Bill Cosby is on the phone: “Wake up, man!” – ROB STODGHILL SUNDAY, OCT 11, 2015 09:00 AM PDT


Dozens of rape allegations leave historically black colleges, recipients of much Cosby cash, wondering what’s next

Bill Cosby is on the phone: "Wake up, man!"

Excerpted from “Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture”. This Bill Cosby interview was conducted prior to the rape and sexual assault charges against him; the author does discuss the allegations. The book, however, is about America’s historically black colleges, where Cosby had — and still has — a complicated and interesting legacy.

America’s once-favorite dad was on the line. It was an early weekday morning. “It’s the Bill Cosby machine,” the comedian announced. “Wake up, man! I wanna talk about these colleges.”

It’s tough to remember now, but there was a time when Bill Cosby seemed next in line to be carved into Mount Rushmore. He was so big, so pioneering, so damn likable that even black folks were willing, for the most part, to forgive what had become an embarrassing tic of sorts; a kind of media-induced Tourette’s in which Cosby, often unprovoked, would take the stage and rant endlessly on modern black life in America—witty if not misguided assaults on everything from irresponsible black teen mothers, to gun-toting gangsta youth, to hyperethnic, hard-to-pronounce black birth names.

More recently, though, what has become painfully apparent, too, is the extent to which Bill Cosby, in these artful soliloquies, has skirted his own personal failings, foibles, and perhaps even criminal proclivities; which, no less, include an ever-growing list of women alleging that, starting as far back as the early 1970s, Cosby drugged and raped them. While Cosby has denied or declined to address the various allegations, and even his own 2005 court deposition in which he admitted drugging a woman with Quaaludes for sex, his many accusers recount incidents of sexual assault and abuse that contradict everything we had imagined about him.

And yet in the perennially fragile world of HBCUs, where good press and large dollars remain in short supply, Bill Cosby’s fall from grace represents something close to an apocalypse. The black college doomsayer searching for a sign of imminent extinction can only relish the woes of Bill Cosby. However, few figures living or dead can boast the impact that Cosby has wielded across the black higher education landscape, whether it was the millions of dollars he gifted schools from his own pocket, or the millions he helped raise hosting HBCU fund-raisers, or the credibility he gave the institutions by simply sporting a black college sweatshirt through an airport.

Admittedly, there has been some suspicion about his agenda, an unsettling sense that maybe the man had become too rich, powerful, and detached to empathize and comment credibly on modern black life and its struggles. The fact that most had grown up in households that revered Bill Cosby as an entertainer, family man, and black citizen of the world started to become less relevant than his cultural shape-shifting; that the Jell-O pudding man, before our eyes, had morphed into the grumpy old sage and scold of black America. Like those kids on his ’90s TV show, Bill was suddenly saying the darndest things. “What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua, and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.”

Yet as unsettling as Cosby’s transformation was to watch, Cosby’s views on black people, and especially young black people, have undeniably shaped popular black identity. Fat Albert, Claire Huxtable, and even Little Bill are like bells in the black subconscious that cannot be unrung; not any more than yanking down the six Chicago Bulls championship banners from the United Center would erase from a hoop fan’s memory Michael Jordan’s soaring dunks. Even amid the scandals, it’s unlikely that a generation of black folks can—or are even willing to—let go of their fond recollections of A Different World, that funny, socially conscious ’80s sitcom set in fictitious Hillman College, Cosby’s paean to black college life. The trials of Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne did more to attract black college kids to black campuses than those “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste” public service announcements ever could.

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http://www.salon.com/2015/10/11/bill_cosby_is_on_the_phone_wake_up_man/

 

Volkswagen Emissions Investigation Zeroes In on Two Engineers – By WILLIAM BOSTON Updated Oct. 5, 2015 4:10 a.m. ET


Company investigation focuses on two men elevated after Winterkorn was made CEO

Ulrich Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hatz, among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the VW emissions cheating scandal, are viewed as two of the best and brightest engineers in German industry. Above, a VW factory in Chengdu, China.

Ulrich Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hatz, among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the VW emissions cheating scandal, are viewed as two of the best and brightest engineers in German industry. Above, a VW factory in Chengdu, China. P`

 

WOLFSBURG, Germany—Two top Volkswagen engineers who found they couldn’t deliver as promised a clean diesel engine for the U.S. market are at the center of a company probe into the installation of engine software designed to fool regulators, according to people familiar with the matter.

The two men, Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi ’s chief engineer, and Wolfgang Hatz,developer of Porsche’s winning Le Mans racing engines, were among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the emissions cheating scandal that sank the company’s market value by 43% since Sept. 18 and triggered a world-wide recall to refit the engines to meet clear-air standards, these people said.

Messrs. Hackenberg and Hatz, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, are viewed as two of the best and brightest engineers in German industry. They were put in charge of research and development at the Volkswagen group shortly after Martin Winterkorn became chief executive in January 2007. Mr. Winterkorn, who resigned over the scandal, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The company has acknowledged that managers, struggling to meet U.S. sales targets, masked the emissions of new-car engines to sell so-called clean diesel technology to skeptical American consumers. The car maker said as many as 11 million vehicles carried a “defeat device,” software that reduces tailpipe emissions only when the car is being tested, not on the road.

Several countries have since blocked sales of certain VW vehicles, and regulators are considering steps to tighten emissions standards for diesel engines.

The details haven’t been made public, but Volkswagen’s investigation is focused on Messrs. Hackenberg and Hatz, Mr. Winterkorn’s top aides during his tenure at Audi, as well as Heinz-Jakob Neusser, head of development at the VW brand, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Neusser, also suspended, joined VW from Porsche in 2011, long after the diesel engines began production. He declined to comment.

Disclosure of the scam by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month unleashed criminal investigations of Volkswagen and its management in the U.S. and Europe, and threatened to bury the company in shareholder and customer lawsuits for years.

“Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you,” Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen of America, told dealers last month in New York City. “We’ve totally screwed up.”

For years, Volkswagen sought a triumph in the U.S. As part of an expansion of the company to sell at least 10 million cars a year by 2018, Mr. Winterkorn’s strategy was to be a leader in the world’s three biggest markets.

The History of Volkswagen, ‘The People’s Car’

Volkswagen has always been more than a car. It occupies a special place in German society. WSJ’s Dipti Kapadia goes through some of the iconic moments for the German auto maker, now caught in a scandal over emissions. Photo: Getty Images

Under Mr. Winterkorn, Volkswagen became the biggest foreign car maker in China. In Europe, one in every four cars is now sold by one of Volkswagen’s eight car brands: VW; premium car maker Audi; sports car brand Porsche; Czech car maker Skoda; Spanish auto maker SEAT; and ultraluxury brands Bentley and Lamborghini.

VW hit its 10 million global target in 2014—four years earlier than planned—and passed Toyota Motor Co. and General Motors Co. to take the top spot in the first half of this year. But to dominate the global market it needed to increase U.S. sales.

Mr. Winterkorn gave U.S. executives a goal of more than tripling annual sales, to at least 800,000 vehicles, in a 10-year plan he set in 2008.

Wolfgang Hatz, above, and Ulrich Hackenberg were put in charge of research and development at the Volkswagen group shortly after Martin Winterkorn became CEO in 2007.ENLARGE
Wolfgang Hatz, above, and Ulrich Hackenberg were put in charge of research and development at the Volkswagen group shortly after Martin Winterkorn became CEO in 2007. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

While popular in Germany, diesel-engine vehicles made up just 5% of the U.S. car market in 2007, when Mr. Winterkorn left Audi to be VW’s CEO. Seeing this as an advantage, diesel became the centerpiece of the U.S. campaign.

Volkswagen pitched U.S. buyers a powerful car with German engineering that met standards on tailpipe emissions by burning high-performance “clean diesel” fuel.

At Volkswagen headquarters in December, Mr. Winterkorn stood in a top-secret showroom known informally as Valhalla and leaned across the hood of a prototype sport-utility vehicle, the CrossBlue, to be built in Chattanooga, Tenn. One version was to have included the clean-diesel engine technology.

“The Yanks like things big,” he quipped to The Wall Street Journal about the vehicle.

The company’s clean-diesel strategy began a decade ago, when the Volkswagen brand was run by Wolfgang Bernhard, who was poached from rival Daimler AG by Bernd Pischetsrieder, Volkswagen CEO at the time. Mr. Bernhard set out to build a new diesel engine for the U.S. market, named the EA 189. Mr. Bernhard and Mr. Pischetsrieder last month issued a joint public statement “dismissing in the strongest possible terms” any connection with the emissions cheating scandal related to the EA 189.

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/vw-emissions-probe-zeroes-in-on-two-engineers-1444011602

Martin Dempsey’s World Is Falling Apart  By JAMES KITFIELD  September 26, 2015


The outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman bids farewell to an alliance beset by crises.

 

Getty

Getty

BERLIN—As his convoy sliced lights flashing through the busy streets of Berlin on a recent morning, Gen. Martin Dempsey could see a good part of his own career. He could see through the tinted windows of his limousine the bombed out ruins of the World War II-era Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and the Brandenburg Gate where the Iron Curtain once placed Germany on the front lines of the Cold War—and where as a young Army lieutenant Dempsey helped guard the border against massed Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. Soon the convoy would arrive at the German Ministry of Defense where Dempsey would be awarded the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany, and lay a wreath to the war dead of Germany’s modern army next to the same building where Adolf Hitler and his Nazi minions once plotted the conquest of Europe.

At the end of a long and storied career in uniform Dempsey was in a reflective mood, and the one reality he could not escape was just how much war and conflict there still was to be fought, and how many memorials to the fallen had yet to be erected.

 This was his final trip as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the last act of a Zelig-like military career that began over here more than 40 years earlier in a small German village, then proceeded to his personal involvement in every major war since, starting with the famed “left hook” in the first Iraq War and then command of the 1st Armored Division in the second. Forty long years of effort—and yet now at the end Dempsey is blunt in admitting that some things are actually worse than when he started his unusually long four-year tenure as a member of the Joint Chiefs.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/martin-dempsey-retiring-213194

Beyond Brady – By Rob Hamilton SEPT. 4 2015 3:48 PM


 Tom Brady after the 2015 AFC championship game, site of Deflategate, Jan. 18, 2015. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images


Tom Brady after the 2015 AFC championship game, site of Deflategate, Jan. 18, 2015.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

When Judge Richard Berman vacated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate, Berman not only handed the NFL a high-profile legal defeat, but he established the courthouse as the most viable option for players hoping to challenge the league’s policies. It’s a sign that the league must reform or face major—and embarrassing—ramifications for its disciplinary actions.

When allegations arose that the Patriots had illegally deflated game balls in the AFC championship game, the NFL hired Ted Wells to conduct an independent investigation. The resulting Wells Report concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady “was at least generally aware” of the ball-deflation scheme, prompting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Brady for four games. Brady appealed the punishment, and the matter went to arbitration. Goodell, serving as arbitrator, upheld the suspension and proclaimed that Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of” the deflation scheme.

The league’s response to Deflategate was reminiscent of its response to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal in 2013. Allegations arose that Dolphins players had bullied offensive lineman Jonathan Martin to the point of a breakdown. (Martin briefly checked himself into the hospital before leaving the team.) The league commissioned an independent investigation, also headed by Wells, which produced a 144-page report detailing the torment heaped upon Martin by his teammates. It vilified lineman Richie Incognito, who would not find work in 2014, and led to the firing of offensive line coach Jim Turner. The report served as some rare good publicity for the commissioner’s office.

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2015/09/deflategate_richard_berman_s_ruling_in_tom_brady_s_appeal_will_haunt_the.html

Vemma Nutrition shut down for running pyramid scheme – by Laura Rena Murray August 26, 2015 6:00PM ET


Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at Aug 26, 2015 3.07

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday announced that Vemma Nutrition — a multilevel marketing firm that relies on independent salespeople, called affiliates, to buy and sell its energy drinks, diet shakes and supplements — has been shut down for engaging in “deceptive and unlawful acts and practices.” The announcement followed an Aug. 17 suit filed against the company, in which the FTC accused it of operating as an illegal pyramid scheme.

In October, Al Jazeera exposed the company’s predatory practices and the lucrative lifestyle it afforded CEO Benson Keith Boreyko in a series about multilevel marketing firms. In the stories about Vemma, Al Jazeera detailed how the company rebranded itself to appeal to unsuspecting teens with its Young People Revolution, or YPR, movement. The stories unearthed information about his former company New Vision, which was also shut down by the FTC because of its claims that its supplements could cure attention deficit disorder. In 2011 he changed the name of New Vision International Holdings Inc. to Vemma International Holdings Inc.

“[The Al Jazeera report] was the only in-depth, extensive coverage of Vemma by mainstream media, which lent weight and force to the FTC’s investigation,” said Robert Fitzpatrick, who runs the watchdog website Pyramid Scheme Alert and was quoted in another story in the series about the psychology behind multilevel marketing firms.

Vemma was closed down for, among other things, using “interrelated companies that commingle funds and have common ownership, officers, directors and office locations,” according to the FTC lawsuit. This interconnecting company structure was initially documented by Al Jazeera in the 2014 exposé, which showed that Boreyko and his family incorporated dozens of interlocking companies that share addresses and list only Boreyko and his siblings as the principal shareholders, directors and officers.

Al Jazeera America found that CEO Benson Keith Boreyko made roughly $12 million in 2013 – 7,500 times more than three-quarters of Vemma affiliates.

The FTC investigation was aided by the offices of the attorney general in Arizona, South Carolina and Michigan as well the police department in Tempe, Arizona, where Vemma is headquartered.

 

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WHITEWASH: British Lord Accused of Raping Boys Inside Parliament -06.24.1510:28 AM ET


New charges against a member of the House of Lords claim he violated and tortured children—even inside the highest government offices. Why isn’t he being prosecuted?

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

LONDON — A current member of Britain’s House of Lords “violated, raped, and tortured” children inside the Houses of Parliament, it was claimed last night in one of the most shocking accusations yet to be heard in the country’s growing VIP sex-abuse scandal.

Britain’s public prosecutor ruled earlier this year that similar cases of sexual assault should not be brought against the alleged perpetrator, Lord Janner, because he was suffering from dementia. Police recommended the Labour Lord face trial on charges of six rapes and 16 sexual assaults alleged to have taken place between 1969 and 1998, but prosecutors decided the 86-year-old was unfit to stand trial.

The alleged child-abuse victims, some of whom say they were attacked by Janner as boys, say they believe the politician is being protected as part of an establishment cover-up, designed to protect Britain’s rich and powerful from the full force of the law, which continues to this day.

The horrific scale of sexual abuse against children carried out by powerful figures in British public life was laid bare last month, when police officers disclosed that they were investigating allegations against 76 politicians and almost 250 “persons of public prominence.” More than 100,000 alleged attacks have been catalogued by detectives since the police launched a series of inquiries into sexual abuse by people in positions of power.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/24/lord-accused-of-raping-boys-at-parliament-as-u-k-abuse-scandal-widens.html?source=TDB&via=FB_Page

Who Killed Alberto Nisman? – In Search of Truth in Argentina – Vice News Published on Jun 15, 2015


A political scandal has erupted in Argentina over the mysterious death of special prosecutor Albert Nisman. The 52-year-old was found dead in his apartment on January 18, the day before he was scheduled to testify before Congress that Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner — along with members of her government — had attempted to cover-up a deal that protected the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish cultural center.

As theories regarding Nisman’s death continue to swirl, VICE News traveled to Buenos Aires to investigate the mystery.

How Obama wooed back Merkel – By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE and MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG 6/6/15 1:20 PM EDT


After Snowden, the president and the German chancellor struggled to achieve a deeper bond.

SAINT PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive to pose with other leaders for a group photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Leaders of the G20 nations made progress on tightening up on multinational company tax avoidance, but remain divided over the Syrian conflict as they enter the final day of the Russian summit. (Photo by Anton Denisov/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

Getty

Chancellor Angela Merkel got on the phone with President Barack Obama with a message that was coldly blunt: We cannot go on like this.

Her government had just sent the CIA chief packing after German intelligence uncovered a spy in its own ranks. It was the second big shock to the relationship after the Edward Snowden document dump disclosed that the U.S. had been spying on her cell phone. German media was filled with daily pronouncements about the worst rupture in the U.S.-German alliance since the Iraq War.

In the call last July, according to U.S. and German officials, Merkel made clear to Obama the intense pressure she was under at home to respond to what many Germans saw as unconscionable provocations. She and Obama agreed that their respective chiefs of staff must meet immediately — in Berlin, not Washington. This last point was important for Merkel, since Germans well know the more familiar custom is for them to cross the Atlantic to come calling on Americans.

That was how Obama’s trusted retainer, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, found himself in the office of Peter Altmeier, her chief of staff and longtime confidant, for a four-hour meeting.

This weekend Obama is in Germany for a Merkel-hosted gathering of the G7 nations in Bavaria, an event which by outward appearances is intended partly as a culmination of a yearlong effort by Merkel and Obama to rehabilitate a badly damaged relationship.

But the public narrative obscures a complicated reality. Merkel had fed a public line that she was outraged and personally offended over the American surveillance. The reality, according to people who have spoken directly with her, is that she was less angry than mystified by what seemed to her the stupidity of it all. She thought it seemed sadly representative of Obama’s general approach to the world — distressingly small-minded, too willing to cede American moral high ground in the name of a supposed pragmatism that was in fact more like amateurism.

Obama, for his part, fed a public line that he was himself surprised and concerned by the spying on Merkel. The reality, according to administration officials, is that he regarded the public uproar as naive among people who were genuinely mad and disingenuous among those merely pretending to be — since even allies snoop on each other, that’s just the way of the world, embarrassing as it was to get caught.

 

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