Pod Three - Ex-CIA analyst: US intelligence leaks are "an embarassment to America"! 25th May  
The US has promised to stop intelligence leaks about the Manchester attack, after a furious British response. Today, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz told me that the leaks were "an embarassment to America," but I'm not convinced. Shouldn't we be more concerned that our own intelligence forces aren't in control of the situation, before blaming the Americans?   Before that I had a chat to UK terror and security expert, as well as former armed officer for the Met Police Chris Hobbs. I wanted to know what he made of the New York Times having photos of the aftermath of the Manchester attack when it was supposed to be confidential. And how should the British security forces respond to this attack?


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Ep. 021 - The Wizard of Lies with Diana Henriques  

Bernie Madoff is perhaps the most notorious name in the history of Wall Street. By now we all know the story. Madoff conducted a Ponzi scheme that is considered to be the largest in U.S. history. Over the course of decades, Madoff stole billions of dollars from his clients and finally, amid the financial crisis of 2008, the crime came to a screeching halt. How on earth was he able to pull it off for so long, when there were plenty of warning signs and whistleblowers who tried to alert regulators that something was amiss? One of the journalists covering the scandal was Diana Henriques, then a staff reporter at The New York Times, who specialized in investigative reporting on white-collar crime, market regulation and corporate governance. Diana used her countless hours of work as the lead reporter on the story as a catalyst to write the bestselleing book, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust. Diana had incredible access, including the first interview with an imprisoned Madoff. I was fortunate enough to interview her in 2011, just as the book was becoming a bestseller. I remember thinking at the time that the tale of Bernie Madoff was not just a financial story, but a Shakespearean tragedy. Robert De Niro was so drawn to the character of Bernie Madoff as Henriques depicted him, that he bought the film rights to “The Wizard of Lies.” Six years later, HBO films released the movie version of “The Wizard of Lies” - it debuted this past Sunday. If you’ve yet to see “The Wizard of Lies,” go watch it. DVR it, stream it, whatever the method, just watch it. It’s incredibly well done and stars Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff. Diana is an amazing storyteller, from her dogged pursuit of the Madoff prison interview to her describing the phone call she got from Robert De Niro saying he wanted to play Madoff...just an incredible story. We wanted to give you as much of Diana as possible, so for this week only, we’re skipping the caller of the week...don’t freak out, it’ll return next week. “Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment. We love feedback so please leave us a rating or review in iTunes. "Better Off" theme music is by Joel Goodman, For a recap of every episode, visit Connect with me at these places for all my content:

Nineteen People Killed at Pop Concert  

Nineteen people have been killed and about 50 injured in a suspected terror attack at Manchester Arena. Police were called to reports of an explosion at the venue following a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande. We hear from concert goers and get the latest from the BBC's Greg Dawson When it comes to global rankings, the Nordic countries lead the world on gender equality at work, with Sweden up near the top. Still, not everyone is sure Sweden's place there is entirely deserved. There are only a few women in senior management roles and the nation's pay gap has barely budged in two decades. We hear from the BBC's Maddy Savage With just over two weeks before the UK goes to the polls, the Green Party has launched its election manifesto, promising a universal basic income, greater protection of the environment and a final say for the public following Brexit negotiations. Susannah Streeter finds out more from Green Party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley. Up to 20 CIA informants were killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government between 2010 and 2012, according to the New York Times. It's not clear whether the CIA was hacked or whether a mole helped the Chinese to identify the agents, officials told the paper. So what is the extent of the spying between America and China? We speak to Robert Ross, Professor of Political Science at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Apparently corporate nonsense is alive and well. So much so that there's now a degree course in the subject. We find out more from our regular commentator Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times. The BBC's Rahul Tandon joins us from Kolkata, as India prepares to implement its biggest ever tax reform. He also tells us about a police clamp down on drink driving. And we're joined throughout the programme by Andy Xie in Hong Kong; he's an independent economist who formerly worked for Morgan Stanley and the World Bank. And in Washington we hear from Alex Goldstein, an activist and financial reform advocate. Photo description: Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. Photo credit: Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

154-Spared by a Volcano  

The worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century struck Martinique in 1902, killing 30,000 people in the scenic town of Saint-Pierre. But rescuers found one man alive -- a 27-year-old laborer in a dungeon-like jail cell. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll meet Ludger Sylbaris, who P.T. Barnum called "The Only Living Object That Survived in the Silent City of Death."

We'll also address some Indian uncles and puzzle over a gruesome hike.


The French newspaper La Bougie du Sapeur is published only on Leap Day.

When a vat burst in 1814, 323,000 imperial gallons of beer flooded a London street.

Sources for our feature on Ludger Sylbaris:

Peter Morgan, Fire Mountain, 2003.

Edmund Otis Hovey, The 1902-1903 Eruptions of Mont Pelé, Martinique and the Soufrière, St. Vincent, 1904.

Ludger Sylbaris, "Buried Alive in St. Pierre," Wide World Magazine, November 1903.

Matthew St. Ville Hunte, "Inside the Volcano," Paris Review, Sept. 16, 2016.

"Prison Cell of 'The Man Who Lived Through Doomsday,'" Slate, July 31, 2013.

Brian Morton, "There's No Smoke Without Fire," Financial Times, Feb. 13, 2003.

Tony Jones, "Lone Survivor," New Scientist 177:2382 (Feb. 15, 2003), 48-49.

"[front page -- no title]," New York Times, Oct. 13, 1906.

Listener mail:

Kate Connolly, "He's Hired: Belgian Lands 'Dream Job' as Hermit for Austrian Cliffside Retreat," Guardian, April 19, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener David White, who sent two sets of corroborating links -- these contain explicit photos, and these don't.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on iTunes or Google Play Music or via the RSS feed at

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- on our Patreon page you can pledge any amount per episode, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support.

You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at Thanks for listening!

The Tech Wizardry That Will Solve Your Money Problems (from CO-OP THINK!17)  

Today we're live from Times Square and the 2017 CO-OP THINK! Conference, where credit union executives gathered to talk innovation in money management. What do the next five years look like for your money? What innovative solutions are credit unions dreaming up? We talk to top credit union officials from around the country AND financial luminaries like Jean Chatzky and Bobby Rebell to talk about digital innovation.

We also throw out the Haven Life line to a caller who wonders how to invest a $200,000 inheritance. Doug brings the trivia, we answer a listener letter, and much more.

Thanks to SoFi and M1Finance for sponsoring our show!

Ford Appoints New Chief Executive  

Ford has replaced its chief executive following a major reshuffle at the US car giant. Dr Mattias Holweg of the Said Business School at Oxford University considers the legacy left by outgoing boss Mark Fields. Also in the programme, Facebook's internal rules for regulating content on the site have been leaked. Adam Hildreth is chief executive of Crisp Thinking, which moderates sites for hundreds of organisations, and tells us what he makes of the internal rulebook. On a visit to Israel, President Donald Trump has said he sees an opportunity to bring peace to the Middle East. We ask Oded Rose, chief executive of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce whether business can help foster ties between Israelis and Palestinians. We discuss the Green Party's manifesto ahead of next month's UK general election, with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley. Plus Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times takes inspiration from a new a degree course to 'call BS' on some especially grating nonsense from the corporate world.

Ford Appoints New Chief Executive  

Ford has replaced its chief executive following a major reshuffle at the US car giant. Dr Mattias Holweg of the Said Business School at Oxford University considers the legacy left by outgoing boss Mark Fields. Also in the programme, Facebook's internal rules for regulating content on the site have been leaked. Adam Hildreth is chief executive of Crisp Thinking, which moderates sites for hundreds of organisations, and tells us what he makes of the internal rulebook. On a visit to Israel, President Donald Trump has said he sees an opportunity to bring peace to the Middle East. We ask Oded Rose, chief executive of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce whether business can help foster ties between Israelis and Palestinians. We discuss the Green Party's manifesto ahead of next month's UK general election, with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley. Plus Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times takes inspiration from a new a degree course to 'call BS' on some especially grating nonsense from the corporate world.

Week 4 of the general election and Mayism takes shape  

With George Parker, Robert Shrimsley, Miranda Green and Matt Singh of the Financial Times and Julian Glover, writer and former No 10 adviser. Presented by Jonathan Derbyshire

Friday News Roundup  

It's been another leaky week in the U.S. as concerns mount over secrets shared and confidences broken. Also, Turkey's president comes to Washington, but it's his bodyguards who leave a mark. Vladimir Putin says he can prove President Trump did not give secrets to Russia. And it's a pilgrimage of sorts as Donald Trump prepares to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. Discussing domestic news is Byron York, chief political correspondent at The Washington Examiner, Julia Ioffe, staff writer at The Atlantic and Naftali Bendavid, editor and reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Discussing international news is Edward Luce, chief U.S. columnist and commentator at Financial Times, Elise Labott, global affairs correspondent at CNN, Nathan Guttman, Washington correspondent at Israeli Public TV and The Forward, Mehmet Toroglu, Turkish reporter for Voice of America and Paulina Villegas, reporter at the Mexico City bureau of The New York Times.

1A 0

Trump to Visit Saudi Arabia  

Donald Trump is heading to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign visit as US president. Nick Pelham is Middle East correspondent for The Economist, and tells us what the business community can expect from the trip. Also in the programme, General Motors is curtailing ambitions to become a big player in the Indian car market. The BBC's Suranjana Tewari explains the background. As the US aims to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the BBC's Michelle Fleury has been looking at the potential impact on the Mexican car industry. A BBC investigation has discovered a flaw in HSBC bank's voice recognition security for customers. The BBC's Dan Simmons explains how his twin brother managed to trick the system into allowing him into Dan's account. Plus we look back at some of the week's big business stories with Sujeet Indap from the Financial Times, and Riva Gold of the Wall Street Journal.

The Briefcase: Comey, Flynn, & Mueller  
Embed from Getty Images

It's been another whirlwind week! 


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WYNC On the Media: When our phones are our very own, tailor-made media universes, and our social media feeds are seeded with opinions and lies, how can we possibly find common ground? Thankfully, there is one way to maintain a level of frankness and transparency in your media. Listen to On the Media, WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, the team at On the Media tackles sticky issues and untangles this era’s most intractable questions.  Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield are your hosts on a search for the truth in a 24-hour news cycle. Catch them on their weekly podcast, On the Media, on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!

We catch up on the news since our Tuesday episode: 

On Tuesday morning, the President tweeted that he had properly shared information with Russian officials in order to pressure them to join the fight against ISIS. We then learned that Israel was the source of information shared with Russia. That's complicated, but we didn't have time to think about how complicated because...The New York Times reported that James Comey kept contemporaneous memos of conversations with President Trump, and that one of those memos details the President asking Comey to back off Michael Flynn. Meanwhile, the President met with the Turkish president, and protestors were attacked outside the Turkish embassy. Also, a subpoena was issued for financial records related to a loan Paul Manafort took out right after leaving the Trump campaign. Representative Jason Chaffetz demanded to see all the Comey memos. Members of Congress started openly discussing impeachment, and, of course, many Trump supporters say this is all the media crying wolf. AND, Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel on the Russia investigation.

We also share listener feedback from Brett and Kerri. 

Hi Beth and Sarah,

I’m writing to draw your attention to two items that actually managed to make me feel a bit more optimistic about politics than I have been recently. 

First, I don’t know if either of you had a chance to see the town hall CNN hosted with Bernie Sanders and John Kasich.  Most of the thing was taken up with discussion about the recent Trump/Comey/Russia stuff, but the last 20 minutes or so were pretty powerful and more philosophical about the direction of the nation, particularly with respect to division and polarization.  These are two men who are certainly not perfect, and with whom I would disagree about various things (and who themselves disagree about many things), but their interactions at that town hall gave me a bit of renewed hope that a higher, more thought provoking, and generally more respectful discourse between different perspectives is absolutely possible when you recognize that the person opposite you is a human being with good intentions. 

Second, I was struck by the reporting about Emmanuel Macron selecting a member of a rival party to be France’s Prime Minister.  I found that move to be incredibly refreshing, and a signal that his message about leading a centrist, inclusive government wasn’t just campaign talk, but an actual strategy he intended to pursue.  I hope the arrangement works, because our country could certainly do well to see examples of people from various perspectives and ideologies working together in good faith.  A truly centrist government feels like it’s a long way from a practical reality in the United States, but that sort of movement has to start somewhere. 

Being concerned about the breakdown of our national identity and discourse at the hands of partisanship, I found these two stories encouraging. 



I appreciate your show.  I wanted to comment on the thought, briefly mentioned on your latest episode, that none of what we're learning about Trump was not evident during the election.  That may be true, BUT no one in the establishment thought he was actually going to be elected (not even Trump himself thought he was going to win).  The election itself demonstrated over and over again that the Republican establishment is out of touch with its base (for better and worse), so for them to not really get what was going to happen after he was elected is really not a surprise.

Very few people within the party backed Trump enthusiastically at any point during the campaign, really.   I think most established Republicans did fear what might happen were he elected, which is why they didn't support him.  Of course, now they see an opportunity to push their agenda forward and seem willing to publicly tolerate almost anything.  Which is apparently true of their base, regardless.



'Precious' Paid Off Gabourey Sidibe's Gym Membership Debt  

Gabourey Sidibe was 24 and working as a phone sex operator when she was cast as the lead in the 2009 film Precious. It was her first acting role. "It had better change my life for the better," she remembers thinking to herself. "That’s what I prayed for." And it did: she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and has since landed roles in big-budget movies like Tower Heist and television series like American Horror Story, The Big C, and Empire.  

But financial success didn't come right away. As Gabourey writes in her new memoir, "This is Just My Face," she only made about $30,000 from that first role. And, she tells me, it went fast. "Not that I spent it on frivolous things," she says. "What I did with the money was I got out of credit card debt." Gabourey remembers calling a collections agency to pay off several thousand dollars from a Crunch Gym membership that had gone unpaid. "I was like, 'Lisa I'm gonna pay the whole thing off now,'" she laughs. "And she was like, 'Whaaaaat?' And I was like, 'Girl, I got a movie!'"

These days, Gabourey says she's financially stable, and enjoys the attention that's come with her career—mostly. "Before I was an actress nobody said anything about my body," Gabourey says. "It took a while for me to learn that I was never going to out-talent the fact that I should be skinny in, you know, somebody else's eyes." Everyone from directors to fans have told her to do something about her weight—that she should lose it or, at times, that she should gain it back. "People think that I don't care that I am bigger, that I don't notice," she says. "I know. I'm worried." 

That worry fueled her decision to get weight loss surgery last year—something she kept from her family, her manager and her agents. "I had made up my mind and I didn't want space for anybody else's mind to be made up about it," she told me."I wanted my opinion and my comfort and my safety to be the only thing that mattered surrounding the surgery." 

Michael Mauboussin - Man + Machine, Moats, and Power of the Outside View - [Invest Like the Best, EP.37]  

My guest today is Michael Mauboussin, who is the head of global financial strategies at Credit Suisse and is on my short list of must read writers on all things investing. If you read his entire catalogue, Howard Marks's memos, and Buffett's shareholder letters, you be sitting pretty. Michael was also a big reason for the early success of this show appearing as my second guest and now my 37th. He and his team have been prolific in the last six months, publishing several long research reports on the most interesting aspects of the investing landscape. In this conversation, we talk about business moats, industry analysis, and how to combine man and machine when building an investment strategy and portfolio. As I tell Michael at the end, you won't be able to listen to this episode at two times speed, because we go deep quickly.

For comprehensive show notes on this episode go to

For more episodes go to

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at

Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_oshag

Trump 'Shared Classified Information with Russia'  

The Washington Post has caused ructions by quoting two senior administration officials saying that during a meeting last week in the White House, President Trump gave Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, highly classified information about a planned Islamic State group attack. We hear from our North America correspondent David Willis and Daniel Lippman, co-author of Politico Playbook Retailers in the US are in dire straits. In the last few months alone more jobs have been lost in retail than exist in the entire coal industry. After years of steady recovery and a pick up in wages, the future for main street looks bleak as the BBC's Samira Hussain reports. The World Health Organisation is charged with trying to raise standards of health care around the world. We hear from one of the three shortlisted candidates for the post of Director General, Dr David Nabarro who gained international fame when he led the WHO's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa last year. The fallout continues from the Ransomware computer virus; we hear from Adam Kujawa, director of Malware Intelligence at the cybersecurity company Malwarebytes. How do you describe yourself on your CV? Disruptive? Innovative? A leader? If so, be warned as our regular commentator Lucy Kellaway of The Financial Times is not impressed. We cross to Kolkata in India to hear from the BBC's Rahul Tandon on how the Ransomware attack has affected the country. And we're joined throughout the programme by two guests on opposite sides of the Pacific - in New York, Julia Powles, technology policy expert at Cornell Tech and in Delhi, Jyoti Malhotra, Consulting Editor at The Indian Express. (Picture: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo credit: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

UK's Labour Party Launch Manifesto  

The leader of the UK's main opposition party has laid out his vision for the country. We discuss the Labour party's economic policy with Peter Dowd, who is a member of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet. Also in the programme, Europe's top court has made a ruling clarifying when member states should have the power to sign off on trade deals, instead of leaving it to EU institutions. We find out more from Alan Beattie of the Financial Times in Brussels. As France's president Macron finalises his cabinet, the BBC's Joshua Thorpe reports on why the president is likely to face many hurdles in his quest for labour reform. Plus robots from across the world have gone on show at the Innorobo convention in Paris, as the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports.

Diplomacy, War, and Anarchy with Carne Ross  

In Episode 10 of the Hidden Forces podcast, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Carne Ross. Carne is the founder of Independent Diplomat, which advises dozens of democratic countries and political groups on using diplomacy to achieve their foreign policy goals. In his former capacity as a British diplomat, Carne worked on the Middle East, the global environment, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. He served in British embassies within Germany, Norway, Kosovo, Afghanistan and the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he was Britain’s Middle East expert. Carne was also chief speechwriter to the British foreign secretary. Carne Ross resigned from the UK Foreign Service in 2004, after testifying and giving secret evidence to the UK's first official inquiry into the Iraq war. Author of two books on world political affairs, Carne is a frequent commentator on international affairs on the BBC, NPR, CNN, Al Jazeera and elsewhere. Carne has also written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, The Nation and many other publications.

In this episode, we explore the world of modern diplomacy from the end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, through the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, all the way to the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS. We explore the limits of modern diplomacy and how national politics constrain our capacity for addressing global problems. What address the legitimacy of the state, and question our relationship to authority. How much are politicians, technocrats, and global elites responsible for the populism and outrage on display in countries like France, Britain, and the United States? Is there a better way forward, and what can history and technology, teach us about the possibilities for new forms of self-governance and organization in the 21st century?

Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @hiddenforcespod

Global Cyber-Attacks Slow but Fears Remain  

Europe and Asia record fewer WannaCry ransomware attacks, as the perpetrator is sought. Nicole Eagan is chief executive of cyber security firm Darktrace, and tells us about hopes for artificial intelligence in the battle against cyber-attacks. And technology expert Tom Cheesewright considers the role the global dominance of Microsoft's Windows operating system has played in the spread of this attack. Also in the programme, France's new president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to bring about a renaissance in France. The BBC's Joshua Thorpe asks small businesses in Paris what they think of Mr Macron's plans. We find out about a boardroom battle at the Anglo-Russian gold miner Petro Pavlovsk, from Peter Hambro, who is stepping down as its chairman next month. Jobs are being eliminated in the US retailing sector at a high rate, as the BBC's Samira Hussein reports. Plus Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times lays into almost every word of a management job advert.

One Belt One Road  

As some 30 heads of state gathered in Beijing on Sunday, is President's Xi's initiative a meaningful bid by China to lead the world economy or just a glorified investment splurge? Presenter Manuela Saragosa gets the views of Linda Yueh. Also in the programme, Rob Young asks whether we should fear technology, while Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times lays into almost every word of a management job advert. (Picture: Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast during the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing; Credit: Damir Sagolj/Getty Images)

Covering the UK election  

The UK goes to the polls next month but enthusiasm for the vote is somewhat limited. For the media, reporting on this election is no easy task. Steve Bloomfield is joined by George Parker, political editor for ‘The Financial Times’, Gaby Hinsliff, political editor at ‘The Pool’ and Darren McCaffrey, politics correspondent for Sky News, to ask how this election will be covered.

Week of 3 general election and Labour's leaked manifesto  

How Theresa May is trying to soften her image, Ukip's decision to stand aside in many seats for the Tories and why Labour's draft manifesto was leaked. With George Parker, Jim Pickard, Miranda Green and Matt Singh of the Financial Times. Presented by Sebastian Payne.

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