Corruption

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Restricting the right to vote has always been the desire of a privileged elite

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/05/2021 - 5:11pm in

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Corruption

As the Guardian notes this morning:

Britons will have to show photo ID to vote in future general elections, ministers are poised to confirm this week, as a means of tackling fraud which critics claim could deter poorer and ethnic minority voters from taking part in democracy.

And so the retreat from democracy continues. Millions have no reason to have photo ID in the UK. And there is no evidence of literally any significant voter fraud in UK elections. But keeping those without photo ID from voting matters more. And so the Tories plan a wholly unnecessary electoral reform when what is really required  is PR - from which they will also be moving away in mayoral elections.

You could not make this up.

But it is happening.

Fascism creeps on its way, as those pursuing these agendas desire. As a privileged elite they have always loathed the idea of a universal mandate. This is another way of restricting it.

Cash for Cushions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/04/2021 - 4:24am in

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Corruption

I could not resist sharing this:

Corruption fatigue

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/04/2021 - 5:20pm in

I read the papers this morning and flagged not a single article as providing the inspiration for a blog post. As regular readers will note, this is a rare occurrence. Most mornings four or five get flagged, although not all will make the cut.

What is the difference? I put it down to corruption fatigue. Maybe it is just me, but I am beginning to be numbed by story after story of corruption within, and facilitated by, this government.

I should, of course, be wary. Given that these people appear to be masters of their art they will be only too well aware that corruption fatigue plays into their hands in at least two ways.

First, it simply normalises their abuse until we think it no longer an issue. This is both grooming and gaslighting behaviour on their part. We are being conditioned and then told how silly we are to think that there is anything wrong with a politician feathering their nest because it’s commonplace, when it has not been.

Second, the argument is being created that one politician is less corrupt than another, with roles being swapped to suit from day to day, so that in the end no one can be blamed for what they are doing because there are only relative measures of corrupt behaviour left, and there is always an argument that there is someone worse to take note of, so no one need be held to account.

Both arguments are insidious. They are corrupt in themselves.

Meanwhile the journalists who ask ‘does anyone really care about this corruption?’ play the role of willing facilitators, for which reason I condemn their line of questioning.

And the result is, as I note, corruption fatigue.

We have to be wary of this. We need to remind ourselves of some fundamental truths.

Getting things done did not require that politician’s friends got enormous contracts they had no idea how to fulfil.

Prioritising need did not necessitate the dropping of any standards.

Ignoring expertise, experience and ability was not a way to help anyone.

Rules usually exist for good reason, whether on procurement or to prevent the abuse of political funding.

Accountability matters. Its absence invariably spells, and smells of, trouble.

Once unleashed corruption is very hard to control.

Systemic breakdown of values in society end up with massive loss of wellbeing for all as everyone expects a backhander and public service fails.

We have a government indifferent to such risks. It is easy to be fatigued by yet another story of corruption by yet another Tory politician serving in the most corrupt government that this country has seen for centuries. But holding them to account matters.

Please stick with it. Or give up hope.

It is to be hoped Caroline Lucas starts a trend…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/04/2021 - 7:40am in

Further information on Johnson’s serial lying, previously mentioned here and of course, below: Peter Oborne has rightly suggested that we have a Prime Minister who has built a career out of lying. He completely ignores the Ministerial Code and treats Parliament with everyday contempt. We now know, for as sure as we can be, that... Read more

A ‘vacuum of integrity’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/04/2021 - 9:03pm in

These were the words used to ex Conservative Attorney General Dominic Grieve, on yesterday’s Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme . He also added for good measure that the government itself was a ‘cronyistic cabal’. The lawyer Peter Stefanovic has been tweeting short film clips of the most egregious of Johnson’s lies – indeed his films have... Read more

The purse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 3:00pm in

The purse

How our Intel Agencies Screwed us by Letting Sessions, Trumpies get away with Russia Scheme

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/07/2017 - 4:31pm in

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller at WaPo report from a US intelligence source that former Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, told Moscow that he had discussed campaign-related matters with Jeff Sessions twice in the summer of 2016. This revelation directly contradicts Sessions’ testimony before Congress. If the allegation is correct, Sessions is guilty of a crime, perjury, the same crime of which the Republicans in the House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton. Only, like, Sessions may actually have committed, like, a crime.

Me, I’m angry. I’m angry because the US intel community had this information in summer of 2016 and they’re only leaking it now. You mean they could have blown the whistle on the Trump gang over the Russian contacts and they didn’t bother? It is too late now. Getting rid of Sessions won’t change anything. Trump will just appoint another stealth white supremacist.

Now, their bosses are Trump appointees and most of this stuff will be ordered suppressed.

Second, let’s acknowledge the hypocrisy of all the condemnations of Ed Snowden over leaking the *illegal* activities of the National Security Agency, and the acceptance of this leak about Sessions. Nobody is threatening the WaPo journalists with jail for publishing the information on Sessions, and nor should they. But tell me how all this is different from the Snoweden affair in form (Snowden obviously released lots more information).

Observers are pointing out that all the intel community has is Kislyak’s cables back to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, not a transcript of the actual meeting. This is true. But why would Kislyak misrepresent the meetings to his bosses? Moreover, if the NSA didn’t actually record their conversations, after recording millions of innocent Americans, then we want our money back.

It should be pointed out that Sessions has trouble telling the truth about his meetings with Kislyak. First, he got the number of those meetings wrong. Now, the substance.

In the wake of the posting of Don Trump Jr.’s emails (by Don Trump Jr.) about the meeting arranged by the Agalarovs via Rob Goldstone with Natalia Vesselnitskya and several other Russians lobbying for a repeal of the Magnitsky Act, this revelation about Sessions takes on greater significance.

Russia had dozens of points of contact with Trump campaign officials in 2016 and one of Vladimir Putin’s major preoccupations was having the Magnitsky Act repealed. It allows the placing of sanctions on Russian businessmen and officials accused of major human rights violations. The Putin government is corrupt and underpinned by billionaire cronyism. Governments like that of Russia (the same is true in the Middle East) can create billionaires by granting certain licenses and smoothing the way. But this sort of corruption requires the ability to launder the money in foreign banks, which the Magnitsky Act prevents. It is therefore a major irritant to Putin’s crony capitalism.

When Congress passed the act in 2012, Putin responded by banning the adoption by US parents of Russian children. That is why Trump said he talked with Putin about adoption and that is why Don Jr said adoption was the topic for his meeting with Vesselnitskaya. “Adoption” is a code word for repealing the Magnitsky Act.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected, she almost certainly would have expanded the Magnitsky Act.

So the quid pro quo was that the FSB (Russian intelligence) and Russian white hat hackers working at least indirectly for the FSB would hack Clinton-related email accounts searching for dirt and would release the emails to the public, to help Trump win.

In turn, Trump would have Congress repeal the Magnitsky Act or order Treasury to cease enforcing it, and then the Putin cronies could again move their money around freely without fear of the US Treasury Department.

The NSA and the CIA watched all this happen in real time. The Trumpies were brazen, not bothering to use cut-outs and meeting directly with principals like Kislyak, whom any normal person would have known was under intense surveillance and had to report the meetings back home.

And they screwed us over by not revealing it. Maybe they tried to get Barack Obama to say something and the president was too much of a gentleman. If so, that was the time to start leaking, guys.

Now we’re screwed, Trump is president and it is too late. We spend like $75 billion a year on those intel agencies. And this is what we get. All the telephone calls in Jamaica are recorded. But a major international conspiracy to undermine US democracy? With that they couldn’t be bothered. Or who knows, maybe they preferred Donald to Hillary. If so, they aren’t actually very, you know, Intelligent.

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Related video:

Intercepted Intel: Sessions Discussed Donald Trump Campaign With Russian | The Last Word | MSNBC

Can Trump use the presidential pardon to thwart the Russia investigations?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/07/2017 - 3:32pm in

By Austin Sarat | (The Conversation) | – –

Speculation is mounting that President Donald Trump could issue a pardon to members of his family and close associates who are suspected of colluding with Russia in the 2016 campaign.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently cautioned about “the possibility of presidential pardons in this process.”

The June 2016 meeting of Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Russian go-betweens promising dirt about Hillary Clinton raises the specter of criminal liability under campaign finance laws. Those laws prohibit foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly” making “a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value … in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.” Damaging information on an opponent could certainly be considered a “thing of value” during a campaign.

Not everyone agrees that Trump’s son, son-in-law and Manafort committed crimes. We are a long way from knowing whether there will be criminal prosecutions in these matters. But the mere possibility of a criminal prosecution could lead the president to invoke his authority under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution to grant “Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States.”

My research on clemency shows how chief executives have used this power, in particular the power to pardon, to halt criminal prosecutions, sometimes even before they begin.

‘For any reason at all’

The pardoning power, as Founding Father Alexander Hamilton explained, is very broad, applying even to cases of treason against the United States. As Hamilton put it, “the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.”

Throughout our history, courts have taken a similarly expansive view. In 1977, Florida’s State Supreme Court said that “An executive may grant a pardon for good reasons or bad, or for any reason at all, and his act is final and irrevocable.”

In 1837, the United States Supreme Court held that the president’s pardon power “extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.”

Yet prospective pardons are quite rare. The most famous prospective pardon in American history was granted by President Gerald Ford in September 1974. He pardoned former President Richard Nixon after he was forced to resign in the face of the Watergate scandal. Ford pardoned Nixon for “all offenses against the United States which he… has committed or may have committed or taken part in” between the date of his inauguration in 1969 and his resignation.

In other cases, presidents have halted criminal proceedings immediately after they began. President George H.W. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger just after Weinberger had been indicted for lying to Congress about the sale of arms to Iran by the Reagan administration.

Those pardons evoked public outcry against what was perceived to be an arrogant interference with the legal process. Ford’s action may have contributed to his defeat in the 1976 presidential election against Jimmy Carter. And Bush’s pardon of Weinberger prompted accusations that he was engaging in a cover-up. Critics said that his action demonstrated that “powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office – deliberately abusing the public trust without consequence.”

Rule of law

Given such controversies about pardons and the the fear of being labeled soft on crime, presidents have been increasingly reticent about using their clemency power before or after conviction. Thus, while President Nixon granted clemency to more than 36 percent of those who sought it during his eight years in office, the comparable number for George W. Bush was 2 percent. President Obama reversed that trend, granting more pardons and commutations than anyone since Harry Truman.

Given President Trump’s commitment to being a law-and-order president, it seems unlikely that he will follow Obama’s lead. Yet he may make an exception to shield Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort from criminal liability.

Congressman Adam Schiff predicted a negative public reaction if Trump grants pardons. He said: “The impressions the country, certainly, would get from that is the president was trying to shield people from liability for telling the truth about what happened in the Russia investigation or Russian contacts.”

The ConversationHowever, his prediction offers little comfort at a time when many venerable norms and rules of political life are being rewritten or ignored. No matter what explanation he might offer, any move by President Trump to pardon Donald Jr., Kushner or Manafort would not only hamper the Russia investigations, it would also deliver another serious blow to America’s increasingly precarious hold on democracy and the rule of law.

Austin Sarat, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Ring of Fire: “Trump Is Trying To Figure Out How To Pardon Himself And His Family”

10 Corruption Risks Keeping NFPs Awake at Night

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/10/2015 - 11:23am in

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Corruption

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