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    Humiliating Donald Trump Purchase Was Paid For With His Charity's Money
    Photo: AP

    Forget the lawsuits, the bankruptcies and myriad failed business ventures—this potentially illegal purchase unearthed by the Washington Post is Donald Trump’s most embarrassing executive decision yet.

    According to the paper’s reporting, Donald Trump once used his charity’s money to buy himself... a $12,000 Tim Tebow helmet.

    Trump apparently humiliated himself at a 2012 Susan G. Komen fundraiser, where he got into a bidding war (!) over the Tebow helmet. He paid for the gilded garbage, the Post reports, with funds from his foundation.

    Sounds illegal, and it might be, depending on what he did with it. Unless he donated it to charity—which frankly doesn’t sound like something he’d do—it was probably a violation of the IRS’s rules against self-dealing.

    Still, the fate of his trash purchase remains unknown—the Post notes he doesn’t currently display it with his other sports memorabilia, either because he doesn’t have it or because he doesn’t feel like owning himself every day.

    Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. In a Wall Street Journal video of Trump’s business office in New York last year, he showed off a table of sports helmets — but the Tebow helmet did not appear to be among them.

    One possible reason: the Tebow gear has lost some of its cache. In hindsight, Trump’s famous eye for a good deal seems to have deserted him on the night of the auction: as it turned out, he was buying Tebow gear close to its peak price.

    Similar helmets are currently going for around $400, which sounds high.

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    Guess Which Bush Son Is the Favorite
    Image: AP

    Earlier this week, in a Hill article discussing the various former Bush advisors supporting Hillary Clinton, we got the briefest of insights into the Bush family’s current priorities. Priorities that include, George, George, Jr., and absolutely no Jeb.

    Regarding Trump’s attack on Dubya’s decision to go into Iraq, The Hill writes:

    The Bushes could deal with Trump taunting Jeb as “low energy” on the campaign trail, but they believe his attacks on Bush 43 crossed the line.


    It’s not easy being post-campaign Sad Jeb, so if you see him on the street, please do the right thing. Please clap.

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    Trump Scraps "Pretty Cool" Idea to Fly Into Last Night of Republican National Convention on a Helicopter
    Photo: AP

    After promising that the 2016 Republican National Convention wouldn’t be “boring,” Donald Trump has begun lowering expectations for the event, even declining an invitation (from whom is unclear) to speak at all three nights of the convention. “I don’t want people to think I’m grandstanding—which I’m not,” he told the New York Times. “But it would get high ratings,” he added.

    Many establishment Republicans have made it clear that they will not be attending Trump’s convention, leaving the presumptive nominee free to fill the agenda with non-traditional choices. He is reportedly thinking about asking Serena Williams to speak, for example. Could be fun! Also: Jeff Sessions and Sarah Palin.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump has been a bit of a diva about the event’s arrangements. The Times reports:

    When he saw the drawings for the stage he would speak on, Mr. Trump sent them back. “I didn’t like the shape,” he said. “Too straight. Too nothing. Didn’t have the drama.”

    As he kicked around proposals for how to make his grand entrance, he nixed the idea of riding into Cleveland on a train. “It’s been done,” he said.

    And he has also ruled out speaking on the final night of the convention from an open-air stadium instead of from inside Quicken Loans Arena — too expensive, he worried — even though he was intrigued by the idea of flying in and landing on the stage in a helicopter. “Pretty cool,” he conceded.

    The campaign also had discussed the idea of having fireworks inside the arena, but that proved unworkable.

    Well that’s disappointing.

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    Rumor: Doctor Prescribes Donald Trump "Cheap Speed"
    Illustration: Jim Cooke

    Back in December, Donald Trump’s personal doctor declared to the world that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” While that particular claim is unfalsifiable (although almost certainly incorrect), according to a source with knowledge of Trump’s current prescriptions, that letter isn’t telling the whole story. Most notably: Donald Trump is allegedly still taking speed-like diet pills.

    Rumors of Trump’s predilection for stimulants first started really popping up in 1992, when Spy magazine wrote, “Have you ever wondered why Donald Trump has acted so erratically at times, full of manic energy, paranoid, garrulous? Well, he was a patient of Dr. [Joseph] Greenberg’s from 1982 to 1985.” At the time, Dr. Greenberg was notorious for allegedly doling out prescription stimulants to anyone who could pay.

    In 1993, Harry Hurt’s unauthorized biography on Trump, Lost Tycoon, corroborated the rumors and went one step further:

    The diet drugs, which [Trump] took in pill form, not only curbed his appetite but gave him a feeling of euphoria and unlimited energy. The medical literature warned that some potentially dangerous side effects could result from long-term usage; they included anxiety, insomnia, and delusions of grandeur. According to several Trump Organization insiders, Donald exhibited all these ominous symptoms of diet drug usage, and then some.

    The supposed drug Trump took back then was Tenuate Dospan, a drug with speed-like effects that’s not unlike dexedrine.

    These rumors say Trump stopped seeing Dr. Greenberg decades ago. But according to our source, the Donald Trump of today is on a diet drug called phentermine—and has been since at least April of 2014.

    Phentermine first gained notoriety in the U.S. under the name Fen-Phen, a “miracle” combination of phentermine and fenfluramine, another established anti-obesity drug. The only problem with it was that patients taking the drug began reporting damage to their hearts and lungs. Apparently, the combination destroyed patients’ bodies’ abilities to regulate the amount of serotonin.

    Phentermine on its own, however, is still prescribed. And while the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that most people take phentermine for a month or so at a time, since the drug is addictive, Trump has supposedly been taking it continuously for over two years .

    C. Richard Allen, the director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, called phentermine “cheap speed” to The New York Times. Side effects of phentermine include:

    • Trouble with thinking, speaking, or walking
    • Decreased ability to exercise
    • False or unusual sense of well-being
    • Insomnia
    • Nervousness
    • Increase in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
    • Confusion

    Paul Ernsberger, a neuroscientist and associate professor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, once noted that people call phentermine “the stupid pill. They go around in a fog.” Readers can determine for themselves if that description reminds them of anyone.

    Trump did claim to have a diminished appetite in an interview with People back in November, but the only thing he admitted to being high on was Donald Trump:

    One of the reasons is I have big crowds and they’re very exciting stops. And when you speak and you really are going at it, you tend to … I never thought about it, but speaking is almost a form of exercise. It’s very exhilarating. Last night I was in Knoxville, Tennessee, speaking to 12,000 great people. You get so worked up, you don’t feel like eating after that.

    Sure, Donald Trump could be expelling calories from his mouth every time he starts screaming about illegals at his rallies. Or he could, once again, be popping amphetamine-adjacent diet pills.

    The Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

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    Good Lord--Guy Gets Mistakenly Shot With a Missile. Talk About Mistakes!
    Photo: AP

    When I think “unfortunate mistake,” I think about getting handed the wrong change at the grocery store. I don’t think about having my nice day spoiled by an ever-loving supersonic missile!

    But friends, life is never promised to us. The man upstairs—if he’s even up there—has plans that we’re not privy to. It behooves all of us to keep that in mind. I’ll wager that the man who woke up earlier this week and went for a nice fishing trip off the coast of Taiwan didn’t in his wildest dreams imagine that he’d be accidentally shot by a supersonic missile fired by the Taiwanese Navy.

    And yet that’s what happened.

    Hell. This poor fisherman might have had an inkling he’d have a bad day. Might have thought through a few things that could go wrong on his trip—bad weather, fish not biting, a nasty sun burn. Maybe, if he was being real grim, he might even have contemplated the possibility that his boat could sink, casting him into a watery grave. But I feel almost certain that that fisherman did not at any moment think to himself, “Today could be the day I’m accidentally struck by a supersonic missile.”

    Well, crazy things happen.

    I’m sure the people who accidentally shot this fisherman with a missile feel bad about themselves. I’m sure they’ll have to spend days explaining themselves in bureaucratic reviews, and nights regretting the actions that led up to this tragedy. We should hold no hatred in our hearts for them. This was a terrible thing for everyone involved. We should, however, reserve our most intense level of sympathy for the fisherman in question.

    He was just sitting there fishing, and then: Pow! God damn! That ain’t a fish. It’s a missile!!

    I’ve heard of bad days—but really???

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  • 07/01/16--09:05: Workers Before Investors
  • Workers Before Investors
    Photo: AP

    Management experts speak of every company as having “stakeholders”—all of the different people affected by what a company does. If you can rearrange the hierarchy of stakeholders, you can change the world.

    Here, I would submit, is the normal hierarchy of corporate stakeholders in this country now:

    1. Investors
    2. Executives
    3. Customers
    4. Workers
    5. Society

    This is the tendency of unrestrained capitalism. Capital holds the most power and demands the most return. Powerful executives demand exorbitant salaries. Serving customers is prioritized to the extent that it creates profits (and, not to be too cynical, being the best at serving customers does create profits, whether you serve them on price, like Walmart, or availability, like Amazon, or luxury, or otherwise). Workers get the smallest wage possible that is sufficient to provide a labor supply. “Society,” a term too vague to really mean much to corporate America, is only important to the extent that pissing it off could lead to political or PR problems.

    Now consider this hierarchy in reverse:

    1. Society
    2. Workers
    3. Customers
    4. Executives
    5. Investors

    Companies do not need to turn themselves into charities in order to serve society. They just need to play their useful roles in the economy, and not act to actively hurt the rest of society in order to enrich themselves. Workers, whose lives are most tied to the companies, and who are the most economically vulnerable, are the ones who should reap most of the economic benefits. Customers should be served as normal. Executives will make more money than workers but will in exchange agree to put the needs of the workers before their own. Investors, who do nothing but provide capital, are due enough profits to keep the money flowing, but no more. They take risk, but they don’t work. Workers, who live paycheck to paycheck, risk the stability of their lives by depending on their employers, and they do work, besides.

    The second hierarchy is dismissed as utopian by good red-blooded American capitalists. But it is not any more utopian than the first hierarchy. The difference is that the first is a utopia for capital, and the second is a utopia for people. (In this case, utopia just means “the arrangement that maximizes the relative good for the chosen groups.” There’s only a little bit of good to go around sometimes, and that’s life. This is a distribution question, not a fantasy.)

    America has seen more than three decades of rising economic inequality. That translates to more power for investors and less for workers. We are now in the midst of a shift back the other way. Rising wages—won through hard political and protest campaigns, not through kindness—have investors wondering if corporate profits will take a hit, as labor costs eat into money that was previously distributed to shareholders as dividends or capital gains. Workers have been pushed too far down. They are slowly, slowly taking a bigger piece of the pie.

    This debate, over whether rising wages will cripple the economy by bringing down investment returns, will be playing out for years to come. It will be at the root of many angry pronouncements from many politicians. Watch for it. And as we have this national debate, ask yourself: which hierarchy do you want to live under? Money shifted from investors to workers does not disappear. It does not go up in smoke. It is put to use by working people. It is spent, fueling the rest of the economy. It is taxed. In fact, it is taxed more than investment income is taxed.

    Investors may be angry to see their returns decline. They may make threats about taking their money elsewhere. But if the return on capital everywhere declines, and is shifted to many millions of working people, investors will suck it up and keep investing. If they can only get 1%, they will still take that over 0%. It is to a large extent a political choice how much of the economic gains of our society we decide to allow to accrue to the investment class. When contemplating that choice, just think about who does the fucking work.

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    Is Australia's Ruling Party Laundering Money Through a Sketchy Voter-Tracking Software Company?
    Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AP

    On Saturday, Australia will hold its federal election. The current conservative government—a center-right coalition led by the Liberal Party—is narrowly slated to win out, despite the fact that the Liberal Party appears to have laundered taxpayer money through a company the party owns.

    Nearly all Liberal members of parliament pay a company, Parakeelia Pty Ltd, $2,500 annually for access to Parakeelia’s voter-monitoring “Feedback” software. The software itself is somewhat controversial—civil-rights advocates have raised concerns about the amount of information it collects and stores on private citizens—but the party’s use of it is standard.

    As the Sydney Morning Herald’s James Roberston reported early last month, however, not only is Parakeelia wholly owned by the Liberal Party, in recent years it has donated more than $1 million back to the party. From the Herald:

    Parakeelia is registered to the same inner-Canberra office building as the Liberals. The company’s directors include the Liberal Party’s federal director, Tony Nutt, and president, Richard Alston. It is registered with authorities as being associated with the party.

    Last financial year, Parakeelia transferred $500,000 to the federal Liberal division, making it the party’s second-biggest single source of funds. The year before it came in fourth with $400,000; before that $200,000.

    But the Liberals would not say how much of the company’s revenue began as taxpayer funding.

    Parakeelia’s annual revenue currently hovers around $1 million, though in 2013-2014, the Liberal Party gave the company a $250,000 cash injection. In 2013, Parakeelia also rented office space in the same building that housed the Liberal Party’s campaign headquarters.

    “I can understand why politicians may pay for the software,” John Adam, a former advisor to Liberal MP Arthur Sinodinos, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “but when you pay to a company, and then that company has surplus money to give back to a political party—I dunno, that seems like money laundering to me. I dunno how else you can call it. I don’t think that’s an appropriate use of taxpayer’s money.”

    What’s more, the party has been using taxpayer money to pay parliamentary staffers, who are simultaneously employed by Parakeelia, to train MPs how to use the Feedback software, which they use exclusively for campaigning. “It was a very clear understanding that there’s Feedback training provided to staff members and basically the training is to use it as a database politically rather than to assist constituents,” disendorsed Liberal MP Dennis Jensen told ABC. “Indeed, the instruction given by Feedback trainers is if there’s not a vote in it, don’t do it.”

    (The left-wing Labor Party contracts with a similar software company, though that company appears to have no affiliation with the party beyond the business relationship.)

    But despite holding 98 percent of Parakeelia’s shares, former Liberal treasurer Ron Walker told the Herald that he wasn’t aware he was still associated with the company. Incumbent prime minister—and former Liberal treasurer—Malcolm Turnbull has deflected questions about Parakeelia to the Liberal Party. In a statement, the party’s federal director, Tony Nutt, acknowledged that Parakeelia is owned by the party.

    “It has been in existence for many years during the administrations of various governments,” Nutt said. “It is run on a professional basis, independently audited and complies with the law.” Nutt sits on Parakeelia’s board of directors.

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    At Last a Horror Flick for Woke Baes and Bros: The Purge: Election Year

    Watching The Purge: Election Year is like listening to an explanation of American politics from your high-school aged brother who goes to class sometimes. The third entry in James DeMonaco’s cheap and profitable horror franchise centered around an annual 12-hour nighttime period in which Americans are permitted to indulge in “any and all crime” is as wannabe woke as ever. The movie vaguely gestures at Black Lives Matter-style activism responding to the disproportionate effect the Purge has on minorities (it’s hard to determine if the movie is referencing the theory of fundamental cause or just tripping over it), women in office, and conservatives whose hunger for money and power amounts to blood thirst. These things exist, says The Purge: Election Year. These things...are things. This movie is a deep dive into a shallow pool and watching it is slightly less pleasurable than breaking your neck (I’m guessing). Election Year’s social consciousness reads more like a coma.

    It’s election year, so those in charge have sharpened their knives even more pointedly than usual. In order to subvert the Presidential campaign of liberal Senator Charlie Roan (Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell in a catatonic performance), whose radical platform is ending the Purge, the conservatives in power lift the rule protecting government workers on Purge night—the better to kill their opponent legally with. This causes our barely sketched Hillary Clinton cognate to depend on the protection of her bodyguard Leo Barnes (played by Purge vet Frank Grillo). At one point, she calls him “boss” when he tells her to stay put. She says it in a way that suggests a wry acknowledgment of the irony, even though the message here is that even the most powerful woman in the U.S. needs a man to save her—multiple times (including once by remote-controlled exploding laptop). That is, in fact, among The Purge: Election Year’s clearest messages.

    DeMonaco has created yet another stupid horror franchise that can be enjoyed as such, if you are so inclined. What I find appalling about this particular stupid horror franchise, as a lifelong fan of them, is how pretentious this one is. Previous decades’ hack-’em-ups seemed to understand exactly what they were, and when they concerned themselves with social issues, they tended not to overshoot by emphasizing them or exploring them in any substantial-aspiring way. The Purge, on the other hand, wants to say something—anything—so badly. It reminds me of a vacant think piece that ultimately exists to take up space. This is either reflective of DeMonaco’s grasp on communication, or he’s dumbing things down to speak to a young audience that usually loves this shit, but now wants to feel somehow justified watching it in a world where art is often critiqued more for its politics than its aesthetic execution of them.

    DeMonaco’s vision of humanity is even bleaker than that. In fact, it’s even bleaker than you might expect for a movie fueled by blood. DeMonaco’s humans immediately skip right to murder when given free rein of the law. What of the rapists, the looters, the pyramid schemers, the dine-and-dashers? But even if you accept the idea that all human beings really want to do is murder, the franchise still collapses under the weight of its own logic. As with the abysmal previous entry, The Purge: Anarchy, whose coda found a survivor pulling into a sparsely populated hospital parking lot the dawn after the Purge had ended, as though there wouldn’t be lines around the block, still, from previous years’ mayhem, The Purge: Election Year visits an underground clinic on Purge night—a “safe space” as the BLM-esque activist calls it. It, too, is sparsely populated. There isn’t suffering or an evident loss of limbs or people in convulsions from being nearly killed. Nothing. It looks like a fairly calm underground clinic in a developing country. The Purge wants to have its cake and poison it too. Consistent with the incompetence on full display here, there are several scenes in this movie in which it’s raining yet sunny (in the portions of the movie that document the time leading up to the Purge).

    There is something alluring in a subtext that divides its characters into those who hide during Purge night and those who murder (or at least attempt to do so). The world is full of passives and aggressives, subs and doms, bottoms and tops, DeMonaco suggests. If he wants to keep his finger on the pulse, he should explore this in the next entry, perhaps via those who don’t fall neatly into the binary—the mercurial, the versatiles, the Purge fluids. Just kidding—DeMonaco should most certainly not do this.

    Because the story of an aggro man protecting a woman, who despite being a frontrunner for President has very little to say, is so inert, DeMonaco peppers his flick with some visually inspired set pieces highlighting the carnal creativity of his extras that his protagonists behold as they ride around in armored cars, peeping the depravity that comes but once a year. Highlights include a top-lit guillotine being used in an alley, and a backlit tree with bodies hanging from it as murderers dance underneath in chiffon. The best scene involves a bunch of young girls who roll up to a convenience store in a VW Bug adorned in Christmas lights. Wearing tutus and bearing cleavage, with automatic firearms in hand, they twirl around to a distorted version of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” For 30 seconds, the movie convinces you that even art is possible among all the misery.

    The climax hinges on protecting the Hillary analog’s conservative opponent in the election, who’s unfortunately not a stand-in for Trump, but more of a Tea Party evangelical type named Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor). Someone realizes that his own people may assassinate him to make him a martyr and bolster their cause (thus win the presidency), and so the liberal anti-Purgers infiltrate the church where Owens is presiding on Purge night and attempting to conduct a human sacrifice. He is spared as the anti-Purgers shoot up a church with machine guns, killing dozens of their ideological opponents, as though that wouldn’t create a congregation of martyrs others could use to whine about how religion is now under attack. So that’s stupid.

    And then, in this movie’s conclusion, we find out that Roan emerges victorious on Election Day, which happens to fall on May 26. So that’s even stupider.

    As it sometimes happens during all-media screenings of big studio movies, the crowd in the screening I attended was a mix of critics and the general public—the latter group was almost entirely teenagers. At the end of this 105-minute movie, many of them applauded. As the credits rolled, the song booming in the theater was David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.” Indeed.

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    China's Government Must Now Approve Every Mobile Game

    As of today, July 1, all mobile games must be pre-approved by the Chinese government at least 20 days before they’re released. It’s part of sweeping new regulations to curb when, what, and how media is distributed in China.

    Though every game is impacted by this, it seems like it’ll touch story-based games even more:

    • Application approval is contingent on storyline, content, character features, etc. and publications involving political, military, ethnic or religious subjects are restricted.

    And we thought Apple was touchy about what constitutes a game?

    Even companies who’ve already published mobile games are required to meet another set of approvals from the government, for such games to stay online.

    Here are the rest of the regulations:

    • Any changes made to a pre-existing game, including name changes, must be reported to SAPPRFT [State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of The People’s Republic of China] and the relevant provincial publication administrative department for approval.
    • Online publishers are responsible for adding a special page that displays all information including copyright owners, publishers, approval number, and the publication serial number.
    • Must adhere to strict timeline requirements for application submissions and publish within a limited number of days once approval is granted.

    I’ve written all sorts of stories about censorship in the past, but sometimes we throw around the term a little too liberally. This is what censorship looks like.

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    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty

    This week, British Conservative Party politician and Brexit cheerleader Boris Johnson saw his chances of becoming the UK prime minister torpedoed when his ally Michael Gove announced he would also run for the seat. Boris quickly ducked out of the campaign, possibly ending his political career forever. But what a political career it was.

    Readers looking for a detailed look back at the man sometimes known as bumbling Boris might take a look at a brutal article published today in the New York Times, which traces his follies from his days as a fabulist newspaper reporter to his current betrayal at the hands of Gove. Here, we’ll take a capsule approach to his colorful biography, recounting a few of the greatest hits.

    Today, Boris is best known to Americans as the man with the silly haircut who led the charge for Brexit. He and his allies wasted no time bungling their own unexpected victory, walking back key campaign promises, and in Johnson’s case, penning a vague, uninformed column about the UK’s path forward. When Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation following the Brexit vote, Johnson was the easy favorite to replace his old schoolmate. The two of them went to Eton and Oxford together, and at the latter both were members of the Bullingdon Club, an exclusive society of hard-partying upper-crust frat boys. Their relationship only soured when Boris took up the Leave cause, driving a stake between himself and the pro-Remain prime minster and setting himself up for a coup.

    And it would have worked, too, if it weren’t for Gove, the secretary of state for Justice and generally a more serious and capable-seeming politician than his counterpart, who threw his hat into the ring yesterday. “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead,” Gove said during the announcement.

    It’s not for nothing that American papers keep comparing Boris to Donald Trump. In his home country, he’s been a longtime right-wing populist court jester whose charm and uncanny feel for the media far outpaces his policy knowhow. Like Trump, his common-man appeal conceals an old-fashioned upper-class upbringing, and as Tina Brown pointed out in her great Boris deconstruction at the Daily Beast, that upbringing carries with it an an old-fashioned amorality—the ruthlessness that allowed him to turn on his buddy Cameron after reportedly assuring him he’d throw his support behind Remain.

    Here are a few of key moments in the rise and fall of Boris Johnson.

    The racist, homophobic, fictionalizing newspaper writer

    Boris got his start in 1987 as a reporter with the Times of London, where he was quickly fired for making up a quote and attributing it to his own godfather, a renowned historian, as the Times of New York notes. No matter, he was quickly hired again by the Daily Telegraph, where he covered the European Union. It was there that he started broadcasting the Euroskepticism on which he built his name, as well as the hateful pigheadedness on which he also built his name. Here’s Boris himself reminiscing about his early Telegraph work in a more recent column:

    When I went to Brussels in 1989, I found well-meaning officials (many of them British) trying to break down barriers to trade with a new procedure – agreed by Margaret Thatcher – called Qualified Majority Voting. The efforts at harmonisation were occasionally comical, and I informed readers about euro-condoms and the great war against the British prawn cocktail flavour crisp.

    “Euro-condoms” is a reference to Johnson’s crusade against contraception standardization initiatives supposedly pushed by the EU in the ‘90s, in hopes of combatting AIDS. The idea was that the European bureaucrats were so obsessed with standards that they’d have everyone using one-size-fits-all condoms. Similarly, “the great war against the British prawn cocktail flavour crisp” was about the EU not adding prawn cocktail to an official list of snack flavors and sweeteners, which frankly seems fine by me because that sounds like a pretty gross flavor.

    However, both of these claims stretched the truth significantly. Other Boris classics, like the idea that children under the age of eight were not allowed to blow up balloons under EU rules, are outright lies.

    The myths Boris pushed as a reporter are transparently silly, but their specter continues to hang over the UK, where plenty of people still believe the EU is intent on regulating or outright eradicating every aspect of British life, down to the most banal detail. Just this spring, Boris himself exclaimed that it is “absolutely crazy that the EU is telling us...what shape our bananas have got to be.” They’re not really doing that.

    Sometimes, Boris’s writing slipped from creative misinformation into outright bigotry. Here he is on a 2002 trip that then-Prime Minister Tony Blair took to the Congo:

    No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.

    And here’s an excerpt on gay marriage from his 2001 book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen:

    If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.

    The mayor of London

    Boris’s outspokenness and considerable charisma landed him the editorship of the conservative magazine Spectator in 1999 and a seat in Parliament in 2001, and in the scheme of things, it was only a minor setback when his extramarital affair was revealed and he was fired from his parliamentary job as shadow arts minister a few years later.

    He parlayed this notoriety into an unlikely London mayoral run in 2008, and after winning, he continued his approach of saying things people want to hear while doing very little to back them up. Here’s now-deputy mayor Joanne McCartney talking to the New York Times about his mayoralty:

    “We had eight frustrating years where we’d ask detailed policy questions, and what we’d get back in response was bluster and grandiose claims,” said Joanne McCartney, a Labour Assembly member who is now deputy mayor. “If he didn’t know the answer to the question, which was a regular occurrence, he’d use bluster and wit to avoid answering.”

    Also as mayor, he once got into a public spat with the descendants of the inventors of ping-pong, because he claimed that it was invented in England and originally called “whiff-whaff.” Here he is talking about it.

    Like so many other things, Boris turned out to be wrong about this one, too.

    Some silly pictures of Boris Johnson

    To fully understand Boris’s appeal, you must immerse yourself in his Borisness, bearing witness to the everyman appeal, the constantly rumpled clothes, the bike he always seems to be riding, the hay bale he seems to think is a hairstyle. To that end, here are some silly pictures of Boris Johnson:

    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Still: iconic/YouTube
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: Getty
    Who Was Our Man Boris Johnson? 
    Image: AP

    Isn’t he a little charming?

    What happens next

    The Brexit campaign and the confoundedness with which Boris greeted the result may have turned the tide of public opinion against him for good. Maybe he’ll go back to ranting and raving in the pages of some newspaper, or on TV. Believe it or not, he’s a pretty well-educated guy, and he has a book on Shakespeare coming out, so there’s that to look forward to.

    Before Brexit turned him into a legitimate contender for prime minister, he was steadfast that he would never do the job. As the Times notes, a few years ago, he told reporters he’d be just as likely to be “reincarnated as an olive” as lead the United Kingdom. But as Brexit led to Boris Johnson’s rise, so did it lead to his fall, and now that he’s withdrawn from the running, he will almost certainly never be prime minster. Meaning that if his own prediction holds true, he won’t be unexpectedly surfacing in your dirty martini any time soon, either.

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    Obama Administration's Civilian Drone Casualty Count Far Lower than Independent Estimates
    Photo: AP

    After months of bureaucratic wrangling, the Obama administration has disclosed its official count of civilians killed in airstrikes outside of conventional war zones: Somewhere between 64 and 116 since 2009. Strangely enough, the administration chose to release the numbers on the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend.

    The deaths were culled from 473 strikes, which also killed somewhere between 2,372 to 2,581 “combatants,” as strictly defined by the government. Civilian and combatant deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, defined by the government as “areas of active hostilities,” were not included in the report at all.

    Most independent observers estimate the number of civilians killed by American airstrikes in places like tribal Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya—which are not officially war zones—to be much higher. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as many as 1,000 civilians have been killed by American drones.

    For most of his presidency, Obama has maintained a policy of opacity around what are dubbed “targeted killings,” though it is an open secret that the Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Special Operations Command routinely conduct deadly operations outside of conventional war zones. The president ordered his first strike on his third day in the White House; the victims weren’t terrorists, but a pro-government Pakistani tribal leader and his family, which included two children.

    In releasing the numbers, Obama also issued an executive order requiring the government to disclose the number of civilian deaths annually. Unless Congress passes Obama’s executive order into law, however, the president’s successor could dismiss it. From the New York Times:

    The order, issued six months before Mr. Obama leaves office, further institutionalized and normalized airstrikes outside conventional war zones as a routine part of 21st-century national security policy.

    The executive order declares that “civilian casualties are a tragic and at times unavoidable consequence of the use of force in situations of armed conflict or in the exercise of a state’s inherent right of self-defense,” and lays out the “best practices” necessary to reduce their likelihood and “take appropriate steps” when they occur.

    In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, retired Army General Mike Flynn—who served as JSOC’s director of Intelligence during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—was deeply critical of the administration’s use of drones.

    “When you drop a bomb from a drone,” Flynn said, “you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good.” He went on to call the approach “a failed strategy.”

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    We Got Another Threatening Letter From Peter Thiel’s Lawyer About Donald Trump’s Hair
    Photo: Getty

    Edward Ivari, the high-end hair-restoration guru whose circumstantial connections to restored-hair-haver Donald Trump were explored in a Gawker investigation last month, is now denying ever laying a hand on the presumptive Republican nominee’s mane. The denial—his first comment on the matter after repeated attempts by Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg to ask him, and after an exchange of contentious legal letters in June—comes in a recent missive to Gawker from the office of Charles J. Harder, the proxy attorney of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who has acknowledged funding a covert legal campaign to destroy Gawker Media. The company is currently in bankruptcy.

    The letter, received last week, states plainly that “Mr. Trump has never been a client of Ivari. Ivari has not treated his hair in any way, at any time.” In an apparent attempt at a conciliatory tone, Harder writes that Ivari—who, through Harder, has threatened to sue Gawker over the story—“has no issue with Gawker itself,” and pledges not to pursue litigation if Gawker accedes to his demands. Harder also claims that, unlike his other client Hulk Hogan, Ivari’s threats are not related in any way to Thiel.

    Harder accuses Feinberg both of claiming that Ivari worked on Trump’s hair, and failing to seek comment from Ivari on that matter. Neither accusation is true. The letter also admits that Ivari did run an office out of the 25th floor of Trump Tower for 11 years.

    To Harder’s first point, Feinberg never claimed that Trump had been Ivari’s client. Instead, her story analyzed a wealth of circumstantial evidence—including Ivari’s prior location in the Trump Tower.

    (There is conflicting information regarding which floor Trump’s office occupies. Business Insider and Time say it’s on the 25th, which is what Feinberg’s original post went with. But the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post say it’s on the 26th, with Trump’s children’s office occupying the floor below. Hope Hicks, Trump’s spokesperson, declined repeated attempts to answer our questions about Ivari, but it now seems clear that Trump’s office has been on the 26th floor for decades. We have updated the original post.)

    To Harder’s second point—that “Ivari was not provided an opportunity to respond” to the story—Feinberg provided Ivari with multiple opportunities to comment on our reporting prior to publication. “Ivari did not respond to multiple and persistent requests for comment,” Feinberg noted in the original article.

    In fact, Harder’s newest letter diverges from, and in some cases contradicts, his earlier correspondence regarding Ivari. In his first letter, on June 9, Harder appeared to deny that Ivari had ever occupied the 25th floor of Trump Tower. It was “false and defamatory,” he wrote, for Gawker to claim that “Ivari’s New York location was inside Trump Tower—on the private floor reserved for Donald Trump’s own office.” In his June 24 letter, however, Harder admits that “Ivari leased the entire 25th floor of Trump Tower in New York City from 1991 to 2002.” (Harder insists that “Ivari and Mr. Trump never shared office space.”)

    Harder asserts another falsehood in his letter on June 24, writing, “Gawker ... leaped to the false conclusion that Mr. Trump was a client of Ivari.” That’s wrong. Feinberg never concluded or stated as fact that Trump was a client of Ivari. At the end of the piece, she wrote, “This is merely a thought exercise; like Donald Trump wondering aloud what Ted Cruz’s father was doing with John F. Kennedy’s assassin, I’m just asking questions.”

    The rest of Harder’s letter takes issue with Gawker quoting from two lawsuits that had been filed against Ivari International. “Gawker’s ‘reporting’ makes no effort whatsoever to report the truth to its readers regarding Ivari’s extremely successful business and satisfied clientele,” Harder writes.

    Harder’s protestation that Thiel is not involved in his efforts on behalf of Ivari is notable: It appears to be his first statement regarding Thiel. “I also will note,” he writes, “because Gawker raised the issue in its June 14 article, that Peter Thiel and Donald Trump have no role whatsoever with Ivari, including this law firm’s representation of Ivari.”

    Gawker has never speculated that Donald Trump was involved in representing Ivari International. And it’s unclear what Harder means when he says that Peter Thiel has “no role whatsoever with Ivari” or Harder’s representation of him. In his interview with the New York Times, Thiel said he was funding an unspecified number of lawsuits against Gawker—not underwriting the retainer fees of Charles Harder’s clients. The mechanism by which Thiel has underwritten Harder’s efforts remains unclear. Ivari has not filed an actual lawsuit against Gawker, so there is not much for Thiel to fund. At least for now.

    As to what exactly is defamatory about being associated with the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Gawker cannot say with any certainty.

    You can read the rest of Harder’s letter below:

    June 24, 2016


    Re: Ivari International, Edward Ivari – Demand for Retraction, Apology

    Dear Ms. Dietrick:

    As you know, this law firm is litigation counsel for Ivari International and Edward Ivari (collectively, “Ivari”), regarding the May 24, 2016 story at titled, “Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation” (the “Story”).

    Your letter dated June 14, 2016 is an unacceptable response to my letter of June 6, 2016 which requested the removal, retraction, correction and apology for several false and defamatory statements made by Gawker about Ivari.

    The following sets forth my response to your June 14 letter:

    You characterize the Story as one based on an “investigation.” The very headline of the Story contains this word. Yet virtually no investigation was conducted. Gawker cites to an unknown “tipster” who supposedly sought treatment, and also notices that Ivari once leased space – fifteen years ago – at Trump Tower in New York City, and leaped to the false conclusion that Mr. Trump was a client of Ivari. That is not an investigation.

    Ivari was not provided an opportunity to respond to any of the many completely false and defamatory statements in the Story before its publication.

    Mr. Trump has never been a client of Ivari. Ivari has not treated his hair in any way, at any time.

    The fact that Gawker would report that this occurred, without any facts to support the statement, shows a total reckless disregard for the truth, and a recklessness in its reporting practices.

    Ivari leased the entire 25th floor of Trump Tower in New York City from 1991 to 2002. Ivari and Mr. Trump never shared office space. If Mr. Trump moved his personal office into the 25th floor of Trump Tower, it was only after Ivari had already vacated the building.

    My letter of June 6 identifies the numerous defamatory statements about Ivari that are extremely harmful to Ivari, on both a professional and personal level. The false information listed in points 5 and 9 of my letter are particularly defamatory.

    Gawker has no basis to make such false statements about Ivari, and your letter of June 14 fails to provide any legal justification for making them, or continuing to publish them after your receipt of my June 6 letter. Please therefore do the responsible thing and remove the false statements identified in my letter, print a retraction and correction, and publicly apologize to Ivari for libeling them, and apologize to your readers for having misinformed them.

    The false statements in the Story are based on two false claims against Ivari. Ivari took one of those claims to a trial and won the trial—thus demonstrating the falsity of the claims. The Court ruled: “Ivari did the intervention skillfully, carefully, diligently, and in a workmanlike manner. There was no breach of the contract.”

    Gawker failed to mention this ruling in its reporting of the false accusations by the plaintiff. Gawker’s publication of the false accusations thus shows a total lack of regard for the truth and an intent to harm Ivari for no reason other than to print sensationalism and engage in defamation.

    The other legal claim against Ivari was likewise false. Gawker re-published those false accusations without making any effort to learn the true facts. Moreover, even after you received my June 6 letter informing you of the falsity of the statements, you continued to publish them.

    The fact of the matter is, Ivari was in practice for over 30 years in the Untied States [sic], and remains in practice today in Paris, and has one of the finest reputations in the industry. The fact that a very small number of its thousands of clients have voiced a complaint is hardly a justification for Gawker to intentionally seek to defame and destroy the company, based outright factual statements to the public. The vast majority of Ivari’s clients have been loyal for decades and are extremely satisfied by its services. Gawker’s “reporting” makes no effort whatsoever to report the truth to its readers regarding Ivari’s extremely successful business and satisfied clientele.

    The Story, with its many false and defamatory statements, has been harming Ivari ever since it was published on May 24.

    If Gawker intends for the public to believe it is a responsible journalistic enterprise, then it will do the responsible thing and remove all of the false statements in the Gawker article as identified in my June 6 letter, and this letter.

    As you can understand and appreciate, Ivari must protect its good name and reputation and, in that regard, the false and defamatory statements in the Story, as identified in my letters to you, must be removed and corrected. Ivari has no issue with Gawker itself, simply its improper reporting in the May 24 article.

    If the false statements identified in my letters are removed as soon as possible, then Ivari will not pursue legal action against Gawker and its individuals responsible. However, if corrective measures are not taken immediately, then Ivari will take all necessary steps to protect its rights.

    I also will note, because Gawker raised the issue in its June 14 article, that Peter Thiel and Donald Trump have no role whatsoever with Ivari, including this law firm’s representation of Ivari.

    Naturally, all of my clients’ rights are reserved and none are waived.

    Very truly yours,


    You can read Gawker Media’s official response from President Heather Dietrick below:

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    Man Politely Scolds Boris Johnson for Fucking Over Britain

    As major Brexit proponent and former mayor of London Boris Johnson left his home in London today, he was greeted by the people he’d so proudly led to victory just last week. Those people proceeded to tell Johnson to ever so politely fuck off.

    Brits are furious at Johnson for ducking out of a likely devastating campaign now that his dreams of being Prime Minister are dashed. And judging from his little trip outside today, Johnson is going to have a hard time going anywhere for a while without people calling him “rubbish,” an “absolute disgrace,” and a “massive child.” Good.

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    Donald Trump Asks Turkish Audience Member to Clarify If He Is a "Friend or Foe"
    Photo: AP

    Today a Turkish journalist asked Donald Trump to comment on Turkey, where at least 42 people died in an airport bombing apparently carried out by ISIS operatives. Trump answered the question, but not before asking the man for his papers.

    “I think he’s a friend. Are you a friend or foe? Huh? I think he’s a friend,” Trump said.

    And maybe Trump really was asking the foreign man if he’s a terrorist or not, but there’s another read on the situation: Trump may genuinely be unsure of the status between Turkey and the U.S. He’s definitely not sure of their stance on ISIS.

    “Turkey, by the way, should be fighting ISIS,” Trump said of the country that is already a member of an anti-ISIS airstrikes coalition, and has been for almost a year. “I hope to see Turkey go out and fight ISIS.”

    And guess what—the crowd loved it.

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    This Sure Is a Lot of Publicity For Gay Talese's New Book

    Well-known suit-wearer Gay Talese is scheduled to release a book in two weeks. The book is about a man, Gerald Foos, who says he purchased and maintained a motel in Colorado for several decades specifically for the purpose of spying on his customers as they did such private activities as having sex and using the bathroom. Part of the book was adapted into a long New Yorker article published April 11, which revealed that Talese had, at one point, peeped along with Foos, and potentially concealed the existence of a murder that Foos said had taken place at the motel.

    A lot of people loved the piece. It’s Gay Talese, after all. Show some respect! A lot of other people (me) hated it. The quality of, and moral justification for, Talese’s decades-in-the-making Peeping Tom story was debated ad nauseam on Twitter for exactly the span of one day. I hope you missed it. Then we all moved on to whatever else we moved onto—who can remember, it was several months ago.

    Then, yesterday, some good reporting from the Washington Post: Foos had apparently not been in possession of the motel for almost the entirety of the 1980s, a fact that was not known to Talese, his publisher, The New Yorker, or, subsequently, his readers. The Post’s Paul Farhi called up Talese and received a startling quote:

    “I should not have believed a word he said,” the 84-year-old author said after The Washington Post informed him of property records that showed Foos did not own the motel from 1980 to 1988.

    “I’m not going to promote this book,” the writer said. “How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?”

    (In a funny coincidence, Talese’s book offers Foos’ obsession with how, when, where, and why his customers used the toilet as one of America’s great secret anthropologic experiments. It’s unclear if Foos ever observed one of his subjects flushing their credibility down one.)

    In its headline, the Post declared: “Author Gay Talese disavows his latest book amid credibility questions,” and you can see clearly why the paper would have drawn that conclusion.

    One might figure that Talese’s publisher, as well as The New Yorker, would soon follow with their own mea culpas. But today brought a different tune. First, New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick told the Post’s Erik Wemple that the magazine would be standing behind the story because its subject matter was frivolous and anyway the reader had been warned that Foos was unreliable:

    Following Remnick’s lead, Morgan Entrekin—head of the book’s publisher, Grove Atlantic—told the New York Times that Talese is not disavowing his book and would continue promoting it as planned:

    “Gay is going to do all his planned promotion and publicity, and we’ll make any necessary corrections, as any publisher does,” Mr. Entrekin said in a phone interview on Friday. “Gay is an impassioned person and he takes what he does very seriously, and he’s frustrated dealing with this guy who isn’t completely reliable.”

    Further, Talese fully recanted the quotes he gave to Farhi:

    “I was surprised and upset about this business of the later ownership of the motel, in the ’80s,” Mr. Talese said in a statement provided to The Times by his publisher. “That occurred after the bulk of the events covered in my book, but I was upset and probably said some things I didn’t, and don’t, mean. Let me be clear: I am not disavowing the book, and neither is my publisher. If, down the line, there are details to correct in later editions, we’ll do that.”

    What’s the net result of this big mess? Well, for one thing, everyone involved with the writing and publishing of Talese’s account is being forced to answer for the credibility of his source, which was called into question the moment The New Yorker published its story. This might seem like a bad thing for Talese et al, but in actuality it allows them to avoid a tougher and more tangled question: Is it morally acceptable to have concealed the actions of a man who was spying on the most intimate moments of unsuspecting hotel guests, so that eventually the author, the magazine he writes for, and his publisher could later publicize, promote, and profit off of that spying?

    But—most importantly for Talese and his publisher—we’re now talking about Gay Talese’s book which is out in two weeks! Did anybody remember that Gay Talese’s voyeur biography was being released? No. Does Gay Talese disavowing but then not actually disavowing his dangerously unreliable Peeping Tom subject change how you would read the book you didn’t remember was even being released? Buy it and find out.

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    As of today, you can watch the first trailer for the new Tom Hanks-starring, Clint Eastwood-directed biopic of Sully Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who dramatically landed a full jet in the Hudson River in 2009. I’m sure the movie will be decent, but it’s impossible for it to be better than the fake Sully biopic created by Norm Macdonald for Conan O’Brien just a month after the incident.

    In February 2009, Macdonald made his last appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, just weeks before Conan would leave the show for good. Norm opened with some particularly pointed ribbing of Conan, who at that point had been given The Tonight Show but with an unexpected lead-in from a newly created show meant to keep Jay Leno on NBC.

    But about five minutes into the above video, Norm starts talking about a “new project”: a biopic of “Sully Sullenberg” called Sully Sullenberger: Airport Pilot. He goes onto tell Conan that he’s known Sully for 10 years, and went ahead and bought his story because “there was something special about him.” But, he says, something went unexpectedly wrong with the film.

    I won’t spoil the insanely dry and fucking hilarious joke that springs from this prompt, because you should go ahead and watch it. At the very least it will save you money you might have spent on a movie ticket.

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    Newspaper Publisher Indicted and Jailed After Bizarre Open Records Request Saga
    Brenda Weaver portrait via Pickens County Superior Court

    The publisher of a small weekly newspaper in Georgia was indicted last week for filing an open records request with a local court, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The story Mark Thomason was going after with his request is almost as strange as the fact that he was charged with a felony and jailed overnight after filing it.

    Thomason, the publisher of Fannin Focus, was arrested and charged with making a false statement in his request and with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud, a felony. Russell Stookey, his attorney, was also charged with identity fraud. Brenda Weaver, chief judge of the local superior court, was “incensed” by Thomason’s request, and asked the district attorney for the indictments. The two men were jailed overnight and released on $10,000 bond, with trial upcoming.

    Public records requests, sometimes referred to as FOIA requests, are one of the most useful and necessary tools in the arsenal of any reporter who covers the government. The laws in all 50 states and the federal government provide some mechanism for filing them. The implications of sending a reporter to jail for using this perfectly legal reporting technique are pretty scary, and probably don’t need to be spelled out here.

    Thomason was reporting on the story of a local judge named Roger Bradley, who, while presiding over a criminal case, referred to the defendant by his nickname, which included a racial slur. (The AJC doesn’t name the slur.) During his reporting, Thomason was told that court deputies were also using the slur, and he requested a transcript of the hearing, so that he could see official documentation of all these judicial workers saying the n-word (or whatever it was) at each other.

    However, that transcript showed that only the judge and the district attorney were using the word. Being the indefatigable reporter he evidently is, Thomason then requested an audio recording of the hearing, and was denied. He subsequently printed a story in which he quoted the court reporter as saying that the slur was not entered into the transcript every time it was used.

    Are you still following? OK, great. Then Thomason, whose dedication to this courtroom slur story is really something else, had his lawyer file paperwork in an attempt to legally compel the stenographer, whose name is Rhonda Stubblefield, to release the audio recording. She filed a counterclaim, asking Thomason for $1.6 million in damages(!) for allegedly defaming her in his story by implying that her transcripts might not be completely accurate. A judge closed Thomason’s case against Stubblefield, and Stubblefield dropped her counterclaim.

    That might be the end of our saga, except that Stubblefield then attempted to recoup attorney’s fees from Thomason, despite having evidently already been given a $16,000 check by Bradley’s government account.

    Here’s where the requests that landed Thomason in jail come in. He filed a request for copies of the checks to Stubblefield, which he alleged had been “cashed illegally.” That’s the “false statement” he was charged with. He and Stookey also subpoenaed the bank where Bradley’s—and Weaver’s—accounts are kept, to attempt to show that Stubblefield’s legal bills had already been paid. That’s the source of the identity theft charge—Weaver told the AJC she was worried that the men would try to use the banking information on the checks as their own. Which is ridiculous on its face, and is exactly the kind of personal information that government officials redact from public documents before giving them over to reporters all the time. Instead of redacting, Weaver had Thomason arrested.

    It’s hard to imagine that if Thomason is convicted, he won’t eventually win on appeal. But still, scary.

    Thomason’s indictment follows the arrest of Chris Nakamoto, a Louisiana TV news reporter who was cuffed while filing a records request in March. The records Nakamoto was seeking were eventually released to his TV station, and charges against him were dropped the following month.

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  • 07/01/16--15:06: Whoa
  • [via Kottke]

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    Apparently, Being a Despotic Dictator Really Fucks You Up
    Images: NKCNA

    Though Kim Jong Un’s world might seem glamorous, it turns out that the life of a despotic, human rights-violating dictator is stressful. Because since ascending to the throne in 2012, Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un has put on nearly 100 pounds.

    And who can blame him? He constantly has to thwart assassination plots. He then has to retaliate with his own assassination plots. Then his wife wants to “talk about feelings?” Jesus, give him a break! And then give Kim Jong Un the Ben and Jerry’s.

    From UPI:

    “When Kim first came to power in 2012 he weighed [198 pounds] but in 2014 he weighed [264 pounds] and most recently is believed to weigh about [286 pounds],” [South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-uoo] said Friday.

    Lee also said Kim feel “threats” from North Korea’s People’s Army.

    “[Kim Jong Un] checks on threats from the military, and suffers from distress due to the general threat to his personal safety,” the South Korean parliamentarian said.

    And since Kim relies on a fantastical cult of personality to keep his countrymen in check, he’s terrified of the reality reaching North Korea’s commoners. Like the fact that he did not actually learn to drive at age three.

    To cope, Kim apparently eats. Surely his starving subjects would understand.

    [h/t @alexburnsNYT]

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    20 Hostages Killed in Dhaka Café Attack 
    Photo: AP

    An 11-hour standoff with alleged Islamic militants at an upscale bakery in Dhaka broke Saturday morning when Bangladeshi troops stormed the premises. Of the roughly three dozen hostages held at the café, offices found 20 had been killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks the country has seen, CNN reports.

    Six of the attackers were also killed.

    According to General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury, 13 of the hostages were rescued.

    The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday, according to the New York Times.

    The attack took place in Dhaka’s diplomatic district and a news outlet linked to the Islamic State, Amaq, reported that the bakery where the attack took place is, “frequented by foreigners.”

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi confirmed to the BBC that Italians were among the dead, and Italian news agency Ansa reported. as many as 10 Italians remain unaccounted for.

    Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda told the BBC that seven Japanese nationals were inside the cafe at the time of the attack, though it’s unclear whether any of them are among the casualties.

    Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack, CNN reports:

    We don’t want these terrorists in Bangladesh. This type of situation is a first in Bangladesh, until now they were committing individual murders. But now suddenly they created this type of situation. What they did here was a very heinous act.

    The attack took place during Ramadan on a day when those who observe the holy month would have been breaking their fast.

    The Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star reported that the gunmen tortured hostages who were unable to recite the Koran.

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