The Corruption Of The Law

Harlan Fiske Stone's conservatism was grounded in the belief that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful. (Mr. Fish)

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – ISLE AU HAUT, Maine—I drink coffee in the morning on a round, ornate oak table that once belonged to Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1925 to 1946 and the chief justice for the last five of those years. Stone and his family spent their summers on this windswept, remote island six miles off the coast of Maine. Stone, a Republican and close friend of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, embodied a lost era in American politics. His brand of conservatism, grounded in the belief that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful, bears no resemblance to that of the self-proclaimed “strict constitutionalists” in the Federalist Society who have accumulated tremendous power in the judiciary. The Federalist Society, at the behest of President Trump, is in charge of vetting the 108 candidates for the federal judgeships that will be filled by the administration. The newest justice, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, comes out of the Federalist Society, as did Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The self-identified “liberals” in the judiciary, while progressive on social issues such as abortion and affirmative action, serve corporate power as assiduously as the right-wing ideologues of the Federalist Society.

Trump’s New FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Accepted Gifts From Energy Industry

Screen shot of Robert Powelson during his FERC nomination hearing. Credit: U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, public domain

By Itai Vardi for Desmog Blog – Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level. Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. In addition, earlier this year, Powelson said pipeline opponents are engaged in “jihad,” a statement which drew criticism from activists and further solidified his pro-industry image. NFL Game and Industry Conferences. DeSmog has found that according to Powelson’s financial interest disclosures at the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, in September 2013 he accepted two tickets from NRG Energy to attend a football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. Each ticket cost $105. Powelson attended the game with James Steffes, a senior vice president at NRG Energy, a large energy company operating numerous power generating stations throughout the U.S.

One Mexican Town Revolts Against Violence And Corruption

Josefina Estrada, a petite grandmother who helped lead the revolt in Cheran. (Cecilia Sanchez / For The Times)

By Patrick J. McDonnell for Los Angeles TImes – Checkpoints staffed by men with assault rifles, camouflage and body armor greet visitors at the three major entrances to this town. The guards are not soldiers, police officers, drug enforcers or vigilantes. They are members of homegrown patrols that have helped keep Cheran a bastion of tranquillity within one of Mexico’s most violent regions. The town of 20,000 sits in the northwest corner of Michoacan, a state where authorities say at least 599 people were killed between January and May, an increase of almost 40% compared with the same period last year. Cheran hasn’t had a slaying or other serious crime since early 2011. That was the year that residents, most of them indigenous and poor, waged an insurrection and declared self-rule in hopes of ridding themselves of the ills that plague so much of Mexico: raging violence, corrupt politicians, a toothless justice system and gangs that have expanded from drug smuggling to extortion, kidnapping and illegal logging. Six years in, against all odds, Cheran’s experiment appears to be working. “We couldn’t trust the authorities or police any more,” said Josefina Estrada, a petite grandmother who is among the women who spearheaded the revolt.

A Recipe For Corruption In The White House

White House senior advisers Jared Kushner (right) and Kellyanne Conway (left) gather with Trump Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon (second left ) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (bottom) Carlos Barria/Reuters

By Matea Gold for Independent – The White House disclosed Wednesday evening that it has granted ethics waivers to 17 specific appointees who work for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, including four former lobbyists. The waivers exempt the appointees from certain portions of ethics rules aimed at barring potential conflicts of interest. In letters posted on the White House website, the White House counsel’s office wrote that the waivers were in the public interest because the administration had a need for the appointees’ expertise on certain issues. Among the high-profile figures who received waivers: White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who were both permitted to engage with their former employer or clients. In addition, a blanket waiver was given to all executive office appointees to interact with news organisations — a move that gives senior strategist Stephen Bannon permission to communicate with Breitbart News, the conservative website he used to run. The waiver information – which was requested of all federal agencies by the Office of Government Ethics in April – provides a window into how far the Trump administration is willing to bend on its “drain the swamp” pledge.

Obama's $400,000 Speech Shows Depth Of Corruption

Credit Reuters, Kevin Lamarque

By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. Former President Obama seems to be cashing in or receiving a payoff for his policies as president. He will be receiving a $400,000 payment from a mid-size investment firm, Cantor FItzgerald to speak at a healthcare conference in September. Obama had the chance when his party controlled the House and Senate to actually solve the healthcare crisis by putting in place improved Medicare for all (and don’t fall for the BS that he could not have done it). Instead he put in place the failed Affordable Care Act whose centerpiece was to force people to buy inadequate health insurance. The ACA has failed to control the cost of premiums, co-pays and deductibles while providing shrinking health coverage. It was a gift to the insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry and investors who profit from healthcare. Cantor Fitzgerald is one of those healthcare profiteers that benefits greatly from the ACA.

Rato Finito: Spanish Citizens Send Most Corrupt Banker-Politician To Jail

image

By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Michael Blesa, the president of Caja Madrid bank from 1996 to 2010, was sentenced to six years. Rato took over as President of Caja Madrid in 2010. The bank then merged with six other banks to form Bankia. In the sentencing in late February, Rato was found to have replicated the “corrupt system” established by Blesa. The politicians and banking executives are appealing the decision. The case indicts both the Spanish and international political financial systems. Rato was Spain’s Economy Minister between 1996 and 2004, working for Partido Popular, the same political party that orchestrated the bailout. He was later the Managing Director of the IMF, from 2004 to 2007, another body essential in coordinating the bank bailouts. He undertook these roles before spinning back through the revolving door into Spain’s banking industry.

South Dakota GOP Uses 'Emergency' Rules To Repeal Anti-Corruption Law

170202152817-respect-our-vote-building-exlarge-169

By Gregory Krieg for CNN – South Dakota Republicans on Thursday repealed a historic anti-corruption law approved by voters in a statewide referendum on Election Day. The measure, which passed with more than 51% backing in November, would have created an independent ethics commission, limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, banned officials from joining lobbying firms for two years after leaving office and created so-called “Democracy vouchers” for registered voters to steer toward their preferred candidates. But state GOP lawmakers said they didn’t think voters knew what they were doing.

To Federal Employees: If You See Something, Leak Something

1whistle

By The Intercept. IF YOU’RE A public servant in Washington, you may be worried about what your job will look like after January 20 — who you’ll be working for, what you’ll be asked to do. You might be concerned that the programs you’ve developed will be killed or misused. Or that you’ll be ordered to do things that are illegal or immoral. You may be thinking you have no choice — or that your only alternative is to quit. But there is another option. If you become aware of behavior that you believe is unethical, illegal, or damaging to the public interest, consider sharing your information securely with us. History shows the enormous value of government workers who discover abuses of power collaborating with journalists to expose them.

Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused Of “Widespread Misconduct”

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

By David Dayen for The Intercept – ONEWEST BANK, WHICH Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office. The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions. In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation.

In Brazil, Major New Corruption Scandals Engulf Faction That Impeached Dilma

Dida Sampio/Estadao Conteudo (Agencia Estado via AP Images)

By Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept – A PRIMARY ARGUMENT MADE by opponents of impeaching Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was that removing her would immediately empower the truly corrupt politicians in Brasília – the ones who were the driving force behind her impeachment – and they would then use that power to kill ongoing corruption investigations and shield themselves from consequences for their own law-breaking. In that regard, Dilma’s impeachment was not designed to punish corruption but to protect it.

Weapons Industry Well Represented On Trump Transition Team

War profiteers not welcome

By Aaron Mehta for Defense News. Former executives from Boeing, Elbit and Cubic will help guide the Pentagon transition team for president-elect Donald Trump, alongside several retired Army officials The transition team makeup was announced Friday morning on the Trump team’s GreatAgain.gov website. The list leans heavily on retired officers, primarily from the Army, but also features strong reorientation from industry. In October, Trump told a crowd that he was going to “expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants, advisers, all of these different things, and they get away with murder. Not gonna happen.” Those comments seem long ago, with today’s team announcement unlikely to change the belief among investors that the spigot of military dollars is about to reopen.

Brown Reports On More Instances Of Misconduct In Prison System

Shutterstock

By Staff of Free Barrett – In the four years I’ve spent in federal prison for my supposedly criminal efforts to look into government misconduct in cooperation with a loose array of Anonymous-affiliated hackers, I’ve had the unique experience of investigating government misconduct from within. But although I’ve spent much of this time writing about prison life in articles for The Intercept and other outlets, I’ve generally refrained from going into the specific violations of Bureau of Prisons policy and even federal law that one witnesses on a daily basis in BOP institutions.

Largest Campaign Finance Fine In History For Anti-GMO Labeling Initiative

Occupy Wall Street protesters in Phoenix, Arizona. Photograph: KeystoneUSA/Rex Features

By Staff of GMA – OLYMPIA — In a historic decision, a Thurston County Superior Court judge today ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages, after Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit revealed GMA intentionally violated Washington campaign finance laws. The case arose from Ferguson’s investigation of the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers.

Yes, Our Elections Are Rigged

Sign: "This is not democracy, it is a dictatorship" - Protest in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Marta Breijo / Flickr)

By Mark Dunlea for Green Papers – We will never have an accurate vote count on election day as long as we leave the counting (and administration) to the two major parties, who throughout our history have repeatedly stolen votes to benefit those in power. Robert Caro, the Pulitzer-prize winning biographer of President Johnson, wrote about how LBJ got elected to the US Senate after he realized that he had allowed the Republicans to do a better job of vote theft in his first run

Brazil’s Impeachment Mastermind Summoned For Corruption Charges

Former speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress Eduardo Cunha is now one of the most unpopular politicians in the country. | Photo: AFP

By Staff of Tele Sur – Eduardo Cunha, long regarded as one of Brazil’s most powerful, corrupt and unpopular politicians, faces multimillion-dollar fraud charges. Federal authorities have summoned Eduardo Cunha, the controversial former head of Congress and chief mastermind behind the impeachment bid against ousted President Dilma Rousseff, to face charges over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank accounts while he was in office.