Daily Archives: February 22, 2012

Boy Scouts ordered to release the secret sex abuse files


Al Steven Stein molested a boy at a Boy Scouts meeting but troop leaders allegedly tried to stop the boy’s mother reporting it to police. Santa Barbara Sherif’s Department

Organization must turn over last 20 years worth of confidential documents

Associated Press | Feb 20, 2012

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by the family of a California boy molested by his troop leader in 2007 has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over confidential files detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge said last month that the Irving, Texas-based organization must turn over the last 20 years’ worth of records by Feb. 24, with victims’ names removed, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. The files will not be made public.

Known as “ineligible volunteer files,” the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting. Scouts officials have resisted releasing them and won’t discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations.

The officials deny that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse.

“These files exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting, and Scouts are safer because of them,” Deron Smith, public relations director of Boy Scouts of America, told the Times.

The Santa Barbara case is significant because it seeks to unlock files that have never been turned over by the Scouts, including all since 2005. It also alleges wrongdoing that took place relatively recently, even as the Scouts have stepped up protective efforts.

The trial is scheduled for April, nearly five years after the boy, then 13, was molested by volunteer troop leader Al Stein at a Boy Scouts Christmas tree sale in Goleta. Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009.

He was sentenced to two years in prison but was paroled early and is living in a Salinas motel with other sex offenders, his attorney Steven Balash told the newspaper.

The victim’s name has not been released. His mother claims that David Tate, then the Los Padres Council Scout executive, asked her not to call police after she reported her son’s claim of abuse.

“He said that wasn’t necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation,” said the woman, whose name the Times withheld to protect her son’s identity. “I thought that was really weird… I thought it was really important to call the sheriff right away.”

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, contends the Scouts knew or should have known that Stein had put the boy at risk and cites Tate’s reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse.

Tate, now a top Scouts official in New York, declined to comment.

The boy’s lawyers contend the files will expose the Scouts’ “culture of hidden sexual abuse” and its failure to warn boys, their parents and others about pedophiles in the ranks of one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations.

“They have created these ticking time bombs who are walking through society, and nobody knows their identities except the Scouts,” said Timothy Hale, one of the lawyers for the Santa Barbara County boy.

Some of the estimated 5,000 files have surfaced in recent years as a result of lawsuits by former Scouts accusing the organization of failing to exclude known pedophiles, detect abuses and report offenders to police, and allowing predators to remain at large.

‘PayPal Mafia’ Gets Richer


Thiel, a Facebook board member, owns a stake worth more than $2.5 billion at the high end of the range being considered.

Yelp and Facebook’s IPOs will give another boost to Silicon Valley’s influential PayPal alumni.

The Yelp executives join Facebook Inc. investors Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. founder Elon Musk on a short list of ex-PayPal employees poised to generate big-time riches.

businessweek.com | Feb 21, 2012

By Ari Levy

The fortunes of the so-called PayPal Mafia are poised to grow.

Jeremy Stoppelman and Max Levchin own about $200 million in Yelp Inc. shares heading into the company’s initial public offering, setting up the latest payday for PayPal Inc.’s former executives. Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp, owns 11.1 percent of the company, while Levchin, the chairman, has 13.5 percent. The user-generated review site announced plans last week to sell shares for $12 to $14 apiece in an IPO, valuing Yelp at as much as $838 million.

The Yelp executives join Facebook Inc. investors Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. founder Elon Musk on a short list of ex-PayPal employees poised to generate big-time riches from pending IPOs. PayPal, which developed an online payment system, was purchased by EBay Inc. for $1.5 billion in 2002, making many of its early employees rich and eager to pursue new endeavors.

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“PayPal did a great job of producing a very talented class of entrepreneurs,” said Eric Jackson, the company’s first marketing director and author of “The PayPal Wars.” “They’ve gone on to do amazing things in Silicon Valley and the tech industry.”

Stoppelman, 34, co-founded San Francisco-based Yelp in 2004, after serving as PayPal’s vice president of engineering from 2000 to 2003. Levchin, 36, has been chairman of Yelp since 2004. After working as PayPal’s chief technology officer, he founded Slide Inc., a Web application developer that was purchased by Google Inc. in 2010.

Both executives were among a group of colleagues who came to be known in Silicon Valley as the PayPal Mafia. The moniker was codified by an article in 2007 in Fortune magazine.

Vince Sollitto, a Yelp spokesman who also used to work at PayPal, declined to comment.

Yelp, which first filed to go public in November, plans to raise as much as $100 million in the offering. Its revenue rose 74 percent to $83.3 million last year, as the number of monthly unique visitors jumped 67 percent to 66 million.

While Yelp will go public first, it will be dwarfed in size by Facebook. The world’s largest social-networking site filed earlier this month to raise $5 billion in the largest Internet IPO on record. The Menlo Park, California-based company is considering a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Facebook’s seed funding in 2004 came from Thiel and Hoffman, who are now venture capitalists. Thiel, a Facebook board member, owns a stake worth more than $2.5 billion at the high end of the range being considered. While Hoffman’s stake isn’t disclosed in the prospectus, the website Who Owns Facebook estimates he owns 0.5 percent, or about $500 million based on a valuation of $100 billion. Hoffman is also the founder and biggest shareholder of LinkedIn Corp., with stock valued at about $1.8 billion following its IPO.

Thiel’s Founders Fund, which includes other PayPal alumni, is poised to reap additional gains from the IPO of SpaceX, the private rocket-launch business founded by Musk. In an interview this month, Musk said “there’s a good chance that SpaceX goes public next year.”

Musk, whose main job is Tesla Motors Inc.’s CEO, also is chairman of solar installer SolarCity Corp. That company is preparing to file for an IPO as early as March, a person familiar with the matter said this month.

Musk and Thiel were rivals in the early online payment days — before their companies merged, forming what became PayPal. Before PayPal’s IPO in 2002, Musk was the biggest individual shareholder, with 11.7 percent ownership. Thiel owned 4.6 percent, and Levchin controlled 2.9 percent.

PayPal’s former operating chief, David Sacks, is now founder and CEO of Yammer Inc., a provider of social-networking software to businesses. Its service is used by more than 100,000 companies. While Sacks isn’t talking about an IPO filing, his startup is benefitting from the popularity of Facebook and growth of social media.

“Facebook is the inspiration for a lot of what we’ve done in a parallel universe,” Sacks said in an interview with “Bloomberg West.” “They’re essentially connecting the whole world. The scale is staggering.”

Revealed: The mining, Facebook and casino billionaires keeping alive GOP candidates

‘I’m against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it’

– Casino boss Sheldon Adelson

  •  Romney super PAC spent $14m on ads last month; but still raised $7m
  •  Bruce Kovner, Joseph Craft and David Lisonbee all put in $500k each
  •   Ron Paul backed by Facebook investor Peter Thiel who put in $1.7m
  •   Sheldon Adelson donates $11m and hints he could give Gingrich $100m

Revealed: The mining, Facebook and casino billionaires keeping alive GOP candidates (with one saying he’ll donate $100 MILLION)

Daily Mail | Feb 21, 2012

By Mark Duell

Big money: Early Facebook investor Peter Thiel gave $1.7million to a group backing Ron Paul last month, on top of the $900,000 he gave in January

Guardian angels are helping to prop up the extraordinarily expensive campaigns run by Republicans seeking election to the White House.

One ‘super PAC’ supporters group for Mitt Romney spent $14million on advertising in three states last month – but still has $16million in the bank.

And early Facebook investor Peter Thiel gave $1.7million to a group for Ron Paul last month, on top of the $900,000 he donated in December.

Restore Our Future, the super PAC for former Massachusetts governor Mr Romney, raised $7million in January, reported the New York Times.

Almost $5million of this figure came from only 25 individuals or companies who gave donations from $100,000 and $500,000 to the super PAC.

Donors who put forward $500,000 included Oklahoma mining executive Joseph Craft and New York billionaire hedge fund founder Bruce Kovner.

Mr Craft is worth $1.3billion and Mr Kovner has a value of $4.3billion, according to Forbes figures reported by New York Magazine.

Mr Romney’s fellow Mormon David Lisonbee, who runs a Utah vitamin supplements firm, also donated $500,000, reported the New York Times.

Other Romney donors included Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, the Marriott family behind the hotels and the Walton family behind Wal-Mart.

This reflects the growing desire within the Romney camp to quickly wipe out his three remaining rivals, who have proven a tough challenge.

While Mr Romney has won key primaries in New Hampshire and Florida, he was beaten by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina last month.

Rick Santorum won caucuses in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota – and the Missouri primary. But Mr Romney won the Maine and Nevada caucuses.

There has been no clear pattern in the GOP contests, with the momentum see-sawing between Mr Romney, Mr Gingrich and Mr Santorum.

Nevada casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has already given $11million with his wife to Winning Our Future, the super PAC for Mr Gingrich.

Now Mr Adelson, who is worth $25billion, is expected to inject another $10million and told Forbes he could even donate $100million.

‘I’m against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections,’ he told Forbes. ‘But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it.’

But Mr Paul, still searching for his first win, does have the backing of billionaire Mr Thiel, portrayed in 2010 film The Social Network by CSI star Wallace Langham.

Mr Thiel, of California, who backed the Endorse Liberty super PAC for Mr Paul, is worth $1.5billion.

President Barack Obama’s campaign raised $29million last month but the major super PAC backing him, Priorities USA Action, raised just $58,000.

Super PAC groups were made possible under a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 and must legally remain independent from candidates they support.

New Albanian exhibit on communist regime’s abuses

Associated Press | Feb 21, 2012

By LLAZAR SEMINI

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s National Museum opened a new wing Monday on the abuses of the former communist regime, timing the dedication to the 21st anniversary of the toppling of former communist dictator Enver Hoxha’s monument.

Some 100,000 Albanians were imprisoned, sent to internment camps or executed during the 46 years of Hoxha’s repressive regime.

Albanians toppled a 20-foot (6-meter) statue of Hoxha in the capital’s central Skanderbeg Square on Feb. 20, 1991, about two months after the collapse of the communist regime. Hoxha himself died in 1985.

The museum has photographs of mass graves where many of the executed were buried, as well as handcuffs, chains and victim’s clothes and personal belongings.

“Europe has known many dictators and dictatorships in its history. But it has registered in its memory two of the cruelest dictators of all the times — Adolph Hitler and Enver Hoxha,” Prime Minister Sali Berisha said at the opening ceremony.

This is the second museum exhibit dedicated to the abuses of the former regime, but museum head Luan Malltezi said the new exhibition contains richer material and shows “why Albania’s communist regime was the most brutal in Eastern Europe.”

Until Albanian communism collapsed after student protests in December 1990, activities considered subversive were dealt with by Hoxha’s powerful secret police, the Sigurimi. About 40,000 people were held in 48 labor camps set up across the country, while another 26,000 were imprisoned in jails, according to authorities and rights groups.

Some 6,500 people were executed or died while in detention, but only about 500 bodies have been found to date.

However, many of those who suffered under the former regime are still dissatisfied with what they say are unfulfilled pledges on compensation and reintegration into Albanian society.

Bedri Blloshmi, who spent 15 years in the notorious Spac prison, 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of the capital of Tirana, said none of Albania’s post-communist governments had helped.

“No one is interested in us. Where should we ask for our rights?” he said during the exhibition opening. “There is only one hope for us: To die as soon as possible so that we are rid of the sons of the former communists, who persecuted us then and who now run the country.”

Those who suffered political persecution have been awarded compensation of 2,000 leks (euro14; $18.5) per day of imprisonment. Out of 25,000 applicants, only 7,000 have received funds and they have gotten only the first of eight installments of what they are entitled to.

. . .

Albania Communist Era 25th Anniversary Peoples Army Photo Book