Donation religion – Helviti Tue, 26 Oct 2021 13:08:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Donation religion – Helviti 32 32 How does a short-term loan work? Tue, 26 Oct 2021 10:38:46 +0000 A short-term loan from is a loan that’s available to meet a personal or business need. This loan is a great option if you have temporary cash flow issues and can provide quick financing if you need it immediately. Online short-term loans have become more popular due to the growing popularity of the internet. These […]]]>

A short-term loan from is a loan that’s available to meet a personal or business need. This loan is a great option if you have temporary cash flow issues and can provide quick financing if you need it immediately.

Online short-term loans have become more popular due to the growing popularity of the internet. These loans can be accessed via apps or finance websites, but it is important to select the right one. The nature of the credit provided determines the name of short term loans. The loan’s payment structure is shorter and requires no long-term commitments.

You can either repay the entire loan in one day, or you can pay it off over time. The due date is usually within one year. How fast the loan is paid can affect how much interest you pay.

Short term loans

It is important to gather enough information about short-term loans before you decide whether or not to apply. A short term loan may be the right option for you. Traditional lenders such as banks don’t have all of the advantages that short term financiers do. Contrary to popular belief short term loans are not always a last resort. They can be an alternative to traditional credit and may even be more beneficial overall.

The majority of short-term loans on the market operate in a similar way, with a simple and quick process. There are several stages to obtaining a short-term loan.

Initial request

The initial application is the first step to getting a short-term loan. You will need to provide information about yourself and financial details to be considered for a short term loan. This information can include your name, contact details, income, and the reason for your loan application.

After you submit the required information, the lender will use these details to determine your loan limit, which is the maximum amount you can borrow. Your expected income, credit history, and financial sense can all impact your loan limit. Different loan limits are offered to different people at the discretion of the lender.

Request for specific amount and approval

Your background check is the most important factor in determining whether you are approved for a short-term loan. Short term lenders don’t have to be as strict as traditional lenders and can use different methods of determining your eligibility for a loan. Even if your credit is not perfect, you may still be eligible for a short-term loan.

After your application is approved, you will need to request a specific amount within the given loan limit. For example, if you are given a loan limit $1000, you can borrow any amount that is within that limit. Once you have decided on the amount you want, the lender will need to approve your request.

Payment scheduling

You are guaranteed to receive the requested amount as long as you have been granted a loan limit. Last, consider the repayment structure. Most lenders will establish a due date for total loan clearance.

The lender will determine the type of payment plan that is offered. Short term loans may have a fixed due date, which means that you must pay the entire amount within a specified time. You might also be required to pay a specific amount at certain stages. Some short-term loans come with an open-ended due date, which allows you to repay the loan whenever suits you. The interest rate will increase if you delay paying the loan.

Short term loans are ideal for people who urgently need money. The money is typically received within a few hours of approval. While some lenders may offer several options for receiving the money, others may focus on one, easily accessible, public way to receive the money.

Some important things to remember

When taking out a short-term loan, the most important factor to consider is your ability and willingness to repay the amount. Although the maximum amount offered may seem attractive in some cases, it is not wise to borrow more than you can afford. It is crucial to consider how easy it will be to repay the money before deciding on the amount you should request.

You should also pay attention to the interest rate associated with each loan option. Calculating the amount that you owe the lender at due date is a good way to determine whether or not a loan is worthwhile.

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What You Need to Know Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:04:53 +0000 If you have been following banking, investing, or cryptocurrency over the last ten years, you may have heard the term “blockchain,” the record-keeping technology behind the Bitcoin network. Key Takeaways Blockchain is a specific type of database. It differs from a typical database in the way it stores information; blockchains store data in blocks that […]]]>

If you have been following banking, investing, or cryptocurrency over the last ten years, you may have heard the term “blockchain,” the record-keeping technology behind the Bitcoin network.

Key Takeaways

  • Blockchain is a specific type of database.
  • It differs from a typical database in the way it stores information; blockchains store data in blocks that are then chained together. 
  • As new data comes in it is entered into a fresh block. Once the block is filled with data it is chained onto the previous block, which makes the data chained together in chronological order.
  • Different types of information can be stored on a blockchain but the most common use so far has been as a ledger for transactions. 
  • In Bitcoin’s case, blockchain is used in a decentralized way so that no single person or group has control—rather, all users collectively retain control.
  • Decentralized blockchains are immutable, which means that the data entered is irreversible. For Bitcoin, this means that transactions are permanently recorded and viewable to anyone.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain seems complicated, and it definitely can be, but its core concept is really quite simple. A blockchain is a type of database. To be able to understand blockchain, it helps to first understand what a database actually is.

A database is a collection of information that is stored electronically on a computer system. Information, or data, in databases is typically structured in table format to allow for easier searching and filtering for specific information. What is the difference between someone using a spreadsheet to store information rather than a database?

Spreadsheets are designed for one person, or a small group of people, to store and access limited amounts of information. In contrast, a database is designed to house significantly larger amounts of information that can be accessed, filtered, and manipulated quickly and easily by any number of users at once.

Large databases achieve this by housing data on servers that are made of powerful computers. These servers can sometimes be built using hundreds or thousands of computers in order to have the computational power and storage capacity necessary for many users to access the database simultaneously. While a spreadsheet or database may be accessible to any number of people, it is often owned by a business and managed by an appointed individual that has complete control over how it works and the data within it.

So how does a blockchain differ from a database?

Storage Structure

One key difference between a typical database and a blockchain is the way the data is structured. A blockchain collects information together in groups, also known as blocks, that hold sets of information. Blocks have certain storage capacities and, when filled, are chained onto the previously filled block, forming a chain of data known as the “blockchain.” All new information that follows that freshly added block is compiled into a newly formed block that will then also be added to the chain once filled.

A database structures its data into tables whereas a blockchain, like its name implies, structures its data into chunks (blocks) that are chained together. This makes it so that all blockchains are databases but not all databases are blockchains. This system also inherently makes an irreversible timeline of data when implemented in a decentralized nature. When a block is filled it is set in stone and becomes a part of this timeline. Each block in the chain is given an exact timestamp when it is added to the chain.

Transaction Process

Attributes of Cryptocurrency


For the purpose of understanding blockchain, it is instructive to view it in the context of how it has been implemented by Bitcoin. Like a database, Bitcoin needs a collection of computers to store its blockchain. For Bitcoin, this blockchain is just a specific type of database that stores every Bitcoin transaction ever made. In Bitcoin’s case, and unlike most databases, these computers are not all under one roof, and each computer or group of computers is operated by a unique individual or group of individuals.

Imagine that a company owns a server comprised of 10,000 computers with a database holding all of its client’s account information. This company has a warehouse containing all of these computers under one roof and has full control of each of these computers and all the information contained within them. Similarly, Bitcoin consists of thousands of computers, but each computer or group of computers that hold its blockchain is in a different geographic location and they are all operated by separate individuals or groups of people. These computers that makeup Bitcoin’s network are called nodes.

In this model, Bitcoin’s blockchain is used in a decentralized way. However, private, centralized blockchains, where the computers that make up its network are owned and operated by a single entity, do exist.

In a blockchain, each node has a full record of the data that has been stored on the blockchain since its inception. For Bitcoin, the data is the entire history of all Bitcoin transactions. If one node has an error in its data it can use the thousands of other nodes as a reference point to correct itself. This way, no one node within the network can alter information held within it. Because of this, the history of transactions in each block that make up Bitcoin’s blockchain is irreversible.

If one user tampers with Bitcoin’s record of transactions, all other nodes would cross-reference each other and easily pinpoint the node with the incorrect information. This system helps to establish an exact and transparent order of events. For Bitcoin, this information is a list of transactions, but it also is possible for a blockchain to hold a variety of information like legal contracts, state identifications, or a company’s product inventory.

In order to change how that system works, or the information stored within it, a majority of the decentralized network’s computing power would need to agree on said changes. This ensures that whatever changes do occur are in the best interests of the majority.


Because of the decentralized nature of Bitcoin’s blockchain, all transactions can be transparently viewed by either having a personal node or by using blockchain explorers that allow anyone to see transactions occurring live. Each node has its own copy of the chain that gets updated as fresh blocks are confirmed and added. This means that if you wanted to, you could track Bitcoin wherever it goes.

For example, exchanges have been hacked in the past where those who held Bitcoin on the exchange lost everything. While the hacker may be entirely anonymous, the Bitcoins that they extracted are easily traceable. If the Bitcoins that were stolen in some of these hacks were to be moved or spent somewhere, it would be known.

Is Blockchain Secure?

Blockchain technology accounts for the issues of security and trust in several ways. First, new blocks are always stored linearly and chronologically. That is, they are always added to the “end” of the blockchain. If you take a look at Bitcoin’s blockchain, you’ll see that each block has a position on the chain, called a “height.” As of November 2020, the block’s height had reached 656,197 blocks so far.

After a block has been added to the end of the blockchain, it is very difficult to go back and alter the contents of the block unless the majority reached a consensus to do so. That’s because each block contains its own hash, along with the hash of the block before it, as well as the previously mentioned time stamp. Hash codes are created by a math function that turns digital information into a string of numbers and letters. If that information is edited in any way, the hash code changes as well.

Here’s why that’s important to security. Let’s say a hacker wants to alter the blockchain and steal Bitcoin from everyone else. If they were to alter their own single copy, it would no longer align with everyone else’s copy. When everyone else cross-references their copies against each other, they would see this one copy stand out and that hacker’s version of the chain would be cast away as illegitimate.

Succeeding with such a hack would require that the hacker simultaneously control and alter 51% of the copies of the blockchain so that their new copy becomes the majority copy and thus, the agreed-upon chain. Such an attack would also require an immense amount of money and resources as they would need to redo all of the blocks because they would now have different timestamps and hash codes.

Due to the size of Bitcoin’s network and how fast it is growing, the cost to pull off such a feat would probably be insurmountable. Not only would this be extremely expensive, but it would also likely be fruitless. Doing such a thing would not go unnoticed, as network members would see such drastic alterations to the blockchain. The network members would then fork off to a new version of the chain that has not been affected.

This would cause the attacked version of Bitcoin to plummet in value, making the attack ultimately pointless as the bad actor has control of a worthless asset. The same would occur if the bad actor were to attack the new fork of Bitcoin. It is built this way so that taking part in the network is far more economically incentivized than attacking it.

Bitcoin vs. Blockchain

The goal of blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed, but not edited. Blockchain technology was first outlined in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta, two researchers who wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with. But it wasn’t until almost two decades later, with the launch of Bitcoin in January 2009, that blockchain had its first real-world application.

The Bitcoin protocol is built on a blockchain. In a research paper introducing the digital currency, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, referred to it as “a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

The key thing to understand here is that Bitcoin merely uses blockchain as a means to transparently record a ledger of payments, but blockchain can, in theory, be used to immutably record any number of data points. As discussed above, this could be in the form of transactions, votes in an election, product inventories, state identifications, deeds to homes, and much more.

Currently, there is a vast variety of blockchain-based projects looking to implement blockchain in ways to help society other than just recording transactions. One good example is that of blockchain being used as a way to vote in democratic elections. The nature of blockchain’s immutability means that fraudulent voting would become far more difficult to occur.

For example, a voting system could work such that each citizen of a country would be issued a single cryptocurrency or token. Each candidate would then be given a specific wallet address, and the voters would send their token or crypto to whichever candidate’s address they wish to vote for. The transparent and traceable nature of blockchain would eliminate the need for human vote counting as well as the ability of bad actors to tamper with physical ballots.

Blockchain vs. Banks

Banks and decentralized blockchains are vastly different. To see how a bank differs from blockchain, let’s compare the banking system to Bitcoin’s implementation of blockchain.

How is Blockchain Used?

As we now know, blocks on Bitcoin’s blockchain store data about monetary transactions. But it turns out that blockchain is actually a reliable way of storing data about other types of transactions, as well.

Some companies that have already incorporated blockchain include Walmart, Pfizer, AIG, Siemens, Unilever, and a host of others. For example, IBM has created its Food Trust blockchain to trace the journey that food products take to get to its locations.

Why do this? The food industry has seen countless outbreaks of e Coli, salmonella, listeria, as well as hazardous materials being accidentally introduced to foods. In the past, it has taken weeks to find the source of these outbreaks or the cause of sickness from what people are eating.

Using blockchain gives brands the ability to track a food product’s route from its origin, through each stop it makes, and finally its delivery. If a food is found to be contaminated then it can be traced all the way back through each stop to its origin. Not only that, but these companies can also now see everything else it may have come in contact with, allowing the identification of the problem to occur far sooner, potentially saving lives. This is one example of blockchains in practice, but there are many other forms of blockchain implementation.

Banking and Finance

Perhaps no industry stands to benefit from integrating blockchain into its business operations more than banking. Financial institutions only operate during business hours, five days a week. That means if you try to deposit a check on Friday at 6 p.m., you will likely have to wait until Monday morning to see that money hit your account. Even if you do make your deposit during business hours, the transaction can still take one to three days to verify due to the sheer volume of transactions that banks need to settle. Blockchain, on the other hand, never sleeps.

By integrating blockchain into banks, consumers can see their transactions processed in as little as 10 minutes, basically the time it takes to add a block to the blockchain, regardless of holidays or the time of day or week. With blockchain, banks also have the opportunity to exchange funds between institutions more quickly and securely. In the stock trading business, for example, the settlement and clearing process can take up to three days (or longer, if trading internationally), meaning that the money and shares are frozen for that period of time.

Given the size of the sums involved, even the few days that the money is in transit can carry significant costs and risks for banks. European bank Santander and its research partners put the potential savings at $15 billion to $20 billion a year. Capgemini, a French consultancy, estimates that consumers could save up to $16 billion in banking and insurance fees each year through blockchain-based applications.


Blockchain forms the bedrock for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The U.S. dollar is controlled by the Federal Reserve. Under this central authority system, a user’s data and currency are technically at the whim of their bank or government. If a user’s bank is hacked, the client’s private information is at risk. If the client’s bank collapses or they live in a country with an unstable government, the value of their currency may be at risk. In 2008, some of the banks that ran out of money were bailed out partially using taxpayer money. These are the worries out of which Bitcoin was first conceived and developed.

By spreading its operations across a network of computers, blockchain allows Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to operate without the need for a central authority. This not only reduces risk but also eliminates many of the processing and transaction fees. It can also give those in countries with unstable currencies or financial infrastructures a more stable currency with more applications and a wider network of individuals and institutions they can do business with, both domestically and internationally.

Using cryptocurrency wallets for savings accounts or as a means of payment is especially profound for those who have no state identification. Some countries may be war-torn or have governments that lack any real infrastructure to provide identification. Citizens of such countries may not have access to savings or brokerage accounts and therefore, no way to safely store wealth.


Health care providers can leverage blockchain to securely store their patients’ medical records. When a medical record is generated and signed, it can be written into the blockchain, which provides patients with the proof and confidence that the record cannot be changed. These personal health records could be encoded and stored on the blockchain with a private key, so that they are only accessible by certain individuals, thereby ensuring privacy.

Records of Property

If you have ever spent time in your local Recorder’s Office, you will know that the process of recording property rights is both burdensome and inefficient. Today, a physical deed must be delivered to a government employee at the local recording office, where it is manually entered into the county’s central database and public index. In the case of a property dispute, claims to the property must be reconciled with the public index.

This process is not just costly and time-consuming—it is also riddled with human error, where each inaccuracy makes tracking property ownership less efficient. Blockchain has the potential to eliminate the need for scanning documents and tracking down physical files in a local recording office. If property ownership is stored and verified on the blockchain, owners can trust that their deed is accurate and permanently recorded.

In war-torn countries or areas that have little to no government or financial infrastructure, and certainly no “Recorder’s Office,” it can be nearly impossible to prove ownership of a property. If a group of people living in such an area is able to leverage blockchain, transparent and clear timelines of property ownership could be established.

Smart Contracts

A smart contract is a computer code that can be built into the blockchain to facilitate, verify, or negotiate a contract agreement. Smart contracts operate under a set of conditions that users agree to. When those conditions are met, the terms of the agreement are automatically carried out.

Say, for example, a potential tenant would like to lease an apartment using a smart contract. The landlord agrees to give the tenant the door code to the apartment as soon as the tenant pays the security deposit. Both the tenant and the landlord would send their respective portions of the deal to the smart contract, which would hold onto and automatically exchange the door code for the security deposit on the date the lease begins. If the landlord doesn’t supply the door code by the lease date, the smart contract refunds the security deposit. This would eliminate the fees and processes typically associated with the use of a notary, third-party mediator, or attornies.

Supply Chains

As in the IBM Food Trust example, suppliers can use blockchain to record the origins of materials that they have purchased. This would allow companies to verify the authenticity of their products, along with such common labels as “Organic,” “Local,” and “Fair Trade.”

As reported by Forbes, the food industry is increasingly adopting the use of blockchain to track the path and safety of food throughout the farm-to-user journey.


As mentioned, blockchain could be used to facilitate a modern voting system. Voting with blockchain carries the potential to eliminate election fraud and boost voter turnout, as was tested in the November 2018 midterm elections in West Virginia.Using blockchain in this way would make votes nearly impossible to tamper with. The blockchain protocol would also maintain transparency in the electoral process, reducing the personnel needed to conduct an election and providing officials with nearly instant results. This would eliminate the need for recounts or any real concern that fraud might threaten the election.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blockchain

For all of its complexity, blockchain’s potential as a decentralized form of record-keeping is almost without limit. From greater user privacy and heightened security to lower processing fees and fewer errors, blockchain technology may very well see applications beyond those outlined above. But there are also some disadvantages.


  • Improved accuracy by removing human involvement in verification
  • Cost reductions by eliminating third-party verification
  • Decentralization makes it harder to tamper with
  • Transactions are secure, private, and efficient
  • Transparent technology
  • Provides a banking alternative and way to secure personal information for citizens of countries with unstable or underdeveloped governments

  • Significant technology cost associated with mining bitcoin
  • Low transactions per second
  • History of use in illicit activities
  • Regulation

Here are the selling points of blockchain for businesses on the market today in more detail.

Advantages of Blockchain

Accuracy of the Chain

Transactions on the blockchain network are approved by a network of thousands of computers. This removes almost all human involvement in the verification process, resulting in less human error and an accurate record of information. Even if a computer on the network were to make a computational mistake, the error would only be made to one copy of the blockchain. In order for that error to spread to the rest of the blockchain, it would need to be made by at least 51% of the network’s computers—a near impossibility for a large and growing network the size of Bitcoin’s.

Cost Reductions

Typically, consumers pay a bank to verify a transaction, a notary to sign a document, or a minister to perform a marriage. Blockchain eliminates the need for third-party verification and, with it, their associated costs. Business owners incur a small fee whenever they accept payments using credit cards, for example, because banks and payment processing companies have to process those transactions. Bitcoin, on the other hand, does not have a central authority and has limited transaction fees.


Blockchain does not store any of its information in a central location. Instead, the blockchain is copied and spread across a network of computers. Whenever a new block is added to the blockchain, every computer on the network updates its blockchain to reflect the change. By spreading that information across a network, rather than storing it in one central database, blockchain becomes more difficult to tamper with. If a copy of the blockchain fell into the hands of a hacker, only a single copy of the information, rather than the entire network, would be compromised.

Efficient Transactions

Transactions placed through a central authority can take up to a few days to settle. If you attempt to deposit a check on Friday evening, for example, you may not actually see funds in your account until Monday morning. Whereas financial institutions operate during business hours, five days a week, blockchain is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Transactions can be completed in as little as ten minutes and can be considered secure after just a few hours. This is particularly useful for cross-border trades, which usually take much longer because of time-zone issues and the fact that all parties must confirm payment processing.

Private Transactions

Many blockchain networks operate as public databases, meaning that anyone with an internet connection can view a list of the network’s transaction history. Although users can access details about transactions, they cannot access identifying information about the users making those transactions. It is a common misperception that blockchain networks like bitcoin are anonymous, when in fact they are only confidential.

That is, when a user makes public transactions, their unique code called a public key, is recorded on the blockchain, rather than their personal information. If a person has made a Bitcoin purchase on an exchange that requires identification then the person’s identity is still linked to their blockchain address, but a transaction, even when tied to a person’s name, does not reveal any personal information.

Secure Transactions

Once a transaction is recorded, its authenticity must be verified by the blockchain network. Thousands of computers on the blockchain rush to confirm that the details of the purchase are correct. After a computer has validated the transaction, it is added to the blockchain block. Each block on the blockchain contains its own unique hash, along with the unique hash of the block before it. When the information on a block is edited in any way, that block’s hashcode changes—however, the hash code on the block after it would not. This discrepancy makes it extremely difficult for information on the blockchain to be changed without notice.


Most blockchains are entirely open-source software. This means that anyone and everyone can view its code. This gives auditors the ability to review cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for security. This also means that there is no real authority on who controls Bitcoin’s code or how it is edited. Because of this, anyone can suggest changes or upgrades to the system. If a majority of the network users agree that the new version of the code with the upgrade is sound and worthwhile then Bitcoin can be updated.

Banking the Unbanked

Perhaps the most profound facet of blockchain and Bitcoin is the ability for anyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or cultural background, to use it. According to the world bank there are nearly 2 billion adults that do not have bank accounts or any means of storing their money or wealth. Nearly all of these individuals live in developing countries where the economy is in its infancy and entirely dependent on cash.

These people often earn little money that is paid in physical cash. They then need to store this physical cash in hidden locations in their homes or places of living leaving them subject to robbery or unnecessary violence. Keys to a bitcoin wallet can be stored on a piece of paper, a cheap cell phone, or even memorized if necessary. For most people, it is likely that these options are more easily hidden than a small pile of cash under a mattress.

Blockchains of the future are also looking for solutions to not only be a unit of account for wealth storage, but also to store medical records, property rights, and a variety of other legal contracts.

Disadvantages of Blockchain

While there are significant upsides to the blockchain, there are also significant challenges to its adoption. The roadblocks to the application of blockchain technology today are not just technical. The real challenges are political and regulatory, for the most part, to say nothing of the thousands of hours (read: money) of custom software design and back-end programming required to integrate blockchain to current business networks. Here are some of the challenges standing in the way of widespread blockchain adoption.

Technology Cost

Although blockchain can save users money on transaction fees, the technology is far from free. The “proof of work” system that bitcoin uses to validate transactions, for example, consumes vast amounts of computational power. In the real world, the power from the millions of computers on the bitcoin network is close to what Denmark consumes annually. Assuming electricity costs of $0.03~$0.05 per kilowatt-hour, mining costs exclusive of hardware expenses are about $5,000~$7,000 per coin.10

Despite the costs of mining bitcoin, users continue to drive up their electricity bills in order to validate transactions on the blockchain. That’s because when miners add a block to the bitcoin blockchain, they are rewarded with enough bitcoin to make their time and energy worthwhile. When it comes to blockchains that do not use cryptocurrency, however, miners will need to be paid or otherwise incentivized to validate transactions.

Some solutions to these issues are beginning to arise. For example, bitcoin mining farms have been set up to use solar power, excess natural gas from fracking sites, or power from wind farms.

Speed Inefficiency

Bitcoin is a perfect case study for the possible inefficiencies of blockchain. Bitcoin’s “proof of work” system takes about ten minutes to add a new block to the blockchain. At that rate, it’s estimated that the blockchain network can only manage about seven transactions per second (TPS). Although other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum perform better than bitcoin, they are still limited by blockchain. Legacy brand Visa, for context, can process 24,000 TPS.

Solutions to this issue have been in development for years. There are currently blockchains that are boasting over 30,000 transactions per second.

Illegal Activity

While confidentiality on the blockchain network protects users from hacks and preserves privacy, it also allows for illegal trading and activity on the blockchain network. The most cited example of blockchain being used for illicit transactions is probably the Silk Road, an online “dark web” drug marketplace operating from February 2011 until October 2013 when it was shut down by the FBI.

The website allowed users to browse the website without being tracked using the Tor browser and make illegal purchases in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Current U.S. regulations require financial service providers to obtain information about their customers when they open an account, verify the identity of each customer, and confirm that customers do not appear on any list of known or suspected terrorist organizations. This system can be seen as both a pro and a con. It gives anyone access to financial accounts but also allows criminals to more easily transact. Many have argued that the good uses of crypto, like banking the unbanked world, outweigh the bad uses of cryptocurrency, especially when most illegal activity is still accomplished through untraceable cash.


Many in the crypto space have expressed concerns about government regulation over cryptocurrencies. While it is getting increasingly difficult and near impossible to end something like Bitcoin as its decentralized network grows, governments could theoretically make it illegal to own cryptocurrencies or participate in their networks.

Over time this concern has grown smaller as large companies like PayPal begin to allow the ownership and use of cryptocurrencies on its platform.

What’s Next for Blockchain?

First proposed as a research project in 1991, blockchain is comfortably settling into its late twenties. Like most millennials its age, blockchain has seen its fair share of public scrutiny over the last two decades, with businesses around the world speculating about what the technology is capable of and where it’s headed in the years to come.

With many practical applications for the technology already being implemented and explored, blockchain is finally making a name for itself at age twenty-seven, in no small part because of bitcoin and cryptocurrency. As a buzzword on the tongue of every investor in the nation, blockchain stands to make business and government operations more accurate, efficient, secure, and cheap with fewer middlemen.

As we prepare to head into the third decade of blockchain, it’s no longer a question of “if” legacy companies will catch on to the technology—it’s a question of “when.”

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The Dark Money Secretly Bankrolling Activist Short-Sellers — and the Insiders Trying to Expose It Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:04:47 +0000 John Fichthorn had been in the hedge fund business for more than 20 years when a half-hour phone call with a stranger put him on high alert. In December 2017, Fichthorn — a veteran short-seller and the founder of hedge fund Dialectic Capital Management — had joined the board of a troubled small-cap company called […]]]>

John Fichthorn had been in the hedge fund business for more than 20 years when a half-hour phone call with a stranger put him on high alert.

In December 2017, Fichthorn — a veteran short-seller and the founder of hedge fund Dialectic Capital Management — had joined the board of a troubled small-cap company called Health Insurance Innovations. But when he happened to mention its name to a prospective investor a year later, the man told him an alarming detail.

“There’s a multibillion-dollar fund out there going around with a short report trying to pay people to publish it on their behalf,” Fichthorn recalls the man saying.

“He was very nervous about telling me any of this,” says Fichthorn. Short-sellers soon began pounding the stock, so he called the man back and says he finally convinced him to provide the alleged name behind the offer. According to Fichthorn, that name was a Hong Kong-based hedge fund.

“Who the fuck is that?” thought Fichthorn.

Fichthorn may never have heard of the fund, but it has become well known in short-seller circles for being what’s called the “balance sheet” behind some of the activists who trumpet their short research on social media — a phenomenon that has turned the world of short-selling upside down over the past decade. These noisy activists, many of whom are anonymous and have little money of their own, have taken on outsize importance during a time when the bull market has ravaged short-sellers and a Twitter mention can move a stock.

Fichthorn, of course, is from the pre-social-media era. The 47-year-old launched Dialectic in 2004 after a stint at Maverick Capital, the Tiger Cub headed by Lee Ainslie III, who learned the trade under famed hedge fund pioneer Julian Robertson. Behind the scenes, Fichthorn has been involved in some of the most well-known short bets of recent years, including Wirecard, the German financial firm that collapsed in scandal in June, and MiMedx Group, the Georgia biomedical company whose former CEO was charged with fraud by the Department of Justice — years after Fichthorn contacted the DOJ with such allegations.

“I thought my role in life was to be the cop in the markets,” he says. 

That’s of course exactly what the activist short-sellers say. More than a dozen short-sellers interviewed by Institutional Investor in an effort to penetrate this murky terrain say there are numerous players and various permutations of the model that may involve the sharing of ideas and research along with either a cut of the gains on the short trade or a set fee. In fact, some short-sellers believe that almost all of the activists have such backing — even those running small hedge funds themselves. 

Wary of both reputation risk and litigation risk — and eager to avoid the drama that swirls around activist short-sellers — some hedge funds even give away their research for free to the activists. The hope is that, once publicized, a damning report will be the catalyst for a downward move in a stock they’ve shorted. 

The backdrop for all this is the stock market’s relentless rise, which in recent years has brutalized short-selling. Many short-biased hedge funds have either shut down or bled assets; industry insiders say that more could close shop in 2020. 

Into this vacuum has stepped a slew of upstarts, often touting their research on Seeking Alpha and posting links to their blogposts on Twitter. As of October 21, 38 activist short-sellers — many anonymous — had published short research on 128 companies this year, according to Activist Insight Shorts, which tracks the naysayers. The Bear Cave, a weekly online newsletter, reported that during one week in October alone, eight new short research pieces were published. 

The trend has raised alarms — and not just from the companies they target. Seasoned short-sellers say the information overload risks “commoditizing” the research and also raises red flags about its originality, accuracy, and depth. Critics also note that reports sometimes arrive just prior to the expiration of options that can send stocks into a tailspin, risking market manipulation allegations. They also fear that these problems could lead to tougher regulation of short-selling, which could make it even less profitable — and allow frauds to go unchecked in the markets. 

Short of a court order or federal investigation, however, it is impossible to know who is behind the action. 

But there are clues.

Start with Carson Block, the founder of Muddy Waters Capital, who launched the new breed of short-seller activist in 2011 with his blockbuster research on Sino-Forest Corp., a Toronto-listed Chinese company whose investors included then-hedge fund star John Paulson. Block also appears to have pioneered the balance-sheet approach. And now that he runs a hedge fund with more than $200 million under management, Block occasionally offers such financial support to other short activists whose research he deems worthwhile.

“There are some firms out there that are in the balance-sheet business,” asserts Block. “Full disclosure: We are.” 

He declined to say which activists he has funded. However, Muddy Waters has an investment in Wolfpack Research, which was launched last year by short-seller Dan David.

A decade ago, Block was living in Shanghai and running a money-losing storage business when he authored his first short report, alleging that a New York Stock Exchange-listed Chinese company called Orient Paper was a fraud. The next year, he decided to look for a balance-sheet partner, using one exclusively until 2013.

“When I started out, I had no money. I had negative net worth,” he says. “So I worked with balance-sheet partners.” 

Block declined to say who his original balance-sheet partner was. According to The Wall Street Journal, Block sold his research on Rino International Corp., another suspected Chinese fraud, to Oasis Management, as well as to other hedge funds, in 2010. That was just before Block says he turned to the balance-sheet model, offering his research reports to a single fund for a cut of its profits on the trade.

Muddy Waters’ next big short was Sino-Forest, and Oasis was short that Chinese company three weeks ahead of Block’s report, according to a lawsuit Oasis filed in London in an effort to get Morgan Stanley to pay the $9.3 million Oasis claimed it was owed by the investment bank for its Sino-Forest puts.

Oasis founder Seth Fischer and portfolio manager Alexander Shoghi did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Block defends the practice, saying it is a collaborative effort that benefits both parties.

“Activist short-selling is a hardscrabble life,” he says. “It’s actually a shitty business for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that it’s subscale. There are very few activist short-sellers who can regularly short names that have real capacity in the trade,” he explains. 

Most don’t have enough capital to start a hedge fund. “If your trade capacity is around five to ten to 25 million dollars, that doesn’t justify raising a fund. You won’t be able to generate returns on that.”

Instead, Block says, with a balance-sheet partner “the performance fee is effectively paid by a hedge fund. It has the capital and the institutional pipes.” Short-sellers borrow stock, hoping to pay it back at a lower price and profit on the differential. Hedge funds have relationships with prime brokers at investment banks that can lend them shares — relationships Block found he could not form in the early days.

“A lot of these names — U.S.-listed Chinese scams — were hard to borrow,” he recalls. “We went to the big, pretty institutional primes who had access to borrow, and they told us we were too small and controversial.” 

Big hedge funds also have analysts who can call both the companies and sell-side analysts to get information they aren’t going to reveal to a known activist short-seller. Perhaps most importantly, a balance-sheet partner can also provide legal support, which can run up to $1 million if the short-seller gets sued or investigated by a regulator, Block says. 

From their end, hedge funds prefer to work in the shadows for a number of reasons — one being that their own investors, particularly institutional investors like endowments and sovereign wealth funds, may look askance at short activism. 

One case famous in financial circles involved one of the largest and oldest hedge funds, whose investors know it as one that “never shorts,” says someone familiar with the details. 

That hedge fund was the balance sheet behind Harry Markopolos’s short report on General Electric Co., which he released last August. 

Markopolos, a former Wall Street portfolio manager whose claim to fame was warning the Securities and Exchange Commission about the Madoff Ponzi scheme years before it collapsed, has since served as a whistleblower to the government in other cases, notably the investigation of insurer AmTrust Financial, which settled with the SEC this summer over charges related to its accounting for losses from insurance claims. 

When he took on GE, Markopolos disclosed that he had given the report to a major hedge fund that had veered from its long-only stance to short GE and that he would be paid a percentage of the gains from the bet. He had no control over the trading.

Markopolos also noted that he had turned over the report to regulators. “If you do SEC fraud cases and bust fraud guys, you better be transparent,” says an individual knowledgeable about his thinking.

The stock fell 14 percent on the report, which claimed that GE was under-reserving for its long-term health insurance claims. But the focus quickly shifted to an excoriation of Markopolos’s arrangement with the hedge fund, and the stock ticked back up.

GE investors like Citron Research’s Andrew Left — who is better known as a short-seller — attacked Markopolos’s deal and said he had never been compensated by a third party to publish research. Then hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller jumped in, saying he had added to his position in the stock. GE CEO Larry Culp denied Markopolos’s accusations.

“Unfortunately, when Markopolos disclosed that he was working with a balance-sheet firm, he was unable to keep the focus on his work, and the media seemed distracted by what is really a faux salacious detail,” says Block.

Today, the famous whistleblower appears to have been vindicated: GE reported in October that it had received a Wells notice from the SEC — a warning that the agency may take enforcement actions — over the very issues Markopolos had highlighted. 

Given the blowback, if Markopolos were to do another short report for a hedge fund, he would insist on more disclosure, says the individual familiar with his thinking. He “would only do it with a hedge fund side by side — and public,” this person says. “It’s easier if the backers are disclosed, and the reason is that the people should focus on the research and not on attacking it for being [tied to] an ‘evil’ hedge fund.” 

When it comes to short-selling, however, disclosure is not something most hedge funds want.

John Fichthorn

Short-sellers are part of a clubby, cantankerous community that has derisively been called a cabal. They often share research and reinforce each other with what are called “pile on” trades. There is nothing inherently unusual, or illegal, about that. Market participants say that short-sellers at hedge funds skilled in the strategy, like Eminence Capital, Valiant Capital Partners, Sophos Capital Management, and Kingsford Capital Management, also pass along research to activists — but they aren’t believed to have offered to finance them.

Citron’s Left is one short-seller these men have turned to to get out their message. For example, a blockbuster short report on Nu Skin Enterprises, a multilevel marketing company, that Citron published in 2012 was research undertaken by another party for Third Point, but Jim Carruthers, who ran Third Point’s equity short book, gave it to Left, according to two individuals familiar with the specifics. 

In 2014, Carruthers formed Sophos with seed money from Yale University’s endowment; by the end of last year, it had become the largest dedicated short-seller in the world, with $1.16 billion, according to its ADV filing with the SEC. The hedge fund is so secretive it doesn’t even have a website. 

(Left says he does not remember the details surrounding the Nu Skin report. Neither Carruthers nor Valiant responded to a request for comment. Third Point, Kingsford, and Eminence declined to comment.) 

“There is a lot of pressure on hedge funds to generate short alpha,” says Fahmi Quadir, the founder of Safkhet Capital, a short-only hedge fund that is not an activist. “You’re doing all this work, and you want to make the profits, so you lean on these activists to make sure it happens.”

For many hedge funds, sharing research is better than a financial arrangement with the activist. “By letting someone else put out the research, then you’re not out there at all and you have total flexibility in how you trade the thing,” says one hedge fund manager. “Once you have a fee arrangement, then it’s a bit problematic.”

Potential legal headaches aren’t the only issue. Hedge funds may have a “belief on a position but don’t want to deal with all the blowback and harassment and the doxing,” says Nathan Anderson, whose Hindenburg Research gained notice after its September short call on electric-truck maker Nikola Corp., which led the SEC and the DOJ to investigate the company and the stock to plummet.

Though Anderson is this year’s hot new short-seller — and says he still has a major short in Nikola — the troubles he has faced make him understand why hedge funds prefer to stay in the background.

“People call me and say they’re going to murder me and my entire family,” he says. Anderson, who worked for years behind the scenes as a fraud investigator and whistleblower before becoming a short-seller in 2017, says he was “naïve” about what it would entail. “Being a public activist is an inherently contentious business.”  

Hindenburg has been the most prolific short activist this year, launching 21 campaigns, according to Activist Insight Shorts. The volume of Hindenburg’s reports has raised eyebrows among short-sellers, but Anderson says he can do so many because he has five employees working on research. He also uses outside consultants. 

And now that he’s famous for the Nikola short, Anderson says he has gotten more than 50 leads a week “from all over the place.”

“Any market participant will talk to a short activist,” he says, adding that “it’s extremely important to independently vet anything.”   

As a relative newcomer, Anderson also turns to others for financing and acknowledges he had a balance-sheet partner for the Nikola short. “If there is more capacity in a trade than we can handle on our own, then we seek to augment with a balance-sheet partner,” he says. “I think that’s pretty standard in the industry.” 

He declined to name any of those partners, but he says there is no shortage of money wanting to get in on his action. “We’ve had dozens of offers,” he says.

This year, the stocks Hindenburg has shorted were down an average of 25 percent a month after the release of its reports, according to Activist Insight Shorts. That’s evidence that the stocks continue to fall, not just pop back up in a V shape, which critics have noted can happen if a short-seller covers on the day of the report. 

But the existence of the V-shaped pattern elsewhere has led to calls for more disclosure from several places — including, interestingly, from inside the world of short-selling.

In April, outspoken short-seller Marc Cohodes stunned the short-selling community when he teamed up with Joshua Mitts, associate professor at Columbia Law School, to author an op-ed in the Financial Times calling for a mandatory ten-day holding period by a firm or individual after the public dissemination of market-moving information. 

To protect themselves from market-manipulation accusations, short activists typically say upfront that they are short the stock of the subject of their report. Buried in the fine print, however, are more details — as well as caveats.

In a recent report, Muddy Waters, whose generic disclosure has been used as a template by others, states that as of the publication of the report, the firm was either long or short the name, “possibly along with or through its members, partners, affiliates, employees, and/or consultants, Muddy Waters Related Persons clients and/or investors and/or their clients and/or investors.” It states these parties may be trading the securities and adds that “neither Muddy Waters Research nor Muddy Waters Capital will update any report or information on its website to reflect changes in positions that may be held by a Muddy Waters Related Person.”  

Such language allows the activist — and any balance-sheet partner — to trade in and out at will. But Cohodes argues that it’s not good policy.   

“Whether you own shares or are betting against a company, I believe it is misleading to tell investors that you have a specific view on a company and then profit from a trade in the opposite direction,” he wrote.

Cohodes alleged that “many bloggers and social media personalities who promote or attack stocks do not conduct a deep investigation of the companies involved. Instead, they republish theses acquired elsewhere and buy and sell quickly to make a fast buck.” 

In a rulemaking proposal to the SEC in February, Mitts, Columbia securities law professor John Coffee, and ten other law professors asked the SEC to force short-sellers who publicize their position to “promptly” say when their disclosure of being short “no longer reflects current holdings or trading intention.” They want short-sellers to make that disclosure within 24 hours of a change in trading or by the beginning of the next day’s trading. 

“Rapidly closing a short position after publishing (or commissioning) a report, without having specifically disclosed an intent to do so, can constitute fraudulent scalping in violation of Rule 10b-5,” they argued, referring to the SEC’s anti-fraud rule.

Short-sellers like Block rail against Mitts, dismissing him as a “shill” for corporate clients. (Mitts has worked for corporate plaintiffs in lawsuits filed by at least two known targets of short-sellers, Farmland Partners and Burford Capital; Muddy Waters is short Burford.)

Moreover, activists say the work is so hard that it’s almost imperative to take the money — or at least some of it — and run. It’s simply risk management.

“The vast majority of short activists would not even be viable if their balance sheet wasn’t getting really concentrated in each name . . . then closing out a decent portion of that position,” says one short-seller. 

“If you don’t take advantage of the elevated volume, in subsequent days you could start bleeding some money and giving back,” he explains. “You know that on day two, the company comes back with everything they’ve got. And you don’t know how long it’s going to take for the market to become skeptical of management,” he adds. “In the meantime, you could get hit with a lawsuit.”

Short-sellers in the U.S. are protected by the First Amendment, which gives them broad discretion to offer their view on a company as long as it is stated as an opinion they believe to be true. While making false statements is not protected, and companies frequently claim “market manipulation,” cases against short-sellers have been few and far between — as proving illegality hinges on intent.

Mitts says short-selling is good for the markets but nonetheless argues that if the intent of the report is to “crash the price so that you induce a panic and a bunch of selling that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise, that strategy is going to be illegal.”

He is critical of the role of balance-sheet providers and thinks more transparency regarding their involvement would be “better for our markets.”

“If all I’m doing is just putting out my opinion about the company, and I have my short position, why do I need a massive hedge fund?” he asks.  “But if the purpose of a balance-sheet partner is to inject so much selling into the stock that it mechanically drives the price down because there’s not enough demand anymore, and that in turn triggers stop losses and triggers other people to sell . . . that may be evidence of manipulative intent.”

“Is the market really reacting to the information, or is the balance-sheet partner crashing the price?” he wonders. “That’s a big question that needs to be asked.”

Mitts also mentions the short-sellers’ use of the word “catalyst” — a term commonly used by traders that refers to what will make the stock move. 

“By ‘catalyst’ do you mean you need something to start the snowball so that it starts to pick up momentum on its own and makes a lot of money? And if that’s what we’re talking about, then it’s not clear to me that is legal,” he says.

Mitts raised some of these issues in a declaration filed in support of a defamation lawsuit brought in Colorado federal court in 2018 by Farmland Partners against short activist Rota Fortunae, a front for Quinton Mathews, the managing member of QKM, a Dallas-based registered investment adviser with no assets under management, according to its most recent ADV filing with the SEC. This year, Mathews was forced by the judge to reveal his identity. The short-seller later disclosed the name of the Dallas hedge fund, Sabrepoint Capital Management, that was paying him for his short research on a monthly retainer basis. Sabrepoint is now also a defendant in the case, which is pending. Both Mathews and Sabrepoint have denied the accusations.

Before the Farmland report was issued, put positions were opened in thousands of contracts, according to the Mitts declaration. The trading activity showed that traders had bet the stock would drop precipitously on, or soon after, July 11, 2018 — the day of the report — and had taken an extraordinary derivatives position that would have the effect of inducing a massive sell-off in Farmland stock, Mitts wrote in the court filing.

Here’s how it works in theory: As the stock starts to fall, the puts become more valuable, and market makers who have sold them have to short more shares to hedge against those puts, known as delta hedging. Such selling is likely compounded by algorithmic or high-frequency trading, putting more pressure on the stock and forcing the market makers to continue shorting.

Farmland’s stock has never recovered from the pounding it took, which to Mathews’ mind means he was correct in his assessment of the company. “Nearly two years ago, I published my research on [Farmland Partners]. Six days later, the company issued a public rebuttal that failed to address any of the questions raised in my report or deny any of my findings. Shortly after, the company sued my pseudonym,” he wrote on Seeking Alpha in June.

But companies say it can be hard to recover from an assault that makes creditors and customers wary.

At least that’s how Fichthorn sees it. 

Fichthorn declined to give the name of the short-seller who alleged a hedge fund was offering to pay activists to publish its short thesis on Health Insurance Innovations.

But for the next year and a half, short-sellers battered the company on Twitter and elsewhere. One anonymous short activist, Marcus Aurelius Value, wrote five reports on Health Insurance Innovations, starting in November 2018 and ending in June of this year.

Aurelius Value did not respond to a Twitter message asking if he had worked with a balance-sheet partner on the short and, if so, whether the partner provided him with research. 

The Capitol Forum, a subscription-based news service that often covers short targets, also wrote articles that hammered the stock. Its stories sometimes came out on the Friday of options expiration, says Fichthorn. “At 11:00 a.m, the stock would start going down, and at 12:00 the company would learn of the article,” he says. “We had an hour to respond.”

At one point, the options action made Health Insurance Innovations the biggest short in the market, with more than 100 percent of the shares shorted, says Fichthorn. “It was kind of ironic that I, as a professional short-seller, was on the board of the company that was the most shorted stock in the market.”

When II approached Capitol Forum reporter Vikas Kumar about the stories, he demanded proof from II’s editor-in-chief that this writer was working for II. Eventually, Jake Williams, Capitol Forum’s COO, told II that it was not approached by a hedge fund to run negative research about Health Insurance Innovations. “We’re an objective investigative news organization and would not accept such an offer from any company or on any topic,” he said in an email. 

For their part, short-sellers say they based their case on the company’s use of boiler-room tactics to sell worthless insurance products. At least one lawsuit by individuals claiming to have been victimized by the company is still pending.   

But Fichthorn says Health Insurance Innovations only offered a platform for brokers to sell products and that state insurance regulators had found no wrongdoing. Moreover, he says he joined the board because new management was trying to “clean up” the company and any legacy problems associated with prior CEOs had been dealt with.

“The reality is if enough of them pile on and write enough bad stuff, they can destroy companies. I watched it from the inside. They called our customers and they were making shit up,” bemoans Fichthorn, pointing specifically to a short-seller rumor that the FBI was at the company’s headquarters. It wasn’t. 

In July, the company — which renamed itself Benefytt Technologies earlier this year — was sold to private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $31 per share — a 40 percent premium to where it was trading at the time.

Before the short-selling drama began, Fichthorn had effectively sold his hedge fund to B. Riley Financial. He recently left that firm and is relaunching Dialectic, but says he is out of the short-selling business for now. 

“Someday,” he says wistfully, “it will be worth shorting stocks again.”

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30 famous celebrities you may not know are from Michigan Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:04:06 +0000 Some of your favorite television and movie stars are from Michigan and chances are, you never realized it. We’re sure you know the most famous ones like Madonna, Kristen Bell, Kid Rock and others. But there are dozens of other famous faces from this state who we’re betting may surprise you. Here is a list […]]]>

Some of your favorite television and movie stars are from Michigan and chances are, you never realized it. We’re sure you know the most famous ones like Madonna, Kristen Bell, Kid Rock and others. But there are dozens of other famous faces from this state who we’re betting may surprise you.

Here is a list we compiled of 30 celebrities who were born in Michigan you may not have known were from the Great Lakes State. Of course, there are many other famous faces besides these. But for now, see how many you didn’t know about.

30. David Spade

The actor and comedian was born in Birmingham in Metro Detroit before his family moved to Arizona when he was four years old. The “Saturday Night Live” alumni is best known for his sitcoms “Just Shoot Me” and “Rules of Engagement.” You also know him from his many big screen comedies like “Joe Dirt,” “Tommy Boy,” “Black Sheep” and “Grown Ups.”

29. Ken Jeong

This actor and comedian was born in Detroit in 1969 and raised in North Carolina. He is best known for starring on the TV shows “Community” and “Dr. Ken.” Currently, you can see him as a judge on the hit FOX singing show “The Masked Singer.” You also know Jeong from “The Hangover” series of movies along with “Ride Along 2″ and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

28. John Hughes

This famous filmmaker was born in Lansing in 1950 and grew up in Grosse Pointe in Metro Detroit before his family moved to Chicago when he was in 7th grade. Hughes is known for writing, producing or directing some of the biggest comedy films of the 80s and 90s including “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Weird Science,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “Home Alone.” Hughes passed away in 2009.

27. Courtney B. Vance

This actor was born in Detroit in 1960. He went to Detroit Country Day School and graduated college from Harvard. You know him from such movies as “Hamburger Hill,” “The Hunt for Red October,” and his newest film, “Project Power” on Netflix. On the small screen, he’s known for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

26. Mary Lynn Rajskub

This actress and comedian was born in Detroit in 1971 and raised in Trenton in Metro Detroit. You may know her as “Chloe” on “24.” She also travels the country performing stand-up comedy.

25. David Alan Grier

This actor and comedian was born in Detroit in 1956. He attended Cass Tech High before graduating from the University of Michigan. You may remember him from the TV comedy sketch show “In Living Color,” He’s also appeared and starred in numerous TV shows and movies like “Amazon Women on The Moon,” “Boomerang,” “Jumanji,” “Coffee and Kareem” and “The Cool Kids.”

Elizabeth Berkley (left) takes a photo with a fan at Motor City Comic con. (Photo by Edward Pevos | MLive)

24. Elizabeth Berkley

The “Saved By The Bell” actress was born in Farmington Hills in 1972. She graduated from North Farmington High before attending Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills. You also know Berkley from “Showgirls.” She’s currently reprising her role of Jessie Spano on the “Saved By The Bell” reboot on the Peacock streaming network.

verne troyer in a high school letter jacket

Actor Verne Troyer was born in Sturgis, Michigan. (Photo by Melanie Maxwell | MLive)

23. Verne Troyer

This actor and stuntman was born in Sturgis in 1969. He passed away in 2018. He is a graduate of Centreville High School. You know Troyer from the “Austin Powers” film series.

Eric Bischoff shaking hands with a fan at a comic con

Eric Bischoff (left) was born in Detroit. (Photo by Edward Pevos | MLive)

22. Eric Bischoff

This WCW and WWE legend was born in Detroit in 1955. Bischoff led World Championship Wrestling as its Executive Vice President in the 90s during the famous ratings wars with WWE. He also served as WWE RAW General Manager in the early 2000s.

21. Jerry Bruckheimer

Born in Detroit in 1943, this film and TV producer graduated from Mumford High before moving to Arizona to attend college. Some of his best-known movies include “Top Gun,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Flashdance,” “Con Air,” “Armageddon,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Bad Boys.”

christie brinkley at a new york yankees game

Christie Brinkley was born in Monroe, Michigan. (Photo by Noah K. Murray | The Star Ledger)

20. Christie Brinkley

This model and actress was born in Monroe in 1954. Her family later moved to Los Angeles. Brinkley is known for being on the cover of numerous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. She also spent more than two decades as the face of CoverGirl. Her first acting role was in the the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” as the woman in the red Ferrari.”

19. J.K. Simmons

This award winning actor was born in Grosse Pointe in 1955. His family moved to Ohio when he was 10. You know Simmons from his roles on “Law and Order,” “Oz,” “Spider-Man” and in “Whiplash” where he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

matthew lillard holding up a scream mask and movie script

Actor Matthew Lillard was born in Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Edward Pevos)

18. Matthew Lillard

This actor was born in Lansing in 1970, but grew up in California. You know him from “Scream,” the live action “Scooby-Doo” series of movies and “Good Girls.”

17. Steven Seagal

This action star was born in Lansing in 1952. His family moved to California when he was five. You know Seagal from such action films as “Under Siege,” “Executive Decision” and “The Patriot.”

16. Richard Kiel

This actor was born in Detroit in 1939. He passed away in 2014. You know him from his roles as Jaws in the “James Bond” movie franchise. You also know him from “The Longest Yard,” “Happy Gilmore” and Cannonball Run 2.”

15. Taylor Lautner

This actor was born in Grand Rapids in 1992. He grew up in nearby Hudsonville. He’s best known for playing Jacob in the “Twilight” series of movies. He also starred in the BBC sitcom “Cuckoo” and in “Scream Queens.”

14. Burt Reynolds

The “Smokey and The Bandit” actor was born in Lansing in 1936. He grew up in Lake City in Northern Michigan. Reynolds passed away in 2018. You also know him from his roles in “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard,” “Cannonball Run” and “Evening Shade.”

13. Selma Blair

This actress was born in Southfield in 1972. She attended Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills before attending Cranbrook. She went to Kalamazoo College before moving to New York City. You know her from such hit films as “Cruel Intentions,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Sweetest Thing” and “Hellboy.” In recent years, she has been open about her battle with multiple sclerosis.

Floyd Mayweather Jr smiling in a blue shirt and brown hat

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was born in Grand Rapids. (Photo by Josh Slagter | MLive)

12. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Winner of 15 major world boxing titles, Mayweather Jr. was born in Grand Rapids in 1977. His family moved to New Jersey in the 80s. Boxing Writers Association of America named him the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2010s. In 2016, ESPN ranked him as the greatest boxer of the last 25 years, pound for pound. The retired boxer finished with an undefeated 49-0 record.

kate upton smiling in a green army type shirt

Kate Upton was born in St. Joseph, Michigan. (Photo by Tanya Moutzalias | MLive)

11. Kate Upton

This model and actress was born in St. Joseph in 1992. Her family moved to Florida seven years later. Upton was the cover model for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue three times in 2012, 2013 and 2017. She also starred in the films “Tower Heist,” “The Other Woman” and “The Layover.” She’s married to former Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. The couple has one daughter.

10. Paul Feig

This actor, director and writer was born in Mt. Clemens in 1962. He graduated from Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Twp. Feig starred as Mr. Pool in “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.” He directed “Freaks and Geeks,” several episodes of “The Office” and “Arrested Development.” He also directed the movie “Bridesmaids” among other films including the recent “Ghostbusters” reboot.

9. Tim Meadows

“The Ladies Man” was born in Highland Park in 1961. Meadows graduated from Pershing High in Detroit and attended Wayne State University. You know the “Saturday Night Live” alumni from “Grown Ups,” “Schooled,” “The Goldbergs,” “Mean Girls” and a lot more movies and TV shows.

Dean Cain looking at a guy on the set of a movie

Dean Cain was born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. (Photo by Matt Gade | MLive)

8. Dean Cain

“The Man of Steel” was born in Mt. Clemens in 1966. Cain’s family moved to California when he was young. The actor, who has been in dozens of movies and TV shows, is known for playing Superman in TV’s “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Cain graduated from Princeton. The NFL’s Buffalo Bills signed him out of college, but a knee injury ended his career.

keegan michael key at a lions game

Keegan-Michael Key was born in Southfield, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland | MLive)

7. Keegan-Michael Key

This actor and comedian was born in Southfield in 1971. He graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1993. You know him from his hit sketch series “Key & Peele.” You also know Key from “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” live action film, “Friends From College” and most recently as host of “Game On!”

6. Lee Majors

“The Six Million Dollar Man” was born in Wyandotte in 1939. Along with his starring role as Colonel Steve Austin, you know Majors from “The Fall Guy” and “The Big Valley.”

terry crews with howie mandel on americas got talent

Terry Crews (left) was born in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by: Maarten de Boer/NBC)Maarten de Boer/NBC

5. Terry Crews

The “America’s Got Talent” host was born in Flint in 1968. He graduated high school from Flint Southwestern Academy before attending Interlochen. He also attended Western Michigan University where he excelled at football before being drafted by the Rams. You know Crews from “White Chicks,” “Blended,” “The Expendables” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

4. Ed McMahon

This actor and comedian was born in Detroit in 1923. He passed away in 2009. He was Johnny Carson’s sidekick for 30 years. You also know him as the host of “Star Search” and co-host of “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes.”

3. Sonny Bono

This singer and actor was born in Detroit in 1935. His family moved to California when he was seven. He’s most famous for his duet with wife Cher, “I Got You Babe.” The two also shared the stage on “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” for a few years in the early 70s. Bono was also involved in politics. He was the mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992 and was the Republican congressman for California’s 44th district from 1995 until his death in 1998.

2. John Witherspoon

This actor and comedian was born in Detroit in 1942. He passed away in 2019. You know him from his roles in “Friday,” “Next Friday,” “Little Nicky,” “The Wayans Bros.” and “Amen,” among many other TV shows and movies.

1. Bruce Campbell

This actor and comedian was born in Royal Oak in 1958. He graduated from Groves High School where he met fellow famous Michigander, Sam Raimi. Campbell attended Western Michigan University for a short time before continuing to pursue acting. You know him from the “Evil Dead” series of movies which includes “Army of Darkness.” You also know him from “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Brisco County Jr.,” “Burn Notice,” “Spider-Man” and starring as Elvis in “Bubba Ho-Tep.”

Of course, there are many other celebrities who are from Michigan that you may or may not know about. This is just 30 of some of the stars who were born in the Great Lakes State.


30 famous singers and bands you may not know are from Michigan

The most famous person from each of Michigan’s 83 counties

20 natural wonders of Michigan to put on your travel bucket list

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Podcast 244: Scott Stewart of the ILPA Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:01:15 +0000 Small business lenders have been in the spotlight this month as hundreds of billions of dollars in loans are distributed to needy American businesses. While fintech should have been front and center in this initiative it has found itself sitting on the sidelines. But with round two just signed into law today fintech has an […]]]>

Small business lenders have been in the spotlight this month as hundreds of billions of dollars in loans are distributed to needy American businesses. While fintech should have been front and center in this initiative it has found itself sitting on the sidelines. But with round two just signed into law today fintech has an opportunity to help now.

Our next guest on the Lend Academy Podcast is Scott Stewart, the CEO of the Innovative Lending Platform Association (ILPA). Many of the larger online small business lenders in the country are members and Scott has been extremely busy in recent weeks helping them navigate the many challenges of today. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been occupying most of his time lately. (Editor’s note: this episode was recorded on April 14, so does not include commentary on recent developments).

In this podcast you will learn:

  • How he first became aware of the ILPA and why he took the job.
  • The mission of the association.
  • Why the SMART Box has been a successful initiative for their members.
  • How California and New York are taking up transparency in small business lending.
  • How ILPA members are approaching the PPP.
  • Scott’s view of the application process for fintech lenders to apply as a PPP lender.
  • The constraints that fintech lenders have to deal with in originating PPP loans.
  • How much Scott is talking with leaders of other trade associations.
  • The initiatives that Scott is focused on right now.
  • How the financial crisis is impacting the financial health of ILPA members.
  • Why it is important for the government to get the origination fees to the lenders quickly.
  • Some of the long run impacts of this financial crisis on fintech.
  • What more the government should be doing right now to support small business.

This episode of the Lend Academy Podcast is sponsored by LendIt Fintech USA 2020, the world’s largest fintech event dedicated to lending and digital banking.

Download a PDF of the transcription of Podcast 244 – Scott Stewart.


Welcome to the Lend Academy Podcast, Episode No. 244, this is your host, Peter Renton, Founder of Lend Academy and Co-Founder of the LendIt Fintech Conference.


Today’s episode is sponsored by LendIt Fintech USA, the world’s largest fintech event dedicated to lending and digital banking. It’s happening on our new dates of September 30 and October 1, at the Javits Center in New York. This year, with everything that’s been going on, there will be so much to talk about. It will likely be our most important show ever, so come and join us in New York to meet the people who matter, to learn from the experts, and get business done. LendIt Fintech, lending and banking connected. Sign up at today at

Peter Renton: Today on the show, I am delighted to welcome Scott Stewart, he is the CEO of the Innovative Lending Platform Association, also known as the ILPA. Now, they’re a trade organization that is focused on small business lending, they have some of the leading online small business lenders and the largest players in the country as members. I wanted to get Scott on the show because, obviously, small business lending is front and center of the entire economy right now.

We need to be getting the money out to the small businesses for the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program, we talk about that in some depth. Scott talks about what his members are doing there, we don’t just talk about the PPP, we also talk about other initiatives they’ve been working on such as the SMART Box initiative, we talk about how they’re interacting with some of the other associations, what’s Scott’s view of how the PPP has been handled and what more the government can be doing and much more. It was a fascinating interview, I hope you enjoy the show.

Welcome to the podcast, Scott!

Scott Stewart: Thank you very much, Peter, great to be here.

Peter: Okay, my pleasure. So, I want to get this thing started, you know, to give the listeners a bit of background about yourself. You’ve had an interesting career, looks like in and around Washington, why don’t you tell us the highlights of your career to date.

Scott: Sure. I, actually, consider myself a recovering politician (Peter laughs) and somebody who worked for a long time in both politics and then in the energy sector, in oil and gas, and I think that, you know, I took a detour along the way, after the financial crisis, and actually joined the family business which was an insurance business. It turns out, I was really terrible at slinging property and casualty insurance policies, I was really, really bad at that so, my friends said to me, come back to Washington.

I had a good friend, Eric Hoplin of the Financial Services Roundtable and he said, it’s time for you to come back, I have a job for you, it’s not the right job, but it’s a place for you to get back here and start up again. And so, I became Director of Membership at the Financial Services Roundtable which was a trade association which represented all the CEOs of the largest financial services firms in the country, meaning the banks, the insurance companies and the asset managers, the card companies.

I did all sorts of things for them, including managing the completion of their massive new office build out, I did all the technology build for that and helped with the design of those things. I upgraded all of the stuff from gigantic desktop computers to Microsoft Surface Pro tablets so we could get everybody to be more secure, more efficient and more mobile, and along the way, I met some really interesting leaders.

I met a guy by the name of Steven (inaudible) who’s an international leader on Artificial Intelligence and emerging technologies and he introduced me to Klaus Schwab’s Fourth Industrial Revolution which completely opened up my whole view of the world. Alison Hawkins and I, she was the Director of Communications at the Financial Services Roundtable, she’s now with Wells Fargo, we cooked up a new fintech program for the Roundtable to explore a long term future at the confluence of finance innovation and technology.

I think we’re looking at ten plus years into the future, what is our world going to look like in terms of Artificial Intelligence, block chain technologies, big data and so on and we began to think about that in a way that culminated into the Fintech Ideas Festival which we hosted in San Francisco in 2017. It was a small, small event, 110 CEOs out of 200 participants that included Satya Nadella from Microsoft, Ginni Rometty from IBM, Brian Moynihan from Bank of America, Ajaypal Banga from Mastercard, Dan Schulman from PayPal, Michael Tipsord from State Farm. Along with a whole bunch of what are now my members which is…..Carl Fairbank from Breakout, Rob Frohwein from Kabbage, Jim Salters from The Business Backer and we had a global array of experts on financial technology.

We had them sit into curated small group conversation to talk through what our long term future is going to look like when we start taking this magic elixir of Artificial Intelligence and block chain and big data and many other things and putting it all together in terms of financial services and I think I got noticed along the way. Rob Frohwein from Kabbage actually said it was the greatest event of its kind that he had ever attended. Now, I personally think that LendIt, on the larger side of things, is the greatest event of its kind, but for the small scale and CEO-exclusive focus, it was an amazing experience and I was really lucky to be a part of it, and I got noticed at ILPA.

Peter: Right, right, okay. Thank you for that plug there. So, why did you decide to take the job there. You know, the ILPA sort of was a pretty fledgling organization when you joined, so what was the impetus to take the role on of CEO?

Scott: You know, I was really ready for a new challenge. I had built something pretty important that I thought Financial Services Roundtable and Kabbage and OnDeck had….I knew a bunch of the leaders there pretty well and they approached me and said, look, we’re ready to formalize this organization, the Innovative Lending Platform Association, into a real trade association. We need someone to build it and to harness the power of the members together and I think that I’ve been pretty successful in that. I started with seven members, we now have twelve and we represent, I think, some of the bigger brands in the online small business lending space.

Peter: So then, what’s the mission of the association exactly?

Scott: You know, our members are completely united to a commitment to the health and success of America’s small businesses and we are dedicated to advancing the best practices and standards that support responsible innovation and access to capital for small businesses. So, what does that mean in reality?

It means that we are committed to disclosing the terms of all of our lending agreements to the small business borrowers so they fully understand what they’re taking out, in terms of their access to capital and credit, and we’re interested in serving them. If you take a look at what happened after the financial crisis, banks and financial institutions of all kinds really fled this marketplace for small business lending and we’ve been there, we’ve been there to help them from the very beginning.

Peter: Okay. So maybe, one of the initiatives that the ILPA put out fairly early on, I think it was probably after you got there, I’m guessing, was the SMART Box initiative which I know you just sort of referenced there like the importance of transparency and some of those concepts are being taken up by the states, so maybe just give a little background about that, that specific initiative and how it was successful.

Scott: Sure, sure. It, actually, started before I came on board, it started in 2016. A couple of the original members of ILPA got together, I think it was Kabbage and OnDeck and a couple of others came together, and decided that it was the right time to have some self-regulation in the industry and they came up with this concept called the SMART Box which is straightforward metrics around rate and total cost and it’s a single-page form that comes as part of all the loan documents for our members that shows total cost of capital, APR, monthly cost and cents on a dollar along with any potential pre-payment penalties.

It has been remarkably successful and a lot of folks that have been looking at it, I think, are….they’re concerned about certain aspects of it, but I think it’s become a real selling point for our members to say, look, we’re showing you absolutely every detail in a single, easy to get at TILA-like format and you can see what’s happened recently in the states. You’ve got…. California passed 1235 a couple of years ago and then the California DBO came out and looked at…if imitation is a serious form of flattery, we ought to be very flattered because the form that they came up with to capture all of their disclosures is a box, looks pretty much exactly like the SMART Box. (laughs)

Peter: Right.

Scott: So, we ought to be pretty flattered about that. We’ve been carrying that message to New York as well, we have model disclosure legislation that’s going to be introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate there that will really codify these disclosures to really give small business borrowers confidence in understanding what they’re taking out, in terms of their access to capital and credit.

Peter: Right, that makes sense. So, given your situation, given the position of the ILPA mission to help small business and…. obviously today, probably as never before, at least in our lifetime, have small businesses been suffering like they are right now…, I should preface this by saying we’re recording this on April 14th, it’s going to be published on April 24th and ten days right now feels like an eternity, so we need to keep that in mind when they listen to this that this is April 14th, but I wanted to maybe get your perspective on the PPP.

Some of your members have been very active, I know, OnDeck just came out yesterday, they’re starting to offer PPP loans, Kabbage, Lendio. Brock Blake has been one of the real champions from the get go of the whole program, he has been very active. Maybe of you can just describe how ILPA and your members are approaching the PPP.

Scott:  Sure, sure, and I appreciate you mentioning a couple of our members there, Brock Blake of Lendio, fantastic CEO of an amazing company and certainly, Kabbage, OnDeck, Fundbox, BlueVine, BFS are critical brands that can be moving capital very, very quickly along with the Innova small business brands, and The Business Backer and Headway Capital, BreakOut, Mulligan Funding and 6th Avenue, they can all be moving capital very, very quickly. We were involved in the development of the CARES Act, we are paying attention to it and working on it, we’ve been working with the Charter Department on the SBA on the program.

From my perspective, I can’t say the design is exactly what we would have wanted, however….I mean, think about the challenge that the Congress dumped at the doorstep of the SBA. Last year, SBA did a quiet $20 Billion in loans over the course of the year. Then Congress said, well deliver $349 Billion in loans in just a couple of months, there are no additional resources and do your best. That’s a really, really, really tall order and it’s difficult to imagine what they could have done perhaps differently. I think all of our members are very likely, if they haven’t already, they are very likely to be applying to become direct lenders through the PPP program.

I think it is important for SBA to entertain those applications very, very quickly and to authorize those small business lenders to move into the system. It’s a difficult process, though, if you look at the way that they have initially designed it. You go through the 7 (a) standard process which includes a trip through E-Tran, I don’t know if you know how that process works, but you have an application that comes from a borrower into your system, you create an alternative application called the Lender Application that you send to the SBA through this E-Tran system, you get into the queue.

At the end of that queue, at the end of that glorious rainbow there is a human which is… know, unfortunately, these people have to be working like mad trying to turn around these government guarantee numbers and then send them back to the lender and then the lender disburses the funds to the borrower at a manual and very slow process that is very, very difficult to manage. There are a series of things that I think they could probably have done differently. If you want me to go into that, I certainly can.

Peter: Yeah, let’s just hold that for a second.

Scott: Sure.

Peter: I think you mentioned that most of your members are going to be applying. So, the application process itself…..I guess let’s just start there because….this only came out, I think it was Wednesday night, I believe, of last week, so it’s been out like five and a half days, the actual way to apply. I know that some of your members have been applying, others have already set up bank partnerships to actually originate loans right now. Hopefully, by the time our listeners listen to this in ten days time, there will be dozens of fintech lenders that will have been approved. That remains to be seen, but I guess….what’s your view on the application process itself, how should that have been handled differently?

Scott: You know, we don’t know how they’re looking at each application and I think that part of the concern….I, actually, was detailed to FIMA during the Katrina and Rita disasters years ago, the hurricanes, and this is, I think, an interesting analogy, but I was detailed to the team that was trying to get debit cards into the hands of those victims that were affected in the Gulf Coast.

Lots of people in the team were consumed with the concern that there was going to be waste, fraud and abuse in the system. I think the same thing is really going on here with potential for additional lenders such as online and alternative lenders to enter the PPP system. There is a concern that there is going to be this kind of bad actor that is able to get through. I think that’s possible, but at this point, who cares.

Peter: Right.

Scott: I mean, like the house is on fire, the world is on fire, we have got to get these dollars into the hands of the small businesses. Here’s what I would recommend and this is just not my members, this just got off at the top of my head, just approve everybody to become an additional lender as, you know, they come in the door with a very short and very sweet contract that says, if you lied to us in your application, or if you abuse this system then your entire c-suite goes to prison (Peter laughs).

That should pretty quickly weed out the really bad actors, right, so you’re going to have a lot less waste, fraud and abuse and get these actual good actors, like our members from the Innovative Lending Platform Association, into the mix to be able to lend at speed to really small businesses that the banks are not equipped to lend to.

Because of what happened after the financial crisis, they really left this entire marketplace behind, either due to regulation, or to their risk committees, they’re not in a place where they’re lending $10,000 to local businesses any longer. They’re just…it’s not their bailiwick and so, we’re there and we’re absolutely ready to get going, they just have to let us in the door.

Peter: Yeah, and I feel like that’s what…..I mean, it’s a shame really that this wasn’t really done ahead of time. As soon as the CARES Act passed, I would have liked to have seen the SBA and Treasury get together and say, right, who is best equipped to move this quickly? Well, you’ve got a whole bunch of really established online lenders that do things in an automated way, many of them do things in a 100% automated way so, let’s just get them involved right off the bat. So, when it kicked off on Friday, April 3rd, we could have had all of these online lenders be approved because I think there’s been so much panic and distress go on Twitter and look at the hashtag #ppploans, particularly on April 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, that opening few days.

I mean, people were just beside themselves because, you know, Bank of America was saying, you have to have a loan with them to be able to apply….I mean, the other big banks just said, no, we’re not ready and you see that there’s already billions and billions being processed, oh, my god, we’re going to miss out. The small business owners are freaking out and I think the online lenders could have really done a service for the whole country, if they were up and running by then, but…..

Scott: They certainly could have, but, you’re right, you’re absolutely right, they certainly could have, but let’s give SBA two seconds of coverage here. I mean, considering the magnitude of the challenge, they did what they knew which is, okay, let’s ramp up what we know how to do and we’ll get to the fintechs eventually. It’s unfortunate they didn’t do it right upfront, but, you know, they kind of have like three people running around over there, they’re trying to figure out how to make this happen. To move $349 Billion out the door really, really quickly, it’s tough, and the SBA should have used us by… I really lay huge blame at their feet, I don’t think I can.

Peter: Right. I understand, I mean, they’ve got a tiny budget, they’re one of the smallest budgets of any of the government department so they had a monumental task to do. To be honest, they’re not doing a terrible job, money is flowing. I’ve been paying attention the last few days and there is money flowing and there’s a website that I saw on Twitter yesterday about status, you could put in the status of your PPP and it seems like the average time to get funds is 6.8 days, I believe, from actual sending of the application, so, money is flowing which is good.

Now, on that point, I’m just….I mean, if you talk to your members because a lot of these…I mean, your members don’t have access to unlimited capital and they’re not a Bank of America, or a Chase, so is that something that you’re hearing as a constraint there where these members can’t… if Kabbage and OnDeck both wanted to put through $25 Billion in PPP loans, they wouldn’t be able to, right. What are you hearing on the constraint on that side?

Scott: The liquidity problem is significant, and on the 6.8 days to get the funding, that is light years slower than what our members could be doing. Our members could certainly be underwriting and moving loans within, you know, hours, 24 hours, but there is a constraint that is very, very serious which is this liquidity question because our members don’t have unlimited access to billions and billions of dollars to lend to this program and hold these loans for the eight weeks that the SBA says we need to hang on to them for.

The Treasury and the Federal Reserve have announced a system, at least we have a term sheet on what it’s going to look like as an offtake as a secondary market that they’re going to create, a special purpose vehicle. Take these off the hands of the banks and of the fintechs and I think that’s critically important. We’ve been hearing rumors that this is going to be a 5-day offtake period which may end up being too slow, you know, okay, our members will make whatever they can make in terms of loans within a few hours and then wait for five days, offload them all and do it again. That seems to be too slow.

You would think that there is going to have to probably be some sort of interim step where they can offload this into a facility either run by……we’ve been hearing rumors that Goldman, Bank of America and a few others are giving the other to try to create an immediate term secondary market where we can drop them into that sort of a process, they can hold them for the five days and then move them into the Treasury facility, the Fed facility. I think that, one way or another, in real-time, the Federal government is going to have to take these loans off of our hands, there’s no other choice.

It’s not just us, you look at what all of the banks have been saying, they don’t have unlimited liquidity to be pouring out these loans on behalf of the government. They want to do it, they want to help, they can help as much as possible, but they’ve got to find a way to put this on to the Federal government’s books sooner than later.

Peter: Yes, it would great if that happens within 24 hours and who knows, by the time we publish it may have happened. Another question I’ve got is there are other, obviously, organizations out there, there’s the Marketplace Lending Association, there’s the Small Business Finance Association and others, how much are you interfacing with the leaderships of those organizations and providing a united front in Washington right now?

Scott: You know, I know the majority of these fintech trade leaders pretty well and we really do our best to find areas of common ground because we have such this great membership in different focuses, but we found a great way to collaborate on things like the Madden versus Midland fix and the valid when made problem. The entire working group worked pretty well together on legislation, and then on the FixIt, the OCC and the FDIC from a regulatory perspective.

But, if you look at how diverse the membership is….you have Stephen Denis with the Small Business Finance Association primarily focused on merchant cash advance providers, you’ve got Nat Hoopes with the Marketplace Lenders Association focused on consumer lenders, Brian Peters with Financial Innovation Now on the larger tech players, Scott Talbott over at the Electronic Transactions Association with their diverse membership, including banks and card companies.

Then you’ve got the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Sullivan and (inaudible), now it’s Julie Stitzel and I communicate with these folks as often as I can and we work together. We try to drive at least a united front on things like we’ve mentioned already which is liquidity challenges and the access to the PPP program, I think we’re all on the same page there. They should let us in the door as soon as they possibly can to offer these PPP loans and they should fix the liquidity question in the background using a Special Purpose Vehicle through the Federal Reserve.

Peter: How much of your time, right now, is spent really on the PPP-type initiatives, is this like 100% of your focus, 50%, what are you focused on right now?

Scott: I would say working on this specific program really consumes an awful lot of my time, but there are quite a few things that are coming soon that we ought to be thinking about, the main street Special Purpose Vehicle which may be a way for my members and small businesses, potentially, to get access to some capital to prop them up and keep them lending. I think that’s certainly a process that I’ll be focusing on and thinking about, the Phase 4 when Congress comes together and thinks about either Phase 3.5, or Phase 4, what is that going to look like.

We think that sometime in the next week or so, Congress is going to add a whole bunch more in terms of dollars into the PPP program. They’re talking about somewhere around $250 Billion more to the program now, unclear whether that’s going to be enough by the time they get around to it, but I think those are some of the areas…..for the moment, I think it’s important for all of us to be focused on this catastrophe and preparing for, you know, what our world is going to look like afterwards.

Peter: Right, right, for sure. You just mentioned something there I want to touch on and that is the health of small business lenders in general. I mean, many of the fintech companies have stopped lending, there’s been some layoffs that we’ve read about, how are you positioned as an organization to help your members, you know, through this because let’s face it, there’s not many small business loans happening right now beyond the PPP. So, how is that going to affect your members, you know, the health, the financial health of your members?

Scott: I think this is truly a black swan event, unlike anything that we’ve ever seen in our lifetime, so I think all of our members, along with smart companies everywhere were really prepared for a major national terrorist attack, a natural disaster, a major swift downturn in the economy, but I don’t think anyone prepared for a global shutdown of the entire global economy in real-time immediately and revenues go to zero. I think that was a very…. certainly for my members, a major shock to the system.

I think they’re muddling through, it’s difficult, I think that my members, some of the largest players in the space, and so I think they have some of the resources to be able to withstand a shock like this, but I think that they need to get access to capital and maybe that’ll be through the main street facility that’ll be coming maybe in the next few weeks. I think a lifeline for them would be if they’re able to lend through the PPP and give them that small sliver to keep on going and I think it’s in the Federal government’s interest to want that to be the case because you want innovation to be progressing when this is all said and done. You want the innovative companies to be still there, still working and still lending.

Peter: Right, right. Have you heard how quickly….like the origination fee now is 5% for sub-350 and 3% and 1% up to $10 Million, but have you heard how quickly this money, the origination fees are going to flow in to the lenders?

Scott: I have not and I certainly wish I had a good answer to that (Peter laughs). If I had a good answer to that, that would be stupendous. I think the government’s going to have to figure a way to get those fees to my members and to the banks relatively quickly in order to keep them alive and afloat……..

Peter: Right, right, for sure.

Scott:….so they can keep lending.

Peter: Okay. So then, we’re almost out of time, but a couple more questions before you go. I’d like you to sort of step back for a second and think about the impact this crisis is going to have, particularly, I’m interested in the impact on the small business lending landscape over the medium to long term. What do you think is going to change?

Scott: I think, to begin with, small businesses around the country are completely devastated and it’s going to take some time to unwind these extraordinary actions taken by the Federal government. You know, if you look at the CARES Act, the PPP program, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Special Purpose Vehicle, we are really…..hopefully, short term, quasi nationalizing America’s small business economy and we hope that is a short term effort which is critically required.

I think on the small business lending side of things from a fintech perspective, I think that in the long run this is going to completely expose manual paper-based underwriting as completely antiquated. The fact that at the end of the E-Tran rainbow, the SBA is a human is unfair to the small business borrower. These things should be done in an automated way and much more rapidly. If you look at the systems that financial institutions are using currently, if you have ever taken out a mortgage…I actually applied for a mortgage with the bank I had been with for 20 years and they asked me to print out my last several months of bank statements and send it to them. I mean, this is completely bananas and I think those kinds of things are going to go by the wayside and that’s going to change pretty dramatically on the small business lending side as well.

That’s not to say that fintechs are going to be replacing, or supplanting the banks, banks are critical to this ecosystem and I think that you’re going to need….you’re always going to need a safe place to put your money. Over the next several years, you’re going to see this, I think, great resurgence and an acceleration of innovation between banks and fintechs and there’s going to be a cooperation and a collaboration that we really never dreamed of before. The real winners are going to be the small business borrower and innovation is absolutely going to be accelerating.

Peter: I really hope that’s the case. I completely agree that this needs to happen and I hope this crisis provides an impetus for that. Last question, I’m just curious if there’s anything else that you think the government should be doing to help small business beyond what they’re doing right now with the PPP?

Scott: Sure. I think that they have got to, in a word, pull down the barriers to capital access and innovation. Take down barriers that are up currently and let innovation flourish. For example, we saw the real-time effects of the Madden decision increase bankruptcies and decrease access to capital and the effects it has made, we call it the development of capital desert in certain places.

We should have fintech charters as Congressman Patrick McHenry recommends, we should have innovation offices in every financial agency and then we should see the proliferation of fintech sandboxes around the country, both the state and federal level, with the government figuring out how to shoulder the short term liability cost associated with limited testing of new products.

Look, I think it’s time to let the industry alongside traditional financial institutions price risk and move capital in real-time. I think it’s time to harness the forces that are re-shaping our civilization today, and that’s the Internet of Things, big data and machine learning on the way toward Artificial Intelligence, all enabled by block chain technologies. When you take that magic elixir of forces and you put them together, harnessing them with financial institutions and small business lenders such as our members, you’re going to see an unimaginable change in the way that people access financial services.

If you look at some of the leaders in the space, somebody by the name of …….one of our great members Bill Phelan of PayNet, one of the leading figure in the space, describe us as on the road to one click credit. When you start thinking about your accounting system offering you an alert that says, look, in about three months, we’re going to have a cash concern and so here are three, or four different ways that you can find access to capital and credit.

Beyond that, one step beyond that, you look at what Peter Domingos from the University of Washington thinks is going to happen, one of the globe-leading thinkers on Artificial Intelligence, through his book “The Master Algorithm.” He actually thinks that at some point your algorithm is going to know you so well that those decisions of small business borrowers will not even be offered to you, they will simply appear. It will price and select the access to capital and credit and it will appear in your box. I think that’s our longer term hopeful future beyond what this crisis is and hopefully, that’s something that financial institutions and fintechs can work on together.

Peter: Well, that would be fantastic, a fantastic future, I hope we get there soon. Anyway, Scott, I really appreciate you taking the time today, you’ve got very important work to do right now and I appreciate taking time out of your day to talk to us.

Scott: Thank you, Peter, really enjoyed it.

Peter: Okay, see you.

We can trace the rise of fintech certainly in the small business lending space to the financial crisis of 2008/2009 when banks pulled back from small business lending they let a lot of their long term customers down and people were ripe for alternatives and we had entrepreneurs, at that time, creating new companies, new ways of doing things. So, I often wonder, this is a more significant crisis, I would argue, than the Great Recession and we are going to have enterprising entrepreneurs all over the this country that are going to create new businesses born out of this crisis.

And, you know, we also have the entrepreneurial spirit of those companies that are already in existence and there’s going to be a lot of new developments like Scott just talked about there from some of the incumbents. Once we get through this and it’s going to be tough to get through this, but once we do, we are going to see, I believe, a rise of fintech 3.0 where we’re going to have many new companies, many new ideas and I think the small business lending landscape, in fact I would argue, the entire financial landscape will look remarkably different then.

Anyway on that note, I will sign off. I very much appreciate you listening and I’ll catch you next time. Bye.

Today’s episode was sponsored by LendIt Fintech USA, the world’s largest fintech event dedicated to lending and digital banking. It’s happening on our new dates of September 30 and October 1st at the Javits Center in New York. This year, with everything that’s been going on, there will be so much to talk about. It will likely be our most important show ever. Come and join us in New York to meet the people who matter, to learn from the experts and get business done. LendIt Fintech, lending and banking connected. Sign up today at[/expand]

You can subscribe to the Lend Academy Podcast via iTunes or Stitcher. To listen to this podcast episode there is an audio player directly below or you can download the MP3 file here.

Peter Renton is the chairman and co-founder of LendIt Fintech, the world’s first and largest digital media and events company focused on fintech.

LendIt Fintech conducts three conferences a year for the leading fintech markets of the USA, Europe, and Latin America. LendIt also provides cutting-edge content all year long via audio, video, and written channels.

Peter has been writing about fintech since 2010 and he is the author and creator of the Fintech One-on-One Podcast, the first and longest-running fintech interview series.

Peter has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, NPR, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, and dozens of other publications.

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Covid third world debt will outlast the virus – it should be relieved Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:01:12 +0000 “An immortal person is a contradiction in terms.”-Emmanuel Levinas, God, Death and Time (2000) Taliban Victory and Jihadi Terror: Strategic and Legal Connections At the surface, there are no clear connections between Taliban victory in Afghanistan and wider Jihadi terrorism. Upon closer inspection, however, the Taliban triumph reflects more than Islamist success in just one […]]]>

An immortal person is a contradiction in terms.”-Emmanuel Levinas, God, Death and Time (2000)

Taliban Victory and Jihadi Terror: Strategic and Legal Connections

At the surface, there are no clear connections between Taliban victory in Afghanistan and wider Jihadi terrorism. Upon closer inspection, however, the Taliban triumph reflects more than Islamist success in just one country. Potentially, at least, strengthened Islamist governance in that perpetual battleground country will expand to other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

               In all likelihood, this corrosive expansion will be soon and possibly sudden.

               Further details are necessary. The Taliban’s rapid re-conquest of Afghanistan reenergized global jihad’s determined war against the “unbeliever,” especially the United States and Israel. Among other things, dramatic submission of the world’s principal superpower (the evident head of a “Zionist-Crusader alliance”) to Koran-directed “true believers” is being regarded by Islamist loyalists as an auspicious omen for “holy war.” For tangible example, the future of Palestinian “resistance” groups such as Hamas now appears substantially brighter. In this connection, though Hamas is a Sunni organization, it is still supported by Shiite Iran. Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad regard the US defeat in Afghanistan as a premonition of eventual operational success and as proof of divine guidance.[1]

               These are not exclusively military or religious issues. There are also various legal or judicial consequences to be considered.[2] To begin, the Palestinian insurgency is generally identified as “terrorism” by Israel and much of the West.[3] Even if assorted Palestinian fighting organizations could be granted “just cause” for their stated political objectives, the means they have chosen are often patently unjust.[4]

               Under authoritative law, the oft-repeated assertion that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is no more than an empty witticism. Under international law, insurgent resorts to force, even those with a presumptive just cause, become terrorism ipso facto when they are applied indiscriminately to targeted populations.[5] In essence, indictments of Palestinian armed force as terroristic are fully justified whenever insurgent fighters act against the codified[6] or customary rules of “proportionality,”[7] “discrimination” (“distinction”) and/or “military necessity.”[8]

               Under binding international law, which is always an integral part of United States domestic/municipal law,[9] even the “sacred” rights of insurgency must always exclude any deliberate targeting of civilians or resorts to force intended to inflict gratuitous suffering. Shallow political witticisms aside, no insurgent force can ever assert a right to employ “any means necessary.” Though such clichéd revolutionary slogans may prove useful in mobilizing popular Palestinian support against Israel, they have no valid jurisprudential content.[10]

Explicit Legal Standards

                Prima facie, the pertinent normative rules are unambiguous. In world law, any insurgency that intentionally blurs the lines between combatant and non-combatant populations is impermissible. Irrespective of any “just cause,” such insurgency is “terrorism.”[11] Moreover, in these easily recognizable matters, there can be  no proper legal exceptions and no legal defense arguments based on purportedly reciprocal wrongs.

               “Rights cannot derive from wrongs” remains a peremptory expectation of all international law.[12] Similarly, there can be no valid legal claims based on “the other side’s” alleged wrongdoing.

               In proper legal terminology, tu quoque, an argument that the “other side’s” transgressions justify “any means necessary,” has long been formally discredited. Under international law, any argument for tu quoque is inherently invalid after the landmark judgments handed down at Nuremberg (Germany) in 1945-46 and at the  later Far East (Japan)  ad hoc criminal tribunal.[13]

               For both Israeli (IDF) and Palestinian insurgent forces, the usual right to armed force[14] can never supplant the peremptory rules of humanitarian international law. Such primary or jus cogens rules (norms that permit “no derogation”[15]) are also correctly referenced as the law of armed conflict orthe law of war. Inter alia, attentiveness to this basic law must remain an integral part of any armed force’s military operations. This immutable law has evident doctrinal roots in the Hebrew Bible, the Law of Athens and in Roman Law (most notably Emperor Justinian’s Institutes).

               During Israel’s last Gaza war, diversionary legal manipulations by Hamas and its supporters were de rigeur. Again and again, without any legal basis, supporters of Palestinian terror-violence against Israeli noncombatants insisted that “the ends justify the means.” Leaving aside the ordinary ethical standards by which any such argument must always be characterized as indecent, the law is similarly plain: In any insurgency, even the most allegedly noble cause (ends) can neverjustify openly inhumane effects (means).

               In law, such matters are not complicated. For more than two thousand years, core legal principles have specified unequivocally that intentional violence against the innocent isprohibited. Always.

               In ongoing matters of terrorism and counter-terrorism, legal reasoning ought never be disregarded.[16] Clichés do not make sensible policies, nor do they make  authoritative law. In contemporary jurisprudence, one person’s terrorist can never be another’s “freedom-fighter.” Even presumptively allowable resorts to insurgent force must always conform to long-settled laws of war.

               The message is clear. International law cannot be invented and reinvented according to particular situations. It maintains very specific and determinable form and content. It cannot be defined and redefined by insurgent groups or by insurgent patrons. This is especially the case when insurgent violence intentionally targets a designated victim state’s most vulnerable civilian populations.

               In these cases, ipso facto, insurgent violenceis terror-violence.

               Sometimes we hear insurgent groups referenced as “national liberation movements.” Nonetheless, when such groups fail to meet the test of just means, they can never be protected as lawful or legitimate. Even if “compelling law” (“peremptory” or jus cogens rules) were to accept the factually questionable argument that certain terror groups had fulfilled broadly accepted criteria of “national liberation,” (e.g., Palestinian Hamas), they would still not satisfy the equally germane legal standards of discrimination, proportionality, and military necessity.

               Significantly, these core standards are not reserved to national armies. They are expressly applied to insurgent or sub-state armed forces by the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and by the two 1977 Protocols to these Conventions.

               There is more. In law, all war[17] and insurgency is governed by ascertainably common standards of “humanity.”[18] These overarching criteria are binding upon all combatants by virtue of comprehensive customary and conventional international law, including Article 1 of the Preamble to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907. This foundational rule is generally called the “Martens Clause;” it makes all persons responsible for upholding the “laws of humanity” and the associated “dictates of public conscience.”

The Obligations of Comity

                World law requires continuous international cooperation, an obligation made most conspicuously famous by Emmerich de Vattel’s Law of Nations (1758) and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769). Though probably unknown to a majority of practicing lawyers in the United States, Commentaries represent the literal foundation of United States domestic law.  

               Under an always-compulsory international law, terrorist crimes mandate universal cooperation in apprehension and punishment. As punishers of “grave breaches” under international law,[19] all states are expected to search out and prosecute (or extradite) individual terrorists. In no conceivable circumstances, and whatever the presumed expectations of religious faith, are states permitted to identify terrorist “martyrs” as “freedom fighters.”

               In law, we have seen, rights can never stem from wrongs.[20] Even if certain populations continue to insist on treating the most recalcitrant jihadist insurgents as “martyrs,” such treatment can have no exculpatory or mitigating effect on punishing attendant terror-crimes. Despite any alleged justness of cause, and this includes frequently-cited Palestinian references to “sovereignty” and “self-determination,” nothing in international law can justify the deliberate targeting of non-combatant Israeli populations.[21]

                There are certain notable jurisprudential ironies. During the last Gaza War, such targeting killed and injured not only Palestinians working in Israel, but also Thai agricultural laborers whose only reason for working in Israel was to support indigent families back home. “Credo quia absurdum,” said the ancient philosopher Tertullian. “I believe because it is absurd.”

                Several years back, Mohammed Deif, then leader of Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, summed up his organization’s raison d’etre: “Our soldiers yearn for death, the way the Zionist soldiers yearn for life.” Though this succinct summary was more than just a bit misleading – after all, Hamas terrorists “yearn for death” only because they associate “martyrdom” with personal immortality – a consuming ambiance of death is still their preferred geostrategic orientation.[22]

Palestinian Insurgency Beginnings

                In some ways, at least for Hamas and other Palestinian insurgents,[23] those earlier days represent a sort of Dickensian “best of times.” Then, under a more broadly welcoming insurgent canopy, Palestinian “diversity” was able to emerge and strengthen. At that moment, even atheistic and Marxist elements were allowed to make some collaborative cause with Islamists, a phenomenon that would be unheard of today.

               There is more. Then, in deference to variously fundamental emphases on operational collaboration, no particular ideology was encouraged to become a singularly hegemonic orientation. This apparent largesse was evident even inside Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the umbrella terror group first formed in 1964. That seminal formation took place three years prior to the Six Day War; this means three years before there were any “Israel Occupied Territories.”

               What exactly was the PLO seeking to “liberate” during those years? This is not a difficult question. The answer was and remains all of Israel, the entire micro-state that is still identified on both Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas maps as “Occupied Palestine.”.

               Now, after America’s defeat in Afghanistan, only identifiable Jihadists – those who are properly versed in Ribat (religious conflict fighting for “Islamic land”) – will be invited to participate in the Jihadist’s “divinely-mandated” armed struggle. Overall, the Palestinian fight will continue to change from being a preeminently secular and tactical conflict to one that may wittingly ignore all more ordinary and usual strategic/legal imperatives. Still, this all-consuming “struggle” remains founded upon unwavering commitments to “sacred violence.”  At its conceptual heart, such struggle reveals present-day expressions of “religious sacrifice.”[24]

Violence and the Sacred

                For the Palestinian terror movement against Israel, violence and the sacred remain deeply interpenetrating and inherently inseparable. Though it maintains various more-or-less legitimate claims of “self-determination,” religious sacrifice is what Jihadi Palestinian insurgency is ultimately all about. To finally understand this key point represents a sine qua non of successful counter-terrorism. Without a deeper understanding of such primal content, neither Israel nor the United States could ever mount systematically effective counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East or North Africa.

               Foundational links between religious sacrifice and violent insurgency have a long and potentially instructive history. To acknowledge and gain useful insight from this chronology, planners and policy-makers may look back to ancient Greece, specifically, to Plutarch. Ideas of Palestinian-Islamic religious sacrifice are ferociously adversarial and explicitly Islamist, but they are not unprecedented.

                The first century biographer’s Sayings of Spartan Mothers can speak to current issues. Plutarch recognizes the honorable female parent as one who deliberately rears her sons for civic sacrifice. Always, such a venerated Greek mother was relieved to learn that her son had died “in a manner worthy of his self, his country and his ancestors.” On the other hand, “unworthy” Spartan sons who failed to live up to this enviably bold standard of sacrifice were singled out for severe reprimand, and extensive public humiliation.

               One woman, we may learn from Plutarch, whose son had been the sole survivor of a disastrous military engagement, killed him brutally with a tile. Culturally, it seems, this killing was the only fitting punishment for the son’s unpardonable cowardice. Later, the eighteenth-century Swiss (Genevan) philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, citing to Plutarch, described another citizen-mother’s tale as follows: “A Spartan woman had five sons in the army and was awaiting news of the battle.  A Helot (slave) arrives trembling; she asks him for the news. `Your five sons were killed.’  `Base slave, did I ask you that?’ The slave responds: `We won the victory.’  The mother runs to the temple, and gives enthusiastic thanks to the gods.”  

                There are serious lessons here for both Israel and the United States. Even now, and plausibly more so after Afghanistan, it is impossible to deny that the deepest roots of Jihadist terror originate from cultures that display similar views of religious sacrifice. Always, the key purpose of such ritualistic violence extends beyond any presumed expectations of civic necessity. Always, this rationale goes directly to the heart of individual human fear; that is, to the palpable font of existential dread.[25]

               Though bitterly ironic, any such primal fear of death is linked with martyr-centered terrorism, even today. For Palestinian terrorists, there are multiple accepted paths to immortality. Back in 2009, Palestinian-American terrorist, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, actively sought the death sentence for his murder spree at Fort Hood back on November 5 of that year. Per his explanation in open court, “If I die by lethal injection, I would still be a martyr.”

               What could be clearer? What earthly promise could possibly be more gratifying to this mass killer than a religiously pledged conferral of eternal life? Significant connections between existential dread and Jihadi terrorism are conspicuous and potentially insidious.

               At his or her existential core, the Hamas fighter is not primarily interested in land or equality or justice. This terrorist wittingly kills himself or herself, together with various innocent others, to ensure a personal life that will literally never end. Accordingly, the so-called “death” that he or she actually expects to suffer in consequence of this “sacrificial “suicide” is really nothing more than a momentary inconvenience. In the final tally, it represents just a vaguely minor distraction.

               In such matters, truth may emerge through paradox. Hamas and otherPalestinian “martyrs” kill themselves as “suicides” in order not to die. There is no more central truth to Jihadi terror that is so consistently ignored or widely misunderstood.

               There is more. While seemingly irrational, the Jihadi martyr, the Shahid, can still calculate rationally that his/her intended suicide will be “cost-effective. This hero-fighter, after all, is embarked on what is presumed to be a divinely-guided trajectory. He/she has chosen a gloriously fiery path to life immortality. For him or her, there can be no more perfect path.

Martyrdom and Jihad

               In Islam, “martyrdom” has always been closely associated with Jihad. Unequivocal and celebratory invocations for such sacrificial killing can be found in the Koran (9:111) and, more explicitly, in the canonical hadith. “Do not consider those who are slain in the cause of Allah as dead,” instructs the Koran, “for they are living by their Lord.” For Hamas, such obligatory aspects of sacrificial terror ought never be overlooked by Israel or the United States. The two-sided nature of terror/sacrifice – the sacrifice of the victim and reciprocal death of “the Martyr” – is codified in the Charter of Hamas:  “The Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise…`I swear by that (sic.) who holds in His Hands, the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.’”

               Today, post-Afghanistan implications of this Islamist decisional calculus warrant intensive study in both Jerusalem and Washington. Convinced that Shahada (“Death for Allah”) violence against the Israel will lead to a glorious martyrdom, the true Jihadist can never be effectively deterred solely by ordinary threats of armed reprisal. Among other pertinent ironies, such one-dimensiomnal threats could sometimes become an incentive to additional and/or enlarged terrorism.

               Credo quia absurdum, said the ancient philosopher Tertullian. “I believe because it is absurd.”

                For Israel, especially after Afghanistan, there exists no expectedly tolerable “Two-State Solution.” For the most part, the Islamic world recognizes only one state in this tiny part of the Middle East, and this state is not Israel. On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s formal status to Nonmember Observer State,  This upgrade allows “Palestine” to bring complaints against Israelis before the International Criminal Court (ICC), but not as a state.[26]

               In specifically juridical terms, Palestine has limited “legal personality,” but not as a fully sovereign state.

                Israel and its Islamist terrorist enemies maintain very different orientations to “peace.” This stark asymmetry puts Israel at a disadvantage in virtually any “peace process.” While Israel’s Islamist enemies dutifully manifest their “positive” expectations for immortality, individual and collective, via the doctrinal slaughter of “heathen,” Israel’s leaders flatly reject their foes’ faith-based and annihilatory decisional calculus.

                Among other relevant perils, Israel now confronts a real and still-expanding threat of both unconventional war and unconventional terrorism.  Faced with opponents who are not only willing to die, but who actively seek their own ecstatic “deaths,” Jerusalem should better understand the critical operational limits of ordinary warfare, national homeland defense and “mainstream” strategic deterrence. In the end, power over death could trump every tangible form of power, including forms that are based upon aircraft carriers, missiles or technologically advanced weapon systems. The core cause of this expectation lies at the heart of what it means to be human.

                In all world politics, any deeply felt promise of immortality must be of distinctly “transcendent importance.”[27]This signifies, among other things, that the primary Israeli/American  orientation to wage prudent battle in counter-terrorism operations should focus on “mind over mind,” and not just “mind over matter.” Whenever insurgent enemies assign absolute primacy to the words “I believe,” it should be a signal to Jerusalem that the best Israeli response must be undertaken at a recognizably intellectual level.[28] Though intangible and not easily understood by ordinary politicians or planners, an enemy search for power over death could sometimes prove decisive,  overriding even the perils of ordinary military harms.

Quo Vadis

               What next? To dismiss such a distressingly complex reality will be tempting for Israel and also the United States, but such blithe dismissal could prove catastrophic.[29] When a determined enemy is driven by presumptively existential notions of “I believe,”[30] the aggregated arsenal of plausible counter-measures must become correspondingly flexible. This compelling analytic imperative would become even more obvious should that enemy become endowed (directly or indirectly) with nuclear[31] or other weapons of mass-destruction.[32]

               In the longer term, after Afghanistan, Israeli and US strategic policy planners should bear in mind that acts of nuclear terrorism need not require authentic nuclear weapons;  they could involve “only” conventional rocket attacks on Israel’s Dimona reactor.[33] In the final analysis, Israeli and American  deterrence postures will have to function as a seamless web,[34] allowing decision-makers to choose rationally from an already-available range of cost-effective policy options.

               Such fateful choice could sometime concern insurgent foes who seek not “merely’ sovereignty and self-determination,[35] but also “power over death.”

Summing Up: Perils and Remedies

               For Israel and the United States, the current Jihadi terrorist danger lies at two discrete but still interrelated levels. First, it exists at the level of the individual Islamist individual, the “chosen one” who seeks “martyrdom” through a deliberate path of insurgent violence. Second, it exists at the level of Islamist states, sovereign-actors which may sometime decide to represent, in institutionalized macrocosm, certain human “self-sacrificers.”

               Someday, and more-or-less plausibly, these states may choose collective “self-sacrifice” through the initiation of chemical, biological or nuclear war.  Such a conflict might be fought not for any traditional military reasons, but instead for the “liquidation” of “infidels.” On its face, any such grim determination would represent the unholiest of possible “marriages” between aggressive war and genocide, two mega-crimes identified under codified and customary international law.[36] In any such conflict, the defining Jihadist playbook would not be the classical military theories of Sun-Tzu or von Clausewitz, but rather the presumptively gratuitous destructiveness of de Sade.

               The root problem to understand here is Jihadistdeath fear, and the consequent dread-based compulsion to sacrifice variously despised “others.” This compulsion, in turn, stems from a widespread and doctrinal Islamist belief that killing unbelievers and being killed by unbelievers represents the most direct path to personal immortality. In very briefest summation, Jihadist terrorist unwillingness to accept personal death may lead to the killing of “others” in order to escape this presumptively unbearable fate.

                For many Islamist terrorist enemies, both individuals and states, killing Jews and “crusaders” offers optimal “immunization” against personal death and disintegration. Conceptualized in expressly psychological categories of analysis, the death fear of the Islamist enemy “ego” is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the “other.” Among psychologists and sociologists,, this complex idea was famously captured by Ernest Becker’s vivid paraphrase of Elias Canetti: “Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.”[37]

               There is more. The Jihadist enemies of Israel and the United States do not intend to do evil.[38]  Rather, they commit to the killing of Jews, Americans and other “infidels” with undisguised religious conviction, with limitless “purity of heart.” Perversely “sanctified” killers, these relentless enemies will continue to generate an incessant search for more and more victims. Though mired in blood, this terrorizing search will usually remain tranquil and self-assured for the perpetrators, a twisted disposition born of conspicuous self-delusion. This is that the terrorist violence against “unbelievers” is properly “sacrificial.”

               It is never infamous or shameful.

Confronting a Hydra

               Not merely by accident, the military wing of Fatah, allegedly the more moderate and secular exponent of Palestinian terror, is named the Al-Aqsa MartyrsBrigade. In roughly the same fashion as Palestinian Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah’s “Brigade” remains oriented toward more than “armed struggle.” It remains dedicated to certain coinciding principles of religious sacrifice. This all-consuming commitment promises its followers not just military victory over the “Zionist occupiers” and their American patrons, but immunity from death.

               By definition, these are incomparably potent promises.

               Palestinian terrorism is prospectively more dangerous today, after Afghanistan, than it was previously. In Israel’s early days, there werealready Fedayeen (“self-sacrificers”) adversaries, but their dominant motives were explicitly nationalistic and only derivatively “Islamic.” Today, Jerusalem must learn to think in terms of “desacralizing” this relentless adversary, of convincing Jihadists that the ritualized murders of “Jews” or “Zionists” will lead not to any promised paradise, but to insufferable “terrors of the grave.” Above all else, this counter-terrorist effort must become an intellectual task, not just a narrowly political or propagandistic one.

               Now there are associated operational questions. To wit, should Israel and the United States continue to target Jihadist terrorist leaders, a controversial strategy of political killing that could arguably preclude any need for wider wars? While the benefits of getting rid of specific terrorist masterminds without mounting any full-scale war are temptingly meaningful and perhaps even self-evident, it is also true that the Jihadi terror threat now confronting Israel and the United States resembles the mythic Hydra. This creature was a monster of many heads, one which was impossible to kill. Each time a single head was “successfully” excised by Hercules, as analysts may recall, two new ones grew in its place.

               For Israel and America, this is not an encouraging metaphor.

               There are also some wider lessons to acknowledge. In world politics and international law, the ultimate acquisition of power is never really about land or treasure or conquest or some other traditionally reassuring evidence of national primacy. Rather, it is presumed victory over death, a personal triumph associated by German philosopher Heinrich von Treitschke with the always-special prerogatives of national sovereignty.[39]

               Though contrived, the relevant reasoning here is nonetheless straightforward. When my state is powerful, goes the basic argument, so too am I. At some point, moreover, when my state seems ready to prevail and to prevail indefinitely, I too am granted a personal life that will be gloriously unending. Stated more succinctly: An “immortal” state creates (either as citizen or subject) the “immortal” person.[40]

In a world that always craves simple explanations, such abstract ideas can prove bewildering for scholars and decision-makers.  Still, to decipher such causal notions at a meaningful level, analysts could do well to recall certain familiar images of mid-1930s Nazi party rallies at Nuremberg. Leni Riefenstahl’s monumental film celebration of Der Fuhrer, The Triumph of the Will, may say it best. Reminding the German people of philosopher Hegel’s famous aphorism, the legendary film underscores something of prospectively incomparable insight:

An individual nation-state can become much more than a mere juristic person.

 It can become the “march of God in the world.”

Looking ahead, in a warning apt to both Jerusalem and Washington,  Islamist terrorist strategies will fare best whenever it can be made persuasive to Jihadists that “God is on our side.”[41]

Final Strategies

               Some final questions surface. In the dissembling aftermath of Afghanistan, what is the best overall counter-terrorist strategy for Israel and the United States? To begin, Israeli and American strategic/ intelligence communities will need to identify new and more promising ways of deterring non-rational adversaries.[42]

               Simultaneously, especially as Palestinian statehood may now more likely be validated by variously steady increments of recognition in the U.N. General Assembly, these communities will need to avoid a potentially lethal fallacy. This is the probable error of accepting Palestinian statehood on the strength of ostensibly binding assurances to “demilitarize.” [43] To be sure, no international legal agreements can be self-enforcing.

               Though former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had cited Palestinian demilitarization as a condition of negotiating Palestinian statehood (a citation presented as evidence of his particular foresight and prudence), it could never actually have had such an intended effect. Jurisprudentially, at least, the reason for such doubt is clear and essentially incontestable: Every state maintains an “inherent” right of self-defense.[44] This “peremptory”prerogative can never be casually challenged or taken away. This truth obtains even if the new state itself should explicitly agree to certain firm limitations on its “jus cogens” right.[45]

                By ignoring core roots of Jihadi terrorism, Middle East peace programs could continuously detour Israel and the United States with starkly contrived “Two-State Solutions.” Should Israeli Prime Minister Bennet yield to any assorted pressures exerted by Jihadist terrorist patron states, he will have overlooked or underestimated the doctrinal origins of Israel’s most recalcitrant enemies. Should he choose, instead, to reject such dangerous pressures, the Prime Minister will have understood that Israel’s ongoing struggles with Palestinian terrorism have always been about much more than “land,” “settlements,” or “self-determination.”[46]

               For Israel – now facing a more determined struggle for Palestinian statehood after the conclusive US defeat in Afghanistan – this key fact can be disregarded only at considerable collective peril. Looking ahead, should Jerusalem commit various critical errors in securing itself against Iran and “Palestine” simultaneously (these complex perils are both mutually reinforcing and force-multiplying[47]), the consequences would also reverberate in the United States.[48] Although an immortal person is a “contradiction in terms,”[49] the Jihadi terrorist still presumes that a protracted “holy war” against Israel, America and other enemy states can confer power over death.

               In essence, therefore, what these Jihadists so enthusiastically embrace is “murderous immortalities.”

[1] In commending the Taliban on August 17, 2021, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh observed: “The demise of the US occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the demise of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine.” See “The Taliban’s Palestinian Partners: Implications for the Middle East Peace Process,” a report of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, No. 652, September 5, 2021.

[2] International law remains a “Westphalian” or “vigilante” system. Reference here is to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which concluded the Thirty Years War and created the now still-existing decentralized or self-help state system of world politics. See: Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct. 1648, 1., Consol. T.S. 119, Together, these two treaties comprise the Peace of Westphalia.

[3] For a discussion of authoritative criteria to distinguish permissible insurgencies from impermissible ones, see: Louis René Beres, “The Legal Meaning of Terrorism for the Military Commander,” CONNECTICUT JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, Vol. 11., No. 1., Fall 1995, pp. 1-27

[4] See earlier, by this writer: Louis René Beres,

[5] According to the rules of international law, every use of force must be judged twice:  once with regard to the right to wage war (jus ad bellum), and once with regard to the means used in conducting war (jus in bello).  Today, in the aftermath of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, and the United Nations Charter, all right to aggressive war has been abolished.  However, the long-standing customary right of self-defense remains, codified at Article 51 of the Charter.  Similarly, subject to conformance, inter alia, with jus in bello criteria, certain instances of humanitarian intervention and collective security operations may also be consistent with jus ad bellum.  The laws of war, the rules of jus in bello, comprise (1) laws on weapons; (2) laws on warfare; and (3) humanitarian rules.  Codified primarily at The Hague and Geneva Conventions (and known thereby as the law of The Hague and the law of Geneva), these rules attempt to bring considerations of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity into belligerent calculations.

[6] According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a treaty is always an international agreement “concluded between States….” See Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, May 23, 1969. Entered into force, Jan. 27, 1980. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 39/27 at 289 (1969, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 8 I.L.M., 679 (1969).

[7] The law of armed conflict is largely concerned with the principle of proportionality, which has its jurisprudential and philosophic origins in the Biblical Lex Talionis, the law of exact retaliation. The “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” can be found in three separate passages of the Jewish Torah, or Biblical Pentateuch. These Torah rules are likely related to the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1728- expression 1686 BCE) – the first written evidence of penalizing wrongdoing with exact retaliation. In matters concerning personal injury, the code prescribes an eye for an eye (# 196), breaking bone for bone (#197), and extracting tooth for tooth (#199). Among the ancient Hebrews, we must speak not of the Lex Talionis, but of several. The Lex Talionis appears in only three passages of the Torah. In their sequence of probable antiquity, they are as follows: Exodus 21: 22-25; Deuteronomy 19: 19-21; and Leviticus 24: 17-21. All have similarities to various other Near Eastern legal codes. These three passages address specific concerns: hurting a pregnant woman, perjury, and guarding Yahweh’s altar against defilement. See Marvin Henberg, Retribution: Evil for Evil in Ethics, Law and Literature, 59-186 (1990). In contemporary international law, the principle of proportionality can be found in the traditional view that a state offended by another state’s use of force, if the offending state refuses to make amends, “is then entitled to take `proportionate’ reprisals.” See Ingrid Detter De Lupis, The Law of War, 75 (1987). Evidence for the rule of proportionality can also be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) at Art. 4. Similarly, the American Convention on Human Rights allows at Art. 27(1) such derogations “in time of war, public danger or other emergency which threaten the independence or security of a party” on “condition of proportionality.” The military principle of proportionality requires that the amount of destruction permitted must be proportionate to the importance of the objective. In contrast, the political principle of proportionality states “a war cannot be just unless the evil that can reasonably be expected to ensure from the war is less than the evil that can reasonably be expected to ensue if the war is not fought.” See Douglas P. Lackey, THE ETHICS OF WAR A ND PEACE, 40 (1989).

[8] The principle of military necessity is defined authoritatively as follows: “Only that degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, required for the partial or complete submission of the enemy with a minimum expenditure of time, life and physical resources may be applied.” ADAM ROBERTS & RICHARD GUELFF, DOCUMENTS ON THE LAWS OF WAR 10 (3rd ed. 2000) (quoting U.S. DEP’T OF THE NAVY ET AL., THE COMMANDER’S HANDBOOK ON THE LAW OF NAVAL OPERATIONS, NWP 1-14M,, (July 2007)). The term “military necessity” is found, inter alia, in the 1946 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg: Extracts on Crimes Against International Law, in ADAM ROBERTS & RICHARD GUELFF, DOCUMENTS ON THE LAWS OF WAR 155 (1989). 

[9] The US Neutrality Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 960 (originally Sec. 25) (1794) was enacted in order for the new American republic to implement the Law of Nations. Pertinent Congressional authority derived specifically from article 1, Section 8, clause 10 of the U.S. Constitution. See also Talbot v. Jansen, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 133, 156 (1795) (Paterson, J).

[10] Specific applications of the law of war to insurgents (non-state combatants) dates to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. As more than codified treaties and conventions must comprise the law of war, it is plain that the obligations of jus in bello (justice in war) are part of “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations” (from Art. 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice) and thereby bind all categories of belligerents. (See Statute of the International Court of Justice, art. 38, June 29, 1945, 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. 993).  Further, Hague Convention IV of 1907 declares that even in the absence of a precisely published set of guidelines regarding “unforeseen cases,” the operative pre-conventional sources of humanitarian international law obtain and still govern all belligerency. The related Martens Clause is included in the Preamble of the 1899 Hague Conventions, International Convention with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War by Land, July 29, 1899, 187 Consol. T.S. 429, 430.

[11] Under international law, terrorist movements are always Hostes humani generis, or “Common enemies of mankind.” See: Research in International Law: Draft Convention on Jurisdiction with Respect to Crime, 29 AM J. INT’L L. (Supp 1935) 435, 566 (quoting King v. Marsh (1615), 3 Bulstr. 27, 81 Eng. Rep 23 (1615) (“a pirate est Hostes humani generis”)).

[12] Ex injuria jus non oritur.

[13] The criminal responsibility of leaders under international law is not limited to direct personal action or to official position.  On the pertinent principle of command responsibility, or respondeat superior, see:  In re Yamashita, 327 U.S. 1 (1945); The High Command Case (The Trial of Wilhelm von Leeb), 12 LAW REPORTS OF TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS 1 (United Nations War Crimes Commission Comp., 1949); see Parks, COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAR CRIMES, 62 MIL.L. REV. 1 (1973); O’Brien, THE LAW OF WAR, COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY AND VIETNAM, 60 GEO. L.J.  605 (1972); U S DEPT OF THE ARMY, ARMY SUBJECT SCHEDULE No. 27 – 1 (Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Hague Convention No. IV of 1907), 10 (1970).  The direct individual responsibility of leaders is also unambiguous in view of the London Agreement, which denies defendants the protection of the act of state defense.  See AGREEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS OF THE EUROPEAN AXIS, Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat.  1544, E.A.S.  No.472, 82 U.N.T.S.  279, art.

[14] This right must always be understood in terms of the continuously decentralized system of international law bequeathed at Westphalia in 1648. See: op cit., Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct. 1648, 1., Consol. T.S. 119. Together, these two treaties comprise the Peace of Westphalia.

[15] According to Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: “…a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.” See: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, May 23, 1969. Entered into force, Jan. 27, 1980. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 39/27 at 289 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 8 I.L.M.  679 (1969).

[16] The primal importance of reason to legal judgment was prefigured in ancient Israel.  Jewish theories of law, insofar as they display influences of Natural Law, offer a transcending order revealed by the divine word as interpreted by human reason.  In the words of Ecclesiastics 32.23, 37.16, 13-14:  “Let reason go before every enterprise and counsel before any action…And let the counsel of thine own heart stand…For a man’s mind is sometimes wont to tell him more than seven watchmen that sit above in a high tower….”

[17] Under international law, the question of whether or not a “state of war” exists between states is generally ambiguous. Traditionally, it was held that a formal declaration of war was necessary before a true state of war could be said to exist. Hugo Grotius even divided wars into declared wars, which were legal, and undeclared wars, which were not. (See Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace, Bk. III, Chas. III, IV, and XI.) By the start of the twentieth century, the position that war obtains only after a conclusive declaration of war by one of the parties was codified by Hague Convention III. This treaty stipulated that hostilities must never commence without a “previous and explicit warning” in the form of a declaration of war or an ultimatum. (See Hague Convention III Relative to the Opening of Hostilities, 1907, 3 NRGT, 3 series, 437, article 1.) Currently, declarations of war may be tantamount to admissions of international criminality, because of the express criminalization of aggression by authoritative international law, and it could therefore represent a clear jurisprudential absurdity to tie any true state of war to formal and prior declarations of belligerency. It follows that a state of war may now exist without any formal declarations, but only if there exists an actual armed conflict between two or more states, and/or at least one of these affected states considers itself “at war.”

[18]Underlying these common standards is a unifying concept of human “oneness.”  The history of western philosophy and jurisprudence contains many illustrious examples of such welcome cosmopolitanism. Most notable are Voltaire and Goethe. We need only recall Voltaire’s biting satire in the early chapters of Candide and Goethe’s oft-repeated comment linking the contrived hatreds of belligerent nationalism to declining stages of human civilization. We may also note Samuel Johnson’s famously expressed conviction that patriotism “is the last refuge of a scoundrel;” William Lloyd Garrison’s observation that “We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government…. Our country is the world, our countryman is all mankind;” and Thorsten Veblen (“The patriotic spirit is at cross-purposes with modern life.”) Of course, there are similar sentiments discoverable in Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human and in Fichte’s Die Grundzűge des gegenwartigen Zeitalters.” Finally, let the reader recall Santayana’s coalescing remark in Reason and Society: “A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.” The ultimate point of all these cosmopolitan remarks is that narrow-minded patriotism is inevitably “unpatriotic,” at least in the sense that it is not in the genuine long-term interests of citizens or subjects.

[19].The term “Grave Breaches” applies to certain serious infractions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977. The actions defined, as “Grave Breaches” in the four Conventions must be performed willfully or intentionally, and against the different groups of “protected person” identified by each Convention. The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions are under obligation “to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed,” a grave breach of the Convention. As defined at Art. 147 of Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (6 U.S.T. 3516, signed on Aug. 12 1949, at Geneva), Grave Breaches  “shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention:  willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Reference to Grave Breaches can also be found in the INTERIM REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF EXPERTS, UNITED NATIONS DOCUMENT, S/25274, and January 2, 1993, at Sec. 3., Art. 47.

[20] Op Cit, Ex injuria jus non oritur.

[21]Some supporters of a Palestinian state argue that its prospective harms to Israel could be reduced or eliminated by ensuring the new Arab state’s immediate “demilitarization.” For informed reasoning against this argument, see: Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why a Demilitarized Palestinian State Would Not Remain Demilitarized: A View Under International Law,” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Winter 1998, pp. 347-363; and Louis René Beres and Ambassador Shoval, “On Demilitarizing a Palestinian `Entity’ and the Golan Heights: An International Law Perspective,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vo. 28., No.5., November 1995, pp. 959-972.

[22] In science-based studies of world politics, rationality and irrationality have now taken on very precise meanings. In this regard, a state or terror group is presumed to be rational to the extent that its leadership always values national survival/group survival more highly than any other conceivable preference or combination of preferences. Conversely, an irrational state or terror group is one that would not always display such a markedly specific preference ordering. On pragmatic or operational grounds, ascertaining whether a particular state adversary such as Iran would be rational or irrational could become a problematic and daunting task. Regarding Jihadi terror groups, on the other hand, it is plain by definition that they are inherently prone to irrational decision-making.

[23] Israel must now be increasingly wary that Hamas could move forcefully against PA in the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and render that territory similar to Gaza. See, on this cautionary note, Ehud Eilam:

[24] For a classic scholarly book with this revealing title: See: René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (1977).

[25] In the Middle East, where theological doctrine divides into the dar al-Islam (world of Islam) and the dar al-harb (world of war), acts of terror against unbelievers have generally been accepted as expressions of sacredness. In turn, individual sacrifice derives, in large part, from a very conspicuously hoped-for power over death. By adopting atavistic practice, the Jihadist terrorist expects to realize an otherwise unattainable immortality. For Hamas, which seeks secular power as a new sovereign state of Palestine, certain obligatory aspects of sacrificial terror must never be overlooked. These aspects, underscoring the two-sided nature of terror/sacrifice – that is, the sacrifice of “The Unbeliever” (or “Apostate”) and reciprocal sacrifice of “The Martyr” – is codified within the Charter of Hamas as a “religious” problem.” For authoritative details of the Hamas Charter, see:  Louis René Beres:

[26] See: Louis René Beres (Israel):

[27] See Alfred North Whitehead’s Religion in the Making (1926).

[28] In prophetic words of poet Guillaume Apollinaire (The New Spirit and the Poets, 1917): “It must not be forgotten that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.”

[29] This brings to mind the closing query of Agamemnon in The Oresteia by Aeschylus: “Where will it end? When will it all be lulled back into sleep, and cease, the bloody hatreds, the destruction”?

[30] “`I believe,’” says Oswald Spengler, “is the great word against metaphysical fear, and at the same time it is an avowal of love.’” See: The Decline of the West, Spengler’s Chapter on “Pythagoras, Mohammed, Cromwell.”

[31]No state, including Israel, is under any per se legal obligation to renounce access to nuclear weapons; in certain distinctly residual circumstances, moreover, even the actual resort to such weapons could be construed as lawful. See generally The Legality of the Threat or Use of Force of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, 1997 I.C.J. (July 8). The final paragraph of this Opinion, concludes, inter alia: “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law. However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”

[32] For earlier looks at the expected consequences of specifically nuclear attacks, by this author, see: Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1986). 

[33]Hamas fired rockets at Dimona back in 2014. Earlier, Saddam Hussein launched Scud-B rockets toward Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.  For an early and informed consideration of reactor attack effects, see:  Bennett Ramberg, Destruction of Nuclear Energy Facilities in War (Lexington MA:  Lexington Books, 1980); and Bennett Ramberg, “Attacks on Nuclear Reactors: The Implications of Israel’s Strike on Osiraq,” Political Science Quarterly, Winter 1982-83; pp. 653 – 669. More recently, see: Bennett Ramberg, “Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel’s Plutonium-Production Reactor,”Arms Control Today,May 2008, pp. 6-13.

[34]See, by this author and former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval, at West Point, Pentagon:

[35]On this choice, ancient philosophy can be helpful. More precisely, Plato’s theory, offered in the fourth century B.C.E, seeks to explain all political choice in terms of epiphenomena, an unstable realm of half-truths and distorted perceptions.  In contrast to the uniformly stable realm of immaterial Forms, a realm from which all genuine knowledge must be derived, the political arena is dominated by myriad contradictions of the reflected world, contradictions that inevitably fail to account for “metaphysical fear.”

[36] Article 38(1)(b) of the STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE describes international custom as “evidence of a general practice accepted as law.” The essential significance of any norm’s customary character is that the norms bind even those states that are not parties to the pertinent codification. Even where a customary norm and a norm restated in treaty form are apparently identical, these norms are treated as jurisprudentially discrete. During the merits phase of MILITARY AND PARAMILITARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AGAINST NICARAGUA, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated: “Even if two norms belonging to two sources of international law appear identical in content, and even if the States in question are bound by these rules both on the level of treaty-law and on that of customary international law, these norms retain a separate existence.” See: MILITARY AND PARAMILITARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AGAINST NICARAGUA, Nicar. V. US., Merits, 1986 ICJ, Rep. 14 (Judgment of 27 June).

[37] See Ernest Becker, Escape from Evil (1975).

[38] In this connection, for relevant generic understandings, see Michael Polanyi’s discussion of the “moral appeal of immorality” in the philosopher’s Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1958).

[39] See Louis René Beres, “Self-Determination, International Law and Survival on Planet Earth,” Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 11, No.1., pp. 1-26. On these special prerogatives, see also French political theorist Bertrand de Jouvenal, Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good (The University of Chicago Press, 1957).

[40] In scientific terms, of course, such “logic” is literal nonsense. Apropos of this point, see: Emmanuel Levinas, “An immortal person is a contradiction in terms.”  (God, Death and Time; 2000).

[41]Through the ages, with “God on our Side,” conflicting states and religions have asserted that personal immortality can sometimes be achieved at the sacrificial expense of certain despised “others,” of “heathen,” “blasphemers,” “apostates.” When he painted The Triumph of Death in 1562, Peter Bruegel drew upon his direct personal experience with both religious war and disease plague.  In the sixteenth century, he already understood that any intersection of these horrors (one man-made, the other natural) could be ill-fated, force-multiplying and even synergistic. This last term describes results wherein the “whole” calculable outcome exceeds the sum of all constituent “parts.”

[42] This post-Afghanistan strategic imperative extends to assorted state enemies of Israel, especially a potentially nuclear Iran. See, in this connection, Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely deter a Nuclear Iran? The Atlantic, August 2012; and Professor Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Israel; and Iran at the Eleventh Hour,” Oxford University Press (OUP Blog), February 23, 2012. General Chain was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC).

[43] See, op cit., Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why a Demilitarized Palestinian State Would Not Remain Demilitarized: A View Under International Law,” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Winter 1998, pp. 347-363; and Louis René Beres and Ambassador Shoval, “On Demilitarizing a Palestinian `Entity’ and the Golan Heights: An International Law Perspective,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vo. 28., No.5., November 1995, pp. 959-972.

[44] In principle, this right may extend to defensive first-strikes or preemption. The origins of the right to anticipatory self-defense in international law lie in customary law, in the Caroline. This was a case that concerned the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule. Following this case, the serious threat of armed attack has generally justified certain militarily defensive actions. In an exchange of diplomatic notes between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, then U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster outlined a framework for self-defense that did not require an antecedent attack. Here, the jurisprudential framework permitted a military response to a threat so long as the danger posed was “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” See: Beth M. Polebaum, “National Self-defense in International Law: An Emerging Standard for a Nuclear Age,” 59 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 187, 190-91 (1984) (noting that the Caroline case had transformed the right of self-defense from an excuse for armed intervention into a legal doctrine). Still earlier, see: Hugo Grotius, Of the Causes of War, and First of Self-Defense, and Defense of Our Property, reprinted in 2 Classics of International Law, 168-75 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1925) (1625); and Emmerich de Vattel, The Right of Self-Protection and the Effects of the Sovereignty and Independence of Nations, reprinted in 3 Classics of International Law, 130 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1916) (1758). Also, Samuel Pufendorf, The Two Books on the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law, 32 (Frank Gardner Moore., tr., 1927 (1682).

[45]This also a “Higher Law” or “Natural Law” principle. In his DE OFFICIIS, Cicero wrote:  “There is in fact a true law namely right reason, which is in accordance with nature, applies to all men and is unchangeable and eternal…. It will not lay down one rule at Rome and another at Athens, nor will it be one rule today and another tomorrow.  But there will be one law eternal and unchangeable binding at all times and upon all peoples.”  See also DE LEGIBUS, Bk. i, c, vii.  Blackstone’s COMMENTARIES expressly recognize that all law “results from those principles of natural justice, in which all the learned of every nation agree….”  See William Blackstone, COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, adapted by Robert Malcolm Kerr (Boston; Beacon Press, 1962), Book IV, “Of Public Wrongs,” p. 62 (Chapter V., “Of Offenses Against the Law of Nations.”). Thomas Aquinas recalls Augustine as follows:  “St. Augustine says: `There is no law unless it be just.’ So the validity of law depends upon its justice.  But in human affairs a thing is said to be just when it accords aright with the rule of reason: and as we have already seen, the first rule of reason is the Natural Law.  Thus all humanly enacted laws are in accord with reason to the extent that they derive from the Natural law.  And if a human law is at variance in any particular with the Natural law, it is no longer legal, but rather a corruption of law.” See SUMMA THEOLOGICA, 1a 2ae, 95, 2; cited by D’ Entreves, supra, pp. 42 – 43

[46] Philosopher Jose Ortega y’Gasset had understood these superficially political issues at much deeper and generic levels. Ultimately, the seminal Spanish thinker understood, these issues have been about the continuous human struggle against death. Always, therefore, they have been about God and personal immortality.

[47] This notion of “force-multiplying” resembles the concept of “synergy,” an interaction or intersection whereby the resultant “whole” is always greater than the additive sum of its “parts.”

[48] More specifically, Israel’s nuclear strategy could have certain meaningful implications for U.S. national security. On these generally ignored connections, see Louis René Beres and (General/USA/ret.) Barry McCaffrey, ISRAEL’S NUCLEAR STRATEGY AND AMERICA’S NATIONAL SECURITY, Tel-Aviv University and Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv, December 2016:

[49] See epigraph, above, by philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

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Capturing Los Angeles’ COVID-Closed Venues Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:01:08 +0000 In the current coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, music creators and many of the professionals who support them have been greatly affected. The Recording Academy’s Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pacific Northwest and Texas chapters are committed to creating, amplifying, and sharing resources that will provide some form of comfort. Below you will find resources available to those in […]]]>

In the current coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, music creators and many of the professionals who support them have been greatly affected. The Recording Academy’s Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pacific Northwest and Texas chapters are committed to creating, amplifying, and sharing resources that will provide some form of comfort.

Below you will find resources available to those in the music community who live in the Recording Academy’s West Region. Please visit regularly for updates.


Tucson Musicians COVID19 Relief (GoFundMe)
The COVID-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented loss of work for Tucson’s local musicians. This fund is set up to temporarily help those who could use some money for food, medicine, bills, childcare and other essentials.


Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

This program provides emergency relief grants to City of Los Angeles-based dance, music, and theatre artists, as well as small ensembles who have had their public performances, shows, or concerts canceled. Solo artists are eligible for up to $400 and ensembles up to $1,200 to cover losses in time and/or materials that were committed toward events, which were to have taken place at a venue within the City of Los Angeles and were to be open to the general public. Eligible events should have been publicly advertised and scheduled to take between March 16, 2020 and May 16, 2020, AND must have been canceled (or postponed to after August 30, 2020).

Due to a modest amount of available fund in round one of this fund, artists who were scheduled to perform pieces within a festival, teach private solo or group lessons, or perform at a private function for an invite-only audience are not eligible. The first round will focus on artists and groups who were headlining an entire public event/evening.

COVID-19 Emergency Health Grant for Artists
In light of the rapidly escalating impacts of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of our Southern California creative community, Women’s Center for Creative Work has re-worked its 2020 Emergency Health Grant for Artists, and is now offering $1,000 grants. Low-income artists who work in any genre or medium, who identify as a woman, as Trans or non-binary, and/or as a person of color, who live in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino Counties are eligible to apply.

Creative Community Fund
Winston House, a musician’s social club based in Venice, CA, has set up a fund that pairs people in the music industry who need financial help due to COVID-19 with people who can help.

Backline Care
Billed as “The Music Industry’s Mental Health and Wellness Hub,” this organization’s mission connects music industry professionals and their family with a trusted network of mental health and wellness providers.

COVID-19 California Arts Field Survey
The California Arts Council is surveying the arts field at-large to gather data on the potential financial impacts of this public health emergency. If you are an organization or individual in the arts field that anticipates losing personal or business income related to COVID-19, consider filling out this brief survey. This data will be an important resource to inform the California Arts Council and the state of California.

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation COVID-19 Response Page
This online hub is designed to help employers and related workforce in L.A. County respond to the challenges of the COVID-19/coronavirus. Updates are made daily. 

The Musicians Union of Los Angeles – Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds
AFM Local 47 and the Music Fund of Los Angeles have established Emergency Relief Funds to assist members in need who have been subject to work stoppages relating to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Music Fund of Los Angeles Emergency Relief Fund
The Music Fund of Los Angeles Executive Board has established an Emergency Relief Fund for AFM Local members who have lost revenue due to work stoppages resulting from the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency. This fund will be able to extend a limited amount of grants for members who work for employers covered by a Local 47 contract or collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Musicians Union Local 6 – San Francisco
For members of this union who have lost their income from playing and teaching, run the risk of losing their homes or healthcare due to their inability to pay. The Local 6 Board of Directors is meeting on March 30, 2020, to evaluate all applications, and evaluate relative need.

LA Mayor’s Economic Relief Package
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an $11 million economic relief package for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses anchored in the city of Los Angeles can apply for no-fee microloans of $5,000–$20,000 that may be used to cover working capital. The program will offer relaxed underwriting with no credit score minimum, a generous allowance to meet debt service and a 100% loan-to-value ratio.

Opera San José Artists and Musicians Relief Fund
The opera company has set up an emergency cash reserve to support the “musicians, singers, carpenters, stitchers, designers and other hourly company members” that make its productions possible.


Denver Metro Area Artist COVID-19 Relief Fund
Artists are one of the largest segments of the Denver metro area population that make up the “gig economy” and are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund aims to help said artists basic daily expenses. Priority will be given to those artists who are part of historically marginalized groups “because of the intersectional economic realities they face already.”


New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund amid COVID-19
Freelance classical musician and music educator Thomas Goodrich organized this fund, with a goal of raising $30,000 to help New Mexico musicians who have been financially impacted by coronavirus-related cancellations. Priority will be given to artists of color, LGBTQ and non-binary artists, and disabled artists.


Red Dirt Relief Fund
The Red Dirt Relief Fund has offered financial assistance to Oklahoma music professionals in times of need since 2012. It has pledged $50,000 to a new coronavirus relief fund, offering one-time emergency grants of up to $250 on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply for a grant here.


Northwest Folklife: COVID-19 Artist & Community Resource List
Northwest Folklife is committed to supporting artists and community groups and has compiled a list of resources for financial assistance, mutual aid and advocacy, and informational support.

Seattle Artists Relief Fund Amid COVID-19
This fund is aimed at helping those in the greater Seattle arts community who have been financially impacted by cancellations due to COVID-19. Depending on funding levels and amount of requests, priority may be given to artists from communities that have been historically and systemically economically disadvantaged in the Seattle Area: BIPOC artists, transgender & non-binary artists, and disabled artists

Seattle Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund
A coalition of philanthropy, government, and business partners has joined together to create a COVID-19 Response Fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in the Puget Sound region.

Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund
Seattle hospitality workers are currently able to apply for full or partial unemployment, and the city is working to pass a ban on evictions during this time. Despite these reliefs, there is no 100% rent forgiveness, and unemployment payments take time to arrive and are often not enough to cover basic living costs in one of the most expensive cities in the nation. Additionally, those laid off from jobs that also pay for their medical insurance may have to buy into COBRA or the open market, which can be a devastating cost while relying on unemployment payments alone. The aim is to provide everyone who applies with emergency funds, but the fund will prioritize the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and immunocompromised members of the community.

Seattle Independent Artist Sustainability Effort
A comprehensive document listing all available resources for every gig-based sector, including actors, musicians, composers, choreographers, dancers, designers, directors, drag performers, DJs, and more.

Seattle Music Teachers Fund
For musicians living and working in Seattle “the odds are you make 30%-50% of your income teaching lessons.” Often the length of shifts falls short of state requirements for state income programs like disability or worker’s compensation. This fund is meant to help with income lost due to canceled lessons and other non-performance music work.

Financial Resources for Washington Residents Impacted by COVID-19
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for Washington consumers impacted by the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Oregon Musicians Relief Fund
This fund organized by the Jeremy Wilson Foundation is raising $25,000 to go toward medical expenses, lodging, food and other vital living expenses for musicians based in Oregon and Clark County, Washington, impacted by sickness or loss of work due to the pandemic.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Arts Stabilization Fund
In addition to donating $50,000 to the Seattle Artists Relief Fund and another $50,000 to the Artist Trust COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, the city’s mayor has launched a $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund to help mitigate revenue losses due to the moratorium on events and public gatherings.

Seattle Musicians Access to Sustainable Healthcare
SMASH helps connect Seattle musicians to healthcare, dental services and health education.

COVID-19 Handbook for Creative Industries
King County, Washington has created an online handbook that “is being rapidly updated to bring together resources to take care of yourself and your family; to support the arts and culture community; and to prepare for recovery.”

Seattle’s Office of Film + Music and Special Events’ online resource for current activity and updates on permit restrictions and resources small businesses, employees, contractors, and gig workers can take advantage of during the current climate.

COVID-19 Relief Resources for Hawaii Based Artists
List of resources available to Hawaii locals seeking information on relief funds, health and prevention tips, resources for musicians, information for small businesses and ways to donate to help those in need. 



Houston Music Foundation
Houston Music Foundation is a crisis relief fund created to help our city’s musicians in times of need. The goal of Houston Music Foundation is to raise funds for local musicians residing in Harris County during times of crisis, and to get donations into the hands of those in need as quickly as possible. Qualified applicants are eligible for a one-time grant of $500. 

Banding Together – ATX
The Red River Cultural District is Banding Together with the Austin live music community to support the venues, artists, creatives, service/hospitality and production workers, businesses and additional organizations that rely on SXSW, regular programming and continual income to survive. Donations to the local non-profit will help provide financial relief to those in the Austin live music community that have been economically impacted by the cancellation of SXSW and COVID-19.

DFW Musician & Gig Worker Fund
This fund aims to assist two groups of people: full-time musicians who perform at bars, restaurants, weddings, and private gigs; and live music gig workers (stagehands, FOH, box office employees, etc.) who are having a hard time paying necessary living expenses.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
HAAM provides access to affordable healthcare for Austin’s low-income working musicians, with a focus on prevention and wellness. Many Austin musicians are self-employed and have no access to health insurance or basic healthcare. They often work multiple jobs and struggle to pay for food, clothing and shelter, with nothing left for healthcare. Since 2005, HAAM has helped 5,300 musicians access over $73 million dollars in healthcare value. These include routine dental work, doctor visits and prescriptions, psychiatric counseling sessions, eye exams, out-patient procedures, specialist referrals, hearing screenings and more.

Southern Smoke Foundation
Southern Smoke Foundation provides funding to individuals in the food and beverage industry who are in crisis. Established in 2017, our emergency relief fund has distributed more than $830,000 to individuals in the food and beverage industry in crisis. The application process is completely anonymous.

SIMS Foundation
SIMS Foundation provides mental health and substance use recovery services for musicians, music industry professionals, and their families to support the well-being of the Austin music community.

Creating Our Future Dallas Low Income Artist Relief Fund
For Dallas area artists and/or freelancers who are experiencing a decline in business as a result of Covid-19 closures.

Austin Texas Musicians
The musician advocacy nonprofit formed by local artist Nakia Reynoso is working to secure relief funds and resources for musicians. In the meantime, it has created a continually-updated resource list.

Dallas Artist Relief Fund
Creating Our Future is a group of artists and arts advocates in Dallas who are raising money to support artists and freelancers who are taking financial hits as a result of closures and lost income from COVID-19. The GoFundMe campaign has set a goal of $5,000 to raise funds to provide emergency and preventative resources to those at financial risk. The support is aimed at helping support for low-income, BIPOC, trans/GNC/NB/Queer artists who can apply here.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
HAAM provides access to affordable healthcare for low-income musicians living in Austin.

Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers
H.O.M.E provides financial housing assistance for needy aging musicians in Austin with grant assistance and other support, including referrals to additional available resources.

I Lost My Gig- Austin
Designed to benefit Austin locals who lost work due to SXSW’s cancellation, I Lost My Gig is currently soliciting donations. As of Sunday (March 15), it had already received over 750 submissions representing over $4.2 million in lost income.

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
This centralized guide was created for small businesses and nonprofits in Texas who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and are looking to apply for SBA loans. Those who have suffered “substantial economic injury” from COVID-19 may be eligible for economic injury disaster loans of up to $2 million.

Texas Music Office
Though the office isn’t offering benefits itself, it can help music workers affected by the pandemic apply for the state’s disaster unemployment assistance, which extends unemployment benefits to those who don’t traditionally qualify.

Texas Workforce Commission
Texas residents can submit an application for unemployment benefits here.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area
WFS, the nonprofit governing body for the regional workforce, is offering layoff support both for businesses and workers in light of the coronavirus outbreak.


Crew Nation
Live Nation has committed $10 million to Crew Nation – contributing an initial $5 million to the fund, then matching the next $5 million given by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar. Crew Nation is powered by Music Forward Foundation, a charitable 501c3 organization that will be administering the fund.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration notes small business owners in the following designated states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19): California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.

Creative Capital’s List of Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Creative Capital has created a list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals.

Foundation for the Contemporary Arts Emergency Fund
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts has created a temporary fund to meet the needs of artists who have been impacted by the economic fallout from postponed or canceled performances and exhibitions. For as long as the foundation’s Board of Directors determines it is necessary and prudent to do so, the Foundation will disburse $1,000 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 virus.

Jazz Foundation of America
The Jazz Foundation’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund provides housing assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief and direct financial support in times of crisis.

Rauschenberg Emergency Grants Program
New York Foundation for The Arts has partnered with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to administer a new emergency grant program that will provide one-time grants of up to $5,000 for medical emergencies. The grants are available to visual and media artists and choreographers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the United States, District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories.

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund (MPPWF) have created the COVID-19 Disaster Fund that is now available to eligible SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic.

Sound Girls
Sound Girls, an organization that supports women working in professional audio and music production, is compiling a list of resources to utilize during this forced downtime and unemployment. From best business practices, career development, continuing education, and side hustles to get you through this trying time.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.

American Association of Independent Music
A2IM is surveying indie music companies about how the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting their businesses. The results will inform the organization’s discussions with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, as well as its investigations of federal assistance programs.

American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
Any AGMA member in good standing is invited to apply for financial assistance under the AGMA Relief Fund, which has temporarily doubled the amount of assistance available to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Artist Relief Tree
Anyone who is an artist can request funds from the Artist Relief Tree, which plans to fulfill every request with a flat $250 on a first-come-first-serve basis. The fund is currently not accepting new requests until it can secure more funding, but if you would like to be informed if and when the opportunity becomes available again, click here. has put together a list of online remote opportunities for musicians that are available for U.S.-based musicians during the COVID-19 outbreak. Their financial resources page has short-term and long-term job opportunities, as well as governmental resources to help musicians generate revenue.

Blues Foundation HART Fund
The HART Fund helps underinsured or uninsured blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a range of health concerns.

COVID-19 Music Production Response Group*
A Facebook group meant as an “open forum for constructive debate about the effects of COVID-19 on music production industry professionals,” according to administrators. Its nearly 4,000 members (as of March 18) are sharing news updates, suggested actions, job opportunities and other resources.

Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund*
Equal Sound, an organization that strives to break down traditional genre boundaries through events and advocacy, is inviting musicians who have lost income due to the pandemic to apply for funds. Applicants must provide proof they had a confirmed concert canceled over the coronavirus to receive the money.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program
In response to the pandemic, Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses around the world, including music and live events businesses. More details to come (you can sign up for updates here). Facebook also has a new Business Resource Hub to help small businesses prepare for and manage disruptions like COVID-19.

Freelance Coop Emergency Fund
The Freelance Coop, which connects creative freelancers with business resources, created an emergency fund for freelancers adversely affected by the pandemic. Examples of funding usage are unexpected childcare costs due to school closures, client cancellations, and medical expenses due to the virus itself. As of March 18, the fund had $35,279 in requests and $5,299.69 raised, and is continuing to call for donations to keep up with demand.

Gospel Music Trust Fund
Individuals working in the gospel music field can submit a request for financial assistance to the Gospel Music Trust Fund, which grants funding in the event “of an emergency or major catastrophe, terminal or severe illness,” according to their website.

Independent Venue Week*
Non-profit organization Independent Venue Week has compiled a list of indie music venues that have launched GoFundMe and other fundraising campaigns to stay afloat during the nation-wide closures.

International Bluegrass Music Association’s BlueGrass Trust Fund
Current or former bluegrass music professionals can apply here for financial grants and loans, which are generally between $500 and $5,000. The association has also created a coronavirus-specific resource page.
The “peer-to-peer wealth distribution” service is a tool for salaried workers to donate funds across a database of freelancers, service industry and gig economy workers who are impacted by coronavirus health and safety restrictions.

Missed Tour*
Artists and bands who have been displaced from touring due to the pandemic can list their merchandise on this site to help offset lost revenue — with zero charges or fees. Apply to be added to the site here.

Music Health Alliance
The Nashville-based Music Health Alliance provides healthcare support services to uninsured members of the music industry.

Music Maker Relief Foundation
The foundation, which provides ongoing support to American artists 55 and older who live in chronic poverty, also gives out emergency grants to artists in crisis. It is now soliciting donations to ensure the stability of vulnerable elderly musicians during the pandemic.

NOMAD Fundraiser for the Touring Crew (GoFundMe)
Touring manager Frank Fanelli is aiming to raise $20,000 for touring crew members and roadies who have lost income due to gig cancellations and postponements. Donations close at the end of March.

Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s Assistance League
PAL provides financial assistance to elderly musicians for medical and living expenses. Preference is given to blues artists, though musicians in other genres may be eligible depending on available funds.

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The Small Business Administration has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for economic injury disaster loans. However, you must be located in a “declared disaster area” to apply for assistance. Check if your state qualifies here.

Tour Support Free Online Therapy
Tour Support, a mental health nonprofit for the live music industry, is offering independent touring contractors whose tours have been postponed or canceled one month of free online therapy through Better Help.  

Viral Music — Because Kindness is Contagious
Independent musicians are invited to use this more than 21,000-member Facebook support group to connect with music fans. “Use this joint to post links to your merch store, online shows, Patreon, or online music lessons,” organizers write. “If you’ve had a gig canceled, post the city and your Venmo/PayPal — many of us would love to pass along our ticket refunds to you.”

Resources for Writers in the Time of Coronavirus
As writers, teachers, publishers, and booksellers in local, national, and international communities “grapple with how to proceed in their creative, financial, professional, and personal lives during this time of uncertainty,” POETS & WRITERS has compiled a list of resources.

Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund
Started by Luther Hughes, founder of Shade Literary Arts, this relief fund seeks to “help at least 100 queer writers of color who have been financially impacted by the current COVID-19. Priority will be given to queer Trans women, and queer disabled writers of color. The minimum disbursement is $100, and the maximum is $500.

The New Music Solidarity Fund 
This fund is an artist-led initiative that aims to grant emergency funding to musicians impacted by COVID-19.
The Fund has raised over $130,000, primarily from fellow musicians, composers, and music professionals. At least two hundred and sixty, $500 emergency assistance grants will be made available to applicants who meet the criteria.

American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
Any AGMA member in good standing is invited to apply for financial assistance under the AGMA Relief Fund, which has temporarily doubled the amount of assistance available to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Online Resources For Musicians The website has compiled a list of online remote opportunities that are available for U.S.-based musicians during the COVID-19 outbreak. Their financial resources page has short-term and long-term job opportunities, as well as governmental resources to help musicians generate revenue. 

Coronavirus: Resources for Property Owners
National Association of Realtors has compiled an online hub of resources for property owners impacted by the global pandemic

The Creator Fund
The fund covers up to $500 per creator to help cover medical, childcare, housing or grocery needs.

Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Mortgage Help for Homeowners Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks are taking steps to help people who have been impacted by the coronavirus.   If your ability to pay your mortgage is impacted, and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period

Feeding America
The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks secures and distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.

HART Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust)
The Blues foundation’s fund helps underinsured or uninsured blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a range of health concerns.

The Material World Foundation, created by George Harrison in 1973, is today donating $500,000 to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, Save the Children, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charities, which are providing much-needed aid and care during this COVID-19 pandemic. For every person that shares their own “Inner Light” moment on social media using the hashtag #innerlight2020, the MWF will give another $1 to help those affected by COVID-19 (up to $100k.)

Harpo Foundation Visual Arts Grant
This grant provides direct support to under-recognized artists 21 years or older. Amount awarded can be up to $10,000. Application deadline is May 1, 2020


Resources For Music Creators & Professionals Affected By COVID-19: East Region
Resources For Music Creators & Professionals Affected By COVID-19: South Region

Recording Academy And MusiCares Establish COVID-19 Relief Fund

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Familiar Enemies Johnson, sock set for the final in Indian Wells | ATP tour Thu, 11 Mar 2021 05:33:52 +0000 There will be no secrets in the final on Sunday at the ATP Challenger Tour in Indian Wells. Close friends and longtime enemies Steve Johnson and Jack sock are ready for an all-American showdown under the desert sun, in which both of them are looking for a decisive victory before the BNP Paribas Open. The […]]]>

There will be no secrets in the final on Sunday at the ATP Challenger Tour in Indian Wells. Close friends and longtime enemies Steve Johnson and Jack sock are ready for an all-American showdown under the desert sun, in which both of them are looking for a decisive victory before the BNP Paribas Open.

The championship at the Oracle Challenger series – Indian Wells, has 30-year-old Johnson compete against 27-year-old Sock in what will be the eleventh meeting between the two. They will not face each other at Stadium 5 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden until 12:30 p.m. PST.

Together, the Americans tried to win the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and won the bronze medal in the men’s doubles. But they have also had a few encounters on their own. In total, they both have five wins in their long-running rivalry, with Johnson most recently winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 at the ATP Tour event in Delray Beach last month.

The Southern California native claimed two of her three ATP Challenger Tour meetings, including her last clash at the Sarasota Open in 2013, while Sock one 4-3 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head Tour-level series. The native Nebraska triumphed especially in straight sets Roland Garros in 2014.

So far 2020 has been a resurgent season for both participants, and Sunday’s final will serve as a very important test. After struggling with form and confidence last year, a piece of silver will go a long way for both Johnson and Sock.

Johnson, who opened his campaign with a title at another Challenger 125 event – Canberra International in Bendigo, Australia – also reached his first ATP Tour quarter-finals of the year at Delray Beach Open from He’s been a force at Indian Wells all week and only lost one set on the way to the title fight. The world number 75 is expected to climb to at least 66th place on the FedEx ATP rankings on Monday.

“I always enjoy being in the desert and competing,” said Johnson. “This is pretty much my home tournament. It’s my favorite event and it’s always important to be good here.

“I thought I played the breakpoints well today. It was definitely an improvement over the last few days. It’s great to have another game here at Indian Wells. We’ll go on from there. I’ll have a nice dinner tonight and focus on tomorrow’s game when it comes down to it. “

Photos: Oracle Challenger series/ Jared Wickerham

Sock is now on a long way back to the top of the men’s group after surviving a combined dry spell of 10 games on tour level and Challenger circuit after thumb surgery and a subsequent decline in form. Former number 8 in the world arrived at Delray Beach unranked, but with a win over Radu Albot – his first in the individual (not-Laver Cup) since 2018 – setting the stage for a big week in California.

The Nebraska native is in his first final since 2017 when he won his biggest trophy at Rolex Paris Masters. He has earned his way to the championship and is incredibly well placed Ugo Humbert in the second round, before losing Evgeny Donskoy, Denis Kudla and 18 years old Brandon Nakashima. In fact, four of his five wins came in decisive sets, including a comeback win against Nakashima in the semifinals on Saturday.

Regardless of the result, it will be a positive week for Sock, who climbed almost 400 places to at least 384th place in the world in the FedEx ATP ranking. A win on Sunday would move him into the top 300.


Mannarino faces Vukic in the Monterrey final
Top seeded and number 41 in the world at the Challenger 100 event in Monterrey, Mexico Adrian Mannarino will try to extend his winning streak in the finals when he beats Aleksandar Vukic On Sunday. In the title fight at the Abierto GNP Seguros, the 13-time Challenger Champion Mannarino will compete against the Australian Vukic, who is making his last debut.

The French veteran has not lost a Challenger final since 2013 and has eight straight wins in the battle for a trophy. He won his last Challenger title on his home soil in Quimper in 2017, before winning his first ATP Tour title on the ‘s-Hertogenbosch lawn last year.

Vukic, meanwhile, is enjoying a week of breakthrough on the Monterrey hard courts with five wins in six days. He stunned the second semen Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday for the first win over a top 60 opponent before hitting a career high of 31 aces to the Edge Ernesto Escobedo in the semifinals on Saturday. The 23-year-old, a former University of Illinois standout, is set to crack the top 200 for the first time on Monday.

In their only previous encounter, Mannarino celebrated a convincing 6-1, 6-2 victory at the stop of the ATP Challenger Tour in Noumea in 2017.

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Actress Kristin Chenoweth on COVID-19, “The West Wing” and “Wicked” Thu, 11 Mar 2021 05:33:52 +0000 LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 06: Actress Kristin Chenoweth attends the 10th Annual Guild of … [+] Music Supervisors Awards at The Wiltern on February 06, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg / Getty Images) Getty Images Like all of us, actress / singer Kristin Chenoweth is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. […]]]>

Like all of us, actress / singer Kristin Chenoweth is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 4’11 ‘powerhouse didn’t let them get down. She has a new Apple TV comedy / music series (untitled) that will premiere soon, produced by Saturday night live‘s Lorne Michaels and works with Kellogg’s Crackers to create self-made recipes for vacation treats. She also plans to return to her Oklahoma roots to spend the holidays with her family. We spoke to Chenoweth, 52, who won an Emmy for Slide daisies (2009) and a Tony for You are a good man, Charlie Brown, by phone to catch up. Edited excerpts from a long conversation follow.

Jim Clash: In The western wing TV series there is a memorable scene in which your character, Annabeth Schott, the beloved character Leo McGary (played by actor John Spencer) dies of a heart attack in a hotel room. That must have been difficult to deal with?

Kristin Chenoweth: To be honest, it was one of the toughest days of my career. I just thought about it, like John [Spencer] would have guided me. I had his warm coat that day. He always had a Jolly Rancher in his mouth. I reached down in the pocket and there was a Jolly Rancher! In earnest. I took it as a sign. I said, “I hear you, John.” It just got me through this scene you know

Collision: In real life, John Spencer died not long after, strangely enough, of a heart attack. You sang at his funeral.

Chenoweth: I think my throat was closed, separated from my brain. It wasn’t a good achievement, but it was from the heart. I sang the song For Good from the musical Wicked, which played him. He would keep it to me all the time. to say [actor’s] Trailer, all the songs he loved. Most of all he loved the words for For Good. I remembered it. When his best friend asked me to sing at the funeral and mentioned this song, I said I would just say that. John’s still on my phone, okay? It’s still on my phone. And it will never be off my phone.

Collision: What is the difference between acting on stage and in film?

Chenoweth: In fact, people think there is a difference, and there is. On stage, you will have a clock face, and it will be on 10 most of the time because you are selling it to the people in the background. Now you can cut it down to a five, of course, in an intimate scene, be it a Broadway play or a musical. When it comes to movies and TV, the watch face goes down a bit depending on what you’re playing. For my upcoming Apple TV show [still untitled], the characters I play really walk a fine line. I have to be flexible, from 7/8 to 5/6 – occasionally 10 if the camera is a bit further back. It’s a musical, at least it has a musical basis, and I enjoy it a lot. I have a huge number that airs on episode five that is about eight minutes long.

Collision: When you won a Tony in 1999 for You are a good man, Charlie Brown. What was it like when they announced your name?

Chenoweth: Oh my god, Jim, now you’re asking me to go way back. I always feel smarter and richer when I talk to Forbes, that’s for sure [laughs]. I would say shock! I just had a gig and had a very short time to change before I found out if I had won or not. And they called my name. I literally went on stage from getting changed. I don’t believe in scheduling speeches for something like this – I just love being in the moment. If you look at that Tony speech, it’s absolutely 1,000% Kristi Dawn Chenoweth right there.

Collision: How will you deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming holidays?

Chenoweth: We’ve all literally wore cones and masks and disinfected, and so far we’ve been safe. I will continue to do that when I go to Oklahoma. But I did the Covid dance before I even knew it was a thing. On the positive side, and it has been very difficult, people are becoming more aware of the germs, what to touch, what to touch, and how to put their hands to their eyes. I know it sounds crazy, but I always wore masks and gloves and disinfected my hands. I also disinfect every airplane seat, and have been for years. I’ve been making fun of myself until now [laughs].

Collision: How did you come to work with Kellogg’s Crackers to create holiday treat recipes that you can make yourself?

Chenoweth: I don’t know if you know about me, but I like things that come in packages. That’s how I cook. So it seemed like a great partnership with the Kellogg family. I just showed the amazing thing [kitchen] We have board here. You can click on our website and check out the various winter wonderland goodies they have for the holidays. In my family, we eat, and a lot of the things we eat are starters. I can’t think of anything better.

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Russia and China want to build an “international” station on the moon Thu, 11 Mar 2021 05:33:52 +0000 Russia and China want to jointly build a research station on the moon. In one (n Notice discovered by Ars Technica, the two countries said that they will work together on an “International Lunar Science Station”. There aren’t many details on the project yet, but Roscosmos, Russia’s national space agency, suggests it could include facilities […]]]>

Russia and China want to jointly build a research station on the moon. In one (n Notice discovered by Ars Technica, the two countries said that they will work together on an “International Lunar Science Station”. There aren’t many details on the project yet, but Roscosmos, Russia’s national space agency, suggests it could include facilities both in orbit around the moon and on its surface. Other nations will also be open to join.

China and Russia were the two countries that were particularly missed by NASA Artemis Agreement. The agreement announced in October is intended to create a template for peaceful, cooperative and transparent exploration of the moon. Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, said the Lunar Gateway, a space station that NASA is under Artemis project, was to “US-centered.“Despite the fact that NASA and Roscosmos have worked productively together for decades on the International Space Station, and the same agreement that made the ISS possible will govern the Lunar Gateway. Rogozin later left open the possibility of the two space agencies working together again, but since Roscosmos is now working with China, the chances of that being much less likely.

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