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War of the Billionaires: George Soros Takes on Donald Trump
Billionaire George Soros, the subject of countless conservative conspiracy theories, funds the opposition to President Trump's agenda.
The fact that billionaires influence politics is hard to dispute. Our current President is a billionaire and Trump’s cabinet is stocked with billionaires and millionaires. His candidacy was significantly boosted by the support from the billionaire Mercer family, who’s had a close relationship with Trump’s chief advisor Steve Bannon. They are also the co-owners of Breitbart News, a leading pro-Trump news organization which was instrumental in his rise and has been staunchly supporting his agenda. Other famous billionaires behind Trump include Silicon Valley’s iconic venture capitalist Peter Thiel, the legendary investor Carl Icahn, and Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Let's not forget, of course, the conservative funders David and Charles Koch, brother billionaires who are often portrayed by liberals as nefarious conspiratorial operators (who, nonetheless, did not back Trump).
The left also has its share of billionaire supporters, like Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Walmart heiress Alice Walton. And then there’s George Soros. To say that Soros is a controversial figure is an understatement. In fact, there is no billionaire who has been maligned by either side as much as George Soros, seen by the many on the right as nothing less than an embodiment of evil supposedly behind every liberal cause on the planet.
Soros has become the nexus of countless conservative conspiracy theories. He has been blamed for controlling voting machines the U.S., funding protests like the Women’s March, inciting the Ferguson riots, funding Black Lives Matter, meddling in the affairs of European countries, creating the refugee crisis, helping the Muslim takeover of the West and pretty much being both a world-dominating neo-Rothschild and a Nazi at the same time.
George Soros (now 86) is one of the world’s most successful investors and richest people, worth $25.2 billion as of early 2017. Outside of the money Soros gives directly to liberal politics, much of the right’s hatred of him is aimed at his philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which was established to aid countries transitioning from communism. It’s main mission now is to support human rights and democracy, something it purports to do in over 100 countries. Among its accomplishments, the Foundations count their work supporting the growth of democratic governments and societies in most countries of the former Soviet Union, a fact that does not sit well with Russia, which sees Soros as interfering in its spheres of influence.
While Foundations, with a budget of nearly a $1 billion, work around the world, their funding of liberal projects and organizations in the U.S. makes them an obvious target for attacks from the right. So does OSF’s support for reforming American policy on immigration, criminal justice, drugs and discrimination.
It’s also notable that Soros himself reportedly spent $27 million to oppose George Bush’s 2004 re-election and $13 million in support of Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: Soros Fund Management Chairman George Soros (C) attends a meeting with finance and development ministers, international partners and the presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea about the ongoing efforts to recover from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa during the World Bank- International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings April 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. The World Bank announced that it would provide an additional US$650 million over the next year to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to recover from the social, economic and health impact of the Ebola crisis. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Another source of right-wing controversies and unproven theories lies in Soros’s past. One such issue involves Soros, who is Jewish, being accused of being a “Nazi collaborator”.
A naturalized American citizen, Soros was born in 1930 in Hungary, going through the Holocaust as a teenager. To save him from the Nazis, his father decided to conceal his identity, posing George (then 14) as a godchild of a Hungarian government employee, whose job it was to document the confiscation of property from Hungarian Jews. The fact that he was present during such events, even though Soros vehemently denied being actively involved, has been seized upon by such personalities as Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck, and countless online trolls, to accuse Soros of somehow helping the Nazis. There is no evidence that the teenage George did anything more than try to hide his identity in an environment where an estimated 500,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in 10 months.
What has Soros been involved in lately? If some congressional Republicans are to be believed, he is trying to change (and destroy) Europe. As reported by Politico, representatives Chris Smith (NJ) and Senator Mike Lee (UT) led an effort to send letters to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, accusing Soros’s Open Society Foundations of pushing a “progressive agenda” for the purpose of invigorating the left. The letters very much parrot the views of nationalist right-wing European politicians, supported by the Kremlin.
In particular, the Republicans accuse Soros of using his organization to meddle in the politics of Macedonia, where a crisis centering on abuse of power, involving illegal wiretapping, forced the prime minister Nikola Gruevski to resign. He promptly blamed Soros-related organizations.
Gruevski’s sentiment was echoed by the far-right (and pro-Russian) Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán who also blamed Soros for “causing trouble” and influencing Hungarian politics with his money.
In the United States, after Trump’s win, the Open Society Foundations announced a $10 million initiative aimed at supporting communities potentially targeted by “hateful acts” related to the Trump agenda - immigrants, the LGBT community, Muslims and others. Soros is also supporting the Democratic Alliance, a significant donor coalition which is looking to fund numerous groups to combat Trump's policies.
If you're wondering where Soros stands on Trump personally, here's how he described the President at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos:
"I have described him as an impostor and a con man and a would-be dictator," said Soros. "But he's only a would-be dictator because I'm confident that the Constitution and the institutions of the United States are strong enough. ... He would be a dictator if he could get away with it, but he won't be able to."
It’s safe to say, the right’s lack of love for Soros is likely to continue and intensify.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."