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Friday, 21st February 2o2o
FBI arrests Katie Hill associate over cyberattack on opponent

by Chris Marquette

Former Representative Katie Hill said she was “surprised and disturbed” after the husband of her 2018 fundraising consultant was arrested by the FBI and accused of coordinating an effort to crash the website of her Democratic primary opponent.

Arthur Dam, the husband of fundraising consultant Kelsey O’Hara, was charged with intentionally damaging and attempting to damage a protected computer.

The news was first reported by the Intercept.

The campaign website of Hill’s opponent, Bryan Caforio, crashed for the first time on April 20, 2018.

It crashed again on April 21, April 28 and May 29, according to the criminal complaint.

The April 28th hack occurred the day of a debate between Hill and Caforio and the May 29th incident took place just days before Hill beat Caforio in the June 5th primary, 24,507 to 21,821.

“Like everyone else, I was surprised and disturbed to see the news of this criminal complaint,” Hill said in a statement that defended the other staff, volunteers and supporters who worked on her campaign.

She said she had no information or knowledge of the conduct and would not comment further

“out of respect for the rule of law and the defendant’s presumption of innocence.”

Sources close to Caforio’s campaign said they reached out to the FBI shortly after the first attack.

The “denial of service” attacks meant voters were unable to donate, learn about Caforio or volunteer to work on the campaign.

“I’m absolutely shocked and saddened to learn today that Katie Hill’s campaign associates hacked my campaign in order to help her advance through the primary,” Caforio said in a statement.

“This should serve as a somber reminder that Russia is not the only threat to our democracy.”

Hill resigned effective November 3rd, shortly after reports that she and her now-estranged husband had an affair with a female campaign aide, as well as allegations that she had an affair with an aide on her House staff, which would be a violation of ethics rules.

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill.

Hill admitted an affair with the campaign aide but denied one with the House staffer.

The Ethics panel typically drops cases after members leave office.

Hill on Thursday afternoon announced a new initiative, dubbed “HER time,” that would help elect women from diverse backgrounds.

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Friday, 21st February 2o2o
Wells Fargo to pay $3 billion to settle civil lawsuit over fake account scandal

by Pete Williams

Wells Fargo, the nation's fourth-largest bank, agreed Friday to pay a $3 billion fine to settle a civil lawsuit and resolve a criminal prosecution filed by the Justice Department over its fake account scandal.

Under pressure to meet sales quotas, bank employees opened millions of savings and checking accounts in the names of actual customers, without their knowledge or consent.

Since the fraud became public in 2016, the bank has faced a torrent of lawsuits.

The scheme lasted more than a decade, Justice Department officials said, and was carried out by thousands of Wells Fargo employees.

"This settlement holds Wells Fargo accountable for tolerating fraudulent conduct that is remarkable both for its duration and scope and for its blatant disregard of customer private information," said Michael Granston of the Justice Department's Civil Division.

Department officials said the bank took several steps to conceal the accounts from customers, such as forging customer signatures and preventing other Wells Fargo employees from contacting customers during routine surveys about their accounts.

None of the money to be paid to the government under this settlement will go to compensate victims. But officials said Wells Fargo has separately made efforts to compensate victims for potential losses -- such as fees they might have been charged or harm to their credit ratings, if any.

"We take seriously the rights of customers, creditors, and investors, all of whom were harmed by this conduct, where the bank was making up sales activities to get a competitive advantage over its customers," a senior Justice Department official said.

As part of the settlement, Wells Fargo admitted that employees were pressured to sell large volumes of new products to existing customers as a way of generating more business, often with little regard for a customer's actual needs.

Bank employees began calling the practice "gaming," and it included opening accounts without a customer's knowledge, issuing credit and debit cards, and moving money from existing accounts to the fraudulently opened ones.

As part of Friday's settlement, the Justice Department agreed not to criminally prosecute the bank during the tree-year term of the agreement, provided that Wells Fargo continues to cooperate with government investigations.

The agreement was reached with the bank itself, not with any individuals responsible for the fraud.

But last month, the bank's former chief executive, John Stumpf, was fined $17.5 million by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for his role in the scandal.

Other former bank executives were hit with smaller fines.

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Friday, 21st February 2o2o
Oakland Police Chief Ousted!
by Associated Press

(OAKLAND, California) — The Oakland Police Commission voted unanimously Thursday to fire the city's first female police chief without cause.

Commission chair, Regina Jackson, said Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick's ouster comes after “the Oakland Police Department’s failure to increase compliance with the court-ordered reforms” required under a federal settlement more than a decade ago.

The decision was supported by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who appointed Kirkpatrick in 2017.

"The Police Commission is the community’s voice in our system of checks and balances, and I respect its authority and its role," Schaaf said in a statement.

“In 2016, Oakland voters created the strongest and most independent Police Commission in America. Tonight, the commissioners exercised their power," she added.

Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Barry Donelan expressed disappointment over the firing and said Kirkpatrick was well-respected in the department.

“But fighting for Oakland’s residents and Police Officers alike does not endear you to Oakland’s unelected Police Commissioners and our Mayor,” he said.

The police force has been under federal court supervision since the 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit that accused officers of planting evidence, beating suspects and other wrongdoing.

Kirkpatrick took over the troubled department in January 2017 amid allegations that a group of officers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were having sex with the teen daughter of an Oakland dispatcher.

During that time, allegations came to light that Oakland officers had exchanged racist text messages and emails.

Kirkpatrick also had been at odds with the department's federal monitor over the discipline she handed out to officers who shot and killed a homeless man in 2018.

Darren Allison, assistant chief of police, will serve as acting chief until an interim leader is appointed.

Friday, 21st February 2o2o
South Carolina Prison Guard Sentenced in Inmate Stabbing
by Associated Press

(COLUMBIA, S.Carolina) — A former South Carolina Corrections officer convicted of stabbing an inmate with a homemade knife was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday.

Jarrell Boyan, 29, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit murder in August for stabbing Kenya Spry multiple times with a knife the inmate had made, The State reported.

Boyan told federal judge Michelle Childs at the hearing that he had “blacked out” during the confrontation in 2016 and unintentionally grabbed the weapon from his pocket instead of a pair of handcuffs, according to the newspaper.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Alyssa Richardson disputed his explanation and pointed to video evidence that showed him take the knife from the inmate and put it down the hall in a safe room.

Boyan had to go back into room, retrieve the knife, then stab Spry, Richardson said.

Boyan’s lawyer countered that Spry had a lengthy disciplinary record, including harassing and attacking prison guards.

A former Corrections warden called as a witness told the judge Spry was “the most violent and destructive inmate" he'd seen in 40 years.

Boyan was fired after the attack.

Spry underwent multiple surgeries for his injuries.

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« on: Yesterday at 10:49:48 pm »
Friday, 21st February 2o2o
Arrested in Hawaii

by Doha Madani

The mother of two children who have been missing for months was arrested Thursday in Hawaii on a $5 million warrant from Idaho.

Lori Vallow has been charged on two counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, according to a release from the Kaua'i Police Department on Thursday.

Police say Vallow failed to comply with a court order to produce her children to authorities by January 30th.

There is no indication Vallow's children were on the island of Kaua'i, police said in the statement. Vallow's husband, Chad Daybell, was not in custody, law enforcement sources told NBC News.

The search for Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua Vallow, 7, began in November when police attempted to conduct a welfare check on Joshua, who is adopted and has special needs, according to the Rexburg Police Department.

Joshua and Tylee were last seen in September, according to the Rexburg Police Department in Idaho.

Rexburg police previously said that Vallow and Daybell were not cooperating and had left the state.

According to Rexburg police, Vallow and Daybell said Joshua was staying with a family friend in Arizona, but investigators later learned that was a lie.

A witness also told police that Vallow had falsely said that Tylee was dead.

Tylee's aunt, Annie Cushing, told NBC affiliate KSL that she is concerned for the safety of the children, because she believes Vallow to be "unhinged."

Cushing's brother, Joseph Ryan, was Vallow's third husband and Tylee's father.

He died of an apparent heart attack in 2018.

Rexburg police said they have learned that Vallow either knows the location of Joshua and Tylee or knows what happened to them.

Police have also said that they believe the children's disappearance could be tied to an investigation into the death of Daybell's first wife, Tammy Daybell, 49.

She was found dead in her home in October, and Chad Daybell married Vallow weeks later.

Vallow's fourth husband, Charles Vallow, also died last year.

He was shot to death in July by Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, during a confrontation.

Vallow and Cox were questioned by police but not charged.

Cox then died in December, The Associated Press reported.

Before Charles Vallow died, he filed for divorce from Vallow, claiming in divorce documents that his wife believed she was reincarnated and was a god sent to lead people during the second coming of Christ in July 2020, and told her husband that if he got in his way she would kill him.

An attorney who represented him during the divorce proceedings said in a statement that Charles Vallow had a "genuine fear for his life."

Other court documents, filed in Texas during Vallow and Ryan's custody battle over Tylee in 2007, revealed that Vallow was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after she told social workers that “death would be an option before giving Tylee to her father, Mr. Joseph Ryan, even for a visit.”

Police in Kaua'i said they first received a request from Rexburg police to help locate Vallow in December.

Vallow is being held in Hawaii on a $5 million bail and does not yet have a court date.

She will have the opportunity to waive or fight her extradition back to Idaho.

A lawyer for Vallow did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

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Thursday, 20th February 2o2o
Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison

by Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Jackman, Spencer Hsu & John Wagner

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, the acting-president’s longtime friend and political adviser, to serve three years and four months in prison for impeding a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The penalty from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson comes after weeks of infighting over the politically charged case that threw the Justice Department into crisis, and it is likely not to be the final word.

Even before the sentencing hearing began, drumphf seemed to suggest on Twitter he might pardon Stone.

With the proceedings ongoing, drumphf questioned whether his ally was being treated fairly.

In a lengthy speech before imposing the penalty, Jackson seemed to take aim at drumphf, saying Stone “was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the acting-president.”

She also appeared to call out Attorney General William P. Barr, saying intervention to reduce career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation was “unprecedented.”

But she said the politics surrounding the case had not influenced her final decision.

“The truth still exists; the truth still matters,” Jackson said, echoing prosecutors’ closing arguments at trial.

“Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the foundations of our democracy. If it goes unpunished it will not be a victory for one party or another; everyone loses.”

She added, “The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”

drumphf, meanwhile, weighed in publicly from afar — again bucking Barr’s public and private warnings to stop talking about Justice Department criminal cases.

In a tweet, the president compared Stone to former FBI director James B. Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

drumphf has suggested that each of them should be charged.

“‘They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.’ @CNN,” drumphf scribbled during the hearing, tagging the news network.

“OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?”

Overnight, drumphf also hinted he could pardon Stone, tweeting a video clip in which fox news host Tucker Carlson said, “the acting-president could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon, and there are indications tonight that he will do that.”

Carlson noted a series of pardons and commutations the president granted this week.

Stone, 67, was convicted by a federal jury in November on seven counts of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about hacked Democratic emails related to Clinton.

Prosecutors said the longtime gop operative lied during testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 to conceal his central role in the drumphf campaign’s efforts to learn about computer files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks.

Stone also threatened a witness who was an associate of his in an attempt to prevent the man from cooperating with lawmakers.

Stone, who did not speak in court, showed no visible emotion as the sentence was read.

Emerging from the courtroom in a wide-striped suit and polka-dot tie, he appeared calm.

“I have nothing to say,” Stone said.

“Thank you.”

Stone, his wife and a large entourage exited the courthouse to a large crowd of photographers, supporters and antagonists.

As he climbed into an SUV, protesters shouted “Lock him up!” while supporters yelled

“Pardon Roger Stone!”

Prosecutors also left the courtroom without commenting and a Justice Department spokeswoman later declined to comment.

On Friday, Stone had requested a new trial after drumphf suggested the forewoman in Stone’s case had “significant bias.”

Jackson said previously she would delay implementation of his sentence until she resolves that request.

In addition to prison, Jackson ordered Stone to pay a $20,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release.

The penalty capped an unusual sentencing hearing in which Jackson sought not only to resolve disputes between prosecutors and defense attorneys, but also seek answers on the internal Justice Department haggling over what punishment the government would endorse.
The initial team of four career prosecutors recommended that Jackson impose a term of seven to nine years, only to see drumphf tweet about the matter, and Barr personally intervene.

All four prosecutors then quit the case — with one leaving the government entirely — and their replacements filed a new recommendation suggesting three to four years was “more typical” in cases like Stone’s.

Yet the new prosecutor in court Thursday defended his predecessors and argued for the same stiff sentencing enhancements as they had.

“The Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office is committed to following the law without fear favor or political influence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb said.

“This prosecution was and this prosecution is righteous.”

Crabb said the court “should impose a substantial period of incarceration,” although he did not propose a specific number of months or years.

Jackson made clear she thought Stone’s crimes were serious.

She called his House intelligence committee testimony “plainly false” and “a flat-out lie” and said his misdirection “shut out important avenues” for Congress to investigate.

The judge said Stone knew his efforts to obtain damaging information from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks about Clinton, who was then running against drumphf, “could reflect badly on the acting-president.”

Jackson acknowledged the politics surrounding the situation, and pressed Crabb on why prosecutors filed two very different sentencing memos.

She asked why the Justice Department ultimately chose to recommend bucking the guidelines in the case — when department policies do not let prosecutors argue for a sentence below the guidelines without approval — and questioned why Crabb was in court at all.
“I fear that you know less about this case than possibly anybody else in the courtroom,” Jackson said.

“What is the government’s position today?”
Crabb said the original prosecutors on the case had approval from U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea to make their recommendation and that their filing was “done in good faith.”

He said his understanding was there had been a “miscommunication” between Barr and Shea, centered around “what the expectations were from the attorney general and what the appropriate filing would be.”

He apologized for the “confusion” — although even in court, his position seemed somewhat muddled.

He refused to say whether he had written the softer sentencing recommendation, which bore his signature, because it would expose “internal deliberations.”

Stone had asked for probation, citing his age and lack of criminal history.
Defense attorney Seth Ginsberg argued for mercy, saying Stone is “a real person, not a media figure, not a political character but a real person,” who is soon to be a great-grandfather.

He emphasized Stone has “devoted himself” to various causes — including veterans, animal welfare and football players suffering from traumatic brain injuries — and has “worked to bridge racial divides in this country.”

That, he said, is “who Mr. Stone really is — not the larger than life political persona that he plays on TV, but the real person who goes home every day to his wife and his family.”

Ginsberg argued New York City comedian and radio host Randy Credico, the witness Stone was convicted of threatening, understood Stone was “all bark and no bite.”

Credico appealed for leniency in a letter to the court, saying “Stone, at his core, is an insecure person who craves and recklessly pursues attention. . . . Prison is no remedy.”
Jackson said that although seven to nine years was too harsh, probation would be too light.

Stone, she said, had shown “flagrant disrespect for the institutions of government established by the Constitution, including the Congress and this court.”

She said read aloud some of Stone’s profane texts threatening to kill Credico and steal his dog.

“The defendant referred to this as banter, which it hardly is,” the judge said.

“Nothing about this case was a joke; it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t a stunt and it wasn’t a prank.”

Jackson noted Stone threatened her personally during the trial and stirred up claims that the process was rigged.

Doing so, she said, “willfully increased the risk that someone with even poorer judgment than” Stone would take action and put the entire courthouse in danger.

Barr’s intervention in Stone’s case set off a crisis for the Justice Department, where some prosecutors worried drumphf — who tweeted the intial suggested penalty was “horrible and very unfair” — had pushed his chief law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case because Stone was a friend.

Barr, though, insisted in an ABC News interview he had made the decision independent of drumphf, and issued a remarkable public rebuke, saying drumphf’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts … and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

This week, those close to Barr said the attorney general has told Trump advisers he has considered resigning over the president’s tweets.

drumphf, though, continued to tweet about the Stone case.

Earlier this week, he suggested his friend deserved a new trial — just as the Justice Department, with Barr’s blessing, made clear it had opposed Stone’s request on that front.

Like prosecutors, Barr has called Stone’s prosecution “righteous,” and added,

“I was happy that he was convicted.”

Stone is one of six drumphf advisers and confidants who have either been convicted or pleaded guilty in connection with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.

That list includes former drumphf campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former drumphf lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Stone’s two-week trial in November refocused attention on the drumphf campaign’s keen appetite for dirt on its political opponents.

The trial included testimony from former 2016 deputy campaign manager Gates, who testified he overheard a July 2016 phone call in which drumphf himself seemed to discuss WikiLeaks with Stone.

The trial also highlighted drumphf’s ongoing standoff with congressional Democrats, then conducting an impeachment inquiry into whether the president pressured Ukraine to bolster his 2020 re-election bid.

drumphf directed the Executive Mansion to withhold documents and block testimony in the inquiry, which ended in a Senate acquittal.

Technology / Re: GAMERS THREAD
« on: Yesterday at 04:59:12 am »
Thursday, 20th February 2o2o

The beauty & creativity of such instant classic computer role-playing games such as Pillars of Eternity: The White March (parts 1 & 2) is that the player can create many kinds of characters even historical characters.

Started a new game with the idea of what if Frederick Douglass fell ill onboard that fateful caravan traveling through The Eastern Reach?

Thursday, 20th February 2o2o
Post Mortem after Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada

Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o
by Ezra Klein

Since entering the presidential race in November, Mike Bloomberg has spent more than $400 million of his own money on ads.

If you ignore Tom Steyer, the other self-funding billionaire chasing the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg has spent more than three times as much as all the other Democratic candidates combined.

Nor is it just the ad spending that has greased Bloomberg’s rise.

He’s spent a decade as a generous and effective donor to progressive causes, friendly politicians, cash-strapped cities, and worthy nonprofits.

Journalist Blake Zeff has a sharp Twitter thread showing how Bloomberg has used his largesse to quiet criticism and win allies.

Bloomberg’s vast resources have unlocked a campaign strategy no other candidate could sustain.

Because presidential candidates typically operate under a constant threat of running out of cash, they concentrate spending in the early primary states.

Bloomberg ignored those states entirely and is blanketing the bigger, more expensive states that vote later in the primary with ads.

As a result, he’s shot up in the polls and is challenging Joe Biden for second place.

But here’s the kicker: $417 million is minuscule as a percentage of Bloomberg’s $64 billion net worth.

It’s a bit more than six-tenths of 1 percent — the equivalent of someone worth $100,000 spending $650.

So far, Bloomberg is throwing pocket change at this election.

The torrent of spending he would likely unleash in the general is orders of magnitude beyond anything we’ve seen before.

For many frightened Democrats, that is, literally, the case for Bloomberg:

Whatever his faults, he carries a deep war chest he could use to defeat drumphf and elect congressional Democrats.

That’s particularly persuasive to moderates who think Bernie Sanders’s socialism will prove politically toxic or fear Joe Biden simply isn’t up to the job.

For them, Bloomberg offers an answer — a grim one, but an answer nevertheless.

“Winning the presidential election is starting to look hard,” quipped Jonathan Chait in New York magazine.

“How about buying it instead?”

It is easy enough to see the appeal of this argument: drumphf has been a cruel and erratic president, and to his critics, defeating him is of paramount moral importance.

Most Democrats believe money corrupts American politics and it’d be better if Bloomberg’s fortune were irrelevant, but the system is what it is, and winning, right now, is more important than passing some abstract purity test.
This is how bad systems corrupt good individuals — they do it by enlisting our self-interest to convince us to betray our values.

And make no mistake: America’s campaign finance system is a disaster.

Most candidates can’t self-finance their campaigns, so they spend a disproportionate amount of time asking the rich to donate to their campaigns.

Those donations are limited to $2,800 per individual, but the Supreme Court believes political spending is a protected form of free speech, so the rich can spend as much as they want on their own campaigns, or on Super PACs to push their political agendas.
Populists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and, in his complicated and contradictory ways, even drumphf, have risen in part because Americans loathe seeing their political system bought by the rich.

Bloomberg isn’t so much a defense against those critiques as he is a confirmation of them.

The populists say that politics is rigged, elections are bought by those with enough money to spend, modern liberalism is mere lipstick on perpetual corporatism.

Bloomberg is here to test whether they’re right.

He may pitch himself to centrists as an answer to the populists, but in leveraging his fortune to fight them, he offers the country the (hopefully) false choice between populism and oligarchy.

In response to Bloomberg’s rise, critics have filled Twitter with clips of Bloomberg blaming the financial crisis on government loans to nonwhite homebuyers (which is flatly wrong), making cruelly transphobic comments, presiding over an allegedly sexually hostile workplace, and praising the racist stop-and-frisk policies he later disowned.

But Bloomberg’s candidacy would be dangerous even if every word he’d ever uttered was enlightened and his past policy record was pure.

Bloomberg is a test of what exactly it is that Democrats so feared in drumphf’s dismissal of democratic restraints and liberal norms.

He isn’t a class traitor or a good-government reformer who uses his fortune to pass policies that would politically neuter fortunes like his.

He’s a canny politician who uses his money to secure, amass, and retain political power for him, personally.

As Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:

drumphf’s authoritarian tendencies are naked on his Twitter feed, but Bloomberg’s imperial instincts, his indifference to limits on his power, are a conspicuous feature of his career. drumphf jokes about running for a third term; Bloomberg actually managed it, bulldozing through the necessary legal changes. drumphf tries to bully the F.B.I. and undermine civil liberties; Bloomberg ran New York as a miniature surveillance state. drumphf has cowed the Republican Party with celebrity and bombast; Bloomberg has spent his political career buying organizations and politicians that might otherwise impede him. drumphf blusters and bullies the press; Bloomberg literally owns a major media organization. drumphf has Putin envy; Bloomberg hearts Xi Jinping.

If Democrats embrace Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy, it will be evidence that the problem with drumphf wasn’t that he was a billionaire with illiberal tendencies, but that he was the wrong kind of billionaire with illiberal tendencies.

“We can have democracy in this country,” Louis Brandeis famously said,

“or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Bloomberg’s candidacy is a reminder of why.

His campaign isn’t a betrayal of the political and economic system we have now but its logical extension:

If we are going to allow this much wealth concentration, and if the Supreme Court holds that the rich can spend as much money pursuing their political ambitions as they want, then eventually American politics will simply become a competition between billionaires of the left and billionaires of the right, and no one will be able to stop it because it’ll feel dangerous and even immoral to unilaterally disarm and let the other side spend you into oblivion.
The good news is that this is a false choice, at least for now:

There is, in truth, no evidence that Bloomberg is more electable than Sanders, Biden, or any other Democrat.

The history of self-funding millionaires and billionaires is mostly a history of losing candidates, though, admittedly, no one has tried it at the scale Bloomberg seems to be envisioning.

But even if it could work, this isn’t a deal Democrats should take.

There are plenty of Democrats who are as likely, or likelier, to beat drumphf without further corrupting American politics.

Billionaires should be able to run for president like anyone else, but they shouldn’t be allowed to buy their way to the presidency.

That is a message Democrats could send by rejecting Bloomberg’s bid.

If, however, they rally around him, it will be a message to every other billionaire who holds political ambitions, and America will be well on its way to becoming a true oligarchy.

Even if Bloomberg would be a good president, he’d be a terrible precedent.

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« on: February 19, 2020, 08:23:14 am »
Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o

by ABC News

A man with a huge tattoo on his forehead that says “crime pays” has found himself locked up behind bars again after leading police on a short police chase before being arrested.

Donald Murray, 38, of Terre Haute, Indiana, allegedly led authorities in a short pursuit on February 17th and was arrested a short time later and charged with several crimes.

“Murray was charged with resisting (felony), resisting (misdemeanor), reckless driving, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a common nuisance, and auto theft,” the Terre Haute Police Department said in a statement on Fakebook.

This is the second time in just a few months that Murray has been arrested.

He first came to notoriety when he was featured on an episode of “Live PD” late last year when he was chased by authorities for driving without any lights and then crashed into a tree and escaped on foot.

He was apprehended a short time later and allegedly told police officers that he didn’t know his name.

Murray is now being held on a $15,000 bond following this latest chase and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, according to jail records

In The News / Re: When Racists Attack
« on: February 19, 2020, 05:13:20 am »
Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o
When Racists Attack: Provo, Utah
by Pat Reavy

Two brothers from Payson were formally charged Tuesday with a hate crime in the attack of a black Latter-day Saint missionary.

Sebastian Francis West, 19, and Malachi Bay West, 20, are each charged in 4th District Court with assault, a third-degree felony.

Prosecutors are seeking gang and hate crime enhancements on the potential penalty if the men are convicted, according to court documents.

On January 28th, two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were going to a home in Payson to teach when they encountered a group of six to seven men, that included the West brothers, who were threatening one of the residents in the front yard, according to charging documents.
“The suspects were in dark hoodies and bandanas covered the lower halves of their faces. One of the missionaries, who is Panamanian and dark-skinned, attempted to intervene and asked the suspects to leave,” the charges state.

The black missionary then took out his cellphone to call police, but one of the men in the group took it and threw it across the street, according to charging documents.

On January 28th, two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were going to a home in Payson to teach when they encountered a group of six to seven men, that included the West brothers, who were threatening one of the residents in the front yard, according to charging documents.

“The suspects were in dark hoodies and bandanas covered the lower halves of their faces. One of the missionaries, who is Panamanian and dark-skinned, attempted to intervene and asked the suspects to leave,” the charges state.

The black missionary then took out his cellphone to call police, but one of the men in the group took it and threw it across the street, according to charging documents.

“When victim retrieved the phone, the group redirected their attention towards him — they swore and yelled at victim, repeatedly called him a (racial slur) and told him to go back to where he came from,” the charges state.

The racial slur the men used multiple times was the N-word, according to police.

The men then brandished brass knuckles, and intimidated the missionary as he tried to go into the house, according to the charges.

“As victim attempted to retreat back to the residence, one of the suspects dove at his feet, attempting to tackle him, while another punched victim in the head. At that point, he was attacked by all of the suspects. Victim was punched and kicked repeatedly by the group, and eventually tackled to the ground,” the charges state.

While struggling on the ground with the missionary, the group repeatedly used the racial slur while making statements such as, “This is our town,” “This is our turf,” “Go back to slavery,” and “Go home you stupid (racial slur),” the charges state.

The group also called the missionary “church boy” and “told him to ‘go back to Bible school you filthy, stupid (racial slur).’

Victim sustained numerous injuries, including to his lips, head, shoulder, ribs and forehead,” investigators wrote in the charging documents.

During the assault, one of the men called out to another man in the group, using the name “Malachi,” the charges state.

“Familiar with a young man by the name of ‘Malachi,’ police presented several lineups to victim, two of which included a photo of defendants. Victim picked each defendant out of their respective lineup,” according to the court documents.

Sebastian West is also charged in a separate criminal case with a violent assault on January 9th in Payson Canyon.

In April, Governor Gary Herbert signed a hate crime bill into law aimed at putting more power into state penalties when victims are targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics.

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Vox Populi / Re: Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons
« on: February 18, 2020, 10:18:42 pm »
Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o
Students to sue Harvard over prison investments

by Erik Ortiz

They're taking their fight from the campus to the courtroom.

A group of Harvard University students plans to file a lawsuit Wednesday to force the Ivy League school to withdraw its investment funds from companies that profit from the prison industry — ratcheting up past efforts that included a petition drive and protests.

The Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign wants a judge to require the university to divest its $40 billion endowment — the largest in academia — from prisons and related companies and produce a report outlining its direct and indirect investments in the industry.

In addition, the group is accusing the school of violating its fiduciary duty and breaching its charter and falsely advertising itself as an institution that wants to redress the harms of slavery, while still benefiting from the prison system, which incarcerates more than 2 million people in the United States, about a third of them black.

"Instead of helping to dismantle the entanglement of profiteering, government interests, and the system of human caging, Harvard makes profit off of it," the five student plaintiffs, who are representing themselves, wrote in a draft of the complaint to be filed in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

"That money funds the opulent lifestyles of Harvard's top administrators who are prison profiteers."

This isn't the first time that students who support divestment have sued Harvard.

In 2014, seven student activists filed a lawsuit attempting to compel the school to withdraw its holdings from the fossil fuel industry because of how it contributes to climate change.

The lawsuit was dismissed in court.

Although the plaintiffs argued that they had ties to the endowment because as students they benefited from the investments, a judge at the time wrote they failed "to show that they have been accorded a personal right in the management or administration of Harvard's endowment that is individual to them or distinct from the student body or public at large."

As students, they had no "special standing" in regard to the endowment, which is overseen by the Harvard Management Company, the university's investment arm.

With that in mind, the five plaintiffs in this latest lawsuit are taking a new tack: They're more than just students — all of them have donated money to the school in the past year.

"Our standing now is based on the premise that we're donors to the university," Xitlalli Alvarez, a plaintiff and a doctoral student in anthropology, said.

"This is one way to hold Harvard's feet to the fire," Alvarez added.

The Harvard Management Company referred questions Tuesday to the school, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.

A spokesman for university President Lawrence S. Bacow, who is named in the suit, told NBC News last year that Bacow has "appreciated the opportunity to meet with advocates for prison divestment" and offered to arrange a meeting for them with the Harvard committee that makes endowment decisions.

Such a meeting took place in October and included Bacow, according to the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign.

But the students said the committee wouldn't commit to providing an "exposure assessment" of the endowment's investments in prison-related companies and declined to say whether divestment was even on the table.

Bacow has maintained that social change must occur through education and teaching, as opposed to modifying the endowment.

According to campaign members, Bacow told them last spring that the school's prison-related investments are only $18,000.

But based on a review of the 1 percent of the school's endowment invested in public holdings, the figure is at least $3 million, the campaign found, according to research published in April.

While Harvard has previously agreed to pull investments from companies that profit from the tobacco industry, apartheid South Africa and the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, students who support divestment from the fossil fuel and prison industries say they are puzzled by the current inaction.

But pressure has been building on campus for divestment, particularly related to fossil fuel companies.
Faculty members in the arts and sciences department this month voted overwhelmingly in favor of fossil fuel divestment, and Bacow said he would bring the resolution to the school's endowment committee for consideration.

Richard Daynard, a distinguished professor of law at Northeastern University who has spearheaded litigation against the tobacco industry, said the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign's lawsuit has a chance to gain traction because the plaintiffs are also donors, which adds an extra distinction and an argument that they have more at stake in how the endowment is invested.

Ted Hamilton, who was one of the Harvard students who filed the fossil fuel-related lawsuit in 2014, said he is supportive of the current plaintiffs' efforts.

By suing the school, "you make them articulate and defend their position in a different forum," Hamilton, the co-founder of the nonprofit Climate Defense Project, said.

"And you create a historic record of activists trying to hold institutions accountable and make them admit in open court why they're on the wrong side of history."

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« on: February 18, 2020, 09:53:31 pm »
Wednesday, 19th February 2o2o
Hayden Panettiere's Boyfriend Brian Hickerson Charged with Domestic Battery on Valentine's Day
by Eric Todisco

Hayden Panettiere‘s boyfriend Brian Hickerson has been arrested again following a domestic dispute, Teton County Sheriff’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.

Hickerson, 30, was arrested on Valentine’s Day at around 2:30 a.m. after the Teton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a disturbance between Hickerson and a 30-year-old female at a private residence in Jackson, Wyoming.

Hickerson has been charged with domestic battery and interference with a cop, both misdemeanor charges in Wyoming, Teton County Sheriff’s Office said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Hickerson allegedly punched Panettiere, 30, “with a closed fist on the right side of her face.”

The docs reportedly state that authorities arrived at the private residence and found Hickerson in the driveway, who told them that the Nashville star was inside the home “saying he beat the fvck out of me.”

Hickerson reportedly avoided answering the cops when asked if he had physically assaulted Panettiere, per TMZ.

The records reportedly state that Panettiere told the cops that Hickerson started throwing things at her face when they were in the bedroom together.

Cops allegedly said in the court records that the actress’ face was red and swollen.

She also allegedly had a scrape and swelling on her left hand.

PEOPLE reached out to Teton County Circuit Court to obtain the court documents.

A rep for Panettiere did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In November, Panettiere and Hickerson were photographed together side-by-side in an airport, more than a month after Hickerson’s felony domestic violence charge was dismissed.

A source confirmed at the time that the pair were back together.

Panettiere and Hickerson began dating after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko had split in August 2018.

Klitschko, 43, and Panettiere share daughter Kaya, 5, who lives in Ukraine with her father.

PEOPLE previously reported that Panettiere’s relationship with Hickerson drew concern from those close to the Heroes alumna, especially after they were reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with his father in October 2018, prompting a visit from police.

(No arrests were made.)

And in May 2019, Hickerson was arrested on a domestic violence charge and released on bail.

According to the felony complaint obtained by PEOPLE, prosecutors had alleged Hickerson “willfully inflicted corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon Hayden P.”

Hickerson was charged with one count of felony domestic violence on May 23rd and pleaded not guilty, a spokesperson for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.

In July 2019, Hickerson reportedly appeared in court as a Los Angeles superior judge listened to the testimony from the police officer who responded to the domestic violence call on May 2nd.

During the hearing, the judge denied the motion to dismiss criminal charges against Hickerson and declined to consider a lesser misdemeanor charge.

While Hickerson was facing up to four years in prison if convicted, his case was dismissed at the end of September.

“The case against Brian Hickerson was dismissed without prejudice today,” a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told PEOPLE at the time.

“Our office was unable to proceed because we could not secure a material witness.

The protective order also was dismissed.”

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Acting / Ja'net Dubois, 'Good Times' Star, passes at 74
« on: February 18, 2020, 04:44:42 pm »
Tuesday, February 18th 2o2o
Ja'net Dubois, 'Good Times' Star, passes at 74
by Reid Nakamura

"Good Times" star Ja'net Dubois has passed away at the age of 74.

Dubois was found dead at her home in Glendale on Tuesday morning, according to TMZ.

Her representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

The actress starred on the CBS sitcom "Good Times" for five years from 1974 to 1979 as Willona Woods, the gossipy divorcee and next-door neighbor of the Evans family.

She went on to appear in a number of film and TV projects, including voicing one of the main characters on the stop-motion animated series "The PJs."

Dubois's work on "The PJs" earned her two Emmys for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1999 and 2001.

She also earned a NAACP Image Award nomination in 1998 for a guest appearance on "Touched by an Angel."

Her other credits include "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," Moesha," "Sanford and Son," "The Facts of Life," "The Steve Harvey Show," "A Different World" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

In addition to acting, Dubois also co-wrote and sang the "Jeffersons" theme song, "Movin' on Up."

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Tuesday, 18th February 2o2o
Executive Mansion Correspondents Dinner Returns to Comedy With Kenan Thompson & Hasan Minhaj
by Brian Steinberg

They’re trying to laugh again at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner.

Long-running “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson will host the event to be held on Saturday, April 25, 2020, while comedian Hasan Minhaj will be the featured entertainer for the evening, which has often served as a spotlight on relations between the media and the White House.

Last year, in the wake of scrutiny on the annual gathering often referred to as the “nerd prom,” the WHCA turned toward education, rather than jubilation. 

Historian Ron Chernow discussed the history of journalism and the First Amendment –  a twist for a gala that has often used comedic remarks from Cecily Strong, Seth Meyers and Larry Wilmore to get attention.

Michele Wolf sparked controversy in 2018 with some jokes that took aim at former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckleberry Sanders.

“Kenan and Hasan are two of the most engaged and engaging entertainers in America. I’m thrilled they’ll help us celebrate the role of a free press in our democracy,” said Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents Association and chief White House correspondent for ABC News.

“We’re looking forward to a lively evening honoring the most important political journalism of the past year.”

There was no immediate word on whether the acting-president, who has broken a tradition of the President of the United States attending the event, would participate this year.

The bookings show the journalism organization again trying to thread the needle between honoring the tenets that are at the center of the profession – holding Washington officials to account – with the desire to gain a wider spotlight for the glitzy gala, which is often covered by outlets like CNN and can drive a cycle’s worth of headlines, depending on what the comedian at the center of the proceedings has to say.

The WHCA has tread this ground in the past.

In 2006, Stephen Colbert sparked controversy by speaking about then-President George W. Bush, all in the manner of the bloviating talk-show host he once portrayed on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report.” 

“I stand by this man,” Colbert told the audience. 

I stand by this man because he stands for things.

Not only for things, he stands on things.

Things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares.

And that sends a strong message: that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound—with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

In 2007, impressionist Rich Little was hired for the evening.

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