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Anuoluwapo: Excelling In Beekeeping, Honey Production Through Resilience

Akinboye Anuoluwapo is the founder of Mercysweet Foods. Mercysweet Foods is a food processing venture located in Ilorin, Kwara State. They are into beekeeping, honey production and packaging, and tomato processing into non-chemically preserved tomato paste. Anuoluwapo began his journey during his third year as an undergraduate at the university. According to him, he had a course on agro-forestry systems, which focused on beekeeping and honey production. “I had no prior knowledge of apiculture at the time. After the course, I went back home and started reading about apiculture. I read a lot of materials and developed myself so much that that same year, I participated in an international beekeeping conference in Abuja and also established my first apiary,” he said. With his entrepreneurial potentials in 2020, he was selected by NYSC to participate in a training on value addition to agricultural commodities using NSPRI technologies, organised by the Nigerian Stored Product Research Institute. He was trained in tomato processing, and after that, the institute supported him in starting a tomato processing business, saying, “today we have built a brand in that sector with the help of God.“ On how he found himself in honey production, he said: “When I first started packaging my honey, I went out to almost all the major stores in my city, and they loved the packaging but rejected me because I have no NAFDAC number. The following day, I went to NAFDAC’s office, and God used a staff there to get us a factory space that we still use to this date. My perseverance and resilience, coupled with the help of God, have sustained Mercysweet Foods.” Lucrativity The honey and tomato industries, he said, are lucrative, noting that, Nigeria has the potential to generate over $10 billion from sales of honey and other beehive products, “but we are not fully tapping into this goldmine, as we currently import honey worth $2 billion annually. “As for the tomato, with over 200,000 Nigerian farmers growing over 1.5 million MT of tomatoes annually, Nigeria still loses over 50 percent to post-harvest losses, promoting food insecurity in the country. And we supplement this demand with an import of over $360 million worth of tomato paste annually. All these show a huge gap and opportunity in the sectors to which we belong.* Challenges To him, “we face serious challenges, some of which we have yet to overcome. A good example is the beefarm vandalism by poachers and herdsmen. Seasonal availability of tomatoes, which we hope to have on our farm, and grow our desired variety of tomatoes.A good example of the obstacle I faced and was able to surmount is the lack of a licence for our product but God used someone to help us. Advice Persistence and resilience, he stressed, are the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs and that ‘you can barely achieve success on your own unless God helps you. Believe that you can do anything you set out to do through God, who strengthens you to do it.’ Biography Akinboye Anuoluwapo, a forestry and wildlife alumnus of the University of llorin in Kwara state, embarked on his entrepreneurial journey while still an undergraduate. He has since facilitated and spearheaded beekeeping trainings organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Ogun State Government, and Federal Ministry of Environment. This year alone, he led a comprehensive apiculture training programme for farmers in Edo State aimed at promoting wealth creation, food security and forest biodiversity. In addition to this notable feat, he has also had the privilege of providing valuable consultation services on apiary setup to individuals within Kwara state as well as beyond its borders. As general secretary for Youths for Apiculture Initiative – an organization dedicated to promoting apiculture amongst young people – his company’s products have been duly approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

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Cats can be just as lovable as dogs. They just have different ways of showing it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gene Lyons is currently recovering from an illness. This “classics” from his archive of columns originally ran on March 13, 2019. Given the time and money people lavish on their pets, it’s remarkable how little we appear to understand them. Recently at the dog park, for example, I watched a woman with an enormous Great Dane puppy doing everything in her power to turn him into a fear-biter. Fortunately, she appeared to be failing. The problem was her total inability to speak “dog.” Another large young fellow — a collie/Great Pyrenees mix fond of playing chase — kept inviting her dog to join the game, and she kept misinterpreting his playful feints as threats. So she’d pull her dog close and call out for help, confusing the Great Dane, who was a bit shy to begin with. Evidently, it was his first visit to the dog park. Hers, too. Fortunately a good Samaritan persuaded her to turn him loose. The dogs quickly sorted things out, and a good time was had by all. No harm, no foul. In my experience, however, cats are more commonly misunderstood. Many people find them aloof and mysterious, so much so that a small academic/journalistic industry has sprung up to explain the animals to their owners. “Why We Think Cats Are Psychopaths” is the title of a recent effort in The Atlantic. We do? As one with some experience with psychopaths of the human variety — I wrote a book titled “Widow’s Web” that featured a couple, plus a bunch of columns about Donald Trump — I certainly never have. Author Sarah Zhang assures us, however, that “anyone who has looked into the curiously blank face of a catloaf knows exactly what that means.” I had to look it up: a “catloaf,” so called, is a house cat sitting with all four feet tucked underneath, hence resembling a loaf of bread. A cat expressing, in other words, comfort, contentment and trust. An uneasy cat would never adopt so defenseless a position — unsuitable for fight or flight. However, anybody expecting even the most affectionate kitty to gaze longingly into their eyes like a cocker spaniel should probably stick to geraniums. The problem, of course, isn’t cats, but people. As Zhang points out to the imaginatively impaired: “So when we look at a cat staring at us impassively, it looks like a psychopath who cannot feel or show emotion. But that’s just its face.” Cats’ faces, she points out, lack the muscle structure to change expressions like a human or a dog. That’s not how the animals communicate. Rather, they speak through body language and vocalization — mainly posture. A cat that approaches you with its tail hoisted straight in the air, for example, is saying as clearly as it knows how: “Hello friend, it’s good to see you.” Dogs that live with cats understand perfectly; humans not so much. Yes, cats are stealthy predators. That’s how they came to live among us. With the invention of agriculture came grain-stealing, disease-carrying rodents. Just behind them came cats, independent rodent control contractors spread around the world from their Middle Eastern origins by sailing ships. People inclined to see cats as pitiless and cruel, I’d suggest, have watched too many cartoons with singing mice. Take my orange tabby tomcat Albert. Descended from a distinguished line of Arkansas barn cats, Albert exterminated mice from our place and then began commuting a half-mile daily to the neighbor’s hay barn. Yet after I fell off a horse and broke several ribs, he changed his life. From being a 90% outdoor cat, Albert became an indoorsman. He’d spend hours perched on the arm of my chair in the catloaf position, watching Red Sox games and purring. After I healed, Albert returned to rodent patrol. He switched jobs because he could tell I was hurting and wanted to comfort me. There’s no other explanation. His younger friend Martin, another orange tabby the dogs and I found in the woods where somebody had dumped him, had no need to alter his routine. Snuggling and purring have always been his main priorities. Possibly he’s a killer too, but you couldn’t prove it by me. In my experience, cats rescued from what must have been a terrifying situation — Martin was roughly 12 weeks old, a tiny kitten abandoned a half-mile from the nearest house — never, ever forget. He and his littermate Gigi, who lives on a friend’s cattle farm, remain almost absurdly affectionate. If Gigi can’t find a human to pet her, she will rub-a-dub and sniff noses with her cow friends. You see, they’re all individuals, cats. Their personalities differ from one another quite as much as dogs, human beings, and every other species of mammal I know anything about. So never mind the Sphinx-like expression. Or the lack of obedience. You don’t train cats; cats train you. Albert gives me orders all day. Fortunately, his needs are simple: in, out, feed me, pet me. For the love he gives back, it’s not much to ask. Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and author of “The Hunting of the President.” The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. See our guidelines.

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Your week in chic: The return of DKNY and Schiaparelli’s collectable new cult sneaker

The art of the scarf is not a subject that connoisseurs take lightly. Current thinking is more angled towards a jaunty neckerchief style, but for endless inspiration thumb through Dior’s latest tome. Dior Scarves, Fashion Stories explores the rather extensive archive of the house’s silk squares from Christian Dior himself through to incumbent creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. It also serves as a visual history of sorts — covering more than 70 years of artistic references from pop art to new realism. We’re not one for ripping pages out of books, but with full-bleed beautiful images of these intricate, magical designs, some of these are crying out to be torn off and popped on a wall near you. ‘Dior Scarves, Fashion Stories’, by Maria Luisa Frisa, is out now, £75, thamesandhudson.com Bored of your Salomons and over your Ons? Why not try Schiaparelli’s trompe l’oeil gold-toed trainer — its first haute step into the genre. Best avoid puddles, though. £2,200, schiaparelli.com Hot on the heels of its glossy relaunch, NYC icon DKNY is heading to Harrods. If you’re as old as me, you might well remember snapping up pieces from the label’s Nineties heyday. If you’re keen to revisit that era or discover it anew, head to the fourth floor between 9 April and 5 May to cast your eye over its ‘Heart of NY’ collection. The pop-up will feature American sportswear classics (modelled by Kaia Gerber) including varsity jackets, baseball caps and denim. £40 – £325, harrods.com Lean into your romantic side with a piece from Susan Fang’s darling new collaboration with & Other Stories. The LVMH Prize shortlisted designer and London Fashion Week star says that ‘it’s a collection that ties nature, dreams and surrealism together through fashion, and the idea of creating dreamy statement pieces that could also be worn in your daily wardrobe’. The delicate, baby blue floral appliqué prom dress and skirt will make the perfect partner to any summer do that you have coming up. Available this month, from £55, stories.com If you happen to be swinging by Milan this spring, do make time to stop by From the Heart to the Hands: Dolce & Gabbana, an opulent new exhibition at the Palazzo Reale. It promises to be a suitably decadent exploration of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s ultra-luxe couture offshoot, Alta Moda, its annual artisanal collections presented with no expense spared for its ardent acolytes, who come clad head to toe in their creations, gold crowns often included. Described as a love letter to Italian culture — Alta Moda shows have taken place as destination mini-breaks for private clients, in different Italian cities from Venice to Como — it will feature immersive installations of traditional wares, from Venetian glassmaking to Sicilian carts, alongside of course, Dolce & Gabbana’s fashion creations. Until 31 July, Palazzo Reale, Milan, palazzorealemilano.it ISABEL MARANT Oskan Moon bag, £850 (isabelmarant.com) GANT Harrington jacket, £270 (gant.co.uk) POLO RALPH LAUREN distressed leather belt, £549 (ralphlauren.co.uk) AMI Bermuda shorts, £455 (amiparis.com) GANNI embroidered cowboy boots, £625 (ganni.com)

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Have you visited Suit Culture in Bishop Auckland yet

The retailers made the decision to move at the end of last year and they set up at Unit 3 of the retail park. Since the move they have been swamped with positive feedback from customers about the service they are providing. Here are some pictures of the new store if you have not been and visited yet: David Simpson, commenting on social media, said: “Great service and great suits, I called in today to buy a suit last minute. “Very helpful and left with a great three-piece suit. Thank you and I’ll be back for another.” Peter Alderson said: “Just been to Suit Culture this morning for a new Tuxedo and the service I received was second to none.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and stories. Subscribe to the Northern Echo for just £2 for 2 months, click here Most read Police investigate serious crash on A1(M) near Darlington Five ‘unsung’ villages you must visit in County Durham The Royal Hotel Whitby has new owners after it is sold Ian Taggart said: “I went today and bought a full set, three-piece suit, shirt, tie, shoes and all the finishing touches. “Staff are amazing, know their products, know what you need and are so friendly. “Outstanding.”

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Watch: Full yard of machinery at Whelan’s Garage open day

Situated in Kilrush, Co. Clare, far from the beaten track and well into the west, is Whelan’s Garage – a thriving dealership with a huge range of products to serve its grassland-based customers. It is, first and foremost, a Massey Ferguson dealer, yet it also carries the fellow AGCO brand, Fendt, and sells Kubota compact tractors and garden equipment as well. This Easter, it held an open day with the full range of machines on display, with sales reps from the companies concerned on hand to support Whelan’s Garage own staff in helping customers with their decisions. Being the major machinery dealer in the region, the company has to cater for all budgets and this it does, with a large variety of suppliers. There are the mainline implement brands, such as Fleming, Kverneland and Major, but also several smaller companies that produce less sophisticated machines for smaller farmers. Rauch spreaders In the world of fertiliser spreaders, Rauch are a premium manufacturer and for the first time this season, they are bringing the features of the top end models down the product range, enabling smaller farmers to benefit from both extra sophistication and TAMS eligibility. On the day there was an MDS 18.2W on display, which has a capacity of between 700-1,820kg, with the hopper extensions fitted. Spreading width is between 12-15m and it is attached to the weighing frame with two weigh cells in the bottom links. In this format, it offers speed and weight dependent spreading, constantly analysing the amount of material spread and adjusting the flow rate onto the discs to match the rate at which the hopper is being emptied to the speed of travel. Fendt goes light The advent of AGCO’s four cylinder Core 50 with 200hp engine has caused Fendt to rejig its model range to ensure a smooth transition between models through the power range, according to Fendt’s sales manager for Ireland, Sean Gorman. Last autumn, the company launched its new 620 Vario which is powered by this latest engine. The model is 530kg lighter than the 200hp six cylinder 720, which will remain in the line up for the time being, although there are plans afoot to further shuffle models around over the next couple of years. Fendts are solid tractors, but this can count against them in a world which is becoming ever more focused on soil compaction. Shaving half a tonne off a 200hp tractor is a move that can only be of benefit for the brand. One feature of the Fendt 620 is that the power boost, which will give up to 126hp, supports the ancillaries such as AC and electronics rather than the PTO, as has always been the case with this sort of system. Feel the pinch It’s no secret that the trade is not as lively as many manufacturers and dealers would wish this spring, with recorded tractor sales down on both sides of the Atlantic and many stories of slow moving stock. Sales manager in Major Equipment, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Martin Walsh, is looking forward to an uptick in trade, but fears that until the weather clears up, that there will be little movement, despite the relative buoyancy in milk and beef prices. As always with Whelan’s Garages, it carries a good stock of whichever brands it trades in, and Major is no exception – with a selection of tankers and other implements ready to go, it’s just a question of when, according to Martin. The milk cheques are now arriving and the basic inputs will soon be paid for, which will hopefully leave some margin to be invested in machinery. Forward with Fleming Dylan Young of Fleming, on the other hand, was brimming with confidence and enthusiasm, noting that the factory at Newbuildings is working flat out trying to keep up with orders. This might appear to be something of a contradiction to what the rest of the trade is reporting, yet Dylan notes that the majority of orders come from dealers stocking up, rather than in response to specific orders from individual farmers. This in turn may be explained by many Fleming products being simple items, such as rollers and toppers, and they also tend to be budget-orientated. Both factors allow dealers to keep generous stock levels of these lower value items, while the company’s tankers and trailers tend not to be stocked in large numbers. However, dealers will not be ordering the products to stay in the yard, so there may well be an element of customers becoming a little wary spending on premium products, but are, instead, keeping their investment levels low for the time being. Plenty of choice at Whelan’s Garage As already noted, Whelan’s Garage believes in carrying a large stock of machines. Massey Ferguson tractors are the big ticket items and the number of machines available is impressive, it is an investment that shows tremendous confidence in the marque backed up by a genuine enthusiasm for all things MF. The Whelans strongly believe in providing something for everyone, as only makes sense given its location, so the yard has machines ranging from cubicle cleaners to Strautmann forage wagons with plenty in between. Second hand equipment is also available for those not wanting to buy new and any classic enthusiast will be rewarded with a walk out to the further reaches of the yard where a few gems gems usually lie waiting for a new home. Whelans Garage open day once again went to show that the company is proactive in building trade through being able to supply a wide range of equipment to suit all pockets. The present dearth of sales activity will be of no bother in the long run as the family owned business can take the knocks as well the good times.

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How a long line of right-wing scams paved the way for Trump

During his time atop the Republican Party, Donald Trump’s lifetime habits of fraud and grifting have fused seamlessly with conservative politics. In 2024 alone, Trump debuted $399 gold sneakers emblazoned with the American flag, sold a $60 “God Bless the USA” Bible endorsed by singer Lee Greenwood, and convinced millions to purchase stock in Truth Social’s unprofitable parent company. Trump is often treated as a political hijacker who rerouted the Republican Party to his own self-interested ends. Surely that’s part of the truth. But at the same time, there’s a decent case that, when it comes to grifting, his hijacking attempt could only succeed due to the conservative movement’s ingrained scammy tendencies. From paranoid anti-Communist lecture series in the 1950s to crowdfunded birther investigations to Alex Jones peddling fake coronavirus cures, there’s a long and storied history of elites peddling fear and paranoia to make a buck. The problem has gotten so bad that, in the past several years, many prominent conservatives have publicly bemoaned the omnipresence of grifts in the conservative ranks. But where did this culture come from, and how important was it to Trump’s rise? These questions are at the heart of The Longest Con, a forthcoming book on the history of right-wing scams and frauds. The book’s author, Joe Conason, is a veteran New York journalist; he personally knew some of the key figures in the scammy right’s history, like mobbed-up lawyer and Trump mentor Roy Cohn. Conason locates the origins of the grift tradition with Joe McCarthy, whose anti-Communist campaign proved that paranoid lies could be a ticket to popularity on the grassroots right. Cohn, who worked for McCarthy, figured out a way to transmute that popularity into profit: exploiting fears of Communism to, among other things, finance a lavish trip to Europe. “The template for right-wing grift … followed in McCarthy’s wake,” Conason writes. “By creating such an atmosphere of utter dread — and then promising that they alone could prevent America’s doom — [hucksters] induced thousands of suckers to hand over large wads of cash.” As the conservative movement grew, the grifts grew with it. Conason pinpoints Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential run as a key turning point. The campaign produced a massive mailing list that scammers could solicit for donations to alleged political causes that mostly lined their own pockets. When these “direct mail” scams proved immensely profitable, they expanded, normalizing an ethos of grifting on the right that, ultimately, would reach its apogee in Donald Trump. I spoke to Conason about this fascinating, hidden-in-plain-sight history: about how it started, why it succeeded, how it paved the way for Trump’s rise, and whether there’s any equivalent grifting culture on the American left. What follows is a transcript of that conversation, edited for length and clarity. So Roy Cohn. He starts his career as this corrupt New York lawyer, bridging the worlds of Democratic politics, high society, and mafiosos. When does he make the jump to the right, and how important is he in the rise of conservative grift culture? I think pretty important. The people who tolerated him for the longest time — William Safire, very respectable, Bill Buckley, very respectable. These people, they knew what Roy was. They knew he was a crook and a con man and a liar and a cheater, and yet, that was okay. To me, that was a sign of something very wrong in conservative culture, looking back, that that guy would be not only tolerated but celebrated. As I say in the book, they would have big parties to celebrate him. Ronald Reagan had Roy to the White House, and when Roy was sick, they bent the rules to get him treatment that nobody knew about, even though he was pretending not to have AIDS. Roger Stone, who became very powerful in the conservative movement, was a protégé of Roy’s. He had some kind of charm or attraction or something for these conservatives, who otherwise I think would’ve told you that they themselves would never contemplate doing the kinds of things that Roy did, which is basically stiffing the IRS for 20 years or 30 years or however long it was, and not paying his creditors, which is a thing that Trump seems to have picked up from him. He was a rogue, and I think [they thought] “Oh, he was a roguish fellow. Wasn’t he fun?” But at some point, you catch a little of the disease yourself. And I think the willingness to overlook Roy’s deep, deep corruption was — let’s just say it was a bad sign. I can’t tell you that that caused anything, but it was not a good sign about the moral character of that movement in its earliest days. Let’s talk about the expansion of this, because obviously, grifting in the conservative movement isn’t just a Roy Cohn story — though he was a pioneer in some of the earliest versions of these ways of grifting, about selling fear of communism. In the aftermath of McCarthy, the impulse and the marketability of anti-communism as an ideology did not go away. To turn it into a business, you would sell lectures. There were a series of them that I profiled in the book that had different ways of marketing a hysterical version of anti-communism to middle-class and upper-middle-class people who were terrified. They would pay a lot to go to a lecture, they’d buy lecture tapes, they would buy books. It could cost them hundreds of dollars, which in 2024 dollars is thousands of dollars. This got so bad that J. Edgar Hoover — who was considered the greatest authority on communism on the right, had a whole apparatus to root out communism in the country — was appalled by these people. I found communications between Hoover and his deputies about some of these individuals they thought of as grifters and con men and crooks, and they investigated them. That’s how bad it was: J. Edgar Hoover thought “these guys are crooks and they’re giving anti-communism a bad name.” During the Cold War period, how central was the grifting and con man stuff to the conservative movement? The standard history is that, sure, maybe there were some cranks on the side, but Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley defined a new and principled way of thinking about American politics. Your book offers an alternative history, positioning the profiteering and swindling as something that grew with the post-war conservative movement. Just how deeply intertwined is the grift with the more committed side of the movement? What I would say is that the grifting side — the side that doesn’t really believe in anything very much except its own enrichment — has grown. It wasn’t necessarily the dominant portion in the beginning at all. But there’s a point in the book where Richard Viguerie discovers direct mail and how he can use the Goldwater movement [in 1964] to build a huge direct mail industry. I’d say that was a turning point. Richard Viguerie was a guy who had been brought into the direct mail business with the Buckley crowd — Young Americans for Freedom, which was their central organization, aside from the National Review, for raising money. He realized that you could just ask people for money and they would give it to you. You don’t even need to be selling them anything physical, right? That’s the innovation here, you just send them a mailer promising to fight for what they believed in. Yes. But the problem was that in order for that to be really effective on a national level, you needed lists of names. And lists of names of conservatives just didn’t exist until the Goldwater campaign in 1964. Viguerie realized that the donors to the Goldwater campaign comprised a national list of conservatives who would donate money. He said [it] was like a key to Fort Knox. It turned out he was right: Those people would give money. And it built from there. People who are giving you money don’t really know what you’re doing with the money. You’re telling them you’re doing this and that, and maybe you are and maybe you’re not. In many cases not, and they don’t have any way of knowing. What they know is that they have grievances and concerns that you’re addressing, or you’re telling them you’re addressing. They’re willing to give money to make themselves, I guess, feel better about that. Now, it took a while for it to take over. But once that starts, it was impossible to stop. It takes over a larger and larger portion of the conservative movement, to the point where we now have Trump. One of the reasons I wrote the book is you can see how, over time, this impulse to swindle and grift became a bigger and bigger part of conservatism. And the honest conservatism — the ideological and philosophical [principles], what they considered moral virtue — has been stripped away. So you just jumped from Viguerie in the ’60s all the way forward to Trump in 2016. There’s a wealth of time during which this spreading happens. What are some of the key events in between, the ones that fueled the rise of right-wing grift culture? It takes different forms over time. One is the religious right: Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson, the Christian Coalition. Now the Prosperity Gospel types who are around Trump, who are just straight-up grifters. That becomes a big element in it. Then you have the Reagan administration, which I describe as the most corrupt in history — up until Trump at least — in terms of the number of prosecutions and scandals. There were quite a few people who found ways to profit from government programs that they were supposedly going in there to end or reduce. One of the most interesting is Paul Manafort, who turns up much later as Trump’s campaign manager. James Watt was another. A Western conservative who supposedly was against big government, he was just finding ways to get paid off and almost went to prison for it. Then we come to the period just before Trump arises: the Tea Party and the birther movement. That too was a grift: There were certainly grifters getting people to give them money to prove that Obama shouldn’t be president or was not qualified to be president, but the lead figure in that was Trump. And so, logically, Trump becomes a force within the Republican Party, and meanwhile, the Republican Party is kind of losing its way in general and becomes very vulnerable to someone like him. What I think is novel here in your book is seeing this history as laying a unique kind of pathway for Trump. You had these generations of people who built an expanding empire of profit grafted onto conservative ideology, and then Donald Trump comes along and he’s like, “Wait, I can just make the movement fully into that — an extension of my efforts at brand-building.” That’s a core part of what allows him to succeed in Republican politics: that brand-building and profiteering have already been built into it over the course of decades. I would point out that the creator of Trump, in a lot of ways, is Roger Stone, who’s been in the grifting business of conservatism for a really long time. Stone saw that Trump was a really outstanding possibility for the kind of politics that Roger represented, which was a hollow politics of demagoguery with more than a touch of racial paranoia and hate, and that could be perfectly flexible in terms of positions and issues and viewpoints and rhetoric. Roger got to know Trump during the first Reagan campaign through Roy Cohn. And he figured out this was a guy who had real potential. They had a model, a way of conducting themselves politically that was both effective on a certain segment of the public and highly profitable. They had thought about it for many years before Trump finally agreed to run for president. Trump was a perfect candidate [because] he had shown he would get involved in any kind of grift. He’d gotten involved in multilevel marketing. Trump University was a type of scam: the fake real estate investment seminar, which would get people to pay big money and promise them that they would make a lot of profit on real estate themselves. Trump had a perfect brand to get into, and so he did. Roger Stone and others around him realized, “Hey, this is our guy. We can capitalize all of this that’s been built in the past and discard anything that’s inconvenient about conservatism because who cares?” So now, we get the leading Republican presidential candidate hawking multi-hundred-dollar sneakers and an America-themed Bible as a means of making money — a full integration of political party with scam ventures. There’s nothing like this level of mainstream hucksterism on the Democratic side, as far as I can tell. In writing the book, I went out and looked for examples of this on the blue side. I think people get swindled by all kinds of things all the time, whatever their politics are. I think you have some pretty solid examples of people on the left in your introduction who have grifted liberals. We can also talk about the Democratic machines in cities that are less ideological and more focused on maintaining power. Look, we have a Democratic senator right now who’s [been indicted for] hiding gold bars. Right. I would never pretend that corruption or mendacity or greed is confined to the right, and I hope I didn’t give that impression in the book. But there are certain themes on the right that seem to lend themselves to these kinds of crooked schemes. Roger Stone said long ago that one of his rules of politics is that hate triumphs over love in politics, that hate is the most saleable thing in politics. All of his campaigns have been based on that rather curdled insight, and a lot of the merchandising comes down to that as well. It’s what they now call “own the libs,” but it’s been the same emotion for decades and decades now.

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Havana Syndrome mystery: What is it? What caused it?

It was the first known case of what has since been dubbed ‘Havana syndrome’, a mystery illness which sickened more than 80 American spies, diplomats, government staff, and their families in the years after the US re-opened its embassy in Cuba in 2015, for the first time in 54 years. Some described being plagued in their homes by bizarre clicking and grating noises which felt as though they were “coming at them”, or a continual humming and buzzing that was so annoying they felt forced to turn television up full blast to try to drown it out. MORE ANALYSIS: Needle spiking, social panics, and psychogenic illness Can we really say cancer is a ‘great leveller’ just because the royals get it too? Why do some scientists say we should stop talking about ‘long Covid’? For others, the impact was more debilitating. They felt dizzy, nauseous, developed severe headaches or migraines, loss of balance, nosebleeds, tinnitus, memory impairment, fatigue, or suffered strange sensory disturbances – hearing sounds like grinding metal, or feeling as though the air inside a car was moving even with the windows closed. In some cases, people became so impaired they had to give up work. Since then, roughly 1000 reports of similar symptoms have emerged around the globe, including among US officials attending the last year’s Nato summit in Lithuania. A joint investigation earlier this week by CBS, Der Spiegel, and The Insider now traces the first suspected cases to Germany in 2014, and suggests that victims may have been targeted by a Russian intelligence unit using a sonic bioweapon. One woman – an FBI agent – described feeling as though she had been hit by a powerful force at her home in Florida 2021. The sound in her ears was “like a dentist drilling on steroids” and she ultimately passed out, going on to develop problems with memory and concentration. Since reports of ‘Havana Syndrome’ first hit the news in 2017, the controversial saga has hovered uncertainly between military and medical explanations. In 2018, an FBI probe concluded that the outbreak was most probably a mass psychogenic illness – a kind of paranoia-induced social contagion where symptoms spread through a group without any physical or environmental cause, but because they become convinced that they are being exposed to something harmful. In other words, the discomfort is real but the cause is psychological. The initial explanation laid the blame at an outbreak of mass psychogenic illness (Image: Getty) This was reinforced by a second classified report (eventually leaked in 2021 as a result of freedom of information requests) which found that the “mysterious sounds” reported by some staff – who at the time had been counselled to be hyperaware of any unusual noises – were in fact the mating calls of a species of cricket. On March 18 this year, two new reports published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reignited the mystery once again. The studies, carried out over five years by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), compared more than 80 US government employees and their adult family members, mostly stationed abroad and who had experienced these “anomalous health incidents” (AHIs), against a control group of age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers who had been on similar assignments without experiencing AHIs. MRI scans detected no evidence of brain injury, nor any significant biomarker differences, that could explain the AHI group’s symptoms. The absence of structural brain damage does not necessarily prove that what occurred was a psychogenic, however. Dr Jon Stone, a professor of neurology who specialises in Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) at Edinburgh University, said the findings did not surprise him. FND is “something between neurology and psychiatry”, he said. Patients tend to present with neurological symptoms such as seizures, limb weakness, numbness or chronic dizziness, but brain scans will not detect any structural fault as they would for epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. In the past, such conditions would have been stigmatised as “psychosomatic”, or “hysteria”, but medical science is now tracing them to “a problem with the software of the nervous system”, said Prof Stone. There was no sign of brain injury in patients reporting ‘Havana Syndrome’ symptoms compared to healthy controls (Image: PA) Speaking to the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast in March, he said: “Usually there might be an identifiable event at the beginning which might be a minor head injury or an episode of vertigo from a viral infection, which is alarming and surprising to the person, but when that problem settles down instead of the brain adapting back to normal health the brain is stuck in a state as if the dizziness trigger is still happening.” Prof Stone noted that 24 out of the 80-plus participants in the AHI group had been diagnosed with FND, and that – like FND patients – many of those with Havana Syndrome describe symptoms getting worse over time. He added: “We know that functional disorders are usually triggered by some unusual sensory experience and, talking to people who know about directed energy weapons, I understand that it’s much easier to produce an abnormal or unpleasant sensory experience from a distance…it wouldn’t cause brain damage, but it would be enough to trigger a functional disorder.” On March 31, the latest twist came as the CBS-led investigation alleged that members of a Russian military intelligence unit – known as 29155 – may have attacked the brains of US government personnel with “directed energy” weapons. READ MORE: Russia ‘could exploit Scottish independence to damage Britain’ How Russia turned to beer to tackle its alcohol problem Death becomes us: From the weird history of embalming to ‘boil-in-the-bag’ funerals Greg Edgreen, a military investigator, told the channel’s 60 Minutes programme that victims had commonly “worked against Russia, focused on Russia, and done extremely well”. The programme also reported that evidence places members of the 29155 unit in cities around the world at times when US personnel experienced Havana Syndrome-type incidents. The Insider – which collaborated on the investigation – reported that an officer in the 29155 unit had been rewarded for their work developing “non-lethal acoustic weapons”. The Kremlin has dismissed the “unfounded accusations”, and plenty scepticism remains – not least because no smoking gun, so to speak, has been found. No one is denying that what victims have experienced is, as the NIH scientists put it, “very real…prolonged, disabling and difficult to treat”. Exactly what caused it, however, remains elusive.

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Jack Butland reveals why Rangers anthem resonates with family as ‘surreal’ Tina Turner moment pointed to Ibrox switch

Jack Butland remembers his grandad signing Simply the Best to him as a kid. So when he realised it was a Rangers anthem and watched them come out to it on the day legendary singer Tina Turner passed away, he knew it was a sign he should sign on at Ibrox. The goalkeeper has been the pick of Michael Beale’s summer additions, and arguably the only one that didn’t result in heavy criticism of the previous boss. Butland has continued his excellent form under Philippe Clement, which has led to him being touted for a return to the England squad for Euro 20204 this summer. Of more importance to Butland is the Premiership title race and Sunday’s potentially pivotal clash with Celtic. Simply the Best will be turned up to 11 when the teams come out of the tunnel in Govan, and it will always be a song that holds extra significance to Butland. “Simply the Best probably means more to me than some others,” he told Rangers TV. “The fact that my grandad used to sing it to me when I was young and that point, there’s connection for me personally with Rangers. To now be here, to hear that song being played and song at Ibrox every week is pretty, pretty special. “Speaking to the club last year when joining Rangers was sort of a possibility, I watched a few games on TV and it happened to be the day that Tina Turner passed away. Rangers were playing that night. “I watched it on TV and you could hear Simply the Best being played and I remember sending my mum a message about watching the game. The fact that all the Rangers fans were signing it and that’s what they come out to. “As that happened, the notifications came out that she (Turner) had passed away, so it was quite a surreal experience. but one that brings back a lot of positive memories and something that resonates with the family quite well.”

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Police dogs to search for pyrotechnics at Dundee FC match after young fan scarred for life by flare

Police dogs will be used to sniff out pyrotechnics at a Dundee FC game after a young fan was hit in the face with a flare. Levi Rennie, 10, has been left scarred for life following the horror incident at McDiarmid Park on Saturday, March 30. The youngster had travelled from Tayport in Fife to attend the game with his mum, Sheree, to support his team’s clash with rivals St Johnstone. He was struck in the face with a flare which left him with a scorched cheek and a hole in his head above his eye. A 15-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the incident. Police Scotland confirmed they will be taking extra measures at Dundee FC’s game against Motherwell FC in a crackdown against the use of pyrotechnics. Specialist search dogs will be used at Dens Park to sniff out the devices from football fans attending. Chief Inspector Gordon Fotheringham said: “Searching will be in place at the game, with the additional use of specialist dogs to prevent the use of pyrotechnics. Taking pyrotechnics into a football stadium is not only an offence, but also extremely dangerous. “I’d ask people to think of the impact it could have on those around you, particularly people with medical conditions, young children, and elderly. It is disappointing and worrying that despite repeated warnings about the risk pyrotechnics bring, a small minority continue to smuggle them into matches. “We are working closely with both teams to ensure the match goes ahead safely.” Schoolboy Levi is now facing plastic surgery after the incident last week. His mum Sheree revealed doctors told the family he could have been blinded. Speaking to the Record, the 49-year-old said: “We saw flares being lit before kick-off and Levi was hit right at the start of the match. He tried to duck, but it got him in the face. “I remember jumping up and running towards him. The smell was terrifying. It had burned through his hoodie, which he had already pulled up to protect himself from all the smoke. “When we got to the hospital, doctors told us that Levi could have lost his eye because the flare just missed it by millimetres. My wee boy could have lost his sight and had to go through his life with an eye missing – that is how dangerous pyros can be. “I’m haunted by what could have happened. At one point, his life flashed before my eyes.” The mum called on all Scottish clubs to crackdown on pyrotechnics in their grounds. She added: “I know Dundee FC will take this seriously, but if all clubs don’t do the same, then what happened to Levi will happen to someone else. “Security at all grounds need to take more measures to make sure they aren’t getting in – like tougher searches at turnstiles.” Dundee FC manager Tony Docherty promised the family he too would take action against fans carrying flares. A spokesperson for Dundee FC said: “What happened on Saturday was horrific and the club reminds all supporters that it is an offence to bring pyrotechnics to any football match in Scotland. “Action will be taken against individuals who do not adhere to this. Pyrotechnics have no place in Scottish football.” Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.

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Inside legendary filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s stunning €2.5m Dublin 4 home as it goes up for sale

A stunning four-bedroom Dublin home owned by Oscar-nominated Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan has hit the market with an asking price of €2.5 million. Located in the leafy suburb of Ballsbridge, 18 St Mary’s Road was bought by the My Left Foot director in 1992 and has played host to a number of A-list Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Daniel Day Lewis. Ideally located on a beautiful tree-lined road in the heart of Dublin 4, the Victorian-period red brick boasts many original features including original wooden floors, ornate cornices and centre ceiling roses and stunning marble fireplaces. READ MORE: Inside Ireland’s most expensive home with own swimming pool, tennis court and wine cellar The property extends to 218 sqm / 2,246 sqft (approx.) and comes with an adjoining self-contained one bedroomed apartment (37 sqm / 398 sqft approx.) with its own entrance and private courtyard. Spread out over two floors, the house comprises of a beautiful entrance hallway and two large interconnecting reception rooms Double doors from the large dining room open into the interconnecting living room which is ideal for hosting parties, with Sheridan recalling “a crazy party that went all night” his late wife Fran threw for American actor Mia Farrow, who was filming Widows’ Peak in Dublin at the time. “I know Brad Pitt was at it, and Morgan Freeman and Bono and Ali [Hewson], the Edge and Sinéad O’Connor. A load of people..,” Sheridan told The Irish Times. One of the property’s biggest selling points is its very large open plan kitchen/breakfast/living room, a bright, spacious area flooded with natural light providing uninterrupted views of the beautiful, landscaped gardens. The original kitchen has been extended with plenty of windows affording maximum light, while a double door leads to the back garden. The ground floor of the property also comes with a pantry and a utility room along with a guest bathroom and cloakroom. On the top floor of the property, there are four double bedrooms. The main bedroom has a large bay window, ornate feature fireplace with white marble surround, cast iron inset and slate heath, along with a walk in wardrobe with ample shelving and an en-suite. The fourth bedroom is currently being used as a study and has a large sash window overlooking the back garden, while there is also a separate shower room and family bathroom upstairs. The gardens are a notable feature and are to the front, side and rear of the property with a selection of mature plants and shrubs and bordered by the original stone walls offering great privacy, ideal for al fresco dining and with access onto St Mary’s Lane. For prospective buyers hoping to put their own stamp on the large family home, there is lapsed planning permission to extend the existing property at first floor level and construct a new one-bedroom self-contained apartment at ground floor level. Alternatively, this lapsed planning permission was to construct a new two storey three-bedroom house adjoining the existing property and a separate two bedroom mews at the rear of the garden. Situated on the corner of St Mary’s Road and St Mary’s Lane, the house is superbly located in one of Dublin’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. Some of the amenities located close by include the large selection of boutiques, specialty shops, hotels, restaurants and Gastro pubs on Baggot Street, Herbert Park which hosts a bustling market each Sunday, the Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road, St. Stephen’s Green, and Dublin’s main shopping district at Grafton Street. Join the Irish Mirror’s breaking news service on WhatsApp. Click this link to receive breaking news and the latest headlines direct to your phone. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.

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