Thursday, January 22, 2015

Last Call For A Silver, Out-Foxed

It looks like the hammer has fallen on long-time New York Assembly Speaker and Democrat Sheldon Silver, as he's surrendered himself to the FBI on federal corruption charges.

In a five-count criminal complaint outlining the charges, Mr. Silver is accused of “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” 
He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. 
The complaint maintains that for more than a decade, Mr. Silver devised a scheme “to induce real estate developers with business before the state” to use a real estate law firm controlled by a lawyer who had once worked as Mr. Silver’s counsel who orchestrated payments to the speaker for referrals to the firm. 
The complaint said that “there is probable cause to believe that Silver received approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.” 
Prosecutors, according to the complaint, said that Mr. Silver did essentially no work for the payments. 
Prosecutors seized approximately $3.8 million of Mr. Silver’s money on Thursday morning.

And let's not forget the Feds were tipped off after Gov. Cuomo disbanded in last March the state's anti-corruption commission that he created to fight exactly this type of thing.  Silver needs to resign, just as much as Michael Grimm did after his tax evasion nonsense.  I'd say Silver's alleged crimes are a lot worse.

We'll see.

None Dare Call It Treason, Con't

If you can name another time in American history where a sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives invited a foreign leader to speak to Congress as a rebuke of a sitting US president's foreign policy with the intent of undermining that policy, I'll give you a pony.

House Speaker John Boehner's invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress on Iran is an unprecedented rebuke of President Barack Obama as he and Congress are preparing for a battle over Iran sanctions, experts told TPM. 
The move came the day after Obama threatened in his State of the Union address to veto legislation putting new sanctions on Iran. He warned that new sanctions by Congress would disrupt the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)acknowledged the week before that ending negotiations "is very much an intended consequence" of a new sanctions bill that has been put forward with some Democratic support. 
Although the US and Israel maintain a "special relationship," the discord between the Obama administration and Netanyahu's government has been well documented. Netanyahu welcomed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a visit Israel in the midst of the campaign. And anonymous Obama administration officials have been quoted calling the Israeli prime minster "a chickenshit."

But even with that context, experts on American-Israeli relations expressed shock that Boehner had invited Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran next month. One described it as an effort to "humiliate" and "embarrass" Obama as the two sides dig in over Iran. The invitation from the Ohio Republican positions Congress, rather than the White House, as Israel's ally. 
"It's unprecedented. It's hitting below the belt. It's taking partisanship to a whole new level," Guy Ziv, a professor at American University who has studied U.S.-Israeli relations, told TPM. "It is a way for them to embarrass and humiliate the Obama administration."

Bonus points if you can name any other country whose head of state would be allowed to speak to Congress to expressly chastise a sitting president's foreign policy.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

PS, the reason this is an unprecedented show of disrespect is the obvious difference between Obama and the previous 43 presidents.

Another Snowden Job

Happy New Year from Mother Russia, guys!

Is Apple’s wildly popular iPhone series hiding spyware that can collect information about users without their knowledge? As thoroughly as developers have dug through Apple’s iOS code over the past seven and a half years, one would think functionality like that would have been unearthed by now. According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, however, iPhones are capable of activating “special software” behind the scenes that collects information about users, who are completely oblivious to the fact that their phones are gathering this sensitive data. 
Edward Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena recently spoke with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and their conversation spanned several topics. As Russian news site Sputnik noted, however, the iPhone was among the topics that were discussed, and Kucherena’s comments were quite interesting, to say the least. 
“Edward never uses an iPhone; he’s got a simple phone,”Kucherena said. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him; that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”

So, it's not even Snowden saying this, but his Russian lawyer, to the Russian press, because "special software."  What proof?  Well, Snowden says so.  It must be true.

It's about ethics in tech journalism or something.

Surely this isn't Putin causing trouble again, going after what has become the symbol of US consumer technical innovation and success, right?

Be like Ed, guys.  Ed would never use an iPhone.  You want to be like Ed, don't you, American?


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