Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year

Hillary Clinton says she made a mistake when she gave speeches on Wall Street after leaving government. Taking money from banks, she writes in her new memoir, created the impression she was in their pocket.

Her old boss doesn’t seem to share her concern.

Last month, just before her book “What Happened” was published, Barack Obama spoke in New York to clients of Northern Trust Corp. for about $400,000, a person familiar with his appearance said. Last week, he reminisced about the White House for Carlyle Group LP, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, according to two people who were there. Next week, he’ll give a keynote speech at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s health-care conference.

Obama is coming to Wall Street less than a year after leaving the White House, following a path that’s well trod and well paid. While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power. His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on and disappoint anyone expecting him to avoid a trap that snared Clinton. Or, as some of his executive friends see it, he’s just a private citizen giving a few paid speeches to other successful people while writing his next book.

“He was the president of the entire United States — financial services are under that umbrella,” said former UBS Group AG executive Robert Wolf, an early supporter who joined the Obama Foundation board this year. “He doesn’t look at Wall Street like, ‘Oh, these are individuals who don’t want the best for the country.’ He doesn’t stereotype.”

Fat Cats

Since leaving office, Obama has delivered public and private speeches that are “true to his values,” Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, said in an email. “His paid speeches in part have allowed President Obama to contribute $2 million to Chicago programs offering job training and employment opportunities to low-income youth.”

Obama’s relationship with Wall Street hasn’t always been good. Bankers still boil over with rage about him, wincing over his 2009 line about fat cats as if the wounds were fresh. But his Justice Department prosecuted no major bankers for their roles in the financial crisis, and he resisted calls to break up the biggest banks, signing a regulatory overhaul that annoyed them with new rules but didn’t stop them from pulling in record profits.

The brokerage and investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald isn’t one of those giants. S&P Global Ratings announced this year that the New York-based firm’s debt grades could be cut to junk. Cantor’s investment banking division is run by health-care specialist Sage Kelly, who left Jefferies Group after divorce-case accusations became salacious tabloid fodder in 2014. His ex-wife later apologized for the storm caused by the claims, which he had denied.

Cantor Chief Executive Officer Howard Lutnick, whose firm lost more than 600 people in the Sept. 11 attacks, said the former president will make remarks and take questions. The three-day conference for current and prospective clients begins Sept. 25. Obama will be paid about $400,000, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

“Everybody would like to come,” Lutnick said. “Hopefully, we will really talk about the Affordable Care Act in interesting and nuanced ways, which I think is really cool.”

Private Island

Obama’s appearance at the Carlyle conference in Washington was previously unreported. The private equity giant has enjoyed some of the best political connections in the world, with executives and advisers who have included former presidents, prime ministers and cabinet secretaries. Obama discussed his life and the decisions he made in the White House, the people who heard him said. A spokesman for the firm wouldn’t comment.

The ex-president has been busy. His foundation is raising money for a library in Chicago, and he and his wife signed a book deal with Penguin Random House after an auction that went above $60 million, according to the Financial Times. He spoke about food in Milan, democracy in Jakarta and himself at an A&E Television Networks event in New York. He vacationed in California and Hawaii and on Richard Branson’s Necker Island with its billionaire owner.

Obama has picked private equity, hedge fund, venture capital and banking veterans to oversee his foundation, and an alumnus of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise him on investments.

Northern Trust is a bank that specializes in wealth management for rich families and services for big funds. The event had gone unreported, but a program accessible on the firm’s website lists Obama alongside executives from Microsoft Corp., IBM and Michael Bloomberg, majority owner of Bloomberg LP.

Northern Trust, based in Chicago, gave Obama a discount on a $1.32 million loan for a mansion in that city in 2005, after he was elected to the Senate, the Washington Post reported. The rate was changed to account for an offer from another lender, a spokesman for Obama said three years later. Doug Holt, a spokesman for Northern Trust, wouldn’t comment for this story.

Imperial Ballroom

Obama is getting advice on investments from Robbie Robinson, who’s on leave from BDT & Co., according to a person familiar with the arrangement. That Chicago-based firm works with wealthy families and is run by Byron Trott. Both bankers worked for Goldman Sachs.

Obama has known executives there for more than a decade. He spoke at the 2006 Goldman Sachs partners’ meeting in Chicago. Then a senator, he appeared between Hank Paulson and Warren Buffett in the Fairmont hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, an event program shows.

Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump blasted Clinton for her lucrative Goldman Sachs speeches, and the issue is still raw. Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren have tried to pry the Democratic Party away from its coziness with Wall Street. If Obama is hoping the party will be a big tent with room for corporate giants, they may stand in his way.

Obama’s donor friends tend to mention the same reason when they defend his Wall Street speeches, saying he’s no longer president and not running for office. Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman Tom Nides is one of them.

“I love Barack Obama, and if someone is willing to pay him to give a speech, God bless America,” said Nides, a deputy secretary of state under Clinton in Obama’s administration.

Revolving Door

But Jeff Hauser, who studies political corruption as head of the Revolving Door Project in Washington, said Obama should play by the same rules as other politicians because of his ongoing work with the Democratic Party.

“He’s continuing to exercise the authority,” Hauser said, citing Obama’s support for the party’s redistricting committee and the push he gave Tom Perez in the race to head the Democratic National Committee. If he wants to play a role, “he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.”

Few leaders have left the top of the U.S. government recently and resisted the lure of corporate money. Former Vice President Al Gore is a director at Apple Inc. and a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm whose chairman, John Doerr, is on the Obama Foundation’s board. Dan Quayle, another ex-vice president, has spent almost two decades with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. Trump’s White House has lost officials so quickly that Sean Spicer has already made arrangements to speak to a financial firm this year.

“Not everyone’s going to be a Jimmy Carter, who does purely good works after he gets out,” said Sean Coffey, a Democratic donor who chairs the complex litigation group at corporate law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. Obama is used to being criticized, the attorney added. “I don’t think getting any grief for doing this is going to bother him at all.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-18/obama-goes-from-white-house-to-wall-street-in-less-than-one-year

    He May Have Cancer, But That Didn’t Stop Him From Proposing To His Kids’ Mother

    Back in June, father-of-three Jason Bragg from Cornwall, England, received devastating news about his health.

    He was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel, liver, lymph nodes, and peritoneum about a month before his twins, Oscar and George, turned a year old. His daughter also just celebrated her fifth birthday. While the 27-year-old’s loved ones are hopeful that chemotherapy and other treatments will help him beat his cancer, there are obviously no guarantees.

    That’s why he decided to ask his girlfriend and the mother of his twins, Lizzie Holt, a very important question.

    After learning about his diagnosis, Bragg’s friends and family set up a fundraising dinner to help him out financially. But Holt didn’t realize that Bragg would be getting down on his knee…

    Watch the heartwarming moment Bragg proposes to Holt in front of all their loved ones. I’m so happy for them!

    Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/proposal-after-cancer-diagnosis/

    It sucks, but it’s time to ditch plastic straws. Seattle’s going to make it happen.

    Straws suck.

    They seem to come with every drink, whether you want one or not, only to end up in the trash soon afterward. From there, it’s all too easy for them to end up as more pieces of plastic pollution in our oceans.

    But in one particular city, that might not be a problem anymore.

    For the month of September, the Lonely Whale Foundation is running a campaign to encourage Seattleites to ditch their sucky plastic straws.

    The campaign, Strawless in Seattle, is part of the foundations’s Strawless Ocean initiative, whose overall goal is to keep 500 million plastic straws out of American mouths and garbage cans this year.

    “My mother taught me at a very young age to take care of my own environment, to clean my room,” says actor and Lonely Whale co-founder Adrian Grenier. “Now that I’m an adult, I recognize that my room has expanded, not just to my house, but also to my neighborhood and the world at large.”

    Grenier (center), Daryn Mayer (left), and Brian Maynard pose for a quick selfie at a benefit for PFLAG in 2017. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for PFLAG.

    So far, over 200 Seattle restaurants and venues have joined in, including the Space Needle, Sea-Tac airport, and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks football team. Instead of plastic straws, businesses will either ask their patrons to go without or offer biodegradable paper straws instead.

    The campaign even comes with its own hashtag, which encourages people to #stopsucking.

    One individual plastic straw might seem harmless, but when we zoom out to look at what we’re doing to the planet, we’re not talking about individual straws.

    There are people who might need a straw, such as someone who has mobility challenges, but for many of us, it’s a luxury — one we’re really fond of.

    Americans alone use half a billion of the little suckers every single day, and once we’re done with them, they don’t stay in our drinks. Many of them find their way into our oceans. Plastic straws are actually one of the most common forms of plastic pollution in the ocean.

    According to one study, the oceans might actually contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Photo from iStock.

    Plastics can be harmful in other ways too. In a particularly distressing video from 2015, researchers spent nearly 10 minutes trying to pull a discarded plastic straw out of a sea turtle’s nose. Even when these plastics break down, they never totally disappear. Instead, they turn into tinier and tinier microplastics, which can poison animals — and even find their way into our food and drinking water.

    In many ways, Seattle is a natural place for The Lonely Whale to start a string of city-wide campaigns.

    The Seattle waterfront. Photo from iStock.

    Sitting on the Puget Sound, the city’s already taken several steps to protect the ocean from pollution, including a 2010 ban on plastic bags. The city council is also considering expanding an ordinance to ban plastic straws and utensils from all of the city’s restaurants in 2018.

    Grenier and The Lonely Whale Foundation are hoping that the early success and buy-in from Seattle businesses will not only raise attention and sway people’s hearts and minds, but also show legislators and other cities what is possible. They’re already starting to plan for future campaigns in cities both in the United States and internationally.

    “We’ve only just begun,” said Grenier. “Hopefully the world is watching.”

    Plastic pollution is a major problem, but through actions like these, we can make our effect on the ocean a little less sucky.

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/it-sucks-but-its-time-to-ditch-plastic-straws-seattles-going-to-make-it-happen

    Equifax breach proves we cant leave it up to businesses to protect us

    Equifax gets a cyber security score of zero.
    Image: RHONA WISE/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

    The Equifax data breach disaster is the last straw.

    This can’t go on. 

    We can’t let companies flout cyber security best practices and common sense, and we can no longer rely on Social Security numbers as a secure and discrete form of identification. Equifax hasn’t shared its own cybersecurity practices, but it’s fair to say even if they were indeed subpar, it’ll likely survive this storm longterm, even while victims suffer.

    It’s time for some changes.

    Equifax, a company best known for helping us check our credit scores and protecting consumers from identity theft(!) announced Thursday that it suffered a massive hack impacting 143 million Americans, that’s 44% of the population. The monumental security breach exposed millions and millions of personal data bits to hackers.

    I would laugh if it weren’t so horrifying.

    Equifax learned of the breach, which apparently came through its website (which is not nearly enough information about the cause), in late July, two months after it started. The company promises that the hackers did not access “core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases,” but they got everything that matters: Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

    Holy hell.

    There is, it seems, no end to these kinds of breaches. Hackers see every company as a target, and they’ve been wildly successful with Yahoo, Target, Sony, the Democratic National Committee, Verizon, HBO, Ashley Madison, and many others. 

    Each time, the company (or group) apologizes, promises to fix it, protect their customers and do better. 

    “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith in a statement.

    Hahahahahahaha!

    Disappointing? The heart of who you are? You’re a freaking identity protection company. Through your credit check business, you have access to much of our most precious financial information and then you ask us to pay more for identity protection. This event should destroy your business. It won’t, but it should.

    You know why it won’t? Because these breaches haven’t shut down any of these businesses. Some face civil litigation and pay, some just endure a lot of public shaming. 

    None of them face criminal prosecution. 

    No one learns anything, certainly not the next company that will be hit. They just look on and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not them.

    Some new rules

    Nothing will change here until we have national standards for data security and strong penalties for not applying the necessary technologies, checks, and balances.

    Currently in the U.S., only a handful of industries, have federal, mandatory cyber security regulations. These include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare and the 2002 Homeland Security Act, which was enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, for the federal government. Even in finance, which has other strict federal mandates for financial disclosures and internal controls, legislators struggle to implement sweeping cybersecurity rules.

    Truth in financial reporting seems like a worthy goal, no less so than safety in data security. And yet there is virtually nothing to encourage general business to clean up its cybersecurity act. By comparison, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which brought sweeping financial management and corporate governance regulation to U.S. businesses in 2002, put in place hefty fines and prison terms for those who don’t follow it. Put simply, Sarbanes-Oxley mandates that company management must certify the accuracy of all financial statements and enact expensive internal controls. 

    One reason for the lack of cybersecurity rules is that data security and best practices in business is an intricate web of legacy hardware and software, byzantine practices, and bottom line concerns. 

    Companies running old operating systems have long been prime hack targets. Most of them continue running old software because 1) it costs money to upgrade and 2) the vertical industries they serve use old legacy software that doesn’t run on the newest platform or hardware.

    It’s not just the software, though. Companies like Equifax, Yahoo, the Democratic National Committee, and others don’t follow best practices when it comes to cyber security. They don’t protect or back up their databases off site, they don’t train their employees to not open unknown emails, click on random links, or how to identify a social engineering attack. 

    Cyber-security regulations with the same power as Sarbanes-Oxley and penalties would change that. It would stop companies from sitting back and hoping they can dodge the bullet much like young people avoid the doctor because they believe they can never get sick. 

    In 2016, 28 states either had or were considering cyber security legislation, but most of it only considers state-controlled systems and services and doesn’t look at the businesses that manage consumer data.

    If you think the idea of force-feeding cyber security to business is draconian, look at Microsoft Windows 10. This platform no longer asks you if it can upgrade, it only allows you to specify when. Why? So, home users can have the most up-to-date and secure systems. Microsoft doesn’t even leave cyber security in the hands of third-party companies any more (you can still buy it if you want). Instead, there’s Windows Defender. It’s free, always up-to-date and running 24/7 on Windows 10 PC.

    Ideal legislation to regulate cybersecurity would create the foundation for rating agencies to keep track of companies’ cybersecurity prowess. So Equifax would get an Equifax. The quality of a company’s cyber security across a wide variety of metrics (up to date systems, encrypted data, company wide training) would result in a score, much like one’s credit score; 1 would be the worst and 5 would be the best. Simple.

    If I were writing this legislation, I would also tie it to the winding down of the Social Security number as an identity tool. Numbers are flat, discoverable things and the fact that we use a combination of nine digits as the skeleton key for life stuff should be a grave concern to everyone.

    We have options. Biometric security is growing by leaps and bounds. Facial recognition on the level I have with Windows Hello can’t be fooled with a picture or someone who looks almost just like me. Iris scanning is even more foolproof and now on smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8. We have heartbeat sensors that might eventually be used to recognize the unique rhythm of each heart. 

    A new Cyber Security Act, with some real regulatory teeth (read penalties) could set a timeline for retiring Social Security numbers, giving businesses and people five years to change systems and upgrade to biometrics.

    Leaving these things to chance and the whims of business, which care more about money than they do about you, is no longer sustainable. 

    This must end.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/08/equifax-hack-cyber-security-regulation/

    how you can decrease blood glucose quick & normally

    how to lower blood sugar fast when it is too high

    Extremely high blood sugar levels can be dangerous, and they can cause lasting health complications. Remember: if you ever have blood sugar readings that remain high for more than 24 hours without coming down (and after an effort has been made to lower them), you need to be addressed by a doctor.

    That being said, we’ve all had those days when we get a random high blood sugar reading and we are not sure what caused it … or we forget to give insulin, or we eat a delicious dessert without realizing how much sugar is actually in it.

    For whatever reason, those out of the ordinary high blood sugar readings happen and need to be treated. No need to rush to the doctor for every high blood sugar reading though. There are some simple steps you can take to lower blood sugar fast.
    Watch for signs of high blood sugar

    You know the feeling: extreme thirst, sluggishness, nausea, blurred vision, a downright sick feeling. And your family or friends may tell you that extreme irritability is a major sign you need to check your blood sugar to see if it is high. The best thing to do is to catch it before it gets really high, or it will be harder to bring down quickly, causing havoc on your blood sugar readings for days.

    If you take insulin, you will first want to give the appropriate amount of insulin to correct the blood sugar. Insulin still takes some time to take effect before bringing the blood sugar down.

    3 tips to lower your blood sugar fast.

    The more water you drink, the better. Water helps flush out your system and stabilize the glucose in the bloodstream.
    Exercise is a good way to get better blood sugar control and keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range as a part of your routine diabetes management. Exercise can also help lower blood sugar when it is excessively high by getting your heart pumping and the blood flowing, which uses up the glucose in your bloodstream faster. (Note: If your blood sugars have been so high that you have high ketones in your blood– a condition called DKA or diabetic ketoacidosis– do not exercise as it may drive your blood sugar even higher.).
    Eat a protein-packed snack. Protein acts as a blood sugar stabilizer and can slow the absorption rate of glucose. One of the symptoms of high blood sugar is increased hunger, so this can help satisfy that craving while helping lower the blood sugar at the same time.

    Don’t grab a snack that has a lot of sugar along with the protein, or you will be defeating the purpose of it. Good sources of protein include a tablespoon of no-sugar-added peanut butter or an ounce of cheese. But don’t overdo it.

    The most important thing you can do for your health and your diabetes is to pay close attention to how you feel. Whenever you feel like something is out of whack, it probably is– so test your blood sugar and do something about it. In the long run, it is easier to do your best to keep your blood sugars tightly controlled than to live with the consequences of not doing so.

    Oh, You Thought Zit Videos Were Bad? They’re Nothing Compared To This Nastiness.

    Most of us go to the doctor when we have any kind of medical and physical issues.

    This guy, on the other hand, greatly prefers a DIY approach — even when it comes to getting rid of huge, nasty calluses on his foot. All he needs is a razor blade and he’s good to go on removing it all by himself!

    Watch as this guy slowly slices off the disgustingly massive callus on his foot as if he’s cutting through cheese, and don’t be surprised if it leaves you feeling a bit nauseated.

    (via Daily Mail)

    Ew, just ew. It goes without saying, but if you ever find yourself with a condition like his, please don’t do what he did. Doctors are your friends.

    Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/callus-shave/

    Former Colombian Model Has a New Career And It’s Fitness For Dogs

    It brings joy to us knowing that our pets are healthy and active. But sometime, we ourselves don’t have time to make that possible. Luckily, someone thought of the perfect way in which dogs can get the active lifestyle they need. Former Colombian model Gustavo Montagut came to Sydney seeking adventure, and he is taking plenty of four-legged friends along for the ride. 

    • Via: Fitness Dogs

      When Montagut came to Sydney he realized something very early on. Sydney was a place obsessed with dogs, just like him! So he decided to combine his passions of fitness and healthy living and his love of dogs and the outdoors. And that is how Fitness Dogs came to be!

      Fitness Dogs provides real dog adventure, which Montagut calls DogXperiences. This includes DogAdventures, a 45-minute cardio session jogging, hiking or swimming in parklands and dog-friendly beaches across Sydney from the eastern suburbs to the north shore.


    • Via: Fitness Dogs

      “We don’t only walk dogs, we take them on adventures,” Montagut says. “DogAdventures is a group of experiences tailored to your dog’s needs. Some of the journeys include hiking in NSW national parks, going for a jog with our trainers, or taking a dip at some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches.”

      This is perfect for keeping active and letting him participate is such adventures that sometimes an owner just can’t.

      “The aim is not just to keep your dog in shape but to create different experiences for them,” Montagut says.


    • Via: Fitness Dogs

      DogAdventures targets energetic dogs that love new experiences in the great outdoors, and it is also a place where they socialize with other dogs! So this also builds their social skills! Montagut surprisingly started Fitness Dogs only 10 months ago! We know, that’s insanse. He started it after realizing just how many dogs were out and about in Sydney looking for a bit of adventure.

      It’s a pretty known fact that all dogs need a physical outlet, to expend energy and maintain good physical and mental health. Luckily they have DogAdventures that has more mainstream training programs available as well as the intense outdoors ones.

       Something for each dog!

    Read more: http://cheezburger.com/3201541/former-colombian-model-has-a-new-career-and-its-fitness-for-dogs

    The Idea Behind These Images Is Nothing New, But They Make You See Food Differently

    When it comes to losing weight, we automatically think we have to try and eat the healthiest foods we can to be successful.

    British fitness blogger Lucy Mountain knows all too well what a struggle it can be to eat healthy and still feel satisfied. She wants to send the message that we can enjoy the food we eat and reach our goals as long as we stay mindful about what we put in our bodies and our portion sizes.

    That’s why Mountain is trying to change the way we look at our meals by creating visual comparisons between what is considered junk food and health food, and she makes good points.

    “Same amount of food, different calories.”

    Mountain points out that the only differences between these two meals are the meat and oil used to cook it.

    The meat on the left is five percent fat beef, while the beef on the right contains 12 percent fat. The left meal was cooked with Fry Light olive oil spray and the right was cooked with a tablespoon of olive oil. While Mountain stresses that nothing is wrong with using either, keeping these differences in mind and swapping them can help with weight management.

    Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/food-comparisons/

    You Are The United Nations Secretary-General! Can You Use The Bathroom For 5 Freaking Minutes Without World War III Breaking Out?

    This is the United Nations, the center of global diplomacy. Countries from all over the world gather here to bicker about their differences and get nothing accomplished. This may seem like a huge waste of time, but it’s actually much better than the alternative, which is World War III.

    Yes, it would be very bad. Every human would die, and the Earth would become a radioactive cinder. World War III is one of the worst things that could happen.

    No, it would be very bad. Every human would die, and the Earth would become a radioactive cinder. World War III is one of the worst things that could happen.

    You are the U.N. secretary-general, the director of the United Nations. This is you.

    Running the United Nations is a challenging job, but you know how important your work is. Without your tireless diplomatic efforts, World War III could erupt at any moment.

    This is the start of a new day, and it’s bound to be a stressful one. You have just enough time for a soothing chamomile tea before you talk to world leaders and try to delay nuclear holocaust a little bit longer.

    Soon the weight of the world will be on your shoulders, but right now, for one brief moment, you can revive your spirits with the calming taste of chamomile.

    The second you swallow the tea your bowels seize up in knots. Number one and number two are stirring through your guts like a pair of incestuous pythons, angrily slamming against the walls of your intestine and bladder. What the hell did you just drink?

    Oh no. You wanted to make chamomile tea, but must have grabbed the wrong box. You have to find a bathroom, fast.

    Maybe you should do a little diplomacy first though, before you visit the toilet. You’ve already left the world unattended while you had your tea, and there’s no telling what mischief the countries are getting themselves into.

    Diplomacy can wait five minutes. You desperately waddle straight to the bathroom.

    While you’re in the bathroom, World War III occurs, and a nuclear shockwave obliterates New York City, which is where the United Nations headquarters is. You are instantly killed without even realizing there’s a problem. Soon every other city on Earth is also erased by nuclear hellfire.

    Within minutes, a global population of billions is reduced to millions. The survivors struggle on for several decades, their numbers continually dwindling due to radiation sickness and famine caused by nuclear winter. The few that survive are often infertile from constant background irradiation.

    Fifty years after World War III, fewer than 100,000 humans remain alive on the face of the Earth, surviving in scattered hunter-gatherer tribes. They eke out a tough existence on the toxic husk of the Earth, but even those hardened nomad bands are slowly killed off by the inhospitable wasteland.

    Five hundred years after World War III, only two humans are left on Earth, a mother and her son. They live on the outskirts of the radioactive ruin of what was once called Cincinnati, eating cockroaches to survive. She dies of cancer when the boy is 10 years old. He lives the rest of his life alone on a dead planet, making up imaginary friends to keep himself company. He dies at the age of 49 from an untreated tooth infection.

    This tragic fate befell humanity because you couldn’t hold in your feces for a few minutes before using the bathroom. It didn’t have to be this way.

    You visit the conference room where ambassadors hang out to argue with each other. “Good morning, Mr. Secretary-General,” the diplomats greet you in unison.

    Your stomach is rumbling like a blender full of rocks. You really need to wrap up this diplomacy stuff, pronto.

    You deliver a long and eloquent speech on the importance of diplomacy, ignoring the furious writhing of your intestine. Unfortunately, you take too long. As soon as your finish speaking, your colon erupts in a geyser of shit. Liquid rivers of warm dung flow down your pant leg, over your shoes, and spread across the floor like the Exxon Valdez spill.

    “Hey, the secretary-general just shit his pants!” screams the Belgian ambassador.

    “Whoa, what a loser!” shouts the Japanese ambassador. “We used to respect him, but he can’t even keep his crap inside his body where it belongs.”

    “All these years, we’ve listened to him when he told us that World War III would be bad,” says the Chilean ambassador. “But now that we know he’s actually an idiot who shits his pants, what if that means World War III would be good?”

    Excited murmurs start to fill the room. “Yeah, World War III!” “The Big War!” “World War III would be good!” “Nukes nukes nukes nukes!”

    The ambassadors ignore your desperate pleas and phone their home countries to tell them to start World War III. It doesn’t take long before a nuclear shockwave reduces the United Nations to radioactive ash, and you with it.

    The French ambassador clears his throat. “Yes, we are about to go to war with our hated enemy England.”

    Uh-oh, he’s lifting weights. This is a traditional form of diplomatic saber rattling that countries use to show their power. If he’s doing exercise at the United Nations, that means armed conflict could erupt between France and England at any second.

    “The arrogant and imperialistic British have been hogging Stonehenge all for themselves. Why do they get to own Stonehenge? They didn’t even build Stonehenge, it was druids a long time ago. France should get a turn owning Stonehenge. If not, we have no choice but to start World War III.”

    The diplomats watch you in puzzled silence as you struggle to control your spastic bowels. After a few perilous seconds you manage to resist defecating, for at least a little bit longer.

    The English ambassador scoffs disdainfully. “How dare the devious French try to take our Stonehenge, when they’ve been selfishly hoarding the Eiffel Tower all to themselves for years. If France wants to do World War III, England welcomes the chance to best them in a contest of nukes. After we win, we’ll bring the Eiffel Tower to London where it belongs.”

    With your blessing, England and France begin lobbing nuclear weapons at each other, destroying both Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower, as well as all their cities and buildings and people.

    The destruction of two countries would be bad enough, but England and France were both NATO signatories. As soon as they went to war, that invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which declares that an attack against one NATO member is an attack against all and must be responded to with military action. All the other NATO members fulfill their obligations to defend England and France from England and France by bombing England and France. Attacking England and France invokes Article 5 of NATO again, which forces all the NATO nations to start bombing all the NATO nations that attacked England and France, including themselves.

    You are killed in a nuclear explosion when the United States retaliates against the United States by bombing the United States.

    Knowing that your bowels could evacuate the entire frozen package of hot dogs you ate this morning at any moment, you have to propose a peace treaty between England and France on how to equitably divide Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower, and pronto!

    The British ambassador falls silent for a long moment, then takes a nude photo of the queen out of his briefcase. “This photo of the queen’s glorious bare body is one of England’s most treasured possessions,” he says gravely, handing it to the French ambassador. “England will not trade it for anything less precious than the Eiffel Tower.”

    The French ambassador examines the photo for a few seconds. “She looks pretty good for her age,” he says with utter solemnity.

    The British ambassador nods. “Yeah, she’s in her nineties. Not bad at all.”

    The two ambassadors shake hands, signaling a new era of peace between their countries. Now that you’ve averted war, nothing stops you from running to the bathroom.

    “The Mona Lisa is one of France’s most valued treasures,” says the French ambassador in a hushed and reverent tone. “We stole that painting from the Italians, and it’s ours now. Until now, we’ve had a policy to never paint on the Mona Lisa, but we would break that rule in exchange for Stonehenge.”

    “Manchester United rules!” shouts the English ambassador. “They kick the ball very well. We’d be honored to have Mona Lisa become a fan of Manchester.”

    The two ambassadors shake hands, signaling a new era of peace between their countries. Now that you’ve averted war, nothing stops you from running to the bathroom.

    You sprint toward the toilets, using every ounce of willpower to contain the furious contents of your twitching asshole. The door of the U.N.’s bathroom beckons to you like a lighthouse in a storm.

    You stride triumphantly toward the toilets, ready to drop your pants and destroy the plumbing. There’s no time to spare either, because shit is ramming against your sphincter like Vikings at the castle gates.

    There are four stalls in this bathroom. Which one do you want to use?

    Wow, you just offended a Nobel Prize winner, and you still have a runaway brown train chugging down your colon, next stop sphincter junction. And without your guidance, World War III could break out in the general assembly at any time. Better make this quick!

    Which stall do you want to use?

    You open the door to the first stall, and a young woman sitting on the toilet shrieks in alarm.

    “Excuse me, this stall is occupied!” screams Malala Yousafzai. “What the fucking hell is wrong with you? Can’t a Nobel Prize winner take a dump in peace?”

    “Well, fucking knock next time! Now get lost, so I can finish up in here and get back to a conference on the importance of women’s education in the developing world.”

    The Dalai Lama is sitting on the toilet. “Suffering must be our teacher, not our master,” he says while smiling at you benevolently. There is a quiet continuous sound of trickling urine.

    “You are filled with sorrow,” says the Dalai Lama. “Instead, be joyous, for the world’s beauty is all around you!” Urine continues to steadily trickle.

    “Our needs and wants are roadblocks on the path to nirvana.” The sound of urine slows down to intermittent spurts, and eventually stops entirely. Five quiet seconds pass as the Dalai Lama smiles at you. Then suddenly urine starts pouring again twice as loud as before.

    You drop your pants and seat your bare ass on the Dalai Lama’s naked thighs. In response, the Buddhist spiritual leader calmly takes a can of mace out of his robes and pepper-sprays you in the eyes.

    The world is a painful blur. You try to fumble your way to the sinks to wash the pepper spray from your stinging eyes, but instead accidentally wander out of the bathroom into the U.N.’s hallway, right in front of an elementary school tour group.

    There are shocked gasps and giggles from the students as you waddle around with your fallen pants, reluctantly shitting a breadcrumb trail of turds behind you.

    Police handcuff you and throw you in the back of a squad car. You face some pretty serious charges. Shitting in front of minors will get you put on the sex offender registry, which will get you fired from your job at the United Nations and make it impossible to ever get employed again.

    However, you’re never charged for your crimes. On your way to the police station, World War III happens, and you’re disintegrated by a nuclear explosion.

    Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is sitting on the toilet. “Occupied,” says the brutal tyrant. “My bad, I should have locked the door.”

    “No, they only killed one of my body doubles,” says Gaddafi. “I was at the United Nations for a diplomatic summit when my government was overthrown, so I decided to lay low and live in the bathroom here.”

    “Sure, help yourself,” says Gaddafi as he stands and pulls up his pants. “Heads up, though, I just dropped a monster deuce, and this toilet is completely clogged. Sorry about that.”

    The odor from the toilet is absolutely horrendous. Gaddafi’s dump smells like a combination of dog sweat and spoiled cheesecake. You flick the handle a few times, but it doesn’t flush. You definitely do not want to sit on top of that mess, but you need a toilet and you’re getting desperate.

    You sit down on top of the steaming dung and defecate. It’s pretty gross feeling the polluted Gaddafi-water splash up against your ass cheeks, but at least you get rid of your diarrhea.

    You have succeeded in using the toilet for five minutes without World War III breaking out, so congratulations! Technically, you win! On the downside, you get all kinds of weird diseases from exposure to Gaddafi’s shit, which is to be expected from someone who slept with thousands of prostitutes and sex slaves over four decades. A few hours after using the bathroom you start hemorrhaging blood from your anus and then die. After your death, there’s nobody around to prevent World War III, and humanity is eradicated by nuclear warfare.

    If you’re okay with this, you can quit now and consider this a victory, but maybe there’s a way to take a shit and also prevent World War III from happening at all.

    You open the door and find Bill Gates sitting on the toilet, but not actually defecating. The toilet lid is down, and Bill Gate’s pants are up.

    The billionaire philanthropist is lost in thought and doesn’t notice you enter.

    “Oh, hello, Secretary-General,” says Bill Gates. “No, I don’t need to use the bathroom. I just came here to think about all the strides the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made in the fight against malaria. The bathroom is one of my favorite quiet places to think about doing charity.”

    “Sure, of course you can use this toilet,” says Bill Gates. “Unfortunately, not everyone on Earth has a toilet. And other unfortunate people have malaria, a serious and sometimes deadly disease spread by mosquitoes. There are over 200 million cases of malaria each year. It’s an enduring problem that I hope to fix in my lifetime.”

    “Oh right, you need to use the toilet,” says Bill Gates. “I forgot because I was talking about malaria, a serious disease endemic in tropical climates. Combating malaria will require a threefold approach: 1) reducing mosquito populations by eliminating standing water sources and employing judicious use of pesticides; 2) developing effective drugs and vaccines to protect at-risk populations from malaria; 3) employing barriers such as mosquito nets to prevent contact between humans and mosquitos.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that. I will get off the toilet immediately so you can use it,” says Bill Gates while remaining seated on the toilet. “Diarrhea is also one of the symptoms of malaria, a serious disease that is sometimes fatal. Other symptoms of malaria include fever and vomiting. Over half a million people die each year from malaria, a grim annual toll that is too often ignored in the Western world.

    “The good news is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made huge strides against malaria, reducing deaths by 20 percent since the year 2000. Our scientists have made promising breakthroughs experimenting with recombinant protein-based vaccines, and we intend to keep funding grants to pursue that area of research.

    “Eradicating malaria is a long-term goal, but an attainable one, that will require ongoing cooperation between government health departments and NGOs. By the way, didn’t you say you needed to use the toilet? Sorry, I got distracted talking about malaria.”

    Bill Gates stands up and gestures at the toilet. “It’s all yours.”

    You shit your pants because you let Bill Gates ramble on about malaria for too long. There’s no way you can conduct diplomacy like this. None of the ambassadors will take you seriously if you have sopping-wet shit legs. You have no choice but to go shopping for a new pair of pants.

    You and your befouled pants squeeze onto a packed subway train. The other straphangers give you disgusted looks and inch away.

    In your worst nightmares you never dreamed that you, the secretary-general of the world’s most esteemed diplomatic institution, could become a social pariah stinking up a train car. You pray the subway gets to your stop quickly so you can reach Macy’s and buy clean pants as soon as possible.

    You’re traveling through a tunnel when the subway comes to a screeching halt. The lights flicker, and the car shakes as the ground trembles.

    The train conductor’s voice crackles over the intercom. “Sorry passengers, this train is experiencing service delays because World War III just happened on the surface and everyone up there is dead. Thank you for your patience.”

    You climb a service ladder to the street level and behold the grim aftermath of World War III. Charred corpses litter the streets amidst burning rubble. This is the exact kind of situation you tried to warn people about when you said World War III would be bad.

    Fortunately, you managed to survive doomsday and become a nomadic scavenger. You spend the rest of your grueling life searching through the radioactive ruins of civilization for canned food and bugs to eat. However, in all your decades of wandering the nuclear wasteland, you never find a clean pair of pants.

    “Don’t worry, I’ll squish it!” shouts Bill Gates. He runs out to the United Nations parking lot, hops into his car, and drives into your car at 90 mph, totaling both vehicles.

    Bill Gates dizzily climbs out of the wreckage of his car. He has a long gash bleeding on his forehead where it hit the steering wheel. “I don’t see the mosquito,” he shouts out in warning. “I think it got away. Don’t let it bite you, or you might get malaria!”

    You’ve successfully tricked Bill Gates into leaving the toilet.

    You drop your pants and lower yourself down. The ring of the toilet seat feels cool and refreshing on your buttocks.

    Just as you prepare to tense your colon and expel all the filth within, there is a loud commotion from outside the bathroom. You hear angry shouting. Someone screams, “If World War III is what you want, then World War III is what you’re gonna get!”