Friday, May 27, 2011

Army report: Military has spent $32 billion since ’95 on abandoned weapons programs
By Marjorie Censer, Friday, May 27, 8:00 AM
The Army’s Comanche helicopter was envisioned as “the quarterback of the digital battlefield,” a technologically superior aircraft that could hide from enemies, operate at night and in bad weather, and travel farther than any other helicopter.

Gen. Richard Cody, a former vice chief of staff of the Army, called it the “most flexible, most agile” aircraft the country had ever produced.

In 2000, it ranked as the most important planned buy for the Army. Four years later, the program — which had consumed close to 20 years of work and nearly $6 billion — was abruptly shuttered.

It is one of 22 major Army weapons programs that have been canceled since 1995, ringing up a price tag of more than $32 billion for equipment that was never built. A new study commissioned by the Army, though not publicly released, condemns the service’s efforts as “unacceptable.”

The study is the latest indication that the Pentagon — and the defense industry, in turn — is undergoing a seismic shift in its approach to new programs. As pressures mounted in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military retreated from its ambitions of building multibillion-dollar, technologically superior systems. Instead, it was forced to make better use of tried-and-true equipment.

For almost a decade, the Defense Department saw its budgets boom — but didn’t make the kind of technological strides that seemed possible.

“Since 9/11, a near doubling of the Pentagon’s modernization accounts — more than $700 billion over 10 years in new spending on procurement, research and development — has resulted in relatively modest gains in actual military capability,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an address last week.

That outcome, he said, is both “vexing and disturbing.”

Gone are the days of “no-questions-asked funding requests,” he said. The Defense Department must make do with less. It is focusing on fixing up older equipment and taking a more measured approach to weapon development.

The shifting strategies and a shrinking defense budget have triggered the biggest restructuring in the defense industry since the end of the Cold War. Contractors big and small have been rethinking their portfolios and buying and selling accordingly. Northrop Grumman, for instance, spun off its shipbuilding unit. And Robert J. Stevens, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, last week said the company’s workforce, which has shrunk by 20,000 since 2009, “may well continue to decline.”

While the defense industry has always had an unusual business model in which it’s hard to predict future needs, officials say an uncertain trade has become all the more so.

“We can invest and make a great product and set a good price point, but demand is completely out of our control,” said Linda Hudson, who heads BAE Systems’ Arlington-based U.S. operations.

In recent years, the Pentagon has killed off some of its most heralded — and most pricey — weapons programs, and many of those that remain are not certain to move forward. In some ways, this represents a market correction — and a realization that the Defense Department has to live within its means and buy weapons it can afford.

“We’ve had 10 years of wars. We’ve had a fair amount of money available to the department,” said Thomas Hawley, deputy undersecretary of the Army. “It’s just time now, with at least one war winding down and another we hope will be winding down and funding definitely coming down, to take a pause, relook where we are and go forward from there in a thoughtful way.”

Cold War mentality

As the Army began developing the Comanche helicopter in the 1980s, it was riding high on the success of what are known as the “big five” major weapons systems: the Abrams tank, Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, Apache attack helicopter, Black Hawk utility helicopter and Patriot missile system, all of which are used today.

The Army, launching the Comanche with the Cold War in mind, imagined a new kind of helicopter able to stealthily detect well-equipped enemies. After a complex acquisition process, the military commissioned the team of Boeing and Sikorsky to build the Comanche. The Army eventually settled on buying 650 Comanches for about $39 billion.

But as the Army entered unconventional wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it suddenly didn’t need the best, most capable system available; it simply needed aircraft — and fast.

“The Comanche helicopter was a good helicopter. . . . We hadn’t had one like that before,” Hawley said. “It just was eating so much of the budget.”

Nearly $6 billion was already spent, but the Army and the Pentagon agreed that if the program were canceled, the service could redirect the roughly $15 billion budgeted for the Comanche over the next seven years to aircraft already in production, such as Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and unmanned drones.

The Army ultimately bought hundreds of new helicopters and drones. It redirected $2.2 billion to Black Hawks, more than $2.2 billion to the successful Apache program and almost $1.5 billion to fixing older Chinook aircraft, according to Army budget documents.

The cancellations have not stopped there. The helicopter developed to replace Comanche — known as the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program — was abandoned in 2008 after its price ballooned well past its budget. According to the Army study, that second effort cost another $535 million.

Shift to future combat

More recently, the Army experienced its steepest loss with the end of its Future Combat Systems (FCS) effort, billed as the Army’s most important and transformative modernization initiative. The complex program included a family of manned vehicles, a range of unmanned air and ground systems and sophisticated radios, all tied to a single network and intended to give soldiers a superior view of the battlefield. The idea was that the Army wouldn’t lose a fight if it could see everything its enemy was doing.

Launched at the tail end of the 20th century, the program faced serious technological failures. At the same time, Pentagon leaders, including Gates, began raising fundamental concerns about whether the systems would be successful in wars like Iraq, a campaign of hearts and minds in which the enemy fought amid a civilian population with unsophisticated but lethal weapons — the homemade bomb that could destroy a Humvee.

The FCS program was slowly dissolved. The loss was monumental — $19 billion as calculated in the Army’s new study, making it by far the single most expensive cancellation.

Explaining his decision to cancel the program in 2009, Gates called FCS “a revolutionary concept.”

“My experience in government is, when you want to change something all at once and create a whole new thing, you usually end up with an expensive disaster on your hands,” he said. “Maybe Google can do something revolutionary, but we don’t have the agility to do that.”

Gates set out to single-handedly upend the traditional idea of how the military develops and buys its largest weapons. In speeches around the country, he floated the “80 percent solution” of affordable systems that worked well enough — a sea change from the previous focus on the 99 percent “exquisite” platform.

He criticized the military, saying it had believed for far too long that “Iraq and Afghanistan were exotic distractions that would be wrapped up relatively soon,” meaning the services did not need to change their buying processes or dismantle long-range procurement plans.

And Gates has marched ahead. This year, he terminated the Marine Corps’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and said the service would spend the money to fix up the equipment it was designed to replace.

At the same time, the military has directed ever more attention to burgeoning information technology areas, such as cybersecurity.

Systems of systems

The end of major weapons programs is clearly linked to the pressures on funding and demand created by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But analysts also point to the scope of the programs.

Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant at the Lexington Institute, blames the failures on the complexity the military sought in modern programs. It was no longer content to build fairly straightforward weapons such as tanks or helicopters. Instead it sought to produce what it calls “systems of systems,” or weapons that include a wide array of other high-tech systems.

For instance, a tank wouldn’t just shoot; it would also allow soldiers to view the battlefield, see the status of other weapon systems and communicate with other soldiers.

“Anything that is a system of systems is probably too complicated to execute in our political system,” Thompson said. “The technology takes too long to develop, and the political system runs out of patience.”

The Army often thinks too big when designing its programs, said the new study, a wide-ranging analysis chaired by Gilbert F. Decker, a former Army acquisition chief, and retired Gen. Louis C. Wagner Jr., who headed Army Materiel Command. The study, which relies on interviews with more than 100 former and current officials, points to the service’s failure to properly set the parameters for new equipment.

A segment of the military wants program baselines to “only state the operational need and not be constrained by either technology or cost,” the study said.

The military in general is often viewed as too optimistic in its acquisition efforts; J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, recently dubbed the Defense Department “the Department of Wishful Thinking.”

In reality, the most successful programs in recent years were those based on existing designs and machinery that wasn’t perfectly customized for the Army. For instance, just four years after announcing the program, the service deployed Strykers, a set of lighter vehicles meant as interim systems while new, more capable systems were developed.

And after soldier casualties and injuries related to roadside bombs in Iraq began to climb at an alarming rate, the Pentagon and the service rushed Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, into the field. The trucks, which were built more quickly than any other system in modern history, were heavily armored and equipped with a V-shaped bottom designed to deflect the impact of roadside bombs. The Pentagon has credited them with saving countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marching ahead

Now, the study calls on the Army to look closely at its program parameters to ensure officials take into account actual funding and the challenges of building the technology.

The report recommends a slate of steps for the Army, including investing in a more qualified staff and making an effort to better learn from its failures. It pushes for more collaboration within the Army and with industry and suggests adding personnel at the Army’s research commands.

The Army reported this month that it has implemented virtually all of the recommendations.

Even as the military weighs future plans, it has several big developmental programs underway. The Army is working on a next-generation Humvee, a top-of-the-line vehicle meant to satisfy a nearly impossible balance — being light enough to travel easily but protected enough to stave off roadside bombs. Analysts have raised questions about whether that program will survive as the price tag continues to grow, reaching about $320,000 per vehicle, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Pentagon “doesn’t quite know what it wants to do,” said David Berteau, senior adviser and director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ defense-industrial initiatives group, of the choice between high-tech programs developed the traditional way and “good enough” procurements.

But Berteau said the Defense Department will have to decide “rather than pretend you can pay for everything.”

Gates has called on the military to balance the choice between good-enough solutions for war and high-tech programs that take years to produce.

“Our guiding principle going forward,” he said, “must be to develop technology and field weapons that are affordable, versatile and relevant to the most likely and lethal threats in the decades to come, not just more expensive and exotic versions of what we had in the past.”
'Good' Cholesterol Not So Good

It seems “good” cholesterol is just OK. After a large body of research found that people with low HDL levels were more likely to suffer heart attacks, researchers began to look into ways of boosting HDL cholesterol levels, hoping it would clear out the LDL cholesterol that clogs arteries and causes heart problems.

But a large study shows that this isn't the case.

The federally funded study of 3,400 U.S. adults at high risk of heart attacks and strokes was called off 18 months early because HDL-boosting drugs clearly failed to lower the risk. Possibly worse, patients who took the HDL-boosting drug showed a higher rate of strokes when blood flow to the brain is obstructed, though it's unclear whether the increase was a fluke or related to the drug.
“This sends us a bit back to the drawing board,” said Susan B. Shurin, acting director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institue.


Inside Donald Trump's Empire: Why He Won't Run for President
by Wayne Barrett Info
Wayne Barrett is a Newsweek contributor and a fellow at the Nation Institute.

With lawsuits pending, Trump's business empire could not withstand the close scrutiny of a presidential campaign, and even his kids might have been muddied. Wayne Barrett, who first exposed Trump’s ties to organized crime in his 1992 book, looked into the Donald’s most recent business dealings and discovered:

• One associate who was an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a massive 2000 stock swindle—and escaped prison only by helping to convict 19 others, including six members of New York crime families
• Two associates who served prison time on cocaine charges
• Another partner prosecuted for trafficking underage girls after a dramatic helicopter raid on a yacht off the Turkish coast
• A pending lawsuit against Trump Soho that alleges daughter Ivanka, among others, made fraudulent misrepresentations

“I had no idea I would get hammered in the way I’ve been hammered,” Donald Trump declared in New Hampshire on May 11, five days before he dropped out of a presidential race he never formally entered.

Trump knew when he went to New Hampshire that he was about to be hammered again, this time on the front page of The New York Times, which, two days later, reported that hundreds of buyers at condo projects that bear his name were suing him. Trump then went on CNBC—in what turned out to be his last presidential TV interview—and blasted the author of the Times piece, Michael Barbaro, as well as NBC’s investigative chief, Michael Isikoff, and even one of the show’s hosts, Simon Hobbs. Two weeks earlier, Trump had been roasted by the president at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and now, anyone with a question to ask looked at him as if he had barbecue fork in hand.

As late as this May 13 CNBC appearance, Trump was talking about two possible deadlines for his decision to run—May 22 and before June. Instead, he quit abruptly on May 16, reneging on his promise to attend the Tea Party’s South Carolina event on May 19. He has hinted that NBC forced his hand with its deadline for a $120 million, two-year, Celebrity Apprentice renewal offer. But, as inevitable as it may always have been that he would pull the plug on his presidential show, Trump appeared to depart in a hurried attempt to stanch the flow of bad press, no matter how hard he now wants to disguise it. His refusal to rule out a return to the campaign trail when he called in to Fox TV last Monday was surely just more bravado tease.

Trump quit at least in part because he finally realized what a harsh light this ego explosion was shining on every corner of his business empire, potentially exposing not only him and his many partners, but also his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka to intense scrutiny. An ongoing media investigation of Trump’s financial deals—beset by charges of fraudulent misrepresentation—would also have made it harder for NBC to continue touting him as a model American businessman.

Among these purportedly “reckless” claims “to induce sales” were Ivanka Trump’s assertions to Reuters and to the London Times in June 2008 that 60 percent of the units were sold.

Donald Trump arrives to speak at Pease International Trade Port on April 27, 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images)
In the days before Trump dropped out, he could certainly not have been too happy to hear from me again. We met in the late '70s for hours of taped interviews, and The Village Voice stories I wrote then resulted in a federal grand jury probe of his early deals, though, in the end, no indictment. When I published the first biography of the Donald in 1992, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which oversees casino licensing in Atlantic City, put Trump under oath and issued a 34-page report, confirming some of the ties to organized crime I described in the book and stating that they could not verify others. I was later visited repeatedly by gaming officials from Missouri when Trump applied for a riverboat casino license there; he wound up withdrawing the application.

While I was reporting that book in 1990, I was muscled out of Trump Castle and handcuffed overnight to a wall at the Atlantic City jail. I haven’t done much reporting about him since the book, but when his numbers shot to the top in recent presidential polls, I took another look and asked his office for an interview. His response was a letter threatening a libel suit.

Trump did sue Tim O’Brien, who was a research assistant on my Trump book, when Tim wrote a sequel in 2005. Now the national editor of the Huffington Post, O’Brien finally prevailed after years of litigation. I obtained—and not from O’Brien—a copy of the two-day deposition Trump gave in that lawsuit. The December 2007 transcript is a road map of the dark paths Trump’s business career has taken in recent years.

In addition to being a television personality, Trump makes a lot of his money these days licensing his name for various hotel and condo projects, not to mention mattress and vodka brands. His most frequent partner in the condo/hotel deals—some of which have become actual projects and some of which haven’t—has been a small development firm called the Bayrock Group, which was headquartered in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in 2005 when the partnership began. Trump and Bayrock joined forces on Trump Soho in New York and Trump International Hotel and Tower in Fort Lauderdale, announced and then canceled another Florida project called Trump Las Olas, and together pushed unsuccessful ventures in Colorado and Arizona. Two days before Trump’s 2007 deposition in the O’Brien case, however, The New York Times broke a story about a top Bayrock executive, Felix Sater (aka Satter). Sater had gone to prison for plunging the stem of a wine glass into a commodity broker’s face in a bar fight. He’d also narrowly averted jail a second time, when he was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a massive federal fraud case in 2000. Sater cooperated in this probe of a $40 million stock swindle, which resulted in 19 guilty pleas and the conviction of six mobsters—including the nephew of Carmine “the Snake” Persico and the brother-in-law of Sammy “the Bull” Gravano. The wise guys were part of a “pump and dump” stock scam at the Wall Street firm, White Rock Partners, that Sater ran with Sal Lauria.

Sater, the son of a reputed Russian mob boss, whose mini–storage locker contained two unlicensed pistols and a shotgun, actually worked out of a penthouse office in Trump’s new building at 40 Wall Street. Lauria, who pled guilty to a racketeering charge in the pump-and-dump case, later claimed in a memoir he published that he’d been on talking terms with Trump.

“What kind of interaction did you have with Mr. Sater,” Trump was asked in the O’Brien deposition back in 2007.

“Not that much,” he replied. “I dealt mostly with Tevfik.”

Trump was referring to Tevfik Arif, the founder and chairman of Bayrock, who’d told the Real Estate News shortly before Trump’s deposition that Donald "has been very helpful to us from the beginning and he's been very helpful in opening some doors." In his deposition, Trump praised Arif’s “international connections,” and detailed half a dozen “phenomenal” prospective tower deals with Arif, including ones in Moscow, Yalta, Warsaw, Istanbul, and Kiev. He boasted that Arif was prepared to give Trump a 20 to 25 percent interest in his overseas projects, plus management fees and a possible percentage of gross, without Trump investing a nickel—just for the use of his name. “It was almost like mass production of a car,” Trump testified. His suit claimed that Arif canceled these lucrative projects because of O’Brien’s book, and he urged O’Brien’s lawyers to question Arif, confident that his friend would verify these damages.

By the next year, however, Arif began to look as much like a liability as Sater. (Trump testified that Arif had assured him Sater was not a partner, though court records indicate that he had a 50 percent “executive membership interest” in the Bayrock affiliates doing the Trump developments). In a 2009 civil complaint Jody Kriss, who served for five years as the finance director at Bayrock, alleged that the firm was a “racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization” that Arif and Sater “operated through a pattern of criminal activity.” In addition to charging them with embezzlement and various forms of fraud, Kriss alleged they had engaged in “extortion by means of threats of torture and death.” The complaint also claims that Bayrock steered a $1.5 million placement fee in 2007 to Sater’s convicted partner Lauria for a financing deal involving Bayrock’s projects with Trump in Soho, Fort Lauderdale, and Phoenix.

In a separate lawsuit against a former tech executive, Bayrock lawyers contend that the techie downloaded thousands of documents in the company’s system and gave some to Kriss, including emails “related to a sealed criminal matter” that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are pursuing. The judge who sealed many papers in the ongoing Kriss civil suit, making reference to a criminal probe related to Bayrock, also sealed the ongoing criminal case of Sal Lauria, who has a cooperation agreement with the government. These orders make it impossible to determine what the criminal matter, or even some of the civil court issues (including Bayrock’s defense), might be.

Arif is such a fabulist, according to the Kriss complaint, that he even “pretends to be Turkish to avoid connection to his questionable past in Russia.” He spends a lot of time in Istanbul and, last October, was arrested aboard the largest for-charter luxury yacht in the world and charged with "encouraging" and "facilitating" prostitution. Turkish military police conducted a helicopter raid on the Savarona, a 16-suite, steam-powered, white vessel once used by Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Ataturk, and rented out for $40,000 a day. Nine Russian and Ukrainian women were detained and then deported; two were reportedly only 16 years old and had come to Turkey at Arif’s behest. Media reports indicated that naked men, some of whom were top government officials as well as Russian, Israeli, Kazakhstan, and Turkish executives, were busted in suites strewn with used and unused condoms.

Arif insisted that he was just “entertaining friends” and that the girls brought on board were there for “dancing and singing.” Gondoz Akerniz, who worked for Arif and rented the yacht, told the same reporters that if Arif “comes here to meet friends and talk about investments, and I order models for them. I don’t know if they’re underage or not.” When the incident, which allegedly involved a prominent Israeli billionaire and a senior Kazakhstan official, blew up in the international media, the case was quickly concluded. At an April hearing, a judge dismissed the charges against Arif, though four lesser-known businessmen directly implicated in bringing the girls aboard were convicted. A final report on the reasons for the dismissal has yet to be issued, though the fact that the women refused to testify, denied they were prostitutes, and immediately left Turkey did weaken the prosecution.

At the time of the boat bust, reporters called Trump’s office and were told that he hadn’t spoken to Arif “in years,” even though Arif remains a partner in Trump Soho, a $450-million hotel/condo project where Trump actually has both an ownership and management role, unlike his licensing deals. Five days after Arif’s arrest, Trump launched what has turned out to be his presidential tease.

Another partner in Trump Soho is the Russian √©migr√© developer Tamir Sapir, who lives in a $5 million Trump Tower condo. Though his net worth was first pegged at $2 billion by Forbes in 2006, Sapir’s company claimed to have “only $4,000 in cash and cash equivalents” in 2009. And Sapir’s lawyers recently claimed in a court case that Sapir’s “deteriorating mental condition” has prevented him from writing anything but his signature “for 10 years,” meaning he was out of it when he consummated the Soho deal with Donald in 2005. A year earlier, Fred Contini, Sapir’s onetime executive vice president and top aide, pled guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy with the Gambino crime family for 13 years—both prior to and after his hiring by Sapir in 1996.

Sapir, whom Trump calls a “great friend,” introduced Donald to Bayrock and is best known for his $500,000 payment to lobbyist and former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato for a single call to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to help him retain a lucrative lease with the agency. He was also fined $150,000 for decorating his yacht with 29 animal carcasses in violation of endangered species laws, including a stuffed lion and python-covered bar stools.

Trump Soho finally opened a year ago. Nineteen unit buyers are now suing, accusing Bayrock, Sapir, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Jr., among others, of “an ongoing pattern of fraudulent misrepresentations and deceptive sales practices.” Among these purportedly “reckless” claims “to induce sales” were Ivanka Trump’s assertions to Reuters and to the London Times in June 2008 that 60 percent of the 391-unit Tower were sold, at a time when documents later submitted to the New York attorney general indicated that only 14.5 percent had been sold. (The Soho’s response papers quibble with these numbers, suggesting they may have sold a handful more units than they reported to the New York attorney general.) The project was announced during the grand finale of the 2006 Apprentice, and Ivanka did a cleavage-baring ad for it, tagged “Possess Your Own Soho.”

Trump is now trying to put some distance between himself and the Soho project, which is discounting units by 25 percent and is at best a third sold. But the suit says he is listed in official documents as “actively involved” in the condo offering. In addition, he manages the hotel, which happens to be the entire building. That’s because an unprecedented city zoning agreement limits condo owners to living in the 46-story tower 120 days a year, allowing Trump, acting as a fee-collecting agent for the unit owners, to rent them out as hotel suites the rest of the time. He, Ivanka and Donald Jr. also own an 18 percent interest in the project. Ivanka and Donald Jr. did not respond to requests for comment.

What may prove particularly damaging to Trump Soho is the contention in the lawsuit that the project was marketed as an investment because of the hotel arrangement, with sales agents touting prospective nightly charges of up to $1,000 and annual returns of 153 percent. That may make securities fraud part of this case—as vigorously as the Trump Soho lawyers deny it—and courts typically take securities fraud more seriously than consumer deception.

The Soho’s lawyers have petitioned to dismiss the case, but if it survives that motion, it could have been in the headlines while candidate Donald was in Iowa, as might the ongoing criminal case involving Bayrock and Lauria. Either of these, or the probe of Trump’s for-profit university just launched by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, would have put a crimp in the campaign.

A similar case has been filed by buyers at Trump International in Fort Lauderdale, the other Bayrock/Sapir project. Rejecting parts of a dismissal motion in December 2010, Judge Adalberto Jordan’s 24-page ruling noted that “sales literature ballyhooed the building as a profitable investment allowing a favorable income share.” The 298-unit project, which was a focus of the recent New York Times story, has been such a disaster that it was halted shortly before it was completed and is empty and locked now. Trump, who had limited his exposure in this Bayrock/Sapir deal to licensing his name and possibly managing the hotel, abruptly pulled out in 2009, when they stopped paying him a monthly promotional fee for the use of his name. But the Jordan decision cites Trump’s smiling announcement about the project—“It’s with great pleasure that I present my latest development”—as evidence of why buyers thought they were buying Trump when they made their deposits.

Jordan dismissed many claims against Trump precisely because he was merely renting his name, but he did find that “these allegations seem to suffice to define” Trump and his company as persons who “advertise for sale or lease” and thus, under the terms of federal law, might be potentially liable for the apparent default. Trump and his partners insist that both this and the suit against Trump Soho are cases of buyers’ remorse in a sagging real-estate market from folks too busy to read the fine print of a contract, which tells purchasers to disregard other marketing promises.

The Trump family has also gone into business with two convicted cocaine traffickers, one in Turkey and another in Philadelphia. Engin Yesil, whose development company was said to “own the Turkey rights” for a $500 million project called Trump Towers Istanbul, was sentenced to a six-year prison term on cocaine charges in the U.S. 20 years ago. He says now that he “delegated” his Trump “royalties” to Dogan Holdings, a giant Turkish developer and media company that was just fined an extraordinary $2.5 billion for dodging corporate taxes in Turkey for years. When asked in the O’Brien deposition about the Istanbul project, Donald deferred to his son, who he said was handling the deal. In 2009, Ivanka did a huge press event in Istanbul, announcing that 45 percent of the units were already committed.

Trump Tower Philadelphia also involves a former cocaine dealer, Raoul Goldberg, aka Goldberger. Sentenced to 46 months in prison in 2000 on the coke conviction, he was technically on probation when he brought the site for the 45-story tower to Trump in 2005. And even though it’s only a license and management deal for Trump, Ivanka and Donald Jr. were so involved that they worked on spa and restaurant deals for the complex. Goldberg, who has suddenly “disappeared” from the project just as Felix Sater did, told Philadelphia Magazine in 2006 that he talked to Ivanka or Donald Jr. “every day.”

At a climactic moment in his 2007 deposition, Trump was asked to “put aside Bayrock.” Other than “this situation,” his interrogator wondered, “have you ever before associated with individuals you knew were associated with organized crime?”

“Not that I know of,” he testified.

In fact, Trump’s recent history with this catalog of criminals and cads is but an update on my earlier book, which listed dozens of mob relationships from concrete to casinos.

In one instance in the 1980s, Trump paid $8 million to buy out two mob-tied business associates when he feared his gaming license wouldn’t be approved. He wrote a letter to a federal judge on behalf of a mob-connected cocaine dealer whose helicopter company serviced his casinos and whose girlfriend had two Trump Tower apartments. He structured the purchase of a plot of land from a top leader of the murderous Scarfo crime family in Atlantic City so that his name would not appear in the transaction. He put a winsome but ostensibly penniless woman closely associated with the Gambino-connected head of the concrete drivers union in a triplex with Trump Tower’s only swimming pool right beneath his own apartment.

Trump threatened to sue over the book but never did. The gaming officials who questioned Trump under oath about 14 of the many charges in my book didn’t contradict any of these facts; they just viewed them more benignly.

Trump also claimed during this questioning by gaming authorities that he didn’t know that his lawyer, mentor, and close friend, Roy Cohn, represented Genovese godfather Fat Tony Salerno—though their two names appeared in the same paragraph about former clients in Cohn’s 1986 Times obituary. Trump’s answer was an effort to disassociate himself from Cohn because my book alleged that Cohn had brokered a Trump meeting with Salerno—which Trump denied—and he was aware that Barron Hilton had been denied a casino license for a lesser relationship with a lesser mob lawyer.

These kinds of associations once caused Trump worry about retaining his gaming licenses (he is still the largest shareholder in a public company that owns three of Atlantic City’s struggling casinos, but license renewal is no longer required). Perhaps he finally realized that in a presidential campaign, which requires filing detailed financial disclosures, the vetting of all sorts would be much tougher. Then a gang of questionable associations like this would’ve converted a candidacy into a scandal, damaging his star status, business prospects, and even his family.

Valerie Bogard, Bryan Finlayson, Nichole Sobecki, Barry Shifrin, and Katie Thompson contributed reporting to this article.

Wayne Barrett is a Newsweek contributor and a fellow at The Nation Institute.

STRESS and how to handle it!

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'..... she fooled them all... "How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"

1 * Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker..

5 * If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it..

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

20 * It was I, your friend!

*Save the earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A GREAT COUNTRY OR WHAT!! Thanks you druggies out there!!

28 Dead, 700 Flee as Gang Battles Hit West Mexico

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — Fierce fighting among apparent rival drug gangs in western Mexico bloodied one highway with 28 dead, while in a nearby state more than 700 people huddled in shelters after fleeing villages that had become battlegrounds.

The violence, which appeared to be unrelated, escalated Wednesday in the western states of Nayarit and Michoacan, where drug cartels have been warring for territory.

Police in Nayarit initially responded to a citizen complaint of a kidnapping by a group of armed men, who fled on a federal highway near the town of Ruiz in the central part of the state, according the state prosecutors office.

As the officers headed toward the scene, they heard a second report of a shootout involving the same men, according to the statement, which did not identify the gangs or the victims.

Police found 28 men lying dead and four others wounded on the road littered with bullet casings from high-powered weapons and 10 abandoned vehicles.

The statement released late Wednesday by the attorney general's office gave no further details.

Earlier in the day, an official in the nearby western state of Michoacan said drug cartel violence had prompted frightened villagers there to flee hamlets and take refuge at five shelters set up at a church, event hall, recreation center and schools.

It is at least the second time a large number of rural residents have been displaced by drug violence in Mexico. In November, about 400 people in the northern border town of Ciudad Mier took refuge in the neighboring city of Ciudad Aleman following cartel gunbattles. That shelter has since been closed and most have returned to their homes.

Michoacan state Civil Defense Director Carlos Mandujano said about 700 people spent Tuesday night at a primitive water park in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan, with most sleeping under open thatched-roof structures.

Mandujano said state authorities were providing sleeping mats, blankets and food for those in the shelter.

Residents told local authorities that gunbattles between rival drug cartel factions had made it too dangerous for them to stay in outlying hamlets. The latest reports said arsonists were burning avocado farms in the nearby town of Acahuato.

"We woke up with fear (on Monday), but things appeared to have quieted down. It wasn't until later that morning that we saw SUVs with armed men driving by very fast and shooting at each other," said a woman who did not want to be named for security reasons.

Several displaced people said they would stay at the shelters all week before considering going back to their villages.

"I am not scared, but my children are," said a mother, who asked not to be quoted by name because of fear of retaliation.

The fighting in Michoacan is believed to involve rival factions of the Michoacan-based La Familia drug cartel, some of whose members now call themselves "The Knights Templar."

Mexico still has fewer people displaced by violence than countries like Colombia, according to the Norway-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which tracks such figures. It estimates about 230,000 people in Mexico have been driven from their homes, often to stay with relatives or in the United States. An estimated 3.6 million to 5.2 million people have been displaced by decades of drug- and guerrilla-war violence in Colombia.

Buenavista police chief Othoniel Montes Herrera said he has neither the manpower nor the armament to patrol rural areas frequented by drug gangs. Sending ill-armed officers out there "would be certain death, and we're not thinking of putting our personnel at that risk."

Drug violence has been on the rise in Nayarit, a Pacific Coast state known for its surfing and beach towns. In October, gunmen killed 15 people at a car wash in the capital of Tepic, an attack that police said bore the characteristics of organized crime. The bodies of 12 murder victims, eight of them partially burned, were found on a Nayarit dirt road a year ago. Officials have not identified the gangs fighting there.

Associated Press

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Newt Gingrich’s dubious claim of a ‘normal’ no-interest charge account at Tiffany

NEWT GINGRICH: You know, we don't do elaborate things.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Did you owe a half-million dollars to a jewelry company at one point?

GINGRICH: We had a revolving fund.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what does that mean?

GINGRICH: It means that we had a revolving fund. It was a –

SCHIEFFER: I mean, who buys a half-million dollars worth of jewelry on credit?

GINGRICH: No. It's a — go talk to Tiffany's. It's a standard, no-interest account.

SCHIEFFER: How long did you owe it?

GINGRICH: I have no idea, but it was paid off automatically. We paid no interest on it. There was no problem with it. It's a normal way of doing business.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, it's very odd to me that someone would run up a half-million-dollar bill at a jewelry store.

GINGRICH: Well, go talk to Tiffany's. All I'm telling you is we are very frugal. We, in fact, live within our budget. We owe nothing.

— Exchange on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” May 22, 2011

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s claim of being “very frugal” reminded us of this Reliable Source item from 1999:

When Newt and lady love Callista Bisek shared dinner at the Old Angler's Inn in Potomac Saturday night, he ordered the priciest item on the wine list — a $450 bottle of 1983 Chateau Latour. That's twice the price of the restaurant's next most expensive wine — a $220 Opus One Baron de Rothschild 1996 from California's Mondavi Vineyard.

Unfortunately for Gingrich, he overpaid — the 1983 was a mediocre year for the Latour vineyard. But perhaps he learned his lesson from overpaying for so-so wine and now he’s frugal?

We’re not sure. But we are also puzzled by his claim that he had a “standard, no-interest account” at Tiffany & Co. The disclosure filings that Gingrich’s third wife, Callista, provided to the House of Representatives when she worked for the Agriculture Committee listed debts to Tiffany of $250,001 to $500,000 on a “revolving charge account” for two straight years. (The disclosure forms also show debts of $15,001 to $50,000 to American Express.)

Would Tiffany really charge no interest for that period of time on that amount of money?

The Facts

As Gingrich urged, we tried first to talk to Tiffany. We e-mailed and called three different spokesmen in the New York headquarters. One spokeswoman curtly said they were aware of Gingrich’s comments and they would try to respond. But so far, we have received no answer or explanation.

Then, we looked at the current installment credit application form posted by Tiffany on its Web site. That form shows an annual interest rate of 21 percent for the state of Virginia, where Gingrich and his wife live. That interest rate is charged if you do not pay the balance off in full within 25 days after the close of each billing cycle.

That would be a hefty interest charge in a year—about $50,000 on a $250,000 loan. Gingrich’s wife’s filings cover the 2005 and 2006 calendar years, and indicated the couple at that time had between $1 million and $2.5 million in assets.

The filings also certainly suggest that the Tiffany bill was not paid off every month in full, since the same figure is listed for two years straight. (Callista Gingrich then left the staff of the House Agriculture Committee, and was no longer required to file a disclosure statement, so it is unclear whether or when the loan was paid off.)

We checked with credit-card experts. They said Gingrich’s comments made little sense.

“It doesn’t sound plausible to me,” said Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research at “Store credit cards almost never carry these kinds of terms, and it is highly unlikely for an exclusive retailer like Tiffany’s.”

Some department stores, such as Sears, might offer a few months of “same as cash” credit for buying major appliances. But Woolsey said a store like Tiffany is not going to offer zero-interest credit for purchases of jewelry, given the type of clientele it attracts. “Maybe with Zales, but not with Tiffany’s,” he said.

John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at, said Gingrich’s comments made sense only “if he had some sort of no-interest grace period. You can't revolve a balance and not pay interest unless there is a zero percent interest rate. Carrying a balance of up to $500,000 and not paying interest is anything but ‘normal.’ ”

However, he added that Tiffany “isn't your normal retailer, and upscale retailers are notorious for cutting special deals with VIPs like entertainers, athletes, and political figures.”

We queried Gingrich’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, for further explanation but as usual did not get a response.

The Pinocchio Test

Gingrich’s claim that he had a “standard, no-interest account” as part of the “normal way of doing business” appears highly dubious. Tiffany does not appear to provide such a revolving line of credit account to regular customers. And Callista Gingrich’s disclosure documents clearly show the debt was carried for at least two years.

So either Gingrich and his wife paid high rates of interest on their Tiffany’s debt — or they received a special deal because of his political prominence. The fact that Tiffany won’t say a word — after Gingrich said to “go talk” to them — certainly raises questions.

Given the facts at hand, under the “reasonable-man” standard, Gingrich earns three Pinocchios for his statement. If new facts come to light, we could adjust this ruling.

Three Pinocchios
POLL: Bill O'Reilly Is The MOST BELIEVABLE Person On All Of Television

A new poll out of Boston's Suffolk University reveals that Fox News and Bill O'Reilly are the most trusted names in news.

By a lot.

More that a quarter of those polled believe that Fox News is the most trustworthy, and 9% say that Bill O'Reilly is the most believable (from a list of 28 choices).

This result is perhaps somewhat less surprising when you consider that O'Reilly has long been the most-watched person on cable news (you don't stay on top for that length of time for no reason).

But as Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center tells US News, it also demonstrates that "the network news have completely lost their brand."

Indeed. Though the fact the network newscasts are slowly dying is not exactly news. However these numbers likely demonstrate a somewhat larger shift than that.

Much to the chagrin of the MSM, journalistic "objectivity" -- long proclaimed to be the ultimate goal of any news organization --no longer engenders an audience's trust.

Judging by these numbers, the audience wants to know exactly where its news source is coming from; transparency equals trust not objectivity. And more than any other network out there, Fox News is clear about its bias.

Here's the rest of the breakdown: CNN clocked in second at 18%, NBC at 10%, MSNBC fourth at 7%, CBS and ABC tied at fifth with 6%. On the anchor front CNN's Eliot Spitzer and NBC's David Gregory each received just two votes.
Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October

OAKLAND, Calif. - California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions , some of it from donations made by followers , on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

But Camping said that he's now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

"We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."

It's not the first time the independent Christian radio host has been forced to explain when his prediction didn't come to pass. He also predicted the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said it didn't happen then because of a mathematical error.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast on Monday, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message. His show, "Open Forum," has for months headlined his doomsday message via the group's radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website.

When the Rapture didn't arrive Saturday, crestfallen followers began turning their attention to more earthly concerns.

Jeff Hopkins had figured the gas money he spent driving back and forth from Long Island to New York City would be worth it, as long as people could see the ominous sign atop his car warning that the End of the World was nigh.

"I've been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I've been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car," said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, NY. "I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face."

Camping said Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their possessions.

"That is between them and God," he said.

But he said he wouldn't give away all his possessions ahead of Oct 21.

"I still have to live in a house, I still have to drive a car," he said. "What would be the value of that? If it is Judgment Day why would I give it away?"

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically , even within faith traditions , about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, "but about that day or hour no one knows" except God.

"While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they `know' the day and the hour is flat out wrong," LaHaye wrote on his website,

In 2009, the nonprofit Family Radio reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

Associated Press writer Tom Breen in Raleigh, N.C.and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York, contributed to this report.
Payment Method Bypasses the Wallet

Square's new apps allow consumers to pay their bills without swiping a credit card. But the company has competition.

On Monday, Jack Dorsey, Square’s co-founder and chief executive, announced a way for shoppers to pay by simply giving their name to the merchant. Mr. Dorsey, who also co-founded Twitter, said customers would use a new feature on Square’s iPhone or Android apps, called Card Case, to make payments. Merchants would use one called Register to ring up and track purchases.

Using cellphones to ease offline purchases is a crowded corner of tech investment. Most companies are tackling one aspect of purchasing, like mobile payments or coupons. But Mr. Dorsey is thinking big. He wants Square to be involved in every step of the transaction process by replacing cash registers, loyalty cards and paper receipts. “We think it should be one system,” he said.

The start-up faces formidable competition. Square’s goal is to replace cash registers and point-of-sale terminals and the companies that make them, like Verifone. Square is also taking on the many start-ups that offer cellphone loyalty cards, like Foursquare, and competing with Google, Apple, PayPal and major credit card companies and banks to provide mobile payments.

Square’s new payment services are available at only 50 merchants in New York, San Francisco, Washington, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

Shoppers can use the Card Case app to search for those businesses, pay their bill and store receipts. A shopper opens the app, which looks like a brown leather wallet, clicks to open a tab at a store and then gives the merchant his or her name. The shopper’s credit card number is already stored with Square. Merchants see a photo of the Square user so they can confirm it is the same person.

With the Register feature, merchants can appeal to nearby shoppers who have the Square app by posting deals or menus. They can also store receipts digitally and track customer behavior.

Some shoppers said they were uneasy trusting Square with their credit card information when all it takes to pay is a name, not a plastic card.

According to Square, the photos and the fact that people can only pay if they and their phones are nearby adds a level of protection. For purchases more than $50, shoppers also have to enter a personal identification number as they do at an automated teller machine. Mr. Dorsey compared it to and Apple’s iTunes, which store credit card numbers so people can easily make purchases with their e-mail address and password.

Square joins a host of tech companies, phone carriers, banks and credit card issuers that are trying to replace wallets by letting people use their phones to pay. Most of the efforts are in the early testing stages. Unlike Square, most of the others plan to use a technology called near-field communication, or N.F.C., through which phones communicate information like credit card numbers to the merchants.

Initially, the company most in Square’s sights is Verifone, whose point-of-sale terminals and software are in 70 percent of businesses in the United States. In an interview before Square’s announcement, Doug Bergeron, Verifone’s chief executive, said that Square would not catch on for payments because people will prefer N.F.C. technology and have security concerns about using Square.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NBC - Ryan: Gingrich 'deeply inaccurate' on Medicare plan
CBS - Gingrich used 'unfortunate language' to describe Ryan plan
CNN - Armey: Tea party 'disappointed' about Daniels
FOX - Cain: GOP in a corner on debt limit
ABC - Mitchell: Obama's Israel speech not radical
CSPAN - Medicare chief: Don't cut, make care better


Ryan: Gingrich 'deeply inaccurate' on Medicare plan
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said emphatically that he will not run for president in 2012, but said he would not get into "hypotheticals" when asked if he would accept the vice presidential nomination. He called GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's assessment of his Medicare plan "deeply inaccurate" and a "gross mischaracterization." Ryan said his Medicare plan is "sensible and as gradual as it gets." He blasted Senate Democrats for not passing a budget in "753 days." On the debt-limit debate, he said "nobody wants default to happen, but at the same time we don’t want to rubber stamp a debt-limit increase that shows we’re not getting our situation under control."


Gingrich used 'unfortunate language' to describe Ryan plan
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich did his best to explain week-old comments that appeared to be critical of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposal to reform Medicare. “I probably used unfortunate language...but my point was really a larger one: that neither party could impose on the American people something that they are deeply opposed to,” Gingrich said. The former House speaker stressed that he has spoken to Ryan about the plan and that he thinks it is a starting point. “He and I are on the same side in that conversation,” Gingrich said. “Obama’s on the opposite side of that conversation.”


Armey: Tea party 'disappointed' about Daniels
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said his former 'Gang of Six' colleague, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), is unlikely to return to the group attempting to negotiate a deal on deficit reduction. He called on his fellow senators not to abandon negotiations. Durbin said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has the support of the panel's Democratic members "in principle," but they will need "some Republican buy-in" to pass a budget. He blasted "totally irresponsible" members of Congress who entertain the idea that the U.S. may default on its debt when the government reaches the debt ceiling.

The intelligence panel's ranking member, Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said it is "time to reset" the U.S.'s relationship with Pakistan. He also called for further investigation into how much Pakistani intelligence services knew about Osama bin Laden's presence in their country. Rogers said the United States should not pull the plug on aid to Pakistan, but could hold back some aid to improve its negotiating position.

Former House majority leader Dick Armey said members of the tea party are "disappointed" by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels's decision not to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. He suggested the tea party may "start looking at drafting" House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).


Cain: GOP in a corner on debt limit
Newly announced presidential candidate Herman Cain said Republican leaders have painted themselves into a corner on the debt limit. “They should have seen this coming -- which they did -- but they didn’t move fast enough,” he said. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is pushing for trillions of dollars in cuts before Republicans will sign off on a debt limit increase, but not raising the debt limit risks serious economic problems, problems Republicans have acknowledged.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said President Obama’s proposal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes at the wrong time, given the turmoil in the Middle East. “This is the very worst time to be pushing Israel into making a deal,” McConnell said.


Mitchell: Obama's Israel speech not radical
Former senator George Mitchell, who resigned Friday as Obama’s top envoy to the Middle East, said Obama’s proposals on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are significant shifts, but that they aren’t as radical as some have contended. “I don’t believe it is threatening Israel,” Mitchell said.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II traced the uprisings in the Middle East to the economic hardship of young people. “It was economic frustration and desires that led, I think, to a political awakening; they want to be able to chart their own destiny,” he said. He also said that, if nothing is accomplished on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he expects some sort of armed conflict.


Medicare chief: Don't cut, make care better
Donald Berwick, head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the House GOP Medicare plan makes budget cuts "very efficiently" but said he thinks it will lead to Medicare "benificiaries who won't be able to afford insurance." He said the alternative to cutting is to "make care better," which he said President Obama's health-care law will do. He said he is "100 percent confident" in the success of the new law.

By Matt DeLong and Aaron Blake

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exclusive: New Details on Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Maid's Trauma

The maid allegedly sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was so distressed she had difficulty speaking and tried to vomit, sources tell John Solomon. Plus, new details on how her supervisors responded. Related: The timeline of Strass-Kahn’s weekend.

The luxury-hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found by a supervisor in a hallway where she hid after escaping from the former International Monetary Fund director's room. Hotel workers described her as traumatized, having difficulty speaking, and immediately concerned about pressing charges and losing her job, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Article - Solomon New DSK Details Members of the NYPD enter the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14, 2011. (Photo: John Minchillo / AP Photo) The maid also repeatedly spit on the walls and floors of the suite in front of her hotel colleagues as she alleged that Strauss-Kahn locked her in his room and forced her into oral sex acts. That saliva is being tested for DNA markers and could become a crucial piece of evidence in the case, the sources said.
The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, provided The Daily Beast details of what happened inside New York City's Sofitel hotel in the hour between the alleged attack and when hotel security notified the police, a gap Strauss-Kahn's defense team is certain to question as the case proceeds in court. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers deny any wrongdoing on his part.
The sources said the fact that it only took an hour for the hotel to calm the woman, get her to overcome her difficulty describing what happened, do a thorough interview and get police on scene for forensic testing helped make the case and apprehend the suspect before he fled the country.
The sources said the maid, described as a West African immigrant in her 30s, had normally been assigned to clean a different floor in the hotel but recently volunteered to take the floor where Strauss-Kahn's luxury suite was after a colleague had gone on leave.

The maid reported she entered Strauss-Kahn's room shortly before noon on Saturday, May 14, after a room-service employee had assured her the suite was empty, and she left the door open as she began cleaning, according to the sources.
She told supervisors she was startled when Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from a bathroom. She said she apologized to him and turned away from him, but that the IMF chief grabbed her from behind and, as The Daily Beast reported Friday, touched her breasts, remarking she was beautiful, the sources said.
Throughout the questioning, the maid appeared traumatized, at one point going to a bathroom to try to vomit and several times spitting on the floor and walls of the suite, according to the sources.
The woman alleged Strauss-Kahn slammed the door to the suite and engaged the indoor latch to lock it, trapping her inside. She alleged that he dragged her deeper inside the suite, and when she slipped trying to get away, he forced her head down to perform oral sex acts, the sources said, as The Daily Beast reported Friday.

The woman eventually escaped the room and hid in a hallway just outside his $3,000-a-night VIP suite, as Strauss-Kahn hurriedly left the suite and went downstairs to check out, the sources said.
A cleaning supervisor for the floor found the maid shortly before 12:30 p.m, when she appeared traumatized as she stood near a closet outside the suite. The maid told authorities she had hid in a hallway until Strauss-Kahn left, and the supervisor emerged from a service elevator a few moments later for a routine floor check, the sources said.
The supervisor tried to calm the maid and ascertain what happened, taking her back to Strauss-Kahn's suite, where the alleged victim became visibly upset. The maid expressed concern during at least one of the conversations with her supervisors that she'd lose her job because she had walked in on a hotel guest, the sources said.
The first supervisor reported the maid had nausea and was trembling. As soon as the supervisor ascertained an attack had occurred, she called one of her bosses in housecleaning, who responded to an in-house call and came to the floor, the sources said.
When the more senior housekeeping supervisor got enough details from the maid to make clear a crime had been committed, she called a hotel security officer to the room, the sources said.
The security officer interrogated the maid, getting extensive details of what had happened in the suite. Throughout the questioning, the maid appeared traumatized, at one point going to a bathroom to try to vomit and several times spitting on the floor and walls of the suite, according to the sources.
The hotel security officer decided to alert the chief of the hotel's security, a former law-enforcement officer himself, who tried to conduct another interview that was halting at times because the woman had become increasingly traumatized and sick, the sources said.

The maid repeated her concerns about being fired and inquired whether she should even press charges, the sources said.
The security chief immediately called the New York Police Department and an ambulance once he had ascertained there was enough evidence of a crime and that the maid's story had been consistent during all four contacts she had with hotel employees, the sources said.

The four interviews and repeated efforts to calm the woman took about an hour and police were summoned around 1:30 p.m., according to the sources.
Police showed up at the scene, and began hours of investigation. Shortly after police arrived, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel to report he had left his cellphone behind and his call was immediately routed to the Sofitel security chief, the sources said.
Working with detectives who were in the room, the hotel security chief falsely told Strauss-Kahn the cellphone had been located and he would drive it out to the IMF chief. The security boss got Strauss-Kahn to tell him that he was already at the Air France lounge at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and planning to fly to Paris, the sources said.
Using the information from the security chief's call, the detectives called Port Authority police and were able to apprehend Strauss-Kahn on the jetliner about 10 minutes before the flight was to depart, the sources said.

“The quick reaction of the security chief and the detectives is what helped us nab the suspect,” one source told The Daily Beast.
The Sofitel has fully cooperated with law enforcement, making available employees for voluntary interviews, reviewing security tapes, and turning over records of phone calls, check-ins and check-outs and door card readers. Some witnesses were also brought before a grand jury before Strauss-Kahn was formally indicted and released on $1 million bail late last week, the sources said.
John Solomon is executive editor of the Center For Public Integrity.

Bibi’s White House Tantrum


Netanyahue could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways—embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last—saying immediately after the Obama speech that he “expects” to hear Obama in essence renounce what he’d just said before the entire world!—tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instinct. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.
The Speech
On Thursday President Obama delivered what was billed as a “major speech” on the Middle East. Touted as an articulation of the administration’s foreign policy in the region, the speech outlined few specific initiatives, but the biggest news was Obama’s statement on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. While stopping short of laying out a process for peace, he said, “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” To achieve that, there must be two states "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” he said—while shying away from sticky questions of Jerusalem and the refugees’ fate.
Bibi Fires Back
That plan was not well-received by Israel’s government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday publicly rebuked the 1967 border plan, calling those lines “indefensible.” In a tense White House sit-down, Bibi told Obama that “peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality.” The pair met for two hours, and Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress Tuesday—which many see as another opportunity to rail against Obama. Obama, meanwhile, was calm despite Netanyahu’s anger. “Obviously, there are some differences between us in the precise formulas and language, and that’s going to happen between friends,” Obama said. But, he added, “I think that it is possible for us to resolve what has obviously been a wrenching issue for decades now.”
Israeli Op-ed: Obama’s Plan ‘Unworkable’
Israel’s centrist English-language daily, JPost, chalked up the difference between Netanyahu and Obama to “a significantly different way of viewing reality.” Obama takes the “land-for-peace” formula, while Netanyahu is using past experiences. Part of the reason for Netanyahu’s reaction, the paper suggested, is due to uncertainty following the Arab Spring—and losing some crucial allies such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. But it’s risky for both of them—they are both facing being blamed for ruining the U.S.-Israel relationship.
JPost editor David Horovitz wrote an editorial saying Obama underestimates Palestinian intolerance of Israel. “It is the president’s evident incapacity to appreciate the uncompromising Palestinian refusal to countenance Israel’s legitimacy that is the most damaging to the vital American-Israeli relationship and most dooming to his approach to peacekeeping.” Horovitz goes on to call Obama’s plan “unworkable” and “counterproductive,” and he criticizes Obama for not stating “clearly and firmly” that Palestine will have to solve the refugee crisis himself.
Palestinians Discouraged
Immediately following Obama’s Thursday speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting at his West Bank headquarters. While he instructed his associates not to release any public comments, an official at the meeting reported the group decided that Obama’s words “contained little hope for the Palestinians”—except for the part about restoring the 1967 borders.
As Netanyahu struck down that idea with Obama, Palestinians despaired further. Nabil Shaath, the official who met with Abbas, saw Netanyahu’s critique of the 1967 borders as “indefensible” as absurd when applied to “a tiny country like Palestine.”
Jewish Groups ‘Delighted’
Back in the U.S., some Jewish rights groups saw the public dispute as a good thing. “I was delighted,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The reason? Because it made clear that Obama can’t expect Netanyahu to simply agree with him.
Europe, Arab League Back Obama
The president did draw a wealth of support from the international community outside of the Middle East. The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, William Hague, agreed with Obama that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Similar praise came from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called it a “good, viable path” forward. The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, concurred.

The Truth About Upper Big Branch

An inquiry by the state of West Virginia into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 workers has found the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, “profoundly reckless” in elevating its drive to produce profits above worker safety. Pervasive safety violations — from shoddy ventilation to slapdash control of explosive coal dust — made the mine “an accident waiting to happen,” according to a panel of experts reporting to the governor’s office.
“I’m set up to fail here,” one miner wrote in his work notes two weeks before the tragedy. He despaired at being one of only two part-time “rock dusters” tasked with controlling the mine’s volatile coal dust — a lethal problem for which company records showed a backlog of hundreds of safety work orders.
Massey has denied culpability and attributed the explosion to an unpreventable surge of underground methane gas. Investigators rejected that claim and the state report convincingly traces the disaster through a chain of neglect, while accusing the company of building “a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable.”
A federal investigation has already led to the criminal indictment of the mine’s security chief, who was charged with lying to federal investigators and attempting to dispose of evidence. The Obama administration has toughened regulatory oversight, demanding rigorous inspections and heavy penalties for offending mining companies. But the state report underlines the urgent need for far stronger safety laws. House Republicans and coal-state Democrats dedicated to Big Coal have refused to move on any sensible legislation.
Miners need whistle-blower protection to raise the alarm about dangerous conditions without fear of losing their livelihoods. Congress should make it a felony to alert managers that mine inspectors are on the way. Serial violators like Massey must face the strongest penalties, and the cynical gaming of safety violations with endless appeals must finally end. Hesitant lawmakers claim they need a fuller sense of what happened in the tragedy. They should face up to the 126-page report’s finding that the Upper Big Branch tragedy is a “tale of hubris.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Make My Bed? But You Say the World’s Ending

The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday.
The three teenagers have been struggling to make sense of their shifting world, which started changing nearly two years ago when their mother, Abby Haddad Carson, left her job as a nurse to “sound the trumpet” on mission trips with her husband, Robert, handing out tracts. They stopped working on their house and saving for college.
Last weekend, the family traveled to New York, the parents dragging their reluctant children through a Manhattan street fair in a final effort to spread the word.
“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”
Thousands of people around the country have spent the last few days taking to the streets and saying final goodbyes before Saturday, Judgment Day, when they expect to be absorbed into heaven in a process known as the rapture. Nonbelievers, they hold, will be left behind to perish along with the world over the next five months.
With their doomsday T-shirts, placards and leaflets, followers — often clutching Bibles — are typically viewed as harmless proselytizers from outside mainstream religion. But their convictions have frequently created the most tension within their own families, particularly with relatives whose main concern about the weekend is whether it will rain.
Kino Douglas, 31, a self-described agnostic, said it was hard to be with his sister Stacey, 33, who “doesn’t want to talk about anything else.”
“I’ll say, ‘Oh, what are we going to do this summer?’ She’s going to say, ‘The world is going to end on May 21, so I don’t know why you’re planning for summer,’ and then everyone goes, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” he said.
The Douglas siblings live near each other in Brooklyn, and Mr. Douglas said he could not wait until Sunday — “I’m going to show up at her house so we can have that conversation that’s been years in coming.”
Ms. Douglas, who has a 7-year-old, said that while her family did not see the future the way she did, her mother did allow her to put a Judgment Day sign up on her house. “I never thought I’d be doing this,” said Ms. Douglas, who took vacation from her nanny job this week but did not quit. “I was in an abusive relationship. One day, my son was playing with the remote and Mr. Camping was on TV. I thought, This guy is crazy. But I kept thinking about it and something told me to go back.”
Ms. Douglas and other believers subscribe to the prophesy of Harold Camping, a civil engineer turned self-taught biblical scholar whose doomsday scenario — broadcast on his Family Radio network — predicts a May 21, 2011, Judgment Day. On that day, arrived at through a series of Bible-based calculations that assume the world will end exactly 7,000 years after Noah’s flood, believers are to be transported up to heaven as a worldwide earthquake strikes. Nonbelievers will endure five months of plagues, quakes, wars, famine and general torment before the planet’s total destruction in October. In 1992 Mr. Camping said the rapture would probably be in 1994, but he now says newer evidence makes the prophesy for this year certain.
Kevin Brown, a Family Radio representative, said conflict with other family members was part of the test of whether a person truly believed. “They’re going through the fiery trial each day,” he said.
Gary Daniels, 27, said he planned to spend Saturday like other believers, “glued to our TV sets, waiting for the Resurrection and earthquake from nation to nation.” But he acknowledged that his family was not entirely behind him.
“At first there was a bit of anger and tension, not really listening to one another and just shouting out ideas,” Mr. Daniels said.
But his family has come around to respect — if not endorse — his views, and he drove from his home in Newark, Del., on Monday night in a van covered in Judgment Day messages to say goodbye to relatives in Brooklyn. “I know I’m not going to see them again, but they are very certain they are going to see me, and that’s where I feel so sad,” he said. “I weep to know that they don’t have any idea that this overwhelming thing is coming right at them, pummeling toward them like a meteor.”
Courtney Campbell, a professor of religion and culture at Oregon State University, said “end times” movements were often tied to significant date changes, like Jan. 1, 2000, or times of acute social crises.
“Ultimately we’re looking for some authoritative answers in an era of great social, political, economic, as well as natural, upheaval,” Professor Campbell said. “Right now there are lots of natural disasters occurring that will get people worried, whether it’s tornadoes in the South or earthquakes and tsunamis. The United States is now involved in three wars. We’re still in a period of economic uncertainty.”
While Ms. Haddad Carson has quit her job, her husband still works as an engineer for the federal Energy Department. But the children worry that there may not be enough money for college. They also have typical teenage angst — embarrassing parents — only amplified.
“People look at my family and think I’m like that,” said Joseph, their 14-year-old, as his parents walked through the street fair on Ninth Avenue, giving out Bibles. “I keep my friends as far away from them as possible.”
“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”
His mother said she accepted that believers “lose friends and you lose family members in the process.”
“I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Haddad Carson said. “I’m very excited about the Lord’s return, but I’m fearful that my children might get left behind. But you have to accept God’s will.”
The children, however, have found something to giggle over. “She’ll say, ‘You need to clean up your room,’ ” Grace said. “And I’ll say, ‘Mom, it doesn’t matter, if the world’s going to end!’ ”
She and her twin, Faith, have a friend’s birthday party Saturday night, around the time their parents believe the rapture will occur.
“So if the world doesn’t end, I’d really like to attend,” Grace said before adding, “Though I don’t know how emotionally able my family will be at that time.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Doomsday List

Throughout history, there have been those who have predicted the Coming of the End, the Consummation of All Things, the Return of Christ, Armageddon, Ragnarok, what-have-you. The majority of these seers and prognosticators were wise enough to leave the date unspecified, presumably to avoid embarrassment when the expected event failed to materialize. Others, such as Nostradamus and Bishop Ussher, put the date far into the future, long after their corporeal bodies had returned to dust.

There are those few brave souls, however, who are willing to stick their necks out, and give us a date in the near future, when they themselves will presumably still be around to either bask in the glow of glory, or suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, should the cosmic plan go awry. It is to these, the few, the brave and most importantly, the Web-enabled that this list is dedicated.

Date Author Event Status
January 1, 2000 Too many to mention The so-called "millenium bug" will result in a massive computer outage on 1/1/2000, caused by that fact that in the good old days of yore, many COBOL programmers decided to save a bit of memory by using only two digits to encode a year on date fields. Obviously, when "00" rolls around, these programs will think that it is January 1, 1900, and every algorithm that relies on a date sort routine will fail. It should be noted that very few of the doom-and-gloom purveyors are actually programmers. Those of us (like your ever humble list maintainer) who are involved with these systems on a daily basis tend to suspect that while there may be widespread outages and related problems, the worst that will happen is that a whole host of unlucky nerds will have to pull several all-nighters in front of their terminals. But we will get it fixed.
Update (1/4/2000): I think it is fairly safe to say that this prediction has mercifully failed. Was it a case of over-hype, or timely solution? You decide. In the meantime, would anyone like 800 tins of Beanie-Weenies?
January 1, 2000 Gary North The founder of Christian Reconstruction has taken the y2k bug to a whole new level of hysteria. Gary is convinced that global economic chaos will result from a worldwide collapse of financial computer systems. Of course, the more cynical among us would note that North is famous for making equally hysterical, but inevitably false predictions in the past. Update (1/4/2000): We still seem to be here and functioning. I filled up my car with gas, and paid with my credit card. The complete collapse of civilization as we know it appears to have made little impact on the daily lives of the inhabitants of our planet. However, Gary seems to be holding out some hope that death and destruction will slowly creep upon us in the coming months.
I think not.
April 5, 2000 Michael Rood Almost missed this one. Michael updated his guess for Tishri 1, 6001 to April 5, 2000. This day "starts out with bloodshed, plagues, and all manner of pestilence". Sounds like a pretty good description of the Nasdaq roller-coaster to me. Sigh. Failed
May 5, 2000 Richard Noone The coming Ice disaster. Polar shifts. Global disaster. Or something... (May 5, 2000 is the date of the next Grand Conjunction, when the planets line up. Anyone remember 1982? The year of the last Grand Conjunction? When the world utterly failed to end?) Update (5/6/00): To the complete surprise of almost no-one (except, possibly, Mr. Noone), the end of the world has once again failed to arrive as scheduled. To his credit, Richard did strongly pepper his recent articles with weasel-words like "potential" and "possibly", but one suspects that life has once again thrown a would-be Jeremiah the proverbial curve ball. Now all Richard has to do is figure out where those voices in his head really came from...
Update (6/18/00): An addendum on Noone's home page makes the insightful observation that "...most earth change activity has not affected high population areas...". It does point out that there have been earthquakes across the Pacific Rim, however. Golly gee. Earthquakes in the most active tectonic plates on the planet? Who woulda thunk it...
May 17, 2000 Rebecca Harrison Also known as St John (hey, why not?), this starry-eyed soothsayer presents a wealth of future unfolding. May 17, 2000, Jesus is scheduled to debut his presence here on EArth. (That is not a typo, by the way. All you classical lit buffs should know what it means. Think "Gilgamesh".) Then, in June of 2003, the final battle takes place. Jesus said "no man knows the day or hour", but apparently the month and year were not covered. Also, there will be a forty day period of fasting from August 20 to September 30. You have been warned. (Finally, a use for all those Y2K canned meats!) Failed
June 10, 2000 Ron Reese Based on an extremely trustworthy source (a "revelation") and some convoluted logic, Ron thinks that a "flood-like" event will occur on June 10. Before we dismiss this as yet another of Ron's ravings (he has graced this list before), we should point out that Bonnie Gaunt was able to confirm this revelation through the use of oh-so-trustworthy numerology. So there. Failed
June 11, 2000 Marilyn Agee Third time's the charm. Update (6/18/2000) : Well, it seems that Marilyn's third date for the first rapture came and went with no obvious Heavenly fanfare. What of the future? Marilyn seems to think that the Church is currently in a 10-day waiting period, based on Rev 2:10. That means that June 20 should see the Rapture. This time for sure.
Update (6/25/2000) : A new note on Marilyn's front page reads as follows:
Messianic Rabbi Michael Rood announced today on the Prophecy Club that the corrected Solar Calendar proves that Shavuot begins this year on July 9th. This because the barley was 'Abib', green/ripe, on June 5th.
This makes Oct. 28th Tishri 1, 6001.
If his calculations are correct then the Pentecost Rapture may still occur this year.
So there.
Update (7/2/2000) : More stupid calendar tricks. Poor old Noah has been pressed into service yet again as a harbinger of the End. In a long and very confusing piece of eisegesis, Marilyn somehow arrives at Av 19 (Aug 20) as a possible date for the Rapture. Says Marilyn:
"I wonder if the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ will fly the dove (Bride) to her rest, Heaven, on Av 19 (Sunday, Aug. 20, 2000)?"
Uh...that would be a "no".
July 7, 2000 Robert Hallman Combining UFO's (don't trust those greys - they are "Satan's Soldiers"!), Nostradamus and Biblical prophecy, Robert arrives at a tentative date (or two) for the Rapture. Robert has also exposed the Antichrist for all to see. Update (7/17/00): Most of Robert's pages are now gone, with the exception of a home page that sports a spiffy image of a morphing alien coupled with a rather pathetic poem. Still he admonishes us not to trust those greys. I intend to take him seriously. Alien cookout, anyone? Hmmm...tastes like chicken... Failed
July 2000 Melody Mehta Drawing data from such prophetic heavyweights as Gordon Michael Scallion, Nostradamus and Mother Shipton, Melody thinks that Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, will be knocked out of orbit by a passing comet. Guess where it's going to land up? Yup - it's metal helmet time, as several billion tons of rock come crashing down on us unsuspecting homo sapiens. And, with such remarkably accurate soothsayers on her side, how can Melody possibly fail to be wrong? Failed
August 20, 2000 Ephraim Begin preparations for the Battle of Armageddon. Ephraim reinterprets the book of Daniel for the umpteenth time, and arrives at a timeline for the Last Days. Unfortunately, this timeline calls for the Rapture to occur in March of 2000. Oops. Not to worry, our resourceful exegete points out that several events in this time period confirm his predictions. O ye of little faith...
Update (8/27/00): Well, the Battle of Armageddon remains as elusive as ever. Have no fear, however, as Ephraim remains convinced that September 30 will mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation, and October 22 the Rapture. (Cool! On my birthday, too...)
September 2, 2000 Jerry Grenough September 2 sees the end of the Jewish year 5760. Jerry also seems to think that this will be the absolute, final year of this present age. This conclusion is based on a number of impressive factors, but what sold it for me was the wonderful Bible Codes matrix that Jerry found. Oooh... Failed
September 6, 2000 Daniel Adam Millar The peace accord between Israel and Palestine on September 13, 1993 marked the beginning of the seven-year tribulation. On September 6, 2000, the Antichrist will proclaim himself God, and begin the battle of Armageddon. Failed
September 16-19, 2000 Phil Stone The Coastlands disaster. Phil sees all of Biblical history as a blueprint for the last days. The Gulf War, for example, was simply a replay of the story of Moses, substituting each year of the story for one day in modern times. Now that that's all clear, Phil sees the story of the Exodus as predicting a massive increase in the sea-level, resulting in catastrophic loss of life in the Summer of 2000. Surf's up, dudes! Failed
September 29, 2000 Love the Jew The End of the World will begin on Rosh Hashanah some year, most likely 2000. Failed
September 29, 2000 Michael Rood He's back. Michael believes that the accepted Hebrew calendar is all meshuga, and has kindly taken it upon himself to produce a corrected version. His version states that the seventh millenium actually began either on April 6, 2000 or May 5, 2000. (It depends on when his barley actually ripened. I kid you not.) This means that he expects the invasion of God and Magog either at the end of September, 2000 or October 28, 2000. Failed
September 30, 2000 Jim Bramlett Citing several erudite end-times scholars, one of whom is our own Marilyn Agee, Jim arrives at a window of 2004 - 2007 for the Second Coming. Citing a few more scholars and remarkable parallels, Jim tentatively points to Fall 2000 as the date of the Rapture. One should also note that Jim has a page pointing to June 1, 2000 as a possible date for the Rapture, though he seems to be unsure about how seriously it should be taken, considering the source. Failed
October 1, 2000 Byron Weeks The National ID Card system will be implemented on October 1st. President Clinton will declare martial law sometime in September or October, and the World Government will start rounding up the separatists and patriots. America will then be plunged into a nuclear war and desolated. Looks like we won't have to worry about whom to vote for in November. Failed
October 2000 Jim Searcy The return of Christ and the beginning of the Millenium. As a bonus, Jim also fingers the antichrist for us. I won't spoil the surprise, except to say that it should have been obvious all along... Failed
November 12, 2000 James van der Worp Okay, you're going to have to pay attention for this one. James was suspicious of NASA's silence concerning comet 76P. Following a chain of what we will generously call reasoning, James visits Mother Shipton, Gordon-Michael Scallion and that old stalwart Nostradamaus, and decided that there is an outside chance that 76P could knock Phobos out of Mars orbit, and directly into the path of the Earth. He projects an impact date of November 12, 2000, although he seems to think that a more likely period would be sometime in October.
Whenever it hits, I, for one, intend to hold my umbrella up high.
November 17, 2000 David Zavitz Another eisegesis fan (look it up!), David sees the Oslo Accord of September 13, 1993 between President Arafat and the late President Rabin as the start of the seven-year tribulation countdown. Somehow, this means that November 17 of 2000 will see "Faith's big reward" (?), followed in short order by the resurrection of Daniel himself. Failed
2000 The House of Yahweh The beginning of the Great Tribulation. The last seven years of human history began on September 13, 1993. Presumably, the final war will then begin sometime about September 13, 2000. Failed
2000 William Zambrano The impact of Shoemaker-Levy on Jupiter signaled the start of the Seven-Year Tribulation. Failed
2000 Ammar Ali Khan The Muslims "Last Prophet" will appear to lead all the Faithful in a thirty-year battle against Satan's army. Failed
January 20, 2001 Lyn Mize Lyn's "understanding" of prophecy hints that the Rapture will occur before Saturday, and the Antichrist, none other than John F. Kennedy, will be revealed. This despite the somewhat awkward impediment of being very dead. Failed
April 16, 2001 Bill Singleton In a post on the Five Doves site, Bill presents what we can only assume was intended to be evidence for his position that the Rapture will occur on Easter Weekend, 2001. Bill has promised further posts, so stay tuned on this one. Failed
April 24, 2001 Lord's Witnesses Do you find yourself wondering whether the Bible Code is true or not? Well, me neither. But just in case, wonder no more. These nice folks have kindly figured out the True Bible Code for us. And is sure has some interesting things to say. Apparently, the UN will take over the world sometime between March 26th and April 24th of 2001. No-one will be able to buy or sell anything without UN authority after May 2001. And a worldwide famine will begin by September of this same year.
Consider yourselves warned.
May 28, 2001 David Parker David, also known (for some reason) as CAPS, has latched onto the story of the Baptism of Fire in Acts 2, and somehow transformed it into a potential date for the Rapture at Pentecost of 2001. The "evidence" is listed in a post, followed by this one. Failed
May 28, 2001 Marilyn Agee While Marilyn is desperately taking pot-shots at a date for the Rapture, she has in the meantime decided on an appointment for the start of the Tribulation. This date should see the beginning of the ministry of the two end-time witnesses, as well as the unveiling of the Antichrist. She notes that she expects the Rapture between now and the start of the Tribulation. Anyone want to take bets that this is going to come down to the wire?
Update (5/30/01) : Marilyn seems to be in her quiet phase right now. Traditionally, there will be a few days of utter silence from the Agee camp while she desperately tries to figure out why she is still here. This will be followed by the equally traditional "Monkey Throwing Darts at the Calendar" phase, after which she will announce that, in fact, the Rapture was actually scheduled for next year all along.
Go Marilyn!
Update (6/15/01) : The Monkey/Dart phase is now in full swing. Having already seen June 9/10 go whizzing by, Marilyn is (cautiously) pointing the marker to June 21. It is on this day, apparently, that the Moon will be New, and the Eclipse will be in Gemini, or somesuch. One can only hope that Jupiter aligns with Mars, and Peace guides the planets as well...
November 11, 2001 Bob Ware In a post that, for some reason, reminds me of a session of the Kevin Bacon Game gone hideously wrong, Bob repeatedly singles out the date of 11-22-01 as being somehow significant. The 22nd day of November is, of course, the anniversary of the assassination of JFK, an event that has provided more fodder for conspiracy theorists than a Freemason/Bilderberg convention at the Watergate Hotel. Failed
2001 Unarius The Pleiadeans land on Earth. Failed
2001 Jack van Impe 2001 will see the start of the Great Tribulation. Political chaos, natural disasters, nuclear war and the worldwide rise of Islam will usher in mankind's final hour. Failed
April 14, 2002 Mike Keller Pure, vintage kookery here. It appears that one-half second before midnight on April 14, 2002, the Doomsgate will open, Jesus will appear for his saints. Nuclear war will begin 45 days after this point, earth shifts and global cataclysms just before it. At other points in this meandering, barely coherent diatribe, we are told that America will probably be under totalitarian rule before the end of Summer, 1999, and that Y2K (anyone remember that?) will signal the start of an inevitable slide into economic disaster. Seems that a few updates are called for. Failed
May 23, 2004 Marilyn Agee She's Back! At a new URL even! Having missed the previous Rapture prediction, Marilyn is now shooting for a new pre-trib rapture and Tribulation schedule, with the second coming due on April 5, 2011. She does seem to favor May for the beginning of the end. She is hedging her bets on this one, giving two other timetables for the Tribulation: May 20, 2007 through September 5, 2013 and May 28, 2009 through September 14, 2015.
Update: Having missed Sunday 23 May, Agee is now saying Thursday 27, May, but wait, it could be anytime between now and July 6, 2004
17 October, 2004 Donna Danna
Clay Cantrell
You have to love this one. Clay based his estimate of the date for the Rapture on the dimensions of Noah's Ark (converted to inches), taking special note of the location of the "escape window", and followed by some esoteric calculation involving the rotation of sun through the sky. Barnum was only half right. Update (2/22/01): Clay explains his "reasoning"... Failed
2004 Watcher Ministries The Tribulation began in 1997, and Christ will return seven years later in 2004. All this is based on an analysis of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Failed
June 14, 2005 Marilyn Agee She Doesn't Give Up! Having missed yet another Rapture prediction, Marilyn is now compressing the doomsday schedule into 6 years. The latest Rapture and Tribulation schedule still calls for the second coming on April 5, 2011. It just occured to me that The Rapture® could have already happened and we would not know it! If you take The Bible literally, as Agee does, only 144,000 make the cut. With about 5.5 billion people on the planet, that makes the ratio aroud 1:38,000. If only one out of 38,000 people disappear, would they really be missed? They certainly would be buried under the noise of missing persons, for example, for 2003, 6021 children were reported missing in Iowa (not even counting the adults). The population of Iowa was 2,944,062. This gives a missing persons ratio of 1:489. Even if 90% of the cases are solved, the ratio is still 1:4890, enough to hide people spirited away.
Even with the above theory, I will still consider the prophecy to have failed if Agee is still around after June 14th.
August 15, 2005 Marilyn Agee Her guesses are getting closer together. This time her prophecy is based on the harvest season of Ancient Israel. Failed
October 4, 2005 Everett Vasek Everett believes that the Rapture will occur on the Jewish feast day of Rosh Hashanah, sometime between 1998, and October 4, 2005. He bases this date on the timing of the Jewish feasts, the upcoming Israeli peace treaty, and the possible length of a biblical generation being 14,000 days long. Failed
December 26, 2005 Marilyn Agee After a period of silence from the Agee camp, midnight on Hanukkah is her newest date. Note that she is hedging a bit more this time if you read the site. Update: Agee now seems distracted with determining the exact date of the birth of Jesus I have not found a concrete date for The Rapture this time around.
April 16, 2006 Ken Welch The Evil Neocons in Washingtion DC, and/or the Mossad have smuggled a Russian A-bomb into Texas. They plan to set it off on Easter Sunday and blame it on the Arabs, kicking off World War III in ernest. Ken bases this conclusion from speeches of Rice, Negroponte, Bush and Cheney played backwards! Update: It's April 17, 2006 and Texas is still here (some say unfortunately). Ken claims that the Neocons called off the plan because of his site. Most think that reverse speech is hogwash. You decide. Failed
August 12, 2006 Lord's Witnesses This is the most off the wall prediction that this group has come up with yet. Get this. By the end of today, the UN building in Manhattan will be blown up by a small atomic bomb (taking much of the island with it). Update: Well, here it is, long after sundown on Saturday and the UN building and greater Manhattan are still here. Failed
August 22, 2006 Bernard Lewis The atomic war predictions are coming faster than I can keep up with this! This time Bernard Lewis claims that World War III will start on August 22th, with an attack by Iran on Israel, with atomic retaliation by the latter country. Update: Although the situation in the middle east is still quite volatile, Iran has not attacked Israel, or anyone else as of this date, So I'm calling this one Failed Failed
August 26, 2006 Lord's Witnesses After missing the mark two weeks ago this group is still calling for the destruction of the UN Building by a small atomic bomb (taking much of the island with it) on the last Sabbath in August. Failed
September 23, 2006 Lord's Witnesses After missing the mark in August this group is still calling for the destruction of the UN Building by a small atomic bomb (taking much of the island of Manhattan with it) by Sept 23rd, with the event to take place on a weekend. Makes one wonder if this group is trying to procure an A bomb so that they can fulfill their own prophecy. Failed
September 25, 2006 Marilyn Agee Under "Pro and Con 1298" Agee says that the sign of Rev 12:1f (A woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars) will appear in the evening of September 25, 2006. This may be referring to the postion of the constellation Virgo however, but Agee is saying that " could mark the time of the Pre-Trib Rapture". Failed
October 26, 2006 Lord's Witnesses After missing the mark once again in September this group is still calling for the destruction of the UN Building by a small atomic bomb (taking much of the island of Manhattan with it) by October 6th, or is it the 26th? The site has conflicting dates. They just aren't going to give up on this idea, no matter how often the prophecy fails. Failed
December 15, 2006 Lord's Witnesses After missing the mark still yet another time in October this group is still calling for the destruction of the UN Building by a small atomic bomb... Oh, now they are hedging their bet a bit, the exact quote from the site is "We now predict a terrorist Dirty Bomb or Nuclear Bomb will hit the UN plaza in Midtown Manhattan on or before 2006Chislev20 (before Sundown Friday December 15th)." Failed
December 24, 2006 Lord's Witnesses When you thought that this group had given up, they are back with more amazing predictions. Their earlier prediction has the UN taking over the world in May 2001. But now based on having found the true number of the beast (616 instead of 666) in an ancient rubbish tip, they have recalculated the end time table. December 24, 2006. The UN Undergoes a major reorganization. The security council is no more and the UN General Assembly governs at large. This is the forth and last incarnation of the UN before the end. See also their predictions for May 4, 2007 and August 20, 2008
Update: The only thing of significance that has happened over at the UN is the passage of Iran sanctions, hardly a reorganization. The LWs are hedging this one by saying, "So it would have to be a non declared UN decision for the moment."
January 20, 2007 Lord's Witnesses Talk about total obsession! This group still is predicting a dirty bomb or nuclear bomb in Midtown Manhattan. But maybe they will finally give up on this one, to quote from the site: "If nothing happens by the end of Tebbeth i.e. by Jaunary 23/24, 2007 then we again really do run out of options in our present understanding." Failed
March 20, 2007 Lord's Witnesses After a month off, this group came up with something they call "16 flexiproofs" which puts atomic bomb attack on the UN date as March 20th 2007. UPDATE: The group is now saying "We no longer have a scriptural mandate to publish in advance the precise day....which we understand to be a terrorist nuclear bomb..." talk about weasling out. But the LWs are still making future predictions to have fun with. Failed
May 4, 2007 Lord's Witnesses When you thought that this group had given up, they are back with more amazing predictions. Their earlier prediction has the UN taking over the world in May 2001. But now based on having found the true number of the beast (616 instead of 666) in an ancient rubbish tip, they have recalculated the end time table. May 4, 2007, The UN Takes over the world and everyone must get the number of the beast. The web site recommendeds fleeing to the mountains. I'm already in the mountains, so I'm all set, how about you? Failed
May 24, 2007 Marilyn Agee A new batch of predictions from the Agee camp! She is now setting the Pre-Trib Rapture and the start of The Tribulation as occuring on May 23-24 2007. Failed
August 31, 2007 Lord's Witnesses When you thought that this group had given up on the UN Bomb prediction, they are at it again. Failed
November 3, 2007 Lord's Witnesses I really thought that they had given up on the UN Bomb thing. They now hedging that it may not be nuclear, but a very very large bomb. Failed
November 15, 2007 Lord's Witnesses The UN Bomb predictions are getting closer and closer together. Homeland Security really needs to investgate this group, as they will probably set the bomb off just so that they can say they were correct after all. Failed
December 5, 2007 Lord's Witnesses The UN Bomb predictions are getting closer and closer together. Once again hedged as a "very very large bomb". Homeland Security really needs to investgate this group, as they will probably set the bomb off just so that they can say they were correct after all. Failed
1999-2007 Thomas Chase Thomas has a number of predictions for this period. He foresees the arrival of the Antichrist sometime in 1999-2000, the approach of Cassini in August 1999 as a "holographic or parallel event" signaling a possible nuclear crisis in Russia, and Armageddon, another nuclear war, in 2007.
March 21, 2008 Lord's Witnesses The last day of this world. Jesus takes over. But what about the August 20, 2008 prediction? Failed
August 20, 2008 Lord's Witnesses When you thought that this group had given up, they are back with more amazing predictions. Their earlier prediction has the UN taking over the world in May 2001. But now based on having found the true number of the beast (616 instead of 666) in an ancient rubbish tip, they have recalculated the end time table. The last day of Armageddon is now scheduled for August 20, 2008. Book your flights now. Failed
September 10, 2008 Otto Rosler This guy, among a handful of others predict the start of the end of the world when the Large Hadron Collider is switched on, creating a mini black hole that will devour the earth in a devasting quaser ignition. Actually Rosler claims that the effect will not be observable until 2012. See Rosler's prediction for 2012
Update: The tests ran on September 10th did not actually involve collisions, the protons only ran one way. The machine broke down during testing, causing yet undetermined damage, so it will be at least a year befoe the actual test will run.
September 11, 2008 Lord's Witnesses Yet another atomic bomb in New York prediction. This one is so obvious, 7 years after the original 9-11 attack. Failed
May 29, 2009 Marilyn Agee Agee now sets the beginning of The Tribulation in 2009 Failed
December 31, 2009 Karl Denninger The entire US financial system is going to collapse and along with it Social Security and Medicare. Unemployement will hit 30% and civil unrest will break out before the end of the year and the Military and the Guard won't be able to stop it.
UPDATE: It's 2010 and people are still getting their Social Security checks. However the federal deficit has reached unstainable highs and other economic factors are in uncharted territory. Denniger may just have been too early, we'll see.
1998-2012 Gordon-Michael Scallion All sorts of catastrophic earth changes. Global warming. Melting polar ice caps. Earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.
2005-2050 Matt Savinar Matt predicts that we will soon run out of cheap oil and the result will be the demise of human civilization because of war over what oil is left, as well as food shortages and disease. Only ten percent of the current world population are expected to survive. This prediction actually has some scientific basis.
UPDATE: Matt's web site is undergoing a major change, there is no more peak oil information, just a link to LAOTC which loops back to itself. Too bad, this site had some value. has some good info on peak oil, links to other energy sites, but no predictions.
2010 Dennis L. Cuddy Dennis predicts that the US Dollar will collapse along with the US Government as well. The North American Union (consisting of the former U.S., Canada and Mexico) will take the place of the United States with a new currency called the Amero. See also Cuddys prediction for 2018 Failed
July 2010 Igor Panarin Igor predicts that the US Government will suffer total collapse, the lower 48 states will become part of four separate countries, Alaska will revert to Russia and Hawaii will become Japanese or Chinese territory. This prediction is at odds with the North American Union prediction cited above. Failed
April 6, 2011 Marilyn Agee Agee added a new one. I guess she wants to try and scoop the E-Bible people and is setting the rapture date 6 weeks earlier. Failed
May 21, 2011 Electronic Bible Fellowship(among others, this site was the first hit on Google) Judgment Day! This appears to be backtimed from the actual end of the world five months later. Those who are saved will be raptured.
May 29, 2011 Marilyn Agee Having missed her April 6th prediction, Agee is now setting the rapture day as May 29th, Ascension Day
October 21, 2011 Electronic Bible Fellowship(among others) The end of the world! At least according to the EBF and Harold Camping (Who thought the world would end in 1994 by the way, then claimed he made a "mathematical error").
November 8, 2012 Marilyn Agee A new batch of predictions from the Agee camp! She is now setting the mid tribulation date when the False Prophet beings rule as November 8, 2012
Dec 21, 2012 Terence McKenna Terence utilizes something called Novelty Theory to arrive at the conclusion that something, he's not quite sure what, of momentous import will occur on Dec 21, 2012. The list of "somethings" include a hyperspatial breakthrough, planetesimal impact, alien contact or even a quasar ignition at the galactic core. Sadly, Terence himself will not be around to see these dramatic events: he "relinquished his body" on April 3rd, 2000.
2012 Mayan Calendar The end of the "long count" calendar apparently signals the end of our age.
2012 Kev Peacock Kev has a scientific explanation for the end of life as we know it in 2012 - a magnetic field reversal in our Sun will likewise cause a field reversal in the Earth, accompanied by massive geothermal and tectonic catastrophes. Along the way, Kev manages to include Atlantis, an Interplanetary Ark, and both Maya and Egyptian mythology.
2012 Otto Rosler The world ends in a devasting quaser ignition initiated when the Large Hadron Collider was switched on four years ago
September 14, 2015 Marilyn Agee A new batch of predictions from the Agee camp! She is now setting the Wrath of God date and Pre-wrath rapture as September 14, 2015
April 9, 2016 Marilyn Agee A new batch of predictions from the Agee camp! She is now setting the Second Advent as Saturday, Sabbath Day, April 9, 2016
2018 Dennis L. Cuddy Dennis goes on to predict that the Amero (see Cuddys prediction for 2010) will be replaced by a world wide currency called the Phoenix, signifying the end times.