Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Republic Has Fallen: The Deep State’s Plot to Take Over America Has Succeeded

"You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country…why in the name of God don't you have any faith in the system of government you're so hell-bent to protect? You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with—its Constitution. You ask for a mandate, General, from a ballot box. You don't steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned."—Seven Days in May (1964)
No doubt about it.

The coup d'etat has been successful.

The Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military industrial complex—has taken over.

The American system of representative government has been overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad.

When in doubt, follow the money trail.

It always points the way.

Every successive president starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt has been bought—lock, stock and barrel—and made to dance to the tune of the Deep State.

Even Dwight D. Eisenhower, the retired five-star Army general -turned-president who warned against the disastrous rise of misplaced power by the military industrial complex was complicit in contributing to the build-up of the military's role in dictating national and international policy.

Enter Donald Trump, the candidate who swore to drain the swamp in Washington DC.

Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump has paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic.

Just recently, for instance, Trump—boasting about the "purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States—agreed to sell Saudi Arabia more than $110 billion in military weapons and "tanks and helicopters for border security, ships for coastal security, intelligence-gathering aircraft, a missile-defense radar system, and cybersecurity tools."

Meanwhile, Trump—purportedly in an effort to balance the budget in 10 years—wants to slash government funding for programs for the poor, ranging from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments.

The military doesn't have to worry about tightening its belt, however. No, the military's budget—with its trillion dollar wars, its $125 billion in administrative waste, and its contractor-driven price gouging that hits the American taxpayer where it hurts the most—will continue to grow, thanks to Trump.

This is how you keep the Deep State in power.

The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, the military will get more militaristic, America's endless wars will get more endless, and the prospect of peace will grow ever dimmer.

As for the terrorists, they will keep on being played for pawns as long as Saudi Arabia remains their breeding ground and America remains the source of their weapons, training and know-how (15 of the 19 terrorists—including Osama bin Laden—who carried out the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia).

Follow the money.  It always points the way.

As Bertram Gross noted in Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, "evil now wears a friendlier face than ever before in American history."

Writing in 1980, Gross predicted a future in which he saw:
…a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion...
This stealthy, creeping, silent coup that Gross prophesied is the same danger that writer Rod Serling warned against in the 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, which put the military in charge of a coup that would institute martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation's security.

On the big screen, the military coup is foiled and the republic is saved in a matter of hours. In the real world, however, the plot thickens and spreads out over the past half century.

We've been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it's hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we're certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast.

The question is no longer whether the U.S. government will be preyed upon and taken over by the military industrial complex. That's a done deal.

The "government of the people, by the people, for the people" has perished.

It will not be revived or restored without a true revolution of values and a people's rebellion the likes of which we may not see for a very long time.

America is a profitable business interest for a very select few, and war—wars waged abroad against shadowy enemies and wars waged at home against the American people—has become the Deep State's primary means of income.

If America has been at war more than we've been at peace over the past half century, it's because the country is in the clutches of a greedy military empire with a gargantuan, profit-driven appetite for war. Indeed, the U.S. has been involved in an average of at least one significant military action per year, "ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama… That total does not count more limited U.S. actions, such as drone strikes."

War is big business.

In order to maintain a profit margin when there are no more wars to be fought abroad, one would either have to find new enemies abroad or focus on fighting a war at home, against the American people, and that's exactly what we're dealing with today.
  • Local police transformed into a standing army in the American homeland through millions of dollars' worth of grants to local police agencies for military weapons, vehicles, training and assistance.
  • The citizenry taught to fear and distrust each other and to welcome the metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police forces, surveillance cameras in their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications.
Had the government tried to ram such a state of affairs down our throats suddenly, it might have had a rebellion on its hands.

Instead, the American people have been given the boiling frog treatment, immersed in water that slowly is heated up—degree by degree—so that they've fail to notice that they're being trapped and cooked and killed.

"We the people" are in hot water now.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Constitution doesn't stand a chance against a federalized, globalized standing army protected by legislative, judicial and executive branches that are all on the same side, no matter what political views they subscribe to: suffice it to say, they are not on our side or the side of freedom.

From Clinton to Bush, then Obama and now Trump, it's as if we've been caught in a time loop, forced to re-live the same thing over and over again: the same assaults on our freedoms, the same disregard for the rule of law, the same subservience to the Deep State, and the same corrupt, self-serving government that exists only to amass power, enrich its shareholders and ensure its continued domination.

The republic has fallen to fascism with a smile.

As Bertram Gross wrote in what may have been his most prescient warning:
In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a popular novel in which a racist, anti-Semitic, flag-waving, army-backed demagogue wins the 1936 presidential election and proceeds to establish an Americanized version of Nazi Germany. The title, It Can't Happen Here, was a tongue-in-cheek warning that it might. But the "it" Lewis referred to is unlikely to happen again any place... Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment... In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal.

I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders. I am worried by those who quibble about labels… I am upset with those who prefer to remain spectators until it may be too late… I am appalled by those who stiffly maintain that nothing can be done until things get worse or the system has been changed. I am afraid of inaction. I am afraid of those who will heed no warnings and who wait for some revelation, research, or technology to offer a perfect solution. I am afraid of those who do not see that some of the best in America has been the product of promises and that the promises of the past are not enough for the future. I am dismayed by those who will not hope, who will not commit themselves to something larger than themselves, of those who are afraid of true democracy or even its pursuit.
Elections will not save us.

Learn the treacherous lessons of 2008 and 2016:  presidential elections have made a mockery of our constitutional system of government, suggesting that our votes can make a difference when, in fact, they merely serve to maintain the status quo.

Don't delay.

Start now—in your own communities, in your schools, at your city council meetings, in newspaper editorials, at protests—by pushing back against laws that are unjust, police departments that overreach, politicians that don't listen to their constituents, and a system of government that grows more tyrannical by the day.

If you wait until 2020 to rescue our republic from the clutches of the Deep State, it will be too late.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Exquisitely English (and Amazingly Lucrative) World of London Clerks

It's a Dickensian profession that can still pay upwards of $650,000 per year.

Alex Taylor of Fountain Court Chambers.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Simon Akam
May 22, 2017, 9:01 PM PDT

At Fountain Court Chambers in central London, the senior clerk is called Alex Taylor. A trim, bald 54-year-old who favors Italian suiting, Taylor isn't actually named Alex. Traditionally in English law, should a newly hired clerk have the same Christian name as an existing member of the staff, he's given a new one, allegedly to avoid confusion on the telephone. During his career, Taylor has been through no fewer than three names. His birth certificate reads "Mark." When he first got to Fountain Court in 1979, the presence of another Mark saw him renamed John. Taylor remained a John through moves to two other chambers. Upon returning to Fountain Court, in 2008, he became Alex. At home his wife still calls him Mark.

Alex/John/Mark Taylor belongs to one of the last surviving professions of Dickensian London. Clerks have co-existed with chimney sweeps and gene splicers. It's a trade that one can enter as a teenager, with no formal qualifications, and that's astonishingly well-paid. A senior clerk can earn a half-million pounds per year, or more than $650,000, and some who are especially entrenched make far more.

Clerks—pronounced "clarks"—have no equivalent in the U.S. legal system, and have nothing in common with the Ivy League–trained Supreme Court aides of the same spelling. They exist because in England and Wales, to simplify a bit, the role of lawyer is divided in two: There are solicitors, who provide legal advice from their offices, and there are barristers, who argue in court. Barristers get the majority of their business via solicitors, and clerks act as the crucial middlemen between the tribes—they work for and sell the services of their barristers, steering inquiring solicitors to the right man or woman.

Clerks are by their own cheerful admission "wheeler-dealers," what Americans might call hustlers. They take a certain pride in managing the careers of their bosses, the barristers—a breed that often combines academic brilliance with emotional fragility. Many barristers regard clerks as their pimps. Some, particularly at the junior end of the profession, live in terror of clerks. The power dynamic is baroque and deeply English, with a naked class divide seen in few other places on the planet. Barristers employ clerks, but a bad relationship can strangle their supply of cases. In his 1861 novel Orley Farm, Anthony Trollope described a barrister's clerk as a man who "looked down from a considerable altitude on some men who from their professional rank might have been considered as his superiors."

Fountain Court is among the most prestigious groups in London practicing commercial law, the branch that deals with business disputes. One day last summer, Taylor gave a tour of the premises, just north of the River Thames. The waiting room had been recently remodeled, with upholstered sofas, low tables, and asymmetrically hung pictures that called to mind an upmarket hotel. Taylor explained that the barristers had tried to walk an aesthetic line between modernity and the heritage that clients expect of people who are sometimes still required to wear a horsehair wig to court. Barristers are self-employed; chambers are a traditional way for them to band together to share expenses, though not profits. The highest-ranking members, barristers who've achieved the rank of Queen's Counsel, are nicknamed silks, after the plush material used to make their robes. But even the silks cannot practice without the services of clerks, who operate from a designated room in each chambers, matching the ability and availability of barristers to solicitors in need.
One woman working at a chambers that threatened clerks' power was spat at. Another found rat poison in her desk

In the Fountain Court clerks room, Taylor sat at the head of a long table, flanked by subordinates wearing telephone headsets. Clerking has historically been a dynastic profession monopolized by white working-class families from the East End of London; Taylor's son is a clerk. Predominantly, clerks hail from Hertfordshire, Kent, and above all Essex, a county that's ubiquitously compared to New Jersey in the U.S. Many clerks rooms in London remain male-dominated, but several women work for Taylor, including two team leaders.

Each morning, a platoon of Taylor's junior clerks sets forth into London pushing special German-manufactured two-wheeled trolleys, equipped with chunky tires for navigating the city's streets and stairs. They're laden with hundreds of pounds of legal documents that must be delivered to Fountain Court barristers at various courtrooms, from the nearby Royal Courts of Justice to the Supreme Court, more than a mile away. Hard physical labor doesn't really correspond to the more senior work of clerking, which is phone- and email-based, and trolley-pushing is often pointed to as a reason for the relative dearth of female clerks higher up the career ladder. One junior Fountain Court clerk, Amber Field, 19, described how on one occasion, when she took hold of a trolley's handlebars and tried to muscle it into a rolling position, it didn't budge—she lifted herself up instead, like a gymnast on the parallel bars.

But the idea that time "on the trolleys" is necessary persists. British commercial courtrooms have been slow to adopt technology; barristers at Fountain Court and elsewhere remain adamant that they can only advocate properly with stacks of paper on hand, rather than off a screen. Some clerks argue that the trolleys help juniors absorb skills, learn the city's legal sites, and meet important people. But additionally, the trolley work serves as an unglamorous rite of passage, guarding the gilded summit of clerking from interlopers. Trolleys keep a closed shop closed, well into the 21st century. In the era of Brexit, as Britons turn inward, few professions better embody their abiding interest in keeping things as they are.

Clerks at work: Fountain Court's Maisie Taylor (no relation to Alex).
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

London's barrister population is getting more diverse, but it's still disproportionately made up of men who attended the best private secondary schools, and then Oxford and Cambridge, before joining one of four legal associations, known as Inns of Court—a cosseted progression known as moving "quad to quad to quad." In short, barristers tend to be posh. Being a successful clerk, therefore, allows working-class men and, increasingly, women to exert power over their social superiors. It's an enduring example of a classic British phenomenon: professional interaction across a chasmic class divide.

One of the most peculiar aspects of the clerk-barrister relationship is that clerks handle money negotiations with clients. Barristers argue that avoiding fee discussions keeps their own interactions with clients clean and uncomplicated, but as a consequence, they're sometimes unaware of how much they actually charge. The practice also insulates and coddles them. Clerks become enablers of all sorts of curious, and in some cases self-destructive, behavior.

At Fountain Court, I spent an afternoon with Paul Gott, one of the chambers' star barristers. He stood surrounded by packing cases—he was in the process of moving his office from an annex across the street, where it had become a small tourist attraction. Visitors would stop outside to stare through a window at Gott's extraordinary collection of objects: antique barristers' wig tins, an original wax-cylinder Dictaphone, a deactivated Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades, stamps, and an assortment of vintage medical instruments of alarming purpose.

Like many top barristers, Gott had effectively won the English educational system: He has a double-first-class degree (top marks in preliminary as well as final exams) from Cambridge. As he spoke about his work—Gott specializes in securing injunctions against striking workers—he cut open a packing case with a metal device that he identified as a fleam, an obsolete surgical implement used for bloodletting. Outside of work, Gott divides his time between two homes: one in a Martello tower—a kind of defensive fort built to fend off Napoleon—and another in a converted military landing craft moored on the Thames that he calls the "Houseboat Potemkin." The Chambers and Partners legal directory describes Gott as "phenomenally intelligent," but his eccentric professional demeanor is only possible because he has a hardheaded Alex Taylor to intercede between him and the world, wrangling with clients and handling payments. Taylor creates the space for Gott's personality even as he's employed by him.

A more unsavory side of this coddling relationship is apparent elsewhere. At a chambers called 4 Stone Buildings, a clerk called Chris O'Brien, 28, told me he was once asked to dress a boil on a barrister's back. Among clerks, tales of buying gifts for their barristers' mistresses are legion. But they maintain a level of sympathy for their employers, whose work is competitive and often profoundly isolating. Clerks speak of how their masters, no matter how successful, live in perpetual fear that their current case will be their last. Counsel, the English bar's monthly journal, recently ran a major spread on mental health. John Jones, a prominent silk at Doughty Street Chambers who'd represented Julian Assange, died last year when he jumped in front of a train.

Richard Evans at Fountain Court.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

John Flood, a legal sociologist who in 1983 published the only book-length study of barristers' clerks, subtitled The Law's Middlemen, uses an anthropological lens to explain the relationship. He suggests that barristers, as the de facto priests of English law—with special clothes and beautiful workplaces—require a separate tribe to keep the temple flames alight and press money from their congregation. Clerks keep barristers' hands clean; in so doing they accrue power, and they're paid accordingly.
I asked more than a dozen clerks and barristers, as well as a professional recruiter, what the field pays. Junior clerks, traditionally recruited straight after leaving school at 16 and potentially with no formal academic qualifications, start at £15,000 to £22,000 ($19,500 to $28,600); after 10 years they can make £85,000. Pay for senior clerks ranges from £120,000 to £500,000, and a distinct subset can earn £750,000. The Institute of Barristers' Clerks disputed these figures, saying the lows were too low and the highs too high. But there's no doubt that the best clerks are well-rewarded. David Grief, 63, a senior clerk at the esteemed Essex Court Chambers, spoke to me enthusiastically about his personal light airplane, a TB20 Trinidad.

Money is tightest in criminal law. One chambers, 3 Temple Gardens, lies 200 yards from Fountain Court but might as well inhabit a different dimension. Access is via a plunging staircase lined with green tiles similar to those in a Victorian prison. The clerks room, in the basement, is stacked with battered files detailing promising murders, rapes, and frauds. The senior clerk is Gary Brown, 53, who once played professional soccer. Even the barristers appear harried and ashen in comparison with their better-fed commercial-law counterparts.

The mean income of a criminal barrister working with legal-aid clients is £90,000, meaning even a successful criminal barrister likely makes less than a top commercial clerk. At Fountain Court, once described as a place so prestigious that "you could get silk just by sitting on the toilet," I watched Taylor casually negotiate a fee above £20,000; at 3 Temple Gardens, the clerks wrangled deals for a few hundred pounds. The best-paid criminal clerks make perhaps £250,000 per year—and yet there's an excitement and pressure to a criminal clerks room that's absent in the commercial field.

One day I sat next to Brown's deputy, Glenn Matthews, 41, as he worked out the running order for the courts the next day. For several sultry hours, Matthews juggled the availability of his barristers with the new cases coming in from solicitors and more that moved off a wait list. Some barristers only work as defense counsel, some only prosecute, and some alternate roles, depending on the case; Matthews balanced all this and also made elaborate plans to match barristers who'd already be in a certain provincial town with other cases nearby, to save on travel. It was complex, skilled work done with panache.

Many in the criminal field are motivated by a belief that they're a crucial part of the British judicial machinery, and their work closely corresponds with the public's imagination of what it is to work in the law. Silk, the preeminent British legal TV show of the past few years, focuses on a criminal chambers. It features a lupine senior clerk, Billy Lamb, who bullies, cajoles, bribes, and often appears to have the most fun.

Brown of 3 Temple Gardens; in criminal law, money is tight, but the work can be electric.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

As a chancery chambers, dealing with wills, trusts, banking, and other matters, 4 Stone Buildings is an establishment from the old school, with a facade still pockmarked by World War I bombs. Guests stride down a corridor with deep red wallpaper to a waiting room equipped with a fireplace and shelved with aged lawbooks. The best of the silks' rooms face out across a low dry moat to the gardens of Lincoln's Inn—one of the four Inns of Court, along with Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple, all less than a mile apart.

There are 34 barristers at 4 Stone, including Jonathan Crow, whose office features a stuffed crow on the mantelpiece. The clerks room is downstairs and furnished significantly less smartly, with desks set behind a shoplike wooden counter. When I visited, the clerks were exclusively white and male, and five of the six were from Essex. At the helm was David Goddard, 64, in charge since 1983. One legal handbook notes that his nickname is "God," for his grip on the chambers.

I sat for two days in God's room, observing clerks' interactions with barristers across the wooden transom that were redolent of the upstairs-downstairs dynamic of Downton Abbey. The barristers spoke with "received pronunciation"—the polished accent traditionally spoken by the social elite and which, unlike lower-class accents, doesn't vary by region; the clerks, fluent Essex—a nasal accent, with elements of cockney. One vital function clerks play is finessing a "cab rank" rule, set by the Bar Standards Board, that states a barrister must take the first case that comes, regardless of their interest. Clerks can invent or manipulate commitments to allow their barristers to turn down work that doesn't appeal. (I didn't witness this at 4 Stone.)

Taylor performs a clerking rite of passage: trolley-hauling.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Before the U.K. decimalized its currency in 1971, clerks received "shillings on the guinea" for each case fee. Under the new money system, the senior clerks' take was standardized at 10 percent of their chambers' gross revenue. Sometimes, but not always, they paid their junior staff and expenses out of this tithe. Chambers at the time were typically small, four to six barristers strong, but in the 1980s, they grew. As they added barristers and collected more money, each chambers maintained just one chief clerk, whose income soared. The system was opaque: The self-employed barristers didn't know what their peers within their own chambers were paid, and in a precomputer age, with all transactions recorded in a byzantine paper system, barristers sometimes didn't know what their clerks earned, either. Jason Housden, a longtime clerk who now works at Matrix Chambers, told me that, when he started out in the 1980s at another office, his senior clerk routinely earned as much as the top barristers and on occasion was the best-paid man in the building.

One anecdote from around the same time, possibly apocryphal, is widely shared. At a chambers that had expanded and was bringing in more money, three silks decided their chief clerk's compensation, at 10 percent, had gotten out of hand. They summoned him for a meeting and told him so. In a tactical response that highlights all the class baggage of the clerk-barrister relationship, as well as the acute British phobia of discussing money, the clerk surprised the barristers by agreeing with them. "I'm not going to take a penny more from you," he concluded. The barristers, gobsmacked and paralyzed by manners, never raised the pay issue again, and the clerk remained on at 10 percent until retirement.

Since the 1980s, fee structures have often been renegotiated when a senior clerk retires. Purely commission-based arrangements are now rare—combinations of salary and incentive are the rule, though some holdouts remain. Goddard told me last summer that he receives 3 percent of the entire take of the barristers at 4 Stone; later he said this was inaccurate, and that his pay was determined by a "complicated formula." (Pupil barristers, as trainees are known, start there at £65,000 per year, and the top silks each make several million pounds.)

The huge sums that clerks earn, at least relative to their formal qualifications, both sit at odds with the feudal nature of their employment and underpin it. In some chambers, clerks still refer to even junior barristers as "sir" or "miss." Housden remembers discussing this issue early in his career with a senior clerk. He asked the man whether he found calling people half his age "sir" demeaning. The reply was straightforward: "For three-quarters of a million pounds per year, I'll call anyone sir."

Most chambers have become less formal, even as the class distinctions between barrister and clerk are in many ways intact. At 4 Stone, Goddard refers to the heads of chambers, John Brisby and George Bompas, as "Brizz" and "Bumps." The traditional generic term used by clerks for a barrister is "guvnor," though this appears to be fading. The intimacy of the long-term clerk-barrister relationship is nuanced. Goddard once walked into the room of a senior member of chambers who was proving particularly truculent. Goddard asked, "Why are you being such a c---?"
The barrister's eyes lit up. "I love it when you talk to me like that," he replied.

Ryan Tunkel of 4 Stone Buildings.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

The origins of clerking, like much of English law, run to the medieval period. In the 14th century, a lawyer would employ an individual known as a "manciple" to look after his house, in return for "a bed and a reasonable dinner," the legal historian Samuel Thorne once wrote. Clerks as we might recognize them today existed by the 1666 Great Fire of London and were firmly established by the Victorian era. Efforts to modernize the clerking system have flickered in recent decades, with some success and a lot of rancor.

Around 1989 a former peace activist named Christine Kings attended a dinner party in East London where a group of barristers were complaining about their clerks, who they said terrorized them, ran their lives, and also earned much more than they did. The barristers had an idea: to set up a new sort of practice unfettered by ancient quirks of the bar, including the power of those uppity middlemen. They asked Kings, who had no legal background, to join them, taking on many of the duties typically performed by a senior clerk, but for much reduced pay.

Doughty Street Chambers, as they named their new association, controversially set up its operations outside the footprint of the four Inns of Court. As an interloper, Kings wasn't popular with clerks. When she was a few months into the job, standing at the top of Chancery Lane, one tried to spit in her face. As others began to take on similar roles at various chambers—ex-military men at first, who met with little success, and then women—Kings organized informal gatherings to promote solidarity. One attendee said she'd found rat poison in her desk drawer.

Kings became the first professional chief executive officer of a barristers' chambers in London. At a mass meeting of some 300 barristers and other personnel in the early 1990s, she spoke about her new role and the ways it broke from traditional clerking. When someone asked what she was paid, she replied that the Bar Council suggested £44,000. The barristers gaped—it was a fraction of what they paid their chief clerks to run their establishments. Since then, several chambers have experimented with professional heads from nonclerking backgrounds, under titles ranging from CEO to director, with varying responsibilities. At Fountain Court, an administrator deals with logistics, while the core part of clerking—the routing of incoming cases to barristers and fee negotiations—remains in traditional hands. (Kings, 59, now works at Outer Temple Chambers.)

Doughty Street Chambers has thrived. It's best known as the professional home of the accomplished human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Another outfit that eschews the more suffocating traditions of the English bar is Matrix Chambers, which sits in a former police station at the northern fringe of Gray's Inn. Matrix emerged in 2000 when a group of mostly human-rights barristers, including Cherie Blair, the wife of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, splintered off from seven other chambers. Together, they aimed for a funky, fresh aesthetic, installing a DayGlo-illuminated reception desk inherited from an ad agency and refusing to pose for the traditional portraits of staff standing in front of lawbooks. Those who resented such modernizations referred to Matrix as Ratmix.

3 Temple Gardens' Sam Edwards.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Seventeen years after its founding, Matrix is an established part of the London legal landscape, with a particularly strong reputation in public, media, and employment law. (Matrix has represented Bloomberg LP, the owner of Bloomberg Businessweek.) Matrix doesn't use the term "clerk." Instead, there are three teams, called "practice managers," that each deal with solicitors in different areas of the law. At the top is a chief executive, Lindsay Scott, a former solicitor who takes on many of the strategic duties of a senior clerk.

On a Friday morning, I watched as Hugh Southey, one of Matrix's silks and a descendant of the Romantic poet Robert Southey, gave a presentation to the practice management team on "terrorism prevention and investigation measures." The British government introduced these controversial legal maneuvers in 2011 to manage potential terrorists who can't be charged or deported. Most chambers pay limited attention to the legal education of their clerks, who as a consequence sell a product they don't understand. Matrix's crew, with more women and nonwhite faces than most clerking staffs, are routinely given opportunities to learn.

Some in London legal circles regard Matrix's reforms as semantic, noting the staff is thick with men from classic clerking backgrounds. Housden, Matrix's practice director, started work as a teenage clerk, and one of his colleagues has been a clerk for 25 years. As different as Matrix or other reformers might want to be, they're in the same marketplace as more orthodox chambers, and they play by a common set of rules and expectations that goes back centuries. One prevailing understanding of last year's Brexit vote is that it signaled a desire to be more British, less beholden to outsiders' notions of progress. Essex, the spiritual home of the clerk, had two of the five districts that voted the most overwhelmingly to leave the European Union.

As I spent time with London's clerks, I had the impression of a group of people who'd learned some of the language of modernity, but weren't themselves fully of the modern world—their boozy pub lunches attested to that. Some of the staff at Matrix have newfangled titles, it's true. But as Taylor might observe, all that's really changed is the name.

(Corrects the photo captions identifying Richard Evans and Sam Edwards.)

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Coulter: If Trump Does Not Keep His Promises in 2018, GOP Will Be Wiped Out, Dems Will Impeach - Breitbart

by Pam Key
22 May 2017

Monday on Fox Business Network's "Varney & Company," conservative columnist and "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!" author Ann Coulter said if President Donald Trump does not keep his campaign promises, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections and then attempt to impeach him.

Coulter said, "I love the tweets. Almost everything that everyone else dislikes about Trump are what I consider his strong points. I love his tweets. That is how he defends himself. I love that he had steak—he brought his own steak to Saudi Arabia—everything others attack him for. What I'm concerned with—I'm not—I mean, we had no choice. What were you going to do, vote for Rubio? No. Both political parties for years and years have been pushing whatever Wall Street and elites want. Trump was the only candidate who is going to put Americans first. I just want him to get back to his campaign promises, but I love his 3 a.m. tweets. I think they're hilarious."

"I hope Trump notices that if he doesn't keep his promises, Republicans will be wiped out in the midterm election," Coulter warned. "Democrats will have the House of Representatives, and they will absolutely impeach him. It doesn't matter. He could be purer than Caesar's wife. They will impeach him. The left-wing base is obsessed with that. So Trump better keep his promises."

She added, "I blame the Republicans in Congress the most, but we always knew that. I know they were traitors again, working for the lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street, and not for the American people. We knew that Trump would have a tough road to hoe, but he was supposed to go down and be a bull in a china shop. We're still waiting for the bull in the china shop. I mean, there is obviously still time. It has only been a few months now, but so far, that budget deal, it was, it was like a George Soros practical joke. I mean, sending Washington bureaucracy $18 million to study misogyny in the Marines, funding for a wall specifically prohibited, funding for, you know, Planned Parenthood. No, this isn't what we voted for, And I do think Trump meant what he said. You wouldn't go through what he went through for 18 months, being attacked by both political parties, the entire media, the Washington bureaucracy, it is tough when he is up against. It's what he promised. That is what we want."

(h/t Grabien)
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Yankees, JetBlue join list of those boycotting the Puerto Rican Day Parade

May 23, 2017 1:50am |

Oscar Lopez Rivera at a gathering in Chicago. His presence at the Puerto Rican Day Parade has led many prominent officials to boycott the event.

Sponsors and government officials marched away from the Puerto Rican Day Parade on Monday — with the New York Yankees, JetBlue and even the city's top cop ditching the event over its decision to honor a deadly terror organization's kingpin.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill cited the bloodshed caused by the Puerto Rican nationalist group once run by Oscar López Rivera, who will be hailed at the June 11 march by the organizers of the annual celebration.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said Monday he won't join Mayor...
"I can't support a man who was the co-founder of an organization that engaged in over 120 bombings, six people killed and seriously injured police officers," O'Neill said.

"I usually do march in most of the parades with the fraternal organizations, but I am not going to be marching this year . . . I am not going to march."

Before President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January, López Rivera spent 36 years in prison for his role as a leader of the FALN, which was behind a series of bloody attacks, including the 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan that killed four people and a blast that maimed a cop at Police Headquarters in 1982.

López Rivera's defenders say he never directly participated in plotting a terror attack.
The Yankees and JetBlue had been slated as sponsors of the parade, but both issued statements Monday announcing they would not take part, citing the López Rivera furor. They join another major sponsor, Goya Foods, which also recently bailed out.

The Yankees' boycott particularly stings. Bronx Bombers who have graced the parade include Puerto Rican native Bernie Williams.

"The New York Yankees are not participating in this year's Puerto Rican Day parade," the team said in a statement.

"However, for many years, the Yankees have supported a scholarship program that recognizes students selected by the parade organizers. To best protect the interests of those students, and avoid any undue harm to them, the Yankees will continue to provide financial support for the scholarships, and will give to the students directly."

The Yankees had no further comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is expected to march in the parade, said he had "respect" for O'Neill's views, but defended his own decision to participate.

"This is a very important event in New York City," he told NY1 Monday night. "Look, the parade decided to honor a certain individual, but that does not change the basic nature of the parade, and what it means to the city, so I look forward to marching."

JetBlue, which was named the official airline of the parade, said it pulled out because "it became clear that the debate about this year's parade was dividing the community and overshadowing the celebration of Puerto Rican culture that we had set out to support."

JetBlue said it would direct its funds to support scholarships for "Puerto Rican students in both New York and Puerto Rico."

"We did not make this decision lightly and hope all sides will come together to engage in a dialogue about the parade's role in unifying the community at a time when Puerto Rico needs it most," JetBlue said in a statement.

It was unclear if other sponsors will bail out. They include AT&T, Coca-Cola, CUNY, the Daily News and the United Federation of Teachers.

A police union is urging the companies to back out or face boycotts by its members.
"We are asking our members not to participate in the Puerto Rican Day parade. More importantly, as long as Oscar López Rivera is allowed to participate, we will be asking our members to boycott any corporation that continues to help fund this event," said Lou Turco, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association.

He said his members should remember come election time which politicians supported the release of a "convicted terrorist."

"We support the NYPD members who were seriously injured and the families of the innocent people who lost their lives during these attacks throughout the United States and in our city," Turco said.
"We took an oath to protect and serve the people. Unfortunately, this year's views and values of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade committee do not conform with the society's mission of promoting peace and unity."

Detectives' Endowment Assocation president Michael Palladino slammed City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her role in advancing López Rivera's release and parade honor.
"When elected, the speaker took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Mark-Viverito violates that oath every time she celebrates this terrorist," Palladino said.

The speaker, a native of Puerto Rico, said she was "disappointed" by sponsors that quit the parade, saying they acted based on "misinformation" and "lies." She said the police unions put out "inflammatory statements."

She said the support for López Rivera was about "human rights," not politics.

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Trump Budget Based on $2 Trillion Math Error

By Jonathan Chait
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney struggles with arithmetic. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

One of the ways Donald Trump's budget claims to balance the budget over a decade, without cutting defense or retirement spending, is to assume a $2 trillion increase in revenue through economic growth. This is the magic of the still-to-be-designed Trump tax cuts. But wait — if you recall, the magic of the Trump tax cuts is also supposed to pay for the Trump tax cuts. So the $2 trillion is a double-counting error.

Trump has promised to enact "the biggest tax cut in history." Trump's administration has insisted, however, that the largest tax cut in history will not reduce revenue, because it will unleash growth. That is itself a wildly fanciful assumption. But that assumption has already become a baseline of the administration's budget math. Trump's budget assumes the historically yuge tax cuts will not lose any revenue for this reason — the added growth it will supposedly generate will make up for all the lost revenue.

But then the budget assumes $2 trillion in higher revenue from growth in order to achieve balance after ten years. So the $2 trillion from higher growth is a double-count. It pays for the Trump cuts, and then it pays again for balancing the budget. Or, alternatively, Trump could be assuming that his tax cuts will not only pay for themselves but generate $2 trillion in higher revenue. But Trump has not claimed his tax cuts will recoup more than 100 percent of their lost revenue, so it's simply an embarrassing mistake.

It seems difficult to imagine how this administration could figure out how to design and pass a tax cut that could pay for itself when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush failed to come anywhere close to doing so. If there is a group of economic minds with the special genius to accomplish this historically unprecedented feat, it is probably not the fiscal minds who just made a $2 trillion basic arithmetic error.

Trump Budget Based On $2 Trillion Math Error

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Empire Files: Buying a Slave – The Hidden World of US/Philippines Trafficking

Human trafficking is a hidden industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits every year. In the United States, tens of thousands are trafficked annually—the biggest clients being major hotel chains and foreign diplomats. 

The Philippines is one of the largest labor exporters in the world. 6,000 Filipinos—mostly women—leave the country every single day to work, because of mass unemployment and poverty. Tricked by placement agencies, thousands end up living as virtual slaves.

Damayan, a New York-based organization led by Filipina domestic workers, is fighting this underground crisis. Abby Martin speaks to several members of the organization about how this exodus of women has devastated a generation of families, and how they are fighting back.