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'Deflategate' and the Psychology of Cheating

Bad Sports: 'Deflategate' and the Psychology of Cheating

By Jason Powers M.D.

A study suggests that most cheaters, if found guilty, wouldn't experience much remorse. Researchers found that the "high" may be mitigated by the magnitude of the perceived consequences. However, over time and perhaps through self-reflection, cheaters may become more likely to regret their actions.

Obama's immigration action carries limited economic appeal

Obama's immigration action carries limited economic appeal

Obama's immigration action carries limited economic appeal

By Brian Hughes

President Obama’s attempts to link his executive action on immigration reform to bolstering the middle class are likely overblown, as economists argue that White House efforts to spare up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation will have a limited impact on the overall economy.

Obama is highlighting his power play on immigration, along with a recent slate of executive actions, to argue that his unilateral moves are motivated more by economic policy than scoring political points.

As demonstrated by his recent State of the Union address, Obama is increasingly trying to claim credit for a rebounding economy, using the drop in the unemployment rate and uptick in consumer confidence to pressure Republicans blocking the implementation of his populist agenda.

But economic experts say Obama should not attempt to link his go-it-alone approach on immigration to any kind of economic windfall.

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Spy General Unloads on Obama’s ISIS War Plan

Spy General Unloads on Obama’s ISIS War Plan

Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn likens fight against Islamic militants to the Cold War and calls for an international chain of command akin to that of the Allies in World War II.

The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency slammed the Obama administration on Monday as “well intentioned” but paralyzed and playing defense in its the fight against Islamic militancy. 

Recently retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn called for the U.S. to lead the charge in a sweeping, decades-long campaign against the Islamic State Group, al-Qaeda and its ilk—a fight like the one against the former Soviet Union against a new enemy he said is  “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life.”

“There is no substitute, none, for American power,” the general said, to occasional cheers and ultimately a standing ovation from a crowd of special operators and intelligence officers at a Washington industry conference.

He also slammed the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic militants,” in its description of ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” Flynn said.

He said the current administration is unwilling to admit the scope of the problem, naively clinging to the hope that limited counterterrorist intervention will head off the ideological juggernaut of religious militancy.

“There are many sincere people in our government who frankly are paralyzed by this complexity,” said Flynn, so they “accept a defensive posture, reasoning that passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”

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Tom Brady Cannot Stop

Tom Brady Cannot Stop

I have continued to like the Patriots through their long run of success, which began when their coach, Bill Belichick, made Brady his starting quarterback in 2001. Since then, the Patriots have achieved the highest winning percentage in American professional sports, ahead of even the N.B.A.’s San Antonio Spurs. Admittedly, it felt slightly unnatural — un-Patriot-like — to identify with what became such a ruthless and efficient machine. So much about the team was unlikable to the outside world, partly for reasons of jealousy but also for legitimate ones — cheating scandals, for starters, and a head coach who treats his public-relations duties as something akin to lice removal. Plus, I hated their new logos and missed the minuteman.

But the Patriots remained my team, and Brady, in my view, always exhibited his own sheepish grace within the parochial madhouse of Boston sports. He was a pleasure to watch in games, and he rarely messed up or said the wrong thing off the field. He had the aura of old-Hollywood larger-­than-­lifeness. He also remained, in his own way, shallowly drawn, which made him more fascinating to me. There have tended to be two popular narratives about Brady over the years, neither of them that compelling except in their incompatibility. The first is the familiar against-the-odds account: Brady as the not-great high-school player, the up-and-down college quarterback, the sixth-round N.F.L. draft pick. But over more than a decade of sustained excellence, a second narrative has taken hold: Brady as the anti-underdog. Arguably the most envied man in America, he dated an actress (Bridget Moynahan, with whom he has a 7-year-old son), then married and had two children with a supermodel, Gisele Bündchen (a union designated “the Brady Bündchen” by the tabloids). His team always wins.

The clash between these story lines has contributed to an impression of Brady as faraway, elusive. Hillary Clinton’s friends sometimes call her “the most famous person in the world nobody knows,” and I have long thought the same could be said of Brady. Public figures always claim to be “misunderstood” to some degree, but it would be hard to name an athlete of comparable fame and accomplishment for whom the public has less of a feel.

I checked in with Yee every year or so. Out of the blue that day last summer, Yee asked if I was still interested. Did I want to have lunch with Brady in New York that Wednesday? (Yes, yes, I thought I could fit it in between breakfast with Santa Claus and dinner with Jim Plunkett at Josh’s house.)

I woke up Wednesday to an email with the heading “Tom Brady here.” The message was impressively cordial. “Good morning,” it read. “I hope you’re having a good week.” We set a time and place. An hour later, I received another email from Brady saying he wanted to call “an audible”: We would meet at his home rather than a restaurant in SoHo. Sure, sure, where did he live?

Twenty-third and Madison, he said.

It was the big building next to a McDonald’s, he wrote back. (I later learned that Rupert Murdoch paid $57.25 million for four floors in the place, the only skyscraper on the block.) Brady said the doorman would meet me in the lobby.

The elevator opened directly into the apartment on the 48th floor. Brady stood there, waiting, in a newsboy cap, tan corduroys and a V-neck sweater over a T-shirt. He is 6-foot-4 and appears taller in person. That’s partly because it’s hard to determine a football player’s height when you see him on TV surrounded by so many other large players. But Brady also stands tall in life. Nothing about him slouches.

We moved to a side parlor with a view of Midtown. Brady left for a minute, then returned with a plate of almonds and water in two blue bottles. (Bündchen has endorsed the supposed health benefits of spring water kept in blue bottles and exposed to direct sunlight.) The couple’s young son and daughter were running around the apartment when I arrived. Brady introduced me to a nanny, whom he addressed as “babe.” He calls a lot of people “babe,” male and female, a custom he picked up from his father. He also says “awesome” a lot.

Brady was about to turn 37, an age that is nearly elderly in the compacted dog years of the N.F.L. (“Not For Long,” the players grimly joke about a league in which the average career lasts 3.2 years.) The matter of Brady’s football longevity had become especially resonant by then, at the end of the off-season after the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos in last year’s A.F.C. championship game. A smattering of N.F.L. wiseguys in the news media were declaring that Brady no longer ranked among the league’s best quarterbacks. The Patriots themselves had selected the quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, from Eastern Illinois, in the second round of last spring’s N.F.L. draft — the highest pick the team has used on that position since Brady became the starter. Brady will be 40 when his current contract ends, and nowhere is the legal ageism of professional sports more blithely practiced than in the Not for Long. “We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is,” Belichick said after the team drafted Garoppolo. It was a jarring acknowledgment from someone who never lets anything just slip out. “The Brady endgame is underway,” wrote Tom E. Curran, the team’s beat reporter for ComcastNew England.

When I met with Brady at his New York apartment, he kept talking about “taking care of my body,” “preparing for football” and leading a life that would “optimize” his ability to endure an N.F.L. season at “peak performance.” I wanted to follow this process as closely as I could, though Brady warned that once the season started he would be on “Belichick time,” or hard to get to. As it turned out, Brady’s 2014-15 season would offer a kind of recapitulation of his N.F.L. career. It would begin with preseason doubts about his skills and full-throated doom-saying after a rough start. Then came a seven-­game winning streak, talk of a third M.V.P. award and a return this weekend to his sixth Super Bowl (more than any other quarterback in N.F.L. history), even as he was being denounced for whatever role he might have had in — and whatever competitive advantage he might have gained from — the matter of the underinflated footballs he played with in this year’s A.F.C. championship game.

Brady’s short-term goal, obviously, is to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. His broader game plan involves becoming a kind of lifestyle pioneer in redefining how long a 37-year-old veteran can hold off his twilight. In effect, Brady is bent on nothing less than subverting the standard expectations of how long a superstar quarterback can play like one.

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Koch Brother: “The Struggle for Freedom Never Ends”

Koch Brother: “The Struggle for Freedom Never Ends”

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This alleged Russian spy ring was interested in some dangerous things

Evgeny Buryakov at hearing Monday. (Reuters)

This alleged Russian spy ring was interested in some dangerous things

Terrence McCoy

They seemed like stumblebum spies, but they discussed “debstabilizing” U.S. markets

Most of what the alleged Russian spies discussed fell somewhere between the banal and the comic, like something out of “Get Smart.” There were three of them, the feds say. One was the point man. He got the goods. Another was his handler, who relayed the info back to “Moscow Center.” And the last member of the triumvirate was a guy responsible for “relaying assignments from Moscow Center,” court records show. Theirs could be an inglorious assignment.

The United States isn’t apparently a great place to spy, they said. Not like the Middle East or Asia. Not with the FBI lurking here, ready to pounce, who knows when. And don’t even get them started on fake identities. Alleged Russian spy Victor Podobnyy, an attache at the Russian mission to the United Nations, was allegedly upset he never got one.

“The fact that I’m sitting with a cookie right now at the [...] chief enemy spot. F—!” he lamented. “Not one point of what I thought then, not even close.” He said he never expected to become James Bond or anything. But cookies? “Of course, I wouldn’t fly helicopters, but pretend to be someone else at a minimum.” Alleged spying pal Igor Sporyshev agreed: “I also thought at least I would go abroad with a different passport.”


Buryakov, who went by the diminutive Zhenya and claimed he worked for a Russian-owned bank in Manhattan, also was involved in one of the few conversations that wasn’t totally clownish, but were, quite simply, terrifying to contemplate. He was interested, according to the indictment, in the “destabilization of the markets” and automated trading algorithms — “trading robots.”

In May of 2013, Buryakov and another member of the ring discussed what an unnamed Russian news organization should ask New York Stock Exchange employees “for intelligence gathering purposes,” the indictment said. Chatting over the phone, Buryakov advised that it would be useful to know more about the workings of Exchange Traded Funds — popular investment vehicles for millions of Americans composed of baskets of stocks, like those in the Dow Jones Industrial index or the S&P 500, that are traded like stocks. According to studies,  ETFs are approaching $5 trillion in assets.

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Lame-duck Rams?

Rams owner Stan Kroenke seemingly has a move to Los Angeles in his sights.

Lame-duck Rams?

NFL team inching closer to move to Los Angeles, convert to year-to-year lease in St. Louis


Under terms of a 30-year lease agreement reached in 1995, the Rams had the ability to convert the lease to annual terms if the dome was not deemed among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums based on various criteria. The team had until Wednesday to tell the city of its plans.

The Rams took a step toward lame-duck status in St. Louis and a possible move back to the West Coast, notifying the city’s Convention and Visitors Commission on Monday that they intend to shift to a year-to-year lease agreement for their use of the Edward Jones Dome.

The CVC, which operates the dome, confirmed the move Monday. The Rams referred comments to the CVC and general reaction was that it was a procedural step.

“While the lease will now run year-to-year, all other lease terms remain the same,” CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe said in a statement. We look forward to working with Rams’ management in preparation for the 2015 football season in the Edward Jones Dome.”

Rams billionaire owner Stan Kroenke is part of a joint venture that announced plans earlier this month for an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs. Any move would be subject to approval by the NFL and its owners. The NFL has already said no moves would be made in time for next season.

Kroenke has been unavailable for comment.

Under terms of a 30-year lease agreement reached in 1995, the Rams had the ability to convert the lease to annual terms if the dome was not deemed among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums based on various criteria. The team had until Wednesday to tell the city of its plans.

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Immigration and Islam: Europe’s Crisis of Faith

Two women talk as police officers stand in front of the courthouse in Meaux, near Paris, on Sept. 22, 2011. The court convicted two other women for publicly wearing Islamic veils; France banned face coverings earlier that year.

Immigration and Islam: Europe’s Crisis of Faith

France and the rest of Western Europe have never honestly confronted the issues raised by Muslim immigration

The terrorist assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 may have been organized by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. But the attack, along with another at a Paris kosher market days later, was carried out by French Muslims descended from recent waves of North African and West African immigration. Well before the attacks, which left 17 dead, the French were discussing the possibility that tensions with the country’s own Muslim community were leading France toward some kind of armed confrontation.

Consider Éric Zemmour, a slashing television debater and a gifted polemicist. His history of the collapse of France’s postwar political order, “Le suicide français,” was No. 1 on the best-seller lists for several weeks this fall. “Today, our elites think it’s France that needs to change to suit Islam, and not the other way around,” Mr. Zemmour said on a late-night talk show in October, “and I think that with this system, we’re headed toward civil war.”

More recently, Michel Houellebecq published “Submission,” a novel set in the near future. In it, the re-election of France’s current president, François Hollande, has drawn recruits to a shadowy group proclaiming its European identity. “Sooner or later, civil war between Muslims and the rest of the population is inevitable,” a sympathizer explains. “They draw the conclusion that the sooner this war begins, the better chance they’ll have of winning it.” Published, as it happened, on the morning of the attacks, Mr. Houellebecq’s novel replaced Mr. Zemmour’s at the top of the best-seller list, where it remains.

Two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, there was a disturbing indication on Le Monde’s website of how French people were thinking. One item about the killing vastly outpaced all others in popularity. The reactions of Europe’s leaders was shared about 5,000 times, tales of Muslim schoolchildren with mixed feelings about 6,000, a detailed account of the Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting ended by the attack, 9,000. Topping them all, shared 28,000 times, was a story about reprisals: “Mosques become targets, French Muslims uneasy.” Those clicks are the sound of French fear that something larger may be under way.

Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National acknowledges supporters on Nov. 30. Populist parties are rising across Europe as voters feel abandoned by the mainstream political class.

France’s problem has elements of a military threat, a religious conflict and a violent civil-rights movement. It is not unique. Every country of Western Europe has a version. For a half-century, millions of immigrants from North and sub-Saharan Africa have arrived, lured by work, welfare, marriage and a refuge from war. There are about 20 million Muslims in Europe, with some 5 million of them in France, according to the demographer Michèle Tribalat. That amounts to roughly 8% of the population of France, compared with about 5% of both the U.K. and Germany. 

Such a migration is not something that Europeans would have countenanced at any other moment in their generally xenophobic history, and the politicians who permitted it to happen were not lucky. The movement coincided with a collapse in European birthrates, which lent the immigration an unstoppable momentum, and with the rise of modern political Islam, which gave the diaspora a radical edge.

Just why Europe has had such trouble can be partially understood by contrasting it with the U.S. Europe’s welfare states are more developed and, until recently, more open to noncitizens, so illegal or “underground” immigration has been low. But employment rates have been low, too. If Americans have traditionally considered immigrants the hardest-working segment of their population, Europeans have had the opposite stereotype. In the early 1970s, 2 million of the 3 million foreigners in Germany were in the labor force; by the turn of this century, 2 million of 7.5 million were.

Europe was not just disoriented by the trauma of World War II. It was also demoralized and paralyzed by the memory of Nazism and the continuing dismantling of colonialism. Leaders felt that they lacked the moral standing to address problems that were as plain as the noses on their faces—just as U.S. leaders ducked certain racial issues in the wake of desegregation.

Europeans drew the wrong lessons from the American civil-rights movement. In the U.S., there was race and there was immigration. They were separate matters that could (at least until recently) be disentangled by people of good faith. In Europe, the two problems have long been inseparable. Voters who worried about immigration were widely accused of racism, or later of “Islamophobia.”

In France, antiracism set itself squarely against freedom of speech. The passage of the 1990 Gayssot Law, which punished denial of the Holocaust, was a watershed. Activist lobbies sought to expand such protections by limiting discussion of a variety of historical events—the slave trade, colonialism, foreign genocides. This was backed up by institutional muscle. In the 1980s, President François Mitterrand’s Socialist party created a nongovernmental organization called SOS Racisme to rally minority voters and to hound those who worked against their interests. 

A woman holds up a sign that says, ‘I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a Muslim, I am French’ during a rally in Paris on Jan. 11.

A woman holds up a sign that says, ‘I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a Muslim, I am French’ during a rally in Paris on Jan. 11. 


So impressed were the Europeans with their own generosity that they failed to notice that the population of second- and third-generation immigrants was growing bigger, stronger, more unified and less inclined to take moral instruction. This is partly a demographic problem. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Western Europe has had some of the lowest birthrates of any civilization on record. Without immigration, Europe’s population would fall by a hundred million by midcentury, according to U.N. estimates.

When mass immigration began, Europeans did not give much thought to the influence of Islam. In the 1960s, there might have been worries that a North African was, say, a Nasserite Arab nationalist, but not that he was a would-be jihadist. Too many Europeans forgot that people carry a long past within them—and that, even when they do not, they sometimes wish to. Materialistic, acquisitive, averse to God and family, Europe’s culture appeared cold, dead and unsatisfying to many Muslims. It failed to satisfy a lot of non-Muslims too, but until they ran out of borrowed money with the 2008 crash, they could avoid facing it squarely.

Europeans didn’t know enough about the cultural background of Muslims to browbeat them the same way they did the native-born. Muslims felt none of the historic guilt over fascism and colonialism that so affected non-Muslim Europeans. They had a freedom of political action that Europeans lacked.


In a world that prized “identity,” Muslim immigrants were aristocrats. Those who became radicalized developed the most monstrous kind of self-regard. A chilling moment in the most recent terrorist drama came when the TV network RTL phoned the kosher supermarket where the Malian-French hostage-taker, Amedy Coulibaly, was holding his victims at gunpoint. He refused to talk but hung up the phone carelessly. The newspaper Le Monde was able to publish a transcript of the strutting stupidity to which he then gave expression:

“They’re always trying to make you believe that Muslims are terrorists. Me, I’m born in France. If they hadn’t been attacked elsewhere, I wouldn’t be here…Think of the people who had Bashar al-Assad in Syria. They were torturing people…We didn’t intervene for years…Then bombers, coalition of 50,000 countries, all that…Why did they do that?”

The Muslim community is not to be confused with the terrorists it produces. But left to its own, it probably lacks the means, the inclination and the courage to stand up to the faction, however small, that supports terrorism.

The Secret to a Perfect Six-Second Video

Lowe’s is one of many big companies to try to draw an audience with Vines.

The Secret to a Perfect Six-Second Video

Vines Can Be a Powerful Marketing Tool for Small Companies—If They're Done Right

Sling TV: A Giant Step From Cable

Sling TV: A Giant Step From Cable

Internet Service Streams a Dozen Networks, Including ESPN, for $20 a month.

By Geoffrey A. Fowler

Television is finally escaping the clutches of cable.

The latest cable monopoly to fall is live TV. An Internet service launching Tuesday called Sling TV streams a dozen of the most popular networks, including ESPN, CNN, TBS and Disney Channel, for a flat $20 a month. Using an early version, I’ve been watching TV on my tablet, phone and even on a big screen.

Sling TV fills a big void for cable-cutters. Created by Dish Network (yes, the satellite people), it’s the first service to live stream major sports, news and other traditionally pay-TV shows without being tethered to a cable subscription. For a generation that never signed up for cable, Sling TV unlocks access to Monday Night Football, Anderson Cooper and Conan O’Brien. For irate cable customers, it’s an honest alternative.

The old ball-and-chain cable subscription is looking pretty rusty.

Sling TV still isn’t my dream TV. What I really want is one that works like apps on a smartphone—I pick the video sources I want to pay for, and then I pick from their buffet whenever I want. Sling TV is still a middleman to the shows I want, albeit a more tolerable middleman. It makes you buy all of its dozen preset live channels, which don’t include the broadcast networks or some of my cable favorites, like Comedy Central.

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Seething Kraft wants NFL apology: We ‘did nothing wrong’

Seething Kraft wants NFL apology: We ‘did nothing wrong’

Seething Kraft wants NFL apology: We ‘did nothing wrong’

A conclusion Kraft is certain will occur.

In an unscheduled statement, Kraft strongly defended his team’s actions and integrity Monday night.

“I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots did nothing wrong in this process that was in violation of NFL rules,” Kraft said at the team’s first media availability in Arizona.

“If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they’ve had to endure this week,” Kraft added, at times sounding angry.

“I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”

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What Obama Can Do if SCOTUS Cripples Obamacare

What Obama Can Do if SCOTUS Cripples Obamacare

Experts say the White House couldn’t easily restore subsidies in every state.

By Sam Baker

If the Supreme Court tears apart Obamacare this summer, the president won't be able to put it back together all by himself.

Executive action is all the rage in the White House these days, and it's hard to imagine a better candidate for unilateralism than fixing the Affordable Care Act in the wake of a crippling Supreme Court decision. That scenario would check every box: Republican intransigence; a top priority for Obama; and severe disruption in real people's lives.

There's just one problem: A good administrative solution might not exist.

"There are no administrative fixes that are realistic," said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. "We don't believe there's any administrative fix."

The high court is expected to rule this summer in a lawsuit over Obamacare's insurance subsidies, which more than 80 percent of enrollees are receiving. The challengers argue that the Affordable Care Act authorizes subsidies only in states that set up their own insurance exchanges, not in the 36 states that punted the task to the federal government.

A ruling in the challengers' favor would devastate Obamacare—millions of people could lose their coverage—and could wreak havoc on the non-Obamacare insurance markets in those 36 states. The repercussions would be severe enough to demand a fix. But a fix would be hard to come by.

The goal for the White House would be to simply and cleanly restore the law's subsidies, nationwide. But Congress wouldn't be willing to do that, and the White House wouldn't be able to on its own, health care and legal experts said.

"If the government loses this case, there will be considerable pain, and theres no easy, clean, quick fix," said Nichols Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan who has written extensively about the case.

Without a fix in Congress or a good administrative option, the only solution would be to convince the states to set up their own exchanges. That would involve convincing Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures, all of whom have already refused to set up their own exchanges once, to cooperate.

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Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out

Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out

Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out

Pope Francis has associated with revolutionaries and ideologies that destroy human life and living conditions. The right response is not silence.

By Maureen Mullarkey

Under the tutelage of a pope who ascribes to himself an omnicompetency in geopolitical and scientific matters, the Catholic Church is at risk of a death walk of its own. Its descent into a left-leaning political entity is underway while we circle the wagons and measure our tones. It is a serious matter when a pope confuses political and ideological symbols for religious ones.

Civil society has an immense stake in that confusion. And the stakes are raised when papal preferences, masked in a Christian idiom, align themselves with ideological agendas (e.g. radical environmentalism) that impinge on democratic freedoms and the sanctity of the individual. Throughout the history of the Church, there has been tension between Peter and Caesar, between the Church and the state. Francis, raised in Argentina during the apogee of Peronism, gives every evidence of tilting toward the state.


Let’s Talk About Pope Francis Associating with Marxists

Since Lu refers to my January 5 article in First Things, let us go back to that for a moment. “Francis and Political Illusion” included a photo of the pope standing between two environmental activists and holding an anti-fracking T-shirt. Effort was made by papal apologists to dismiss the image as nothing more than a visual equivalent to Francis’ off-the-cuff malapropisms—a genial Francis being courteous to some activists.


No, it was not. And these were not just any activists. The older of the two men in the photo is Fernando Solanas, an Argentine film director, avowed propagandist, and politician. A key player in Buenos Aires, he ran for president of Argentina on the Socialist ticket in 2007 and stood for the senate last year. In the 1960s, he co-founded the influential, radical film collective Grupo Cine Liberación (The Liberation Film Group) with Octavio Gettino, Both were Marxists and supporters of Juan Perón at the time.

Together with Gettino, Solanas also founded Tercer Cine (Third Cinema), a title referencing the Third Word. Prominent in the 1970s and 1980s, it was a movement—a school—opposed to neocolonialism and capitalism. It issued a manifesto, “Documentary Is Never Neutral” that opened with the words of Frantz Fanon: “…we must discuss; we must invent.” In the obligatory style of left-wing manifestos, it included quotations from Mao, from Che Guevara’s handbook “Guerilla Warfare,” and anti-colonial, and pro-Cuba tracts. It rails against “bourgeois values,” “surplus value cinema” and “the lords of the world film market, the great majority of whom were from the United States.”

Gettino died two years ago; Solanas is carrying the torch.

That meeting between Francis and Solanas, on November 11, 2013, had been scheduled for months. It was the culmination of a Vatican conference on “environmental crimes” with Argentine activists. Federal prosecutor Gustavo Gomez participated. When discussions ended, Francis’ invited Solanas and Gomez into his apartment for a private audience and closing photo-op. A cameraman and sound technician accompanied. There was nothing casual about it.

Solanas and Gomez were eager for the pope to declare major environmental missteps “crimes against humanity.” No definition was given of what constituted a crime or distinguishes it from an accident. Instead, the men praised Francis’ slogan for his upcoming campaign: “We must pray for children who receive dirty bread their parents give them.”

The film ran while the pope sorted through the T-shirts and held them up to the camera: “Say No to Fracking” and “Water Is Worth More than Gold.” That done, image-conscious Francis selected the wall he wanted to pose against while he delivered a homilette. It is a disquieting, rambling bit of stagecraft.

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Dems: Benghazi panel Republicans meeting witnesses in secret

Dems: Benghazi panel Republicans meeting witnesses in secret

By Martin Matishak

Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi are accusing Republicans of conducting crucial interviews in secret and withholding information.

The tensions between the two parties erupted into the open on Monday after a letter from the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), criticizing Chairman Trey Gowdy's (R-S.C.) handling of the investigation went public.

Cummings said Republicans were holding meetings with witnesses, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Maghreb Affairs Raymond Maxwell, who claims he was instructed to edit documents relating to the 2012 attacks. He said that Democrats were being excluded from these Republican-only meetings. Democrats say they have never asked Gowdy to require witnesses to meet with them, just that when witnesses are willing to sit down with both sides, they be included.

“You have had different standards for Republicans and Democrats participating in the investigation, secret meetings with witnesses, and – perhaps most importantly – withheld or downplayed information when it undermines the allegations we are investigating,” Cummings wrote in a four-page letter sent to Gowdy on Friday.

He lit into Gowdy for failing to put together rules for the committee that would allow greater participation by Democrats. Democrats are already upset Republicans reauthorized the committee earlier this month as part of the must-pass rules package for the 114th Congress, instead of through a separate measure.

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Koch Bros to Spend $889Mil on 2016 Elections

Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections

— A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.

The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.

The figure comes close to the $1 billion that each of the two parties’ presidential nominees are expected to spend in 2016, and cements the network’s role as one of the country’s most potent political forces.

The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.

The group — which is supported by hundreds of wealthy donors on the right, along with the Kochs — is still debating whether it will spend some of that money in the GOP primaries. Such a move could have a major impact in winnowing the field of contenders but could also undercut the network’s standing if it engaged in intraparty politics and was not successful.

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Method to the Madness: How Belichick Rules the Draft

Method to the Madness: How Belichick Rules the Draft

by Bill Barnwell

“Bill Belichick is smart, but sometimes he succeeds just by aiding other teams’ efforts to be stupid.” I’ve said that about Belichick a few times now, and while I wasn’t aware of his scientific credentials at the time, he’s pretty good at exploiting the mistakes that awful football organizations tend to make. Bad teams tend to be conservative on fourth down, and Belichick is one of the more aggressive game managers in football. Bad teams spend heavily in free agency and hold on to their players out of nostalgia far too long, and Belichick is more aggressive than anybody with his personnel. Ask Logan Mankins.

Perhaps the most common characteristic of bad organizations is that they make a habit of giving away draft picks to trade up and acquire a player with an earlier selection. It’s almost always a strong sign that they simply don’t understand the game at hand. The evidence suggests the NFL draft is most likely a crapshoot, so even if your team’s draft board has a first-round grade on a player left in the middle of the second round, chances are that the rest of the league is right and you’re wrong. Teams do trade up and succeed, of course, in the same way that a drunk blackjack player hits on 16 against a five and wins sometimes, but it’s not an optimal strategy.

During his time in New England, Belichick has taken advantage of the misguided general managers and personnel men of the NFL by trading down over and over and over again. Some of the moves haven’t worked out, because Belichick isn’t a soothsayer, and there have been times when Belichick has traded up and been happy with his return. In terms of the Approximate Value from his assorted draft maneuverings, though, Belichick has built a monstrous record of success. It is impossible to imagine the Patriots appearing in this year’s Super Bowl without his massive returns in the trading market.


Belichick basically makes two sorts of trades: He trades you a pick now for a pick that’s guaranteed to be better later, like when he dealt a third-rounder to the Panthers in 2010 for a second-rounder the following year. Failing that, the Patriots trade down and deal one pick for several selections, taking advantage of the league’s level of overcertainty in evaluation and its tendency to underestimate the value of midround picks. The 2013 trade with the Vikings that sent a first-rounder to Minnesota for second-, third-, fourth-, and seventh-round picks is a classic Belichick swap and one the Patriots are very happy to have made two years later. Where Belichick really extracts value, though, is by combining the two types of trades and repeating the process. With extra picks each and every season, Belichick stays flexible and repeatedly maneuvers around the draft board to try to create opportunities.

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BigTimeFootball - Super Bowl Week

Super Bowl Week

Life on Mars?

It is claimed the pictures show a man, without a helmet is looming over the probe fixing it, wearing a full body suit and wearing an air tank on his back 

Life on Mars?

Conspiracy theorists go nuts over new NASA photo showing 'workman fixing' space Rover on the red planet

The images taken by a NASA navigation camera have been released and appear to show a human-like figure working on the Mars Curiosity Rover, which is scanning the Red Planet.

The pictures have been reported to the monitoring website UFO sightings daily, and have sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive, with some claiming it is proof life does exist on Mars.

It comes after Gary McKinnon, an alleged computer hacker, who reportedly obtained classified documents from the U.S. government, claimed he found files showing the existence of 'extra-terrestrial officers'.

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How to Be Happily Single for Life

How to Be Happily Single for Life

By Bella DePaulo

In a study of lifelong single people in Ireland, 65 and older, those who had chosen to live single were happier and had fewer regrets than those who were single because of constraints. The single-by-choice seniors were contentedly pursuing their interests, volunteering, and socializing with friends and relatives.

The single men and women who chose to be single said that they wanted to be single as young adults and they still wanted to be single now. The authors described them as "freedom-focused." They wanted to make their own choices about how to live, what they would and would not spend money on, how often to socialize, and with whom. They valued autonomy and often viewed married life as constraining.

Mayer’s Yahoo Plan Could Affect Softbank Interests

Mayer’s Yahoo Plan Could Affect Softbank Interests

By Eric Pfanner

Softbank Corp., the Japanese telecommunications giant, sold all but a tiny portion of its stake in Yahoo Inc. more than three years ago. But Softbank executives will still be watching with considerable interest Tuesday when Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, is expected to update investors on her strategy for the company.

That is because the futures of Softbank and Yahoo remain intertwined through a web of connections and shareholdings involving two other big Internet companies—Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. of China and Yahoo Japan Corp. Yahoo Inc.’s sizable stakes in the two Asian companies have been the subject of months of speculation, which has heated up since Alibaba went public in a blockbuster initial stock offering last September.

A Yahoo Inc. investor, the hedge fund Starboard Value LP, has written repeatedly to Ms. Mayer, urging her to separate the company’s 15% stake in Alibaba, worth close to $40 billion, and its 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan, worth about $8 billion, into a separate entity. That, the fund says, would provide tax benefits and unlock the value of Yahoo’s core business, which is not currently reflected in its stock price. Then, the fund adds, a more focused Yahoo could bolster its Internet advertising business with a merger or acquisition.

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Inside Hillary Clinton’s 2016 plan

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage at the 2014 Massachusetts Conference for Women at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on December 4, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Massachusetts Conference for Women)

Inside Hillary Clinton’s 2016 plan

New campaign takes shape, with ‘big-tent mentality’ and ‘good cop’ for press.

By Mike Allen

Not only is she running, but we have a very good idea of what it will look like.

Hillary Clinton is in the final stages of planning a presidential campaign that is likely to launch in early April, and has made decisions on most top posts, according to numerous Democrats in close contact with the Clintons and their aides.

Campaign advisers say the likelihood of a campaign, long at 98 percent (she never really hesitated, according to one person close to her), went to 100 percent right after Christmas, when Clinton approved a preliminary budget and several key hires.

Most of the top slots have been decided, with one notable exception: communications director, a job that is now the subject of intense lobbying and jockeying by some of the biggest names in Democratic politics. One top contender is White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, who is close to likely campaign chairman John Podesta.

Numerous lessons from Clinton’s failed ’08 campaign are being baked into the 2016 plan, including a determination to improve relations with the press – or, at the very least, to have a “good cop” role to help her get off on a better foot with the journalists who will help shape her image.

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How to Create a Great Small-Business Workplace


How to Create a Great Small-Business Workplace

We hear a lot about the office perks and employee benefits big companies like Apple, and Google can offer their workers. But not all small-business owners can afford to hand out free haircuts, massages and gourmet food to their employees.

Watch this interactive video interview to find out how smaller firms can create great workplaces–on a budget.

How to Start a Business With Very Little Money

How to Start a Business With Very Little Money

The Trick: Finance the Startup With Your Customers’ Cash—Instead of Loans or Investments

Islamist Terrorism Is Obama’s No-Go Zone

Islamist Terrorism Is Obama’s No-Go Zone

 Gil Troy

Can America’s ‘I’m-Ok-You’re-OK’ overly-psychological culture handle Islamism’s ‘I’m-Ok-Die-Infidel!’ death cult.

Barack Obama seems ready to fight. In his State of the Union address he boasted about “assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.” To demonstrate his determination, he will host a conference on the subject on Feb. 18. The White House announcement emphasized that this summit will study strategies for involving “education administrators, mental health professionals, and religious leaders.”

The sounds of Islamists’ teeth chattering can be heard worldwide … or perhaps that’s snickering instead. In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell warned that slovenly and vague language encourages “foolish thoughts.” Fighting terrorism with a conference which obscures the Islamist dimension of much terrorism today is like trying to fight cancer with Band-Aids to avoid saying the C-word out loud. Islamism is an ideology celebrating jihad, seeking an Islamic state, fusing Islamic fundamentalism with Western fascism, as Paul Berman explains in Terror and Liberalism.

The double-think of 2015 continues a longstanding pattern of Obamaniam Orwellianism. In fairness, Obama’s allergy to the “T-word” and the “I-word” is rooted in the bipartisan failure during the 1990s to confront Islamist terrorism systematically.  Before 9/11, few Americans were willing to muster the effort required to crush Osama Bin Laden, despite al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks against Americans in Africa and the Middle East. The 9/11 Commission Report would later confirm, “The nation was unprepared,” psychologically, ideologically and politically.

Even after the 9/11 attacks, some Americans resisted bin Laden’s own framing of the assaults as Islam versus the West. In Chicago, Obama, then a 40-year-old state senator, was evacuated from the Thompson Center, the Illinois state government office building, on that awful day. He watched the horrifying images at his law firm’s townhouse. “The essence of this tragedy…” he wrote a week later in the Hyde Park Herald, “derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity.” Obama explained that it “most often… grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.” Filtering reality through the therapeutic culture’s gauzy belief system, Obama reduced Islamism to a psychological shortcoming, while rationalizing a particular form of violence as a logical, if insensitive, response to poverty and illiteracy.

Beyond insulting billions of poor people who never turned violent, Obama’s 2001 reaction raises questions about whether America’s I’m-Ok-You’re OK overly-psychological culture can handle Islamism’s I’m-Ok-Die-Infidel! death cult. Our pluck, our grit, our occasional righteous anger, our absolute sense of right and wrong, has been counseled out of millions of us. One 2013 survey estimated that a third of Americans have sought “professional counseling for mental health issues.” Some estimates run as high as eighty percent of Americans having received some form of psychological counseling during their lifetimes.

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Rand Paul’s 2016 White House aspirations face a real risk: His dad

Daddy issues: Are Ron Paul’s hard-core stands a problem for son’s presidential bid?

While Rand seeks donors, his father talks secession

  Rand Paul wants to lead the United States. On Saturday in Texas, his father was speaking at a conference about how to leave it.

“A lot of times people think secession, they paint it as an absolute negative,” said former representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.). After all, Paul said, the American Revolution was a kind of secession. “You mean we should have been obedient to the king forever? So it’s all in the way you look at it.”

This weekend was a crucial one for Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky and un­declared candidate for the presidency. He was in California, trying to line up donors at an opulent retreat organized by the billionaire Koch brothers.

At the same time, his father — retired after 12 terms in Congress and three presidential runs — was in the ballroom of an airport hotel here, the final speaker at “a one-day seminar in breaking away from the central state.” He followed a series of speakers who said that the U.S. economy and political establishment were tottering and that the best response might be for states, counties or even individuals to break away.

“The America we thought we knew, ladies and gentlemen, is a mirage. It’s a memory. It’s a foreign country,” Jeff Deist, Ron Paul’s former press secretary and chief of staff, told the group. “And that’s precisely why we should take secession seriously.”

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Former Apple CEO who 'fired Steve Jobs' accused of hiding $25million from his ex-wife

Accusations: John Sculley, the former Apple CEO, has been accused of hiding money from his ex-wife

John Sculley - CEO from 1983 to 1993 - accused by ex-wife Carol

Former Apple CEO who 'fired Steve Jobs' accused of hiding $25million from his ex-wife when they divorced.

By Kieran Corcoran For

A former Apple CEO who allegedly fired Steve Jobs in the 1980s from the company he founded has been accused of hiding his fortune during a divorce battle.

John Sculley, who clashed with Jobs during his tenure at the tech giant, allegedly signed over investments worth $25million to his brothers to avoid them being claimed by Carol 'Leezy' Sculley.

Sculley, who spent ten years at the helm of the tech company, finalized his divorce in 2011, having claimed their combined worth was just $4.8million, Page Six reported.

But his ex-wife claims that he had in fact been squirreling away assets more than a decade in advance, after starting an affair with a former Apple colleague in 2000.

According to filings from 2013 seen by Page Six, Sculley asked his brothers Arthur and David to take on assets for him by starting a joint investment firm called Sculley Brothers.

Security alert at White House as device – possibly a drone – found in grounds

white house security secret service drone

Security alert at White House as device – possibly a drone – found in grounds

Amanda Holpuch

The White House was temporarily on lockdown on Monday after a device – perhaps a drone – was discovered on the premises.

US secret service agents, already under pressure following recent breaches at the home of the first family, were digging through bushes on the premises following an early-morning security shutdown while Barack and Michelle Obama were travelling in India.

Without confirming or denying whether the device was or was not a drone, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters in New Delhi that an object had been recovered on the grounds of the residence. “The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House,” he said.

Though drones have been tied to warfare, hobbyists can easily obtain unmanned aerial vehicles for recreational or professional purposes. CNN announced earlier this month that it would be experimenting with camera-bearing drones for news gathering, joining movie studios and other commercial enterprises getting a foothold in the market for the increasingly prevalent technology.

Emergency vehicles surrounded the White House on Monday and the perimeter was locked down until about 5am. Agents were scattered across the property, scouring the lawn on a drizzly Monday morning.

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Jameis Winston's alleged rape victim, Erica Kinsman, tells her story.


Jameis Winston's alleged rape victim, Erica Kinsman, tells her story.

Erica Kinsman, 20, has broken her silence on the alleged 2012 assault

College football star Jameis Winston's alleged rape victim waives anonymity to tell the full story of her 'ordeal'

By Pete D'amato For Daily Mail Online

The woman who accused Florida State University star Jameis Winston of raping her has come forward for a new documentary that premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

Eric Kinsman, 20, speaks publicly in the film for the first time, claiming she came to after drinking at a bar to find Winston on top of her having sex in his apartment while she pleaded with him to stop.

In the film, Kinsman says one of Winston's roommates also allegedly begged him to stop before the quarterback took her into the bathroom and pinned her head to the floor to continue the assault. 

 Acceptable conduct: Winston has avoided criminal charges, and a Florida State University conduct code hearing found there was not enough evidence to determine whether he was guilty

Kinsman fights tears as she details her account of the December 2012 night, when as a freshman, she remembers running into a man at a Tallahassee Potbelly's.

She says someone was creepily following her around the bar throughout the night and only stopped when a second man put his arm around her and told her pursuer he was her boyfriend.

Kinsman says that man then bought her a shot, after which she began to feel dizzy, though she faintly recalls taking a cab to an apartment.

She says the next thing she remembers is coming to while the man on top of her penetrating her, and claims that she asked him to stop.

The man allegedly ignored both her and his roommate, who Kinsman says entered the room and told him to stop, and took her into the bathroom.

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American Colleges Have Lost Their Way

From Fake Rapes To Petty ‘Microaggressions,’ American Colleges Have Lost Their Way

From Fake Rapes To Petty ‘Microaggressions,’ American Colleges Have Lost Their Way

U.S. colleges foster and encourage lynch mobs and thought police in place of actual education. It’s time for serious reform.

By Daniel Payne

For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before.

This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.

Yet the Rolling Stone fiasco is on the main depressing and discouraging, if for no other reason than it has starkly highlighted the fundamental hollowness of our institutions of higher learning, saturated as they have become by the often-toxic influence of academic leftism.

Indeed, UVA provided a perfect example of the moral bankruptcy one often finds at the average American college. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article, the university suspended Greek life on campus with no due process whatsoever; a University of Virginia law school student demanded that Phi Kappa Psi be treated as a “criminal street gang” subject to asset seizure by the government; the fraternity house was vandalized; and effectively the entire university lined up against a group of young men who had been viciously slandered in a national media outlet based on the strength of one uncorroborated and unexamined accusation. “The whole [fraternity] culture,” claimed UVA English professor Alison Booth, with no irony whatsoever, “is sick.”

The University of Virginia, in other words, behaved shamefully and with no civic decorum: from its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the entire institution displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations. UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan, should be apologizing profusely to the members of Phi Kappa Psi along with the whole fraternity community. Instead, she’s forcing fraternities to adopt pointless new rules on the basis of a single allegation that even the police now dispute.

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Lt. General Russel L. Honoré has declared war on Lousiana's biggest polluters.

How a Hard-Charging General Became an Environmental Crusader

Lt. General Russel L. Honoré has declared war on Lousiana's biggest polluters. Is a gubernatorial run next?

By Tim Murphy

Lt. General Russel L. Honoré first noticed something was deeply wrong in his home state of Louisiana in September 2005, a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. Honoré, commander of the military's disaster response operation, was choppering back to his floating headquarters aboard the USS Bataan when he saw a ribbon of rainbow on the water beneath him. "What in the heck is that?" he recalls asking the pilot. "He said, 'Those are old oil wells, General—you see the derricks knocked down.'" Honoré was staring down at one of the storm's little-noticed consequences—millions of gallons of oil spilled into the state's fragile coastal wetlands. "And my heart almost stopped."

As he recounts the story one Saturday morning outside a coffee shop near his home in Baton Rouge, Honoré's eyes widen incredulously. "Come to find out later, many of those oil wells were actually abandoned," he explains. "And even today—listen to me—the derricks are still on the ground. They've never been picked up."

In the past couple of years, the 67-year-old Army lifer has undergone an almost religious awakening, throwing himself into one of the largest environmental combat zones in the United States. Louisiana has given oil and gas companies carte blanche to carve up its southern coast. Things aren't much better on dry land, where some of the state's poorest residents live in the shadow of some of the country's largest polluters. In response, Honoré has formed the Green Army, an organization that's advocated for some of the state's most threatened communities while clashing with the petrochemical lobby and its champion in Baton Rouge, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Now he might be aiming for something even bigger—the governor's mansion.

The general was born during a hurricane in 1947, on his family's subsistence farm in Pointe Coupee Parish. Honoré, who is African American and identifies as Creole, attended colored schools, paid his way through college, and enlisted in the Army in 1971 over his parents' protests. By 2004, he'd become a three-star general in charge of the First Army and responsible for the deployment of National Guard divisions heading to Iraq. When Katrina hit, his Louisiana roots and local patois made him a natural pick to head Joint Task Force Katrina. Amid the flailing of FEMA and local authorities, Honoré earned respect as a hard-ass—"a black John Wayne dude," as then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin put it. He eased the fears of New Orleans' black residents by ordering his soldiers to "put those damn weapons down" and ended his television interviews by shouting, "Over!" Honoré, a Times-Picayune reporter wrote, was a "salty-mouthed, cigar-chompin' guardian angel in camouflage."

After he hung up his fatigues in 2008, Honoré had expected to spend his retirement writing books and giving speeches about disaster preparedness, a subject he has obsessed over since Katrina. Then, in 2013, he got a call from an acquaintance in Bayou Corne, where an underground salt mine had collapsed a year earlier, creating a 30-acre sinkhole that forced 300 people from their homes. Honoré began showing up at the residents' weekly support group, coaching them on how to take their case to the public. "If this had happened in Boston, the world would have stopped," he says. "But the fact is that it's happening in a Southern bayou, in a place that people in the rest of America are just willing to write off." With Honoré's signal boost, the sinkhole became a nationally known eyesore, and state legislators pushed through new regulations on salt caverns. The residents have since settled with the company that had mined the cavern for $48.1 million.

After that, other communities worried about pollution in their backyards started pleading with Honoré for help. Before crisscrossing Louisiana to assist them, "I had no idea what was going on," Honoré says. Since then, he's had an awakening: "Our state's been raped."

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Larry David: Schmuck or Mensch

Everyone’s favorite curmudgeon is bringing his particular brand of disagreeability to Broadway. In a play about the ultimate nothing.

It was a recent Thursday afternoon, and David, Wilson, and the rest of the cast were rehearsing Fish in the Dark, David’s debut as both playwright and, excepting fifth- and eighth-grade turns in school plays, stage actor. David got the idea for the play two years ago from his friend Lloyd Braun, an entertainment executive whose father, a powerful music lawyer in Beverly Hills, had just died after a three-day hospital vigil. “We’re sitting shiva,” Braun recalls, “and Larry’s over the first day at my house, and I was telling him a whole bunch of stories of what had gone on for the last few days, because some were crazy and hilarious, like a relative flying in from wherever ’cause they want to be in show business. It’s an outlet for me. We start talking about how it’s incredible material. Larry says, ‘It’s a Broadway play.’ ” One might wonder why David, having mastered the half-hour sitcom as co-creator of Seinfeld and auteur of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, immediately thought of doing a play. For one thing, the limited number of settings—hospital room, shiva, etc.—suggested a stage production. But David had also been intrigued watching his friend Nora Ephron’s play Lucky Guy, imagining the thrill of live audience laughter. He went off and wrote Fish in the Dark. Later, he got an email from the producer Scott Rudin: “You wrote a play? Hello?”

It wasn’t David’s intention to star in it, but Rudin persuaded him that audiences would want him in the role (his fellow cast members include Wilson, Rosie Perez, Ben Shenkman, Lewis J. Stadlen, and Jayne Houdyshell). The producer ultimately paired David with Shapiro, who’d proved her ability to take non-theater animals like Chris Rock, in The Motherfucker With the Hat, and Tavi Gevinson, in This Is Our Youth, and make them Broadway-ready. David has already drawn her into his reality bubble, asking her, for instance, why he needs to change his clothes when he gets to the theater. Why can’t he just be wearing the first of his five or six costumes when he arrives? “At first, I thought it was the silliest question,” Shapiro says. “But then I thought, Why couldn’t we give him a rack of clothes at his hotel? He said, ‘Yeah, I don’t like getting undressed in places.’ ”

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