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The Definition, Types, and Examples of Victimless Crimes …

What we have here is some information on victimless crimes, wherein we put forth the definition of this concept and also discuss its types with some examples, so as to make it easier for you to understand the same.

When Russia legalized homosexuality for a brief period following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, it was based on the idea that if there was no victim, there was no crime.

That the United States has the highest prison population rate in the world for more than a decade now, is a well-known fact. What most people dont know, is that over 80 percent of these inmates are incarcerated for victimless crimes, i.e., crimes that defy societys prohibition of certain activities. So is there actually something called victimless crime or crime where there is no victim? While the term may not boast of popular usage, the statistical data, which states that over 80 percent of people in the prison are convicted for such crimes, does speak volumes in itself.

As the name suggests, victimless crimes are those crimes wherein there is no apparent victim, as such a person or property is not harmed physically. An apt definition will be illegal behavior which does not violate or threaten anyones rights. The person may either act alone (e.g. drug abuse or gambling), or two or more people can be involved in a consensual act (e.g. prostitution).

Example: Lets take the example of prostitution for instance. In the United States, offering sexual favors in lieu of money is considered a criminal act, wherein both parties can be arrested for violating public decency laws. If, however, both of them have given their consent to the act, then neither of them can be considered a victim.

It is worth noting that such crimes usually happen in confined spaces, and therefore, other people are unlikely to take of note of them. As nobody is watching and nobody is victimizedthose involved do not consider themselves victimsthere is no complainant in such cases. Instead, the police have to take action on their own. As a result of this, it is a lot more difficult to detect and prosecute victimless crimes compared to crimes wherein there are victims.

As these crimes have the consent of those people involved, they are sometimes known as consensual crimes. In a true sense though, consensual crimes are crimes involving more than one participant, all of whom give their consent.

Depending on the area of jurisdiction, the lengthy list of victimless crimes includes drug abuse, prostitution, gambling, public drunkenness, homosexuality, vagrancy, obscenity, riding a bike without a helmet, or driving a motor vehicle without a seat belt, as well as more serious crimes like abortion and suicide. In the United States, for instance, illicit drug abuse, prostitution, and gambling are considered victimless crimes.

In a broad sense, these crimes can be grouped into different types. For example, there are moral crimes, wherein the particular illegal act has something to do with the morality or norms set by the society. Homosexuality between consenting adults, for instance, is considered a victimless crime on the grounds that it violates common decency laws. Other examples of such crimes include sodomy, public drunkenness, and even vagrancy. Then there are crimes against the state, such as tax frauds, not carrying an ID, carrying a gun without license, etc., which also fall in this category.

Adultery was considered a victimless crime at one point of time, but has since been removed from the list.

Many people call for outlawing laws which prohibit victimless acts. They argue that it hampers the individuals freedom, as he is at the receiving end despite his consent. Additionally, some people are of the opinion that incarceration of people convicted for such crimes puts immense pressure on the already crowded prison system. As opposed to this, those in favor of victimless crimes being punished argue that the representatives of the majority have the right to prohibit and punish anyone who indulges in any act that offends the majority of the population, even if there is no direct victim.

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The Definition, Types, and Examples of Victimless Crimes ...

Over Ten People Exercise Right to Assemble at NH State House in Violation of Governor’s Order – Free Keene

by Ian | Apr 1, 2020 | Civil Disobedience, Concord, Cool, Corruption, Free Concord, Haters, Hypocrisy, Issues, Living Free, National, New Hampshire, News, Noncooperation, Outreach, Personal Freedom, Photos, Police, Politics, Republicans, Response, Social, Update, Victimless Crimes |

Over a Dozen Heroically Attended the Right to Assemble Event Today, April 1st in Concord

Donning masks from V for Vendetta, more than a dozen activists gathered at the New Hampshire state house in Concord today in violation of HIS EXCELLENCY governor Chris Sununus order banning assembly of over ten people. Not only did the police who passed by the event today use their discretion and ignore the event, one Concord police officer even waved to the group, suggesting that he also supported the human right to assemble. While responses from passing motorists varied, the majority were positive, including thumbs-ups, honks, and waves. Negative responses included middle fingers, shaking heads, a thumbs-down, and verbal quarantine shaming. Of course, any protest for any topic always elicits negative responses and this one was not unusual.

Curiously, the only media who bothered to attend was an independent videographer who interviewed me and NH republican primary challenger to the incumbent governor Sununu, Nobody. After standing by Main Street for over an hour holding signs like, Social Distancing is Fear, Not Love and Assembly is a Human Right, we took a group photo by the statue of General John Stark. Stark is known for creating the saying from which New Hampshire selected its state motto:

Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst Of Evils.

Stark is likely rolling in his grave now with Sununu following obediently along with other tyrannical state governors and issuing approximately two dozen emergency orders in the last few weeks, destroying the freedom to do business and the freedom to assemble. While Sununu has not gone as far as some of his counterparts, he is nonetheless presiding over a tremendous increase in authoritarianism as well as economic destruction.

Protestors hold signs and socialize next to Concords Main Street.

Thankfully, Sununu wont be unchallenged in this years election. Nobody of Keene has thrown his hat into the ring as Sununus thus-far lone republican primary challenger for governor. Heres a recent Boston Globe story that features Nobody and mentioned todays event at the state house.

Activists joined Nobody from across New Hampshire and even as far away as Western Massachusetts to hold signs and violate social distancing rules that are driving people nationwide to suicide from lack of human contact and job losses. Recent news has shown suicide hotline calls are well above normal levels in many places across the United States.

There may indeed be a nasty virus out there. How much worse it is than the flu, which kills tens of thousands in the United States each year, remains to be seen. Fearmongering media and politicians benefit when they ramp up fear in the population. However, the decision on how to handle possible risks in life should be up to the individual, not lying, power-seeking politicians and bureaucrats. Freedom is better than safety or the illusion of safety, especially when the cost is your liberty. Once the government goons take more freedom, dont expect to ever get it back.

That said, many motorists in Concord seem to be on the side of freedom, and there were a surprising amount of people on the roads, getting life done. Kudos to the police for ignoring the peaceful event. The next Nobody-led assembly event in Concord is the annual 4:20 cannabis smoke out on 4/20, and for the only time in 2020. Hope to see you there! Nobodys campaign website is ElectNobody.com.

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Over Ten People Exercise Right to Assemble at NH State House in Violation of Governor's Order - Free Keene

Southern Indiana women seek strong leadership in the White House – Newsandtribune

EDITORS NOTE: Part of an ongoing series, Pulse of the Voters, highlighting whats on the minds of voters leading up to the 2020 presidential election. To read prior stories, go online to http://www.newsandtribune.com. To participate or comment, email newsroom@newsandtribune.com.

SOUTHERN INDIANA On Jan. 16, 2020, Indiana voted to ratify the 19th Amendment which allowed women the right to vote. In August of that year, the state became one of 36 to do so.

As the state celebrates this important centennial anniversary and as the nation gears up for a pivotal presidential election in November, many Southern Indiana women plan to exercise the right afforded to them long ago. Here are four of their stories.

As a Republican who works in a field assisting children and families, 52-year-old Ann Carruthers said she often tries to marry conservatism with social work when looking at the issues. The New Albany resident said she tends support things that look to help empower people and strengthen the community.

Nationally, I think leadership is something we really have to focus on in this upcoming election, she said. To be able to elect a leader who can actually navigate challenges as well as empower communities and utilize others ...I think that is when you [see] true leadership.

Sellersburg resident Missy Smith, 39, said social justice issues are very much at the forefront with her.

Smith works as assistant manager for healthy families, a child abuse neglect and prevention program through New Hope Services. She spends much of her free time in activism, for the LGBT community with the Floyd and Clark Stonewall Democrats (FLARK) and through anti-racism efforts at her church, Highland Baptist. She also does social media work and writes for The Resistance Prays, a group which embodies the idea that the left also has a voice when it comes to faith.

The right has done a very good job for a long time of monopolizing the idea that if you are a Christian and you are a good American, you are a Republican, she said. So we push that is not the case.

Smith said she doesnt see that most of the national Republican platforms line up with her spirituality, while Democratic ideals do.

Caring for the least of us, caring for the poor, caring for those often robbed of voice, she said. On the left we see people who fight to give voice to the voiceless.

Republican voter Fanny Grubbs, 64, said she looks this year to support right-to-life efforts as well as immigration and healthcare reform. Shes a Jeffersonville resident and vice president of the Clark County Republican Women.

Grubbs said when it comes to immigration, she wants to see tighter controls, not just at the Southern border, but also along the Northern border and at shipping ports in other areas.

I think it would help with the drug issue if we had more control over the borders, she said, adding she believes an influx of undocumented immigrants can also put a financial strain on the system.

And we need to make sure the immigration laws are the same for everyone maybe make it a little bit easier to come into the country, but come in legally.

Grubbs said she feels health care in America has taken a hit since the Affordable Care Act was first introduced during Barack Obamas administration, although she said there are parts she agrees with such as that a person should be able to switch insurance companies and not be denied due to a pre-existing condition.

We need to have more free market for health care, she said. Our costs for insurance was much less when we had free market.

Patty Singh, a 69-year-old retired database manager living in Jeffersonville and a Libertarian, said shes interested in seeing drug and prison reform, as well as changes in U.S. foreign policy.

She believes that marijuana legalization should have happened long ago, and if it had, would keep many nonviolent people charged with victimless crimes out of prison.

With foreign policy, she believes the nation should adopt more of an isolationist policy as existed in the 1950s and 1960s, and not get so involved in other nations wars and conflicts.

There are places where we just dont belong, she said. We shouldnt be policing the world. We should be offering help and aid where we can, but our troops and military is in places it shouldnt be, these Middle Eastern wars, it just doesnt make any sense to me.

Early on, Smith supported Democratic Primary candidate Pete Buttigieg for president; she liked his financial plans and online presence, and as an Indiana resident and gay man, he had checked the boxes for her.

Then, as we realized he wasnt speaking to issues and shortcomings within the black community, I got very nervous, she said. Smith then moved her support to Elizabeth Warren, and said she was heartbroken when Warren dropped out of the race.

I was super impressed with her understanding, her plans, her grasp on the issues, her intelligence, Smith said. She was a woman who stood her ground and had been doing this for a really, really long time, and giving voice to the voiceless.

Now, Smith is supporting Bernie Sanders, and most of the people she knows are, too. She said although shes disappointed to see the Democratic race again come down to two older white men which has historically been the case with presidential candidates she will support the one who gets the Democratic nomination.

Grubbs, a Republican, said even before Donald Trump was first elected, she had believed the U.S. needed a president like him. She said hes lived up to what she hoped to see, and she intends to support him for re-election.

Before he was elected, I always said we needed somebody who was a businessman and we needed a strong leader that once he makes a decision, hes made it, she said. I have completely backed him on how his administration handles our country. I think hes doing a great job; I really dont think theres anything I wish hed done a different way.

As for the Democratic presidential candidates, Grubbs said she would be terrified if Sanders were to be elected, as hes too far left. She said she also worries about Bidens physical and mental health.

To me, whenever you vote for him, you better look at who his running mate is because that may be who youre actually voting for, she said. He was a good vice president as long as someone else was leading; I dont think hes a leader.

Carruthers said she also intends to support Trump if things continue as they have.

If he, as a leader, continues to surround himself with the right people and look at those who can help move his agenda in a positive way, most definitely I would be supporting him, Carruthers said.

But she also feels that Biden has a likely shot at the Democratic nomination and could give Trump competition, especially if Biden chooses a woman as his running mate.

I just really think the role of a woman is going to be important, Carruthers said. There is no question that our country needs strong women today and tomorrow.

And although Singh said she typically supports the Libertarian candidate, she may vote for Biden if it means it could help him beat Trump.

[Trump has] kind of talked a good game, but every time I see him on television, its just garbage coming out of his mouth, Singh said. Hes arrogant, I think he feels like he can do anything he wants to do.

To me, he hasnt done anything and I think hes hindering more than hes helped anything.

When it comes to how the Trump administration has addressed COVID-19, Carruthers and Grubbs say he has done a good job. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus had as of press time Monday infected more than 140,000 people in the U.S. with more than 2,400 deaths.

I think this has been somewhat challenging for everyone being that this was not something that you could necessarily prepare for, Carruthers said. Having to navigate a task force with the proper strength probably was challenging in knowing who would bring the right skills to the table to help us get through this...

But Smith and Singh say a late response time and lack of tests has put the country behind where it needed to be to handle the virus.

I am completely appalled by Trumps response to a global crisis, though I am not surprised, Smith said. This man has put ego and greed ahead of the people his entire tenure; I dont know why I expected more at the moment.

Regardless of their candidate, the four expressed hope that whoever is elected in November can help heal some of the rifts in the nation.

I think its probably going to be a very tough election and I just hope that it doesnt divide the country even more, Grubbs said. I hope that whoever is running, both of them try to bring everyone together so that more people will be satisfied with whoever is elected.

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Southern Indiana women seek strong leadership in the White House - Newsandtribune

Off-road motorbike seized by cops just minutes after upset resident reported it to police – The Northern Echo

POLICE officers seized an off-road motorbike claimed to have been tearing around an estate just minutes after an upset resident had reported it to police.

Officers were on patrol in the Grindon area of Sunderland when they were approached by an elderly man who appeared distressed.

He told officers that he was increasingly frustrated by motorcycle-related anti-social behaviour in the area and said his wife, who has a long-term health condition, could not cope with the noise in the street.

After reassuring the pensioner, officers took down details of a blue-and-white motorcycle that had reportedly been tearing around the estate and bringing misery to many residents.

Minutes later while carrying out inquiries, the officers spotted a motorbike matching the description provided by the man and decided to follow its movements. They later saw the rider stop, get off and push the vehicle into an address nearby.

After carrying out checks, it was established the vehicle was not insured. The bike was subsequently seized by police and a 31-year-old man is due to be summonsed to court for driving offences.

Neighbourhood Inspector Marie Pollock, of Northumbria Police, said: This was a case of good old-fashioned policing with officers acting on their instinct after they were made aware of concerns from a member of the public.

After taking down the details, they then followed their nose and spotted a motorbike matching the description given by the concerned resident. It was soon ascertained the rider had been travelling without insurance and the bike was subsequently seized.

We understand the distressing and detrimental effect that anti-social behaviour can have on the communities we serve, and thats why through Operation Brimstone, officers are actively targeting motorbike-related disorder and taking these vehicles off our streets.

We have dedicated patrols in place in hotspot areas to tackle this type of criminality, and I would like to reiterate that this is far from a victimless crime the actions of a minority who tear around on these bikes can make the most vulnerable in our society feel intimidated and frightened.

As a result, we will continue to carry out a range of enquiries to keep our communities safe from motorbike-related crime and ensure anyone found responsible is dealt with swiftly.

If you see any off-road riders or vehicle-related crimes happening in your area, please get in touch with us. We also want to hear from anyone who believes they know where these bikes are being stored overnight.

Anyone with information, or who is concerned about this type of criminality in their area, is asked to get in touch with via Northumbria Police's Tell Us Something or Report an Incident page on our website.

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Off-road motorbike seized by cops just minutes after upset resident reported it to police - The Northern Echo

Watch now: These people’s lives are ruined – The Outline

Back in 2016 another lifetime ago when Donald Trump was somehow the Republican presidential nominee and his campaign was regularly manifesting hitherto unimaginable incidents of bravura stupidity, I acquired the regrettable habit of comparing every new thing in the news cycle to a rejected George Saunders draft. I regret this comparison not because it was inaccurate, but because making it more than once suggested disbelief at how dumb and contemptuous the world seemed to have gotten, long after the state of affairs had morphed into a new normal demanding different paths of contemplation beyond I cant believe how dumb and contemptuous this is.

Because while Trump may have acted as an accelerant for this cultural buffoonishness, he was also an accurate reflection of his times, too. No subject of recent cultural fascination has seemed to me as nakedly Trumpian as Tiger King, a new Netflix documentary about Joe Exotic, a gun-toting, gay, polygamist tiger enthusiast jailed for allegedly ordering a hit against a rival in the big-cat world. Exotic was a well-known oddball in Oklahoma for years, but he accrued new showmanship and boldness just as Trump was running for president. Like the once-future president, Exotic is a narcissist skilled in the practice of stirring up shit in order to collect power, and when his financial empire is threatened by his rival, a self-described animal rights activist named Carole Baskin, he heads down a very dark road that culminates in his own poorly disguised incrimination.

Tiger King is, frankly, out of control. The first unspoilable show, The Ringers Jason Concepion wrote breathlessly last week. You actually cant describe it enough to spoil it. Because it only takes a little bit of time to see for yourself there are just seven episodes, and each is around 40 minutes I will not try. The short of it is this: Exotic and Baskin, along with another dodgy big-cat zoo owner named Doc Antle, are locked in a death embrace, fated to war with each other over which is the proper way to promote ones love for tigers through any means possible. The first three episodes are stacked with so many narrative twists, fascinating visual details, and jaw-dropping interviews that to look away for any 10 seconds risks missing something unmissable.

Its not that the main characters, who come off as endlessly duplicitous and outlandish, are skilled at lying marvel at how Baskin not-so-effortlessly parries the ongoing accusations that she had a former husband killed and fed to tigers, which is not even the craziest thing that happens here. But they cant stop lying, and so the only way to counterpoint their claims is to layer their testimony with those of more clear-headed outside sources (co-workers, investigators, victims) in order to gesture at its falseness. It turns out theres no law against low-grade deceit, and certainly nothing mandating the deceivers to feel any shame or remorse. The show cant help but pathologize a bit again, this is a documentary about a gun-toting, gay, polygamist tiger enthusiast but its primary method is to heap bullshit on top of bullshit until you cant help but go, My God, look at these assholes, a reaction thats helped make Tiger King a viral hit.

More and more these days we see TV and movie producers drawing inspiration from intellectual property that already exists, whether its a comic book or New Yorker story. In the way that certain lucky novelists could depend on their books being optioned to deliver a payday their publishers could not, the same is now true for magazine writers, podcast hosts, personal essayists, memoirists, et al who may find their projects rewarded with not only a meaty screenplay option agreement, and orders for more iterations as well. Joe Exotic was the subject of a 2019 New York story, a 2019 podcast, and now this Netflix documentary. But we are not done with him: Last fall, a deal was signed to make a fictionalized version spawned from the podcast, with Kate McKinnon signed on to play Baskin. A territory battle over who gets to play Exotic between Hollywoods most plausibly scummy actors is ongoing.

Tiger-mania is poised to run off the rails. For one, Tiger King already watches like a mockumentary. But the dramatic arc is less compelling than its details, and the series settles somewhat when it begins to focus exclusively on Exotics transgressions. The story, while still wild, slowly winnows down until it becomes a fairly standard crime drama, albeit one in which a man rhapsodizes about his dead lovers balls at their funeral. Reducing all of this to a conventional narrative in different forms isnt impossible, but it just cant be as vivid or as absorbing as the sprawling version, which explains Hollywoods interest.

Documentarians dont always sidestep the predictable inclination to leave us chewing on some thematically poignant conclusion, and thankfully Tiger King withholds the heavy hand. Partly because there isnt much there: Though it avoids voyeurism when talking to the people whose lives were permanently altered by the main characters (often for the worst), Tiger Kings thesis doesnt go much further than My God, look at these assholes. The fundamental point, hammered over and over again, is how unbelievable it is that any of this happened, which should not be a surprise to anyone paying attention to the world. That it is a surprise suggests that too many people, including myself, are still adjusting to the state of new American nonsense, which has been with us long before Trump.

One recent highlight of Vices documentary-style programming is Dark Side of the Ring, a limited series exploring the seedy truth behind several of pro wrestlings most notorious and tragic sagas. Perhaps the most horrendous story in pro wrestlings century-plus history is recounted in the two-part premiere of Dark Side of the Rings second season, which debuted last week to instant buzz. The premiere tells the story of Chris Benoit who, from the mid-80s to the mid-00s, was regarded as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. Benoits seamless and dynamic mastery of the brutal choreography that constitutes a dramatic wrestling match was peerless. While he wasnt a brilliant personality like Hulk Hogan or the Rock, which is typically how wrestlers become famous, Benoits performance in the ring both looked and felt real, which is no easy accomplishment in an art form where that looks phony is an evergreen putdown.

In 2007, when his career was presumed to be on the downswing, Benoit murdered his wife Nancy, who was also his manager, and his seven-year-old son Daniel before hanging himself. A medical autopsy revealed his brain displayed a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), likely brought on by the dozens of concussions (and hundreds of subconcussive impacts) he suffered over his career. He was also taking an unhealthy amount of steroids, and the combination of bodily traumas and personal depressions his best friend, the wrestler Eddie Guerrero, had recently died led him to a place where he researched how to effectively brutalize his wife, son, and himself. The resulting scrutiny of industry practices that led to his diminished health, as well as the diminished health of many other wrestlers who died prematurely, pushed World Wrestling Entertainment to adopt a stringent steroid policy. Whether out of good taste or self-preservation, they simultaneously erased Benoits name and record from its archives youll never hear him mentioned on WWEs official programming despite his definitional role in wrestling history.

Benoits many wrestling accomplishments of course pale in comparison to the fact that he brutally murdered his family and subsequently died by suicide.As his surviving friends and relatives (including David Benoit, his son from his first marriage) attest, it was completely inconceivable that the elder Benoit could commit such an act of pure evil, which is why theyve spent the 13 years since the incident trying to grapple with it. To watch this bear out in the documentary reveals the events are still raw: Nearly all the interview subjects admit theyre still trying to work out exactly what happened, if not literally then emotionally.

Professional wrestling is an art form and business built on lying, so it isnt very surprising to recognize wrestling personalities, even when sober and emotional, occasionally exaggerate and dramatize things. For the most part, its essentially harmless: One example in the show is wrestler Chris Jerichos assertion, during a monologue about how Nancy Benoits achievements should be lauded, that as a pro-wrestling manager, she created the role, she perfected the role, and then when she stopped doing it, the role basically disappeared. This is just not true there were many pro-wrestling managers before her, and many after but its a victimless lie meant to make everyone feel better and the type of statement that goes unchallenged throughout the documentary, as the producers consistently allow the wrestlers to declare themselves moral and factual authorities.

On the one hand, this bullshitting mildly undercuts the documentarys gravitas, as once you pick out one lie you cant help but wonder what else is storytelling. But this conscious narrative-shaping contrasts explicitly with the unvarnished emotions of the non-wrestlers, such as David Benoit and Nancys sister Sandra Toffoloni, who speak with traumatized honesty. Sandra, more than most, had a firsthand view of her sisters relationship with her murderer, and she reflects on what she couldve done to stave off disaster with the quiet sadness of someone whos gradually learned to forgive herself for not doing enough. Its impossible to conceive the pain of learning your father murdered your brother and surrogate mother, and the most affecting moment is when David, upon recounting the last trip he took with his family before their death, breaks down and is unable to keep going. Their candor is such that despite the credulousness of the producers, the documentary achieves a few brief moments of realness, all of the crimes titillations aside. Thats no easy thing to do when dealing with professional wrestling.

By default, Dark Side of the Ring comes off more amateurishly than Tiger King many of its events do not exist in recorded form and are instead re-enacted by actors with accompanying voiceover. One of the most amazing things about Netflixs documentary is how much actual footage it incorporates; there were apparently no fewer than three camera crews from various projects rolling on Joe Exotics property at all times over several years, along with expansive surveillance footage and plenty of homemade footage created by the documentarys more paranoid characters, yielding a rich and detailed narrative full of things to tweet about.

Yet I found the Benoit documentary ultimately more compelling. His crimes were far more shocking and devastating than anything that happens in Tiger King, and the attempt to process the banality of what he did rather than sensationalize it yields a believable conclusion. In Tiger King, we dont hear enough from the people whose lives were ruined by Exotic, Antle, and Baskin, and how they have managed to survive; instead were left with the unavoidable American truth that behaving ridiculously is the easiest way to make people keep their eyes on you.

I wanted to know more about Saff, an employee of Exotics who lost his arm in a tiger attack, and seemingly performed more emotional work to work through exactly what the hell happened here than all of Tiger Kings main characters combined. Its certainly the ridiculousness thats made Tiger King such a viral hit, while one refrain I heard around the Benoit documentary is that its simply too depressing to consider right now. But if reality resists all our grand theorizing, which all the evidence indicates it does, I personally find hope in the people forced to work it out nonetheless.

Jeremy Gordon is deputy editor of The Outline.

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Watch now: These people's lives are ruined - The Outline

On the front line in the battle against Swindon’s shoplifters – Swindon Advertiser

HIGH above the Brunel Centre CCTV operators sit in front of a wall of computer screens.

Each of the 21 screens shows a different view of the Swindon shopping centre, beamed from one of the 70 odd cameras installed in and around the Brunel. The camera feeds are shared to Swindon Borough Councils own CCTV hub at Waterside, Cheney Manor.

CCTV operator Yvonne Booth has been doing the job for 11 years.

I love my job, she beams. When I first went in there they said I was going to be pretty rubbish. The opposite was true and over the years she has caught hundreds of shop thieves.

Shes part of the town centres effort to counter the shoplifters.

Those on the front line meet regularly at inSwindons Fleming Way offices. The 14 people at the briefing include police officers, inSwindons street team and representatives from the towns bigger shops.

For PC Paul Bezzant, beat manager for the town centre, and street team manager Kev Saunders its a chance to brief stores on the latest prolific offenders, court results and anti-social behaviour.

When the Adver joined the Tuesday meeting the hot topics included wheelie-pulling youngsters and a prolific shoplifter due before the magistrates that morning.

One security guard told the Adver: Were more aware of the problems now. Another added: It doesnt go away, but we seem to be keeping on top of it.

Meeting over, Kev Saunders and PC Bezzant head over to the state-of-the-art CCTV room at the top of the Brunel Centre.

The pair have known each other for years. Kev said: Ive worked in the town centre for 17 and a half years. I started at Millets, the camping shop.

They used to give me a radio to stand at the front and meet-and-greet. I sort of fell in love with security there.

I did security for 15 years before I came over to this job.

PC Paul Bezzant and Kev Saunders in The Brunel

Shops were changing their ways. For me, my passion was detaining shoplifters, getting them arrested and dealt with. Policies with shops changed and it was all about deterring. It killed the joy out of my job a bit.

When this role came up with inSwindon it was a chance to support the town with my wealth of knowledge of all the shoplifters I know.

All the shops in the town centre as well as outlets like the Orbital and Greenbridge are covered by the business improvement districts DaySafe system a radio network that connects shops, council CCTV operators and the police.

There is also an app, with police uploading images of prolific shoplifters and Swindons most wanted criminals.

At the last count there were around 300 faces on the app.

Its the knowledge, Kev said of the benefits of DaySafe.

Its the collaborative work with everybody. If you all join together youre a bigger force to fight crime as opposed to a single person on your own.

As times change different stores get targeted for different goods.

But a cursory glace at the magistrates court lists or a shoplifters shopping list found in a Swindon pub in December 2018 show that the basics remain the same: food, make-up, clothes and toys.

PC Bezzant said: People steal things they think people want, such as cheese, coffee, joints of meat.

He said the strangest shoplifted item hes come across was a sex toy from Regent Street Anne Summers.

Both the constable and the street team manager stressed that thefts from shops were far from victimless crimes, as thought by some.

Kev said: Its not a victimless crime. To recoup that money the shops put the prices up. At the end of the day it affects all of us.

For the independents it has a massive affect. You can tell it really hits home for them. Its personal for them because its their business, he explained.

Training for stores was last year said to have saved businesses 100,000 - up from 72,000 the year before.

The cash was saved thanks to a combination of better training in stopping shoplifters and better information sharing between businesses.

Some of the town's recent prolific shoplifters

Martin Morgan

Martin Morgan, 34, was spared prison last month despite having around 150 theft offences to his name.

Swindon magistrates heard Morgan took alcohol and meat worth 109 from Marks and Spencer on January 25, returning 16 days later to take an unknown number of steaks.

On February 13 he was spotted by staff at the Waitrose store in Wichelstowe taking Jack Daniels and Bells whiskey.

Prosecutor Kate Prince said: He was asked by a member of staff to put them back, to which he said no. He then left the store with his coat pockets bulging.

Anna Burns

Anna Burns, 34, was described as a persistent thorn in the side of Swindon shopkeepers by a crown court judge.

She was jailed for another 10 weeks earlier this month after stealing from a Bristol shopping centre shortly after being released from womens prison Eastwood Park on licence.

The Swindon woman had been given a five month stretch at the crown court in early February for a spree that saw her steal from Greggs, Lush, a Polish deli, Sainsburys and Mothercare.

On one occasion she stole make up from Boots just hours after she was released on bail.

Christopher Simpkins

Christopher Simpkins, 41, vowed to go clean last month.

Its not before time for the veteran shoplifter with more than 100 theft offences on his record.

The Pinehurst man admitted five shoplifting charges, stealing almost 550-worth of meat from the Co-op in October, November and December.

He had stashed steaks in his pockets, but was identified from CCTV.

Emma Hillier, defending, told the justices her client was keen to make a change having spent recent years in-and-out of jail.

He feels he is wasting his time in prison, she said.

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On the front line in the battle against Swindon's shoplifters - Swindon Advertiser

Former Fife teacher found with child abuse images had ‘morbid fascination’ with torture and sadomasochism – The Courier

A retired Fife history teacher was caught with a stash of extreme pornographic and child sex abuse images, described by investigators as among the worst they had seen.

Depraved Norman Czemerys, 71, had photographs depicting women and children being tortured, bound, sexually abused and raped.

Police raided his Dunfermline home in May last year and almost 1,300 images and videos were found on four devices seized from his study, some of them in the worst category.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard Czemerys had a morbid fascination with torture and sadomasochism which spiralled out of control.

Procurator fiscal depute Claire Bremner said that images examined during the investigation were some of the worst seen by the analysts.

Czemerys, of Victoria Terrace, Dunfermline, admitted possessing extreme pornographic images depicting the sexual assault and torture of women between March 9 and May 14 last year and taking or permitting to be taken or making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children between September 2011 and May 2019.

He was warned by Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC it was very likely he would be jailed when he returns for sentence on April 8, but his suitability for a community-based disposal is to be assessed.

Married father-of-two Czemerys, an accomplished artist, was a teacher for 34 years, including at Dunfermline High School, before he retired in June 2006.

Solicitor Stephen Morrison told the court: Mr Czemerys is deeply ashamed by his behaviour, thoroughly embarrassed and indeed disgusted and repulsed.

He said Czemerys claimed to have had dark thoughts since adolescence, when he suffered psychological abuse.

He said: He started exploring in detail these thoughts after he retired.

He had always been fascinated as a history teacher about mans inhumanity to man.

He said Czemerys morbid interest began with the adult pictures but he became desensitised and his curiosity grew, leading him to view more extreme images and child sex abuse images.

Czemerys conceded there was a degree of sexual gratification, he said.

Mr Morrison said: Otherwise he was an upstanding member of the community.

As a consequence he that, he tells me, even as he was doing this searching and exploration he was both disgusted and repulsed first of all by his own behaviour and also by some of the images he saw, hence a high percentage of them were deleted.

Mr Morrison said Czemerys, who suffered bouts of depression when his offending escalated, recognised that his crimes were not victimless and he had sought help and counselling.

Czemerys was placed on the sex offenders register.

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Former Fife teacher found with child abuse images had 'morbid fascination' with torture and sadomasochism - The Courier

ALEC is helping America and its legislators – Great Bend Tribune

The beginning of the year brought with it a new decade, one we all hope will be filled with opportunity and success for us all. Contrary to what some of the folks currently out on the hustings say, government cannot guarantee those outcomes, but it can do a lot to make sure the table is set properly so that we, the American people, can achieve them.

Defining decisions will be made in the coming months - not just in Washington, but in state capitals from coast to coast. In many places, state legislators are already hard at work developing and enacting policies that will guide the future of our country. They will put things in motion that will hopefully lift the living standards and opportunities available to our children and our childrens children. Thats what they do. Its why many of them sought an elective office in the first place.

This imperative was clearly visible at our most recent national meeting and the various learning engagements weve conducted throughout the country over the last year. Reflecting on whats been accomplished in just the last year - criminal justice reform, changes to tax policy that benefits families and workers and has helped spark an amazing period of job creation, and education reforms that continue to emphasize quality, excellence, and the interests of parents and children over the priorities of a bureaucratic model created in the 19th century - demonstrate that what American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC) members are doing in the states is working.

Tracing back where these policy successes began, one need look no further than the ALEC model policy on each of these issues as they were used as an impetus towards positive change and reform. The US/Mexico/Canada Free Trade agreement that replaced NAFTA, the pension overhaul and recent data privacy legislation only scratch the surface of things that began as state efforts led by the free-market movement.

Another critical success, the FIRST STEP Act, which began in the states, continues to gather momentum in the fight to ensure criminal justice reform continues and that those who commit minor and victimless crimes receive appropriate, fair punishment rather than some draconian sentence out of a French novel. The next phase of this battle is sure to be exciting because of the lives that may be improved as a result.

At the ALEC Annual Meeting and States & Nation Policy Summit, thousands of state legislators, local government leaders, and stakeholders gathered to share valuable information and insight as to how to solve todays policy challenges. ALEC held 30 Academies and issue briefings last year, which provide state legislators continuing education and a leg up in the world of policy making. ALEC taught legislators about wind farms, natural gas facilities, nuclear power plants, and much more.

Were proud of our record as we are proud of our new program for experiential learning, now offered at every ALEC event to promote continuing legislator education. At the Annual Meeting, dozens of ALEC legislators toured the Community First Tiny Home Village in Austin, Texas, and learned how to fight homelessness in their states. And every legislator walked away learning how homelessness can be addressed without a bloated and ineffective government program.

Our shared commitment to individual liberty and free enterprise will always take this country forward to prosperity. Those who offer a vision of the future based on collectivism and even greater government control of our lives, our communities and our families are made uneasy by our success. They slapped a target on our back that we wear with pride as a testament to our continuing success.

Its been difficult, but we will continue to forge ahead. Economic liberty, equal justice under law, job creation, education reform and the other issues on which we focus demand it. Brighter days are ahead for America because of the committed state legislators who stand up for these policies and the values inherent in them against who would just as soon shut down the debate because they know they cant win the argument.

Our role as a convener of idea summits and as a source of energy in the policymaking arena provides both hope and a reason to make 2020 an even more innovative, solutions-based and successful year.

Nelson is the chief executive office of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization bringing state legislators and stakeholders together to develop public policy beneficial to the free market and individual liberty.

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ALEC is helping America and its legislators - Great Bend Tribune

Keir Starmers past is coming under scrutiny. What can we learn from it? – The Guardian

I remember in July 2008 when the news broke of the decision to appoint Keir Starmer as director of public prosecutions (DPP). I was at a meeting of socialist lawyers, people who had spent their lives campaigning for the rights of homeless people and asylum seekers. We couldnt understand why hed taken the role.

On standing for the Labour leadership, Keir Starmer published a video, setting out his record as a barrister who had represented poll tax protesters and striking miners. I dont think anyone, a voiceover says, really expected someone who dedicated his career to defending workers, trade unions and trade unions to become director of public prosecutions. They were right about that.

As a barrister, Starmer was a principled opponent of state power. He was one of us. But the DPPs role is all about exercising power: prosecuting defendants so that they are fined or jailed. Starmers time as DPP has played a role in the Labour leadership contest, particularly in blogs and on social media and will be studied even more closely if he wins. What should we make of it?

As DPP, Starmer was the head of the Crown Prosecution Service. This is the body that decides whether or not to prosecute someone accused of a crime. Where the decision is taken to prosecute, it is the CPS that employs a lawyer to argue in court for a conviction. The CPS is a huge organisation, undertaking more than half a million prosecutions a year, and employing almost 6,000 people.

When Starmer called for the prosecution of demonstrators with scarves around their faces, he was playing up to press fantasies about their motives

There were a number of decisions that Starmer got right. He was appointed by Labour but spent half his time in office under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. There, he defended the Human Rights Act against Conservative proposals to repeal it. Rightwing MPs briefed against him. Starmer deserves recognition for taking that stand.

There is a second group of decisions taken by the CPS for which Starmer has been criticised, but it is difficult to say whether the criticisms are justified. The most difficult decision was, according to Starmer, in relation to the killing of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor who was struck by police officer Simon Harwood during protests in 2009.

Although between 30 and 50 people die each year in police custody or following contact with the police, these deaths almost never lead to prosecution. In that context, the left demanded Harwoods prosecution.

Starmer told the press that the CPS wouldnt prosecute. He cited the report of Dr Freddy Patel, the pathologist appointed by the state, who found the death had been caused by natural causes. Although other pathologists disagreed with Patel, the CPS insisted that the fact of his opinion was an insuperable barrier to prosecution. In October 2010, Dr Patel was suspended from practice as a result of allegations concerning the way he undertook autopsies. The CPS again announced that Harwood would not be prosecuted. Only in May 2011, after an inquest jury had found that Tomlinson had been unlawfully killed, did the CPS agree to charge Harwood with manslaughter.

The difficulty in criticising Starmer for his handling of this case or others like it is that we dont know what advice he was given. If senior prosecutors were advising him against proceeding, he cant be faulted for caution. After all, what would be the point of prosecution, if it was highly likely that the officer was going to be acquitted? Which, in 2012, Harwood was.

Where Starmers record may be more vulnerable to criticism is in his handling of the press. One of the DPPs tasks is to issue guidance to prosecutors. The guidance reminds prosecutors of the powers already available to them. Usually, the guidance is not controversial. For example, in November last year, the CPS offered guidance on prosecuting offences under the Theft Act. As far as I can tell, no paper reported on that guidance; its publication was seen as the routine act of a government department.

Starmer has been accused of [drawing] up rules that gave police officers more power. It has also been suggested that as DPP he extended the jail term for benefits crimes. But the CPS does not draw up sentencing guidelines. The DPPs guidance only binds prosecutors: it determines what they ask, not what the court gives them. As for protests, senior police officers, not the DPP, decide how they are policed.

His critics are able to exaggerate his role because of interviews given by Starmer himself in which he presented modest changes to the advice given to prosecutors as matters of real significance and used a tabloid-friendly language to defend them. This was how he justified the guidance on protests: Theres a potential for a number of protests over the coming years that may be quite large If someone has brought along a weapon or means of concealing their identity thats likely to be evidence that they were anticipating trouble or disorder.

In fact, over the past two decades, it has become more common for demonstrators to cover their faces. They do so because of the increasing use of snatch squads, police filming of political protests and scandals such as detention without arrest. When Starmer called for the vigorous pursuit of protesters who have concealed their identity, he was playing up to press fantasies about their motives.

This, meanwhile, is how Starmer explained his guidance to prosecutors in benefits cases: It is a myth that getting one over on the system is a victimless crime: the truth is we all pay the price; and It is vital that we take a tough stance on this type of fraud and I am determined to see a clampdown on those who flout the system.

The largest group of benefits prosecutions concern the minor infractions of people who fail to declare a piece of information. For example, when part-time workers on housing benefit fail to tell the authorities that their hours at work have increased. Starmers words (getting one over on the system) were wide enough so that it seemed he was referring to such groups of claimants. And, in doing so, he evoked tabloid myths about undeserving individuals deliberately and systematically milking the system. To speak of claimants in this way was to denigrate them.

Looking back on Starmers management of the media while DPP, the sense is of an individual with a radical past making peace with power. He was at ease there in a way that Jeremy Corbyn, among others, could never have been.

His supporters will say that Labour needs a leader capable of winning press support. To which his critics will counter that the rightwing press is already ungenerously studying Starmers career. It is a mistake to think that his close proximity to high-profile cases will be anything other than a recurring weak point in relation to the tabloids.

Starmers enthusiasm while DPP for using mundane news events to feed the press with rightwing talking points is a possible concern for Labour members. If such a leader was faced with news of an injustice in the future the consequence of a change to immigration rules, say, or of a strike in public services Starmers approach to the press as DPP might raise worries that he would not give a principled defence of the victims but would tell the press whatever it wanted to hear.

David Renton is a political activist and barrister. His latest book is The New Authoritarians

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Keir Starmers past is coming under scrutiny. What can we learn from it? - The Guardian

Pervert teacher had ‘appalling’ child abuse videos – Kent Online

A disgraced retired teacher found with dozens of videos showing the worst kind of child abuse has been banned from the internet.

"Lonely old man" Aidan Broderick, 82, from Thanet, was discovered with 42 movies showing children as young as two being attacked.

KentOnline has decided not to detail the content, however, Judge Catherine Brown described the moving images as "appalling".

"These are not victimless crimes, all of these children were abused when these movies were created," she added.

"These were appalling images of young children."

The judge sentenced Broderick to 18-months custody, suspended for two years.

She also made him subject to the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

It means Broderick will be 92 when he is next able to use a device to legally access the web.

Canterbury Crown Court heard police were alerted to Brodericks home in Burlington Place, Cliftonville, following reports of sinister activity on chatroom website ChatStep.

A total of 42 Category A movies and one Category A image surfaced following an interrogation of his computer.

Broderick also possessed 15 Category B and 1 Category C film alongside a Category B image.

Category A is the worst kind.

Specialist police software revealed 58 of the files had previously been deleted.

Prosecutor Ahmed Hossain said: On August 20 2018 police became aware of activity in a chatroom called ChatStep.

They went to his house, made a number of attempts to speak to him at that address but he was not there.

It seems he had broken his neck after a fall on a bus and had become hospitalised for some time.

The barrister added when officers traced the suspect he admitted using ChatStep, and so his computer was seized and analysed.

Mitigating, James Burke argued his client had enrolled on child abuse prevention course Stop It Now and was of previous good character.

It has improved his insight and he has much more of an understanding of the impact the making of indecent images has on children," he said.

"He is a lonely old man who was justifying something to himself - something which cannot be justified."

It wasn't mentioned in court which school Broderick worked in before retirement, however, judge Brown highlighted there had never been reports of improper behaviour during his career.

Asked if he understood the conditions of his sentence Broderick, who carried a case to court, replied: "Yes I do."

Broderick pleaded guilty at a previous pre-trial hearing to three counts of making indecent photos, and two counts of possessing indecent images.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: Many of the videos in Brodericks collection are crime scenes, where children have been subjected to unthinkable exploitation.

This is an industry where children are abused to order, and each time an indecent image is downloaded by an individual like Broderick the demand is only being fuelled.

Law enforcement cannot solve this problem alone. Big tech must also be made to use their expertise and resources to quickly remove this terrible content from their platforms and identify who put it there in the first place.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here

Read more:All the latest news from Thanet

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Pervert teacher had 'appalling' child abuse videos - Kent Online

PARK | Have You Taken the Time to Consider the Libertarian Presidential Candidates? – Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Are you sick of pondering paper ripping, partisan impeachment proceedings and whether or not Pete Buttigieg actually won Iowa? Are you tired of establishment candidates running the politics of our two party system or longing for dissolution of the entire government? Perhaps youre looking for a pro-immigration candidate who does not koozie up to wine cave owners or a pro-tax cut candidate who does not profess his love for authoritarian leaders. If any of the above describes you, it might be time to take a dip in the Libertarian pool of presidential candidates.

Despite garnering a record 4.5 million votes in the last presidential election, our nations third-largest and fastest-growing political party has been criminally underreported this cycle. Well, no longer. I am here to grant the party of minimum government and maximum freedom its day in The Sun.

While the rest of the nation was busy getting, first ironically, then sincerely addicted to TikTok, the Libertarian Party quietly assembled the most eccentric collection of candidates to vie for our nations highest seat of power in preparation for their national convention in May. They are notably different from the major party candidates; they dont share Bidens baggage, Bernies background or Trumps beautiful bald spot. But I assure you, what the Libertarian candidates may lack in supporters, funding and elected experience, they make up for in fun hats, criminal records and unbridled love for marijuana.

I invite you to explore this lineup of freedom fighters. Sure, they may never win, but neither will 29 of the contestants each season on The Bachelor, and that hasnt stopped us from following them religiously through their doomed attempts to find love on network television. Much like The Bachelor, these candidates share a brazen, unwavering hope to increase their following, win the hearts of America and spend the rest of their lives promoting SugarBearHair Vitamins on Instagram.

Behold my top picks for the nomination:

Adam Kokesh is running for Not-President of the United States and leading the pack in financial contributions at over $200,000. His goal is simple: to peacefully and orderly dissolve the federal government. This anti-war Iraq veteran and activist announced his candidacy back in 2013 from prison during a Fox interview after being arrested for an Open Carry incident. We love us some civil disobedience. Much like the great Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Lil Wayne, Adam Kokesh began writing his pice de rsistance, FREEDOM!, in jail. This treatise is a meditation on how governments trample upon liberty and serves as the crux of his platform to burn it all down.

Dan Taxation Is Theft Behrman was so devoted to his cause that he legally changed his name to spread his core belief. I dare you to find a more dedicated candidate. I dont see Donald Build a Wall Trump or Bernie The Top 1% Owns 42% of the Nations Wealth Sanders showing the same level of commitment. His bright yellow Taxation is Theft top hat is arguably more iconic than Trumps MAGA hat.

If you were praying for female redemption after the last election, but could not possibly get over Klobuchars salad-eating habits or Warrens Native American claims, fear not; Jo Jorgensen may be the candidate for you. This Clemson University psychology professor was the former Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential nominee and believes that generations of Republican and Democrat politicians have failed the American people. She supports immigration, environmental reform and decriminalizing non-violent victimless crimes. And given that she is a well-spoken, well-educated and well-qualified woman, she is, naturally, well-suited to be passed over for one of her male counterparts.

Arvin Vohra announced his bid for president the same day he was ousted as the vice-chair of the Libertarian Party for being too radical. How, you may ask, could you be too radical for a government party that does not believe in government? Well this anarcho-capitalist has joked about school shootings, called veterans hired killers, and expressed that welfare recipients should not be allowed to vote. Outside of the party, he teaches SAT prep to students, which is concerning considering he does not believe in a government age of consent.

Former Republican senator, Independent governor, and Democratic presidential nominee Lincoln Chafee is certainly the most politically experienced candidate in the pool. He may change parties like Martha Pollack changes snow day status, but he boasts a thirty-year public service career with zero scandals and promises to protect our freedoms and always tell the truth.

Vermin Supreme is a perennial candidate and my personal favorite. Back when Biden voted for the Iraq War, Supreme advocated for free ponies for all Americans. And this key tenant of his platform has remained constant throughout his five bids for president. This self-described Tyrant You Can Trust promises mandatory tooth brushing, funcentration camps on the border and zombie apocalypse awareness. Supreme championed the New Hampshire Libertarian primary in his famous boot hat. But his magic may best be distilled by one of his lines in the South Carolina debates: I smoke dope. I smoke grass. If you dont like it, you can kiss my ass.

For many of these candidates, their campaigns play out like performance art, but each of these players seem acutely aware of their own absurdity. Because to do the nearly-impossible task of creating change as a third party candidate in a two party system requires unwavering resolve and radical unselfconsciousness. Whether it be through a boot hat, name change or promise to tear down the system, what is self evident is that the Libertarian candidates will stop at no length to be heard.

Sarah Park is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at sarahpark@cornellsun.com.Spark Notesruns every other Monday this semester.

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PARK | Have You Taken the Time to Consider the Libertarian Presidential Candidates? - Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Looking the other way is not an option – Thegardenisland.com

Drinking from a fire hose, blind-folded with both arms tied behind your back. This is a description that comes to mind when folks ask me to describe what its like working in the legislative arena as an advocate.

The need for citizen advocacy is great. The urgency of the moment for our community, and for the planet is palpable.

The task is daunting at best and I applaud the many across all islands who take the time to enter this arena daily during the annual legislative session (mid January to the first week in May), and through-out the year at the local and national level.

I have been blessed really. Representing Kauai in the Hawaii State Senate for 8 years (4 as Majority Leader), was an invaluable and incredibly fulfilling experience. Serving on the Kauai County Council for 8 years, likewise provided me with an opportunity to make a difference, and a comprehensive education as to the workings (or not) of local government. The time I spent working with Governor Abercrombie as Director of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) gave me additional experience from an administrative perspective. For all three opportunities, I am deeply grateful and the experience gained was both valuable and incredibly fulfilling.

Having spent nearly 20 years working on the inside, I now spend my hours on the outside, working with grassroots advocacy groups and individuals. Today, while also doing occasional consulting work, my life is mostly spent sharing my experience as a volunteer advocate, helping to train and support other policy advocates.

In the legislative world, most will have a subject matter focus and the people and organizations with whom I work primarily focus on issues pertaining to environmental, economic and social justice.

A healthy democracy requires an informed and engaged citizenry. Unfortunately, our democracy on both the local, state and national level is not healthy.

For evidence of our democracy in decay, one need only look at the enormous gap between the ultra rich and the vast majority of people who slave away at multiple jobs earning just barely enough to get by.

If more evidence is needed, take a walk in the mountains or along the coast. There you will see our dead and dying streams, and our shorelines littered with plastics.

Anyone still not convinced of the decline should look into our criminal justice (or rather injustice) system half the people in jail today are poor people awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail. Many of our incarcerated are there as a result of victimless crimes such as drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness (yes, in much of Hawaii being homeless is a crime). Rich people and corporations dont go to jail, they simply pay their fines and hire expensive lawyers.

The answer of course and the solution to this madness, is that citizens must take responsibility and ownership of our policy, our politics and ultimately our government. Abandoning the control and decision-making to those who are elected, without our active involvement as citizens, is an abdication of our personal responsibility as human beings.

We are responsible for the condition of the world and we cannot simply blame the politicians.

Yes, we are busy. But too bad, too sad you will get no sympathy from me. I also am busy and have children and grandchildren and bills to pay and a yard to mow, and plenty of stuff to do other than send in testimony, follow the process or meet with my elected representative

The world is literally burning. Every year there are less fish in the ocean. Instances of various illness attributed to environmental causes (cancer, autism etc) are growing at alarming levels, and our friends and neighbors are increasingly living under blue tarps, sleeping on pallets and under bridges. There but for the grace of God go each of us.

People slave away at starvation wages as a result of a conscious public policy decision to keep our minimum wage below that which is needed for a human to survive. Our own government has determined that $17 per hour is a substance wage for a single person working 40 hours a week. Our State legislature has decided that $10.10 per hour is sufficient. While legislators themselves will be getting their raises they continue to refuse to increase that of those at the very bottom of the economic ladder. Let them eat cake is the message sent.

The affordable housing public policy solutions (bills) being presented now at the legislature are essentially a collection of giveaways to developers and landowners.

The solutions being offered are developer incentives that reduce environmental protections, make development permits automatic and increase the urbanization of agricultural lands. In return for these government concessions (read public giveaways), the developers must promise that at least 50% of the homes they build will be sold for approximately $800,000 or less, targeting people who earn 140% of the median income in Hawaii. This is what our policy makers consider affordable.

Deliberate public policy decisions are responsible also for stream diversions and the subsequent killing of our mountain streams, caused by large agribusiness and others. Rather than pass and enforce public policy that says sufficient water must remain in the stream to keep it alive and allow downstream users to also use the water public policy makers too often yield to big money and big landowners who simply want to bank as much water as they can for as long as they can.

The present challenges facing our local, state and national community are the result of conscious public policy decisions made by policy makers over time. As citizens, we have the power and the responsibility to effect those policy changes to the benefit of people and the planet. We can collectively change things for the better, if we collectively take our responsibility seriously and invest the time and energy needed.

Voting is important but it is not enough. Full participation in our government requires becoming educated on the issues and the process, offering testimony via email or in person, and speaking out in public forums. It also requires people to put their names forward to serve on boards and commissions, to run for election to public office, and to help others campaign and win election.

I encourage all to think about the options, and to take action.

Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom, decency and justice. Robert F. Kennedy

Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

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Looking the other way is not an option - Thegardenisland.com

Democrats Attack AG Barr: Is This About Roger Stone or 2016? – Liberty Nation

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The recent attacks by Democrats on Attorney General William Barr have been portrayed as a reaction to the Justice Departments (DOJ) decision to intervene in the prosecution of Trump associate Roger Stone. That is not the whole story, though. Remarks by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) may have exposed her partys real agenda: to interfere with and even halt the ongoing DOJ investigation into the genesis of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax.

Roger Stone

The four attorneys handling the prosecution of Stone signed off on a sentencing memo, which recommended the 67-year-old receive a prison term of between seven and nine years. To put that in perspective, child molesters, rapists, and repeat-offender drunk drivers responsible for fatal road accidents have served less jail time. Stone, who has no previous criminal record, was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation into the Russia affair.

These are all victimless crimes that, one could argue, shouldnt be considered crimes because Stone himself was unwittingly swept up in a bogus, politically motivated investigation based almost entirely on uncorroborated claims, media reports, and hearsay.

Media coverage of the DOJs intervention in the case has painted the entire affair as far more dramatic than it is. The Department considered the recommendation of seven to nine years to be excessive, and so it stepped in and recommended a lesser sentence.

If media reports are to be taken at face value, though, the DOJ only intervened because President Trump tweeted criticism of the proposed sentence for Stone. Additionally, the Justice Department doing the presidents bidding has overruled both the prosecutors and the judge handling the case. Of course, neither is true.

The Departments objection to the proposed sentence was filed before the presidents tweet, according to officials. Furthermore, the revised recommendation is just that: It does not command the judge to impose a lighter sentence. As Liberty Nation Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza, Esq. explains:

[Stone] will be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson not by the Justice Department or anyone else. You could be forgiven for thinking somehow that the DOJ was the sentencing body given how the story has been reported. The DOJ often recommends sentences to judges, but it has no legal basis for doing anything other than recommending. Judges impose sentences.

Elizabeth Warren

Speaking to CNNs Anderson Cooper, Sen. Warren called for Barrs resignation and suggested that if he would not step down, House Democrats could impeach him. The senator went a step further, though, by suggesting that the House might push to defund Department of Justice investigations: And the United States Congress right now should put a writer on an upcoming bill to say, Hey, no funding of any investigations that Barr meddles into, Warren told Cooper.

Strange indeed to claim the United States attorney general is meddling by doing the very thing he was appointed to do, but has Warren let the cat out of the bag? Democrats appear very nervous about what John Durham, the federal prosecutor appointed by Barr to investigate the origins of the Russian conspiracy theory, may uncover. Their aim, therefore, may be to discredit the A.G. and, by extension, the Durham investigation. Shutting it down altogether would likely be their ideal scenario.

Additionally, the presidents political enemies have shown themselves to be determined to pursue multiple investigations into every aspect of his conduct and even his business dealings prior to taking office. They are attempting to prevent the DOJ from taking any steps to reign in their excesses, and taking out Barr, they seem to feel, is essential to that end.

What Warren is suggesting the defunding of DOJ investigations would be the clearest example of something the Democrats themselves have been crowing about for quite some time: obstruction of justice. There is no word on how long Durham will take to conclude his investigation. Warren along with her Democrat colleagues appears to be acting to prevent its conclusion. Should Republicans retake the House in November, they could, perhaps, think about doing some impeaching of their own.

~

Read more from Graham J. Noble.

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Democrats Attack AG Barr: Is This About Roger Stone or 2016? - Liberty Nation

Learning What We Always Knew: Corruption in Angola – Council on Foreign Relations

2020 is off to a rough start for Africas richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, the jet-setting daughter of former Angolan President Jos Eduardo dos Santos, who led his country for 38 years until being succeeded in 2017 by current President Joo Loureno. Ms. Dos Santos is at the center of the Luanda Leaks, a series of investigative reports developed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and informed by a voluminous amount of documentation that a Portuguese hackerprovided to the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa. The reports detail how Ms. Dos Santos used access to the states resources for private gain, including by transferring funds from state-owned enterprises to offshore private companies that she and her allies controlled. Angolan authorities have frozen her bank accounts, and last week the Angolan attorney general announced that she had been indicted for money laundering, mismanagement, and other economic crimes, largely committed during her tenure as head of the state-owned oil company Sonangol from June 2016 to November 2017.

In considering these reports, its worth remembering just how poor many Angolans areand how battered the infrastructure of the state remains 18 years after the end of the brutal civil war. Angolas human development indicators are distressing,from infant mortality to access to education to the overall portion of citizens living in poverty. 44% of Angolan citizens dont even have access to clean water. It is certainly not the case that grand corruption in Angola is a victimless crime.

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Corruption

Sub-Saharan Africa

In one sense, the Luanda Leaks are explosive. They provide an evidentiary basis for legal action, and pull back the curtain on the mechanics of looting the Angolan state and the network of enablers that benefited along the way. But at the same time, they are hardly breaking news. Angolan activists and journalists have pointed out the grotesque nature of corruption in the country for decades, often at great personal risk. In financial and political capitals around the world, no one who has any familiarity with Angola is genuinely surprised by these revelations.

Of course, one hopes that the fallout from the Luanda Leaks will deter others from using public positions of trust for private gain, and that it will shame those glossy international service providers who facilitated graft into a better faith effort at compliance and diligence.But it should also prompt some soul-searching in a wider circle.How is it that, collectively, people around the world had resigned themselves to the notion that stealing from the public was simply business as usual in Angola?What passed for world-weary sophistication was something much more insidiousan easy tolerance for injusticeand a cynicism that enrages the people who suffer while elites congratulate themselves for being in the know.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

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Learning What We Always Knew: Corruption in Angola - Council on Foreign Relations

Where N.H. Democrats And The 2020 Candidates Stand On Drug Crisis Policies – WBUR

New Hampshire is among the states hardest hit by the drug overdose crisis. So perhaps its no surprise that a majority of voters who plan to vote in the Democratic presidential primary support even the most controversial measures to keep people who use drugs alive and guide them to treatment rather than jail.

Take decriminalization. Pete Buttigieg has a long-standing plan to eliminate incarceration for drug possession. A spokeswoman for Joe Biden says that's the former vice president's position, as well. Andrew Yang has a similar position, for opioids, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms the latter because his campaigns cites there may be medical benefits. Bernie Sanders would eliminate criminal charges for marijuana and for buprenorphine, a less potent opioid used to treat addiction to stronger drugs. Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Elisabeth Warren would all decriminalize marijuana.

WBURs poll (topline/crosstabs), conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, found 66% of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire agree with the idea of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs. Some call possession a victimless crime. Others support decriminalization because they say poor drug users and minorities are disproportionately charged with drug crimes. Many respondents say decriminalizing drugs may help shift resources from incarceration to treatment.

The so-called war on drugs is a miserable failure, said Dave Berman from Rumney, N.H. Regulation, very much like alcohol, I think that would be much more responsible.

Removing criminal penalties for drug possession is one of five questions we asked of 426 voters between Jan. 17-21 about drug proposals. These questions represent a range of strategies proposed by Democratic hopefuls. New Hampshire voters who expect to cast a ballot in that primary expressed the strongest support, 89%, for requiring that insurers cover drug treatment.

Jody Baronian from Newton, N.H., said shes watched people in her personal and professional life struggle with addiction.

When that person is in that moment of wanting to seek help and theyre not able to get it, then weve lost an incredible opportunity, she said. The number one hindrance is finding an available place and the insurance.

A spokeswoman for Biden says he supports requiring all insurers to cover drug treatment. Sanders would guarantee treatment under his Medicare for All plan. Buttigieg would require coverage of medications that curb or block opioid cravings and other treatments for addiction. Amy Klobuchar and Warren both say treatment would be widely available under their respective $100 billion substance use plans.

The poll finds widespread support as well for filing criminal charges against drug companies and executives who allegedly fueled the opioid crisis with misleading or inaccurate claims about the risks of addiction. Thousands of communities across the country have filed civil suits against Purdue Pharma and other manufacturers.

Murali Thiyagarajah, from Concord, N.H., is among the 80% of likely primary voters who support criminal charges.

Absolutely, absolutely, he said. You can just pay the fine and go scot-free . We have to step up and say that you are criminally responsible.

Gabbards opioid addiction plan focuses on prosecuting pharmaceutical firms and other ways to curb their influence. Biden, Yang, Warren, Klobuchar and Sanders would also pursue criminal charges. Buttigieg calls for holding drug manufacturers accountable for deceptive marketing and other violations, but its not clear if he would press for criminal charges.

And finally, we asked New Hampshire Democratic primary voters about specific harm reduction strategies, which are illegal in many areas. Despite that, 70% of respondents support expanding needle exchanges. And 56% approve of supervised consumption sites, where nurses or doctors monitor drug use and step in when needed to prevent an overdose. But many of these voters have reservations about both.

People shouldnt go around reusing dirty needles, Jennifer Cadmus of Troy, N.H., said about needle exchange programs. They could get an infection and die but is that kind of enabling people? So, Im a little skeptical of how well it works, but I think it should happen.

On supervised consumption, Cadmus says if people can do it safely so they dont overdose, thats great, but again, is it enabling them?

Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Yang are all in favor of supervised consumption sites. They also support opening more syringe exchange programs, except for Yang, who hasnt taken a position.

We reached out to each of the campaigns. If their stance on any of the questions says "did not answer," thats because we're still waiting for that information from the campaign.

Some New Hampshire voters are surprised that the ongoing problem of drug overdoses and deaths is not getting much attention this election season.

It drives me insane, said Baronian, the Newton respondent. Were skirting the things that are impacting every single family in this country.

Public health leaders echo that frustration. Michael Botticelli, director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, said hes encouraged that most candidates have reasonable, evidence-based plans, but the lack of attention to this issue is discouraging.

To not address it in a major way is just a deafening silence, he said.

There are lots of theories about why. In New Hampshire, opioid overdose deaths are on the decline, so there may be less urgency. But meth and cocaine use is up, making the drug crisis more complicated. Discussing solutions in sound bites may be more difficult.

Its not a pleasant conversation, it doesnt leave people with a very good feeling, said Baronian. So who wants to include that on their campaign trail and have those difficult complex conversations.

Other New Hampshire Democrats and some Independents say issues arent the priority right now.

Weve had this president for awhile," Cadmus said, "people are mainly focusing on whether someone is more electable than him."

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Where N.H. Democrats And The 2020 Candidates Stand On Drug Crisis Policies - WBUR

EDITORIAL: The moment of truth for Cory Gardner and Republicans arrives in the Trump impeachment trial – Sentinel Colorado

Sen. Cory Gardner and Gov. Jared Polis in Aurora. File Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

It takes little imagination to understand the quagmire President Donald Trump has dragged the Republican Party into, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

The consistent and compelling albeit sometimes circumstantial evidence against Trump leads to only one logical conclusion: Trump is guilty as charged in the House articles of impeachment.

The insistence that the case against Trump is flimsy or merely a partisan fabrication is an untenable lie. The House investigation methodically illustrates how Trump tried to extort the Ukranians into playing along with Trumps perilous scheme to undermine Joe Bidens presidential campaign. It takes little imagination to understand Trumps motivation because he sees Biden as the greatest Democratic threat to his re-election.

The case against the president in the scheme is clear that Trump tried, Trump got caught, and Trump ultimately failed.

Its not laughable that GOP U.S. Senators such as Joni Ernst of Iowa dismiss the serious allegations with their illogical banter. Its alarming.

The only compelling argument is whether Trumps misuse of his office and military aid to the Ukraine to undermine Biden warrants removal from office.

For us, and for most Americans, it does.

Aurora Congressman Jason Crow, a House manager trying the case now in the Senate, has offered a meticulous and convincing illustration of how Trumps crime was not academic nor victimless. The aid that a bi-partisan majority of Congress approved and Trump surreptitiously withheld meant life or death to thousands of Ukranian soldiers fighting Russian invaders. Fighting in sneakers and without armor, Ukranian fighters went without almost $300 million worth of equipment. Crow, himself a battle veteran, explained how even days, let alone weeks or months, mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.

Just as important, if the Ukrainians fail to contain Russian invaders, and the battle spills into Europe, its easy to see how the lives of Americans and other allies will be in jeopardy.

Every reputable expert will detail the direct link from the result of the Ukraines war against the Russian invasion to the security of the United States and almost every American and NATO ally. Trumps choosing to use the Ukraine quagmire as an opportunity to undermine Biden created a dangerous threat to national security and the lives of American soldiers.

Those are the stakes Trump gambled with in his extensive effort to blackmail the Ukranians.

The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress ruled that the Trump administration illegally withheld that military aid. Not even the presidents most ardent defenders have offered a believable explanation of Trumps behavior.

They cannot. The scheme was anathema to every standard of American values and leadership.

The nation and the world knows that if a Democratic president had done the same thing, Republicans would be howling for resignation or trials for treason, and rightfully so.

What the nation needs, and perhaps some Republicans in Congress, is to hear definitive proof, not just overwhelming evidence, of how Trump covertly manipulated the government to do his personal, political bidding.

Only additional evidence and sworn testimony can offer that now. And only Gardner and a smattering of Republican members of the Senate can realistically make that happen.

Gardner and a few other self-proclaimed moderate Republicans in the Senate can swing the inevitable vote to demanding critical witnesses address the jury of senators and answer questions.

Democrats deserve criticism that they should have waited for courts to decide whether the Trump administration should be allowed to stonewall the House investigation.

The Constitution is clear on the matter. They cant. Congress has every right to investigate the administration as a matter of its outlined duties.

The charges against Trump and the need to have a clear understanding of what the president did far outweigh the temptation for Republicans to punish Democrats for their impatience during the House investigation. In doing so, Republicans punish the nation and undermine the foundation of American government.

The Senate now has the right, and the responsibility, to bring former National Security Advisor Director John Bolton and other implicated and knowing White House officials before Congress to detail the truth or perjure themselves.

This is Gardners final opportunity to show his constituents in Colorado that he is willing and able to put the interests of the nation above those of Trump, the Republican Party and possibly, his own political future.

He has greatly disappointed all of Colorado when pressed to this test in the past. But the stakes have never been this high.

Either Gardner will help Democrats and others bring critical witnesses before the Senate or he will certainly forfeit his future in Congress. Doing the right thing and pressing for vital witness testimony wont guarantee Gardners re-election to his Senate seat this fall, but falling in line with the partisan ploy to protect Trump and cover up his crimes will undoubtedly ensure Gardners defeat.

Given the threats by the president against Gardner and others for disloyalty, its truly an unenviable position Gardner finds himself in.

This is what Gardner and the Republican Party, nationally and in Colorado, have become.

We appeal to Gardners professed sense of independence and virtue. Help the Senate compel witnesses and evidence that will either cement the House case against Trump, or disprove it, as Trump allies insist is possible.

Americans deserve to know all they can, and this may be their only opportunity.

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EDITORIAL: The moment of truth for Cory Gardner and Republicans arrives in the Trump impeachment trial - Sentinel Colorado

‘No such thing as a responsible user of heroin’, says judge – Herald.ie

Alan Lynch was described as a very mannerly drug addict

Alan Lynch (37) used his busking proceeds to get drug money and was "not a typical" addict, his defence said after he admitted possession of heroin and crack cocaine.

Giving him a two-month suspended sentence, Judge Paula Murphy said there was "no such thing as a responsible heroin user" and that it was not a victimless crime.

Lynch, of Somerville Drive, Walkinstown, pleaded guilty to possession of drugs at Grove Park, Rathmines, on October 13 last year.

A garda told Dublin District Court he had seen the accused, identified himself and told him he was going to be searched.

Lynch co-operated and handed over a small wrap of heroin and crack cocaine worth 70.

He had four previous convictions for offences including robbery.

Unusual

While the case was at the lower end of the scale, the criminal drug trade was "fuelled by people who buy drugs" and the accused was aware of that, his barrister Glenn Lynch said.

The accused had had a heroin addiction since he was 17. It was very unusual for someone who was addicted for that long to have so few previous convictions, Mr Lynch said.

Lynch had studied music in college and did a lot of busking.

"The money he receives from busking he uses to spend on drugs, it's not like an ordinary heroin addict who uses thefts to fuel his heroin addiction," Mr Lynch said.

"He is not someone who is a typical heroin user, he's a responsible heroin user.

"He doesn't go out and commit crimes to fuel his heroin addiction."

The previous conviction for robbery involved "pulling a bag away from someone", and Lynch was in debt at the time.

Addiction was an ongoing battle for him, and one he was trying to address with the use of methadone.

He was "very mannerly, even when he's under the influence of drugs", Mr Lynch said.

The judge suspended the sentence for a year.

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'No such thing as a responsible user of heroin', says judge - Herald.ie

When the Justice System Tilts Toward Aliens – Immigration Blog

Media report that Dongyuan Li, the mastermind (or at least the public face) of a massive birth tourism operation that served hundreds of women and garnered millions of dollars in profit, is being released after having served less than a year 10 months to be precise in jail. (See, e.g., here and here.) The time in jail was served waiting for trial; having pleaded guilty and been given credit for time served, she's walking out the door of the U.S. criminal justice system, presumably to be removed from the United States.

The scheme involved advising and counseling women on how to deceive U.S. consular officers in China as to their purpose and length of stay in the United States and whenever possible to conceal any indications of pregnancy so that those officers would not suspect that the sole purpose of the visit was to bear a child who would garner the benefits of U.S. citizenship at birth, despite virtually no familial or any other ties to this country.

The U.S. Attorney's Office pressed for a sentence of at least 33 months and the judge's sentence came as a surprise to one and all. His comments have been limited, but he suggested that if the government had been able to present more evidence of visa fraud, he might have ordered a longer sentence. This is pure sophistry. As multiple accounts make clear, she was living the lifestyle of the elite rich, in a mansion attended by servants, with multiple luxury cars, multiple bank accounts, and a huge stockpile of dough. The government is seizing most, if not all, of thatas fruits of the crime. What's more, there was ample electronic evidence gathered in thousands of text messages, e-mails, attachments, and documents that clearly reflected the extensive reach of the scheme.

One suspects that the presiding judge, James Selna, is one of those who either thinks that it was a victimless crime, or alternately that deportation in lieu of time in jail is adequate. I vigorously disagree.

As to the the "victimless crime" reasoning, society is a victim when the integrity of a system of governance in this case, our immigration and visa-issuance processes is so badly compromised. Do a quick thought experiment here: Imagine that tomorrow Congress passes a massive amnesty. If, a year after that, there is evidence that thousands of aliens defrauded the government to obtain their green cards, will your moral compass and sense of outrage be awakened? Probably. Now transpose that moral outrage to this matter it is, after all, considerably more important because the theft here was so much better than a green card it was of U.S. citizenship, the ultimate prize.

That the immediate beneficiary happens to be an infant is immaterial. Indeed, it is, or should be, of more concern because he or she will grow up in the shadow of the Chinese Communist Party and its organs. Will he or she grow up to be turned against us and used as a weapon or tool of espionage? After all, there will be no intrinsic attachment to a country neither known nor remembered. This isn't far-fetched. Because the Chinese government is monolithic and authoritarian, its reach into everyday society is extensive and, like the North Koreans, Chinese official are not above establishing illicit schemes in other countries when it suits their national interest. That is why I spoke speculatively about whether or not Dongyuan Li orchestrated the fraud scheme, or was simply its public face.

As to whether deportation is an adequate substitute for jail time, it seems to me a fundamental unfairness that aliens can break the criminal laws and simply escape by being repatriated to where they came from. U.S. citizens have no such escape valve, and so become disadvantaged in this regard. Can you imagine a citizen going before a judge and saying, "If you let me, I'll be glad to cross into Mexico and get out of your hair instead of sending me to jail"? It would be a source of endless amusement and outrage. I don't suggest aliens should not be removed for their crimes, but only after serving a sentence commensurate to what any citizen would be obliged to served. To take any other position is to endorse a disparate system of justice.

Finally, it's important to recognize that there aren't just two decision-makers where removal of this woman is concerned (assuming that she acquiesces to being deported because she doesn't want to risk being found out in any other fraud schemes she may have engaged in, or for whatever other reason). There are three players. The ponderous and overburdened immigration court system, which is groaning under the weight of a million-plus removal cases, kicks in when the federal authorities file deportation charges against her. So the U.S. government is player number one. She can, as mentioned, acquiesce or fight the charges tooth and nail in an attempt to remain. Either way, she is player number two. But the third player is China itself. The People's Republic of China must agree to take Dongyuan Li back and issue the necessary repatriation documents, and it's worth noting that the PRC is listed as a "recalcitrant nation" that deliberately slow-walks its issuance of those documents, sometimes for years, thus impeding our government's ability to actually execute a warrant of removal once issued.

Consider this irony: If China chooses to throw a wrench into the machinery of her removal, even if the woman is detained she must be released within six months once it becomes clear that deportation isn't imminent. (You can thank the Supreme Court for that landmark 2001 decision.) In such a scenario, she might very well end up walking the streets of America for years to come despite all of her criminal machinations; at this point there's just no way to know.

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When the Justice System Tilts Toward Aliens - Immigration Blog

Rick Gates gets 45 days of weekend jail, 3 years of probation – Politico

"He did not appear to embroider, the judge said. He didn't come across as some kind of bought-and-paid-for puppet.

Just a week after Attorney General Bill Barr declared the Mueller investigation was based on a completely bogus narrative, Jackson used her perch on Tuesday to deliver what sounded like a pointed, public rebuttal, saying there was an ample basis for an aggressive inquiry into the Trump campaign aides connections and actions.

Gates information alone warranted, indeed demanded, further investigation from the standpoint of our national security, the integrity of our elections and the enforcement of our criminal laws, Jackson declared. An appointee of President Barack Obama, she has presided over more of the criminal prosecutions stemming from the Mueller probe than any other judge.

Before handing down Gates sentence, which also included a $20,000 fine and 300 hours of community service, Jackson detailed the crimes hed been charged with alongside Manafort. It included the longtime business partners use and access to $75 million that flowed through unreported offshore bank accounts, as well as extensive tax fraud and years of unregistered lobbying in the U.S. for Ukrainian politicians.

As Jackson recounted the long list of crimes, she paused to take a swipe at rhetoric the White House has used when tangling with Trumps critics.

Those are facts, Jackson Those are not alleged facts. Those are not alternative facts.

The judge also dismissed claims that such behavior is typical on the Washington political scene.

Politics dont corrupt people. People corrupt politics, Jackson said.

As she did at Manaforts sentencing, Jackson also bluntly rejected claims that the pairs unregistered lobbying for Ukrainian interests amounted to a victimless crime.

What Gates and Manafort did was lying to the members of Congress and the American public, the judge said. When people dont have the facts, democracy doesnt work.

Jackson praised Gates for not making arguments aimed at minimizing his culpability or contending that he was somehow duped by Manafort.

Gates is not sitting here telling me Manafort forced him or coerced him across the line, the judge said, although she said the lobbying protg was obviously taken with Mr. Manafort.

However, even while praising Gates for his decision to accept responsibility for his actions, Jackson said she fretted over the public perception and potential lack of deterrence to others if she gave him a complete pass or at least didnt align his sentence in relation to other similar cases.

This is what Ive been struggling with in anticipation of this sentencing for a long time, she said. I have to ask myself, is more needed?

Speaking from the courtroom lectern before hearing his sentence, Gates delivered a very brief apology.

Your honor, I wish to express to this court that I accept complete responsibility for my actions that have led me here, he said, seeming to choke up a bit as he spoke. I greatly regret the mistakes that Ive made and Ive worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends. My family and I appreciate your consideration for leniency. And I hope and pray that you will grant that to me.

In addition to his cooperation with federal investigators, Gates responded to three congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony and plans to testify at any additional trials if prosecutors make the request.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston repeatedly stressed to Jackson that Gates had delivered extraordinary assistance to the government during the high-profile Mueller investigation. His guilty plea also came despite pressure from Manafort to maintain his innocence, as well as an offer relayed by Manafort of financial assistance through a legal defense fund.

Gaston called it a turning point for prosecutors when Gates agreed to assist the government.

He chose to cooperate and wholeheartedly held up his end of the bargain, she said.

Perhaps more important than Gates testimony at any trial was his behind-the-scenes role walking prosecutors through Manaforts complex financial arrangements, which included tens millions of dollars parked in dozens of offshore accounts with exotic names like Leviathan Advisors and Lucicle Consultants.

Gaston called Gates testimony at Manaforts Virginia trial necessary for the government to win its case against the high-flying lobbyist.

The full scope of Gates cooperation remains unclear, since the judge received some details about that under seal.

However, the judge seemed to hint at that when she said he may still testify in future and trials. She also signaled that Gates has been working with prosecutors from coast to coast.

Its not as if its just been a quick foray or dipping your toe into repentance. ... Hes been all over the country, in multiple investigations, she said, without elaborating.

Jacksons sentencing on Tuesday closes out one of the last remaining unfinished chapters of Muellers probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Only former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Stone still await sentencing. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is set to give Flynn his punishment for lying to investigators on Jan. 28. Jackson is set to sentence Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and intimidating a witness, on Feb. 6.

Gates was a focus in one of Mueller's first official public moves. The former Trump deputy campaign chairman was indicted together with Manafort in October 2017 on charges including money laundering and making false statements.

Initially, Gates stuck by Manafort, pleading not guilty. The two men even discussed the possibility of a Trump pardon, according to the Mueller report. Ultimately, though, Gates turned on Manafort and Trump in February 2018, providing cooperation with federal prosecutors that resulted in the dismissal of some charges against Gates, including the tax and bank fraud crimes.

Gates ended up helping the government during several closely scrutinized moments.

In August 2018, Gates incriminated Manafort from the witness stand in several crimes, including multimillion-dollar tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding offshore accounts. A jury later convicted Manafort, who is now serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence.

Gates also appeared last month in the trial against Stone, who a jury convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks in the 2016 presidential race.

Federal prosecutors had Gates explain that the WikiLeaks plotting inside the Trump campaign occured far earlier than had previously been understood, and that the president was also involved in those conversations, despite his previous denials.

Some of the testimony came at significant cost to Gates reputation a fact Jackson alluded to Tuesday. In addition to admitting to a string of financial crimes while testifying at Manaforts trial in Virginia last year, Gates also admitted to extramarital affairs that he had while working with Manafort.

The federal judge at that trial had deemed Gates relationship off-limits, but when a defense attorney asked Gates about how he was funding his secret life, the longtime Manafort aide essentially blurted out that hed had affairs and it was wrong.

There was a period of time, almost 10 years ago, when I had a relationship, yes, Gates conceded.

Not every outing Gates made on the witness stand led inexorably to success for the government.

In August, prosecutors used Gates testimony to support a false-statement charge against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig about his lobbying work related to Ukraine. But the testimony seemed to be of meager benefit to the governments case, especially after Craig introduced a string of character witnesses saying they considered the defendant unfailingly trustworthy.

After a three-week trial, the jury took less than five hours to acquit Craig.

Prosecutors said Craigs acquittal should not bear on Gates sentence. Gates assistance should be evaluated independent of the jurys decision he should be given no more or less credit for his cooperation in that matter than had Craig been found guilty, they wrote.

Still, Gates two turns on the witness stand in front of Jackson redounded to his benefit as he seemed to go out of his way to appear earnest and contrite while sitting in the witness box just feet from the same judge who would sentence him.

And, at times during those cases, Jackson stepped in to protect Gates when she felt defense attorneys had gone too far in tangling with the government cooperator.

Gates decision to cooperate also had major benefits for his quality of life as the Mueller investigation unfolded. Gates was able to coach a little league baseball team for one of his four children. Jackson also approved numerous out-of-town family trips as Gates sentencing was repeatedly postponed.

Letters submitted to the judge for Gates sentencing revealed that hed also been able to spend time with his family at a particularly challenging time: his wife, Sarah, was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and has been receiving treatment.

The sentence of 45 days to be served as intermittent confinement appeared to take account of his wifes medical condition and his family obligations.

Gates had been looking at a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison for the two charges he pleaded guilty to: conspiracy against the U.S. and making false statements to the FBI. Non-binding sentencing guidelines in Gates case called for a prison term of about four or five years, court officials calculated. But Jackson said that range was somewhat inflated because it was based on the total amount of tax losses to the U.S. governmenta sum that primarily benefited Manafort.

The sentencing proceeding drew the largest number of Mueller team veterans spotted at the D.C. federal courthouse since Manaforts sentencing in March. About 20 current and former prosecutors, FBI and IRS agents and support personnel who worked on or closely with the special counsels office sat in two rows in the courtroom gallery.

However, the area for spectators was only about half full. And in a sign of how the once mighty Mueller apparatus has dramatically scaled down, Gaston sat alone at the once-crowded prosecution table, flanked only by a couple of legal manuals and a three-ring binder.

Still, the old players made their presence known.

In a moment that seemed to highlight the importance of Gates assistance, former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann shook hands with Gates and his lawyer Tom Green before the start of Tuesdays sentencing. Later, during a break in the proceedings, another former special counsel prosecutor, Greg Andres, flashed Gates and Green a thumbs-up.

Before closing the morning hearing, Jackson offered Gates one final send off.

Mr. Gates, she said, Im 100 percent certain that this criminal justice system is not going to see you again.

Originally posted here:

Rick Gates gets 45 days of weekend jail, 3 years of probation - Politico

Art Forgery Is Easier Than Ever, and It’s a Great Way to Launder Money – VICE

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

John Myatt felt like his life was in free-fall.

It was the mid-1980s and at 41, he was a working painter who never made a splashor a profitin the London gallery scene. His wife left him, and he struggled to provide for his two young children.

So, he began to forge paintings.

Partnering with art dealer John Drewe, the duo sold more than an estimated 200 fraudulent pieces of art for millions of pounds, ensnaring some of the world's most prestigious collectors, galleries, auction houses, and storied institutions, including London's Tate Gallery.

It was one of the greatest art scandals of all time. Myatt spent countless hours making incredibly detailed "new" works in the style of Marc Chagall, Le Corbusier, Alberto Giacometti, Matisse, and Graham Sutherland, among others. He often scoured flea markets for paints, brushes, and canvases from an artist's time period, in addition to obsessively studying their techniques.

He acknowledges his skill as a forger, but says that much of pulling off the con was "about manipulating the publicity machine or just being in the right place at the right time" in making a sale; promoting the fake story of the creation of the image and how it fit into an artist's body of work; and explaining how the piece had changed hands over the years.

Myatt, who served prison time and is now living and working as a painter in the United Kingdom, is among the handful of art forgers who say the very environment in which their past crimes flourished is, in many respects, just as fertile now. As art prices hit stratospheric highs and Trump-era momentum to regulate anything reaches record lows, the art world continues to be an under-explored haven for illicit activity, that often hangs, literally, in plain sight.

"I think it's just as easy today," Myatt said of forgery in a phone interview.

John Myatt in his studio in London | Photo by Wendy Huynh

What is often dismissed as a largely victimless crime befitting of The Thomas Crown Affair (the one starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, not Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway) may carry far higher stakes. Art forgery typically elicits images of the pearl-clasping super-rich with jaws dropped at fake Picassos, but the crime is also often linked to money laundering, tax evasion, and drug trafficking. Art crime was the third highest-grossing criminal trade in the world over the last 40 years, according to the US Department of Justice and UNESCO, just behind drugs and weapons. Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, once estimated that 40 percent of the artwork in circulation was fake.

Driving criminal interest is the amount of cash that has been injected in the art world in the years since Myatt's forgery heyday. In some respects, it mirrors the giant pools of money sloshing around in Manhattan or London real estatefunds that are relatively concentrated in a few hands spending it in a few places. Critics contend there's low incentive to catch criminals and that, in some cases, alleged victims may benefit from being in on the con. (Others are so desperate to be in the art market, they're taking on massive debt to do so.)

The global art market in 2018 totaled some $67.4 billion, according to a joint report from Art Basel and UBS, an increase from $39.5 billion in recession-era 2009. And as the super wealthy look for more places to park money while diversifying their holdings, wealth managers and art dealers have welcomed new dollars, with some going so far to pitch (fee-heavy) hedge fund-like investment vehicles that pool money to acquire art.

That's reaped fortunes for some, but not necessarily motivation to catch art criminals. Generally, artbe it real or fakeis being used to move money more than ever, former forgers, law enforcement agents, and experts suggest. And ironically, the forgers are among the most vocal.

"It was a mistake I made and it was time to come to do good things," Myatt said. "To just face up to it."

"Im trying to do something good out of something bad."

As Russian billionaire and avid art collector Dmitry Rybolovlev faced divorce from his wife, Elena, in 2008, the works that once proudly graced the walls of auction houses and made their way into his own collection were now a financial liability. So Rybolovlev set up an elaborate scheme to park his lofty art collection in an offshore entity, according to the Panama Papers.

Stowing away the works was no easy feat, as during his 23-year marriage, Rybolovlev, whom Forbes ranked as the 224th richest person in the world, had amassed a world-class collection that included works by Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci, and Modigliani, among others. But as the marriage buckled, Rybolovlev moved the art to a shell company reportedly set up by the notorious and since-shuttered firm Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands. That took it out of Switzerland, part of an attempt to shield it from his wife's name or the divorce court there. (Rybolovlev is involved in further litigation with his art dealer.)

While there's no evidence Rybolovlev was dealing in forged works, it's just one of many recent scandals involving the secretive strategies of the art world, and its role in moving money at a time when oligarchs across the world have come under harsh scrutiny. This past May, longtime titan dealer Mary Boone, who was convicted for tax evasion at her gallery, reported for a 30-month prison sentencea rarity in an industry that often sees large amounts of money shifting hands. Art has a recurring role in the use of offshore shell companies, the Panama Papers showed, including allegations that the true buyers and sellers of major works may often be concealed.

The scene in John Myatt's studio | Photo by Wendy Huynh

The same goes for the ongoing saga of Jeffrey Epstein. As speculation mounted about Epstein's actual net worth in the days leading up to his death, so, too, did questions around his art assets and how they may have fit into his alleged crimes. Among his art collection were "Parsing Bill," a painting of Bill Clinton in a blue dress; a portrait of himself in a photorealistic prison scene; and a painting of a nude woman. It's unclear what their market worth is, but Epstein was "amused to have in his house fake art which looked like real art," longtime friend and art dealer Stuart Pivar told Mother Jones.

One reason fakes proliferate is simple: It's relatively easy to forge a painting. And if it's perceived as accurate, it can be hawked as an asset andin some casesget bought and sold with few or no questions asked.

Especially if the art is moving between hands that are trusted. Of the art authenticity frauds investigated by the FBI in the last three decades, an estimated 87 percent were perpetrated by art world "insiders," a sort of Ponzi scheme via canvas. Among the most notable was the downfall of the Knoedler Gallery, a storied enterprise that closed its doors after 165 years in 2011 amid allegations that it had sold fake works of Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and others, often with little due diligence.

"It's truly shocking," said Peter R. Stern, an art attorney, of the Knoedler scandal. In his line of work, Stern represents galleries, artists and collectors in an array of matters including handling major transactions, aid with estate planning, and conflicts over art authenticity or ownership. "The behavior was awful, but I also think that buyers did little or no homework."

Photo by Wendy Huynh

Among the obvious tasks, Stern said, is tracing a work's provenance, the paper trail that shows how it has changed hands since creation. Today, the internet has made it easier than ever to find out more about a work's origins, but it has also made it easier for skilled forgers to create fake art or documents to match them.

"The internet has opened up whole new marketplaces," Tim Carpenter, FBI supervisory special agent who program manages the Bureau's Art Crime Team, said in an interview. "Day in and day out, it's not just people buying huge pieces of art. The money is at the mid-level stuff, passing off those fake pieces as real. Back before online marketplaces and social media took over, you had galleries and middlemen doing due diligence. Now, there's no middleman. You have freer access to bad art."

After decades of art crime cases being handled on an ad-hoc basis, Carpenter's group was formalized within the FBI in 2004. In addition to casework, the unit also conducts trainings to aid in handling art and cultural artifacts. Carpenter said the FBI does not publicly release data on the number of cases it pursues, but noted "we stay very busy."

High-end art can be hard to move, but criminals looking to monetize quickly may go for lower-profile deals that draw less attention. As prices increase for top-tier art, values across the board pull up, as well. "We have a lot of concerns about the explosion of value in the art market these last 10 years," Carpenter said. "Theres a lot of risk and threat there for us."

On a July afternoon in Jersey City, convicted art forger Alfredo Martinez could be found recounting his claims that he got away with faking the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat for nearly 20 years.

Sitting at his desk in a black T-shirt and matching sweatpants, his long, curly dark hair askance, Martinez, 52, looked at a large flatscreen, clicking through images of his "Basquiats." He discussed his oil stick technique and said he used tea to create an aging effect on paper. Power tools, paint brushes, and papers lay scattered about him in his high-ceiling studio at MANA Contemporary, a lofty workspace for artists.

Alfredo Martinez in his New Jersey lair | Photo by Tuhsayoh

In recent months, recovery from the amputation of five toes on his right foot after an art-related accident had kept Martinez closer to his computer screen than his easel, he said. But it had not dampened his enthusiasm for curating shows for younger artists ("I like the kids"), discussing his time in prison ("looked like Oz, but it felt like Seinfeld"), or sharing anecdotes of being a self-described "street punk" in New York's art scene during Basquiat's heyday ("I would have known him better if I was a big-chested blonde").

The FBI got a tip when Martinez tried to sell $185,000 worth of "Basquiat" art, complete with forged certificates of authenticity, to two dealers in Manhattan. If they had been real, they might be worth millions today. It landed him a 21-month stint in federal prison and a peculiar flavor of infamy in the art world upon his release in 2006. (Martinez said that he was drawn into forgery because of "money. And I was lazy.")

Martinez, for one, talks of auction houses today as "Kabuki theater" and takes a "sarcastic approach" to the art establishment, even as he continues to participate in it. Then, and now, art dealers are eager to take cash from the wealthy, many of whom may not be performing ample due diligence, he said.

"Duh," Martinez said, adding, "Youre literally printing money."

Photo by Tuhsayoh

So lax is the current state of affairs that 73 percent of wealth managers, 74 percent of art professionals and 64 percent of collectors said that the art market "needed to modernize its business practices to meet the expected standards of a transparent, trustworthy and developed marketplace," according to a 2017 Deloitte and Art Basel report. It also found that 83 percent of wealth managers "see authenticity, provenance, and attribution issues as the greatest risks in the art market" and 65 percent "felt that money laundering is a serious threat to the credibility of the art market."

This year, the House Financial Services Committee introduced money-laundering prevention legislation that proposed including "dealers in art and antiquities" among the institutions that would be monitored. In recent years, the European Union has also moved on similar regulations. Among the regulatory kerfuffles are freeports, or warehouses where art may be stashed for years. They have long existed in locales like Switzerland and enjoyed generous tax benefits, as they're technically storing art that's deemed to be in transit.

"Certain market prices are getting out of hand," said David Drake, founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a multi-family office that includes an art advisory as part of its offerings. Drake's firm does not conduct provenance research for clients, but rather handles insurance and financing after the fact.

The upper crust of the art world appears to be trying to distance itself from the industrys criminal underbelly while also seeking to bolster buyer confidence. Many artist catalogues, including those of Basquiat and Andy Warhol, have refused to admit any new works, concerned that they could be adding their coveted stamp of approval to a work that is inauthentic (while also enjoying control of the supply and demand of the market). Auction houses have tried to fight back by bolstering their forensic efforts, notably Sotheby's with its acquisition of art forensics firm Orion in 2016. A spokesperson for Sotheby's did not respond to requests for comment.

Only a fraction of art that is sold, however, will undergo such robust due diligence. And many works that are being forged are relatively modern, rendering tasks like dating paints and canvas aging effectively moot.

Some forgers, often as part of plea deal negotiations, may turn into informants. Now retired after two decades at the Bureau, Robert Wittman, the FBI agent who investigated Martinez's case in an undercover operation, runs a private art recovery and consultancy firm based in Philadelphia. He estimated that 75 percent of the illegal art marketthat is, art that is involved in money laundering or otherwise connected to crimeis fake.

Still, people keep buying.

"Fraud has followed the art world because of the rise in value," Wittman said. "Bank robbers go there because thats where the money is. Thats the exact same situation in the art market. The growing art values since 1970, they've been through the ceiling. And with paintings selling for $200 million, criminals follow that and decide to get involved."

Ironically, some in the art world mused that Martinez's arrest brought even more attention to Basquiat's work, as his ability to forge and sell the paintings underscored the demand for the artist, who died at the age of 27 in 1988. (In 2017, "Untitled," a 1982 work by Basquiat, fetched $110.5 million, at the time making it the highest sum paid at auction for an American-produced work of art.)

That's all the more reason that Martinez is cynical about the financial froth in the art world today. He noted that in the end, it wasn't the quality of his fake artworks that landed him in prison, but a disagreement with a gallery owner he said hadn't paid him. That owner, Martinez added, tipped off law enforcement. (The FBI agent who busted Martinez has a different recollection of what led to the tip-off. According to Wittman, the buyer had spotted mistakes in the forged certificates. "Usually people who do fake certificates dont mess them up like that," Wittman said.)

Today, Wittman and Martinez are still in touch, this time as friends.

Alfredo Martinez has a complicated relationship with the works of Basquiat. Left photo courtesy of Alfredo. Right photo: Jean-Michel Basquiats Undiscovered Genius Jean-Michel Basquiat 1983

"When you work undercover, you have to create a relationship with someone, and trust. It's befriending not betraying," Wittman said. "Alfredo calls and I'm happy for him. He got down the wrong path and now it seems like he's doing well."

These days, Martinez sells his own workoriginal creations and labeled replicas of Basquaitslargely through his website and Instagram, mostly foregoing the use of agents and galleries. He said he's starting to see things differently as his own original work gains attention, including one painting of a gun that is now part of MOMA's permanent collection.

Moving carefully on his injured foot, he walked across his studio to a table where a series of drawings were laid out: figures of people, scorpions. He said they were reproductions of what he had done and had lost, either taken by prison authorities or simply because they ended up in the hands of dealers beyond.

"I guess Im forging myself," he said.

Correction 12/17/2019: A previous version of this story suggested art forgery in particular, rather than art crime in general, was the third highest-grossing criminal trade in the world, according to the US DOJ and UNESCO. We regret the error.

Follow Mary Pilon on Twitter.

Excerpt from:

Art Forgery Is Easier Than Ever, and It's a Great Way to Launder Money - VICE


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