Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Report: New Orleans prosecutors threatening witnesses with fake subpoenas

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Another in the series of examples of the U.S. today, in a column by Radley Balko in the Washington Post:

If you thought the New Orleans district attorney’s office hit rock bottom when its prosecutors started locking up rape victims, sending innocent men to death row or bringing perjury charges against witnesses who recant after they were pressured by police to testify to things that didn’t happen . . . think again.

From the Lens:

The notice Tiffany Lacroix received in November had “SUBPOENA” printed at the top, next to a logo of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. It ordered her to meet with a prosecutor to discuss the upcoming trial of Cardell Hayes, charged with murdering former Saints player Will Smith.


But it wasn’t authorized by a judge. It wasn’t issued by the Clerk of Court, which sends out subpoenas. And Lacroix wouldn’t have gone to jail if she had ignored it. In other words, it was fake.

The notice came from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office. His prosecutors are using these fake subpoenas to pressure witnesses to talk to them — a tactic that defense lawyers and legal experts said is unethical, if not illegal.

Remarkably, the office isn’t denying the charge, it’s defending it. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 7:34 pm

Silencing a low-carb rebel

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Bill Gifford has a very interesting article in Outside Online, one of a series of links posted by on the Noakes case. Here are the links in the order they were published, the earliest (the aforementioned Bill Gifford article) first:

The Silencing of a Low-Carb Rebel

Big Food Vs. Professor Noakes: The Final Crusade

Professor Noakes About the Twitter Trial and Challenging Dogma

The Twitter Hearing of Professor Noakes Is Almost Over

Professor Tim Noakes Found Innocent!

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 4:52 pm

Trump’s five biggest deficiencies are on full display

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Jennifer Rubin has a particularly good post today in the Washington Post. I always point out that she is a conservative Republican.

President Trump’s approval rating nearing the 100-day mark hovers at about 40 percent. The latest CBS News poll, for example, found that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of his performance, while only 41 percent approve. Among independents, only 38 percent approve. Fifty-seven percent say they are either “concerned” or “scared.” The last week or so has highlighted the range of problems and deficiencies that plague this presidency.

First, we saw Ivanka Trump get booed in Germany trying to vouch for her father as a protector of the family. We also saw the chairman and ranking Democrat of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee declare that they believed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn (who didn’t make it through the first month on the job) broke the law in failing to disclose monies he was receiving from Russian and Turkish clients during the campaign. This president, to put it mildly, has a corruption problem, a nepotism problem and a competency problem. His staff is stocked with extremists (e.g. Stephen K. Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller), hapless characters (Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer) and unqualified relatives (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner) with substantial conflicts of interest.

Second, Trump’s emoluments problems, conflicts of interest and refusal to release his tax returns become more hobbling with each passing week. Whether it is the State Department hawking Mar-a-Lago or a tax plan that likely saves him millions (if we had his returns, we’d know for sure), Trump leaves us wondering whether he views the presidency as another of his get-rich-quick schemes. Needless to say, Republicans would be apoplectic if Hillary Clinton had done a fraction of this.

Third, he has no appealing legislative agenda. The latest incarnation of Trumpcare (3.0, or is it 4.0?) would be even less appealing to voters and GOP moderates as the last version. It still contains a big tax cut for the rich, still makes insurance more expensive for older Americans in rural areas and still rolls back Medicaid — but now states can also opt out of the list of essential health benefits. It’s unclear how this would get through Senate reconciliation. Trump’s half-baked tax plan — which apparently would grant enormous tax benefits to the rich and open up a gaping hole in the budget — doesn’t seem like an attractive proposition for anyone outside his core base. Trump’s agenda, in short, forces GOP House members to choose between doing nothing and doing things the voters hate. Good luck to House Republicans trying to explain themselves to voters in 2018.

Fourth, Trump remains so woefully ignorant that he comes across as duplicitous. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 4:47 pm

Bribe Cases, a Secret Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts

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Jesse Drucker reports in the NY Times:

It was the summer of 2012, and Jared Kushner was headed downtown.

His family’s real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, would spend about $190 million over the next few months on dozens of apartment buildings in tony Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the East Village, the West Village and SoHo.

For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments, Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.

The Steinmetz partnership with Mr. Kushner underscores the mystery behind his family’s multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump.

Although Mr. Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions over the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal. Last month, his company announced that it had ended talks with the Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial firm linked to leading members of the ruling Communist Party. The potential agreement, first disclosed by The New York Times, had raised questions because of its favorable terms for the Kushners.

Dealings with the Steinmetz family could create complications for Mr. Kushner. The Justice Department, led by Trump appointees, oversees the investigation into Beny Steinmetz. Even as Mr. Kushner’s company maintains extensive business ties to Israel, as a top White House adviser, he has been charged with leading American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East as part of his broad global portfolio.

“Mr. Kushner continues to work with the Office of the White House Counsel and personal counsel to ensure he recuses from any particular matter involving specific parties in which he has a business relationship with a party to the matter,” said Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman. . .

Continue reading.

The U.S. government is now led by a thoroughly corrupt and unethical family. And the GOP Congress is on board with that.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 1:32 pm

Big Pharma’s Dirtiest Dealer

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Many (most?) corporations nowadays lack any sort of moral compass or ethical guidelines. They judge all actions by how those actions affect profits; actions that increase profits are deemed “good,” actions that don’t improve profits are deemed “bad.” Legal, moral, and ethical considerations do not matter.

Here’s an example, reported in Motherboard by David Bienenstock:

Insys Therapeutics executives suffered multiple arrests for bribing doctors to prescribe its fentanyl-based pain medication while funding anti-weed campaigns and developing its own lab-made THC drug.

Sarah Fuller first got her hands on Subsys in January 2015, when FedEx delivered a box containing a twenty-day supply of the fentanyl-based mouth spray. During the fifteen months from her first dose of Subsys, Insys Therapeutics’s flagship opioid pain medication, until her death at 32 from a fatal overdose, Medicare shelled out $250,544 to cover the drug, STAT News reported.

According to Fuller’s family and transcripts of their lawsuit against Insys, she had previously struggled with opioid dependency following two car accidents that left her with painful fibromyalgia. But after experiencing kidney problems related to prescription painkillers, she’d subsequently gone cold turkey and was off all pharmaceuticals the first time she visited with Dr. Vivienne Matalon (whose license was subsequently suspended) in her office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

That’s where Fuller reportedly encountered an Insys sales rep, who was present during one of her doctor’s appointments to helpfully explain how spraying Subsys under her tongue every four hours would work wonders on that pesky pain. Never mind her history of abuse, or that Subsys had only ever been approved for cancer patients with breakthrough pain.

“As far as I’m concerned they killed her,” Sarah’s mother told STAT in a video interview, referring to both Dr. Matalon and the Insys sales rep.

Read more: Can Weed Cure America’s Opioid Epidemic?

In my fifteen years of reporting on the War on Drugs—the disproportionate government crackdown on certain communities using narcotics—I’ve never seen a case that pulled back the curtain and tied the whole room together quite like Insys Therapeutics.

First, you’ve got a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company pushing fentanyl, a drug that’s 50 times stronger than heroin. And then you’ve got the same company donating half-a-million dollars to a smear campaign against cannabis legalization in Arizona, where Insys is based, while simultaneously developing its own synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of cannabis) drug with full state and federal government approval. What a magnificent intersection of irony, hypocrisy, and corruption.

Meanwhile, given the way the War on Drugs is generally conducted in America, the only truly surprising event in this whole sordid affair is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation actually stepped in last year and arrested six former Insys executives, including the company’s one-time CEO, for allegedly “leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud healthcare insurers.”

Not to mention the countless people who got seriously hooked on Subsys. Throw in multiple lawsuits and a looming Congressional investigation, and it’s all taken a sizable toll on the company’s bottom line. On April 4, Insys reported a 41.6 percent decline in quarterly revenue, presumably the only negative outcome the company really cares about.

But it’s not all bad news for Insys. Just last month the company won approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration to start selling Syndros, a wholly lab-produced 100 percent THC liquid. Meaning, as far as the federal government is concerned, a cancer patient smoking a joint in California is a criminal in possession of a Schedule 1 narcotic with no proven medical value and a high risk of abuse. But Insys can produce and sell marijuana’s most psychoactive component in its purest possible form.

How is this okay with the DEA? According to a Washington Post investigation, since 2005, at least 42 officials from the agency have gone on to work for Big Pharma, including 31 directly from a division tasked with regulating the industry.

Congress, however, is about to step in.

Continue reading.

Do read the entire article. There’s a lot more and it shows how very broken the U.S. has become.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 1:15 pm

Other law-enforcement links worth looking at

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More links from Radley Balko this morning:

More at the link above.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Alabama’s answer to finding that innocent people are put on death row: Speed up executions

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Radley Balko notes: “Eight people who served time on Alabama’s death row have been exonerated. That includes one man freed last February. Still, state officials want to shorten appeals and speed up executions.” This is now the kind of country the U.S. has become. I never thought I would see such a perversion of the government. Knowing that innocent people would have been executed under the Alabama proposal and pushing for the proposal anyway shows some serious moral deficiency.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2017 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Law

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