Stephen Kotkin :- What Mueller Found—and Didn’t Find—About Trump and Russia

Stephen Mark Kotkin

Stephen Mark Kotkin is an American historian, academic and author. He is currently a professor in history and international affairs at Princeton University and a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Born: February 17, 1959 (age 60 years)

 

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Writing for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Mark Kotkin, offers a balanced, nuanced take on the Robert Mueller inquiry.

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Robert Mueller III played lacrosse and majored in government at Princeton. He graduated in 1966 and soon thereafter volunteered for and was accepted into the Marine Corps. He won a Bronze Star for heroism in the Vietnam War and later attended law school at the University of Virginia. He has since spent nearly a half century in either private legal practice or law enforcement, including 12 years as director of the FBI. Mueller epitomizes the old WASP establishment.

Donald Trump graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. He dodged the Vietnam War, reportedly by asking a podiatrist to dishonestly attest to the presence of bone spurs in Trump’s heels. Trump sought fame and fortune in the private sector, entering his father’s successful real estate business, which he took from New York City’s outer boroughs to the glitzier, riskier precincts of Manhattan and the casino capital of Atlantic City. He tried his hand at running an airline and a get-rich-quick university before finally finding his true calling: playing a fantasy version of himself on a reality television show. Trump is as American as apple pie.

These two lives—establishmentarian and upstart—collided in May 2017, when the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate, as the order defining his mandate put it, “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” along with “any matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.” In the two years that followed, Mueller and his investigators interviewed around 500 witnesses, issued some 2,800 subpoenas and some 500 search-and-seizure warrants, indicted 34 individuals and three Russian businesses, and secured guilty pleas from or convictions of Trump’s one-time campaign chair and former national security adviser, among others.

In March of this year, Mueller delivered to the Department of Justice a 448-page report in two volumes, a redacted version of which Attorney General William Barr made public a few weeks later. The first volume scrutinizes the evidence of a possible criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, which, the report states, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” by spreading disinformation over social media and stealing and disseminating personal e-mails belonging to senior figures in the presidential campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The second volume examines evidence of possible obstruction of justice by the president in relation to the investigation—that is, whether Trump violated the law by attempting to make it harder for Mueller to get to the truth.

The first volume reaches a more or less straightforward conclusion. “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” the report states, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The campaign did not break the law in its numerous interactions with Russians. But as the report makes clear, Trump and his senior advisers, including members of his family, were aware that the Kremlin was trying to help them, and, rather than sound the alarm to U.S. authorities, they were thrilled about the assistance.

The second volume’s findings appear more complex. Owing to the Department of Justice’s long-standing internal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mueller decided that he did not have the legal authority to charge the president. As a result, the report does not render a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding obstruction of justice on Trump’s part. Whether Trump committed a crime is left open to interpretation. After receiving the report, Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who had appointed Mueller and had overseen all but the final two months of the investigation, ruled that Trump’s conduct did not constitute obstruction of justice. Still, Mueller’s accessibly written compendium of substantiated facts delivers an unambiguous ethical indictment of Trump’s campaign and presidency.

Mueller’s chronicle of prevarication, moral turpitude, and incompetence is dispiriting, but his presentation of rigorous legal reasoning and strict adherence to statutes, case law, and procedural rules is inspiring. The text serves as an x-ray, revealing a venal politician and a corrupt political system. At the same time, it embodies many of the values that make the United States great: integrity, meticulousness, professionalism, public service, and the rule of law.

Of course, showmanship, a buccaneering spirit, and go-for-broke instincts are also among the traits that made America what it is. Trump, in his nonpareil fashion, characterized the Mueller report as both “total exoneration” and “total bullshit.” Trump is a phenomenon. Only a genuinely formidable personality could withstand such intense, unremitting investigative pressure and hostility, even if he has brought no small degree of it on himself. Trump lacks the facility to govern effectively, but he knows how to command the attention of the highly educated and dominate the news cycle. There is a reason he proved able, in a single election cycle, to vanquish both the entrenched Bush and Clinton dynasties. Trump’s flaws and transgressions are now well documented. Yet he has not perpetrated a catastrophe remotely on the scale of the Iraq war or the global financial crisis.

The report makes clear that Trump the politician resembles Trump the businessman. Before he became president, whenever he got into trouble (which he constantly did), he would sue, obtaining a settlement to extricate himself. He and his businesses got involved in around 3,500 lawsuits, in a majority of them as the plaintiff. If all else failed, Trump would declare bankruptcy. Between 1991 and 2009, his companies went through six corporate bankruptcies under Chapter 11. But although he had to relinquish many of his properties, he avoided having to file for personal bankruptcy.

His presidency is effectively a seventh bankruptcy. But once again, it might not be a personal one. Instead, it might be America’s bankruptcy: a chance for the country to cut its losses and start afresh.

That would require an acknowledgment by Trump’s supporters that Mueller’s portrait is damning. Trump’s opponents, meanwhile, would have to admit that their portrait of him as a singular threat to the republic lacks context and perspective. (Imagine, for example, if a special counsel had investigated President Lyndon Johnson’s campaigns and White House years while Johnson was still in office: the results would not have been pretty.)

Trump’s campaign and his presidency, too, are x-rays, revealing much of what has gone awry in American politics and society in recent years. His undisciplined depredations could present an opportunity for the United States to prove itself better than Trump and, even more importantly, to rise above the conditions in which he triumphed and holds sway.

A THOROUGH REPORT—BUT INCOMPLETE

Mueller’s report confirms that the president has performed yeoman’s work in corroding norms of democracy and basic decency, but that debilitation far predates him, and it is mirrored by not a few of his political adversaries. Trump fits into a longer and wider arc obscured by the tellingly derogatory use of the label “populism.” His carnival-barker, confidence-man persona is anything but alien to the United States. His marketing prowess, applied to the political world, is outrageously good. Consider the take on the Mueller investigation that Trump tweeted in June 2017: “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice.” Pithy—and, in its self-serving way, prophetic.

Trump’s rise looks like a great American hustle, despite the international links. Candidate Trump appears to have desperately wanted to build a high-margin Trump Tower in Moscow at least as much as he wanted to be elected president. Mueller’s report also captures the parallel pursuits of the innumerable wannabes, hangers-on, and swindlers who gravitated toward Trump and his campaign. Like a crime thriller, the report brims with shady characters, and, true to form, some of them beat the rap (or at least they have so far). But they’ve gotten away with it owing not to their criminal ingenuity. “The evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election,” the report concludes—but only because doing so was simply beyond them. As Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner privately related to congressional interns back in July 2017, “They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices.” It’s a pitiful yet accurate exculpation: not guilty by reason of ineptitude.

What’s more, as I have been arguing for years, Russian intelligence organizations had no need to collude with the omnishambolic Trump campaign. They could manage entirely on their own to hack e-mail accounts, line up cutouts such as WikiLeaks to disseminate damaging material, impersonate Americans on social media, and study elementary research available in open sources about battleground states and swing voters. The Mueller report confirms this point, despite some lingering ambiguity over the Trump campaign’s links to WikiLeaks, which is a genuinely valuable asset for Russia.

As for obstruction of justice, which Trump attempted in plain sight for months on end, the report states that “the president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons surrounding the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” (Note the “mostly.”) Many administration officials knew that Trump was pushing them to engage in illegal acts, or at least “crazy shit,” in the words of Donald McGahn, the former White House lawyer and an unwitting star of the report. But in scene after gripping scene, Mueller demonstrates how Trump is merely a would-be mobster, worried sick that his capos are wearing a wire. Forget about burying his enemies in concrete: Trump inspires none of the fear, let alone loyalty, of a real crime boss, instead imploring staffers over and over to carry out his orders, then shrinking from punishing them when they drag their feet. It turns out there really is a “deep state” out to thwart Trump after all, but its operatives are not alleged liberal Trump haters in the FBI but Trump appointees in his administration—and when they secretly manage to thwart him, they shield him from prison.

Russia had no need to collude with the omnishambolic Trump campaign.

In revealing all of this, Mueller’s report is certainly thorough—but also worryingly incomplete. Mueller decided not to issue subpoenas when they seemed guaranteed to be tied up in court, apparently mindful of moving expeditiously in order to wrap up before the 2020 campaign took off. The report notes that some evidence that Mueller obtained was inadmissible and that some witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, destroyed evidence, or relied on encrypted communications that deliberately lacked long-term retention. Mueller also cites instances of what could be construed as witness tampering: Trump, the report notes, “engaged in efforts” to “prevent the disclosure of evidence to [the special counsel], including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.” The lies told by people connected to the Trump campaign, the report states, “materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.”

The report is incomplete in another way: its primary focus is the criminal investigation into Russia’s interference, rather than the FBI’s parallel counterintelligence investigation—which is where the whole story began. Russia conducted a cyber-assault on U.S. democracy, demonstrating for other potential adversaries, not to mention potential American copycats, that it could be done. This is a clear and present danger. But when investigators discovered the Trump campaign personnel’s eagerness to interact with Russian operatives, the counterintelligence probe was complicated by the need for a criminal investigation.

The sections of the report that treat what Russia intended and achieved are its most heavily redacted parts. The public version of the report attributes the interference to orders from “the highest levels” of the Russian government, but not to President Vladimir Putin specifically. In that sense, Mueller’s report bears almost no resemblance to the last detailed, U.S. government-funded report on a crime committed by a foreign adversary against the United States: the one produced by the 9/11 Commission. That report included a rigorous analysis of how al Qaeda planned and carried out the attacks, explored the nature of U.S. security failures and ongoing vulnerabilities, and put forward a panoply of recommended fixes. The public version of Mueller’s report offers nothing like that. Many of the sections on the role that technology played in making the Russian interference possible are heavily redacted: close to two-thirds of the text dealing with Russia’s activities in cyberspace is blacked out. As a result, it provides limited insight into the relationships, if any, among the many different actors on the Russian side, not all of whom were government functionaries.

Take the infamous episode that took place on July 27, 2016, when Trump, in a campaign speech, requested Russian assistance in undermining Clinton by obtaining personal e-mails that she had declined to turn over during an investigation into her use of a private server while she was secretary of state. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing,” Trump said. Mueller reveals that within approximately five hours, officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency targeted Clinton’s home office for the first time, sending malware hidden in e-mails to 15 accounts associated with her office. “It is unclear,” the report notes enigmatically, how they were able “to identify these email accounts, which were not public.”

 

TRUTHFUL HYPERBOLE

How and when did the United States enter the Twilight Zone of the Mueller report and the reactions to it? In a sense, it started with two parallel fantasies of the Cold War era.

The first was the CIA’s. Even though the U.S. diplomat George Kennan, in his “Long Telegram,” had proposed a policy of containment that would eventually produce an internal evolution or the implosion of Soviet communism, not everyone got the memo. The CIA dreamed of something else. Many individuals and groups inside and outside the U.S. government, including the intelligence services, tried to roll back the Soviet menace, backing armed insurgents who sought to bring down the Soviet regime and its allies. Those measures usually backfired.

But then, in 1985, a sorcerer named Mikhail Gorbachev popped up in Moscow. Nested at the pinnacle of power in a hypercentralized system, the Soviet leader relaxed censorship to rally support for reforms, encouraging Soviet journalists to publish one previously suppressed revelation after another, which profoundly blackened the regime’s image. Gorbachev introduced legal free-market mechanisms, unhinging the planned economy, as well as competitive elections, allowing the populace to demonstrate disapproval of the Communist Party’s monopoly. He also demanded that the Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe reform, which destabilized the entire empire. To protect himself against a coup, he even sabotaged the central control over the entire system exercised by the party apparatus, which alone held the federal state together; in other words, unintentionally, he created a voluntary federal union of states that could choose to secede. The general secretary of the Communist Party did what the CIA had dreamed about but could never accomplish: he destroyed that system.

The KGB also had a dream. During the Cold War, its operatives fantasized about weakening and maybe even unraveling NATO and subverting the cohesiveness of the West. Its agents wanted to dilute the alliances of the United States in East Asia, too, by trying to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea or Japan. The KGB worked overtime to discredit the U.S. political system, planting stories to erode Americans’ faith in the impartiality of U.S. courts and judges, to undermine trust in American media, and to have the American public believe that the U.S. political system was rigged. Moscow aimed to divide Americans into tribes, hoping that grievances would turn into dysfunction and maybe even social collapse. But the United States is a politically diverse nation, and its wide political differences are normal and unthreatening, because the country has the democratic institutions to allow their expression and competition. Neither the KGB nor its post-Soviet successors were ever going to destroy the U.S. system from without, try as they might.

Then came Trump. Obviously, the Gorbachev-Trump analogy is imperfect. The United States is not a communist regime but a constitutional order with the rule of law, a dynamic market economy, and an open society. Indeed, one reason that most Republicans have not gone berserk over Trump’s behavior is that they believe, correctly, that U.S. institutions are resilient. (Other reasons include the fact that they agree with Trump’s policies, fear electoral defeat without his support, and depend on him to keep the White House out of Democratic hands—a goal supported by almost half the electorate.) Still, a speculative juxtaposition of Gorbachev and Trump can help one fathom how the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation effectively morphed into a criminal probe of the Trump campaign, and then of the president himself, eventually leading to the Mueller report.

Trump was voicing lines straight out of the KGB playbook: the press is the enemy of the people, American law enforcement is corrupt, NATO is obsolete, U.S. trading partners are rip-off artists. All the while, Trump’s family and associates were meeting secretly with Russians and lying first about the fact of those meetings and later about their substance. These meetings took place in the context of Trump’s decades-long attempts to do business in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Overpriced real estate is, to an extent, a business built on money laundering, with all-cash buyers needing to wash funds of dubious provenance and looking for partners who neglect to perform due diligence. Any serious investigation of Trump with subpoena power that looked into his businesses would pose a grave legal threat to him and his family. (The Mueller report briefly mentions Trump’s attempted property deals in Georgia and Kazakhstan. It remains unclear whether these or related matters are part of the 12 ongoing criminal investigations that the special counsel’s office handed off to other authorities, the details of which are blacked out in the public version of the report.)

Trump’s connections to Russia were hardly a secret during the campaign. In June 2016, Kevin McCarthy of California, who was then the Republican House majority leader and is now the minority leader and a staunch Trump supporter, stated behind closed doors to party colleagues in a secretly taped meeting, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” (Dana Rohrabacher was a curiously pro-Putin Republican U.S. representative from California.) When some of those present laughed, McCarthy added: “Swear to God!”

The most revealing example of the Trump team’s attitude toward Russia was the campaign’s infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a group of Russians who promised that they had dirt on Clinton. The meeting was arranged by Donald Trump, Jr., and attended by Kushner and Paul Manafort, who was running the campaign at the time. Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart impresario who became Trump’s campaign chair a few months after the meeting and who later served as the chief White House strategist, told the journalist Michael Wolff that the meeting was “treasonous.” Bannon added, “Even if [they] thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, [they] should have called the FBI immediately.” Bannon was right, even if he went on to suggest not that the meeting should have been refused but that it should have been organized far away (“in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire”) and that its contents, if damaging to Clinton, should have been dumped “down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication.”

The phantasm of an all-powerful Kremlin has diverted too much attention from Americans’ own failings.

Given the fact of such contacts, there is no question that an independent investigation of the Trump campaign was abundantly warranted. And yet the Trump-Russia story sent much of the media on a bender that was crazed even by today’s debased standards. In their coverage, Trump’s antagonists in the commentariat sometimes sank to his level. “I play to people’s fantasies,” Trump wrote in The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.” In the past two years, the main source of “truthful hyperbole” has been not Trump alone but also elite media personalities, such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who have stoked liberals’ desire for the Trump-Russia story to be the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular political scandal in U.S. history.

Among the more comical fulminations has been the claim that the Russians further polarized Americans. In reality, during the 2016 campaign, U.S. citizens created and shared far more divisive material online than the Russians ever could—and American journalists lucratively disseminated even more. Likewise, the indignant posturing about just how unprecedented it was for a hostile foreign power to interfere so brazenly in another country’s election conveniently ignores countless other instances of countries doing just that. The KGB did it to the United States during the Cold War. The British did it to the United States even earlier, in 1939, even accessing sensitive polling data. And the United States has done it all over the world. Great powers meddle in other countries because they can, and they will do so unless and until they pay a heavy price for it.

The phantasm of an all-powerful, all-controlling, irredeemably evil Kremlin has diverted too much attention from Americans’ own failings, and their duties to rectify them. Today in Russia, conspiracy theories still abound about how the CIA brought down the Soviet Union and how Gorbachev was in reality an unwitting (or perhaps a witting) agent of the Americans. Never mind that Gorbachev was a proud product of the Soviet system. Gorbachev’s reformed communism, too, was utterly homegrown. Acknowledging all of that, instead of latching on to a canard about Gorbachev, would have compelled Russian society to come to grips more fully with the internal factors that caused the Soviet system’s implosion. Likewise, in the United States, the obsession with Russian interference and the madcap speculation that Trump is a Kremlin asset have helped occlude many of the domestic problems that made Trump’s homegrown victory possible.

Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters have spun a conspiracy theory alleging that the investigation of Trump’s campaign was a sinister plot hatched within the FBI. The rival tales—Trump as a Russian asset, the FBI as the deep state—uncannily mirror each other, and continue to shape politics. It is as if Mueller never wrote his report.

EXPECTATIONS GAME

Leadership no longer gets enough attention from historians. Too few in the field seek to better understand when and how individuals find ways to transform a political conjuncture—to perceive and seize opportunities that others fail to recognize, to turn impossible situations into breakthroughs. No small degree of luck is involved, but a vision of the future and supreme tactical adroitness are decisive. Also, those transformative individuals usually occupy the highest positions in political and social life: presidents (Ronald Reagan), secretaries of state (George Marshall), Federal Reserve chairs (Paul Volcker), movement leaders (Martin Luther King, Jr.). The office of the special counsel—a temporary employee of the Department of Justice—does not lend itself to such transformative powers. Those who hoped that Mueller would rescue the republic freighted his role beyond its capacity. But did taxpayers nonetheless have a right to expect more than what Mueller delivered?

Rarely have Americans been treated to so much truthful—and attributed—information about the workings of their government’s executive branch. For all the media malpractice, the Mueller report vindicates much of the investigative reporting of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Unlike those publications, Mueller was under no obligation to protect his sources by granting anonymity. Notwithstanding the enormous leverage derived from the ability to subpoena witnesses and levy criminal charges, moreover, the special counsel bent over backward to be fair to Trump by presenting exculpatory evidence alongside the incriminating, employing a high bar to define what would count as “coordination” of a criminal nature. Mueller also refrained from imputing corrupt motives to the president, even though Trump reneged on multiple promises to testify in person and then suffered improbably severe amnesia when replying to written questions. Arguably, this fair-mindedness renders the picture of Trump’s behavior all the more damning.

 

The Mueller report models the civic virtues that could enable American leaders to renew the country. The tools they would need are readily at hand, in the form of the country’s formidable democratic institutions and sound underlying mores of moderation, fairness, and common sense. That will not happen, of course, certainly not in the near term. For now, politics trumps technocracy. Mueller acted as a restrained professional awash in a foam of partisan blather. But as it turned out, he is not a master tactician. (By contrast, Barr managed to publish almost the entire report—the sections on Trump’s squalid behavior are the least redacted—without incurring the wrath of the president, who instead blamed Mueller for the embarrassing revelations.) The public version of the report offers no victory for either the pro-Trump camp or the anti-Trump one, nor—what is genuinely disappointing—any possible reconciliation of the two. It has served mostly to intensify the deadlock.

Perhaps the circumstances permitted nothing more. From the get-go, Mueller was tasked with a criminal prosecution that could not be prosecuted. Predictably, any decision not to charge Trump was going to be taken by the majority of Republicans as an exoneration, even though the report literally says that it “does not exonerate him.” No less predictably, Mueller’s explicit refusal to absolve Trump was going to be taken by the majority of Democrats as a de facto indictment. Mueller did something more, as well. He addressed Congress, a step the special-counsel regulations do not discuss. The report contains 21 pages on the president’s executive authority, the separation of powers, and the Constitution, as well as pointed advice: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” Some Democrats and Trump critics have seized on this as an “impeachment referral.”

However the current standoff plays out between a stonewalling White House and an overzealous Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, Trump’s tax returns and many of the other important documents and testimony that Congress is seeking will eventually become public. The adversarial political and legal system will conduct oversight and, if necessary, hold the president accountable, within the remedies established by the Constitution and, above all, through the sentiments of the electorate.

ONE BIG SURPRISE

Ultimately, what have we learned? The report might seem merely to recapitulate, albeit in more granular detail, what we already knew. But in fact, it contains an enormous surprise. A few observers, myself included, had long assumed that during the 2016 campaign, Russians who were operating at the behest of the Kremlin (or were seeking to ingratiate themselves with it) were not trying to collude with the Trump campaign. Rather, they were trying to gain unfettered access to the campaign’s internal communications in order to obtain operational secrets and compromising material (kompromat) on Trump and his people or to implicate them in illegal acts. I took the real story of Trump and Russia to be one of penetration and assumed that Russian intelligence eavesdropped on the cell phones not just of Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, but also of Trump himself and his family. I assumed that Russian intelligence had implanted devices on the cables running underneath and into Trump Tower and wondered about those Russian-owned apartments upstairs, not far from Trump’s operations. (Trump did not return to the tower for the first seven months of his presidency, as if it were not a secure facility; in 2017, when he accused the Obama administration of wiretapping phones in the tower, I took it to be a typical Trumpian falsehood about something that was true in another way.) The idea that such surveillance was under way during the campaign seemed like a no-brainer. After all, officials in Russia whom I have known for a long time were bragging about it, and the tradecraft was elementary.

So imagine my astonishment when I read in Mueller’s report that Russians approaching the Trump campaign could not figure out whom to contact, who was in charge, or who mattered. Russian operatives and intermediaries were coming at the campaign from all angles, exploring channels with individuals who had no influence whatsoever on policy positions, to the extent that the campaign even had any. The reality was that no one was in charge and no one mattered except Trump, and he swiveled one way, then the next, capriciously, in his executive chair. But the Russians essentially failed to gain access to him, even when the campaign and the White House flung open the doors. (The report reveals that the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey Kislyak, rejected Kushner’s suggestion that they communicate using secure facilities at the Russian embassy in Washington.) I was wrong, in an important way.

Petr Aven, a principal in Russia’s largest private bank and a former Russian government official, told the special counsel’s investigators about the first time after Trump’s election that Putin convened his regular quarterly meeting of Russia’s top 50 or so oligarchs. “Putin spoke of the difficulty faced by the Russian government in getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration,” Aven testified, according to the report. “According to Aven, Putin indicated that he did not know with whom formally to speak and generally did not know the people around the President-Elect.” Of course, this could have been misdirection, disinformation that Putin wanted spread widely. But that is not how Mueller treats it. “As soon as news broke that Trump had been elected President, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new Administration,” the report states. “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

This is the report’s great revelation: Putin, supposedly, could help Trump get elected but could not talk to him, despite the publicly expressed eagerness of Trump and his people to enter into contact and make deals.

In fairness to the Russians, they did manage to convey “peace plans” for Ukraine to Trump’s family members, only for the proposals to languish in inboxes while the Russians repeatedly begged to know—on behalf of “the boss” (Putin)—if there had been any movement on the issue. Genuinely important players in the campaign, such as Donald Trump, Jr., and Kushner, turned out to have an underwhelming grasp of foreign policy and no sense of how to make anything happen in government.

Putin and his operatives appear to have been no more prepared for Trump’s victory than Trump and his people were. To be sure, it remains possible that Russian intelligence did surveil the internal communications of the Trump operation. But if so, the information they gleaned delivered little operational value, at least in terms of enabling useful dialogue to advance Russian interests. Trump world may be too disorganized to manipulate. But Russian intelligence may be less skillful than it is typically made out to be, particularly when attempting to operate on U.S. soil and under FBI counterintelligence surveillance, as opposed to when acting anonymously from afar via computers.

 

GET OVER IT

The American public needs to understand not only what the Russians did but also what they did not do. Russia did not choose the respective party’s presidential candidates, and it did not invent the Electoral College. Clinton ran the only possible Democratic campaign that could have lost, and Trump ran the only possible Republican campaign that could have won. Whatever the marginal impact of Russia’s actions, it was made possible only by crucial actions and inactions in which Russia was never involved. Above all, Russia did not design the preposterous patchwork and vulnerabilities of the United States’ election machinery.

Putin, moreover, did not plant a sleeper agent in a Harvard dormitory in 2002 and then have him study psychology and computer science, develop social networking algorithms, drop out in 2004, insinuate himself into Silicon Valley, and set up a private company that attains phenomenal profit by monetizing Americans’ love of oversharing and constant need to feel outraged. Nor did Putin force the very media outlets that this Russian sleeper agent’s company was helping put out of business to praise that agent to the skies. Nor did he compel investors to pour money into this latent Russian weapon, thereby expanding its reach and power. No: Facebook fell into Putin’s lap in 2016, and it is still there. In Mueller’s report, U.S.-based technology firms do garner some attention: one section is titled “Operations Through Facebook”; another, “Operations Through Twitter.” But there is nothing about what authorities should do to mitigate the vulnerabilities that social media create.

It remains unclear whether the public will ever learn more about the crucial FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian intrusion. FBI personnel worked with Mueller’s office and obtained information from it, “not all of which is contained in this Volume,” the report notes. But the report is silent on what became of that information. If the counterintelligence investigation is ongoing and involves sensitive sources and methods, then Barr may well be right to refuse to comply with Congress’ demand for the full report and for Mueller’s underlying materials—a refusal that caused the House to threaten to hold him in contempt.

 

Summary

It is exemplary how with age we choose not to be a story, but to offer our own take on it.

And, allow the story to tell itself.

In life we are smaller than we first thought.

We are all just little pieces in a bigger game.

Michael O’Neill :- Explaining and Exploring the Miraculous

Author :- Sam Scott
Magazine :- Stanford Magazine
Link

Story

Squint your eyes and Michael O’Neill’s emergence as the “Miracle Hunter” could resemble a typical Silicon Valley tale of pluck and ingenuity. He is, after all, just another Stanford engineering student who went deep with his research, parlayed the results into an innovative website and ran off to a future no one could have imagined a few years prior.

But the details . . . well, O’Neill would be the first to admit his professional life hardly fits a mold. “It’s such a weird topic I’ve devoted my life to,” he says. “If anybody talks to me funny, I hardly blame them.”

O’Neill, ’98, is an expert in miracles—the supernatural Christian kind, not the metaphors for last-gasp touchdowns or billion-dollar start-ups. It’s a multimedia pursuit that includes hosting his own radio show and television series on Catholic networks, conducting research, writing books and providing punditry on secular stages like the Dr. Oz Show and Megyn Kelly Today. And notwithstanding the occasional self-deprecating remark, he takes miracles very seriously.

“I call him the Virgin Mary’s number cruncher,” says Maureen Orth, a longtime writer for Vanity Fair who contacted O’Neill while working on a story for National Geographic about the worldwide devotion to Mary, the Biblical mother of Jesus and the most frequent subject of apparitions. O’Neill provided her with centuries of data to create a global map of thousands of supposed Marian apparitions sorted by their official status, from a small number of sanctioned miracles to the largest group of unconfirmed sightings. “I really respected him because he was very fact-based.”

Miracles—healings, apparitions, bleeding Eucharistic hosts, etc.—may seem a strange business for a mechanical engineer whose education was steeped in the properties of the physical world. For his senior product design project, O’Neill created a photovoltaic umbrella capable of soaking up enough solar rays to run a stereo on the beach, nothing to sniff at in the dawn before iPods and Bluetooth speakers.

Contrary to a lot of people’s expectations, the church is dubious of supernatural claims. It typically investigates them with an eye toward ending the distraction.
But an even higher power had always fascinated O’Neill, who grew up near Chicago in a devout family that placed divine intervention at the center of its lore. O’Neill’s grandmother had lost her faith decades earlier, going so far as to throw away rosary beads and statues. In response, his mother, then a child, prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the widely venerated appearance of Mary to a Mexican peasant nearly five centuries prior. When his grandmother returned to the church, his mother pledged herself to retelling the story every year at the feast celebrating the appearances.

It was only at Stanford, though, that O’Neill’s more formal interest in miracles began. His junior year, he took an archaeology class that required him to research an artifact that had impacted the world. He chose the tilma, or cloak, belonging to the man who saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. The cloak, according to believers, was miraculously emblazoned with an iconic image of Mary, starting a devotion that is credited with the conversion of Mexico’s Native population.

In the many hours he spent in Green Library for that project, O’Neill says he began delving into how the Catholic Church reacts to claims of miracles, which were far more common and scrutinized than he had known. Contrary to a lot of people’s expectations, the church is dubious of supernatural claims. It typically investigates them with an eye toward ending the distraction, embracing a scant few only after long inquiry.

Indeed, it’s semi-miraculous that anything ever gets sanctioned as a miracle, O’Neill says. But some do, and this mix of faith, skepticism and, ultimately, certainty intrigued him. “I just couldn’t believe that the institution would stick out its neck and say there were actual miracles happening in the world.”

A year later, when then-provost Condoleezza Rice gave his graduating class some parting advice—“Become an expert in something. Find your sliver of the universe and own it”—O’Neill felt a jolt of inspiration. After graduation, he started MiracleHunter.com as a centralized spot for his research into all things miraculous, adopting a more matter-of-fact approach than the pious tone he’d found elsewhere and creating a depository of information on the topic he says is unrivaled online.

Still, it was primarily a personal hobby aimed at expanding his own knowledge and one he kept secret from friends, girlfriends and even his mother. When people emailed him, he replied as Miracle Hunter, or “M.H.,” mindful of being lumped with UFO and Bigfoot believers.

By day, O’Neill worked for—and later led—the visual communication department of a consulting firm; his graphics and simulations were used in courtroom trials to explain engineering failures. By night, he turned to another realm altogether. “I didn’t want my name out there,” he says. “I was a reputable engineer. I didn’t want to confuse these two worlds too much.”
O’Neill travels the world to interview believers about their miracle claims.Photo: Courtesy Michael O’Neill

But in time, he let the word out to his inner circle and started to get speaking invitations, finding that even skeptics were curious to hear him out. Over the years, O’Neill has adopted an increasingly public presence focused entirely on miracles, much to the occasional bemusement of old acquaintances. “I get some pretty funny emails from old Stanford classmates and friends who say, ‘This is an interesting turn.’”

Of course, nobody hands you a turnkey career as a miracle hunter. O’Neill’s profile has grown thanks to a variety of roles he’s stitched together with a dose of earthly grit. “He beat me down over a three-year period to get a show on the air,” says the Rev. Francis Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, a nationwide Catholic radio network where O’Neill hosts a weekly show, The Miracle Hunter. “What he’s done is 99 percent hard work.”

Hoffman calls O’Neill “an engineer at heart.”

“[T]hat’s the discipline he brings to it,” Hoffman says. “He seems to dominate all the facts when he’s talking about these things. He’s not sensationalist at all. I think that gives him a certain credible following.”

O’Neill’s career involves both explaining and exploring miracles. He’s been as far as the Philippines to interview believers, but he found one of his most engaging cases in his own Chicago backyard—a 20-something man whose recurrent wounds on his feet, hands and head defied his doctors’ explanations, and appear in O’Neill’s eyes to be stigmata, the miraculous appearance of the wounds of Christ.

In other cases, O’Neill allows that more secular explanations may be at play. A few years ago, he tested soil from El Santuario de Chimayo, a New Mexican sanctuary where abandoned crutches and wheelchairs testify to those who say they have been healed by the holy dirt. O’Neill says it’s possible the cures are more about the belief of the healed than anything intrinsic to the location. But he sees overlap between the placebo effect and the power of faith. “Where the line is between those two, we don’t know.”

He readily agrees that the vast majority of miracle claims have material explanation. Part of his job is tamping down the enthusiasm of those too eager to believe in the supernatural, he says. But the many false positives only make it all the more powerful when something passes the church’s scrutiny, he says. He knows how much effort went into trying to avoid that conclusion. Miracles aren’t the center of his faith, but they’re a way to show a hidden God reaching out.

“If I can somehow prove to myself that miracles are in fact happening around the world,” he says, “then that connects me to God somehow.”

Sam Scott is a senior writer at Stanford.

Links

  1. Magazine
    • Michael O’Neill Explains and Explores the Miraculous :- The Virgin Mary’s ‘Number Cruncher’
      Link
  2. Michael O’Neill
    • Miracle Hunter

Videos

  1. Dr. Oz
    • The Mystery of Miracles
      • Profile
        • Medical miracles are astounding and have no explanation but what makes an event miraculous? Dr. Oz welcomes author Michael O’Neill to discuss the parallels between science and religious belief.
          GUESTS: Michael O’Neill , Devon Franklin , Valerie Paters , Marilyn Denis,  Daphne Oz
      • Videos
  2. Rome Reports
    • ROME REPORTS – French fictional film explores Marian apparitions
      • Videos
        • Video #1
          Channel :- ROME REPORTS in English
          Published on Sep 14, 2018
          Link
  3. NBC
    • Today Show
      • Woman Says Her Tumors Disappeared After Visiting Religious Wisconsin Shrine | Megyn Kelly TODAY
        • Profile
          • Megyn Kelly speaks with Nancy Foytik, who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After visiting Wisconsin’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the only place in the U.S. recognized by the Catholic church as a site where the virgin Mary appeared, Nancy’s tumors on her left lung disappeared. “We just knew when I walked out of the chapel that day that I was going to be cured,” she said.
        •  Videos
  4. Our Lady of Fatima
    • EWTN
      • EWTN News Nightly – October 5, 2016 “Our Lady of Fatima”
        • Profile
          • EWTN News Nightly – October 5, 2016 “Our Lady of Fatima”
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- EWTN ( The Eternal Word Television Network )
            Published On :- 2017-April-20th
            Link
      • Miracles of BI. Francisco and Jacinta
        • Profile
          • Miracles of Bl. Francisco and Jacinta who will be made saints on May 13th.
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- EWTN ( The Eternal Word Television Network )
            Published On :- 2017-April-20th
            Link
  5. Our Lady of Good Help
    • Profile
      • Belgian
      • Only approved approved appropriation in the United States
      • Year Occurred :- 1859
    •  EWTN
      • EWTN News Nightly – August 22, 2016 Our Lady of Good Help
        • Profile
          • EWTN’s Brian Patrick interviews “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill about the recent news of the Church-approved apparition site Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin receiving National status.
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- Miracle Hunter
            Published On :- 2017-August-20th
            Link
  6. Miracle Hunter
    • How the Catholic Church Validates Medical Miracles
      • Profile
        • How does the Church verify miracles used to elevate holy persons to the canon of the Saints? Join “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill as he details the rigorous process used by the Catholic Church to verify medical miracles at the famed Marian apparition site of Lourdes and those attributed to the intercession of those on the path to sainthood.
      • Videos
        • Video #1
          Channel :- TheMiracleHunter
          Published On :- 2017-Feb-11th
          Link
    • Green Bay Local
      • Green Bay Local 5 – Meet the Miracle Hunter
        • Profile
          • “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill interviewed on Green Bay’s Local 5 about his visit to the The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help to deliver the keynote address at the National Novena and film the new special “The Miracles of Champion”
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- TheMiracleHunter
            Published On :- 2017-Oct-11th
            Link

 

Belinda Luscombe :- When fighting against each other, our brains works against us

 

Author :- Belinda Luscombe
Source :- Time Magazine
Link :- Link

First comes love, then comes marriage (or some modern equivalent), then comes the inevitable really stupid fight you keep having over who threw whom under the carriage last time you went over to that person’s place for that thing. Spats with your significant other—there are infinite varieties—are unavoidable. But they don’t have to be so bruising or so frequent, according to Stan Tatkin, therapist, researcher and author of the new book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection and Enduring Love.

Tatkin studies couples by filming them during a fight and then doing video microanalysis (a slow-motion, frame-by-frame examination of the footage) to see what’s really going on. Through this analysis, he has found that the human brain has a set of characteristics that can make fights with our loved ones worse—and that we can out-maneuver, to find better resolutions faster. Not to be spouse-like or anything, but here’s what you’re probably doing wrong:

You’re relying too much on your memory.

Even when you’re 100% sure you recall exactly what your spouse did that was so egregious, you’re probably mistaken, says Tatkin. “The way we record experience depends on our state of mind,” he explains. So if we were emotional or stressed when something happened, our recollections can get skewed, and then as we recall it in a heightened emotional state, the brain adds even more new color. “When people fight over memory, they’re both likely wrong in some way,” says Tatkin. “Because of this, it’s usually better to just end the fight and make up, rather than trying to figure out who is correct.”

You’re expecting perception to be objective.

You know the old “Don’t look at me like that!” “Like what?” “Like you think I’m an idiot.” “I didn’t look at you like that” argument? That’s an example of how perceptions are also unreliable—especially under stress, says Tatkin, because our brains aren’t working at full capacity or normal speed so the usual filters are not applied. “There’s a network of structures that have to talk to each other in order to correct errors,” says Tatkin. “And there has to be enough time and energy for these error-correcting parts of the brain to do their job. When people are upset with each other, they’re moving too fast and they’re under-resourced, meaning that there’s literally not enough blood—oxygen and glucose—going to those areas of the brain.” So if your counterpart believes you looked at him or her in a certain way, it’s best not to expect them to correct a faulty perception right then and there. Just let them know that you love them and don’t think they’re an idiot.

You’re overestimating how well you’re communicating.

“The brain always conserves energy,” says Tatkin. “And that means that it takes shortcuts.” People are often not expressing as clearly as they think they are—or not completely understanding the message the person they’re talking to is getting. “I may be making clarity errors with you, in thinking that you understand. You, as the listener, may be making mistakes by assuming you understood something, or linking it to something else, that may be a leap too far,” says Tatkin. Or the disconnect can be even simpler. “One word may mean something to me and mean something very different to you,” Tatkin explains. “Even on a good day, our verbal communication is poor, and we are often misunderstanding each other most of the time. This just speaks to the imperfection of human communication across the world.”

Small misunderstandings can snowball and get worse over time, unless people realize what they’re doing. Tatkin’s solution? “One way around this is to slow down. Check: ‘O.K., do you mean this? Is that what you’re trying to say when you use that word?’” He believes partners should cut each other a little more slack. He likes the phrase a colleague uses: Be curious rather than furious.

You’re not looking at each other.

According to Tatkin, couples should avoid trying to argue without looking straight into each other’s eyes. “We’re visual animals and while you’re talking, and I’m looking at your eyes and your mouth—which is something we naturally do—I can make many of those corrections” of the misunderstandings that are arising, he says. It’s something the brain does naturally without us even noticing. “But if we’re on the phone or side to side, or we’re texting, anything and everything can happen, because we can’t verify visually.” Intentions and phrases can be misunderstood, and meanings and tones of voice inaccurately inferred. Only after people get better at communicating and fighting in close proximity should they even consider working things out via text. “I’m not saying nobody should ever do that,” Tatkin clarifies. “But I’m saying people who are terrible at this ought to get the other part down first.”

You’re seeking compromise but not collaboration.

There are, of course, those fights that are not simply a matter of communication but of genuine disagreement. Whether to buy or rent. Which school to send a kid to. Netflix or Amazon Prime. Those arguments take a bit of effort to solve, says Tatkinwho this time says brains can be used productively rather than overridden. These spats are more manageable if you both agree initially that you care about each other and the outcomehe says, recommending that each partner present an argument, each acknowledge the validity of the other’s argument and then each offer a solution that builds on the other’s.

That way, “both people are engaged in a collaborative effort to come up with something better than their own idea,” he says. Often, the solution to a disagreement only has to be one that works for right now, and can be adjusted later. “If people see each other as having a mutual stake in the outcome, and that they’re respecting that, and they are giving each other their due, and that they are working towards a win-win, which means not compromise but creativity, bargaining,” says Tatkin, “then they can move the ball forward enough for the next thing, and can take this thing off the table quickly and go have lunch.” Preferably somewhere romantic.

Bruce Springsteen :- “the wheels can come off a little bit”

Background

Personally, there are a few people I will pay to listen to; as I know they are sharing intimately and not trying to sway.

Bruce happens to be one of those very few people.

Esquire Interview

Bruce Springsteen gets candid about his mental health issues: ‘I’m on a variety of medications’ — or ‘the wheels can come off a little bit’
Link

Bruce Springsteen’s memoir Born to Run detailed his long history with depression — and he’s revealing more about his mental health battle.

In a new interview with Esquire, the legendary singer, who’s wrapping up his one-man show on Broadway next month, talks a lot about growing up the son of a paranoid schizophrenic. Springsteen, 69, also gets candid about his breakdowns — the first in 1982 and another in 2009 — and how he keeps his mental health in line.

Springsteen’s relationship with his father, Doug Springsteen, cast a shadow on him for much of his life. The star got some answers late in his dad’s life, when he was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia, before dying in 1998. His father never told Bruce that he loved him and often sat brooding in silence in their family home. While his father’s diagnosis explained much that Springsteen had not understood, it also made him worry for his own mental health and his family’s.

“I have come close enough to [mental illness] where I know I am not completely well myself,” Springsteen revealed to the magazine. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel; otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and … just … the wheels can come off a little bit. So we have to watch, in our family. I have to watch my kids, and I’ve been lucky there. It ran in my family going way before my dad.

Springsteen talked about his first breakdown when he was 32. It was the time he released Nebraska (much was about his troubled upbringing) when he was road-tripping with a friend from New Jersey to L.A. On a late summer night, they drove through a Texas town where a fair was taking place. A band was playing, couples were dancing, kids were running around, and The Boss — from his car — watched the happy scene and cracked. He still doesn’t know what it was about that exact place and time that so affected him.

“All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier … much heavier,” he said. “With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. … Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment’ll be in tears.”

He said the breakdown led him to therapy — and it transformed his life. Not long after this, as he and his wife, songstress Patti Scialfa, were expecting their first child together, Springsteen’s dad came to visit and they had a ground-breaking moment. “You’ve been very good to us. And I wasn’t very good to you,” he recalled his dad saying. (In Springsteen’s show, he called this “the greatest moment in my life, with my dad.”)

In Springsteen’s book, he wrote about a second breakdown soon after turning 60 that lasted three years, which he described as an “agitated depression.” He told Esquire that he never contemplated suicide then or at any other point in his life. However, “I once felt bad enough to say, ‘I don’t know if I can live like this.’ It was like … I once got into some sort of box where I couldn’t figure my way out and where the feelings were so overwhelmingly uncomfortable.” He had “no inner peace whatsoever.”

While he wasn’t hospitalized, maybe he should have been. “All I remember was feeling really badly and calling for help,” he said. “I might have gotten close to that and for brief, brief periods of time. It lasted for — I don’t know. Looking back on it now, I can’t say. Was it a couple weeks? Was it a month? Was it longer? But it was a very bad spell, and it just came. … And it came out of the roots that I came out of, particularly on my father’s side, where I had to cop to the fact that I also had things inside me that could lead me to pretty bad places.”

Springsteen said he never tried to take his life during his weakest moments (protesting, “No, no, no”). Then the interviewer brought up Anthony Bourdain, asking if Springsteen could understand how his suicide could have happened.

“Well, I had a very, very close friend who committed suicide,” Springsteen replied. “He was like an older son to me. I mentored him. And he got very, very ill. So, ultimately, it always remains a mystery — those last moments. I always say, Well, somebody was in a bad place, and they just got caught out in the rain. Another night, another way, someone else there … it might not have happened. They were ill, and they got caught out in the rain. … I don’t know anyone who’s ever explained satisfactorily the moments that lead up to someone taking that action. So can I understand how that happens? Yes. I think I felt just enough despair myself to — pain gets too great, confusion gets too great, and that’s your out. But I don’t have any great insight into it, and in truth, I’ve never met someone who has.”

 

Listening

  1. Bruce Springsteen
    • Bruce Springsteen – One Step Up with Lyrics
      Link

 

 

Dr. Tamara O’Neal

Videos

  1. Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel address the media on Nov. 19, 2018, following the death of four people, including the shooter, after an attack at Mercy Hospital. (Chris Walker and Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
    Link

Stories

Chicago Tribune

Slain Chicago doctor broke off engagement with her killer weeks before deadly Mercy Hospital shooting

Link

Tamara O’Neal’s family gathered in her parents’ living room in rural LaPorte County, Ind., on Tuesday, they traded stories about their love for a woman who had found her way in life as an emergency room doctor.

But there was one subject they were reluctant to talk about: Juan Lopez.

Lopez had killed O’Neal, his ex-fiancee, on Monday in a violent confrontation at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago. The shootout also claimed the lives of a police officer and a pharmacist, as well as Lopez.

As recently as September, Lopez and O’Neal were engaged, with a wedding date fast approaching. But O’Neal had broken it off just weeks before she was to exchange vows with Lopez, said her aunt, Vickie O’Neal. It was unclear exactly why.

Her father, Thomas, chose his words carefully.

“The only thing I could say for that: She broke off the engagement; he couldn’t get over it,” he said.

Indeed, Lopez had confronted O’Neal on Monday to demand the engagement ring back, a police spokesman said. And Lopez had a history of threatening domestic violence. In 2014, a judge granted a restraining order against him for his ex-wife.

But O’Neal’s family members said they never could have imagined that the relationship would come to such a violent end.

“This was a total surprise to us,” O’Neal’s father said. “We knew that there was a disconnect there, but nothing to this magnitude. We never expected this.”

Instead, the family talked at length about their love for a daughter who had blazed a trail as the first doctor in the family.

She enrolled at Purdue University to study child psychology. While there, she was in a lab where she held a human brain, her father said. That was her breakthrough moment, when it clicked that she wanted to go to medical school, he said.

After receiving a bachelor of arts from Purdue, she enrolled in the summer of 2007 in a certificate program at Southern Illinois University — a program designed to give students the necessary coursework required for medical school.

It took nearly two years to finish the program, and in the spring of 2009, she enrolled in medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating in 2014. She wasted little time diving into what she loved. Her first job, which lasted for nearly a year before she moved to Mercy, was as an emergency room physician at Franciscan Health in Michigan City, Ind.

For Trevonne Thompson, an associate professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicology at the University of Illinois, the news of O’Neal’s fatal shooting was particularly devastating. O’Neal had a bright spirit and a deep desire to help others, he said.

“From the time she was a medical student, she really stood out as someone very kindhearted,” said Thompson, who was O’Neal’s adviser and had known her since 2010. “She always wanted to reach back and help others, whether that was one of her patients or another medical student.

O’Neal didn’t have the typical path to medical school and entered as an older, more mature student, Thompson said. She distinguished herself from other students because not only was she focused and disciplined, but she also chose emergency care so she could reach the more vulnerable patients, he said.

So when Thompson heard there was a shooting at Mercy, the first thing he did was text his former student whom he had remained so close to. Normally, she’d respond immediately. When he didn’t hear back, Thompson said he started to worry.

“Part of her decision to go into this field was because so many people are underserved and emergency care is their last resort,” he said. “She felt emergency care was where she had the most to offer to underserved communities.”

As a black medical student, O’Neal made it her mission to connect with other African-American medical students so they could support each other through the notoriously grueling learning process, said Dr. Breana Taylor, a vascular neurology fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine who attended medical school with O’Neal.

The summer before she started school, O’Neal rounded up about seven other black students and told them they would get through it, together.

“She’d make sure everyone had the notes that we needed,” Taylor said. “She’d put together our study group. She’d send you a text to wish you good luck. She was a source of continuous encouragement at a time when life seemed tough.”

O’Neal’s group started calling itself “OHQ” for one hitter quitters — which meant the members vowed to take every exam once and pass it on the first round. That meant they’d study together, coach and quiz each other so there would be no failures in their group, Taylor explained.

“Tamara valued keeping us all together and doing whatever she could to help us all succeed,” Taylor said. “She organized us, and it was that bond that got us through. She was the one that would randomly call to check on you. She was that person who became the connective thread in the group.”

O’Neal also had the fortitude to deal with traumatic injuries, her father said. It was “nasty stuff,” he said. “She used to send us pictures or try to tell us stories all the time.”

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel address the media on Nov. 19, 2018, following the death of four people, including the shooter, after an attack at Mercy Hospital. (Chris Walker and Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Whenever O’Neal saw any patient in the emergency room, she asked about dangers in the home, including domestic violence. It is just one of the questions doctors ask patients during the triage process, said Dr. Patrick Connor, director of the emergency department at Mercy.

O’Neal’s fatal shooting was a reminder that doctors face the same challenges in life as the people they treat, Connor said after a Tuesday news conference outside Mercy Hospital. Domestic violence can touch anyone, can happen anywhere. Even in a place designed to provide care, he said.

Like many others interviewed, he turned the focus of his comments to O’Neal’s exceptional qualities.

“If I were to collapse right now and she was around, she was the person I’d want taking care of me,” he said.

 

He paused to pull out his phone. Just hours before O’Neal was killed, she took a selfie with a colleague. Both beaming, the photo was likely the last picture taken of O’Neal, Connor said. “That’s her, that’s who she was,” he said, showing the photo. An “absolutely bubbly, fantastic personality.”

Through her professional success, she never lost sight of her family.

The second of three children, she made weekly trips from her apartment in Chicago to the Christian Fellowship Worship Center in LaPorte, Ind., where her older brother, LaShawn, was the pastor. She was the choir director for about a year and a half, he said.

His sister could sing and play piano, he said. She was often a perfectionist who demanded excellence but was an open and joyful spirit.

She and her younger sister relished family get-togethers. The would often have contests like who could decorate their Christmas tree earliest, said her sister-in-law Jennifer O’Neal.

Or who baked the best dessert that was eaten the fastest, Her specialty was crab rangoon and spicy cabbage, her family said.

“She was the pride of our family,” O’Neal’s uncle, Anthony Bean Sr., said over the phone. “She was the only doctor in our family. I think she knew that, and I think that was part of her motivation, too, every day.”

Beane, assistant basketball coach for Southern Illinois University’s men’s basketball team, fondly recalled O’Neal stopping by his hotel to visit with him when he’d come down to play SIU while coaching at Illinois State. She was in the medical preparation program at the time, and would stop in after her night class. They would talk and laugh late into the night.

“It was just so refreshing because I knew she was on a road to really be successful,” he said. “I never thought those times would end so quick.”

 

Quotes

 

  1. Mayor Rahm Emanuel
    • “I ask each of us to hold our children, our loved ones all a bit closer,” Emanuel said. “Remember what is important in life and that there are others who are part of our larger family who will have a tear and a hole that will never heal–always a scar.”
    • “This tears at the soul of our city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference Monday night. “It is the face and the consequence of evil.”
  2. Conor
    • The 38-year-old physician graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 2016 and had worked as a resident at Mercy for two years. She raised money for disadvantaged children and led her church choir, Connor said, choking up with emotion and pausing frequently.
    • “That was her one thing she wanted … to be able to go to church on Sunday,” Connor said.
  3. John Purakal, MD ( @JohnPurakal )
    • I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life. Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer. Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO.
  4. The Root
    • Natalie Degraffinried
      • If you see the pattern, you’ve probably discerned that black women die from homicide far more frequently than the average, as well.
      • It’s mind-boggling at this point to even try to come up with anything else to say to the men who do this, who watch it happen, who contribute to a culture where this has become terrifyingly quotidian. Stop murdering women. Stop murdering your partners. Stop abusing people you’re supposed to be caring for.
      • Stop ignoring us when we beg you to stop.

 

Financial Times ( FT ) :- Swift shows impact of Iran dispute on international business

Link

The Europe-US-Iran issue is existential for Swift as a global network

These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Swift’s very survival as a worldwide system for facilitating cross-border payments depends on it resisting such attempts to “weaponise” it for political ends, said Nicolas Véron, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“The Europe-US-Iran issue is existential for Swift as a global network,” he said of the action against the company, which is owned by about 2,400 banks and other financial institutions.

Born in the 1970s out of leading banks’ desire to replace clunky Telex messages with a more reliable and faster payment system, Swift is now part of the world’s financial plumbing. Its 11,000-strong network of users expects the pipes to stretch as far and wide as possible.

The company runs a gigantic secure messaging service for the world’s financial institutions, transmitting payment requests across its electronic platform and keeping a record of such communications on servers in Europe and the US. It handles over 6bn messages a year.

Its role and dominance make Swift a very unusual company: a technology business that is systemically important for global commerce but that does not directly handle payments and whose turnover is a tiny fraction of that of a large bank. Its 25-member board of directors resembles a United Nations of executives specialised in the more prosaic side of banking: experts in payments processing, trade finance and interbank relations.

The Iran deal fallout is part of a post-millennium pattern of Swift becoming caught up in political fights. In 2006, EU lawmakers were outraged by revelations of a secret “Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme” that allowed investigators to tap Swift data held on a server in the US.

The company was also at the centre of international tensions in 2012, when it was ordered by the EU — following a US initiative — to disconnect from Iranian banks that were the subject of sanctions. These measures were later suspended in 2016 after the nuclear deal came into effect.

But Swift has fought back publicly against the idea that access to its services should be used to punish or reward governments.

The rows showed how it has become a sensitive asset: a gateway to the global finance system that comes under Belgian and European oversight but which has become of great interest to US authorities.

Swift’s global role is highlighted by its purpose-built headquarters, set amid manicured lawns and a miniature forest where deer and pheasants roam.

The neoclassical building houses just under 1,000 employees from about 50 countries and is the base for Swift’s central management. This is where internal cyber security and physical security experts duel: “red” teams probe for weaknesses in the system against “blue” opponents whose job is to defend its integrity.

The data centres themselves are in the Netherlands and the US state of Virginia, with a back-up in Switzerland. There are also emergency recovery sites whose location Swift does not disclose.

The National Bank of Belgium noted in a report last year that Swift’s activities have “been recognised as a significant factor in the safety and efficiency of payment and securities settlement systems” across the world.

About 90 per cent of Swift’s complex is out of bounds to visitors for security reasons, with some areas secured by code-operated doors. Even one of the architects from the Barcelona-based firm that designed the complex once had trouble getting in for a visit. Swift wants to keep both its customer data and intellectual property from prying eyes, with developers working on areas such as machine learning and data management.

While the company describes itself as a “neutral utility with a global systemic character,” insiders say its offices bear more resemblance to those of a tech firm, with an open-plan layout, a hot desk environment, little visible paperwork and few desk phones.

Swift has kept a low profile so far on the Iran sanctions, but a spokesperson told the FT that it would “naturally be consulting with and seeking clarification from both EU and US authorities”., adding: “Our mission remains to be a global and neutral service provider to the financial industry.”

The question is whether Swift can achieve both goals at the same time. A financial information network can either be “global with political neutrality, or not politically neutral and fragmented”, said Mr Véron. Politicisation and global reach “are mutually incompatible”.

Drake And Lessons in Life

Background

For me there are so few people that I can actually journey through life with.

Drake with his vulnerability happens to be one of them.

Videos

  1. Album :- Scorpion
    • Inspiration
      • Videos

Quotes

  1. Drake
    • Into You
      • I took that energy and put it into me
    •  Career
      • “I think maybe one of my biggest concerns in my career is just to figure out how to exit gracefully,” Drake explains. “I’ve watched people overstay their welcome, and I just don’t ever want to be that guy that’s addicted to the feeling of victory, addicted to the emotion of people digesting something that they love, and get to the point I’m just feeding them something and they’re just like, ‘Yeah…'”
        • Videos
    • Chris Brown
      • Drake Says He Doesn’t Want To Be Associated With Chris brown
      • Quotes
        • In an interview with GQ Drake is asked about the altercation with Chris Brown, he said: “I hear he has everything he could want now. I don’t want my name to be synonymous with that guy’s name. I really don’t. I wish we could sit down, just like you and me are right now, and talk it out man-to-man. But that’s not going to happen.”
        • Date Published :- 2013-June
        • Links
    • Meek Mill
      • “This really gave me peace of mind tonight. Healing and moving forward created one of the most electric and gratifying moments of my career,” he wrote. “@meekmill I’m happy that you are home and that we could find our way back to our joint purpose.”
  2. Jayceon Terrell Taylor
    • I know all about losses

 

Closing

Nice for what
Link