Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do you believe this man is any less arrogant and self absorbed at his job.

Exec who mocked Chick-Fil-A now on food stamps

By Ethel C. Fenig


My, what a difference two and a half years and a nasty, self righteous video by a nasty, self righteous man make. In the summer of 2012, an individual who could only accept diversity, pluralism and multi culturalism as long as it agreed with his politically correct notions, posted a video of himself harassing a Chick-Fil-A order taker on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. That was the day those who actually believed in diversity, pluralism and multi culturalism chose to support the fast food chain against those who disagreed with the founder who opposed gay marriage. The founder didn't say he would fire gay people or those who were involved in this type of union, merely he didn't agree with it. Hot air ensued.
Although I had never eaten at any of the chain's restaurants because as a Jew who keeps kosher (biblically mandated, rabbinically interpreted food laws) I couldn't eat their specialties, I decided to lend my support to Chick-Fil-A that day by going to the closest one and ordering a soft drink. I then wrote about my excellent kosher adventure. No I didn't video it and no, I certainly didn't bother the pleasant young man taking my small order.
Adam Smithc-- no, not the famed free market historic economistc--cwas not as accepting.
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Smith decided to go through the drive-thru at his local Chick-Fil-A, where he ordered a free water -- the fast food chain offers customers free water -- and videotaped himself telling the drive-thru attendant how much he despised Chick-Fil-A.
“Chick-Fil-A is a hateful corporation,” Smith said, in part, to the drive-thru attendant. “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here. I don’t understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better.”
Smith then posted the video on his personal YouTube channel, but when he got back to work, he received a major shock.
“I got into work and the receptionist, the first thing, big eyes, ‘Adam, what did you do?’ ... she said, ‘The voicemail is completely full, and it’s full of bomb threats,’” Smith said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' "20/20."
Smith was fired that same day. He said at the time he was earning $200,000 annually and had over $1 million in stock options.
“It was taken when I lost my employment,” he said. (snip)
Looking back at the video now, Smith said he was emotional.
“I don’t regret the stand I took, but I regret... the way I talked to her,” he told “20/20.”

He even apologized to the drive-thru attendant he was angry with in another video posted to his YouTube channel, which also went viral. She has forgiven him. But Smith says even people who agreed with his pro-gay opinions won’t hire him.
“I think people are scared,” Smith said. “I think people are scared that it could happen again.” (snip)
Smith, with his spotty digital footprint, is still looking for a job nearly three years later, and has turned to meditation. He has also just written a new memoir, “A Million Dollar Cup of Water,” detailing how his public shaming led him from riches to rags and the intensive soul search for healing.

If I don't like a company's policies or service either I don't patronize them or I politely contact the appropriate personnel. Certainly the highly paid--one per cent--Smith should have realized the probably minimum wage order taker he was bothering
did not set company policy. However, Smith got one thing right--she was very polite to him and did "deserve better" than dealing with customers such as Smith.
His rant continues to haunt him. He later got another job but lost it when his employer discovered the YouTube post. He lost his home, living in an RV (but aren't they bad for the environment or something?) and is now jobless and on food stamps. Sadly, his wife and four children have also suffered from his actions.
Hey, I have a job for him! (All together now!) I'm sure Chick-Fil-A, a tolerant company, will hire him as an order taker. The innocent, minimum wage worker he harassed can train him in kindness, manners and tolerance. Go for it! 

Hirsi Ali exposes the bias and insularity of the feminist movement

‘Wrong’ kind of hero: Why feminists diss Hirsi Ali


Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be the perfect feminist hero.
In theory, she fits the role on multiple levels: She’s an escapee from an abusive patriarchy. 
She’s an African immigrant who made her own way in a Western country, the Netherlands. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s rights. 
She’s a target for deadly violence by angry men who want to shut her up. She left her religion and became a scourge of its repressive practices.
Except for the blemish on her record: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a dissident from the wrong religion.
Raised a Muslim in Somalia, subjected to genital mutilation and married off to a distant cousin, she is famously a critic of Islam. 
She has excoriated it at extraordinary risk to her own safety, and makes the case again in her latest book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.”
When she collaborated on a film in the Netherlands in 2004 cataloging abuses against Muslim women, her fellow filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by an Islamist who left a note threatening her pinned to van Gogh’s chest — with a knife.
But Hirsi Ali wouldn’t be silenced. She is truly a hero of our time. She is defying the jihadi censors, the misbegotten hate-speech laws and the polite conventions of Western debate that all limit what can be said about the relationship of Islam to modernity.
Our society, and especially the left, tends to reflexively celebrate dissenters. But some heretics are more welcome than others. 
In the case of Islam, the pieties of multiculturalism clash with what should be an imperative of feminism (i.e., forcefully standing up for the basic rights of women in Muslim societies), and feminism tends to lose out.
“The concern,” as one feminist wrote of Hirsi Ali, “is that her intervention into the issue of gender equality in Muslim societies will strengthen racism rather than weaken sexism.” 
In the fashionable neologism designed to be a conversation-stopper, she is “an Islamophobe.” Brandeis University notoriously rescinded a planned honorary degree for her last year.
AYAAN HIRSI ALI HAS MORE CONFIDENCE IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND ITS VALUES THAN PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER HAD TO LIVE OUTSIDE IT, OR FACE DOWN THE ENEMIES WHO WANT TO DESTROY IT. 
If Hirsi Ali had had a strict Baptist upbringing and left to tell the story of its hypocrisies and closed-mindedness, she would be celebrated in such precincts as Brandeis, without anyone uttering a peep of protest.
This is the “Book of Mormon” effect — no one cares about offending the inoffensive. It’s only debate over a religion that is home to dangerous fanatics that must be carefully policed.
Even people not otherwise known for their solicitude for religious sensibilities are uncomfortable with her criticisms of Islam. 
In his interview with her this week, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart worried that “people single out Islam,” when Christianity underwent its own difficult reconciliation with modernity. 
True enough, but the horrific intra-Christian bloodletting of the Thirty Years’ War was 400 years ago.
If Islam is on the same trajectory, it is badly trailing the pace. Hirsi Ali’s prescriptions are hardly unassailable. Her notion of religious reform bears an atheistic stamp. 
If change in Islam depends on getting Muslims to admit that Muhammad was not The Prophet, as she writes in “Heretic,” the cause is indeed hopeless. The ummah is not going to dissolve itself into a gooey Unitarian Universalism.
Hirsi Ali recalls the dissidents from communism in the 20th century like the great Whittaker Chambers. Their personal experience redoubled their commitment to the fight for freedom and human dignity. 
They, too, were often dismissed as fanatics and as embarrassments to polite opinion. But their intellectual contributions, and the examples of their own bravery, were indispensable in the long ideological struggle.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not just a heretic; she also is a believer. She has more confidence in Western civilization and its values than people who have never had to live outside it, or face down the enemies who want to destroy it. 
If she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves, so much the worse for her detractors.

Friday, March 27, 2015

American Communists in Cuba They're so proud Cuba gave up nothing for recognition of the dictatorship.

American Communists Travel to Cuba to Increase Support for Castro Dictatorship

John Bachtell
From left, Alberto Prieto, (Communist Party of Cuba International Relations Department), Zenobia Thompson, Camila Valenzuela, Fernando Gonzalez, Kenia Puig (ICAP president), Josh LeclairJohn Bachtell
A delegation from the Communist Party USA, led by new National Secretary John Bachtell, recently visited Cuba. On Feb. 27th, the delegation stopped by the the Cuban Intelligence connected Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples to “discuss building friendship, cooperation and people to people exchanges in light of the Dec. 17 announcement to reestablish diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.”
Among those who warmly greeted the delegates were Fernando Gonzalez, one of the infamous “Cuban 5″ who was jailed in the U.S. in 1998 as part of a “mission to monitor right-wing Cuban terrorist activities in Miami being directed against Cuba.” Several people died as a result of Gonzalez’s espionage.
According to Bachtell:
We found Gonzalez warm, gracious and eager to speak about exploring ways to build friendship with the U.S. people. He also shared stories about his time in U.S. prisons, the people he met and the extraordinary solidarity he and the Cuban 5 received over the years.”
The most important thing to say, to express on my behalf, my family and relatives, is my deep gratitude to the CPUSA because of the years of participation in the struggle, the solidarity you accorded us during the time we were in prison and for our liberation.
You were side by side with us. Even when things look dark, there’s always a bright side. No one wants that experience (of imprisonment). It gave us the chance to experience the best of the U.S. people and those we worked with for many years, side by side in that fight.
Gonzalez made it clear that the Castro regime made no concessions in return for Communist Party connected President Barack Obama‘s diplomatic recognition of the dictatorship.
During the second round of negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba we haven’t made any concessions. And with the return of all the Cuban Five it was a great victory for the Cuban people and all friends in the U.S. who have participated in struggle and for friendship between our countries.
Diplomatic recognition of Cuba is a “win win” for Marxists, both in Washington DC and Havana.
Soon Obama “crony capitalists” will be able to export more American jobs to Cuban sweatshops, while Cuban communists can more easily export spies, revolutionaries and drugs to the United States.

Hat tip: Gulag Bound

Imagine this if the dog alternative were anyone of color? The author a prime example self absorbed liberalism

Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz

BY 


Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?

1. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes.
2. We love to spend hours in bed together on Sunday mornings.
3. He’s crazy for cream cheese.
4. It hasn’t always been easy, but we currently live together and it’s going O.K.
5. Our anniversary is in two days and I’m not sure if he remembers.
6. If it were up to him, every room in our place would be carpeted.
7. But he has asthma.
8. I feel that he is judgmental about the food I serve him. When I make something from scratch, he doesn’t want to eat it, but he also rejects most store-bought dinners.
9. This is because he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates.
10. As a result of this dynamic, he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant.
11. I wish he were more excited about spending time with my friends.
12. At our local organic bistro, he will often leave three-quarters of his salmon fillet untouched, offering no explanation and offending the waiter, who will ask balefully, “Was it undercooked?”
13. He doesn’t tip.
14. And he never brings his wallet anywhere.
15. He came with me to therapy once and was restless and unexpressive.
16. When I go out of town on a business trip, he sleeps with a pair of my underwear.
17. When I get home from the business trip, he ignores me for hours, sometimes days, forcing me to wonder whether he would be better off with a woman who has a less demanding career. “Why don’t you find some catalogue model who just sits around all day and rubs your back? I bet you’d like that,” I hiss. “I apologize for my many accomplishments. I’m sorry they mean nothingto you.”
18. He respects my father but is intimidated by his Waspy, buttoned-up demeanor, flat cadence, and inability to express physical affection toward other men. The tension between them takes the form of passive-aggressive pissing matches and hostile silences.
19. He’s really more of an ass man.
20. He has a sensitive stomach and has to take two Dramamine before entering any moving vehicle.
21. I have more Instagram followers than he does.
22. He ripped up my copy of “Lean In.”
23. My grandma Dottie loves him and says he’s a “good, good boy.”
24. Every week it’s some new health issue: urine crystals, sprained foot, beef allergy.
25. He enjoys nature and I don’t, which would be fine except it’s important to share interests, and he also doesn’t like novellas, tag sales, or hip-hop dance.
26. He hates our upstairs neighbor Beverly and refuses to acknowledge her in the elevator, even if she tells him that she likes his haircut.
27. In fact, he has hair all over his body, like most males who share his background.
28. His best friend is named Archie.
29. He briefly dated another Lena, but she was black and a runner.
30. Bald men trigger a primal fear in him.
31. In addition, he is openly hostile toward the Hasidic community, focussing most of his rage on their bulky (but chic) fur hats.
32. He has an obsession with bellhops that is troubling to me.
33. One spring afternoon, we walked to Dumbo to check out a new artisanal-Popsicle stand, when we ran into my friend Jill. Jill is actually more of an acquaintance—I don’t know her well, but I really like her; she curates high-end terrariums and she’s a clog designer on the side. She’s really slim and well dressed, in an all-American, J. Crew-model sort of way. He was immediately all over her, panting and making a fool of himself. It was humiliating. Because here’s the thing: I am not a Jill. I will never be a Jill. And if that’s what he is looking for—some anorexic hipster with a glossy braid and freaking Swedish clog boots she sewed by hand—he should never have set his sights on me in the first place.
34. He once vomited on his seatmate in United business class, then ran up and down the aisle in a panic.
35. He’s adopted. 

Four (Black) Cops Killed in Seven Days -- Where's the Outrage?


Four (Black) Cops Killed in Seven Days -- Where's the Outrage?


Wednesday, March 4: Fulton County police detective Terence Avery Green was killed, shot in the head by a suspect. According to WXIA-TV, Atlanta: "Police responded to a shots fired call early Wednesday. They were told the suspect was possibly intoxicated. Neighbors said the man was going from house to house, banging on doors and firing a long barrel gun. ...
"(Fulton County Assistant Police Chief Gary) described the situation as an ambush, saying the officers 'were trying to do their job, they were trying to protect this neighborhood from someone who was shooting. And they had no other option but to do their job. And the way it appears to me, they were ambushed without warning.' ... 
"Green was a veteran officer with nearly 22 years of service. He is survived by his parents and his four sons."
Thursday, March 5: Officer Robert Wilson III, while on duty and in uniform, walked into a game store to purchase a gift for his son. Two men robbed the store, and shot and killed Officer Wilson. According to CNN: "Wilson was standing at the counter across from employees at the GameStop store when two brothers, Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams, walked in carrying guns, police said.
"They allegedly stuck up the store with at least five patrons and two employees inside.
"'They said they thought it was going to be an easy target,' said police spokesman Capt. James Clark. ... Wilson confronted (the suspects), and a firefight broke out, police said. 
"The officer, an eight-year veteran, stepped away from others in the store to keep them out of the crossfire, police said after watching the store's security camera footage.
"He was a hero and a warrior, Clark said. "He fought until the very, very end, firing at both of them."... Within 30 to 40 seconds, 50 shots fell, he said. ...
"Wilson was 30 years old. In addition to his son, he leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter. His son turns 10 on Monday. The game was also going to be a birthday present."
Saturday, March 7: Police Officer Brennan Rabain was killed while trying to make a traffic stop on a speeding driver. The officer lost control of his squad car and crashed into a fence. According to the local NBC affiliate news: "Police are searching for anyone who may have witnessed a crash that killed a Prince George's County police officer. ... Rabain had been off duty, but when he initiated the traffic stop, he went back on duty, police said." Rabain, 27, had been with the department less than two years, and leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.
Tuesday, March 10: Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells, 27, was killed in a shootout near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as he attempted to apprehend a fugitive accused of killing a brother and sister. 
According the Associated Press: "The fugitive, Jamie D. Croom, 31, was shot and taken to a hospital. ... Croom was wanted in the shooting deaths of a brother and sister in New Roads, Louisiana. ... 
"The shootout took place in Scotlandville, an area north of Baton Rouge. A task force made by federal Marshals was serving an arrest warrant when the shootout happened. ... Croom, a resident of New Roads, had a lengthy criminal record, (local Sheriff Beauregard) Torres said. 'He was a dangerous criminal,' Torres said. 'It was a very high price to pay for this warrant to bring this man into custody. It was a very, very high price.'
"Wells was a graduate of East Central High School in Hurley, Mississippi, and of Jackson State University. 'He was a tremendous student,' East Central Principal James Hughey told WLOX-TV. 'He was very well liked.' ... Wells' father, Obie Wells Sr., is a retired Jackson County sheriff's deputy. His brother, Obie Wells Jr., is an officer with the Jackson Police Department in the state capital.
"'His dad was so proud of him for being a U.S. marshal,' (Mississippi state Rep. Manly) Barton said." The day after his death, Wells' wife -- who is pregnant with the couple's first child -- learned the sex of their baby. She is having a boy, and she plans to name him Josie Wells, Jr.
Last year, according to the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 126 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty in 2014 -- although some deaths were attributed to health problems or traffic accidents. Fifty officers were killed by firearms, 15 of them in ambush attacks.
The memorial fund says that shootings against officers increased 50 percent in 2014. This total includes two NYPD officers killed in December in an ambush. The suspect, killed by police, had posted Internet messages that accused police of racism, threatened to kill officers and urged others to do the same. 
Despite the widely publicized recent cases where cops killed blacks, new studies show cops -- black and white -- more reluctant to shoot a black suspect compared to a white suspect. Reasons are unclear, but fear of additional scrutiny -- whether fair or not -- might be a factor.
Suspects who kill cops, however, appear colorblind.
Suspect dead, two officers wounded in Dorchester gun battle; search continues for second suspect
Boston Globe

Bernie Sander's wife fraud for personal gain. Socialist believe your money is their money to do with as they wish.

Posted By Blake Neff and Peter Fricke On 10:17 PM 0
Documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation indicate that the wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may have been able to use her clout to get away with loan fraud, nearly bankrupting the small college she was president of and collecting a sizable severance package in the process.
These revelations come amid growing speculation that Sen. Sanders, a self-described socialist who has blasted the U.S. government as an oligarchy run by billionaires and railed against the golden parachutes received by top corporate executives, will contend for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Jane Sanders was the president of tiny Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont for seven years, from 2004 until 2011. During her tenure, Sanders masterminded an ambitious expansion plan that would have more than doubled the size of the school. To do so, she had the college take on $10 million in debt to finance the purchase of a new, far more expansive campus. The move backfired massively, leading to Sanders’ departure from the college and the near-collapse of the institution.
According to Jonna Spilbor, an attorney who reviewed the documents for TheDCNF, “the college APPEARS to have committed a pretty sophisticated crime” by exaggerating donor commitments in order to secure financing for the deal.
Sanders’ role in bringing Burlington College to the brink of the abyss has been known for years. Research by TheDCNF, however, indicates that Sanders may not just be guilty of bad judgment, but potentially criminal activity enabled by Vermont officials willing to implicitly trust the wife of a sitting senator.
How A College’s Big Dream Turned Into Its Big Nightmare
Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont is a small school by any measure. Founded in 1972 in a person’s living room, the school has consistently had fewer than 300 students. Accordingly, for most of its history it has lacked much of a campus. The school also caters to a relatively niche market interested in programs such as its relatively rare study-abroad program in Cuba.
Jane Sanders hoped to change that through an extremely ambitious expansion effort. A new prime property came onto the Burlington market in 2010: A 32-acre plot on the shores of Lake Champlain owned by the Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which was being sold off to help pay for a $17 million settlement of several sex-abuse lawsuits. The property included one large building– a three-story structure that once served as an orphanage.
Sanders hoped that the former orphanage could be converted into the main structure of a new, expanded campus, which could then provide the space needed for a huge expansion of the college from less than 200 full-time equivalent (FTE) students to over 400.
Such a prime property, though, had a high cost: Over $10 million. That was a great deal of money for a school with essentially no endowment and an annual budget of about $4 million.
In order to finance the purchase, Burlington College presented its case to the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency (VEHBFA), a state agency that issues tax-exempt state bonds for the benefit of non-profit institutions like schools or hospitals.
People’s Bank agreed to purchase the bonds, though in an analysis of the deal commissioned by VEHBFA, consulting firm PFM Group noted that, “The bank’s willingness to fund the loan is contingent upon … the minimum commitment of $2.27 million of grants and donations prior to closing.”
The college dutifully complied, producing a spreadsheet listing 31 confirmed donors who were scheduled to give the school over $2.6 million in donations between 2011 and 2016, including a $1 million commitment scheduled to pay out over five years.
And that was only the bottom limit, Sanders suggested, as there were millions more in verbal pledges or other donations that, while likely, were not set in stone. With those pledges, Burlington’s five-year fundraising projections reach just over $5 million.
Won over by the college’s case, VEHBFA approved its financing, granting the school $6.5 million in tax-exempt bonds.
But in fact, even the smaller figure supplied by Sanders appears to have been anything but “confirmed.” According to audits obtained by TheDCNF, the school listed $1,303,785 in short- and long-term commitments for the year ending June 30, 2011, the same year that the college received the financing.
An accountant that spoke with TheDCNF explained that when non-profit organizations account for donations, future commitments are documented in the present as long as they are legally-binding, no matter when they are due to be collected.
Indeed, the school’s 2011 audit report confirms the use of this procedure, saying, “Contributions, including unconditional promises to give, are recognized as revenue in the period the contribution or promise is received.”
In other words, if Burlington College genuinely had the $2.6 million in confirmed commitments that they claimed on their application for VEHBFA financing, then the full amount should have showed up on their FY 2011 audit.
A little more than $1.3 million of the total claimed by the college, though, seems to have simply disappeared like vapor.
That’s not the only red flag from the school’s 2011 audit. Of the $1.3 million in listed contributions, by far the largest is a “binding estate gift” of $1 million that the college says it expects to collect more than five years in the future. This $1 million gift also appears on the school’s 2012 and 2013 audits, and continues to be listed as more than five years from realization.
This is radically different from the million dollar donation the college said it had already confirmed in its VEHBFA application. There, the college described the million dollar gift as being paid in annual installments of $150,000, plus a final one of $100,000.
Christine Plunkett, Sanders’ successor as Burlington College president, explained this shift last summer, when she told a local TV station that after becoming president she was surprised to find that a million dollar “donation” was actually a bequest (Plunkett did not respond to TheDCNF’s interview request).
The accountant who spoke with TheDCNF said such a mistake was egregious, because bequests are far less legally binding (wills can be changed or invalidated). Such bequests shouldn’t be counted as confirmed contributions, he said.
Spilbor said that if Sanders or anybody else had knowingly garnished their confirmed donation figures, it would be “a pretty clear cut case” of fraud committed against the state.
“One way in which fraud occurs, is when a borrower (in this case, the college) acquires ownership of real property under false pretenses— such as misrepresented income and asset information on a loan application,” she explained.
TheDCNF raised the matter in a phone call with Sanders, who denied any obfuscation, saying, “We gave the entire VEHBFA board very clear indications of what money was in hand; what money was expected; what money was absolutely not able to be revoked; so I don’t know what to tell you.”
“I do know that everything was very straightforward,” Sanders continued, noting that the plan “was approved by our board of trustees, by the Republican governor of Vermont, by the VEHBFA board, and by the bank’s board, so it was not some pie in the sky.”
Moreover, she said, “There was an outside nonprofit organization that looked at everything we did for VEHBFA,” a reference to the PFM Group analysis (PFM is not itself a nonprofit, but conducts analyses exclusively for government and nonprofit groups).
Spilbor noted that part of the blame also belongs with People’s Bank, saying, “if you elect to hold a note for a buyer/borrower, you’d better do your due diligence.”
Even so, she said, “the college APPEARS to have committed a pretty sophisticated crime. Whether prosecutors will do anything about it, is a whole other story.”
Early Warnings
So why didn’t the professionals at VEHBFA and People’s Bank notice anything amiss at the time?
Tom Pelham was one of the people who voted on Burlington College’s proposal, and one of the handful who voted no. Pelham was not an official member of VEHBFA’s board, but he attended meetings and voted in the place of Vermont’s state secretary of administration, an ex officio member who coordinated his vote with Pelham.
Most votes at VEHBFA were a straightforward affair; often, individual votes weren’t even logged. Pelham told TheDCNF that the Burlington College case so appalled him that he demanded that his objections be recorded. He said the deal was exceptional in how flawed it appeared from the outset, and also described it as rushed, with a “fire sale” environment he didn’t see in other schools that approached VEHBFA with financing plans.
“I thought it was bad for the church and the city, and I thought it was highly risky, and that the only ones who would benefit would be the bank and some future developer who would buy the bank out.”
Pelham said that, from his memory, Burlington College’s proposal was based on a dramatic, unprecedented surge in donations to the college:
”I recall that the promised level of fundraising was a huge leap from their track record, and that the fundraising associated with this was not on an established trend line for Burlington College. They could have had a couple million dollars in absolutely secured commitments, and that would not have changed my mind.”
Ultimately, Pelham said, the fact that the proposal was being pushed by the wife of a U.S. senator and former mayor of Burlington likely played a big role, explaining that, “People get star-struck by high-level politicians.”
“My guess is that if someone other than Jane Sanders had been president of Burlington College, there might have been a different outcome,” he said.
Greg Guma, who covered Burlington’s growing financial difficulties as a reporter for the Vermont Digger and recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Burlington, told TheDCNF that the deal was plagued by excessive optimism from the beginning, thanks to the involvement of influential figures including Jane Sanders and Tony Pomerleau, a real estate developer who provided a $500,000 bridge loan to facilitate the transaction.
“Jane was president, Pomerleau was the broker of the sale who convinced Jane it was something she should do, and the reason everybody felt it was safe to do this is because with Bernie and the connections he has, and with Tony and the connections he has, how could it fail?”
“Pomerleau is known as the ‘godfather of retail shopping centers’ in Vermont,” Guma noted, “and that was probably enough for the bank.”
“Banks go on the strength of confidence; banks have confidence in certain people and not in others,” he pointed out.
When TheDCNF mentioned those speculations to Sanders, however, she replied that, “That’s not how business is done in Vermont; nobody gets preferential treatment, and I never asked for it. I know it’s an easy shot, but it wasn’t the case.”
Vermont has a “D+” on their “Corruption Risk Report Card,” according to The State Integrity organization, a project of the Center for Public Integrity. The ranking, which puts the Green Mountain State 26th out of 50 states, includes an “F” for “ethics enforcement agencies.”
On Sep. 26, 2011, less than a year after orchestrating the property purchase and with two years remaining in her contract, Jane Sanders abruptly resigned as president of Burlington College.
Her future with the college had already been in doubt for several weeks, according to the Vermont Digger, after “negotiations over a new contract stalled as doubts emerged about her plans and fundraising.”
Few expected her resignation, though, until about a week before Sanders stepped down, when reporters learned of a special meeting of Burlington’s Board of Trustees to discuss her removal. Possibly hastened by the leak, Sanders’ lawyers and the college reached a settlement several days later under which Sanders collected a roughly $200,000 severance package.
The school gave no reason for her departure, and the Digger reported at the time that, “her decision to leave is the result of differences with the trustees over the college’s direction and future.”
Sanders, who describes herself as “very open and honest with the press,” declined to elaborate for TheDCNF, saying simply that she and the board “had differences in terms of what the future of the college should be like, and I decided that it was best for me to leave and let them do what they wanted.”
Guma, on the other hand, told The DCNF that Sanders’ departure had everything to do with the school’s dire financial straits.
“The specific reason [Sanders resigned] is that she did not raise the money, and she took credit for raising money that other people had actually raised,” Guma said. “I know that for a fact because I’m friends with a member of the board who was on the board at the time.”
A College In Ruins
Matters failed to improve under Sanders’ successor, her former vice president, Christine Plunkett, who was unable to increase either enrollment or contributions during her three-year tenure.
The college also abandoned a multi-year capital campaign intended to help finance the property purchase during Plunkett’s administration, Sanders said, explaining that, “They decided to go in a different direction than we had articulated or put out in our development plan, and some donors chose not to participate anymore.”
“I really am not in a position, nor do I want to be in a position, to judge what people did after I left,” she said, but added, “I have no doubt that if [my plan] would have been implemented as set forth, the college would be in great shape.”
After taking over for Sanders, the Burlington Free Press reports that Plunkett presided over a continuing deterioration of the school’s finances, culminating in the college being placed on probationary status by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a regional accreditation agency, in July 2014.
The news prompted concern at VEHBFA, internal emails obtained by TheDCNF reveal. On July 24, VEHBFA board member Cathy Hilgendorf wrote to the agency’s executive director, Robert Giroux, saying, “I am concerned as a VEHBFA board member: will there be bad press for the Financing Agency, could we have seen this coming, and would we have denied the bond application?”
Giroux responded the same day that, “Making the decision using hindsight, I am guessing the Board would not have approved the financing,” but that the decision “seems sound based on what we knew then.”
The very next day, Giroux contacted Plunkett, saying he had “noticed that the Agency was not sent copies of Burlington College’s FY’11, FY’12, and FY’13 financial audits as required by our loan agreement,” indicating that the agency had not been monitoring the agreement since it was finalized.
Several months after Plunkett’s resignation in August, Burlington College was able to retire a portion of its outstanding debt from the property purchase by selling about 26 acres of undeveloped land to real estate developer Eric Farrell for about $7 million, though it remains unclear whether the deal will be enough to restore the school to solvency.
Whether or not Burlington College ultimately survives, the episode will surely remain an ignominious one in the school’s history, and could become a larger issue for voters if Sen. Sanders decides to run for president.

Scientific fraud

Major publisher retracts 43scientific papers amid widerfake peer-review scandal

By Fred Barbash March 27 at 1:49 AM

A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications.
The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals. A partial list of the retracted articles suggests most of them were written by scholars at universities in China, including China Medical University, Sichuan University, Shandong University and Jiaotong University Medical School. But Jigisha Patel, associate editorial director for research integrity at BioMed Central, said it’s not “a China problem. We get a lot of robust research of China. We see this as a broader problem of how scientists are judged.”
Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a multidisciplinary group that includes more than 9,000 journal editors, issued a statement suggesting a much broader potential problem. The committee, it said, “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers.” Those journals are now reviewing manuscripts to determine how many may need to be retracted, it said.
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Peer review is the vetting process designed to guarantee the integrity of scholarly articles by having experts read them and approve or disapprove them for publication. With researchers increasingly desperate for recognition, citations and professional advancement, the whole peer-review system has come under scrutiny in recent years for a host of flaws and irregularities, ranging from lackadaisical reviewing to cronyism to outright fraud.
Last year, in one of the most publicized scandals, the Journal of Vibration and
Control
, in the field of acoustics, retracted 60 articles at one time due to what it called a “peer review and citation ring” in which the reviews, mostly from scholars in Taiwan, were submitted by people using fake names.
[RELATED: Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes "peer review ring"]
Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, the co-editors of Retraction Watch, a blog that tracks research integrity and first reported the BioMed Central retractions, have counted a total of 170 retractions in the past few years across several journals because of fake peer reviews.
“The problem of fake peer reviewers is affecting the whole of academic journal publishing and we are among the ranks of publishers hit by this type of fraud,” Patel of BioMed’s ethics group wrote in November. “The spectrum of ‘fakery’ has ranged from authors suggesting their friends who agree in advance to provide a positive review, to elaborate peer review circles where a group of authors agree to peer review each others’ manuscripts, to impersonating real people, and to generating completely fictitious characters. From what we have discovered amongst our journals, it appears to have reached a higher level of sophistication. The pattern we have found, where there is no apparent connection between the authors but similarities between the suggested reviewers, suggests that a third party could be behind this sophisticated fraud.”
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In a blog post yesterday, Elizabeth Moylan, BioMed Central’s senior editor for research integrity, said an investigation begun last year revealed a scheme to “deceive” journal editors by suggesting “fabricated” reviewers for submitted articles. She wrote that some of the “manipulations” appeared to have been conducted by agencies that offer language-editing and submission assistance to non-English speaking authors.
“It is unclear,” she wrote, “whether the authors of the manuscripts involved were aware that the agencies were proposing fabricated reviewers on their behalf or whether authors proposed fabricated names directly themselves.”
Patel, in an interview, said the peer review reports submitted “were actually very convincing.” BioMed Central became suspicious because they spotted a pattern of unusual e-mail addresses among the reviewers that seemed “odd” for scientists working in an institution. Also odd was the fact that the same author was reviewing different topics, which did not make sense in highly specialized fields.
Ultimately, when they tracked down some of the scientists in whose names reviews were written, they found that they hadn’t written them at all. Someone else had, using the scientists’ names.
“There is an element of exploitation,” Patel said. “If authors are naive and want to get their manuscripts published, they can be exploited” by services into paying the fees. The services, she said, may be offering to “polish up manuscripts” and perhaps even guaranteeing publication.
“This is a problem not just for publishers to resolve,” she said. Journals, research institutions and scholars “need to get together. It is part of the broader pressure to publish that’s driving people to do this.”
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In its statement, the Committee on Publication Ethics said: “While there are a number
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of well-established reputable agencies offering manuscript-preparation services to authors, investigations at several journals suggests that some agencies are selling services, ranging from authorship of pre-written manuscripts to providing fabricated contact details for peer reviewers during the submission process and then supplying reviews from these fabricated addresses. Some of these peer reviewer accounts have the names of seemingly real researchers but with e-mail addresses that differ from those from their institutions or associated with their previous publications, others appear to be completely fictitious.”
The BioMed Central articles in question now carry retractions attached that say: “The Publisher and Editor regretfully retract this article because the peer-review process was inappropriately influenced and compromised. As a result, the scientific integrity of the article cannot be guaranteed. A systematic and detailed investigation suggests that a third party was involved in supplying fabricated details of potential peer reviewers for a large number of manuscripts submitted to different journals.”
The BioMed Central list of retracted articles so far identifies 38 of the 43 published papers. They all have highly technical names and topics, such as “Pathological dislocation of the hip due to coxotuberculosis in children” and “A meta-analysis of external fixator versus intramedullary nails for open tibial fracture fixation.”