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Fairfax Media
Выбор редакции
26 ноября, 06:10

New Zealand media merger risks growth of 'glib, click-bait' coverage, say editors

A group of former editors says the NZME/Fairfax deal would be a threat to democracy in a country already suffering a dearth of serious contentA group of distinguished former newspaper editors has launched a scathing attack on plans for New Zealand’s largest print media companies to merge, calling it a threat to democracy which could see a concentration of power exceeded “only in China”.The merger of NZME and Fairfax Media, which was proposed in May, would not be healthy in a country that “already suffers from a dearth of serious content and analysis”, the editors say in a submission to the commerce commission. Continue reading...

05 ноября, 08:22

Australia's proposed visa-ban likely breaches Refugee Convention: U.N. official

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A United Nations official said Australia would probably be in breach of the Refugee Convention if it enacted a proposal for a permanent visa-ban for asylum seekers who attempted to reach the country by boat, Fairfax media reported on Saturday.

31 октября, 01:20

I Paid A Bribe, Former Unaoil Employee Told FBI

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Late one summer night in 2009, Lindsey Mitchell, a manager for the Monaco-based oil services firm Unaoil, parked his SUV in a dark lot outside a coffeehouse in Tripoli, Libya. A man was  waiting there. He was a production manager for Waha, a subsidiary of Libya’s state-owned oil company. The Waha official handed Mitchell a thick envelope. Inside were more than 100 pages of internal Waha documents about a $45 million environmental contract to clean up oil-polluted rivers in the Libyan desert. The packet included several bids from Unaoil’s competitors and detailed information about how Waha would pick a winner. The man walked Mitchell through the documents for about a half hour ― and hinted he expected something for his trouble.   The next morning, Mitchell called Ata, Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, the father and two sons who ran Unaoil. They were pleased. That afternoon, Martin Abram, a Unaoil manager, met Mitchell at the Unaoil staffhouse to deliver an envelope full of cash. Mitchell didn’t count the money, but the envelope was stuffed thick with U.S. dollars. Around midnight, he drove to the Waha manager’s home to hand over the envelope. The man thanked him and said he expected a 5-10 percent kickback ― about $2-4 million ― if Unaoil won the contract. Then they had coffee.  It’s no secret that Libya’s oil industry under dictator Muammar Gaddafi was rife with corruption. People assume that bribery is commonplace in many parts of the world. But it’s almost unprecedented for a person who actually paid a bribe to speak about it publicly, let alone name the individual who allegedly pocketed the money. (The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media are withholding the Waha manager’s name because he could not be reached for comment.) In March, HuffPost and Fairfax Media, citing more than 100,000 leaked emails, revealed that Unaoil had repeatedly bribed government officials in corruption-prone regions to secure contracts for its multinational corporate clients. Law enforcement quickly raided Unaoil’s office in Monaco and interviewed its top executives. The FBI, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, and law enforcement agencies in Australia and Iraq have opened investigations. Waha did not respond to multiple requests for comment made through several channels. The Ahsanis and Unaoil deny any wrongdoing. “Although there is a great deal that the Company would like to say about the subject matter of this article, there is an investigation on-going,” a Unaoil spokesman told HuffPost in a statement. “Any allegations of corruption are denied. It would be inappropriate to make further comment at this juncture but the Company looks forward to speaking out on this in the fullness of time.” Until now, no one else from Unaoil has spoken out. But Lindsey Mitchell has a story to tell. “Is it trying to get rid of it off my conscience?” he asked in a recent interview with HuffPost and Fairfax Media. Perhaps, but “it’s time for someone like me, that’s been there, done that, to help educate the public on what happens out there.” Mitchell grew up in a small rural town on the sprawling prairies of Canada. “It was like Nebraska,” he said. Most people, including his father, worked in the oil industry. His dad didn’t make great money, but it was enough to care for a family of six kids. They went to church at least once a week, and sometimes twice. When he was 16, Mitchell had a falling out with his father and left home. He soon found a job on an oil rig. Some days, he would wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and drive to four different rigs, covering over 300 miles. Eventually, he was hired by a drilling fluid engineering company, which paid for him to go to college. Mitchell was a “holy terror” in his early 20s, he recalled. “I liked to bar fight a lot.” He met his wife in a pool hall. “It was a gift,” Mitchell said of their chance encounter. “The big guy upstairs was matchmaking.” But she gave him an ultimatum: focus harder on his career or forget about a future with her. They later married and had three kids. After more than a decade as a drilling fluid engineer, Mitchell started a company with one of his brothers. They eventually sold it for a profit.  By 1998, the oil business had slowed in North America. Mitchell applied for a position with an oilfield services company in Saudi Arabia. About three months into that job, he said, he caught his first glimpse of corruption in the industry. Every couple of weeks, Mitchell and a company executive would go to the bank and meet with the manager in his office. They’d drink Turkish coffee and smoke cigarettes. One day, the visit dragged on for more than two hours. Eventually, Mitchell suggested they get moving. But he was told to wait. A man entered the office holding a cardboard box filled with cash. Mitchell realized his colleague was preparing to meet somebody to pay a bribe. “When you’re in the industry, you hear about these things,” he said. “But you don’t really witness it until you actually get into these countries, and you figure it out pretty quick.” After leaving Saudi Arabia, Mitchell took a job as a field operations manager for Baker Hughes, an American company that later admitted its subsidiary paid over $4 million in bribes in connection with a project he worked on in Kazakhstan. Mitchell said he was never asked to pay any bribes while at Baker Hughes and never did. In 2003, he moved back to Canada and started his own energy services company. He figured that venture would be his last. But after the company went public, he stepped down. About a month later, an oilfield services outfit in Jordan that was looking to expand into Libya called him. It was 2006. The U.S. was lifting sanctions against Libya. “Things were looking like it was going to be booming,” Mitchell said. He accepted the offer. Over the next three years, he built relationships with some of the top players in the country’s state-owned oil industry. Eventually, Mitchell could walk into Waha’s office and meet with executives without an appointment. “Once they like you, you’re in,” he said. Even as he cultivated ties with Waha executives, however, Mitchell made a point to steer clear of work that he thought might require him to pay kickbacks. At the time, he said, the people at Waha “knew I was a straight shooter.” Mitchell headed home to Canada at the end of 2008. A few months later, he received a call from Unaoil’s founder, Ata Ahsani. Mitchell and his wife flew to Monaco for three days, meeting with the Ahsani family. He accepted a job managing Unaoil’s business development in Libya and Kazakhstan. When he took the job, Mitchell said, he didn’t know much about Unaoil. He started to worry when he realized the company had few hard assets — equipment or vehicles, for example — in Libya. It was a middleman, winning contracts for other companies. Unaoil’s main resources were its people and their relationships with government officials who made decisions about awarding contracts. Once he understood Unaoil’s business plan and met up again with Waha officials, Mitchell knew things had changed for him. “You realize that, going into this, eventually you’re going to have to pay somebody to get business,” he said. “It reminded me a lot like Saudi Arabia.” The Waha production manager called Mitchell in the summer of 2009 to arrange the parking lot meeting. That led to the first and only time Mitchell would pay a bribe, he said. The morning after he received the inside information on how to win the $45 million contract, Mitchell hesitated before relaying the information to the Ahsanis. He knew that once he made the Skype call, they would tell him to handle the payoff. You realize that, going into this, eventually you’re going to have to pay somebody to get business. Lindsey Mitchell The guilt set in soon after Mitchell paid the bribe. “I thought about my children,” he said. “How they would totally disrespect me. … I always preached to them about good work ethics and to be 100 percent honest in business.” If Unaoil won the Waha contract, Mitchell expected to collect as much as 2 percent of the project — nearly $1 million. But he also knew he didn’t want a reputation as a guy who paid bribes to get work. Mitchell sent his resignation letter to the Ahsanis on Aug. 31, 2009. “This has been a hard decision to make but I feel it is the right one,” he wrote. “This is non-negotiable and is not open for further discussions.” He wrote that his sudden departure was motivated mainly by a desire to spend more time with his family. But it was clear to Unaoil executives that something else was bothering him. “From the tone of your email, there seem to me to be other issues that you have with us that you are not stating,” Saman Ahsani emailed back. “Then there are the questions of our commitments to others,” he continued. “What about [the Waha official]?” “On the matter of [the Waha official],” Mitchell wrote, “well, I did my thing for Martin [Abram] and [another Unaoil employee] and did the introduction. I think [the other employee] should get in there and take care of building that relationship.” I thought about my children. ... How they would totally disrespect me. Lindsey Mitchell Over the next several years, the bribe weighed on Mitchell’s conscience. But he wasn’t particularly worried about getting caught, he said. Bribery was such a common practice in Libya and he had only taken part that one time.   Mitchell was in Iraq for work when HuffPost and Fairfax Media published the first story about Unaoil bribery in March of this year. It took him a few days to realize that the story could have consequences for him. He was initially more interested in figuring out who had leaked Unaoil’s emails. After the company’s office was raided and the FBI and the Serious Fraud Office began investigating, Mitchell began to get nervous. “I had to make a conscious decision: Do I wait for them to come to me? Or do I reach out and try to make sure I’m the good guy in this?” Still in Iraq, Mitchell drafted a long email to his wife and their adult children. “I wanted to make sure they knew that their dad didn’t do anything wrong and I’m not going to be thrown in jail,” he said. He told his kids about the 2009 bribe. “It was an emotional time.” I had to make a conscious decision: Do I wait for them to come to me? Or do I reach out and try to make sure I’m the good guy in this? Lindsey Mitchell Mitchell met with the Serious Fraud Office in Vienna soon after. Next, two FBI agents, a Justice Department official and a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sat down with him in a hotel room in Canada for a six-hour debriefing. U.S. law enforcement flew him to Washington, D.C., in mid-May. He turned over two Nokia mobile phones, a BlackBerry and a Mac laptop, and spent two more days outlining Unaoil’s infrastructure and business practices — including the 2009 bribe. (He also told the FBI that Muhannad Alamir, one of Unaoil’s former fixers in Libya, later helped the State Department recruit unarmed guards for the U.S. facility in Benghazi.) Mitchell was struck by how much material with his name on it — email correspondence, meeting minutes, financial spreadsheets — was in the hands of law enforcement officials. The Justice Department provided him with a letter of safe passage guaranteeing that he wouldn’t be arrested when he landed in Washington. But he hasn’t received any assurances that they won’t prosecute him. Mitchell saw Saman Ahsani earlier this year for the first time since he quit his job at Unaoil. They met at Unaoil’s office in Monaco and walked to a coffee shop a couple of blocks away. The firm had been losing contracts because of the bribery allegations, Ahsani told him. “They were in survival mode,” Mitchell said.  For the past several months, Mitchell has been preparing for a backlash from former business associates who might feel betrayed by his decision to go public. “It’s been a difficult ride,” he said. But in some ways, it’s been a relief to finally tell his story. He wants people to understand how even well-intentioned individuals can become implicated in corruption. It also feels good to clear his conscience. He’s thought about his time at Unaoil a lot over the years. “Finally, I’ve got somebody I can talk to that gets it,” he said. “To finally have someone ― even the FBI and all that ― to talk to, it’s been a relief.” The Justice Department, which otherwise declined to comment, won’t say when or whether prosecutors plan to file charges against anyone involved in the Unaoil scandal. And there’s no guarantee that Mitchell won’t be charged. But he’s not too worried anymore. “From what I was told by the FBI,” he said, “they felt I was the good guy.” Nick McKenzie of Fairfax Media contributed reporting. Read his story here. A BBC program focusing on Unaoil’s work with Rolls-Royce is set to air Oct. 31. Video produced by Christine Conetta, senior producer; Chelsea Moynehan, director of photography; and Shane Handler, cameras. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

31 октября, 01:20

I Paid A Bribe, Former Unaoil Employee Told FBI

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Late one summer night in 2009, Lindsey Mitchell, a manager for the Monaco-based oil services firm Unaoil, parked his SUV in a dark lot outside a coffeehouse in Tripoli, Libya. A man was  waiting there. He was a production manager for Waha, a subsidiary of Libya’s state-owned oil company. The Waha official handed Mitchell a thick envelope. Inside were more than 100 pages of internal Waha documents about a $45 million environmental contract to clean up oil-polluted rivers in the Libyan desert. The packet included several bids from Unaoil’s competitors and detailed information about how Waha would pick a winner. The man walked Mitchell through the documents for about a half hour ― and hinted he expected something for his trouble.   The next morning, Mitchell called Ata, Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, the father and two sons who ran Unaoil. They were pleased. That afternoon, Martin Abram, a Unaoil manager, met Mitchell at the Unaoil staffhouse to deliver an envelope full of cash. Mitchell didn’t count the money, but the envelope was stuffed thick with U.S. dollars. Around midnight, he drove to the Waha manager’s home to hand over the envelope. The man thanked him and said he expected a 5-10 percent kickback ― about $2-4 million ― if Unaoil won the contract. Then they had coffee.  It’s no secret that Libya’s oil industry under dictator Muammar Gaddafi was rife with corruption. People assume that bribery is commonplace in many parts of the world. But it’s almost unprecedented for a person who actually paid a bribe to speak about it publicly, let alone name the individual who allegedly pocketed the money. (The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media are withholding the Waha manager’s name because he could not be reached for comment.) In March, HuffPost and Fairfax Media, citing more than 100,000 leaked emails, revealed that Unaoil had repeatedly bribed government officials in corruption-prone regions to secure contracts for its multinational corporate clients. Law enforcement quickly raided Unaoil’s office in Monaco and interviewed its top executives. The FBI, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, and law enforcement agencies in Australia and Iraq have opened investigations. Waha did not respond to multiple requests for comment made through several channels. The Ahsanis and Unaoil deny any wrongdoing. “Although there is a great deal that the Company would like to say about the subject matter of this article, there is an investigation on-going,” a Unaoil spokesman told HuffPost in a statement. “Any allegations of corruption are denied. It would be inappropriate to make further comment at this juncture but the Company looks forward to speaking out on this in the fullness of time.” Until now, no one else from Unaoil has spoken out. But Lindsey Mitchell has a story to tell. “Is it trying to get rid of it off my conscience?” he asked in a recent interview with HuffPost and Fairfax Media. Perhaps, but “it’s time for someone like me, that’s been there, done that, to help educate the public on what happens out there.” Mitchell grew up in a small rural town on the sprawling prairies of Canada. “It was like Nebraska,” he said. Most people, including his father, worked in the oil industry. His dad didn’t make great money, but it was enough to care for a family of six kids. They went to church at least once a week, and sometimes twice. When he was 16, Mitchell had a falling out with his father and left home. He soon found a job on an oil rig. Some days, he would wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and drive to four different rigs, covering over 300 miles. Eventually, he was hired by a drilling fluid engineering company, which paid for him to go to college. Mitchell was a “holy terror” in his early 20s, he recalled. “I liked to bar fight a lot.” He met his wife in a pool hall. “It was a gift,” Mitchell said of their chance encounter. “The big guy upstairs was matchmaking.” But she gave him an ultimatum: focus harder on his career or forget about a future with her. They later married and had three kids. After more than a decade as a drilling fluid engineer, Mitchell started a company with one of his brothers. They eventually sold it for a profit.  By 1998, the oil business had slowed in North America. Mitchell applied for a position with an oilfield services company in Saudi Arabia. About three months into that job, he said, he caught his first glimpse of corruption in the industry. Every couple of weeks, Mitchell and a company executive would go to the bank and meet with the manager in his office. They’d drink Turkish coffee and smoke cigarettes. One day, the visit dragged on for more than two hours. Eventually, Mitchell suggested they get moving. But he was told to wait. A man entered the office holding a cardboard box filled with cash. Mitchell realized his colleague was preparing to meet somebody to pay a bribe. “When you’re in the industry, you hear about these things,” he said. “But you don’t really witness it until you actually get into these countries, and you figure it out pretty quick.” After leaving Saudi Arabia, Mitchell took a job as a field operations manager for Baker Hughes, an American company that later admitted its subsidiary paid over $4 million in bribes in connection with a project he worked on in Kazakhstan. Mitchell said he was never asked to pay any bribes while at Baker Hughes and never did. In 2003, he moved back to Canada and started his own energy services company. He figured that venture would be his last. But after the company went public, he stepped down. About a month later, an oilfield services outfit in Jordan that was looking to expand into Libya called him. It was 2006. The U.S. was lifting sanctions against Libya. “Things were looking like it was going to be booming,” Mitchell said. He accepted the offer. Over the next three years, he built relationships with some of the top players in the country’s state-owned oil industry. Eventually, Mitchell could walk into Waha’s office and meet with executives without an appointment. “Once they like you, you’re in,” he said. Even as he cultivated ties with Waha executives, however, Mitchell made a point to steer clear of work that he thought might require him to pay kickbacks. At the time, he said, the people at Waha “knew I was a straight shooter.” Mitchell headed home to Canada at the end of 2008. A few months later, he received a call from Unaoil’s founder, Ata Ahsani. Mitchell and his wife flew to Monaco for three days, meeting with the Ahsani family. He accepted a job managing Unaoil’s business development in Libya and Kazakhstan. When he took the job, Mitchell said, he didn’t know much about Unaoil. He started to worry when he realized the company had few hard assets — equipment or vehicles, for example — in Libya. It was a middleman, winning contracts for other companies. Unaoil’s main resources were its people and their relationships with government officials who made decisions about awarding contracts. Once he understood Unaoil’s business plan and met up again with Waha officials, Mitchell knew things had changed for him. “You realize that, going into this, eventually you’re going to have to pay somebody to get business,” he said. “It reminded me a lot like Saudi Arabia.” The Waha production manager called Mitchell in the summer of 2009 to arrange the parking lot meeting. That led to the first and only time Mitchell would pay a bribe, he said. The morning after he received the inside information on how to win the $45 million contract, Mitchell hesitated before relaying the information to the Ahsanis. He knew that once he made the Skype call, they would tell him to handle the payoff. You realize that, going into this, eventually you’re going to have to pay somebody to get business. Lindsey Mitchell The guilt set in soon after Mitchell paid the bribe. “I thought about my children,” he said. “How they would totally disrespect me. … I always preached to them about good work ethics and to be 100 percent honest in business.” If Unaoil won the Waha contract, Mitchell expected to collect as much as 2 percent of the project — nearly $1 million. But he also knew he didn’t want a reputation as a guy who paid bribes to get work. Mitchell sent his resignation letter to the Ahsanis on Aug. 31, 2009. “This has been a hard decision to make but I feel it is the right one,” he wrote. “This is non-negotiable and is not open for further discussions.” He wrote that his sudden departure was motivated mainly by a desire to spend more time with his family. But it was clear to Unaoil executives that something else was bothering him. “From the tone of your email, there seem to me to be other issues that you have with us that you are not stating,” Saman Ahsani emailed back. “Then there are the questions of our commitments to others,” he continued. “What about [the Waha official]?” “On the matter of [the Waha official],” Mitchell wrote, “well, I did my thing for Martin [Abram] and [another Unaoil employee] and did the introduction. I think [the other employee] should get in there and take care of building that relationship.” I thought about my children. ... How they would totally disrespect me. Lindsey Mitchell Over the next several years, the bribe weighed on Mitchell’s conscience. But he wasn’t particularly worried about getting caught, he said. Bribery was such a common practice in Libya and he had only taken part that one time.   Mitchell was in Iraq for work when HuffPost and Fairfax Media published the first story about Unaoil bribery in March of this year. It took him a few days to realize that the story could have consequences for him. He was initially more interested in figuring out who had leaked Unaoil’s emails. After the company’s office was raided and the FBI and the Serious Fraud Office began investigating, Mitchell began to get nervous. “I had to make a conscious decision: Do I wait for them to come to me? Or do I reach out and try to make sure I’m the good guy in this?” Still in Iraq, Mitchell drafted a long email to his wife and their adult children. “I wanted to make sure they knew that their dad didn’t do anything wrong and I’m not going to be thrown in jail,” he said. He told his kids about the 2009 bribe. “It was an emotional time.” I had to make a conscious decision: Do I wait for them to come to me? Or do I reach out and try to make sure I’m the good guy in this? Lindsey Mitchell Mitchell met with the Serious Fraud Office in Vienna soon after. Next, two FBI agents, a Justice Department official and a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sat down with him in a hotel room in Canada for a six-hour debriefing. U.S. law enforcement flew him to Washington, D.C., in mid-May. He turned over two Nokia mobile phones, a BlackBerry and a Mac laptop, and spent two more days outlining Unaoil’s infrastructure and business practices — including the 2009 bribe. (He also told the FBI that Muhannad Alamir, one of Unaoil’s former fixers in Libya, later helped the State Department recruit unarmed guards for the U.S. facility in Benghazi.) Mitchell was struck by how much material with his name on it — email correspondence, meeting minutes, financial spreadsheets — was in the hands of law enforcement officials. The Justice Department provided him with a letter of safe passage guaranteeing that he wouldn’t be arrested when he landed in Washington. But he hasn’t received any assurances that they won’t prosecute him. Mitchell saw Saman Ahsani earlier this year for the first time since he quit his job at Unaoil. They met at Unaoil’s office in Monaco and walked to a coffee shop a couple of blocks away. The firm had been losing contracts because of the bribery allegations, Ahsani told him. “They were in survival mode,” Mitchell said.  For the past several months, Mitchell has been preparing for a backlash from former business associates who might feel betrayed by his decision to go public. “It’s been a difficult ride,” he said. But in some ways, it’s been a relief to finally tell his story. He wants people to understand how even well-intentioned individuals can become implicated in corruption. It also feels good to clear his conscience. He’s thought about his time at Unaoil a lot over the years. “Finally, I’ve got somebody I can talk to that gets it,” he said. “To finally have someone ― even the FBI and all that ― to talk to, it’s been a relief.” The Justice Department, which otherwise declined to comment, won’t say when or whether prosecutors plan to file charges against anyone involved in the Unaoil scandal. And there’s no guarantee that Mitchell won’t be charged. But he’s not too worried anymore. “From what I was told by the FBI,” he said, “they felt I was the good guy.” Nick McKenzie of Fairfax Media contributed reporting. Read his story here. A BBC program on Rolls Royce, which has also worked with Unaoil, is set to air Oct. 31. Video produced by Christine Conetta, senior producer; Chelsea Moynehan, director of photography; and Shane Handler, cameras. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

20 октября, 18:21

Kim Cattrall Says Samantha Jones Wouldn't Waste Her Time On Donald Trump

Even though “Sex and the City,” the series, ended in 2004, there are still those who ask themselves, “What would Samantha do?”  During a recent interview with Australian site Fairfax Media, Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha Jones, was asked what her character would think about Donald Trump right now.  “Well, she would probably have him by the ... [mimes grabbing his package],” Cattrall said, smiling, as the reporter cracked up.  “She would get his number ― where he’s coming from,” the actress said, before further clarifying that Jones would never date Trump. “I don’t think Samantha would put up with that for a second. He’d be out.”  The reporter then asked what Jones would think of Trump’s deeply unsettling “grab them by the pussy” remarks. The actress reiterated that Jones “wouldn’t have any time for that. Who does have any time for that?”  Cattrall also spoke about the Republican presidential nominee’s brief, uncredited appearance on Season 2 of “SATC.” Trump appeared on the 1999 episode called “The Man, the Myth, the Viagra,” which basically sums up everything you need to know about the former reality TV star in six words.  The Donald got name-dropped in another episode of the show, when Jones referred to Mr. Big as “The next Donald Trump, except he’s younger and much better looking.”  Turns out those comments didn’t deter the GOP candidate from his love of “Sex and the City,” as he would later attend multiple season premieres for the show, as well as the first “SATC” movie red carpet with his wife, Melania Trump. Like most of us, he didn’t seem to be into the second movie.  Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

13 октября, 00:16

HUFFPOST HILL - This Is What The Election Would Look Like If It Were A HuffPost article

“Law and Order: SVU” will film a Donald Trump-themed episode, even though the GOP candidate could sue over the depiction of his hands in the fingerprinting scene. Trump lambasted Paul Ryan for his “sinister deal,” recalling the “corrupt bargain” in which Russian hackers put John Quincy Adams in the White House. And Trump supporters wondered aloud about repealing the 19th Amendment, prompting others to wonder if “ban men” could get the support of three-quarters of the country’s statehouses. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, October 12th, 2016: ‘TEEN BEAUTY PAGEANT’ IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT PEOPLE GOOGLING ALONGSIDE YOUR CANDIDATE’S NAME - Trump/Pence 2016: Alright, Alright Alright. Kendall Taggart, Jessica Garrison and Jessica Testa: “Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing. ‘I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’’ said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA. Trump, she recalled, said something like, ‘Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.’ Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it ‘shocking’ and ‘creepy.’ The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump.” [BuzzFeed] TRUMP UPSET PAUL RYAN DIDN’T CALL, IS ALSO INCREDIBLY PARANOID -Typically only National Review staffers exhibit such a mixture of emotions. Christina Wilkie: “Speaking at a rally in Florida, Trump pointed to the fact that Ryan did not call him after Sunday’s debate to congratulate him on his performance as evidence of the conspiracy. ‘Instead of calling me and saying, ‘Congratulations, you did a great job. You absolutely destroyed her in the debate like everybody said,’’ he didn’t hear from Ryan at all, Trump said. ‘So wouldn’t you think that Paul Ryan would call and say, ‘Good going?’ In front of just about the largest crowd for a second-night debate in the history of the country?’ Trump asked the crowd. ‘So, you know, you’d think that they’d say: ‘Great going, Don. Let’s go. Let’s beat this crook. She’s a crook. Let’s beat her. We gotta stop it.’’ Ryan’s silence, he said, was proof that ‘there’s a whole deal going on there. I mean, you know, there’s a whole deal going on. We’re gonna figure it out, I always figure things out. But there’s a whole sinister deal going on.” [HuffPost] THIS IS WHAT THE ELECTION WOULD LOOK LIKE IF IT WERE A BLURB IN HUFFPOST HILL -  There’s a great “not all men” joke to be made here ― get back to us. Seema Mehta: “As polls show that Donald Trump would overwhelmingly win if only men were allowed to vote, the GOP nominee’s supporters have spawned a new Twitter hashtag: #repealthe19th. That’s a reference to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The Twitter commentary began after Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight website published an article Tuesday looking at men’s and women’s voting patterns. He found that if the election only counted the male vote, Trump would swamp Clinton, 350 electoral votes to 188. A candidate must win 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.” [LA Times] Like HuffPost Hill? Then order Eliot’s new book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide To Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing, and Sometimes Hilarious Government Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It’s free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to [email protected] Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill PANTING GOP LAWMAKERS THROW LUGGAGE ABOARD TRUMP TRAIN, TRY TO JUMP ABOARD - Elise Foley: “Multiple Republicans who called for Donald Trump to step down as the Republican presidential nominee over the weekend are now saying they will still vote for him. In an impressive bit of rhetorical gymnastics, some are also saying that they never technically un-endorsed Trump in the first place ― even though they all said that he should be replaced by his running mate Mike Pence as the Republican nominee for president. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) all confirmed on Tuesday that they will support the Republican ticket, even if it’s led by Trump instead of Pence, the governor of Indiana. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said the same day that he would likely vote for Trump. Over the weekend, the four were among the many high-profile Republicans who dropped their support for the nominee...” [HuffPost] LOL U CRAZY, UTAH - Maybe it’s all that three percent ABV beer you’re serving in Salt Lake. Janie Velencia: “Donald Trump may be losing ground in Utah, according to a new poll that was conducted after the release of the tape in which the Republican presidential nominee boasts about sexually assaulting women. The Y2 Analytics poll finds Trump tied with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at 26 percent. Independent candidate Evan McMullin, who has been considered a long-shot candidate, trails close behind with 22 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson takes 14 percent in the poll. Prior to the poll, Trump was averaging 45 percent and Clinton 27 percent in the largely Mormon state, according to the HuffPost Pollster aggregate of publicly released polls. The last time Utah voted for a Democratic candidate was in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won.” [HuffPost] Speaking of longshot candidates, Gary Johnson is super gungho for private prisons: “Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, who campaigns for criminal justice reform, expanded private prisons as governor of New Mexico. And if he is elected president, he does not plan to end the use of these controversial facilities, he told The Huffington Post.” [HuffPost’s Dana Liebelson] PHILIPPE REINES IS JUST A MAN WITH A HUMBLE MISSION TO EAT HIS ENEMIES’ HEARTS -  Marina Fang and Ryan Grim: “A top aide to Hillary Clinton was incensed by MoveOn.org’s campaign to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) into the presidential race. The aide, Philippe Reines, suggested using Clinton’s ‘Hollywood friends’ to force the group to ‘cool it’ with the whole ‘Run Warren Run’ thing. ‘This is more than a little annoying. Making noise is one thing. Spending seven figures is another. She voted for the war, you punished her already, get over it,’ Reines’ email reads. ‘I don’t know who funds them, but don’t we have Hollywood friends with ties to MoveOn who can tell them to cool it?’ … Reines’ remark is contained in hacked emails from now-Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which were published by WikiLeaks earlier this week. MoveOn declined to comment on Reines’ suggestion.” [HuffPost] CITIZENS UNITED IS AS AWFUL AS YOU’D SUSPECT - Betsy Woodruff: “[Citizens United] has a history of sending out mailers that raise serious ethical questions—and that may prey on senior citizens with dementia and Alzheimer’s… Jennifer Bell, who runs the blog Drowning in Junk, knows all about this. She helped care for an elderly relative—now deceased, who we will not name out of respect for the family’s privacy—who once wrote a $100 check to Citizens United. Bell said the relative suffered from dementia, and after writing that first check, received frequent mailings and phone calls asking her to give more. Sometimes she would get five pieces of mail per week from the group. The woman was eventually hospitalized, so Bell had her mail redirected to her own address to help her manage the onslaught. That’s when she started to notice how disturbing some of the mailers were. One mail piece, which had Bossie’s name on it, said the relative had sent Citizens United a $50 check which was lost in the mail.” [Daily Beast] HOW ONE DUDE IS SINGLEHANDEDLY KEEPING HOPE ALIVE FOR TRUMP SUPPORTERS - Nate Cohn: “There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election. And he has been held up as proof by conservatives — including outlets like Breitbart News and The New York Post — that Mr. Trump is excelling among black voters. He has even played a modest role in shifting entire polling aggregates, like the Real Clear Politics average, toward Mr. Trump. How? He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign… Just about every survey is weighted — adjusted to match the demographic characteristics of the population, often by age, race, sex and education, among other variables. The U.S.C./LAT poll is no exception, but it makes two unusual decisions that combine to produce an odd result.  It weights for very tiny groups, which results in big weights.” [NYT] DISPATCH FROM TRUMP’S AMERICA - Elise Foley: “Ten years ago, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, approved one of the most restrictive immigration ordinances in the country in hopes of driving out undocumented immigrants… In recent years, the animosity began to dissipate. Courts blocked the most controversial provisions of Hazleton’s ordinance, the Latino population ballooned and many residents moved on… Then came Donald Trump… When I arrived here in early September, I witnessed it at my very first stop: a local Wendy’s. It was midday. A middle-aged woman waiting behind me became agitated that our line wasn’t moving fast enough. When a man in front of us began speaking Spanish to the cashier, her frustration boiled over. ‘Hurry up,’ she blurted out at him. She then turned to an elderly white man and to me, hoping we’d commiserate: ‘That’s why I’m voting for Trump.’” [HuffPost] YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT, HUFFPOST INVESTIGATED BENGHAZI - And what Jessica Schulberg, Nick Baumann and Nick McKenzie turned up was incredible: “A middleman the State Department relied on to hire unarmed guards at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, previously worked with a company that’s now at the center of a massive international bribery scandal. The FBI and law enforcement agencies in at least four other countries are investigating allegations ― first published by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media ― that a Monaco-based company called Unaoil bribed public officials to secure contracts for major corporations in corruption-prone regions. In Libya, Unaoil partnered with a Tripoli-based businessman named Muhannad Alamir. A former Unaoil employee who served as a confidential source for the FBI told investigators that Unaoil and Alamir bribed Libyan officials. Unaoil and Alamir deny they bribed anyone.” [HuffPost] *DUN DUN* - We still have our fingers cross for a very cathartic appearance by Donald Trump on “Wipeout.” Cynthia Littleton: “NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” has a long history of developing stories inspired by real-life headlines. This season, one of the show’s most provocative episodes is sure to be ‘Unstoppable,’ which features a Donald Trump-esque character running for president who gets tangled up in a sordid case when several women come forward with damaging accusations. Gary Cole stars as a character described by a source as a wealthy and boorish man who makes a run for the White House. Aspects of the story were said to be inspired by the civil lawsuit pending against Trump, the Republican nominee for president, by a woman who alleges she was raped by Trump when she was 13 in the mid-1990s. Trump’s attorneys have vehemently [denied] the allegations by the woman identified in court documents as Jane Doe.” [Variety] BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a dog who is finally free. MAYBE JOHN PODESTA IS THE GUY WE SHOULD SEND OUR ‘CONTACT’ FAN FICTION TO -  Lee Spiegel: “What does the Vatican know about alien life? And is there a threat of a war in space? These are among the issues that a former astronaut wanted to discuss with John Podesta, who was a top adviser to President Barack Obama and now serves as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to new emails published Friday by WikiLeaks… The emails are from Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. He wrote to Podesta on Jan. 18, 2015, asking for a meeting ‘ASAP’ to discuss government disclosure of extraterrestrial life forms and zero point energy, an alleged alien technology that Mitchell strongly believed could be used as an unlimited source of infinite free energy for our planet.” [HuffPost] COMFORT FOOD -  A list of wedding traditions from across the globe. - A somewhat traumatizing “50 Shades of Gray” parody featuring the muppets. - How to speak Minnesotan.   TWITTERAMA @eveypeyser: HAVE WE TRIED PUTTING 2016 IN RICE??? I SEE THAT QUESTION ASKED A LOT AND NO ONE HAS ANSWERED IT. PLEASE LET ME KNOW. BEST WISHES, EVE. @mims: In the last 6 months Obama threw a DC version of SXSW, declared an interest in becoming a VC and guest edited WIRED. Next stop: Burning Man @jonathanvswan: When I asked him just now if he misses the House GOP conference, John Boehner smiled & said: “I wonder if they’ve taken my picture down.” Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson ([email protected]) or Arthur Delaney ([email protected]). -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 октября, 03:02

Benghazi Middleman Tied To Unaoil Bribery Scandal, Source Told FBI

WASHINGTON ― A middleman the State Department relied on to hire unarmed guards at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, previously worked with a company that’s now at the center of a massive international bribery scandal. The FBI and law enforcement agencies in at least four other countries are investigating allegations ― first published by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media ― that a Monaco-based company called Unaoil bribed public officials to secure contracts for major corporations in corruption-prone regions. In Libya, Unaoil partnered with a Tripoli-based businessman named Muhannad Alamir. A former Unaoil employee who served as a confidential source for the FBI told investigators that Unaoil and Alamir bribed Libyan officials. Unaoil and Alamir deny they bribed anyone. Alamir started working with the State Department in early 2012, less than three years after cutting ties with Unaoil. He provided Blue Mountain Group, the small British security firm that won the Benghazi guard contract, with the license it needed to legally operate in Libya. The State Department hired Alamir and Blue Mountain to recruit the local unarmed guards who were supposed to secure the perimeter of the Benghazi compound on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. The State Department’s Accountability Review Board concluded that Blue Mountain’s performance was “inadequate” and contributed to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans ― but made no mention of Alamir or his companies, Eclipse and Xpand. The ARB acknowledged that unarmed guards couldn’t be expected to repel an attack, but nonetheless faulted them for failing to warn U.S. personnel. “No [Blue Mountain] guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities, and there is conflicting information as to whether they sounded any alarms prior to fleeing,” the ARB found. None of the myriad Republican-led investigations into the Benghazi attack ― and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the aftermath ― have exposed who Blue Mountain’s local partners were or how they got the job. Here’s what HuffPost and Fairfax Media found when we investigated: It’s not clear that the State Department knew — or cared — exactly whom Blue Mountain was working with in-country. Clinton, who’s now the Democratic nominee for president, convinced President Barack Obama to intervene in Libya. The operation was supposed to be a low-cost triumph of what Clinton called “smart power,” in which U.S. airstrikes, diplomacy, and Libyan rebel groups would win a swift victory without the need to involve U.S. ground troops. An invasion wasn’t on the table. Instead, the U.S. led “from behind,” one of Obama’s aides told The New Yorker. But the problems that beset the State Department’s Benghazi guard contract — and contributed to the deaths of the four Americans at the mission there — highlight the limited options the U.S has when it tries to intervene in an unstable country, such as post-Gaddafi Libya, without committing many of its own personnel. They show just how little due diligence the State Department did before hiring a key element of the security force for the Benghazi facility. And they point to the flaws in a 1990 law that required the department to choose the lowest-cost guards “technically acceptable” — even in dangerous regions. No [Blue Mountain] guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities. State Department's Accountability Review Board This story comes out of a broader HuffPost investigation of international bribery. In March, HuffPost and Fairfax Media, drawing on over 100,000 of Unaoil’s internal emails, revealed the company’s habit of bribing foreign officials to secure contracts for its clients. Unaoil has denied the allegations but declined to answer specific questions for this story. Alamir wasn’t aware of Unaoil’s “alleged bribery business model” when he worked with the company, he said in a phone interview. “I never took part in any such schemes,” he added. Unaoil and Alamir started working together in 2008, when Unaoil entered into a joint venture with Eclipse. Unaoil executives were initially attracted to Alamir because they believed he had ties to the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. “The key strength of Muhannad is that he has Aisa [Basher] working for him (who takes 50% of the gross profit of all business generated) whose uncle is Abdul Rahman Kafar, a close confidant of Saif’s,” a Unaoil employee wrote in the minutes for an internal December 2008 meeting. “Saif” referred to Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son and heir apparent, who exercised enormous power over the disposition of Libyan oil contracts. But Alamir downplays any ties to the ousted regime. “Mr. Basher acted as a consultant from time to time in conducting business in Libya, but he was never on my payroll,” he told HuffPost. “If Unaoil thought they were going to get big contracts because of him, they were going to be disappointed.” Bribery facilitated by local operators was commonplace under Gaddafi’s regime. “Most of these companies are run by families or militia groups,” said David Mack, a former U.S. ambassador to Libya who was based in Benghazi in the 1970s. “They are basically general purpose companies that trade on the degree of their relationship with the government or its contact rather than on any great track record in terms of providing a specific kind of industrial service.” At least some of Unaoil’s clients seemed to think that the role of Unaoil and Eclipse in Libya was to pay bribes on their behalf. “What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh is needed to present to these men in order to get work started,” Kelsey Kalinski, then-president of Canadian fracking firm Canuck Completions, wrote to Alamir in a December 2008 email. “I believe this is common practice in Libya, but we are not sure how to handle this. Is this something that needs to be done after work hours one on one? A added value amount to the ticket for them, or a flat fee a month, we are not sure. What are your thoughts on this?” “I dont know what [he] means by bakhsheesh,” Saman Ahsani, Unaoil’s chief operating officer and allegedly a key figure in its bribery efforts in other countries, wrote to Alamir and two Unaoil employees the next day after seeing the email. “May I remind everybody of our Group’s code of conduct and zero tolerance of any facilitation activities. He needs a talking to.” What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh is needed to present to these men in order to get work started. Business executive Kelsey Kalinski in an email to Muhannad Alamir It’s not clear whether Ahsani ever responded to Kalinski directly, and Kalinski did not return a request for comment. But Alamir said he never responded to Kalinski’s email. “I completely ignored his baksheesh comment, because that is not the way we do business,” he said. Unaoil ended its partnership with Eclipse in 2009. “I am pure fed up with these deceiving guys,” Ata Ahsani, Unaoil’s founder, wrote in an October 2009 email to two of his sons, who are executives at the company. “Let us get the best deal possible, noting our expenses ... and say goodbye.” “I sincerely have no idea what deception they are referring to,” Alamir told HuffPost, adding that he returned Unaoil’s initial investment money when they split up. “I don’t think business developed fast enough for them. Maybe we’re just too small for them.” Less than three years after that split, the State Department needed local guards in Benghazi. Department officials didn’t seem bothered by — or even necessarily interested in — the history of Blue Mountain’s partners in Libya. Presented with detailed questions for this story, the department wouldn’t say whether it knew about Eclipse’s work with Unaoil or its supposed connections to Gaddafi. Nor would it say whether the contracting process included any vetting of Blue Mountain’s local partners. You either didn’t have any people there at all, or you invade and occupy Libya against their will and set yourself up for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq. Former Ambassador David Mack Part of the problem was that the State Department had very few options. U.S. troops weren’t welcome in Libya, and America’s role in that country was designed to be low-profile and low-cost. Without the option of U.S. Marines guarding the Benghazi compound ― as is the case in some conflict zones ― the department relied on local unarmed guards to patrol the building’s perimeter and serve as a first-warning system. “The same people providing security were the ones who import refrigerators for other clients,” said Mack, the former ambassador, describing the options for locally hired security firms. “All the discussion that’s taken place about why didn’t we have more security there ― it’s really beside the point,” Mack said. “You either didn’t have any people there at all, or you invade and occupy Libya against their will and set yourself up for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq.” @media (max-width: 999px) { .graphic_desktop { display: none; } } @media (min-width: 1000px) { .graphic_mobile { display: none; } } State officials also didn’t have much time. “This was a contract that was slapped together in a hurry,” Jan Visintainer, the State Department contracting officer who oversaw the security contract after it was awarded, testified last year to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. “So it was not in the best of shape.” She said the full contracting process usually takes 18 months, but “this was solicited in January … and contract performance started on March 1st.” (The publicly released transcript did not include the name of the person testifying, but multiple congressional sources confirmed it was Visintainer. She did not return a request for comment.) Although Eclipse was Alamir’s main company, he created a new entity, which he called Blue Mountain Libya, to partner with Blue Mountain Group on the Benghazi contract, he told HuffPost. He said he started another company, Xpand, with investors he knew in Jordan and used it to fund Blue Mountain Libya. There’s no publicly available evidence that the State Department ever vetted Alamir or his companies. U.S. officials didn’t have to pick Blue Mountain Group and Alamir. The State Department’s effort to hire local guards started in January 2012, according to documents obtained by HuffPost, and initially yielded only one bidder: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, a Virginia firm owned and operated by Jerry Torres, a Special Forces veteran. The Torres firm had its own local partner, a Libyan group called Atlas. In an effort to create a competitive process, State asked for more bids. Torres applied again. But this time, Blue Mountain — which had partnered with Alamir and Eclipse in late 2011 to seek contracts guarding Libyan oil fields — jumped in. Torres had recruited, trained and managed thousands of armed and unarmed local guards worldwide, including in conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. When it bid on the Benghazi contract, it was also providing local guard services to U.S. embassies in Slovakia, Burundi, Paraguay and Zambia, according to its technical proposal. Blue Mountain, headed by former Special Forces member and Tough Mudder enthusiast Nigel Thomas, was comparatively unknown. “Prior to taking over that contract, I had not heard of Blue Mountain Group,” Visintainer testified. “Nobody had ever heard of them. It was headquartered in Wales. It was tiny,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting, which investigated government procurement practices in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the bidding process, Blue Mountain, Torres and Atlas were scheduled to visit the Benghazi mission on Feb. 1, 2012. The State Department pushed the visit back half an hour to accommodate one participant’s flight delay, an internal department email shows. Blue Mountain never showed up, said Brad Owens, who oversaw Torres’ work in Libya. A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the site visit. Blue Mountain did not respond to a list of questions, including one about the site visit. But Blue Mountain’s inability to show up didn’t appear to hurt its pitch. What mattered ― apparently far more than Blue Mountain’s credentials or connections — was that the company was the lowest bidder. At the time, a 1990 law required the State Department to award the contract to the bidder with the “lowest-priced technically acceptable” proposal. Blue Mountain bid around $30,000 less than Torres — about 4.5 percent ― according to contracting documents obtained by HuffPost. So Blue Mountain got the contract. (There’s no evidence that State’s contracting officials at the time thought Torres would do better work.) Two weeks after the bungled site visit, the department began finalizing a yearlong contract with Blue Mountain to provide unarmed guards, whose main responsibility was to limit access to the Benghazi facility and provide early warning of an attack. (The State Department relied on diplomatic security agents and a small contingent of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, a poorly trained Libyan militia, for armed protection.) Taxpayers ended up shelling out nearly $800,000 to Blue Mountain for some 50,000 guard hours. Nobody had ever heard of them. It was headquartered in Wales. It was tiny. Professor Charles Tiefer, speaking of Blue Mountain Group All the while, Blue Mountain was partnered with Alamir, the same man with whom the now-notorious Unaoil had cut ties two years earlier. Alamir was “not the type” to get a contract like the Benghazi arrangement, one former business associate told HuffPost. “I was shocked.” Several months after the State Department awarded the contract to Blue Mountain, a U.S. official raised his own concerns about the firm. “The company has lost several security contracts here in Tripoli, including the Corinthian Hotel and Palm City Complex,” Tripoli Acting Regional Security Officer Jairo Saravia wrote to colleagues in June 2012. (Saravia declined to comment.) The relationship between Alamir and Blue Mountain deteriorated rapidly. By the end of June, Xpand informed the State Department that it wanted to cut Blue Mountain out of the contract and replace it with a Washington-based firm called Cohort International. State officials responded that Blue Mountain and Xpand should resolve the conflict on their own. On Aug. 20, Blue Mountain told the department it had dissolved the relationship with Xpand. A lawyer claiming to represent Alamir’s firm informed the State Department on Sept. 9 ― two days before the Benghazi attack ― that Blue Mountain was prohibited from using Xpand’s Libyan license going forward. “We kindly inform you that any use of such license by [Blue Mountain] in Libya shall be illegal and a clear violation of Libyan laws,” wrote the lawyer, whose name was redacted from the State Department email. “We therefore request that the U.S. mission ceases any dealings with [Blue Mountain] if such dealings are based on any form of reliance on such security license.” Despite the lawyer’s claims, the dissolution agreement between the two firms allowed Blue Mountain to continue relying on Xpand’s license, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told HuffPost. Nonetheless, it appears that State officials were considering other options. On Aug. 31, Visintainer, the contracting officer, pulled a Torres employee out of an unrelated meeting and asked if his company was prepared to work in Libya. “She would not state the reason,” the Torres employee told co-workers in an email obtained by HuffPost. He suspected that either there were problems with the Benghazi contract or a new opportunity had arisen in Tripoli. “I said we could and I would ensure that our arrangements with Atlas remain in effect,” the email continued. Had we won that bid, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today. Brad Owens of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions On the day of the Benghazi attack, State officials wrote in internal emails that they felt they had to terminate Blue Mountain’s contract. They planned to hire approximately 20 guards as mission employees “in case [Blue Mountain] was unable to perform the contract services,” Trudeau said. Before they could act, more than 100 gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades breached the wall surrounding the Benghazi compound and set fire to the facility. Ambassador Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty were ultimately killed in the attack. Blue Mountain was “the wrong contractor in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tiefer said. Owens, the Torres employee who oversaw its Libya work, is convinced events would have turned out differently if his company had been in charge of security that day. “Had we won that bid, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today,” he said. It’s impossible to know whether Owens’ assessment is true. But Blue Mountain’s poor performance and the small price margin by which it won the job exposes the fatal flaw in “lowest-priced technically acceptable” contracting. “The truth of the matter is you get what you pay for. We’ve seen this over and over again,” said Dov Zakheim, a former undersecretary of defense who served with Tiefer on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting. “When life and limb are at risk, such as when buying body armor for our troops overseas or barriers for our embassies, I don’t know that ‘lowest-priced technically acceptable’ is the right vehicle,” said Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) during an 11-hour congressional hearing on Benghazi last October. Former Secretary of State Clinton, the hearing’s star witness, suggested that a working group, including members of key congressional committees, could “look to see whether we couldn’t get a little more flexibility into this decision making.” So far, for all the congressional outrage over the security situation in Benghazi, the 1990 law remains on the books. Partially in response to the 2012 attack, Congress included language in the past two annual spending bills that temporarily authorized the State Department to award local-guard contracts based on “best value” rather than lowest price. Duckworth supports permanently lifting the lowest-price requirement for such contracts. But the spending deal with the temporary language expires at the end of December, and there’s no guarantee the exception will make it into next year’s bill. The latest State Department authorization bill includes a permanent lifting of the lowest-price requirement ― but the department can operate without a new authorization and Congress often neglects to pass one. State Department officials declined to comment on how much the department had known about Eclipse and Xpand. But if staffers had been aware of Alamir’s past ties to Unaoil, a company that relied on bribery to get work, it’s unlikely that Blue Mountain would have received the contract. There is now widespread agreement, including at the State Department, that security arrangements at the Benghazi facility were insufficient. The department’s reliance on unarmed Blue Mountain guards and “poorly skilled” February 17 Martyrs Brigade members for protection “was misplaced,” the Accountability Review Board found. Despite the damning internal review and seven prior congressional probes, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to establish a special committee to further investigate the 2012 attack. Two years and $7 million later, the committee released an 800-page report. Democrats dismissed it as a partisan attack on Clinton, by then their expected presidential nominee. The report echoed earlier criticisms of security lapses, but revealed little substantive information about the contracting process that contributed to the problem. The Benghazi committee report mentioned Blue Mountain 12 times. Alamir, Eclipse and Xpand weren’t mentioned once. Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting. 

12 октября, 03:02

Benghazi Middleman Tied To Unaoil Bribery Scandal, Source Told FBI

WASHINGTON ― A middleman the State Department relied on to hire unarmed guards at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, previously worked with a company that’s now at the center of a massive international bribery scandal. The FBI and law enforcement agencies in at least four other countries are investigating allegations ― first published by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media ― that a Monaco-based company called Unaoil bribed public officials to secure contracts for major corporations in corruption-prone regions. In Libya, Unaoil partnered with a Tripoli-based businessman named Muhannad Alamir. A former Unaoil employee who served as a confidential source for the FBI told investigators that Unaoil and Alamir bribed Libyan officials. Unaoil and Alamir deny they bribed anyone. Alamir started working with the State Department in early 2012, less than three years after cutting ties with Unaoil. He provided Blue Mountain Group, the small British security firm that won the Benghazi guard contract, with the license it needed to legally operate in Libya. The State Department hired Alamir and Blue Mountain to recruit the local unarmed guards who were supposed to secure the perimeter of the Benghazi compound on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. The State Department’s Accountability Review Board concluded that Blue Mountain’s performance was “inadequate” and contributed to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans ― but made no mention of Alamir or his companies, Eclipse and Xpand. The ARB acknowledged that unarmed guards couldn’t be expected to repel an attack, but nonetheless faulted them for failing to warn U.S. personnel. “No [Blue Mountain] guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities, and there is conflicting information as to whether they sounded any alarms prior to fleeing,” the ARB found. None of the myriad Republican-led investigations into the Benghazi attack ― and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the aftermath ― have exposed who Blue Mountain’s local partners were or how they got the job. Here’s what HuffPost and Fairfax Media found when we investigated: It’s not clear that the State Department knew — or cared — exactly whom Blue Mountain was working with in-country. Clinton, who’s now the Democratic nominee for president, convinced President Barack Obama to intervene in Libya. The operation was supposed to be a low-cost triumph of what Clinton called “smart power,” in which U.S. airstrikes, diplomacy, and Libyan rebel groups would win a swift victory without the need to involve U.S. ground troops. An invasion wasn’t on the table. Instead, the U.S. led “from behind,” one of Obama’s aides told The New Yorker. But the problems that beset the State Department’s Benghazi guard contract — and contributed to the deaths of the four Americans at the mission there — highlight the limited options the U.S has when it tries to intervene in an unstable country, such as post-Gaddafi Libya, without committing many of its own personnel. They show just how little due diligence the State Department did before hiring a key element of the security force for the Benghazi facility. And they point to the flaws in a 1990 law that required the department to choose the lowest-cost guards “technically acceptable” — even in dangerous regions. No [Blue Mountain] guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities. State Department's Accountability Review Board This story comes out of a broader HuffPost investigation of international bribery. In March, HuffPost and Fairfax Media, drawing on over 100,000 of Unaoil’s internal emails, revealed the company’s habit of bribing foreign officials to secure contracts for its clients. Unaoil has denied the allegations but declined to answer specific questions for this story. Alamir wasn’t aware of Unaoil’s “alleged bribery business model” when he worked with the company, he said in a phone interview. “I never took part in any such schemes,” he added. Unaoil and Alamir started working together in 2008, when Unaoil entered into a joint venture with Eclipse. Unaoil executives were initially attracted to Alamir because they believed he had ties to the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. “The key strength of Muhannad is that he has Aisa [Basher] working for him (who takes 50% of the gross profit of all business generated) whose uncle is Abdul Rahman Kafar, a close confidant of Saif’s,” a Unaoil employee wrote in the minutes for an internal December 2008 meeting. “Saif” referred to Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son and heir apparent, who exercised enormous power over the disposition of Libyan oil contracts. But Alamir downplays any ties to the ousted regime. “Mr. Basher acted as a consultant from time to time in conducting business in Libya, but he was never on my payroll,” he told HuffPost. “If Unaoil thought they were going to get big contracts because of him, they were going to be disappointed.” Bribery facilitated by local operators was commonplace under Gaddafi’s regime. “Most of these companies are run by families or militia groups,” said David Mack, a former U.S. ambassador to Libya who was based in Benghazi in the 1970s. “They are basically general purpose companies that trade on the degree of their relationship with the government or its contact rather than on any great track record in terms of providing a specific kind of industrial service.” At least some of Unaoil’s clients seemed to think that the role of Unaoil and Eclipse in Libya was to pay bribes on their behalf. “What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh is needed to present to these men in order to get work started,” Kelsey Kalinski, then-president of Canadian fracking firm Canuck Completions, wrote to Alamir in a December 2008 email. “I believe this is common practice in Libya, but we are not sure how to handle this. Is this something that needs to be done after work hours one on one? A added value amount to the ticket for them, or a flat fee a month, we are not sure. What are your thoughts on this?” “I dont know what [he] means by bakhsheesh,” Saman Ahsani, Unaoil’s chief operating officer and allegedly a key figure in its bribery efforts in other countries, wrote to Alamir and two Unaoil employees the next day after seeing the email. “May I remind everybody of our Group’s code of conduct and zero tolerance of any facilitation activities. He needs a talking to.” What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh is needed to present to these men in order to get work started. Business executive Kelsey Kalinski in an email to Muhannad Alamir It’s not clear whether Ahsani ever responded to Kalinski directly, and Kalinski did not return a request for comment. But Alamir said he never responded to Kalinski’s email. “I completely ignored his baksheesh comment, because that is not the way we do business,” he said. Unaoil ended its partnership with Eclipse in 2009. “I am pure fed up with these deceiving guys,” Ata Ahsani, Unaoil’s founder, wrote in an October 2009 email to two of his sons, who are executives at the company. “Let us get the best deal possible, noting our expenses ... and say goodbye.” “I sincerely have no idea what deception they are referring to,” Alamir told HuffPost, adding that he returned Unaoil’s initial investment money when they split up. “I don’t think business developed fast enough for them. Maybe we’re just too small for them.” Less than three years after that split, the State Department needed local guards in Benghazi. Department officials didn’t seem bothered by — or even necessarily interested in — the history of Blue Mountain’s partners in Libya. Presented with detailed questions for this story, the department wouldn’t say whether it knew about Eclipse’s work with Unaoil or its supposed connections to Gaddafi. Nor would it say whether the contracting process included any vetting of Blue Mountain’s local partners. You either didn’t have any people there at all, or you invade and occupy Libya against their will and set yourself up for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq. Former Ambassador David Mack Part of the problem was that the State Department had very few options. U.S. troops weren’t welcome in Libya, and America’s role in that country was designed to be low-profile and low-cost. Without the option of U.S. Marines guarding the Benghazi compound ― as is the case in some conflict zones ― the department relied on local unarmed guards to patrol the building’s perimeter and serve as a first-warning system. “The same people providing security were the ones who import refrigerators for other clients,” said Mack, the former ambassador, describing the options for locally hired security firms. “All the discussion that’s taken place about why didn’t we have more security there ― it’s really beside the point,” Mack said. “You either didn’t have any people there at all, or you invade and occupy Libya against their will and set yourself up for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq.” @media (max-width: 999px) { .graphic_desktop { display: none; } } @media (min-width: 1000px) { .graphic_mobile { display: none; } } State officials also didn’t have much time. “This was a contract that was slapped together in a hurry,” Jan Visintainer, the State Department contracting officer who oversaw the security contract after it was awarded, testified last year to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. “So it was not in the best of shape.” She said the full contracting process usually takes 18 months, but “this was solicited in January … and contract performance started on March 1st.” (The publicly released transcript did not include the name of the person testifying, but multiple congressional sources confirmed it was Visintainer. She did not return a request for comment.) Although Eclipse was Alamir’s main company, he created a new entity, which he called Blue Mountain Libya, to partner with Blue Mountain Group on the Benghazi contract, he told HuffPost. He said he started another company, Xpand, with investors he knew in Jordan and used it to fund Blue Mountain Libya. There’s no publicly available evidence that the State Department ever vetted Alamir or his companies. U.S. officials didn’t have to pick Blue Mountain Group and Alamir. The State Department’s effort to hire local guards started in January 2012, according to documents obtained by HuffPost, and initially yielded only one bidder: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, a Virginia firm owned and operated by Jerry Torres, a Special Forces veteran. The Torres firm had its own local partner, a Libyan group called Atlas. In an effort to create a competitive process, State asked for more bids. Torres applied again. But this time, Blue Mountain — which had partnered with Alamir and Eclipse in late 2011 to seek contracts guarding Libyan oil fields — jumped in. Torres had recruited, trained and managed thousands of armed and unarmed local guards worldwide, including in conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. When it bid on the Benghazi contract, it was also providing local guard services to U.S. embassies in Slovakia, Burundi, Paraguay and Zambia, according to its technical proposal. Blue Mountain, headed by former Special Forces member and Tough Mudder enthusiast Nigel Thomas, was comparatively unknown. “Prior to taking over that contract, I had not heard of Blue Mountain Group,” Visintainer testified. “Nobody had ever heard of them. It was headquartered in Wales. It was tiny,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting, which investigated government procurement practices in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the bidding process, Blue Mountain, Torres and Atlas were scheduled to visit the Benghazi mission on Feb. 1, 2012. The State Department pushed the visit back half an hour to accommodate one participant’s flight delay, an internal department email shows. Blue Mountain never showed up, said Brad Owens, who oversaw Torres’ work in Libya. A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the site visit. Blue Mountain did not respond to a list of questions, including one about the site visit. But Blue Mountain’s inability to show up didn’t appear to hurt its pitch. What mattered ― apparently far more than Blue Mountain’s credentials or connections — was that the company was the lowest bidder. At the time, a 1990 law required the State Department to award the contract to the bidder with the “lowest-priced technically acceptable” proposal. Blue Mountain bid around $30,000 less than Torres — about 4.5 percent ― according to contracting documents obtained by HuffPost. So Blue Mountain got the contract. (There’s no evidence that State’s contracting officials at the time thought Torres would do better work.) Two weeks after the bungled site visit, the department began finalizing a yearlong contract with Blue Mountain to provide unarmed guards, whose main responsibility was to limit access to the Benghazi facility and provide early warning of an attack. (The State Department relied on diplomatic security agents and a small contingent of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, a poorly trained Libyan militia, for armed protection.) Taxpayers ended up shelling out nearly $800,000 to Blue Mountain for some 50,000 guard hours. Nobody had ever heard of them. It was headquartered in Wales. It was tiny. Professor Charles Tiefer, speaking of Blue Mountain Group All the while, Blue Mountain was partnered with Alamir, the same man with whom the now-notorious Unaoil had cut ties two years earlier. Alamir was “not the type” to get a contract like the Benghazi arrangement, one former business associate told HuffPost. “I was shocked.” Several months after the State Department awarded the contract to Blue Mountain, a U.S. official raised his own concerns about the firm. “The company has lost several security contracts here in Tripoli, including the Corinthian Hotel and Palm City Complex,” Tripoli Acting Regional Security Officer Jairo Saravia wrote to colleagues in June 2012. (Saravia declined to comment.) The relationship between Alamir and Blue Mountain deteriorated rapidly. By the end of June, Xpand informed the State Department that it wanted to cut Blue Mountain out of the contract and replace it with a Washington-based firm called Cohort International. State officials responded that Blue Mountain and Xpand should resolve the conflict on their own. On Aug. 20, Blue Mountain told the department it had dissolved the relationship with Xpand. A lawyer claiming to represent Alamir’s firm informed the State Department on Sept. 9 ― two days before the Benghazi attack ― that Blue Mountain was prohibited from using Xpand’s Libyan license going forward. “We kindly inform you that any use of such license by [Blue Mountain] in Libya shall be illegal and a clear violation of Libyan laws,” wrote the lawyer, whose name was redacted from the State Department email. “We therefore request that the U.S. mission ceases any dealings with [Blue Mountain] if such dealings are based on any form of reliance on such security license.” Despite the lawyer’s claims, the dissolution agreement between the two firms allowed Blue Mountain to continue relying on Xpand’s license, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told HuffPost. Nonetheless, it appears that State officials were considering other options. On Aug. 31, Visintainer, the contracting officer, pulled a Torres employee out of an unrelated meeting and asked if his company was prepared to work in Libya. “She would not state the reason,” the Torres employee told co-workers in an email obtained by HuffPost. He suspected that either there were problems with the Benghazi contract or a new opportunity had arisen in Tripoli. “I said we could and I would ensure that our arrangements with Atlas remain in effect,” the email continued. Had we won that bid, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today. Brad Owens of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions On the day of the Benghazi attack, State officials wrote in internal emails that they felt they had to terminate Blue Mountain’s contract. They planned to hire approximately 20 guards as mission employees “in case [Blue Mountain] was unable to perform the contract services,” Trudeau said. Before they could act, more than 100 gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades breached the wall surrounding the Benghazi compound and set fire to the facility. Ambassador Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty were ultimately killed in the attack. Blue Mountain was “the wrong contractor in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tiefer said. Owens, the Torres employee who oversaw its Libya work, is convinced events would have turned out differently if his company had been in charge of security that day. “Had we won that bid, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today,” he said. It’s impossible to know whether Owens’ assessment is true. But Blue Mountain’s poor performance and the small price margin by which it won the job exposes the fatal flaw in “lowest-priced technically acceptable” contracting. “The truth of the matter is you get what you pay for. We’ve seen this over and over again,” said Dov Zakheim, a former undersecretary of defense who served with Tiefer on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting. “When life and limb are at risk, such as when buying body armor for our troops overseas or barriers for our embassies, I don’t know that ‘lowest-priced technically acceptable’ is the right vehicle,” said Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) during an 11-hour congressional hearing on Benghazi last October. Former Secretary of State Clinton, the hearing’s star witness, suggested that a working group, including members of key congressional committees, could “look to see whether we couldn’t get a little more flexibility into this decision making.” So far, for all the congressional outrage over the security situation in Benghazi, the 1990 law remains on the books. Partially in response to the 2012 attack, Congress included language in the past two annual spending bills that temporarily authorized the State Department to award local-guard contracts based on “best value” rather than lowest price. Duckworth supports permanently lifting the lowest-price requirement for such contracts. But the spending deal with the temporary language expires at the end of December, and there’s no guarantee the exception will make it into next year’s bill. The latest State Department authorization bill includes a permanent lifting of the lowest-price requirement ― but the department can operate without a new authorization and Congress often neglects to pass one. State Department officials declined to comment on how much the department had known about Eclipse and Xpand. But if staffers had been aware of Alamir’s past ties to Unaoil, a company that relied on bribery to get work, it’s unlikely that Blue Mountain would have received the contract. There is now widespread agreement, including at the State Department, that security arrangements at the Benghazi facility were insufficient. The department’s reliance on unarmed Blue Mountain guards and “poorly skilled” February 17 Martyrs Brigade members for protection “was misplaced,” the Accountability Review Board found. Despite the damning internal review and seven prior congressional probes, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to establish a special committee to further investigate the 2012 attack. Two years and $7 million later, the committee released an 800-page report. Democrats dismissed it as a partisan attack on Clinton, by then their expected presidential nominee. The report echoed earlier criticisms of security lapses, but revealed little substantive information about the contracting process that contributed to the problem. The Benghazi committee report mentioned Blue Mountain 12 times. Alamir, Eclipse and Xpand weren’t mentioned once. Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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07 октября, 06:53

Australia Qantas new app to help save millions in fuel

AUSTRALIA'S Qantas, one of the world's oldest airlines, will soon have a new app that tells its pilots the most fuel-efficient way to fly around the world. The new app is expected to slash at least 30

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22 сентября, 11:16

Aussie boy pleads not guilty to raping 6-year-old girl

A 12-year-old Australian boy charged with raping a six-year-old girl at a primary school at Sydney's northern beaches has entered into a not guilty plea. Fairfax Media reported on Thursday that the boy

09 сентября, 18:24

New photos show Bill Clinton yukking it up with Trump, Melania, and swimsuit model

The Clinton Presidential Library has released nearly two dozen photos of Donald Trump socializing with President Bill Clinton — including one that shows the two men with their arms around Trump's then-girlfriend Melania and an unidentified woman wearing a Playboy bunny t-shirt — images that underscore just how chummy Trump once was with the president and his wife Hillary.The 22 images were taken by official White House photographers in June 2000 during a visit the president paid to Trump Tower in New York City for a political fundraiser, and in September 2000 during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.Some of the photos taken in a private box at the tennis tournament show Trump's wife Melania posing with Trump and Bill Clinton as well as another woman wearing a Playboy shirt who was not identified. The scene looks to be a jovial one, with the women laughing in one image, Clinton smiling broadly and the real estate mogul seemingly cracking jokes.The photos are reminiscent of the much-hyped photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton warmly laughing with Donald and Melania Trump as they attended their wedding in 2005. In August of last year, as the election season heated up, Hillary Clinton explained that she had thought it would be "fun" to attend the nuptials, which was Trump's third marriage. "I didn't know him that well," Clinton said last year. "I mean, I knew him. I knew him and I happened to be planning to be in Florida and I thought it'd be fun to go to his wedding, because it's always entertaining."The National Archives, which operates the library and handles records requests, said it located but will not release 59 photos of Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser Donald Trump apparently attended in New York City in August 1994. It's unclear how many of the images actually show the then-First Lady and Trump.Archives officials said the 1994 photos were considered "personal records," a term which encompasses files and photos pertaining to solely political activities not within the scope of the Presidental Records Act.The photos were made public Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from POLITICO.Spokespeople for the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the photo release.

18 августа, 13:28

Univision ‘deliberating’ on gawker.com—Bannon news goes bananas—Kushner coverage fatigue?

THE END OF GAWKER? Now that the question of who will own Gawker Media has been answered -- congrats, Univision! -- attention is shifting to whether flagship website gawker.com will survive after the sale is officially approved today. A source briefed on Univision’s plans confirmed that the company is “deliberating” on what to do with the site -- Keep it going? Kill it? Sell it? -- and that a decision is expected “sooner rather than later.”Gawker may be the namesake of the blog empire Nick Denton founded in 2002, and which he lost ownership of on Tuesday when Univision acquired it in a bankruptcy auction prompted by Hulk Hogan’s $140 million sex-tape lawsuit. But gawker.com isn’t as good for business as other brands within the portfolio, like Gizmodo and Deadspin. And it’s saddled with baggage not only from the Hogan fiasco, but other coverage-related controversies that have arisen over the years. “No one wants Gawker itself. The winner will probably shut it down,” a source told the New York Post earlier this week (http://nyp.st/2btRp3V). Meanwhile, Morning Media heard a rumor from a well-placed source yesterday that an expected joint bid from Penske Media Corporation and Vox Media fell through in part because the two companies couldn’t agree on what to do with gawker.com. But two sources involved in the discussions said that wasn’t true. One source said the two companies were “in alignment,” while another said the talks about making a joint offer never got far enough that the gawker.com conundrum was even addressed. (The companies can’t comment on matters related to the sale due to an NDA.)A post on gawker.com by J.K. Trotter acknowledges that the website’s fate “remains unclear” (http://bit.ly/2b2vYp9). "I think we're all pretty pessimistic about the site existing," an insider told CNNMoney, which also reported that Denton confirmed to staff yesterday that he will be leaving the company after the sale closes (http://cnnmon.ie/2bjUbIl). A Gawker Media source familiar with Denton’s thinking told POLITICO Denton feels that he has succeeded in protecting his employees' jobs and getting the company to a "safe harbor." As Peter Sterne reports, “Gawker Media editorial staff want Univision to continue operating Gawker.com and plan to make their case to their new boss -- Isaac Lee, Univision's chief news, entertainment and digital officer -- when he visits the office on Friday. Gawker Media's other sites also plan to publish statements of solidarity with Gawker.com (http://politi.co/2bfVYzV).” More on Gawker and Univision below, but first...WELCOME BACK TO MORNING MEDIA!: It’s about that time of year when people start saying things like, “Can you believe it’s almost the end of August already?” I have a few late-summer jaunts left. What about you? Tips: [email protected] / Twitter: @joepompeo / MM archives and email-subscription button: http://politi.co/1PdFrwQ. UNIVISION’S ‘HANDCUFFS’ -- The FT: “Univision has … kept its spending in the low hundreds of millions. … [V]irtually all of Univision’s $2bn revenue comes from traditional TV advertising and cable subscriptions. The sagging shares of others in those businesses … have delayed Univision’s public listing, now reported to be happening later this year. Its debt/earnings ratio still exceeds six times, and its total valuation will not be far off what was paid for it in 2007. At least investors can be sure that it will remain cautious with its capital. It has no other choice.” http://on.ft.com/2aWXSre Jeremy Barr in AdAge: “Gawker Media Group ... offers scale. … Univision and [its flagship web property] Fusion are focused right now on courting advertisers. ... But it's hard to know whether the addition of Gawker to the portfolio will make a material difference in how agencies and clients view Fusion -- and Univision -- as an advertising partner. … Here's another theory about the purchase, from a media executive who has been closely watching the company for years: it's all about TV. … Univision could potentially tap Gawker Media's brands to produce content for the Fusion TV channel.” http://bit.ly/2b0HyqF MUST READS:-- “Present at the Creation: The never-told-before story of the meeting that led to the creation of ISIS, as explained by an Islamic State insider” http://atfp.co/2bex43S [Foreign Policy]-- “Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t” http://nym.ag/2bf2o2e [New York]-- “20 Big Questions about the Future of Humanity” http://bit.ly/2aWh0Wa [Scientific American]TRUMP’S NEW CAMPAIGN CHIEF -- “The Trump campaign’s relationship with the mainstream media is likely to get worse,” Hadas Gold reports on POLITICO. “Despite assurances from Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, that they were going to reassess the campaign's blacklist of reporters, the official hiring of Breitbart Chairman Stephen K. Bannon as CEO of the Trump campaign is a sign that the campaign is unlikely to change its combative way with the media.” http://politi.co/2bB3jMy Ben Smith: “Trump’s campaign has always been, to a degree greater even than the usual model campaign, almost entirely a media product: Trump on TV, Trump at rallies, Trump yelling on Twitter. And Breitbart is an exemplar, to a far greater degree than even the old partisan journalism, of a pure and focused ‘media activism,’ in which the technical tools of journalism are turned to clear political ends.” http://bzfd.it/2aWZv88 Former NPR CEO Ken Stern for Vanity Fair: “Trump is a first-time candidate who has talked about professionalizing his campaign, and yet he has hired a media bomb-thrower with no experience on the trail. But on another level, it is no surprise, since for years there has been a political symbiosis between Trump, Bannon, and Breitbart Media, the news organization that Bannon has led for the last four years. In truth, Bannon and Breitbart Media were Trump before Trump, creating the political philosophy and the political army in waiting that has been the engine for the candidate’s astonishing rise in American politics.” http://bit.ly/2be9xRf THE BIGGER ‘TRUMPBART’ QUESTION: Everyone seems to agree that bringing on Bannon means the campaign will become neither more “professional” nor less confrontational (though Bannon’s considerable political skills have been well noted). Instead, all the smart takes are pushing the story of this new relationship -- “Trumpbart” -- past the election, and asking whether Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison was right when she suggested that the Trump campaign was turning into pre-launch publicity for a new, superpowered right-wing media entity (http://bit.ly/1Q6rRvI). Reports that ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was coaching Trump in advance of the debates had emboldened that speculation (though the campaign has denied the reports), and yesterday’s Bannon news added yet more fuel to that fire. But if Trump should lose, the piece we haven’t yet read is: what does it all mean for the Republican party after this election? With or without a powerful new media junta representing the wing of the party that fueled Trump’s primary win, how will the Republicans handle 2020 differently if they lose the White House again? Can the vocal Trump base be grown, or will it have to be somehow brought into the fold with the rest of the Republican base? The GOP’s last, successful rebuilding effort launched the Reagan administration and held for three (nonconsecutive) Bush terms. Roger Ailes was a major player in building that coalition -- and Bannon has been a master at deconstructing it. In other words, this storyline is one we will be watching for years to come.MUST WATCH -- CNN anchor Brianna Keilar: “You guys are down.” Trump adviser Michael Cohen: “Says who?” http://bit.ly/2b2CQmn -- “I think I unraveled her,” Cohen told Yahoo News. http://yhoo.it/2bufvvh KUSHNER’S ‘CHARM OFFENSIVE’ -- There’s been a critical mass of Jared Kushner profiles lately (The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker …) ever since the press-shy real estate scion and New York Observer owner emerged as a key figure in his father-in-law Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Morning Media got a sneak peek yesterday at the latest of these, which will hit stands in the October issue of Esquire. Here’s the part that will make media gossips squeal: Writer Vicky Ward -- an occasional character in the pages of the “once venerable” (her words!) Observer over the years -- reveals that she was the third reporter asked, at Kushner’s request, to pursue a now-infamous attempted hit-piece (http://bit.ly/29woc8n) about developer Richard Mack.The nut graph: “Over the past year, Jared Kushner’s profile has risen alongside the mind-bending trajectory of his father-in-law’s presidential bid. … And yet for all that Jared has helped Trump, there is a sense among Jared’s friends and business associates that he sees the gold-plated vision of a Trump White House as the ultimate step in a carefully plotted ascent to redemption, one that began when his father’s scandal tarnished the family name. … Just as Kennedy’s father was forced to yield his ambitions to his sons’ generation after uttering controversial remarks during World War II, so too did the scandal that sent Charles Kushner to prison open the door for his sons -- and especially for Jared -- to launch their charm offensive on society at a very early age.” The piece is set to be live online after 7 a.m. here: http://bit.ly/2boW5KK SOUND BITES:-- “I hope that Univision will demonstrate its appetite for ‘honest, fearless journalism’ by not closing Gawker.” http://bit.ly/2begYb2 [Hamilton Nolan]-- “What we're seeing today is the birth of Trump News Network post-November 8 - not the rebooting of his campaign.” http://bit.ly/2aX7emU [Edward Luce]-- “The election of 2016 will not only be taught in history, sociology, and political science classes - it will be a case study in journalism schools for years to come.” http://bit.ly/2bz4Ak6 [Dan Rather]-- "They have done an amazing job. Buzzfeed, this is the new media." http://bit.ly/2b1gfXG [Glenn Beck]TRONC TALK -- Remember last week when we floated a bit of gossip about a supposed recent meeting between executives from tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing) and executives from Gannett (which has been trying to buy Tribune/tronc for months)? Surprise! “Gannett Co. has privately sweetened its bid for Tronc Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, hoping to overcome resistance to a sale from the parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Details of the new overture, which comes after Tronc rejected a prior bid of $15 a share, couldn’t be learned. Tronc is expected to respond by the end of the week, some of the people said, indicating that Gannett’s long pursuit of the storied newspaper chain may soon come to a head.” http://on.wsj.com/2behG8y REVOLVING DOOR: New York Times Sunday Book Review editor Pamela Paul will now also oversee the culture section’s daily book reviews. “We are the last daily newspaper in America with a free-standing books section,” executive editor Dean Baquet told staff yesterday in a memo. “It will be Pamela’s job to think about how our coverage should change and, of course, how it should not change. … Above all, we believe we have a significant opportunity to expand the audience for our books coverage.” The Times recently shot down a report saying there were talks about killing the Sunday Book Review. Full memo: http://bit.ly/2b1UsSi Elsewhere:-- New York Times seeks “dynamic product leader with experience building consumer facing products worth paying for at scale.” http://bit.ly/2aZYUhl [LinkedIn]-- Also at the Times, Alexander Fury, formerly of vogue.com and The Independent, has been named chief fashion critic for T magazine. -- Former Buzzfeed exec Eric Harris is joining streaming-video service Cheddar as COO. http://bit.ly/2aW1WIf [Mic]TERRY MCDONNELL ON DAVID CARR -- “He was gifted and haunted, and you saw that right off. … Although he never let me win, I sometimes got the feeling that he was trying to give me a break. Good reporters can always make you think that. Another part of David’s charm was the careful curiosity that always defines a great reporter. … “I told David I might write about him, we met for an early dinner in the West Village. It was July 2014, seven months before his death, and he looked drained, thinner than I’d ever seen him, but he wasn’t acting tired. … He was mocking us sitting there about to dish wisdom over expensive pasta, poking at the self-importance of hacks who can’t help showing off even if, as David liked to say, they’ve been phoning it in from a great distance for a long, long time. He loved being a journalist but the journalism was more important and he knew that.” That’s from an excerpt of the magazine legend’s new memoir, “The Accidental Life.” You can read the whole thing over at CJR: http://bit.ly/2bsVpS7 NEWS FROM DOWN UNDER -- The New York Times reports: “The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and their sister publications at Fairfax Media have been among the most powerful voices in Australia for more than 150 years, shaping public opinion on politics, exposing shady business practices and targeting vast criminal operations. … But Fairfax’s newspapers now face a diminished future, with company executives even discussing whether to stop printing The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on weekdays. If they do, it would signal a new low in the decline of the global newspaper business, the radical retreat of centuries-old, mainstream metropolitan newspapers with national influence. …“The weakening of independent voices like The Herald also leaves the Australian market increasingly dominated by the partisan agenda of News Corporation, which owns the country’s top three newspapers by weekday circulation. The struggles at Fairfax represent an especially satisfying victory for News Corporation, run by the homegrown billionaire Rupert Murdoch.”http://nyti.ms/2aWf8Nn SPEAKING OF WHICH -- During an address in the newsroom of Australia’s Daily Telegraph, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson “underscored the importance of the printed newspaper at a time … when ‘lesser media companies are contemplating’ an exit from print,” according to a report in The Australian. Thomson: “There is a vast cauldron of crap content out there. It’s ladled out liberally by distributors and recyclists who are not environmentally sound but are the news equivalent of strip miners. That is why we have to work so hard to protect our intellectual property and assert ... our values and the primacy of acts of creation.” (If you’re feeling a pang of deja vu, don’t be alarmed -- Thomson often gives some variation of these remarks this during company earnings calls and media conferences.) http://bit.ly/2bo8QGE SOUNDTRACK: The War on Drugs, “Red Eyes” http://bit.ly/1e1t52z EXTRAS:-- Is Jeff Zucker the future of Fox News under James and Lachlan Murdoch? http://bit.ly/2b58fX6 [THR]-- “The inimitable flacking genius of Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson” http://wapo.st/2bne85z [WaPo]-- Larry Wilmore says Comedy Central didn’t promote his show as much as it should have. http://bit.ly/2buhHmg [Fast Company]-- The millennial TV network Pivot is going dark. http://bit.ly/2bIfoRl [AdAge]-- NPR is ditching online comments and encouraging its audience to engagement via social media instead. http://n.pr/2b4iT0l [NPR]

05 августа, 09:00

Слежка за школьниками в Австралии

Австралийские школы следят за каждым действием своих учеников на школьных компьютерах и планшетах, выявляя признаки радикализма. Мельбурнская средняя школа и Килвингтонская грамматическая школа в Виктории – одни из тех австралийских школ, которые используют системы наблюдения компании Netbox Blue для обнаружения признаков политического экстремизма. «Школьные компьютеры, ноутбуки и планшеты находятся под пристальным наблюдением с целью пресечения […]

01 августа, 18:21

Street Artist Censors 'Offensive' Hillary Clinton Mural By Dressing Her In Niqab

This is no longer a wall of a supposed "offensive and near naked" Hillary Clinton, it is now a depiction of a beautiful Muslim woman. No reasonable person would consider this offensive. If you do consider it offensive you are a sexist, racist, islamophobic, xenophobic, uncultured and ignorant bigot. A photo posted by Lushsux (@lushsux2) on Aug 1, 2016 at 2:45am PDT Australian street artist Lushsux caused quite a stir last week after his mural of Hillary Clinton in an American flag swimsuit, with dollar bills stuffed into the waistband, went viral. The artist revealed the risqué mural, originally captioned “stupid sexy Hillary,” shortly after Clinton became the first woman to accept a presidential nomination in the United States of America. Cool move, bro.  Not long after the mural went up on the side of a Melbourne small business in Footscray, the local Maribyrnong Council urged the business to remove it. Almost simultaneously, the artist’s Instagram was shut down. (You can now find Lushsux as Lushsux2.)  Stephen Wall, the council’s chief, explained his reasoning to Fairfax Media: “We believe it is offensive because of the depiction of a near-naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hillary Clinton, in accordance with the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007.” @kevin did u donate today ? A photo posted by Lushsux (@lushsux2) on Jul 27, 2016 at 8:40pm PDT Lushsux, who deemed the outcry against his work “pathetic,” resolved to shut up his haters by censoring the mural himself. The artist covered up Clinton with a niqab, the veil worn by some Muslim women. A caption accompanying the image on Instagram reads: “This is no longer a wall of a supposed ‘offensive’ and near naked Hillary Clinton, it is now a depiction of a beautiful Muslim woman. No reasonable person would consider this offensive.” Clinton is not the only public figure to become the target of Lushsux’s painfully unsubtle, satirical street art. He’s behind the mural that appears to copy Illma Gore’s rendering of Donald Trump with a micropenis, and also referenced Ron English’s “Pop Marilyn Mickeys” with his portrayal of topless Melania Trump.  I don't know if I made it more offensive or less? A photo posted by Lushsux (@lushsux2) on Jul 31, 2016 at 3:55am PDT Some people found this offensive so I decided if government etc wants to censor me for "offensive" stuff I'll just censor myself instead. A photo posted by Lushsux (@lushsux2) on Jul 29, 2016 at 5:14am PDT In his defense, Lushsux did create the kind-of-funny “RIP Taylor Smith” tribute following Swift’s recent feud with Kanye West. The name mixup, it appears, was an “unintentional mistake,” but perhaps the best artistic decision he’s made thus far.  Gee I wonder who may be behind the deletion of @lushsux #lushsux A photo posted by Lushsux (@lushsux2) on Jul 27, 2016 at 5:12pm PDT -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

16 июля, 09:09

Тернбулл: "ISIS может воспользоваться ситуацией в Турции"

Премьер-министр Австралии Малкольм Тернбулл призвал к спокойствию в Турции после попытки государственного переворота

19 июня, 19:10

Aussie poll eyes health care

Opposition leader Bill Shorten used his center-left Labor Party’s official campaign launch yesterday to cast July 2 general elections as a referendum on the future of Australia’s universal health care

21 мая, 22:13

Relatives Of MH17 Victims Seek Compensation From Russia, Putin: Australian Media

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An Australian law firm has filed a compensation claim against Russia and President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of families of victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, shot down in 2014, media reported. The jetliner crashed in Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 28 Australians. The aircraft, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, the Dutch Safety Board concluded in its final report late last year. Fighting was raging in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces when the aircraft was downed and many Western experts and governments blamed the rebels. Australia's Fairfax media reported on Saturday that 33 next of kin were of victims named in an application by Sydney law firm LHD Lawyers, representing people from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Reuters could not immediately reach LHD Lawyers for comment. The application was filed on May 9 and names the Russian Federation and Putin as respondents and seeks $10 million in compensation per passenger, the report said. The Dutch Safety Board, which was not empowered to address questions of responsibility, did not point the finger at any group or party for launching the missile. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

21 мая, 13:33

Родственники жертв крушения MH17 потребовали компенсацию от России

Австралийская юридическая фирма LHD Lawyers от имени семей жертв катастрофы Boeing-777 авиакомпании Malaysia Airlines, потерпевшего крушение летом 2014 года в Донбассе, подала иск о компенсации против России и президента России Владимира Путина в Европейский суд по правам человека (ЕСПЧ), сообщает...

21 мая, 13:10

Родственники жертв крушения MH17 подали на Путина иск в ЕСПЧ

Австралийская юридическая фирма LHD Lawyers 9 мая подала в Европейский суд по правам человека иск против России и президента Владимира Путина. Фирма представляет интересы родственников жертв катастрофы Boeing под Донецком. Коллективный иск подали 33 человека из Австралии, Новой Зеландии и Малайзии.

21 мая, 13:04

В Австралии родственники жертв МН17 подали иск против Путина

Родственники жертв рейса MH17, который был сбит над Донбассом летом 2014 года, подали в Европейский суд по правам человека иск против России и президента РФ Владимира Путина. Об этом сообщает Reuters со ссылкой на австралийское агентство Fairfax Media. Отмечается, иск подала австралийская юридическая компания 9 мая от имени 33 человек из Австралии, Новой Зеландии и Малайзии, которые являются ближайшими родственниками погибших...