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The Cossacks Work Etc.

[ 34 ] December 1, 2015 |

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 10:  White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reacts after reading  "Duck for President," by Doreen Cronin and  Betsy Lewin, to students from Raymond and C.W. Harris Elementary schools during a Reading to the Top event at the Department of Education August 10, 2009 in Washington, DC. The department's Reading to the Top program, which runs through Sept. 11, features various children's books read by the Secretary Duncan, other Cabinet members and top Administration officials.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

So many random bad apples in the Chicago city government.  I wonder what can explain it?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fired the city’s police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy, following a botched handling of the shooting of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer.

Officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times back in October of 2014. The footage was just recently released by Chicago officials only after a freelance journalist sued the department for access.


Mayor Emanuel noted that the city had lost its trust in McCarthy’s ability to lead. But it’s becoming clear, if it wasn’t already, that the common denominator in all these so-called trust issues is the mayor himself—who, as a damning New York Times op-ed reminds us, went to court to prevent the McDonald footage from being released while he was seeking re-election.

The audacity of the cover-up aside, Emanuel has hired leaders who have proven themselves to be, at best, indifferent about the safety of Chicago citizens—McCarthy praised Chicago police for exhibiting “incredible restraint” during the protests for Laquan McDonald—and literal crooks at worst. Many are now also calling for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, whose track record has been described as “horrifying.”

In a press conference, Emanuel reportedly accepted responsibility for the events surrounding Laquan McDonald’s death. If Rahm Emanuel truly believes that, it is time he recognizes that the key person in all these failures—and perhaps the one that needs to be removed—is the mayor himself.

We’ll probably never know.



Water Quality Trading

[ 34 ] December 1, 2015 |


In the spirit of cap and trade, the government has decided its misfounded belief that the free market can be used to solve environmental problems should be applied to water pollution. Water quality trading programs are now used by more than 20 states that allow companies to trade credits for nutrient pollution of waterways, largely from agriculture. You may not be surprised that this system is not actually working to improve water quality.

But after reviewing over 1,000 documents from pilot trading programs in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Food and Water Watch researchers came to the conclusion that the programs, though they sound reasonable on paper, operate very differently than predicted in the real world.

With little state oversight, private contractors have been permitted to run pollution trading markets that offer highly-regulated industrial polluters the chance to essentially swap places with farms, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and feed lots whose runoff is not as tightly controlled under the Clean Water Act.

“The big, big problem that we see on the credit generating side is that agriculture operations never have to monitor, sample, never have to verify that they actually generated the pollution that underlies these credits,” said Food and Water Watch attorney Scott Edwards. “It’s all based on modeling. “

Although the researchers did not uncover any direct evidence of fraud, they described lax record-keeping that made any attempt to audit the programs difficult.

The programs also cross an important line in the Clean Water Act, operating in a way that environmentalists described as legally dubious, although a lawsuit challenging the emerging programs was dismissed in 2013 when a court ruled that it was premature to sue.

The Clean Water Act draws a sharp distinction between pollution that happens at a single point, like a pipe that spews chemicals into a river, and pollution that happens when rain waters flood over an area and pick up pollutants as the water flows across land. Pollution from specific point sources requires a permit, and individual people who get their water downstream from those points can sue if those permits are breached. Run-off pollution, on the other hand, is exempt from those rules, and managing that pollution is left to the discretion of state governments.

The pollution trading programs described in the Food and Water Watch report, Water Quality Trading: Polluting Public Waterways for Private Gain, allow industrial polluters like power plants to buy credits for their point source pollution, in exchange for preventing pollution from run-off. But tracking how credits move around is far more difficult than enforcing a permit with a clear limit, advocates warn.

In Pennsylvania, the researchers found, the private company running the state’s trading program issued pollution credits for moving over 15 million pounds of chicken manure out of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, allowing industrial polluters like coal-fired power plants to buy up the rights to dump an equal amount of nitrogen. But 90 percent of that chicken manure was shipped to a single hay farm, the documents showed — in the Ohio River Basin rather than the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but less than a mile from a creek that’s already considered “impaired,” or too heavily polluted, under the Clean Water Act.

But the trail doesn’t end there. That hay farm, the researchers found, acts as a manure broker, meaning that the chicken waste could be resold. And regulators weren’t checking to make sure that the manure didn’t wind right back up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the report said, labeling the end result “what can only be described as a shell game.”

Poor regulation plus a fundamentalist belief in the free market combined with agribusiness interest in polluting whenever possible is not a recipe for keeping water clean. That this program is actively undermining the Clean Water Act only makes this detrimental to the environment. And it should make all of you seriously doubt whether a cap and trade program can work on climate change-causing emissions. Capitalism is not the answer to our environmental problems.

OOS reading group reminder

[ 14 ] December 1, 2015 |

Shown – One of the many evils of modern capitalism

The first Out of Sight reading group is Thurs. Dec. 3., starting at 2 p.m. ET.

This discussion will cover the Introduction.

Is the Industrial Path to Economic Success for Poor Nations Dying?

[ 170 ] December 1, 2015 |
A worker cuts a steel rod inside a steel factory on the outskirts of Jammu January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/Files

A worker cuts a steel rod inside a steel factory on the outskirts of Jammu January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/Files

I strongly urge you to read this Raymond Zhong article on how the expected to path to national economic success–and the moral justification for supporters of race to the bottom globalization–of industrialization is rapidly closing for the world’s poor nations. There are several issues at play. First is automation. There just isn’t the need for as many workers if corporations can employ robots. Second is that the extreme nature of modern capital mobility means that nations increasingly can’t have long-term industrial expansion that builds a middle class and absorbs their growing population of workers. It’s too many nations fighting for scraps. Third is that so much of what does exist around labor-intensive industrialization is captured by China that with a combination of low wages, preexisting capital investment, and authoritarian government is appealing to rich world companies.

Deindustrialization is a well-known phenomena in the United States. But what you may not know that it is already happening in Latin American nations like Mexico, long before the promised creation of a middle-class through industrialization takes place.

If industrialization is not a path to wealth for poorer nations, what does that leave them? Not much. Some argue the service industry is a path to economic stability but that’s ridiculous given the low wages of the service industry. We can see the problems with the service economy in the United States, a nation that still has a sizable number of well-off people. If it doesn’t work here, how is it going to work in Bangladesh and Ethiopia and Nigeria? Of course who this situation benefits is corporations who can already play off countries against one another in the race to the bottom. If every country is desperate for the scraps of global capitalism, it’s grim for the world’s poor indeed.

The One (Or Two) True Issue Fallacy

[ 94 ] December 1, 2015 |


Larry Lessig may have taken his vanity campaign and headed back to Cambridge, but Hamilton Nolan wishes for its fundamental spirit to live on:

Over the course of the next 11 months, here is what you will hear presidential candidates arguing about at length: ISIS; Islam; Mexican immigration; Obamacare; the Iran nuclear deal; gay rights; crime; Black Lives Matter; flat tax proposals; oil prices; charter schools; medical marijuana; Wall Street; abortion; Russia; Israel; guns; and Guantanamo Bay. You will also hear many in the press discussing what the candidates wear; their hairstyles; their accents; the internal management of their campaign staffs; their likability; their poll numbers; their debate performance; and other superficial and subjective measures of winning and losing that keep the political pundit class employed.

Some of these issues are distractions. Many of them are important. All of them are secondary. There are two real issues of primary importance facing America and the world today—two issues that lie at the foundation of many others. Two issues which must be addressed in a meaningful way if we hope to live in a just and thriving nation in the long term. They are economic inequality, and climate change.

Lumping civil rights and civil liberties and foreign policy and access to health care in with superficial horse race coverage is not a great idea, and allowing that some of these issues you’re about to counsel presidential candidates to ignore are “important” doesn’t really save you. But that aside, as with Lessig like attempt to define the One or True Two Issues of the campaign — a cousin of the “dealbreaker” fallacy — doesn’t make any sense. Economic inequality and climate change are indeed immensely important, and are indeed connected to various other injustices.

But the problem is, the “issue x is connected to issue y” cuts all ways. There’s Lessig’s variant, arguing that electoral and campaign finance reform are the Two True Issues because we can’t do anything about the other issues. But we can all play this game. Let me propose that the One True Issue in the upcoming election is the Supreme Court of the United States. Democratic candidates have been paying little attention to the issue. But if President Cruz/Rubio/Trump serves two terms or perhaps even one, we will have a median vote on the Supreme Court that has to turn to his or her left to see Nino Scalia. If this happens, we can forget about addressing climate change or many aspects of economic inequality for a long time, because not only will statutes that attempt to extend the reach of the federal government likely be ruled unconstitutional, the existing regulatory and welfare state will be substantially hobbled as well. Oh, and by the way, many women will be faced with the pain and insecurity and indignity of being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term and bear a child they may not have the financial and/or personal resources to care for. Mass incarceration and police brutality and other aspects of racial inequality will get worse. Access to the ballot will be restricted. Money will be ever more dominant in the political process. It will be even harder for labor to organize. And I could go on. Conveniently, this happens to be my field of expertise, so you should pay me to write about it for your outlet. And also conveniently, since there wouldn’t be a dime’s worth of difference between the federal judicial appointments of a hypothetical President Clinton or Sanders but there would be billions of dollars worth of difference between those of President Clinton/Sanders and President Cruz/Rubio/Trump, this One True Issue fits my analysis of the Democratic primary (ultimately pretty small stakes, especially compared to the massive stakes of the general) rather than Nolan’s more apocalyptic view of its importance.

I trust you can see that my declaration would be silly. The Supreme Court is an important issue, but it’s important in part because it’s connected to a lot of other important things, and arbitrarily declaring that one matters and the others don’t won’t fly. The next time there’s unified Democratic control of the government we can have a discussion about priorities, but in the meantime we need to be trying to advance the ball forward on a lot of issues that can’t be neatly separated, and we can’t dictate to others what they should consider most important.  And while you might agree with me or Nolan about the stakes of the Democratic primary, I can’t win the debate by declaring a particular hobbyhorse The Only Issue That Matters.

Speaking of which:

There are two real issues. Vote for someone who will do something about them.

Well, the thing is that Republicans will almost certainly control the House for the first term of the next presidency and very likely the second as well. So what Congress will do about economic inequality and climate change is, at best, nothing. What a president can do about them is to address them at the margins through appointments to the executive and judicial branch and through the regulatory state while preventing Congress pillaging the best he or she can. And while I wouldn’t say there’s no difference between what a President Clinton and a President Sanders would do with the available tools, 1)it wouldn’t be very different, and 2)it would be something and not enough. Not inspiring until you remember that if Clinton or Sanders doesn’t become president we will get one who will do what he can to restore McKinleynomics, and unlike his Democratic counterpart he’ll be able to get statues to this effect passed while also letting neoconfederates loose to wreak havoc on the executive and judicial branches. It’s nice to think that declaring Two True Issues will somehow change this calculus, but it can’t.

A Retirement Built Upon Exploitation

[ 15 ] December 1, 2015 |
Small farm house in cerrado region, Chapada da Piteira, Brazilian Highlands, Goias, Brazil

Small farm house in cerrado region, Chapada da Piteira, Brazilian Highlands, Goias, Brazil

Above: People I do not want to oppress in order to retire comfortably

Like a lot of academics, I have TIAA-CREF managing my retirement funds. There’s no real decision made there–I may have other options but I don’t spend much time thinking about this. Maybe when I actually pay off my student loans I can think seriously about retirement, a mere theoretical construct since I can’t imagine ever having enough money saved to do so. But still, TIAA-CREF, other than keeping both the Postal Service and American paper industry alive through its endless thick mailings, has a reputation of social responsibility. So you can imagine, as a labor and environmental history and writer on global exploitation, how excited I was to hear that my retirement is being built on stealing land from farmers and cutting down forests.

But documents show that TIAA-CREF’s forays into the Brazilian agricultural frontier may have gone in another direction.

The American financial giant and its Brazilian partners have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into farmland deals in the cerrado, a huge region on the edge of the Amazon rain forest where wooded savannas are being razed to make way for agricultural expansion, fueling environmental concerns.

In a labyrinthine endeavor, the American financial group and its partners amassed vast new holdings of farmland despite a move by Brazil’s government in 2010 to effectively ban such large-scale deals by foreigners.

While the measure thwarted the ambitions of other foreign investors, TIAA-CREF pressed ahead in a part of Brazil rife with land conflicts, exposing the company and its partners to claims that they acquired farms from a shadowy land speculator accused of employing gunmen to snatch land from poor farmers by force.

The documents offer a glimpse into how one of America’s largest financial groups took part in what some in the developing world condemn as land grabs. Responding in 2010 to surging international interest in the country’s land, Brazil’s attorney general significantly limited foreigners from carrying out large-scale farmland acquisitions.

Investors sometimes view such deals as a way to diversify their portfolios. But some government officials and activists contend that they uproot poor farmers, transfer the control of vital food-producing resources to a global elite and destroy farming traditions in exchange for industrial-scale plantations producing food for export.

“I had heard of foreign funds trying to get around Brazilian legislation, but something on this scale is astonishing,” said Gerson Teixeira, the president of the Brazilian Association for Agrarian Reform and an adviser to members of Congress, referring to the documents about TIAA-CREF’s farmland deals in Brazil.

Some of the findings are in a new report by researchers from Brazil’s Social Network for Justice and Human Rights, and Grain, an organization based in Spain that tracks global land purchases.

TIAA-CREF’s disclosures show that its farmland holdings in Brazil climbed to 633,391 acres at the start of 2015, up from 257,877 acres in 2012, around the time when it began ramping up deals through a venture formed with Cosan, a Brazilian sugar and biofuels giant.

Grain’s report tracks how TIAA-CREF and Cosan appear to have acquired several farms controlled by Euclides de Carli, a shadowy business figure described by Brazilian legislators, scholars and uprooted farmers as one of the most powerful “grileiros,” or land grabbers, in the states of Maranhão and Piauí.

Grileiros, a term that roughly translates as “cricketeers,” are known for their bureaucratic sleight-of-hand, fabricating land titles by placing them in insect-filled bins to make them seem antique. Some grileiros also force people off their land in a variety of ways, including intimidating land-rights activists and even killing poor farmers.

In Mr. de Carli’s case, Brazilian scholars have described how he pushed dozens of families off their farms, using tactics like destroying crops and burning down the home of a community leader. A prominent legislator in Maranhão has also accused Mr. de Carli of orchestrating the killing of a rural laborer over a land dispute.

This is pretty disturbing. I confess I’m not entirely sure what to do here. But certainly I think we should figure out ways to pressure TIAA-CREF to have more transparency to its members on where the money is going. I know I don’t want my retirement built on oppression.

Have a Holly Jolly Dreadnought!

[ 14 ] December 1, 2015 |


Do you need holiday gifts for multiple people who could possibly be tolerant of reading about battleships? If so, look no further! David Axe:

In many ways, the battleship represented the greatest-ever concentration of naval power in a single vessel. Between World War I and World War II, the big, fast, thickly-armored and heavily-armed warships dominated the world’s oceans.

And then, very quickly, the battleship became practically obsolete. Why is a complex question — one that University of Kentucky professor Robert Farley,an occasional War Is Boring contributor, addresses in his new tome The Battleship Book.

“The world reached ‘peak battleship’ in 1918,” Farley writes, “when 118 dreadnoughts served in 13 different navies.” Combat claimed eight battlewagons during the Great War. “The Second World War was far more deadly.” Sixty-three battleships were in service in 1939 and another two dozen of the giant warships left the slipways before the conflict’s end. Twenty-three sank in combat.

If you want to ensure that the book arrives for the holidays, I’d order directly from Wildside; Amazon’s ship date remains January for obscure reasons.

Do You Love Thanksgiving Traditions But Hate Turkey? Now You Can Split the Difference!

[ 42 ] December 1, 2015 |

Now that we have all recovered from our annual overdose of exceptionally dry meat, we can start planning for next Thanksgiving. Like in all matters, the past offers outstanding ideas. When it comes to food, can you do worse than 15th century royal courts? Certainly the answer is no for the pro-gout partisans among us. And if you like your meats combined and sewn together, it always wins. Take the cockentrice.


Turkeys were American so we have to make some adjustments since they weren’t in Europe in the 15th century. Here’s the recipe with a capon.

Cockentrice – take a capon, scald it, drain it clean, then cut it in half at the waist; take a pig, scald it, drain it as the capon, and also cut it in half at the at the waist; take needle and thread and sew the front part of the capon to the back part of the pig; and the front part of the pig to the back part of the capon, and then stuff it as you would stuff a pig; put it on a spit, and roast it: and when it is done, gild it on the outside with egg yolks, ginger, saffron, and parsley juice; and then serve it forth for a royal meat.

No reason we can’t do this with a turkey. As the linked article notes, you can also sew the turkey head to the back of the pig if this pleases your fancy. It’s just the early-modern version of the turducken and we all know how excited we became as a nation when John Madden discovered that. Maybe we can bring him back for one last go around on the air with the cockentrice.

In any case, surely this will be a crowd-pleaser to your family. You can thank me later.

The politics of narcissism con’t

[ 224 ] December 1, 2015 |


Salon decided it would be a good idea to run this piece by Walker Bragman:

I am a 27-year-old, politically active, progressive millennial voter. I am a political junkie; my background is political science and American history. However, if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination (a big “if”), I will likely not vote for her, and will instead write in “Bernie Sanders” … and I encourage my readers to do so as well.

I never thought I would be encouraging people to not vote for the Democratic nominee for president. Looking at 2012, history illustrates that the only way to change politics is through primary elections: If you want change, vote for the party aligned most closely to that change, and participate in primaries, but when it comes to the general, select the “lesser of two evils.”

OK, so why . . . ?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has disappointed me as a young, active Democrat.

Look, “kid” — btw Keats had been dead for three years by your age — Debbie Wasserman Schultz disappoints people every day. In fact, that’s pretty much her day job: disappointing people. Being personally disappointed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not a good reason for handing the 2015 version of the Republican party effective control of the entire federal government of the United States. Please read that last sentence again, and if doing so doesn’t cause you to reconsider, you’ll, as Michael Corleone once said, disappoint me.

Anyway, what exactly is so awful about HRC that you’re going to go all Nadar Nader, while employing a pretty good-sized media platform to encourage your readership to do so as well? I mean you were 12 years old in 2000, so even for a young, active Democrat, the 2000 fiasco isn’t something you have to google or anything. I was 12 during Watergate, and I remember that just fine. (And we didn’t even have Google in those days. If something happened so long ago in the past that you couldn’t remember it, you had to find a book to read about it, or you would never learn anything, and would end up saying things like “Richard Nixon was more liberal than Barack Obama.” And we liked it that way!)

The DNC’s leadership has seemingly aligned itself with Hillary Clinton, someone who, in my opinion, is an unqualified candidate for the following reasons:

1) Hillary’s personality repels me (and many others).

So the #1 qualification for a presidential candidate on your list is that you like her personality? Turn off your political Tinder app — you’re not going on a date with her.

OK to be fair you then move on to a bunch of substantive reasons why you prefer Sanders to Clinton. But what’s the relevance of any of that to the question of what to do, individually and collectively (after all you’re publishing this piece, not just casting a lonely protest write-in vote), in the general? Your answer seems to be, because electing HRC now would make it harder to elect Bernie or Elizabeth Warren in some extremely hypothetical future. Also, those contradictions won’t heighten themselves:

From a political science perspective, I see American politics through the lens of realignment cycles. We Democrats have a limited time to get done what we want to get done, which is why I would rather lose this election cycle due to low turnout than waste four years. . .

The 2020-2024 election cycles are far more important than 2016. Both the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court of the United States will be up for grabs. I worry that Hillary in 2020 will be an even harder sell than she is now, given the direction the electorate is shifting. The fact is, Hillary is not a progressive. She’s barely even a liberal.

This is the “tanking the season before it even starts just to get the #1 draft pick” theory of politics. Except the result isn’t a bad win-loss record, it’s massive amounts avoidable suffering for tens of millions of your fellow Americans. And that’s the best-case scenario in a President Rubio administration. How about life under President Cruz? Or President For Life Trump?

I realize this article is click-bait, and that Salon (who I write for quite often, and which actually pays its writers) “needs” to run it, sort of, in the same sense that it “needs” to keep giving Camille Paglia a platform to continue to wreak havoc on American culture and the English language. But still.

The Colorado Aftermath

[ 23 ] December 1, 2015 |


Visiting the fringes:

What about Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and an advisor to the Center for Medical Progress? Newman wrote in his 2003 book that “the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.” (Last week, presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz accepted Newman’s endorsement.)

“If you read that within the entire context of the book,” Mahoney said, “Troy addressed that is after they held a trial.”

Scheidler’s Pro-Life Action League is among the organizations that publishes the names, faces, and addresses of abortion providers. Asked if such disclosures could make providers feel unsafe, she replied, “We don’t pose any threat, we in the mainstream pro-life movement…. If they feel threatened, they can always get out of that business, I suppose. It’s not something that would make us back off on our mission.”

One notorious anti-abortion activist, who has long been an open supporter of violence against abortion providers, broke with the movement in offering direct support to Dear.

Donald Spitz, who runs the Army of God website and is based in Virginia, said of his fellow anti-abortion activists’ condemnations of violence, “They say that all the time. I think they’re hypocritical.”

While many groups insist violence against abortion providers is counterproductive to their cause, Spitz suggested such rhetoric is disingenuous. Referring to Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion provider George Tiller and who Spitz calls a friend, Spitz said, “How could that be counterproductive when he stopped them from providing abortions? They’ve lost their mind. They’re into political correctness way too far.”

As for Spitz’s own reaction, “I think Planned Parenthood is an evil organization, so I didn’t lose any sleep when I heard about it,” Spitz said. “They sell baby parts, and they reap what they sow, and now they’re complaining about it.”

He added, “There are no innocent people in Planned Parenthood. They’re in there for a reason.”

Spitz said he wrote to Dear on Monday to offer his support.

Traister on the welcome change from “safe, legal and rare” weaseling to a robust defense of reproductive rights among Democratic elites:

While the topic was not raised by moderators in the Democratic debates, Hillary Clinton went out of her way to bring it up, bellowing with vigor about how Republicans “don’t mind having big government interfere with a woman’s right to choose!” She also regularly includes references to reproductive rights — often using the word abortion and not just the soft-lit language of choice — in her stump speech. Clinton said via a spokesperson that the closing of clinics in Texas is “bad for women in that state and a preview of what every Republican candidate wants to do to women across America.”

Bernie Sanders may bring up reproductive rights less frequently than Clinton, but when he does, he comes out swinging, promising the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council in November, “We are not going back to the days when women had to risk their lives to end an unwanted pregnancy.” A Sanders ­campaign aide also told me that the senator supports the EACH Woman Act, which would mandate insurance coverage for abortion services for any woman who requires them, since “abortion care is a part of women’s health care.”

The EACH Woman Act, which stands for Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance, was introduced by Representative Barbara Lee of California as a radical, if long overdue, challenge to the Hyde Amendment, which prevents women who rely on government health insurance from using public funds for abortion. The act surely won’t make it through the Republican-led House anytime soon, but it has 108 co-sponsors and represents a major step in acknowledging the relationship between restricting abortion access and economic inequality. “The Hyde Amendment denied a full range of access to reproductive-health services and care to low-income women, primarily women of color,” says Lee. “It’s about time we fight back.”

Nobody Could Have Anticipated Corruption in New York State Government

[ 28 ] November 30, 2015 |

Guilty on all 7 counts:

A jury found Assemblyman Sheldon Silver — for years one of the most well-known and powerful legislators in Albany — guilty on all seven counts Monday afternoon. The 71-year-old Lower East Side Democrat was hit with federal corruption charges — including bribery, extortion, and money laundering — earlier this year after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused him of obtaining “approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position [as Speaker].”

Since state legislators work part-time in New York, Silver, who resigned from his position as Assembly Speaker after being arrested, had a side gig at the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, where he was accused of accepting bribes involving a cancer researcher at Columbia. Prosecutors accused him of receiving money from another law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, after getting two major developers to use its services. During closing arguments, one prosecutor said that “Sheldon Silver was a master of every form of deception: lying, keeping secrets, even splitting hairs.”

What legitimate journalism looks like

[ 65 ] November 30, 2015 |

My mistake. This is “What does race-baiting and dehumanization of African-Americans for page hits and profit look like?”

BrownBlaze summarizes my feelings. Or the ones I’d print, anyway.

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