7 Officers On Desk Duty As Charges Dropped Against 15, Cases Linked To Corrupt Ex-cop Reviewed

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By Megan Crepeau, Jason Meisner and Jeremy Gorner for Chicago Tribune – In a sudden about-face Thursday night, Chicago police said seven cops once part of an allegedly corrupt crew will be removed from street duties while their conduct years ago is investigated. The reversal came hours after Cook County prosecutors threw out the convictions of 15 men who were framed by the crew — led by former Sgt. Ronald Watts, who did prison time for shaking down drug dealers. Police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said Thursday night that one sergeant and six officers who worked with Watts have been placed on paid desk duty while an internal investigation is conducted. Asked earlier Thursday why several officers tied to Watts’ corrupt crew were still on the force, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson noted none had been convicted of a crime — unlike Watts. “They have due process and rights just like any citizen in this country,” he told reporters after his speech to the City Club of Chicago. “… But we just can’t arbitrarily take the job away from people.” Asked whether those officers might be taken off the streets while the department looks into the cases, Johnson said, “Once I get enough information, then that may be what happens. But right now … we are looking at it.”

Goldman Sachs In Government Pushes Profits Of Goldman Sachs

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By Marcus Stanley for Inequality – Goldman Sachs has been a conspicuous presence at the scene of one disaster after another in the past half century. The bank is a leader in a Wall Street business model that relies on market manipulation and unsustainable financial bubbles to enrich a few insiders, but that produces disastrous consequences for the rest of us. We are witnessing what may be a new Golden Age for Goldman Sachs. After running a campaign in which he lambasted the “corrupt” ties between Wall Street and Washington, President Trump has handed the job of shaping economic policy over to Wall Street insiders generally, and to alumni of Goldman Sachs in particular. These appointments add up to a level of inside influence that is unusual even by Goldman’s historic standards. And future picks could produce even more Goldman influence. In choosing Gary Cohn as National Economic Council Director and Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, along with Jay Clayton at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Trump has turned to Wall Street veterans with deep knowledge of the financial crisis—knowledge gained as champions of the dangerous practices that helped cause it. In areas ranging from financial regulations, to taxes, to infrastructure, to trade, this Goldman-heavy Administration is promoting policies that would boost Goldman Sachs’s profits, in many ways, at the expense of taxpayers and the broader public. Goldman’s stock price has already soared.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Conflict Of Interest

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By Panda Monium for Rebz.Tv – It has finally come to the attention to the majority of St. Louis residents that Sgt. Brian Rossomanno’s national security contracting business, 0311 Tactical Solutions, LLC, is contracted to train the police department. Beyond this being a glaring conflict of interest, it is very telling of the type of training that St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department receives to be used against citizens. We have seen, day after day, heavily armored police attacking peaceful protesters, nearly always without provocation. And of course, leading his army of military-style tactically trained police, is the self-proclaimed #RiotKing Sgt. Rossomanno himself. Rossamanno is the head of SLMPD’s civil disobedience team, and is the one that makes the decisions to brutally attack peaceful protesters with chemical munitions, using illegal maneuvers such as kettling. In STLToday’s article that brought this subject to light, they stated: Rossomanno declined to be interviewed for this story. In an email on Friday, he said that 0311 Tactical did not bid on contracts from the St. Louis police because it would be an obvious conflict of interest. Later that day, his company’s website was edited to delete the St. Louis police department and its SWAT team as clients.

Guatemala Rises Up Against Institutionalized Corruption

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By Jeff Abbott for Waging Nonviolence – On Sept. 20, hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans demonstrated across the country against President Jimmy Morales and Congress. The protesters demanded the resignation of the president and congressional members, following new accusations of corruption and the repeal of anti-corruption laws passed in 2015. “We are demanding that the president and the majority of Congress resign, and that they pass laws that modify the laws that govern political parties,” said Tomás Solaj, the indigenous mayor of Sololá. “We have the advantage right now.” In Guatemala City, student groups and organizations that began during the 2015 corruption crisis marched from different points of the city to the Central Plaza in protest of the president and Congress. “To President Morales and his friends in Congress, we the Guatemalan people have something to tell you: We are here, we see you, and we won’t rest until our government is freed from the powerful criminal groups that have hijacked it,” wrote members of the movement Justicia Ya in a press release on the protest. “We, Guatemalans, will no longer stand in fear. We are ready to build a peaceful, prosperous and transparent Guatemala.”

Government By Goldman

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By Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson for The Intercept. Steve Bannon was in the room the day Donald Trump first fell for Gary Cohn. So were Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s pick for secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. It was the end of November, three weeks after Trump’s improbable victory, and Cohn, then still the president of Goldman Sachs, was at Trump Tower presumably at the invitation of Kushner, with whom he was friendly. Cohn was there to offer his views about jobs and the economy. But, like the man he was there to meet, he was at heart a salesman.

An American Oligarch‘s Dirty Tale Of Corruption

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By F. William Engdahl for NEO – What the three hacked documents reveal is a degree of behind-the-scene manipulation of the most minute details of the Kiev regime by the New York billionaire. In the longest memo, dated March 15, 2015 and marked “Confidential” Soros outlines a detailed map of actions for the Ukraine regime. Titled, “A short and medium term comprehensive strategy for the new Ukraine,” the memo from Soros calls for steps to “restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.” To do the restoring, Soros blithely notes that “General Wesley Clark, Polish General Skrzypczak and a few specialists under the auspices of the Atlantic Council[emphasis added—f.w.e.] will advise President Poroshenko how to restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.” Soros also calls for supplying lethal arms to Ukraine and secretly training Ukrainian army personnel in Romania to avoid direct NATO presence in Ukraine. The Atlantic Council is a leading Washington pro-NATO think tank. Notably, Wesley Clark is also a business associate of Soros in BNK Petroleum which does business in Poland. Clark, some might recall, was the mentally-unstable NATO General in charge of the 1999 bombing of Serbia who ordered NATO soldiers to fire on Russian soldiers guarding the Pristina International Airport.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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”

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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.