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Illinois: First day of recreational marijuana sales begins

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Legalize Marijuana: Cook County

Cannabis is legal for adults to consume in Illinois as of this morning. Amazing. I’d visited Amsterdam for a week in early 1990s, so I knew it was theoretically possible for governments to allow citizens the freedom to chose whether to consume plants, but I did not think it would happen in America in my lifetime. Happy to be proven wrong.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton purchases edible gummies as Sunnyside Lakeview opens in the first minutes of legal recreational marijuana in Illinois.

Dispensary employees at Rise took orders from customers outside in line to speed up the process. There were outdoor heaters, and free coffee hats and gold bead medallions.

The dispensary also hired a steel drum player to play outside, adding a little “Red Red Wine” to the proceedings.

(click here to continue reading Legal weed in Illinois: First day of recreational marijuana sales begins – Chicago Tribune.)

 Henry Anslinger

and this is among the good outcomes to Democrats winning elections:

On the day before recreational cannabis becomes legal in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was pardoning more than 11,000 people who had been convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.
“When Illinois’ first adult use cannabis shops open their doors tomorrow, we must all remember that the purpose of this legislation is not to immediately make cannabis widely available or to maximize product on the shelves, that’s not the main purpose, that will come with time,” Pritzker said to a crowd at Trinity United Church of Christ on the Far South Side. “But instead the defining purpose of legalization is to maximize equity for generations to come.”

The 11,017 people pardoned by Pritzker will receive notification about their cases, all of which are from outside Cook County, by mail. The pardon means convictions involving less than 30 grams of marijuana will be automatically expunged.
 
 Pritzker and other elected officials said they believe Illinois is the first state to include a process for those previously convicted of marijuana offenses to seek relief upon legalization of cannabis.

(click here to continue reading Pritzker pardons 11,000 weed convictions in Illinois – Chicago Tribune.)

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday, Renzo Mejia walked into Chicago’s Dispensary 33 and, after perusing a menu, bought an eighth of an ounce of Motorbreath OG.

With that, the West Loop resident made the first legal purchase of recreational marijuana in Illinois history.

As soon as the order processed, a cheer permeated through the small showroom floor and employees and customers embraced.

“To be able to have [recreational marijuana] here is just mind-boggling,” said Mejia, who paid about $80 for his purchase. “ … To be able to now make the first purchase in Chicago, it’s just surreal.”

To be the first, which Dispensary 33’s Abigail Watkins said was confirmed a short time after the sale by state officials, Mejia rang in the New Year in line — literally.

He took his place outside the store at 5001 N. Clark St. at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday — when the temperature was already below freezing.

(click here to continue reading 1st man to buy legal recreational pot in state history rang in New Year in line, braved freezing temps – Chicago Sun-Times.)

Truck full of Cannabis

Block Club Chicago reports:

They began lining up at 2 a.m. in the cold, with fold-up chairs and blankets in tow. By 6 a.m., when Dispensary33 in Andersonville opened, the line, composed of people from all corners of the city and beyond, stretched for more than five blocks.

Trevor Seyller of Lakeview was first in line to buy legal recreational weed as it went on sale for the first time in Illinois. He waited four hours in temperatures below freezing for “the fun of it” — and for history.

“It’s been a long time coming, this is an historic moment,” Seyller said.

Charlie Wells drove three hours from Madison, Wis. to be among the first few in the line. He said he skipped celebrating New Year’s Eve to take part in the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

“It’s the end of prohibition and it’s a lot safer than drinking,” Wells said. “I’m here because my state doesn’t have it yet.”

Dispensary33 — named for 1933, the year the prohibition on alcohol was lifted — is located at 5001 N. Clark St. To help patrons battle the cold, Dispensary33 put out a few propane heating lamps along the Argyle Street.

(click here to continue reading Legal Recreational Weed Goes On Sale — And Chicagoans Line Up For Blocks In The Cold – Block Club Chicago.)

More photos of the big day at WBEZ, for instance.

Cooking Up that Cannabis Juice Like There’s No Tomorrow

Personally, had plans to go join the party and photograph people in line, but decided to wait until tomorrow or even next week to visit a dispensary. My days of being an all day smoker are long gone. Don’t get me wrong, I plan on purchasing something from a dispensary in the near future, but I didn’t feel enthusiastic enough to brave the below-freezing weather to be first in line or anything. By spring, the supply shortage should be addressed, presumedly.

Reefer songs 23 Original Jazz & Blues Vocals

Kudos to Illinois! Time to queue up the Reefer songs!

Written by Seth Anderson

January 1st, 2020 at 12:56 pm

Encryption as a Ribbon Around An Apple iPhone

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Fonzo Killin Hipsters

Another good post by digital forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski, explaining what the FBI is actually pressuring Apple to provide:

With most non-technical people struggling to make sense of the battle between FBI and Apple, Bill Gates introduced an excellent analogy to explain cryptography to the average non-geek. Gates used the analogy of encryption as a “ribbon around a hard drive”. Good encryption is more like a chastity belt, but since Farook decided to use a weak passcode, I think it’s fair here to call it a ribbon. In any case, lets go with Gates’ ribbon analogy.

Instead of cutting the ribbon, which would be a much simpler task, FBI is ordering Apple to invent a ribbon cutter – a forensic tool capable of cutting the ribbon for FBI, and is promising to use it on just this one phone. In reality, there’s already a line beginning to form behind Comey should he get his way. NY DA Cy Vance has stated that NYC has 175 iPhones waiting to be unlocked (which translates to roughly 1/10th of 1% of all crime in NYC for an entire year). Documents have also shown DOJ has over a dozen more such requests pending. If FBI’s promise of “just this one phone” were authentic, there would be no need to order Apple to make this ribbon cutter; they’d simply tell them to cut the ribbon.

Why has the government waited this long to order such a thing? Because in spite of all of iOS 8’s security, the Chinese invented a ribbon cutter for it called the IP BOX. IP BOX was capable of brute forcing any numeric passcode in iOS 8, and even though it was junky, Chinese-made hardware with zero forensic credibility (and actually called home to servers in China), our government used it widely to break into iOS devices without Apple’s help. The government has really gone dumpster diving for forensic solutions for iOS. This ribbon cutter was used by both law enforcement and anyone with $200 to break into iOS devices, and is a great example of how such a ribbon cutter is often abused for crime.

So here’s the real question: Why is FBI asking for the invention of a ribbon cutter instead of just asking Apple to cut the ribbon? Well the answer to that comes back to precedent. If FBI can order the existence of this ribbon cutter, Cy Vance’s 175 phones will be much easier to push through the courts without the same level of scrutiny as a terrorism case. If FBI were simply asking for Apple to cut the ribbon, all future AWA orders would have to go through the same legal scrutiny in the courts for justification. Getting the ribbon cutter invented for a terrorism case opens the door for such a tool to then be justified by the DA for weaker cases – such as narcotics, computer crimes, or even simply investigations where the government can’t even prove to the courts that a crime was ever committed. Once it’s a tool, just like a Stingray box or a breathalyzer, the court’s leniency in permitting its use increases dramatically.

(click here to continue reading On Ribbons and Ribbon Cutters | Zdziarski’s Blog of Things.)

Now if I could only mandate that all politicians were required to understand the concepts before opening their speaking holes. I know, I know, zero chance…

 

Additionally, there is this angle:

Also consider that the courts aren’t about to force Apple to hack into their own customer products. In fact, the customer purchased these products trusting that the manufacturer wouldn’t – even couldn’t – intentionally compromise them; ever since iOS 8, Apple has marketed these devices as so secure that Apple themselves cannot hack them. For Apple to be forced to backdoor their own devices would invite countless lawsuits from their own customers, betray consumer trust, and likely cost Apple millions, if not billions, in sales depending on how big of a PR nightmare it created. The courts, however, appear to be OK with forcing Apple to write what is being portrayed by the FBI as an innocent, fluffy tool for just this one device.

(click here to continue reading On Ribbons and Ribbon Cutters | Zdziarski’s Blog of Things.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 30th, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Apple,crime

Tagged with , ,

AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers–allegedly

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 Zoey Getting Ready to Vote in the Nature Photo Contest

The Washington Post reports:

The Department of Justice is investigating potential efforts by AT&T and Verizon to hamstring a technology that could someday make it easier for consumers to seamlessly switch their wireless carriers, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The probe appears to focus on whether those companies — perhaps in a bid to stop their subscribers from jumping ship to rivals — colluded to undermine so-called eSIM cards, a technology that could someday allow the owners of smartphones, smartwatches or other devices to change their service provider on their own, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the probe, which has not been made public.

If the U.S. government ultimately determines that AT&T and Verizon harmed competitors or consumers, it could result in major fines or other penalties.

(click here to continue reading Did AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers? The Justice Department is investigating. – The Washington Post.)

Operative word being “if”…

In the Trump/GOP era of government, corporations are encouraged to run rampant over any rules or laws they don’t like, all that is needed is a nice campaign contribution, and issues miraculously vanish! Poof! 

Written by Seth Anderson

December 30th, 2019 at 11:53 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with , ,

Equifax to Pay Some Fines and Laugh All The Way To The Bank

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Safe - Chicago Board of Trade

 The New York Times reports on the latest slap on the wrist regarding corporate malfeasance and indifference:

The credit bureau Equifax will pay at least $650 million … to end an array of state, federal and consumer claims over a 2017 data breach that exposed the sensitive information of more than 147 million people. The breach was one of the most potentially damaging in an ever-growing list of digital thefts.

The settlement, which was announced on Monday and still needs court approval, would be the largest ever paid by a company over a data breach. The deal requires Equifax to put a minimum of $380.5 million into a restitution fund for American consumers who file claims showing that they were financially harmed.

A portion of that money will pay for lawyers’ fees, but at least $300 million must go to victims, according to settlement documents filed in federal court in Atlanta. If the initial cash is depleted, the company will add up to $125 million more to settle consumers’ claims, bringing the total fund size to more than $500 million.

Equifax will pay an additional $175 million in fines to end investigations by 50 attorneys general. Forty-eight states — all except Indiana and Massachusetts, which separately filed their own lawsuits against Equifax — are part of the deal, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

(click here to continue reading Equifax to Pay at Least $650 Million in Largest Data-Breach Settlement Ever – The New York Times.)

So the government gets a ‘taste’, but individual consumers get spit in their eye. $300,000,000 to be distributed to a portion of 147,000,000 people who Equifax screwed. $2 each. Whooo hooo! Lawyers get plenty of money, average people, not so much.

The fine print is that you have to prove that Equifax harmed you by giving away your social security number, bank info, drivers license, date of birth and whatever else. 

You Wanted Some Privacy

Fortune reports:

Equifax will also pay $20,000 to consumers who can prove that they suffered “fraud, identity theft, or other misuse” because of the data breach. Equifax will also pay them $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of time they had spent trying to safeguard their data. Equifax will also reimburse them for out-of-pocket losses and up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring. Exactly how Equifax will require consumers verify their costs is unknown.

 

(click here to continue reading Equifax Settlement: How to Get the Money You’re Owed | Fortune.)

What are the odds that 10% of the consumers who lost their data due to Equifax’s negligence will be able to jump through the proper hoops and reclaim any cash? 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2019 at 4:13 pm

California Gov. Gavin Newsom to impose moratorium on death penalty

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Ghosts

The Washington Post reports:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday will impose an indefinite moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, arguing that the cost, finality and racial imbalance among death-row inmates make the punishment immoral and a public policy “failure,” according to planned remarks released by his office.

Newsom will suspend the practice through an executive order that will give a reprieve from execution — though not release — to California’s 737 death row inmates, about a quarter of the nation’s population awaiting capital punishment. The order will also annul California’s lethal injection protocol and close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison, where the state’s most notorious criminals have been put to death.

“I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people,” Newsom plans to say. “In short, the death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”

(click here to continue reading California Gov. Gavin Newsom to impose moratorium on death penalty – The Washington Post.)

Kudos to Governor Newsom for following the trend of the rest of the civilized world. I am a little surprised that California is a latecomer to this decision, but better late than never.

The government should not be in the business of murdering its own citizens. 

It Might Rain Money It Might Rain Fire

Parenthetical autobiographical note: before my sophomore year in high school, I travelled with my uncle Phil by car on an extended road trip, through the south, south east, Charleston, Atlanta, DC, NYC, and Toronto/Frostpocket and then back to Austin. Somewhere along the journey, we went to an exhibit of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, and an Amnesty International exhibit on the pointlessness of the death penalty. Both stick in my head to this day. Also, I recall writing a term paper for Mrs. Kathy Borich in honors English that subsequent year on the topic of the futility of the death penalty. I don’t remember the paper’s details, only that I got an A+.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2019 at 9:27 am

Posted in crime

Tagged with

In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen

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Perpetual Payment of Perpetual Loans

The New York Times reports:

Of the eight checks now available, seven were for $35,000 and another was for $70,000 to cover two months’ worth of payments. Six were signed by Mr. Trump himself while he was president and the other two were signed by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

Altogether, Mr. Trump or his trust paid Mr. Cohen $420,000, according to federal prosecutors. Of that, $130,000 was to reimburse payments made shortly before the 2016 election to Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, so she would not tell her story. Another $50,000 was for Mr. Cohen’s effort to manipulate online polls to inflate Mr. Trump’s reputation as a businessman.

That $180,000 was then “grossed up” with another $180,000 to offset taxes that Mr. Cohen would have to pay on the original money since it was being treated as income. Another $60,000 was added as a “bonus,” prosecutors have said.

(click here to continue reading In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen – The New York Times.)

That was a pretty nice deal for Michael Cohen. I’ve never had a client that allowed me to bill them more than double what was contracted for. Is this standard procedure for Trump world?

Contemporaneous Memos

And I’ve also been saying the same thing as “some peope close to Mr. Trump” for a while:

“The $35,000 is an indication of the quality of that evidence, and it both shows the extent of Trump’s leading role and now leaves little doubt that he faces criminal prosecution after he leaves office for the same offenses for which Cohen will serve time,” said Robert F. Bauer, a law professor at New York University and former White House counsel for President Barack Obama.

Indeed, some people close to Mr. Trump have privately predicted that he will ultimately choose to seek a second term in part because of his legal exposure if he is not president. While there is no legal consensus on the matter, Justice Department policy says that a president cannot be indicted while in office.

The Justice Department policy is rather weak sauce, but we’ll see if it stands up to scrutiny once the breadth of Trump’s crimes comes to light.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2019 at 4:54 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

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Albert Einstein with a group of Hopi Indians 1922
Albert-Einstein-with-a-group-of-Hopi-Indians-1922

The Washington Post:

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be. A Supreme Court case about jurisdiction in an obscure murder has huge implications for tribes.

On the morning of June 22, 1839, the Cherokee leader John Ridge was pulled from his bed, dragged into his front yard and stabbed 84 times while his family watched. He was assassinated for signing the Cherokee Nation’s removal treaty, a document that — in exchange for the tribe’s homelands — promised uninterrupted sovereignty over a third of the land in present-day Oklahoma. That promise was not kept.

Sixty-seven years later, federal agents questioned John’s grandson, William D. Polson. They needed to add him to a list of every Cherokee living in Indian Territory to start the process of land allotments. Through allotment, all land belonging to the Cherokee Nation — the land John had signed his life for — would be split up between individual citizens and then opened up for white settlement. And by this grand act of bureaucratic theft, Oklahoma became a state.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the land that John Ridge not only died on, but for, could be acknowledged as Cherokee land for the first time in more than 100 years. John signed the treaty of New Echota knowing he would be killed for it but believing that the rights of the Cherokee Nation enshrined in that blood-soaked document were worth it.

One hundred and seventy-nine years later, the grass is still growing, the water is still running and, in eastern Oklahoma, our tribes are still here. And despite the grave injustice of history, the legal right to our land has never ended.

(click here to continue reading Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be. – The Washington Post.)

Fascinating. I hope the Muscogee (Creek) Nation wins, though I’d be surprised if there weren’t further tricks in store…

The Bowman

Written by Seth Anderson

November 28th, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Posted in crime,government

Tagged with , ,

Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter

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Donald Trump Is A Swine

The Guardian reports:

A crew of Fox News reporters witnessed the attack on the Guardian’s correspondent in Bozeman. According to their firsthand account, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands as the reporter was posing questions to him.

The crew wrote: “He then slammed [Jacobs] into the ground behind him. [We] watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.”

Jacobs was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated for an elbow injury.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and was sentenced to four days in jail as a misdemeanor. The sentence was later changed to 40 hours of community service, a fine and a compulsory anger-management course.

In a statement, the Guardian US editor, John Mulholland, said: “The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.

“In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

(click here to continue reading ‘He’s my guy’: Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter | US news | The Guardian.)

What a thug. As a long time student of American history, I cannot recall any president ever praising a violent criminal like this, especially 

Probably a good day to donate a couple of bucks (or more) to the Guardian. I did.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 19th, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Christine Blasey Ford Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies

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Perched
Perched

The New York Times reports:

The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first.

Speaking through lawyers, Christine Blasey Ford said she would cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee and left open the possibility of testifying later about her allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. But echoing Senate Democrats, she said an investigation should be “the first step” before she is put “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.”

Republicans signaled Tuesday night that they would not negotiate an alternative date and would go ahead with the hearing without her or declare it unnecessary if she refuses to appear, then possibly move to a vote.

(click here to continue reading Christine Blasey Ford Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies – The New York Times.)

Yes, much more important to speedily nominate Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment than take a couple of days to investigate her claims and his counter-claims. The GOP motivation is transparent – make sure there is a conservative majority in the Supreme Court in the last few months before they lose their upcoming election. Disgusting.

Rule of law, ha.

 Would You Believe

Unfortunately, if Ms. Blasey doesn’t agree to the bullies’ terms, they will just skip the testimony part and go right to the vote, depending upon reliable Republicans like Susan Collins to vote Kavanaugh in.

NYT:

In the letter to the Judiciary Committee, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said that she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her name was made public on Sunday in an interview published in The Washington Post. Her email has been hacked, she has been impersonated online and she and her family have been forced to relocate out of their home, according to the lawyers, Ms. Banks and her partner, Debra S. Katz.

“While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” the lawyers wrote to Mr. Grassley. The hearing “would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up.’”

 

(click here to continue reading Christine Blasey Ford Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 19th, 2018 at 7:12 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with , , ,

Canadian cannabis workers targeted by U.S. border guards for lifetime bans

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Henry Anslinger
Henry Anslinger was an evil man

The Star reports:

As tensions between Canada and the U.S. have risen in recent months, a quieter, slower-burning conflict has been developing along the border: Canadians associated with the cannabis industry — even if they have never used the drug — can be banned for life from America.

Despite Washington State legalizing cannabis within state boundaries, the border is under federal jurisdiction. And since cannabis, along with drugs such as heroin and cocaine, is a Schedule I substance, past or current association with the drug is considered a federal crime in the U.S.

In addition to those who have used marijuana, Canadians who are involved with the cannabis economy have been labelled “inadmissible” because they are considered to be living off the profits of the drug trade.

A Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs press officer for the U.S. State Department told The Star via email that “admission requirements into the United States will not change due to Canada’s legalization of cannabis.”

(click here to continue reading Canadian cannabis workers targeted by U.S. border guards for lifetime bans | The Star.)

Grade A bullshit. What about the CEOs of multiple American multinationals who have invested in the Green Rush, are they to be banned too? And when other nations realize that cannabis is not the scourge the DEA claims, and remove it from their banned substance list as Canada has, what then? Seems like an unsustainable policy. But then logic and precedent to legal norms have never been a hallmark of the Trump administration and mouth-breathers like Jeff Sessions.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 13th, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Posted in crime,government

Tagged with , ,

Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers

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Protestors Headed Towards Trump International Tower
Protestors Headed Towards Trump International Tower

Buzzfeed:

More than one-fifth of Donald Trump’s US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

Those two characteristics signal that a buyer may be laundering money, the Treasury Department has said in a series of statements since 2016. Treasury’s financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

(click here to continue reading Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers.)

That’s a lot of Kompramat for Putin’s gang to have over the Resident in the White House, don’t you think?

Trump condo sales that match Treasury’s characteristics of possible money laundering totaled $1.5 billion, BuzzFeed News calculated. They accounted for 21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US. Those figures include condos that Trump developed as well as condos that others developed in his name under licensing deals that pay Trump a fee or a percentage of sales.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 9th, 2018 at 11:43 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

New York Attorney General Opens Probe Into Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests

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Duomo  Firenze 1993
Duomo – Firenze, 1993

WSJ:

The New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of its investigation into whether church officials covered up allegations of sexual abuse of young people, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoenas, which come on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report last month documenting the molestation of more than 1,000 children by priests in that state, are part of a broader civil investigation by the office, the existence of which was revealed Thursday. The probe of the dioceses, which are nonprofit institutions, is being conducted by the office’s charities bureau.

(click here to continue reading New York Attorney General Opens Probe Into Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests – WSJ.)

Shut them down, and sell off their real estate to pay restitution to those abused…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 7th, 2018 at 9:00 am

Posted in crime,religion

Tagged with ,

Could Trump’s Missing Signature Force Him to Testify?

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My Heart's In the Basement

The New York Times reports:

In the history of presidential scandals, it is often the hidden things that end up proving decisive. Think, for example, of Monica Lewinsky’s stained blue dress or of Richard M. Nixon’s secret Oval Office tapes.

But in President Trump’s recent scandal involving Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star known as Stormy Daniels, something that was never there to begin with could play an unexpected role.

The missing item is the signature that Mr. Trump failed to place on Ms. Clifford’s non-disclosure deal two years ago. And if her lawyer has his way, there is a chance that the inch-long blank space could force Mr. Trump to testify about what he knew of the arrangement.

Peggy Peterson vs David Dennison

Peggy Peterson vs David Dennison

 

Earlier this year, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, claiming that the non-disclosure contract was “null and void” because Mr. Trump left empty the line where he was meant to write his name.

(click here to continue reading Could Trump’s Missing Signature Force Him to Testify? – The New York Times.)

This would be amusing, if it actually happens. Since Trump cannot even remember what he did 2 hours ago, I’d be surprised if he was a credible witness, or if he is allowed to testify in this matter. 

The easier solution would be just to declare the NDA null and void, and be done with the matter. Not sure if Trump’s pride will allow this, yet, though I’m certain some White House staff and Trump’s outside council of mal-advice has suggested it.

No Turn On Red

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2018 at 9:09 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with

Pope’s Death Penalty Stance Won’t Stop Execution, Nebraska’s Death Penalty Governor Ricketts Says

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Fading One By One
Fading One By One

Via the NYT:

“No one’s happy a man’s life is going to be taken,” said Michael Fischer, 35, a Republican and a financial planner in Omaha who, like many along the streets here, said he supported capital punishment. “But if you take the death penalty off the books, the fear is there won’t be strong discouragement for people to commit crimes.”

(click here to continue reading Pope’s Death Penalty Stance Won’t Stop Execution, Nebraska’s Catholic Governor Says – The New York Times.)

Uhh, it obviously didn’t work so well for the guy on Death Row, did it? How many people are murdered every day in states with death penalties on the books? Dozens? More? Specious reasoning. No, the reason for the death penalty is to take revenge for the cruelty of the universe by killing someone. Revenge killings are bad enough for individuals, but revenge killings by the state is not solving anything.

Should Have Been You
Should Have Been You

On a related point, if one is a Cubs fan, one is also supporting the Death Penalty Governor, Peter Ricketts, in his mission to kill as many humans as he can. 

When Nebraska lawmakers defied Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2015 by repealing the death penalty over his strong objections, the governor wouldn’t let the matter go. Mr. Ricketts, a Republican who is Roman Catholic, tapped his family fortune to help bankroll a referendum to reinstate capital punishment, a measure the state’s Catholic leadership vehemently opposed.

After a contentious and emotional battle across this deep-red state, voters restored the death penalty the following year. Later this month, Nebraska is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murder, in what would be the state’s first execution in 21 years.

The prospect has renewed a tense debate in a state that has wrestled with the moral and financial implications of the death penalty for years, even before the 2015 attempt to abolish it. Protesters have been holding daily vigils outside the governor’s mansion to oppose Mr. Moore’s execution.

Complicating matters, Pope Francis this week declared that executions are unacceptable in all cases, a shift from earlier church doctrine that had accepted the death penalty if it was “the only practicable way” to defend lives. Coming only days before the scheduled Aug. 14 execution here, the pope’s stance seemed to create an awkward position for Mr. Ricketts, who is favored to win a bid for re-election this fall.

Mr. Ricketts, scion of the TD Ameritrade family fortune and an owner of the Chicago Cubs, has made the death penalty a signature issue as he seeks a second term as governor. In the past, he has repeatedly said that capital punishment deters violent crime. He contributed $300,000 to help with a petition drive that led to the restoration of the death penalty by voters.

Mr. Ricketts declined requests to be interviewed for this story, but in an interview in The Omaha World-Herald in 2015, the governor said that his position in favor of executions was in keeping with the tenets of his faith.

“As I’ve thought about this and meditated on it and prayed on it and researched it, I’ve determined it’s an important tool.”

Executions are in keeping with the tenets of his faith. Hmmm. Wonder what religion that is exactly? Sounds barbaric. 

Written by Seth Anderson

August 4th, 2018 at 2:23 pm

NRA gathers docs amid scrutiny over ties to Kremlin-linked banker

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Buy A Dog Not A Gun
Buy A Dog Not A Gun

CNN reported recently:

The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The NRA has faced fresh scrutiny from congressional investigators about its finances and ties to Alexander Torshin, one of the 17 prominent Russian government officials the US Treasury Department recently slapped with sanctions. The gun-rights group has said it is reexamining its relationship with Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member, in the wake of the sanctions. The renewed attention has highlighted the close-knit if sometimes uneasy alliance between top NRA officials and Torshin — a relationship that ensnared members of Trump’s team during the presidential campaign, inviting further congressional scrutiny.

Those inquiries could shed light on the tightly held fundraising practices and political activities of the NRA. The political powerhouse shelled out more than $30 million in 2016 to back Donald Trump’s candidacy — more than it spent on 2008 and 2012 political races combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

(click here to continue reading NRA gathers docs amid scrutiny over ties to Kremlin-linked banker – CNNPolitics.)

A deep, longstanding relationship between Russia and the NRA would not surprise me in the slightest. Where does the NRA get all of its funds anyway? Not from individual contributions, the math doesn’t work. At best, the NRA has 5 million members, and allegedly, many of these are inactive.

I find it extremely plausible that the Russians were funneling funds through the willing NRA leadership to help Trump, and other Republicans. 

FCK NRA
FCK NRA

McClatchy reported earlier this year:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

Last February when Torshin visited Washington, Rockefeller heir and conservative patron George O’Neill Jr. hosted a fancy four-hour dinner for the banker on Capitol Hill, an event that drew Rohrabacher, Erickson and other big names on the right. Rohrabacher has labeled Torshin as “conservatives’ favorite Russian,” Torshin was in Washington at the time to lead his country’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke. The banker also was slated to see the presidentat a meet-and-greet event prior to a White House breakfast, but Torshin’s invitation was canceled after the White House learned of his alleged mob connections, Yahoo News reported.

Torshin’s involvement with the NRA may have begun in 2013 when he attended the group’s convention in Houston. Keene, the ex-NRA leader and an avid hunter, was instrumental in building a relationship with the Russian, according to multiple conservative sources.

Keene also helped lead a high-level NRA delegation to Moscow in December 2015 for a week of lavish meals and meetings with Russian business and political leaders. The week’s festivities included a visit to a Russian gun company and a meeting with a senior Kremlin official and wealthy Russians, according to a member of the delegation, Arnold Goldschlager, a California doctor who has been active in NRA programs to raise large donations.

Others on the trip included Joe Gregory, who runs the NRA’s Ring of Freedom program for elite donors who chip in checks of $1 million and upwards, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and Pete Brownell, a chief executive of a gun company and longtime NRA board member.

In a phone interview, Goldschlager described the trip as a “people-to-people mission,” and said he was impressed with Torshin — who, he noted, hosted both a “welcoming” dinner for the NRA contingent and another one.

“They were killing us with vodka and the best Russian food,” Goldschlager said. “The trip exceeded my expectations by logarithmic levels.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article195231139.html#storylink=cpy

 

(click here to continue reading FBI investigating whether Russia funneled cash to NRA to aid Trump’s campaign | McClatchy Washington Bureau.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Posted in crime,politics

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