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Hometown: Green Mountains
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Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:27 PM
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Disgraced Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Headed Back to Jail

Source: New York Times

Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose corruption became a symbol of the excesses of Washington influence peddling, is set to return to jail for violating the law that was amended in response to his earlier crimes, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

Prosecutors said Mr. Abramoff, 62, is the first person charged with flouting the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which was amended in 2007 after details of his earlier scheme, one of the biggest corruption scandals in modern times, emerged. He pleaded guilty to the lobbying violations and to criminal conspiracy for secretive and misleading work he did on behalf of cryptocurrency and marijuana projects, according to court documents.

Mr. Abramoff made a public show of having rehabilitated himself when he was released from prison in 2010 after serving nearly four years for a variety of charges related to corrupt lobbying as part of a conglomerate that defrauded Indian tribes of millions of dollars and used much of that money to try to win favor with lawmakers.

But in 2017 he attracted attention when he announced that he would be in a television show, “Capital Makeover: Bitcoin Brigade,” in which he would serve as a tutor and guide to the AML BitCoin project.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/us/politics/jack-abramoff-marijuana-cryptocurrency.html

The (r)epuglicon scum keeps bubbling up.


People convicted in Abramoff probe

Eventually 24 people were convicted of corruption or bribery.

Adam Kidan (an Abramoff associate), was sentenced in Florida in March 2006, serving 27 months in prison, followed by three years of probation.[92]
Todd Boulanger, an Abramoff deputy, pleaded guilty to lavishing congressional aides with meals, gifts and tickets to sporting events, concerts, and the circus in exchange for help with legislation favorable to Abramoff's clients. Sentenced to 30 days and fined.[93]
Roger Stillwell (R) Staff in the Department of the Interior under George W. Bush(R). Pleaded guilty and received two years suspended sentence for not reporting hundreds of dollars' worth of sports and concert tickets he received from Abramoff.
Steven Griles (R) (former Deputy Interior Secretary) the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the scandal, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He admitted lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Abramoff, who repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.
David Safavian (R) (former White House official), the Bush administration's former top procurement official, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in October 2006[94] after he was found guilty of covering up his dealings with Abramoff.[95][96]
Bob Ney (R-OH) then U. S. Representative, pleaded guilty September 2006, sentenced in January 2007 to 2½ years in prison, acknowledged taking bribes from Abramoff. Ney was in the traveling party on an Abramoff-sponsored golf trip to Scotland at the heart of the case against Safavian.

Neil Volz (R) a former chief of staff to Ney who left government to work for Abramoff, pleaded guilty in May 2006 to conspiring to corrupt Ney and others with trips and other aid
William Heaton (R) former chief of staff for Ney, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients.
Thomas Hart (R) former chief of staff for Ney, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients.

Italia Federici (R) co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of a Senate investigation into Abramoff's relationship with officials at the Department of the Interior.
Jared Carpenter (R) Vice-President of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, was discovered during the Abramoff investigation and pleaded guilty to income tax evasion. He got 45 days, plus 4 years probation.[97]
Mark Zachares (R) former aide to U. S. Representative Don Young(R-AL), pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He acknowledged accepting tens of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts and a golf trip to Scotland from Abramoff's team in exchange for official acts on the lobbyist's behalf.
Kevin A. Ring (R) former staff to John Doolittle (R-CA) was convicted of five charges of corruption.[98][99] He was sentenced to 20 months in prison in October 2011.[4]
James Hirni (R) US Senate aide, acknowledged bribing Trevor L. Blackann(R) aide to US Senator Kit Bond (R) with meals, concert passes and tickets to the opening game of the 2003 World Series between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, pleaded guilty to using wire communications to defraud taxpayers of congressional aides' honest services.[100][101]
Trevor L. Blackann (R) a former aide to US Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) and then-US Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), pleaded guilty to not reporting $4,100 in gifts from lobbyists in return for helping clients of Abramoff and his associates. Among the gifts were tickets to the World Series and concerts, plus meals and entertainment at a "gentleman's club."

Michael Scanlon (R) a former Staff member of Tom DeLay, pled guilty to committing bribery in the course of his work for Abramoff.[90][91]
Tony Rudy (R) another former staff member of Tom DeLay, he also left DeLay to work with Abramoff; pleaded guilty to conspiracy.[91]

John Albaugh (R) former Chief of Staff to Ernest Istook (R-OK), pleaded guilty to accepting bribes connected to the Federal Highway Bill. Istook was not charged. (2008)[102]
Robert E. Coughlin (R) Deputy Chief of Staff, Criminal Division of the Justice Department pleaded guilty to conflict of interest after accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff. (2008)[57]
Horace Cooper (R) a former Labor Department official with the Bush administration and aide to US Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), pleaded guilty to falsifying a document when he did not report receiving gifts from Abramoff.[103][104]
Ann Copland (R) a former aide to US Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) pleaded guilty to taking more than $25,000 worth of concert and sporting event tickets in return for helping Abramoff.[100]
Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, was sentenced to two years on probation in January 2007 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting hundreds of dollars worth of sports and concert tickets he received from Abramoff.
Fraser Verrusio (R) former Transportation Dept official, was found guilty of conspiracy and accepting bribes. Sentenced to 1 day in jail, 2 years' probation and a $1,000 fine.[105]

'14 Miles': A Look At The U.S.-Mexico Border, And The Lives Defined By It


This was such a powerful broadcast. I get so much information when I'm delivering my Meals-On-Wheels and listening to NPR.

My ultimate take-away was that physical walls don't mean much but just cause disruption. We're allowing corporations to operate across the world with very little oversight and yet want to constrict the flow of mere individuals.

WaPo: "Not clueless and hapless. Malevolent."


Stop saying Trump is ‘in denial.’ The truth is much worse.

Once we dispense with the idea that Trump remains “in denial,” we’re left with a few interpretations. The most charitable is that Trump continues to have principled disagreements with experts over these matters, but there are zero indications he has any substantively grounded views on them of any kind.

A far less charitable interpretation is that he’s merely indifferent to the catastrophic consequences that are resulting from these failures — and will continue to do so — and that he’s prioritizing nakedly self-interested political calculations over any such concerns.

Trump has been steadily wrong in these political calculations, to be sure. At each stage, he has believed not acting was in his immediate interests, only to discover the consequences of inaction proved politically worse.

There may have been a species of denial at play in those faulty political calculations — a misguided faith in his magical ability to re-create his political reality through the force of will and tweet. But we can’t pretend any longer that Trump isn’t perfectly aware of what the real-world consequences of his actions — or inactions — will be.

The press critic Jay Rosen has repeatedly suggested that the effort to obscure Trump’s role in this ongoing fiasco is producing one of the biggest propaganda and disinformation campaigns in modern history. Central to getting this right is dispensing with the idea that Trump is a hapless, clueless actor rather than a deliberate and malevolent one.

The one other possibility that underlies his malevolence is direction from hostile actors - foreign and domestic.

'Crushing experience' awaits Ghislaine Maxwell at troubled jail

Source: Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell was detained on Monday in a troubled U.S. jail in Brooklyn where she will undergo humiliating searches and be denied nearly all possessions, a far cry from the luxury estate where she was arrested as an accused accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, 58, arrived at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn on Monday and is expected to appear in a Manhattan courtroom on Friday when a judge will consider a government request to detain her without bail.

“You go from living a life like Maxwell to all of a sudden being in a situation where you’re being strip-searched and having people look into your body cavities,” said Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at the MDC. “That is a crushing experience.”

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-ghislaine-maxwell-prison/crushing-experience-awaits-ghislaine-maxwell-at-troubled-jail-idUSKBN2472LN

I almost have a sense of pity for her. The hyoid bone is apparently very painful when crushed.

Earth Observing Dashboard - see the effects of COVID 19 lockdowns on the environment


A Tri-Agency Dashboard by NASA, ESA, JAXA

International collaboration among space agencies is central to the success of satellite Earth observations and data analysis. These partnerships foster more comprehensive measurements, robust datasets, and cost-effective missions.

The tri-agency COVID-19 Dashboard is a concerted effort between the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The dashboard combines the resources, technical knowledge and expertise of the three partner agencies to strengthen our global understanding of the environmental and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use the dashboard to explore environmental and economic indicators based on remote sensing data from ESA, JAXA and NASA, and investigate how social distancing measures and regional shelter-in-place guidelines have affected Earth’s air, land, and water. Explore individual countries and regions across the world to see how the indicators in each specific location have changed over time.

Together, ESA, JAXA, and NASA will continue to update this dashboard with the most current information.

Looks like it may be a good resource as its data is built up.

Please post enough content in your title to make it worthwhile to open the body!

I know this is mentioned frequently but for people that have lots of other things going on in their lives it is really nice to know what merits consideration.

It's been a long time since I was in grade school but I was taught that the subject line should contain as much of the content as useful.

But many posters like to use "teaser" lines which are just "Look at this!"

Maybe this works ok when the browser is looking at the home page which may include a bit more context.

It doesn't work if someone is trying to scan other one-line lists.

I won't click on teasers any more.

The Atlantic: History Will Judge the Complicit - Why have Republican leaders abandoned

Subtitle: Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?

I won't normally post articles behind paywalls but TheAtlantic.com does have some limited number of free views per month. This one is worth one of your views. Of course, I think The Atlantic is worth every penny for a subscription, too. (Going to be saving some money cancelling my NYT, again.)

Much background and history precede the following excerpt.

The built-in vision of themselves as American patriots, or as competent administrators, or as loyal party members, also created a cognitive distortion that blinded many Republicans and Trump-administration officials to the precise nature of the president’s alternative value system. After all, the early incidents were so trivial. They overlooked the lie about the inauguration because it was silly. They ignored Trump’s appointment of the wealthiest Cabinet in history, and his decision to stuff his administration with former lobbyists, because that’s business as usual. They made excuses for Ivanka Trump’s use of a private email account, and for Jared Kushner’s conflicts of interest, because that’s just family stuff.

One step at a time, Trumpism fooled many of its most enthusiastic adherents. Recall that some of the original intellectual supporters of Trump—people like Steve Bannon, Michael Anton, and the advocates of “national conservatism,” an ideology invented, post hoc, to rationalize the president’s behavior—advertised their movement as a recognizable form of populism: an anti–Wall Street, anti-foreign-wars, anti-immigration alternative to the small-government libertarianism of the establishment Republican Party. Their “Drain the swamp” slogan implied that Trump would clean up the rotten world of lobbyists and campaign finance that distorts American politics, that he would make public debate more honest and legislation more fair. Had this actually been Trump’s ruling philosophy, it might well have posed difficulties for the Republican Party leadership in 2016, given that most of them had quite different values. But it would not necessarily have damaged the Constitution, and it would not necessarily have posed fundamental moral challenges to people in public life.

In practice, Trump has governed according to a set of principles very different from those articulated by his original intellectual supporters. Although some of his speeches have continued to use that populist language, he has built a Cabinet and an administration that serve neither the public nor his voters but rather his own psychological needs and the interests of his own friends on Wall Street and in business and, of course, his own family. His tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, not the working class. His shallow economic boom, engineered to ensure his reelection, was made possible by a vast budget deficit, on a scale Republicans once claimed to abhor, an enormous burden for future generations. He worked to dismantle the existing health-care system without offering anything better, as he’d promised to do, so that the number of uninsured people rose. All the while he fanned and encouraged xenophobia and racism, both because he found them politically useful and because they are part of his personal worldview.

More important, he has governed in defiance—and in ignorance—of the American Constitution, notably declaring, well into his third year in office, that he had “total” authority over the states. His administration is not merely corrupt, it is also hostile to checks, balances, and the rule of law. He has built a proto-authoritarian personality cult, firing or sidelining officials who have contradicted him with facts and evidence—with tragic consequences for public health and the economy. He threatened to fire a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, Nancy Messonnier, in late February, after her too-blunt warnings about the coronavirus; Rick Bright, a top Health and Human Services official, says he was demoted after refusing to direct money to promote the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine. Trump has attacked America’s military, calling his generals “a bunch of dopes and babies,” and America’s intelligence services and law-enforcement officers, whom he has denigrated as the “deep state” and whose advice he has ignored. He has appointed weak and inexperienced “acting” officials to run America’s most important security institutions. He has systematically wrecked America’s alliances.

Ending paragraph:
In the meantime, I leave anyone who has the bad luck to be in public life at this moment with a final thought from Władysław Bartoszewski, who was a member of the wartime Polish underground, a prisoner of both the Nazis and the Stalinists, and then, finally, the foreign minister in two Polish democratic governments. Late in his life—he lived to be 93—he summed up the philosophy that had guided him through all of these tumultuous political changes. It was not idealism that drove him, or big ideas, he said. It was this: Warto być przyzwoitym—“Just try to be decent.” Whether you were decent—that’s what will be remembered.

Not that I expect the repuglicon party to return to decency. And trump never had it in the first place.

US Law Enforcement Are Deliberately Targeting Journalists During George Floyd Protests

Source: Bellingcat

Bellingcat has identified and collected multiple instances of US law enforcement deliberately targeting journalists during the protests against the killing of George Floyd.

The arrest of a CNN crew in Minneapolis while broadcasting live on air on May 29th was a shocking event, especially in a country with such strong protections on freedom of speech. However as of the time of writing we have identified at least 29 separate incidents where journalists have been attacked by law enforcement.

This selection of incidents demonstrates that law enforcement across multiple cities, but especially in Minneapolis, are knowingly and deliberately targeting journalists with less lethal munitions, arrests and other forms of violence.

Considering the role of journalists to keep society informed about current events, as well as the strong constitutional protections of a free press in the United States, these actions by law enforcement represent an attack on the freedom of the press.

Read more: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2020/05/31/us-law-enforcement-are-deliberately-targeting-journalists-during-george-floyd-protests/

Blatant attacks against the press.

I can't imagine what would happen if we didn't have available video and citizen recorders.

FDA suspends Gates-backed at-home COVID-19 testing program

Source: Reuters

An at-home coronavirus testing project in Seattle backed in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said on Saturday it was working with U.S. regulators to resume the program after being suspended by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), which aims to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region, had said it was suspending its testing of patient samples collected at home after the Food and Drug Administration tightened guidelines to require emergency approval first.

“The FDA has not raised any concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of SCAN’s test, but we have been asked to pause testing until we receive that additional authorization,” SCAN said.

Separately, the FDA on Saturday approved a standalone at-home sample collection kit for Everlywell Inc, a health and wellness company, which launched its kit in March.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-tests/fda-suspends-gates-backed-at-home-covid-19-testing-program-idUSKBN22S0QA

I'm sure that this isn't related to Melinda Gates: US coronavirus response 'lacking leadership at the federal level'

There is not one (r)epuglicon party. There is the former GOP and a parasite that has taken over.

The (r)epuglicons were always a fringe group since they catered to conservatives that feared change, feared "others". Their numbers were rarely very large except when stoked by fear-mongers.

The parasites have tried to corrupt the Democrats many times and disrupt any unity. Unfortunately most Democrats are fairly intelligent and open-minded. Not a good medium for parasitic growth.

But the parasites have totally conquered the (r)epuglicons. Gutting them from the inside and leaving just a stinky shell.

Not sure when this parasite started but it was probably during the cold war. Probably supported by enemies of the US, external and internal.

It has been more embedded and more dangerous with media outlets spewing their agents.

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