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26 июня, 21:05

Boudreaux on the Progressive Mentality, by Bryan Caplan

My dear colleague Don Boudreaux comments on my recent questions about the absence of libertarian/progressive cooperation:As he so frequently does, Bryan here hits on its head an important nail solidly, cleanly, and with impressive force. I suspect that the single biggest factor that distinguishes "Progressives" from libertarians and free-market conservatives is the simple fact that "Progressives" do not begin to grasp the reality of spontaneous order.  "Progressives" seem unable to appreciate the reality that productive and complex economic and social orders not only can, but do, emerge unplanned from the countless local decisions of individuals each pursuing his or her own individual plans.  Therefore, "Progressives" naturally adopt a creationist view of society and of the economy: without a conscious and visible (and well-intentioned) guiding hand, society and the economy cannot possibly work very well.  Indeed, it seems that for many (most?) "Progressives," the idea that a spontaneously ordered economy can work better than one directed consciously from above - or, indeed, that a spontaneously ordered economy can work at all - is so absurd that when "Progressives" encounter people who oppose "Progressive" schemes for regulating the economy, "Progressives" instantly and with great confidence conclude that their opponents are either stupid or, more often, evil cronies for the rich and the powerful.Don tells an interesting story, and he's probably true in some cases.  But ultimately, I think resentment of markets has little to do with incomprehension of "spontaneous order."  Key point: As Hayek emphasizes, markets are only one form of spontaneous order.  Others include language, science, fashion, manners, and even informal hiking paths.  In each case, individuals pursue their own plans with no central direction, yet a tolerably well-functioning social order emerges.  And leftists rarely express resentment - or even worries - about the social value of any of these.  So how can spontaneous order be the crux of the issue?My preferred story is much simpler: Leftists look at the world of business and see greedy people leading and prospering.  This upsets people of almost every ideology if they dwell on it.  On an emotional level, human beings want people with noble intentions in charge.  Who then are leftists?  They're the sub-set of humans who feel these emotions with exceptional intensity and durability - and accept a group identity that reinforces such emotions.  Why is a power-hungry politician who bullies strangers with big plans and pompous speeches more "nobly intentioned" than a greedy businessman who woos strangers with fine wares and low prices?  I don't know, but clearly I'm in the minority here.Well, at least I'm in good company.P.S. I've also previously rejected the view that people dislike markets because their benefits are "unseen" rather than "seen."  Quick version: To sell war, you've got to convince people that its non-obvious, distant consequences are positively fantastic.  Contra Bastiat, though, it's ridiculously easy to convince them of this.  If you tell people that the skies will fall if their country doesn't fight, they believe it - even though the worst case scenario is usually the loss of some territory most people can't even find on a map.My best explanation is that Bastiat's seen/unseen fallacy is not a general psychological tendency.  Instead, it's an expression of anti-market bias: Since people dislike markets, they're quick to dismiss claims about their hidden benefits.  When people are favorably predisposed to an institution, however, they're quite open to the possibility that it's better than it looks to the naked eye.  Government's a good example, but so are religion, medicine, and education.  (11 COMMENTS)

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26 июня, 17:01

Строитель суперкаров создал дешевый пляжный багги

Британец Ли Ноубл известен в первую очередь суперкарами имени себя – купе с 12-цилиндровыми моторами выпускались под маркой Noble. Сейчас знаменитый инженер решил попробовать себя в совершенно другом жанре, построив автомобильчик для отдыха на агрегатах Ford Mondeo.

26 июня, 15:30

Weekend Reading: Aristotle: Politics: Property and Wealth

**Weekend Reading: Aristotle**: Politics: Property and Wealth: "Let us first speak of master and slave, looking to the needs of practical life and also seeking to attain some better theory of their relation than exists at present... >...For some are of opinion that the rule of a master is a science, and that the management of a household, and the mastership of slaves, and the political and royal rule, as I was saying at the outset, are all the same. Others affirm that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by law only, and not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore unjust. >Property is a part of the household, and the art of acquiring property is a part of the art of managing the household; for no man can live well, or indeed live at all, unless he be provided with necessaries. And as in the arts which have a definite sphere the workers must have their own proper instruments for the accomplishment of their work, so it is in the management of a household. >Now instruments are of various sorts; some are...

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26 июня, 13:00

Finding Faith in Democracy at Moments of National Conflict

A scholar of American history argues that unwavering commitment to republican values can turn the nation’s differences into a profound strength.

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26 июня, 06:43

Rent The Most Aristocratic Villa On The Amalfi Coast: 17,500 Euros A Night

A noble 19th century villa on Italy's Amalfi Coast, once owned by William Waldorf Astor and recently redesigned by Jacques Garcia, is now available to rent.

25 июня, 19:46

New on Netflix: ‘Rogue One’ and Other Awesome July 2017 Releases

Another month means a whole new batch of titles will soon be available to stream. Here are all the movies and TV shows that will be new on Netflix in July.

25 июня, 18:52

Weekend Reading: Origin of "'Cry 'Havoc', and Let Slip the Dogs of War!"?

**Plutarch**: _[Life of Aratus of Sicyon][]_: >The city of Sicyon, as soon as it had fallen away from its pure Doric form of aristocracy (which was now like a harmony dissolved) and had become a prey to factions and the ambitious schemes of demagogues, was without cease distempered and agitated, and kept changing one tyrant for another.... Abantidas the son of Paseas, attempting to make himself tyrant, slew Cleinias, and, of the friends and kinsmen of Cleinias, banished some and killed others. He tried to kill also the son of Cleinias, Aratus, left fatherless at the age of seven. But in the confusion p7which prevailed about the house the boy made his escape with the fugitives, and wandering about in the city, full of fear and helpless, by chance got unnoticed into the house of a woman who was a sister of Abantidas, but had married Prophantus the brother of Cleinias. Her name was Soso. This woman, who was of a noble nature, and thought it a divine dispensation that the boy had taken refuge with her, hid him in the house, and at night sent him secretly off to Argos. [Life of Aratus of Sicyon]: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Aratus*.html >Thus was Aratus...

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25 июня, 08:00

Noble: restaurant review

There’s an art to not showing off, and when your food is this good, you don’t need to shout about it. Jay Rayner heads to Noble, just outside BelfastNoble, 27a Church Road, Holywood, County Down BT18 9BU (028 9042 5655). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £90It’s one of those midsummer’s evenings in Northern Ireland when dusk lingers, as if ambivalent to the concept of night ever falling. The roads are shower slicked and the verges smell of earth and damp and the deepest green. We are in Holywood, the tidy commuter town just outside Belfast, and from an upstairs window overlooking the shopping parade comes the music of happy people lost in their chatter. Let that be your guide, because you’re unlikely to spot Noble otherwise. It is marked only by a street-level doorway; that, and some stupendous cooking. Continue reading...

24 июня, 17:29

This Former MTV Icon Found Inner Peace Through Islam

BERLIN/LONDON ― In her early 20s, Kristiane Baker was having the time of her life. She was living her dream as a presenter for MTV Europe, brushing shoulders with celebrities like Mick Jagger and Bono on a regular basis ― and getting paid to do it. From the outside, it was everything she had ever hoped for. But on the inside, she sometimes felt a crushing sense of depression and anxiety that she couldn’t shake. And then she met Imran Khan, the famous Pakistani cricketer who through music would lead her to Islam and a new sense of inner peace.   “He was my introduction to Islam,” she said of Khan. “I like to say I wasn’t looking, I was found.” As a German growing up in Hamburg, Backer had always been passionate about the arts, so when she heard a qawwali, the devotional form of music often associated with Sufi Islam, during a trip to Pakistan to visit Khan, it was no surprise that she was intrigued and moved by its beauty. What was different this time though, was the depth she experienced with every note. Each lyric seemed connected to a higher form of love that could not be felt between humans. Beyond the music, Backer said she was “very much touched by the humanity of the people, by the hospitality, by the warmth,” in Pakistan. Everyone she came across, no matter what their financial situation, was willing to donate funds to Khan’s charity project, a cancer hospital in Lahore. “We met people who were very poor in the mountains, in the northern areas of Pakistan, who welcomed us with generosity,” she said. “Men in rags with teeth missing dropped a few rupees into Imran’s hands ― for the hospital. Women took off their jewelry and donated it for the hospital.” 'I like to say I wasn’t looking, I was found.' Backer was in awe. She was taken aback by the stark difference between the attitudes she experienced in the entertainment industry life, especially the superficiality of Western pop music, and the spirituality she witnessed in Pakistan. It would be three years before she finally converted to Islam, but the trip had struck a chord. Backer began researching about Islam, spending many days with Khan constantly exposed to his religion and way of life. This, she would later admit, helped her to spiritually awaken and discover a way of life that she could truly identify with. “I read a lot of books, and what I discovered was mind-blowing,” she said. “It was like a whole new universe. I was intrigued from the first book I read, and I wanted to know more. I realized … there is one God ... and that we’re self-responsible for our own deeds and [that] babies are born pure, not as sinners. ... I also learned how verses from the Quran can help me in my daily life.” Backer was inspired by it all. “I was convinced,” she continued. “I converted because I wanted to bring God into my life, and I wanted to purify myself to taste the spiritual fruits I was reading about.” But just as Backer’s interest in Islam was growing, something in her life shifted again. Khan, the man she had hoped to marry, abruptly ended their relationship and married another woman. At that point, Backer no longer had a direct reason to understand Islam. If she had recoiled against Khan and his religion, it would have been understandable. Instead, she embraced the faith without skipping a beat and converted. Islam provided Backer with the solace and strength to remain dignified throughout Khan’s instant and very public marriage to another woman. What began as a journey of discovery prompted by love for a man became a discovery of eternal love for someone else: God. It was her newly adopted faith that helped Backer reconcile life in a glitzy pop icon world ― where she had previously felt unsure of her place ― and find meaning in European culture. There were no more clouds in her life; the confusion and inner conflict had lifted. A Rocky Conversion Backer, now 51, is one of the most well-known German converts to Islam. But sadly, her conversion was not well-received by everyone at home.  “When it became known that I am a Muslim, a very negative press campaign followed,” Backer said. “I was an award-winning TV presenter, a popular icon over there for over seven years, and suddenly I was accused of being a supporter of terrorism. The papers suggested I had lost the plot. … Soon after, I was sacked from all my TV programs and practically lost my entertainment career in Germany.” 'It’s fine if you … have a piercing in your tummy and wear miniskirts, but it’s not fine to wear long clothes and a headscarf? That’s wrong.' This reaction had surprised Backer, because while she did enjoy an increased sense of modesty in her Muslim life, she had never associated Islam with the compulsion to wear burqas or found the stereotype of repression of women in the religion to ring true in her personal experience. “The first thing I changed was my sense of dress a little bit,” she said. “I ditched the miniskirts … I felt more feminine … Who needs those whistles on the streets?” “I was working in this industry where the motto was: ‘If you’ve got it flaunt it,'" she continued. “And now [I was] suddenly learning about the concept of modesty. You know, how it’s actually more dignified for a woman to cover her assets and not show them to everybody.” But others didn’t seem to understand her abrupt identity change. She found the double standard towards Muslim women confusing. “It’s fine if you … show your tummy and have a piercing in your tummy and wear miniskirts, but it’s not fine to wear long clothes and a headscarf? That’s wrong.” Her parents also held these unfair perceptions of Islam, and though they loved her in spite of her conversion, they struggled to move beyond them.  “They had some serious prejudices against Islam and especially Muslim men ― prejudices that Imran’s way of ending our relationship had only confirmed,” Backer recalled. “I tried to explain to them that I had discovered the religion for myself and had made it my own. Imran had merely opened the door for me … My father even mentioned the word ‘pantheism’ ― in his view, Muslims wanted to take over the whole world. He eventually asked me to stop talking about Islam and from then on, the topic became taboo in the house.” The reactions frustrate her to this day. In Backer’s experience, German identity is not all that different from Islamic identity, so why should she have to choose between the two? “Being German,” she said, “doesn’t mean drinking beer and being nationalistic. I wholeheartedly believe and know that Islamic values are compatible not only with German values, [but] with European values generally. Islam is a religion for all times and all worlds ― and therefore also for Europeans in our day and age. I’m living proof.” And the Germans before her were proof as well, Backer said. In embracing Islam and Eastern culture, she was merely following in the footsteps of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Martin Heidegger and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller ― German thinkers who were influenced by Eastern and Islamic texts, including those by Persian poets Jalaluddin Rumi and Hafez. But Backer’s own convictions couldn’t change the perceptions at home, and she found many German doors closed on her. She decided to relocate permanently to London, where she had converted, and continued working as a broadcaster. In England, Backer found a much different reception to her adopted religious identity. Despite continued Islamophobia across Europe, the United Kingdom had a more established group of Muslims working across the country. This was largely due to the fact that a number of Muslims in England had often come to the country for educational and intellectual pursuits, whereas those entering Germany historically came as guest workers, she said. 'I wholeheartedly believe and know that Islamic values are compatible not only with German values, [but] with European values generally.' But life as a Muslim here isn’t entirely easy, especially as a convert. There is a sense of community among Muslims in general, Backer said, which makes the climate for converts in particular quite lonely. “We are a minority within the minority. Where do we pray? Which mosque do we go to, the Pakistani, the Persian or the Turkish mosque?” Instead of feeling included in one of those ethnic groups, converts sometimes find themselves pushed aside for not being Muslim enough, or regarded as trophies that other Muslims flaunt around at parties and events, with little regard for the person themselves, she said. For Backer, the lack of acceptance from her family, as well as the sense of rejection from within the Muslim community, is one of the reasons she is determined to maintain her role as a prominent Muslim TV presenter in England ― a career path that she thinks will help change perceptions of Islam in the West.   “Do your job ― whatever you do ― really well so people admire you,” is the advice she gives Muslims struggling to assimilate in Western society today. “Remember [that] whatever you do, … you are not only a servant of God, but also an ambassador of Islam,” she said. But Backer knows that Muslims doing good in their own communities can only go so far, so as a member of the media, she constantly advocates for stronger and more accurate representations of Muslims in pop culture. “Nowadays,” she said in light of the disproportional and often Islamophobic coverage of terrorist acts, Muslims need “to compensate for the news coverage in other sections of the media, to make documentaries on Muslim culture and have Muslims characters featured on soap operas.” This need for a more accurate representation of Islam and Muslims is why she published a book about her journey to the faith. With From MTV to Mecca: How Islam Inspired My Life, Backer aspires to show Europeans that outside of the terror and suppression they see on the news, the majority of Muslims are in fact normal, wholesome and productive members of their society. And she has already seen results. In her newfound role as a spokesperson for Islam in Europe, she’s noticed some attitudes in Germany toward her greatly improving. Yet the future of Islam rests on the youth in the community, not her, Backer said. Young Muslims, she stressed, must teach the world that Islam is a modern religion and show people that it’s not something backward or incompatible with the West. “Islam here in Europe is a little fossilized, and it is up to the young people to take this forward and to really look into the sources of Islam, study the religion thoroughly through contemporary and classical scholars. And then educate not only the mainstream society, but even their own parents, because I tell you, I’m always so shocked when I hear young Muslims here are losing their faith.” 'It’s befriending other people; it’s reaching out. That is how I became a Muslim. Because I was touched by the generosity and friendship of the Muslims I met.' Ultimately, Backer said, it’s about making others understand the faith and closing the empathy gap, like Imran Khan did with her all those years ago in Pakistan. “It’s befriending other people; it’s reaching out,” she said. “That is how I became a Muslim. Because I was touched by the generosity and friendship and the wonderful manners of the Muslims who I met.” Her parting advice to Western Muslims, convert and otherwise?: “Never retreat just in your own Muslim bubble … Mix with mainstream society.” If professional Muslims in the West “suddenly roll up their prayer mat in their offices and step away to pray or fast on Ramadan,” colleagues will be exposed to Islam, she said. “And [this is how they] will understand it better. ” After all, Backer said: “The beautiful values of Islam and the teaching[s] of our noble Prophet [Muhammad] are [some] of the best-kept secrets in the West. ... [It’s] time we lift that veil.” * * * This Ramadan has been an especially trying month for Muslims. Long summer days without food or water have been made all the more challenging given such tragedies as the attack on a mosque in London, the heartbreaking story of young Nabra in Virginia, who was on her way to the mosque to start her fast when she was bashed to death with a baseball bat, and the numerous attacks on innocent civilians in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries in the Muslim world. The only antidote to the despair brought on by such suffering and violence is the message of Ramadan ― a message of compassion, of unity and of spiritual connection to our fellow human beings and to God. I hope that the stories in this series of Western Muslim converts reveal how every individual is constantly seeking spiritual fulfillment. In our case, these individuals have found their spiritual home and solace. I pray that the readers of this series, in their own way, through their own traditions, also find the spiritual solace they are seeking. Although the month of fasting has come to an end, we need more than ever to keep the message of Ramadan alive. Muslims across the world are marking the end of this holy month this weekend with the festival of Eid al-Fitr and a message of “Eid Mubarak.” So to all of you, Muslim and non-Muslim, I wish to extend these greetings of compassion and unity to you as we end our series. Eid Mubarak! type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Read the rest of the series here: + articlesList=59273e07e4b01b9a59377de2,5935ba70e4b0cfcda916c756,593f1985e4b0e84514edd221,5941d53de4b0d3185486f32e -- 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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24 июня, 07:01

Morgan Stanley’s role in Noble’s unhappy story

US companies should apply developed economies’ standards everywhere, says John Dizard

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24 июня, 07:01

Morgan Stanley’s role in Noble’s unhappy story

US companies should apply developed economies’ standards everywhere, says John Dizard

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24 июня, 07:01

Morgan Stanley’s role in Noble’s unhappy story

US companies should apply developed economies’ standards everywhere, says John Dizard

24 июня, 05:15

Grand Jury's 'Myth' Report On A California Jail Snitch Scandal Draws Criticism

LOS ANGELES ― A grand jury in California that investigated an Orange County jailhouse informant program, which a Superior Court judge and a state appeals court have agreed clearly exists, issued an unsettling report last week claiming that it is a “myth” largely created by the defense in a mass murder case and the media and that there is no widespread cheating by district attorney’s and sheriff’s officials, even though another ruling Friday in a murder case again indicated it is true. At the center of the scandal are allegations that sheriff’s deputies have for decades planted informants next to targeted inmates in the county’s jails and have directed them to fish for incriminating evidence to help secure convictions. While it’s legal for law enforcement authorities to use informants to help bolster cases, in many Orange County trials, it’s alleged that the informants questioned inmates who were represented by lawyers, violating their right to counsel. Prosecutors are accused of presenting damning evidence gathered by the informants in court while withholding other evidence that could have been beneficial to the defense. That would violate a defendant’s right to due process. While the Orange County grand jury conceded that there have been some violations in a “small number” of cases, it’s largely due to “laxness in supervision” at the agencies, which, the grand jury said, have moved to correct course. The grand jury also found that ongoing hearings related to the misuse of informants inside county jails, which are being conducted as part of the penalty phase in the case against mass killer Scott Dekraai, are nothing more than a “witch hunt” that the grand jury suggested should be stopped. Dekraai pleaded guilty to murdering eight people in a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011. He is still awaiting sentencing while the courts wrangle over allegations of malfeasance in the use of a jail informant who was allegedly planted in a cell next to Dekraai. At stake is whether the court will impose a death sentence. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County district attorney’s office have long denied that their officials have cheated to secure convictions. And the grand jury indicated that they should be believed. But the grand jury’s findings fly in the face of years of litigation, a mountain of evidence and multiple court rulings. Just Friday, an appeals court unanimously affirmed a ruling that the district attorney’s office improperly withheld records on a jailhouse informant used in the 2005 double-murder trial of Henry Rodriguez, who was freed in May 2016 after spending 18 years in prison. His attorney told the Los Angeles Times that he was never contacted by the grand jury about Rodriguez’s case. The grand jury’s findings have left many legal experts startled and deeply concerned that there must be an outside, independent probe of the allegations, beyond the investigation by the county’s grand jury. “I was surprised and distressed by the grand jury report,” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of law at the University of California, Berkeley, told HuffPost. Laura Fernandez, a senior Liman Fellow at Yale Law School who studies prosecutorial misconduct around the nation, said that “this situation calls for a genuinely independent inquiry, one that asks real questions in the hopes of getting real answers.” Here’s some of the reasons the report left many feeling that an independent probe is desperately needed now more than ever before.  Grand jury says it’s just “rogue deputies” who worked informants improperly, despite court evidence. While the grand jury accepts that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department may be using jailhouse informants, in its report it advances a narrative that sheriff’s supervisors gave at recent Superior Court hearings linked to the jail informant scandal. They testified that it was merely a small group of rogue deputies who were illegally working with informants that violated the rights of numerous defendants and that it was done behind the backs of their supervisors. But that narrative disintegrated over the last two weeks of testimony as a deputy and a supervisor indicated that the department’s upper management were aware of deputies’ actions with jail informants and that deputies received supervisor approval to do that work. There’s also a stack of internal memos that have been produced in court that detail the clear understanding of widespread use of jailhouse informants all the way up the chain of command at the sheriff’s office for more than a decade. One internal memo, dated March 2007 and sent from a sheriff’s sergeant on up to a captain, celebrates the “intelligence gathering” skills of the Special Handling unit at one county jail. It states that the jail unit “possesses an excellent expertise in the cultivation and management of informants” ― expertise “recognized by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as well as numerous law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California.”  A 2009 internal OCSD memo sent to command staff requests permission from an assistant sheriff to place an informant next to an inmate charged with murder so the conversation can be recorded. The assistant sheriff granted permission the same day it was requested.  A 2008 memo from deputies to members of the department’s command staff indicates that nearly a decade ago the OCSD admitted it had already cultivated “hundreds of confidential informants.” Another internal memo from 2007 details a large informant presence in the jails, saying there were “in excess of 40 [informants] throughout the facility” at the time. There’s also an internal memo once posted on a wall in the office of the Special Handling unit, which dealt with jail informants. The memo listed deputies’ duties, including “Cultivate/manage Confidential Informants.” Before their report was published, grand jurors heard the testimony and observed the key documents being discussed in the courtroom. Grand jurors also had access to court briefs on the internal OCSD memos and other evidence. But the report doesn’t address that testimony or evidence. The sheriff’s department, responding to a request for comment, directed HuffPost to its statement last week on the release of the grand jury report that says it “validates many past statements made by Sheriff Sandra Hutchens regarding the use of jailhouse informants and confirms a departmentally sanctioned program does not exist.” Report doesn’t address accusations that the D.A.’s office failed to turn over internal informant records. The Orange County district attorney’s office maintains a database of informant records called the Orange County Informant Index, a set of records on jailhouse informants maintained by the prosecutors’ office stretching back decades. But Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders ― Dekraai’s defense attorney, who, in a series of bombshell motions, has unearthed evidence of a long-concealed snitch program operating inside county jails ― argues that the D.A.’s office has repeatedly failed to turn over those records in various cases and has struggled with producing these records for at least two decades. Sanders obtained a 1999 letter sent to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas from the California attorney general’s office in which David Druliner, who headed the state attorney general’s criminal division, describes his serious concern about the unwillingness of prosecutors ― including the head of Rackauckas’ homicide unit ― to turn over informant evidence favorable to a man on death row. Druliner threatened to turn the evidence over himself, which ultimately forced the district attorney’s office to comply. The grand jury report does address the existence of an informant database and concedes that some prosecutors have used “flawed legal reasoning” when deciding not to disclose informant information from it, but the report gives little sense of the scope of the problem, it does not address the letter nor what it suggests about Rackauckas’ apparent ambivalence to determining whether other cases were affected.  Sanders told HuffPost that he sat down with the grand jury’s informant committee and its adviser, former U.S. Attorney Andrea Ordin, and raised the issue of the Rackauckas-Druliner exchange but that they appeared disinterested. “Omitting from the report any mention of the letter and the cases in which index entries were hidden over the past three decades corroborates that the grand jury was simply never going to call it straight when it came to the D.A.’s office,” Sanders said. Ordin did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment. The D.A.’s office misconduct identified by Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals in the Dekraai penalty phase, which led to the OCDA office being recused from the case, was affirmed last November by the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal, but that ruling is addressed in the report only as a footnote.  The D.A.’s office was also found to be attempting to steer murder cases away from Goethals, a tactic called “blanket papering.” In 55 of 58 cases over two years, county prosecutors apparently tried to avoid Goethals. Superior Court Judge Richard King said the tactic had “substantially disrupted the orderly administration of criminal justice in the county.” “Remember here the Court of Appeal described the behavior of the OC district attorney as egregious,” Chemerinsky said. “The D.A.’s office abused its power by ‘papering’ Judge Goethals in retaliation in 55 of 58 cases over a two-year period. The D.A.’s own commission made recommendations that have been ignored. None of this is reflected in the grand jury report.” Rackauckas has long maintained that no one in his office intentionally behaved inappropriately in relation to the jailhouse informant program and that no prosecutors have illegally withheld evidence. The district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in response to the grand jury findings, it said last week that the report “confirms the steadfast position” of the district attorney’s office and that the grand jury “debunked the media ‘witch hunt’ for agency corruption.” Would an illegally operated informant program have “job descriptions” and “calendaring of events”? Grand jury thinks it must. The grand jury strongly condemned the claims of what it called a “structured jailhouse informant program” operating in the Orange County jails and argued that allegations that the district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department conspired to violate inmates’ rights through the use of such a program are “unfounded.” “That narrative does not stand up to factual validation,” the report reads. The grand jury says it found no evidence of a “strategic plan” or “schedule” for jail snitches, no “formal training,” “dedicated budget,” “codified job descriptions” or “calendaring of events” for a jailhouse informant program. Legal experts were puzzled by this insistence that a shadow program in county jails wouldn’t exist without having a formal organization.  “Noting the absence of ‘definitive’ evidence of a ‘structured’ jailhouse informant program, the grand jury simply dismissed outright the possibility of something more covert and loosely organized than what it allegedly set out to find,” Fernandez, the Yale fellow, told HuffPost. The grand jury, Fernandez argued, never stopped to consider “whether evidence of ‘strategic plans,’ ‘dedicated budgets’ and ‘calendared events’ was something one might really hope to find in the context of an (illegal) informant program.” Moreover, the grand jury does not explain why it has focused on determining whether a formally structured informant program existed instead of analyzing case by case how fair trials may have been affected by jail informant evidence.   For instance, court records indicate that one section of the jail, called L-20, which was officially designated a mental health ward but has recently come to be understood as an “informant tank,” appears to have been used for years to obtain evidence in violation of defendants’ rights. The use of informant tanks is not discussed in the grand jury report.  “They omitted everything that would have decimated their conclusions,” Sanders told HuffPost. “For instance, before the ‘rogue’ deputies did their work, supervisors bragged about the cultivation of hundreds of jail informants done by different deputies. Would those deputies qualify as ‘rogue,’ too, even as their bosses gloated about the informant work they orchestrated? This group ... showed not the slightest sign they were concerned about all the evidence kept from indigent defendants.” Grand jury may have overstepped its authority in suggesting Dekraai hearings should end. The grand jury’s report implies that Judge Goethals should cease the ongoing evidentiary hearings in the Dekraai case. “Any further investigation of potential widespread, systemic institutional wrongdoing surrounding discovery or informant issues in Orange County would be far more appropriately addressed by these agencies and not by the trial court for the largest confessed mass murderer in Orange County history,” the report reads. While a grand jury has broad authority granted by statute to investigate matters of local, city or county concern, it does not have the authority to investigate matters of state concern. Superior Courts are considered state courts. So, questioning an ongoing hearing conducted by a Superior Court judge appears to fall outside its mission. The grand jury report must be authorized by the Superior Court, but the court does have the right to refuse the filing if the report “exceeds established legal limits,” according to state statute. The courts are not bound to act upon the grand jury report other than to be informed by it. The public information officer for the Orange County Superior Court system, under which the grand jury falls, told HuffPost in a statement that the Superior Court signed off on the grand jury report before it was published and posted but that the presiding judge can reject a report if it exceeds the grand jury’s authority. When asked if the court believed the grand jury may have exceeded its authority, the office said it could not provide insight “into the judicial decision-making process.” Report’s tone breeds skepticism. The tone of the report, which is dismissive of the years-long efforts by multiple lawyers and judges in the county, has also raised questions about its fairness, particularly with information coming to light that the grand jurors met with dozens of prosecutors but few defense attorneys.  The jail informant program is a “myth,” the grand jury declared. Current investigations of the sheriff’s department and prosecutors are a “witch hunt,” it said. And even when the grand jury argued that just a few deputies might have illegally used jail informants, the deputies were presented as having somewhat noble intensions, that they had gotten “carried away with efforts to be crime-fighters.” “Once I saw them describe the investigation as a ‘witch hunt,’ I was very skeptical of the report,” Chemerinsky said. Fernandez said that the grand jury opting to use such incendiary language was disturbing because it flies in the face of “contrary, carefully reasoned findings by the two courts who have considered the question the most closely.” “That language, like the report’s broader findings, has left everyone familiar with the situation scratching their heads ― including, unfortunately, some of the victims,” Fernandez said. Fernandez referred to the reaction of Paul Wilson, whose wife, Christy, was one of the eight people killed by Dekraai. “A myth? What a slap in the face to each of these families,” Wilson said to the court. “We have had to suffer through this, and they call it a myth.” The Orange County allegations have prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation.  -- 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.

24 июня, 03:31

Best Dog Breeds for Children With Autism

Loyal, friendly, calm, and patient dog breeds are the best option when you are looking to find a companion for your child on the autism spectrum.

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23 июня, 21:58

Here's Why Barnes & Noble (BKS) Shares are Popping Today

Shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (BKS) are up about 7.5% in afternoon trading Friday, building on Thursday's momentum after the company released better-than-expected financial results for its fiscal 2017 fourth quarter.

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23 июня, 21:09

Barnes & Noble shares up 6.8% in Friday trading

This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.

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23 июня, 14:49

Beware Of The Environmental Trump Trap

As Trump slashes and burns his way through environmental regulations, including the Paris Accord, he continues to bet that political polarization will work in his favor. Not only are his anti-scientific, anti-environmentalist positions firing up some within his base, but those positions are driving a deep wedge within organized labor. And unbeknownst to many environmental activists, they are being counted on to help drive that wedge even deeper. Trump already has in his pocket most of the construction trades union leaders whose members are likely to benefit from infrastructure projects – whether fossil fuel pipelines or new airports or... paving over the Atlantic. His ballyhooed support of coal extraction has considerable support from miners and many utility workers as well. But the real coup will come if Trump can tear apart alliances between the more progressive unions and the environmental community. Trump hopes to neutralize the larger Democratic-leaning unions, including those representing oil refinery workers and other industrial workers. That includes the United Steelworkers, a union that has supported environmental policies like the federal Clean Air Act and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and has a long history of fighting against the oil industry – not just over wages and benefits but also over health, safety and the environment. To get from here to there, Trump is hoping that environmental activists will play their part ― that they will become so frustrated by his Neanderthal policies, that activists will stage more and more protests at fossil fuel-related facilities, demanding that they be shut down in order to halt global climate crisis. Oil refineries present a target-rich arena for protest. On the West Coast they are near progressive enclaves and big media markets in California and Washington. Yet many who live in fence line communities would like the refineries gone, fearing for their own health and safety. Most importantly, they are gigantic symbols of the oil plutocracy that has profiteered at the expense of people all over the world. But from Trump’s point of view, nothing could be finer than for thousands of environmentalists to clash at the plant gates with highly paid refinery workers. Such demonstrations, even if peaceful and respectful, set a dangerous trap for environmental progress. Here’s why: 1. Demonstrations at oil refineries will drive those workers into the arms of their employers and towards Trump. For the past 40 years unionized oil workers have struggled against the oil industry to protect their health, safety and job security. The work is dangerous: At least 58 people have died at refineries since March 23, 2005, reports the Texas Tribune in partnership with the Houston Chronicle . In 2015, more than 5,200 unionized refinery workers went on strike, a rare event in an era of dwindling union power. But when jobs are directly threatened by calls for shutdowns, we should expect both the employers and employees to circle the wagons. 2. It’s not clear that shutting down U.S. oil refineries will reduce overall carbon emissions. There are 253 million cars and trucks on the road in America today and the average vehicle age is 11.4 years, reports the LA Times. While the number of plug-in electric cars are increasing, the total number is only about 570,000 as of 2016. By 2030, some projections show that half of all cars will be electric. The other half will still need refined oil. In addition, for the foreseeable future, refined oil products will be needed for a wide variety of chemical processes not related to gasoline. Therefore, it is not credible to argue that demand for refined oil products will vanish if refineries in the U.S. are shutdown. The fuel for those gasoline driven cars and production processes will have to come from somewhere. The question is from where? A related question is this: what will be the total carbon footprint of refined oil if it comes from far away – e.g. India or South Korea ― and if the refining processes in those areas are less clean than in the U.S.? Such questions require careful research, since different kinds of oil from different places around the world give off different amounts of greenhouse gases during refining; and since long-distance transport by ship, rail or truck emit additional and significant carbon pollution. Furthermore, in large part because of the struggles waged by U.S. refinery workers, the health, safety and environmental controls at U.S refineries are among the highest in the world. The same could not be said about refineries in India or South Korea, for example. 3. Attacking the livelihoods of oil refinery workers weakens the alliances needed for reduction of greenhouse gases and the transition to a clean energy economy. But aren’t there plenty of labor organizations that already support strong action on climate change? If so, why should we care about these highly paid fossil fuel workers? The answer relates to how we amass sufficient political power to curb greenhouse gasses. Nearly all of the labor groups that currently support strong action on climate change don’t have jobs at risk. They are health care workers, service workers and others who would not see their livelihoods threatened by job loss due the reduction of fossil fuel emissions. But if oil workers are in alliance with the environmental community, an important political message can be sent. It could show that the workers most impacted by the transition also want a cleaner and more stable environment for themselves, their families and their communities. Such an alliance would bring more resources, organizational muscle and troops to the environmental struggle and it would have the potential to put a dent in the power of the oil executives to rally their employees against environmental protections. 4. Talking about Just Transition and the New Green Economy is not good enough. But isn’t this job fear foolish? Doesn’t the new green economy now dwarf the old fossil fuel industries? Yes, it’s true that solar and wind are rapidly growing. But it’s very, very hard to make the case to an existing fossil fuel or manufacturing worker that he or she is going to get these new jobs, or that pay and benefits will be anything close to comparable. In the U.S. there is no just transition program that guarantees the incomes of those who lose their jobs due to needed environmental protections. Given four decades of attacks on organized labor, very few of the new green jobs are unionized or pay anything close to the fossil fuel/high energy jobs. Creating a just transition program is an important and noble aspiration. But if such a program is to be actually “just,” it will require enormous changes in how our economy functions: i.e. how people get the new jobs and how incomes and benefits follow people during the transition. And it will require an enormously powerful political movement both to halt the climate crisis and protect worker rights. The late Tony Mazzocchi, a leader of unionized oil workers and other industrial workers in the U.S., invented the concept of just transition. He understood there would be an enormous clash between the needs of the planet and the needs of working people to maintain their hard fought wages and benefits. He predicted decades ago that right wing demagogues would emerge to seize on these fears unless a real transition program came into being. The key concept of just transition as he envisioned it is “making workers whole.” This means that dislocated workers in environmentally sensitive industries would receive full pay and benefits as they transitioned to other jobs. Mazzocchi argued that, at the very least, these dislocated workers should receive four years full pay and benefits, plus free tuition to college or a trade school of their choice, modeled after the GI Bill of Rights following WWII. As Brian Kohler from the Geneva-based IndustriALL Global Union writes: If society wants certain workers to support giving up what they are doing today, then they have a right to choose what they will be doing tomorrow. And it had better sound good to them, or the resistance to change will be insurmountable. If that’s what environmentalists mean by just transition, then there is an opening for a productive dialogue. But that opening will only exist if environmentalists first do the math on how we meet continuing demand for gas to fuel our real driving needs, and on whether domestic, highly-regulated production of oil produces less carbon than alternative sources out of state or overseas. How do we win the struggle to contain the Climate Crisis? It’s hard to make the case that we’re winning much of anything right now. Congress and the White House are now ruled by anti-labor, climate change deniers. We have an environmental lunatic as president. Perhaps it’s time to review our organizing strategies. Because both labor rights and environmental progress are in grave danger, we should explore whether an alliance between oil workers and environmentalists is possible and productive. One way to proceed is bring fossil fuel workers together with environmentalists in educational workshops ― a safe space where together, they can explore these complex issues and opportunities. The United Steelworkers, the Communications Workers of America and the Sierra Club are doing just that in California. In fact, 24 of them are about to be trained to pair up as workshop leaders to run programs together for their respective organizations. To see teams of unionized workers and environmental activists run workshops on jobs, the economy and climate change might send a powerful message that a new movement can be built. And maybe, just maybe, they can help us all avoid the destructive Trump trap. (This train-the-trainer project is supported by the Labor Institute’s RunawayInequality.org Educational Network which is collaborating with progressive advocates and partners to spread information around the country on how Wall Street and its CEO allies are strip-mining our economy, and what we can do about it. For a report on the pilot labor-environment workshop held in March 2017, see here.) [This article originally appeared in Alternet.org] Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure of a new “reversing runaway inequality” movement. For more information, contact runawayinequality.org. -- 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.

23 июня, 14:49

Beware Of The Environmental Trump Trap

As Trump slashes and burns his way through environmental regulations, including the Paris Accord, he continues to bet that political polarization will work in his favor. Not only are his anti-scientific, anti-environmentalist positions firing up some within his base, but those positions are driving a deep wedge within organized labor. And unbeknownst to many environmental activists, they are being counted on to help drive that wedge even deeper. Trump already has in his pocket most of the construction trades union leaders whose members are likely to benefit from infrastructure projects – whether fossil fuel pipelines or new airports or... paving over the Atlantic. His ballyhooed support of coal extraction has considerable support from miners and many utility workers as well. But the real coup will come if Trump can tear apart alliances between the more progressive unions and the environmental community. Trump hopes to neutralize the larger Democratic-leaning unions, including those representing oil refinery workers and other industrial workers. That includes the United Steelworkers, a union that has supported environmental policies like the federal Clean Air Act and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and has a long history of fighting against the oil industry – not just over wages and benefits but also over health, safety and the environment. To get from here to there, Trump is hoping that environmental activists will play their part ― that they will become so frustrated by his Neanderthal policies, that activists will stage more and more protests at fossil fuel-related facilities, demanding that they be shut down in order to halt global climate crisis. Oil refineries present a target-rich arena for protest. On the West Coast they are near progressive enclaves and big media markets in California and Washington. Yet many who live in fence line communities would like the refineries gone, fearing for their own health and safety. Most importantly, they are gigantic symbols of the oil plutocracy that has profiteered at the expense of people all over the world. But from Trump’s point of view, nothing could be finer than for thousands of environmentalists to clash at the plant gates with highly paid refinery workers. Such demonstrations, even if peaceful and respectful, set a dangerous trap for environmental progress. Here’s why: 1. Demonstrations at oil refineries will drive those workers into the arms of their employers and towards Trump. For the past 40 years unionized oil workers have struggled against the oil industry to protect their health, safety and job security. The work is dangerous: At least 58 people have died at refineries since March 23, 2005, reports the Texas Tribune in partnership with the Houston Chronicle . In 2015, more than 5,200 unionized refinery workers went on strike, a rare event in an era of dwindling union power. But when jobs are directly threatened by calls for shutdowns, we should expect both the employers and employees to circle the wagons. 2. It’s not clear that shutting down U.S. oil refineries will reduce overall carbon emissions. There are 253 million cars and trucks on the road in America today and the average vehicle age is 11.4 years, reports the LA Times. While the number of plug-in electric cars are increasing, the total number is only about 570,000 as of 2016. By 2030, some projections show that half of all cars will be electric. The other half will still need refined oil. In addition, for the foreseeable future, refined oil products will be needed for a wide variety of chemical processes not related to gasoline. Therefore, it is not credible to argue that demand for refined oil products will vanish if refineries in the U.S. are shutdown. The fuel for those gasoline driven cars and production processes will have to come from somewhere. The question is from where? A related question is this: what will be the total carbon footprint of refined oil if it comes from far away – e.g. India or South Korea ― and if the refining processes in those areas are less clean than in the U.S.? Such questions require careful research, since different kinds of oil from different places around the world give off different amounts of greenhouse gases during refining; and since long-distance transport by ship, rail or truck emit additional and significant carbon pollution. Furthermore, in large part because of the struggles waged by U.S. refinery workers, the health, safety and environmental controls at U.S refineries are among the highest in the world. The same could not be said about refineries in India or South Korea, for example. 3. Attacking the livelihoods of oil refinery workers weakens the alliances needed for reduction of greenhouse gases and the transition to a clean energy economy. But aren’t there plenty of labor organizations that already support strong action on climate change? If so, why should we care about these highly paid fossil fuel workers? The answer relates to how we amass sufficient political power to curb greenhouse gasses. Nearly all of the labor groups that currently support strong action on climate change don’t have jobs at risk. They are health care workers, service workers and others who would not see their livelihoods threatened by job loss due the reduction of fossil fuel emissions. But if oil workers are in alliance with the environmental community, an important political message can be sent. It could show that the workers most impacted by the transition also want a cleaner and more stable environment for themselves, their families and their communities. Such an alliance would bring more resources, organizational muscle and troops to the environmental struggle and it would have the potential to put a dent in the power of the oil executives to rally their employees against environmental protections. 4. Talking about Just Transition and the New Green Economy is not good enough. But isn’t this job fear foolish? Doesn’t the new green economy now dwarf the old fossil fuel industries? Yes, it’s true that solar and wind are rapidly growing. But it’s very, very hard to make the case to an existing fossil fuel or manufacturing worker that he or she is going to get these new jobs, or that pay and benefits will be anything close to comparable. In the U.S. there is no just transition program that guarantees the incomes of those who lose their jobs due to needed environmental protections. Given four decades of attacks on organized labor, very few of the new green jobs are unionized or pay anything close to the fossil fuel/high energy jobs. Creating a just transition program is an important and noble aspiration. But if such a program is to be actually “just,” it will require enormous changes in how our economy functions: i.e. how people get the new jobs and how incomes and benefits follow people during the transition. And it will require an enormously powerful political movement both to halt the climate crisis and protect worker rights. The late Tony Mazzocchi, a leader of unionized oil workers and other industrial workers in the U.S., invented the concept of just transition. He understood there would be an enormous clash between the needs of the planet and the needs of working people to maintain their hard fought wages and benefits. He predicted decades ago that right wing demagogues would emerge to seize on these fears unless a real transition program came into being. The key concept of just transition as he envisioned it is “making workers whole.” This means that dislocated workers in environmentally sensitive industries would receive full pay and benefits as they transitioned to other jobs. Mazzocchi argued that, at the very least, these dislocated workers should receive four years full pay and benefits, plus free tuition to college or a trade school of their choice, modeled after the GI Bill of Rights following WWII. As Brian Kohler from the Geneva-based IndustriALL Global Union writes: If society wants certain workers to support giving up what they are doing today, then they have a right to choose what they will be doing tomorrow. And it had better sound good to them, or the resistance to change will be insurmountable. If that’s what environmentalists mean by just transition, then there is an opening for a productive dialogue. But that opening will only exist if environmentalists first do the math on how we meet continuing demand for gas to fuel our real driving needs, and on whether domestic, highly-regulated production of oil produces less carbon than alternative sources out of state or overseas. How do we win the struggle to contain the Climate Crisis? It’s hard to make the case that we’re winning much of anything right now. Congress and the White House are now ruled by anti-labor, climate change deniers. We have an environmental lunatic as president. Perhaps it’s time to review our organizing strategies. Because both labor rights and environmental progress are in grave danger, we should explore whether an alliance between oil workers and environmentalists is possible and productive. One way to proceed is bring fossil fuel workers together with environmentalists in educational workshops ― a safe space where together, they can explore these complex issues and opportunities. The United Steelworkers, the Communications Workers of America and the Sierra Club are doing just that in California. In fact, 24 of them are about to be trained to pair up as workshop leaders to run programs together for their respective organizations. To see teams of unionized workers and environmental activists run workshops on jobs, the economy and climate change might send a powerful message that a new movement can be built. And maybe, just maybe, they can help us all avoid the destructive Trump trap. (This train-the-trainer project is supported by the Labor Institute’s RunawayInequality.org Educational Network which is collaborating with progressive advocates and partners to spread information around the country on how Wall Street and its CEO allies are strip-mining our economy, and what we can do about it. For a report on the pilot labor-environment workshop held in March 2017, see here.) [This article originally appeared in Alternet.org] Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure of a new “reversing runaway inequality” movement. For more information, contact runawayinequality.org. -- 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.

23 июня, 13:08

Russian pranksters turn their sights on provincial governors

In the beginning of their career the jokers played pranks on Russian showbiz stars. Then they turned their attention to important international figures: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the Croatian prime minister, the president of sports anti-doping agency WADA… The pranks had a political nature and over time the humor paled. Details could emerge about how no one in NATO is waiting for Ukraine or who is financing the protests in Russia. Then Russia's kings of comic cold calling, Vovan (Vladimir Kuznetsov) and Lexus (Alexei Stolyarov), began playing jokes on Russian governors - that is, they got involved in domestic politics. Here they also feel very confident, saying that the pranks are carried out exclusively 'for a noble cause': to help recover state money, repair roads, improve the quality of living, etc. It is not difficult to find the 'target' for a prank and it is just as easy to understand who they must pretend to be. "In our country any federal official can inflict destruction on any local princeling or another federal official," says Lexus. However, it is not as simple as it looks. Sometimes it seems that these 'random' prank victims are not exactly as they seem. Punishing governors The latest 'unlucky' governor was Vladimir Vladimirov from Stavropol. The day before, during President Vladimir Putin's annual televised marathon Q&A"direct line" session with Russian citizens, Vladimirov was in the limelight. A woman called the president and told him that her family had still not received compensation promised after recent floods. "Vladimir Vladimirovich, where is the money?" Putin asked the governor on air, adding that all this is "very strange" and "does not make sense," since federal funds had already been alloted. Vovan and Lexus were swiftly on the case. Presenting themselves as a certain Mikhail Alexandrovich (the pranksters do not specificy his title or position), they rebuked the governor because the head of state "basically had to justify himself" as a result of his actions. "We will be satisfied (with our work) when all the residents of the village receive the necessary payments and are content with the quality of their lives," the pranksters said during the call. A year ago, also according to the "direct line" model, the jokers also played a trick on Omsk Governor Victor Nazarov, who made excuses during a prank call for unrepaired roads, blaming his colleague, the mayor of Omsk, whom he said was behaving like a "piglet." Russian governors are currently going through tough times, with a series of corruption scandals, constant rotation and public grievances. Both the president and the law-enforcement agencies are paying more attention to them. And now there are the pranksters. "Some people consider them telephone hooligans. But in any case, they have become a factor in the political landscape," Konstantin Kalachev, director of independent think tank, Political Expert Group, says.  Prankster paradise The pranksters categorically deny any relation to the Russian special services or the Kremlin, stressing that they work only for themselves and that the most important thing for them is not to damage Russia. And, for the time being, Russia's Kremlin-loyalist mass media is gladly taking advantage of their pranks. What is remarkable is that the governors who are victims of the jokes are indeed problematic regional administrators. People have many issues with the head of the Omsk Region: He is not popular, he cannot control the situation in the region well and in recent ratings of provincial governors fell by 28 points, analysts say. The Stavropol governor's ratings are also currently unstable. "Those who are shaking up the situation can definitely use the pranksters," Kalachev notes. In an interview with the BBC, the two pranksters said that they has also run their number on the governor of Mari El, Leonid Markelov, who is currently being held in jail after being accused of extorting a bribe worth 250 million rubles ($3.4 million). "Perhaps the pranksters are profoundly aware of the political situation and understand it very well (but why do they not call Moscow's mayor or the head of Chechnya?). Maybe someone gives them suggestions. If so, it is interesting to see what will happen next," says Kalachev. "While there are only two pranksters in the country it is normal. Even their "in the interests of the people" explanation is justified. But what if there were be 200 of them?  If there is demand, surely there will also be supply." Read more: Russian pranksters bust on U.S. Congresswoman in frantic phone call