Super User

Super User

Almost everyone can recall "that one teacher" from their school days who was involved in some sort of scandal that everyonegossiped about. Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their teacher drama stories that people still talk about years later. Here are the shocking, infuriating, and wild scandals they unfortunately witnessed.

Note: This post contains mentions of child abuse.

1. "Although it was in America, our high school had a British system with a headmaster and principal. The principal was married to the headmaster's daughter. The principal also coached the girls' volleyball team. Once one of the volleyball players graduated, she leaked that they had been sleeping together. The principal lost his job and his wife that week."

mayadc

2. "In middle school, we had a math teacher who had a bit of an anger problem. Everyone knew him as kind of an asshole. He would regularly humiliate students in class and refuse to give bathroom passes. A lot of girls were going through puberty at that time, and sometimes, if you asked him for a hall pass mid-class, he'd ask if it was for 'female stuff.' Even if you answered that it was, he still said no."

"Anyway, one day, we got let out of school early with no warning, and it was all very confusing. While we were waiting for our rides home, it slowly spread around that the math teacher got into a verbal fight with a student mid-class because this kid said, 'Screw you, I have to go to the bathroom,' and stood up to leave. 

The part of the story kids from that class agreed on was that during the fight, the teacher clutched his chest and DROPPED DEAD. Some kids who were in that class said he physically put his hands on the student as if to shove him back into his seat, and some kids claimed he actually DID shove or even THROW the kid. 

Either way, the teacher definitely died of a heart attack in front of a class full of students who hated him. The school later did a grief assembly and made us plant a memorial tree/bench in his honor, but we were all kind of confused about it because everyone absolutely hated him. The tree got vandalized a lot. I don't think it lasted a year."

—Laura, Michigan

3. "Two English teachers were having an affair, and the guy decided it would be funny to send an explicit picture of himself to his affair partner's classroom printer after school hours. She didn't hear the printer and didn't pick it up, and a student found it the next day. They both got fired."

axj66

4. "My kindergarten teacher was always a bit sketchy, missed a lot of days, and even skipped classes sometimes. Things came to a head when he picked up a kid he didn't like and put him in the large fish tank. He also flushed that kid's coat down the toilet. The teacher was fired, but not until later in the year. The kid moved away after that, and I hope he's okay."

—Neil, 36

5. "In my bachelor's degree general education classes, I had to take a foreign government class. At the end of the semester, our professor was explaining the final when the department head came in. The professor stepped out of the room to speak to the head and returned almost a second later. She packed everything up, said a quick, tearful goodbye, and left. The department head walked in and explained that we would have no final and would pass with our current grade. Only after we started pestering them with questions did we find out that THE UNIVERSITY FAILED TO RENEW HER GREEN CARD PROPERLY, AND SHE WAS DEPORTED!"

rachelkdegnan

6. "We had this vice principal who was just the worst. Short, bald, Napoleon-complex type of guy. Anyway, the senior class at the time found out he was texting inappropriate, gross sex stuff to a former student. When some of the guys got ahold of the text messages, they printed out about 1,000 copies and threw them all over the school Mean Girls style. He was married, and I remember feeling really bad for his wife. The VP ended up getting fired and divorced. Nothing happened to the students who did it, either. It was just wild to be a part of."

blueclown81

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7. "The school principal bought a motorcycle without his wife's knowledge or permission. He struck a deal with the head custodian that if he'd store it in a school outbuilding with the lawnmowing equipment, then the custodian could ride it from time to time, as long as he kept quiet about it. Well, the custodian got in a near-fatal accident on said motorcycle. The custodian sued the principal and school district, the wife left him, and he got fired for improper use of school facilities."

axj66

8. "Last year, the sixth graders had a new science teacher. He quickly became one of the 'favorites.' He was really funny, handsome-looking, in his late 20s/early 30s, and supposedly very rich. He wore suits around campus, and it was rumored that he only taught for fun because he had enough money to go without a job. The clubs he hosted during lunch were jam-packed with students (particularly sixth-grade girls), and they would call themselves 'Mrs. [teacher's name]' and talk about his money."

"We thought it was all a little cringe but didn't think much of it. Then, halfway through the year, he was gone. The sixth graders were devastated, and the girls even started crying. 

At first, people thought he quit, but eventually, everyone found out he was fired. We thought it was because he was teaching the wrong curriculum and forgot about it. But recently, word got out from one of the teachers that it was because he was giving the girls his phone numbers and texting them. 

That's right; a 30-something-year-old man was texting 11-YEAR-OLD girls who were convinced they'd marry him. This year, the sixth-grade science teacher is a woman."

—Anonymous

9. "In seventh grade, my Spanish teacher was fired after it was found out she'd been keeping her son under her desk for months. We had no clue — there was a table skirt all around the desk."

kherbs

10. "One year at the school talent show, one of the male teachers (who was in his mid-30s) got up on stage with one of the year 11 girls and performed a dance based on the video 'Especially For You' by Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. It was all deeply strange and quite uncomfortable to watch, especially the part of the performance when they ran towards each other and embraced in the middle of the stage."

"A few months later, after the girl left the school, the teacher left his wife and child (a toddler) and moved in with the girl.

This was the '90s, but I'm sure if it happened today, the teacher would have been suspended from his job and faced a police inquiry. However, he carried on teaching at the school as if nothing had happened, though rumor and innuendo followed him constantly.

One rumor that seemed to be true was that, about six months later, the teacher had left the girl and moved in with another woman — her mother."

angbur

11. "A math teacher was also the head of the theater department at my high school. He was married and had a few kids. It became fairly obvious that he had a 'favorite' student; she was regularly a featured dancer even though she was not that talented. After she graduated, he divorced his wife and went public with his new relationship — the favorite dancer! She then went to a local college to become a teacher, and he got her a job at the same high school, and she had to teach his kids from the first marriage! He even put her in charge of the dancers for the theater department. It was very awkward. He once lied about how they met during an interview, even though the entire school knew the real story. I felt bad for his kids."

—Anonymous, 40, Pennsylvania

12. "The history teacher hit a girl in the stomach, and she peed her pants in front of everyone. The teacher said she ran into him. It was investigated, and he didn’t take any accountability. The parents are now going to rightfully sue. I had that history teacher in the seventh or eighth grade. He was awful to everyone. I also played soccer with his son as a kid. His kid is just as bad."

13tealelephants

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13. "I was at an all-girls school with a 'brother' school. In our second year, an art teacher randomly stopped coming in, and we had to get a sub. This teacher was a woman in her late 50s, so pregnancy wasn't really an option. She also had a son in his sixth year at the 'brother school,' so, at least on the girls' side, the assumption was she was looking after her son after an accident. It later came out that, actually, she had started an affair with her son's BEST FRIEND! They got caught while 'engaging in explicit acts' in the art department, and she was fired. There was no real conclusion, just rumors that her son has cut ties and that she isn't allowed to be a teacher elsewhere."

c_u_l8er

14. "One of the school security guards was quietly let go amid rumors that he had been sending a senior girl inappropriate texts. The next day, somebody found his YouTube channel, where he had posted himself singing an original song called 'Bang You Like a Turtle, Girl.' The song included him making copious turtle sex noises and ended with, 'Look up turtles bangin', yo.' He was a cashier at the local Trader Joe's for a few years after that."

—Anonymous, 28, Illinois

15. "In eighth grade, one of our sex-ed/PE teachers was fired for falsifying her qualifications. A year after that, ANOTHER PE teacher was fired for falsifying qualifications. Two of the three remaining PE teachers engaged in an affair, which the entire student body knew and gossiped about constantly. They eventually divorced their partners and got married."

kherbs

16. "I went to a high school that primarily hired international teachers, and one physics teacher went off the rails one year. He would act very erratically, but we chalked it up to him being quirky. About halfway through the school year, after winter break, he was gone. Students and faculty were confused; he had just disappeared and got replaced. We had conspiracies ranging from fake identity to maybe he just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. One year later, they were able to track him because he had taken a school computer with him to the Bahamas and had never come back."

—Anonymous, 23, Indiana

BuzzFeed

Nigeria’s new Dangote mega refinery near Lagos plans to purchase millions of barrels of US crude over the next year, highlighting the challenges Africa’s largest oil producer faces in boosting its own output. According to an analysis by Thisday, the refinery, built by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, has issued a term tender for the purchase of 2 million barrels a month of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude for 12 months starting in July, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. The tender closes on May 21.

The request for US oil underscores the refinery's growing influence in global crude and fuel markets and reflects Nigeria’s ongoing struggle to increase its crude production, which remains well below capacity. Dangote is opting for cheaper and more reliable foreign supplies due to insufficient and inconsistent local crude availability.

"Supply of Nigerian crude is insufficient or unavailable and sometimes unreliable," said Elitsa Georgieva, Executive Director at Citac, an energy consultancy specializing in the African downstream sector. She added that WTI is available, reliably supplied, and competitively priced, making it a sensible choice for the refinery.

Nigeria has been unable to meet its OPEC+ quota for at least a year, producing about 1.45 million barrels per day of crude and liquids in April, far below its estimated capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day. Factors such as crude theft, aging pipelines, low investment, and divestments from oil majors have contributed to declining production.

Despite assurances from the federal government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) about meeting the country’s OPEC quota, Nigeria recorded an estimated underproduction of 30 million barrels in the first four months of 2024. Data from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) showed that Nigeria produced an average of 1.32 million barrels per day, below the revised target of 1.58 million barrels per day.

The data further revealed that Nigeria produced 44.2 million barrels in January, 38.3 million barrels in February, 38.1 million barrels in March, and 38.4 million barrels in April. Overall, Nigeria drilled 160 million barrels from January to April, instead of the expected 190 million barrels, reflecting a 17.1 percent deficit.

In November 2023, OPEC+ revised Nigeria’s oil output target to 1.58 million barrels per day for 2024, lower than the 1.74 million barrels per day target due to consistent underperformance. Despite significant spending to address insecurity in the Niger Delta, issues such as oil theft, vandalism, and sabotage persist.

Nigeria’s projected oil production in its budget for this year is about 1.78 million barrels per day, with a benchmark price of $77.96 per barrel. However, the government has not clarified how it plans to bridge the gap between projected and actual production. To ensure sufficient local supply for the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery, Nigeria’s upstream regulators recently introduced new draft rules requiring oil producers to sell crude to domestic refineries.

The Dangote refinery, currently operating at about half capacity, is leveraging cheaper US oil imports for up to a third of its feedstock. Since the start of the year, it has received at least one supertanker carrying about 2 million barrels of WTI Midland each month. An official at Dangote declined to comment, Bloomberg reported.

In a significant development, the Dangote refinery has started exporting finished products to Europe. For the first time, a cargo of Low-Sulphur Straight Run Fuel Oil (LSSR) produced at the Lekki Free Trade Zone facility reached the European market, expanding the company’s revenue opportunities. The 90,000-ton cargo was loaded in Lekki on April 25 and discharged in Rotterdam on May 13, according to trade analytics firm Kpler. The cargo is likely to be used as a blendstock to produce very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).

Approximately 72 percent of the fuel oil exported from Dangote has been delivered to the US since the refinery's first LSSR export tender in mid-February. A total of nearly 620,000 tons has been delivered so far. Another LSSR shipment of 83,400 tons left the refinery on May 7 and is expected to arrive in France on May 22, although market participants believe this may not be the cargo’s final destination.

LSSR price assessments on an FOB Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) basis have remained at a $5 per barrel premium to front-month ICE Brent crude futures this week, narrowing from an 18-month high of $7.50 per barrel in mid-April. Maintenance work on fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units at some refineries, which process LSSR and low-sulphur vacuum gasoil to increase gasoline yields, affected these price dynamics.

The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) announced that the federal, state, and local governments shared N1.2 trillion for April, 2024. This information was disclosed in a communiqué released at the conclusion of the May 2024 FAAC meeting by Bawa Mokwa, Director of Press and Public Relations in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), on Thursday.

The allocation for April represents an increase of N85 billion compared to the N1.12 trillion distributed in March. The breakdown of the N1.2 trillion includes N284 billion in distributable statutory revenue, N466 billion in distributable value-added tax (VAT) revenue, N18 billion from the electronic money transfer levy (EMTL), and N438 billion from exchange difference revenue.

FAAC reported that the total revenue available in April 2024 was N2.1 trillion. Deductions included N80 billion for the cost of collection and N903 billion for transfers, interventions, and refunds. Gross statutory revenue for April was N1.2 trillion, which is N216 billion more than the N1.01 trillion received in March. VAT gross revenue was N500 billion, down by N48 billion from the N549 billion recorded in March.

From the N1.2 trillion total distributable revenue, the federal government received N390 billion, states received N403 billion, and local governments got N293 billion. Additionally, N120 billion was distributed to states as 13 percent derivation revenue.

Out of the N284 billion in distributable statutory revenue, the federal government received N112 billion, states got N56 billion, and local governments received N43 billion, with N71 billion allocated as derivation revenue to the states.

From the N466 billion in distributable VAT revenue, the federal government received N69 billion, states received N233 billion, and local governments got N163 billion. The N18 billion EMTL revenue was divided with the federal government getting N2.704 billion, states N9 billion, and local governments N6 billion.

Regarding the N438 billion exchange difference revenue, the federal government received N205 billion, states got N104 billion, and local governments received N80 billion, with N48 billion distributed as 13 percent derivation revenue to the benefiting states.

FAAC also noted significant increases in oil and gas royalties, companies’ income tax (CIT), excise duty, petroleum profit tax (PPT), EMTL, and CET levies in April. However, import duty and VAT saw considerable decreases. The balance in the excess crude account (ECA) for April was $473,754.

The speakers of Nigeria’s 36 state houses of assembly have endorsed the national assembly's efforts to establish state police. This decision was outlined in a communiqué released after the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures met in Abuja on Thursday. The communiqué was signed by Adebo Ogundoyin, Speaker of the Oyo House of Assembly and Chairman of the Conference.

The speakers believe that state policing would address the growing insecurity in the country. "To achieve this, the Conference appeals to the National Assembly, Presidency, and other relevant stakeholders to leverage the ongoing constitution review exercise," the communiqué stated.

Both chambers of the national assembly are currently working to amend the 1999 Constitution to include provisions for state police.

Despite this support, last month, Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun expressed concerns that Nigeria is not yet “mature” for state police.

On February 15, the federal government established a committee to explore the creation of state police. Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced that President Bola Tinubu and state governors had agreed on the framework for the concept.

The Organised Labour has expressed strong disapproval of the Federal Government’s plan to use the N19.66 trillion pension funds for infrastructure development. This stance was detailed in a joint letter from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) addressed to the Minister of Finance on Thursday in Abuja.

The letter, signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC Deputy President Tommy Etim-Okon, was titled “Leave our Pension Fund Alone: Do not Tamper with Workers’ Funds.”

The Labour leaders stated that the announcement has caused significant anxiety among Nigerian workers, who are the primary contributors to these funds.

"We urge the government to reconsider its plans to tap into pension funds and instead explore sustainable financing options that do not compromise the retirement security of Nigerian workers. Organised Labour will resist any action that seeks to undermine the retirement savings of Nigerian workers," the letter read.

The letter also alleged that the government has already accessed nearly 70 percent of the total pension funds, a situation described as both alarming and unacceptable. It emphasized that workers’ savings are meant for their retirement security, not for government projects.

The labour unions stressed the importance of halting any further plans to use these funds, citing past instances of lack of transparency and accountability in government borrowing practices. They raised concerns about the government's proposal to use these funds for housing and infrastructure, questioning the fiscal prudence and responsible governance of such a move.

The unions also questioned where the government plans to source the additional N20 trillion, especially given the ambiguities surrounding previous borrowing practices. This lack of clarity, they argued, only fuels skepticism about the initiative’s feasibility and sustainability.

"Nigerian workers demand assurances that their retirement funds will not be further exploited by the Federal Government. This is particularly concerning since the PENCOM Board has not been constituted as required by law. It is unclear which Board is overseeing these discussions with the government. Borrowing from the fund is not supported by the Pension Act," the letter continued.

The letter criticized the government’s lack of consultation with key stakeholders in the pension industry, noting that neither the NLC nor the TUC, who represent the owners of the pension fund contributions, were informed about the government’s intentions. This lack of transparency, they argued, undermines the sanctity of pension funds.

The unions insisted that any initiative to leverage pension funds for national development must be executed with transparency, accountability, and respect for workers’ rights and interests. They also opposed the idea of the government competing with other users of funds in the pension fund market.

"We remain resolute in our commitment to safeguarding the welfare and interests of workers across the country," the letter concluded.

The Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) has announced that its student loan application portal will officially open on May 24, 2024. Akintunde Sawyerr, Managing Director of NELFUND, made this announcement in a statement on Thursday, marking a significant step toward making education more accessible and inclusive for all Nigerian students.

"Through the portal, students can now access loans to pursue their academic aspirations without financial constraints," Sawyerr stated. The announcement, signed by Nasir Ayitogo, the Fund’s Media and Public Relations Lead, emphasized that the portal offers a user-friendly interface for students to conveniently submit their loan applications.

"We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their future and contribute to the growth and development of our nation," the statement added.

Students can access the portal at www.nelf.gov.ng to begin their applications. For assistance, they can contact the Fund via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through their social media handles.

US House votes to force weapons shipments to Israel, rebuking Biden

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would force President Joe Biden to send weapons to Israel, seeking to rebuke the Democrat for delaying bomb shipments as he urges Israel to do more to protect civilians during its war with Hamas.

The Israel Security Assistance Support Act was approved 224 to 187, largely along party lines. Sixteen Democrats joined most Republicans in voting yes, and three Republicans joined most Democrats in opposing the measure.

The act is not expected to become law, but its passage underscored the deep U.S. election-year divide over Israel policy as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government seeks to wipe out militants who attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Palestinian authorities say at least 35,272 civilians have been killed during Israel's campaign in Gaza. Malnutrition is widespread and much of the population of the coastal enclave has been left homeless, with infrastructure destroyed.

Republicans accused Biden of turning his back on Israel after facing widespread pro-Palestinian protests.

"This is a catastrophic decision with global implications. It is obviously being done as a political calculation, and we cannot let this stand," Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson told a news conference with other party leaders on Wednesday.

Democrats also accused the other party of playing politics, saying Republicans are distorting Biden's position on Israel.

"It is not a serious effort at legislation, which is why some of the most pro-Israel members of the House Democratic caucus will be voting no," House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries told a news conference before the vote.

Israel, a major recipient of U.S. military assistance for decades, is still due to get billions of dollars of U.S. weaponry, despite the delay of one shipment of 2,000-pound (907-kg) and 500-pound bombs and the review of other weapons shipments by the Biden administration.

As recently as Tuesday, the State Department had moved a $1 billion package of weapons aid for Israel into the congressional review process, U.S. officials said.

 

Reuters

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Zelenskiy visits Ukraine's embattled Kharkiv as Russian pressure mounts in east

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday to boost morale and reinforce troops in the region where Russian forces are trying to press their new offensive beyond border areas.

Moscow has made inroads of at least several kilometres into the north of Kharkiv region since Friday, forcing Kyiv's outmanned troops to try to hold the line on a new front as Russia mounts more pressure on the front in the east.

"The direction remains extremely difficult - we are strengthening our units," Zelenskiy said after holding a meeting in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, with his top commander and senior military leaders.

Later, in his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said that thanks to the actions of Ukrainian forces "we have achieved more certainty" near Vovchansk, 5 km (three miles) inside the border.

"But the Russian shelling is not stopping, threats persist." he said.

Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov, speaking on national television, said Russian forces were still bent on capturing the town.

"While we cannot say that our soldiers have yet stabilised the front line, they have already stopped the active advance of the enemy in Kharkiv region," he said. In some places, he said, Ukrainian troops had regained earlier positions.

The Ukrainian leader, who has cancelled his upcoming foreign trips as the battlefield situation deteriorates, met wounded soldiers recovering at a medical facility and posed for photographs with troops at another location.

TROOPS STRETCHED OVER LONG FRONT LINE

Apart from inflicting devastation on frontline settlements and dealing a blow to Kyiv's morale, Russia's Kharkiv push is a headache for Ukrainian war planners whose troops are already stretched over a more than 1,000-km line.

Ukraine's military said late on Wednesday that its forces fighting near the town of Kupiansk - some 85 km southeast of Kharkiv - were pulling back to more "advantageous positions".

In a statement on Thursday, the General Staff said Russia was directing its most intense assaults on the front near the cities of Pokrovsk and Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia's offensive has been unrelenting for months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow's forces were improving their positions "every day" along the front in Ukraine and that the advance was going to plan.

After reporting fighting in Vovchansk, some 45 km from the city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian General Staff said its troops had launched a counterattack to hit back at the invaders.

Kyiv, whose shortages of manpower have been compounded by delays to Western arms supplies, has warned that Russia may be preparing for a big offensive in the coming weeks. It has flagged a Russian buildup of small units near its Sumy region.

Pasi Paroinen, an analyst with the Black Bird Group, told Reuters that Moscow's Kharkiv push looked aimed at drawing in Kyiv's limited reserves into battle before an offensive begins.

"If Ukraine overcommits in Kharkiv and Sumy, they may preserve some territory there, perhaps prevent Kharkiv civilians from suffering artillery bombardments, perhaps even push back the enemy back to the border," he said.

"But it may cost them the war, if the reserves are not available to respond to crises during the Russian summer offensive."

Kharkiv, 30 km from the border, has been pounded for months by airstrikes that defenders struggle to stop with depleted air defences.

Russian forces have pressed two thrusts into the region, one towards Vovchansk and the other towards the village of Lyptsi, 17 km from the northern outskirts of Kharkiv.

Ukraine has scrambled to evacuate civilians from the town and other border areas - about 9,000 people have left so far.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko accused Russian forces of killing a resident in Vovchansk who tried to escape on foot and refused to obey their orders.

Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the regional police, said in televised comments that Russian troops had taken up to 40 civilians captive. Local prosecutors reported four dead and 12 injured in the area.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify Klymenko's or Bolvinov's accounts.

Russia says it has taken control of 12 villages since it launched its attack. Russia's defence ministry said on Thursday its forces had advanced into Ukraine's defences and inflicted personnel and hardware losses near Vovchansk and Lyptsi.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Zelensky blames ‘whole world’ for Ukraine’s failures in Kharkov

The whole world is to blame for Ukraine’s failure to stop Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region and must now help Kiev to change the situation, President Vladimir Zelensky told ABC News in an interview on Thursday.

It comes after Russian forces managed to capture several settlements near Ukraine’s second-largest city over the past week. Top military officials in Kiev have admitted that the situation is now “extremely difficult,” and that Ukrainian troops are struggling to hold ground due to being outgunned and outnumbered.

Asked if he believes Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield to be the fault of the US, Zelensky told ABC reporters that “it’s the world’s fault,” and accused the international community of giving “the opportunity for Putin to occupy.”

The Ukrainian leader said the country “cannot afford to lose Kharkov,”and that “the world can help” Kiev to hold on to the vital city in the country’s northeast.

“All we need are two Patriot systems,” Zelensky said, suggesting that “Russia will not be able to occupy Kharkov if we have those.”

The president also complained that funding that has been approved by the US for Kiev is not actually reaching the country and is instead being spent “in American factories, creating American jobs.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Kiev this week, assured the Ukrainian leadership that Washington was “actively and urgently” trying to source billion-dollar Patriot air defense systems for Ukraine. Last month, Zelensky insisted that Ukraine needs 25 such batteries but later revised that number to “at least seven.”

Each Patriot battery comprises a power plant, radar and control stations, truck-mounted missile launchers, and support vehicles, and costs around $1 billion. Ukraine is currently believed to possess at least three Patriots, one of which is stationed near the capital. Last year, one of these batteries was reportedly damaged or destroyed in a Russian hypersonic missile strike.

Moscow, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that no amount of Western weapon systems can change the inevitable outcome of the conflict, and has warned that continuing to arm Ukraine will only prolong the bloodshed and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

 

Reuters/RT

I was chatting with a friend last week, who, mid-speech, redirected our conversation to the situation in the Middle East. She wanted to know what the mood in the US was. Over 6,000 miles away in Nigeria from where she was calling, she didn’t quite trust the media accounts. Since I was visiting the US, she thought I might have a better reading of the pulse.

Her call coincided with the decision by Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu, to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, in spite of warnings about compounding the current humanitarian disaster in Gaza where over 32,000 Palestinians have been killed, not counting bodies still under the rubble.

No one is sure how many more dead would be counted before Netanyahu finds the last Hamas, but is there still a chance – just one chance – that the dog in this deadly hunt will hear the hunter’s restraining whistle? Is the US unable or unwilling or both unable and unwilling to call Netanyahu to stop?

Calling America

I told the caller that the honest answer was I don’t know. The mood on US campuses was clear. Students from Columbia to Yale and from Harvard to New York and University of Texas at Austin, pitched tents outside for days in running battles with the police to demand an end to the war. They wanted the Biden administration to call Netanyahu to order. 

There were counter-protests, alright, but the overwhelming majority of students across US college campuses made their voices loud and clear: Israel had gone too far in avenging October 7. 

That was the mood on the campuses. 

It wasn’t very different on the streets, too. You could say that is to be expected. Two of three cab drivers I used were persons with Arab roots who wore their grief on their sleeves. 

They were not all Hamas sympathisers; just ordinary folks who might still have remained in Palestine under better leadership, but in whose eyes the worst Palestine leaders now look like saints, thanks to Israel’s ruthless war in Gaza. But you don’t have to be Arab or Jew or Greek to ask, who can stop Netanyahu? You just have to be human to see that if two wrongs don’t make a right, a third only compounds it.

So, who does the US listen to and why does it matter in the war in Gaza? In politico-speak those who move the hand that moves the most powerful country in the world are called the “military-industrial complex.” 

Who’s the Complex?

This is how Meta AI defines it: “The military-industrial complex (MIC) refers to the interconnected network of relationships between the military, defense contractors, and the federal government. It involves the collaboration and cooperation between these entities to produce and profit from military weapons, equipment and services.

“The term was first used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961, where he warned of the potential dangers of an unchecked alliance between the military, defence contractors and politicians.”

If there’s anyone who ought to know that a threesome involving the military, defence contractors and politicians can hardly end in any good, it was Eisenhower. He was on two of the three sides; and Dick Cheney who became Vice President decades later, was on the last two - defence contractor and politician. 

Eisenhower led two of the most consequential military campaigns in the Second World War, before he later became president.

This Complex is not large. In number terms, it would be a tiny fraction of the number of college students who besieged dozens of campuses last week, calling for an end to the war in Gaza. Statistics in 2009 suggested that it includes around 1,100 lobbyists who represent about 400 clients from the defence sector, mostly companies that make losses from peace.  

Size matters not

But you would be mistaken to judge its influence by its size. Although it accounted for about three percent of the US GDP two years ago, these folks famous mostly for their notorious exploits, with strong ties to the Jewish lobby, have been linked with nearly every bad thing from the overthrow and murder of radical Chilean president Salvadore Allende Gossens to the Vietnam War and from the Iran-Contra Affair to Gulf War I & II. 

As bad things go, the last one was the baddest. This Complex instigated the US invasion of Iraq in spite of all evidence to the contrary. It made up its own convenient evidence, bomb after bomb, as hundreds of lives were destroyed and centuries of civilisation in Mesopotamia was pillaged and ruined.

After the war, one of the last surviving White House peaceniks, Barack Obama, said, in a declassified document: “ISIS (Islamic State), is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is an example of unintended consequences – which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.” Unfortunately, even Obama the Dove shot before aiming in Libya.

In the Middle East, the Complex has President Biden by the balls. That was what I told the caller from Nigeria. It doesn’t matter what the students are saying on college campuses or what the cab drivers think; the Complex has Biden by the balls. And what a hold they have on him and on anyone in the White House in an election year! The Complex has got Israel’s back. Biden is damned if he calls out Netanyahu. Damned if he doesn’t. 

Owners of America

That’s what I told the caller. The Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria have a profound way of saying it that is lacking in the English language: “Ana enwe obodo enwe!” A town is owned and the owners call the shots. It’s a hard thing to say, even harder, perhaps, to accept. Because the logic of accepting that the Complex owns America and has its ear, is to deny the agency of actors within the system who may hold different, even stridently opposing views.

But think of it this way: why would America, a beacon of the rule of law, conveniently hide under its non-signatory status to ICJ to allow Israel to continue bombarding Gaza in spite of warnings by the court and the UN of an impending humanitarian catastrophe? Why would Biden, who regretted voting for the War in Iraq, and who as President, has prioritised diplomacy, become so impotent over Gaza? It’s the Complex, folks! They’ve got him by the balls in an election year!

And Netanyahu knows this, as does large sections of the Western media largely controlled by vested interests in the Middle East conflict. Netanyahu knows that Israel’s invincibility is an American yarn. The students said that much in their placards and graffiti last week, but who’s listening? 

Certainly not Biden, who along with his British ally, Rishi Sunak, scrambled military assets to defend Israel on April 15, when Iran launched what might otherwise have been a devastating retaliatory attack on Israel? The yarn of Israel’s invincibility, largely overplayed in the Western media, continues to feed the war. For how long? How many more lives before enough is enough?

What price, peace?

On the whole, the world is in a far more peaceful place today than it was in the 20th century when millions of people died from senseless, bloody conflicts over ego and territory. Yet, it has taken bloody hard work to bring us here, where prosperity is not only measured by the Complex’s profit from wars, but also by how many ordinary folks around the world have bread on their table and milk for their babies.

Now, it seems like from South Sudan to Yemen and from the meat grinder in Ukraine to Gaza, the world is adrift again, one war at a time, as America defies the voices of its own children.

Someone must stop, listen and act. If not Biden, then who?

** Ishiekwene is Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP

On Friday afternoon, on the floor of the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, I ran into my seatmate from the flight from Washington, D.C. to Omaha — a lovely woman working the Geico booth.

“Bill Murray is here,” she told me. I told her I’d keep my eyes peeled.

Of course, to the tens of thousands of shareholders who flock each year to Nebraska, Murray, or any other celebrity, is second fiddle to the real star of the show, Warren Buffett, and in years past his right-hand man Charlie Munger, who died in 2023.

Around these parts, the honchos at Berkshire do have one key thing in common with Murray: everyone who’s met them seems to have a story.

Earlier on Friday, I attended VALUEx BRK one of the many gatherings of investors that crop up around Omaha as sort of satellite Berkshire meetings. Run by Guy Spier, manager of the Zurich-based Aquamarine Fund, the event featured talks from a wide array of value investing enthusiasts, from investment managers to academics to authors to Munger’s longtime assistant Doerthe Obert.

Just about everyone who had encountered one of the Berkshire luminaries shared some of the wisdom they imparted. Here’s what you can learn from their stories.

Choose the right partner

Monsoon Pabrai, managing partner and portfolio manager of Drew Investment Research, recalled a lunch where she and her sister — both young girls at the time — sat on either side of Buffett. She took careful note of the three-and-a-half-hour conversation, but tends to return to one piece of advice.

“The one that always stuck with me was that he looked me and my sister in the eye, because we’re women, or young girls, and said, ‘The most important decision you make is who you marry,’” she said. “I think that goes for both partners in a marriage. It’s really important who you pick to be your life partner.”

Indeed, it’s advice that Buffett echoed at the shareholder meeting on Saturday.

In response to a question about advice everyone needs to hear, Buffett urged shareholders to think about the way they’d like their obituaries to read and to pursue life accordingly. “Certainly in my day it would have been marrying the person who could help you do that,” he said.

Give yourself some inspiration… and accountability

William Green, author of “The Great Minds of Investing” spoke alongside photographer Michael O’Brien about the experience of profiling and photographing Munger.

An encounter with his friend, Berkshire board member Chris Davis, reminded him of a key piece of advice from Munger: surround yourself with images of your idols.

“Charlie told him very early on, put photos of people you admire in your office, because they’re people you don’t want to disappoint.”

Munger famously owned a bust of his hero, Benjamin Franklin, Green noted. Green, in turn, has a bust of Munger.

“I think this idea of structuring your physical environment to have pictures of people you admire is a really good hack. It’s tilting the odds of you behaving decently,” Green said.

Make time for yourself

Gillian Segal, author of “Getting There: A Book of Mentors” spoke about her persistence in nailing down an interview with Buffett. After failing to get through to him remotely, she pinned him down at a charity event, where he agreed to lend her a few minutes of his time.

When it came time to schedule their meeting, Segal was in for a surprise.

“Once I had gotten in past [Buffett’s assistant], she was telling me all of the available times, and it was like, ‘OK, this week he’s available Monday,’ and it was a huge block of time. Tuesday, huge block of time, Wednesday, he has this. Thursday, huge block of time,” she says. “And I just realized he is who he is because he guards his time. And he has time to do the important things. He’s not overscheduled.”

Chances are, you don’t have nearly as many people as Buffett does asking for your time – or an assistant who is an expert at guarding it. But it’s an example that’s useful for anyone: To be successful in your career, you’ll need time to give it your undivided attention.

Stay in your lane

Munger’s longtime assistant Doerthe Obert told a litany of charming, personal stories about Munger, from his focus on his work to his attempts at dieting.

Her recollections of her working relationship with Munger are instructive for anyone who has employees. “We had such a good working relationship, and he just trusted me completely,” she said. “You’ll handle it – whatever it was. You’ll get it done.”

Trusting his assistant to do her work let Munger do his.

And when it came to the working relationship, Munger was happy to stay in his lane, too.

When I asked her what, if anything her boss taught her about investing, Obert demurred.

“He never talked to anybody about investing once,” she told me.

Never? Not even in passing?

“No. Because if he gave some advice and it [might not] work out,” she said. “If he loses some money, it’s not so bad. But if I would lose a lot? He didn’t want that responsibility.”

 

CNBC

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