Reporting lines blurred at Crown casino: Commissioner

[World] - Crown casino inquiry chair tells CEO money laundering allegations 'extraordinarily troubling' | Guardian

[World] - Crown casino inquiry chair tells CEO money laundering allegations 'extraordinarily troubling' | Guardian submitted by AutoNewspaperAdmin to AutoNewspaper [link] [comments]

[World] - Crown casino inquiry chair tells CEO money laundering allegations 'extraordinarily troubling'

[World] - Crown casino inquiry chair tells CEO money laundering allegations 'extraordinarily troubling' submitted by AutoNewsAdmin to GUARDIANauto [link] [comments]

Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino

Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino submitted by ocamlmycaml to EconNews [link] [comments]

[Business] - Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino

[Business] - Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino submitted by AutoNewsAdmin to REUTERSauto [link] [comments]

[Business] - Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino | REUTERS

[Business] - Melco Crown CEO says willing to outspend rivals on Japan casino | REUTERS submitted by AutoNewspaperAdmin to AutoNewspaper [link] [comments]

NSW taxpayers liable if inquiry acts on Crown findings

NSW taxpayers liable if inquiry acts on Crown findings submitted by Nobarsgo to australia [link] [comments]

Who wants some coffee?

Good morning everyone, get ahead of the week, follow your rules, let’s all make some money
Of note for Semiconductors (SOX), Japan is aiming to invite Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) or other global chipmakers to build an advanced chip manufacturing plant jointly with domestic chip equipment suppliers.
Of note for Automakers (F, GM, FCAU, TSLA), Volkswagen (VOW3 GY) CEO Diess reportedly told the Executive Board that the Co. is expecting to return to pre-COVID sales/profit at the commencement of 2023.
This week’s Barron’s articles argues that chains like Dollar General (DG) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) are focused on value, and as a result, they are a growth story when other retailers are not, noting that when economic conditions become more difficult for consumers, the dollar stores get going. A separate article notes that SoftBank (SFTBY) considering an IPO of its Arm Holdings makes sense, and it’s an important signal for investors about the future of the chip business. Chipotle (CMG) should “crush its earnings” this week, and Barron’s notes one sell-side analyst stating investors should buy the August USD 1,150 call option to cover the July 22nd earnings report. On banks (XLF, BKX), It might be time to embrace the uncertainty around bank names and consider Wells Fargo (WFC), the worst-performing of the big banks this year, noting that Wells has something the other banks don’t have: problems to fix. Goldman Sachs (GS) is a rare big financial company with an improving business and earnings outlook, Barron’s said, and it has a stock that looks reasonably priced at little more than 10x forward earnings. Barron’s argues that while shares of index providers MSCI (MSCI) and S&P Global (SPGI) aren’t cheap, both stocks could keep rising as new products and services translate into higher sales and profits

DOW JONES

Boeing Company (BA) is running out of space to stash newly-built 787 Dreamliner’s, with dozens of the planes sitting on the company’s premises, sources said; one BA watcher puts the number at 50, more than double the number of jets typically awaiting customers along Boeing’s flight lines. Elsewhere, Boeing and Etihad broaden its sustainability alliance by testing innovations on ecoDemonstrator 787, which flies on sustainable fuel made from vegetable oil, and waste animal fat. Meanwhile, NASA administrators are very confident in the SLS flying during 2021.
Chevron Corp. (CVX) is to acquire Noble Energy (NBL) for USD 5bln in an all-stock transaction, or USD 10.38/shr, with a total enterprise value, including debt, of USD 13bln; the deal marks a 7% premium for Noble, which trades at 50% below its 52-week high.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Senior Executives flew into Malaysia for talks with the government on the recovery of 1MDB assets; Malaysian prosecutors have charged GS and 17 current and former directors of its units for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales totalling USD 6.5 billion that the US bank helped raise for sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) signed an agreement with the UK to secure 90mln doses of two possible COVID-19 vaccines from the company and French Group Valneva. Note, the two Cos also announced early positive update from German Ph1/2 study; generated strong t-cell data; supports and expands upon early results from the corresponding US trial reported earlier in July.

NASDAQ 100

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) had its PT raised to a street high of USD 3800 at Goldman Sachs and Jefferies. Goldman Sachs maintains a conviction buy rating on the shares, rising the PT to the street high from USD 3,000. Analyst Heath Terry updated his estimates ahead of earnings to reflect the accelerating e-commerce growth. Revenue estimates are increased by 3% per year on average, while EBTIDA is left unchanged due to COVID expenditure and for an increase in infrastructure spending due to faster growth in retail and AWS.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) NBCUniversal is reportedly planning broad-based layoffs to offset losses from the pandemic.
eBay Inc. (EBAY) Classifieds business auction has been awarded to Norway’s Adevinta for close to USD 9bln, where eBay will keep a minority stake in the unit, according to a source. Earlier reports noted it would be USD 8bln or above. Elsewhere, eBay (EBAY) is to begin expanding its management of payments globally; expected to deliver USD 2bln in revenue and USD 500mln in operating income in 2022.
Facebook, Inc. (FB) has had its advertising expenditure by Disney (DIS) dramatically cut, according to sources. Disney was Facebook’s top US advertiser for the first six months of 2020, research firm Pathmatics estimates. Meanwhile, The FTC is considering taking sworn testimony from Facebook (FB) CEO and COO as part of its investigation into whether the social-media giant has violated US antitrust laws, sources said; top Facebook officials are preparing for potential depositions and some are worried about the possibility.
Tesla (TSLA) is being probed by South Korean Fair Trade Commission, who launched an internal review of its advertising that described its autopilot as self-driving technology, according to Korea Herald citing sources. Meanwhile, it has also pulled another “demand lever” for it Model Y and has begun offering a lease agreement to customers for the vehicle.

S & P 500

Celanese (CE) announced it has raised its share repurchase authorisation by USD 500mln to USD 1.563bln.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) told its pilots that furloughs could be avoided if they agree to a cut in guaranteed minimum pay, according to CNBC.
Ford Motor (F) and MobilEye have expanded its relationship to offer better camera-based collision avoidance in vehicles.
Halliburton Co. (HAL) Q2 20 (USD): Adj EPS 0.05 (exp. -0.12), Revenue 3.2bln (exp. 3.34bln). It recognised USD 2.1bln of pre-tax impairments and other charges in the quarter. North America revenue -57% Q/Q to USD 1bln.
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) has been awarded a USD 15bln contract for C-130J development.
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) received the FDA’s green light for pooled testing, using the same COVID-19 molecular diagnostic first authorised by the agency in mid-March.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Almost a quarter of pilots accepted either early retirement or voluntary leave offers, according to CNBC.
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) is expanding capacity for those developing new and existing therapies for COVID; now supporting more than 200 projects globally.
Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) announced the hackers on last week’s attack did more than cryptocurrency fraud, but they also walked away with some users personal data, according to WSJ. The report notes that data was taken from eight users.

OTHER

Alibaba (BABA) Ant Group is to plan simultaneous IPOs in Shanghai and Hong Kong, according to reports.
AstraZeneca (AZN LN, AZN) to publish eagerly anticipated COVID-19 trial results today. The FDA authorised its first COVID-19 diagnostic test for pools of samples, to let laboratories conserve resources by evaluating several people at once
Eldorado Resorts (ERI) USD 17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) received approval from The New Jersey Casino Control Commission, the last regulatory approval needed before the deal can close; the deal will result in the formation of the largest gaming company in the US.
Nikola (NKLA) chairman filed a new stock offering of up to 53.4mln shares related to warrants, but later noted it was just part of the process, adding “it’s difficult going ipo and after this, we’ll be full steam ahead”. Deutsche Bank note that the S-1 filing became effective, meaning 24mln warrants are now exercisable, which provides holders the right to buy shares for USD 11.50 and the 53.4mln shares owned by PIPE investors, enables them to be traded on the market. The analyst believes the potential for a portion of these 77mln shares to hit the market could create large technical selling pressure.
PTC Therapeutics (PTCT) and Royalty Pharma (RPTX) announced an agreement to acquire a portion of PTC’s royalty interest in risdiplan for USD 650mln in a one-time payment.
Samsung (SSNLF) is reportedly struggling to improve 5nm process yield, according to Digi Times citing sources. The article notes “It remains to be seen whether unsatisfactory yield rates at Samsung Electronics’ 5nm EUV process may affect the launch of Qualcomm’s next-generation flagship 5G mobile chip series.
Uber (UBER) and Alphabet Google (GOOG, GOOGL) announced a four-year agreement with Alphabet’s unit to use the Google Maps Platform Rides and Deliveries Services; Financial terms were not disclosed.
Yum China (YUMC) named official retail food services sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, also becomes an official sponsor of the Chinese Olympic Committee through 2024-end.
Edit 10:00AM

Additional US equity stories

Walmart (WMT) is restarting talks of a potential sale of its UK supermarket unit, Asda - potentially of note for Tesco (TSCO LN), Sainsbury's (SBRY LN), Morrison's (MRW LN), Marks & Spencer's (MKS LN)
Sorento Therapeutics (SRNE) FDA has cleared the co.’s Abivertinib for Phase Two safety and efficacy study in hospitalized patients with moderate to severe coronavirus.
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) announce early positive update from German Ph1/2 study; generated strong t-cell data; supports and expands upon early results from the corresponding US trial
Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI) - Elliott Management calls upon CCI to outline a five-year plan for its fiber segment on its July 30th earnings call.
Halliburton Co. (HAL) CEO says international business is continuing to be a more meaningful contributor to the company going forward; believes North America production will remain structurally lower in the future. The CEO Expects to see a more disciplined market with stronger operators and
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Morning Market Synopsis - Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

US equities higher: Dow +0.73%, S&P 500 +0.82%, Nasdaq +0.80%, Russell 2000 +0.80%
Notable Gainers:
Notable Decliners:
09:23:37 AM CDT on 20 Oct '20
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A Tour to the Moon, Part One: "Ascension"

December 31, 2019
"The Golden Grin Casino will now fund a moon landing for the new year. We'll be celebrating it by sending 3 brave astronauts, one of which is our current CEO, Mr.James Hoxworth."
Now I wasn't sure what was so wonderful about landing on the moon, but considering I've been playing poker, partying on beaches, and running the biggest casino in Vegas, it was a nice way to get away from the grind and relax. My assistant manager, Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto, tells me that there's a secret society of moon people, and that the moon isn't what it seems.
"Ah you wanker, first you tell me there's bloody fucking humanoid rabbits on the moon. Second, you tell me there's fucking people calling themselves bloody "Lunarians." Third, you tell me there's a massive metropolis on the dark side of the Moon. What's bloody next, I'm opening a Lunar casino and getting trillions from them?"
"Mr.Hoxworth... with all due respect, I don't allow myself to lie. It is against my values. The things I've said about the moon is true."
"Mr.Mikoto, please... just take this shift off and get a good night's sleep, you won't have to make it up. You've been working overtime for the last few weeks and I'm worried. Get a good night's rest, would you sunshine?"
Well, it was just me running this casino alone now for the next few days. Until GenSec escorts me to launch on a rocket and show people what we're seeing. Bloody moon people? Fucking rabbits? A goddamn metropolis on the moon? Mr.Mikoto never lied or attempted to cheat me before he brought things up related to the moon landing. I wonder if he was telling the truth, but it didn't matter, I have a casino to run, some people to scam, and some sleep to catch.
After seeing that things were running smoothly, I left for my penthouse on top of the Golden Grin itself. Taking the stairs I've hid behind the wall, I locked up the manager's room, pressed a button, and went up a few flights of stairs. I refuse to use an elevator, not after what happened at that damn No Mercy job.
Going to my penthouse, I scanned a keycard and went in. I've managed to bargain a really nice deal with GenSec, as I've embarrassed them by breaking their "impenetrable" vault, slaughtering their SWAT units, not to mention my crew's numerous robberies on places "secured" by them. I've managed to get their "Premium deal" for $8999 a month, up to the next 5 years, rather than the full $9999 they charge per month.
Getting in bed and sleeping in, I had a dream.

In James "Hoxton" Hoxworth's dream...
"There's the house, and somewhere... the rat."
Bain... I've been waiting for this day for over 2 years, the Judas bastard who ratted me, the motherfucker who let me rot in prison. I saw that Clover, shit-for-brains, and Dallas were with me. As much as I wanted to beat the Hell out of him for stealing my name, the rat can take the hits, for now...
Feeling for my shank, I was going to drink this rat's blood, and spit it out on his corpse. We all got past the outer fence, whoever this rat was, that bastard at least had a good place to die. Bain told us about a security system, I was struggling to find it, but Clover managed to find it and we checked for any guards that might of caught us.
I lockpicked the window and we quickly disabled the alarm, after wandering around for keycards and not getting caught, I saw the FBI boss. I was going to kill this guy, but Dallas told me that he might be useful alive and that our code doesn't involve killing civilians. Alas, he was unfortunately correct when we found a vault and placed the keycards in them. Bain saw a retinal scanner and told us to take the boss there.
I opted to stay there, sitting on a bed and lying on my stomach, listening to the voice of the man who betrayed me, after Dallas bound and gagged the boss, we forced him to scan his eye on the retinal scanner and I was taunting him about how he could try putting me in prison, but he couldn't keep me. The boss couldn't talk, but he probably knew I was right.
The other 3 left to find evidence and other things, but I stayed behind to see that panic room open, when I saw that door start opening, I grabbed my shank, and raised my arms up to destroy the brain of this now brainless rat. However, the world around me started to shift and I was back in my prison uniform, being escorted by rabbit girls with guns and a purple-haired chick with a yellow ribbon holding a sword to my neck.
The next thing I noticed was that I was restrained exactly like the time before my crew broke me out. After walking forward for a bit, I could hear faint drilling sounds and saw a dollar being thrown out, knowing that this was my breakout, I went for it and got kicked square in the stomach by a light purple-haired rabbit girl with a suit.
Coughing up some blood and recovering, the girl who pointed a sword at me told me to stop fucking around and get up. I knew this was breakout time, so I yelled, "It's PAYDAY fellas!"
When there was no response, I yelled, "I SAID IT'S FUCKING PAYDAY motherfuc-"
The wall besides me blew up and the sword went through my thigh, I was expecting the crew to save me, but they ended up getting restrained by a blonde haired girl with a fan.
"Hoxton... we're so sorry for leaving you behind. Please forgive us."
Those were the last words uttered by Dallas, Chains, Wolf, and my replacement before it seemed like they turned to dust and disappeared into thing air.
"Sister... we did it, we took down the filth that the Earthlings couldn't ever take down. It was easier than I calculated it to be... I honestly expected to have to fight to the last hair."
"Ahh, everything is so easy for you when you can borrow the powers of gods, isn't it Yorihime? And you've always desired a challenge from the Earthlings, they've sent their best criminals and nothing of challenge occured. Anyways, weren't you interested with this one we took prisoner?"
"Yes... a James Hoxworth, known by his alias "Hoxton," a sharpshooter known for his abilities to hunt heads and the infamous thief that went on that crime spree. I've taken a liking to him, more so that Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto has committed a massive sin against us. Hoori is still saddened by the loss, but accepts it now. It's just like when Kaguya drank that forbidden elixir. We still miss them inside, but accept that they had to die on the filthy earth."
Wait a minute... I known a Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto, if it wasn't in this fucked up timeline, he would of eventually be my assistant manager after acquiring the Golden Grin. Was he correct, that there were moon people and rabbits. And if so, there must be some sort of civilization on it.
Seeing that there was no way out of here, if I was going to rot in prison, I was going to at least have my questions answered.
I asked them, "Are you Lunarians, and if so, are we on the moon? Also, is this real or a scare tactic?"
The purple haired girl answered me, "Yes, we are Lunarians. And yes, we are on the moon. Allow me to show you our world."
Getting escorted, I saw that we were indeed not on Earth, but the fucking moon of all places. There was a massive metropolis, it was on a scale larger than that time I went to Japan for a failed business deal.
"What a fuck-tastic place... it's so beautiful. How the hell did you even build this?"
"The Lunatic Kingdom... it's been over millions of years since we first established this place. Exploiting quantum physics, enhancing our magical capabilities, having gods on our side. We've estimated humanity wouldn't be able to catch up to our current capabilities until at least tens of thousands of years."
I was taken back where the rabbits and blonde girl was. I had my restraints removed, but still had a gun pointed towards my head. A figure, with a crescent moon for a crown with some armor with moon symbols, I noticed that the 2 girls bowed down.
"Allow me to introduce myself, I am Lord Tsukuyomi, the God of the Moon. These are my 2 nieces, Toyohime and Yorihime. Quite the charm, are they not."
"Yes they are."
"We will now go somewhere more desirable for me to tell my prophecies that directly involve you."
Seeing that we were in a more serene area, with something I would of seen off an ancient Japanese painting worth hundreds of millions, we sat down on a tatami mat, comfortable things, for sure.
Here are his prophecies,
  1. You will marry one of my nieces.
  2. You will attain a legendary power that I wish I could have.
  3. You will bear witness to an unexpected event.
  4. You will live here.
  5. We will meet under more desirable circumstances.
  6. You will be pure.
"But for now, I promise you, James Hoxworth. This is simply a dream, but it serves as my place to tell prophecies without having to directly intervene. Remember my words, and your reward will be greater than your casino. Goodbye."
I was sent to a room that looked awfully similar to my penthouse, then I received a kiss on the cheek from Yorihime, and then I was sent on my way...

Back in reality, January 1, 2020.
Holy shite! I woke up with a note next to my hand, with that dude's prophecies written in what, Japanese or something? Along with a sword that seemed like the ones that girl had. Whatever just happened, I was going to see if this was a scare tactic or reality.
Going to my casino, I knew now would be the least profitable time, as everyone has a New Year's resolution that they always fail. I saw Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto, it looked like he knew something was up.
"Mr.Hoxworth, how was your dream last night?"
Seeing the devilish smile and his unusual amount of calmness, I knew this guy wasn't joking. He wouldn't have a reason to put his highly prestigious career on the line for the largest casino in America.
"It was... um, weird."
"Weird, huh? Fufufu, did you see a moon god, 2 beautiful girls, and some rabbit girls?"
"Um... yes, yes I did."
"Let me fill you in on something, those girls were my mother and ex-wife, 2 "Lunar Princesses." Unfortunately I've done something to get banished from the Moon. My punishment is to rot on Earth. With nobody in to fill in that void, and the political disaster that I've left behind, only the best are allowed to marry her."
"So why the Hell would a moon god choose my sorry ass? I mean I'm pretty sure he can find better."
"Simple, I've been observing your magical energy, and it seemed that it's more than what some gods can dream of containing. You've also have a unique power that only few can hope to replicate, much less acquire. I am not allowed to tell you exactly what it is, but you'll learn with time, Mr.Hoxworth."
I reached for that note I was given from those "Lunarians," I asked Ugayafukiaezu to read them for me, since if anyone could reach those um... symbols, it was going to be him.
"Dear me, Mr.Hoxworth, it looks like you've really ascended from being an Earthling to a Lunarian. Is this the cost of my sin? Being employed by the one who will take my place, well... I deserve it."
"Anyways... I sincerely hope you had a good night's rest. Maybe tell your deity buddies to fill me in next time instead of leaving me confused and thinking their saying a bunch of crap."
Days have passed, I only had dreams of those "Lunarians" but got more details about them in more desirable circumstances. I remember seeing Bain and Tsukuyomi discuss what I used to be, and how that gave me status to their secret society stuff, or that one time where Locke wrecked all of us in golf and managed to hit a boat for once, and especially that one where Dallas told Yorihime everything about me. It was going to be one more day before I was getting launched into space, hopefully I have everything figured out.
January 11, 2020
I took whatever objects I could to get into space, they prepared food, water, and some other essentials. Even 3 Mossberg 500s were packed with us as there's been reports of astronauts being attacked, I wonder if those were the "Lunarians" that I've been seeing in my dreams.
GenSec took me on a plane to the Kennedy Space Center, as part of my sponsership with NASA, the Golden Grin will fund their projects and provide for their employees in return of giving me the pleasure of being on the moon.
Going through some boring checks and being shoved in a fucking spacesuit, making me look like a glorified Bulldozer from my first crime spree?file=Bulldozer.jpg), I was in a rocket with my other comrades. I was going to be flown off to the moon and had to do all sorts of things, but overall, if the Lunarians are real and Tsukuyomi wasn't bluffing, I was going to hopefully live somewhere better. If it was just a really massive coincidence, I was going to be the first and possibly only Golden Grin member with the privilege of saying, "I was on the moon."
And we have liftoff.
Flying in a massive hunk of steel and computers, we viewed everything, for the next 3 days, we were doing nothing productive, but I've noticed a few things. My body felt like it contained a load of magic and that I was going to be something greater. But I just played it off as over-excitement and we finally landed on the moon.
"OK... so we'll take pictures, replace the flag, and broadcast this to the whole world. It is time that we forward our knowledge of the cosmos. We have to investigate the dark side of the moon."
Doing what command wanted us to do, we were going there to forward the cause of science. I felt an uneasiness and heard an intentional static.
"Hey wankers... do you get the feeling that we're being watched by something out of this world? Like we're the ones being studied instead of studying?"
"No... why?"
"I just feel like something is off here, but let's tread on."
As my team went further to investigate the darkness, we reached a point where we noticed a sea of all things. Fucking Hell, it looks like my dreams were slowly becoming reality, we took notes until we were ambushed by a bunch of rabbit girls.
"HALT! You impure beings, you will now be detained, put your hands over your heads and stay silent. Do not attempt to move, or speak, otherwise you will be eliminated."
Son of a bitch... we had guns pointed towards our heads and I saw who looked like Yorihime there. Was this an elaborate thing set up by the FBI and GenSec to get me back in jail? Was this a well-done nightmare? Will the ZEAL SWATs going swarm me any second now? My body was starting radiate what feels like magic and my soul felt like it was starting a process to ascend, whatever this was, it wasn't going to be pretty for any of us.
Maybe I've ascended to a new realm or something... whatever this is. I'm going to do what the girl says, that's one sharp sword and I rather not see that as the last thing before my death and get beheaded.
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Mar. 4, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
NOTE: I mentioned it in the first post of 2002 but a lot of y'all are aware that a few months ago, SaintRidley picked up the Observer Rewind reins after I stopped and started doing his own recaps from the 1980s. Well, he's been doing great work with it and he just finished posting the year of 1987. I went ahead and added it the Previously" section up there. ↑↑↑ Just wanted to make sure to bring it to everyone's attention.
  • It's been awhile since we've had major PPVs going head-to-head with each other, but it happened this week when WWA aired it's 2nd ever PPV live from Las Vegas, going head-to-head with PRIDE. Dave recaps the history of head-to-head PPV battles, specifically the WWF vs. Crockett war in the late-80s. How Vince McMahon created Survivor Series specifically to run it in direct competition with Crockett's first ever PPV, Starrcade 87. The resulting loss of needed revenue was a huge reason why Crockett eventually had to sell the company to Ted Turner and, in retrospect, set into motion everything that led to WCW's eventual death last year. He goes on to recap how Royal Rumble was created and aired on free TV to go head-to-head with Crockett's next PPV attempt, Bunkhouse Stampede. Then Crockett responded by creating the first Clash of the Champions and airing it against Wrestlemania IV. Not sure PRIDE vs. WWA is up there in the same league as that PPV battle. Which, to be fair, Dave admits it's not the same thing.
  • Anyway, the PRIDE show was among the greatest events of all time, one of the very few times in the history of the Observer that a show got a unanimous 100% thumbs up vote on the reader poll. It aired in Japan live and in the U.S. on a bit of a delay, with the matches edited in a different order. In Japan, the card was headlined by Vanderlei Silva vs. former UWFI wrestler Kiyoshi Tamura, which was an excellent fight that Silva won. In the U.S., the show was built around Ken Shamrock vs. Don Frye in the main event (in Japan, it aired 3rd from last) and the 2 men had an absolute war that should shut up critics who say both are too old. Shamrock lost a split-decision in a fight that Dave thinks should have legitimately been a draw. (This fight is considered to this day one of the all-time wars in MMA history. An utter slobberknocker. Neither fighter was the same again afterward and Frye has said that the damage Shamrock did to his legs in this fight led to him later getting addicted to painkillers). After the fight, Shamrock went over to ringside and hugged his girlfriend Alicia Webb, who you may remember as Ryan Shamrock. The girl that played his sister in WWF.
WATCH: Don Frye vs. Ken Shamrock - PRIDE 19: Bad Blood (2002)
  • And then there was WWA. A low-budget, amateur-ish event, marred by bad production and no-shows. Not that the crowd would even know, because most of the lineup was never even announced ahead of time anyway. The scheduled main event of Jeff Jarrett vs. Randy Savage didn't happen because Savage held promoter Andrew McManus up for more money at the last minute. Savage originally had agreed to work the show in exchange for a 30% ownership stake in the company, which was agreed upon. But three days before the show, Savage upped the ante, saying he wanted the 30%, plus an extra $50,000 in cash. At that point, they started haggling back and forth to try to strike some kind of deal. Ownership got pulled off the table and then Savage asked for a flat $250,000 fee to work the show. WWA turned that down and came back with a flat $150,000 offer instead. Savage turned that down and at that point, everything broke down. For what it's worth, a lot of the lower card wrestlers on the show worked for $300. Last second attempts to bring in Sting to save the show didn't work either. Road Dogg was also supposed to appear on the show but couldn't because of legal issues. Word is he got arrested 2 days before the show in Florida on a probation violation. As a result, the PPV was headlined by Jeff Jarrett defending the WWA championship against Brian Christopher.
  • The whole show was simply an embarrassment. The production was completely minor league and the crowd was totally dead for all these long matches with guys nobody cares about. The in-ring work was fine, but the booking often made no sense, with overbooked three-ways and 6-way undercard matches that ended up being more clusterfuck than match. It was also one of those Russo-type things where the commentary team made endless inside-references that only the hardcore internet fans would get. But then again, this show only drew hardcore internet fans anyway, so why not? They also constantly made reference to WWF, which came across as desperate and sad. In particular, Larry Zbyszko was given the chance to cut a meandering promo, challenging Vince McMahon to a fight over some unspecified grievance from 20 years ago and criticized them for having Chris Jericho as their world champion. Dave thinks Zbyszko was actually angling for a job from WWF by trying to start his own angle and says this promo was basically his job application. And he thinks it was pretty pathetic. Backstage, the disorganization was apparent and most even within the company saw what a mess it was and have already given up on the promotion as a lost cause. Dave said this PPV made it clear that nobody will be challenging WWF anytime soon.
  • Other notes from the WWA Revolution PPV: yes, in case you're wondering, that Japanese man sitting behind the commentary table all night who very briefly (literally blink and miss it) got involved in the Scott SteineDisco Inferno tussle was indeed NJPW star Hiroyoshi Tenzan and yes, they flew him all the way from Japan (and had him bring his ring gear just in case), only to have him do almost nothing and never be acknowledged on camera. Eric Bischoff was backstage, as a guest of Ernest Miller. Bischoff laughed off any questions about going to WWF but said the ol' "never say never" shtick. The crowd was about 2,800, most of them freebies and they were desperately giving away tickets in the casino before the show. During the first match, the building looked practically empty so they quietly began moving everyone closer to ringside to pack the area around the ring to make it look presentable for TV. Opening 6-way match featuring all the hottest indie stars was a sloppy mess, with too people flying everywhere trying to get their shit in and the cameras missing most of it. Bret Hart came out and cut a long, rambling promo before announcing Brian Christopher was replacing Randy Savage in the main event, to zero crowd response. By the 5th match, people in the crowd could be seen leaving, never to return. Jerry Lynn showed up, interrupting an Eddie Guerrero interview, at which point Dave mentions, oh yeah by the way, the WWF released Jerry Lynn 2 days before the PPV. Considering WWF has been talking about reviving the cruiserweight division after Wrestlemania, Dave doesn't know why they'd get rid of a guy who could be one of the best in the division. Anyway, yeah, this show sucked. Here ya go, enjoy.
WATCH: WWA: The Revolution PPV - 2002
  • WWF's latest investor conference call took place and wasn't particularly newsworthy, but there's some stuff to note. The new agreement with DirecTV is until August of 2003 and is under the exact same terms they were operating under last year, which means WWF gained nothing while losing an estimated $4.4 million in revenue over the last few PPVs. Following the brand split, WWF plans to run 16 PPVs per year, and increasing the price by an extra $5. Linda McMahon said Wrestlemania 18 has sold 58,000 tickets as of the time of the call, for a record gate of $3.96 million, breaking the record set by last year's WM. Dave goes through all the numbers and for the most part, in comparison to previous quarters, almost everything is down. Which is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention because WWF is clearly on the downswing. Linda also said they're currently interviewing new writers and are hoping to double their writing staff, which Dave thinks is a terrible idea (and time has damn sure proven him correct). Finally, Linda was also asked how the purchase of the WCW library has benefited the company, which Dave thinks is an interesting question since revenues have declined since then and the Invasion angle flopped so hard that it killed any brand value the name "WCW" may have had. Linda talked about the value of the tape library but Dave points out that it's been a year and WWF has done practically nothing with that library (of course, in the end, they found ways to monetize that WCW library and it more than paid for itself).
  • In his first match as an official member of the AJPW roster, Keiji Muto lost the Triple Crown championship to Toshiaki Kawada in a match nearly a year in the making, before a sold out crowd at Budokan Hall. He hasn't seen it yet, but the match was reported to Dave as a near-classic (he ends up giving it 4.5 stars). The other 2 NJPW stars who jumped ship, Kendo Kashin and Satoshi Kojima, also worked their first official AJPW matches. Kaz Hayashi, formerly a member of Jung Dragons in WCW and who worked in WWF's developmental until asking for his release a few weeks ago, also debuted on the show and will be part of Muto's faction.
WATCH: Keiji Muto vs. Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW 2-24-2002
  • Obituary time for Swede Hanson, who worked primarily in the Carolinas and had a brief run in the WWF as a cult favorite babyface in the early 80s. Sadly, he passed away in a mental hospital because he had advanced Alzheimer's disease which made it impossible for his family to handle him and they had him put away. Jeez, that's rough. He also had a litany of other health problems. Dave gives an in-depth history of his career in the 60s and 70s as a heel in the Carolinas before talking about the WWF run. Vince Sr. brought him in as a monster heel to challenge Bob Backlund, and Dave thinks someone else must have backed out at the last moment or something. By this time (in 1979), Hanson was well past his prime and hadn't been a major star anywhere in years but he was a big dude and so they brought him in to face Backlund and they actually sold out Madison Square Garden with Backlund vs. Hanson in the main event (though Dave says Bruno Sammartino working the undercard sure didn't hurt). The match sucked and almost immediately after, he became a jobber in the WWF, but Vince Jr, on commentary, just loved to call him "Rawboned Swede Hanson" and the "Rawboned" nickname caught on. Vince said it with such gusto that Hanson briefly became a cult favorite jobber from it and the crowd turned him babyface at damn near 50 years old. It led to a brief career resurgence and him having a small role in the Backlund/Billy Graham feud for the title before he finally faded into oblivion.
  • Mark Henry won the "world's strongest man" competition at the Arnold Classic bodybuilding and fitness event. Henry has been out of WWF for the past 2 months training for this competition and the training paid off, with Henry capturing first place and making a legitimate viable claim to his "strongest man in the world" moniker. During the event, Henry became the first man in 50 years to cleanly press the 366 pound Apollon wheel weight above his head. In another event, he carried an 800 pound block of bolted together railroad ties up a 40-foot ramp faster than the other competitors. For his victory, Henry won a $75,000 Humvee and some other cash prizes. Over the same weekend, he also won another $1,000 in a contest where he was able to lift an inch dumbbell (which weighs 172 pounds) to his shoulder with one arm. There's a bunch of other weightlifting stuff here, but you might be surprised to find out....I dunno shit about any of this. I got winded lifting pizza to my mouth earlier. Mark Henry strong.
WATCH: Mark Henry at the Arnold Classic 2002
  • Another obit for former wrestler, promoter, and father of 80s valet Baby Doll, Nick Roberts who died of pancreatic cancer. Once again, a bunch of details and stories about someone I've never heard of in wrestling history that Dave somehow knows everything about. I know I've said it before, but these obituary pieces are some of the greatest reasons for subscribing to the Observer.
  • Masahiro Chono says he wants to take NJPW in a more serious, realistic direction. No sports entertainment gaga nonsense, they want it to be like a real sports product. So much so that, in his own match with Manabu Nakanishi at the last big NJPW show, Chono wouldn't even bounce off the ropes, saying that it's not credible and no one would do that in a real fight. Ah yes, Inoki's gonna love this.
  • FMW wrestler Kodo Fuyuki has said he plans to try to keep the promotion running after it was announced it was folding last week. FMW still has 8 shows scheduled for this month and Fuyuki said he plans to try to run them himself and keep the company going (no such luck buddy).
  • Japan Today, an American newspaper that covers Japanese news daily, had a story on Antonio Inoki battling diabetes. It says he was first diagnosed in 1982, which Dave says is right around the time Inoki's in-ring work dropped off considerably when he lost his stamina. The story said for the last 20 years, Inoki has eaten a ridiculously healthy diet and is in better health now at 59 than he was then at 39.
  • Dave said he got tons of positive feedback on the debut of RF Video's Ring of Honor promotion in Philadelphia. The show was sold out in advance, was well organized, and had several really good matches. They limited a lot of the mistakes that most indie companies fall victim to, such as too many matches, too many run-ins, too much mic work, too many guys trying to do too much stuff, etc. Steve Corino and CZW announcer Eric Gargiulo did commentary. Eddie Guerrero faced Super Crazy in an excellent match and the main event was a three-way featuring Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels, and American Dragon that Dave has heard rave reviews for. And thus, ROH was born.
WATCH: Highlights from ROH's debut show in 2002
  • Vic Grimes took the most insane bump of all time at an XPW event before 1,500 fans in Los Angeles. Grimes was facing New Jack in a scaffold match said to be at least twice as high up as the fall Mick Foley took off the Hell in a Cell. The ring below had tables stacked 4-high to break his fall, but Grimes ended up missing most of the tables when New Jack overshot him. Perhaps on purpose. Grimes missed all but the corner tables at the edge of the ring before coming down on the corner turnbuckles. After the bump, they tried to rush fans out of the arena since it was almost 1am and gave many the impression Grimes life was in danger. But he was surprisingly okay and was walking around backstage after, although he was definitely banged up. Grimes was really nervous about the bump earlier in the day, as you might expect and Dave says he's pretty damn lucky he didn't miss the ring because he almost certainly would have died if he took that bump straight to the floor. Elsewhere on the show, there was a match where porn star Lizzy Borden (wife of XPW promoter Rob Black) faced another porn star, Veronica Caine, in a match that was supposed to end only when someone was stripped totally naked. But right before it happened, the lights went out and the women were rushed out of the ring and when fans realized they'd been ripped off, they were so pissed the arena feared a riot. (Anyway, here's the bump and yeah....Grimes very easily could have died from this. No mention from Dave on the fact that New Jack also tazed him before this)
WATCH: Air Grimes goes long
  • Shane Douglas is expected to take over as XPW booker when his WCW contract with Time Warner expires next month.
  • Former WCW journeyman wrestler Chip Minton's primary career was bobsledding. He only wrestled in WCW occasionally while doing that, primarily as a jobber on the C-shows. Minton was part of the US bobsledding team in both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics and was planning to compete this year, but failed to make the team. Soon after that, he failed a steroid test and has been suspended from the sport for 2 years.
  • Remember a couple weeks ago, it was mentioned that Roddy Piper was in a car accident but he was playing down how serious it was? Turns out....very serious. Piper suffered 4 broken ribs, one of which punctured his liver and nearly killed him. He also suffered severe back injuries and shattered his ankle. Piper was taken to the hospital and was near death but obviously, he managed to pull through and has still been making all his appearances for XWF in recent days. (Yeah I think in Piper's autobiography, he dedicates the book to the guy who saved his life by rushing him to the hospital and even says he was clinically dead for a few moments. Then again, Piper was like a lot of those old time guys and was prone to exaggeration, so who knows).
  • Eric Bischoff is teaming up with Mark Burnett, the producer of the hit show Survivor, to produce a MMA reality show called Skien. From Dave's understanding, it will basically be a reality show with K-1 kickboxers leading up to a PPV event. (Here's an article about it from Variety at the time, but this ends up going nowhere).
WATCH: Variety article on Eric Bischoff's new reality show
  • Notes from Raw: only one thing really notable, they filmed a segment at referee Tim White's bar The Friendly Tap. The bar really is owned by White and WWF pretty much always films angles there when they're in town (Providence, RI). This time, the skit featured the APA going into the bar to drink and the bar was filled by a bunch of gay men and drag queens (played by a bunch of wrestlers from indie promotion Chaotic Wrestling) while the APA guys acted all grossed out by it all. Then Billy and Chuck attacked them. Dave thinks this played on all the typical homophobic stereotypes and he seems pretty irritated by it. Anyway, among the wrestlers from Chaotic were Todd Sinclair (better known now as ROH's senior official), Rich Palladino (ring announcer for Beyond now) and John Walters (indie wrestler and former ROH Pure champion).
  • Next week's Smackdown hasn't aired yet but it was taped and Dave has details. Notably, this is the episode where Austin chases down the NWO and tries to shoot them with a net gun. Dave says this was a mess, with the gun going off but no net being fired from it and they'll have to fix the whole thing in post-production. It went horribly when they filmed it and it aired for the live crowd and it killed the crowd and basically forced them to improvise on the spot (on one of the Something To Wrestle podcasts, Bruce Prichard tells this story and how frustrated they were with this net gun being a piece of shit). This episode also featured Stephanie yelling at Chris Jericho for getting her the wrong hand lotion and Booker T and Edge feuding over a Japanese shampoo commercial. (Rock/Hogan was great, but man, the build for everything else at Wrestlemania 18 suuuuuucked.)
  • Prototype won the OVW title from Leviathan at the latest OVW tapings. After the match, they did an angle to set up David Flair as the #1 contender for the title. Prototype's only singles loss in OVW came last week, when Flair beat him, so there ya go (this video covers ALL of that. The FlaiCena match, the Leviathan match, the post-match angle, etc).
WATCH: Prototype vs. Leviathan for OVW title - 2002
  • Wall Street Journal did an article talking about the decline in Smackdown's ratings, saying they were down 28% from last year and down 42% from the year before that. The article blamed it on Smackdown changing networks. Here's the thing though....it hasn't. Raw changed networks in 2000. Smackdown has been on UPN since its debut. Also, UPN has grown overall in ratings while Smackdown has declined. So....no. It's just because the show sucks now.
  • Charlie Haas, fresh off returning to the ring and winning the HWA title after the death of his brother, tore his ACL this week. He just had surgery and will be out 4-6 months. Rough few months for that dude.
  • A Washington newspaper did a story on James Dudley, who you may know as....WWF Hall of Famer James Dudley and little else. On-screen, he's never really done much. But Dave says Dudley started working for Vince Sr. back in the 1940s, when Sr. was a boxing promoter, and was essentially his Vince Sr.'s driver and assistant. Dudley did a lot of odd jobs for the company during those early years, working ticket booths and stuff like that, but to most people, he was just kinda known as Vince Sr.'s limo driver. So when he was indicted into the WWF Hall of Fame a few years ago, it was a pretty controversial decision among a lot of people, given that someone like Bruno Sammartino isn't in, by the company's limo driver is. Anyway, before his death, Vince Sr. made Vince Jr. promise to take care of Dudley and keep him on the payroll. So for the last 18 years or so, even though he doesn't work for the company, Vince McMahon has continued to pay him a salary. He also bought him a new car as a gift some years back.
  • Billy and Chuck's recent tag team title win makes Billy Gunn the most decorated tag team wrestler in WWF history, as he's now held the tag titles 9 times (3 as part of the Smoking Gunns, 5 as part of New Age Outlaws, and now once with he and Chuck). The previous record was Mick Foley, with 8. (to the best of my research, if we're only talking WWF/WWE tag title reigns, that record is now held by Edge).
  • USA Network CEO Barry Diller took part in a lecture at Syracuse University and talked about losing the WWF to TNN. When asked why it happened, he responded, "Because I'm a dope." He said he didn't fight hard enough to keep the WWF and admitted the loss hurt, but also said it may have been the best thing for them in the long-run because pro wrestling doesn't really fit the direction they're planning to take the network. He said wrestling fans came for wrestling and left immediately after it was over and there was never any cross-over fans who stuck around to watch the next show or anything like that. He said they could never figure out what to connect wrestling to within the rest of their properties.
  • WWF held a try out camp in Cincinnati and reportedly, nobody was particularly impressive, including AJ Styles. The knock on Styles was that he's average looking and too small. Wrestler Sonny Siaki was said to be the most impressive, but he also rubbed people the wrong way with his attitude so probably not gonna make the cut this time. Matt Morgan, who was on the Tough Enough casting special last season got a tryout and since he has no formal training, he was pretty awful but he's big so Dave seems to think he'll get a chance anyway. The other one they were impressed by was a woman named Erin Bray, who was one of the final 25 picked for the original Tough Enough. But then some other contestants spotted her out on a date with one of the show's judges and they threw a fit, which resulted in Bray not making the final 13. Another wrestler, Travis Tomko, is a guy who has worked some indies and is a former bodyguard for Limp Bizkit ("Tomko, gimme a beat." "No.")
  • Rock was a presenter at the NAACP Awards and Dave thinks he looked pretty great for a guy who was almost murdered in an ambulance by the NWO a few days earlier. Cheeky Dave is just the best.
  • Speaking of, Dave throws in a random paragraph to backhandedly shit on Kevin Nash. For years, people in the business joked that Lex Luger made the most money with the least ability or drawing power of anyone ever in wrestling. Dave says it's gotta be Nash. For example, Nash is not wrestling and is only going to be in Hall's corner for the match at Wrestlemania (his knees really are giving him problems), but he has been promised that he's going to get the same type of payoff as if he was the guy in the match working with Austin in the semi-main event. Not to mention all the huge contracts he signed in WCW, or how he got a huge-by-WWF-standards deal here, plus got Vince to cave to almost all his other demands regarding schedule and bringing back Scott Hall, among other things. (I mean, while Dave is being kind of a dick here, I don't think he's really wrong either. When it comes to top draws in the history of the business, Nash isn't anywhere near even the top 10 or 20. And he's never exactly been a great wrestler. But since the 90s, Nash always managed to make sure he gets PAID like he's in that upper echelon. Nash is one of those very few wrestlers who isn't entranced by the fame or the fake accolades. He treats wrestling for what it is: a business. It's the way they pay their mortgages and buy groceries, just like you and me at our jobs. I love it. I laugh my ass off every time I hear "Brock Lesnar signed a huge new contract to only work 6 matches a year." Good for him. I hope he gets even more money for less dates next year. You should always know your worth and never let your employer take you for anything less. Nash has always been one of the guys to do that and he's probably going to die comfortably in a nice house while these other guys from his era are still clinging to fame at 60 years old doing $300 indie shows on crippled knees. Anyway, that's my soapbox). Dave seems to feel the same way and admits, love him or hate him, you gotta give Nash credit for being one of the smartest guys in the biz.
  • Fear Factor featuring the Hardyz, Lita, Test, Molly Holly, and Jacquelyn aired this week. First they had to climb up a rope ladder hanging from a helicopter over the river and they all made it up except Jeff Hardy who slipped near the top and fell (knowing Jeff, he probably purposely let go so he could take the big fall for fun). Lita also got eliminated for being the slowest one up the ladder. Next they had to chug a gross drink that included bile, rooster testicals, spleen, and some animal brains all blended together. Molly Holly almost vomited after one sip and was out. Jackie and Matt succeeded. Test refused to even try. So then it came down to Matt vs. Jackie and they had to walk across the tops of high poles and move flags around. Matt Hardy ended up winning the whole thing and won $50,000 for charity.
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 1
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 2
WATCH: WWF stars on Fear Factor, Pt. 3
  • Sunday Night Heat is being converted into one of the B-shows like Metal and Jakked. Awhile back, they started airing Heat from the WWF New York restaurant but the production costs of that were high. So in a cost-cutting move, they're just gonna tape dark matches and throw them on Heat the same way they do those other shows, featuring all the nobodies that can't ever get TV time on the main shows.
  • As mentioned last week, Scott Hall has been taking a drug called Antabuse, which makes him violently sick when he drinks or even smells alcohol. It caused him to get sick after Raw last week when Austin poured beer all over him in a bit after the cameras were off. Hall has said he is clean and has been clean for awhile, except for the incident a couple weeks ago where he fell off the wagon. Others are skeptical and question if Hall only takes his medication on TV days and needless to say, there's some doubt here.
  • Everywhere he goes, Brian Christopher has been telling people he's coming back to WWF after Wrestlemania, but contrary to what he's saying, Dave says there are zero plans for that (indeed, it does not happen).
FRIDAY: More on WWA's PPV disaster, the landscape for any new promotion attempting to start up, WWF huge show in Japan, WWF loses appeal over "WWF" initials, Bret Hart given offer for Wrestlemania 18, and tons more...
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[S] Swoldow's Survivor: Ghost Island

There have been many mistakes that have been made, and someone needs to reverse the curse...
Swoldow's Survivor has undergone 35 seasons of amazing plays, but sometimes, a few mistakes were made, and as a result, someone gets sent home. However, 20 new castaways have a chance to nullify that bad decision. A new twist, entitled 'Ghost Island' is an island someone can visit in exile, and bid their vote on a chance to get an advantage that has been misused by someone who has played prior to them.

MEET THE CAST:
Malolo Tribe:
Naviti Tribe:


THE SEASON: https://brantsteele.com/survivo36/r.php?c=KdpJKr3d

Episode 1:
Two tribes of ten are cast away in Fiji, and they are told the theme of this season is making failed decisions. The tribemates are immediately put to the test when they must pick a leader. Breadfruit volunteers without anyone's consent for Malolo, and Mary, being the oldest person on Naviti, is picked for them. They are then told to pick two people to compete in a challenge. Breadfruit picks Snow and Tea and Mary picks Troy and Juliette. Despite their... questionable pick for a leader, Malolo wins the challenge and get a shelter building kit.
At Malolo, Snow immediately starts trying to make a move. She starts to flirt with Ray and the two naturally want to control the game together, forming a showmance they manage to keep well hidden. Wanting to form a group of all people that would be deemed as day one threats, Devon and Kathy are also roped into this new four-person group due to their occupations. The four of them have the strategic ability to pull off many crazy moves. Surf begins to notice the group forming, and doesn't really see that as very tubular so he tries and get Devon to align with him by introducing him to his 'chill sessions.' Unfortunately, Devon hates them, prompting a fight between him and Surf.
At Naviti, Damon immediately wants to take charge of the tribe and starts to build trust with Hope, who he really likes. Trey introduces himself, and people are taken aback about him being a Durante. Trey knows that as soon as people knew his last name, he'd be seen as a threat, so he immediately starts painting targets on the backs of others, getting into a fight with Damon and accusing him of playing too hard, too early. Everyone knows that despite Trey's heritage, Damon is playing way harder than him, and everyone wants to naturally align with Trey. Juliette and Meg bond and open up to eachother, and Juliette sees Meg as an easy vote she can manipulate how she wants. Even Hope is starting to not trust Damon, so she starts to build an alliance, bringing in Trey and Juliette initially. Juliette then adds in Meg, the group decides to bring in Troy as well, and Aline and Brant sneak their way into the group too. Damon, Mary, and R2 are on the outs, as Mary screwed the challenge, Damon is a threat, and R2 has been nervous and hasn't cultivated a relationship.
Naviti wins the first immunity challenge, and they have to pick someone to go to Ghost Island and be absent from tribal. They pick Tea. Upon arriving, she is given the opportunity to wager her vote for a secret advantage, and she manages to win it, as it is an idol clue. Malolo now has to go to tribal, and the tribe isn't very happy with Breadfruit's performance in the challenge, as he stood and did nothing for the majority of it. Everyone on Malolo agrees Breadfruit has to go, except for Surf, who sees Breadfruit as a chill dude and would much rather vote for Madelyn who he doesn't sense good vibes from. Breadfruit wants Roxy out for being a social threat, but nobody wants to work with him. Breadfruit is sent home in a 7-1-1 vote.
Tea gets back from Ghost Island, and scared she hasn't formed any bonds due to being absent from tribal, she shares the idol clue she won with Roxy, who immediately stabs her in the back, finding the idol on her own. This idol was the one Connor never got to play in Blood vs Water. Tea realizes what Roxy did and has a meltdown, not expecting to be lied to, and wanting someone to vote with her alliance as a number, Kathy goes to comfort Tea and the two form a strong connection. Armando, wanting to make bonds starts cooking for everyone, and Roxy takes a liking to him, and the two grow close. Roxy says she'll vote for him if he gets her extra rice servings and Armando, immediately agrees, knowing he can use his skills to make there seem like more rice. At Naviti, Troy finds the legacy advantage Penelope misplayed in Egypt. Troy, wanting someone on the outs as a contingency plan talks to R2 and tells him of the idol to gain his trust. Mary, meanwhile, impresses the team with how much she works around camp. Brant, meanwhile, does the opposite, rubbing everyone the wrong way when he tells them about his gruesome pass-times as a child. He is promptly kicked from the alliance as everyone is disgusted by him.
Malolo wins immunity, and Brant is sent to Ghost Island. He is at peace with the island as it is themed around death, but the advantage isn't available so he just lives in isolation for a night. R2 and Mary want to break up the duo of Juliette and Meg by voting Meg, and Damon wants R2 out for being weak in challenges. Aline has a strategic plan, but she wants to use her Brazilian charms to lay underestimated, so she tells Trey her plan, asking him to propose it to the group, promising she will look out for him if anyone tries to gun for him. Trey agrees. The two propose doing a 3-2-1 split vote between R2, Mary, and Damon, and everyone agrees. Troy is mad R2 plans to be the one everyone plans to send home, as he made a bond with him, but he doesn't want to anger anyone immediately so he goes with the plan. R2 goes home in a 4-2-1 vote.

Episode 2:
The tribes are told that they are swapping really early. The new Malolo tribe has Aline, Armando, Brant, Devon, Surf, Juliette, Kathy, Tea, and Trey, while Naviti has Damon, Hope, Madelyn, Mary, Meg, Ray, Roxy, Snow, and Troy.
The only Malolo alliance is cut in two, with Devon and Kathy hoping Ray and Snow can make it out alive on the other side of things. Malolo has majority, but Surf and Tea haven't voted with them, and would flip if given the option. Trey, Aline, and Juliette retain their original alliance, with Brant as the final Naviti member. Trey starts bonding with Devon, hoping the two could work something out, and they get along nicely. Trey throws Brant's name under the bus, as he is a creep, and Devon also already feel uncomfortable by him.
Both the idols are at Naviti camp, and Troy, Mary, Meg, and Hope run the tribe. Damon doesn't want to work with any of them, as they left him out of the conversation, so he starts to bond with Madelyn. Both were on the bottom of their tribes and they plan to work together. Snow and Ray immediately want to throw Roxy under the bus for being untrustworthy, as they know that they have to convince Naviti to spare them and cut Madelyn and Roxy first.
Malolo wins immunity, and Devon, wanting his alliance to have safety, sends Snow to Ghost Island, where there is no advantage for her. Hope, Mary, Meg, and Troy get together and discuss who they want to vote, and they all see Roxy as the least trustworthy. Ray continues to fuel the fire, by spreading lies about her to the women of Naviti. However, Ray hopes an idol gets played, and he plans to vote for Meg. Madelyn, however, knows what Ray is up to, and is sick of it. She tells Damon to vote for Ray, and then tells Roxy she is being targeted by Naviti. Roxy gets extremely paranoid but knows what she has to do. She plans to vote for Hope, because she sees her as the biggest threat, and at tribal, Roxy plays her idol, negating 4 votes. Her jaw drops, however, when Ray is sent home in a 2-1-1-0 vote.

Episode 3:
Hope and Troy celebrate getting through the vote without anyone from Naviti going, and Mary notices how close Hope and Troy are getting, believing she is the third wheel. She immediately wants more power, so she approaches the outsiders, Damon and Madelyn, and a new alliance is formed. Snow gets back from Ghost Island and is appalled that her showmance was did dirty. She assumes someone from Naviti did it, and wants revenge, so she starts spreading lies about Meg to this newly formed alliance. Kathy continues to try and form as many bonds as possible and makes one with Aline, who she finds interesting due to her culture. Aline continues to play dumb, while secretly running things behind the scenes with Trey. Surf starts eating more and more rice daily, which angers Armando and Tea. Tea gets into a fight with Surf as a result.
Naviti wins reward and Armando is sent to Ghost Island. He gets an available advantage, but doesn't want to wager his vote. Malolo wins immunity, and Naviti goes back to tribal. Snow wants everyone to pay for what happened to Ray, so she starts to have side conversations with those on the bottom to make a majority. She talks to Roxy, telling her they have to vote Meg, and then separately talks to Damon, Madelyn, and Mary. A new majority is formed, and Hope starts to get nervous. She talks to Troy about why nobody is talking to them, and Troy's intuition as a cop is to play his idol. He plays it on Meg, negating 5 votes, and sending Roxy home in a 3-0 vote.

Episode 4:
Despite the original alliance's victory, they are still at a minority, and Snow wants to make sure nobody flips back onto them. She uses her charms to make everyone believe she is an asset to tribal life, and Mary, Damon, and Madelyn still want to work with her to vote out Meg. Trey starts to try and convince a Malolo to flip on his tribe, and believes it is best to try and work Tea to his side. The two talk, but Kathy notices what Trey is trying to do and wants Tea to herself. She continues to bond with Tea as well.
Malolo wins reward and they sent Troy to Ghost Island where he finds nothing. Malolo also wins immunity again, sending Naviti back to tribal. Hope doesn't feel comfortable in her alliance anymore, as it is in the minority, but doesn't want that to be apparent, so she plans to calmly morph into a free-agent while being unnoticed. Snow continues to keep the new trio of Damon, Mary, and Madelyn loyal to her interests, and they see her as a shield. As a result, they all want to stick together and keep the majority. Hope, Meg, and Troy want Mary out next due to being super social, so they gun for her, but Meg is sent home in a 4-3 vote.

Episode 5:
The tribes are told that they are swapping again, but this time, into three tribes. Malolo now has Brant, Damon, Kathy, Madelyn, and Snow. Naviti has Armando, Devon, Surf, Tea, and Troy, and the new Yanuya has Aline, Hope, Juliette, Mary, and Trey.
Damon and Madelyn immediately find out that Snow no longer wants to work with them, as she is finally reunited with her alliance member Kathy, and the two girls spend the whole day talking together. Damon wants to pull a fast one on Kathy so Snow can be loyal to their interests, so he starts to bond with Kathy to lull him under a false sense of security, while continuing to bond with Madelyn. Kathy sees through Damon completely, and tells Snow she wants him gone. Snow and Kathy go looking for an idol and Snow finds it, willing to use it on her ally.
At Naviti, Troy is the easy vote, as he is the only Naviti on the tribe, but Devon still gets paranoid, knowing his alliance wont be there to help him. He immediately starts looking for the idol and finds it. After, he begins to smooth things over, and forms a bond with Armando that could potentially help him down the road.
At Yanuya, Trey does the most when building the shelter and everyone is impressed by him. Using this to his advantage, Trey immediately starts painting a target onto Mary's back, for flipping on her tribe, to his old allies, and both Aline and Juliette continue to want to work with Trey as a result.
Naviti and Yanuya win immunity and Malolo goes to tribal. Damon immediately ropes Brant into his plan to get Kathy out, and Brant is all for it. Neither Snow or Kathy want to talk to Brant as he scares them, so Snow decides to resort to playing her idol to get her out of this mess. They plan to stick to their plan to vote Damon, despite him being needed to be kept around for challenges, and hope this move turns the tribe on it's head. Snow plays her idol on Kathy, negating 3 votes, and Damon is sent home in a 2-0 vote.

Episode 6:
Madelyn begins to get desperate as her number one ally got idoled out, so despite not wanting to talk to him at all, Madelyn makes an alliance with Brant, just to get past one more vote, hoping he would go to rocks for her. At Naviti, Troy tries to find a way to get out of being on the bottom, and starts to bond with Armando. Troy didn't want to have to play dirty, but he decides to, telling Armando that Tea approached him, telling him she wats Armando out. Armando is shocked, and wants Tea gone. At Yanuya, Hope knows that the plan is to vote Mary, but is starting to get extra worried, especially since Trey and Aline are close. She goes looking for the idol and finds it. This is the idol that Art didn't use in Heroes vs Villains II, that he went out with in his pocket.
Malolo and Yanuya win reward, and they send Surf to Ghost Island. Surf decides to test his luck and wager his vote, but ultimately loses the chance game and has no vote at tribal anymore. Yanuya and Malolo win immunity, sending Naviti to tribal. Surf tells everyone he lost a vote on Ghost Island and everyone is intrugued. With Surf being unable to vote, hope is restored to Troy. Devon wants to make a move on Surf because he is vulnerable, and a physical threat as well, and proposes this plan to Troy. Troy however, still wants Tea and Armando to turn against eachother. He then tells Tea that Armando is gunning for her, and now both Tea and Armando want eachother out. Troy can now vote however he wants to, and Tea ends up being the one who gets the short end of the stick, in a 2-1-1 vote.

Episode 7:
The tribes merge, but tribal lines are already dissolving. Naviti has one extra person over Malolo, 7-6, but Mary doesn't want to work with her tribe, and would much rather play with Madelyn. She makes it apparent to her tribe that she is not with them, and this angers the rest of Naviti, who all want to work as a group. Aline receives a note in her buff, allowing her to sneak to Ghost Island at night, and when she gets there, she has the opportunity to wager her vote for an advantage but doesn't take it. Snow wins immunity, and immediately bring the alliance of her, Devon, and Kathy together. They all want Mary out, as she is the least trustworthy naviti left in the game, due to flipping. Mary suddenly realizes the error of her ways, and tries to make it up to her old tribe by doing more around camp, and attempting to establish an alliance between her, Aline, Hope, and Surf, but neither Aline or Hope plan to stick with it, and instead those two girls start to flirt with Surf, manipulating him to vote with their tribe. Wanting to get the hot babes and not really caring about his tribe, Surf gladly accepts. Madelyn attempts to try and flip Brant, trying her best to socialize with him but he doesn't budge. Trey and Troy propose the first vote, and they believe that Armando should go first as he is the biggest physical threat of the tribe. Mary talks with her old ally Madelyn about potentially voting Troy, and begs her new alliance do the same, but Aline, Surf, and Hope already have made their choice on who to vote. Armando becomes the first juror in a 7-4-2 vote.

Episode 8:
With the biggest physical threat out of the way, Naviti now wants to shift their focus to the biggest strategic threats. Troy starts to get a read on the Malolos and doesn't trust Devon at all, so he proposes voting for him. Meanwhile, Mary is fuming mad her new alliance voted against her wishes, and straightup leaves it. Hope also starts to try and become more social. She forms a relationship with both Troy and Trey, two of the bigger threats of the tribe. Brant, Devon, Hope, Madelyn, Mary, and Snow win reward, and they choose to send Trey to Ghost Island. He doesn't find a secret advantage. Aline wins her first immunity challenge, and everyone begins to strategize. Since the Malolo tribe is fractured, Juliette suggests splitting the votes 4-3 between Devon and Madelyn, knowing that someone has to have gotten the Naviti idol during the second swap. Kathy, Snow, and Devon start to feel like their days are numbered, but Devon tells his allies of his idol and plans to play it. The three plan to vote for Mary. Meanwhile, Mary and Madelyn plan to vote Devon, as they always saw him as shifty. At tribal, Devon plays his idol, negating 6 votes, and forcing a 3-3 tie between Mary and Medelyn. A revote occurs, and everyone believes Madelyn will be the one to go home, but Aline, Hope, and Surf are still mad at how she treated them after last tribal. They convince Brant to vote Mary, and Mary becomes the second juror in a 7-3 revote.

Episode 9:
After that tribal, Devon is now public enemy number one, and Madelyn is incredibly mad at him for being the reason his closest ally is now out of the game. She talks to Trey and tells him she wants Devon out at all costs, and Trey plans to use her vote to get Devon out. Brant, Surf, Juliette, Kathy, and Trey win reward, and Hope is sent to Ghost Island, who can wager her vote, but chooses not to. Madelyn wins immunity, to make sure she isn't targeted. The plan seems set to vote out Devon, but Juliette and Aline both are starting to get super uncomftorable around Brant, who they believe could strangle them in their sleep. They both have different options in trying to turn everyone against Brant. Aline starts getting to know Kathy, hoping her and Snow can be the ones to help her, but that backfires, when Kathy tells Snow that Aline is trying to manipulate them, causing both to want to vote for her. Juliette meanwhile does more around camp, so everyone trusts her more. Troy believes that Hope came back with an idol, as she told him she didn't lose her vote, and that makes him super suspicious of her. Juliette tries to convince Trey to help her get Brant out, but Trey tells her it would be foolish to give up the majority to Malolo. Trey, Madelyn, Hope, Surf, and Brant still are voting Devon. Devon becomes the third juror in a 5-3-2-1 vote.

Episode 10:
In this episode, the tribes are told that there will be two different tribals, with two different immunity winners. The first group consists of Hope, Kathy, Madelyn, Snow, and Troy, while the second group has Aline, Brant, Surf, Juliette, and Trey. Kathy and Aline win immunity for their separate groups.
In the first group, there are two duos, of Madelyn and Hope, and Snow and Kathy, and both duos want Troy as their swing vote to get the other duo out. Madelyn tries bonding with Troy, but he already doesn't trust her, and also doesn't trust Hope, who he thinks may have an advantage. Kathy takes a different approach, and actually makes an alliance with Troy to get them through the vote. Naturally, Troy would much rather work with Kathy, and Madelyn starts to believe this, so Hope tells her about her idol. Troy, Kathy, and Snow all agree to vote Madelyn together, as she's been on the outs. At tribal, Hope plays her idol on Madelyn, negating three votes, and making Troy the fourth juror in a 2-0 vote.
In the second group, all five members are aligned, and Trey doesn't want to pick off anyone that is loyal to him, so he recommends going for Surf, but both Juliette and Aline still try to get him to vote off Brant, telling him he gutted a fish and scared them with it once. Trey is immediately weirded out, and agrees Brant is way too unpredictable to keep around. Aline and Juliette promise that the three of them will stick together, and a final three deal is made. Quickly roping in Surf, Brant becomes the fifth juror in a unanimous 4-1 vote.

Episode 11:
With that tribal, Malolo and Naviti are now both even, with four players each. Hope starts to regret her decision of idoling out Troy, and believes that her tribe is now against her. She wants to make a move, and go against social threat Aline, so she talks to Kathy and Snow to see if they're on board, and they are surprisingly compliant. Kathy, wanting Hope to get an advantage to help them, wins reward, shares it with Snow, Trey, and Madelyn, and sends Hope to Ghost Island hoping she gets an idol. Hope, however, decides not to wager her vote, believing that it is too big of a risk if she wants her move to work. Madelyn wins her second immunity, and talks to Trey and Juliette about wanting Snow gone, as she is a social threat. Meanwhile, Hope starts to try and get Surf on board with her plan to vote Aline, but Surf, thinking Aline is hotter, tells Aline of Hope and Kathy's plan. Wanting Malolo numbers down, Aline tells Surf to vote Kathy, and she purposefully defies Juliette and Trey's plan to vote Snow. Juliette tries to enforce the vote to Surf but he argues with her, not wanting to be told what to do. At tribal, voted between Snow and Aline tie, 3-3-2, and on the revote, Surf switches his vote to Snow. Snow becomes the sixth juror in a 4-2 revote.

Episode 12:
Hope continues to drift away from her tribe, and starts to bond with Kathy, who is extremely desperate after losing her closest ally. Juliette and Trey are mad at Aline for defying them, but are still glad they got their desired outcome in the end. The two agree they have to break up Surf and Aline so Aline can be loyal to them. Juliette gets into a fight with Surf and this leads Surf to have a meltdown, wondering why this game is no longer chill anymore. Trey also wants to take extra precaution, and goes looking for an idol. He finds the idol, which is the idol Evan used in Game Changers that accidentally sent Astrid, his ally home. Aline and Juliette win reward and share it with Surf, sending Madelyn to Ghost Island. Madelyn wagers her vote and loses. She wins immunity, however, to make sure nothing goes wrong. At reward, Juliette and Surf make up, and Aline and Surf convince her to vote Hope. Trey, however, comes prepared. He tells Kathy that Surf and Aline want her gone, and it is best to vote Surf. He also ropes in Hope. Surf becomes the seventh juror in a 3-2-1 vote.

Finale:
With Surf gone, Aline has no choice but to work with Trey and Juliette, and Trey tells her that he has an idol to gain her trust. Hope wins immunity and shares reward with Trey and Kathy. Hope and Kathy need eachother and form an alliance on reward. Juliette and Hope also bond, but Hope knows she's closer to Trey than to her. Aline, Juliette, and Trey plan to split votes between Madelyn and Kathy in case someone from Ghost Island has an idol. Hope and Kathy want Aline out for winning lots of challenges and being super social, and Madelyn wants Juliette out. Trey, believing Aline is getting targeted, plays his idol for her, and two votes are successfully negated. Madelyn becomes the eighth juror in a 2-1-1-0 vote.
Aline wins the next immunity, and it becomes more and more evident to Hope and Kathy that Aline, Trey, and Juliette have a final three deal. Trying to get in on that action, Kathy, now the last Malolo standing, talks to Aline and tries to make a last-minute alliance with her, but Aline wants nothing to do with it, as every Malolo on the jury would vote Kathy. Despite this, they see Hope as the bigger threat between her and Kathy, and a straightforward vote occurs. Hope becomes the ninth juror in a 3-2 vote.
Aline wins the final immunity and now gets to pick who she takes to the top three with her, and who has to make fire. Out of everyone, she knows that Juliette is likely the least likely to win between anyone else, as Trey ran the whole game, and Kathy is the final Malolo standing, so it is pretty obvious who she picks. Kathy and Trey now have to face eachother in the firemaking challenge for the final spot in the final three, and Trey beats Kathy, eliminating the final Malolo from the game.
Aline, Juliette, and Trey face the jury and deliver their closing arguments. Aline talks about how she won four immunities, and also played a great social game, using her charms to manipulate Surf into flipping to give Naviti the edge on the first few merge tribals. Juliette tells everyone that she masterminded the strategy behind the votes, voluntarily splitting in anticipation of Devon's idol play for example. Trey tells everyone about how he went into the game with a huge target on his back, especially since his brother played before and was a huge villain, but he put targets on other people, and ran the votes from start to finish when the merge hit. It was a hard decision, but it the jury ultimately put their votes on who was in on most votes. Aline spent many votes trying to get Kathy out to no avail, and Juliette did the same with Madelyn. As a result, Trey Durante is crowned the winner of Swoldow's Survivor: Ghost Island in a 5-4-1 vote.
Hope is crowned fan favorite due to her idol play on Troy, and her underdog game.

Potential Returnees: Trey, Juliette, Aline, Kathy, Hope, Madelyn, Surf, Snow, Troy

Now that that's done, we will be moving onto a season I've been wanting to simulate for a long time. People from different walks of life will be categorized based off of their stories. One tribe of people who have overcame adversity, and the other, with people with some form of privilege. Signups for Swoldow's Survivor: David vs Goliath coming soon!
submitted by swoldow to BrantSteele [link] [comments]

A thousand words wasn't enough? Here's five thousand.

List acquired here.
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Who are the secret puppet-masters behind Trump’s war on Iran?

By: Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies - May 30, 2020
Read the article here: https://www.nationofchange.org/2020/05/30/who-are-the-secret-puppet-masters-behind-trumps-war-on-iran/
On May 6th, President Trump vetoed a war powers bill specifying that he must ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iran. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign of deadly sanctions and threats of war against Iran has seen no let-up, even as the U.S., Iran and the whole world desperately need to set aside our conflicts to face down the common danger of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So what is it about Iran that makes it such a target of hostility for Trump and the neocons? There are many repressive regimes in the world, and many of them are close U.S. allies, so this policy is clearly not based on an objective assessment that Iran is more repressive than Egypt, Saudi Arabia or other monarchies in the Persian Gulf.
The Trump administration claims that its “maximum pressure” sanctions and threats of war against Iran are based on the danger that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. But after decades of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and despite the U.S.’s politicization of the IAEA, the Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
If Iran ever did any preliminary research on nuclear weapons, it was probably during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, when the U.S. and its allies helped Iraq to make and use chemical weapons that killed up to 100,000 Iranians. A 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, the IAEA’s 2015 “Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues” and decades of IAEA inspections have examined and resolved every scrap of false evidence of a nuclear weapons program presented or fabricated by the CIA and its allies.
If, despite all the evidence, U.S. policymakers still fear that Iran could develop nuclear weapons, then adhering to the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), keeping Iran inside the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and ensuring ongoing access by IAEA inspectors would provide greater security than abandoning the deal.
As with Bush’s false WMD claims about Iraq in 2003, Trump’s real goal is not nuclear non-proliferation but regime change. After 40 years of failed sanctions and hostility, Trump and a cabal of U.S. warhawks still cling to the vain hope that a tanking economy and widespread suffering in Iran will lead to a popular uprising or make it vulnerable to another U.S.-backed coup or invasion.

United against a Nuclear Iran and the Counter Extremism Project

One of the key organizations promoting and pushing hostility towards Iran is a shadowy group called United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). Founded in 2008, it was expanded and reorganized in 2014 under the umbrella of the Counter Extremism Project United (CEPU) to broaden its attacks on Iran and divert U.S. policymakers’ attention away from the role of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other U.S. allies in spreading violence, extremism and chaos in the greater Middle East.
UANI acts as a private enforcer of U.S. sanctions by keeping a “business registry” of hundreds of companies all over the world—from Adidas to Zurich Financial Services—that trade with or are considering trading with Iran. UANI hounds these companies by naming and shaming them, issuing reports for the media, and urging the Office of Foreign Assets Control to impose fines and sanctions. It also keeps a checklist of companies that have signed a declaration certifying they do not conduct business in or with Iran. Proving how little they care about the Iranian people, UANI even targets pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical-device corporations—includingBayer, Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Abbott Laboratories—that have been granted special U.S. humanitarian aid licenses.

Where does UANI get its funds?

UANI was founded by three former U.S. officials, Dennis Ross, Richard Holbrooke and Mark Wallace. In 2013, it still had a modest budget of $1.7 million, nearly 80% coming from two Jewish-American billionaires with strong ties to Israel and the Republican Party: $843,000 from precious metals investor Thomas Kaplan and $500,000 from casino owner Sheldon Adelson. Wallace and other UANI staff have also worked for Kaplan’s investment firms, and he remains a key funder and advocate for UANI and its affiliated groups.
In 2014, UANI split into two entities: the original UANI and the Green Light Project, which does business as the Counter Extremism Project. Both entities are under the umbrella of and funded by a third, Counter Extremism Project United (CEPU). This permits the organization to brand its fundraising as being for the Counter Extremism Project, even though it still regrants a third of its funds to UANI.
CEO Mark Wallace, Executive Director David Ibsen and other staff work for all three groups in their shared offices in Grand Central Tower in New York. In 2018, Wallace drew a combined salary of $750,000 from all three entities, while Ibsen’s combined salary was $512,126.
In recent years, the revenues for the umbrella group, CEPU, have mushroomed, reaching $22 million in 2017. CEPU is secretive about the sources of this money. But investigative journalist Eli Clifton, who starting looking into UANI in 2014 when it was sued for defamation by a Greek ship owner it accused of violating sanctions on Iran, has found evidence suggesting financial ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
That is certainly what hacked emails between CEPU staff, an Emirati official and a Saudi lobbyist imply. In September 2014, CEPU’s president Frances Townsend emailed the UAE Ambassador to the U.S. to solicit the UAE’s support and propose that it host and fund a CEPU forum in Abu Dhabi. Four months later, Townsend emailed again to thank him, writing, “And many thanks for your and Richard Mintz’ (UAE lobbyist) ongoing support of the CEP effort!” UANI fundraiser Thomas Kaplan has formed a close relationship with Emirati ruler Bin Zayed, and visited the UAE at least 24 times. In 2019, he gushed to an interviewer that the UAE and its despotic rulers “are my closest partners in more parts of my life than anyone else other than my wife.”
Another email from Saudi lobbyist and former Senator Norm Coleman to the Emirati Ambassador about CEPU’s tax status implied that the Saudis and Emiratis were both involved in its funding, which would mean that CEPU may be violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to register as a Saudi or Emirati agent in the U.S.
Ben Freeman of the Center for International Policy has documented the dangerously unaccountable and covert expansion of the influence of foreign governments and military-industrial interests over U.S. foreign policy in recent years, in which registered lobbyists are only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to foreign influence. Eli Clifton calls UANI, “a fantastic case study and maybe a microcosm of the ways in which American foreign policy is actually influenced and implemented.”
CEPU and UANI’s staff and advisory boards are stocked with Republicans, neoconservatives and warhawks, many of whom earn lavish salaries and consulting fees. In the two years before President Trump appointed John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, CEPU paid Bolton $240,000 in consulting fees. Bolton, who openly advocates war with Iran, was instrumental in getting the Trump administration to withdraw from the nuclear deal.
UANI also enlists Democrats to try to give the group broader, bipartisan credibility. The chair of UANI’s board is former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, who was known as the most pro-Zionist member of the Senate. A more moderate Democrat on UANI’s board is former New Mexico governor and UN ambassador Bill Richardson.
Norman Roule, a CIA veteran who was the National Intelligence Manager for Iran throughout the Obama administration was paid $366,000 in consulting fees by CEPU in 2018. Soon after the brutal Saudi assassination of journalist Jamal Khassoghi, Roule and UANI fundraiser Thomas Kaplan met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, and Roule then played a leading role in articles and on the talk-show circuit whitewashing Bin Salman’s repression and talking up his superficial “reforms” of Saudi society.
More recently, amid a growing outcry from Congress, the UN and the European Union to ease U.S. sanctions on Iran during the pandemic, UANI chairman Joe Lieberman, CEPU president Frances Townsend and CEO Mark Wallace signed a letter to Trump that falsely claimed, “U.S. sanctions neither prevent nor target the supply of food, medicine or medical devices to Iran,” and begged him not to relax his murderous sanctions because of COVID-19.
This was too much for Norman Roule, who tossed out his UANI script and told the Nation, “the international community should do everything it can to enable the Iranian people to obtain access to medical supplies and equipment.”
Two Israeli shell companies to whom CEPU and UANI have paid millions of dollars in “consulting fees” raise even more troubling questions. CEPU has paid over $500,000 to Darlink, located near Tel Aviv, while UANI paid at least $1.5 million to Grove Business Consulting in Hod Hasharon, about 10% of its revenues from 2016 to 2018. Neither firm seems to really exist, but Grove’s address on UANI’s IRS filings appears in the Panama Papers as that of Dr. Gideon Ginossar, an officer of an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands that defaulted on its creditors in 2010.

Selling a corrupted picture to U.S. policymakers

UANI’s parent group, Counter Extremism Project United, presents itself as dedicated to countering all forms of extremism. But in practice, it is predictably selective in its targets, demonizing Iran and its allies while turning a blind eye to other countries with more credible links to extremism and terrorism.
UANI supports accusations by Trump and U.S. warhawks that Iran is “the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism,” based mainly on its support for the Lebanese Shiite political party Hezbollah, whose militia defends southern Lebanon against Israel and fights in Syria as an ally of the government.
But Iran placed UANI on its own list of terrorist groups in 2019 after Mark Wallace and UANI hosted a meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York that was mainly attended by supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Kalqh (MEK). The MEK is a group that the U.S. government itself listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 and which is still committed to the violent overthrow of the government in Iran – preferably by persuading the U.S. and its allies to do it for them. UANI tried to distance itself from the meeting after the fact, but the published program listed UANI as the event organizer.
On the other hand, there are two countries where CEPU and UANI seem strangely unable to find any links to extremism or terrorism at all, and they are the very countries that appear to be funding their operations, lavish salaries and shadowy “consulting fees”: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Many Americans are still demanding a public investigation into Saudi Arabia’s role in the crimes of September 11th. In a court case against Saudi Arabia brought by 9/11 victims’ families, the FBI recently revealed that a Saudi Embassy official, Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, provided crucial support to two of the hijackers. Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the families whose father was killed on September 11th, told Yahoo News, “(This) demonstrates there was a hierarchy of command that’s coming from the Saudi Embassy to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs [in Los Angeles] to the hijackers.”
The global spread of the Wahhabi version of Islam that unleashed and fueled Al Qaeda, ISIS and other violent Muslim extremist groups has been driven primarily by Saudi Arabia, which has built and funded Wahhabi schools and mosques all over the world. That includes the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles that the two 9/11 hijackers attended.
It is also well documented that Saudi Arabia has been the largest funder and arms supplier for the Al Qaeda-led forces that have destroyed Syria since 2011, including CIA-brokered shipments of thousands of tons of weapons from Benghazi in Libya and at least eight countries in Eastern Europe. The UAE also supplied arms funding to Al Qaeda-allied rebels in Syria between 2012 and 2016, and the Saudi and UAE roles have now been reversed in Libya, where the UAE is the main supplier) of thousands of tons of weapons to General Haftar’s rebel forces. In Yemen, both the Saudis and Emiratis have committed war crimes. The Saudi and Emirati air forces have bombed schools, clinics, weddings and school buses, while the Emiratis tortured detainees in 18 secret prisons in Yemen.
But United Against a Nuclear Iran and Counter Extremism Project have redacted all of this from the one-sided worldview they offer to U.S. policymakers and the American corporate media. While they demonize Iran, Qatar, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as extremists and terrorists, they depict Saudi Arabia and the UAE exclusively as victims of terrorism and allies in U.S.-led “counterterrorism” campaigns, never as sponsors of extremism and terrorism or perpetrators of war crimes.
The message of these groups dedicated to “countering extremism” is clear and none too subtle: Saudi Arabia and the UAE are always U.S. allies and victims of extremism, never a problem or a source of danger, violence or chaos. The country we should all be worrying about is – you guessed it – Iran. You couldn’t pay for propaganda like this! But on the other hand, if you’re Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates and you have greedy, corrupt Americans knocking on your door eager to sell their loyalty, maybe you can.
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