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2020.08.29 18:23 IdolA29Augl Mat-ure G-ay for Da-ting Hel-p

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2020.08.26 22:01 autotldr Germany appeals for calm as Turkish, Greek navies run drills in EastMed

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 73%. (I'm a bot)
ISTANBUL - A number of naval drills are underway in the eastern Mediterranean as Turkish and Greek leaders vowed to defend their overlapping territorial claims in the region Wednesday.
Simultaneous naval drills were conducted by Turkey, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Tuesday, with some exercises continuing Wednesday, amid concerns of a possible conflict in the region.
Though Turkey issued a Navtex Sunday extending the time frame for the Oruc Reis' exploration activities to Aug. 27, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said Ankara was ready for talks with Greece following his meeting with Maas."We are open to talks without preconditions," Cavusoglu said in a press conference with Maas in Ankara.
In an effort to calm regional tensions, France joined military exercises called "Eunomia" with Cyprus, Greece and Italy that are scheduled to run Aug. 26-28.
The Greek and US navies held joint drills south of Crete Monday, near the area where the Oruc Reis is operating with an escort of Turkish ships.
Ilke Toygur, an analyst of European affairs at the Elcano Royal Institute and adjunct professor of political science at the Carlos III University of Madrid, said European Mediterranean countries "Were trying to match Turkish drilling activities and demonstrate solidarity with Greece and Republic of Cyprus," but noted, "Both sides are keeping their military interventions [within] limits so that it will be possible to go to the negotiation table before the point of no return."
Summary Source FAQ Feedback Top keywords: Mediterranean#1 Greece#2 Turkish#3 Turkey#4 drills#5
Post found in /worldnews.
NOTICE: This thread is for discussing the submission topic. Please do not discuss the concept of the autotldr bot here.
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2020.08.23 15:57 Anarcho_Humanist Collection of Wikipedia articles on US Foreign Policy in Asia

In 1933, the USA established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, with a military alliance established in 1951. Despite the authoritarian rule of Saudi Arabia, oppression of women, beheading of gay people and destruction of the environment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia%E2%80%93United_States_relations
In 1945, the US government deployed nuclear weapons in Japan, killing between 129,000 and 226,000 people. Despite several major military figures disagreeing with the necessity of the bombing, as well as a report commissioned by the US government which reached the same conclusions. One possible motive is the bombings were done to scare the USSR: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_over_the_atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
From 1945 to 1987, the USA supported the extremely violent government of South Korea, including during the following massacres:
(Side note: anyone interested in resistance in South Korea's authoritarian era should check out this, this, this and this)
Alleged In 1949, the USA supported a military coup that brought Syria's era as a liberal democracy to an end: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1949_Syrian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
From 1950 to 1991, the USA had done everything in it's power to prevent a socialist revolution in Vietnam, which failed, spectacularly. In the process, massive damage was done to both Laos and Cambodia.
From 1952 until today, the USA has supported authoritarian and violent actions in Turkey:
In 1953, the USA (and UK) organised a coup that destroyed the democracy in Iran after the government threatened to nationalise the oil industry which had been evading taxes. From then on, the government was a brutal police state that terrorised the population and tortured dissidents until its overthrow in a revolution in 1979: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d'état
For a rare piece of optimism, starting in 1955, a coalition of protesting farmers managed to prevent the construction of a US air force base in Japan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunagawa_Struggle
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the USA secretly pushed money to Japan to prevent socialist political parties from coming to power: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention#Japanese_elections_(by_United_States,_1950s%E2%80%9360s))
From 1966 to 1998, the USA supported the dictatorship of Suharto in Indonesia, widely considered to be one of the most corrupt governments in history, the USA also supported the four major atrocities committed by Suharto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Order_%28Indonesia%29
In 2003, the USA invaded Iraq after lying about the Iraqi government possessing WMDs, between 100,000 and 1,200,000 have died as a result of this decision: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War
See Also
This is just a small start, I will add any suggested articles, this is a work in progress
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2020.08.15 21:02 autotldr Erdogan says Turkey 'will not back down' in east Med standoff

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 42%. (I'm a bot)
ISTANBUL - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey will not back down to threats of sanctions nor to incursions on its claimed territory in the Mediterranean Sea, where it is in a standoff with EU-member Greece over oil and gas exploration rights.
Tensions between NATO members Greece and Turkey have risen in the past week after Turkey sent the Oruc Reis survey vessel, escorted by warships, to map out possible oil and gas drilling in territory over which both countries claim jurisdiction.
The Oruc Reis, which is between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, will continue work until Aug. 23, he added.
EU foreign ministers met via video conference on Friday and said Turkey's naval movements would lead to a "Heightened risk of dangerous incidents".
They said a deterioration in the relationship with Turkey was having far-reaching strategic consequences for the entire European Union, well beyond the eastern Mediterranean.
Relations between Greece and Turkey have long been fraught with tension.
Summary Source FAQ Feedback Top keywords: Turkey#1 between#2 Greece#3 over#4 island#5
Post found in /worldnews.
NOTICE: This thread is for discussing the submission topic. Please do not discuss the concept of the autotldr bot here.
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2020.08.13 12:15 jim-bob12 Escorts City Tours Call Girls Greece Athens Thessaloniki Istanbul Paris Italy Rome Milan Reviews Agency Page 2

Escorts City Tours Call Girls Greece Athens Thessaloniki Istanbul Paris Italy Rome Milan Reviews Agency Page 2 submitted by jim-bob12 to u/jim-bob12 [link] [comments]


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2020.07.23 20:33 ayylma088 Brothels / Massage parlors / Adult Entertainment in Istanbul

Hey folks. I am going to be on a business trip to Istanbul and will most likely be staying for a couple days privately as well in August.
Now please don't ask me for my motivation or please do not condemn me but I would like to know if there are any adult entertainment venues in Istanbul a single man of age 35 could go to and have some fun.
Online searches have only yielded one legal brothel which is (according to online sources) full of super old women. There does not seem to be any reputable and trustworthy escorts either as 95% seem fake at first glance putting up porn actress profiles and whatnot.
Can anyone give me some tips for having a good time?
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2020.06.10 16:58 NomdeCher What was Ghislaine doing between 1985 and her father’s death in 1991? *Long Post*

What was Ghislaine doing between 1985 and her father’s death in 1991? *Long Post*
I’m interested in three mysteries:
  1. When and how did Ghislaine and Epstein first meet?
  2. When and how did Ghislaine and Epstein first know of each other?
  3. What roles did Ghislaine play in Robert Maxwell’s business and personal dealings?
Traces of Epstein in the 1980's are easier to find than of Ghislaine. This seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle.

The Official Narrative

Ghislaine was a student at Balliol college Oxford, graduating (bottom of her year, with a third class degree) in 1985. (1) While at university, age 21, her father made her director of Oxford United Football Club. (2) Her father set her up with a corporate gifts business of some description, although details about this are minimal and it isn’t clear where the business operated (London, New York, both, more?). (3)
Getty Images - Mirrorpix
Details are sketchy on the period from her graduation until 1990, when Robert Maxwell launched the European and gave her a role there. A biography gives her title as “Business Development Manager”. (4) After Maxwell’s death, the editor discovered in the records that Ghislaine had been employed as the “Fashion Director” with a salary thought to be £100,000. Eyebrows were raised at this since “[n]obody at the European's Christmas party-cum-wake on Friday night could remember seeing Ms Maxwell in the office more than once some time in the summer of 1990.” (5) The Evening Standard downgrades her role to “fashion consultant” at the European as well as mentioning the gifts company. (6)
In 1991, a few months before his death, Robert Maxwell bought the New York Daily News and he sent Ghislaine to work there as “special projects" director. (7)
Ghislaine rushes to the Maxwell yacht after her father dies. After that, she is widely reported to have “moved” to New York, quickly meeting and falling in with Jeffrey Epstein:
“However Ghislaine Maxwell, 33, Cicogna's ex-love of four years, came from New York where she has lived since the death on Guy Fawkes Day 1991 of her panda-proportioned-publisher father Robert - she was escorted by the Queen's godson, Charles Butter, 35.”
Daily Mail (London), September 18, 1995.
“She moved to New York to escape the turmoil in London… Ghislaine soon linked up with Epstein.”
The Times (London), August 13, 2019.
“Ghislaine fled to New York to make a new life for herself” … “When Ghislaine Maxwell arrived in New York in 1991” … “Ghislaine Maxwell was 30 when she met Epstein. He was 38.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2020.

The Indiscrepancies

Ghislaine obviously lived a jet-set life, travelled widely, and seems to have had social and business obligations in both London and New York throughout this time. For example, she attended a charity kissathon event given by photographer Koo Stark—Prince Andrew’s former girlfriend, and winner of a six figure libel suit against Robert Maxwell after his paper claimed their relationship had been adulterous—in Mayfair (London) in 1988. (8) She was launched in New York society at a party given by her father on his infamous yacht in 1989; Donald Trump was one of the many notable guests. (9)
The Lady Ghislaine (purchased from the Kashoggi family who also owned the yacht that became the \"Trump Princess\"; journalist Jamal Kashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul in 2018)
Her father had increasingly large business holdings in America towards the end of his life (which was useful since it allowed his sons to file for bankruptcy in the US under more lenient laws than in the UK) that she played some role in. Why is she always described as having “begun” to live in America in 1991 when the record makes it seem likely that she in fact just continued to live there? She was certainly working and living in New York from the early 90’s, but she had spent time and made contacts in the city through her father in the 80’s. The nature of the corporate gifts business is not clear, but it may also have operated in New York.
The question of where she was spending her time is important because the other widely repeated chapter of the story is that Ghislaine met Epstein some time in 1991, after the death of her father. This could be true. However, there are hints that there might be more to the story. The Sydney Morning Herald—I believe this was syndicated in/from the Telegraph (London), but it’s behind a paywall—open a story on Ghislaine with a strange formulation:
There is an apocryphal, but tantalising, story that has long been doing the rounds of New York society about how Jeffrey Epstein first entered the life of Ghislaine Maxwell – or should that be vice versa?
On November 5, 1991, the body of Maxwell’s father, Robert, the plutocrat, British newspaper tycoon and – it would shortly transpire – arch embezzler, was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Tenerife, having fallen from his 55-metre luxury yacht, the Lady Ghislaine. The following day, his distraught daughter arrived in Tenerife by private jet. Boarding the yacht, which had been named in her honour, Ghislaine went to her father’s quarters. Searching through his private papers, she found a reference to a New York financier who had been particularly helpful to him in squirrelling away misbegotten funds offshore. Shortly afterwards, Ghislaine flew to New York, to escape the shame of her father and make a new life for herself. One of the first people she reached out to was that financier. His name was Jeffrey Epstein.
The account has the savour of something almost predestined: a woman tragically caught in the gyre between two powerful men, one who had shaped her past, the other who would determine her future. (10)
This is a weird story! It’s beyond belief. Of course it is flagged as gossip, but why then print it? What should we infer from it, if anything?
There are more stories that muddy the water. In a deposition, accountant Maritza Vasquez claims that modelling agency secretary Evelyn Valenzuela told her that “[Epstein] had a relationship with a woman that her father was very wealthy and that’s how he started his own money.” (11) Vasquez then confirms that she means Ghislaine, daughter of Robert Maxwell. This is hearsay, obviously, and it’s not clear why or how Valenzuela would be privy to the information. She may have been speculating, confused, or misunderstood by Vasquez. However, Vasquez repeatedly urges prosecutors to gather evidence from Valenzuela. Law enforcement agencies and legal teams may have interviewed Evelyn Valenzuela, but there is no record of this in the public domain and no transcripts of any interviews as far as I can tell. If she was interviewed, was she asked to confirm and clarify her alleged claim that Epstein got his start from Maxwell’s money?
Deposition of Maria Vasquez, 2010
As noted by Zev Shalev, this could support a relationship between the Maxwells and Epstein earlier than commonly reported. Shalev also interviews self-proclaimed Mossad operative Ari Ben-Menashe, who claims that, “Maxwell introduced [Epstein] to us, and he wanted us to accept him as part of our group. [Maxwell said] ‘and your Israeli bosses have already approved.’ (12)
According to Ben-Menashe, Epstein met Ghislaine Maxwell almost a decade earlier than previously reported, and that they were romantically linked. Again, Ben-Menashe says he was introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine’s father, Robert, in the early ’80s.
Ari Ben-Menashe: [Epstein] wasn’t very competent. He didn’t seem to be a competent guy, he doesn’t seem to be. But he was a good looking guy. And Miss Maxwell …
Interviewer: Ghislaine, yeah.
Ari Ben-Menashe: … fell for him.
Interviewer: That early, the 1980’s?
Ari Ben-Menashe: That early. How old was she?
Ghislaine was 20, Epstein was 26 in 1980.
Interviewer: She was young.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah.
Interviewer: But most of the reporting about her and him only started in 1991 when they got to the United States.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah, I realize that. But they were already …
Interviewer: They were already dating.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Call it dating or whatever.
Interviewer: So he was part of the family business?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah, and Maxwell sort of started liking him. And my theory is that Maxwell felt that this guy is going for his daughter.
Ben-Menashe is perhaps playing his own game here, and Shalev notes that his account should be treated with healthy scepticism. However, he says that Ben-Menashe has passed on accurate information in the past. Shalev also reports that the convicted fraudster and Epstein associate Steven Hoffenberg confirms Ben-Menashe’s story. Ben-Menashe repeated his claims to Whitney Webb (13) and to the authors of the book Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales. (14) Some mainstream press outlets have referenced the allegations but do not appear to have added additional sourcing. (15)
The relationship between Robert Maxwell and Epstein and the related question of Ghislaine’s role is important because it could shed light on the nature of the relationship between Ghislaine and Epstein’s relationship and alleged links to other individuals and groups.
As mentioned, most media accounts have Ghislaine involved in only peripheral roles in the Maxwell empire (the football club, the gifts business) until at least 1990 when she had a job at the European newspaper and then a role at the New York Daily News. Ghislaine was not tried for involvement in Robert Maxwell’s fraud, unlike her two brothers Kevin and Ian. The Evening Standard reports that Ghislaine was not implicated because she, “was not a director of his companies; nor was she called upon to sign documents for him.” (16)
However, while Ghislaine does not seem to have had an official role at Maxwell’s flagship paper, the Daily Mirror, she was around enough in some capacity to have made an impression on staff there:
In the Mirror headquarters she was disliked by Maxwell’s fearful employees for her insufferable arrogance. “She’d ask for a cigarette,” complained one of her father’s former secretaries, “and walk off with the packet.” (17)
She treated important men differently, however:
Joe Haines, a former leader writer on the Daily Mirror, recalled a “pleasant, very pretty and non-flirty young woman”. Once, mistaking her for a secretary, he gave her a document to photocopy. “She did it without a pause.” (18)
In any case, what this implies is that she was around a great deal, presumably while the corporate gifts company was active. The strangest story of this time, though, is recounted by Alastair Campbell. Campbell worked for the Mirror in the early 80’s and continued under Maxwell until he left for another paper in the middle of the decade. He then had an alcohol-related nervous breakdown and restarted his career at the Mirror, working his way up to the job of political editor. He remembers:
I had known her since the Eighties, when her father, Robert Maxwell, bought the Mirror Group papers, where I was a political journalist. Robert doted on her. Whereas I witnessed a form of paternal cruelty to his sons Ian and Kevin at times, I sensed Ghislaine could do no wrong in his eyes. Indeed, the yacht where he met his demise on 5 November 1991 was named not after his long-suffering wife, Betty, but “Lady Ghislaine”.
Ghislaine had also been central to possibly the most bizarre assignment of my journalistic career – no, definitely the most bizarre assignment of my journalistic career – when Maxwell, for reasons I never fully fathomed, sent Ghislaine and I to Paris to hand over the remains of an Argentine political and military leader, Juan Manuel de Rosas, who had died in Hampshire in 1877. Bear with me. Heaven knows how the Sunday Mirror readers felt on the full-page account of this bizarre diplomatic mission intruding on their reading of sport and showbiz.
My other vivid memory of the trip was of Ghislaine, then in her twenties, saying Paris had the best underwear shops in the world, taking me on a little tour of them and being asked for my view of what might look nice on her. We chose purple. It was a rather strange, though pleasant enough, way to pass a couple of hours before we headed back to London. (19)
It’s strangely (suspiciously?) hard to find articles from the Maxwell period of the Mirror online. However, reports of the repatriation of the remains of the Argentinian dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas were published on October 2, 1989. (20) This means that the feature Campbell references is likely to have been published in the Sunday Mirror on the 8th of October, 1989, although I haven’t been able to find it. Campbell does not say whether Ghislaine had a byline. All this suggests that before the launch of the European and Maxwell’s purchase of the New York Daily News, Ghislaine was involved to some extent in the journalism and publishing business.
Two other alleged incidents from that time also would benefit from more context.
Firstly, the Times (London) report that on November 5, 1990 Ghislaine arrived from London in New York (by Concorde) bearing an envelope containing shares of a language school, Berlitz, owned by Maxwell’s publicly listed company. (21) As the shares were delivered in New York, her brothers and father in London re-registered the same shares as being owned by the family’s private company. Maxwell’s investors were defrauded out of $200m in this transaction. This money is claimed to have supported the Maxwell family after the death of Robert. The article says that Ghislaine “[u]nknowinglybecame enmeshed in a plot initiated by her father.” It is not made clear what the conclusion that Ghislaine was oblivious to the scheme is based on. Furthermore, Ghislaine returned to London directly to the Mirror Group headquarters with another envelope for Maxwell which is said to have formed, “part of Maxwell’s plunder of about £2bn from the shareholders of his companies.”
Secondly, Ghislaine’s alleged actions on the yacht after the death of her father haven’t been integrated into the big picture or given much importance. In a wire story for UPI, Jane Holligan reported that John Jackson of the Mirror watched “Ghislaine Maxwell pull papers from drawers and cabinets and throw them on the floor of the luxury yacht.” She reports Jackson quoting Ghislaine as telling the crew, ‘“'I order you to shred immediately everything I have thrown on the floor''’. (22) Once again, I have not been able to read the article by Jackson in the Mirror. However, a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), dated December 19, 1991, reports that the Mirror story in question was published the previous day (December 18). Jackson says he witnessed the event on the November 8, 1991, three days after Maxwell went overboard. He explains the delay in publishing his recollection of the event because he had forgotten about it until reports surfaced about faxes to Maxwell having gone missing. Ghislaine ‘“totally and utterly”’ denied the allegations.

Conclusion

Pull one thread of the Epstein case and you’re left with armfuls of tangled yarn. The reliability of the sources on Ghislaine’s early career is questionable, but nonetheless the claims merit more investigation. I have my own theories about Ghislaine and Epstein, but I’m trying to clarify the known facts based on documentary sources.

TL;DR

  • Ghislaine Maxwell is hard to pin down between 1985 when she graduates and 1991 when she reportedly shreds Robert Maxwell’s files on the yacht he falls from:
  • Can anyone shed further light on this period of Ghislaine’s life?
  • Does anyone have access to the Mirror from the time and if so can you find Alastair Campbell’s story about taking the remains of an Argentine dictator to Paris with Ghislaine? Also can anyone find John Jackson’s reports on Robert Maxwell’s death in November and December of 1991?
  • Can we confirm or deny whether Epstein knew of/met Robert Maxwell from additional sources?
  • Can we confirm or deny whether Ghislaine knew of/had met Epstein before she is said to have “arrived” in New York (1990/1)?
  • Lots of society and diary pieces from the 1990's featuring Ghislaine are easy to find. If anyone has seen any from the 1985-91 period can you share?

References:

  1. University exam results: Oxford and York, The Times (London), July 29, 1985.
  2. The rise and fall of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's 'best friend', by Mick Brown and Harriet Alexander, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2020.; Walker’s Research, Ghislaine Maxwell Biography, undated.
  3. All right for some, John Davison, The Times (London), June 7, 1992; HOW GHISLAINE ROSE FROM THE ASHES – MAXWELL’S HEIRS BUILDING A NEW BUSINESS EMPIRE, Peter Fearon, New York Post, March 23 2000.; Ghislaine Maxwell is looking for solace in saving the world's oceans, Spear’s, October 6th 2015.; The socialite and the Epstein scandal — Ghislaine Maxwell’s life and times, Damian Whitworth, The Times (London), August 13, 2019; The rise and fall of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's 'best friend', by Mick Brown and Harriet Alexander, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2020;
  4. Walker’s Research, Ghislaine Maxwell Biography, undated.
  5. Maxwells banned from Mirror: Fresh fraud probe as editor tells of 'testy relationship', David Harrison, The Observer, December 15, 1991.
  6. Life’s still sweet for the Maxwell girls, Tony Maguire, Evening Standard, June 29, 1992.,The rise and fall of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's 'best friend', by Mick Brown and Harriet Alexander, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2020.
  7. Life’s still sweet for the Maxwell girls, Tony Maguire, Evening Standard, June 29, 1992.
  8. Diary, Herald, December 27, 1988
  9. On Their Toes, Tom Poster and Phil Roura, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), May 17, 1989.
  10. The rise and fall of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's 'best friend', by Mick Brown and Harriet Alexander, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2020.
  11. Exhibit HH, Undisputed Facts, Sworn Statement of Maritza Vasquez taken June 15 2010, Jeffrey Epstein v. Bradley J Edwards, et al.
  12. Blackmailing America, Zev Shalev, narrativ.org, September 26, 2019.
  13. Former Spy Details Israel’s Main Motive Behind Epstein’s Sexual Blackmail Operation, Whitney Webb, mintpressnews.com, December 13th, 2019
  14. Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Dylan Howard et. al., Skyhorse, 2020.
  15. Come spy with me, Emma Parry, The Sun (Digital), December 3, 2019.
  16. Mr Pepys, Evening Standard (London), February 4, 1992.
  17. Out from Cap’n Bob’s shadow and into a web of sex and royals, Tom Bower, The Times (London), January 11, 2015.
  18. The socialite and the Epstein scandal — Ghislaine Maxwell’s life and times, Damian Whitworth, The Times (London) August 13, 2019.
  19. Alastair Campbell: what happened when I met Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, Alastair Campbell, November 20, 2019.
  20. Argentines honor a warlord of old, Shelly Christian, The New York Times, October 2, 1989; Remains of a tyrant: returned to Argentina amid cheers, jeers, James F. Smith, Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1989.
  21. Out from Cap’n Bob’s shadow and into a web of sex and royals, Tom Bower, The Times (London), January 11, 2015.
  22. Britain's Fraud Office to probe alleged scheme to prop up MCC shares, Jane Holligan, United Press International, December 18, 1991.
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2020.05.10 07:19 -en- @TheEconomist: A decade ago, thousands marched in Istanbul's Pride Parade under police escort. Today, marchers are met with rubber bullets https://t.co/DL3wyAMHdZ

@TheEconomist: A decade ago, thousands marched in Istanbul's Pride Parade under police escort. Today, marchers are met with rubber bullets https://t.co/DL3wyAMHdZ submitted by -en- to newsbotbot [link] [comments]


2020.05.08 07:19 -en- @TheEconomist: A decade ago, thousands marched in Istanbul's Pride Parade under police escort. Today, marchers are met with rubber bullets https://t.co/zkWIzVDWlh

@TheEconomist: A decade ago, thousands marched in Istanbul's Pride Parade under police escort. Today, marchers are met with rubber bullets https://t.co/zkWIzVDWlh submitted by -en- to newsbotbot [link] [comments]


2020.04.26 17:59 Theworldwalk I am walking around the world with my dog. AMA!

Five years ago I left my home in New Jersey to embark on a twenty-five thousand mile, seven continent, walk around the world. After four months of walking I adopted a dog, Savannah, and since then we've covered 16,500 miles across thirty-three countries together.
When Savannah was a pup I pushed her in my cart. Now she’ll walk thirty miles a day and still be running circles at night. We’ve spent nearly every minute of every day together and from navigating chaotic cities and strange new environments Sav and I are totally in sync. She’s my best bud and absolutely rock solid. (The Dodo recently did a video on her.)
I'm walking around the world because of a friend who died at seventeen. Her death led me to understand how fleeting my life was and that I needed to make the most of the short time I had. When I discovered Karl Bushby the idea of walking around the world stuck in my head as a way to live a full life.
From seventeen to twenty-six I went to college, worked, paid off loans, saved, then set off before I had too much responsibility.
During the first two years of this adventure I walked from New Jersey to Uruguay. I was held up at knife point in Panama, did ayahuasca in the Amazon, and climbed 15,000 feet over the Chilean Andes. The three years since walking The Americas, I was almost taken out by a bacterial infection, needed seven months to recover, then walked Europe, North Africa, across Turkey and into Georgia. I peregrinated The Camino in Spain, had a twenty-four hour police escort through Algeria, visited the village of my family name (Turčić) in Croatia and became the first private citizen granted permission to cross the Bosphorus Bridge on foot (the Istanbul bridge crosses from Europe to Asia).
After flying home this winter to obtain extended visas for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Savannah and I returned to the road this March but were promptly forced to put our walk on hold. Currently we're in lockdown in Baku, Azerbaijan so I thought this would be the perfect moment for an AMA.
This infographic on my site provides a great visualization of our walk.
And this video from Sunrise Australia provides the best summation of our journey.
If you'd like to follow along I do my best to post photos daily and write a weekly(ish) blog post.

Proof

It's late here in Azerbaijan so I'm signing off for the moment! Thanks for all the great questions, I'll answer some more tomorrow morning!
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2020.04.16 21:50 gspot-michael Guide's Notes: Rammstein's Turkey Visit, LIFAD era - 10 Years Ago

Guide's Notes: Rammstein's Turkey Visit, LIFAD era - 10 Years Ago

Rammstein members (with the guide) in a kebab restaurant.
In 2010, Rammstein performed their show at Sonisphere 2010, in Istanbul.
Their guide, Seyda "Abigail" Babaoğlu, published her notes years ago but it was all in Turkish. Today I had some free time and translated reduced version of it to English. It is an interesting read.
The notes contain some insight information about the band, which may be interesting to some.
My English is not the best, but it is well enough for you to understand. I apologize if there are any mistakes.
Original post (in Turkish): https://web.archive.org/web/20100712105317/http://www.delikasap.com/yazi/muzik-odasi/sonisphere-2010--bolum-ii/1615
https://web.archive.org/web/20100710071515/http://www.delikasap.com/yazi/muzik-odasi/sonisphere-2010--bolum-i/1590

https://preview.redd.it/3ioj91kmg8t41.jpg?width=720&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0724eb718ffbda6504cbd3362a2e34fa83444f04

Guide's Notes: Rammstein's Turkey Visit, 10 Years Ago

PART 1
Me being the guide of Rammstein (from now on, R+) was a thing that was determined long time ago. But it was not only because of me being born and raised in Germany, also because of my 15 years guiding experience, my contributions to the metal music scene and my dedications to the music of this kind that made them think about me first when seeking for a guide.
Apart from a few songs, R+ was not a group that I was fond of. However I certainly wanted to contribute to the Sonisphere festival somehow. My experience and professionalism, just like previous concerts and festivals, were among the things that would assure them to spend their limited time the best while they are here and to perform a great show.
I welcomed the band at the airport on Thursday, 24 June. Heike (The tour manager who I met on Wednesday during a phone talk), Till Lindemann, Richard Z. Kruspe, Paul H. Landers, Christian "Flake" Lorenz, Oliver Riedel and Finger (who is responsible for the security stuff of the band) and me all got on the bus along with two Russian girls. These Russian fans somehow managed to learn about where and when would the band arrive so that they would be able to come and see them. One of the girls made an oil painting of R+ as well as a matryoshka doll of the band. It was really well-done. We went to Ortaköy with the girls.
The band wanted to have two buses, however only one was needed and the other one went back empty.
I said "let's hope for the best" to myself and we made our way to the hotel. Travelling part was kind of nice, I got a very positive impression of the men at the first place. While going, Paul, Richard and me had a conversation (Till slept at the very back side of the bus, others either talked with each other or looked to the outside). They asked about the political situation in Turkey, political shifting, how well Turkey is suited for the membership of EU, etc. as well as the defemations regarding R+ and Sonisphere published by a specific news agency was a hot topic. Some people wanted to give the festival a political aspect and even cancel it. They were not very surprised, but Richard wanted to know if there are people who would say "Go destroy them! Especially the guitarist, the small one!" among those fanatic people. I said "No", "things like let's go and bomb them would certainly not happen, don't worry". As if they don't burn people on the stage! Like a paradox!
Paul wanted to know how to say thank you in Turkish. He also took a lot of photos during travelling. When we were near to the bosphorus I said "Look, I live in this side (Asia) but I go to the other side (Europe) everyday for work!". Going from one continent to another and the road signs pointing it was something that Paul really liked. He looked forward to see the Bosphorus bridge and "Welcome to Europe" road sign.
Ollie asked questions like "Are there any places that should not be visited? As a woman what would be dangerous for you on the streets?". I gave him some examples without getting into man-woman difference.
I was surprised when they said "Wow - Our names are spelled just like Metallica" while passing by Sonisphere posters.
It was strange that Paul called the bosphorus a "river". We corrected it and answered the "Hmm, so is it salty water?" question. In Ortaköy, while we were going to the hotel, they started to look around more excitedly but it was not abnormal since Ortaköy with its pace and shop count is not a place to not look to.
At that point they made the decision of "Ahh, horizontal kebab* !!! Let's eat some horizontal kebab (kokoreç in Turkish)!!" with intense and wondering. Kokoreç* was eaten at Özen Kebab later on (in the photo).
We arrived to the hotel, only Flake continued going since he was going to stay at a different hotel with his family.
During check-in they were whining because it was 15:00 and the rooms were not ready. But even though Till really did not like this situation, he was pleased after seeing his room with bosphorus view and did not say a single thing afterwards. I only saw Heike's room and it was crazy, I couldn't even think about Till's suit room.
The plan was to leave our stuff at the hotel and directly go to eat that horizontal kebab. We started going to the place (In Ortaköy I had to use my umbrella as a staff to stop the traffic, like Gandalf) and we entered "Özen Kebab" as Till said "Okay, this place is nice, let's eat here!" during the walk. We sit to a table and started ordering:
Me: This kind of kebab is made of sheep intestines, there are two types, wanna eat?
All of R+: Sure! One portion both of two types.
Me: Chicken?
All of them: Yess, yes!
Me: Squid?
All: Give!
Me: Mussel?
All: One portion!
Me: Meatball? (Köfte)
All: Ich möchte!
By the way Till sweetly caressed my arm like a father and smiled (He smiles very rarely!) and made me laugh by saying "You are saying to yourself that you wish you didn't come here with us right?".
When they were ordering coke - soft drinks I ordered "ayran" and Ollie got interested. I gave to him to try and he drank and liked it so he ordered one as well. However Overkill nearly puked because of drinking it. To each his own, I guess.
Till asked me what the mussel stuffing contains inside when he saw it from distance and I said rice and then he said "Well, I was thinking that there could not be all meat inside". He also liked it very much after eating. There was no food that no one liked, everything was completely eaten, basically everything. They just left some pieces for gentility.
I paid the bill as they did not contain any TL (local currency), I said "You may give later, no problem", they were like telling me to take the money from Heike but I would never be able to do that, in fact. I would just say I just ordered some food for my guests, it's not a big deal then I would just forget about it. However I got mad about this situation later on when I saw some "things". I will tell that part later on.
We happily departed from Özen Kebab, to seek for döner kebab. As they entered sub-streets I told them "Let's don't take a risk of upsetting your stomachs, if you agree!". The plan was cancelled and we started walking back to the hotel. During our way several different foods caught their distraction but they did not eat nevertheless. While walking some Turkish fans came along for taking signatures. They were interested in trying Turkish coffee but they did not try.
It was Richard's birthday and while walking together I talked about it. He initially wanted to cover his age but I already knew it and he said it anyway. There was nothing to be ashamed of, time will not stop for any of us. We talked about his two children, his marriage but fans came again and the we did not talk afterwards.
Eventually all of them except Till wanted to more like roam freely on their own and since I wanted to talk with the tour manager about some plans in the hotel, I started going hostel with Till. I told him that I was curious about his poem book because I liked his song lyrics. I became happy when he told me that he will send one because the best thing about R+ was Till's poetry apart from their stage performance.
Other band members -as they all do it this way- separated their ways. They stampeded. I was not anxious about them since they were all saying "We are grown men, nothing will happen to us".
Lobby call was at 20:15, it was planned to go to Richard's birthday party celebration. Heike, one day ago, told me that she will arrange and reserve a place when she called me. So I should not think about it, professedly... The places that were recommended to him were modern/trendy but they looked to their websites and they decided to not eat in these places for sure. So we got a problem: We had to find and reserve a place in which there is no fish restaurant (Richard doesn't like fish), where possibly there are many food types, where do "normal" people go, which is not calm and which has authentic look and atmosphere as soon as possible. Some options were eliminated because they did not serve alcohol beverages. We ended up with "Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi". We checked its website with Heike and she said it's okay so that we reserved 10 places.
I had some time so I went outside walked around Ortaköy and found very interesting places. I saw very nice postcards and bought for Heike too. I was trying to find a club for them to go after eating. Heike told me that a Goth club would be okay, but we (in Turkey) had no such clubs. Heike chose one of the places I suggested to her and we reserved it. It was strange because we looked to its website together, she saw the place, and I told her about the type of the music that is being played there - I thought they would never prefer this place but nevertheless they did.
We arrived to the place. Birthday child Richard chose where to sit and then we sat along. Till was looking to the fish. Flake wanted to stay with his family so he did not come. Schneider was not even in Istanbul yet. All in all the group consisted of one vocalist, one bass player, two guitar player, one security guy and one tour manager and I had to go to the airport to welcome the band's manager who was on the plane at that time. Till, like his previous fatherlike manner, caressed my arm and said "Poor youu..." while emphatizing. He was right actually because I was hungry but there was no time to eat something.
After spending some boring times at the airport we met with the manager Emanuel. He was with the fellows of the band; Baby, Werner, Lutz and Thomas. While going to hotel, checking-in etc. R+ already finished their meal and waiting for us to join them. Heike told this via a phone call. But after two minutes her new phone call stated "They changed their mind, they want to go to the club now. How can we go? What's the address?". Emanuel was not surprised, he told me that they can call you at any time because they change their mind constantly. I had to redirect my husband to take care of them as he was close to them and he was also experienced. My husband, Metehan, escorted them and after they went inside to the place Metehan called me saying that "They did not like this place, when they entered some random song was playing, it was nearly finished but they told me that they thought it was a Goth club and they said that this is not even a Rock club. So we exited." Heike, what did I tell you? There is no Goth club in Turkey, and this place plays alternative rock at best, I described you the place, showed you the photos, checked its website together and you wanted to go there, what is this goth club all about??? So what happened? I went and rejoined them and we went back to the hotel.
When we arrived some of them went to their rooms to sleep, some (newly arrived) went to Ortakoy to eat something and some of them went outside to seek for more fun.
I went to home. It was night and I was hungry and tired, I slept while whining.
PART 2
I woke up by thinking "It is the first day of the festival, let's see". And I went to Inonu stadium and stayed for a while. Then I went to the airport to bring Schneider.
Schneider, with Seyda (guide)
Rammstein drummer portrayed himself as a 'very fine man'. Like others, it was first for him to come to Istanbul and he watched the outside by paying a lot of attention. The reason he arrived late was he did not want to miss his girlfriend's birthday. Strangely enough both are born in the same day. By the way I asked about the music video for Pussy, and just like Till he said that they used stuntman. (Till: "We don't get that much into details when it comes to using our own bodies.")
Omitting details - hotel, check-in etc. Let's get into the festival:
The stage was separated in a way that Turkish bands and foreign bands could not interact with each other.
I saw R+'s room (maybe better say their flat ?) when it was being prepared. After it got prepared a guard stayed in front of the room to not let anybody get inside. By the way group assistant and the crew along were like trying to have enemies. And they got some enemies for the limited time they spent here! I was talking like a human to them for the sake of professionalism. They were treating people very arrogantly and badly.
The time for R+ to perform had come.
https://preview.redd.it/gcezalg8h8t41.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=543c348655c3fa20c864b4af689cbd4a3a4e5123
I watched R+'s ritual before they start. Everyone drank one shot, screamed like they were in a war and went to the stage with their well prepared make-ups.
First songs became a little bit irritating and distracting after a while as I was close to the stage. So I went to Metehan's place and started watching their visual feast as it was amazing. I'm saying visual feast because as I said before I don't like their songs except 3-5 of them. Lyrics are time to time very powerful, but the musicality is just average in my opinion.
We enjoyed the concert with Flake's child. He/she was listening/watching R+ properly for the first time! "Are you proud of your father?" I asked, "While he was lying in the bathtub, a rain of sparks flowed through him!!! I'm proud of him so much!" he/she said. I asked his older daughter "What do your friends say about the fact that your father is in R+?" and she told me that she is no different than her friends since they don't listen to R+ much. While the father was sweating by walking, his child was being sad: "Did you see my father's clothing, it is all wet!!". This was the cutest thing at that moment.
Let's talk about what happened after the concert.
https://preview.redd.it/dw054y8ch8t41.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d5a522cd8d5bb3a4e0e89228d2f1c510d5a2c3f9
R+ instructed their workers to set up a party room, in a different room than their own room. In order to 'fill up' this room in which blue-red disco lights, very loud music, lots of alcohol are all involved, their security guy Finger invited nice girls with mini skirts and shorts. By chance he also saw one of my friends and his wife and asked "Want to come to the after show party?", even though they said "Not interested" he insisted and brought them inside. The men count was 4-5. Then R+ members arrived slowly after changing their clothes after the concert. Till just passed by but he declined photography requests from fans by saying and insisting "I look like ugly now". Flake never showed up. Probably spent his time with his family (the best).
I spent time by talking with my friends.
By the way R+ members were bringing some girls to their "real" room time to time, we never thought bad about that though. Probably they were their most beloved friends... Nevertheless after the party ended and everyone left they took some of those girls while still drinking alcohol to the bus and brought to the hotel. They are friends, for sure.
We even said "I hope the boys did not got hurt while destroying the place." when they fully broke props, mirrors, lamps, exploded beer cans on the floor.... basically not leaving any functioning thing.
We said "You have to clean their dirt because they are the best." to the cleaning personnel who worked cleaning there until 4 AM. Yes, yes they have right to broke everything because they are great. We like them so much. As there are no other people capable of using pyro techniques on the stage!!!
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2020.02.24 15:29 worldescortsagency Where to Discover Escort Benefits In Istanbul

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2020.02.23 10:32 filexi12 Tecrübeliler yardım etsin

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2020.02.08 13:38 SolHiemis [Around the Clock] - Part 34

“Yeah, shopping,” Sandra said. “We’re all wearing what we’d normally wear in here, but we all need to make ourselves presentable for the Lords. Can’t go in there looking all dirty, even if we are all Court members.”
“Right. Wait, isn’t all black timeless?”
“It is, but you know. The choices we make. Besides, we need to pass as formally dressed people by everyone who doesn’t know what actually is going on all around us.”
“Mmm,” I mumbled. “Why are you telling me all of this, though? I’m your tool. Your prisoner. I’m here to do as I’m told.”
“You’re also the only 21st century native, other than Matt, and he’s been travelling for so long I doubt he’d recognise an anachronism even if it was right in front of his own damn nose. You and I are taking the others shopping, Darren.”
“Wait, what? I’m taking five people shopping?” I said. “Is it five? Am I wrong?”
“No, it is five,” Sandra said. “What? Is there a problem?”
“Yeah. I don’t see why you’d let me do this. Even if it is all linear time. Won’t we look suspicious?”
“Not really, as you said, all black is timeless. Just don’t look or act out of place. And besides, none of us will be wearing rings. We don’t need them in linear time.”
“Wait, don’t we? What if the Lords decide to bring us in by force?”
“And how exactly would they do that? How do you think they pinpoint time travellers? How do you think we pinpointed you when we brought you in?”
The penny dropped. “You used my ring’s signature, didn’t you?”
She nodded. “And if there’s no ring…”
“Darren!”
I opened my eyes to see Sandra looking straight at me. “What?”
“It’s rude to fall asleep mid-conversation.”
“I’m very sorry. I’ve only had to fly a plane through two discontinuities in time.”
“Excuses.”
“What can you do? Anyway, when are we going shopping?”
“Right about now. I took the liberty of storing your ring away while you were out. Try not to fall asleep outdoors, it’s very unsafe.”
I kept blinking. “Oh, we’re already going?”
“Yeah. Everyone’s done showering, all dressed, it’s time to go. You’ll know what to do. What looks good. What looks formal. Oh, and Matt’s not going, he said he, quote, doesn’t give a fuck what he looks like, he’s older than the fuckers and they will respect a Court member.”
“Angry old man, isn’t he?” I snickered.
“Angry old genius,” Sandra said.
The rest of them started walking down the stairs. Everyone dressed in simple clothing, short sleeved shirts, and, most importantly, no rings on their hands. I looked at their hands and I could see the marks where their rings used to be.
I looked at those I’d been up on the mountain with, and noticed how worn out they all looked. Thomas’ hair had descended to his shoulders, and so did his beard. Andrew and Ivan had lost so much weight that their old well-fitted shirts were now bags.
Owen, on the other hand, looked better, having had a chance to trim his beard, and he now looked like a civilised caveman, rather than a regular caveman. In comparison to them, Emily and Paula looked like the Istanbul contingent. They looked healthy.
Apparently, they had spent months in rehabilitation after our gate-crash of Matt’s speech, and it showed. Their gazes, however, revealed the wear and tear. There was something that wasn’t quite right about those two. They looked over the five of us that were up on the mountain and breathed heavily, often closing their eyes and shivering.
“Have none of you guys decided to shave?” Sandra said.
“Eh, it’ll grow back anyway,” I said. “Beards are annoying. We can all shave in the morning.”
“If you say so,” Sandra said. “Alright, let’s go!”
She turned to me. “You can take the men, you’ll probably be done much sooner than if we mix and match. And it looks like you need to sleep.”
“I do, yeah,” I muttered through my need to fall asleep in the middle of the room.
“Have you been to 2060s London before?” she said.
I stared through her. I remembered the trip to London again, where my parents took me, what I’d seen. I remembered a row of narrow, tall houses, and a group of men walking into one.
“I think I have, yes. If this is the 2060s London I remember,” I said.
“Wonderful, then you’ll know where the shops are. Or do you need a map nonetheless?”
“Tell you what, I’ll take the map.”
“I’ll be outside,” Thomas said, and the rest followed him to soak up the summer sunlight.
Sandra opened a few drawers, before finding two pairs of sunglasses, each with a fob next to it. “You know how to use these, right?”
“I think I’ll get used to the antiquated controls, yes. You’ve no idea how good these will become in the 70s,” I said.
Simple heads-up display in the corner of my eye, and buttons instead of touch-sensitive temples. Nothing out of the ordinary. After all, this was my home time we were in. I put the sunglasses on, scrolled to the map program and zoomed in on the part of London we were in for all the shops we needed.
“Nice shades, Darren,” Andrew said as I walked outside.
“Look good, feel good, you know?” I said.
“Rule number one of life, isn’t it?” he quipped. “Lead the way.”
“Is he leading the way?” Ivan said.
“He is. He knows his way around 21st-century London,” Thomas said.
“What does he need the shades for, then?” Ivan retaliated.
“He knows how to look and act normal, not where the exact shops are,” Thomas said. “Won’t you just shut up? Just once?”
Still visibly steaming, Ivan shut up, and I led the way through the streets of London, suddenly remembering I didn’t know how we were going to pay.
As we walked through the streets, I focused on knowing where to go, constantly glancing at the display in the corner of my left eye. My back pocket was sweltering with the heat the processor fob was giving off, and I quickly found our way to a clothes shop.
Even though there were six of us, we were done fairly quickly. I somehow paid the very expensive bill with my fingerprint, even though the system surely must have recognised that a nine-year-old was spending thousands of pounds.
We had loaded up on everything we needed, and despite the comical sight of six men carrying clothes around, we were done with shopping, and it was only the middle of the day. Male formal clothing had barely changed for 150 years.
Picking a simple uniform out, with details that fit the 2060s, was simple enough for all six of them. Our biggest problem had been finding suits that fit Thomas and Ingvar and their tall, wide frames.
Since everyone started complaining about how useless and bare they felt without their rings, I started walking faster, leading the way and clearing the path of other people. I came up to a pair holding their child by the hand. Both of them about my height. Both of them looking oddly familiar.
I didn’t dare turn around as we passed by them. I did not want to cause paradox upon paradox in case it really was a young version of me that we had just passed. Focusing on the path ahead, I led us to the house.
We bundled our way in, leaving our suits on a pile in the living room, before finding our strongboxes in the kitchen and putting our rings on. Every single one of them let out a sigh of relief as they donned the rings again, and I wondered why they cared about them so much.
With the very uncomfortable task of leaving the house and trying to act normal while being six men carrying clothes around done, I found my own cot on the first floor and crawled into it, with sleep quickly enveloping me. I missed having a normal sleep schedule, and I hadn’t had any actual sleep since Istanbul.
I woke up to a kick from Ivan. “Come on. Living room. Meeting. You know what to do.”
“Was the kick really necessary?”
“Can’t be fucked to get down and caress you, Darren. Doing that to one person is enough for me.”
I crawled out of my cot and took a quick stop at the bathroom to wash my face. Coming down the stairs, everyone was looking straight at me like I had a mark on my back, which, come to think of it, was technically true.
Ella spoke first. “You’re first up tomorrow. You all come in, Matt does the introductions as the only actual Court member around, you all get inducted, Darren is brought in, you explain the situation.”
“That sounds alright to me,” Thomas said. “What about Darren? What does he do while we do the inductions?”
“He waits outside until summoned. As is procedure,” Matt said. “You really haven’t had many audiences with the Lords, have you?”
“No, Matt, I haven’t. Which is why you’re taking the lead.”
“I won’t be around to take the lead forever, Tommy boy.”
Thomas winced at the nickname. “Only until you induct me into the Court. After that, you’re welcome to formally relinquish the formal leadership to me, as you did when we found ourselves up in the Hole.”
“That sounds alright to me, actually,” Matt said. “Darren? Can you hold out alone for a bit?”
“Of course I can,” I said. “What do you think I am? A child?”
“Might as well be with your lack of time travel skill,” Ivan said. “You’ll learn yet. We all do.”
“Any complaints?” Ella said. Nobody responded. “Alright, you’re free. Do whatever, nine o’clock tomorrow, you take centre stage in front of the Lords.”
“If you say so, Ella,” I mumbled. Did I really get a kick for this? I tried crawling back into my cot and sleeping, but I couldn’t sleep anymore. My hearing in front of the Lords was a thing in the far future for so long. Now it had a date and a time. It was something that was happening.
I’d been heard and convicted by the Court already. Now I’d be forwarded to the Lords, and six hundred faces were not going to be as friendly and proactive as twelve. I wanted to help. I wanted to get down to work, and fix time. Everything I was told made me believe the Lords would rather have my head on a pike.
I got up from my cot and found shaving equipment in a bathroom just to take my mind of things. With hours of work and many cuts on skin that had become too gentle after months without shaving, I finally had a clean face, and I remembered the way I looked again. I remembered who I was. I was someone who was incompetent at jumping through time.
“You had one fucking job, Darren, and you failed at it,” I said into the mirror. “None of this would have happened if it weren’t for you.”
With the truth stirring in my head, I paced quietly around the house. The rhytmic snoring that hadn’t been helping me fall asleep was coming from Rita, I noticed. Good heavens, that woman could snore.
I walked up the stairs, taking a deep breath on every step along the way. It was the wait that was killing me. The impossible wait. I got to the top floor, leaned on the fence, and looked down. I felt dizzy just from looking down, but it didn’t matter. Falling on the ground and hurting myself badly would save everyone a lot of trouble, wouldn’t it?
Snapping out of it, I looked straight and felt cold sweat envelop my face. Not much longer. There was no natural light for the windows to let in yet. There were no stars to gaze at and forget about my fate and my punishment. It was coming.
I walked down again, every tap of my bare feet on the wooden floor deafening like it was a steel boot. When I came down to the first floor, I noticed a small female figure at the bottom of the stairs, standing there, blocking my passage. Sandra.
“Can’t sleep?” she whispered.
“No. It’s the waiting that kills a man. The damn waiting,” I said quietly, sitting down in front of her.
She sat next to me, away from all the cots. “Talk to me.”
“What will they do?” I whispered, looking forward. “I’m still liable for what I did. I had one job. I don’t want to die, Sandra.”
“We won’t let them kill you,” she said, taking my hand. “We’ve tried everything we could to fix time without you. We failed.”
“Have you gone to see them? Have you asked for their guidance already?”
Her gaze dropped. “Well, no. We’re supposed to be the inventive ones. Getting there with no results would’ve looked very bad. At the very least, we needed the perpetrator and an idea.”
“Did you have an idea?”
“Well, we do now. Obviously, we need to cancel out the Event at Ground Zero. But you’re so intrinsically linked to that one that the twelve of us just can’t do it on our own. Every trail ran cold, and we quickly decided we needed you to fix it, rather than just deal with you after the fact.”
“That sounds comforting.”
“Bottom line is, we won’t let them kill you. That’s why we’re getting ourselves inducted before we suggest what to do with you. They’ve never contested a unanimous Court decision.”
“Alright, this actually is comforting. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Darren. We have work to do, and we can’t do that work without you, remember that. We need you as much as the Universe needs us.”
“The fate of the Universe is in my hands?” I quipped.
“Gods, no. It’s in our hands, but you’ll get a portion of it along the way. All of us will.”
“What if they decide now’s the time to contest a unanimous decision? What if they really want me dead?”
“I don’t know. We follow Thomas’ lead. If he decides we obey, we obey and hand you in.”
“What?”
“I’m sorry, Darren.”
“I don’t deserve your pity.”
“You deserve my time. And I think Thomas trusts you.”
“And if we need to run? There’s six hundred of them just in that Hall, who knows how many working for them, and only thirteen of us.”
“We have twelve white rings. They have none. They’ll be lost as soon as we leave London.”
“Are you sure? Don’t you know about the little incident Andrew and I had in Rome?”
“What?”
I recounted the story, starting with the child-slaughter, the whisper in my head, and finally, the angry time traveller who appeared in front of us wearing a black ring. Whose neck Andrew wrung. Whose grave is lost to time.
“They’ll be lost as soon as we get back to the Hole. We’re all here now, that means we can go back, doesn’t it? We jump in as a group, and it realigns itself to be consistent. It’s engineered that way.”
“Is there a Hole to go back to?” I said, looking at her. “We’ve tried to jump back so many times, none of them worked.”
“Hopefully, with enough careful tracking back and enough time, we’ll make it work. Hopefully.”
I admired her optimism. I remembered what the cut did to Paula when she tried a simple backtrack. I remembered what the cut did to that poor animal. I remembered our two nose-dives in the air because we’d flown through a cut. I wasn’t so optimistic that this mess could be tracked back through.
Then again, Andrew had done it in Rome. He was able to reconstruct our way back. Sandra and Rita had figured out how to carve through non-linear time. Maybe it really was possible to track back.
“Hopefully,” I said.
Before any of that could happen, we needed to get past the Lords. I would need to get out of that place, alive and well, before I could consider being one of them and working with them. And to do that, I needed to face them, and put my life in someone else’s hands.
“Still anxious?” she said.
I nodded, looking straight.
“Here, let me make it easy for you,” she said. The colour of the sky gradually changed from black to a bright orange, and Sandra let go of my hand.
“Good morning, Darren,” she said.
“Good morning,” I said, and got up.
Everyone started moving around, going about their morning routines. The shower was free, and when I suited up, I found them all around the living room table, eating breakfast and drinking coffee in silence. Twelve time travellers. The Exiled Court Temporal.
“Good morning, Darren,” Thomas said. “And good luck.”
I crouched next to the table, quickly eating breakfast and destroying my coffee. Ella, who put gloves over her white ring, led us outside and let us distribute ourselves between the three cars that were waiting for us.
With the same people as before, the ride to Westminster was eerily quiet. Everybody knew what they were supposed to do. I knew the weight of the hours ahead. After the longest car ride ever, I was escorted out of the car, and, with my head down, followed Ella, Thomas and Matt inside.
Ella took her own way, while the rest of us walked down the ancient stone corridors. The security around the Palace looked at us with straight, cold gazes, ready to cause hell if we stepped out of line. They looked at our rings, and frowned when they reached mine, black among the white. We reached a large wooden door, and Thomas stopped.
“This is it,” he said. “Darren, you know what to do. Wait here, we’ll go in, and when the door opens again, come in. No jumping, no crazy business. Understand?”
I nodded. “Don’t let them convict me to death.”
“I won’t let them kill you. Don’t worry.”
Everyone else expressed their appreciation for me, some half-hearted, others genuine. Even Rox, who’d said nothing but angry words to me, apologised and shook my hand. With eleven wishes of luck on my side, I sat down on a stone bench in the corridor.
The door opened. I looked inside, and saw hundreds of men and women sitting around on benches, all with their left hands on a wooden rail, and a black ring on every single left hand. They all traced their gaze on the eleven people walking down the central aisle, and a creaking, but sonorous voice started speaking.
“Matthew Satzer. It’s been so long, old friend.”
The door closed, and I was left alone in the silent stone corridor, with nothing but the echo of my breath and the thumping of my heart.
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2020.02.08 13:38 SolHiemis Around the Clock - Part 34

“Yeah, shopping,” Sandra said. “We’re all wearing what we’d normally wear in here, but we all need to make ourselves presentable for the Lords. Can’t go in there looking all dirty, even if we are all Court members.”
“Right. Wait, isn’t all black timeless?”
“It is, but you know. The choices we make. Besides, we need to pass as formally dressed people by everyone who doesn’t know what actually is going on all around us.”
“Mmm,” I mumbled. “Why are you telling me all of this, though? I’m your tool. Your prisoner. I’m here to do as I’m told.”
“You’re also the only 21st century native, other than Matt, and he’s been travelling for so long I doubt he’d recognise an anachronism even if it was right in front of his own damn nose. You and I are taking the others shopping, Darren.”
“Wait, what? I’m taking five people shopping?” I said. “Is it five? Am I wrong?”
“No, it is five,” Sandra said. “What? Is there a problem?”
“Yeah. I don’t see why you’d let me do this. Even if it is all linear time. Won’t we look suspicious?”
“Not really, as you said, all black is timeless. Just don’t look or act out of place. And besides, none of us will be wearing rings. We don’t need them in linear time.”
“Wait, don’t we? What if the Lords decide to bring us in by force?”
“And how exactly would they do that? How do you think they pinpoint time travellers? How do you think we pinpointed you when we brought you in?”
The penny dropped. “You used my ring’s signature, didn’t you?”
She nodded. “And if there’s no ring…”
“Darren!”
I opened my eyes to see Sandra looking straight at me. “What?”
“It’s rude to fall asleep mid-conversation.”
“I’m very sorry. I’ve only had to fly a plane through two discontinuities in time.”
“Excuses.”
“What can you do? Anyway, when are we going shopping?”
“Right about now. I took the liberty of storing your ring away while you were out. Try not to fall asleep outdoors, it’s very unsafe.”
I kept blinking. “Oh, we’re already going?”
“Yeah. Everyone’s done showering, all dressed, it’s time to go. You’ll know what to do. What looks good. What looks formal. Oh, and Matt’s not going, he said he, quote, doesn’t give a fuck what he looks like, he’s older than the fuckers and they will respect a Court member.”
“Angry old man, isn’t he?” I snickered.
“Angry old genius,” Sandra said.
The rest of them started walking down the stairs. Everyone dressed in simple clothing, short sleeved shirts, and, most importantly, no rings on their hands. I looked at their hands and I could see the marks where their rings used to be.
I looked at those I’d been up on the mountain with, and noticed how worn out they all looked. Thomas’ hair had descended to his shoulders, and so did his beard. Andrew and Ivan had lost so much weight that their old well-fitted shirts were now bags.
Owen, on the other hand, looked better, having had a chance to trim his beard, and he now looked like a civilised caveman, rather than a regular caveman. In comparison to them, Emily and Paula looked like the Istanbul contingent. They looked healthy.
Apparently, they had spent months in rehabilitation after our gate-crash of Matt’s speech, and it showed. Their gazes, however, revealed the wear and tear. There was something that wasn’t quite right about those two. They looked over the five of us that were up on the mountain and breathed heavily, often closing their eyes and shivering.
“Have none of you guys decided to shave?” Sandra said.
“Eh, it’ll grow back anyway,” I said. “Beards are annoying. We can all shave in the morning.”
“If you say so,” Sandra said. “Alright, let’s go!”
She turned to me. “You can take the men, you’ll probably be done much sooner than if we mix and match. And it looks like you need to sleep.”
“I do, yeah,” I muttered through my need to fall asleep in the middle of the room.
“Have you been to 2060s London before?” she said.
I stared through her. I remembered the trip to London again, where my parents took me, what I’d seen. I remembered a row of narrow, tall houses, and a group of men walking into one.
“I think I have, yes. If this is the 2060s London I remember,” I said.
“Wonderful, then you’ll know where the shops are. Or do you need a map nonetheless?”
“Tell you what, I’ll take the map.”
“I’ll be outside,” Thomas said, and the rest followed him to soak up the summer sunlight.
Sandra opened a few drawers, before finding two pairs of sunglasses, each with a fob next to it. “You know how to use these, right?”
“I think I’ll get used to the antiquated controls, yes. You’ve no idea how good these will become in the 70s,” I said.
Simple heads-up display in the corner of my eye, and buttons instead of touch-sensitive temples. Nothing out of the ordinary. After all, this was my home time we were in. I put the sunglasses on, scrolled to the map program and zoomed in on the part of London we were in for all the shops we needed.
“Nice shades, Darren,” Andrew said as I walked outside.
“Look good, feel good, you know?” I said.
“Rule number one of life, isn’t it?” he quipped. “Lead the way.”
“Is he leading the way?” Ivan said.
“He is. He knows his way around 21st-century London,” Thomas said.
“What does he need the shades for, then?” Ivan retaliated.
“He knows how to look and act normal, not where the exact shops are,” Thomas said. “Won’t you just shut up? Just once?”
Still visibly steaming, Ivan shut up, and I led the way through the streets of London, suddenly remembering I didn’t know how we were going to pay.
As we walked through the streets, I focused on knowing where to go, constantly glancing at the display in the corner of my left eye. My back pocket was sweltering with the heat the processor fob was giving off, and I quickly found our way to a clothes shop.
Even though there were six of us, we were done fairly quickly. I somehow paid the very expensive bill with my fingerprint, even though the system surely must have recognised that a nine-year-old was spending thousands of pounds.
We had loaded up on everything we needed, and despite the comical sight of six men carrying clothes around, we were done with shopping, and it was only the middle of the day. Male formal clothing had barely changed for 150 years.
Picking a simple uniform out, with details that fit the 2060s, was simple enough for all six of them. Our biggest problem had been finding suits that fit Thomas and Ingvar and their tall, wide frames.
Since everyone started complaining about how useless and bare they felt without their rings, I started walking faster, leading the way and clearing the path of other people. I came up to a pair holding their child by the hand. Both of them about my height. Both of them looking oddly familiar.
I didn’t dare turn around as we passed by them. I did not want to cause paradox upon paradox in case it really was a young version of me that we had just passed. Focusing on the path ahead, I led us to the house.
We bundled our way in, leaving our suits on a pile in the living room, before finding our strongboxes in the kitchen and putting our rings on. Every single one of them let out a sigh of relief as they donned the rings again, and I wondered why they cared about them so much.
With the very uncomfortable task of leaving the house and trying to act normal while being six men carrying clothes around done, I found my own cot on the first floor and crawled into it, with sleep quickly enveloping me. I missed having a normal sleep schedule, and I hadn’t had any actual sleep since Istanbul.
I woke up to a kick from Ivan. “Come on. Living room. Meeting. You know what to do.”
“Was the kick really necessary?”
“Can’t be fucked to get down and caress you, Darren. Doing that to one person is enough for me.”
I crawled out of my cot and took a quick stop at the bathroom to wash my face. Coming down the stairs, everyone was looking straight at me like I had a mark on my back, which, come to think of it, was technically true.
Ella spoke first. “You’re first up tomorrow. You all come in, Matt does the introductions as the only actual Court member around, you all get inducted, Darren is brought in, you explain the situation.”
“That sounds alright to me,” Thomas said. “What about Darren? What does he do while we do the inductions?”
“He waits outside until summoned. As is procedure,” Matt said. “You really haven’t had many audiences with the Lords, have you?”
“No, Matt, I haven’t. Which is why you’re taking the lead.”
“I won’t be around to take the lead forever, Tommy boy.”
Thomas winced at the nickname. “Only until you induct me into the Court. After that, you’re welcome to formally relinquish the formal leadership to me, as you did when we found ourselves up in the Hole.”
“That sounds alright to me, actually,” Matt said. “Darren? Can you hold out alone for a bit?”
“Of course I can,” I said. “What do you think I am? A child?”
“Might as well be with your lack of time travel skill,” Ivan said. “You’ll learn yet. We all do.”
“Any complaints?” Ella said. Nobody responded. “Alright, you’re free. Do whatever, nine o’clock tomorrow, you take centre stage in front of the Lords.”
“If you say so, Ella,” I mumbled. Did I really get a kick for this? I tried crawling back into my cot and sleeping, but I couldn’t sleep anymore. My hearing in front of the Lords was a thing in the far future for so long. Now it had a date and a time. It was something that was happening.
I’d been heard and convicted by the Court already. Now I’d be forwarded to the Lords, and six hundred faces were not going to be as friendly and proactive as twelve. I wanted to help. I wanted to get down to work, and fix time. Everything I was told made me believe the Lords would rather have my head on a pike.
I got up from my cot and found shaving equipment in a bathroom just to take my mind of things. With hours of work and many cuts on skin that had become too gentle after months without shaving, I finally had a clean face, and I remembered the way I looked again. I remembered who I was. I was someone who was incompetent at jumping through time.
“You had one fucking job, Darren, and you failed at it,” I said into the mirror. “None of this would have happened if it weren’t for you.”
With the truth stirring in my head, I paced quietly around the house. The rhytmic snoring that hadn’t been helping me fall asleep was coming from Rita, I noticed. Good heavens, that woman could snore.
I walked up the stairs, taking a deep breath on every step along the way. It was the wait that was killing me. The impossible wait. I got to the top floor, leaned on the fence, and looked down. I felt dizzy just from looking down, but it didn’t matter. Falling on the ground and hurting myself badly would save everyone a lot of trouble, wouldn’t it?
Snapping out of it, I looked straight and felt cold sweat envelop my face. Not much longer. There was no natural light for the windows to let in yet. There were no stars to gaze at and forget about my fate and my punishment. It was coming.
I walked down again, every tap of my bare feet on the wooden floor deafening like it was a steel boot. When I came down to the first floor, I noticed a small female figure at the bottom of the stairs, standing there, blocking my passage. Sandra.
“Can’t sleep?” she whispered.
“No. It’s the waiting that kills a man. The damn waiting,” I said quietly, sitting down in front of her.
She sat next to me, away from all the cots. “Talk to me.”
“What will they do?” I whispered, looking forward. “I’m still liable for what I did. I had one job. I don’t want to die, Sandra.”
“We won’t let them kill you,” she said, taking my hand. “We’ve tried everything we could to fix time without you. We failed.”
“Have you gone to see them? Have you asked for their guidance already?”
Her gaze dropped. “Well, no. We’re supposed to be the inventive ones. Getting there with no results would’ve looked very bad. At the very least, we needed the perpetrator and an idea.”
“Did you have an idea?”
“Well, we do now. Obviously, we need to cancel out the Event at Ground Zero. But you’re so intrinsically linked to that one that the twelve of us just can’t do it on our own. Every trail ran cold, and we quickly decided we needed you to fix it, rather than just deal with you after the fact.”
“That sounds comforting.”
“Bottom line is, we won’t let them kill you. That’s why we’re getting ourselves inducted before we suggest what to do with you. They’ve never contested a unanimous Court decision.”
“Alright, this actually is comforting. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Darren. We have work to do, and we can’t do that work without you, remember that. We need you as much as the Universe needs us.”
“The fate of the Universe is in my hands?” I quipped.
“Gods, no. It’s in our hands, but you’ll get a portion of it along the way. All of us will.”
“What if they decide now’s the time to contest a unanimous decision? What if they really want me dead?”
“I don’t know. We follow Thomas’ lead. If he decides we obey, we obey and hand you in.”
“What?”
“I’m sorry, Darren.”
“I don’t deserve your pity.”
“You deserve my time. And I think Thomas trusts you.”
“And if we need to run? There’s six hundred of them just in that Hall, who knows how many working for them, and only thirteen of us.”
“We have twelve white rings. They have none. They’ll be lost as soon as we leave London.”
“Are you sure? Don’t you know about the little incident Andrew and I had in Rome?”
“What?”
I recounted the story, starting with the child-slaughter, the whisper in my head, and finally, the angry time traveller who appeared in front of us wearing a black ring. Whose neck Andrew wrung. Whose grave is lost to time.
“They’ll be lost as soon as we get back to the Hole. We’re all here now, that means we can go back, doesn’t it? We jump in as a group, and it realigns itself to be consistent. It’s engineered that way.”
“Is there a Hole to go back to?” I said, looking at her. “We’ve tried to jump back so many times, none of them worked.”
“Hopefully, with enough careful tracking back and enough time, we’ll make it work. Hopefully.”
I admired her optimism. I remembered what the cut did to Paula when she tried a simple backtrack. I remembered what the cut did to that poor animal. I remembered our two nose-dives in the air because we’d flown through a cut. I wasn’t so optimistic that this mess could be tracked back through.
Then again, Andrew had done it in Rome. He was able to reconstruct our way back. Sandra and Rita had figured out how to carve through non-linear time. Maybe it really was possible to track back.
“Hopefully,” I said.
Before any of that could happen, we needed to get past the Lords. I would need to get out of that place, alive and well, before I could consider being one of them and working with them. And to do that, I needed to face them, and put my life in someone else’s hands.
“Still anxious?” she said.
I nodded, looking straight.
“Here, let me make it easy for you,” she said. The colour of the sky gradually changed from black to a bright orange, and Sandra let go of my hand.
“Good morning, Darren,” she said.
“Good morning,” I said, and got up.
Everyone started moving around, going about their morning routines. The shower was free, and when I suited up, I found them all around the living room table, eating breakfast and drinking coffee in silence. Twelve time travellers. The Exiled Court Temporal.
“Good morning, Darren,” Thomas said. “And good luck.”
I crouched next to the table, quickly eating breakfast and destroying my coffee. Ella, who put gloves over her white ring, led us outside and let us distribute ourselves between the three cars that were waiting for us.
With the same people as before, the ride to Westminster was eerily quiet. Everybody knew what they were supposed to do. I knew the weight of the hours ahead. After the longest car ride ever, I was escorted out of the car, and, with my head down, followed Ella, Thomas and Matt inside.
Ella took her own way, while the rest of us walked down the ancient stone corridors. The security around the Palace looked at us with straight, cold gazes, ready to cause hell if we stepped out of line. They looked at our rings, and frowned when they reached mine, black among the white. We reached a large wooden door, and Thomas stopped.
“This is it,” he said. “Darren, you know what to do. Wait here, we’ll go in, and when the door opens again, come in. No jumping, no crazy business. Understand?”
I nodded. “Don’t let them convict me to death.”
“I won’t let them kill you. Don’t worry.”
Everyone else expressed their appreciation for me, some half-hearted, others genuine. Even Rox, who’d said nothing but angry words to me, apologised and shook my hand. With eleven wishes of luck on my side, I sat down on a stone bench in the corridor.
The door opened. I looked inside, and saw hundreds of men and women sitting around on benches, all with their left hands on a wooden rail, and a black ring on every single left hand. They all traced their gaze on the eleven people walking down the central aisle, and a creaking, but sonorous voice started speaking.
“Matthew Satzer. It’s been so long, old friend.”
The door closed, and I was left alone in the silent stone corridor, with nothing but the echo of my breath and the thumping of my heart.
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2020.02.06 08:48 kittehgoesmeow What A Day: Lemon. Wet. Guilty. by Sarah Lazarus & Crooked Media (02/05/20)

"I tried to find one page I could spare that didn’t have a lie on it." - House Shredder Nancy Pelosi

Merci, Pierre Delecto

The Senate has voted to acquit President Trump on both articles of impeachment, bringing his rigged trial to a close along strict party lines, but for one remarkable Republican defection.
Other moderate Republicans are looking particularly pathetic right about now.
The impeachment process has formally ended, but the story is far from over. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said the House expects to continue its investigation and will likely subpoena John Bolton. New reporting on internal Pentagon emails, which show that officials were stunned by Trump's order to freeze military aid to Ukraine, came out just today. With the exception of Mitt Romney, all Republican senators have just signed their names in Sharpie under Trump’s corruption and criminality.

Look No Further Than The Crooked Media

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Under The Radar

Last night’s State of the Union address was one part tame campaign rally and one part reality show. Without ever explicitly mentioning impeachment, Trump made hideously dishonest claims about the economy, pledged to continue fighting abortion rights and gun restrictions, stoked xenophobic fears, and bragged about killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Qassem Suleimani with macabre anecdotes. The speech took a turn for the truly surreal when Trump introduced one of his guests—America’s loudest racist, Rush Limbaugh—and said that he would award Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but then had Melania award Limbaugh the medal right there during the speech. Three democrats walked out of the chamber in protest, and ten more boycotted the event entirely.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland shooting victim, was handcuffed and detained after he interrupted the proceedings. Guttenberg attended as one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guests, and said he was unable to keep his emotions in check when Trump first said that human life is “a sacred gift from God,” then went on to declare that gun rights were “under siege all across our country.” Guttenberg yelled out about his daughter Jaime, and was escorted out by security.
Pelosi fittingly ripped up a printed copy of Trump’s remarks at the conclusion of the address, a gesture that quickly went viral and which many Republicans are pretending to be mad about.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) delivered the Democratic Party’s official rebuttal and used the opportunity to direct focus away from Trump, and towards Democrats’ policy agenda.

What Else?

The Trump administration is withholding $823 million for a clean energy program, according to congressional Democrats. Good thing Trump has learned his lesson, SUSAN MARGARET COLLINS.
A 32-year-old U.S. citizen who was arrested by Border Patrol agents has died in government custody. CBP says the man was arrested as a suspect in “an alien smuggling incident.”
Ten passengers and a crew member from a cruise ship in Japan have been diagnosed with coronavirus. About 3,700 people on the ship will be quarantined for two weeks, confined to their cabins.
One person died and 157 more were injured when a plane skidded off the runway in Istanbul. The Boeing 737, landing in bad weather, ultimately crashed into a ditch and broke into pieces. Passengers climbed through gaps in the fuselage to escape.
Juul targeted Native American tribes while pitching its products, according to a report by congressional investigators. In addition to marketing e-cigarettes to high school students, Juul admitted that it had pitched its products to the leaders of at least eight Native American tribes, and discussed a “switching program” for cigarette smokers.
New York State eliminated real estate broker fees for renters. Housing regulators added the rule in an addendum to last year’s rent laws, catching landlords and lawmakers by surprise.
Two butterfly activists have been found dead in Mexico in less than a week, both bearing signs of blunt force trauma. One of the activists, Homero Gómez González, was the founder of a monarch butterfly reserve, and had previously received death threats for his work to protect the land from logging.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did a big ol’ self-own with a Simpsons reference. Pompeo tried to mock Pelosi after the State of the Union by tweeting a picture of Lisa Simpson crying over torn paper, but the still is from an episode in which Lisa becomes disillusioned with politics after witnessing some bribery. Also a former Simpsons writer told Pompeo to fuck off.
Florida police found a bag full of drugs labeled “Bag Full of Drugs.” That’s it, that’s the bag full of drugs.
Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas has died. He was 103.

Be Smarter

The Iowa Democratic party continued to release results in batches through Wednesday afternoon. With 86 percent of the precincts reporting, Pete Buttigieg has taken the lead in state delegate equivalents, while Bernie Sanders is leading in first alignment vote totals. The candidates are already campaigning in New Hampshire ahead of next week’s primary, and the confusion around Iowa’s results means the field hasn’t winnowed. Joe Biden took direct swings at Sanders and Buttigieg after finishing a disappointing fourth in Iowa, calling Sanders unelectable, and Buttigieg a risky, inexperienced choice. Should be a nice, mellow debate on Friday.

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Is That Hope I Feel?

New York City will offer free mental health care to all new parents. Chirlane McCray, the creator and overseer of ThriveNYC, is leading a citywide effort to provide help to the one-in-five mothers who experience postpartum depression. Through the New Family Home Visits initiative, every first-time parent in the city will be eligible for at-home screenings for anxiety and postpartum depression. The initiative will also help connect mothers with mental health services. When the program has fully ramped by 2024, it will be the largest of its kind in the country.

Enjoy

Tony Giglio on Twitter: "It took 16 years but this Onion story got it right"
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2020.02.05 18:43 SolHiemis [Around the Clock] - Part 32

“Shut up, Andrew,” Thomas belted over him. They continued to whistle and clap in jest, but there was a feeling that a lot of weight had lifted off their shoulders.
“That went well,” I said into my microphone.
“No, it didn’t,” Konstantin said. “But it’ll do. We should keep going. We’re low on fuel because of that detour.”
The sky around us had given up its total darkness, and the slightest hints of royal blue were on the horizon directly ahead of me. I peeked at our compass, and indeed, we were going roughly east.
“Keep direction. I’ll do a bit of maths,” I said, and looked down at our blank map, covered in pen markings from our route brainstorming session.
“Two-seventy for ninety minutes, three-fifteen for sixty,” I mumbled as I tried to work our position in the sky out.
“Silent maths, maybe?”
“Yeah, okay.”
I took a pencil out and started scribbling in the air, not wanting to mess our map up even further. I’d forgotten how long our manoeuver around and through the discontinuity had taken, and all I had to go from was the sky. Even then, I had no guarantee that we were in the exact same time of night.
Screw it. “Zero azimuth,” I said. “We won’t miss it.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing this time.”
He turned the plane directly north. As we circled around, I managed to look at the cut to my left. It looked like a jet-black curtain, hiding the north Atlantic behind it. We’d just been there, and I wasn’t planning to take another stroll through it. I wanted the thing as far away from me as it could be.
As the sky moved through the shades of blue, and the faintest hint of orange appeared to my right, the flight turned into a quiet, uncomfortable lull. The pilot didn’t have much to say to me, and I didn’t want to admit that I was flying blind, not knowing where we really were. I wondered what he would do when we landed and we wouldn’t need him anymore.
He couldn’t go back to his family. As a non-traveller, the cuts would easily erase him from existence. It was more than likely that his family wouldn’t recognise him even if he somehow did go back. Would he find a new life in London? Would he even exist if I went looking for him a week after the fact?
Sitting next to me was a man whose life I had modified beyond repair. Yes, he would say it was in service of his country and head of state, but even the existence of the country he was serving was a perverse product of time going non-linear. If we took another round-trip through the cut, we would easily find ourselves in a new reality. One in which his country didn’t exist anymore.
“You’re married,” I said, taking notice of the ring on his left hand. A simple silver band. Probably the most they could afford.
“Am I?” he said. “How do you know?”
“You’re wearing a ring. It doesn’t look ornamental, so I have to assume it’s a wedding ring.”
“Oh.” He raised his eyebrows. “Yes, of course I’m married. How could I have forgotten? I need a cup of coffee, don’t I?” I smiled. “I think you do. Go on, make one. I’ve got it while you do.”
He slithered out of his seat, walking around the tight cockpit to provide himself with more of the magical black liquid that had kept us both awake during the long hours of the night. While he wasn’t looking, I skimmed around the cockpit, looking for clues on his past life. Surely, for someone who spends a lot of time in the air, he’d have a picture of his family somewhere.
I didn’t find a single clue, though. If he was a regular pilot on this plane, he wasn’t a sentimental man. Or at least I hoped that was the reason, and not more of the fuckery Darren’s world throws at people.
I looked out and down only to see a familiar shape. A large, pointed peninsula, with another mass of land beyond it. The tip of Brittany, and beyond it, the island of Great Britain. Our destination. Only then did I pause to think how I could even see the shape of the land masses instead of going by the lights of civilisation. Dawn was approaching.
He returned with a mug full of coffee. “Ahhh, there we go.” He took a sip. “Like a night out in Belgrade.”
“Are they really that bad?” I said, biting my lip. Hopefully he’d understand it was a joke.
“Yes,” he said. “Shit, I didn’t ask you. Do you want some?”
“No, I’m good. Not now, we should probably be on the descent soon enough, shouldn’t we?”
He sat down, and looked ahead. “Shit, is that England?”
“Cornwall, probably, but yes,” I said. “Not much further.”
“Well that’s good to know. Let me just…“ He put the mug on a shelf again, and wedged himself into his seat again. “That can wait. Ready when you are, Darren.”
“Your controls in five, four, three, two, one.”
“Mine. You know what to do.”
He tilted the nose of the plane down, with the sky ahead of us now the most wonderful shade of pale blue, sunrise coming from the right and into my field of vision as we turned right, towards London.
We descended slowly, taking care to avoid anything else that might have been in the sky. My only fear was that we’d have another discontinuity to contend with, and they were impossible to spot in the daytime. Especially at flight speeds.
Nothing came of it, however. The sky was surprisingly empty, surprisingly calm and surprisingly hospitable to flight. Completely out of character, I saw the surface of England clearly, instead of it being behind a thick cover of clouds. It wasn’t right. It was too perfect.
“The weather’s not supposed to be this nice,” I said.
“I don’t care. All I want is to get this plane down,” he said. “And I suggest you do the same.”
“Yes, sir,” I mumbled, and returned to preparing for our approach. I glanced at the airspeed meter, and compared it to the map. “Should be about half an hour.”
“Copy.” He tilted the nose further down and closed the throttle. Soon we would be out of this plane. Soon we’d have something more to think about than avoiding random cuts.
Twenty minutes later, I looked out, but instead of a sprawling London, I saw nothing but a green field and the Thames. It wasn’t there. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“What?”
I pointed through the glass. “It’s supposed to be right there. Where is it?”
“I don’t know what London looks like, man,” he said.
“It can’t be,” I said. “I know it exists. It has to exist, one way or another.”
I frowned, looking at the ground carefully. Maybe it was just a lot smaller in this variation of reality, but then it wouldn’t have an airport for us to land at. I blinked, and I thought I saw the banks of the Thames shimmer.
“What was that?” I said.
“What was what?”
“Down there. Looked like a sh-“
“A piece of shit? There’s one right next to me.”
“Nevermind. Can you just do a wide circle and get us down to two thousand?”
“Not unless I have to.”
“You have to.”
“I don’t trust you. We’ve had two wild events already, you people are doing things I don’t understand, and I’m not dying up here. I’m not taking orders from you anymore,” he said, so loud that my ears started hurting.
As if on cue, Matt ran into the cockpit, screaming at the pilot in Serbian again. Konstantin raised his hands, as if in self-defence, and Matt stormed out, leaving me blinking and confused, staring at the spot where Matt stood, towering over Konstantin, just moments earlier.
“Yes, I can do it,” he said.
He followed my request to the letter, sending us into a slow descent around where I thought London had to be, and I kept looking outside, looking for clues and signals where it might have been.
“Of course,” I mumbled. The Lords had hidden London behind a cut. How they’d made one, I didn’t know, but the whole city was hidden under it, like some sort of dome. Anyone who wanted in or out had to be vetted by them. And we weren’t exactly invited.
Sadly, it was exactly where we wanted to be, and apparently, London was a safe destination, according to the information we had received in Istanbul.
“Ninety left. Here goes nothing,” I said.
The pilot didn’t bother asking or speaking anymore, after his recent altercation with his superior. He meekly turned the plane, sending us into another discontinuity, and we’d meet it just like any other. Head-on.
Suddenly, a sprawling city appeared below us. There was no shaking, no engine shutdown, and no lethal situation. We’d just passed through it, and we were on the inside.
“I guess we’re invited after all,” I said, trying to hide what I really thought. It was completely possible that they’d convicted me in absentia, and that I was coming right into their hands to be executed. He didn’t respond.
“Follow the river. Ring City airport,” I said. “I don’t think their procedures changed one bit.”
He slowed the plane down just enough to keep us in the air, and started talking on the radio. It was standard air traffic control chatter, something which I’d become so blissfully unaccustomed to in our long night hours. It was completely plausible that there wasn’t even a tower to pick us up while we were up there.
He looked like he’d landed in London so many times, even if it wasn’t this version of London he was flying into. He executed every instruction perfectly. Just as we were approaching the runway, our engines sputtered, running on fumes, and the slight loss of control made our touchdown rough, spilling coffee all over the cockpit.
I took a deep sigh of relief. Here we were. Finally in London. It was finally time for answers. We taxied around the airport, and I unbuckled myself to finally leave the cabin.
“Good flight?” I asked him.
“Okay flight,” he said. That was enough for me.
As I got up from my seat, I noticed my eyes were beginning to become heavy. I had expended so much brainpower during the flight that I was feeling like I had been short-circuited.
I left the cabin and radio room behind me with what was surely a blank expression on my face, and was taken aback by a sudden warm hug from someone much larger than me. Once the initial grip had loosened, I looked up to see Emily. “Nice flying, Darren.”
The plane door opened, and on the ground, waiting for the plane, were six armed men in suits and sunglasses, with small images visibly flashing in front of their eyes. Their sunglasses looked like a prototype version of those heads-up sunglasses everyone had in my time. Not the clunky version they tried in the 2010s, but truly seamless ones.
Those were always expensive, especially since these looked like 2060s prototypes rather than the sleek 2070s version I used to have before I went to Sarajevo. I looked at their hands, but didn’t see any black nor white rings. These were working for someone, and they hadn’t come of their own accord.
Thomas led us out, and the suit closest to him stopped him. They spoke to each other quietly, before escorting us, one by one, to three limousines waiting at the far edge, alongside three more officers on motorcyles. Armed escort. Nice.
I was told to enter the limo that Thomas, Andrew and Matt had all been escorted into, and we were met by a pale-skinned woman dressed in all-black formal clothing from neck to toe. Even though she was sitting down, her proportions revealed she was about as tall as Andrew, and her hair had been let down, straight as an arrow, green eyes piercing behind it.
She squinted at us, her jaw clenched, her gaze straight and glancing from one to the other like we were all there to be her slaves. When the officer closed the door behind us, she took her gloves off, tapped on the glass panel behind her.
The motors started whining, the car started moving and Ella closed the wooden cover over the glass panel. In that sleek motion her hand revealed a white ring, and the wooden cover suddenly made a lot of sense.
“That is some reception you’re giving us, Ella,” Thomas said.
“Everything for my friends. You know me,” she said in a silky smooth contralto. “Did you really think we were going to just find a shack for you to sleep in and kick in Westminster’s front door?”
“Uh, I didn’t really have a plan what to do when we did get to London. I’m still new at this whole leadership spiel,” he said.
“He’s lying. You were preparing to kick the front door in, weren’t you, Thomas?” Andrew asked, again with his wolfish grin, wider than ever this time.
“That’s more on brand for Thomas, yes. So uncivilised. You spend too much time with Em,” she said. “Darren! Long time no see. Well, at least I presume it was a long time for you.”
“Oh, it was,” I said. “Way too long. I honestly would’ve preferred if you’d just delivered me here immediately.”
“It is what it is. The Lords don’t like being disturbed without due reason,” Matt said. “I should know, I’ve done it many more times than these younglings.”
“He’s right, you know,” Ella said. “I presume you’ve been filled in?”
“Andrew’s told me how you got to the position you were in when you decided to pull me in, but not much else,” I said. “What more do I need to know?”
“Wait,” Thomas said, turning to Andrew. “You did what?”
“I filled him in,” he said. “He’s going to be one of us anyway. He deserves to know. He needs to know.”
“And was that really worth risking so much that you went in the middle of Rome unattended?” Thomas said.
“Yes,” Andrew said. “I wasn’t getting any of that in on the plane, was I?”
“Andrew, you don’t understand. We don’t know what we’re up against here. There’s nothing we can do if something goes awry, it’s the whole reason behind our little excursion to London here,” Thomas said. “It’s too dangerous, and there’s only thirteen of us. We can’t afford to lose anyone.”
“Can we talk about this later?” Andrew said. “It’s irrelevant. We’ll have the Lords’ support soon enough.”
Ella drew breath, but was interrupted by Thomas. “Sure. You’re probably right. I’m probably way too tired to be a good leader now.”
The inside of the car fell silent, and I decided to break the silence. “If you have any idea, how did we get through the discontinuity that, I presume, the Lords placed over the city to stop anyone from coming in uninvited?”
“Sandra,” Ella said, the pitch of her voice raising for the first time. “I don’t know how she does it, but she’s taken a natural understanding to this whole time cutting business. She’s bailed me out so many times, I’ll never be able to thank her enough.”
“You girls have so much to tell me,” Thomas said. “And everyone else, of course.”
“Of course,” she said. “Oh, and I wouldn’t be so sure you’ll have the Lords’ support. They’ll have to vote, and discuss, and all that takes time. Quite a bit of time, as I’ve learned.”
“Wait, what? How did you learn all of that?” I said.
“Took my place among the Lords, obviously,” she said. “Made myself look and talk like one of them.”
“Didn’t you tell them you were one of the Court?” Matt said.
“Well, technically, I’m not. None of us are. Except you, Matt,” she said.
“Wait, what?” Matt said. “I’m confused.”
“New Court members have to be personally inducted in front of the Lords by an existing member. As well as, of course, the limit to there only ever being twelve members. We may have functioned as a Court well enough, but as far as they care, we’re not of the Court until you personally induct us,” she said. “Their rules, not mine.”
“What a stupid rule,” Matt said. “Though I suppose that also applied to me way back.”
“Not quite,” she said. “They call it Lex Satzer. After you.”
“Satzer?” I said.
“My last name,” he said. “German roots and all that.”
“Anyway, yeah, the rule was put in place for you. Once you took your place in the first Court, they decided they wanted to limit the Court’s influence, and put the rule into place,” she said. “These are all things I never knew. That you didn’t tell us, old man.”
“I was going to. The Hole disappeared under our feet before we got Darren to London, and I was going to tell you then. Promise,” Matt said, but I noticed he wasn’t looking into Ella’s eyes.
“You’ve never been wrong so far,” she said. “Even if I haven’t known you for long.”
“How do you know all of this?” Andrew said. “It’s amazing.
“Research, my boy. Lots and lots of research. Something I’d suggest to everyone. And since they’re somehow managing to keep all of London in linear time, it’s so easy to do. Just pick a library in Westminster, I’m sure the Lords will be happy for you to spend time there. They’ve never been ones to refuse service to a Court member,” she said.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said. “If you’re officially not Court members, and you weren’t originally one of them, how did you make yourself one of them, and how did they not bat an eye at a fucking white ring? There’s only twelve of those in existence, isn’t there?”
She looked at me, and then at Thomas. “He’s good. Whatever you’ve done to him these past… however long, because you’ve all aged different amounts from what I can tell, you’ve taught him well. We can use him.”
“I’m not sure if I like the sound of that,” I said.
She winked at me. “Oh, you will. I think we’re there.”
“You still haven’t answered my question,” I said.
“Not now, Darren,” she said. “Though I understand if you’re tired of that sentence.”
“I am. But there’s nothing I can do there,” I said.
“Trust me,” she said. “Trust all of us.”
The car came to a halt, and we left it one by one. I immediately noticed we weren’t where we needed to be. The Palace was nowhere near, and we were instead looking at a narrow, but tall house surrounded by other, similar houses. I looked around, and while we were obviously in central London, we had been taken somewhere else.
“Home sweet home,” Ella said. “It’s been for months, anyway.” The other car followed behind us, and a woman my age with a fearful expression on her face left it, immediately noticing me. Sandra.
“Darren!” she shouted, and walked towards me, only to pull me in for a hug. “It’s so good to see you. And for fuck’s sake, you need a shower.”
“I think we all do,” I said, barely keeping my eyes open anymore.
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2020.02.05 18:43 SolHiemis Around the Clock - Part 32

“Shut up, Andrew,” Thomas belted over him. They continued to whistle and clap in jest, but there was a feeling that a lot of weight had lifted off their shoulders.
“That went well,” I said into my microphone.
“No, it didn’t,” Konstantin said. “But it’ll do. We should keep going. We’re low on fuel because of that detour.”
The sky around us had given up its total darkness, and the slightest hints of royal blue were on the horizon directly ahead of me. I peeked at our compass, and indeed, we were going roughly east.
“Keep direction. I’ll do a bit of maths,” I said, and looked down at our blank map, covered in pen markings from our route brainstorming session.
“Two-seventy for ninety minutes, three-fifteen for sixty,” I mumbled as I tried to work our position in the sky out.
“Silent maths, maybe?”
“Yeah, okay.”
I took a pencil out and started scribbling in the air, not wanting to mess our map up even further. I’d forgotten how long our manoeuver around and through the discontinuity had taken, and all I had to go from was the sky. Even then, I had no guarantee that we were in the exact same time of night.
Screw it. “Zero azimuth,” I said. “We won’t miss it.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing this time.”
He turned the plane directly north. As we circled around, I managed to look at the cut to my left. It looked like a jet-black curtain, hiding the north Atlantic behind it. We’d just been there, and I wasn’t planning to take another stroll through it. I wanted the thing as far away from me as it could be.
As the sky moved through the shades of blue, and the faintest hint of orange appeared to my right, the flight turned into a quiet, uncomfortable lull. The pilot didn’t have much to say to me, and I didn’t want to admit that I was flying blind, not knowing where we really were. I wondered what he would do when we landed and we wouldn’t need him anymore.
He couldn’t go back to his family. As a non-traveller, the cuts would easily erase him from existence. It was more than likely that his family wouldn’t recognise him even if he somehow did go back. Would he find a new life in London? Would he even exist if I went looking for him a week after the fact?
Sitting next to me was a man whose life I had modified beyond repair. Yes, he would say it was in service of his country and head of state, but even the existence of the country he was serving was a perverse product of time going non-linear. If we took another round-trip through the cut, we would easily find ourselves in a new reality. One in which his country didn’t exist anymore.
“You’re married,” I said, taking notice of the ring on his left hand. A simple silver band. Probably the most they could afford.
“Am I?” he said. “How do you know?”
“You’re wearing a ring. It doesn’t look ornamental, so I have to assume it’s a wedding ring.”
“Oh.” He raised his eyebrows. “Yes, of course I’m married. How could I have forgotten? I need a cup of coffee, don’t I?” I smiled. “I think you do. Go on, make one. I’ve got it while you do.”
He slithered out of his seat, walking around the tight cockpit to provide himself with more of the magical black liquid that had kept us both awake during the long hours of the night. While he wasn’t looking, I skimmed around the cockpit, looking for clues on his past life. Surely, for someone who spends a lot of time in the air, he’d have a picture of his family somewhere.
I didn’t find a single clue, though. If he was a regular pilot on this plane, he wasn’t a sentimental man. Or at least I hoped that was the reason, and not more of the fuckery Darren’s world throws at people.
I looked out and down only to see a familiar shape. A large, pointed peninsula, with another mass of land beyond it. The tip of Brittany, and beyond it, the island of Great Britain. Our destination. Only then did I pause to think how I could even see the shape of the land masses instead of going by the lights of civilisation. Dawn was approaching.
He returned with a mug full of coffee. “Ahhh, there we go.” He took a sip. “Like a night out in Belgrade.”
“Are they really that bad?” I said, biting my lip. Hopefully he’d understand it was a joke.
“Yes,” he said. “Shit, I didn’t ask you. Do you want some?”
“No, I’m good. Not now, we should probably be on the descent soon enough, shouldn’t we?”
He sat down, and looked ahead. “Shit, is that England?”
“Cornwall, probably, but yes,” I said. “Not much further.”
“Well that’s good to know. Let me just…“ He put the mug on a shelf again, and wedged himself into his seat again. “That can wait. Ready when you are, Darren.”
“Your controls in five, four, three, two, one.”
“Mine. You know what to do.”
He tilted the nose of the plane down, with the sky ahead of us now the most wonderful shade of pale blue, sunrise coming from the right and into my field of vision as we turned right, towards London.
We descended slowly, taking care to avoid anything else that might have been in the sky. My only fear was that we’d have another discontinuity to contend with, and they were impossible to spot in the daytime. Especially at flight speeds.
Nothing came of it, however. The sky was surprisingly empty, surprisingly calm and surprisingly hospitable to flight. Completely out of character, I saw the surface of England clearly, instead of it being behind a thick cover of clouds. It wasn’t right. It was too perfect.
“The weather’s not supposed to be this nice,” I said.
“I don’t care. All I want is to get this plane down,” he said. “And I suggest you do the same.”
“Yes, sir,” I mumbled, and returned to preparing for our approach. I glanced at the airspeed meter, and compared it to the map. “Should be about half an hour.”
“Copy.” He tilted the nose further down and closed the throttle. Soon we would be out of this plane. Soon we’d have something more to think about than avoiding random cuts.
Twenty minutes later, I looked out, but instead of a sprawling London, I saw nothing but a green field and the Thames. It wasn’t there. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“What?”
I pointed through the glass. “It’s supposed to be right there. Where is it?”
“I don’t know what London looks like, man,” he said.
“It can’t be,” I said. “I know it exists. It has to exist, one way or another.”
I frowned, looking at the ground carefully. Maybe it was just a lot smaller in this variation of reality, but then it wouldn’t have an airport for us to land at. I blinked, and I thought I saw the banks of the Thames shimmer.
“What was that?” I said.
“What was what?”
“Down there. Looked like a sh-“
“A piece of shit? There’s one right next to me.”
“Nevermind. Can you just do a wide circle and get us down to two thousand?”
“Not unless I have to.”
“You have to.”
“I don’t trust you. We’ve had two wild events already, you people are doing things I don’t understand, and I’m not dying up here. I’m not taking orders from you anymore,” he said, so loud that my ears started hurting.
As if on cue, Matt ran into the cockpit, screaming at the pilot in Serbian again. Konstantin raised his hands, as if in self-defence, and Matt stormed out, leaving me blinking and confused, staring at the spot where Matt stood, towering over Konstantin, just moments earlier.
“Yes, I can do it,” he said.
He followed my request to the letter, sending us into a slow descent around where I thought London had to be, and I kept looking outside, looking for clues and signals where it might have been.
“Of course,” I mumbled. The Lords had hidden London behind a cut. How they’d made one, I didn’t know, but the whole city was hidden under it, like some sort of dome. Anyone who wanted in or out had to be vetted by them. And we weren’t exactly invited.
Sadly, it was exactly where we wanted to be, and apparently, London was a safe destination, according to the information we had received in Istanbul.
“Ninety left. Here goes nothing,” I said.
The pilot didn’t bother asking or speaking anymore, after his recent altercation with his superior. He meekly turned the plane, sending us into another discontinuity, and we’d meet it just like any other. Head-on.
Suddenly, a sprawling city appeared below us. There was no shaking, no engine shutdown, and no lethal situation. We’d just passed through it, and we were on the inside.
“I guess we’re invited after all,” I said, trying to hide what I really thought. It was completely possible that they’d convicted me in absentia, and that I was coming right into their hands to be executed. He didn’t respond.
“Follow the river. Ring City airport,” I said. “I don’t think their procedures changed one bit.”
He slowed the plane down just enough to keep us in the air, and started talking on the radio. It was standard air traffic control chatter, something which I’d become so blissfully unaccustomed to in our long night hours. It was completely plausible that there wasn’t even a tower to pick us up while we were up there.
He looked like he’d landed in London so many times, even if it wasn’t this version of London he was flying into. He executed every instruction perfectly. Just as we were approaching the runway, our engines sputtered, running on fumes, and the slight loss of control made our touchdown rough, spilling coffee all over the cockpit.
I took a deep sigh of relief. Here we were. Finally in London. It was finally time for answers. We taxied around the airport, and I unbuckled myself to finally leave the cabin.
“Good flight?” I asked him.
“Okay flight,” he said. That was enough for me.
As I got up from my seat, I noticed my eyes were beginning to become heavy. I had expended so much brainpower during the flight that I was feeling like I had been short-circuited.
I left the cabin and radio room behind me with what was surely a blank expression on my face, and was taken aback by a sudden warm hug from someone much larger than me. Once the initial grip had loosened, I looked up to see Emily. “Nice flying, Darren.”
The plane door opened, and on the ground, waiting for the plane, were six armed men in suits and sunglasses, with small images visibly flashing in front of their eyes. Their sunglasses looked like a prototype version of those heads-up sunglasses everyone had in my time. Not the clunky version they tried in the 2010s, but truly seamless ones.
Those were always expensive, especially since these looked like 2060s prototypes rather than the sleek 2070s version I used to have before I went to Sarajevo. I looked at their hands, but didn’t see any black nor white rings. These were working for someone, and they hadn’t come of their own accord.
Thomas led us out, and the suit closest to him stopped him. They spoke to each other quietly, before escorting us, one by one, to three limousines waiting at the far edge, alongside three more officers on motorcyles. Armed escort. Nice.
I was told to enter the limo that Thomas, Andrew and Matt had all been escorted into, and we were met by a pale-skinned woman dressed in all-black formal clothing from neck to toe. Even though she was sitting down, her proportions revealed she was about as tall as Andrew, and her hair had been let down, straight as an arrow, green eyes piercing behind it.
She squinted at us, her jaw clenched, her gaze straight and glancing from one to the other like we were all there to be her slaves. When the officer closed the door behind us, she took her gloves off, tapped on the glass panel behind her.
The motors started whining, the car started moving and Ella closed the wooden cover over the glass panel. In that sleek motion her hand revealed a white ring, and the wooden cover suddenly made a lot of sense.
“That is some reception you’re giving us, Ella,” Thomas said.
“Everything for my friends. You know me,” she said in a silky smooth contralto. “Did you really think we were going to just find a shack for you to sleep in and kick in Westminster’s front door?”
“Uh, I didn’t really have a plan what to do when we did get to London. I’m still new at this whole leadership spiel,” he said.
“He’s lying. You were preparing to kick the front door in, weren’t you, Thomas?” Andrew asked, again with his wolfish grin, wider than ever this time.
“That’s more on brand for Thomas, yes. So uncivilised. You spend too much time with Em,” she said. “Darren! Long time no see. Well, at least I presume it was a long time for you.”
“Oh, it was,” I said. “Way too long. I honestly would’ve preferred if you’d just delivered me here immediately.”
“It is what it is. The Lords don’t like being disturbed without due reason,” Matt said. “I should know, I’ve done it many more times than these younglings.”
“He’s right, you know,” Ella said. “I presume you’ve been filled in?”
“Andrew’s told me how you got to the position you were in when you decided to pull me in, but not much else,” I said. “What more do I need to know?”
“Wait,” Thomas said, turning to Andrew. “You did what?”
“I filled him in,” he said. “He’s going to be one of us anyway. He deserves to know. He needs to know.”
“And was that really worth risking so much that you went in the middle of Rome unattended?” Thomas said.
“Yes,” Andrew said. “I wasn’t getting any of that in on the plane, was I?”
“Andrew, you don’t understand. We don’t know what we’re up against here. There’s nothing we can do if something goes awry, it’s the whole reason behind our little excursion to London here,” Thomas said. “It’s too dangerous, and there’s only thirteen of us. We can’t afford to lose anyone.”
“Can we talk about this later?” Andrew said. “It’s irrelevant. We’ll have the Lords’ support soon enough.”
Ella drew breath, but was interrupted by Thomas. “Sure. You’re probably right. I’m probably way too tired to be a good leader now.”
The inside of the car fell silent, and I decided to break the silence. “If you have any idea, how did we get through the discontinuity that, I presume, the Lords placed over the city to stop anyone from coming in uninvited?”
“Sandra,” Ella said, the pitch of her voice raising for the first time. “I don’t know how she does it, but she’s taken a natural understanding to this whole time cutting business. She’s bailed me out so many times, I’ll never be able to thank her enough.”
“You girls have so much to tell me,” Thomas said. “And everyone else, of course.”
“Of course,” she said. “Oh, and I wouldn’t be so sure you’ll have the Lords’ support. They’ll have to vote, and discuss, and all that takes time. Quite a bit of time, as I’ve learned.”
“Wait, what? How did you learn all of that?” I said.
“Took my place among the Lords, obviously,” she said. “Made myself look and talk like one of them.”
“Didn’t you tell them you were one of the Court?” Matt said.
“Well, technically, I’m not. None of us are. Except you, Matt,” she said.
“Wait, what?” Matt said. “I’m confused.”
“New Court members have to be personally inducted in front of the Lords by an existing member. As well as, of course, the limit to there only ever being twelve members. We may have functioned as a Court well enough, but as far as they care, we’re not of the Court until you personally induct us,” she said. “Their rules, not mine.”
“What a stupid rule,” Matt said. “Though I suppose that also applied to me way back.”
“Not quite,” she said. “They call it Lex Satzer. After you.”
“Satzer?” I said.
“My last name,” he said. “German roots and all that.”
“Anyway, yeah, the rule was put in place for you. Once you took your place in the first Court, they decided they wanted to limit the Court’s influence, and put the rule into place,” she said. “These are all things I never knew. That you didn’t tell us, old man.”
“I was going to. The Hole disappeared under our feet before we got Darren to London, and I was going to tell you then. Promise,” Matt said, but I noticed he wasn’t looking into Ella’s eyes.
“You’ve never been wrong so far,” she said. “Even if I haven’t known you for long.”
“How do you know all of this?” Andrew said. “It’s amazing.
“Research, my boy. Lots and lots of research. Something I’d suggest to everyone. And since they’re somehow managing to keep all of London in linear time, it’s so easy to do. Just pick a library in Westminster, I’m sure the Lords will be happy for you to spend time there. They’ve never been ones to refuse service to a Court member,” she said.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said. “If you’re officially not Court members, and you weren’t originally one of them, how did you make yourself one of them, and how did they not bat an eye at a fucking white ring? There’s only twelve of those in existence, isn’t there?”
She looked at me, and then at Thomas. “He’s good. Whatever you’ve done to him these past… however long, because you’ve all aged different amounts from what I can tell, you’ve taught him well. We can use him.”
“I’m not sure if I like the sound of that,” I said.
She winked at me. “Oh, you will. I think we’re there.”
“You still haven’t answered my question,” I said.
“Not now, Darren,” she said. “Though I understand if you’re tired of that sentence.”
“I am. But there’s nothing I can do there,” I said.
“Trust me,” she said. “Trust all of us.”
The car came to a halt, and we left it one by one. I immediately noticed we weren’t where we needed to be. The Palace was nowhere near, and we were instead looking at a narrow, but tall house surrounded by other, similar houses. I looked around, and while we were obviously in central London, we had been taken somewhere else.
“Home sweet home,” Ella said. “It’s been for months, anyway.” The other car followed behind us, and a woman my age with a fearful expression on her face left it, immediately noticing me. Sandra.
“Darren!” she shouted, and walked towards me, only to pull me in for a hug. “It’s so good to see you. And for fuck’s sake, you need a shower.”
“I think we all do,” I said, barely keeping my eyes open anymore.
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