On Thursday, the Wounded Warrior Project's board of directors fired its two top executives, following an earlier CBS News investigation into the organization's lavish spending on parties and conferences.
CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano were fired after a meeting in New York, CBS News reports. Their investigation found that the Wounded Warrior Project, which has raised more than $1 billion since 2003, spends 40 to 50 percent of donations on overhead, compared to other veterans charities with overhead costs of 10 to 15 percent.
CBS News spoke with more than 40 former employees who said the outrageous spending started after Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009. In 2014, the Wounded Warrior Project brought in $300 million in donations, and spent $26 million just on employee conferences. At parties, the alcohol flowed, the former employees said, and at one conference, Nardizzi rode in on a horse and rappelled down the side of a building. "It was extremely extravagant," one said. "Dinners and alcohol and just total excess. I mean, it's what the military calls fraud, waste, and abuse."
Sources told CBS News the board of directors received the early results of a financial audit, and they are mulling over hiring a retired senior military officer to take over leadership of the organization. Catherine Garcia
Eve Babitz was Los Angeles' greatest bard. Promiscuous but discerning, the bombshell with a brain bonded with Joan Didion and bedded Jim Morrison. A writer first and party girl second, Babitz presented in reverse until she sickened from what she called the "squalid overboogie." People took her penchant for presenting as trivial seriously; her books went out of print, and an accident that left her with serious burns over half of her body turned her into something of a recluse.
Babitz is finally getting the literary comeback she deserves, but she's still best remembered for posing nude with Marcel Duchamp while they played chess. She was 20, and he was 76. And in this interview with Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of American Art in June 2000, she explained why she did it: to punish her married boyfriend Walter Hopps for not inviting her to a party.
BABITZ: ... [Photographer Julian Wasser] wanted me to be part of this deal and I wouldn't go to the party with him when he wanted to take me because Walter didn't invite me.
KARLSTROM: So, what were you, Walter's girlfriend or something?
BABITZ: I thought I — I deserved respect.
KARLSTROM: I would say. This story is much more interesting than —
BABITZ: That's right. I was 20 years old and I wasn't invited to this party. So, I took these pictures. That was it. You know, I got to Duchamp. We started playing chess. [Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution]
Duchamp won several times, but she didn't care. In fact, she was kind of over it.
BABITZ: I wanted my cigarettes. I wanted my glasses. I wanted my clothes on; I wanted Julian to take me to a Chinese restaurant.
KARLSTROM: So you —
BABITZ: I knew exactly the one he wanted to go too. Chow Yung Fat. It's down on Main Street.
KARLSTROM: So you really weren't all that comfortable?
BABITZ: No. No.
KARLSTROM: But it was worth it.
BABITZ: It was worth it because Walter came in and he dropped his gum.
KARLSTROM: So Walter actually came in to see how it was going.
KARLSTROM: And he didn't even know you were there.
KARLSTROM: Wow. So you won.
KARLSTROM: You didn't win at chess.
KARLSTROM: But you won in terms of taking control of the situation.
BABITZ: That's right.
KARLSTROM: I mean, did you think of it a little bit that way? Because I'm thinking of motivation.
BABITZ: I said, "Hello, Walter" and he dropped his gum.
MS. BABITZ: Yes. He always chewed Double Mint gum. [Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution]
This descriptive lightness and jolly insistence on her own frivolity make Babitz a pleasure to listen to when she's speaking off the cuff (and an absolute dream to read, where she sneaks in structural flourishes that knock you silly with their unsuspected lyricism). If you're up to it, read the whole oral history; it's a marvelous thing. Better still: Read her books. On Aug. 30, Slow Days, Fast Company will be back in print. Lili Loofbourow
Italy is a good place to live right now if you're about to turn 18. On Sept. 15, the Italian government is launching an initiative to encourage Italian youths' interest in culture by gifting its newly-minted adults 500 euro (about 565 U.S. dollars) on their 18th birthdays.
That chunk of change, dubbed a "culture bonus," can be used for "books, concert tickets, theater tickets, cinema tickets, museum visits, and trips to national parks," The Independent reported. Parliamentary undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini said he hopes the effort reminds Italian teens "how important cultural consumption is, both for enriching yourself as a person and strengthening the fabric of our society."
An estimated 575,000 teens are eligible for the gift this year, which will cost the Italian government about 290 million euro total. Becca Stanek
CNN reported Tuesday that U.S. news organizations, including The New York Times, may have been targeted in a hack allegedly sanctioned by Russian intelligence. U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation told CNN that these hacks are thought to be connected to previous cyber breaches focused on the Democratic Party.
News organizations can "yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts within the government, as well as communications and unpublished work with sensitive information," CNN pointed out, leading U.S. officials to believe this is another tactic for Russian spy agencies to gain insight into American politics.
The breach is reportedly under investigation by the FBI, and The New York Times has apparently "brought in private sector security investigators who are working with U.S. national security officials to assess the damage," CNN said.
The New York Times did not confirm either the hack or the FBI investigation. "Like most news organizations we are vigilant about guarding against attempts to hack into our systems," New York Times Co. spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told CNN. "There are a variety of approaches we take up to and including working with outside investigators and law enforcement. We won't comment on any specific attempt to gain unauthorized access to the Times." Becca Stanek
Donald Trump has a mere 1-point lead on Hillary Clinton in the deep-red state of Missouri, a new Monmouth University poll released Tuesday revealed. Among likely voters, 44 percent in the state support Trump, with 43 percent backing Hillary Clinton, 8 percent backing Libertarian Gary Johnson, and 5 percent still undecided.
There's good news for Trump in Utah, though: He holds a 15-point lead on Clinton in the most recent Public Policy Polling poll, with 39 percent to Clinton's 24 percent despite his unpopularity with Mormon voters. Even though over 60 percent of the state's voters view Trump unfavorably, "there's not much of a chance that Utah's actually going to go Democratic this year," PPP president Dean Debnam said.
The Monmouth University poll was conducted by telephone between Aug. 19-22, reaching 401 Missouri residents; the margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent. The PPP poll was conducted by telephone between Aug. 19-21, reaching 1,018 Utah residents; the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent. Jeva Lange
Government officials in South Korea are reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent assassins abroad to kill or abduct defectors, Japan's Asahi Shimbun reports. Kim made the edict after several high-profile defections from the country. "North Koreans have recently defected on political grounds rather than economic reasons in quick succession. North Korea seems to be feeling that its political system is in danger," said an official at the South Korea Ministry of Unification.
In one case, 12 female restaurant workers and their manager defected en masse to South Korea this past spring. Six days ago, North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain defected to South Korea, with officials saying he was "sick and tired" of Kim's rule.
North Korea has successfully killed defectors in the past, such as when the nephew of the former wife of the previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was assassinated in South Korea in 1997. Jeva Lange
Apparently a lot of Americans have dreamed of smelling like freshly fried chicken while basking in the sun. When fast-food chain KFC launched a fried chicken-scented sunscreen giveaway online Monday to promote its extra-crispy fried chicken, the 3,000 bottles of SPF 30 that were up for grabs were gone in a mere two hours:
We made a sunscreen and it's free* and it smells like fried chicken and fried chicken smells delicious.https://t.co/fdqaJWcnpY
— KFC (@kfc) August 22, 2016
The sunscreen, called Col. Sanders' Extra Crispy Sunscreen, supposedly smells like the 11 herbs and spices that give the chain's chicken its signature scent so, the company said, anyone who wears it is "always tan and always smelling great." "Suntan lotion always smells like lotion," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "So we thought — why not make it smell like fried chicken?"
Archaeologists working in the Orkney Islands of Scotland have discovered large stone slabs belonging to a mysterious, ancient structure. But perhaps even more puzzling than the stones is the fact that they were found underneath Scotland's "largest Neolithic rubbish dump," BBC reports.
The structure is approximately 33 feet wide, and is made up of pieces of stone 13 feet in length; the complex could date back as far as 5,000 years. A human arm bone found nearby might have belonged to the founder of the structure.
"The sheer size and scale of the stones unearthed are unprecedented on this site," site director Nick Card told the BBC. "The way the stones are built into the construction is also unique to the Ness [of Brodgar dig site]. This all suggests that they may have been re-used and taken from elsewhere. Perhaps they may be part of a stone circle that pre-dates the main Ness site. It is all a bit of mystery and we won't know more until we do more work."
The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute agreed that "hard work" would be required in order to fully understand the site. Jeva Lange