Tag Archive: Blue Cross Plan Offerings


The Paradise Papers

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On Nov. 5, one of the largest data leaks in history revealed the offshore endeavors of some of the world’s richest and most influential people.  Shocking new revelations expose how companies and individuals avoid taxes through imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers as well as investments or purchases in countries with lower or no taxes.  The leak, known as the Paradise Papers, came in 13.4 million leaked documents revealing how a Bermudan law firm Appleby, helps corporations and the world’s wealthiest people evade taxes and obscure their ownership of everything from private planes to whole companies.

The documents expose the offshore assets of some of the world’s biggest companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Disney, Uber, Nike, Walmart, Allianz, Siemens, McDonald’s, and Yahoo! are among the corporations that own offshore companies,as well as Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox.  The documents also detail the offshore assets of many high-profile figures, including Queen Elizabeth II, singers Madonna and Shakira, and Secretary of Commerce and billionaire Wilbur Ross.

Most of the leaked files come from an offshore legal firm called Appleby, which was founded in Bermuda but has offices in Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Shanghai, and other locations. The firm is a part of an informal group of the world’s leading offshore law practices.  After media outlets started reporting on the documents, the company said that there was “no evidence of wrongdoing”, that they “are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business”.  They also issued a series of public statements insisting that the firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act- an illegal computer hack. Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker”.

While offshoring is controversial, it’s typically not illegal and allows businesses and wealthy people to avoid paying taxes, creditors, trade sanctions, and more all without technically breaking the laws.  When someone’s assets are in question regarding lawsuit and divorce settlements or child support, offshore assets are typically well hidden so they are not included.  The main issue is that when wealthy people have offshore assets, it has many economic and political repercussions for everyday citizens — like putting a heavier burden on “honest taxpayers.”  The IRS once estimated that U.S. taxpayers have to pay an extra 15 percent because of the offshoring industry.

Some examples of what the Paradise Papers have exposed are how four-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton avoided paying more than $4 million in taxes for a private jet.  Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, is named in the papers in relation to two offshore trusts set up by the Grosvenor estate in the 1960s and 1970s, long before his birth.  Grosvenor, who inherited the estate after the death of his father in 2016, reportedly managed, thanks to careful planning from his family’s estate, to avoid paying 40% “death duties” usually levied when assets pass from one generation to another.  The documents detail how Nike boosted its after-tax profits by, transferring ownership of its Swoosh trademark to a Bermudan subsidiary, Nike International Ltd. This transfer allowed the subsidiary to charge royalties to its European headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands, effectively converting taxable company profits to an account payable in tax-free Bermuda.  Although the subsidiary was effectively run by executives at Nike’s main offices in Beaverton, Oregon, for tax purposes the subsidiary was treated as based in Bermuda.   This maneuver earned them tax free royalties in 2010, 2011 and 2012 totaling $3.86 billion.

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In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, men across the world are continuing to resign, be fired or face intense criticism over a slew of allegations of sexual harassment and assault that have surfaced.  Accusations against those in Hollywood, the media industry, universities, restaurants and the highest reaches of government have revealed inappropriate conduct from many notable men.  The list of those accused of sexual harassment or misconduct continues to grow each day and is sweeping many industries.  Let’s take a look at some of those recently accused.

Producer and director Brett Ratner was accused of sexually harassing six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.  Director James Toback was accused of sexually harassing over 300 women over several decades, including Julianne Moore, Selma Blaire and Rachel McAdams.  Chris Savino, 46, an animator and writer best known for creating The Loud House, was fired from Nickelodeon after multiple women lodged complaints against him, the network confirmed in a statement.

Actor Kevin Spacey has been accused of sexual harassment by actor Anthony Rapp, who claims he was 14 when Spacey made advances towards him in 1986. Spacey apologized to Rapp via Twitter.  The actor also came out as gay in the statement which drew criticism as an attempt at distracting from disturbing claims against a child.   Several other accusers have come forward against Spacey, including a former House of Cards crew member, filmmaker Tony Montana and actor Rob Cavazos.  On Oct. 31, Netflix announced it would shut down production of the sixth and final season of Cards “until further notice.”  In addition, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said it would no longer honor Spacey with the 2017 Emmy Founders Award.

In the media industry, Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president for news, has resigned after multiple women accused him of kissing them without their consent during meetings for possible employment.  At least a dozen women have accused journalist Mark Halperin of sexually harassment or assault, with at least some of the incidents during his time as political director at ABC News.  Lockhart Steele, the editorial director for Vox Media, was fired after engaging in several incidents of sexual misconduct.  Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, quit five days after being put on leave after a producer accused him of sexual harassment.

Celebrity chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after about two dozen current and former female employees accused him and other male workers of sexual harassment in what they described as a hostile corporate culture where sexual harassment flourished.  The New Republic’s publisher, Hamilton Fish, has been placed on leave, after a slew of allegations of sexual harassment when he was the president of The Nation Institute.  The New Republic’s most prominent longtime editors, Leon Wieseltier, was also fired over sexual harassment allegations.

Meanwhile, two top staff members at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have been ousted over sexual harassment allegations.  National leader Kendall Fells has resigned and Detroit leader Mark Raleigh has been fired.   Three Dartmouth professors, Todd Heatherton, Paul Whalen and William Kelley from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences- have been put on paid leave amid a criminal investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

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President Trump has declared the opioid crisis- which killed 64,000 Americans last year- a public health emergency.  The order will last 90 days and can be renewed every 90 days until the President believes it is no longer needed.  President Donald Trump said “Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States by far. More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.”

The administration will work with Congress to fund the Public Health Emergency fund and to increase federal funding in year-end budget deals currently being negotiated in Congress.  Trump has directed agency and department heads to use all appropriate emergency authorities to reduce the number of deaths caused by the opioid crisis.  The administration will also launch an ad campaign so that young people can see the devastation that drugs cause on people and their lives.

The administration’s opioid plan will allow expanded access to telemedicine services, giving doctors the ability to prescribe medications to treat addiction to those in remote locations.  It also speeds the hiring process for medical professionals working on opioids and allows funds in programs for dislocated workers and people with HIV/AIDS to be used to treat their addictions.  The designation gives the administration access to the Public Health Emergency Fund, but that fund is nearly empty.

In August, Trump said that he would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency but later said the White House had determined that declaring a public health emergency was more appropriate than a national emergency.  Many have criticized the decision to declare a public health emergency rather than a national emergency as not enough.  A commission created by the administration and headed by Gov. Chris Christie called on the president to declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act. Doing so, the commission said, could free up funds for treatment, ensure wider access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone and improve monitoring of opioid prescriptions to prevent abuse.

Congress is currently spending $500 million a year on addiction treatment programs, but that money runs out next year. The administration says it will work with Congress in the budgeting process to find new money to fund addiction treatment programs. A group of senators introduced a bill that would provide more than $45 billion for opioid abuse prevention, surveillance and treatment.

From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses, and opioids account for the majority of those. Recently released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that around 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.  More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Roughly 80 percent of the world’s opioids are consumed in the US.  A report published earlier this year found that 94 percent of heroin entering the United States came from Mexico.  A large portion of the country’s fentanyl – a prescribed painkiller thought by many to be driving the opioid epidemic – derives from China and arrives in the States through US mail.

 

 

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Hundreds of trials for activists who stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline have seen the courtroom but only two have received jail time so far.  A judge in North Dakota has sentenced two water protectors to jail time after they were convicted on misdemeanor charges over an October 2016 protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Twenty-seven-year-old Alexander Simon, a school teacher from New Mexico was sentenced to serve 18 days in jail for obstruction of a government function.  Mary Redway, a 64 year old retired environmental biologist from Rhode Island was sentenced to six days in jail for disorderly conduct. The sentences were imposed by Judge Thomas Merrick despite the fact that the prosecution had not recommended the two serve jail time.

Journalist Sara Lafleur-Vetter, who was filming for The Guardian at the time of her arrest, was acquitted on misdemeanor charges stemming from her reporting on the protest on October 22.  Hundreds of unresolved criminal cases related to the months-long resistance at Standing Rock remain open.  Hundreds of cases have been

The Water Protector Legal Collective- an indigenous-led legal team defending activists arrested during the months-long Dakota Access Pipeline controversy is currently fighting over 427 criminal cases in North Dakota, according to the legal team’s website.  Another 272 cases have been dismissed due to lack of evidence of any crime being committed.  Morton County has put out warrants, dismissed cases, recharged water protectors, and failed to send mail or contact arrestees regarding scheduled court dates-all resulting in new warrants being issued for accused water protectors without their knowledge.

Three water protectors are currently imprisoned while awaiting trial: Red Fawn Fallis, Little Feather and Dion Ortiz.  Fallis, the most seriously charged water protector, was arrested at Standing Rock on October 27, 2016 accused of possessing and discharging a firearm as she was being restrained by police near construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Fallis, the organizer of the “Frontline Camp” was arrested during the October 27th raid on the camp when over 300 police officers—some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests advanced to remove all remaining protestors.  Four officers left formation and tackled Fallis to the ground, holding her face down.  Four additional officers assisted in trying to handcuff her as she was being tased.   In the course of the raid, the police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries.  Fallis was held in a Rugby, North Dakota jail until her transfer to a halfway house in Fargo in June 2017.  Her jury trial was originally slated to begin on July 17, but it has now been postponed until December 5.

 

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Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, officials are warning the island’s health system is in dire condition as the island still has severely limited electricity and running water.  Many residents have contracted bacterial diseases, likely as a result of their exposure to contaminated floodwaters but without electricity and clean water-treatment is scarce.  The official death toll from Hurricane Maria has now risen to 45.

Hurricane Maria knocked out the water system for more than half the island’s 3.4 million people, leaving many reusing what little water they can get their hands on.  Medical experts say it is one of the factors that make them deeply concerned over a possible spike in infectious diseases in coming weeks.  Twenty of the island’s fifty-one sewage treatment plants are still out of service allowing raw sewage to contaminate rivers, streams and reservoirs.  Those without running water bathe and wash their clothes in contaminated streams, and some islanders have been drinking water from condemned wells.

Nine out of 10 homes on the island still have no electricity, leaving fans and air conditioning units unavailable to stave off mosquitos carrying illness in the storm’s aftermath.  Neither electricity nor running water is expected to be fully restored for months.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency says 64 of the island’s 68 hospitals are open but only 25 are hooked up to the power grid.  The remaining hospitals are running off of generators that aren’t meant to be used for such long periods and rely on erratic diesel supplies.

Some 11,000 U.S. military personnel have come to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and convoys of military vehicles carrying pallets of bottled water and meals are visible in the interior. Mosquito control units deployed in six municipalities, officials said, and five temporary biomedical waste stations have been set up.

FEMA has 16,000 federal and military assets are on the ground in Puerto Rico and about 350,000 Puerto Ricans have registered so far in the FEMA system to receive financial assistance.  Roads and highways have been washed out, hampering relief efforts to the interior of the island.  Some remote areas have not received any help since the storm.  Food and basic supplies remain scarce in the mountainous interior making the threat of waterborne diseases grow.

Authorities hope the arrival of the USNS Comfort will help ease problems at hospitals around the island.  The hospital ship has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States and is equipped with three operating rooms, 50 ICU beds along with another 200 other beds, and some 500 medical personnel. Two MH-60 helicopters sit on its landing-pad deck.

The ship will treat patients and also provide services to other hospitals such as refilling tanks for medical-grade oxygen and re-sterilizing hospital gear.  The ship’s staff had already treated 64 patients shortly after its arrival and medical personnel expected to see many others with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and lung problems.

 

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After more than three decades of medical work by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan, it’s pulling most of its staff out of Afghanistan after a string of attacks on its employees.  The decision came after seven ICRC employees were killed in a series of attacks this year.  On December 19 2016,  ICRC employee Juan Carlos was abducted as he travelled from Mazar-e Sharif to Kunduz and held hostage for a month.  In February 2017, six Red Cross employees were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in northern Jowzjan province. Two others were abducted and later released.

Last month, Red Cross physiotherapist Lorena Enebral Perez was killed by a patient in Mazar-e Sharif.  Perez helped people who had lost limbs or had other forms of disability, learn to stand, walk or feed themselves again.  She was targeted by one of the patients, a man who had suffered polio as a child and had been coming to the rehabilitation center for 19 years, ever since he was two years old. He shot her with a gun he had concealed in his wheelchair.

The ICRC country head said the “painful decision” meant people in the north would no longer get help they needed.  She said they would not leave Afghanistan but they have to limit the risks faced by its staff as threats continue.  “After internal discussions with our highest level at the headquarters, we have reached the conclusion that we have no choice but to drastically reduce our presence and activities, and in particular in the north of Afghanistan.”

The ICRC’s operation in Afghanistan is the their fourth largest worldwide, with about 1,800 staff offering medical assistance, helping disabled people and visiting inmates in jail as well as enabling them to keep in contact with their families.  In some areas, particularly in the north, the ICRC is the only international group offering such services.  Many other humanitarian organizations have pulled out of Afghanistan in recent years as Taliban and Islamic State militants have stepped up attacks.

Head of delegation, Monica Zanarelli, announced the reduction. “After 30 years of continuous presence in the country, we are reducing our presence and operations.”  She went on to say that it’s hard to say whether they are being specifically targeted or if these are random attacks that they have suffered.

The ICRC is laying off staff and closing two of its offices, in Faryab and Kunduz provinces, while its sub-delegation in Mazar-e Sharif will be “seriously downsized.”  Those three ICRC offices cover nine provinces in the north and north west of Afghanistan. Activities run out of the Mazar office will now be limited to the ICRC’s Re-establishing Family Links program (tracing separate family members, facilitating phone calls to detainees and arranging family visits) and cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent Society.   The orthopedics center in Mazar, which treats those who have lost arms and legs and need prosthetic limbs as well as those with other disabilities, will remain open for now, but the ICRC is looking for others to run it. All other activities out of Mazar will be stopped, including the ICRC’s assistance programs.

Most international humanitarian organizations, including the ICRC, have already modified their operations to try to protect staff while continuing to reach the most vulnerable. The ICRC has a reputation for neutrality and service built up over decades but has had to accept that it can no longer work safely in parts of Afghanistan.  Many believe it is a sign of just how brutal the conflict in Afghanistan has become.

Harvey Weinstein Scandal

 

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An investigation by The New York Times exposed allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact by Harvey Weinstein that stretched nearly three decades.  The scandal was uncovered through interviews with current or former employees and film industry workers as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.  Among other victims, the Times piece revealed that Rose McGowan had reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein after an encounter in a hotel room during Sundance Film Festival in 1997.  Later, the actress revealed Weinstein had raped her.

Shortly after, The New Yorker published another expose that alleges the producer raped three women.  The New Yorker article contains on-the-record accounts from 13 actresses who reported Weinstein forcibly received or performed sexual acts on the women.  A slew of women have sine come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape.  Among his accusers are some of Hollywood’s most well-known actresses including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Kate Beckinsale and Heather Graham.

Many of the instances occurred during meetings that agents, studios and assistants set up for Weinstein under the guise of a potential movie role.  The common theme in the accusations is that the harassment took place early in their careers and they kept quiet out of fear that they would destroy their budding careers.  Other lesser known actresses and models have come forward as well.  Weinstein’s lewd behavior seemed to be an open secret in Hollywood for decades.  Fear of Harvey Weinstein’s influence helped keep his treatment of women shrouded for years with a network of aggressive publicists and lawyers helping.

New revelations have surfaced showing his studio, Weinstein Company, knew for at least two years that he had been paying off women who accused him of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein was fired from the company shortly after the New York Times article was published.   Police in the US and outside the country are investigating allegations of sexual assault involving Harvey Weinstein as the scandal surrounding the disgraced Hollywood movie mogul mounts.

A spokeswoman for Weinstein denied the rape allegations in a statement.  “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” the statement read. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”  Weinstein sent an official statement to The New York Time in response to the accusations saying “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.  Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment.”

Shortly after The New Yorker piece came out, Harvey Weinstein’s wife of a decade, Georgina Chapman, announced she was She said in a statement, “My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” the statement read. “I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”

 

Tom Petty Dead At 66

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Tom Petty has died at the age of 66, after he was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his California home.  Longtime manager of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tony Dimitriades released a statement “On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered full cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

The music legend was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital where he was put on life support and his pulse returned. Later the decision was reportedly made to remove him from life support after it was found that he was lacking brain activity.  Petty is survived by his wife, Dana; daughters Adria and AnnaKim, from his earlier marriage to Jane Benyo; and a stepson, Dylan.

Petty rose to fame in the 1970s as leader of The Heartbreakers and is best known for hit songs including “I Won’t Back Down,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “American Girl” and “Refugee.”  Together, they released 13 albums over their 40 years together and Petty released 3 solo albums as well.  He was also a member and co-founder of the late 1980s super-group the Traveling Wilburys which included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, for their contribution to the recording industry.  In 2001, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2005, Petty received the Billboard Century Award, their highest honor for creative achievement.  Over the span of his music career, he won three Grammys, had 18 nominations and sold more than 33 million albums in the U.S. alone.  In interviews he frequently credited his early interest in music with meeting Elvis and watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

On Sept. 25th, Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour.  Earlier this year, in an interview Petty told Rolling Stone Magazine it would be the last major tour for the group but that it would continue to play concerts.  “I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” he told the outlet. “We’re all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”

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Thousands of people have been evacuated on the Indonesian island of Bali and on Ambae island in Vanuatu as two volcanoes threaten to erupt.  The entire population of Ambae, around 11,000 people, is being moved from the path of the “increasingly active” Manaro volcano while more than 144,000 people from Bali have been taken to shelters as authorities warn that Mount Agung could erupt at any time.  The National Disaster Management Agency has said that 447 temporary shelters have been set up outside the exclusion zone around the volcano.  Thousands of evacuees sleep on floors and wait for something to happen.

Seismic activity continues in the volcano and the alert level for an eruption is at the highest on the scale.  A statement from Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department said “Ambae volcano is in an ongoing moderate eruption state, people in local villages could experience the danger of flying rocks, volcanic gases and acid rain.”

Experts explain that there are very good indications that an eruption is imminent.  Seismic tremors beneath the volcano are increasing in number, intensity, and the reduction in their depth in the last week is a very good indication that magma is moving up to the surface.  Another signs of an eminent eruption include gas emissions from the summit as a sign that pressure underground has become to great and bulging on the volcano’s surface.

On September 25, the area experienced 844 volcanic earthquakes and by mid-afternoon on September 26, had experienced another 300-400 earthquakes.  Seismologists say the force and frequency are alarming and it has taken much less for similar volcanoes to erupt.

Mount Agung last erupted in 1963 when more than 1,700 people were killed and hundreds more were injured.  Lava flowed for 4.7 miles from the crater for over 20 days ash reached the capital, Jakarta, about 620 miles away.  The most devastating effect of an eruption is the pyroclastic flows which are waves of superheated gas, ash and rock that can travel hundreds of miles an hour.

In the 1963 eruption, these flows devastated numerous villages, killing an estimated 1,300 people. Cold lahars caused by heavy rainfall after the eruption killed an additional 200.  A second eruption months later, led to pyroclastic flows that killed another 200 people. Minor eruptions and flows followed for almost a year.  During the 1963 eruption, there was no evacuation plan and people had seconds to minutes to escape the pyroclastic flows which led to a devastating death toll.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said no one should be within 6 miles of the crater and within 7.5 miles to the north, northeast, southeast and south-southwest where lava flows, lahars (a type of mudflow) or rapidly-moving white-hot ash clouds from where an eruption could reach.

Indonesia, the country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.  Mount Agung is 1 of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

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Playboy founder and icon Hugh Hefner died on Wednesday evening at the age of 91.  Hefner passed of natural causes at his home, the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, surrounded by loved ones.  Playboy began on Hefner’s kitchen table 64 years ago and spawned an empire that encompasses print and digital publications, merchandise and other portfolio companies.  After leaving his job as a copywriter for Esquire magazine, Hefner put up his furniture as collateral for a loan, raising money from various investors and borrowing the rest from family and friends.  He published the very first issue of Playboy in December of 1953 which featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

For decades, Playboy was the most successful men’s magazine in the world and the company branched into movie, cable and digital production, sold its own line of clothing and jewelry, and opened clubs, resorts and casinos.  Playboy Enterprises’ chief executive, Scott Flanders, acknowledged that the internet had overrun the magazine’s province causing the brand to fade over the years with its magazine’s circulation declining to less than a million.

In 2012, Hefner announced that his youngest son, Cooper, would likely succeed him as the public face of Playboy.  Mr. Hefner remained editor in chief but in 2016, he handed over creative control of Playboy to his son Cooper Hefner.

Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal, and four grown children from his two previous marriages.  Over the years, Hefner became known and highly criticized for moving an ever-changing group of young women into the Playboy Mansion.  His reputation was highly criticized and overshadowed the fact that he staunchly advocated freedom of speech in all its aspects, for which he won civil liberties awards. He supported progressive social causes and lost some sponsors by inviting African-American guests to his televised parties at a time when much of the nation still had Jim Crow laws.

In 1966, during the civil rights era, Hefner sent African-American journalist Alex Haley to interview George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party-who has been described as the “American Hitler”.   Rockwell agreed to meet with Haley only after gaining assurance from the writer that he was not Jewish though Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout the interview.

Hefner was also a philanthropist who donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to create a course called “Censorship in Cinema”, and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film.  Through his charitable foundation, Hefner contributed to many charities and threw multiple fundraiser events for Much Love Animal Rescue. In 1978, he helped organize and raise funds for the restoration of the Hollywood sign and in 2010, Hefner donated the last $900,000 sought by a conservation group for a land purchase needed to stop the development of the famed vista of the Hollywood Sign.  Children of the Night founder and president Dr. Lois Lee presented Hefner with the organization’s first-ever Founder’s Hero of the Heart Award in appreciation for his unwavering dedication, commitment and generosity. He also supported legalizing same-sex marriage, and he stated that a fight for gay marriage was a fight for all our rights.