Unfiltered Political News

OneLogin: The Smart Way To Log in

Most companies nowadays require their employees to log in or sign in to some system. This system usually serves as evidence to the fact that they were indeed present at the office and are available for work. This system sometimes even determines the days that one gets paid for. For something that is so essential, it is surprising that, technology or rather lack of it is being used today. Companies tend to use the traditional system of a pen and paper to sort out their employees and log them into work. For businesses that want to stay efficient and ahead of their competition at all times, switching to a digitized medium for signing in is one of the best things to opt for.

One company has come to the rescue to help other firms, giving them a platform that will help them with this. Based in San Francisco, Envoy is a company that came up with a platform called OneLogin, which provides companies with an app for their i-pad that lets users digitally sign it while they are trying to enter work. Normally, one would have to write down the time of entry, the name and their designation at the job. This platform already has the identities of the people working at the company along with their photographs, so all that would be needed is just one signature, and you are good to go. The app also flashes the picture of the person trying to sign it for extra security protocol and to ensure that the system is not being misused.

Entry logs are not only used by the people working at a particular company, but also by people who are visiting them as guests. The app allows users to sign in as a visitor, provided that they give the app their necessary information. This allows the companies to track the number of people that have come into the office.

If the firm is trying to find someone on the long list that they have, it is much easier to do it with OneLogin. The search functionality allows for easy access to any kind of parameter that one would be looking for.

McCain to oppose Graham-Cassidy, likely sinking Obamacare repeal

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday that he would oppose the latest Obamacare repeal measure, dealing a major blow to the legislation’s prospects of getting 50 votes on the Senate floor next week.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in a statement.

The legislation, drafted by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — McCain’s closest friend in the Senate — is the Senate GOP’s last best chance at passing a bill dismantling the Affordable Care Act before a Sept. 30 deadline. But conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has already announced his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill — shredding the plan to reporters, in op-eds and through Twitter. And moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is already viewed as a hard “no” on the measure, said at an event in her home state Friday that she is “leaning against” Graham-Cassidy , according to the Portland Press-Herald.

Senate Republicans, who hold a 52-seat majority in the chamber, can only lose two votes and still pass the repeal measure. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also remained a key holdout on Graham-Cassidy, which is uniformly opposed by Senate Democrats.

Aides to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he intends to hold a vote on Graham-Cassidy next week in the Senate. His office did not immediately respond to questions about whether he will hold the vote next week despite McCain’s opposition.

The Senate Finance Committee, for now, has not changed plans to hold a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill on Monday.

In a lengthy statement Friday, McCain reiterated concerns about the process in which the legislation was drafted that he laid out in July when he voted against another Obamacare repeal plan.

McCain said he could not support the bill “without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” he continued. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.”

The Arizona Republican pointed to bipartisan talks to stabilize the health care law led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). McCain expressed concern that pushing through a GOP-only repeal bill left the impression that those bipartisan negotiations couldn’t succeed. Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said earlier this week that he and Murray were unable to reach consensus on a bill.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, Graham said he “respectfully” disagrees with McCain’s decision to oppose his bill.

“My friendship with [McCain] is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is,” Graham said. “I know Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is the best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is collapsing in Arizona, South Carolina and across the nation — driving up premiums and reducing choices.”

Senate Republicans failed on their last Obamacare repeal attempt in July when McCain, Murkowski and Collins teamed up to tank the so-called “skinny repeal” plan.

But unlike then, it’s not clear whether McConnell could even open debate on the bill this time. More than a half-dozen senators were not committal or non-responsive to inquiries Friday about how they would vote for the motion to proceed to the House-passed repeal bill.

However, even though Paul opposes the Graham-Cassidy proposal, he is undecided on the procedural vote, an aide said. Paul wants to vote again on fully repealing Obamacare with no replacement. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is also undecided on both the procedural vote and the Graham-Cassidy product.

Republicans had been scrambling to make good on their seven-year campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare by Sept. 30, when their fast-track legislative authority to pass a bill with only a simple majority votes will expire. After the end of the month, repeal legislation would need 60 votes.

The GOP wants to use the procedure, called reconciliation, next year to pass tax reform. But the Obamacare failure could spur some in the party to try to revisit repeal.

In the latest repeal effort, Republicans have tried desperately to win over Murkowski in particular.

The Graham-Cassidy bill allowed Alaska and a handful of other states with low population density to potentially opt out of the law’s significant cuts to Medicaid until 2026. It’s unclear whether that provision would have been enough to address Murkowski’s concern that Alaskans would have less access to health care under the bill.

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Full statement: John McCain to vote no on Graham-Cassidy health care bill

Here’s Sen. John McCain’s full statement on not supporting Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy’s Obamacare repeal bill, issued Sept. 22, 2017.

As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.

I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.

We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.

Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare. But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.

I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.

I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.

I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.

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Dems not declaring victory yet on Obamacare

When John McCain cast the decisive vote against Obamacare repeal two months ago, Chuck Schumer waved an arm to quiet fellow Democrats as they burst into audible elation.

Don’t gloat or cheer over the GOP’s failure, Schumer signaled — a move he made again on Friday in a statement, after McCain delivered what looks like a fatal blow to his party’s seven-year drive to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Far from celebrating, Democrats tempered their responses to McCain with reminders of the bipartisan health care talks that Republicans had walked away from when they took one last shot at repealing Obamacare. And even as their liberal base turned a rally to pressure McCain into a thank-you celebration, Democrats stopped far short of declaring repeal dead.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” the Senate minority leader said in his statement about the Arizona Republican’s opposition to repeal. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

A senior Senate Democratic aide summed up the next step: “Now we extend the olive branch to bipartisanship.”

The latest Obamacare repeal gambit, shepherded this time by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), caught many Democratic lawmakers and liberal activists off-guard. They reminded one another publicly and privately on Friday that, McCain’s opposition aside, only the Sept. 30 expiration of Republicans’ ability to push through repeal with 50 votes can give Obamacare supporters room to breathe easy.

“This bill is not dead yet,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted. “You can relax on October 1. They never let up, and neither can we.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether he will still hold the vote on the bill, which would turn Obamacare funding into block grants for the states, make deep cuts to Medicaid and undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Proponents say it would provide needed flexibility to governors to administer health care.

One Democratic aide advised the party to maintain a dual mission: “Democrats need to stay vocal about the dangers of this bill and keep pushing for bipartisan solutions.”

Liberal groups that had hustled their grass-roots cavalry back to Democrats’ side are staying vocal, despite some lingering frustration over Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cutting a short-term fiscal deal with President Donald Trump.

Anti-repeal activists are pressing ahead with their plans for dozens of rallies this weekend, with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee maintaining a five-figure ad campaign it rolled out Friday that targets GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dean Hellerof Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

“Until we have three rock-solid nos that are public, we shouldn’t assume that everything is completely off the table next week,” Washington director Ben Wikler said in an interview.

In a move sure to please Democrats, McCain’s lengthy statement on his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill also included an encouragement of the bipartisan talks led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to shore up insurance markets, which GOP leadership had all but quashed earlier this week.

“I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed,” McCain said of Alexander and Murray. “I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.”

Murray quickly released a statement describing herself as “still at the table ready to keep working,” adding, “I remain confident that we can reach a bipartisan agreement as soon as this latest partisan approach by Republican leaders is finally set aside.”

Minutes after McCain’s announcement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted out an email to her colleagues, urging them to move ahead with plans to hold events in opposition to the bill this weekend despite the likelihood that repeal cannot move forward.

“This weekend, we will continue to highlight the devastating costs Republicans are trying to inflict on hard-working Americans,” Pelosi said. “Together, we will finally put the stake in the heart of this monstrous bill.”

Pelosi will also hold a conference call with health care advocates and progressive allies on Saturday and talk health care on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Before McCain upended the latest Republican repeal drive, several Democratic aides had privately echoed some liberal activists’ complaints that Schumer and Pelosi’s debt-limit deal backfired — clearing the September calendar and giving Republicans more time to turn their focus to health care. But Pelosi brushed aside the insinuation when asked by reporters, saying the two issues “aren’t even related.”

Other Democrats had fretted about the timing of Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ splashy single-payer health care rollout, which Republicans quickly seized on as a talking point to rally their troops behind repeal. Democrats publicly dismissed that claim but say privately they don’t want to antagonize Republicans until the Sept. 30 deadline is past.

Part of Democrats’ guarded tone on Friday is rooted in lessons learned from previous exultation earlier this year, when they thought the GOP had been thwarted, only to see another repeal push roar back to life.

Pelosi’s tone, while more aggressive than Schumer’s, is a far cry from those previous celebrations.

“I call upon Speaker [Paul] Ryan to now initiate a bipartisan effort in the House to improve and update the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

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Why McCain screwed the GOP on Obamacare repeal — again

Not even 24 hours after John McCain dramatically tanked a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare in late July, his best friend, Lindsey Graham, started working feverishly in private to try again.

Graham — who’s never shown much interest in health care policy — quietly trekked to the White House with Sen. Bill Cassidy to try and sell President Donald Trump on their latest proposal that would transform Obamacare into a block grant program for states.

It seemed like an afterthought at the time; Obamacare repeal was all but left for dead. But momentum behind the so-called Graham-Cassidy plan snowballed this month. The unexpected passage of a fiscal deal well ahead of schedule freed up valuable floor time. And McCain’s stated openness to the bill — combined with his friendship with Graham — raised hopes within the GOP.

Ultimately, his friendship with Graham mattered less than McCain’s grievances with the lack of scrutiny and lack of bipartisanship surrounding the bill.

“I’ve never known John on something he believes strongly to defer to a friend,” said Charlie Black, a longtime adviser who speaks to McCain regularly. The GOP leadership’s view that McCain would buckle under new pressure or reverse course because Graham was involved “didn’t make sense to me,” Black added.

McCain’s announcement Friday to reject the latest iteration of repeal wasn’t as dramatic as the shocking thumbs-down he motioned to deliver the death blow the last time. But his lengthy statement on Friday was probably just as consequential, dealing most likely a fatal blow to the Senate GOP’s last, best attempt to repeal Obamacare.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been adamant in his opposition, detailing his reasons to anyone who’ll listen. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was against previous versions of Obamacare repeal because of their dramatic changes to Medicaid, so GOP leaders counted her as a firm “no” from the start.

But momentum in Graham-Cassidy’s favor began to turn earlier this week, when the unlikely duo seemed to be picking up votes and leadership signaled that the plan could actually get to the floor. In a meeting with his top deputies on Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that holding a vote would help Republicans to get to “yes.” But he also recognized the risk of setting up the GOP for failure, according to one person in attendance. Ultimately, McConnell’s office issued a statement that it was his “intention” to hold a vote.

Adding to the bullishness, it was McCain himself who seemed to welcome the push for Graham-Cassidy to begin with. After returning to the Capitol from the four-week August recess and treatment for brain cancer, McCain held court with reporters and swung the door wide open for another try at the health care bill.

Asked whether he was supportive of the bill, McCain answered with a grin: “Yes. You think I wouldn’t be?”

“If it’s not through regular order, then it’s a mistake. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it,” McCain said. Pressed on whether he could support the plan if it did not go through committee, he replied: “Yeah. but it’s wrong. Doesn’t make it right to do that.”

McCain seemed to be strongly leaning in favor of the bill then, an explosive development given that he was the surprise “no” this summer. His office then put out a statement saying he preferred a bipartisan approach and needed to study the bill further.

The perceived openness from McCain accelerated Graham and Cassidy’s plans. And while Republicans were shifting toward tax repeal, others wanted to simultaneously continue work on health care.

“There’s an old saying in Louisiana: Good things come to those who work their ass off,” quipped Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) in mid-September, as the GOP was paralyzed with indecision.

Graham and Cassidy had much work to do: Finishing the bill, rolling it out, persuading governors to back it, getting the White House fully on board and then prodding McConnell to consider it. Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey eventually backed it, a development that had many Republicans confident McCain would get on board.

But McCain grew less committal as time passed and the specter of Graham-Cassidy passing the Senate became a reality.

“We need to go to regular order,” McCain told reporters after meeting with McConnell on Monday. “I am not supportive of the bill yet.”

Still, Senate Republicans privately believed McCain’s vote was gettable. Republicans said on Friday that while many outside the Capitol assumed McCain was a “no,” the rest of the caucus hadn’t given up, particularly Graham.

“Graham has felt he could win him over,” one source familiar with the conversations said. “We all knew it was up in the air.”

But McCain appeared to grow increasingly entrenched in his position as the week unfolded.

After Graham indicated to a White House pool reporter on Tuesday that he feels “very good” about McCain’s stance after hearing positively from Ducey, the normally talkative McCain grew far less loquacious.

“I have nothing to say,” he growled when asked about Graham’s sentiments. A day later, after McConnell’s office indicated a vote would come up, McCain was on message — and still grumpy.

“Nothing has changed,” McCain told POLITICO as he hopped off the train connecting the Capitol to the Senate office buildings. When asked whether that made him a “no” vote, he repeatedly said: “I want the regular order.”

That seemed to signal heavily that McCain would end up opposing Graham’s bill. And he made it official Friday, prompting Graham to stress that his work to repeal Obamacare would nonetheless continue and that “my friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.”

What puzzled McCain’s friends is the idea that a Hail Mary on Obamacare as the clock wound down would ever persuade the sixth-term senator to overcome his convictions. McCain had long railed against the law, but the idea of legislating on the fly to uphold a campaign promise always seemed anathema to the longtime committee chairman.

“Here’s the thing. John has always believed that the Senate ought to operate by regular order, through committees on a bipartisan basis. And he’s always done that,” Black said. “He’s a man you can take at his word in his career. And people should have.”

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Is Obamacare finally safe?

Obamacare has endured more than seven years of political attacks, dozens of congressional repeal votes and four Supreme Court challenges. But as of today, the Democrats’ universal health care law is as secure as it’s ever been.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) opposition to the latest repeal effort sponsored by his closest friend in the Senate likely doomed the bill — and with it, the hope that Republicans could fulfill their campaign pledge to undo Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement before a Sept. 30 deadline.

On top of that, the insurance markets are alive and, despite skyrocketing premiums and dwindling competition, face no threat of immediate collapse.

While the GOP repeal effort may not be over, it took a severe hit with McCain’s opposition just days before a Sept. 30 deadline. The 52-member Republican conference can afford to lose no more than two members. McCain joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as public “no” votes. In addition, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is widely viewed as a “no” — she trashed the bill to her local paper on Friday — and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is skeptical; both opposed the Senate repeal effort in July.

“That’s certainly not a good development for passage of the bill,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Fox News shortly after McCain’s announcement. “But there are a couple of uncommitted members, and there’s an opportunity between now and Sept. 30, the end of next week, to get a vote on this.”

But the clock may have finally caught up with them. After Oct. 1, they would need 60 votes — an impossibility given Democrats’ support for the law.

Despite full control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans may have exhausted their options to legislatively undo the Affordable Care Act after nearly 10 months of work. Republicans will have one more chance to pass a bill with 51 votes in 2018, but GOP leaders have already earmarked that for tax reform.

“I’ll be honest, it seems unlikely that we’ll be voting on this” next week, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told a town hall meeting Friday in Iowa City shortly after McCain’s announcement, according to The Washington Post.

To be sure, Republicans could undermine the health care law in other ways — from pulling money for advertising, as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has already done, to narrowing the enrollment window when people can sign up. Just today, HHS informed Obamacare outreach workers that will be shut down for maintenance for 12 hours nearly every Sunday during open enrollment.

To date, though, those efforts have weakened but not killed Obamacare’s markets, which have roughly 10 million enrollees this year. If the IRS should stop enforcing the law’s mandate requiring most Americans to have health coverage, however, that could change the equation.

The markets are likely to survive even a direct hit if President Donald Trump follows through on threats to cut off $7 billion in funding for key Obamacare subsidies. That’s because after months of uncertainty, insurers have built that possibility into their double-digit rate increases for next year. That means that even if the president finally pulls the payments to make a political point, or force Democrats to the table, the plans would likely be able to weather the financial blow.

“The carriers have largely baked in enough cushion for this foolishness,” said Robert Laszewski, an insurance consultant.

Insurers rely on the payments to reduce costs for their poorest Obamacare customers.

In addition, most Obamacare customers are unlikely to drop coverage anytime soon as more than 8 in 10 qualify for subsidies that largely shield them from the big price hikes in the pipeline for 2018. That means they’re insulated from even dramatic premium increases, putting a floor on how far enrollment can drop.

Now, Republicans will have to contend with how to talk about the law they’ve railed against for seven years but haven’t been able to repeal.

McCain called for the resumption of bipartisan talks over stabilizing the markets, led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Those negotiations collapsed this week after the Senate’s repeal effort gained steam and House Speaker Paul Ryan made clear the House wouldn’t enact a bill that made insurance company payments.

But even if they could reach an agreement — they were still relatively far apart on a narrow bill — there’s little chance that it could have a significant effect for the 2018 open-enrollment season, which begins on Nov. 1.

Insurers in most states need to make final decisions about participation and pricing in the coming week. Alexander had been aiming for a deal by Sept. 27.

“There’s really zero time on the clock,” Laszewski said. “There’s going to be a Republican civil war on this.”

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Facebook agrees to release Russian-purchased ads, pledges deeper look at 2016 election

Facebook has struck a deal with Capitol Hill investigators to release ads purchased by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, while CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed Thursday to take further steps to protect “the integrity of free and fair elections.”

The move comes amid mounting pressure from Congress to release the Russian-related ads, particularly criticism from Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Two people familiar with the matter disclosed the deal to POLITICO shortly before Facebook announced it publicly.

Warner called the decision “important & absolutely necessary first step,” writing on Twitter that “the American people deserve to know the truth about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.”

In addition to disclosing details about the ads, which had been placed by a so-called Russian troll farm, Zuckerberg said his giant social media company will pursue a deeper internal investigation into how outside parties may have used its platform during 2016. Those parties include other Russian groups, former Soviet states and “the campaigns” — a seeming reference to the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton operations.

“We may find more, and if we do, we will continue to work with the government on it,” Zuckerberg said during remarks streamed on Facebook Live.

Moreover, said Zuckerberg, the company will newly require advertisers to both disclose their sponsorship of advertisements and post every version of their paid ads on their individual Facebook pages. Facebook will also double its team working on election integrity, and will inform election commissions around the world about the “online risks that we’ve identified in their specific elections.”

“We are in a new world,” he added. “It is a new challenge for internet communities to have to deal with nation states attempting to subvert elections. But if that’s what we must do, we are committed to rising to the occasion.”

The company separately released a statement from Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch describing the deal with Hill investigators. “We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election,” he said.

Thursday’s news represented the latest stage of acknowledgment by Facebook that Russians may have used ads and so-called “fake news” to influence the 2016 election, in a year when U.S. intelligence agencies have charged that Vladimir Putin’s regime developed a preference for Trump to prevail over Clinton.

Former Clinton campaign aides hurled criticism at Facebook after her defeat, saying the company had allowed misinformation disparaging their candidate to flourish on the social network. “This is something we were very aware of [but] saw zero percent chance Facebook was going to be compliant or work with us during the election,” Clinton campaign chief digital strategist Teddy Goff told POLITICO in the days after Trump’s victory.

Anger at Facebook among Clintonites hasn’t let up. Clinton herself recently said in a television interview that the company has “a long way to go before they get where they need to be” when it comes to examining its role in the election.

Zuckerberg rejected the criticism at first, saying shortly after the election that it’s a “pretty crazy idea” to think that “fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way.” He added that “voters make their decisions based on lived experience.”

But Facebook had to change its tone early this month, when it disclosed that Russian elements had bought more than 3,000 politically charged ads worth about $150,000 on its platform during key periods of the presidential campaign, often dealing with issues such as race, immigration and gun rights.

On Thursday, Facebook linked the ads to a controversial Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. It was the first time Facebook had specifically pointed the finger at the Agency, which The New York Times described last year as a sprawling operation that has “industrialized the art of trolling” and become a prolific source of internet hoaxes.

In his live chat, Zuckerberg offered some explanation for the change in his assessment of the foreign-meddling threat.

“We have been investigating this for many months, and for a while we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to Russia running ads,” he said. “When we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special counsel,” referring to Robert Mueller.

But despite its cooperation with Mueller, the company had only shown some of the ads to members on the Hill in a private session — and had not released extensive information about the ads.

The ads have become of increasing interest to Mueller and his team, according to people familiar with the investigation, because they could show Russian efforts to interfere — and who was behind them.

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McConnell lays it on the line

He’s been battered by President Donald Trump and had his vaunted legislative acumen called into question. Now, Mitch McConnell has a chance to put his cruel summer behind him.

Over the next week, the Senate majority leader will try one last time to rescind the Democratic health care law. At the same time, he’s put his political reputation on the line in Alabama, where his chosen candidate, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, faces off against anti-establishment Roy Moore in a special Senate election on Tuesday.

The typically cautious McConnell is taking huge gambles in both cases, and will emerge as a hero or goat within the GOP depending on how it all turns out.

Asked about McConnell’s mood after a long meeting with the GOP leader on Wednesday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) answered flatly: “Determined.”

McConnell will need everything to break his way to come out on top. Moore is leading in the polls and McConnell currently lacks the votes to repeal Obamacare.

McConnell could have sat back and let Strange fend for himself against Moore in the race to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Likewise, the GOP leader could have snuffed out the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill weeks ago, rather than expose himself to another embarrassing defeat. It would have been defensible for him to announce that Republicans were moving on to tax reform — safer ground for a party in dire need of a legislative win.

Instead McConnell has gone all in.

“Sen. McConnell obviously would like to have a result. And I certainly understand his point of view,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview this week about the majority leader’s efforts to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill. “Is it risky for him to ram it through and it fails? You never know.”

Success would go a long way in repairing McConnell’s bruised reputation with Trump and others who were surprised that he was unable to wrangle his conference to get behind a July repeal bill that collapsed in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor.

“It’s a disappointment, a disappointment indeed,” the crestfallen GOP leader said afterward.

Another defeat would be doubly humiliating. But McConnell may figure he has nothing left to lose. He’s already taken a huge political hit for failing to repeal Obamacare. And Republicans say privately that if McConnell didn’t take one final stab, he’d be lashed by Trump for giving up.

As for Alabama, McConnell, a onetime chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has always backed his incumbents against primary challenges. But the degree to which he’s done so for Strange is extraordinary: A super PAC aligned with the majority leader has spent millions in the race. Moore threatens to cause untold headaches for McConnell and his thin majority, and he has cited the McConnell-affiliated Senate Leadership Fund’s ads to paint Strange as a McConnell crony.

The election isn’t just about protecting one of his troops. Moore has made McConnell the punching bag of his campaign, railing against the Republican leader at every turn and calling for his removal as majority leader.

“That’s a race between Roy Moore and the Senate leadership,” said one Republican senator. The lawmaker said that forging ahead with another Obamacare repeal attempt is a “chancy” move by the typically cautious leader, given the shaky whip count.

“I would have preferred that we get our ducks in a row,” the senator said, adding that altogether it has the makings of “a hell of a week” for McConnell and the Republican Conference.

McConnell declined to weigh in on his prospects in the health care fight. Leaving the Capitol for the week on Wednesday, he gently chided a reporter hanging around the shuttered Senate.

“What are you doing around here on a day like this?” he said with a grin.

Colleagues described McConnell as equally invested in the health care bill and the Alabama race, and suggested that the fates of the two battles may be intertwined.

NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said that momentum on health care could give Strange a last-minute boost, particularly after the appointed senator clamored for another vote during a recent lunch at NRSC headquarters.

Success is “not just good for Mitch McConnell. It’s good for Luther Strange and the entire Congress,” said Gardner.

McConnell clearly sees an upside in showing Trump and the GOP base that Republicans haven’t abandoned repeal. After weeks of declining to endorse the latest health care bill, McConnell has embraced Graham and Cassidy’s bill as the Sept. 30 deadline approaches, endorsing it on the floor and playing up the bill on social media.

But critics of McConnell’s approach say it could actually end up hurting incumbent GOP senators like Strange. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a staunch opponent the Graham-Cassidy plan, warned that primary voters, including those in Alabama, are not going to be excited about a bill viewed by conservatives as falling far short of actual repeal.

“People are frustrated. Not because we haven’t done anything, but because we haven’t done what we said we are going to do,” Paul said. “Put a clean repeal up against Graham-Cassidy in any Republican primary in the country and I win.”

Even if McConnell loses on both counts, his colleagues don’t expect to see much emotion from their dispassionate leader. He dubbed his memoir “The Long Game” for a reason.

“It will be a big win if we can get health care,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). “But, hey, if it doesn’t happen, we go on. McConnell will be alright.”

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Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents.

The frequency of the trips underscores how private travel has become the norm — rather than the exception — for the Georgia Republican during his tenure atop the federal health agency, which began in February. The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries.

Price’s use of private jets represents a sharp departure from his two immediate predecessors, Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially in the continental United States. HHS officials have said Price uses private jets only when commercial travel is not feasible.

But many of the flights are between large cities with frequent, low-cost airline traffic, such as a trip from Washington to Nashville that the secretary took on June 6 to make a morning event at a medication distributor and an afternoon speech. There are four regular nonstop flights that leave Washington-area airports between 6:59 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Nashville by 9:46 a.m. CT. Sample round-trip fares for those flights were as low as $202, when booked in advance on Price’s charter, according to HHS’ contract with Classic Air Charter, cost $17,760.

HHS spokespeople did not respond to questions about specific aspects of Price’s travels, including how many charter trips he has taken. Charmaine Yoest, the agency’s top spokesperson, said Price’s travel for official business “comes from the HHS budget.”

In a statement, Yoest said, “The Secretary has taken commercial flights for official business after his confirmation. He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times, as the Secretary was directing the recovery effort for Irma, which had just devastated Florida, while simultaneously directing the ongoing recovery for Hurricane Harvey . . . Some believe the HHS Secretary should be Washington-focused. Dr. Price is focused on hearing from Americans across the country.”

Nonetheless, POLITICO identified at least 17 charter flights that took place before the first storm — Hurricane Harvey — hit in late August, and included flights that did not appear to be for urgent HHS public health priorities.

For example, Price took a Learjet-60 from San Diego to the Aspen Ideas Festival — a glamorous conference at the Colorado resort town — that arrived at 3:33 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, June 24, nearly 19 hours before his scheduled panel. That flight likely cost more than $7,100, according to one charter jet agency estimate.

“If you’re going to a conference, you have some [advance] flexibility to book travel” and shouldn’t need last-minute charters, said Walter Shaub, who was the Barack Obama-appointed director of the United States Office of Government Ethics until July. “This shows a complete disregard for the expense to the taxpayer.”

Since being confirmed in early February, Price has developed a reputation inside the agency for flying on private charters rather than taking other means of transportation, people inside and outside the Trump administration said.

After a POLITICO investigation identified five private flights that Price took up and down the East Coast last week, Price took a charter jet to Oklahoma on Tuesday of this week, Sept. 19, where he met with Native American tribes and toured health care facilities by car — although HHS initially explored flying him by charter around the state, two people with knowledge of Price’s travels said. “There was a push from political [staff] at HHS to fly him and not drive him to these small communities,” said one of the people.

Price’s staff cut short his news conference in Oklahoma on Wednesday when reporters raised questions about his use of taxpayer funds, an attendee said.

Price’s frequent trips around the country have rankled staff inside the White House, with a senior official saying many trips aren’t related to priorities like Obamacare repeal and other items on the president’s agenda. While Price has flown to Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania since last Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have been frantically rallying support to pass an Obamacare repeal bill by Sept. 30. After that date, the GOP will need 60 Senate votes, not 50, to overturn the 2010 health law.

“No one is quite sure what [Price] is doing,” a senior White House official said. “You look at this week, we’re doing a last final push trying to get this over the finish line, and he’s nowhere to be found.”

Many of Price’s trips have centered on making announcements related to the use of opioids and holding listening sessions about the epidemic, which Trump labeled a national emergency and continues contribute to rising death rates from drug abuse. Price has labeled fighting the opioid epidemic one of his top priorities.

But rather than fly commercially to these events, which are scheduled well in advance, Price tends to rent corporate-style jets. Sometimes, he ferries big-name guests along with him. In May, Price and Kellyanne Conway — the White House counselor and former Trump campaign manager who traveled with Price to Philadelphia last week to tour an addiction treatment center — made stops in four different states in the span of two days.

The pair traveled to Lansing, Michigan, and Charleston, West Virginia, for opioid-related meetings in the morning and early afternoon on May 9. That happened to be the same day Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey. On May 10, Conway and Price were in Augusta, Maine, and Concord, New Hampshire, for more opioid-related events.

On July 6, Price again made an opioid-related visit to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he took a private plane, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. According to records, HHS signed a $14,570 charter plane contract for Washington to Tennessee travel with a July 6 effective date.

In June, Price spoke at a physicians association conference in San Diego, where he vowed to wring out wasteful spending in the government’s health care programs. Getting “value” for spending “is incredibly important,” he said.

Price took a private plane to get to the meeting, which was one stop on a five-state sprint of charter travel that cost $50,420.

Josh Dawsey and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.

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Group Therapy Is Saving Lives in Chicago

CHICAGO—A few days before the beginning of the school year, eight boys from one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city gathered in a sunny room to share their anxieties and hopes. The seniors were worried about applying to college and finding jobs to earn spending money. The one rising freshman among them was nervous about fitting in to his new school. All fo them were amped up about football season, which started that night. But living near Garfield Park on the city’s West Side, the boys also had problems that sounded unlike those of high school students in most other parts of the country.

“My older brother was shot in the shoulder yesterday,” said Jarrell, a football player. “He’s 23.” Another boy spent two weeks in the hospital last year after gang members attacked him. His offense, in their eyes, was going to a restaurant with a childhood friend who’s in a rival gang.

Demarco, an 18-year-old senior, was 6 when he saw someone stab his mother. She survived the assault, and today she’s a single mom, working two jobs to support her kids. But Demarco’s dad was murdered seven years ago. “When my daddy got killed, he got shot 16 times,” he said. In the last year, Demarco also lost his cousin and some friends to shootings. “I felt like I had nobody,” he says.

In Chicago, stories like these too often are followed by similar stories of revenge, a pattern that has helped drive the city’s spiraling homicide rate. Last year, almost one in five of the city’s 764 murder victims was 19 or younger. The purpose of the meeting was to interrupt that cycle. The eight boys are part of a program called Becoming a Man, a 16-year-old group therapy and mentoring program operating in dozens of Chicago schools. It aims to help young men like these learn impulse control—to think more slowly as a way of avoiding the reflexive anger that has led to the deaths of so many young people in Chicago—and learn skills and values that will guide them to productive lives after they graduate.

Demarco joined BAM through his high school a year ago. “I got bad anger problems,” he says. His counselor, Dar’tavous Dorsey, has helped him learn better self-control. “He’s helping me think smarter,” says Demarco. “He’s helping me hold my actions. If something says something wrong to me, usually I’d just spazz out. Now, I just look at you like, ‘I don’t got to talk to you.’ I just stay in my own lane. I became a better person than I was last year.”

BAM and it’s sister program, Working on Womanhood, are part of a larger national trend. Urban schools from Oakland and San Francisco to Philadelphia are adopting social and emotional learning based on mounting evidence that kids in high-crime, poor neighborhoods need help coping with the after-effects of witnessing traumatic violence. While officials at the federal level talk about more muscular law enforcement as the solution to urban crime, these programs present a more affordable alternative that’s preventive, not punitive. And studies show they might be more effective as well. Research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab attest to BAM’s effectiveness: the program reduced boys’ violent crime arrests by 50 percent and increased their high school graduation rates by 19 percent.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been a BAM supporter since 2013 , when he first sat in on a BAM session. “The counselors stepped into a pair of shoes that hadn’t been filled for these young men,” Emanuel told POLITICO. “It’s something I take for granted, because I still talk to my father every day. You don’t realize how important it is, because it’s more implicit than explicit, until you see how young men thirst for it and the void that gets filled for them.”

Emanuel convinced President Obama, his former boss, to visit a BAM group in 2013. Obama later invited that BAM group to the White House, and a BAM participant introduced Obama at the 2014 launch of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative to help young men and boys of color.

Now, BAM and WOW are scaling up in Chicago public schools, with funding from Emanuel’s administration—$3.6 million for BAM and $1.1 million for WOW in the 2016-2017 budget—and $10 million in private donations the mayor helped raise. BAM aims to serve an estimated 6,000 boys this school year, up from 4,100 in 2016-17. It just launched in a second city, Boston. WOW is expanding too, from serving 1,080 girls last school year to about 1,750 this fall. It’s newer, smaller, and less proven than BAM, but internal testing shows it lowers depression rates in girls. That’s an important measurement because girls react to trauma differently: Boys are more likely to lash out, while girls are more likely to take their pain out on themselves.

“You can really expect, in schools in highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, that all the students are coping with something very traumatic,” says Micere Keels, a University of Chicago human development professor working on a trauma-responsive curriculum for the Chicago Public Schools. “There’s a growing awareness that [those] kids are coming to school struggling with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disregulation because of stress.”

That can make it very difficult for kids to succeed in school, or in life – unless they learn to cope by thinking slower and smarter.


The program that became BAM started in 1999 when a young counselor named Anthony Di Vittorio was hired by the Chicago nonprofit Youth Guidance to work with kids who were kicked out of class.

Di Vittorio, who goes by Tony D., knew something about this kind of behavior. Growing up on Chicago’s southwest side, the son of a violent alcoholic father, and surrounded by older siblings who had their own addiction issues, Di Vittorio experimented with drugs and tagged along to watch his peers break windows and steal cars. His home, he said, was “chaos,” devoid of any positive male role models. He channeled his anger into break dancing and managed to get himself through high school, college and, by the age of 30, he had earned a master’s in psychology. That’s where he learned the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy that he introduced to the angry young men he was now being asked to help.

Di Vittorio started using conventional therapy techniques, including group counseling sessions and reflective listening. He challenged the kids to respond to their own negative thought patterns with positive, constructive thoughts. He also started a break-dancing club after school and showed movie clips to start discussion. And perhaps most important, he told the kids about his own past.

“I would talk about being traumatized,” Di Vittorio, 49, says, “and what it’s like to not have integrity, and what it’s like to feel anger inside and want to destroy the world.” He broke down the usual barriers between counselors and clients, and the boys responded. “They’d talk about how they’re lacking integrity, how they abuse people, how they have pain and trauma,” he says. Then he’d challenge them. “So now—cognitive behaviorally—what choice do we make? How do we live our life with purpose and mission? How do you have integrity as a young man out there?”

“The boys would leave the group and say, ‘Can we come back tomorrow?’” Di Vittorio recalls. “They were starving to identify with manhood.”

For a decade, Di Vittorio refined his program, merging clinical therapy, mentoring and rites of passage. He started the boys’ one-hour group sessions with “check-ins,” where he and the boys reported on how they felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He introduced exercises, modeled off eighth-graders’ recess games, that taught slower thinking and impulse control. He related the curriculum to six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, visionary goal-setting, and respect for womanhood.

By 2009, BAM was operating in Di Vittorio’s high school and a few Chicago elementary schools. Word spread about the changes BAM seemed to inspire in young men who’d struggled in school, many of whom had also been arrested. That year, the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, which tests and designs programs meant to reduce violent crime, decided to study its effects.

Earlier research by the lab on Chicago’s gun violence epidemic suggested that a lot of youth were getting shot during “impulsive, high-stakes situations that went out of control because a gun was ready at hand,” says the crime lab’s associate director, Julia Quinn. Researchers were intrigued by how BAM used cognitive behavioral therapy to change the way kids in violent neighborhoods think. Instead of fighting back aggressively when challenged, kids in the BAM program were given techniques to help them manage their reactions to others.

As part of the study, BAM expanded to 19 new schools in high-crime, impoverished, segregated West Side and South Side neighborhoods. Boys in the BAM groups were at risk of dropping out of high school and ending up in jail or prison. They had missed an average of eight weeks of school—almost an entire semester—and many had been arrested before.

The study, completed in 2010, found that boys participating in BAM were arrested for violent crimes 45 percent less often than classmates who weren’t in the program; arrests on all charges were 28 percent lower. The effect on arrest rates didn’t persist after the boys left BAM, but another effect did: the boys were 19 percent more likely to graduate from high school. A second randomized study by Crime Lab researchers and the National Bureau of Economic Research, finished in 2015, confirmed the earlier results, finding that BAM reduced violent crime arrests by 50 percent and overall arrests by 35 percent.

“We were surprised by the impacts and how large they were,” says Roseanna Ander, executive director of the crime lab, “especially for a program that’s not super-super-intensive and expensive.” Among programs meant to reduce crime and dropout rates among poor kids, BAM’s results stand out. “Unfortunately, there’s not a long list of programs that have generated really rigorous evidence of impact,” says Ander.

The results are clear, but there’s still some disagreement about component of the programs makes them so effective. Is it the therapy, the mentoring, the rites of passage idea or all of the above? Interestingly, there’s disagreement between the researchers and the program’s founder on what the most important ingredient is.

For the researchers it’s the behavioral therapy, learning new ways of thinking. “It’s necessary but not sufficient to have positive, adult relationships,” says Quinn. Studies of other programs that also have adults engage with young people don’t produce results as dramatic as BAM’s, she says.

The 2015 study seems to back up this theory. Crime lab researchers had BAM kids and a control group from their schools go through a decision-making exercise that made them think a classmate had provoked them and gave them a chance to retaliate. “The kids in the BAM program were physically slowing down, taking time to make decisions about how to respond,” says Quinn. Another crime lab study, of a different CBT program in Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, found that their participants have acquired slow-thinking skills; so did a study of a CBT program for former child soldiers in Liberia. “We think CBT is helping with meta-cognition, thinking about thinking,” says Quinn.

Di Vittorio thinks BAM’s effectiveness actually lies in something more culturally driven. “I knew the secret sauce which really makes this program work,” BAM’s founder says. “It’s the men’s work, the rites of passage work.”

A typical mentor might tell a 15-year-old boy to stop verbally abusing a teacher, Di Vittorio explains, but a counselor in the role of a rites of passage elder wouldn’t tell him what to do. Instead, he might ask the boy probing emotional questions about how his mother feels when he’s kicked out of class. “‘What’s it like knowing your mom’s terrified, worried about you?’” Di Vittorio says. “Now that boy starts to go there and starts to feel that pain – and we say, ‘Now you’re doing real work.’ It’s therapy, but it’s done from an elder perspective. We’re de-mystifying that machoism, that bravado.”

Di Vittorio thinks the reduced arrest rate among BAM youth is a sign that they’re internalizing the program’s values, which come to mind in provocative situations. In other words, BAM develops a young man’s conscience. “There’s something in their gut saying, ‘Man, don’t do this, this ain’t right,’” says Di Vittorio. “That’s a head thing about choice, but deeper than the head thing, the slow thinking, is a gut thing. It’s an intuitive, visceral process of, ‘I don’t think this is right. This isn’t who I want to be right now.’”


The eight BAM kids from the West Side left their meeting to go on a mission. Lined up by height, the shortest at the front, they walked around a block of homes, single file. It was a trust walk: Only the two leaders, at the front and back, were permitted to look around and give commands. The others had to look straight ahead and follow their lead. Miles from their neighborhood—they had come to Chicago’s South Side for their summer meeting outside school—the kids walked with brisk energy, showing no self-consciounsess about doing something so conspicuously uncool in public.

Halfway around the block, rain started coming down hard. “Jarrell! Turn around!” shouted the boys’ counselor, Dar’tavous Dorsey, to the boy in the lead. But he couldn’t hear Dorsey over the raindrops peppering the street. The four kids in the back of the line broke off, but the four in front kept going. Dorsey ran forward, still shouting, until the last boys got the word and head back, laughing and running through the storm.

Back inside, everyone’s black BAM T-shirts was soaked, and the boys chattered about how they had decided when to make a run for it.

“In my head I’m thinking, no distractions at all!” Jarrell said.

Dorsey ended their circle session with a quick survey—a “check-out” in BAM terminology—asking each boy to describe how he was feeling in one word. He got a mix: Happy. Successful. Energetic. Complete. Spontaneous.

It was a carefree moment, full of camaraderie, and an example of the fun side of BAM, the brotherhood that keeps the boys coming back once every week during the school year. (Chicago schools allow BAM kids to skip one non-core class, such as art of music, for their weekly group sessions.) But the stakes for the boys in this group couldn’t be higher. Eight of Dorsey’s 140 BAM kids were murdered in the past year, he said. Police and Youth Guidance records partially confirm this: Eight students at the school where Dorsey works were murdered in the past two years, according to the mayor’s office. In the scheme of things, the BAM groups’ one-hour weekly meetings are a small amount of time for the counselors to try to overcome the powerful influences acting on the boys when they’re not in school.

“In our neighborhood, it’s mostly killing and gang banging,” said Demarco, the 18-year-old who lost his father to gun violence. “You don’t see no kids want to be successful. Everybody want to be in the streets. They want to kill somebody.

“A lot of people in the ’hood, their dreams get broken,” Demarco said. “Your mom could be strung out on crack. Your dad could be in jail.” BAM, Demarco says, helps kids become successful despite what’s around them through everyday advice and trips outside the neighborhood, including college tours. “To be a better man, that’s what BAM’s here for. To see different colleges, see something instead of what’s in Chiraq. We call [Chicago] Chiraq, ‘cause there’s too many killings. It’s killing kids now.”

“BAM saves kids’ lives,” said Jarrell. “During spring break, in the neighborhood I’m from, a couple people died.” Jarrell was on a BAM college tour that week, visiting seven states. “If I wasn’t on that truck, that could’ve been me. They pull you from the hood, they take you different places to see different things. They want your mind somewhere else.”

Jarrell has traveled to 17 states in the many college tours Dorsey organizes for the 140 boys and young men he counsels at a West Side high school. (That’s twice as many kids as most BAM counselors, a workload he took on after another BAM counselor left the job.) In Dorsey’s first year as a BAM counselor, about two out of five seniors in BAM went on to college. This past school year, his second in the job, he stepped up the college visits—and all 38 of his graduating seniors went on to higher education.

Dorsey, 31, has a master’s degree in social work and a gift for getting kids to open up to him. His skills as a mentor may be more important than his degree. Though many BAM counselors are psychologists, therapists, or social workers, some are hired for their potential as role models. “They’re men who just have the ‘it’ factor—they’re cool as hell,” said Di Vittorio, the program’s founder. “We knew the youth will imprint upon them, and we can give them some clinical training.” BAM also requires all counselors to go on a weekend retreat put on by the ManKind Project, a Chicago-based organization that dates back to the men’s movement of the 1980s and 1990s. The retreat is a key part of BAM counselors’ “rites-of-passage work,” an ongoing examination of their challenges and character. Men who won’t make themselves vulnerable, Di Vittorio says, won’t inspire boys to do the same.

Dorsey says he doesn’t present himself as a therapist.

“What I’ve learned that’s successful for me,” he says, “is not, ‘I’m your therapist. I’m your counselor.’ They don’t want to hear that. They shut down.” Many kids say they see him as a father figure. “They want guidance or advice. They don’t want it in a brotherly way.” He gives the guys his work and personal cell numbers and email addresses. The night before the group circle, he talks Jarrell through his anger about his older brother being shot.

But Dorsey does use a basic tool of cognitive behavioral therapy: probing questions that get them to examine the choices they have made—like joining a gang—and the impact those choices have on others.

“I ask them, why do you feel that because someone eyed you the wrong way, you have to retaliate?” he said. “Is that acceptable? How would you feel if the shoe was on other foot and that were you?” Sometimes the kids think and respond that it’s not acceptable, but they’re upset. Dorsey keeps up the questions. “Do you have the discipline to bottle it up? To say I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing because I’m here for a reason?”

In June, a graduating senior burst into Dorsey’s office, cursing. A teacher had asked him to put away his phone. He’d resisted, and the confrontation blew up into an argument with two teachers and a dean, who were trying to find a security officer to arrest him. Seeing his rage, Dorsey handed the senior a pair of boxing gloves, then put on mitts himself to absorb the blows. They sparred, the senior still cursing at the teachers who’d challenged him. Dorsey kept asking him who he was angry at.

Finally, Dorsey recalled, the senior said: “My dad showed up yesterday. I haven’t seen him in six years. He was trying to tell me what to do.”

“He didn’t realize,” Dorsey said, “that was therapy right there.”


Chicago’s gun violence has become a national fixation, from Spike Lee’s 2015 film Chi-Raq to President Trump’s frequent tweets about the “carnage” in the city. Though the country’s third-largest city isn’t its most dangerous (several smaller cities, such as New Orleans, St. Louis and Detroit, have higher murder rates), more total murders happen in Chicago than in any other American city: 764 in 2016, up sharply from 485 in 2015.

That puts tremendous pressure on Emanuel to do something to stem the violence. Crime and policing issues have dogged the mayor—his popularity tanked in 2015 over his handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video—and he hasn’t yet announced if he’ll seek re-election in early 2019. Critics also argue that Emanuel’s closing of 50 elementary schools in 2012 and six of the city’s 12 community mental health clinics in 2011 may have contributed to social breakdown. (The mayor replies that crime didn’t spike until years later.) Emanuel argues Chicago needs smarter responses to the violence, including highly professional policing, not the aggressive stop-and-frisk police tactics Trump promotes.

BAM and WOW, Emanuel said, are part of his strategy to reduce youth violence by giving kids more opportunities; he said he has also doubled the city’s funding for summer and after-school jobs for teens. “It provides young men somebody they can turn to, to ask questions, seek guidance, and know their own strengths to say no to certain things,” Emanuel told POLITICO. “It creates their own sense of family, and network of friends, who will help them make right choices, not bad choices.” This January, Emanuel announced a new mentoring initiative to serve 7,200 boys. A projected 75 percent of them will get their mentors through BAM.

With city funding and Emanuel’s help with fund-raising, BAM and WOW are growing. BAM and WOW now make up most of Youth Guidance’s $27 million budget: BAM is growing to $13 million this school year, WOW to $4 million. About 60 percent of private donations to Youth Guidance are earmarked for BAM or WOW.

Inside and outside school, adults are noticing BAM’s influence. Chicago police commander Kevin Johnson said BAM members in South Side neighborhoods such as Roseland have also joined block clubs, anti-violence marches and peace circles where teens and police officers meet to talk about police encounters. “They seem like a different sort of kid,” Johnson said, “more respectful, more engaged in the community, more positive and outgoing.”

In school, BAM and WOW kids are doing better. “I do know from the principals that their attendance in school is up, their graduation is up,” Emanuel said. They’re also less likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system, the principals tell him.

The two programs are an “integral part” of the Chicago Public Schools’ safety strategy, which has moved away from zero-tolerance discipline policies and toward de-escalating conflict and problem-solving instead of punishment. It’s working: Chicago’s schools are seeing year-to-year reductions in suspensions, expulsions, and referrals of students to police. “We attribute a lot of that to programs like BAM,” says Jadine Chao, the school district’s chief of safety and security.

BAM and WOW are also part of a national trend toward social-emotional learning and trauma-sensitive education. In Chicago, the district’s Office of Social and Emotional Learning, founded in 2010, works with Youth Guidance to decide which schools to include in expansions of BAM and WOW. Its 30 staffers train teachers and administrators to adjust their approaches to discipline to consider that kids acting out may be trauma victims who need mental-health support. The office also helps schools set up lessons in classes or homerooms on empathy, decision-making, and conflict resolution.

Schools across the nation are also embracing social and emotional education for kids who’ve grown up in violent neighborhoods. San Francisco schools that adopted a meditation program for teens, Quiet Time, have seen fewer suspensions, better attendance and better academic performance. Mindful Schools, a Bay Area nonprofit, offers a meditation curriculum for kids who struggle with self-control, which it says has impacted 1.5 million students worldwide. The University of Chicago Crime Lab is currently studying a similar meditation program, also called Quiet Time, developed by the filmmaker David Lynch’s charitable foundation. Schools from Philadelphia to Boston to Seattle have adopted Second Step, a social and emotional education program for elementary and middle school students.

Micere Keels, a human development professor at the University of Chicago, is trying to help the Chicago schools go further. She’s designing a trauma-responsive curriculum for teachers to give them new ways to manage classrooms in the toughest parts of town.“You can really expect, in schools in highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, that all the students coping with something very traumatic,” Keels said. “There’s a growing awareness that [those] kids are coming to school and really struggling with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disregulation just because of stress.”

Some brain-science studies have found that many teens exposed to violence experience post-traumatic stress disorder, Keels said. “A kid staring out the window who seems disengaged in classroom activities might actually be having flashbacks of incidents they’ve seen in the neighborhood. Sometimes in a minor interaction with another student, they overreact very aggressively, [because it] triggers feelings of being unsafe.”


In 2010, as BAM expanded, Youth Guidance decided to found a similar program for girls. Like BAM, Working On Womanhood is a mix of therapy and mentoring based on core values. Girls are less likely to be the perpetrators of the violence that grabs headlines, but they are nonetheless deeply affected by the violence they encounter.

Gail Day, WOW’s program director, said 84 percent of the nearly 1,100 girls in the program have experienced five or more traumatic events—most of which are acts of violence, ranging widely from being slapped to witnessing a murder. About 30 percent of WOW girls have seen someone else shot or shot at.

“Our girls internalize a lot of those stressors that are associated with trauma,” Day says. “Instead of going out and getting a gun, and shooting someone, they repress it, they internalize it. And then when something triggers it, it comes out in aggressive behavior, depression, and social anxiety.”

Trauma can create a vicious cycle: Victims or witnesses can become more likely to act impulsively and aggressively themselves. If you’ve seen someone shot, or someone close to you has been shot, Day said, you can develop anxiety, a lack of trust and hypervigilance.

Last year, WOW had counselors in 21 Chicago-area schools, compared to BAM’s 62. WOW is newer than BAM, and less proven. No outside researchers have evaluated it yet, though the University of Chicago Crime Lab is in talks with Youth Guidance about conducting a study. But WOW’s self-testing has found that the program improves girls’ mental health. Girls who enter WOW with severe depression were markedly less depressed once they went through the program, while girls with mild or moderate depression improved slightly. That reflects WOW’s focus on girls’ emotional health. Unlike in BAM, all WOW counselors are therapists with master’s degrees.

On the third day of school, 10 girls gathered in a converted classroom at their high school in the near-west suburbs of the city. It was the first time they’d been together since last June. Dressed in purple shirts with Working on Womanhood written on them, the girls played what seemed like a simple concentration game—a girl would say the name of another girl and toss her a ball across the table in between them. Then a second and third ball would be added. Anytime someone dropped a ball, the whole group had to start again. The girls giggled excitedly as the balls flew around the room; they cheered when they completed a full round.

As the buzz subsided, their counselor, Nicole Lemon, got them talking. “What do you remember from last year’s group that relates to the group juggle?”

“No matter what’s going on,” says Dasia, a senior, “you’ve always got to stay focused on the task at hand.”

“Does anybody remember what CBT is?” Lemon asks.

“I know!” says one girl. “You gotta think through what you’re going to do before you do it.”

“Say you’re in the hallway and someone bumps you,” says Lemon. “It might be an accident! What are you thinking?”

“Maybe that girl ain’t even thinking about you!” says a student.

“That’s the idea,” says Lemon. “It’s to start to change those negative thoughts.”

Girls who’ve gone through WOW say they’ve gotten better at self-control, are doing better in school, and have come to see their counselor as a role model for smart decision-making in stressful situations. Ciana, a 17-year-old senior, jokes that she’s going to get a bracelet that reads, “What would Miss Lemon Do?” Her freshman year, she fought often with her mother and often ended up in the dean’s office for misbehavior. Thanks to WOW, she now talks back to herself rather than acting on impulse.“I’m not that get-in-trouble girl anymore,” she said

This summer, Ciana was working at a movie theater, trying to help a woman who’d bought the wrong ticket when the woman started cursing at her. “I thought in my head, ‘What would Miss Lemon do?’” She walked away, calmed down, and started working with her manager. But the same woman, along with her family this time, found her again. “She’s literally threatening to kill me, jump me, all of that,” Ciana recalled. She told herself to keep a smile on her face: “Calm down. It’s not that serious. Guests do this all the time. They’re always mad.” Her general manager later complimented her for keeping her cool, and said she would’ve been written up for discipline had she gotten into an argument with the customers. “I walked in the next day with a smile on face,” she said. “I was proud of myself.”

Ciana’s plans for the next two years include keeping her grades up, as she did last year, and heading off to college—Miami University in Ohio is her dream school. She raves about the effect her WOW counselor has had on her. “Miss Lemon doesn’t care what you did in your past,” she said. “She just wants to make sure your future is secure.”

BAM and WOW’s values and self-discipline lessons are built to last beyond high school. Jodeci, now 20, joined BAM in his freshman year in high school. Now a graduate, he said he enrolled in one of Youth Guidance’s workforce development programs. BAM’s lessons still help him stay in his “highest mind,” he said, focused on his goals and career path.

Jodeci said he repeats lessons from BAM to friends and others in his neighborhood. “You’ve got a better choice than this,” he said. “You don’t have to sell drugs to make it, to get a job. Who are you trying to impress? The only person to try to impress is yourself.”

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