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RSS-Affiliated Group to Hold Nationwide Protests From October 10 Against Free Trade Agreement RCEP

RSS-Affiliated Group to Hold Nationwide Protests From October 10 Against Free Trade Agreement RCEP submitted by newsbot_ to InNews [link] [comments]

The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe

The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.

Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM

Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.

Part 2: No stadium left behind

Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.

Part 3: Small place, big game!

As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!

Epilogue: What's in the future?

As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
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Scam Alert: Do not use, they take your money to mail you free government forms.

TL;DR This website takes your money and mails you blank forms that you could have obtained for free, and charges very high fees for this “service”. It leads you to believe you are paying a fee to receive a document directly (such as a passport or birth certificate). Warn your friends and family not to use this website!
I’m ashamed to admit that I fell for a scam yesterday. My first instinct was to keep it a secret due to embarassment, but I’m sharing this in the hopes that it can help prevent other people from falling for this scam.
In the midst of all the pandemic confusion, some government services have been restricted or shut down. I recently realized my passport expires on 4/24 of this year. However, the post office is not currently doing in person passport renewals. I was curious to see if there was a way to renew passports online. When I googled “Online passport renewal” this website, was the first result. I was taken directly from google to the “Online passport renewal” website. I’d like to think that if I had gone to the main page first, I would have noticed further down the page where they mention they are a private company not affiliated with the government. In my opinion, this is only here to provide them plausible deniability, and they are hoping most people won’t notice this.
Now what I THOUGHT this website was, was an official government website that allowed for online passport renewal. The website is well designed and didn’t set off any “scam” alarm bells for me. It leads the user to believe that you have to pay $130 to the website, and you will have your renewed passport mailed to the address you provide.
What this website ACTUALLY does is mail you blank passport renewal forms, which you can obtain for free from this website:
You then have to fill out these forms, and send an ADDITIONAL $110 to the government for the passport renewal fee, as this website is unaffiliated with the government in any way, and pockets the $130 you send them.
This website has hidden in the terms and conditions that it processes orders immediately, and so will not offer cancellations or refunds under any circumstances. It also has small text next to what looks like a checkbox for standard agreement to terms that says “The $130 does not cover the $110 fee” or something to that effect, which I actually read and somehow didn’t process before I hit “submit”. Some part of my brain was like “What does that mean? Eh, that must be for special cases, there’s no way this website just takes $130 and provides nothing.” and I clicked before that thought had completely sunk in. I instantly regretted it. I realized what the scam was when I got my confirmation email that basically says my blank forms are on the way, which I will then need to fill out and mail back to the government with my $110 passport renewal fee, old passport, and passport photo.
Obviously I am kicking myself, and I’m sure anyone reading this must wonder how I missed so many red flags, and I must be an idiot. I’ll admit, looking back at this, I have no idea how I fell for this. However, if I can fall for it, it’s possible that one of your friends or family could as well, so PLEASE make sure everyone you care about is aware of this website and knows not to use it for any services. (They also pull the same scam for people trying to obtain their birth certificate apparently.)
I’ve read that people who mentioned submitting a charge dispute received the following response from this company: “We win 99.5% of credit card disputes we receive. After we beat a dispute, we charge $100 (as outlined in the Terms) to recover damages caused by the customer's dispute. If the $100 debt does not get paid, we report it to all 3 credit bureaus to negatively affect the disputers credit. If the individual attempts to dispute the credit reported debt, we also rebut that inquiry to ensure that the customer either pays the debt, or the credit remains affected.”
So I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I may call my bank and just see what they think, but I kind of want this to just be over. I don’t want this company causing further trouble for me and impacting my credit for $130, and I don’t want to end up having to pay them $230 instead of just the $130 I have most likely already lost. Even though this company obviously knows the scam they are pulling on people, they seem to have their bases covered with various small print disclaimers littered around the website.
I think I have to chalk this up to a $130 lesson learned. I figure if I share what I’ve learned with other people, then the cost per person of this lesson goes down the more people I share it with.
The takeaways here:
Again, I realize this looks like I just ignored a million red flags and this makes me look like a complete idiot. Trust me, I realize this and I definitely feel like an idiot, but I want to help people not fall prey to this scam, and make sure they can protect people they care about such as parents, grandparents, other people who may be more likely to fall prey to such a scam. I don’t have any excuses here really, I’ve had a lot on my mind, I wasn’t focused on the task at hand, it was one chore of many that I just wanted to put behind me and I rushed through it thinking this was a legit way to renew my passport. Ironically this is now a much bigger deal than it would have been if I had just taken my time and made sure I understood what I was doing.
Links to sites where other people complain of falling for the exact same scam in the exact same way that I did, just so you can see that I’m not some exceptionally stupid outlier:
Edit: I've learned that the same guy that runs also runs the following sites:
So please avoid those sites as well. He's running similar scams using those domains.
BBB complaints for
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Summary of Inslee's June 4 press conference - changes to COVID-19 testing plan

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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 13, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002
  • Okay, look, here's the deal. The obituaries, as sad as they are, contain some of Dave's best work. But good lord, they are looooooooooong. And they never contain anything newsworthy that is relevant to 2002 or anything. But they're always super interesting from a historical perspective. But last week, Dave wrote a brief obit for Lou Thesz (only 5,000 words, ahem) and promised to go into more detail this week. So this week, we open with a 16,000+ word obituary for Lou Thesz and I just can't. Sorry. It's really good though, you should all go read it. But I've got, like, a family and a job and responsibilities and stuff. I can't recap this. It's an incredible piece of work though.
  • The World Wrestling Federation is no more. On May 5th, the company unveiled its new name, World Wrestling Entertainment. Dave recaps the history of the company briefly (was originally called "World Wide Wrestling Federation, or WWWF, until 1979 when it was shortened to WWF, which is has remained for the past 23 years). But as of this week, the company has been rebranded to WWE. The website domain was changed to and all references to "WWF" were changed to "WWE." The scratch logo was also changed, with the F being removed, so now it simply looks like "WW" (which, honestly, never really did make much sense to me. Even though the logo has changed, it's still "WW" to this day). Anyway, this all stems from the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit over in the UK, in which the WWE lost every court case and appeal. They were planning to appeal the ruling in the UK's highest court, their final last-ditch effort to save their name, but the reality is, they weren't going to win that case. Vince McMahon and the company blatantly and repeatedly violated the agreement they signed in 1994. It was 1000% obvious they were in the wrong here and they had gotten spanked by every single court before, often losing their appeals by unanimous decisions. So they weren't going to win this final appeal either and they knew it. So they dropped the appeal and threw in the towel and finally agreed to just change the name. The WWE has until May 15th to remove all references to "WWF" from their shows and merchandise. Any merch with "WWF" on it can no longer be sold after that date. All video packages and posters will have to be changed and any "WWF" mention or logos after that time on television or in past footage will have to be censored. Last year, during the court case, the WWE claimed it would cost them more than $50 million to change their name and to deal with all the legal and rebranding headaches that come with it. But this week, they backtacked on that and said it wouldn't be that expensive after all. Who knows if that's true, but the idea of this costing $50 million was enough to make the shareholders shit themselves, so Dave says they claimed it won't cost that much in order to keep the stock from plummeting. Anyway, none of this had to happen. In 1994, Vince McMahon and the Wildlife Fund signed an agreement that the wrestling company would not use the "WWF" name for promoting itself outside of the U.S. (since the Wildlife group is based overseas) and that worked well for a year or two. But then Vince McMahon apparently decided, "Meh, who cares about agreements?" and began repeatedly and blatantly violating it, constantly, for years, at which point the Wildlife group finally got upset enough to file a lawsuit. Anyway, on the first Raw since the name change, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler repeatedly stumbled over the new initials, accidentally saying "WWF" multiple times. Gonna take time for everyone to get used to calling it the new name.
  • The buyrates for Wrestlemania 18 are in and it appears the event will have to settle for being the #2 biggest money show in wrestling history after it came up short and failed to surpass Wrestlemania 17. Final numbers aren't in yet, but latest estimates put it somewhere around the 800,000 buys range (ended up being about 880,000) which is quite a bit down from WM17. It was also #2 in total revenue from live gate and merch. Internally, it's actually being seen as something of a disappointment because with the power of the Hogan/Rock dream match, they were hopeful this show would top 1 million buys but unless something drastic changes with these buyrate numbers, it looks like the final total will be a good bit short of that.
  • NJPW's latest Tokyo Dome show is in the books. The show drew a sellout crowd of 57,000 fans, there to see the Masahiro Chono vs. Mitsuharu Misawa dream main event (which ended up going to a 30-minute draw). It was the biggest non-Jan. 4 crowd NJPW has drawn to the Dome in 2 years. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the show flopped in the ratings on TV. A big part of that is because the Chono/Misawa match didn't air as part of the show (due to the Asahi-TV/Nippon TV network issues discussed in past issues) so the televised show was built around the Shinya Hashimoto/Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton/Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and man, the fans sure didn't seem to give a fuck about that. In fact, the rating was so bad that there's concern that this will be the end of pro wrestling on prime time TV in Japan for the foreseeable future. But there are justifiable reasons for the rating. The show went head-to-head with the Kirin Cup soccer tournament, which was a huge deal and did more than double the rating the NJPW show did. Unlike the U.S., wrestling and "real" sports in Japan have a major crossover audience, so having real sports competition severely hurt NJPW's show. Also, while Ogawa is a draw as a singles star, putting him in a tag match against Norton and Tenzan isn't exactly setting the world on fire. The show lasted 6 hours, which was way too long and the crowd was burned out before Misawa vs. Chono even started.
  • Other notes from the NJPW show: it opened with an hour long 30th anniversary ceremony. They had a 10-bell salute for Lou Thesz and brought out a bunch of legendary NJPW names from the 70s and 80s. Then they did an angle where Antonio Inoki came out to give a speech, but he was attacked by Tiger Jeet Singh. But then Chyna made the save, attacking Singh, running him out of the ring, and challenging him to a match. Inoki's ex-wife, famous Japanese actress Mitsuko Baisho then made an appearance, getting a huge pop, and she and Inoki did his famous catch phrase to kick off the show. Minoru Suzuki of Pancrase (who started with NJPW as a pro wrestler) was also there. Jushin Ligher and Minoru Tanaka won the IWGP Jr. tag titles and then Liger challenged several NOAH wrestlers who were at ringside (most notably KENTA) and they all jumped in the ring and it ended with a staredown. The Steiner Brothers reunited to face Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kensuke Sasaki, with Chyna as the special referee. Tanahashi was working hurt, but he still worked. They did a spot where Tanahashi ran into Chyna and he went down off the bump instead of her and Dave seems annoyed by this since Tanahashi is a guy they really need to be pushing who can be a huge star for this company. Dave doesn't like him selling bumps for Chyna. Anyway, decent match but the Steiners basically steamrolled them and Tanahashi was pinned by Scott Steiner. Chyna then challenged several All Japan Women at ringside as well as Scott Steiner, Tanahashi, Sasaki, and even IWGP champion Yuji Nagata, saying she wanted a title match. Dave thinks this company has lost its damn mind. Speaking of Nagata, he retained his title in the next match. And then, of course, the main event. Usually during interpromotional matches, the crowd is always super pro-NJPW but this time, they went insane for Misawa and it was clear there were a ton of NOAH fans in the building. Chono did some Inoki moves and Misawa did some Great Baba moves, to kinda have a spiritual "Baba vs. Inoki" tribute in the match I guess. Ended in a draw and by the time it was over, no matter how big the dream match was, the crowd was burned out and weren't as hype for the match as you might expect once the entrances were done.
WATCH: Misawa vs. Chono highlights
  • Goldberg has received a full buy-out of his WCW contract from Time Warner and as of this week, he is now an unsigned free agent. Goldberg did not request the buy-out, the decision was made by the Time Warner side after the most unprofitable quarter in their history. The company was looking to cut expenses, even at a loss, just so the books can look better in future quarters. Goldberg reportedly received almost all of his remaining salary (more than 90% of the nearly $3 million he was still owed) in order to get him off their books. When Goldberg realized he's going to be a free agent a year earlier than expected, talks with WWE started up. But as usual, they went nowhere. WWE (I feel like I'm having to get used to typing that all over again. Really does feel like 2002 again) has interest in him, especially given the way ratings continue to plummet lately. But Goldberg has always wanted more than WWE is willing to pay. Plus, they're feeling burned right now after signing Hall and Nash to big money, long-term contracts for part-time work, only to have Nash get injured and Hall likely to get himself fired at any moment (that moment is coming sooner than you think), and neither of them really getting over in any meaningful way. Even Hogan, who is also making big money for a reduced schedule, was hot for a minute and boosted ratings and buyrates. But after only a few months, that train already seems to be out of steam and TV ratings are back to floundering with Hogan as champion leading the shows. So WWE is kinda gun-shy on opening the checkbook and paying out the ass for these big stars, futilely hoping that one of them is the quick-fix that can stop the bleeding.
  • There's also the question of how Goldberg would fit within the WWE locker room. He hasn't been shy about his dislike for Triple H, dating back to WCW when Triple H trashed Goldberg in a radio interview and saying that even if Goldberg was available, they wouldn't want him (which, at the time, when WCW was still alive and Goldberg was the biggest star in the company, is just about the dumbest thing he could have said. In 1998, WWF would have gladly traded 10 Triple H's for Goldberg). Anyway, Goldberg took the comment personally and even confronted Triple H face-to-face at the Toy Fair convention in New York a couple of years ago, in a bit of an ugly scene where Goldberg was yelling at him and Triple H and Stephanie kept their heads down and said nothing. Goldberg also has a lot of dislike for Scott Hall, which is another of Triple H's good friends, so ya know. The latest on Goldberg is that he's considering working some in Japan but he's just fielding offers right now. Word is he's interested in working with PRIDE as well as NJPW. Of course, if he's looking to maximize his money potential, WWE is still the place to go if you want to make big bucks. If promoted right, matches against Rock, Austin, Triple H, and others could do huge buyrates. And if they keep Goldberg and Austin apart for a year and build to a match with them at Wrestlemania, well, needless to say, that show would set records. Dave talks about how Goldberg got nuclear hot in 1998 and even in 1999, he was the biggest drawing wrestler in the business. But by 2000, the company was dying, Goldberg was injured, and "Jesus Chris with an Etch-a-Sketch" couldn't have drawn in WCW. Dave again does the math and talks about how WWE should have brought Goldberg in for the Invasion angle. Yes, it would have cost them a lot of money and upset the salary structure, but he would have more than made up for it with the kind of buyrates he could have drawn with those dream matches and the Invasion angle might have had a chance. But alas.
  • And of course, who's to say how WWE would use Goldberg? They already have Brock Lesnar and they're currently giving him the unstoppable monster push. Lesnar is bigger, younger, and a more legitimate athlete (for whatever that's worth). And WWE probably isn't going to give Goldberg an endless string of jobbers to beat. In WWE, he's going to be expected to work longer matches, sell for people, etc. They won't book him the way WCW did so who knows how he'd get over in WWE? If they wanted to build to an Austin/Goldberg match, it would make sense that Goldberg first has to plow through guys like Triple H, Undertaker, etc. And politically, that just ain't gonna happen. Dave doubts NJPW can afford him for anything more than one or two big shows. As for PRIDE, he could probably make a lot of money there, but the problem is.....PRIDE is a shoot. They haven't had "worked" matches in a couple of years and doing so now would kill their credibility. Which means Goldberg would have to go into a legit shoot and one embarrassing loss there would severely hurt his future earning potential. In the end, Dave thinks it's inevitable that Goldberg will end up in WWE, but probably not any time soon. But he's certain it will eventually happen. There's too much money on the line for both sides and WWE's ratings woes are making them desperate, so it'll happen some day (yup, less than a year from this).
  • And the moment is here! For those of you who had "under 3 months" in the "How long will Scott Hall last?" pool, come collect your prize. Scott Hall was released by the WWE this week due to misbehavior on the European tour. Firstly, he went on a drunken binge during the entire tour and was even worse on the plane ride home (much more on that in a bit). Dave says this was inevitable. WCW fired him. Even ECW stopped using him when he got arrested at one point. And even though he was seemingly behaving during his Japan tours, even NJPW cut ties with him shortly before he went back to WWE because they were fed up with some of his antics. And now WWE has fired him. Dave talks about how Hall made a drunken spectacle of himself in the locker room on his very first day back in WWE, before the NWO even debuted on TV, then he showed up in Toronto for Wrestlemania in no condition to perform (later came out that he was hungover from the night before), which caused Austin to insist on ending their feud at WM (which was the plan, but Dave says Austin has continued working with Hall afterwards simply because they don't really seem to have any other credible opponents for him). Hall's match with Bradshaw at Backlash was an embarrassment and the night before that show, agents had to help him back to his hotel. Just endless incidents like this. In Europe, Hall was such a blatant drunken mess that even the other wrestlers were calling for him to be fired. Hall was 45 minutes late for the bus they all took to London and then passed out in the locker room during the show. On the plane ride back, he was starting fights with people and eventually passed out and it got to the point that people were worried about his health. When they got back to the U.S. for Raw, they literally had to wake him up from a drunken stupor backstage to send him to the ring to do his segment (and yes, he wrestled). After the show, they fired him. No one came to his defense, and even Hall's closest friends are now admitting that he simply can't handle the pressures of being on the road and being released is the best thing for him right now. Dave talks about how a lot of wrestlers have been fired in the last couple of years for drug and alcohol issues and that's all well and good, but the big problem is why hire them in the first place? Scott Hall's issues were not a secret. It wasn't like he cleaned himself up before he came to WWE. He was getting in trouble and collecting arrests like Pokemon all the way up until the day they brought him back. Anyway, Hall had a 2-year deal, believed to be worth $600,000-per-year downside for only 10 dates per month. So a really sweet deal, but it's gone now.
  • Hey, speaking of that European tour, turns out there was a bit of trouble on the flight back to the U.S. Perhaps you've heard of it. Most of the trouble wasn't even due to Scott Hall. Turns out Vince McMahon didn't make the trip and lots of people decided that was a good reason to cut loose and have fun. Plus, since everyone has seen Hall get away with being drunk 24/7 for the last few months, they figured nobody would get in trouble. So....folks got DRUNK. Among the various incidents on this flight: Goldust got on the speaker system and began drunkenly serenading his ex-wife Terri with love songs. Terri was extremely uncomfortable and begged him to stop and then Jim Ross had to go sit him down. Ric Flair also "started to get wild" but Jim Ross calmed him down as well (Dave doesn't seem to know just yet exactly what Flair "getting wild" entailed, but if you don't know, it involved getting totally naked except for his robe and started helicoptering his dick at flight attendants. And it gets worse if you feel like researching it. The flight attendants later filed a lawsuit against Flair and accused him of sexual assault). Curt Hennig was spraying people with shaving cream and he kept trying to get Brock Lesnar to fight him. Lesnar, being a newcomer, didn't know how to handle it and didn't want to get in trouble, but he ain't gonna let Hennig talk shit to him either. So anyway, Lesnar got up and basically annihilated Hennig, repeatedly taking him to the ground and embarrassing him because, well, of course he did. It's Brock Lesnar. At one point, Lesnar slammed Hennig up against the side of the plane, right into the emergency exit door, which freaked everybody out for obvious reasons. Michael Hayes got into a scuffle with Bradshaw and then tried to pick a fight with Hall (although everyone on the plane said Hall had it coming). Anyway, Hayes was apparently obnoxious as hell and annoyed everyone. But then he made the mistake of falling asleep and someone (believed to be X-Pac) cut his hair off. When Hayes woke up, he was furious and tried to fight several people. The next day at the Raw tapings, his entire mullet was in a plastic bag, pinned to the wall of the locker room for everyone to see. Gerald Brisco, Arn Anderson, and Hayes all caught a ton of heat from Vince afterward since they were the people who were supposed to be in charge. Anderson and Hayes especially, since their jobs are to keep the boys under control, but they were apparently having just as much fun as everyone else. Everyone's waiting to see how Vince is going to handle this situation. As noted, Hall was already fired and Hayes got an earful from Vince, Stephanie, and JR at Raw the next day, but there will likely be more fallout. Undertaker was also said to be furious over how out of hand everything got (I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this).
  • Anyway, while they were in Europe, WWE presented its latest UK PPV, Insurexxtion. As usual with the UK PPVs, this was little more than a glorified house show. They announced the show as sold out, but there were empty seats everywhere. RVD vs. Eddie Guerrero for the IC title was the show-stealer according to every report Dave heard, and was said to be far better than their Backlash match. Brock Lesnar teamed with Shawn Stasiak (lol wut) and lost to the Hardyz. Brock beat up everybody after the match. Triple H beat Undertaker in the main event and Dave doesn't know why since Undertaker is the one challenging Hogan for the title at the next PPV. The top rope broke during the match when they did an Irish whip into the corner and when the rope snapped, a metal piece broke off from the corner and flew into the crowd and barely missed hitting a small child in the face.
  • Smackdown on 5/2 drew the all-time lowest rating in the history of the show. Dave says that's the scariest thing to happen to WWF in the past 5 years. It was also the 3rd lowest rating for any Smackdown or Raw dating back to 1998. The rating was a full 18% drop from the week before, which was already scary. The rating was even lower than previous holiday episodes. So what was the problem? Well, it was headlined by Hogan defending the WWF title against Chris Jericho (as it turns out, the final time the "WWF" title was ever defended). Dave says the title has been meaningless for years now and Hogan's steam is running out. And Jericho hasn't recovered from spending the first part of the year being emasculated and playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon in the Wrestlemania feud. Add all that together and you've got a recipe for a shit ratings night. Among other things. Dave isn't blaming this all on Hogan and Jericho by any means, there's a lot of problems with the company as of late, from bad storylines to failing to make new stars, and it's all starting to come home to roost.
  • Keiji Muto wrestled a match in AJPW under his alternate gimmick of Kokushi Muso. Turns out "Great Muta" isn't his only other persona. The Kokushi Muso gimmick is basically like Hakushi in WWF, where he's covered his entire body in Japanese writing. He originally debuted the gimmick in Michinoku Pro last year, when teaming with....Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki, who occasionally brought back the old Hakushi gimmick in Japan). Anyway, same thing here. He teamed with Hakushi for this match, while using that gimmick (Muto would use that gimmick a handful of times throughout the years, always when teaming with Hakushi. It's like that was only his gimmick for that team. The last time he used it was in 2009, also in a tag match with Hakushi).
  • Former NOAH Jr. champion Naomichi Marufuji underwent knee surgery this week and should be out around 6 months (ends up being 9 months).
  • NJPW is doing an angle (according to Dave) similar to the Vince/Flair angle last year where Antonio Inoki and Masahiro Chono are battling over control of the company. Although it's more realistic. Inoki is in the press talking about how many of NJPW's shows aren't doing well and is pushing for them to use Naoya Ogawa more, while Chono doesn't want to. Inoki is also saying Chono needs to retire from wrestling and focus his energies on managing the day-to-day business of the promotion full-time. Dave says this is an angle, but it doesn't sound like much of one to me, and I think later years have kinda proven there was a lot of blurring between fiction and reality here, because there was a ton of behind the scenes turmoil in NJPW during this period.
  • Will Smith appeared alongside Antonio Inoki at the Japanese movie premiere for the film "Ali" based on Muhammad Ali's life. Crowd went absolutely insane for Inoki (I've tried like hell and can't even find a picture of them together. But then again, I can't find a single pic from the premiere at all).
  • When reviewing the recent Dos Caras Jr. shoot fight in Japan, Dave talks about the guy's potential as a wrestler. He has a strong amateur background, legit shoot skills, and a famous name. Dave thinks, if he's even halfway a decent worker, he can almost be a guaranteed star in Mexico (based on his name alone) and probably Japan too, if he decides to pursue that career (indeed he did, and indeed, he was fairly decent at it. Of course, he later became Alberto Del Rio, accused rapist and pretty much confirmed all-around piece of shit).
  • Former long-time WCW referee Randy Anderson passed away this week after a long battle with testicular cancer. Back when WCW was still around and he first got diagnosed, they did an angle out of it where Eric Bischoff fired him and then laughed at his wife and kids when they begged him to give Anderson his back. Of course, he was later re-hired when Flair became on-screen commissioner and continued to referee until 1999 when the cancer forced him to retire.
  • Random news and notes: Bobby Heenan is said to be in good spirits and is especially excited because WWE recently contacted him about doing a WWE Magazine feature on him. Verne Gagne's wife Mary passed away from cancer this week. Goldberg will be appearing on this week's Wrestling Observer Live show to be interviewed. Mil Mascaras is releasing an autobiography (in Spanish of course) and man, I'd love to find an English translation of that because I bet it'd be interesting. Chyna appeared on "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" this past week.
WATCH: Chyna on Sabrina The Teenage Witch
  • Bruno Sammartino turned down an invitation to attend the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony in New York (yes, that HOF existed and still does, in a different city now). Bruno did an interview with the local paper and said "Wrestling is how I made my living and supported my family, but it's over. I don't want anything to do with it anymore." Bruno managed to turn the discussion to the WWE, despite them not having any affiliation with this HOF and grumbled about how Vince McMahon blocked him from being inducted into the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame. However, the new MSG owners have apparently promised Bruno he'll be inducted this year, since he sold the place out 200 times (Dave jumps in here to correct it and says the real number of sellouts is closer to 45. Bruno only main evented the Garden 127 times and by no means were they all sell-outs. But it's one of those myths that has been perpetuated for so long that Dave begrudgingly recognizes that people are always going to believe the 200 number is true, but it's not even close. He compares it to the claim that Andre The Giant was 7'4, which also wasn't true but people repeated the lie so often that it became accepted as fact).
  • Afa Anoa'i Jr., the son of the legendary Wild Samoan, is a star football player at his high school and is being recruited for Penn State. He also sometimes wrestles on his father's indie shows (that would be Manu, who was very briefly part of Legacy with Orton, Dibiase Jr., and Cody).
  • Former WCW announcer Scott Hudson will be doing commentary for Jerry Jarrett's new promotion, and Bob Ryder is said to be in a major front office position.
  • Jarrett has put out a press release saying that his new promotion has had talks with Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Word is Warrior wanted a 15% ownership stake in the new company, which pretty much ended those talks right there. They're also apparently interested in Scott Hall now too, with the idea that since they're only doing 1 show per week, he won't be a screw-up here. Dave is skeptical. Anyway, currently Road Dogg and Brian Christopher expected to be some of the company's top stars and Dave's not optimistic.
  • XWF wrestlers were told last week that a television deal should hopefully be finalized this week. But Dave has been told no chance it's happening that soon. The rumors are that the deal is either with the FX or Fox Kids networks. Ted Turner had inquired about buying this promotion a few months ago, but when he learned how much it would cost to get them off the ground and make them competitive, he lost interest (TV deal never materializes, company is already dead, etc. etc.).
  • The Scorpion King slipped to 2nd place this week, falling to the new Spider Man movie which did a record breaking $114 million opening weekend. Randy Savage has a small role in that movie.
  • Speaking of, The Rock worked his first match in about a month at a Fort Lauderdale house show, teaming with Hogan to beat Jericho and Angle. After the match, Hogan tried to get Rock to pose with him, but Rock wouldn't do it. Rock thanked the fans for the success of Scorpion King and said it would likely be his last match for awhile. There was a ton of local media there, but Rock didn't talk to any of them. Basically, the house show was in his neck of the woods and he simply decided to show up and work it just so he could see his friends and hang out with the locker room, he had no interest in doing interviews. He was just there because he wanted to be. Backstage, Rock was telling people that Hollywood higher-ups have told him he has to leave the wrestling business if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Those in the company feel it's a certainty that Rock really is leaving and he's likely going to break out of wrestling into Hollywood and actually become a rare success story (yeah, you could say that).
  • Look how long this is already. Imagine if I had covered that Lou Thesz obituary in full. JUST IMAGINE!
  • Notes from Raw: Dave compares it to an episode of Thunder, with the crowd half-dead for everything. Also, the roster was exhausted after just returning from the Europe trip (and the plane ride shenanigans) and that was apparent too. Brock Lesnar won his match via pinfall instead of the usual ref stoppage and Dave says that word is Triple H got in Vince's ear and convinced him to end the ref stoppage gimmick for Brock. Sure, why not? Hogan was supposed to ride off on Undertaker's bike at one point, but then the motorcycle wouldn't start. It was one of those awkward live-TV moments where time stood still and nobody knew what to do. Flair finally turned heel on Austin, to a shocking lack of heat from the crowd. Nash returned, etc. Dave recaps the rest of this show and it sounds like a lot of bad WCW stuff, coincidentally enough with a lot of the same people.
WATCH: Hogan can't start the motorcycle
  • The man who played the effeminate gay guy applying to be Vince McMahon's secretary on Smackdown a few weeks ago was new creative team member David Lagana. He recently joined the company and has written for several other TV shows, including "Friends" and has a strong knowledge of the industry (Dave says if you've been reading the Observer closely for the last few years, you're probably familiar with him, he's written in to Dave a lot over the years).
  • Dave goes on a brief rant about how to use older stars. In the past, everyone, even Vince McMahon, talked about how you should use guys like Hogan and Flair in small doses and how WCW's reliance on older stars like that is what made them less special. Dave talks about back in the day in Memphis, Jackie Fargo would come back once or twice a year and he was always the biggest star in the company when he did. Because he was used sparingly. But WWE has pretty much built its company around Hogan and Flair (and to a lesser extent, Vince and Undertaker) over the last few months and they've been totally overexposed because of it. Just 6 weeks ago, Hulk Hogan was getting some of the largest crowd reactions in the history of the business. Now, he and Undertaker are practically hearing crickets during their on-screen interactions.
  • Lita underwent neck surgery this week and isn't allowed to do anything physical for 9 months. Scotty 2 Hotty also had neck surgery and is expected to be out for about a year. Both are expected to make full recoveries though.
  • Jesse Ventura admitted this week that he received WWF stock options as partial payment for some work he did with them. Dave doesn't know if it's related to the Summerslam appearance a few years ago or the XFL announcing gig. Ventura says he has 10 years to exercise those stock options but wouldn't give any further details.
  • Scott Steiner told WWA he will work their next UK tour but after that, he's going to WWE. Dave is skeptical. Reports are that Steiner was in horrible pain after every match he worked on the last WWA tour and there's significant doubt that his body will hold up to a WWE schedule.
  • The new Steve Austin "What!" DVD has a lot of WCW footage, including the full Austin vs. Steamboat match from WCW Bash at the Beach 94. Dave doesn't say so, but I believe this is the first time WWE used any of the WCW library for commercial release after they purchased it the year before.
  • Someone writes in and asks Dave to stop spending so much time writing about steroid use in wrestling and instead says he should write a story about racism in the business. This person writes about the allegations from years back of Dusty Rhodes using the N-work with impunity, or the time DX parodied the Nation by wearing blackface. The WCW discrimination lawsuit, the embarrassing angles they've done with Mark Henry such as Sexual Chocolate, etc. This guy is asking why is it white wrestlers outnumber black wrestlers by 35-to-1 ratio in the U.S. (70-to-1 in Mexico and 80-to-1 in Japan). He wants to know why Dave isn't writing about that stuff. Dave responds and agrees that the blackface DX promo was racist, and it was racist when Buff Bagwell did it in WCW and when Roddy Piper did it in the 80s. Dave says wrestling, especially from the 70s through the 90s, had a horrible history of exploiting stereotypes and/or saying and doing racist things. You can argue it's gotten better, but no doubt the problem still exists. Dave lists some examples but he also pushes back on some others. For example, he's heard people complain that Booker T isn't being used properly due to his race and Dave disagrees. It's true that Booker T probably deserves a bigger push, but you can make the same case for guys like RVD and Jericho and Raven or DDP (when he first debuted, at least) and that didn't happen either, so Dave doesn't necessarily think Booker's lack of top-star push can be blamed on his race (we're less than a year away from Triple H definitively proving otherwise).
  • There's also 2 letters about the Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania and they couldn't be more different. One guy writes in and he can't understand why people are praising that match because if you put aside the hot crowd, it was awful, everyone's moves looked bad, it was embarrassing, etc. and says Hogan should have retired afterward. Then someone else writes in and says he was there live and, taken as a whole, Rock vs. Hogan was the greatest match he's ever seen. Basically the same "love it or hate it" opinion people have about that match to this day. Also, someone else writes in about the recent Low-Ki vs. American Dragon match from an ROH show and puts it up there among some of the greatest matches of all time (listing off several classic WWF matches like Shawn/Razor and Owen/Bret at WM10 for example). So there ya go.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: more fallout from the Plane Ride from Hell, more on the beginning of Jarrett's new NWA-TNA promotion, more on the NJPW Tokyo Dome show, and more...
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"Does the Thalmor really want to unmake the world?" — On the pervasiveness of world-ending and Daedric cults in Altmeri culture: their characterization in primary and secondary sources and on-going influences over the depiction of elven factions

As foretold, this post is an amicable answer to NientedeNada's great Why the Altmeri Commentary on Talos is Important to Lore Discussion (Even if It Isn't the Thalmor's End Goal), if you haven't read it, you're highly encouraged do so before continuing here, but this won't hinder your understanding of this post if you decide not to.
I must also add that I wish I could have compilled this sooner (less than a week after Niente's post), but exams and other personal obligations (and not being in the mood for going back to writing it, aswell as it becoming far longer than I anticipated and being far more interested in binge-watching certain shows) prevented that from happening.
I would like to start by saying that the idea Niente proposed, that Ancano might be 'actually a fanatic who's out of step with the Thalmor in general', seems to be backed up by the in-game data that puts him not in the Thalmor faction proper, but in the Thalmor Splinter Faction. So that's one clue we can add to the pile of ideas surrounding the concept of world-ending cults in Altmeri culture she already presented.
Back onto the main subject: ESO did give us a few world-ending Altmeri factions, the most notable one being the Court of Bedlam:
"I am an earl in the Court of Bedlam now, chosen personally by Mephala to represent her on this all-too-fragile world."
Nocturnal betrayed your Prince when she killed the Ritemaster and took the Heart for herself.
"What are you talking about? Nocturnal, Mephala, and Clavicus Vile are partners in this. That's why our three sects formed the Court of Bedlam. Three Daedric Princes working together to make the world a better place."
First, tell me the triad's original plan.
"Do we really need to go over this again? Mephala and the triad sought places of power—the Clockwork City, the Crystal Tower—anything they could use to change the rules of reality and remake the world. They wanted to make things better!"
What did you hope to accomplish with the Court of Bedlam?
"The Court offered me a purpose after my life lost its meaning. Our Princes promised to remake the world, turn it into a better place. A paradise. And they were going to elevate the Altmer back to their status as gods. Suffering would come to an end."
Isn't that what Nocturnal still wants to do?
"Not in the least. Remaking the world to eliminate death and disease is one thing. Destroying everything to turn yourself into a being of infinite power—well, that's something else entirely. Mephala will see that and provide the help you need."
Earl Leythen
Nedoril: "The Court of Bedlam will eradicate the lesser races! Maybe even deal with our unworthy Queen!"
Nedoril: "I have a lot to answer for? The Court of Bedlam is going to turn me into a god!" Razum-dar: "Foolishness can be ignored. Murder and treason , not so much." Nedoril: "You and your Queen have no authority over a true Altmer, you mangy cat!" Razum-dar: "This one cannot allow your crimes to stand unanswered."
"In the end, your own world will provide the power that spells its doom!"
Veya, you can't let Nocturnal destroy the world!
"Stop calling me that! Veya died on a cold, hard floor in Balmora. I'm Tundilwen now, champion of Nocturnal! As the Crystal Tower fills with power drawn from this dying world, it will provide my Mistress with what she needs to remake reality."
So why betray the other Princes?
"Mephala and Clavicus Vile are fledglings compared to my Mistress! Nocturnal existed before this reality was even imagined, and she will ride its destruction into the next! This isn't an end—it's a new beginning!"
Earl Tundilwen
No, I'm not crazy. I've been having dreams. Dreams filled with talking crows and shadowy creatures. With towers stretching to the stars. These are dreams of darkness and change. Of a chance for a new world.
When I read these words, it seems like I should be afraid, but I'm not. There's a comfort to it all, as strange as that sounds. I think it's the Lady of Shadows. She's kind to me. She listens to me when I speak to her in my dreams. She holds me when I cry. She comforts me.
This woman, she is more of a mother to me than my own mother ever was. And she's promised me we're going to fix the world so no one ever suffers again or loses someone they love.
Veya's Private Thoughts, Part 3 - A Voice in the Dark by Veya Releth : The journal of an exiled House Redoran noble
I am reborn.
Mother has made it clear to me that the path I followed was not my own. That I'd be a slave to this world's rules and laws. That I'd be forced to walk the steps of another. I should be free, and free is what I shall become.
From the darkness, a new dawn is about to break over this world. With the coming of this dawn, hatred, greed, and death will be wiped away. I am so ready for this to occur and I've never been more sure about the part I want to play.
Mother has offered me a position in the Court of Bedlam, a group dedicated to bring this new world into existence. But Mother's plans go well beyond even this prestigious group.
Mother has given me a new name. A new goal. Blood will be spilled. Lives will be lost. But in the end, the world itself shall change. No more pain. No more loss.
No longer am I daughter of House Redoran. Now I am a daughter of Nocturnal.
My name is Tundilwen, and I will burn the world so that a better one may rise from the ashes.
Veya's Private Thoughts, Part 4 - Reaching Summerset by Veya Releth : The journal of an exiled House Redoran noble
Their goal was simple: this 'too-fragile world' is some sort of failure, it's a reality of death, disease, suffering, hatred, greed, pain and loss, and so it needs to be destroyed not for destruction's sake, but to create a better place, to make things better, to end suffering and turn their chosen ones (the members of the cult I assume) into the gods they were always meant to be. They were trying to remake reality and change its laws to create a paradise. In one sentence: their goal was to fix the universe.
If that sounds familiar, that's because it is. That was already the plan of the Mythic Dawn in TES4:
Praise be to your brothers and sisters. Great shall be their reward in Paradise! Hear now the words of Lord Dagon: "When I walk the earth again, the faithful among you shall receive your reward: to be set above all other mortals forever. As for the rest… the weak shall be winnowed; the timid shall be cast down; the mighty shall tremble at my feet and pray for pardon." Your reward, brothers and sisters: the time of cleansing draws nigh. I go now to Paradise. I shall return with Lord Dagon at the coming of the Dawn!
Look now, upon my Paradise, Gaiar Alata, in the old tongue. A vision of the past... and the future. Behold the Savage Garden, where my disciples are tempered for a higher destiny: to rule over Tamriel Reborn.
You are the last defender of decadent Tamriel. I am the midwife of the Mythic Dawn, Tamriel Reborn.
I have waited a long time for you, Champion of Old Tamriel. You are the last gasp of a dying age. You breathe the stale air of false hope. How little you understand! You cannot stop Lord Dagon. The walls between our worlds are crumbling. The Mythic Dawn grows nearer with every rift in the firmament. Soon, very soon, the lines now blurred will be erased. Tamriel and Oblivion rejoined! The Mythic Age reborn! Lord Dagon shall walk Tamriel again. The world shall be remade. The new age shall rise from the ashes of the old. My vision shall be realized. Weakness will be purged from the world, and mortal and immortal alike purified in the refiner's fire.
Mankar Camoran
The very same image of 'one world rising from the ashes of the other' is used by both Mankar Camoran and Earl Tundilwen. Though it should be noted that this idea is also omnipresent in the beliefs of the Clockwork Apostles, followers of Sotha Sil, with Nirn Prior having to be dismantled for the Second Nirn, the inchoate Nirn-Ensuing, Tamriel Final, Anuvanna'si to be brought forth, 'a true Nirn' that the et'Ada gears were never truly able to concieve: Sotha Sil's vision of Anuic convergence in the form of a Clockwork universe. This concept is pervasive in Altmeri heterodoxy (or 'heresy'), the unspoken dark side of Altmeri theology which, unlike the orthodoxy, is dissatisfied with the current state of the world. Though saying that the orthodoxy is perfectly satisfied would also be technically incorrect, rather, they see in the current world the work of the Aedra. Creation, the Grey Maybe: something which is not just salvageable, but already beautiful and worth protecting. They believe that the world simply needs a guiding hand (their gods' and their own) to reach its full potential:
"He called our wilderness sterile and artificial. Nature is unruly and chaotic, but he's rather missing the point. Orderly cultivated gardens are a refinement of the raw. A plant lacks the intelligence to reach its true potential, it must be guided." —Vinafwe
For the Altmer, the betterment of the universe (and themselves), and ultimate salvation (Aetherius), are reached not through destruction and rebirth, but through a process called the Path to Alaxon:
"Not that you'd understand the concept, but the Path to Alaxon requires dedication and complete concentration. I must find the perfect shells or my pigments will be substandard. And do you know what that will do to my art? Exactly!"
What's the Path to Alaxon?
"An Altmer concept practiced widely here in Summerset. Alaxon is the state of perfection that every High Elf strives for. The Path to Alaxon represents the approach we take to achieve that state." —Olnewil
"In Summerset, every native-born Altmer has a place and purpose. Everyone has their hands full just trying to stay on the Path to Alaxon -the path to perfection." —Justiciar Tanorian
But that nurturing path is hard and often unfulfilling. That's why Summerset has, I think, a unique weakness to Daedra worship and world-ending cults, why so many fall prey to the (false?) promises of the Daedra, why "I hear Daedra worship has become increasingly prevalent in the Summerset Isle." They represent a cop-out for those who grew disillusioned with the promises of the Temples and the Aedra, those who seek a more violent and radical approach. The salvation offered by the Daedra (through the destruction and rebirth of the world) appears as an easy way out, one where all the work required to reach perfection isn't necessary, it's a form of cheating, renouncing their roots and the current world in order to move forward, which is why the Beautiful, and the following Mythic Dawn, targetted the Crystal Tower while the Thalmor and Sapiarchs were pushing back against the destruction, and then invasion, of their homeland and monuments:
A darker side of this movement, however, is exhibited by a shadowy group who call themselves the Beautiful. Originally a salon for artists with the reasonable philosophy that Summerset must let go of its past in order to move forward, the Beautiful became a revolutionary gang dedicated to the destruction of the greatest monuments of Altmer civilization. The Crystal Tower was naturally an early target, and fortunately attempts against it have failed, but many other great, ancient sculptures and emblems of the past have been vandalized. Lately, the Beautiful have turned their attention to living symbols of the Isle, the royalty of Summerset. The particularly gruesome murder of the daughter of the King of Shimmerene has horrified and outraged the public.
And this leads us to the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to the influences of Michael Kirkbride on the world-ending aspect of ESO: Mehrunes Dagon, the Worm Cult and the Veiled Queen.
High Kinlady Estre and Mannimarco exchanged many letters during the events of ESO:
To my lord Mannimarco, King of Worms,
I am interested in coming to an arrangement in regards to the Summerset Isles. We share a common enemy in Ayrenn and her Aldmeri Dominion. I won't stand in the way of your goals. I merely wish a small demesne of my own. Auridon, with Skywatch as my capital.
Civility at last. I am pleased with our new agreement. Your service to Molag Bal, despite your tawdry oath to Lord Dagon, will ensure you victory in your conflict. Across the face of Tamriel, there can be only one victor in this war.
My minions will carry orders to you when the time is right. Do not fail me. Loyal service is rewarded, but betrayal—well. The punishment would be unimaginable.
Do as I command, in the name of Molag Bal.
(And under your breath you can quietly pray to any Prince you choose.)
They are both Altmer (well, Mannimarco really wants to pretend that he is Aldmer, but the distinction is almost purely cultural) and they both serve Daedric Princes for personal reasons. Mannimarco wants to betray Molag Bal (but he keeps his plans secret), absorb his soul in the Chim-el Adabal and use his Lord's power to become a new god (a call-back to the Altmeri ideal of apotheosis) and have Nirn and Coldharbour under his dominion —ruling both worlds remade in his image— while Estre was the wife of Prince Naemon, and promised to rule over the Summerset Isles with her husband until the return of Ayrenn, the Unforseen Queen. Her worship of Dagon is further confirmed in the other letters and her own dialogues (as well as the quests themselves), and one cannot help but wonder if her movement might be related to the ideals later espoused by the Mythic Dawn:
My civility and patience are at an end. Submit, or suffer annihilation at my hand. Your infantile pact with Dagon and the "power" he offers will mean nothing when the Planemeld is complete.
I offer you one—final—chance to submit. Serve my lord Molag Bal. You will rewarded with untold power, and a bounty of riches. Defy him, and suffer an eternity of torment at his feet.
I am well aware of your fealty to Lord Dagon. The weight that you place upon your oath is commendable.
Let me assure you, my dear, your oaths mean nothing. Molag Bal will claim this world as his own, and there will be no need to fear the wrath of Dagon. Under my lord Bal you will attain the position ordained by destiny. You will be crowned queen, now and forever.
High Kinlady Estre: "No matter. With Mehrunes Dagon's aid, I will dispose of the false queen and rise as true leader to our people! I am the Veiled Queen!"
In any case, the reasons which further pushed her into the arms of a Daedric cult (a cult her family was always more or less a part of), despite lacking in the 'world-ending' department, seem pretty rooted in the general ideology of the Altmeri heterodoxy found elsewhere: she had been promised a title, a future she and her husband had worked hard for, but she was then hit by the painful realization that not only had she done all that for nothing, that her thirst for ambition had been misplaced, but someone else who, in her opinion, didn't do anything to deserve this (Ayrenn having run away from her duties to explore Tamriel), was given everything and made ruler of the Kingdom in her (husband's) place.
In a sense, Altmeri society is deeply meritocratic in its ideology, not just in politics (outside of birthrights), arts and administration, but also in its spirituality, which always finds a way to bleed into the heretic practices of Daedric cults. The idea of work and reward are important, and their deep faith in protocoles fools them into thinking justice actually exists on a metaphysical level. When a devout Altmer realizes that there is no justice as promised by the gods, that the Path of Alaxon is "a lie", that is when they break and fall into despair. Their hope and strive for perfection are replaced by nihilism (not the good and deeply liberating kind, the ravaging self-loathing kind) and a deep sense of betrayal, not just directed toward their heritage, society or royal lines (combinations may vary from cult to cult), but also their gods. Estre in particular was still very attached to her Altmeri heritage, but had thrown everything else under the bus, especially when she decided to corrupt the shrines of the Eight Altmeri Divines of Torinaan and that going along with the Planemeld (which is as close to world-ending as we can get for the Veiled Heritance) was worth it as long as she got to rule Auridon. They become obsessed about how things ought to be, rather than about what could be salvaged and improved in a more healthy and constructive manner. They turn both destructive and self-destructive, and lose themselves in the process:
Estre: "Lord Dagon, my family has been ever faithful. Now, in my hour of need, I request your aid." Mehrunes Dagon: "Your plot's exposed. Your supporters, crushed. And you come crawling to your lord. What do you have left to offer me?" Estre: "Anything! Everything! I offer my very soul if it means I have power! The power to rule!" Mehrunes Dagon: "So be it. I imbue you with a taste of my true power. Corrupt the shrines in Torinaan. Then, move on to Firsthold."
At the end of the questline, she opens Oblivion Gates all around Firsthold, unleashing an invasion from the Deadlands in the name of her Lord. Which leads us back to the Mythic Dawn and the plot of TES4 over which Michael Kirkbride was very influencial. With all these, it becomes evident that the idea of High Elven world-ending cults and the on-going out-of-game influences of MK over the Lore. Before the release of the game, he posted the Nu-Mantia Intercept in which it was said that 1. The Barrier between Mundus and Oblivion is weakening. (which is relatively true following the death of the Emperor) 2. There’s been a conspiracy dating back to the Dawntime. (Probably, yes, Daedric Princes assaulting the Lattice dates back to the earliest days of Creation) 3. The Empire is threatened by previous realities. (Not as far as we know) 4. The Ayleids are not gone. (This turned out to be false, the threat is not authentically Ayleid) and other things which turned out to not be relevant in the final product.
What we can gather from this is that, while influencial, MK's ideas are more often than not used sparingly, curated and discriminated however the other developpers see fit. They get to pick-and-choose what they want and are free to discard certain ideas, adopt some, and dismantle others to reassemble them in whatever manner they so choose. To caricature the situation, MK is used as a mass-generator of raw ideas, and they get to pick what they like and use it as the building blocks of the Lore they want to include inside the games and other official materials. But they "never go full kirkbride", because MK is at his best when carefully curated. An Altmer would probably say that his worldbuilding is like nature: "unruly and chaotic" and that it needs to be toned down, or "guided" in order to reach its true potential, that his ideas must be cultivated, but not acted upon without filters. And that's when we jump on to what appears to be an Altmeri commentary on Talos.
As I previously noted, before we were even fighting against the Mythic Dawn in Cyrodiil, Summerset was dealing with Daedra worship becoming increasingly prevalent, as well as with 'The Beautiful' tearing down their monuments in an effort to bring change to their society and move forward, a concept which is already very Dagon-related to begin with (even if I doubt the core movement itself was rooted in Daedra worship, it paved the way for ideas espousing the influence of this Daedra in Altmeri society). For the Altmer, the Oblivion Crisis was known as the Great Anguish, which culminated with the fall of the Crystal Tower, the symbol of Summerset. The Thalmor immediately claimed to be responsible for their ultimate victory against the hordes of Dagon ("Before my numbed mind could comprehend the tumult that consumed my beloved Summerset Isle, before I could formulate the question "how?" they were there, dripping honeyed poison in our ears: the Thalmor. They were the ones that saved us, they claimed, working deep and subtle magicks. It was their efforts, their sacrifices that delivered the Altmer from extinction."), but as we know, it was actually Martin Septim who saved everyone. Or did he really save everyone? See, the White Gold Tower isn't unique when it comes to protecting lands from outside threats, as we discover in ESO:
Transparent Law lends power and energy to the Crystal Tower, which allows the mystical structure to offer its protections to all of Summerset. The energy radiates from the tower, spreading across the land like an invisible awning to keep the island safe and secure.
[ . . . ]
Obviously, theories concerning the Transparent Law and its significance to the Crystal Tower abound within the College of Sapiarchs. I like to believe that the crystal absorbs the drive for perfection that marks the Altmer and reflects it back, driving away any imperfections that would weaken or endanger the island. Not everyone agrees with me, but I see a correlation between the pride and admiration our people feel for the Crystal Tower and the feeling of security and safety that it, in turn, projects across the land. It is a symbiotic relationship.
Or, it could just be ancient Aldmer magic. Who can really say?
The Crystal of the Tower by Larnatille of Lillandril, Sapiarch of Arcanology : A scholarly essay on the Crystal Tower and Transparent Law
While Sotha Sil speculates that it is a watchtower of sorts, some Sapiarchs see Lawful Crystal as a metaphysical barrier protecting their island, which might simply be another of its numerous properties. Each province individually dealt with their Oblivion Gates and invasions, and perhaps the Thalmor was legitimately responsible for fixing the tears in reality in Summerset as opposed to Martin fixing it all at once across the planet. We know the Khajiit have their own Lunar Lattice which protects creation against assaults from various gods, such as Ahnurr, Molagh, Dagon, Merid-Nunda, Namiira, the Moon Beast Lorkhaj and other terrible things: "Alkosh is our protector, walker! Though many have shamefully forgotten him, he ensures the steady movement of the moons. Without him, Jone and Jode would be locked in place and terrible things would slip through the Lunar Lattice!" Azurah even made a shield for the Lattice, in the form of a Third Moon under which blessed Khajiit are born (Nirni's secret defenders), in order to protect Nirni from the influence of Namiira and the Moon Beast, and she also gave them the secrets necessary to fix the moons should they 'fail':
"The Khajiit must be the best climbers, for if Masser and Secunda fail, they must climb Khenarthi's breath to set the moons back in their courses."
As for the other provinces, Morrowind had and probably still has its Coldharbour Compact, but it used to have Red Heart. From the Nu-Mantia Intercept:
"The fall of Red Tower should not be seen as the suave conquest of Cyrodiil's agencies, for we have been tricked again by the Dagonites. Though through long eras the chimerical landgods have subverted Divine rule, their protection of the First Stone should have remained as it was."
So when the Thalmor says that they saved the Altmer through the use of deep and subtle magicks, they could be more correct than we assume. Another example of the Thalmor being decried as opportunistic liars come from the Void Nights:
In 4E 98, the two moons, Masser and Secunda vanished. Within most of the Empire, this was viewed with trepidation and fear. In Elsweyr it was far worse. Culturally the moons are much more influential to the Khajiit. After two years of the Void Nights, the moons returned. The Thalmor announced that they had restored the moons using previously unknown Dawn Magicks, but it is unclear if they truly restored the moons or just took advantage of foreknowledge that they would return.
One element often ignored is that they didn't just start claiming they fixed everything after the moons returned, they prophecized their return, they had "foreknowledge that they would return." Also, mysterious Dawn magicks at play once again. And the Thalmor are not the only one boasting about saving their own homeland, the An-Xileel did the same thing:
Look, even you have to admit that if Mehrunes Dagon had won, if Martin hadn't beaten him—” “Martin and the Empire didn"t beat him in Black Marsh,” Glim said, his voice rising. “The An-Xileel did. When the gates opened, Argonians poured into Oblivion with such fury and might, Dagon's lieutenants had to close them.” Annaïg realized that she was leaning away from her friend and that her pulse had picked up. She smelled something sharp and faintly sulfurous. Amazed, she regarded him for a moment. “Yes,” she finally said, when the scent diminished, “but without Martin"s sacrifice, Dagon would have eventually taken Black Marsh, too, and made this world his sportground.” Glim shifted and held out his glass to be refilled. “I don't want to argue about this,” he said. “I don't see that it's important.”
Not to say that they necessarily did it, but humans in general seem to be so Cyodiil-centered that the idea that other non-humans might have established their own metaphysical barriers seems impossible to them. For example, Summerset (not Auridon) and Vvardenfell (not mainland Morrowind) seem to have been spared from the Coldharbour invasions in ESO, and they don't present a single remaining dolmen. Perhaps the protections of Crystal Law and Red Heart were at play then. Maybe the Beautiful or Daedra worshippers of Summerset mentioned in TES4's radiant dialogues managed to severe the connection of Crystal Law with its stone, allowing for the hordes of Dagon to invade Summerset and destroy the Tower at around the same time as other places in Tamriel. Who knows?
So where am I going with this? Well, one thing all the world-ending cults I presented have in common is Daedra worship. And this can be found in TES:Legends (no matter how controversial or unreliable that game's story might be): Lord Naarifin is a cultist of Boethiah who did plan on doing stereotypically bad stuff. He planned on sacrificing the inhabitants of the Imperial City in order to bring about a prophecy known as 'The Culling' —of which we sadly know nothing about— but is most likely nasty stuff. His followers wear typical cultist outfits with Death-Eater-looking skull masks, and their arenas are filled with Dremora and other Daedra enjoying the torture of mortals and have organized forced arena-fights for their own entertainment. TES5 also indicated that Lord Naarifin being affiliated with Daedra was an idea already present from the get go, whether fabricated or not:
Lord Naarifin was kept alive for thirty-three days, hanging from the White-Gold tower. It is not recorded where his body was buried, if it was buried at all. One source claims he was carried off by a winged daedra on the thirty-fourth day.
So when it comes to Daedra worship, world-ending schemes, and trying to become gods, we do have a lot to work with, but I think the portrayal the community has of the Thalmor, as a unit, as a whole, is probably misguided. Ancano was part of a splinter-faction, Lord Naarifin is a cultist so blatant it's a miracle he wasn't sized by the Divine Prosecution and judged for heresy. Esbern, a loremaster, does refer to a possible Thalmor end-goal being to end the world on their own terms, but there's something which doesn't quite work:
First of all, the Thalmor was founded as a council dedicated to the safeguarding of Altmeri heritage. They also fought against the Daedric invasions of Summerset. In the novels, we are told that they wish to go back to the Merethic order of the world, a goal which would be greatly undermined if there is no world left:
"I may well not be privy to many details, but their goal is clear —the pacification and purification of all of Tamriel— to bring about a new Merethic Era." ―Inspector Colin
Something doesn't really click between the uncritical opinion that the Thalmor wants to unmake/destroy the world, and what we are given in the games. Not only have world-ending organization always been presented as rooted in Daedric beliefs, but the goals expressed by members of the Thalmor (who are not obvious agents gone rogue, like the Boethian cultist Naarifin and the splinter-faction Ancano) seem to confirm the idea of the Thalmor trying to create an Ayleidoon+Direnni Hegemony+other old elven civilisations (including Khajiit) 2.0, with themes (or threats) of human slavery:
Ondolemar: "Enjoy this while you can. Soon you will all be slaves."
"This place is eerily beautiful. The Ayleids truly were a great civilization." —Aranande
Obviously, the slavery part isn't a good thing (if we assume that Ondolemar's cut-comment to Galmar about making his people slaves wasn't just him being a dick to the invading Stormcloaks, and that he actually meant it) but that's nowhere near "Remove Man not just from the world, but from the Pattern of Possibility, so that the very idea of them can be forgotten and thereby never again repeated." or even unmaking reality and destroying the world.
The next problem lies in the incompatibility between world-ending cults being Daedric in nature and the Thalmor being the governing body of the Summerset Isles and Dominion: we know that individual agents of the Aldmeri Dominion having wild unorthodox Daedric allegiances is within the realm of possibilities, but the entire backbone of the Aldmeri Dominion being secretly involved in Daedric world-ending conspiracies, after Summerset suffered and repelled a great Daedric invasion, seems ridiculous. If anything, Summerset should be more vividly anti-Daedra than ever, and the Divine Prosecution, a branch of the Thalmor historically dedicated to the enforcement of secular and religious laws (including getting rid of domestic Daedra worship and other heretic practices), held in the highest of esteems as agents of the Altmeri orthodoxy (a theology which is very world-affirming).
Additionally, the 'alternative' cults and factions of Summerset and Auridon have until now always been represented as being extremely racist against all non-Altmer, while the racism displayed by the Thalmor is only targetting humans. The claimed heritage of the Dominion is all-encompassing, its ideology is pan-elven (Bosmer, Khajiit, Altmer) and glorifies lost elven cultures (like the Ayleids) and wishes to return to a time when the elves (the 'elder races') controlled Tamriel (also called 'Mereth' by the early Nord settlers). By contrast, the Veiled Heritance and Court of Bedlam expressed violently racist ideologies of Altmeri purity (and not 'Aldmeri' like the 3rd Dominion) and comitted hate crimes against Bosmer, Khajiit and other races. To further showcase the point, the Veiled Heritance had to infiltrate the ranks of the Thalmor in order to force the College of Aldmeri Propriety (a Thalmor-run school to form non-Altmer and poor Altmer soldiers for free in order to support the war-effort) to discriminate between races and abuse its non-Altmer students and strip them of their culture. Once the Veiled head-agents were dealt with, the school went back to being inclusive of all Aldmeri cultures. The 2nd Era Thalmor put a huge emphasis on Aldmeri pride over Altmeri racism ("They're racists, High Elven supremacists with no understanding of the real world. Short-sighted misanthropes with delusions of grandeur! Bastard throwbacks that should crawl back beneath their rock!"Ayrenn) and, though more violent and perhaps angry about humans (the agents sent to Skyrim anyway), the 4th Era Thalmor seems to follow the same ideology: 'They slaughtered any who were not "of the blood of the Aldmer". A fine excuse to purge the dissidents, as well - the Thalmor have never been ones to waste such an opportunity.'
Lastly, the Veiled Heritance and Court of Bedlam were concerned exclusively about Auridon and Summerset, repectively, and were isolationist organizations. Both the 1st and 3rd Dominions however have been expansionist and considered that their past inaction and non-intervention policies were at the root of their problems, that they waited for outside threats to come to them when they could have taken initiatives to prevent both the accomodations with Reman and the Tiber invasions (as well as stop humans before they Broke the Dragon, or caused the Soul Burst, or took possession of a dwarven reality-warping mecha-kaiju god-machine).
This is the part where I compare the Altmeri Commentary to what we got in the same manner that I did with the Nu-Mantia Intercept and the Mythic Dawn, so here we go:
  • "What appears to be an Altmeri commentary on Talos": the proper Thalmoric terminology should probably have been 'Aldmeri', but that's really just nit-picking. The Thalmor might count the major Bosmeri and Khajiiti leaders among its ranks, but the initial motivation is definitely Altmeri. Additionally, we did get the ban against Talos, so the themes of the title have ultimately been preserved.
  • There's mentions of killing Man to ascend to godhood, aswell as the usual heterodox rhetoric about the world being 'the mockery and long shame of the Material Prison' and something which must be escaped. We didn't really get either, outside of a radiant Thalmor soldier dialogue saying "Filthy Nord. In time, your entire race will be eradicated." if your character is a Nord, and Esbern's mention of the Thalmor maybe wanting to end the world on their terms. So again, the themes are there, but disjointed, and the mention of eliminating an entire race doesn't really equate 'Removing [the very idea of] Man', it comes across more like a threat made by a foot-soldier than an actual goal of the higher-ups. I think it speaks more about the racism of the agents sent to Skyrim to ensure a climate of hate and aggression meant to radicalize the Nords rather than an actual agenda.
  • Talos is taken very seriously, and given a lot of importance in the metaphysics presented by the author, not in a way which explains why Talos isn't a god, but rather as if the Thalmor 'knew deep down that Talos was real, and they're just angry at him and want to erase him'. From what we've been officially given this far, this angle seems to have been discarded: "It's a religious matter. The Thalmor do not recognize Talos as a god. He was only a man, and does not deserve to a place in our pantheon. The Empire has agreed to accept our beliefs, and its citizens have a responsibility to cease their heretical worship." Actually, this comment comes from a character who seems to be motivated solely by theology, since he seems annoyed that everybody seems to overlook the religious themes of the Civil War: "None of these people cares a whit about the religious aspects of this war. Another sign of the degeneracy of your Empire." He seems to be one of the few agents we meet legitimately theologically involved in the fight against the Talos Cult, rather than using it as a pretext to create conflicts in Skyrim, and is brutally honest when it comes to what he thinks (and is the only Thalmor agent with which you can become friends with in-game, setting his disposition to 1 if you bring him proof of Talos worship in Markarth).
  • Talos fortifies the universe, binds mortal souls to the mortal plane. This is an idea which hasn't been used (yet), and which might be either discarded or given to another faction. He also prevents the Dragon God from basically reverting back to being the primordial Akha from old Khajiiti myths, "moving through the Aether without measure or burden, spilling time along the innumerable roads we once travelled", an idea repurposed for the Anuiel-figures in Argonian and Khajiiti myths (Atak and Akha), creating paths out of nothing.
  • Becoming gods. This is the one most obviously taking its roots in Mythic Dawn themes, and being obviously repurposed (almost 1:1) for the Court of Bedlam with more obvious Altmeri symbolism.
Overall, I don't think this can really be applied to the Thalmor, at least not without taking precautions. It's not in line with the Altmeri orthodoxy and very rooted in heretic world-ending beliefs which don't seem to fit with the Thalmor ideology we've been shown so far. Its themes however have clearly been repurposed for other factions by the developpers, and the 4th Era Thalmor is still tainted by world-ending figures/concepts (Ancano, Esbern's dialogues) and Daedra worship (Lord Naarifin), so I think we can infer that there likely is something going on within the Thalmor, but it's neither officially endorsed by the Dominion as an organization, nor by the Thalmor proper. Given that a Boethian worshipper managed to nearly sacrifice the Imperial City, the Thalmor clearly doesn't seem to be a unified faction, we can (and should) expect to see heretics and other like-minded individuals using the Thalmor and their rhetoric as leverage for their own agenda and influence, especially outside of Summerset where they are given more independence. Following the traumatism that was the Great Anguish, we can expect to see many lost Altmer growing disillusioned with the Path to Alaxon and throwing themselves toward Daedra worship, more than ever, but the Thalmor doesn't seem to be such an organization.
submitted by HappyB3 to teslore [link] [comments]

List of Major SPACs & Latest Updates

Here's a summary tracker I use to keep track of latest developments of major SPACs I'm interested in. Feel free to comment below with other SPACs to add and I'll update the list to keep it fresh and current.
(edit: updated to reflect additions and comments)
Act II Global Acquisition Corp.
June 10, 2020 - Act II Global Acquisition to Purchase Two Companies Creating Whole Earth Brands. The two companies own a range of consumer sweetener brands including Equal along with a thriving flavorings business. The close of the deal is imminent, with the deadline for Act II investors to redeem shares for cash on Thursday, June 11 and the vote to approve the merger on Monday, June 15.
Units: ACTTU
Warrants: ACTTW
Shares: ACTT

Forum Merger II Corporation
Ittella International, a plant-based food company with a broad portfolio of innovative products available both in private label and the Company’s “Tattooed Chef” brand, and FMCI announced a definitive agreement to combine as Tattooed Chef, Inc. (“Tattooed Chef”). This transaction will introduce Tattooed Chef as a Nasdaq-listed public company, with an anticipated initial enterprise value of approximately $482 million, 2.2x Tattooed Chef’s estimated 2021 revenue of $222 million, or 15.6x Tattooed Chef’s estimated 2021 Adjusted EBITDA of $30.8 million.
Units: FMCIU
Warrants: FMCIW
Shares: FMCI

Proficient Alpha Acquisition Corp.
June 4, 2020, Proficient Alpha Acquisition Corp. announced that it held a Merger Meeting and the stockholders approved a business combination agreement, with Lion Financial Group Limited, a Chinese investor-focused trading platform that offers a wide spectrum of products and services.
Units: PAACU
Warrants: PAACW
Shares: PAAC

Opes Acquisition Corp
Fast-growing burger chain BurgerFi signed a non-binding letter-of-intent to merge on June 8, 2020.
Units: OPESU
Warrants: OPESW
Shares: OPES

Nebula Acquisition Corporation
June 10, 2020, Nebula Acquisition Corporation Completes Business Combination with Open Lending, a leading provider of lending enablement and risk analytics solutions to financial institutions. Upon completion of the business combination, Nebula changed its name to Open Lending, and its common stock is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “LPRO”, commencing June 11, 2020.
Units: NEBUU
Warrants: NEBUW
Shares: NEBU

Megalith Financial Acquisition Corp.
May 20, 2020, Megalith Financial Acquisition Corp announced it has signed a non-binding letter of intent and expects to sign a definitive agreement to acquire a digital banking platform that is among the fastest growing in the country with several million accounts. The target company features an advanced, purpose-built platform via proprietary technology that provides a full suite of low-cost banking products including checking, savings, and credit cards to millennials and middle-income consumers.
Units: MFAC-UN
Warrants: MFAC-WT
Shares: MFAC

Collier Creek Holdings
June 5, 2020, Utz Quality Foods, LLC, a leading U.S. manufacturer of branded salty snacks, and Collier Creek Holdings announced that they have entered into a definitive to combine and form Utz Brands, Inc. Utz Brands will be a leading pure-play snack food platform in the U.S. Upon the closing of the transaction, it is expected that Utz Brands will trade under the ticker symbol "UTZ" on the New York Stock Exchange.
Units: CCH-UN
Warrants: CCH-WT
Shares: CCH

Churchill Capital Corp III
February 14, 2020, Churchill Capital Corp III announced the pricing of its $1 billion initial public offering of 100,000,000 units at $10.00 per unit. Churchill Capital Corp III was founded by Michael Klein, who is also the founder and managing partner of M. Klein and Company.
Units: CCXX-UN
Warrants: CCXX-WT
Shares: CCXX

Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp.
March 10, 2020, Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp., Led by Harry Sloan and Founding Investor Jeff Sagansky, Announces Completion of $690 Million IPO.
Units: FEAC-UN
Warrants: FEAC-WT
Shares: FEAC

Tenzing Acquisition Corp.
May 21, 2020, Tenzing Acquisition Corp. announced the vote by shareholders to extend the deadline to consummate an initial business combination from May 26, 2020 to July 27, 2020 (or September 28, 2020 if the Company has executed a definitive agreement for a business combination by July 27, 2020).
Units: TZACU
Warrants: TZACW
Shares: TZAC

Oaktree Acquisition Corp.
July 18, 2019, Oaktree Acquisition Corp., Announces Completion of $175 Million IPO. The Company’s sponsor is an affiliate of Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”), a leader among global investment managers specializing in alternative investments, with $119 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2019.
Units: OAC-UN
Warrants: OAC-WT
Shares: OAC

Graf Industrial Corp.
April 8, 2020 Graf Industrial Corp. announced that it is in negotiations relating to a potential business combination with polypropylene recycling company PureCycle Technologies, LLC (the "Target"), pursuant to which the Target would become a publicly traded company (the "Transaction").
Units: GRAFU
Warrants: GRAF-WT
Shares: GRAF

Churchill Capital Corp II
June 26, 2019 - Churchill Capital Corp II announced the pricing of its $600 billion initial public offering of 60,000,000 units at $10.00 per unit. Churchill Capital Corp II was founded by Michael Klein, who is also the founder and managing partner of M. Klein and Company.
Note: The first SPAC from this group successfully combined last year and trades as CCC. This is likely to acquire a company before the larger CCXX as it was launched first.
Units: CCX-UN
Warrants: CCX-WT
Shares: CCX

Jaws Acquisition Corp
May 13, 2020 - Jaws Acquisition Corp. announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 60,000,000 units at a price of $10.00 per unit. Led by Chairman Barry S. Sternlicht and Chief Executive Officer Joseph L. Dowling.
Note: Barry Sternlicht is an incredibly successful investor who formed and sold the Starwood Hotels to Marriott for $13.6B in 2016, and he currently manages a $60B fund, Starwood Capital. Joseph Dowling is the CEO of the Brown University endowment fund, which has over $3B under management and has been one of the top performing college endowments in recent years.
Units: JWS-UN (Units haven't separated shares and warrants yet)
Warrants: JWS-WT
Shares: JWS

submitted by SPACvet to SPACs [link] [comments]

Will eMagin really make 4k x 4K 2'' panels for consumer VR? Here's all the info, you decide.

Will eMagin really make 4k x 4K 2'' panels for consumer VR? Here's all the info, you decide.
Prologue: I made a comment here under my other username and the whole back and forth with the OP went pretty bad. If you want to go through the mess, here it is:
Later I collected some more info so I believe this deserves its own topic.
Warning: The OP in that topic is a self-admitted eMagin shareholder and a mod in an eMagin sub so I believe he has all the reason to be biased. The OP accused me of being a Kopin shareholder or employee and I don't believe there was any evidence to come to that conclusion. But feel free to consider me biased as well. For what it's worth my comments about the production cost and yield issues with silicon wafer-based microdisplays applies to everyone, including Kopin. I'm only linking to sources found by the eMagin shareholder and me and engineering and production cost facts, not my personal interpretation and feelings. I am also not going to quote the full transcripts of the eMagin CEO from that topic since it is automatically generated and a total mess which is hard to follow. If you believe I'm whitholding information then again the link to the old topic is in the beginning.

TL;DR: My conlusion from all the info is a 2'' 4K x 4K microOLED is extremely expensive to be viable to the consumer market like their 2K x 2K microOLED panel before it. Maybe Apple is their client and will sell their headsets for 2000USD+ but that's just guessing. Here's the info, you make your own conclusions. Let's go:

During an investor presentation lately eMagin has showed off a supposed 4K x 4K microOLED equipped headset, which looks like either a HP-partnered headset or an unofficially modified existing HP WMR headset: . Does this prove a 4x4K headset in the near or far future for consumers? Here's some facts:

1) Microdisplays are built on silicon wafers, production cost at same panel sizes is much higher than traditional display panels. A 4K x 4K panel that is 2x2 inches or bigger is going to cost more. Also, yield, or in other words how many manufactured displays have all 100% of their pixels non-defective, increases rapidly as well from ~1 million pixels to ~16 million pixels, meaning more 4K panels are going to end up defective if the yield isn't increased, which is extremely hard. Palmer Luckey u/palmerluckey has also explained this few years ago and this is still the case, silicon wafer manufacturing hasn't had a revolution. "dPd" technology eMagin wants to use simply improves brightness, it's still a silicon wafer production. Finally, larger squares fit in circular silicon wafers end up with much more wasted silicon, obviously, it's basic geometry.
Let's ignore all this for now.
The price may still be good enough for the military and professional fields which eMagin has always targetted, but inacessible to the consumer market or even many professionals. I may be missing something here but the numbers don't add up to anything promising:
For estimating price let's compare to a 720p 0.49'' OLED panel and assume it is a round 0.5x0.5'' instead f 0.49'' 16:9. Let's also round the pricing numbers to the lowest number divisible by 10. Let's also ignore cost of the controller IC and anything else in the PCB or headset.
Price of such a OLED microdisplay panel at 1 million units is >50USD. A 2'' panel is instead 16x more pixels and area. 50x16 = 800 USD, per eye, for a 1,000,000 unit bulk order. Actually the quoted prices for 720p panels are a bit higher but if we ignore that and everything else above we can hope, at best, for a 1600 USD of the headset only accounting for the displays.
What company is ready to pay 800,000,000 USD up front for displays for 500,000 headsets? Besides Facebook or Apple I doubt anyone will and even then I'm not sure Facebook would be okay with such a deal, especially if they continue focusing on VR using limited mobile hardware trying to drive two 4Kx4K panels.
Let's reduce the order quantity and again use their 720p panel pricing to determine the potential cost:
100K-500K unit order: 1.2x the cost of a million unit order, or 1920 USD per headset and a 192,000,000 - 960,000,000‬ USD contract
I'm not pulling the bulk pricing out of my ass, this is what you get quoted.
But let's assume Valve with a net worth of "only" 3 billion is able and ready to pay 26% of their whole net worth for VR display panels for 500,000 headsets or somehow Facebook, Valve, HTC and Sony make a single bulk order from eMagin. Then you still have a 1600 USD production cost for your headsets just on the display panels alone. At best I see Facebook selling 500,000+ VR headsets at a 1200 USD loss per unit to keep it affordable so ending up with 600,000,000+‬ USD loss per 500K units sold in the end they will need to compensate with online sales, ads or other VR-related products. Technically they can do this, but the question everyone including Facebook will be asking will be, is it really worth it? Has any firm sold a consumer product at such a loss before? I don't know, I'm less of a business guy and more of an engineer.
I think the more likely and logical customers for 4x4K silicon wafer microdisplay panels are going to be the military and similar fields.
How do I know these are built on silicon wafers? Because by definition a "microdisplay" is and eMagin say it themselves:
...Regarding its consumer business, eMagin updates that it successfully processed the first 4k x 4k wafers...

2) The CEO has mentioned they have "consumer market clients". Three issues to not conclude this is evidence a 2'' microOLED panel can be cheap: (a) consumer does not equal affordable, look at Apple, (b) being a consumer market firm does not equal only selling consumer products, source: Apple XDR monitor and (c) he has said this same thing before years ago. More on (c) below:

3) From 2016 Q4 press release, CEO said:
We now have in place multiple agreements with commercial partners for next generation prototype products for consumer HMD’s and expect a considerable boost to 2017 revenue from our commercial efforts,
...Produced samples of 2K x 2K full-color RGB microdisplay project to a leading consumer product company for evaluation in December 2016. Products are expected to be available for customers during the second quarter of 2017. "
Second quarter of 2017, huh? It's 2020, where are they?
Does this mean eMagin CEO is a liar? Not really, maybe the client scrapped or paused the project, but it makes one wonder if newer claims should be taken any more seriously. What they claim now as far as their 4K x 4K microOLED panels are concerned they have also claimed in 2017 for their 2K x 2K panels. And it gets worse, check below:

4) Other alleged "dishonesty" from eMagin from 2017:
Apple, LG and Valve are listed as "specified investors" making a $10 million investment in eMagin, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
"We entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities," eMagin said in its filing, first reported by blog Road to VR.
However, the company later denied the investment occurred in a press release issued Monday.
" is providing clarification in response to a media report in which the author apparently misconstrued a form underwriting agreement that the Company filed as an exhibit to its S-1 on January 23, 2018 and incorrectly stated that a group of certain consumer electronics companies participated in the recent offering of the Company that closed on January 29, 2018. As of today, to the Company's knowledge, none of these consumer electronics companies have taken part in the offering."
Did anyone misconstrue anything though? Here's the actual document:
  1. Stillwater Holdings LLC and its affiliates
2. Valve Corporation and its affiliates
3. Apple Inc. and its affiliates
  1. LG Display and its affiliates
  2. Immerex and its affiliates

Lucas said EMagin listed those companies in the filing because it had discussions with them at industry events.
You make your own conclusions, but as far as I'm concerned how the fuck do you label someone an investor only because they had discussions with you during an event?
Does this mean eMagin are complete liars? Maybe not but it does make one be extremely careful about the claims they make, especially since this isn't the first time (see point 3 above).

Again, take from all this what you will.
All I have to say is that just because a CEO says they have made license agreements or making displays for evaluation and are planning to ship, doesn't mean mass production in the future. Samsung have mentioned they are working on a 2000PPI display VR way back in 2017 and so has BOE showcased a 1900 PPI LCD display in 2017 and hasn't updated us on that. Yield and silicon wafer costs apply to everyone.

PS. I'll finish with what Karl Guttag, the guy who exposed both Magic Leap's and Hololens 2's false claims had to say about eMagin in 2016:
...I have know of eMagin since 1998 and they have been around since 1993. They essentially mirror Microvision doing Laser Beam Scanning and was also founded in 1993, a time where you could go public without revenue. eMagin has spent/loss a lot of shareholder money and is worth about 1/100th from their peak in March 2000...
...Over the years I have suggest[ed] companies that they look at eMagin’s OLED but they came back saying they were “too expensive” but I don’t have details...
...eMagin is a 26 year old “startup”...

EDIT: Looks like I'll finish with what Palmer Luckey had to say on reddit a year ago instead since I came across it:
Microdisplays and large format displays have very different manufacturing processes. It is difficult to scale microdisplays up, and difficult to scale current large format(basically mobile phone tech) down. I am very optimistic about the future of VR display technology, but that is where things currently stand. Brute-forcing with large format displays is the most promising near-term path, IMO.

0.5" is not the limit. There are already microdisplays out there that approach 1", Sony in particular has a lot of 0.7" displays out there. Going large is possible, but cost/yield starts to get crazy.

submitted by mylin-osman to virtualreality [link] [comments]

Affiliate Agreement . Effective Date: _____ Primary Website: _____ THE AGREEMENT: This Affiliate Agreement (hereinafter called the "Agreement") is provided by the following organization, hereinafter referred to as "Company": _____.Our primary website is located at the address listed above. The Agreement is a legal document between you and the Company that describes the affiliate relationship An Affiliate Agreement is a document through which two parties, the company and the affiliate, form a relationship whereby the affiliate receives funds for certain qualified actions.Online affiliate agreements can take one of two forms: affiliate agreements whereby the affiliate receives funds for user clicks through to the company's website or affiliate agreements whereby the affiliate FREE 7+ Sample Marketing Agreement Forms in PDF | MS Word Marketing Agreements are when one company forges an official contract with another company to sell their products. This is really beneficial for certain businesses, as there are some that are just better at selling things than others. This Affiliate Marketing Agreement is between a company and an affiliate who agrees to participate in company’s affiliate program. This agreement sets out the parties, the promotional materials the company provides and means of affiliate tracking. This Affiliate Agreement also contains provisions regarding the use of intellectual property and the rate of commission the affiliate shall receive. A referral fee agreement is between an affiliate that “refers” sales or services to a company in exchange for compensation. The fee paid to the affiliate is commonly a percentage (%) of the total sale or a flat fee per transaction. Leads may also be included in the agreement, for example, if the affiliate refers e-mail addresses to the company they may be able to receive compensation.

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