Becky is Better, The Complete Season One Episodes

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Click on either image of fighter Gina Carano, to read the Season One episodes of Becky is Better from The Endless Night Collection … Enjoy … 🙂

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I, The Jury [Book 04]

June Wilkinson is Mondo Kane in "I, The Jury"

June Wilkinson is Mondo Kane in “I, The Jury”

Click on the image of June Wilkinson, to read Book 04 of The Endless Night Collection … Enjoy … 🙂

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Code Dead [Book 03]

Sunglasses After Dark, The Dark Side of the Rainbow - Issue #4

Sunglasses After Dark, The Dark Side of the Rainbow – Issue #4

Click on the image of Sunglasses After Dark, to read Book 03 of The Endless Night Collection … Enjoy … 🙂

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Glenda [Book 02]

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Click on the image of Jenny McCarthy, to read Book 02 of The Endless Night Collection … Enjoy … 🙂

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Fight Like A Girl, The Complete Episodes [Book 00]

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Click on any of the images of boxer Natalya Ragozina, to read Book 00 of The Endless Night Collection … Enjoy … 🙂

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The Last of Us [Murder at The Dakota]

72094a70-d7ed-11e4-9748-3fd77e204473_8409531487_c93dacf41f_kConsidered Manhattan’s most exclusive building, the Dakota is a co-op built in 1884 on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side. John Lennon was murdered outside in 1980, and his widow, Yoko Ono, still lives in their apartment. The building was also the setting for Roman Polanski’s classic 1968 creeper, “Rosemary’s Baby.”

The perfect setting for an old-fashioned, “dead body in a locked room” whodunit.

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The Endless Night, The First 16 Pages – [an excerpt from IUP, Book 01]

Poisen Elves

Be careful what you wish for … sometimes you get it

Click on the image of Jenny Miller, Mondo’s BFF, to read the pages … Enjoy … 🙂

 

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In Copyright Lawsuit, Star Trek Fan Work Gets Its ‘Easy Rider Moment’

by Peter Decherney, CONTRIBUTOR

Forbes / Media & Entertainment | Original Source

Axanar boasts high quality special effects, differentiating it from other fan work. (Courtesy of Axanar Productions)

Axanar boasts high quality special effects, differentiating it from other fan work. (Courtesy of Axanar Productions)

Paramount and CBS CBS -1.43% are suing the creators of a Star Trek fan film,Axanar, for copyright infringement. They claim that the film uses Star Trek characters, themes, and the invented Klingon language, among other elements. The use of Klingon aside, the case is less interesting for the copyright issues it raises than for the change in corporate strategy it signals.

Since the 1960s, Star Trek’s stewards have tolerated if not encouraged fan work. Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry fed material to fans, and over the past half century the franchise has created space for fan films, writings, and performances at its regular conventions. If any franchise has flourished because of fan work, it is Star Trek.

Why is Axanar different? The project, which includes a short film, Prelude to Axanar, and has a longer multi-part movie in development, raised over $1.1 million from the crowdfunding websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Prelude to Axanar boasts high quality special effects and over 2 million views on YouTube. And similar trends in fundraising, production values, and audience interest are notable across the larger ecosystem of online fan work. Star Trek fandom has always been the canary in the larger coalmine of creative fan communities.

Star Trek fan work has reached what I describe in my book on the history of Hollywood as an Easy Rider moment. The history of Hollywood can be seen as a series of challenges to the studios from independent companies that pioneered new technologies or embraced new storytelling strategies and topics. Though Hollywood usually puts up initial resistance, the studios have always responded in ways that expanded their audience and profits.

Gary Graham, once again playing Ambassador Soval (from Star Trek: Enterprise) and Kim Fitzgerald playing Vulcan Minister T’Lera (Courtesy of Axanar Productions)

Gary Graham, once again playing Ambassador Soval (from Star Trek: Enterprise) and Kim Fitzgerald playing Vulcan Minister T’Lera (Courtesy of Axanar Productions)

The 1969 film Easy Rider is a paradigmatic example. Hollywood was content to let foreign and independent films dominate art houses in the 1950 and 1960s, addressing sex and politics in ways that seemed outside the scope of the studio system. But when Easy Rider, which was made for $360,000, grossed over $60 million, the studios took notice. They realized that they were ignoring a significant segment of the moviegoing audience, and they responded by making a structural change. Columbia Pictures acquired BBS, the company that madeEasy Rider, as a largely autonomous subsidiary. Hollywood benefited from the creative sensibilities of the independent company, and BBS operated with more stable funding and distribution. Other studios soon followed suit with satellites like Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, which went on to make 1970s classics American Graffiti (1973) and Apocalypse Now (1979).

How has Hollywood reached another “Easy Rider” moment? And what is the structural change that will save the studios this time?

Clearly innovations in funding and technology have led to increased production of fan work and expanded its audience. But in the case of Star Trek, there are management issues as well. In 1994, Viacom VIAB -1.29% acquired the franchise when it bought Paramount. At first, Viacom threatened fan websites with cease and desist letters. But after an uproar, Viacom backed off, giving tacit approval to fans. Then in 2005, the only active Star Trek television series Enterprise went off the air. The same year, rights to the franchise were split between CBS, which got the television rights, and Paramount, which got the film rights. This created friction between the two companies, and official Star Trek production ground to a halt.

Fans filled the hole with dozens of noncommercial web series and movies. Surprisingly, many fan works lured cast and crew members from the official franchise, including Walter Koenig (Pavel Checkov), Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura), and writer D.C. Fontana from the original 1960s series.

When Paramount rebooted the Star Trek franchise with two films directed byJ.J. Abrams (in 2009 and 2013), they created action blockbusters that had wide box office appeal but left fans of the older series cold.

The movies also deepened the tension between Paramount, which wanted to focus merchandising exclusively on the new series, and CBS, which still had a multi-million dollar a year business making action figures of Captain Janeway, Mr. Spock, and other classic characters. While the companies fought, fan films continued to proliferate.

A cutout of Captain Kirk at Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa, recognized as Kirk’s official ‘future’ birthplace. The annual event draws fans from around the world. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

A cutout of Captain Kirk at Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa, recognized as Kirk’s official ‘future’ birthplace. The annual event draws fans from around the world. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

Now, Paramount is preparing to release the third film in its rebooted series,Star Trek Beyond, and CBS has a new television series set to premiere on its streaming service, CBS All Access. Paramount and CBS have finally overcome their differences and teamed up. Unfortunately, they have decided to fight the unstoppable snowball of fan production rather than finding a strategy that would embrace fan work as part of an open (though still profitable) franchise. It seems that Hollywood needs another structural change.

There are already many attempts to include fans in the larger network of production. Fan writers regularly land jobs writing for television series or working for media companies. When the BBC released its latest Doctor Whoseason, for example, it featured a title sequence adapted from one a fan had posted online.

And there are many other models of hybrid media systems that incorporate rather than deny fans access to intellectual property. Amazon has created a platform called Kindle Worlds that sells fan fiction and shares revenue between publishers of the original works and fan writers. YouTube gives copyright holders the option of sharing advertising revenue when fan videos use their intellectual property. So in theory, when Star Trek fans create YouTube sensations, CBS and Paramount can profit as well.

These are exciting though limited experiments. Authors who write for Kindle Worlds are bound by the fairly restrictive creative parameters set by publishers. And copyright holders are generally silent about and often inconsistent in their YouTube policies, leaving fans with a guessing game.

If Axanar proves to be Hollywood’s latest Easy Rider moment, it remains to be seen which company will successfully find a structure that includes fan work in the ecosystem of Hollywood franchises. Star Trek—and Hollywood franchises more generally—have passively benefited from fan work in the past. Hopefully, CBS and Paramount will lead the way and embrace methods of actively incorporating fan labor and creativity.

Follow me on Twitter @pdecherney.

I write about Hollywood & copyright law, occasionally at the same time

I am a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where I teach and write about the law’s impact on film and media. I’m a film historian by training, and my books include Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction and Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet. I’ve been involved in the policy process in a number of ways including working briefly for a U.S. Senator, testifying before the Copyright Office, writing an amicus briefs, and serving as a State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. Follow me on twitter @pdecherney.

 

 

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Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — Less Judgment, More Understanding, Better Relationships

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Better Relationships

If you asked twenty people who know you to describe you, what would they say?  Would they say you’re more of a judgmental person or more of an understanding person?  It’s an important question because the answer will pretty much predict the quality of your relationships at work and at home.

Fortunately, you’re not stuck with being one or other.  You can learn to be more understanding, and as a result, build better relationships.

I’ve found the following skills to be especially helpful.

1. Getting all the facts is key to better relationships.

In other words, don’t jump to conclusions.

I think of one manager who almost lost his best employee by jumping to conclusions. He noticed that one of his employees habitually left five minutes earlier than she was supposed to. At about 4:50 p.m., she started to clear her desk, and at 4:55 p.m. she bolted out the door.

This particular manager hated this behavior. It was unacceptable and on several occasions he had thought of firing her. What restrained him was the fact that on all other accounts she was an excellent employee.

One day, however, the manager’s resentment built to the point where he simply had to confront her. He called her into his office and told her that her early departures had not gone unnoticed. He asked if she had any explanation.

She said, “Yes, I believe I have. I am a widow with three small children. The woman who cares for them during the day must leave at 5:45. If I catch the 5:00 bus, I get home at 5:45. If I don’t get on that bus, the next bus doesn’t leave until 5:45, and that gets me home at 6:30. I can’t leave three small children unattended for 45 minutes. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid I would have to leave my job.”

Of course, the manager was no longer incensed or irritated. He moved from a jumped conclusion to a fuller understanding. He promptly made special arrangements for her to leave five minutes early each day and make up the time on special occasions.

In a similar sense, you will seldom be sorry if you get the facts before you take an action. Building better relationships means you should take some time to get the facts. Do your homework.

Then, after you get the facts,

2. Withhold judgment until your comprehension is complete.

The trouble is judgment is easy. It doesn’t take any work.  It only takes a split second to judge someone.

Unfortunately, when you quickly judge, you’ll be frequently wrong.  I learned that lesson a long time ago.

I was in my early twenties, driving around and around a crowded parking lot on a rainy day. In fact the rain was coming down so hard and so fast that there were several inches of standing water all over the parking lot.

Eventually I parked my car way out in the furthest part of the parking lot.  As I headed for the entrance to the shopping mall, I saw a car parked directly in front of the entrance. There was no way to get inside the store without going around the car and through some very deep puddles.

I began to grumble, “How thoughtless can people be? How dare they?”  And I headed back towards the parked car to share a few angry, disgusted looks.

Just then I saw a lady struggling along with crutches, her legs in braces. She slowly inched her way to the slippery sidewalk, got to the parked car, fell in, and drove off.

Of course, I immediately felt ashamed of the nasty thoughts about that car and driver I was harboring a few moments before. My anger and irritation were gone. In seconds, everything changed.

But stop. What changed?  The situation was still the same. The car was still blocking the sidewalk. I still had to wade through the deep puddles of water. The only thing that had really changed was my comprehension of the situation. I saw the woman and her plight and suddenly I understood.

Comprehension takes more effort and skill than judgment.  After all, it takes work to dig in, get the facts, sort them out, and truly comprehend what is going on.  But when it comes to building better relationships, the payoffs are enormous!

I outline the process in great detail in my book, The Payoff Principle:  Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want out of Life and Work.  Check out the chapters on Connective Communication and Compassionate Listening.  They’ll lead to better relationships, almost instantly.

Finally, in your quest to be less judgmental…

3. Never underestimate the value of understanding.

Psychologist Jack Berg says, “The human mind reaches for understanding like a flower for the sun.” In other words, people are yearning for your understanding. It’s a gift you give them.

On the home front, for example, husbands and wives are begging for understanding. Indirectly they’re saying, “I know I’ve been grouchy, but before you tune me out and give me the cold shoulder the next few days, please understand me. I haven’t been feeling too good lately. You know about my headaches. I’m worried about our bills. I’m overwhelmed by all the work I’ve got to do. And quite honestly, the kids are getting on my nerves. So, please, before you get too exasperated with me, try to understand me.”

I wonder how many homes are broken because the need for understanding is never satisfied. And I wonder how much needless stress we suffer because we jump to conclusions instead of offering understanding.

In the workplace, the same thing is true. Deep down, the employee may be saying, “I know I don’t always perform the way I should. And I know I do too much griping in the lunchroom. But before you write me off as a no-good employee, please try to understand me. I’ve been distracted by some problems at home and it’s been hard for me to concentrate on work. But I really want to grow professionally. I want to move up in this company. It’s just that I’ve been in the same job for so long and that job uses so few of my talents. Please understand me.”

I wonder how many mediocre employees could become great employees if the boss just understood them. I wonder how much untapped potential lies dormant in employees because the boss jumped to the wrong conclusion about those people. I’ll bet a lot. A whole lot.

Better relationships can be built.  They don’t have to be left to chance.  And you can start the process by increasing your understanding factor.

Final Thought:  When you jump to conclusions, you’re going to trip up.

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UFC 198 free fight video: Watch Cris Cyborg destroy Gina Carano in Strikeforce / UFC 198 luta livre vídeo: Assista Cris Cyborg destruir Gina Carano no Strikeforce

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino won the first ever Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship in convincing fashion back in 2009. She makes her long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil on May 14.

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‘The Other Woman’ Trailer

http://www.hollywood.com

‘The Other Woman’ Trailer

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Nicki Minaj, Leslie Mann

After realizing she is not her boyfriend’s primary lover, a woman teams up with his wife and plots mutual revenge.

For more movie trailers, celebrity interviews and box office news visit Hollywood.com!

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Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — 3 Ways to Unleash the Power of Determination

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Determination

In my most recent Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, one participant asked why some people succeed while others fail. Then, she gave several examples of unlikely people succeeding and unlikely people failing.

She, herself, was one of the unlikely people who had succeeded in life. She was one of nine children born into a poverty-stricken family that was verbally, physically, and sexually abusive. She said that she was now the vice president of a corporation, made a substantial income, and was happily married. By contrast, all her siblings had gone through numerous jobs, marriages, and courtrooms and none of them were even close to being successful at anything.

The class exchanged several ideas as to why some succeed and others fail. They talked about why some people perform to the best of their ability while others settle for average or awful. But if I had to limit my answer to just one thing, I would say   …

The number one reason people win or lose is their use or non-use of DETERMINATION.

I see it over and over again. Some people will tell me that they never had a chance to succeed. They are the wrong color, gender, or age, or they had the wrong parenting, schooling, or managing. Other people, with the same color, gender, or age, or with similar parenting, schooling, and managing, are doing quite well.

The difference is in their determination. Failures use their circumstance to give up, while successes use their circumstances as a reason to get going.  And determination is the resolve to meet every obstacle with the assurance that it can and will be overcome.

Walt Disney showed us that. As a young boy Walt was a dreamer. He loved to dwell in the world of fantasy, entertainment, and cartoon. And so he dreamed. But his success as a cartoonist didn’t come instantly. It took determination.

He approached the editor of the Kansas City newspaper to show him his drawings. The editor curtly replied, “These won’t do. If I were you, I’d give up this work. From these sketches, it’s obvious your talent lies elsewhere.”

But Walt was determined. His desire to be a cartoonist was strong. He believed he could do it in spite of the editor’s negative appraisal. So Walt went to other newspapers, receiving rejection after rejection. Still he persevered. He kept knocking on doors until he finally got a job drawing publicity material for churches.

Then he began searching for a studio. All he could find was an old mouse-infested garage, but it was in that studio-garage that Walt continued to draw and write. And it was in that garage and from that determined beginning that Walt — and one of the mice (Mickey Mouse) — eventually became world-famous.

So if determination is the #1 reason win or lose, then you need to …

Assess your present level of determination.

Take a good look at yourself.  Do you have what it takes?  What is in greater supply in your life … excuses as to why you’re not achieving as much as you could, or mega doses of determination to get what you want?

Do you tell yourself that you’ll be happier when you get a bigger raise or a better house? Do you think your marriage will improve when your spouse learns how to communicate? Do you think you’ll have less stress when the economy improves? Do you wait for things to change before you do? Those are all signs that you rely on excuses way too much.  You’re in trouble.

Or are you filled with determination? Are you continuously fired-up? Are you achieving all that you are capable of achieving?

Determination can be learned and determination can be nurtured. In fact that’s one of the things you’ll learn at my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program.

Determination is the product of three elements: a GOAL, a COMMITMENT, and a FOCUS. You have to have something to strive for. Then you’ve got to be committed. You’ve got to believe in your goal. The stronger your belief, the stronger your determination will become. And finally, you must stay focused on your goal. Yielding to distractions will destroy your determination.

Let’s look at each element.

1. Determination starts with a goal.

If you want to develop your determination, set a good, solid, important GOAL for yourself. That’s what Holda Crooks did back in the 1980’s. She wanted to stand on top of the tallest mountain in North America. She wanted to see the beauty of the world from that perspective.

Age slowed her down a bit, but her goal was so personally important that it set her determination in motion. When she was featured on a television news program, achieving her goal at age 90, she was asked about her age. The news anchor asked, “When do you think you are going to grow old?” Holda answered, “I haven’t really considered that very much.” Her goals and her determination made her age irrelevant.

Likewise, with your goal in place…

2. Add commitment to the mix.

It’s quite clear that a person who believes in his/her goal and is committed to achieving it has more energy and more success. In fact, once the commitment is made, almost-magical powers come to your aid.

The Scottish mountaineer, William Hutchison Murray, wrote about that in his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. He wrote:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy…The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”

Do you have a goal that is setting your determination in motion? Are you committed to your goal so your determination is glowing? If so, then all you have to do is…

3. Add focus.

It’s simply another way of saying you’ve got to keep your eye on the goal.

One of three boys learned that. As they were playing in the deep snow, a neighbor asked them if they wanted to have a race. He said he would give a prize to the winner.

It sounded good to the boys, so they gathered around the man to learn more. He told them the winner would not be the one who ran the fastest but the one who ran the straightest line. He said he would go to the other end of the field, give a signal, and have them race to him.

The boys took off. The first one looked at his feet as he ran to make sure they were pointing straight ahead. The second boy wondered how straight the boys on either side of him were running and tried to line himself up with them. The third boy just kept his eyes fixed on the man at the end of the field. He kept his eyes fixed on the goal. And, of course, he won the race. His line was by far the straightest.

The two losers lost their focus. They got distracted from the goal. In fact, they made the two most common mistakes people make when trying to achieve their goals.

The first boy became self-conscious. He spent too much time worrying about the possible mistakes he was making. The second boy spent too much time wondering how his competitors were doing. Don’t make those mistakes. You not only lose the race, but you’ll also lose your determination for other races in life.

You can have DETERMINATION. You can be as successful as you want — as long as you avoid the excuses — and apply the three keys I’ve outlined today.

Final Thought: Excuses are like noses. We’ve all got one and they all smell.

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Sergey Kovalev “I understand why Canelo doesn’t want to fight Golovkin..who is not stupid!”

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This is the last known photo of Hitler / Dies ist der letzte bekannte Foto von Hitler

hitler last photo

Shortly before committing suicide in his underground Führerbunker, Hitler stepped outside with an SS officer to survey nearby bomb damage from Allied forces.

On April 30, 1945, Hitler learned that Berlin had fallen into Allied control and that his Third Reich, after 12 years, would inevitably be destroyed.

Hitler then quickly married his long-term mistress, Eva Braun, and prepared his last will and political statement with his secretary, Traudl Junge, at about 4 p.m.

by  | Business Insider, Military & Defense | Original Source

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Scott Hall – Bullet Club in WWE, AJ Styles & Chris Jericho, Young Bucks vs Cornette

The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) has finally arrived in WWE! Here’s Scott Hall on the Bullet Club, Young Bucks, how WWE could have done the AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho storyline, Finn Balor (fka Prince Devitt), his son Cody Hall and why Jim Cornette may not always be right.

If you like this clip you will LOVE the FULL 30 min Scott Hall interview. We uploaded it for FREE. Watch it here ▸
http://bit.ly/23uN9FO

We discuss other hot topics like Shinsuke Nakamura, Undertaker, Shane McMahon, The Hulk Hogan vs Gawker lawsuit, drugs, video games, Injuries in wrestling, NJPW, Brusier Brody, NXT, TNA and so much more!

Produced by Title Match Media during Wrestlemania 32 weekend.
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Tyson Fury on Klitschko rematch, Anthony Joshua & being World Heavyweight Champion

Tyson Fury’s Heavyweight World Title defence v Wladimir Klitschko is live on BoxNation, Saturday 9 July!

BoxNation Website: http://www.boxnation.com/

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Quote for the Day, Sunday April 17, 2016

“Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that. You don’t really know where the finish line is.”
–Garry Shandling
(1949 – 2016)
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The Last of Us [Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast]

Dame Helen Francis Mirren. Known as Fran to her closest friends, and known as Francis to her roommates in boarding school.

This Deity, expressed as Helen, is not a singularity. She’s merely assumed the norm for how depravity is supposed to be expressed in supernatural society. And. It’s not hypocrisy; nothing remotely like what the mortal ruling elites often practice. There’s no double-standard or knowing winks, here. She’s going along to get along, and makes no bones about it.

To reiterate. She is merely confirming to what’s expected of her in the society to which she’s a member in order that she might get what she covets which is Mondo, and is upfront about it.

For someone of her station and gravitas, she’s supposed to be straight-laced, asexual in public. In private, she can be as depraved as she craves to be as long as the depravity is with consenting adults where supernaturals are involved and no ROE is violated where mortals are involved.

Her peers, her lessers, etc. Everybody that matters—i.e., supernaturals. Knows how Helen is. Even her worshippers know the real score. She’s depravity personified and incarnate. When she expressed this publicly, she was persona non grata, in the supernatural world.

Now. No matter how nefarious her motivations are. Now, that she’s decided that Emily Post is the order of the day. She’s welcomed back into the fold [so to speak] with open arms and without any recriminations whatsoever.

Everyone and everything has its place. And, must abide by it. Societally speaking, caste and the observance of accepted conventions is everything—i.e. held above all other considerations, nothing else matters. In mortal terms, theirs is a perfect Camelot version of 1950’s society.

As such. God always comes first. Atheism and agnosticism are anathema. Society comes second. Societal obligations are NOT negotiable. Money is NOT your God. Nothing else matters.

Unless you wish to be marked a pariah. Your public appearance and behavior must conform to expected conventions. And, in private, you also must follow appropriate conventions [as previously stated].

In other words. You do and look like what’s expected of you, without question, in public and in private, else you figuratively get the boot and are kicked to the curb. This is exactly what happened to Helen.

Rules are rules. You conform. In a society of unequals. No one is above the law, no matter how powerful and influential they are, no matter how high their station is, no matter their birthright, no matter their supernatural prowess, no matter how obscenely monied they are. Social mores reign supreme, for everybody and everything. Manners matter. Order and conformity at all costs. The needs of the many [i.e., society] always outweigh the needs of the few [i.e., individuals].

The legitimacy of rule is distilled into one simple sentiment. We [the ruling elite] rule, because that is the Will of God. When we no longer represent the Will of God, we shall no longer rule. Therefore. The fact that we are ruling, proves unequivocally that we should be ruling. A sentiment in line with supernatural nature, and thus simpatico with the inclination of the vast majority of supernaturals. In Political Science terms: the democracy of authoritarianism.

So. What this all demonstrates is that what appears from a distance to be an insular, authoritarian regime far more proficient in the tools of repression than modern liberation, actually uses well the very same levers of globalization to protect its vested interests that liberal Western democracy uses.

Bottomline. In this supernatural oligarchy. Unchecked freedom of choice is bad. There must be limits. People need to be told what to do—i.e., “advised” how to choose wisely. Society decides on what your options should be. And. Society knows best, because it’s closed and caste-based.

In sharp contrast. A so-called “open society” is nothing more than another one of those foolish notions espoused by misguided mortals which is at odds with the natural order of things.

And. It’s not just those at the highest levels of supernatural society that there’s this disdain for the falsehood that is liberalism, the “open society”, and the attendant evils of both. As aforementioned. The vast majority of rank-and-file supernaturals are also in complete agreement with that conservative sentiment.

So. Knowing this. It begs that certain questions are asked of those in the Movement. Exactly, who are the people they [supposedly] are fighting for? Whose rights are they trying to protect? Who are they advocating for? Who are they to presume that they know what’s best for everybody else? Who and whose interest do they really represent? Political rhetoric aside. These are the very same questions that go unanswered—i.e., are NEVER truthfully answered—when asked of any liberal, whether the go-gooder being questioned is supernatural or mundane.

Fredda Laine, Herr Schumann, and Mondo Kane exit the Carson Office Building. Across the street a half a block down, stands Dame Helen and her maid Maryse by a bus stop. As Mondo and the Travelers make their way toward the Dakota, Dame Helen and Maryse cross the street and make no bones about the fact that they are tailing them. Why beat around the bush? The situation demands crisp, direct action.

Dame Helen has taken the trap that next step further, to insure that even if Mondo is not ensnared, the girl is at least intrigued. Maryse is “fleshed”—i.e., “skinned” in artificial hair, skin, etc.

As a skin job. The robot is indistinguishable from an “ordinary” human being, even under close physical inspection. It looks like the hardlooking older sister of its buxom thirty-something namesake.

The Maryse robot’s namesake is Maryse Ouellet. Ms. Ouellet is the younger sister of acclaimed Oscar-winning actress Carrie-Anne Moss. Both sisters are hard-faced D-cup brunettes, but it’s Ms. Ouellet who prefers to go as a bleach-blonde.

Forty-something Ms. Moss is best known for her roles of Trinity in The Matrix trilogy of films and as Mrs. Helen Robinson in the cult-classic Fido. A lesbian. She’s also a well-known LGBT rights activist.

Not to be outdone. A celebrity in her own right. Maryse Mizanin Ouellet is a French Canadian glamour model, businesswoman, actress, and former professional wrestler currently signed to WWE under the ring name Maryse, where she is a former two-time WWF Women’s Champion. Ms. Ouellet, a bisexual, is married to Michael Gregory “Mike” Mizanin the current WWF Intercontinental Champion who performs under the ring name of The Miz.

This metal Maryse is dressed exactly like Dame Helen. But, there’s a gender-bending twist. Underneath its skirt, in place of a flesh thong. It’s wearing Doll Parts. That’s not the hook, though. When you look deeply into its eyes, and know what to look for, you’ll see that this automaton is the avatar of Toy. That’s the baited hook, indeed.

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Getting China Wrong: The Peril Of The Binary Mindset / 让中国的错:黄祸的二元思维

by Yuwa Hedrick-WongCONTRIBUTOR | Forbes Asia | Original Source

I am currently Chief Economist, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Global Economic Advisor, MasterCard, as well as HSBC Professor of International Business at the University of British Columbia, Canada. My career as an economist spans 25 years spent in over thirty countries. Having grown up in Vancouver, I am a Canadian citizen but for much of the last two decades I’ve been working in Europe, Sub-Sahara Africa, and Asia Pacific, where I served as an advisor to over 50 leading multinational companies. I am also a published author having written on consumer markets, economic development, trade and international relations. My studies were in philosophy, political science, and economics at Trent University, while my post-graduate training was at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Canada, where I received my Ph.D. Home is on Salt Spring Island, off the west coast of Canada, where my wife, our cat, and I can pursue the fine art of gardening.

***********************************************************************************

The surest way of getting China wrong today is to get trapped in the binary mindset. And yet most China observers and specialists have operated with just such a binary mindset: China can either do no wrong or can do no right; it is either destined to rule the world or locked onto a path toward a final collapse. Such a binary mindset has never been useful; and today it is positively detrimental.

This binary mindset has been especially counter-productive when it comes to trying to understand what China’s president, Xi Jinping, is attempting to do. And Xi is like a lightening rod that draws out all the hidden anxiety, fear, suspicion and worries about China. Simply put, he kicks the binary mindset into over-drive, and overwhelmingly on the negative side.

Leading the charge is perhaps David Shambaugh, a long time China cheerleader who for decades past saw nothing but good coming out of China, then abruptly reversed himself since Xi took the rein, and has come up with a bleak assessment of Xi’s China, indicting him for launching a power grab that is unprecedented since Mao and creating an atmosphere of repression worse than any time since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. In Shambaugh’s view, China is a society waiting to implode. So Shambaugh has the dubious distinction of cheering from both side of the binary mindset.

Shambaugh may well be one of few more prominent academics that made a switch from one side of the binary mindset to the opposite, but he is no means alone. And among veteran journalists, John Simpson of the BBC recently wrote that China is returning to its authoritarian past and Xi is putting his personal stamp on a harsher dictatorship. Even The Economist has succumbed to the temptation, in a recent issue it showed on its cover a picture of Xi in a Mao suit with a caption “Beware the Cult of Xi”, with dire warnings that Xi’s concentration of power is bad for China’s prospects of reform and liberalization.

However, if we can free ourselves from the straitjacket of the binary mindset for a moment and try to see what Xi needs to accomplish in order to successfully engineer China’s economic rebalancing, we may be able to interpret his actions in a different light. There is a virtual consensus among economists and China analysts that the tasks involved in China’s economic rebalancing are enormously challenging. As summarized by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, it involves transforming the growth pattern, managing the slowdown, dealing with the outside world, while mitigating domestic adverse social and economic impacts. And this is not something that can be done quickly, there is a limit to how fast any economy can shift its investment patterns and redeploy its labor force between sectors, let alone an economy the size that of China’s.

Furthermore, a key plank in the transition from heavy industries to domestic services in the context of China means the need to replace the state sector by the private sector. This in turn means defanging the network of vested interests of state-owned-enterprises, senior cadres in certain ministries and in local governments, as well as those in the private sector that who are their business partners. The fact of the matter is that the dominance of the state-owned-enterprises in the last two decades, which had thrived on cheap land, cheap and preferential loans, supportive regulations, and very often monopolistic markets, had created a vast network of beneficiaries encompassing both government officials as well as private operators. The beneficiaries of this network have also grown to be very powerful, and it is in their interests to block any reforms that would erode their power base and rent-seeking opportunities.

From a purely pragmatic perspective and without second guessing what Xi’s personal motivation and objectives may be, Xi would be extremely foolish not to consolidate power to ensure that he can take on such powerful vested interests in pushing through the needed reforms. In fact, in the current context in China, the more far-reaching and the deeper the economic reforms, the more powerful the reformer has to be. And in an authoritarian system, this means consolidation of personal power. The notion that a reformer of China’s economy should also be a liberal is not only naïve, but a clear sign of suffering the binary mindset.

There is actually a pertinent and instructive prequel to what is going on today. Deng Xiaoping ruthless crushed the student protest in 1989, and in the process sacrificed his once protégé the then prime minster Zhao Ziyang. In the aftermath, it looked very much like a reversal of all the reforms that had been unleashed in the previous decade. But the crack down and Deng’s firm grip on power turned out to be an absolute necessity for Zhu Rongji, who replaced Zhao Ziyang as prime minster, to roll over oppositions to undertake incredibly hard reforms in the 1990s; including laying off some 45 million redundant workers in loss-making state-owned-enterprises and removing the People’s Liberation Army from owning and running thousands of factories, which eventually paved the way for China to join the WTO.

Xi may well be an authoritarian (and who isn’t among the top leaders in China). The real question is to what end, or put differently, what kind of authoritarian is Xi? Xi could be an authoritarian in order to plot a return to the Mao era. But he could also be an authoritarian in order to gather together a tight circle of close associates to be in full command and have all the controls in order to accomplish the extremely tough, complicated, and likely prolonged tasks in rebalancing China’s economy against a powerful coalition of vested interests that are determined to protect their lucrative fiefdom.

If it is the latter, the tightening grip on power by Xi and close associates is actually a sign that they are very serious about pushing through tough new reforms. This may not be as counter-intuitive as it seems. China’s leaders are very aware of the loss of control by Gorbachev when he tried to reform the Soviet economy. They are determined that they will not repeat such as mistake; they will do it from a position of maximum strength.

The reality is that we don’t know what Xi’s intentions are. And we may never know unless in the future Xi publishes a “tell all” memoire, which is highly unlikely. Mao’s intentions for launching the Cultural Revolution only became crystal clear after the fact. Gorbachev’s intentions in launching his reforms were “revised” once he realized he could no longer hold the party together.

So it is possible that Xi is both the steward of reform and a strongman. The two are not incompatible; in fact, both are needed today in order to push through tough structural reforms. The bottom line is that a strong state is needed to orchestrate and control China’s difficult and intricate process of economic rebalancing. In an authoritarian system, that would show up in the form of a more powerful authoritarian leadership, which then is a sign of a determined push for reform as opposed to retreating from it.

Getting China right is never easy, and the situation today is arguably the most complicated since the Communist Party took power in 1949. And the first step in

Hedrick-Wong is the Chief Economist for the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.

 

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Why are Maryse & The Miz the “it” couple?: Because … You can never get too much Maryse!!!

Maryse explains that her husband is The Man and why the two of the them are new “it” couple in the WWE.

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WWE Smackdown 2016.04.07 Maryse & The Miz Entrances

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Mickie James vs. Maryse – July 26, 2009

In WWE Night of Champions, Mickie James challenges Maryse for the WWE Divas Championship (7/26/07). #WWEClassics

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Falun Gong, banned in China, finds a loud protest voice in the U.S. through Shen Yun dance troupe / 法轮功在中国被禁止,发现在美国大声抗议的声音通过神韵舞蹈团

by Jessica Gelt * Contact Reporter |  Los Angeles Times | Original Source

Shen Yun, founded by practitioners of Falun Gong, performs in more than 100 cities worldwide, including Claremont this weekend. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Shen Yun, founded by practitioners of Falun Gong, performs in more than 100 cities worldwide, including Claremont this weekend. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The cavernous Long Beach Terrace Theater echoes with classical Chinese music as more than a dozen dancers expertly manipulate colorful fans that sweep like wind and snap like fire. In precise formation they coalesce into a river of dance inspired by Chinese history, legend, myth and literature.

The performers are serious and determined. The only direction they receive comes from a calm woman dressed in black, standing near the theater’s center. She speaks in Mandarin — her words few, her manner direct.

It’s rehearsal time for Shen Yun Performing Arts, a touring dance troupe founded in New York by practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999.

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The party calls it a cult; Falun Gong says the Chinese government is trying to eradicate thousands of years of culture and tradition and that its repression of Shen Yun shows an intolerance of freedom of expression and religion. Indisputably, the dance company — marking its 10th anniversary — has become a cultural phenomenon.

A single company has grown to four troupes that perform each year in more than 100 cities in 30-plus countries. In Southern California, Shen Yun stages more than 30 shows a year. The group will perform in Claremont on Saturday and Sunday, followed by stops in Costa Mesa, Northridge, Bakersfield and the Microsoft Theater in downtown L.A., ending April 29-30 in Santa Barbara.

“The show is 5,000 years of culture in one night,” said Felipe Sena, a creative director for a fragrance company who caught a performance at Lincoln Center in New York in March. “The colors are amazing, the message is very lyrical and clear.”

Many go to the performances unaware of the political undertones to the shows, even though one or two dances deal directly with Falun Gong’s clash with the Chinese Communist Party.

Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the bright costumes and spinning dancers are meant to convey a message. “The Falun Gong has a very well organized, managed and elaborate program of public relations, and Shen Yun is part of that,” said James Tong, a UCLA professor, expert in Chinese politics and author of a book about the Communist Party and Falun Gong. When audiences see Shen Yun, “people want to know more about the Falun Gong.”

Falun Gong was founded by spiritual leader Li Hongzhi in 1992. By the late 1990s, it claimed an estimated 70 million followers inside China. It emphasizes the traditions of Buddhism, meditation and tai chi, and at its inception it enjoyed a close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.

But when the government began to crack down on groups promoting qigong, an ancient Chinese practice of holistic medicine that espouses breathing techniques to promote good health, the Falun Gong was among those targeted.

The group responded by staging brazen protests. At one point 20,000 followers surrounded party headquarters in Beijing. After that, the government deemed the practice of Falun Gong illegal. Practitioners have accused the government of persecution, repression and brutalization. Shen Yun represents an artistic response in this struggle.

The dance troupe is just one part of a cultural program promoted by Falun Gong that includes international music, martial arts, Chinese cooking and Chinese fashion competitions as well as special summer and winter camps for children, Tong said. He’s uncertain if these programs are meant to be political tools, but he believes they have that effect because they cultivate positive relationships with local communities and governments.

The Falun Gong organization is notoriously reclusive and declined a request for an interview, but the group’s mission is stated on the Shen Yun website: “For 5,000 years divine culture flourished in the land of China. Humanity’s treasure was nearly lost, but through breathtaking music and dance, Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture.”

Inside China, “traditional Chinese spiritual practice has been very demonized,” said local Shen Yun promoter Wen Chen, who left China after college. “We were taught that Buddhism was stupid, so a lot of Chinese students came to the U.S. and realized they were brainwashed. In the United States they saw something authentic. They were able to read freely and speak freely and they started to appreciate traditional Chinese practices and spiritual guidance.”

Chen acknowledged, however, that most of Shen Yun’s audience members aren’t arriving for spiritual guidance. They simply delight in the dancers, singers and musicians as well as the myths and legends that are told through vigorously acrobatic dance routines. The elaborate costumes and props don’t hurt either, nor do the digital effects projected on a wall behind the stage.

That, however, doesn’t prevent the core message of “truthfulness, compassion and tolerance” from infecting the audience, Chen said.

Shen Yun emcee Jared Madsen (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Shen Yun emcee Jared Madsen (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The website for the Chinese Embassy in the United States has a different point of view: “‘Shen Yun’ is not a cultural performance at all but a political tool of ‘Falun Gong’ to preach cult messages, spread anti-China propaganda, increase its own influence and raise fund. It blasphemizes and distorts the Chinese culture, and deceives, fools and poisons the audience.”

Falun Gong has been regarded by some as more personality cult than religion because Li is known as “Master Li,” and his instructions and sayings are recorded as sacred scripture. Although it has no management body, Falun Gong has an estimated 80 million to 100 million followers worldwide.

Shen Yun emcee Jared Madsen discovered Falun Gong while attending high school and college in China in the 1990s, before it was banned. When he heard about Shen Yun in 2006, he immediately applied and has been touring with the show ever since. His role is to come onstage between dances with a fellow emcee and tell the story or legend about to be danced. Madsen speaks in English, while his counterpart speaks in Mandarin.

In Madsen’s opinion, Shen Yun has not suffered from its association with Falun Gong, and he doesn’t think audience members walk away feeling the show was about politics. “The only resistance we’ve seen has been from the Chinese Communist Party Consulate,” he said. “In the beginning they would call the theaters and tell them not to let Shen Yun perform.”

That tactic was never effective in America, Madsen said.

Today the dance troupe can barely book enough shows to satisfy public demand in some locations. One year, Chen said, the Southern California wait list for tickets was hundreds of people long. That year Chen sacrificed her personal tickets for the cause.

Shen Yun principal dancer Angelia Wang. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Shen Yun principal dancer Angelia Wang. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Such devotion is not rare among those who work with Shen Yun, whose financial success is partly because of volunteers. Chen, for example, works as a biologist for Caltech but dedicates her nights and weekends for six months out of the year to book Shen Yun shows throughout Southern California. When she started nearly 10 years ago, the volunteer base was nearly 100 strong, though she said those ranks have dwindled significantly now that Shen Yun can sustain itself largely on word of mouth.

Dancers, singers and musicians do get paid; according to the nonprofit organization’s most recent federal filing, about $4.5 million of its $7.1 million in expenses for 2014 went toward wages. (Compensation to all officers and board members added up to less than $100,000.) The group reported revenue of $18.1 million in 2014, and net assets totaled more than $38 million.

The group said all proceeds from the performance go back to Shen Yun to pay the show’s artists and to support the operation of Fei Tian Academy of the Arts in New York, which acts as a feeder school to Shen Yun. Falun Gong does not receive income from the shows, a Shen Yun representative said.

For some of the performers, Shen Yun is more than a job. It’s a new way of life.

“I left home when I was 13,” said Shen Yun principal dancer Angelia Wang, who is 22 and has been with the company since 2007, when she enrolled in Fei Tian Academy. “I didn’t see my parents for seven years. I would get persecuted if I came back. I had no idea when I left, I was really clueless.”

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

Twitter: @jessicagelt

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Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — 3 Ways to Stop Driving People Crazy

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Stop Driving People Crazy

You’ve heard of students graduating with honor. And you’ve heard of someone being honored for a certain achievement.

But when is the last time you consciously thought about giving honor to someone and deliberately did something to express that honor? It may have been a while.

And yet honor is absolutely critical. Without it, teams do not thrive and relationships die.

As Dr. John Gottman, at the University of Washington, says, “No relationship skill works without honor.” In fact, through his research, he can now predict, with about 100% accuracy, that divorce will occur when spousal honor drops to too low of a level.

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of dishonor in many relationships. It’s what difficult people do. They dishonor you and others in seven different ways.

In last week’s Tuesday Tip, I outlined four of those behaviors. And there are three more behaviors that you cannot do if you want relationships that work.

1. Never Condescend.

You simply cannot act like you’re better than the other person — if you want to resolve a conflict. When you come with a “superior” attitude, the other person will spend all his energy on trying to bring you down rather than finding a solution to the problem.

And yet you see hints of condescension in many conversations. I felt that sting when I went to a bookstore and asked the salesperson, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said, “If I told you that, it would defeat the purpose.”

The taxpayer felt that sting when the IRS tax auditor told him, “The trick is to stop thinking of it as YOUR money.”

When you think about it, condescension is a foolish — even risky — position to take. It makes you think you’re so right and so likely to win the argument that you don’t assess the other side with any degree of accuracy.

That’s why Prime Minister Winston Churchill told people to avoid any assumption of superiority. Churchill said,

“Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.”

Condescension is just another word for conceit, pride, or an over-inflated ego. And a person who gets too big for his britches will be exposed in the end.

It may come out when you “play psychiatrist” with someone else. You may say, “The reason you’re doing that is because” … or … “Your problem stems from the fact that …”

Despite your good intentions, you don’t have a license to practice psychiatry. And your assumed superior intelligence will not help your relationships anyway.

2. Never Contradict.

This is my pet peeve and it’s one that I see all the time in some husbands and wives. One of them is talking or relating a story and the other one is constantly interrupting and correcting the other person. They’re saying things like, “No, it wasn’t April. It was March … or … First Jane read the book, and then Henry. Not the other way around.” And on, and on, and on. Well,WHO CARES?

In most marriage relationships, when I see such behavior, the corrected party feels humiliated. The onlookers feel embarrassed. And if such behavior happened in a work setting, the constant contradictor or interrupter would be fired. It is terribly rude and disrespectful to contradict another person — whether in private or public.

Of course there are situations where your facts and the details must be 100% accurate. And in those cases, you need to find a polite and respectful way of correcting the misinformation that is being shared. But in most cases, in regular conversation, you need to let go of the slight variations in your story and the other person’s story.

Mark Twain commented on this. He said, “Get your facts first. Then you can distort them as you please.” He wasn’t making a case for lying or deceit, but he was warning people about nitpicking.

Business philosopher, Jim Rohn, also warned about this. He advised, “Show your contempt for the problem and your concern for the person.” And yet, people often show CONTEMPT for the person and CONCERN for the details. It will put a cutting, hurting edge to your relationships. So don’t do it.

3. Never Confuse.

Don’t bring up unrelated issues or use unclear language. Communication is difficult enough — and even more so in conflict situations. So be careful about your clarity. Try to eliminate every possible misunderstanding.

For example, I saw a sign in a restaurant that said, “Use stairs for restroom.”

Did they really mean that? Or I remember the time a little girl’s hometown was hit by a TORNADO. After the storm passed, the whole family, including the little 3-1/2 year old daughter, watched the TV news showing all the destruction that had occurred. The young girl’s eyes were as big as saucers as she quietly watched scenes of uprooted trees, smashed windows, and missing roofs. Finally she turned to her mother and asked “A TOMATO did all that?”

The research shows that most people listen at a 25% level of accuracy — which, of course, is pitiful. And that turns into a huge number of misunderstandings and disagreements with your team members and family members.

But it’s a problem you can eliminate. You can go from a 25% level to a 75%, 85%, or even a 95% level of listening efficiency. I discuss that in great detail in my newest book, The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets to Getting What You Want Out of Life and Work.

And let me warn you. Just because you think you’re being clear is no guarantee that the other person gets your message as it was intended.

It’s like the blacksmith breaking in his new apprentice. He said, “Now this is exactly what I want you to do. Listen and do exactly as I say. I’m going to put this horseshoe in the forge and heat it up red hot and put in on this anvil. And when I nod my head, you hit it with a hammer.”

So you’ve really got to be careful that people understand what you’re talking about.

Your relationships are too important to be left to chance. And a few misspoken words can cost you dearly. Make sure you avoid the three bad behaviors outlined in today’s Tuesday Tip as well as the other four I discussed last week.

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Panama Papers: How the Seychelles saved Syria / أوراق بنما: كيف سيشيل حفظها سوريا

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Denselow

James Denselow is a writer on Middle East politics and security issues and a research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre.

@JamesDenselow | Aljazeera, Opinion | Original Source

Syrian companies close to the government created shell companies in the Seychelles to avoid global sanctions [EPA]

Syrian companies close to the government created shell companies in the Seychelles to avoid global sanctions [EPA]

Against the backdrop of recent territorial gains, the cessation of hostilities and a peace process in Geneva that is rumbling along, President Bashar al-Assad seems more secure than ever after five years of conflict in Syria.

When people ask how he managed to stay in power despite the country having its economy collapse in half, hundreds of thousands killed, one in two Syrians being forced from their homes and the conflict dragging in four of the five UN P5 members of the Security Council, you wouldn’t necessarily think about the Seychelles.

Yet as the Panama Papers, the biggest leak in global history, has shown, the idyllic archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa has played its part in keeping Assad in the Presidential Palace in Damascus.

Inside Panama Papers: How the rich hide their money

Inside Panama Papers: How the rich hide their money

What this demonstrates is that what appears from a distance to be an insular, authoritarian regime far more proficient in the tools of medieval warfare than modern capitalism, has actually used the levers of globalisation well to protect its interests.

Evasion of sanctions

What the 11.5 million leaked documents reveal is that three Syrian companies close to the government – Maxima Middle East Trading, Morgan Additives Manufacturing and Pangates International – used the already infamous Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to create shadow or shell companies in the Seychelles to avoid the increasing pressure of global sanctions.

Considering how near the regime was to collapse before the Russian intervention, this evasion of sanctions is fairly significant. The Panama Papers suggest it paid for fuel that kept Syria’s Air Force helicopters and airplanes in the air.


READ MORE: Privilege and the Panama Papers


Modern tactics of moving money through tax havens, loopholes and front companies allowed for pre-modern tactics of dropping barrels filled with explosives on urban areas.

Modern tactics of moving money through tax havens, loopholes and front companies allowed for pre-modern tactics of dropping barrels filled with explosives on urban areas.

 

Another way of looking at it is that tax-dodging has cost lives.

The state and nature of Syria’s economy was among the triggers of the conflict back in 2011. David Butter’s major Chatham House report into the Syrian economy outlined how “economic grievances were an important factor underlying the uprising against the Assad regime”.

Aron Lund, from Carnegie, explained that “for decades, the Syrian regime has been mired in corruption, benefiting from the exploitation of state regulations, bribery, and organised crime at every level of the system”.

Bashar al-Assad’s presidency saw an opening up of the Syrian economy with the introduction of private banking and a stock exchange among a huge raft of changes.

Yet as the renowned Syria scholar Raymond Hinnebusch wrote back, in 2012 the pressures of privatisation led the Syrian leadership to appropriate public sector assets for themselves, to enrich presidential families and ministers and private investors allied with them in “networks of privilege”.

Network of privilege 

Nowhere is this network of privilege more apparent than in Assad’s maternal cousins Rami and Hafez Makhlouf. Some estimates put their worth at $5bn before the war, with control of up to 60 percent of the Syrian economy.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [AP]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [AP]

They have been the target of international sanctions, including US sanctions, since 2008 and 2007 respectively, and the EU since 2011, suspected of controlling key gateways to Syria’s oil and telecoms business.

Yet via a firm in Panama, the Makhloufs were able to continue to operate.

Frederik Obermaier, co-author of the Panama Papers story and an investigative reporter at the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, told Democracy Now: “they [Mossack Fonseca] realised that he [Makhlouf] was the cousin, and they realised that he was sanctioned, and they realised that he’s allegedly one of the financiers of the Syrian regime. And they said, ‘Oh, there is this bank who still does business with him, so we should still keep with him, as well’.”


READ MORE: Panama Papers – Why should we care?


A focus on the traditional attributes of the economy of the state (ie, its industries, export and imports, etc) needs to be complemented by an understanding of the economy of the regime and the networks of privilege and corruption that comprise its core.

What has happened in Syria is that a corrupt economy became a corrupt war economy that was able to take advantage of a system blown open by the Panama Papers.

It’s worth remembering that this is not the first leak to embarrass the regime. Another set of leaks, emails from 2011, showed Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Azzam sending Assad potential options for Russian private jets among rumours of an exit strategy being put together.

It would appear that Assad is no longer in urgent need of an exit strategy. However, he could use the private jet to visit the Seychelles or Panama to thank those who have helped him to remain in power.

The Panama Papers have shone a light on the economic activities of the regime that have stayed for too long in the shadows and, with the amount of information leaked, we know that there is lots more to come.

James Denselow is a writer on Middle East politics and security issues and a research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera

 

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The Last of Us [The Mechanics of Power, Part 2]

The Golden Rule—“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”—Ms. Renate “Sabrina” Hutte, President of The Ladies Council of Saint Engelbert Church, quoting George R.R. Martin (author of A Game of Thrones) at her inaugural speech

 

In The Deity’s mind, Mondo falls into her trap. Each time she replays it, Mondo always succumbs. And the abduction always follows the same course.

Mondo returns to one of her favorite haunts and finds it much changed. There’s more rot and decay. She crosses the lobby of the fleabag hotel and walks up to the front desk. Robot Zero is on duty as the desk clerk. But. This isn’t her Zero robot no matter how closely it resembles her automaton. This robot is seen right away by her as an impostor. But. It’s more decrepit than hers and as such is more attractive to her. The robot offers to relieve her of her holster, phone, and purse. The robot girl refuses the offer. For reasons as yet unknown, her knob begins to itch and burn.

Zero points to the basement door. Her perception stutters and she’s in the basement, facing The Dahlia. The lobby was the Neither Lands of this PUV. This PUV is Fuck’d. Precious drops from the ceiling, clamps onto her head, and anchors itself—drilling through the girl’s skull, inserts its “probes” into the girl’s frontal lobes, lobotomizing her with the intent of enslaving the girl forever.

AutoPlay. Loop. The events unfold from the beginning again. Repetition ad nauseam.

But. In the end, if this ever came to pass in reality, the Deity knows that the girl would eventually extricate herself from forced captivity, like she always does.

So, why waste the time, when possession is nine-tenths of the law? Take another tack, instead. Seduce the girl she craves to possess. Woo, don’t abduct.

The Deity assumes a façade of sanity and strict decorum. She becomes clean and pristine. A grey Kaye—i.e., a Phyllis. Black flats. Cigarette purse. Prudz. Perls. Sternka. Sternns. Bolshoi. No Doll Parts. She looks like a corporate accountant. The epitome of nonsexuality in the business world, whose counterpart in academia is the librarian.

In place of hand-bra and Doll Parts, the Deity is wearing proper unmentionables—i.e., plain white Flesh conical bra and thong panties. Being modern underwear, the rubber bra and panties keep themselves and their wearer fresh and clean via their hygiene mode. Being Flesh ware, they feel like flesh. Being plain, they have no lacey accents.

Likewise. Decrepit Zero robot becomes clean and pristine Maryse—fresh off the Victorian Era assembly line of its Eurasian manufacture. The Deity’s spanking brand-new French-Canadian metal maid, with the faintly Oriental cast to its facial features—i.e., Metropolis Model-D, Sterling Silver Peking Edition. In its original Victorian incarnation, it was an abacus-wielding bookkeeper for the independent auditing firm of Nolan, Fredericks, & DiMercurio. The same firm of Panama Papers infamy.

The Oriental-ish robot and its Occidental owner are stiff-backed, severe, prim-n-proper “ladies”. Much better, long-term bait for the girl Mondo.

Physically. The Deity is actress Dame Helen Mirren, again. A wanton sexpot underneath all that asexual straight-laced female posturing. Staid cougar supreme—i.e., a perfect lady in public, feigning a total lack of interest in sexual attractiveness and sexual activity; a complete whore in bed.

As such. In public. No facial lacerations. No imperfections or disfigurements, whatsoever. Nothing Borg or Klapp, whatsoever. Therefore, no knobbs. No tongue that is a long, retractile proboscis. Although her tongue does remain long, facile, and well-educated. None of the ravages of age, insanity, depravity, or single-minded obsession, although she is still very much insane, depraved, and single-mindedly obsessed. No loose, crepey skin. No pallor. Smooth, soft, lily-white skin. A flawless complexion. Slender. Leggy. Ravishing. No Schlag. No varicose-veined legs; no varicose veins whatsoever. No liver spots, moles, or warts. Age wise: looks to be a septuagenarian. A covetous pancake ass—i.e., a tight, flat ass. Not the tortured face of a lunatic. Severe, judgmental, narrow-minded—in a word: intolerant. A large, ugly mouth, that’s tailor-made for the oral perversion. No long, crooked, serrated teeth. No spotted, receding gums. Buxom. A “nice” rack. Tits that are perky, not sagging. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Her avenue back to being a she-male, the Doll Parts she absconded with, is not in her purse. It’s in retirement, along with the dead diseased Kaye. Likewise. The hand-bra she appropriated has also been retired. The cannibal brassiere, in all its putrid repugnant glory, is in that unnamed someplace else.

In private, in bed, when she’s the whore who can’t enough. Who knows? Maybe she reverts back to being The White Dahlia. And. Maybe. Maryse goes back to being that other Zero robot. Maybe. Neither reversion occurs. Speculation is moot, when it comes to a Deity. But. Based upon the above-listed “forced” retirements. It’s highly unlikely that any reversion will occur in private for either the dame goddess or her automaton maid. More than likely, in private, they will remain clean and pristine, albeit wanton versions of their nonsexual public selves. Time will tell. Time will tell, though. Time always does.

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