Shopkeepers resort to weighing banknotes in echo of Weimar Germany
South Korean lawmakers question major firms in hearings over high-level corruption allegations.
Political upheaval now threatens the €5bn recapitalisation plan for the Italian bank
This past Friday, Reuters published one of the most important articles I’ve read in a while relative to the attention being paid to the issue. It details a streamlined practice through which Chinese “education” companies essentially bribe college admissions officers at top U.S. universities to accept tuition paying Chinese students. It’d be bad enough if these students were actually qualified, but in many cases these companies complete the entirety of the applications for the students, including writing their essays. It’s not uncommon for these student-clients to never see their own applications.
Naturally, these companies couldn’t pull off their sleazy scam without willing American partners. Enter Thomas Benson and Stephen Gessner, two eager-beaver members of our nation’s celebrated — earn as much money as possible however possible without regard to the negative consequences to your fellow Americans — class. The entire story will make you sick, and it’s just further proof of how cronyism, bribery and a complete lack of ethics has fully penetrated into virtually every single facet of American life. It’s symptomatic of the debased, crooked Banana Republic economy we have become.
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from the must read article, How Top U.S. Colleges Hooked Up With Controversial Chinese Companies:
SHANGHAI/SHELTER ISLAND, New York – Thomas Benson once ran a small liberal arts college in Vermont. Stephen Gessner served as president of the school board for New York’s Shelter Island.
More recently, they’ve been opening doors for Chinese education companies seeking a competitive edge: getting their students direct access to admissions officers at top U.S. universities.
Over the past seven years, Benson and Gessner have worked as consultants for three major Chinese companies. They recruited dozens of U.S. admissions officers to fly to China and meet in person with the companies’ student clients, with the companies picking up most of the travel expenses. Among the schools that participated: Cornell University, the University of Chicago, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
Two companies Benson and Gessner have represented – New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc and Dipont Education Management Group – offer services to students that go far beyond meet-and-greets with admissions officers.
Eight former and current New Oriental employees and 17 former Dipont employees told Reuters the firms have engaged in college application fraud, including writing application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsifying high school transcripts.
The New Oriental employees said most clients lacked the language skills to write their own essays or personal statements, so counselors wrote them; only the top students did original work. New Oriental and Dipont deny condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud.
Building on a model they pioneered for Dipont, Benson and Gessner helped New Oriental introduce its clients to U.S. admissions officers, linchpin players in the fast-growing business of supplying Chinese students a prestigious American education.
Beijing-based New Oriental is a behemoth. Founded in 1993, the company is China’s largest provider of private education services, serving more than two million Chinese students a year. Its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The company generates about $1.5 billion in annual net revenue from programs that include test preparation and English language classes. This year, about 10,000 of its clients were enrolled in American colleges and graduate schools.
A New Oriental student contract reviewed by Reuters states that its services include “writing or polishing” parts of college applications. The contract says New Oriental will set up an email account on behalf of the client for communicating with colleges, keeping sole control of the password. Several former employees said some students never even saw their applications: The company controlled the entire process, including submitting the application to colleges.
The new insight into the business practices of Chinese education companies comes at a time when American colleges are relying more heavily on Chinese undergraduates, who tend to pay full tuition. Their numbers grew 9 percent to 135,629 students in the 2015-2016 school year, representing nearly a third of all international undergraduates, according to the Institute of International Education.
Helping Chinese kids get into U.S. schools has become a significant industry, with hundreds of companies having sprung up in China to cash in. These businesses often charge large sums for services that sometimes include helping students cheat on standardized tests and falsifying their college applications.
Ghost-writing applications for students is so common in China that some who do it speak openly about the practice.
“I wrote essays and recommendation letters for students when I worked at New Oriental, which I still do right now for my own consultancy,” former New Oriental employee David Shi told Reuters. “I know there is an ethical dilemma but it’s the nature of the industry.”
Beginning in 2009, Gessner and Benson launched tours and summer camps for U.S. admissions officers to meet Dipont students in China and advise them on applying to colleges. Benson said he and Gessner recruited the universities through contacts in secondary and higher education.
To establish credibility with the colleges, they said, they set up a New York-based non-profit called the Council for American Culture and Education Inc, or CACE.
“It was a more respectable way to work as consultants. It helped us to recruit colleges,” said Gessner.
The strategy worked. The early participants included admissions officers from such prestigious institutions as Cornell, Stanford, Swarthmore College, Emory University and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Reuters reported in October that the New York Attorney General’s office planned to review the charity, which had failed to disclose its ties to Dipont in U.S. and New York State tax filings. The review could lead to a formal investigation if authorities find evidence that CACE violated New York law.
Reuters also reported that eight former Dipont employees had described how the company had engaged in application fraud, including writing essays for students and altering recommendation letters. Since the story, Reuters has interviewed nine additional former Dipont employees who gave similar accounts.
To get the colleges to participate in the New Oriental trips, Benson and Gessner used the playbook they perfected at Dipont. Both Chinese companies paid airfare, hotel and other travel expenses for each of the admissions officers whom Benson and Gessner brought to China between 2009 and last year. “They wouldn’t go otherwise,” Benson said.
The ethics code for college admissions officers doesn’t address the propriety of such arrangements. Cigus Vanni, a retired high school counselor from Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, said it was “absolutely” unethical for colleges to accept the money. He likened it to a “pay-for-play” scheme in which prospective Chinese students get special treatment. Many American applicants to elite U.S. colleges – which can receive five to 20 applications for each available slot – don’t get to directly interact with admissions officers.
“You’re giving these people direct access to college admissions officers that no one else has,” said Vanni, who serves on the admissions practices committee of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “And there’s something expected in return for that.”
Corrupt, crony, parasitic economic practices have now infected every single aspect of American life.
New Oriental touts the benefits of this access to prospective clients. In promotional material on its website, the company described how, during the 2014 tour, it arranged for one of its students “to have opportunities to have close contact with a Carleton admissions officer.”
The testimonial ends with the young woman receiving an acceptance letter from Carleton College.
Olivia Qiu said she used New Oriental to apply to eight U.S. colleges in 2010. After completing a questionnaire, the counselors took over. “I didn’t write anything. They wrote everything for me,” she said.
Qiu ultimately didn’t attend any of those eight colleges. Before university, she took a job at New Oriental in Tianjin and said she wrote essays for students. Other employees, she said, wrote personal statements, supplemental essays and recommendation letters. “Sometimes, the student didn’t even see (the application) before they submitted it” to colleges, she said.
She said she quit over ethical concerns. “I just thought that’s not right, that’s not how you help students,” she said.
A current New Oriental employee said he once falsified an entire high school transcript for a student. A former employee who worked in 2014 and 2015 compared New Oriental’s college application process to an assembly line: One person was in charge of signing a service contract with parents, another compiling a college list, a third completing the application, and a fourth submitting it to universities.
By early this year, Benson and Gessner had stopped working for New Oriental and were focusing on new markets, including India, Sri Lanka and Africa.
But the duo hasn’t abandoned China. In June, CICE organized a tour for admissions officers from seven U.S. colleges on behalf of another Chinese company, EIC Group.
Class act these guys.
EIC Group paid CICE $35,000, according to Benson, and promoted the tour with an advertisement on its website. “By ‘schmoozing and exchanging ideas’ with admissions officers, you are halfway to a successful application to a famous school,” said the Chinese-language ad. The ad disappeared after Reuters questioned the company about it.
Let’s put the obvious ethical grotesqueness of it all aside for a moment and think about some of the real-world impacts of this pay-to-play pupil pipeline. With an ever growing supply of full tuition paying Chinese students waiting in the wings, what incentives do U.S. colleges have to keep tuition increases under control? Who cares if impoverished American debt slaves can afford an education or not? Like everything else in this sick society, it’s all about the money.
The Wall Street Journal published a related article earlier this year titled: Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Students Sows Discord on U.S. Campuses, where we learned that the education english speaking students receive often suffers due to the need to accommodate the surge in poorly prepared Chinese students. For example:
Students such as Mr. Shao are finding themselves separated from their American peers, sometimes through choice. Many are having a tough time fitting in and keeping up with classes. School administrators and teachers bluntly say a significant portion of international students are ill prepared for an American college education, and resent having to amend their lectures as a result.
Rebecca Karl, a professor of Chinese history at New York University, puts it more starkly: She says Chinese students can pose a “burden” on her lectures, which she needs to modify for their benefit.
Practices like these are able to sustain themselves due to public ignorance. It is imperative that we become far more informed as citizens, and far more outraged. Educate your friends and family by sharing this article.
The former deputy campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, Richard Pelletier, has sent a letter to Project Veritas threatening a lawsuit over his recording of a phone call, which Pelletier claims violated Nevada wiretapping laws. The phone call was related to the following undercover video published by Project Veritas back in February, potentially revealing that the Bernie campaign violated campaign finance laws by funding members of the Australian Labor Party to “deface and/or destroy campaign materials and signs of Sanders’ opponents — on both sides of the political aisle.”
In response to the lawsuit threat, Project Veritas Assistant Communications Director, Luara Loomer, told Sputnik News simply that they too would be “pursuing justice” after “The Bernie Sanders campaign committed an egregious violation of campaign finance law.”
Of course, the undercover video, published back in February, potentially reveals the violation of several federal laws including enlisting the help of a foreign national with a federal election and tampering with “political advertising which is placed on or affixed to public property or any private property.”
Federal election law prohibits a foreign national from directly or indirectly contributing money or any other thing of value to a Federal, state, or local election. This includes the payment by any person of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a political committee without charge for any purpose.
“The payment for the personal services of another person if those services are rendered without charge to a political committee for any purpose, except for legal and accounting services… is a contribution,: 52 U.S.C. 30101(8)(A) explains.
The volunteers were allegedly used to deface and/or destroy campaign materials and signs of Sanders’ opponents — on both sides of the political aisle.
Stealing or vandalizing political advertisement is illegal, the law states “no person shall remove, deface,or knowingly destroy any political advertising which is placed on or affixed to public property or any private property.”
In the video released by Project Veritas, the Australian nationals are seen stealing Trump signs. The footage also features a recording of Australian citizen Rebecca Doyle stating “they [the ALP] pay for our flights, they pay for the cost of accommodation, which is just the staff house, and then we get $60 stipend per day.”
So while the Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets continue to blast alleged election tampering by “Russian” agents, we expect their advice would be that you promptly ignore this documented evidence of actual election tampering by full-time employees of Australia’s Labor Party.
First Chinese leader to attend elite gathering in sign of Beijing’s global ambition
- Students at George Washington University, site of a recent walkout to demand a "sanctuary campus" to protect illegal immigrant students, say they favor defiance of other federal laws, too.
- Several students said they would like to make the campus a "sanctuary" from student loan debt, while others favored exemptions from underage drinking laws.
- Some students even felt they should be given a pass on final exams due to the stress of the election, explaining that "it’s really hard to focus on your studies when there’s so much else going on.”
Students across the country are asking for their schools to be “sanctuary campuses” for undocumented students, meaning university administrators would ignore federal immigration law and refuse to share information about undocumented students with immigration officials.
Several schools have already declared themselves sanctuary campuses, including Portland State University, Reed College, and Columbia University.
To find out more about what motivates students to support the sanctuary campus movement, Campus Reform visited George Washington University, where many students participated in a pro-sanctuary walk-out several weeks ago.
The students interviewed were overwhelmingly in favor of GW becoming a sanctuary campus, calling it a “great thing,” and claiming that undocumented students “have a right to be going to this school” because “it’s really important for students to feel safe while they’re going to school.”
Since the GW students were asking their administration to ignore federal law, Campus Reform asked if they wanted the campus to be a “sanctuary” from other laws, as well.
“What about a sanctuary campus where student loan laws don’t affect you here?” Campus Reform asked.
“Oh, absolutely,” responded one student, while another agreed, saying, “Yes, that’d be cool.”
Students were also on board with making GW a sanctuary campus from underage drinking laws, because students “would feel safer” if they could drink and go to parties without breaking the law.
“I do agree with that one,” declared one student.
“Yeah, I think it [campus] should be a safe space for everybody,” replied another, explaining, “I don’t think anybody should be judged.”
Some students even went so far as to say that campus should be a safe space from final exams, given recent stress from the 2016 election.
“School’s been really stressful especially after the Trump election,” one student vented. “Like, it’s really hard to focus on your studies when there’s so much else going on.”
Throughout the day, Campus Reform spoke with just one student who refused to support the idea of ignoring federal laws on campus.
“I don’t believe in harboring criminals,” the student, who said he voted for Donald Trump, told Campus Reform. “I think, it’s against the law, we have to enforce federal law where it stands.”
After launching Amazon Fresh, an online food delivery service, in numerous cities just a few years ago, Amazon has now decided it has to go “offline” to capture incremental share of the grocery market. As such, the company today revealed its first brick-and-mortar small-format grocery store, Amazon Go, one of at least three formats the online retail giant is exploring as it makes a play for a higher share of grocery spending. With in-store technology designed to track customers’ every step, the Amazon Go concept promises “No Lines” and “No Checkout.”
The first Amazon Go concept store is roughly the size of a convenience store, though according to the Wall Street Journal the company is also testing a drive-thru concept as well as a traditional 30-to-40,000 square foot grocery store that would combine in-store shopping and curbside pickup.
The Amazon Go store, at roughly 1,800 square feet in downtown Seattle, resembles a convenience store-format in a video Amazon released Monday. It features artificial intelligence-powered technology that eliminates checkouts, cash registers and lines. Instead, customers scan their phone on a kiosk as they walk in, and Amazon automatically determines what items customers take from the shelves. After leaving the store, Amazon charges their account for the items and sends a receipt.
Meanwhile, in the suburban Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, a handful of workers on Monday were finishing up one of Amazon’s two drive-through prototypes in the area, which according to the people close to the situation are slated to open in the next few weeks. The wood-paneled building with green trim and an overhang appeared to have at least three covered bays for cars to pull up and pick up orders, with a paved driveway in front.
The third concept, the newly approved multi-format store, combines in-store shopping with curbside pickups, according to the people. It will likely adopt a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot floor plans and spartan stocking style like European discount grocery chains Aldi or Lidl, offering a limited fresh selection in store and more via touch-screen orders for delivery later. Stores in this format, which are smaller than traditional U.S. grocery stores, could start appearing late next year.
While the store formats are still in the concept stage, Amazon ultimately envisions opening up to 2,000 brick-and-mortar locations.
Amazon envisions opening more than 2,000 brick-and-mortar grocery stores under its name, depending on the success of the new test locations, according to the people. By comparison, Kroger Co. operates about 2,800 locations across 35 states.
Adding grocery pickups will be “part of their secret sauce in terms of all of the different ways in which they can engage the customer in bringing the product to them,” says Bill Bishop, chief architect at grocery and retail consultancy Brick Meets Click. “Everyone is looking at grocery because of frequency. Frequency guarantees that you have density.”
Of course, Amazon isn’t the first to test drive-thru and curbside grocery as Target and Wal-Mart both plan to launch curbside pickup in 1,000 stores by the end of next year.
Meanwhile, with nearly 40,000 grocery stores in the U.S. employing roughly 3.5mm people, most of whom work at or near minimum wage, Bernie’s “Fight for $15” agitators may want to take note of this development.