Sunday, September 10, 2023

Last Call For Old News From Newsom

As California's Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, has said on several occasions, he's absolutely not running for Joe Biden's job, and if he has to choose a successor for Dianne Feinstein between now and November of next year, it will be an interim choice from people not currently running for her seat in 2024.
As three high-profile California Democrats vie to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would not appoint any of them to the seat, should it become vacant sooner than expected.

That decision could be a blow to Rep. Barbara Lee, since her allies had reason to believe she was Newsom’s first choice to fill a potential vacancy. But that was before she entered the Senate race, where she is currently trailing in polls behind better-known and better-funded fellow Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter.

In his most direct comments on the matter yet, Newsom said in the interview with Chuck Todd for NBC News' "Meet the Press" that airs Sunday that he would instead make an “interim appointment” to replace Feinstein if necessary.

“Yes. Interim appointment. I don’t want to get involved in the primary,” Newsom said. “It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.”

Lee, Schiff and Porter are locked in a high-profile battle ahead of the March 5 all-party primary, when the top two vote-getters of any party will advance to the November general election. Both may end up being Democrats, given California’s partisan tilt.

A poll released Thursday from the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, found Schiff and Porter running neck and neck at 20% and 17%, respectively, while Lee trailed at 7%. A third are still undecided.

Feinstein, 90, has resisted calls to resign and said she intends to serve out the remainder of her term, which ends in January 2025.

But her declining health and an ugly family dispute over her late husband’s multi-million-dollar estate has renewed questions about her ability to do her job.

Newsom is openly dreading the prospect of having to fill another Senate vacancy, having already hand-picked his state’s other senator, Alex Padilla, to fill the seat vacated by now-Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I don’t want to make another appointment, and I don’t think the people of California want me to make another appointment,” Newsom told Todd.
Newsom also reiterated that he has no 2024 plans for the presidency. It's so weird that literally the only people who think Newsom has designs on the Oval Office next year are Republicans who are 100% Newsom is lying and will stab Joe Biden in the front and the back, which I guess tells you everything you need to know about right-wing pundits.
Meanwhile, left-wing pundits like myself are telling everyone in blogshot, postshot, and earshot that Trump's going to win the 2024 GOP primary but nobody on the right wants to believe that for a second.
Now, do I expect Newsom has 2028 plans to run against Kamala Harris, absolutely. I think that's going to be wide open and messy as hell, not because VP Harris isn't qualified, but that history assures us that approximately every non-Black, non-female Democrat will figure they can do that job too.
That's a tale for another time, and five years in presidential politics is an eternity. But as for Newsom in 2024, that's not happening, and Republcians are in as much denial there as they are over the GOP being Trump's party of white Christian Dominionist supremacy.

Gunmerica: The Battle Of New Mexico

New Mexico's Democratic Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has issued an emergency public safety executive order blocking Albuquerque's open and concealed carry ordnance for 30 days in response to several shootings in the city, and Republicans are gearing up for the mother of all court battles.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in response to a spate of gun violence.

The Democratic governor said she expects legal challenges but was compelled to act because of recent shootings, including the death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.

Lujan Grisham said state police would be responsible for enforcing what amount to civil violations. Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina said he won’t enforce it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he’s uneasy about it because it raises too many questions about constitutional rights.

The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks. The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by the metropolitan Albuquerque. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.

Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said. Under the order, residents still can transport guns to some private locations, such as a gun range or gun store, provided the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.

Lujan Grisham acknowledged not all law enforcement officials were on board with her decision.

“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” she said at a news conference, flanked by law enforcement officials, including the district attorney for the Albuquerque area.

John Allen said in a statement late Friday that he has reservations about the order but is ready to cooperate to tackle gun violence.

“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen said. “I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”

Enforcing the governor’s order also could put Albuquerque police in a difficult position with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a police reform settlement, said police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.

“All of those are unsettled questions,” he said late Friday. 

Its legality and enforceability have already proven to be roadblocks, with Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina saying the city’s police department will not be responsible for enforcing it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen cautioning the order “challenges the foundation of our Constitution” (New Mexico State Police is tasked with enforcing the order).

Republican lawmakers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 presidential candidate, quickly capitalized on the furor, with DeSantis declaring: “Your 2nd Amendment rights SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), also criticized the ban in a post on X, calling the decision “flawed” and asking: “If a governor felt like declaring an emergency right before an election they’d be to suspend the 19th Amendment and stop women from voting [sic]

According to the ban, which is classified as a public health order and took effect immediately, open and concealed carry will be banned on public property for 30 days “with certain exceptions,” including for security guards and law enforcement agents—with violators facing fines up to $5,000.

New Mexico law requires a permit for concealed carry but not open carry, making it one of 38 states that allow unpermitted open carry—which is prohibited in five states (California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York), while it’s allowed with a permit in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Regardless of how effective the ban will be having to depend on state cops to enforce what is effectively a county-wide ban, it's difficult to see how this order survives a court challenge. I fully expect a federal injunction by Monday or by a few days at the latest and for the GOP to run with this all the way to SCOTUS, demanding an end to all gun safety regs.

Lujan Grisham may have just given them the exact case they needed.

Sunday Long Read: One Hell Of A Racket

Our Sunday Long Read this week is Kevin Sieff's deep dive into pro tennis match fixer Grigor Sargsyan for the Washington Post. Sargsyan, known as the Maestro, had at one point at least 180 pro tennis players, men and women, working for his fixing ring, throwing individual points, service games, whole sets and even entire matches in order to get a piece of the $50 billion tennis betting bonanza in the late 2010's.

On the morning of his arrest, Grigor Sargsyan was still fixing matches. Four cellphones buzzed on his nightstand with calls and messages from around the world.

Sargsyan was sprawled on a bed in his parents’ apartment, making deals between snatches of sleep. It was 3 a.m. in Brussels, which meant it was 8 a.m. in Thailand. The W25 Hua Hin tournament was about to start.

Sargsyan was negotiating with professional tennis players preparing for their matches, athletes he had assiduously recruited over years. He needed them to throw a game or a set — or even just a point — so he and a global network of associates could place bets on the outcomes.

That’s how Sargsyan had become rich. As gambling on tennis exploded into a $50 billion industry, he had infiltrated the sport, paying pros more to lose matches, or parts of matches, than they could make by winning tournaments.

Sargsyan had crisscrossed the globe building his roster, which had grown to include more than 180 professional players across five continents. It was one of the biggest match-fixing rings in modern sports, large enough to earn Sargsyan a nickname whispered throughout the tennis world: the Maestro.

This Washington Post investigation of Sargsyan’s criminal enterprise, and how the changing nature of gambling has corrupted tennis, is based on dozens of interviews with players, coaches, investigators, tennis officials and match fixers. The Post obtained tens of thousands of Sargsyan’s text messages, hundreds of pages of internal European law-enforcement documents, and the interrogation transcripts of players.

By the time he was communicating with the players in Thailand, Sargsyan had honed his tactics. He had learned to nurture the ones who were nervous. He knew when to be businesslike and direct, communicating his offers like an auctioneer.

That was Sargsyan’s approach on the night in June 2018 that would be his last as a match fixer. He explained to Aleksandrina Naydenova, a Bulgarian player struggling to break into the world’s top 200, that she could choose how severely she wanted to tank a set. He sent the texts in English:

If she lost her first service game, she would make 1,000 euros, he wrote. If she lost the second one, she would make 1,200 euros. It didn’t matter if she won the match, only that she lost those games.

Naydenova seemed willing.

“Give me some time to confirm,” she wrote.

As Sargsyan waited, a Belgian police SWAT team was on its way to his parents’ house. The team had been planning the raid for months, the culmination of a two-year investigation that spanned Western Europe.

Sargsyan placed the phone on his bedside table next to the others he used to message players and associates. He sprawled on his mattress, trying not to fall asleep. Then, from downstairs, he heard hushed voices speaking over walkie-talkies. He cracked open the door to his room and saw several police officers and a Belgian Malinois. The officers spotted their target: a short, chubby man in pajamas. They sprinted up the stairs and into Sargsyan’s room.

Sargsyan lunged for his phones, but the officers got to them first. They put him in handcuffs and listed the charges against him: money laundering and fraud.

“I know what this is about,” Sargsyan said.

The information on his devices would provide a remarkable window into what has become the world’s most manipulated sport, according to betting regulators. Thousands of texts, gambling receipts and bank transfers laid out Sargsyan’s ascent in remarkable detail, showing how an Armenian immigrant in Belgium with no background in tennis had managed to corrupt a sport with a refined, moneyed image.
This guy basically owned tennis last decade, and the Post has identified more than two-thirds of the Maestro's marks. He didn't have to approach the big names in tennis, he had plenty of success with the mid and low-level circuits where players would be lucky to make a couple hundred euros in prize money.

Sargsyan paid them a lot more to lose, and lose they did.  Tennis, by the way, is still using Swiss betting company Sportsradar to this day, including the top ATP and WTA Tours. Sargsyan made hundreds of millions using Sportsradar to monitor untelevised matches and to place bets in real time. So yeah, pro tennis? Crooked as hell.

We'll have part two of this story on how Sargsyan was caught next week.
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