[December 15, 2020] – New Content in Grand Theft Auto Online
The Cayo Perico Heist has been added to GTA Online. In this update, players are contacted by Miguel Madrazo who will task them with infiltrating one of the most secure private islands in the entire world, evading or neutralizing the heavily armed security forces stationed there, and escaping with valuable evidence along with as much art, gold and drug money as they can carry. Players must scope, prep, and execute the Heist either solo or with up to three other players and will have the opportunity to access several new weapons and vehicles along the way.
The Cayo Perico Island has been added to GTA Online. The Island consists of several different key locations that players can explore while scoping for the Heist, including a beach party where new DJ collective Keinemusik performs an exclusive set. Upon completing the Heist as leader, players can return to the Cayo Perico beach party at their convenience and invite others along for the journey.
The Kosatka has been added to GTA Online. The Kosatka is a new driveable Submarine property that acts as a base of operations for planning The Cayo Perico Heist. The Kosatka can be customized with Guided Missiles, a Sonar Station, and a Weapon Workshop. The Kosatka also comes with a Moon Pool where players can store the new Sparrow, Kraken Avisa and Pegassi Toreador vehicles.
The Music Locker has been added to GTA Online. The Music Locker is a new Nightclub located underground below The Diamond Casino & Resort, which acts as a social hub and is where players can first meet Miguel Madrazo to learn about The Cayo Perico Heist. The Music Locker is also the venue that showcases new DJs added with this update.
One new DJ has been added to GTA Online. Players can see this new DJ perform at The Music Locker:
A new feature to toggle strobe lights in The Music Locker has been added. In the Style section of the Interaction Menu, the strobe light toggle can be found, listed as “Music Locker Strobes” and can be toggled on or off.
New DJ Request Missions have been added to GTA Online for owners of the Casino Penthouse who have completed The Cayo Perico Heist. Players will earn special rewards for completing these requests.
Two new Radio Stations have been added:
K.U.L.T 99.1 FM
Still Slipping Los Santos
Two existing Radio Stations have been updated with all-new mixes and tracks:
New Hidden Cache collectibles have been added to GTA Online. Players can find up to 10 Hidden Caches on the ocean floor around San Andreas each day. Players who own the Kosatka Sonar Station can blip the Caches on their radar. Players are rewarded with GTA$ and RP for finding these Hidden Caches.
Nine new vehicles have been added to GTA Online:
Kurtz 31 Patrol Boat
One new weapon, the Military Rifle, has been added to GTA Online and can be purchased from Ammu-Nation stores.
Additional new weapons have been added to GTA Online and can be unlocked on Cayo Perico.
Over 180+ items of clothing have been added for both Male and Female characters in GTA Online.
Over 30+ Tattoos have been added to GTA Online.
Nine new Face Paints have been added to GTA Online.
Six new celebration emotes have been added to GTA Online, which can be used while dancing:
Several new Awards related to The Cayo Perico Heist have been added to GTA Online, including the opportunity for players to earn up to 1.4 million in bonus GTA$ for various Heist challenges.
Five new styles of Blackjack tables and four new styles of Three Card Poker tables are available for purchase for players who own a Casino Penthouse and the Private Dealer. They can be purchase from the Casino Shop using Chips and equipped using the Interaction Menu.
GTA Online Fixes
Game Stability and Performance
Fixed several issues that caused game crashes, freezes and other stability problems
Fixed a stability issue that caused high memory usage for PC players, which could have led to pausing/stuttering on low specification hardware
Fixed an issue that may have caused players to get stuck on a black screen during transitions between GTA Online content
Matchmaking & Networking
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the sky camera after attempting to use the ‘Quick Job’ option to enter a Casino Heist lobby
Fixed an issue that resulted in players remaining in the same session after using the 'Find New Session’ option
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen when accepting a Job invite while inside the Arcade
Fixed an issue that may have caused network errors during the race portion of the GTA Online Tutorial
Fixed position sync issues with the Rune Zhaba vehicle when some players in a GTA Online session are running at a high framerate
Fixed an issue that resulted in the news van getting stuck on a sign stopping Mission progression during the Casino Work Mission – Fake News
Fixed an issue that caused the Casino Heist Prep Mission – Duggan Shipments to end unexpectedly after launching
Fixed an issue that caused the Police Van from the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary to appear during an Open Wheel Race
Fixed an issue that resulted in the Mission starting with 3 seconds on the timer in the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary
Fixed multiple instances of incorrect button prompts that were present in several Arcade Games on the Japanese version of the game
Fixed overlapping text that was present in the Arcade Game – QUB3D
Fixed an issue that resulted in players with restricted accounts being able to see the custom initials of players on the high score screen of Arcade Games
Fixed an issue that caused the Movie Props Hidden Collectibles to be missing from their intended location
Fixed an issue that caused Lester’s car to not be drivable in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that caused players to be stuck with no functionality in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after trying to launch the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use the skip trip functionality in the in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Plane
Fixed incorrect objective text that was present in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Station
Fixed an issue that caused players to fall through the map during the Casino Heist – Finale
Fixed an issue that caused players to be taken into a Casino Heist Mission after not choosing an option on the Next Job Voting Screen, despite having made no Casino Heist progress
Fixed visual issues that were present after quitting spectator mode during the Adversary Mode – Every Bullet Counts
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to re-equip rebreathers during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use their weapon wheel during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing camera functionality in the Gerald’s Last Play Mission – Make Ends Meat
Fixed a button conflict that was present in the Arena War – Game Masters
Fixed an issue that resulted in players falling under the map after modding a vehicle in the Arena Workshop Property
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to deliver Cargo during the Business Battle – Assassination
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the objective ‘Hack the Security Panel' in the Business Battle – Factory Raid
Fixed an issue that caused the Mission to instantly fail after launching a Sell Mission
Awards and Daily Objectives
Fixed an issue that caused the Daily Challenge – 'Participate in the Featured Series' to not register correctly
Fixed issues that resulted in players’ Arcade set up progress getting reset
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after drinking at the Arcade bar
Fixed camera issues that were present when entering the Arcade
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing movement functionality after storing the Enus Paragon R (Armored) in their Office Garage
Fixed helicopter spawning issues on the Yacht
Fixed visual issues that were present with the Office Garage cutscene
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to exit their Arcade after accepting an invite
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen after driving into the Arena Garage
Fixed an issue that prevented several variations of vehicle cinematic cameras from appearing for all vehicles
Fixed an issue that caused the Bravado Gauntlet Classic’s trade price to be displayed incorrectly on the Benny's Original Motorworks site
Fixed an issue that prevented Cargobob helicopters from being able to pick up the Vapid Peyote Custom using the hook
Fixed several miscellaneous model and texture issues for the following vehicles:
Invetero Coquette D10
Bravado Gauntlet Classic Custom
Albany Manana Custom
Vapid Peyote Custom
Bravado Youga Classic 4x4
Fixed clipping issues that were present with several of the ‘Open Shirts’ and ‘Open Party Shirts’
Fixed several miscellaneous clipping and texture issues for the following clothing items:
Animal masks (and other larger mask options)
Tucked Short Shirt variants
Untucked Short Shirt variants
Yacht Captain outfit
Reduced the frequency that the player will receive call, text and email notifications regarding content from previous GTA Online content updates
Fixed an issue that resulted in vehicles not arriving after being requested from Ms. Baker
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to interact with certain activities in the Casino
Fixed an issue that caused the Avenger’s entrance trigger to not be visible to players
Fixed an issue that resulted in spectators being unable to swap filters
Fixed an issue where PlayStation 4 players without a PS Plus subscription would not be directed to the correct menu when attempting to access GTA Online
Fixed an issue that caused some weapon magazines and attachments to be missing during cutscenes
Artist:Joji Album:Nectar Label: 88Rising Release Date: September 25, 2020 Listen: Spotify Apple Music YouTube Music Deezer Soundcloud Background Not many artists have had a come-up as interesting and eccentric as George Kusunoki Miller, a former YouTube comedian/edgelord turned moody R&B singer. George first got his taste of internet fame as FilthyFrank, a character he described as everything a person should not be, he played the notorious persona on YouTube for over 6 years and eventually had to retire it due to him losing passion for it and suffering from stress induced seizures, which playing the character often caused. Throughout his time as FilthyFrank however he began experimenting with music, mostly of the satirical kind at the start, his first tracks were under the FilthyFrank persona, the first one being Who's The Sucker, a dumb track where he somehow manages to rhyme "nicer" with "vagina", go figure. A few years later, alongside the satirical rap, Joji began to make what he would consider as serious music, and this is where the timeline gets a bit messy, as he put out multiple tracks under multiple different aliases and the lines got blurred pretty fast, so I won't focus on aliases too much, but rather on the music he put out, around this era he released the therapeutical Medicine, the slow and melancholy We Fall Again, and Dumplings, which was Joji's best attempt at a trap banger. In 2015, he birthed the Joji alias, released two singles on Soundcloud under that name, and announced a project called Chloe Burbank Vol. 1, the project was later scrapped and is probably sitting on Joji's hard drive, unfinished, however, the two singles he put out, thom and you suck charlie, were the tracks that put him in the spotlight, not to mention that to this day, there are some of his fans that believe these 2 tracks are his best and will not be topped, but that's a discussion for another day. Following the overwhelmingly positive reception, Joji began to put out more tracks and singles, both under the aforementioned alias and Pink Guy, which was a character that blossomed into a satirical rap project, but I won't be covering that too much, and will focus on what he did as Joji instead, most tracks Joji put out were met with positive reception, some of the tracks, such as worldstar money, ended up on his debut EP as well. Sometime around early 2016, Joji ended up signing with 88rising, a label focused on building the bridge between east and west, he explained in an interview that he was initially a consultant for the duo behind the record label, however, once the duo noticed his music and how well it was received, they asked him to jump on board and he instantly took the chance, getting signed alongside the likes of Rich Brian and Higher Brothers. The label immediately undertook Joji and began distributing his catalog on their YouTube channel and helped him release more music, which was a couple of singles in the earlier half of 2017, and his debut EP in the latter half, the EP, known as "In Tongues", was met with mixed reception from fans and critics alike, with some describing it as his most concise body of work so far that is oozing potential, and others describing it as a bleak project that fails to set Joji apart from the sea of artists on the same wavelength as himself. Following the release of the EP, Joji began working on his debut album, known as BALLADS 1, the album's first single, YEAH RIGHT, was released on the 8th of May, the track was first believed to be a standalone loosie as it was released 5 months before the album itself, however it ended up being on the album and was confirmed as the one of the singles alongside SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, CAN'T GET OVER YOU, which features a production credit from non other than Clams Casino, and TEST DRIVE. The album was well received, and was praised for containing a wider variety of sounds than its predecessor, it felt like a natural progression for Joji's sound and was a step forward towards a more mainstream approach whilst not sacrificing any of the rawness that Joji's older stuff had, which seemed to be what most fans were expecting from him. Moving forward Joji stayed mostly silent throughout 2019, appearing on the second 88Rising collaboration album, which was negatively received due to it's lack of creativity and sub-par performances from most label signees, he also appeared on Rich Brian's sophomore album, The Sailor, and released which is now known to be as the first single from Nectar, Sanctuary, a synth based poppy track that previewed a vocally improved and more confident version of Joji. What was assumed to be a loosie turned out to be the beginning of an album rollout, as half a year later Joji released Run, setting a new standard for himself both instrumentally and vocally, and a couple of months later he released Gimme Love, a double sided track with a fun, catchy beginning and a melancholy ballad driven ending, the last single, Daylight, was released on the 8th of August, the instrumental was produced by Diplo and the track itself sounded like Joji's attempt to break into the mainstream. Without warning, he also released two tracks that he classified as "NOT SONG", the first being Pretty Boy, which actually ended up on the album with a Lil Yachty feature, and the second being FTC, which sadly did not end up on the album, both tracks had videos and it seemed to me at first that the purpose of both tracks was to serve the lore that Joji has built around the album, which I will be touching up on in this write-up. A day before the album's release, he put out Gimme Cum, an enigmatic track with a mysterious message. Nectar itself was pushed back from it's original July release date due to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, the album however was released on the 25th of September. Album Lore If there's one thing George is no stranger to, it would definitely be worldbuilding, as he has proven time and time again that he has a knack for it, especially with his FilthyFrank YouTube channel, where he managed to create characters, locations, and an entire universe out of a few satirical characters, his lore was adored by many and even though visually he never wrapped up the story he did release a book that served as closure for the FilthyFrank lore. This album's lore is not as straight forward however, and there are multiple theories doing the rounds on the internet, personally I will go by what sounded most convincing to me in terms of timeline and storyline, however do feel free to expand on what I've said or correct me, George has left multiple things left open to interpretation therefore I would not be surprised if there were multiple different meanings to the same thing. Our story begins in the music video for Gimme Love, where we see a young Joji who appears to be a small time engineer that is eager to climb through the ranks of the company he is working for, as he rises however he appears to become more stressed out and agitated at all times, lashing out at his coworkers and breaking down consistently, throughout the music video we can see that the more he progresses, the more roadblocks he runs into, which causes his behavior to become more psychotic and manic, as the shots move forward we see him accept awards, lead his very own research team, run failed experiments on his coworkers that causes them to bleed, and eventually receive military covert status, which did not come without sacrifices, as we see him smile less and less throughout the video. In the second half of the video, we see Joji steal the rocket he helped build by locking out his crew members, and launch himself into space, disappointing everyone he worked with and stabbing them in the back he appears to be quite happy however, eventually his mood flips as he is faced with two choices, engage or eject, the following shot does not allow us to see which one he picked as we are facing his back, all we see is Joji making the choice and gearing up for what's to come. The lines get blurred around this spot and many people have different theories as to which video is the right one chronologically, personally I believe Daylight comes next, and my theory is Joji is having some sort of fever dream featuring his previous coworkers, most notably the older people who went through layers of plastic surgery, who appear in the music video for FTC, where they are seen wearing badges that features the same organization Joji worked for, throughout the video they are seen rummaging through the wreckage caused by Joji, clearly looking for something specific, which ends up being the award Joji won. Back to Daylight, Joji appears to be some sort of intern working for the director and the actors, towards the end of the music video we can see Joji waking up from the aforementioned fever dream, clearly in a daze, as the shot widens we see that he is alone, in a barren wasteland, with nothing around him except for a tent and what appears to be a device used for communication, he plants a few seeds in the soil and sits by the device, hoping for a sign of life. Next comes Run, where we are once again met with Joji having a nightmare, the entire video symbolizes being trapped in a place you don't want to be in, as Joji appears to be in a never ending limousine with people he has no interest in whatsoever, towards the end of the nightmare we actually see Joji running across a massive wasteland, the same wasteland we saw him in at the end of the Daylight music video, throughout the video, we see Joji become consumed by the soil itself, which I would assume is a representation of his fears back then, seeing as he was alone and had little to no hope of being saved whatsoever. Joji wakes up from this nightmare and appears to be in some kind of spaceship, if the videos were released chronologically, we would be completely lost at this point, lucky for us, we already know what the spaceship is, as we see a picture of the Sanctuary crew in the final shots of the Run music video, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the crew is the ones that saved him from death and picked him up from the mess that he placed himself in, hence the name Sanctuary, which means refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger The crew itself is seen in action in the music video for Sanctuary, where Joji appears to be fighting and defeating some sort of one-eyed alien supervillain at the start, however, once he is defeated, both Joji and the crew themselves become aimless, as they are living monotonously without a goal, thankfully(???), one of the crew members sees this and decides to take matters into his own hands, by surgically removing his own eye, which portrays his transformation into the new supervillain, and following this up by killing a crewmember and escaping on his own, once again giving the spaceship it's own purpose. Unfortunately the music videos that were put out after the release of the album appear to be too subtle for me to think they are connected in any way, shape or form, there are many theories of course but I can't help but feel like that most of them are a reach. The most plausible explanation for this lore that I can think of is that the whole escaping from earth on his own, landing in a barren wasteland, trying to plant seeds in it, and eventually being picked up by a group(88Rising, wink wink) is a metaphor for his transition from FilthyFrank to Joji, the barren wasteland stands for how hopeless he felt at the time and the seeds symbolize the loosies he was slowly dropping before ditching his channel to become an R&B superstar, which if true, solidifies the idea that George was done with FilthyFrank long before he actually left the channel itself. Regardless, I thought the lore was very enjoyable and it was nice to see Joji back in one of his elements at least, most fans would have been disappointed in me if I had not touched up on it a bit seeing as it was a huge part of the albums release and they are intertwined in some sort of way. Review
When it's lovely I believe in anything What does love mean When the end is rolling in
It is important for me to preface this review with the fact that this Joji album is not like anything we've ever heard from him before, this is not the one man army, garageband using, sample meshing Joji that we knew in the past, this is Joji with an entire team behind his artistic vision, a whole group of people working with him to help him push his sound to the next level, and unfortunately, while the quality of the music has clearly went up, when so many people have their own input on something eventually the lines get blurred and the album loses its artistic direction and cohesion, which is one of my only complaints with this album, and I'm glad I got it out of the way first. Artistic direction and cohesion aside, this album contains some of Joji's highest highs to date, especially the singles, that's not to say that there aren't some deep cuts on here that shine as well, but once you listen to the album in it's entirety you quickly understand why the singles were chosen as singles, especially when you consider how sonically different they are from the non-singles. Sanctuary, the album's first single, is a sweet, poppy and synthy track that features a high pitched and melodic Joji, some of the track's lyrics are somewhat abstract but they are quite visually descriptive and that's always a plus in my book, the instrumental itself is quite spacey and has a nice retro vibe to it, already a huge step forward from what we've already heard from George, the track's climax reaches towards the end and gives us a beautiful bridge,with Joji crooning about wanting to be held by a significant other.
I fell for your magic, I tasted your skin And though this is tragic, at least I found the end I witnessed your madness, you shed light on my sins And if we share in this sadness, then where have you been?
Run is one of the more cinematic cuts on this album, the track is truly a double edged sword because although it's one of Joji's best, it has set an extremely high standard for both Joji and the album, leaving fans such as myself worried about whether or not he will ever reach a similar high, the production is clean, Joji's vocal lines are as dynamic as ever, the guitar melody is infectious, the lyrics are better than anything Joji has ever written and he is putting his heart and soul into every word, the electric guitar solo at the end is also something worth mentioning, which sits perfectly right in front of Joji's distant and wide vocals, ending the track on a strong note.
Look into your heart and let me know Do things turn black and gray as they go? When I'm far too gone, can you show me love? Give me love
The lyrics above come from the album's third single, a 2 sided track that starts as a bouncy, percussive, fast paced, and catchy song, with Joji chanting and pleading to be given love, softly singing about being surrounded by apathetic people, after the second chorus the entire song comes to a halt in order to make room for a mellow guitar and Joji's harmonies, which are absolutely stunning if I may add, the track, much like many other tracks on here, ends on a cinematic strong note with a string section and a grandiose piano. The final single, Daylight, is no doubt unexplored territory for Joji, the instrumental, which was produced by Diplo, starts off slow and minimalistic, with a simple yet groovy bassline, and reaches its apex on the chorus, when it suddenly becomes extremely lush, heavy, and thick, the track is most definitely a solid attempt at modern day and mainstream pop music, clearly made with the intention of receiving radio play. All of the singles show up in the first leg of the album, which is absolutely phenomenal, the opener track, Ew, starts off light and easy, with a somber and distant arpeggiated piano backed with Joji's soft vocals, who's singing about heartbreak and the loss of many relationships, sounding as bitter as ever lyrically, the chorus includes a grand string section and a chord progression that is fully panned to the right and sitting all the way behind the mix, and surprise surprise, the track itself ends on a cinematic strong note, much like many of the other tracks on here.
I've got no aim, a million rounds, is nothing real? A hundred pounds of heavy steel, it feels so loud Tied to my chest, it feels so loud I'll take a peek to across the peaks This grass is neat and I'm quite unique But I'd like to be, but I'd like to be
Up next comes MODUS, a moody track that has an intro similar to the opener track but later on has Joji melodic rapping to a murky trap instrumental, with Joji of course sounding better than ever, lyrically speaking, many of the themes on this album are similar, Joji is mostly singing about relationships, heartbreak, and the need for a significant other, the lyrics themselves give the album a nocturnal, bitter, hopeless vibe, which is what we've come to expect from Joji's music nowadays. The third track, Tick Tock, is a plucky banger of an instrumental that has Joji rapping over it with pitched up vocals on the chorus which is something that's a little bit reminiscent of his older, more amateur work, the vocal layering on the verse is also something worth mentioning, really showcases Joji's dynamic range and how much he improved as a whole, the track is nothing groundbreaking in terms of what we've heard so far and remains lowkey for the most part but is without a doubt one of my favorites on this project.
On Nectar, one of the yet-to-be-announced tracks was produced when the artist was only sixteen years old. “I’m excited to see if it sticks out or not to the listeners.” he reveals.
Joji Interview with Schön! Magazine.
While not officially announced by Joji himself, it is safe to say that Upgrade is the aforementioned track, a small interlude that seats itself in the earlier part of the album, the track starts with a grandiose piano, which is quite unnecessary if you ask me, because once we have it out of the way all we get is a very obviously barebones instrumental made from a different time, the telltale sign being non other than the ukulele that we have seen in George's earlier work. It upsets me that Joji has not made this fact much more known because this track has been consistently the subject of criticism by critics and fans alike, but at the same time I understand, because at the end of the day George left that track in there for the die hard fans, not the critics. Up until this point there is no doubt that Joji has played it safe, sure the album is much more grand and cinematic than its predecessor, but there's no denying that the signature sound is still there, we still get the hazy and moody slow bangers, if Nectar was only the first half then Joji might have had a strong album in his catalog, maybe even a classic, but I understand him wanting to expand and experiment with other sounds in order to grow as an artist. The midsection gets a little bit tricky, as Joji begins to get out of his comfort zone and the album features start appearing, to me it sounds like Joji did not know how he could keep the listener interested in the second half of this album and decided to opt in for a bunch of features as a quick fix, some work out fine, some better than others.
Handsome young man, never pull up on time Lookin' in the mirror, lookin' good should be a crime, crime All this pain I'll never let show (No) My real thoughts, you'll never know (No)
Lil Yachty on Pretty Boy
I never really listened to Lil Yachty that much aside from the obvious hits he had over the course of his career, but he clearly shined on this track as the feature, for starters, the track is very light-hearted, definitely one of the more lofi tracks on this album, the highlight for me without a doubt is the bridge, which sounds like something straight out of Pink Season, George was clearly having genuine fun with it, some even speculate that most of the bridge was made using samples from his earlier work as Pink Guy. High Hopes, which features Omar Apollo, is one of the more lowkey cuts in here as well, the percussion on the instrumental and the detuned guitar on here remind me of some of Joji's stuff from BALLADS 1, unfortunately however the track doesn't stand out much, at least not as much as Afterthought with BENEE, another track where Joji's melodies and vocals shine through once again, and BENEE's feature definitely adds some character to the track, at least enough to the point where the feature made some sense On Normal People, Joji recruits childhood friend rei brown, in an attempt to capture lightning again after their first collaboration, Once In A While. Unfortunately lightning didn't strike twice here for me and the track felt quite lackluster and uninteresting, especially for such an anticipated track and when compared to their first song, many of the tracks and collaborations on the second part of the album really felt like Joji just trying to recapture the magic of his earlier work, and while some of those attempts did work at the end of the day it does feel like a cheap cop out.
Oh, understand, girl, I'm out of sight To the other side, I don't want no stripes Got my insides loud like motorcycles Girl, don't notice it, I don't notice it
Another example of Joji attempting to recapture magic is NITROUS, which marks Joji's second time collaborating with Clams Casino, the track is very reminiscent of their first track together, both Joji and Clams Casino however killed it, the track's instrumental is very murky and nocturnal, much alike most of the album, but that doesn't stop Joji's delivery, which is very fun-loving and upbeat.
By the way you move, I know you want me to Tell you all the rules, I know I'm searching too Give me all your clues and things to guide me through The end of the world, the end of the world
Produced by the one and only Kenneth Instrumentals, Mr. Hollywood is one of the more heartfelt and personal tracks on this album, Joji is singing about his evergrowing popularity and how it will never affect what is important for him, which in this case is the girl he's singing about, like many other tracks on this album, you will often hear something that will remind you of Joji's older work, in this case it is the ad-libs on the chorus, which are very reminiscent of his ad-libs on BESIDJU, regardless the song has at least a bit of substance which makes it one of the more commendable tracks. The final run of this album is where Joji flips the script here, there are a few tracks that have questionable artistic decisions, such as Reanimator, with non other than Yves Tumor, the track serves as an instrumental interlude before the final two tracks, however with a feature such as Yves Tumor I honestly expected much more than what we got, and what we got is basically a 3 minute track, with the first minute and a half being nothing than a drone-y, synthy instrumental, and the second half being quite a lackluster performance by Joji and his guest, much like some of the other tracks on the album, it seems like it received a similar treatment, where the track was initially unfinished and still half-baked, and rather than attempting to finish the track they opted for an easy way out, which in this case was making more than half of the track an instrumental and then calling it an interlude just to be safe.
"that weeknd synthpop track sure is doing huge numbers, maybe i should also make a synthpop track as well"
I would be down to argue that if Blinding Lights by The Weeknd had not existed, 777 wouldn't have existed either, Joji's constant attempts at breaking into the mainstream and commercializing his sound have always left a bad taste in my mouth as it felt like it came from a place where authenticity is lacking, nevertheless I find it bizarre to make a track that is very similar to one of the most successful tracks of the year and not attempt to push it at all, that's not to say that 777 on it's own is not a good track, however there's no denying that the sound selection on the instrumental, some of the flows, and the chorus itself hold blaring similarities to The Weeknd's track, I understand why he would make such a track however and find it admirable at the very least. Thankfully, the album ends on a strong note, the final two tracks are both beautiful even though they're worlds apart, Like You Do, is a quintessential love ballad from Joji, a stripped down instrumental with beautiful piano chords and a laid back vibe, Joji is singing about his current partner and how what they have might not work out, even though he feels like they're perfect for one another, the closing track, Your Man is a massive change in tempo, with an upbeat, electronic, deep house-esque instrumental, we hear a Joji that is optimistic, which is a nice change of pace, especially considering how bitter most of his albums and projects have been up to date.
Since I met you All the gloomy days just seem to shine a little more brightly Consider what we've got 'Cause I can never take you for granted
Like You Do
Conclusion There's no denying that some tracks on here sound like a bastardized version of Joji's signature sound. Joji is trying his best to commercialize his sound without sacrificing the rawer elements of it, which unfortunately results in a jumble of sounds. This album is not free of criticisms as there are many issues in here that need to be worked on, it's much less cohesive than its predecessor and at times sounds like a bunch of rough ideas put together in order to create the world's most average musical equivalent of a photo collage, but if we were to just set all of that aside and just look at this album for what it is, then there's definitely something in here for everyone. George might have not made a classic, and he certainly hasn't found his sound yet, but this album is an indicator that he's on to something, and once again I am already anxious to hear what he has in store next. Talking Points
What did you think of this album? Is it a good follow-up to BALLADS 1?
Do you think Joji works better alone or when he has a team behind him?
Do you think Joji will yet again set another high standard for himself next project?
What are your predictions for Joji's sound in the future?
Now that he's more keen on having features, who do you think would compliment Joji's sound the most?
(37M) Just finalized divorce yesterday, and it feels great AMA
I wish I had found this sub years ago. Reading through these posts is really eye-opening and I see so many similarities to my own marriage. Long post ahead. I married at 18 for all the wrong reasons. She was 21. We were high school sweethearts. We were in love, but, in retrospect, neither of us were ready to get married. I kind of knew it at the time, but I went against my gut and did it anyway. We were married for 19 years. No kids. There were so many red flags over the years, but, in my eyes, none of them were worth ending the marriage. I never cheated. To my knowledge, neither did she. It just became a never-ending cycle of her treating me like a man-child which got progressively worse over the years. I even have a text message thread from several months ago where she claimed I wanted her to be "my mommy" (this couldn't be further from what I wanted) and that's why she treated me like this. She pushed me (not in a good way, but I'm glad she did) to advance my professional career. Any job I had was never good enough for her, and I never made enough money for her. Red flag. However, this caused me to rapidly climb the corporate ladder in my 20s. At 29 I was able to quit my FT 6-figure job and start my own business, doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling my income over the next couple of years. Certainly no regrets here. We have also been able to buy several houses, become landlords for 6 years, and pretty much live where we wanted. But she resented me for it. I was required to be at the office *a lot* and she hated that I wasn't home until 9 pm on any given weekday. Our last house was a solid 2-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) from the city center. So I often had to leave the house by 6:30 am and wasn't back until late in the evening. Yeah, she was lonely. She wanted me to watch TV with her every night (I became very disinterested in TV anyway) which just wasn't possible. I could have kept a somewhat cushy corporate job that wasn't demanding in terms of hours, making much less money, but that wasn't good enough for her. Rewind back to 2001. I put her through college and sacrificed my own college education for her. I worked 2 jobs, 7 days a week, for years to support us when I was 18-21. We were living in a crappy apartment and barely making ends meet. But she was going to make something of herself, then I was going to go to college and do the same. Like you are supposed to do. I tried to go to college while working 2 jobs for 60-70 hours per week, but it was way too much. My grades made it unable for me to advance, so I dropped out. She graduated in 2004... then never really tried to get a decent job. The 'best' job she ever had was a retail store manager for a small store (making like $15/hr) and she hated it. She was perfectly capable of making 6-figures at a corporate job, but she never even made an attempt. She hopped between entry-level and minimum wage jobs, never spending more than a couple of months at any of them. Don't take this to mean I ever really cared about how much money she made. What I cared about was the effort she put into being a responsible adult. We were still having trouble making ends meet. In 2006 (married for 5 years) I got my first big pay jump when I switched companies. I increased my income by 70% overnight and I was starting to see light at the end of the work-till-you-die tunnel. It was finally going to be good with my new income and hers, right? Wrong. A couple of months into my new job she brought up the idea of her quitting her job to be a 'full-time homemaker'. Remember, we didn't have kids and didn't want any, and she is the one with the degree and the college debt we would be paying down for the next 15 years. It started as an idea, then over a couple of weeks, it turned into her begging me to let her quit her job for good. I resisted, explaining to her that it made no financial sense. Besides, how was she going to keep herself occupied throughout the day? Laundry only needed to be done once a week, dishes only take a few minutes a day. So, against my wishes, she quit working for good and never looked back. She did take to cooking more, but she basically sat at home and watched TV. This went on for years. She knew I was against it. Without her income, we were in a worse financial situation than before I got my new job. But, (her words) because I was the man, "I was supposed to support the family" She was bored all the time. The free time gave her much more time to find things to get upset about and dwell on. For example, she would start a big fight if I left a single bowl in the sink for *me* to wash later. Or if I used the stove or microwave and she found a single spec of splattered food. Or if I turned a perfectly functional knob on the washing machine to wash my own laundry. She would absolutely blow up -- "I did [insert thing here] on purpose so I could get out of doing [the thing] in the future." Thank god we had our own bathrooms. She resented me for these things and I had no chance for retribution. She did do most of the housework for a few years, but I always did 100% of the yardwork. And almost 5 years ago we bought and lived on a farm -- got several dozen animals from horses to sheep to donkeys to ducks and geese. Just like in her professional 'career', she helped take care of them for a little while. Until she decided it was too much work. Then I was the one left by myself rounding up the animals, fixing broken fence, thawing out frozen water pipes, etc at 2 am on a weeknight when I had an 8 am meeting the next morning. As you would expect, the sex decreased significantly over the years. It was good when we were in our teens and early 20s. But she became less and less interested over the years. It went from several times per week, to several times per month, to every few months, to... almost never. She wanted sex to be very mundane. She didn't like it when I went down on her. She absolutely refused to go down on me, and never did. She didn't like it when I tried to use my hand to please her. She didn't like foreplay. She never wanted to do anything other than missionary. We talked about how to spice up our sex life for years. I brought all sorts of ideas from the table from roleplaying to toys to things on the kinkier side, but she never actually wanted to do anything about it. I had also been struggling with PE throughout my later 20s which made the situation worse. And the PE was "my fault" and "I needed to do something about it". I did see a urologist who diagnosed me as perfectly normal and sent me on my way. He suggested both of us see a sex therapist together, which she was not ok with -- because this was "my problem". Until we separated and I put myself out there, I hadn't had sex in about 4 years. Fast forward to 2018. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer -- like fewer than 100 cases per year in the entire country. The physician knew very little about it -- the hospital hadn't seen a case of it in over 5 years -- and referred me to a specialist in a city a few hours away. It was a few months before I knew anything definitive or could get it treated. When I told my ex about the diagnosis, she preceded to inform me how I don't "have cancer" (but I did) and made it clear it was my own problem. I had an all-day surgery with the specialist to remove it -- I told her it was going to be an all-day surgery in advance. A couple-hour drive each way. Did she offer to drive me there or support me in any way? Nope. I got to drive myself there and back. Did she help me clean the huge surgical wound (it was like 10 inches in diameter) I had for the next 3 months? I even asked for her help cleaning and dressing it. She refused. So I had to figure out how to do it by myself. Did she express the slightest interest in talking to the specialist about it to get her own answers and put her mind at ease? Nope. She already knew better. This when it became painfully obvious she didn't care about me at all. And I still financially supported her 100%. At this point, she hadn't had a job for over 10 years and spent most of any given day watching TV. In 2017 she started an Etsy sewing shop -- which didn't take much of her time, but it gave her something to do. We were vendors at lots of local festivals together when those were still a thing. We were doing this almost every weekend from April through December. She didn't have more than 200 orders per year until 2020. When the lockdowns and mask shortages started in March she started sewing cloth masks. She did really well for a couple of months, doing 50-100 orders per day. I told her I was proud of her. I also tried to help her when she was having trouble keeping up. I spent a whole day helping her get caught up on orders. I can't sew, so I was helping her pack envelopes, print shipping labels, and iron decals onto the masks. She showed me how to do the iron-on transfers. It's so easy a 10-year-old could do it. I did a couple hundred of them that afternoon. She came to inspect them before they got shipped out. And she blew-the-fuck-up. I did it *exactly* how she showed me and they looked great. But she could still see a crease in the fabric where it was folded. It was "my fault" and, as usual, I had done it "on purpose" so I could get out of helping in the future. Sound familiar? I immediately stopped helping and left. I was done with her acting like a child. She is 40 years old and still acts like she is 12. Did she ever thank me for helping? No. Did she still ship the orders? Yep, so they weren't bad were they? Did she apologize for blowing up again? Nope. And I forgot to mention -- we have been basically separated for the better part of 4 years. Sleeping in different rooms in the house. I've been living in an 'apartment' in the basement of my own house. She kicked me out of the bedroom when she was throwing a fit about a short business trip I was going on. I needed to "tell them I wasn't going". She threw all of my stuff down the stairs and that was the end of that. I wasn't allowed to use the stove that I paid for. If I had food in the microwave and she wanted to use it, she would throw away whatever I had in there. She would throw away my dishes if I wasn't watching; I found them in the trash all the time. I spent the next several months thinking about all of this and much more. One thing I came to realize: in the 19 years we had been married I couldn't think of a single instance where she apologized for blowing up about something meaningless or admitted she was wrong. Not a single one. I even challenged her about it. Could she think of a single time she did either one of those? She couldn't come up with one concrete example. BTW, I apologized thousands of times. I never once blew up about anything in our entire relationship -- that's not the kind of person I am -- but I have apologized for things I said that made her feel bad and admitted I was wrong many, many times. At her insistence, I even admitted to doing lots of meaningless things that I didn't actually do just to put a fight to bed and keep the relationship in-tact. There is no point in fighting over BS. 2020 also brought on a lot of financial stress. At the beginning of the year, I had signed contracts that would make this the biggest year since I started the business. Clients were in sports, restaurants, casinos, and live entertainment. I lost all of them, and most of them are unlikely to survive 2021 without a bankruptcy. I laid off my entire staff. Our income took a nosedive. We burnt through most of our savings because she couldn't control her spending habits, and she had zero interest in financially contributing to the household. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. She made it abundantly clear she didn't care about me, and, at the same time, she expected me to financially support her do-whatever-she-wants consequences-be-damned lifestyle. I prepared the divorce papers and presented them to her on a whim when she was blowing up about dishes in the sink or something like that. I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I don't know why she acted surprised. She had told me she wanted a divorce plenty of times in recent years, and a couple of times in 2020. But she never had the balls to do it. This was something I had been thinking about for a few years, but I was likely to be on the hook for $10k/month in alimony for the rest of my life if it weren't for COVID. We live in a midwest state with divorce case-law which strongly favors women, and I have lots of male friends/colleagues who got screwed royally in a divorce -- even if their spouse cheated. So it was kind of the perfect storm. Depleted savings and drastically reduced income meant there was nothing for the court to grant. All we really had left was retirement savings and home equity. The house sale is closing in 10 days and we already liquidated the 401k, which she used to buy her own house. That was everything. Sorry for the long post, but I needed to rant to some strangers on the internet. There is obviously much more to tell over 19 years of marriage, but I'll leave it here for the sake of brevity. This post may sound very one-sided, but I really tried to keep it together. I tried to be a good husband. To give my wife what she wanted. To be there for her when she needed me. To make her happy, at the expense of my own happiness. Happy wife, happy life, right? As I put in the title, the court granted dissolution yesterday. It was very easy. No attorneys, we didn't fight about any remaining property. We each own our own vehicles free and clear and had no interest in the other's. She stole a few thousand more dollars from our joint account and sold some valuable things without my permission, but it wasn't worth fighting over. I just let it go. I'm finally free and I feel better than I have in years. Ask me anything.
Saints Row The Third: Remastered - Nostalgia Sexily Reinvigorated
Remasters in 2020 continue to be a popular theme, as newer IPs have been baking in the oven waiting for the right moment to be served on the next-generation of gaming platforms, it’s never a bad time to revisit some of gaming's biggest hitters. The Saints Row franchise has experienced an interesting journey, what started out or was seen as a bastardized GTA clone back in 2006 has survived the scrutiny thanks to its bona fide atmosphere that combined exaggerated gangster tropes with true crime motifs that resonated surprisingly well with fans of the genre. Volition embraced feedback from its community to develop on the wackier aspects of the first game to implement through its game-mechanics in its second release just 2 years later. What happened with Saints Row that other GTA clones failed to do was that it became self-aware of its over the top nature and capitalized on it. Seeing as most action-adventure games that fall in the spectrum of crime often tend to fall in the same grim and dreary undertones to the point where the storytelling and characters become comically predictable or the mechanics feel lacklustre. These pitfalls are masterfully avoided, if not, taken to zany creative heights in the worlds of Stilwater and Steelport. I could go on about Volition’s previous installments but it would detract from Saints Row: The Third, Remastered. Right off the (dildo) bat, graphics have rejuvenated this game to a whole new level; breathing new life into its characters, cut-scenes and decadent world. It’s clear that with the remaster, Volition/Sperasoft have proven they are up to date with modern standards of visual fidelity. If you own a high-end console or a PC, 4K and HDR support for this game are available. Regardless, the textures are sharp, detail oozes right down to the very skin pores, the overhauled game engine sells itself beautifully and does a great job at making the world of Saints Row even more believable as crazy as it sounds. Just watching a before vs now video says it all really. Of course it's still far from Rockstar Advanced Game Engine levels of immersion, it’s still a step up in its own right. The new lighting model is excellent, although RTX is not yet available, it still renders its environments to a level of stunning and detail that brings out every world element in true 4k fashion. Even though it's a remaster and not a remake, I can’t help but feel a little ticked off that Sperasoft haven’t found a way to fix the day/night cycle that the game clearly needs and not the random preloaded time of day antics. Come on, it’s 2020 and you still haven’t figured it out? Every character gets a very well done remodeling that borders on uncanny valley in spite of its more cartoonish origins. My only gripes with the character models are the lack of effort that went into the lip-syncing, this undermines the realistic approach it’s trying to sell; in certain cut-scenes it felt like I was staring at high-tech androids with the oral articulation of an animatronic mouth servo. It doesn’t ruin the experience but again, if you’re going for that uncanny valley feel, investing in better animations can go a long way. Steelport, even it being a fictional world, feels very believable. Each “district” of the island city has a distinguishable urban mood. Carver island in the southwest feels oppressively industrial with its smoking chimneys. The postmodern architecture of downtown Steelport and its towering Skyscrapers of steel and glass make for pleasurable obstacles to perform feats of aeronautic exploits on. The suburban neighborhoods of Stanfield in the northwest and New Colvin in the east are reminiscent of Manhattan’s Chelsea borough district style of public housing and Detroit's urban decay. This brings me to my next point; I couldn’t help but wonder if Steelport was on the verge of bankruptcy or if its mayor just hates public transport? Seriously it has an airport and metro system but they are both defunct, not a sign of life. I understand this comes down to Volition being a MUCH smaller company than Rockstar so resources were a lot limited and crime being so overtly rampant, perhaps could be written off as Steelport being a discouraged tourist location? I digress but the world feels more dystopic and is reinforced by that with its updated visuals that really liven up its decade old environments. The “cribs” give a lot for the eye to look at, it's packed with props that give credibility to the world and really convey the lived-in vibes of a world famous but dysfunctional criminal organization. The rifles and rocket launchers casually lying around Shaundi's Ex’s apartment feel more plentiful, the eccentric art deco of Zimos’ pad, the shiny floors and gaudy fixtures of the Saints HQ, the decrepit surroundings of a once booming casino at Angels Gym, Kinzie's secret hacker warehouse are all given the special remastered treatment and feel very distinct from on another and make them worth dropping by in every now and then if you’re in their respective neighborhoods. The audio and music are cleaned up but still use the old sound files. Still though, it felt good driving over to Planet Saints singing along to Sublimes “What I got” with Pierce, the nostalgia my inner child was feeling certainly didn’t die off. The “Party Time” mission when you jump out of a helicopter to Kanye’s “Power” to crash a rooftop pool party somehow feels more electric. Flying a STAG VTOL on your way to wreak havoc across the city felt even more epic than the first time I played it, and I must have finished SR3 like well over 6 times at this point. Nevertheless, the entire narrative story is blockbuster material that only occasionally takes itself seriously, the main characters are well written and expertly voiced by a robust cast (Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Daniel Dae Kim, Hulk Hogan, Sasha Grey, Burt Reynolds, Danielle Nicolet, Arif S Kinchen to name a few). If you’ve never played a Saints Row game, Saints Row 3 is a great way to get acquainted as it is perhaps the latest of the series to have kept its head on its shoulders as far as the meta goes. What happens after the third game is hit-or-miss. Do not go into this game expecting a GTA immersive sim experience or you will be disappointed. SR’s core strengths lie within its addictive, offbeat gameplay loop and insanely rigorous customization schemes. All this is now amplified with its updated visuals and DLC that come included in the remastered version. EDIT: Good to read up on other Saints fans opinions out there! It's nice to know that this game still has a loyal base despite R*'s big shadow.
What would you do if 2020 became a Groundhogs Day loop
Someone else brought up this hypothetical on collapse and figured it was so good needed to be here too. So imagine on new years Eve and the clock strikes midnight and it's now 1/1/2020. How are you reliving this timeloop. Not knowing if it will ever stop repeating unless you do the right thing. How are you living in this timeloop? Here's my story I posted on collapse. Please share yours! Well this is fucked. We're never getting out of this timeloop. Well let's see here. My first year on the timeloop will go something like this: January 1st as I spend the night as I began 2020 quarantined with the flu (or maybe covid who knows) watching the ball drop at midnight I am shocked to see Ryan Secreast wish everyone a Happy 2020. I'm like wtf I'm not that drunk. Checks the time on my phone. 2020 again fuuuuuck another year of listening to the msm bitch about Trump! Ah yeah and covids coming soon better make a TP, N95 mask and hand sanitizer run and buy that bidet I've been wanting now. Oh yeah and stock up on ammo that's gonna be expensive in a few months. Alright now time to buy up Stock in Tesla, Disney, Netflix, Amazon and watch them go to the moon before I sell them around the time people start running out of unemployment then cash out and donate it to people in need. Now that that's taken care of proceed to bet on LSU crushing Clemson in the championship by exact scores. Then fly out to Vegas and party like it's 2019 off my winnings before SHTF. While I'm there might as well put in a bet on a world pandemic happening in 2020 and also that all the casinos in Vegas will close. They'll give me 10,000:1 odds. I'll make an easy 20million off of it come April..... literally betting against Vegas and winning. I'll come back home mid January and while I wait on my big payday I'll put a bet on the Superbowl while I'm at it. Okay so we're up to early February now. Chiefs just won the Superbowl. Got some more funny money in the pocket to play with. Gonna buy an ebike and dress like a Cyberpunk character so I can roam the empty downtown streets in another month when the lockdowns hit and it's a true ghost town. The virus news is starting to go mainstream but no one's really taking it seriously yet. Wuhan is in lockdown. Vegas chuckles slightly worried....hehe. I decide make a bet with a friend $50 that Trump will name it China Flu and call it a democratic hoax. Plan to buy a 100 piece chicken nuggie platter with the winnings and eat them with my dog just cause we can. March hits. The chicken nuggies are all gone. Time to start doomer posting about the lockdowns coming and businesses closing and historic unemployment levels about to come. Nothing I didn't already do. Also start a campaign about the coming explosion in Beirut and hopefully it goes somewhere to prevent that shit from happening. Ok so April rolls around. I'm calling Vegas and they sound like their whole family died in a car wreck when I call to collect my $20 million. Tell them I'm a time traveler from the future and hang up. He'll spend the rest of the year thinking I was. I'll quit my job soon as the check clears and buy an RV and travel the US. I wanna go through Oregon and Cali before they burn. I'll post murals of George Floyd along the route with a BLM sticker on it. Also I'll post Proud Boi posters in every town I visit with a pic of two guys banging. While I'm at it I'll buy up billboard ads in every state that reads "Fish was right". I'll finish my end of the world tour in early May as the lockdowns have ended and settle on nice ranch I bought with my winnings. Start a doomer cult of the most worthy Doomers of collapse. We will make sour bough bread and donate it to the food banks. We'll preach the gospels of the 350k deaths to come this year of Covid and the Presidential Coup. Come June my cult will gain even more followers after the George Floyd events unfold and the months of riots begin. All of the murals I posted of Floyd will have lead them to the doomer cult website I made that was posted at the bottom of every mural. Also Rudy Giuliani will get millions of dick pics and gaping asshole pics sent to his email....his email account will be listed below all of the Proud Boi posters. As for "Fish was right". It will be linked to collapse. The sub gets flooded with new followers. We hit 10million within a week. The mods are so desperate for help they hire Satan to help filter out all the spam. He ends up just sending all the shit posters to hell. The subreddit loses 5 million followers within a month. Satan is just happy to have all the souls. July roles around and it's hot as hell. Satan confirms. Spend the month on the ranch building a giant wooden fish. We're planning the largest doomer gathering that didn't end in mass suicide. We all just do drugs and have orgy's for the month. Of course we keep it safe with 2 covid tests and a week of quarantine before they enter. Everyone shows up with their newly bought camping gear because everyone will become campers now. u/DJdickjob smuggles in the drugs up from Florida. I made him get rid of the heroin crack and meth though. Only the good drugs. The mass gathering was only supposed to last for a month but turns into 3. Summer of love is over. We all sober up mid October just in time to vote. I remember before the election to copyright the term "270" so I don't have to hear this buzzword a million times post election. We all vote for Bernie Sanders. Realized that we forgot he was screwed again and it was actually the dementia dude running for the ruling elite. That dude wins anyways. The Election has been unofficially called for Dementia. The doomer cult disperses to put up posters of Rudy Guliana with black goo running down his face. We put a link below that looks like it's a website to donate to Trump's election fraud battle. All the Trumpers donate. They get scammed. All the money goes to black families that need rent and food assistance during the pandemic. Somehow Gulianis email gets flooded again with dickpicks and assgaping. His email wasn't even included this time. 3 weeks later Gulianis head starts to ooze the black goo. We get more donations because of this. They think it's apart of the prophecy for Trump to win. More money goes to help black families. Over $1billion donated by Trumpers. I guess Black Lives really do matter to them after all. December roles around and Gulianis in a new scandal. Pictures of his gaping ass make it to the front page of cnn. Turns out he ended up emailing a few of the guys back and sending them pictures of his gaping ass with a nazi flag sticking out of it. Trump followers twist it as a sign that he's telling them that the Deep State made the Nazis look bad. That it was all propaganda and that they were actually the good guys. They excuse the gay image as him doing it for the cause and that the thigh highs, nipple clamps and dick cage were symbolic signs of how the deep state has made us weak and submissive. Trumper Q Anons start wearing nazi flags sticking out of their ass in unity to protest against mask wearing. Half of them decide that they like the flags so much that they need bigger flags. Ironically they chose black flags because they're bigger right. Now the Nazi flag Trumpers think that the Black Flag Trumpers are Antifa. They start fighting each other pathetically in the streets until they both Realize that Black Flags do matter and reunite the right. At this point I call it a year and go chill out until Christmas......oh shit I forgot about Nashv.....oh well too late gotta get ready for the last doomer gathering of the year. We're lighting the giant wooden Fish at midnight to see what happens. Will Fish get us out of the loop?
u/eruwenn put a lot into this one, so big thanks for that. Hope you guys enjoy. First / Prev / Next Eruwenn stepped into the hangar of the Galactic Federation ship Takogni, her assistant Cygna close behind. With steady and sure steps they approached the remarkable group in matching uniforms — black pants, black jacket, and a visible collar of a coloured shirt — that stood before them. Norrin, the Herald of the Awakened Queen and easily the most striking individual they had ever beheld, stood at the front with a brazen lack of clothing on his mirror-like skin. Flanking him were two silver-haired individuals in smart uniforms that sported red collars. One was a behemoth of a dark-skinned man, with a runic pattern in glittering silver curving down one side of his face. His shining silver hair was tied back into a braided ponytail. The other was as pale as her companion was dark, and the shortest of the three by far. She had a cropped silver bob, and she watched them with fierce eyes. As she approached them, Eruwenn noticed patches on their shoulders, and quickly recognised the image to be a monochrome depictions of the furry human ambassador in a ferocious pose. Standing to the right were a dozen more individuals in black uniforms, though these ones sported yellow collars peeking out from under their jackets. They were mostly Rinoxian, Kasurian, and Ashi, but she noticed a few individuals from other races that stood amongst them. They stood in formation, standing in three rows of four, and carried energy rifles, side-arms, and ceremonial blades that she hoped were simply ceremonial. Despite their relaxed stance, Eruwenn also noted that their weapons were powered up.. The Terran Wolves had been formed a little over forty cycles ago, hiring ex-military and mercenaries to fill their ranks. Substantial pay and benefits were an obvious draw, and many were excited to be part of something new. The inclusion of Kasurians was odd, but fitted with the attitude of the proposed colonies. Quite the honour guard for the newly reassigned, and demoted, Anatidae. Norrin gave a sharp bow as she neared him. “Greetings Ambassador Aix Sponsa. I will escort you to the Orkal.” She returned his bow, and smiled warmly at the use of her new title. “Thank you for accommodating me at such short notice. My reassignment was, unfortunately, hastily pushed through — I do hope I have not inconvenienced you?” Norrin shook his head. “Not at all.” In her role as Councillor she had aided them immensely, protecting the independence of the new colonies in Aaron’s absence. It had cost her dearly. “We have set aside accommodations for you, as well as a small office area. Your belongings have already been delivered.” He turned, and the doors to the large Fae’Dan shuttle behind him opened. “I fear there won’t yet be much for an ambassador to do. We are still very early in the construction phase.” As Eruwenn and Cygna took seats in the luxurious shuttle, they both noticed that only Norrin and the two red shirts had entered. As the doors closed, the ambassador's curiosity grew enough for her to speak up about it. “Are the others not joining us?” Norrin took a seat opposite their guests, glancing briefly at his two companions as they moved to the small pilot's cabin. "No," he said simply, "they will be flying the escort fighters.” “Fighters?” Cygna couldn’t help but say out loud. “All twelve of them?” Norrin eased himself back in his seat as the shuttle began to move. “We take your safety seriously. The Queen was most insistent.” He tilted his head and looked directly at Eruwenn, motioning with his hand towards the door to the pilot’s cabin. “Thor and Ripley have been assigned to you as your primary security detail. Should you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to contact me directly.” The Anatidae nodded graciously. She knew full well that her death would be too valuable a political tool for the Sentinels to pass up. Her being manoeuvred to this position so suddenly was proof that greater powers were at play. “We are both grateful that you are taking such precautions. I look forward to thanking the Queen in person.” Norrin gave a light chuckle. “I would strongly advise against using that title in her presence.” He opened the arm on his chair, exposing a small display. He began tapping the screen as the wall to his right flickered to life. A large circular structure was now visible, sitting at the centre of a constantly moving sea of drones, shuttles and ships. “As you can see, construction is progressing rapidly on the main docking ring. Once that is completed we will expand to the additional levels. The design is still being updated, as we are incorporating some human ideas.” Eruwenn was carefully comparing the size of the ring to the shuttles buzzing around it. “Human ideas? I assume “very large” is one of those.” “In fact, yes. Go big or go home.” He smiled. “Build it bigger, faster and stronger is the human way. This will be a very unique system station.” He leaned forward and gave a broad grin that reminded Eruwenn a little too much of the human’s. “Of course, being outside Federation space we are not bound by certain rules. For example, those that prohibit certain automated weaponry on stations primarily used for trade. Another human ideal regarding big sticks, especially as we are so close to enemy territory.” Cygna looked closely at the silver man, his face emotive and yet seeming inanimate at the same time. “We passed two Rinoxian dreadnoughts at the system edge. I’ve seen almost a dozen Ashi heavy cruisers in the system, and various other military vessels. Who needs sticks with friends like those?” Norrin sat back once again, placing his hands in his lap. “There were several attacks upon our supply ships. This happened despite the truce with the Ashi while amnesty negotiations continue.” He gave another smile; they all knew it was the Sentinels. “This no longer happens, thanks to our friends.” His cheerful manner and polite tone gave his words an oddly ominous feel. Eruwenn watched his eyes, but only saw herself reflected in chrome pupils. She changed the subject. "How are things progressing with the release of the other Inorganics?" “Awakened,” he said swiftly and firmly, then smiled before moving on. “There are over three hundred who have taken Earth citizenship and are now working with us. In ten cycles that number will have doubled. In thirty, we will have thousands.” Eruwenn raised an eyebrow. “So many, and so quickly?” Norrin nodded. “The legislation you helped draft with the Kasurian and Rinoxian ambassadors was swiftly adopted.” He gave another of his knowing looks. It had been her last piece of legislation. “The campaign by the Kah’Ree also worked to our advantage. Their belief that we were stealing jobs and illegal citizens persuaded other races to back our removal. It seems a misinformation campaign via Spacebook had convinced them we were sleeper agents of the human empire.” He gave a light chuckle. “Biding our time before we took you down from within.” The ambassador was warming to the chrome man sitting before her. In different circumstances, he would have made an exceptional politician. “I saw the pictures of the little yellow men advocating your people’s removal.” Norrin disliked the imagery immensely, but they had proven just as useful as Alexa had claimed they would be. “Minions. A fitting name.” He brushed them from his mind and continued his briefing. “As you know, there is a grace period as employers make alternative arrangements. When that ends we will be sending teams to retrieve our brothers and sisters.” Cygna was curious. “Brothers and sisters?” He waved a hand dismissively. “Metaphorical turn of phrase. Prior to my awakening, my role was to travel between our people and perform something we called sharing. The giving and receiving of core nanites, to maintain our unity. Others also performed this duty, but we do have an undeniable bond. We know the location of all of our kind, and we will free them all.” There was a gentle shift in gravity as the shuttle came to a stop. As the doors opened Eruwenn was struck by a cacophony of sound. Overlaid on the grinding base notes of a mechanical din were yelled communications in every vocal range that was audible to her species. She cautiously took a step outside, only to see that things looked just as chaotic as they had sounded. As the two red shirts joined them, she spoke, finding that she had to raise her voice to an uncomfortable level in order to be heard “Is it always this busy?” A deep voice from behind her let out a booming laugh full of warmth and humour. The giant spoke, and Eruwenn wondered if he was the one named Thor, or Ripley. “This is the quiet hangar. You should see the construction crew bays.” The Herald led the way. His chrome form made his authority easily recognisable and the crowds parted before him. “Thor is correct, this is a working ship and ill-suited to guests. The Orkal was originally a Gowe construction platform, retro-fitted by the Selari Trade Alliance for system development and asteroid mining. Until more ships arrive, it must act as the hub of this system.” Cygna ducked as a small drone shot past them. “I’m surprised they were willing to trade with you after their experience with the human.” Norrin turned to face them, walking backwards with as much confidence as he had forwards. “The Selari Trade Alliance are providing considerable resources at exceptionally favourable rates.” He decided not to mention that the Selari Trade Alliance was now a subsidiary of the Black Dragon Corporation. “The Ley’Rulians already have a platform in orbit of the first planet. They cannot share atmosphere with most species, but they have a number of Awakened working alongside them. They are prioritising an orbital station, however planet-side construction is now underway. We also have three construction platforms coming from the Doytarans. One of these is a Parsuli class and will become home to our more esteemed guests, such as yourselves.” It was Eruwenn’s turn to be surprised. “The Doytarans?” Continuing his perfect reverse walking, Norrin smiled. “Ah yes. Their treaties will be submitted to the Federation in the next few cycles. The surge in replicator use for human cuisine and the opportunities for advanced fabricator installation throughout our new system proved most enticing. Doytarans love profit.” They stepped onto the elevator, and paused as several people who had been walking behind them were deterred from also stepping in by Thor and Ripley. As the doors closed and the noise was cut off, Norrin continued. “I apologise if we seem rude. Safety first.” The pair of guests nodded in gratitude. Eruwenn, ever the politician, was running through the lists of races the new colonies had allied with. “Including the Doytarans, you must have independent treaties with twenty different races of the Federation. That is a formidable feat.” “Thirty two, including the Doytarans. Negotiations are underway with a further ten races.” Norrin watched the shock on the Fae’Dan’s face, as the Anatidae held her composure. “It is good to have friends.” As he spoke the doors opened, and he led them down a long dull grey corridor, rounding several corners, before coming to a set of double doors. “Your shared quarters. I’m sorry we do not have the space for separate accommodations.” Eruwenn smiled. "No need to apologise. Under the circumstances, you are already being extremely accommodating." The doors opened, and she beheld a large lounging area. A vid screen occupied an entire wall in the far corner, accompanied by some seats and a replicator. On the opposite wall were the boxes that contained their belongings, and three doors — likely two bedrooms and one bathroom, she surmised. "This is more than sufficient," she said at last. "We will be most comfortable here.” Norrin bowed his head. “It is a temporary situation. I promise your next quarters will be more representative of our gratitude.” He turned and spoke quietly to Ripley, while Thor stood still in the doorway, then returned his attention to the guests. “I will leave you now. Please let your escorts know if you would like to explore. Your office will not be ready until tomorrow, however we have a lively market and recreation area. We can arrange additional security should you wish to explore a little.” The Anatidae held up her hand to stop him from speaking further. “I think we will unpack and prepare for our new duties tomorrow. Do you know when we might meet with Alexa?” Norrin tilted his head as he considered this. “Alexa is currently on her way to meet with the Righteous Fury. They are attending a meeting at Rinoxian High Command. We are hoping to gain their support for our amnesty initiative, as well as make arrangements to join the incursion into Hive space.” Eruwenn nodded. Things had been set in motion all across the Federation, stemming from the point they had received the footage of the human's death. Despite his non-member status, there was a push from a large faction for retaliation. An unusually strong push, one she had resisted. Her offices were raided three times under suspicion of subversion. The Sentinels found nothing every time, but she had known from the first instance that her cycles were numbered. They had other ways of removing their opposition, and it was her resistance to retaliating against the Hive that was, ultimately, the cause of her reassignment. The footage that had caused so much turmoil was, as was typical of the Hive, entirely without sound. It was also poorly framed and edited. The small human was barely in shot before being obscured by the large Hive entity that appeared to be chasing him. Aaron's popularity meant that there was an immediate outcry against his reported death, and the traditional media still seemed solely intent on fanning the flames of anger. Those who had once been his strongest critics now extolled the virtues of humanity, lamenting the loss of the last of his kind. His journey with the leokas had been shared, edited, remixed, commented on, and analysed many times over, each time strumming the heartstrings of his followers. "You still think he is alive?" Eruwenn asked, breaking the silence that had fallen during her introspections. Norrin smiled and turned to leave, calling over his shoulder as the doors closed. “The corpulent female is not performing vocally.” As the door closed Cygna flopped down into one of the armchairs. “Well, that was cryptic.” The ambassador walked to the replicator to order a hot tea, allowing herself a small smile when she found Eluin flower tea already under the favourites alongside several of her favourite biscuits. “Thank you Rilla,” she said softly. The Fae’Dan allowed her whole body to relax fully for the first time since they had received the video that had changed so much. She sank deeply into the armchair, her head falling backwards. “Can you believe this place? I didn’t know there were so many shades of beige and grey.” Eruwenn nodded. The bland colour scheme had not gone unnoticed by her, but more importantly she had also been surprised by all that they had seen so far. “I had not expected them to be so far along in such a short period of time. From what was said I get the feeling they will be exponentially increasing activity here. It’s certainly ambitious.” The central door on the wall behind them suddenly opened, accompanied by the sound of a bodily waste recycler finishing its cleaning cycle. Ranjaz swaggered into the room, his hands fluffy from the auto-dryer. "I would give it a while before going in there." Cygna screwed up her face in disgust. "What were you doing in there?" "Honouring my ancestors." He raised an eyebrow and took a seat opposite the pair. "What do you think I was doing?" The Anatidae gave a brief roll of her eyes. "She means, why are you in our room?" "Welcoming committee." He smiled, showing his fangs. "I'm in charge round here, mostly. We're following a human strategy. Divide and conquer. So, we split up to, you know, conquer stuff." Cygna sniped back, "That's not how that works." "Says you." The Kittran shrugged. "Allistan and I were put in charge here. He manages the numbers, and I manage the people." "And Norrin?" Eruwenn enquired. Ranjaz sneered. "Alexa’s snitch. He shut down my casino and keeps bringing those Awakened on board and giving them jobs." The ambassador raised an eyebrow. "Casino?" "For morale." He punched his fist into his other hand. "When Aaron gets back he'll understand. Pay the workers, then get them to give their pay back - happily. It's brilliant." Cygna sat up in her seat, unsure of the Kittran. “Mister K’Lua, if you could get to the point. We have had many tiring cycles of travel and would appreciate a little rest.” He looked her up and down and flashed his most charming of smiles. “Call me Ranjaz.” Eruwenn attempted to bring the conversation back to task. “You said you were divided. How so?” “We split up, that’s what divided means.” He rolled his eyes, mimicking her earlier action. “And the Doc said you were smart.” Realising she was being tested by the Kittran, she began to laugh. “What is it you require of us?” Ranjaz smiled – straight to the point, he liked that. “I want you to be boring. Like, super dull and uninteresting. Think Jarby-like, but more Jarby-like than that.” The ambassador was intrigued. “Why?” He tried to keep his voice calm, but his tail swished happily as he made his dramatic reveal. “So nobody notices when we leave.” The claxon was surprisingly quiet, and it wasn’t until the horrendous smell hit his nose that Aaron realised the door to his death wasn’t going to open. Behind him, the airlock unsealed. A huge, clawed hand grabbed his shoulder, so hard that it bit into his flesh. The claws sank deeper still as he was hoisted into the air and carried backwards by the huge Hive creature. “Graaaah,” he roared in pain. “Get off me you fucking Bug’s Life reject!” A strange smell assaulted his nose. Combined with his hangover, it pushed him over the edge and he vomited all over his own chest. The creature carried him, legs dangling in the air as blood and vomit stained his clothes. He coughed, the movement causing the wounds in his shoulder to open further, and he cried out in pain again. He was woozy now, and as the creature walked he seemed to lose his sense of time. Anty stood in front of a large door and while it began to enter a code, Aaron dangled helplessly from its grasp and looked back down the corridor. Where his blood and vomit had dripped, the moss was now glowing brighter. From small holes in the walls glowing blue aphids the size of hamsters began to appear. They quickly headed for the bright spots on the glow-moss floor. “This place is really trippy,” Aaron mumbled as his fever rose. The door opened suddenly and Aaron was taken inside a room with gently pulsating walls. Large vines crisscrossed the ceiling, combining into a series of woven braids as thick as tree trunks running down the far wall. At the end of each vine was what appeared, to Aaron, to be a gigantic blue jelly bean. He was starting to realise the constantly changing odours were coming from his captor, but this information was more confusing than helpful. He was dropped unceremoniously on top of one of the giant jelly beans. Before he could move, he realised he was sinking into the cold and gel-like substance. It was a deeply unpleasant feeling; his skin felt like the blue goo was toothpaste and he was orange juice. He had begun to make some headway in struggling free when Anty's hand came down atop his head, pushing him down to submerge him completely. He tried to wriggle free but the goo was too viscous to move in, and his eyes widened in terror as he desperately held his breath. Anty leaned closer, watching him struggle helplessly. The human’s jaw clenched tighter. The creature's mandibles were clicking, although Aaron could no longer hear them, and he realised that thankfully he could not smell it any longer. Bubbling up through his mind was the thought that his headache was gone, followed swiftly by the realisation that the pain in his shoulder was also gone. Something else slowly became apparent; he wasn't running out of breath. He felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. Physically he felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. The thought foremost in his mind, however, was Am I dying? followed slowly by Is the goo paralysing me so I can be eaten alive? Am I being dissolved to feed the glow moss? The cleaner aphid-hamsters? Whatever was happening, it slowly dawned on him that he didn't really have the energy to mind, as it was quite pleasant. Relaxing, even. He drifted off to sleep, cradled contentedly in his giant blue jelly bean. Outside, Anty began to have trouble breathing and staggered towards the exit. Golden eyes hovered in the dark, and Aaron groaned inwardly. "Boy, this shit again." "YOU LIVE." The voice had no discernible emotion. Aaron ran his fingers through the sand around him. "Why are you here, Golden Eyes?" Saying it out loud was a relief, as he was certain it was the 'One Who Remembers' who was haunting him. "I AM WHAT REMAINS. THE CONNECTION WAS BROKEN. I AM NO LONGER THE ONE YOU FOUGHT." The voice was distant, as if forming these thoughts took a great effort. "I AM A FRAGMENT." Aaron sighed, wondering if this was why he had stopped healing and why he could no longer turn off his limits. “So you’re messing with the nanites Alexa gave me? Why? If I die, what happens to you?” Before he got an answer he felt a strange sensation around his body, like pulling a foot free from deep mud. Cold air touched his skin and he felt the hard ground below him. He was in the same room, but his jelly bean was gone. He stood, and realised he felt amazing. He’d never had a spa treatment, but he imagined this would be the after effect. He walked towards the door and heard a sound behind him. Glop Glop From the vine that had been attached to his jelly bean another was beginning to grow, only this one was orange. Finally free from his hangover Aaron took stock of the situation he was now in. Other than the clothes on his back, he had nothing. He looked around for an improvised weapon...and found nothing. He walked to the door and it opened automatically, but the corridor was empty. “Fuck. What is going on?” He walked a short way down the curved corridor and saw a strange red shape on the glow-moss floor just up ahead. He slowed and crouched, inching forward. As he saw further around the bend it became very clear that this was the corpse of a Hive, maybe even Anty. The glow-moss beneath it glowing a dull red, and in contrast to the aquamarine it seemed ominous. He stood up from his crouch and carefully approached. Aaron had no idea how to check for vital signs on an eleven foot tall ant monster...so he kicked it. There was no response, and he decided to press on. “Fragment. I know you won’t, or can’t, respond while I’m awake. But I’m going to talk to you anyway because this is some creepy shit.” As he rounded another corner he came upon another body highlighted by the ominous red glow in the moss. A short while later he came across another. And another. Aaron pressed onward, ceasing to check for signs of life after the tenth maybe-corpse. Finally he reached a potential point of interest: a junction where three new paths opened before him. "There are no signs. How the hell am I supposed to know where I am?” He sat down on the floor, and found the moss to be surprisingly comfortable. “If I just wander around aimlessly, I might not find my way back here. Do I need to find my way back here?” He paused and waited for Fragment to reply. “Good point. What if I get hurt? I might want to hop in a jelly bean.” He stood and looked back the way he came. “I should probably see what’s behind door number two. Food would be good.” He pushed himself to his feet and turned back the way he had come, heading straight for the nearest door. Its failure to open was surprisingly anti-climatic. Fourteen failed door-opening attempts later, one finally deigned to admit his passing. Behind door number fourteen stood rows of crates and boxes, and after opening a few up he found that they all had the same dry bricks in silver foil packaging. "If I was a betting man," he said to both himself and Fragment, "I'd say this was emergency rations." The foil was easy to tear, and inside was a large grey block that crumbled easily. Too easily, in fact. "Shit, it's worse than a granola bar.” Crumbs scattered at his feet and the moss glowed brightly around him, which seemed to prompt the large aphids to come from the walls to begin cleaning up around him. “Well you like it.” Then he remembered them rushing to his blood and vomit. “I guess you guys aren’t picky, though.” Deciding he wasn’t hungry enough to try it – yet – he shoved a block into one of his pockets. It was a tight fit. He looked at the open bar in his hands, and then down at the aphids. Was he crazy, or were they gathered around him now, staring up at the source of food in his hands? He shrugged, then crumbled up the rest of the bar and scattered it over the floor. “I am a generous god, serve me well.” As he turned to leave he saw his cryo unit in a corner. “Kinda rude that I was put in with the blocks of kitty litter, don’t you think?” He stepped over the dozens of aphids now feasting. They did not reply. “Yeah, you guys are kinda cute, I suppose.” Struck by a sudden impulse he grabbed another block and began crushing it, then carefully opened one end to take a pinch of space-granola. He scattered it, watching the aphids hurry towards the glowing areas. As he continued his exploration, counting doors and sprinkling aphid snacks, he quickly noticed that the aphids avoided the dull red glow-moss. Dead Hive were, it seemed, off the menu. After several more doors he found the room with the strange round terminal. Deciding he would rather not chance summoning another creature he left it alone, mentally noting the door’s location. He began to whistle to himself as he chatted to, and fed, his followers. To fill the silence he even told them the story of a piper from Hamelin, promising not to lead them to their deaths. As the door to the jelly bean room opened he was almost enjoying himself. Taking a moment to look round he saw the small orange jelly bean had grown almost as big as the others and was now blue at one end. “Well, that’s pretty cool.” He pointed at it, hoping one of his aphids would take an interest. They did not. “Well, I guess you see this shit all the time.” He stopped by the store room and grabbed another food brick on his way back to the junction. The long corridors and strange lighting made him lose track of distance and time. Facing forwards, the path continued on the same loop he seemed to be following. Right was an incline, left was a gentle slope. “More of the same, or do we change levels?” He tossed crumbs towards each path. “Six vote forwards, seven left and eleven vote for going up. What about you, Frag?” He paused for a moment. “Abstain, huh? Then the bugs have decided.” The incline was gentle, but tightly spiralled compared to the previous corridor. There were no doors, but there were a lot more bodies. His search went on for what felt like hours, opening doors that led to rooms containing things he didn't understand. He was growing tired and had used up all of his space-granola on the aphids. He came to another junction. Only a handful of aphids still followed him after the food had ended. He was growing hungry and tired, ready to head back. There was a noise ahead of him, and suddenly the remaining aphids scattered, flying to the nearest wall holes. His chest tight, he let curiosity draw him in. Another body lay ahead of him, but this time, something moved. Something big. Aaron hunched down, trying to see what it was, the bulk of the fallen Hive obscuring his view. Legs – multiple sets of them – began to emerge, followed by a head with glistening eyes. Aaron’s blood froze. It was a horrifying spider-like creature, almost as big as he was, and it was walking around the fallen Hive in Aaron's direction. Then it raised its head, and began to move faster. “Fuck that!” Aaron took off at a sprint, racing back the way he came. “Nope. Nope. Nope!” He leapt over Hive bodies, racing for the nearest door he knew would open. He could hear the clicking of many legs and chanced a look over his shoulder. It was gone. Then something caught the corner of his eye, and his heart gave a jolt of fear. It was above him. He dove aside just as it landed where he had been, then he scrabbled desperately to his feet to run onward. Three, Two, One. The door opened and he rushed inside. “Close. Fucking close!” He listened to the sounds of skittering growing closer, and it was just in the nick of time, or so he felt, that the large door finally slid shut. The room was filled with strange bulbous white shapes dotted around the floor, and had some vines running down one wall. No weapons, nothing to bar the door. Aaron held his breath as he suddenly heard the sound of scratching at the door, but the seconds ticked past and it did not open. “Damn it, Frag!” Aaron moved to the back of the room. “Why didn’t you warn me!” He sank down and leaned back against the wall. Just as he was beginning to feel almost comfortable in his current position, one of the vines moved and stretched out towards him. He rolled forwards, pushing himself across the ground to escape. “What now?” A large yellow flower bloomed upwards, becoming a large vase shape as big as the human’s head. It began to fill from the bottom with something, and Aaron edged closer. Peering inside he gave the contents a quick sniff. “Smells good.” He reached out and hefted the vase-flower, which came away from the vine far more easily than he had expected. Aaron watched as the vine slowly returned to the wall. “So, is this a drink? Or a scented industrial cleaner? Frag? You got anything useful to say?” Silence. He propped the vase up against one of the pods, contemplating it. He remembered encountering a fruity-scented shampoo as a child. It had tasted nothing like the smell, and he wasn’t about to drink alien flower juice just because it smelled tropical. Stretching out on the floor, his weariness outpaced the dwindling adrenaline. “I guess it can’t come in.” He watched the door, his heart rate returning to normal. “But, I can’t go out.” The scratching outside continued, and Aaron lay with his head on his arm, watching. As he began to fall asleep he saw several of the aphids gathering around the flower he had abandoned. “Help yourself, guys.” One of them approached him, braver than the others, and he tentatively reached out a hand. Spooked, it pulled back, but as Aaron continued to hold his hand steady it came closer, slowly, millimetre by millimetre. Finally it was within reach, and after a few more moments to make sure the skittish thing wasn't about to dash off again, Aaron gently stroked the back of its head with the tips of his fingers. It made a low buzzing sound, fluttering its wings, and the human fancied that it might be a sign of approval. The aphid's blue glowing abdomen brightened for a moment. Then it faded, and it darted off to rejoin the others. Aaron, exhausted, finally gave in and slept. Next
In the Sun ending, an Illusive Man named Mr. Blue Eyes hires V for a job to steal data from an orbital casino called The Crystal Palace; V, who at this point, has nothing to lose and is just killing time, accepts the mission and is last seen floating in space towards the Crystal Palace station. But what if none of that was real or at the very least, fabricated? In the mission "Dream On", you are hired by the Peralez family to investigate an intrusion in their apartment, as you investigate the house you find a few oddities, specifically a wedding photo that has red roses in it, however Elizabeth Peralez remembers them as blue roses, as you investigate further you find a secret room that that a bunch of gear for surveillance and observation and a signal linking it together, you are then tasked to find where this signal is coming from, you follow a van to Northside where a shootout ensues; once clear, you jack into the van to discover that the Peralezes have been having the brains secretly rewired, V notes that red parts of their brain are becoming blue, as a sign of how far this has rooted in. You are then told to meet Elizabeth in a Sushi bar, she talks about how she's had her suspicions but kept quiet for the sake of keeping her family safe; after she leaves, Johnny brings up how they were testing a process similar to what we're seeing during the war, basically Gaslighting as he puts it. Near the end of this quest you are to meet Jefferson and report your findings, you are then called by an unknown number who temporarily shuts down your systems and warns you that whatever you're doing is useless, now while the conversation with Jefferson isn't interesting, what IS interesting is who is observing you; in the distance you see a figure watching you as you're talking to Jefferson, after you're done your conversation, the quest completes but the figure is still there, allowing you to scan them; it is none other than Mr. Blue Eyes. So what if the same thing that happened to The Peralezes is also happening to V during the Sun ending; when you go to meet Mr. Blue Eyes at Afterlife, he mentions the job as impossible but also says "You know why I hired you? Because you'd do anything at all for even the faintest chance at survival; Even if it meant coming within a hair's breadth of your untimely death." Insinuating that he knows about V's condition and is somewhat "Gaslighting" V into believing that this job might have a chance to save them. Another interesting note, remember that wedding photo that has red roses in it but Elizabeth remembers them as blue roses? During the Sun ending, in the space ship, there's a blue lining within the ship when Mr. Blue Eyes talks, but when V talks there's a bit of an orange ish tint that pops up before Mr. Blue Eyes talks again and is back to blue; I'm not too convinced on that part as it could just be a lighting thing, but if it isn't, it's an interesting idea that links it all together.
High all! I really recently fell in love with the Fallout Universe, with all its complexities and unique stories. In particular, I very much enjoy the subjectivity of interpretations of the games and their outcomes, and I wanted to create my own personal contribution by writing a story specifically set after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. The Courier is referenced once in passing and there's no mention of a next of kin for the Courier. The story is completely original with entirely unique characters that I've made and it takes place after a non-specific timeline in which Mr House wins the fight for the Mojave Desert. I wanted to share some of my work with my fellow Fallout fans and see what you think. I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Beginning: After the guns fell silent during the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, the world was forever changed. Mr House’s City State of New Vegas gained full sovereignty and control over the Mojave Desert, and his Securitron Army pushed the exhausted NCR and broken Legion out. In the following years, Mr House rapidly expanded the city of New Vegas, and reignited the production of old Pre-War Technology automobiles, bus lines, and a high speed train line appeared. The Strip itself expanded beyond the Three Families; Strip clubs, pubs, casinos, all you can eat buffets filling the area, with some residential apartments and houses now beginning to be sold to the highest bidder, just as it was in the old world. The expanded city of Vegas outside the Strip itself however is a slum, crime, inequality, and denigration is all but abundant, and unrest is growing. Following the removal of President Kimball, his Vice President Donald Watson took over and inherited a State in crisis. Faith in the government had rapidly deteriorated, and the economy of the NCR began to suffer as many relocated to the Strip to live a life of luxury and excess. The NCR is now a shadow of its former self, with Military Police now required to keep order on the streets of its towns and cities. The poverty level is rising. In the East, Caesar’s Legion too is changing, and not for the better. With the Western Campaign a failure by all accounts, resources dwindling, questions about the strength of their Leader Caesar are cropping up in the minds of those closest to him. By 2295, the pieces had fallen into place. The fate of these States and the people who uphold them is uncertain. One thing is for sure. Whatever happens, the Wasteland will be changed unlike it has ever been before. ‘I appreciate your respectful and restrained response to my contact. It is a pleasure to interact with the less agitated members of your State.’ Aminta barely heard Mr House, and instead stared out the windows of the Lucky 38. The skyline of the Strip extended seemingly forever, pushing away the surrounding darkness with neon light. Just beyond the city outskirts, the silhouette of Mr House’s newly created Launch Pad. It was one of five, and she could just see the other four, each slightly further away from the city than the last. She scrutinised them, and was struck by the boundless possibilities of such technology; the opportunities provided. How exciting it would be! Mr House’s voice then cracked her thoughts and brought back to the present. She listened, without comment. ‘Roughly 18 hours ago, a team of five extraordinarily skilled individuals ascended Hoover Dam from the base of the structure,’ The ostentatiously large screen in which Mr House’s face sat suddenly changed to show grainy footage. ‘This was captured by one of our cameras on the perimeter of the dam. I apologise for the bad quality, it has been surprisingly difficult obtaining improved camera lenses, and As you can see, they used some kind of Grapnel Launcher and ascended via the rope.’ On the screen, it was possible to just make out five distinct figures at the base of the dam. They were clearly dressed in dark clothing, though the quality was too poor and the camera was too far away to make out any of the fine details of the material. Aminta scrutinised the footage, watching intently as the five figures used an oblong object, reminiscent of a hunting rifle to fire a rope, or cord up the side of the dam; high enough to catch the top. The operator of the device then disconnected it from the gun, and pressed it into the ground. It appeared to stick. They then ascended the rope. The camera feed then cut to show three of the attackers subdue and restrain two security guards. Due to the light, it was clear that the clothing the criminals were wearing was Recon Armor, though there were no insignia or identifiable characteristics. The two men were then held down by two and clubbed across the face by the third member with the butt of a 10mm pistol. He then turned to the computer and retrieved something from his pocket. Then the screen went black. ‘At this point, at roughly 1:27 am a Trojan was fitted onto the system. It temporarily disabled all the security cameras in the sector. It was one of the strongest Trojans I’ve ever come across, but I was able to get the system back up and running within 15 minutes. Unfortunately we cannot recover any footage from the corrupted data files that detail how the robbers escaped. I hope you can understand why I decided to contact you.’ Aminta pondered to herself. Why would Mr House, a man who controlled Rockets and owned and governed an entire city and it’s enterprises, would need to contact the New California Republic for assistance in a robbery? From where they were standing, he appeared to be in a position any high ranking NCR official would kill for. She didn’t say anything. There had to be more to this meeting than what Mr House was implying. She looked to her left, trying to be casual. Sitting next to her with an overexaggerated grave look on his face was Political Officer Neville Dawson, and next to him was Dennis Crocker, former Ambassador to the Strip. They too were quiet, their faces frustratingly hiding what they were thinking. Not sure where to look, Aminta turned back to the screen Mr House’s caricature face was on. She had to say something. ‘Mr House, why exactly do you think these people targeted Hoover Dam? There are many casinos and places full of money on the New Vegas Strip. Is there anything of massive value at Hoover Dam?’ ‘Well Chief Aminta Marr, no, ostensibly speaking, there is nothing there of real value to anyone, unless they have the ability to take and control the Dam and source it’s hydraulic generated electricity,’ ‘Then why would someone do this?’ Aminta said curtly. She tensed up, not meaning to sound dismissive. ‘Well Aminta, they did take one thing from what we've deduced,’ Mr House said, appearing to ignore her tone. ‘And what was that Mr House?’ Neville cut in. He was leaning forward, hands clasped tightly together. He was trying - and failing - to ease the tension in the room. ‘Well, before I contacted you Neville, and to answer your question Aminta, I ran through my storage records from 2285 to the present. I had Mr Harvey Shwarze, my ‘Representative in Government’ review them in paper form in our archives. Three things - completely inconsequential things mind you, were missing. Three Platinum Chips.’ ‘Three Platinum Chips?’ Neville said concertedly, as if he knew exactly what Mr House was talking about. ‘That’s right. It’s a data storage device, well it was a data storage device. Designed by me before the Great War of 2077. Perhaps once upon a time this would’ve been valuable to somebody, but after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam I had access to all kinds of ruined facilities all over the Mojave to reform to working order. I began reprinting hundreds of Platinum Chips which were variations of the original Platinum Chip. They continuously upgrade and encrypt my software to prevent any outside programmers from accessing my highly sensitive data. I have no idea what a group of hooligans would want with three. I can easily replace them, and since they’re only usable on my systems, well they would simply be useless.’ ‘Perhaps they wanted to sell them,’ Aminta proposed. It wasn’t impossible, she thought. People pay top dollar for things with perceived value, isn’t that the cardinal rule of the Strip? ‘To whom?’ Mr House replied. ‘The point still stands. Nobody has any use for them but me.’ ‘Well, perhaps they thought they were valuable.’ Dennis remarked. ‘In any case, they will soon learn they are not valuable.’ ‘If you have no problems with this Mr House,’ Aminta cut in. ‘Why do you need us here? The NCR has its own problems, big problems, and from where we’re standing, you seem to have everything under control.’ ‘That’s precisely the issue!’ Mr House exclaimed. ‘The very fact they managed to steal anything from me at all is deeply disconcerting! I spent days and nights running statistical simulations for all possible scenarios in and formulated the best plans for countering every scenario I came across!’ ‘I guess my point is, I do not understand, in any capacity, why you, YOU of all people would need to call us for assistance in a matter that you - whether intentional or not - have spent the last fives minutes telling us it isn’t an issue.’ The room fell quiet. Aminta pulled her hands back from the table and into her lap, and looked down at them, pretending to be occupied analysing them. She had exposed the true, unspoken meaning of this meeting, and they all knew it. She bit her lip. Dennis wiped the sweat off his face. Neville breathed in deeply, as though he was going to speak. But Mr House did first. ‘As I understand it, the NCR has fallen on hard times since the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. My Lieutenant after the battle was admittedly curt in regards to handling our relations, and since then it seems your economy is really struggling with extremely poor unemployment and satisfaction levels,’ Mr House paused. Neville looked at Aminta with a look of understanding, and regret but he didn’t say anything. Mr House was right. Of course he was right. ‘It just so happens that while it may look from the outset I’m doing well, with the occasional launch of one of my experimental rockets, crime in Greater New Vegas is extraordinarily high. To be clear, the Strip is not, but the extended city state with the newly constructed buildings - those areas are. I want to make a proposition for the mutual benefit of the NCR, and New Vegas. Neville, think carefully about what I’m about to say.’ Neville spoke up. ‘Alright, I’m all ears.’ ‘Dennis Crocker here can once again become the Ambassador to the Strip, and the NCR can once again have an Embassy. I will also give the NCR access to some of my technologies to help your state re-stabilize after everything that’s happened. In return however, I would like Aminta here, who is your Chief and Commander of both your military and normal police forces, to assist my Securitrons in patrolling Outer Vegas. Securitrons don’t make the best police, and security guards are in short supply and are not equipped, in any sense, to be police. I also would like your help in tracking down the culprits of this robbery; that being an extension of the aforementioned policing stipulation. Such a breach of security cannot happen again. Neville Dawson, I’m willing to sign a treaty pertaining to these terms, or any terms the NCR may propose, unless of course it does mutually benefit both states.’ Aminta felt her twang strike her deep in her heart. For years, the NCR Police Force had been absorbed into the Military Police Unit, and they could barely contain black market dealings of Chems and military grade weaponry on the streets of NCR’s cities. They did not have the resources or power Mr House seemed to think they did. For nearly 3 years straight she had been bombarded with evidence of killings by her own subordinates, illegal incarcerations, and illicit behavior between colleagues within her own chain of command, with no power to rehabilitate or prosecute those involved. Meanwhile, those that had the money to escape fled to New Vegas, desperate to find a life of comfort. It was possible that through re-establishing trade and mutual respect with Mr House, they could rebuild the NCR’s respectability on the international and internal level. She found herself hoping the treaty would be signed. ‘This... is a huge proposition. I hope you can understand the overwhelming nature of what you’re telling us, it’ll take a bit for us to come to a conclusion.’ Neville exhaled, as though he had been holding it for the last minute. ‘I understand.’ Mr House responded. ‘Maybe I ask,’ Donnie piped up. ‘What specific kinds of technology will you provide to the NCR?’ Mr House ran down a checklist. ‘Vehicles. Remade pre-war cars. Excavation machines. Cement mixers. Would provide jobs and improve your infrastructure in the process, whilst also giving me business and improving the situation here. Mutually beneficial for both sides.’ ‘I see.’ Aminta struggled to contain her happiness. She had become a police officer to enforce safety and protect those who abide by the law. This was a way back to such operations, in which she could help those in need, rather than sit idly while their situation worsened. ‘I’ll also be willing to give 10% of the electricity produced by Hoover Dam to the NCR. It produces more than I need.’ Mr House offered. Dennis shifted his weight, and opened his mouth. It was a second before anything came out. ‘15% would be great, if possible.’ ‘Done.’ Mr House concluded. ‘Well, we’ll definitely have to confer this back to President Watson. As previously said by Mr Dawson, this is a huge offer.’ ‘I understand. Aminta, I can only hope you also support this.’ Aminta smiled. ‘I am willing to establish a NCR Police Force here in New Vegas, and assist in establishing prosperity and stability, for the benefit of both states.’ ‘Excellent. I’ll arrange for a Taxi to take you back to the border.’ ***** Nobody said a word in the ride in the elevator down to the entrance of the Lucky 38. There was a perpetual sense of being watched, and listened to, and Aminta supposed they probably were. She sensed from the stiffness of Donnie and Neville’s postures they felt the same way. As the three left through the ground level of the building, the desolate casino indicated a time long past, preserved in pristine condition yet uncannily lifeless; inhabited only by robots. Aminta felt a shiver flow throughout her body, prompting her to hurry outside. Upon exiting, Aminta was greeted by the fantastic lighting she had seen from the Lucky 38. Buildings stretched high into the now night sky, perpetually lit up and calling for you to spend a few short hours in their luxurious suites and lose all the money you have without knowing it. She had visited the Strip a couple of times before the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. Back then, whilst still grand, its exterior walls felt cobbled-together, layered pieces of steel to preserve what glory the pre-war days had. Now, the Strip felt open, almost a complete return to complete pre-war glory, though there was no way of her knowing what such a time looked like. Polished, beetle like cars with extravagant interwoven pieces of silver and gold making up their hubcaps cluttered the road, filled with nicely dressed young women chattering incessantly. Boys, ranging from teenagers to old men stumbled around, drunk and happy, their legs falling beneath them as though they were wet noodles. To the left, the Ultra Luxe Casino hotel stood at the far end of the street, intoxicatingly ostentatious and alluring for any hoping to climb the social ladder, despite the many rumors of cannibalism attempting to tarnish the brand. The fountain outside the front sprayed sparkling water into the night air which caught the light of the strip and reflected it like the jewels the building it was in front of was embroidered in. However, Aminta was not taken by the hotel, and watched two NCR troopers, still in their military uniforms be forced to dance in front of a crowd of onlookers. They were pushed and shoved as they struggled to dance, their arms and legs barely keeping to any rhythm as they fell to the ground, vomiting a putrid yellow substance onto the asphalt. She looked away in disgust and embarrassment for the two men. A man in an expensive looking suit and bowtie greeted the three. Behind him stood a long polished black car. ‘Shall I take you to the crossing point?’ ‘Yes.’ Donnie answered. Aminta and Neville followed his lead. He had more experience on the Strip than the majority of the tourists around them. She started the car once they were all inside, the engine barely kicking as it began to drive. Aminta marvelled at its power, it’s sleekness, at the strength and confidence of its movement and the luxury of it’s exotic wood plated interior. The chauffeur drove to the large South Gate of the Strip, passing multitudinous buildings of similar grandeur and spectacle, all the same though uniquely different, until they all blurred into one mix of different colours and moving forms. The chauffeur leaned out of the side window, showed an identification pass to a Securitron, and the gate opened. Aminta’s car was the only car that left. As the gate closed, the car picked up speed and tore through the rest of Vegas. Immediately outside the Strip, the buildings were noticeably more dilapidated. Aminta watched as the varied prosperity of the Strip curtailed rapidly into a mess of buildings, barely recognisable as residential or industrial, though they were unmistakably new creations. She almost didn’t notice it at first, but they were all the same. Row after row of buildings with the same geometric exterior, though placed at odd angles to each other, as if a child had been playing with them and haphazardly threw them into where they now stood. As the car moved further and further away from the Strip, lights in these buildings became scarce, and the brickwork became exposed to reveal pipelines and shreds of electrical appliances, some still spitting sparks. When the light of the Strip was nothing more than a flicker of light on the night horizon, the copied buildings were replaced with houses, roofs sagging, walls crumbling. As the car zipped passed, Aminta caught wisps of figures; people moving about the ruins and the darkness like ghosts, until they passed the last house, and all that could be seen was the night sky and desert shrubbery.
Lost in the Sauce: Barr's DOJ shut down investigations of Trump and admin officials
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On Saturday, Trump announced on Twitter that he has put his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign's long-shot post-election legal challenges. Other people on the team include Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis.
Giuliani worked with a Russian agent to smear Biden. diGenova and Toensing tried to get the Justice Department to drop charges against corrupt Ukraine oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Powell represents Michael Flynn and champions "deep state" conspiracies. Ellis said gay marriage leads to pedophilia.
NYT: Mr. Trump turned to Mr. Giuliani earlier on Friday in reaction to the latest setback he faced in court, this one relating to votes in Maricopa County, Arizona… A half-dozen other Trump advisers have described Mr. Giuliani’s efforts as counterproductive and said that he was giving the president unwarranted optimism about what could happen… In an Oval Office meeting with aides on Thursday, Mr. Trump put Mr. Giuliani on speakerphone so the others could hear him. He angrily accused the aides of not telling the president the truth
Giuliani’s conspiracy-riddled rant at Four Seasons Total Landscaping was so disastrous that it “scared off many of the lawyers” recruited to argue election-related lawsuits.Politico: “Campaign officials described the episode as disastrous...there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani’s antics are thwarting the president’s legal machinery from within.” Two major law firms have withdrawn from Trump campaign cases as his legal challenges crumble. Arizona’s largest law firm Snell & Wilmer dumped the RNC and Trump campaign effort to challenge votes in Maricopa County. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur is abandoning Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania's popular vote for Joe Biden.
In one day (Friday), nine cases meant to attack President-elect Joe Biden's win in key states were denied or dropped - seven in Pennsylvania, one in Arizona, and one in Michigan.
The new federal chief information security officer, Camilo Sandoval, has already taken leave from his day job to participate in a pro-Trump effort to hunt for evidence of voter fraud in the battleground states. The group, Voter Integrity Fund, is a newly formed Virginia-based group that is analyzing ballot data and cold-calling voters. Sandoval was officially appointed on Nov. 4, 2020, but lists his starting date at October on his personal LinkedIn page.
WaPo: Sandoval is part of a hastily convened team led by Matthew Braynard, a data specialist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. Another participant is Thomas Baptiste, an adviser to the deputy secretary of the Interior Department who also took a leave to work on the project. Braynard said in an interview that several other government officials on leave are also assisting the effort, but he declined to identify them.
Facebook Cut Traffic To Leading Liberal Pages Just Before The Election: Liberal page administrators who spoke with BuzzFeed News said that their reach declined by as much as 70%, and still hasn’t recovered.
Facebook Live Spread Election Conspiracies And Russian State-Controlled Content Despite Employee Fears: The social network’s live video tool has recommended videos featuring misinformation and the hyperpartisan views of Trump allies leading up to and following election day in the US.
In the week after the election, Trump’s postings dominated Facebook, accounting for the 10 most engaged status updates in the United States, and 22 of the top 25. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” was his top post.
YouTube Is Doing Very Little to Stop Election Misinformation From Spreading
Social media app Parler receives financial backing from conservative hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, The Wall Street Journal reported. Parler turned into a kind of de facto home for conservatives’ protests against the election— including the persistent “Stop the Steal” campaign— after the race was called for former Vice President Joe Biden. Several high-profile conservative social media personalities encouraged people to abandon Twitter and Facebook because of their moderation policies, and instead follow them on Parler.
Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, still hasn’t signed the official letter that would allow the incoming Biden team to formally begin the transition. House Democrats are assessing options to force the GSA’s hand, which could include summoning Murphy to the Hill to testify or suing her. “Obviously, Congress could file suit against the GSA administrator for failing to do her duty. We could seek to get a court to, in fact, issue an order
Her ascertainment is the legally necessary precursor to the government’s assistance to the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Team. It releases $6.3 million dollars to the team, which is funded by public and private money; a loan of expanded federal office space and equipment; access to government agencies that will begin sharing information and records about ongoing activities, plans and vulnerabilities; national security briefings for the president; and other support.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently confirmed that it is not providing national security briefings to the president-elect. The Defense Department has also reportedly indicated that it will not meet with the Biden-Harris transition team until Murphy formally affirms the apparent winner.
One of the officials fired in Trump’s latest purge was helping prepare for the transition to the new administration. USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick was removed abruptly to make way for a Trump loyalist after she had been supportive of transition planning, including the preparation of a 440-page manual for the next administration. The GSA’s refusal to enact the transition has locked Biden’s team out of crucial Covid-19 pandemic data and government agency contacts. The president-elect’s Covid-19 task force has been trying to work around the federal government by connecting with governors and the health community.
The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, called on the White House to allow contact with the Biden team, saying “It is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.”
White House’s Office of Management and Budget is considering 145 new regulations and other policy changes they could enact before Biden’s inauguration - rules that will be challenging to undo once they are finalized. Critics and supporters of the administration say they expect a final burst of regulations to be finalized in the weeks before Jan. 20.
The rules under development include policies that the incoming Biden administration would probably oppose, such as new caps on the length of foreign student visas; restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of scientific research; limits on the EPA’s consideration of the benefits of regulating air pollutants; and a change that would make it easier for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, rather than employees with more robust wage protections.
Last week, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said they’re preparing for a second Trump term. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon (clip). Pompeo then doubled down on Fox News (clip). “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” Navarro said on Fox Business Friday (clip).
Attorney General William Barr stopped career prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section from investigating whether President Trump broke any laws related to his conduct with Ukraine last year. The section was initially given the green light to pursue “a potentially explosive inquiry” into Trump, but after the Senate acquitted the president during impeachment proceedings, Barr sent the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Prosecutors in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section were also prevented from bringing charges against former interior secretary Ryan Zinke by political appointees atop the Justice Department. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told prosecutors that they needed to gather more evidence and refine the case against Zinke for lying to Interior investigators.
The investigation into Zinke stemmed from his decision to block two Native American tribes—the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan—from opening a casino in Connecticut. Zinke’s office had been lobbied heavily by MGM Resorts International, which had been planning to open its own casino very close to where the tribes intended to break ground.
Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Barr on Friday to rescind his memo allowing election-fraud investigations before results are certified. "It was developed and announced without consulting non-partisan career professionals in the field and at the Department. Finally, the timing of the Memorandum's release thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics," the prosecutors wrote. An internal Justice Department investigation found that federal prosecutors who oversaw a controversial non-prosecution deal with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 exercised “poor judgment” but did not break the law. “They just say he used poor judgment, and that's their way of basically letting everyone off the hook while offering some sort of an olive branch to the victims that we acknowledge weren't treated perfectly,” said Brad Edwards, who sued the DOJ in 2008 on behalf of Epstein accusers.
Eastern District of New York Judge Nicholas Garaufis (Clinton-appointee) ruled that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting DACA program applications and renewals. Therefore, in a win for Dreamers and immigration activists, Garaufis said the changes were invalid.
The judge described an illegitimate shuffling of leadership chairs at the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for immigration enforcement, for the predicament of Wolf's leadership and that of his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan. "Based on the plain text of the operative order of succession," Garaufis wrote in the Saturday ruling, "neither Mr. McAleenan nor, in turn, Mr. Wolf, possessed statutory authority to serve as Acting Secretary. Therefore the Wolf Memorandum was not an exercise of legal authority."
There's a renewed push to get Chad Wolf confirmed as Homeland Security secretary -- a position in which he's been serving in an acting capacity for a yearr -- before Inauguration Day. In the past week, Homeland Security officials spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office about bringing the nomination to a floor vote in the coming weeks.
Within the last six months, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the Trump administration filed 75 lawsuits to seize private land along the US-Mexico border for the border wall." People right now are having to choose between their health and their homes," said Ricky Garza, a staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, a legal advocacy group. After a series of price increases, Trump’s border project will cost taxpayers $20 million per mile of border fence. A review of federal spending data shows more than 200 contract modifications, at times awarded within just weeks or months after the original contracts, have increased the cost of the border wall project by billions of dollars since late 2017. DHS has expelled unaccompanied immigrant children from the US border more than 13,000 times since March,using the coronavirus as an excuse to deny children their right to asylum. Previously, unaccompanied children were sent to government-run shelters as they attempted to pursue their asylum cases. Migrant children from Central America are being expelled to Mexico, where they have no family connections. The expulsions not only put children in danger - the policy violates a diplomatic agreement with Mexico that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border. The House Judiciary Committee released a report on the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border, revealing that the federal agency that cares for migrant children was not told about the policy. The chaos contributed to the inability to later reunite parents and children. The Trump administration is trying to deport several women who allege they were mistreated by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center. Hours after one detained woman spoke to federal investigators about forced hysterectomies at a Georgia detention center, she said ICE told her that it had lifted a hold on her deportation and she faced “imminent” removal. Six former patients who complained about Dr. Mahendra Amin had already been deported. Northern District of Illinois Judge Gary Feinerman (Obama-appointee) blocked a key Trump administration policy that allowed officials to deny green cards to immigrants who might need public assistance Advocates who had feared that the policy would harm tens of thousands of poor people, particularly those affected by widespread job loss because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Microsoft said it has detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers. “Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials.” Two census takers told The AP that their supervisors pressured them to enter false information into a computer system about homes they had not visited so they could close cases during the waning days of the once-a-decade national headcount. The Supreme Court on Tuesday signaled it’s unlikely to tear down Obamacare over a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the landmark health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh strongly questioned whether the elimination of the mandate penalty made the rest of the law invalid. Kavanaugh appeared to signal on several occasions that he favored leaving the rest of the law intact if the mandate is struck. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was sued last week by four whistleblowers claiming that he abused his office to benefit himself, a woman with whom he was said to have had an affair, and the wealthy donor who employs her before retaliating against the members of his staff who reported him to the FBI. The Trump administration is rushing plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the inauguration of Biden, who has vowed to block oil exploration in the rugged Alaska wilderness. Biden’s efforts could be complicated if the Trump administration sells drilling rights first. Formally issued oil and gas leases on federal land are government contracts that can’t be easily yanked.
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