever reason he wants, including to make money. (Note: Mack is mistaken about being the first: Boxer Orlando Cruz came out in 2012.)

    Mack answered whatever question I threw at him, generally in three sentences or less, and acknowledged that his speech has been affected by his time in the ring. A lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation is below.

    Gawker: You went from attempting to hide your sexuality, or at least your sexual behavior, to talking about it in public all the time. How is that?

    Yusaf Mack: I feel like I’m back in the light again. I was boxing. I was on top. Now I’m a little down right now, but I’m getting my shine back.

    What do you mean you’re a little down?

    I ain’t fought for like a year and a half. I was one of the top light heavyweights in the world. Now I’m doing my thing and getting back in the light.

    How’s this new Reality Dudes project? What’s it like being on set?

    It’s something new for me. I’m just getting used to it as I go. I got good people around me and they telling me to do my thing. At the end of the day, I got 10 kids. Nobody’s helping me get nothing. I gotta do what I gotta do for my children and myself.

    Are you doing these videos entirely for money?

    Naw, I’m doing it because I like it.

    What do you like?

    I’m a person that likes to have sex—as long as I’m clean, my health is right, I’m happy.

    Is filming awkward?

    Very, very awkward. I gotta go into my killer mode.

    How do you do that?

    I go into the bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror and I turn into a beast.

    Do you consider yourself to be hot?


    What’s it like being back in Philly?

    It’s been rough, man. It’s very rough. People saying stuff about me, putting stuff on Facebook and Instagram. They won’t say it to my face. It bothers me when other people tell me about it.

    How do you deal with it?

    My kids. My kids keep me strong. “Dad, don’t worry about that.” “You gotta do what you gotta do to take care of us.” “Ain’t nobody putting money in your pocket.”

    If people are saying stuff like that, do you ever wish this all never happened? Do you wish you remained closeted?

    Not really. I wouldn’t be myself. That’s like faking. I’m myself, I can do what I want to do, and I’m comfortable.

    Have you gotten support in Philly?

    Yes. Older people. You got the young people that’s, “I ain’t doin’ this,” “I ain’t doin’ that,” but they’d do it themselves. If the chance came in for them to make some money, they would do it. If nobody knew about it they would do it.

    You have had quite a coming-out journey. First you said you were straight, then a statement was released saying you’re bi, then you said on TV that you’re gay, then you said you’re into trans women, and now you’re having sex with men on camera. What is it today?

    I’m try-sexual.

    It sounds like you’re liberated in that you do what you want sexually when you feel like it.

    Yes, I’m try-sexual. I’m a grown man. I ain’t got to answer to nobody but the man up top.

    How are things going with your kids? You said your oldest daughter told you to kill yourself when she found out about the video.

    I haven’t talked to her yet.

    What about your youngest daughter? You told Broadly you were estranged. Have you seen her?

    I’ve seen her, yes.

    Is that situation better?

    Not really. Her mom’s like, “Don’t kiss him. Don’t hug him.” It hurts me, but I’ll get over it.

    What about your other kids?

    They love me. One of my youngest sons and my next-to-oldest son, they be with me everyday.

    How aware are they of what happened to you in the past 10 months?

    They don’t care. When we was coming up, we would be very judgmental. Nowadays kids are like, “It is what it is.” I got about three nieces and they’re gay.

    The series you’re doing is called Reality Thugs. Do you have any opinion about that name? Do you feel like you’re a thug?

    I can be whatever I gotta be at any time. I can be a thug, superhero, a nerd. Whatever y’all want me to be I’ll do.

    Do you have any limitations as to what you will do on camera?

    Yes, everybody got limits. I would never let a man pound me again. I gotta do all the pounding.


    I feel...I don’t like it.

    You did seem uncomfortable in the DawgPoundUSA video.

    I didn’t like it.

    Watching that video, it seemed you were inexperienced.

    I didn’t know what I was doing. It was something I did for the money.

    At that point, you hadn’t had much experience with men?

    No, never.

    And then after that, you said you liked trans women. Have you had sex with men off camera in the past few months since you came out?


    Do you think you would?

    Uh...I can’t really say right now. I don’t know.

    Who is your ideal mate, then?

    Uh...a woman?

    Whatever, I’m asking you.

    I’m happy with my life right now, I don’t want to settle down with anybody.

    I’m just trying to get a grasp on your life, beyond the sex...

    It would be a woman.

    A trans woman?

    A woman. I told you I’m a try-sexual. She would have to be open, though. She would have to know what I like, and if you ain’t acting right, I’m outta here.

    Is it harder or easier to meet people now?

    I believe it’s easier. When I first came back from L.A., I was in a bar in Philly. There were two girls in there. They kept looking at me like, “Ain’t you that boxer guy?” I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” “Can we buy you some drinks?” “Sure.” They bought me some drinks, two hours later we was at my mom’s house.

    Is that something happens frequently? You’re sleeping with women?

    Yes, yes. They all want to be around the Mack Attack now.

    But you do enjoy having sex with men when you’re on camera?

    It’s business. It’s my job. It’s what I’m here for.

    Are you into it, though? Do you get turned on? Are you enjoying yourself?

    Yes, you have to. It makes the scenes good. I gotta be into it.

    Why did you move back from L.A. to Philly?

    Everybody’s too bourgie in L.A. Everybody want to be better than the next person.

    You said that you contemplated suicide after the initial news of the video broke. When did you become OK with it?

    When close friends and family told me, “Live your life, we’re going to love you regardless.” So, I live my life.

    Were there any close friends or family that rejected you?

    Probably just my daughter.

    Are you happy?

    Yes, I’m happy.

    Do you have your sights set on anything besides doing porn?

    It’s my new career! I boxed all my life. Now boxer-slash-porn star?


    Until the man upstairs call me, you know?

    You’ll do porn for the rest of your life?

    Yes. If it works out and I can make that Gawker money. [Snickers]

    Do you ever watch your scenes?

    No, I never watched them.

    You’re not curious?

    Nah, but when I was younger, I always wanted to be a porn star. All my life.

    Did you ever think that you’d be achieving it like this, though?

    No. Never. My life was boxing. All I was doing was boxing. Then I woke up one day like, “Oh man.” Boxing can’t be all I know. I gotta know something else. So porn is my next thing.

    Do you feel the effects of boxing?

    Yes. I get bad headaches. I’m on medicine now. Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk. My speech is slippin’.

    When you’re not filming what are you doing?

    I’m with my big sis, chilling with my kids, or partying.

    What is the life you want to have? What do you want to achieve?

    I just want to be able to take my kids places when they ask. I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be poor, I just want to be comfortable.

    What don’t people understand about you?

    I’m still Yusaf Mack, the United States Light Heavyweight Champion and I will break you up if you get out of line. To all the people out there who know me and love me, love me for me. I’m still me... Can I ask you something? How do you feel about me?

    I think you’re fascinating and I’m glad you got to the point where you could speak about your sexuality openly.

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    Rikers Has Its Own Rubber Room, Where Violent Guards Are Sent to Paid Purgatory
    Image: Getty

    Beat up an inmate, or smuggle drugs into Rikers Island, and a correction officer might not be fired, but instead asked to sit in an empty room for eight hours a day, still receiving full pay and benefits.

    The New York Daily News has the story of the New York City Department of Correction’s answer to “rubber rooms,” the infamous purgatorial spaces where city teachers are placed when they face disciplinary action. According to the News, about 80 correction officers are currently on modified duty while they await disciplinary or criminal verdicts for alleged infractions such as the aforementioned violence and drug smuggling. Some of these officers are given assignments such as staffing on-site convenience stores for fellow Rikers employees, while others sit doing nothing in a room known as “The Pumps.” Others are assigned to “guard” a 10-story jail that sits adjacent to the Queens courthouse, which has sat completely empty and unused for 14 years.

    Guards on modified duty continue to be paid and receive benefits, at a taxpayer cost of about $5 million per year, the News estimated. Often, their disciplinary cases and associated stints on modified duty stretch out for multiple years.

    Stuck in a small room all day, every day, with nothing to do for entertainment or edification and no end in sight. It’s sort of an ironic fate for men and women who are accused, among other things, of mistreating prisoners. Hey, at least they’re still getting paid, and there are no abusive guards watching over them.

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    Three Top Staffers Leave City Hall Amid Federal Investigation into de Blasio Administration
    Photo: AP

    Amid a sprawling federal investigation into the mayor’s administration, Bill de Blasio’s top lawyer, Maya Wiley, is leaving her position to head up the Civilian Complaint Review Board. She is the third high-level staffer to leave City Hall this month.

    “It will raise eyebrows, and I regret that,” Wiley told the Wall Street Journal. “I feel very strongly this administration adhered to the law...and I’m confident there will be a resolution of these investigations on a rolling basis.”

    A civil-rights attorney from Brooklyn, Wiley takes over the CCRB—an independent agency that investigates complaints against police officers with the NYPD—from Richard Emery, who stepped down in April after being sued by his own executive director over sexist comments he allegedly made. (The suit was later dropped.)

    Wiley attained some notoriety herself earlier this year when she introduced the made-up term “agents of the city” into the pantheon of meaningless bureaucratic language in a bid to provide legal justification for the city’s withholding of correspondence between the mayor and five members of what has been referred to as Bill de Blasio’s “shadow government.”

    (Normally, any correspondence between city officials and individuals outside of the administration who are not contractors with the city is subject to disclosure. These five “agents of the city,” however, have been afforded special dispensation. “In retrospect, the term came across in ways I didn’t intend for it to,” Wiley told the Journal, saying also that she regrets using “technical term,” apparently in reference to the term she made up.)

    And the mayor’s counsel isn’t the only one to have jumped ship recently: Earlier this month, press secretary Karen Hinton left the administration after less than a year on the job, and just this week the mayor’s social media director, Scott Kleinberg, announced his own resignation in a very dramatic Facebook post.

    “I tried to stick it out, but it was impossible,” Kleinberg wrote. “I don’t even know the word quit, but for the sake of my health and my sanity, I decided I needed to do just that. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m unemployed... I’ve learned a lot in the past several weeks, including something I’ve ignored in many a fortune cookie: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

    “I ended up with political hacks plus a boss who just couldn’t get it,” he continued in a comment. “It was a bad combination for sure.”

    In a statement on Kleinberg’s departure, mayoral spokesperson Andrea Hagelgans said, “New York City government is a tough, fast-paced job that is not for everyone.” She added: “We wish him well.”

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