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How A Mission To Turn A Haitian Town Into A Surfing Destination Failed To Live Up To Its Promise

How A Mission To Turn A Haitian Town Into A Surfing Destination Failed To Live Up To Its Promise


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

Samuel Jules, 23, a member of Surf Haiti, has participated in surf competitions.

The sun had just crested above the hills when Samuel Jules walked past an abandoned house on Kabic Beach, in southern Haiti, wrapped the surfboard leash around his ankle, and glided into the turquoise waves.

For a few minutes during that August morning, 23-year-old Jules — the uncontested best surfer in the country — bobbed alone out in the water, where his dream of representing Haiti in the Olympics had been born. Soon, a couple more surfers paddled out and joined him, the town behind the group still asleep.

“When you surf, you forget all your problems and you just focus on what’s in front of you at the moment,” said Frantzy Andris, 22, one of the surfers.

There was a lot to leave behind, even in this paradisiac setting.

A month before, Haiti’s then-president, Jovenel Moïse, had been assassinated, plunging the Caribbean nation into a political crisis. The country’s nerves were taut as a series of arrests — of top officials and foreign mercenaries linked to the magnicide — dragged on for weeks. Abroad, a new barrage of dismal headlines from Haiti dominated newspaper front pages and primetime segments on TV: natural disasters, government failure, corruption.


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

Michael Jules, 18, heads onto Kabic Beach in Jacmel, where people are known to surf.

The first surfers rode waves in this Haitian bay in the wake of a crisis over a decade earlier. After a catastrophic earthquake in 2010, an American physician who traveled to the country to help with the emergency response founded a surfing program that drew dozens of local kids and turned a hobby into a profitable project for the neighborhood, as a growing trickle of tourists rented boards and signed up for surf lessons. But in the years since, as funds dwindled and founding members departed, Surf Haiti languished and is now on the verge of extinction, with only a handful of surfers out on the water during any given week and barely any customers.

It has become a common story in Haiti: Well-intentioned ventures established by foreigners have failed to produce the long-term relief that inspired their initial missions. Some left too early, without providing the community with the resources necessary to continue the projects. Others have mismanaged funds, or worse — more than 200 UN peacekeepers abused or engaged in exploitative relationships with women, impregnated dozens of them, and left the country, later refusing to pay child support. All efforts have been stunted by political instability and the series of cataclysms battering the country.

One week after Jules’s surfing session last month, an earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 2,200 people, followed by a destructive tropical storm within days.

Available estimates place the nation’s unemployment rate as high as 70% — most locals lack the resources to continue surfing. In addition to drawing tourists to the area, the surf project aimed to provide an escape from daily realities for those who couldn’t leave the country.

And yet, even that escape has become inaccessible for many.

Wolvenson Gilles, 27, watched from the shore as Jules did a 360 on a wave and landed softly on his board, his legs dangling on either side of it.

Gilles said he was craving a ride, but his board was at home, broken.


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

Wolvenson Gilles in Jacmel, Haiti

At first, he was afraid of the sea.

Gilles’s parents, like so many others, had told him if he plunged in he might drown. A bad spirit, they said, lurked in its waters. He met many others who shared the fear, including fisherfolk who couldn’t swim.

Gilles thinks the anxiety around the water is a legacy of slavery: generational trauma, passed down from ancestors who had been kidnapped, shipped to a French colony across the ocean, and forced to work coffee and sugar plantations that enriched white colonizers.

Curious and freedom-seeking, Gilles, who goes by Papito, learned to swim when he was 5. There wasn’t much to do in town except to play soccer on the beach or horse around on scraps of plastic in the water. Then one day when he was around 15, he was mesmerized by the sight of a dark-haired figure standing on a board dozens of miles into the horizon, weaving through the waves.

Ken Pierce had recently left Kauai, Hawaii, after seeing footage of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which had flattened much of the capital city, buried thousands under rubble, and filled tent camps with dazed and injured people. Pierce, an emergency physician, was among the legion of volunteers who streamed into the country. He brought a suitcase full of medical supplies — and a surfboard, just in case.

After settling in, he took a drive down the coast near Jacmel, a cultural hub that resembles a worn-down New Orleans, with some buildings boasting high ceilings, vivacious colors, and wrap-around verandas. Painters and sculptors in the city used rubble from pancaked buildings to make art. As Pierce later recounted, he kept looking over his right shoulder at the waves, looking for the right one — until, at last, he found it near Kabic Beach.

When he paddled back to shore, a group of local boys was waiting for him, bursting with questions, and a request to try his board out. Gilles remembers getting on Pierce’s surfboard, taking a wave, and plunging into the sea even before he was able to get off his knees.

By the end of the day, he was able to stand. For those fleeting moments gliding across the water, Gilles’s mind cleared — he wasn’t thinking about his damaged house or fear of aftershocks but was purely consumed by the thrilling challenge of trying to keep from flying off the board.

Within months, Pierce had rented a house on Kabic Beach, imported more boards, and started teaching local kids to surf. He started Surf Haiti, a nonprofit organization, intended to establish the country as a surfing destination and provide jobs for people in the community.


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

Frantzy Andris (Japipo), 22, Samuel Andris, 13, and Samuel Jules hang out and talk on their surfboards in the water waiting for a wave.

The organization grew to 30 members, who bonded over their shared passion for the ocean. They set up a sign with a price list for surf lessons and board rentals on the street, and watched as tourists — mostly foreign aid workers who drove south for some R&R — began trickling in. Donations of boards and bathing suits for the members of Surf Haiti started arriving from the US. A New York–based surfboard design company made a special board for Jules, whose local celebrity was growing, and soon the founding members of Surf Haiti began plotting to send Jules — whose own mother doesn’t know how to swim — to train in France so he could represent Haiti in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

On land, debris from the earthquake that had brought Pierce out to Haiti lingered on the streets for years, and money for reconstruction from the international community was either mismanaged by development authorities or promised but never delivered by donors.

But out in the waters of Kabic Beach, dozens of young people were falling into a new pastime. Those who knew how to swim taught those who didn’t, and within a few years, the surfing community was bustling. The kids rented out boards to visitors. Then, as they honed their skills on the boards, they started giving surfing lessons themselves. In what is a luxury for most teenagers in Haiti, they were both in school and making money on the side.

“Surfing is in Haiti to stay,” Pierce, who returned to the US in 2012, told the online publication Roads & Kingdoms in 2014. (Pierce declined to be interviewed for this story, saying the surge of COVID patients in his hospital has left him unavailable.)

In 2016, Surf Haiti hosted its first international surfing competition. Over two days, DJs played music on the beach, local artists promoted their work, and restaurants filled up with visitors. A similar event took place the following year. The community had a shot at making headlines abroad not for political crises or traumatic natural catastrophes, but for being talented and entrepreneurial.

Surf Haiti had become “like a family” and its members “were connected,” said Andris during a humid and cloudless afternoon near Kabic Beach in August.

It seemed like the tides had turned in this corner of Haiti.


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

The guys bring the surfboards back to the Surf Haiti storeroom after surfing in the morning in Kabic Beach in Jacmel.

The trouble began in July 2018 in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, 54 miles north.

The government had just announced a 50% increase in fuel prices following an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, eliciting protests that turned violent, with demonstrators looting stores and police firing tear gas. The protesters called for accountability, most notably regarding the whereabouts of $ 2 billion from PetroCaribe, an oil deal with Venezuela that was meant to help Haiti invest in infrastructure and social programs.

Economic growth was grinding to a halt and inflation was soaring. The question on everyone’s mind: What did Haiti have to show for the $ 13 billion from the world, thousands of volunteers, and countless projects?

Tourists were barely coming to Haiti — and many Haitians were leaving, including Gilles, who moved to the Dominican Republic in December 2019 for two years so he could find a job and save some money. Today, he’s trying to set up a small shop selling snacks and drinks on the Haiti–Dominican Republic border. Though he longed to stay in southern Haiti, he said, “I really want a job and to feel independent.”

Around half a dozen of Surf Haiti’s founders and older members were among those who left, most of them to the US, after getting into college or finding jobs.

When boards began breaking, there wasn’t anyone to bring new ones. Wax became scarce. Visitors slowed to a trickle, and the kids who had waited by the shore for Pierce to paddle back in years earlier were now in college, with no job prospects and no income.

“The people who were there to motivate us and support us haven’t been here as much,” Andris said.

And then, the pandemic hit. Jules’s bid for the Olympics fell apart when he wasn’t able to gain the support he needed from sponsors and local authorities in Jacmel. Last year, less than a dozen people showed up for surf classes, a far cry from the years when that many showed each month.

In recent months, gangs took over the main route out of the capital city, cutting it off from the south; few dare traverse it. Another route, a long stretch of steep, narrow dirt road, is too dangerous if there’s even a trickle of rain. Water taxis are limited.

The stream of visitors to Kabic Beach is, for now, virtually shut off. Remaining Surf Haiti members say they plan on selling t-shirts with the organization’s logo and hand-crafted souvenirs online.

In the meantime, it’s mostly locals in the water, less than half a dozen of them on this August morning. The regulars are teaching their younger siblings to surf in an effort to keep the sport going. Samuel Andris, Frantzy’s 13-year-old brother, stayed close to the shore during a recent morning, pausing to observe the waves’ buildup and trying to catch the smaller ones.

Further out, Jules practiced his more advanced moves. He learned some of them while surfing in the Dominican Republic in 2019, during the only competition he has attended abroad. After a while, he emerged from the water, patted his adopted mutt, Brutus, on the head, and climbed the steps up to the patio of the abandoned house — Pierce’s home, years ago. With no job prospects or a functioning gym in the neighborhood, Jules spends most of his time here doing push-ups on the grass.

He still dreams of going to surfing competitions in Brazil, Hawaii, and Tahiti.

“It’s like someone that wakes up and has to walk,” Jules said. “I see surfing the same way.” ●


Jessica Obert for BuzzFeed News

A few of the members of Surf Haiti go surfing early in the morning in Jacmel.

Read more here BuzzFeed News

Sister of woman killed in Westchase domestic violence shooting says ‘they failed to protect her’

Sister of woman killed in Westchase domestic violence shooting says 'they failed to protect her'
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The sister of a woman who was shot four times while holding her 1-year-old son is speaking out after her death.

Since police haven’t identified the victim, we’re not naming the sister, but she said, “She was a really great mother. She died protecting her son, because he was on her hip when she fell. She fell on top of him and he continued to shoot.”

Police say this was a domestic violence incident that happened outside the victim’s Westchase-area apartment Thursday morning.

SEE ALSO: Mother killed, 1-year-old wounded in domestic violence shooting incident in Westchase area

Authorities said the incident started as a domestic dispute. When officials arrived, the woman was in critical condition. Emergency personnel gave administered CPR and were able to identify a pulse, but she died at the hospital.

According to police, a bullet struck the 1-year-old boy’s ankle. He was also transported to Memorial Hermann, where he is stable.

“He’s doing really well. He was shot in the leg, (but) the bullet went in and out,” said the victim’s sister.

While police have not identified the suspect, they say he is the father of the child. Officials said the man was out of jail on seven felony bonds and had an ankle monitor. However, it’s unclear if he was wearing the device at the time of the shooting.

Police were looking for him Thursday afternoon.

“He’s a felon, a menace to society. He’s a person that should not have been walking free,” the sister said.

Court documents show the suspect posted bond on charges, including evading arrest, felon in possession of a weapon, assault bodily injury, and assault of a family member. ABC13 is waiting to hear back from the judge who granted the bond to find out why he would be given yet another bond.

The victim’s sister blames the system, saying, “They failed to protect her. Because she would still be here (Thursday) if he wouldn’t have kept getting out on bond.”

“We wonder what could we have done to prevent this. Once again, we don’t want to put any fault anywhere, however, with the suspect being out on bond for seven major felonies, this could have been prevented,” said HPD Asst. Chief Patricia Cantu.

Now, the victim’s family is hoping for justice, soon.

“Keep us in your prayers… just pray for my nephew,” says the woman.

GET HELP: If you need help getting out of a domestic violence situation, call the Houston Area Women’s Center 24/7 hotline at 713-528-2121 or call AVDA at 713-224-9911. You can also click here to chat with an advocate online. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and need help, call 713-528-3625.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: T.J. Parker
This post originally appeared on ABC13

Runner failed to prove banned substance came from burrito, sport's court says

Runner failed to prove banned substance came from burrito, sport's court says

Distance runner Shelby Houlihan’s case went ahead in secret for five months and was published just days before the start of U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, was banned for four years after failing to prove that tainted pork caused her positive test for an anabolic steroid, sport’s highest court said Tuesday.

Houlihan blamed a pork burrito bought at a Mexican street food truck when she revealed her doping case in an announcement on her Instagram account Monday.

A case that went ahead in secret for five months was published days before the start of U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three in each event earn a spot to the postponed Tokyo Games. Houlihan finished 11th at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the 5,000 meters.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed Tuesday its panel of judges “unanimously determined that Shelby Houlihan had failed” to prove how the anabolic steroid nandrolone got into her system.

The case was fast-tracked with the consent of all parties to be heard on June 4 by video link with the court in Lausanne, Switzerland. The verdict was announced without a detailed verdict.

It stayed confidential until Houlihan’s own announcement of the positive doping test and ban that runs to January 2025. It also rules her out of the 2024 Paris Olympics and the first track worlds to be held in the United States, next year in Eugene.

The 28-year-old Houlihan said she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on Jan. 14, notifying her that a drug testing sample returned a finding for nandrolone.

She said she’s since learned it has “long been understood by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone, since certain types of pigs produce it naturally in high amounts. Pig organ meat (offal) has the highest levels of nandrolone.”

Houlihan made a list of all the food she ate leading up to a Dec. 15 test that detected the anabolic steroid.

“We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon,” Houlihan wrote. “I notified the AIU that I believed this was the source.”

An email and text were left with her agent.

Houlihan added that “although my levels were consistent with those of subjects in studies who were tested 10 hours after eating this source and WADA technical guidelines require the lab to consider it when analyzing nandrolone, the lab never accounted for this possibility. They could have reported this as an atypical finding and followed up with further testing. The anti-doping experts I have reached out to say they should have. I did everything I could to prove my innocence.”

She said she passed a polygraph and had a hair sample analyzed by toxicologists.

“WADA agreed that test proved that there was no build up of this substance in my body, which there would have been if I were taking it regularly,” Houlihan wrote. “Nothing moved the lab from their initial snap decision. Instead, they simply concluded that I was a cheater and that a steroid was ingested orally, but not regularly. I believe my explanation fits the facts much better — because it’s true. I also believe it was dismissed without proper due process.”

Houlihan said she was informed last Friday that CAS “did not accept my explanation of what had occurred and has subsequently banned me from the sport for four years.”

The court said in a statement its judges decided by a 2-1 majority the athlete had not proven her claim that her case and sample were improperly managed.

“I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured myself into just to see how good I was,” Houlihan wrote.

She set the American 1,500-meter record of 3 minutes, 54.99 seconds at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 5, 2019.

Last July, Houlihan broke the U.S. 5,000-meter mark with her time of 14:23.92 in Portland, Oregon.

“I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance enhancing substances,” Houlihan wrote. “I’m not interested in cheating. I don’t do this for the accolades, money, or for people to know my name. I do this because I love it.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Exclusive one-on-one interview with Gov. Greg Abbott about failed voting bill

Exclusive one-on-one interview with Gov. Greg Abbott about failed voting bill
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — In an exclusive interview with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, he told ABC13’s Melanie Lawson that his team is sorting through thousands of bills that are waiting for his signature.

The first question had to do with his decision to call a special session. It came in the wake of a walkout by Democrat lawmakers in the final hours of the regular session. By leaving, they kept the Republican majority from a quorum or without enough members to pass laws for stricter voting.

SEE ALSO: Texas’ GOP leadership already at odds over plans for special legislative session

“What do you say to critics who say this makes voting much harder for minority and older voters, and even the disabled?”

Abbott responded by saying that there’s been a lot of “confusion and uncertainty” about the proposed voting bill, and that it actually allows for “more hours to vote.” He went on to say, “if Senate Bill 7 or the election integrity forum bill passes, there will be more hours, not fewer in comparison to current Texas law. But Melanie, also know this, the hours that are allowed in the state of Texas are far more than so many other states – let’s just compare it to the president’s home state of Delaware, where they have zero days of early voting, we have more than 100 hours more of early voting than what they have in Delaware.”

He added, “people should not say that Texas is being discriminatory by the abundant hours that we provide for early voting.”

The governor did make one concession about continuing the practice in Black churches of taking their members to early voting on Sundays, saying, “last night, I agreed that one modification to the way the bill was drafted, would be to increase the voting time period on that one Sunday for early voting, and I think you will see that in the final product.”

I asked him about his plans to call two special sessions this year, including one in the fall to address redistricting and federal funding on COVID-19.

When asked on whether he still plans to withhold pay to Democrat lawmakers who walked out and whether that will hurt legislative staffers more than lawmakers, he wouldn’t give us a definitive date.

“Those are decisions that will be made in the coming days,” he said. “(I) would ensure that lawmakers do have the ability to restore payment for the legislative branch of government.”

What’s happening with the state’s power grid and what can be done to prevent another crisis like we had in February, when so many Texans were left without power and dozens lost their lives?

Lt Governor Dan Patrick has said he wants to use part of the special session to work on helping to fix the grid system, and to assist power customers to deal with exorbitant bills. But Abbott said the issue was “addressed very substantially during the regular session,” and claims that “the Texas power grid is far better today than it’s ever been in the history of the state.”

SEE ALSO: Will lawmakers really change the Texas grid?

“(I’ve) added accountability for ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, in charge of the grid, as well as additional accountability for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC),” Abbott said. “Second, we impose what’s called weatherization, which includes winterization in the wintertime and summerization in the summertime, to make sure that all of the entities involved in transmitting and processing power in the state will be weatherized so that they wouldn’t shut down in a winter storm like what we had this last time.”

Abbott said that “during the winter storm, downtown Houston lights remained on, as well as the hospitals remained on. However, because of the shutdown, they actually shut down power generating facilities in the state of Texas, and because they were not protected from the grid shutdown, that actually prolonged the shutdown. That will not be permitted and no power generating facilities will be shut down in the future.”

Finally, he said, “we have enforcement mechanisms in place to enforce penalties for those who do not comply, and I can tell you today, we have more power generating capacity than ever before.”

When asked about whether this would help customers with their bills and not just aid the power companies to upgrade, he said, “so part of what was done during the session absolutely will help power customers and reduce their bills. Is there more that we can do? Yes there is, and am I in favor of doing more, yes I am.”

Follow Melanie Lawson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Melanie Lawson

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Failed post-race drug test confirmed for Derby 147 winner

Failed post-race drug test confirmed for Derby 147 winner

Failed post-race drug test confirmed for Derby 147 winner Medina Spirit, Churchill Downs imposes 2 year ban on Baffert

Churchill Downs announced they are suspending Bob Baffert-trained horses from racing at the track for two years but no official decision on Derby disqualification.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — According to a statement from trainer Bob Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, Kentucky Derby 147 winner Medina Spirit’s positive post-race drug test was confirmed. The horse tested positive for betamethasone following the race. 

Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory drug that can give horses relief from discomfort. The second test confirmed 25 picograms of the drug were found.

State horse racing rules require at least a 14-day withdrawal time from the medication, and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

A second test was conducted by a laboratory at the University of California, Davis and confirmed the findings of the initial test.

Baffert initially denied claims that the horse was treated with the drug but changed course.

Baffert said the 3-year-old colt was treated with Otomax, an anti-fungal ointment, to treat dermatitis. The seven-time Derby-winning trainer said he was informed that betamethasone is an active ingredient in the ointment.

Robertson said there is other testing taking place, including a DNA test.

“We expect this additional testing to confirm that the presence of the betamethasone was from the topical ointment, Otomax, and not an injection,” Robertson said in a statement.

Clark Brewster, an attorney for Medina Spirit’s owner, said his client has asked that the original post-race sample be sent to a different lab to be tested for the drug.

Following the positive test, Baffert was suspended from running horses at Churchill Downs and other venues across the country. 

Wednesday, Churchill Downs announced a two-year suspension of any Baffert-trained horses from running at the track.

Churchill Downs full statement:

“Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” CEO of CDI Bill Carstanjen said. “Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated. Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”

Churchill Downs said that if the findings of the test were upheld, Medina Spirit’s result in the Kentucky Derby would be invalidated and Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun would be declared the winner.

The racetrack said they are awaiting official notification of the split sample test results from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) before making any decision on a potential disqualification noting that they have sole authority to nullify the Derby win.

KHRC said they cannot provide an update on the status of ongoing investigations.

Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness after clearing three rounds of pre-race drug testings. 

“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” Robertson said in closing. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.  

Have a news tip? Email [email protected], visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed 

Author:
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Failed post-race drug test confirmed for Derby 147 winner Medina Spirit

Failed post-race drug test confirmed for Derby 147 winner Medina Spirit

Churchill Downs said they are awaiting official notice from the KY Horse Racing Commission before making a decision on a potential Derby disqualification.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — According to a statement from trainer Bob Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, Kentucky Derby 147 winner Medina Spirit’s positive post-race drug test was confirmed. The horse tested positive for betamethasone following the race. 

Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory drug that can give horses relief from discomfort. The second test confirmed 25 picograms of the drug were found.

State horse racing rules require at least a 14-day withdrawal time from the medication, and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

A second test was conducted by a laboratory at the University of California, Davis and confirmed the findings of the initial test.

Baffert initially denied claims that the horse was treated with the drug but changed course. 

Baffert said the 3-year-old colt was treated with Otomax, an anti-fungal ointment, to treat dermatitis. The seven-time Derby-winning trainer said he was informed that betamethasone is an active ingredient in the ointment. 

Robertson said there is other testing taking place, including a DNA test. 

“We expect this additional testing to confirm that the presence of the betamethasone was from the topical ointment, Otomax, and not an injection,” Robertson said in a statement.

Clark Brewster, an attorney for Medina Spirit’s owner, said his client has asked that the original post-race sample be sent to a different lab to be tested for the drug.

Following the positive test, Baffert was suspended from running horses at Churchill Downs and other venues across the country. 

Churchill Downs said that if the findings of the test were upheld, Medina Spirit’s result in the Kentucky Derby would be invalidated and Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun would be declared the winner. 

The racetrack said they are awaiting official notification of the split sample test results from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) before making any decision on a potential disqualification.

KHRC said they cannot provide an update on the status of ongoing investigations.

Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness after clearing three rounds of pre-race drug testings. 

“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” Robertson said in closing. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.  

Have a news tip? Email [email protected], visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed 

Author:
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Donald Trump tears into Biden’s ‘failed’ Mexico policy – ‘Destroying our country!’

Donald Trump tears into Biden’s ‘failed’ Mexico policy - ‘Destroying our country!’

The former US President also speculated whether Mr Biden eased restrictions on the Mexico border out of incompetence or a pursuit of open borders by stealth.

He said: “The question is, do they do it out of incompetence? Which I happen to think. Or they do it because they really believe open borders are good for this country?.”

He then added Mr Biden’s soft approach had encouraged waves of migrants to attempt to cross the border, and said:

“We had the strongest in the history of our country.

“Very few people. Drugs were way down. Human trafficking was almost stopped.

“We did things that were amazing, and you take a look at what’s happening now. And let me tell you: They’re letting people from prisons. They’re opening their prisons. Their prisoners are coming in, their murderers, their drug addicts, and drug dealers, by the way.

“And the human traffickers are coming in. They’re letting them in. They want them in. They don’t want them in their country, so they’re saying, ‘send them to the USA.’”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Feature: The Story Of The Game Genie, The Cheat Device Nintendo Tried (And Failed) To Kill

Game Genie© Nintendo Life

Much has been written about cheating in games. The history of which is so old and entwined it’s difficult to find its origins. Developers included cheats to aid development, from Manic Miner to Gradius. In computer games, it was possible for players to ‘POKE’ data values and change things, with old magazines printing listings of them. These allowed unlimited lives, fixing of glitches, and more. Computer games also had ‘trainers’ made, some even being sold – Castle Wolfenstein from 1981 had one by Muse Software. Some developers also built-in cheats, codes, and passwords for players to use. Put simply: the altering of games has always existed, even if it’s less prevalent today than it was during the ’80s and ’90s.

Things get especially interesting when looking at the history of physical cheat devices that interface with game-playing hardware. Game Genie was not the first; Datel produced Action Replay cartridges for the C64 and other computers as early as 1985. There were also the Multiface peripherals for various computers, by British company Romantic Robot. These allowed not just cheats but also backing up games. Plus, there were other lesser-known plug-in devices. By the time Game Genie (initially) launched in 1990 the concept of cheat devices was already well established. Unlike Game Genie, however, none incurred the wrath of Nintendo, with a $ 15 million lawsuit ensuing.

There was this little Japanese company, Nintendo, which had this funny little console. Generally, people weren’t excited about it. So we thought, that’s interesting, but we ignored it

To fully document the Game Genie saga, we interviewed four key people: Ted Carron, Graham Rigby, Jonathan Menzies, and Richard Aplin. To tell the full, amazing story of this unassuming device, we’ve also supplemented their answers with quotations from other sources, including input from the siblings who founded Codemasters, the company behind the Game Genie: brothers David and Richard, and father Jim Darling. For good measure, we’ve also included quotes from Andrew Graham, creator of Codemasters’ Micro Machines game.

Aplin was easy to track down, given his detailed and fascinating 2009 interview on GameHacking.org regarding Game Genie. “I did several versions of Game Genie, but not the very first NES one. I arrived at Codies just after the NES version launched in the US, and did several other formats; Game Boy, Game Gear, and so on. I did a really sweet ‘Game Genie 2’ for the SNES, but it never launched due to market conditions.”

Aplin then pointed us in the direction of colleagues. “People significantly involved in the NES one were David, Richard, and Jim Darling, the Codemasters family. David started a small mobile games shop, Kwalee, and obviously knows the early days, litigation, Nintendo stuff, and might be happy to talk, now so much water is under the bridge; Ted Carron was part of the early team and still in Leamington Spa, he married a Darling; Graham Rigby now lives in Australia and did a lot of code-finding; Jon Menzies wrote a lot of software at Codemasters; Andrew Graham wrote the NES ROM software for Game Genie as well as other stuff, some NES games, lock chip work and so on. He also flew to Taiwan to work on production/debugging of the ASIC for the NES Genie.”

“You seem to have the core people connected to Game Genie,” says Rigby, seeing the interviewee list. “I was the first to start work on the Game Genie, besides the original trio. Ted Carron, Rich Darling, and Dave Darling were the inventors and responsible for the birth of the Game Genie.”

David, the elder of the Darling brothers and Codemasters co-founder, is the key person to describe Game Genie’s conception. It all started with the launch of Nintendo’s grey NES console in America, which initially didn’t garner much interest. “We went to the CES show in Chicago,” David told us a few years back. “The industry used to go every six months, in Chicago and Las Vegas. There was this little Japanese company, Nintendo, which had this funny little console. Generally, people weren’t excited about it. So we thought, that’s interesting, but we ignored it. By the next show, six months later, Nintendo was everywhere. It took off across America. Even at petrol stations, they were selling Nintendo games. So we thought: this is the machine we have to be involved with.”

Letting The Genie Out Of The Bottle

A 1993 Super Play interview with David confirms it was at the later Vegas show where they made their decision, “I went with Richard and a guy here called Ted Carron to one of the Las Vegas Computer Entertainment Shows, where we realised just how big Nintendo was over there. When we came back we were thinking ‘right, we’ve got to somehow get into this’.” Of course, to develop for the NES required an expensive license from Nintendo and, in that same Super Play interview, David reveals the Japanese giant wasn’t interested. “To be honest, when we went to CES, we tried to talk to Nintendo about doing games for them, but they gave us the cold shoulder because we hadn’t booked an appointment. After that, we just saw doing it without them as a challenge.”

“At the time it wasn’t easy to get a licence and we didn’t need one, so we went ahead without it,” states brother Richard, interviewed by EDGE magazine on the making of Micro Machines. “We produced our own development systems and games. The hardest part was finding a way around the protection on the NES, so our games would not be treated as ‘counterfeit’.”

We tried to come up with a game concept that would appeal to absolutely everybody. We thought that to achieve this you’d have to give the game loads of options, so people could make it as hard or as easy as they liked

This defiant seed, planted due to Nintendo’s apathy towards Codemasters, would ultimately cost Nintendo millions of dollars, and it was all down to Ted Carron. Reverse-engineering the NES, cracking the security, building Codemasters’ in-house NES development kit, and ultimately designing Game Genie itself was all down to Carron’s technical expertise. Andrew Graham, in the same EDGE article on Micro Machines, humorously describes how in April 1989 he first encountered Carron’s genius. “I converted Treasure Island Dizzy using Codies’ homemade dev system. Ted had made a rather ‘Heath Robinson’ system which consisted of a PC connected to a Commodore 64 connected to a box full of wires and electronics, all hooked up to a consumer NES. They mailed the lot to me in Scotland. His subsequent NES dev kits were altogether more compact. They were given codenames from characters in Blade Runner.”

The initial plan had been for Codemasters to branch out from computer development and start making console games. Keep in mind the company’s early successes were with budget-priced titles and sports simulators. The intention of the latter being to tap into pre-existing audiences for something, such as BMX fans or rugby fans, rather than grow a fan base from scratch. So while Codemasters’ earliest foray into NES development was porting pre-existing computer games, such as Dizzy, David and co were thinking of ways to reach wider audiences – and what wider audience is there than every single game owner?

“We tried to come up with a game concept that would appeal to absolutely everybody,” David told Super Play in 1993. “We thought that to achieve this you’d have to give the game loads of options, so people could make it as hard or as easy as they liked. This, in turn, got us thinking about how neat it would be if we could modify every game like that, but we thought it wasn’t possible with Nintendo games being on cartridge. You can’t change the ROM. We were wrong, of course – it is possible. You don’t have to change the ROM, you just have to fool it a bit.”

David elaborated on this when we spoke to him many years later in 2013. “We used to have ideas sessions every Wednesday or so, where we’d just go to our flat and try to come up with ideas. So we thought, how can we make these games really special? One idea was we could have a switch on our cartridges, to choose the number of lives, or which weapon, or something. Then we thought: well, maybe we can make an interface that will work with other people’s existing games and give extra features? Because all these kids in America, playing Super Mario Bros., they would love that.”

Those idea sessions took place with brothers David and Richard plus the aforementioned Ted Carron. “After going down to London to launch the Atari ST version of International Rugby Simulator, I was staying over at Richard Darling’s flat in Leamington and I had a meeting with him and Dave,” recalls Carron. “They explained they wanted to break into the NES market, and wanted to brainstorm different ideas to add something original to the games. At that meeting, the idea came up to create a device that somehow altered the behaviour of existing games. I went back home and created a prototype.”

We asked Carron what it was like reverse-engineering the NES for this prototype and also about his makeshift dev kit for the system. Sadly, given the legal troubles back then, he was somewhat reticent, “No comment regarding reverse-engineering the NES. Yes, I did build a makeshift NES development kit and it did involve a Commodore 64. I am sorry some of this is a bit cagey. Even though it was a long time ago those were very big court cases, with a lot of money involved and lots of scary American lawyers.”

We thought: well, maybe we can make an interface that will work with other people’s existing games and give extra features? Because all these kids in America, playing Super Mario Bros., they would love that

Although Carron didn’t want to describe the process, it would have involved using a logic analyser. An intimidating looking device with numerous cables that are attached directly to the circuitry of a shop-bought NES, in order to decode how it functioned. When Aplin arrived at Codemasters they were using LA4800 analysers. “They look more impressive than they are; they’re quite simple,” he explains. “You have a bunch of digital inputs, say 32~48, and the LA4800 samples them at whatever speed you want, say 20Mhz. It then displays the results as either wiggly lines, for a single input, or numbers. For a set of inputs like a data bus, you’d tell it to group them together and display as a hexadecimal number. You could trigger it to start capturing on certain conditions. Typically we’d connect 16 address lines and 8 data lines and a handful of other control lines, and it would show you what the CPU was doing to memory as it ran. For example: read two instructions, write a RAM location, jump somewhere, and so on. That’s pretty much all they did; you’d have to pore over the results and figure out what was going on.”

Despite the complex and laborious nature of reverse-engineering, the completion of Game Genie was relatively quick according to David. “About six months for the initial NES version, I guess,” he told Super Play in 1993 when asked about how long it took to pull together. “Doing hardware was a new thing for us, and we had to get in quite a few new people and lots of new equipment!”

Menzies also described how the in-house software came about, corroborating statements about Blade Runner codenames being used. “I wrote the ROM for the in-house game development system, Nexus 7,” he says. “I believe the actual ROM for the Game Genie user interface was written by Andrew Graham. My main contribution to Game Genie, along with Graham Rigby and another guy whose name escapes me, was creating the Genie codes.”

Cracking The Code

For the first Game Genie, on NES, players were presented with 16 letters each corresponding to a hexadecimal value, and three dashed lines allowing codes of 6 or 8 characters to be inputted. The device itself came with a booklet containing codes for all the latest games at the time. The choice of letters to represent hex values seems entirely arbitrary, though. It might have been to increase the likelihood of real words forming codes, or to make writing down new codes easier. For example, ‘PIGPOG’ on Super Mario Bros., which randomly changes enemy placement, is much easier to remember and tell friends about than the hex equivalent of ‘154194’. Unfortunately, no one we interviewed knew why the menu interface formed as it did. Carron would only cryptically state that “the hex code thing was for legal reasons.”

With the device itself in the works, Codemasters would need a publisher and distributor. Camerica handled things initially in Canada while Galoob Toys covered the US, before eventually, Galoob took over entirely. “There was a company called Camerica,” Carron recalls. “Actually, it was more the head of that company, a guy called David Harding. He was a friend of Dave and Richard and he introduced them to Galoob. He was also the Canadian licensee for Game Genie.”

David Darling also described these events to us back in 2013. “When we worked with Mastertronic, this guy called David Harding was their Canadian distributor. He set up Camerica. So when we developed Game Genie, we asked him if he wanted to distribute it in North America. I think he thought ‘this is too big for me’. So he took it to Lewis Galoob Toys in San Francisco and sold the idea to them. So we signed a contract for them to distribute it.”

With Ted Carron handling the hardware and Andrew Graham programming the user interface, the last major hurdle was finding codes for existing games, to be included with the final product. Due to the versatile nature of Game Genie, which would allow codes for all NES games – past, present, and future – each code for each game would need to be manually discovered through trial and error, and any found codes were unlikely to work on other games. There was no one-size-fits-all, meaning Codemasters needed to bring in more people, so as to ‘brute force’ their way through the hexadecimal.

It was like Christmas every other week. When things ramped up with Galoob’s involvement we were getting about 10 games every other week. It was awesome

Rigby explains how the start of his Codemasters career was as one of their code finders. “I knew Ted Carron through mutual friends, back home, and he asked if I wanted to find cheat codes. In the initial days, I think it was Camerica who were involved, supplying some games for us to get codes for. Galoob came later. That’s when things really took off with more games needed for the codebook; I think it was 255 games for the release. That relationship with Galoob also led to the Micro Machines games.”

The process of searching for working codes would have been slow and tedious, though as Menzies explains, the team came up with little tricks to speed things up. “I wired up a Commodore 64 to control a prototype Game Genie using a pop-up utility on the Commodore, so we could type codes directly in hex, which was a big improvement over using the NES controller. Also we managed to daisy-chain two Game Genies so we could enter up to six codes at once, which sped things up a bit. There were a lot of games, but I specifically remember finding the codes for the Mario and Mega Man games, since I had so much fun playing them. I would first finish them without cheats because I didn’t want to ruin the fun!”

“It wasn’t very glamorous,” adds Rigby. “And it took about three days to go through a game, sometimes longer for some of the popular RPGs. The thing I remember most was the very first dev kit; it was a few rows of switches soldered onto the top of a black 5.25-inch floppy disk box. They were binary switches and you had to flick the position to 0 or 1 to represent the address and the value you wanted to change to.” Unglamorous perhaps, but for anyone who liked games it must have been an incredible experience. In fact, in an online interview, Richard Aplin once stated: “Graham Rigby was the main Codemeister – he lived in a room full of nothing but shelves and racks of NES games – he had every NES game in every territory!”

To have access to every NES game ever released, anywhere, is unbelievable, and we asked Rigby how accurate this description is. “Yes, completely true!” he laughs. “It was like Christmas every other week. When things ramped up with Galoob’s involvement we were getting about 10 games every other week. It was awesome. At the time, a lot of the games weren’t available in the UK, so you were seeing a lot of new stuff. Obviously, some games weren’t great, and you still had to put the time and effort into those too, but generally, I played a lot of brilliant NES games in my early career. And then the SNES came out. For a gamer, it was great.”

The infamous 'Thank you Canada' advert, which showcases the different 'genie' design used in that region
The infamous ‘Thank you Canada’ advert, which showcases the different ‘genie’ design used in that region

With hardware, software, and codes in place, Codemasters’ new product was almost ready to market – it just needed a catchy name. Originally Game Genie was called the ‘Power Pak’, with EDGE magazine stating it was renamed by David because players were granted “three wishes” when entering codes. Whatever the reasons, the new name and looming red genie figure became an iconic and likeable brand. Amusingly, the Galoob and Camerica iterations were quite different; the Camerica genie emerges from flames wearing a futuristic sci-fi visor. Did anyone know, we asked, who drew or conceptualised these figures? “I can’t recall who,” Rigby admits. “It was a genie figure so it represented the name on the box.”
Carron adds that “the packaging was developed by Galoob so I have no idea who the artist was.” Aplin isn’t any wiser. “Nope, am guessing maybe Galoob, but not sure. Codies retained a lot of control over the product. Anyway, that stuff is marketing, so who knows!”

Nintendo vs. Galoob

The NES version first hit store shelves in 1990. Though Game Genie would eventually become known exclusively as a Galoob product, at least for a time, Camerica sold copies in Canada. While Galoob faced a court injunction from Nintendo to halt sales in the US, resulting in lengthy court proceedings, the Canadian courts dismissed Nintendo’s case against Camerica. This turn of fortune led to Camerica producing the infamous “Thank You Canada” poster, stating: “You wanted Game Genie. Nintendo didn’t. They tried to stop us. They haven’t. Genie’s Alive. Only available in Canada!”

The court case between Nintendo and Galoob is perhaps the most interesting part of the Game Genie saga, since it pits two enormous corporations from opposite ends of the planet against each other, battling over a toy conjured up between two brothers and their friend in a flat in Warwickshire. While some sources try to portray the fight as being David versus Goliath, that’s not accurate. Galoob was founded in 1957 and is regularly cited as being one of the ten largest toy companies in the US, with the LA Times stating its total revenue for 1989 at $ 228 million. Also don’t forget that Nintendo had, since entering the US retail market, attempted to gain a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of video games, mostly through underhanded means. These were both 800-pound gorillas trying to take each other down in open court – meaning it’s also extremely well-documented, with all the papers online. It was an arduous battle, as summarised in the final judgement: “This case has included one and one-half years of litigation, [and] a two-week trial…”

I remember Nintendo winning a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of Game Genie. When the restraining order was given to Nintendo it was a big blow

Carron does not have pleasant memories of events and was reluctant to say much. “It was long and frustrating. This, like a lot of other things, is covered by all kinds of legal restrictions and non-disclosure agreements. Americans take that kind of thing very seriously.”

Interestingly, many people don’t realise that it was Galoob that fired first, and not Nintendo. On Thursday 17th May 1990, Galoob initiated events by pre-emptively seeking a court judgement that Game Genie did not violate any of Nintendo’s copyrights, simultaneously seeking an injunction to stop Nintendo doing anything that would interfere with sales of Game Genie. Galoob went so far as to request that the court forcibly prevent Nintendo from ever revising its own NES hardware to make it incompatible with Game Genie.

By trying to manipulate how Nintendo manufactured its own hardware, it seems like Galoob was deliberately taunting the Japanese giant into retaliating. It makes one wonder, would such epic litigation have taken place if Galoob had just left the sleeping giant alone? Of course, Nintendo retaliated, filing its own complaints and requesting injunctions against Galoob. On Monday 2nd July 1990, about 46 days later, the courts issued a preliminary injunction, favouring not the instigator Galoob, but Nintendo. Galoob would have to stop selling Game Genie while the court case played out. The injunction was later affirmed by the court of appeals Wednesday 27th February 1991. Only on Friday 12th July 1991, some 421 days after Galoob’s initial filing, did the courts and District Judge Fern Smith issue a final ruling in favour of Galoob. Nintendo appealed and the entire thing ended only on Thursday 21st May 1992, roughly two years later, still in favour of Galoob. Nintendo isn’t in the habit of losing legal battles, but the Game Genie saga constitutes one of the few times it did.

Rigby recalls the initial restraining order as galvanising the team. “I remember Nintendo winning a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of Game Genie. When the restraining order was given to Nintendo it was a big blow. After that I think the guys [at Codemasters] started getting a lot more involved then, feeling it was their field, their area of expertise, so they had something to contribute.”

Back in 2013, David told us about a particularly memorable moment in the proceedings, where Nintendo’s most famous employee got involved. “It was quite a complex case and there were lots of different parts. They even had Shigeru Miyamoto in court – he came to San Francisco. They were saying that because the player was plugging in the interface and making Mario jump higher, the player was making a derivative work, and we were helping him infringe copyright. In the end, the judge said it was not permanently changed when you unplugged it, and for a derivative work to exist it has to be permanent. We were not called to the court, but we were heavily involved in the legal side. The lawyers wanted to know exactly how it worked, so asked us thousands of questions.”

Some of the team’s tactics were quite interesting, highlighting the hypocrisy of Nintendo, as Menzies explains. “I helped with the lawsuit by creating non-Game Genie codes that could be entered into an official Nintendo game’s own password system and would crash it, cause graphical corruption, weird behaviour, and so on. Basically all of the things that Nintendo’s lawsuit accused Game Genie of doing, so we could say to the judge ‘look, this isn’t anything to do with us, Nintendo’s games do this on their own, it’s just how video games work’.”

Even after the July 1991 ruling though, it would be a couple of years before Galoob and Codemasters were paid out. At the start of the court case, Nintendo had to pay a $ 15 million bond as security for the preliminary injunction against Galoob. When Nintendo lost the case it appealed the execution of that bond, and only on 17th February 1994 did the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reject this. The money went to Galoob, with some making its way to Codemasters. In a BBC news report from around the time, it’s stated the brothers from Warwickshire won “more than £2 million from the computer giant Nintendo”. In this same BBC news report, Richard Darling is quoted saying, “We have a lot of good creative people here, developing good original products – games and things like Game Genie. For a company like Nintendo to think just because they’re powerful and dominant in the market place they can stifle that sort of thing, it’s wrong and I’m glad they didn’t succeed.”

The courtroom victory became legendary, and something for Codemasters always to speak proudly of. In a later British TV documentary, called It’s a Living, family patriarch Jim Darling stated, “We’ve developed a very high level of expertise in copyright and patent issues, so if people try to suggest that we are infringing then we will defend. I’m quite happy that we don’t ever infringe and will always defend. It doesn’t matter how big they are.”

A final twist in the tale, and something which was seemingly never documented anywhere, is that much later Codemasters and Galoob would fight each other in court. This revelation comes courtesy of Aplin. “One recollection I have is that we spent about as much time suing Galoob – our business partner! – as Nintendo spent suing us. Goes to show when there are millions at stake, nobody plays nice. I can’t tell you much detail; I wasn’t involved in that stuff directly. I’m not sure it’s as interesting as it sounds – it was just two companies with a lot of money at stake butting heads. We had the product and the patents, they were the US distribution mega-corp. I am guessing they would’ve had no problem with ‘Hollywood accounting’ and that they viewed us as an inconvenience – big business ain’t pretty. Obviously, such stuff was kept private from the world and I don’t know any juicy details. I doubt those who do know, primarily Dave Darling, will be willing to talk about that side of it even now. I’d point out that such stuff happens all the time and only rarely is the linen aired in public.”

Even while the wrangling with Nintendo played out, Codemasters and Galoob knew they had a hit product on their hands. It had sold well before the injunction, and continued to sell in Canada under Camerica. April 1991 archives from United Press International state that, at the time of the injunction, Galoob had manufactured 15,000 units and had orders for an additional half a million more. Based on Canadian sales, and were it not for the injunction, analysts at the time estimated Galoob could earn as much as $ 30 million from Game Genie per year. It was clearly a hit. Obviously, the companies wanted to ride that wave, and following on from the NES there would be Game Genie for SNES, Game Boy, Genesis/Mega Drive, and Game Gear.

Aplin explains how he reverse-engineered other hardware formats to create new Game Genie models. “We used LA4800 analysers. I spent a lot of time in front of those. We bought a bunch as they were cheaper than other models. We used them both for code-finding and debugging our own hardware. I personally was completely prohibited from using an LA4800 on a console with a commercial game cartridge plugged in, because even the act of monitoring the data bus technically created a transient copy of some – a few! – of the bytes of game ROM inside, which were copyrighted, and hence could weaken our case in any legal battle. That was quite frustrating, but after years of legal pain with the NES Game Genie, Codies were understandably careful. Obviously, if we’d been allowed to disassemble game carts it would have been much, much easier – but the results would’ve been legally tainted. Meaning obtained via copyright infringement. I had to keep a written diary every day of what I did, how I figured stuff out, and so on, to provide a paper trail in court.”

Sega The Savour? Not Quite

A lot has been written and said about the fact Sega seemingly officially endorsed the Game Genie on its hardware, putting its seal of approval on the product. However, this situation is not as amicable as many presume. Sega only allowed the Game Genie because Codemasters gave an ultimatum to Sega, resulting in an 11th-hour deal – one which has never been documented before.

“This was obviously secret at the time, maybe it still is,” explains Aplin. “Codies built their own cartridge manufacturing facility on-site on the farm. If I recall, they got as far as manufacturing a small run of carts before they sensibly confronted Sega and said: ‘This is what we’re going to do. Would you like to sue us or reach an agreement?’ They’d been very careful about the legal side and were fairly confident they could win in court if it came to it. As you’d imagine, Sega losing such a case could potentially open floodgates, so the rest is history. Codemasters had balls, that’s for sure. I have the greatest respect for what Dave, Rich, and Jim Darling achieved in the face of considerable opposition from some very large companies.”

The Game Genie found its way onto other systems all over the world, as this Brazilian print ad for the Mega Drive version attests
The Game Genie found its way onto other systems all over the world, as this Brazilian print ad for the Mega Drive version attests (Image: VVV: VG Visual Vault)

The products were in full production, the companies were legally safe, and the money could roll in. In fact, there was such urgency to meet demand, as Aplin explained, that Codemasters and Galoob had their own hardware teams working in parallel creating prototypes. “Both teams made FPGA-based prototypes for some models,” says Aplin. “The reason for the duplication of effort was simply because it was so vital to get products out and in the stores. The redundancy was worth it.”

Books of new codes for new games continued to be sent out to those who bought Game Genie. Magazines printed reader codes. Game Genie became a successful phenomenon replicated across multiple formats, and with a legacy that continues to this day (recent console flash carts have Game Genie functionality built directly in). Back in the day, we almost had Game Genie sequels for the 16-bit consoles; the SNES successor even reached the functioning prototype stage. “I think I did a Game Genie 2 prototype for the Genesis but it didn’t get as far along, software-wise, as my SNES follow-up,” Aplin recalls. “The second one for SNES was lovely – I put everything in there I could possibly think of, and Fred Williams wrote some great software.”

I do remember one day when Dave Darling handed out some royalty cheques; I was pretty happy with mine but the guy sitting next to me – who will remain nameless – got a cheque with at least one more zero on the end

There was so much money involved with the Game Genie project it’s difficult to work out the numbers. In February 1993, David was quoted stating the NES release had sold 2.5 million copies; later sources claim the entire Game Genie range, altogether, sold 5 million copies. Meanwhile, the International Directory of Company Histories claims Game Genie made Galoob $ 65 million in 1992, dropping to $ 4 million by 1994. GamesTM magazine later claimed Game Genie generated over $ 140 million in total, a figure repeated by other publications. Whatever the precise figure was, it’s safe to say Game Genie over its entire run made a lot of people shed loads of cash. Still, we asked everyone we spoke to if they knew the precise figures.

Rigby states he isn’t aware of the total, but Aplin – who also doesn’t know the precise figure – gives us some idea with the following anecdote. “I do remember one day when Dave Darling handed out some royalty cheques; I was pretty happy with mine but the guy sitting next to me – who will remain nameless – got a cheque with at least one more zero on the end. It wasn’t easy; the legal battles were long-winded, frustrating, sometimes scary, and definitely expensive, but Codies battled through it and won in the end. Ted Carron, part of the early team, profited pretty handsomely from the Game Genie. Basically, a few people made a bunch of cash – ain’t that always how it goes?”

Not everyone profited though, as Menzies reveals. “I pretty much got ripped off, as I never got paid much, despite once working continuously for three days without sleep. In the end, I was just staring at the hex numbers saying ‘they’re so beautiful…’ I remember once asking for a tiny royalty, about one-quarter of a percent, but they said, ‘Oh sorry, we’d love to, but the royalties have already been divided and we can’t change it now.’ I was naive, and they didn’t mind taking full advantage of that fact, a pattern that would repeat itself over the next few years. Still, they were generally good times at Codemasters, and the money didn’t seem so important at the time.”

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

BBC ‘failed to tell the truth’ about Diana interview says journalist – ‘Scandalous’

BBC ‘failed to tell the truth’ about Diana interview says journalist – ‘Scandalous’
Dorothy Byrne said it was “absolutely scandalous” how the BBC “failed to tell the truth for 25 years”. She told BBC Newsnight hosts: “It has been public knowledge for more than a quarter of a century, that there was fakery in the obtaining that interview.
“And I give some credit to the BBC that they have made a Panorama tonight, by an excellent group of journalists, and they faced up to it.

“But they have to look at how it can be that they have failed to tell the truth for 25 years.”

She also called for an enquiry to be launched into how Mr Bashir became the Head of Religion and Ethics.

Prince William responded to the findings by making a scathing statement and stressing that the programme “should never be aired again”.

William also spoke of his “indescribable sadness” to know the BBC’s failings around the interview had “contributed significantly” to his mother’s state of mind in the final years of her life.

The Duke of Cambridge also blamed Diana’s appearance on the programme for further destroying her marriage to Prince Charles.

He said: “It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.

“It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Were These Electric Cars Abandoned Because Their Batteries Failed?

Were These Electric Cars Abandoned Because Their Batteries Failed?

In 2021, social media users began circulating photographs purporting to show a “boneyard” near Paris, France, that supposedly housed hundreds of derelict electric vehicles, the automobiles supposedly having been abandoned and left to decay because their battery storage cells had “given out” and were too expensive to replace:

Although the photographs are real; the accompanying description is misleading in multiple ways. This item is, in effect, an example of a failed business model rather than a failed technology.

Back in 2011, the Autolib program offered the service of providing thousands of electric vehicles in the Paris area under a car-sharing program. Subscribes to the service were able to use the any of the fleet of 4,000 BlueCar cars as they wished, paying a fee each time depending upon how long they used the vehicle. At its peak in 2016, the program boasted 110,000 subscribers.

However, Autolib slid from that peak into decline, due to a number of factors: Four thousand cars for over 100,000 subscribers meant many users were unable to find vehicles when they wanted them; users frequently left the cars dirty inside and damaged; and competition from ride-hailing apps such Uber eroded the customer base. By 2018, Autolib was running debts of tens of millions of euros and the program was discontinued in June of that year.

In the end, most of the BlueCars in better condition were purchased and re-sold to new users or scrapped for parts. But a private company eventually stored some of the cars in not-so-good condition in a lot in an industrial area near Romorantin in Loir-et-Cher, as seen above — not because the vehicles’ storage cells had failed, but because the Autolib car-sharing program not to be a viable long-term business model.

It is also not the case that the abandoned Autolib BlueCars’ batteries are “draining toxins into the ground.” As noted in reports on the subject, the batteries have been removed from the pictured vehicles:

Despite protests from the Bolloré group, the multinational had to evacuate the 4,000 unwanted autolibs from the Paris region and urgently store them. They were then sold in several batches and two companies now hold most of the remaining fleet: the Breton company Autopuzz, former subcontractor of Bolloré, which resells these vehicles throughout France, and the company Atis Production, whose manager Paul Aouizerate does not want to reveal his plans for the Autolib parked in Loir-et-Cher.

The businessman also regrets the publication of photos of his vehicles in early March, shared by a blogger passionate about electric cars, who was amazed at such a landscape. The images became widespread on Facebook and Twitter, with internet users questioning how these cars can be reused and wondering about the potential risk of soil pollution they pose.

“Our vehicles are properly stored. The firefighters are aware that the construction site is well organized. All batteries have been removed, [and] the connections are isolated” [said Paul Aouizerate, Atis Production Manager].

Author: David Mikkelson
This post originally appeared on Snopes.com

Comments

Phil Cross Incorrect. These cars were scrapped because they were part of the fleet of a French business that stopped trading.

Photographs of a field filled with dozens of disused electric cars are being shared on Facebook, alongside the claim that they were scrapped because their batteries were too expensive to replace, and too difficult to dispose of.

This is not true.

The pictures appear genuine, but the cars were actually part of a fleet belonging to a French car-sharing service called Autolib, which stopped trading in 2018.

The end of Autolib had nothing to do with the vehicles or their batteries. It happened when the public authorities cancelled its contract after failing to agree with the company how to cover its debts. Marie Bolloré, from the Bolloré group which owned Autolib, was quoted at the time saying that the service struggled because of the “changing mobility patterns of Parisians”.

According to reports in France, more than a thousand of the vehicles were taken to the field in Romorantin-Lanthenay, where they are waiting to be resold.

Other fact checkers, including Politifact and Snopes, have also looked into the claim that these cars were abandoned because of their batteries, and found it to be false