New charges could put Manafort away for 25 years

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

❝ On Wednesday morning in a D.C. courtroom, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort engaged in what we assume was, for him, a deeply humiliating act: he expressed remorse, presumably for the first time in his 69 years on earth. Or, at least, he tried to. “I am sorry for what I’ve done and all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he told Judge Amy Berman Jackson, claiming that he shouldn’t get more jail time for the copious federal crimes he committed because he is his adult wife’s “primary caretaker,” and the two of them need each other…

While that reasoning might have worked on Judge T.S. Ellis, who strangely argued last week that Manafort had led a “blameless life” outside of all the crime, Jackson wasn’t having it, sentencing him to an additional 43 months on federal conspiracy charges, and letting him know she saw right through his act: “Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency…”

❝ And, somehow, it’s unlikely that that was the worst part of Manafort’s day! Because literal minutes later, this happened:

New York prosecutors Wednesday announced criminal charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, only minutes after his sentencing in a federal case. The indictment, unveiled by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, charges Manafort with 16 counts related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. . . . Crucially, Trump does not have pardon power for state charges.

❝ …Last week, a grand jury moved to charge the guy who ran the president’s campaign with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and a handful of other crimes. If he’s convicted of the most serious charges, he could spend up to a quarter of a century in prison

Nice start to another piece of potential justice for one of Trump’s assistant creeps. If we’re lucky, we’ll live long enough to see Manafort and, eventually, the creep-in-chief spend some well-deserved time in the slammer.

Science envoy resigns from government to protest destructive policies

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❝ An energy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, resigned his post as a science envoy for the US Department of State on 21 August, citing US President Donald Trump’s “attacks on the core values of the United States”.

In a resignation letter addressed to Trump, scientist Daniel Kammen joined political leaders from both major parties who have criticized Trump’s equivocal response to violent demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on 12 August. Kammen also criticized the Trump administration’s “destructive” policies on energy and the environment, which he said have affected his work as a science envoy. Such policies include the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate pact.

Hilarious. Click the snap of Kammen’s letter for the enlarged version. Make a word from the first letter of each paragraph. Someone will have to show Trump how to do this – and then he’ll blow a gasket.

Italian Senate strips Berlusconi of his seat

berlusconi crocodile tears

The Italian Senate voted Wednesday to strip ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of his seat because of a tax fraud conviction he insists will be reversed.

Berlusconi maintains the tax fraud conviction, which Italy’s supreme court upheld during the summer, is politically motivated by blah, blah, blah!

Berlusconi was convicted Aug. 1 with several other defendants of using offshore companies in tax-haven countries to buy movie rights for his TV networks and grossly inflating the payment amounts to avoid $502 million in taxes…

Prime Minister Letta’s Democratic Party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement backed the decision to eject Berlusconi…

His center-right Forza Italia party withdrew its support for Letta’s left-right coalition government and joined the opposition Tuesday…

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but three years were automatically pardoned, along with a public office ban for two years. Because he is older than 70, he was exempted from imprisonment and instead must do community service.

If he actually ever performs any community service, I hope his first attempt at real labor in a life of fraud and crime is dedicated to the senior citizens of Italy. They are dishonored by counting him among their peers.

Poster appeal launched to find remaining Nazi war criminals

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The Simon Wiesenthal Centre launched a poster campaign in several German cities appealing for help in tracking down the last surviving Nazi war criminals not yet brought to justice, and promising compensation to those who provide useful information.

About 2,000 posters depicting the entrance gate of Auschwitz were put up in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne asking the public to come forward with information that may lead to the arrest of Nazis some seven decades after the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

“Unfortunately, very few people who committed the crimes had to pay for them,” said Efraim Zuroff, the US-based Jewish centre’s top Nazi hunter. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes…”

Underneath the black-and-white picture of the death camp on the poster, the following words are emblazoned in German on a blaring red background: “Late, but not too late. Millions of innocents were murdered by Nazi war criminals. Some of the perpetrators are free and alive! Help us take them to court.”

A reward of €5,000 will be paid for information upon indictment of a suspect, €5,000 upon conviction, and a further €100 a day spent in prison – up to 150 days – for a total of €25,000, Zuroff said.

Zuroff, who is the director of the centre’s Israel office, estimated there were still about 60 people alive in Germany fit to stand trial for the crimes they allegedly committed. They are suspected of serving as guards at Nazi death camps or being members of death squads responsible for mass killings, particularly early in the war before the death camps were established.

Overdue. But, then, you already know that. So do a bunch of hypocrites in Washington and London who collaborated with keeping many of these thugs free at the end of World war 2.

The call for a single body to investigate crimes of the Troubles

Northern Ireland’s first police ombudsman has called for a single unified body to deal with all the unsolved crimes of the Troubles and arrest suspects even in cases that are decades old. Nuala O’Loan, who as ombudsman from 1999 to 2007 exposed the state’s use of informers who killed while in the crown’s pay, said such an inquiry unit should also be granted full powers of prosecution.

Most of the 3,269 murders committed during the conflict since it began in 1969 remain unsolved. More than 30,000 people were injured, many seriously.

In an interview with the Guardian, O’Loan said she was convinced that the police had deliberately destroyed evidence in “a lot” of killings involving the security forces. “That will inhibit the possibility of a full investigation…”

“It is not a truth commission because it would require that all the parties to the conflict tell the truth and I see no evidence that the parties are ready for that yet. And I am not sure that they ever will be.”

The victims were owed something, she said, and that should be a single independent historical investigations unit…

Continue reading

Fanatic “honour” crimes against women rising rapidly in the UK

Banaz Mahmod, an ‘honour killing’ victim strangled in 2006

The number of women and girls in the UK suffering violence and intimidation at the hands of their families or communities is increasing rapidly, according to figures revealing the nationwide scale of “honour” abuse for the first time.

Statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about such violence – which can include threats, abduction, acid attacks, beatings, forced marriage, mutilation and murder – show that in the 12 police force areas for which comparable data was available, reports went up by 47% in just a year.

The figures, shared with the Guardian by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (Ikwro), also reveal that a small number of forces – including four in Scotland – are still not collecting data on how often such violence occurs.

The 39 police forces that gave Ikwro figures recorded 2,823 incidents in 2010…But this is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, campaigners say, as so many incidents go unreported because of victims’ fears of recriminations…

Ikwro’s campaigns officer, Fionnuala Ni Mhurchu, said the increase was probably due partly to better police awareness and to more victims coming forward after coverage of high-profile prosecutions, but that violence itself was also increasing as young people increasingly refused to bow to their families’ demands.

“They’re resisting abuses of their human rights such as forced marriage more and more,” she said. “And as a result they’re being subjected to this kind of violence. We hear from the community that this violence is on the increase.

“These figures are important because they demonstrate this is not a minor problem – it is a serious issue affecting thousands of people a year, many of whom will suffer high levels of abuse before they seek help. We want the government to develop a national strategy on honour-based violence that covers not just policing but also issues such as education and community cohesion…”

Immigrants need to understand they are in a nation where the law of the land has primacy – and will be enforced. No doubt many come from countries where a blind eye is turned to criminal fanatics who abuse young women and men in the name of religion and culture. They must be assured this is not the case in the UK and the US.

I think one of these reasons our immigrant population – especially from theocratic lands in South Asia and the Middle East – suffers these indignities less often in the United States is exactly that they become cause celebre and receive strong legal attention. For whatever reasons, similar efforts in the UK seem to be overdue.

90,000 convicts in “furlough” program from federal prisons

Sounds like we’re not even relying on Nick Nolte

Federal prison officials fail to properly keep track of thousands of inmates who are granted unescorted furloughs when they are temporarily released, an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general has concluded.

More than 90,000 federal inmates were allowed to leave institutions unescorted in the past three years, often for medical reasons.

Currently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the furlough program using manual processes. [That sounds like it means paper and pencil] The investigation found the prison system does not have accessible or accurate data on inmate escapes while on furlough, nor on crimes committed by furloughed inmates.

The report sharply criticizes the Bureau of Prisons for failing to implement proposed policy improvements drafted seven years ago. Among the policy changes still awaiting implementation is a requirement to notify crime victims and witnesses when a prisoner is being temporarily released…

About 13 percent of the prison population qualifies for furloughs each year. Furloughs are authorized absences by an inmate not under the escort of a Bureau of Prisons staff member.

The prison system has two types of furloughs: transfer and nontransfer. The report says there is a lesser problem in nontransfer furloughs, in which a prisoner returns to the same institution. The absences are for short-term medical treatment, to strengthen family ties or to allow participation in approved activities.

But with transfer furloughs — in which prisoners are being moved for longer-term treatment at a medical facility or a halfway house — the documentation tends to fall apart, the report says.

This is easier than being in the Army. At least if you go AWOL, someone notices. There’s a piece of paper that keeps track of departing and arriving.

I’m afraid to ask what class of crimes were committed that landed these folks in the slammer – and how about a breakdown on the crimes they committed whilst traipsing about the landscape on furlough?

I thought the Good Behavior/all is forgiven part didn’t kick in until you were up for parole.

Bush era oil rig inspectors were on the take

Federal inspectors overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted meals and tickets to sporting events from companies they monitored, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded in a report released today.

In one case, an inspector in the Minerals Management Service office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, conducted inspections of four offshore platforms while negotiating a job with the company, the report states. Others let oil and gas company workers fill out their inspection forms in pencil, with the inspectors writing over those entries in ink before turning them in.

Some in the same office accepted tickets to the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, a college football bowl game. One inspector told an office clerk, “Everyone has gotten some sort of gift before at some point” from companies they regulated, according to the report.

Investigators from the Inspector General’s Office, the Interior Department’s independent watchdog agency, took their findings to federal prosecutors in Louisiana, the report states. But the U.S. attorney’s office in Lake Charles declined to bring charges, according to the report…

The period covered in the report is well before the April explosion that sank the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, resulting in a massive oil spill that well owner BP and federal authorities are trying to cap a month later. But Mary Kendall, the Interior Department’s acting inspector general, said she pushed for the report’s early release after the disaster.

“Of greatest concern to me is the environment in which these inspectors operate — particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government,” Kendall wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Many of the inspectors joined the Minerals Management Service from the industry and had relationships with people in the business that originated “well before they took their jobs with industry or government.”

Their peers in the Pentagon and the U.S. military had the same revolving door/country club buddy relationship with corporate vendors from the military-industrial complex. State bureaucrats always thought it part of the official processes to be wined and dined at the Petroleum Club in Shreveport.

The standards for Federal Attorneys during the Bush years are already well established. If you weren’t a flunky for the Republican Party – you were out of a job.

I’m not certain that 8 years of an Obama administration is long enough to clean all the manure out of the stables – from 8 years of Bush and Cheney?

U.S. Court rules Vatican can be sued for sex abuse cover-up

Did I mention that he gets his shoes from the same store as Cristiano Ronaldo?
Daylife/AP Photo by Alessandra Tarantino

Three men who claim they were abused by Catholic clergy in America have succeeded in naming the Vatican as sole defendant in a lawsuit and are hoping to force Pope Benedict XVI to give evidence in the case.

The 6th US circuit court of appeal recently ruled that although the Holy See, as a sovereign state, was immune from most lawsuits, the plaintiffs could proceed with their argument that its officials were involved in a deliberate effort to cover up evidence of sexual abuse by American priests.

Their case centres on a 1962 directive from the Vatican telling church officials to hide sex abuse complaints against clergy.

William F McMurray, a lawyer representing the men, who claim they were abused in Louisville, Kentucky, says the document, which became public in 2003, makes the Vatican liable for the acts of clergy whose crimes were kept secret because of the directive. He says the pope, at 81, is the only living witness to the establishment of the 1962 policy. Before his election to the papacy, Joseph Ratzinger spent 24 years heading the Vatican department charged with investigating and disciplining abusive priests, a role that would have led him to brief his predecessor, John Paul II, on the situation.

“The fact he is pope does not change anything. He knew what nobody else knew and what the Vatican knew is crucial. They were supposed to be disciplining priests: how were they doing it? We would call him as a witness so I could find out what he did for two and a half decades.”

Now, there’s a bit of jurisprudence that would be groundbreaking. Wonder if they’ll ever get to trial?