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The DNC needs a serious make-over and some ethics training

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade review new findings about the Democratic National Committee and how it operated under the direction of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that, quite frequently, the theorists lack adequate imagination. That seems to be the case when it comes to the Democratic National Committee’s behind-the-scenes machinations to muscle Hillary Clinton into the White House while plotting against her main challenger, Bernie Sanders. That conclusion stems from the trove of 20,000 DNC emails dumped into the public sphere by Wikileaks last Friday.

The leaked emails have cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job as Chair of the DNC but other top DNC officials captured in devious plots against Sanders in the email exchanges still have their jobs – or at least no official firings have been announced. This makes the conspiracies seem more like a DNC business model.

The DNC’s own charter demands that it treat all Democratic primary candidates fairly and impartially, but top DNC officials made a mockery of that mandate. In addition to conjuring up ways to smear Clinton challenger Bernie Sanders during the primary battles, the leaked emails show a coordinated effort to cover up what the Sanders camp called “money laundering” between the Hillary Victory Fund and the DNC.

Despite the fact that the Sanders campaign had no such active arrangement with the DNC, the DNC agreed to participate in the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that sluiced money to both Hillary’s main candidate committee, Hillary for America, as well as into the DNC. To a much tinier degree, funds also went to dozens of separate State Democratic committees.

On May 2 of this year, the Sanders campaign released a statement charging Clinton with “looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign,” and exploiting “the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions.”

Despite Clinton’s promise to rein in tax dodges by hedge funds, Wall Street On Parade reported in April that major hedge fund titans were also big donors to the Hillary Victory Fund. We wrote at the time:

“Federal Election Commission records show that S. Donald Sussman, founder of hedge fund Paloma Partners, gave $343,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund while also donating $2.5 million to Priorities USA, the Super Pac supporting Hillary. Hedge Fund billionaire George Soros donated $343,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund while sluicing a whopping $7 million into Priorities USA to enhance Hillary’s efforts to move into the Oval Office.”

Today, reporters Ken Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico have provided significant new details from the leaked emails to show how the DNC worked behind the scenes to control the media’s handling of revelations involving the Hillary Victory Fund.

Vogel was criticized by some media outlets when the Wikileaks emails revealed he had allowed a DNC official to review one of his articles critical of the joint fundraising operation prior to publication. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has provided some necessary clarity to that issue here.

The Clinton camp and the DNC had attempted publicly to defend the joint fundraising operation as providing critical help to State Committees in order to help down-ticket candidates. But today, Vogel and Arnsdorf report the following:

“Between the creation of the victory fund in September and the end of last month, the fund had brought in $142 million, the lion’s share of which — 44 percent — has wound up in the coffers of the DNC ($24.4 million) and Hillary for America ($37.6 million), according to a POLITICO analysis of FEC filings. By comparison, the analysis found that the state parties have kept less than $800,000 of all the cash brought in by the committee — or only 0.56 percent.”

Vogel and Arnsdorf also detail how the DNC attempted to stonewall reporters on the topic, writing: . . .

Continue reading.

Just to be clear: I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, in my mind, represents and clear an imminent danger to American democracy. But that does not mean that Democrats and Democratic organizations are without fault. I think these faults should be faced squarely and cleaned up, not ignored and hidden.

Apparently no one was keeping track of what Wasserman Schulz was doing, and the DNC itself seems to lack an ethical compass.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 July 2016 at 10:43 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, Law

After Chaotic Weekend for Democrats and Wasserman Schultz, A Class Action Lawsuit Lies Ahead

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens have an interesting column in Wall Street on Parade. I will point out that, though Russia may indeed be behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the release of the emails, the content of the emails—what was said, what was planned, and what was done—was not done by Russia. Those flowed directly from decisions made by Debbie Wasserman Schulz and in cooperation with the Clinton campaign. What is exposed is tawdry and wrong and it was done deliberately within the Democratic Party establishment, which seems to have a rotten core—and indeed, that is exactly why so any of us welcomed Bernie Sanders’s campaign, seeing him as a new (and progressive) broom that could help cleanse the Democratic Party establishment of the rot that has festered within.

It is inappropriate, perhaps, for Russia to expose this rot, and but it is even more inappropriate that the Democratic Party establishment to take such non-democratic actions. I sincerely hope that Wasserman Schultz is sounding defeated in the primary this fall and lose to Tim Canova by some enormous margin (70-30 would be good). Quite apart from her inappropriate behavior as chair of the Democratic National Committee, she has been a strong advocate backing payday lenders and staunch opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The column begins:

First it was Hillary Clinton handling Top Secret national security matters in emails with the caution of a drunken sailor. Now it’s emails leaked by Wikileaks showing that key officials at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempted to derail the Democratic campaign of Bernie Sanders in direct violation of the DNC’s own Charter.  Loose email lips are sinking a lot of ships in the Democratic corridors of power. And a lot more emails and depositions may be coming as a class action lawsuit filed in Federal Court gets underway.

Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC Charter mandates the following:

“The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”

Instead, according to more than 20,000 DNC emails exposed by Wikileaks on Friday,top DNC staffers were plotting to use Senator Bernie Sanders’ religious beliefs against him and to characterize his campaign as a mess.

Three months before the Wikileaks dump of emails on Friday, which show a clear strategy by the DNC to undermine Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton, Wall Street On Parade had previously asked the question “Are Hillary Clinton and the DNC Skirting Election Law?” in regard to the clearly biased structure of the Hillary Clinton and DNC joint fundraising committee, which operated for the benefit of each other as if Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t exist. Wall Street On Parade also reported in April that the DNC’s direct marketing firm displayed overt bias in favor of Clinton over Sanders on its Facebook page.

As a result of the leaked emails, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced she will step down from that position at the end of the Democratic National Convention which starts today in Philadelphia. Wasserman Schultz got a taste of what lies ahead for her at the convention as she was loudly booed at a convention breakfast this morning,according to an ABC News report.

The Wikileaks dump of the 20,000 emails will not be the end of disclosures about how the DNC under the tutelage of Wasserman Schultz orchestrated a campaign to coronate Hillary Clinton and undermine Sanders. A Federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the DNC and Wasserman Schultz alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The suit, Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz (Case Number 16-cv-61511-WJZ) was originally filed by . . .

Continue reading. There’s also video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 9:19 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, Law

Law-enforcement links from Radley Balko

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Just a few of the links from this column in the Washington Post:

  • The Marshall Project has heard from defense attorneys alleging prosecutors have “ghostwritten” judicial opinions in seven states.
  • Video shows North Miami, Fla., officer shooting an unarmed aide to an autistic man. The aide was lying on the ground with his arms stretched out. The autistic man was holding a toy truck. The aide did survive the shooting.
  • Pennsylvania to pay $195,000 to man arrested and jailed for nearly a month after a drug field test falsely indicated two bricks of homemade soap were cocaine. [I don’t know whether it was shaving soap. – LG]

 

Written by LeisureGuy

24 July 2016 at 11:24 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

US law enforcement in action: Austin police body-slam black teacher, tell her blacks have ‘violent tendencies’

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Not all police officers are like those in this report by Michael Miller in the Washington Post. Indeed, I imagine a very small minority are. But they are protected by police unions and by police departments: the miscreants remain on the force and are often promoted. The police need to rid themselves of such officer, but the police so far have shown zero inclination to do so.

Miller’s report begins:

Officials in Austin are investigating the violent arrest of a black elementary school teacher who was body-slammed by a white police officer during a traffic stop.

The investigation comes after the emergence of police video footage showing not only the June 2015 arrest but also a scene afterward, when another white officer told the teacher that cops are wary of blacks because of their “violent tendencies” and “intimidating” appearance.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time … it is the black community that is being violent,” the officer tells her. “That’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.”

The footage, first reported Thursday by the Austin American-Statesmanand KVUE, prompted an apology from police.

“My heart was sickened and saddened when I first learned of this incident,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, adding that the video was “disturbing.”

“For those that think life is perfect for people of color, I want you to listen to that conversation and tell me we don’t have social issues in this nation,” Acevedo continued. “Issues of bias. Issues of racism. Issues of people being looked at different because of their color.”

The controversy comes as the country remains on edge over issues of race and law enforcement. Footage of fatal police encounters and their aftermaths in Louisiana and Minnesota this month helped revive protests over how law enforcement officer use deadly force, while the deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge have spurred further fears among officers over the threats they face on the job.

The Austin video emerged a day after bystander footage showed Florida police aiming their weapons at an unarmed black man as he lay on the ground with his hands in the air. A North Miami police officer ultimately shot the man in the leg as he tried to help a young man with autism.

Prosecutors told the Statesman they first viewed the video about two weeks ago and will likely present the case to a grand jury.

The video also prompted them to dismiss a resisting arrest charge against the teacher, 26-year-old Breaion King.

King broke down as she talked about the day last summer she was body-slammed by police.

“I’ve become fearful to live my life,” she told the Statesman. “I would rather stay home. I’ve become afraid of the people who are supposed to protect me and take care of me.”

‘Oh my God. Why are you doing this to me?’

Austin police on Thursday screened two videos of the incident on June 15, 2015.

The first video, taken by officer Bryan Richter’s dashboard camera, begins around 12:30 p.m. with the officer parked near a busy Austin street.

King, on her lunch break, passes in her white Nissan Versa — traveling 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to Richter. He then pulls out and pursues her, activating his siren.

It’s unclear from the video if King is aware of the officer before she turns left into a parking lot.

As she climbs out of her car, Richter tells her to stop.

“Ma’am, you’re being pulled over right now, so I need you to take a seat back in your car,” he says.

“Are you serious?” King replies.

“Yes, ma’am,” he says. “I’m not joking. Can I see your driver’s license? You’re being stopped for speeding.”

“But I’m already stopped, so technically can you stop me?” King asks as she removes her license. “‘Cause you didn’t pull me over because I’m parked.”

“Ma’am, you were about to go inside without a wallet, so I know you were only coming here because you know I was coming to pull you over,” Richter responds. “I can absolutely pull you over if you are already stopped, yes. Let me see your driver’s license.”

Richter then asks her to put her feet inside the car so he can close the door.

(“I did this so that if she decided to exit the vehicle again, it would give me some sort of reaction time to her doing so, versus her being half way out of the vehicle with the door open giving her an easy escape,” he wrote in his report, according to the Statesman.)

“Could you please hurry up?” King says.

“Okay, ma’am, stand up for me,” Richter says, placing King’s license on top of her car and reaching inside after her.

“No, why are you grabbing me?” she shouts. “Oh my God.”

“Stop resisting,” the officer says multiple times as a struggle ensues — barely visible on the video — in the doorway of the car. At one point, the car horn blares as they tussle.

The officer then takes a step back and orders her to “get out of the car,” before calling for backup.

“I’m getting out,” she says. “Let me get out. Do not touch me.”

“Don’t touch me,” she says again as the cop reaches inside and grabs her.

“Get out of the car now,” he says, yanking her out of the vehicle and throwing her to the ground.

“Oh my God. Oh my God,” she screams. “Why are you doing this to me?”

Richter then orders her several times to put her hands behind her back.

“Oh my God. Are you serious?” King moans. “Oh my God.”

“I’m about to Tase you,” Richter says.

As he manages to get her hands behind her back, King stands up. Richter then tries to leg sweep, or trip, her. When that doesn’t work, he puts his arm around her neck.

There is a choking sound as the cop lifts the 112-pound woman into the air before slamming her down on the ground.

It appears as if King is partially able to break her fall with a hand and a foot.

The two continue to struggle.

“Put your hands behind your back,” Richter tells her.

“Would you let me get down please?” King says.

The cop then pushes his weight down onto her back.

“Put your hands behind your back,” he shouts.

“That’s what I was doing,” she says. “Are you serious? God.”

“Don’t stand up,” he tells her.

“I’m not trying to stand up,” she answers. “I’m trying to put my hands behind my back.”

“Are you serious,” she asks again as the officer puts her in handcuffs.

“Get up,” he says as he wrenches her up by her arms.

“Ow,” King says.

Another officer then appears on screen.

“Look at him,” King tells the second officer. “He’s treating me like sh––. I didn’t do anything.

“What are you doing?” she asks the officers as they put her up against the hood of Richter’s car and appear to search her. “I need a black police.”

“Walk,” Richter says, leading her off-screen by her arms, which are cuffed and pulled up behind her back at a roughly 90-degree angle.

“Why are my hands so high?” King asks.

“Stop fighting,” Richter can be heard saying.

“Jesus Christ,” he can be heard saying to another officer off-screen. “She has some fight in her. She didn’t agree I could pull her over when she was already parked.”

“So she came out of the car?” the other officer asks.

“Well, I told her to sit back down,” Richter tells his colleague. “And I kept telling her to get back in, close your door. ‘No.’ I said ‘All right, I’m just going to handcuff you and put you in the car. I’m not going to do this.’ And then she starts fighting.”

“You all right?” the other cop asks him. “You hurt? Injured?”

“No, I’m good,” Richter replies as King can be heard moaning. . .

Continue reading.

And do read the whole thing. Videos at the link.

The US has changed a lot. This sort of incident provides some insight into the source of Trump’s support.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2016 at 4:55 pm

Would Fortune 500 companies use ransomware against their competitors? if it increased profits?

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We are familiar with the way corporate executives are perfectly willing to break the law (and pay a fine: no on ever goes to jail, and the company pays for the fines) if it increases profits, particularly if the fines (if any) are but a fraction of the profit realized. (See earlier post today and Jamie Dimon’s secret meetings)

So why would a corporation hesitate to use ransomware against its competitors? … [crickets] …

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports in Motherboard:

Ransomware—computer viruses that lock a victim’s files and demand a payment to get them back—has become so common that experts believe it’s now an “epidemic.”

Security experts have always assumed that ransomware hackers are in it for the ransom. But a shocking claim made by one ransomware agent suggests there may be another motive: corporate sabotage.

In an exchange with a security researcher pretending to be a victim, one ransomware agent claimed they were working for a Fortune 500 company.

“We are hired by [a] corporation to cyber disrupt day-to-day business of their competition,” the customer support agent of a ransomware known as Jigsaw said, according to a new report by security firm F-Secure.

Ransomware is an attractive endeavor for cybercriminals. By asking for relatively low amounts of money from victims—as low as $150 or $400—it has a high rate of success. And by targeting thousands of internet users indiscriminately, it scales really well. But if this operator’s statements are true, it seems like a gang of cybercriminals has found a new way to get paid twice: once by ransom, and once by companies to disrupt their competitors.

The operator thought they were talking to just another ransomware victim, but it was actually an F-Secure researcher posing as “Christine Walters,” a fake persona of a 40-year-old from Finland who knows little about computers and nothing about ransomware.

F-Secure researchers used “her” to contact the operators and support agents of several ransomware families. (Ransomware operations now commonly have “support portals” where victims can get help to understand how to unlock files or use bitcoin to pay for the ransom).

In their exchanges, the ransomware agent told “Christine,” that they were surprised she got infected because their operation was targeting specific victims chosen by a corporate client.

“I don’t even know how you got it,” the agent said. “Never have we done anything in Finland.”

The agent never gives too many details, just tantalizing hints. At one point, they say that “the purpose was just to lock files to delay a corporation’s production time to allow our clients to introduce a similar product into the market first.”

“Yes, big name corporation. Fortune 500 company. What I still don’t understand is that the target is in the USA and you and another person in Finland got the email and the client always gives us the contact emails so you are on someone’s mailing list,” the agent told “Christine,” according to F-Secure.

I tried reaching out to the agent via email, but didn’t get an answer for days. When I prodded them again for an interview, I simply got a short response: “I decline. Thank you.”

The agent’s claim that the gang was getting paid by a corporate client to target a specific organization is unprecedented, according to F-Secure.

“If this indeed was a case where ransomware was used on purpose to disrupt a competitor’s operation, it’s the only case we know of,” Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-secure, told me in an email.

In their last message with “Christine,” the agent says . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2016 at 4:28 pm

Did Jamie Dimon’s Secret Meetings With Competitors Violate Antitrust Laws?

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I do not agree with Tim Kaine, possibly our next VP, that banks should be even less regulated than they are now. Even with the current levels of regulation, we see much criminal activity on Wall Street. Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

A mere three months after JPMorgan Chase and three of its competitors (Citicorp, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland) pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to rig foreign currency trading and paid criminal fines totaling over $2.5 billion, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, began meeting in secret with his competitors in the asset management field.

On February 1 of this year, the Financial Times reported that “secret summits” had been held beginning in August 2015 between “asset management bosses” including Jamie Dimon, Abby Johnson of Fidelity, Larry Fink of BlackRock, and Tim Armour of Capital Group. The article went on to report that Dimon and Warren Buffett had convened the sessions at JPMorgan’s headquarters in New York to discuss “a statement of best practice on corporate governance.”

Secret meetings between competitors, regardless of what they are said to be discussing, is a serious no-no under U.S. antitrust law. A company like JPMorgan Chase, that was charged by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 with two deferred prosecution felony counts for its egregious conduct in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and hit again the next year with the felony count in the foreign currency conspiracy is skating on very thin ice. (It should be noted that under Jamie Dimon’s leadership, JPMorgan Chase received its only felony counts in the bank’s century old history. That should tell the public something about how things have changed in American banking culture.)

Two trial lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer, have written a book and set up a web site to call the public’s attention to JPMorgan’s mob-like activity. The lawyers write: “In the past four years alone, JPMorgan Chase has paid out $35,735,254,670 in fines and settlements for fraudulent and illegal practices.” In one chapter of the book, they compare JPMorgan Chase to the Gambino crime family and recommend that it be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

If these meetings were genuinely about crafting “best practice on corporate governance” why did they commence in secret? Why were they not commenced at one of the official financial industry trade associations like the Financial Services Forum or the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which says it is “the voice of the nation’s securities industry.”

According to guidelines published by various trade associations and law firms, the following rules must be followed when . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2016 at 3:26 pm

No, Police Fatalities Are Not Going Up. They are declining.

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Kevin Drum blogs in Mother Jones:

Here’s another chart to prepare you for Donald Trump’s speech tonight. It shows the number of police fatalities since the violent crime peak of 1993. For 2016, I’ve extrapolated from the number of fatalities through today. As you can see, there’s nothing scary here. The number is down from two decades ago and basically flat over the five years.

blog_police_fatalities

 

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2016 at 2:30 pm

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