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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

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

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

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.

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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

Whats the Future of Doctor Manhattan on Watchmen? – The Ringer

Ahead of the debut of HBOs Watchmen, it wasnt clear what a story set after the events of the iconic 1980s comic book series would look like on TV in 2019. Showrunner Damon Lindelof adamantly referred to the show as a remix rather than a direct adaptation or sequel. When Episode 1 opened with a horrific retelling of the real-life Tulsa Massacre of 1921 and closed with a shot of a black man sitting at the feet of a lynched white police chief, the elusive nature of the showone that on the surface appears to be about superheroesonly intensified.

The subsequent eight episodes were a blend of impeccable writing, acting, and directing that lived up to the tall order of sharing the name of whats considered to be one of the all-time great graphic novels. The season finale, See How They Fly, left a few loose ends (the mysterious Lube Man is still out there sliding through the streets of Tulsa) and rushed a bit to tie everything together (providing more concrete answers than Lindelof typically does), but it otherwise rounded out one of the most thrilling television series of the year.

To wrap up Watchmens first (and potentially only) season, were going to break down the two plans to steal Doctor Manhattans powersone designed by Lady Trieu and the other by the Seventh Kavalryand how they panned out before revisiting the graphic novel one last time.

The finale begins by revealing Lady Trieus parentage with a flashback to the day before 11/2 in 1985 at Adrian Veidts Karnak facility in Antarctica. While the Worlds Smartest Man relishes in the genius of his master plan while recording his address to future president Robert Redford, the original BianLady Trieus mother and the elder version of the clone weve seen for the greater part of the seasonsneaks into Adrians office. Shes a member of Adrians cleaning staff, one of the many Vietnamese refugees whom Veidt has employed. Bian enters Adrians password into his computer to open a refrigerated vault hidden away behind a massive painting of Alexander the Great that contains a catalogued collection of his sperm samples (Adrian later declares that hes never given himself to a woman, but I guess that didnt stop him from finding a twisted way to pass on his legacy). Bian takes a vial to impregnate herself, revealing in the process that Adrian is Trieus father.

Thirty-three years later, in 2008, the Worlds Smartest Woman arrives at Karnak to introduce herself to her father. Without revealing their relationship, Lady Trieu earns herself a trip inside the facility by mentioning the little-known truth behind 11/2 and feeding Veidts ego by praising his unappreciated brilliance. Trieu briefly acts impressed by Adrians squidfall technology before calling it nothing more than a rerun and sharing a world-saving plan of her own: to destroy Doctor Manhattan and absorb his abilities. If I can take his power, I can fix the world, she tells Adrian. Disappear the nukes, end starvation, clean the air. All the things he shouldve done.

Even as Adrian patronizingly jeers and questions her, Trieu backs up her bold claims by explaining her process, from how she tracked down the blue gods location on Europa by sending out space probes that scanned the galaxy for his unique radioactive frequency, to her designs for a quantum centrifuge that could harness Doctor Manhattans abilities and transfer them to her. All she asks of Adrian is a cool $42 billion; in this moment she finally reveals to Adrian that she is his daughter. Outraged by the news of Bians thievery, Trieus existence, and her nerve to ask for money, Adrian adamantly denies her request.

When my parents died, I inherited wealth beyond imagining, and I gave it away, because I wanted to demonstrate that I could achieve anything starting from nothing, Adrian says to Trieu. And that is what I offer you, Sample 2346: nothing. And I will never call you daughter.

Back on Europa, we return to our favorite interplanetary castaway, now eight years into his life in paradise. And at long last, help has finally arrived. A spacecraft lands on the castle grounds, and Adrian exits his cell through an underground tunnel hes dug. He kills the Game Warden, who was trying to prevent his master from deserting their moon one last time, before walking past all his servants to enter his shuttle back to Earth. As he steps into the spacecraft and the ship enters space, the sign Adrian carved out of his servants bodies in Episode 5 is revealed in full: SAVE ME DAUGHTER. In full Star Wars fashion, Adrian is essentially frozen in carbonite for the duration of his space flight, solidified as the gold statue thats been standing in Trieus vivarium all along.

Back in present-day Tulsa, the Millennium Clock is about to be activated. Lady Trieu has completed her lifes work, and just as she told Angela, she has found a way to bring back both of her parents to witness the momentous occasion. With Bians clone and an awakened Adrian Veidt at her side, Lady Trieu starts up the clockthe flying quantum centrifuge Trieu built without the help of her estranged fatherand heads to downtown Tulsa to set up for the final piece of her plan.

Meanwhile, the Seventh Kavalry is also preparing to steal Doctor Manhattans powers, though theyre completely unaware that theyre playing right into Lady Trieus plans. Senator Joseph Keene Jr. has gathered the senior leadership of their white supremacist organization, including his father and Jane Crawford. Agent Laurie Blake is there as well, still held captive as they all await her ex-boyfriends grand entrance, and Wade Tillmanwho had been missing ever since a group of Kavalry members failed to kill him in his homehas managed to sneak into the warehouse wearing one of the Kavalrys trademark Rorschach masks. Doctor Manhattan is teleported into a synthetic lithium cage theyve constructed using old watch batteries (a painstaking task that we witnessed a glimpse of all the way back in the series premiere), catching us up to the moment he disappeared outside of the Abars home at the end of the previous episode. The cage functions similarly to the tachyon particles that limit Doctor Manhattans abilities, confusing his sense of time; inside the cage, he starts repeating lines of dialogue he said decades earlier, in the pages of the graphic novel. With the dazed blue god imprisoned, Keene addresses his audience, outlining the Kavalrys plan.

Thirty-four years ago, Adrian Veidt unleashed his monster on the world. No, not his giant one-eyed octopus, but his puppet president, Keene says as he begins to strip off his clothing in anticipation of his transformation into the new Doctor Manhattan. First, he took our guns. And then he made us say sorry. Sorry for the color of our skin. All we wanted was to get cops in masks, take some power back, start ourselves a little culture war. Keene concedes that their original planto get him into the White Housewas a little half-baked. But then the White Night happened, and changed everything.

When the Kavalry carried out their coordinated attack on the Tulsa police force, all went as planned, except for the raid of the home of Angela and Cal Abar. Cal, accessing his subdued abilities in an act of self-preservation, zapped one of the two Kavalry hitmen to Gila Flats, the site where Jon Osterman died and was reborn as Doctor Manhattan. The Kavalry was able to piece together Cals true identity, and from that point on their mission to make Keene president was punted for the bolder goal of making him into a god.

Just before Keene enters the chamberfrom which he will supposedly reemerge from as the blue prophet who will restore (restore) white power in America, Angela warns the Kavalry that theyre about to fall right into Lady Trieus hands. They proceed anyway, initiating the transference of Doctor Manhattans power. Right on cue, the Kavalry finds themselves suddenly in downtown Tulsa, now serving as an audience to Lady Trieu.

As the two plans converge, the Kavalry proves to be no more than a cog in Lady Trieus elaborate scheme (it turns out both of the Kavalrys plans were a little half-baked). Trieu begins to address the dazed group of white supremacists before opening a chamber that releases the pool of human slush that used to be Senator Keene; hed been reduced during his failed attempt to transfer Doctor Manhattans atomic energy (crucially, Keenes blood seeps underneath the bars of blue Cals cage). Trieu resumes her speech, reading the message that Will Reeves has asked her to deliver to the group hes been hunting down since his days as Hooded Justice in the 1930s: You represent the senior leadership of Cyclops, an organization that has terrorized and victimized men, women, and children of color for a century, including this very place, the site of the Greenwood Massacre of 1921.

Before Trieu finishes reading, Jane Crawford cuts her off to tell her to just kill her and the Kavalry already, and Trieu complies. She retrieves a remote from one of her crewmembers and flicks a switch, obliterating them all with a flash of purple light.

Following the casual massacre, Doctor Manhattantouching the pool of Keenes bloodteleports Adrian, Wade, and Laurie to Karnak, leaving Angela behind as his death approaches. Enraged that Doctor Manhattan shipped off her father before she could properly gloat about her success, Trieu fires up the centrifuge to extract his energy.

In Karnak, Adrian seizes the opportunity to save the world yet again, as he reminds his new companions of his murderous heroism. (Wade, who has lived nearly his entire life traumatized by the events of 11/2, is not too happy about this.) Adrian quickly devises a plan to rain one final squidfall over Tulsa, only this time he wants to significantly lower the temperature to unleash a hailstorm of frozen cephalopods.

Trieu succeeds in destroying Doctor Manhattan, but just then, the frozen squidfall begins, cartoonishly busting a hole through Trieus hand before sending the centrifuge crashing down upon her.

As the frozen squids fall, Bian takes shelter in the Manhattan prayer booth; the Tulsa policewho had arrived just as the squidfall beganscramble for cover; and Angela runs to the Dreamland Theatre to find her children and Will Reeves. Here, in the same theater that young Will watched Trust in the Law moments before the Greenwood Massacre of 1921, Will tells his granddaughter about how he and Jon Osterman made a deal to help each other, as well as what it means to put on the mask. The hood, when I put it onyou felt what I felt? Will asks her, referring to the Nostalgia pills she took that allowed her to experience the moment he became Hooded Justice.

Anger, Angela replies.

Yeah, thats what I thought too, Will says. But it wasntit was fear, hurt. You cant heal under a mask, Angela. Wounds need air. Will tells Angela that it was Jons idea to make a deal with Trieu all along, and that Jon knew he was going to die but said, You cant make an omelette without breaking a couple eggs, a phrase that would supposedly make sense to Angela when the time was right.

Will and Angela wake up the kids and return to Angelas house, passing by all the destruction left in the wake of Trieus failed plans. Just before the credits begin to roll, Angela cleans up the broken eggs scattered across her kitchen floor from her fight with the waffle-making Doctor Manhattan. She finds one egg remaining in the carton, still intact, and remembers the time that Jon told her that he could theoretically pass his abilities to another person through the consumption of organic material thats been exposed to him. Angela walks out to the pool, swallows the raw egg, rolls up her pants, and sets her foot over the water to test out the theory just as the season comes to an end.

Despite an incredible final performance by actress Hong Chau, Lady Trieu went out with little more than a whimper, capable of mustering no more of a reaction to her fathers attack than the utterance of motherfucker in Vietnamese with her final breaths. Wills mesmerism device that he stole from the Cyclops group decades earlier was never used again after seeing its power in manipulating Crawford into hanging himself, and the Kavalrys fate was decided in one quick purple flash. For all the meticulous effort the show put into weaving an intricate web of mystery, the vast and insidious conspiracy ultimately proved to be more hollow as the show rushed toward the finish line. The conclusions saving grace, however, was found in the chaoss calm aftermath in the Dreamland Theatre.

As Victor Luckerson recently wrote in The New Yorker: What Watchmen nails, more than details of Greenwoods history, is the way that history itself is so susceptible to manipulation, distortion, and erasure. A brutal invasion became a victimless crime, then a repressed memory, then a hazy urban legend that few people had even heard about. While bending elements of real historical events like the Greenwood Massacre and the Vietnam War, as well as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbonss original story, HBOs Watchmen remix turned out to be a story about a black family reshaping history. Will Reeves revealed that the first superhero was black, as he fought to eliminate white supremacy in the 1930s as Hooded Justice, and his granddaughter unknowingly carried the mission forward decades later as Sister Night. The two share similar traumatic experiences a century apart, while literally sharing some together through the aid of the psychoactive drug, Nostalgia.

As Will and Angela sit together in the Dreamland Theatre, just as Will did with his mother on the day of the Greenwood Massacre, we see how similar their paths have been, how they both masked their pain caused by racism and senseless violence at the hands of terrorists. And together, after delivering justice to white supremacist descendents of the massacre, the two are finally on the path to healing.

Throughout this entire season of Watchmen, each episode was laden with Easter eggs and callbacks to the original source material. You could compile an exhaustive list for each episode, but for the finale, Ill just point out the three that I appreciated the most.

Adrians Bullet Catch

When watching the Game Warden confront Adrian before his master left for Europa, you mightve thought, Did this guy really just catch a damn bullet with his bare hands?! And yesyes, he did but it also wasnt his first time. Heres Laurie trying kill Adrian on 11/2, only to find out that hes got quicker hands than Michael Thomas:

The Original Archie Ship

After Adrian saves the world from his daughters attempt to become an all-powerful god, he leads Laurie and Wade to the vessel that would bring them back to civilization. The ship is called Archie, as Laurie recalls fondly, and its the original ship that her ex-boyfriend Dan Dreiberg designed and used back in his days masquerading as the second Nite Owl. In the comics, Dan and Rorschach flew to Karnak in Archie on 11/2 to try to stop Adrians attack of New York. The ship has been collecting dust ever since, and now Laurie and Wade will use it to bring Adrian in to finally answer for his crimes.

Rorschachs Omelette Line

Doctor Manhattans hugely important omelette idiom was actually used in the graphic novel as well, only then it was said by Rorschach. After Rorschach interrogates the retired supervillain, Moloch, he swallows a raw egg and says the line on his way out the door:

Though the ending aligned with Lindelofs sensibilities, the ambiguous closing moments also mirrored the final page of Moore and Gibbonss graphic novel. The original Watchmen story ends at the office of the New Frontiersman, just as an editorial assistant, Seymour, discovers Rorschachs journal that contains the truth about 11/2. Rorschach had sent it to the newspapers office just before leaving for Karnak, where hed eventually be killed by Doctor Manhattan. And as the story comes to a close, the reader is left wondering what will happen if the journal is published, and whether or not the truth will undo the supposed utopia that 3 million New Yorkers died for.

HBOs Watchmen supplied answers to these very questions. Rorschachs journal was published, but the greater public didnt believe the words of a violent sociopath, especially while there were squids still periodically raining down from the sky. Only a select few actually knew that the journal was full of the truth, and others unconcerned with the truthlike the Seventh Kavalryused it to fuel their mistrust in the government.

As Angela reaches her foot over the pool in the final frames of the season, viewers are left with the same uncertainty that the journal elicited. Was Doctor Manhattan right about his theory? Has Angela attained all of his powers? If so, what will she do as the new Doctor Manhattan?

The fact that Doctor Manhattan told Angela that it was important for her to see him walk back and forth on the pool in the previous episode suggest he was right, but for now, theres no telling what happened the moment her foot hit the water. If Watchmen moves forward with a second season, we may find that not only does the American Superman exist again, but that she is black and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.

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Whats the Future of Doctor Manhattan on Watchmen? - The Ringer

Forgery to thievery, a brief history of art crime at the UA Museum – Arizona Daily Wildcat

Art crime is woven throughout museums, galleries and private collections alike. From forgeries to the theft of its most valuable painting, the University of Arizona Museum of Art has an art crime history all of its own.

The art museums Curator of Exhibitions Olivia Miller gave a community talk called Crimes Against Art about incidents of the museum at the Murphy-Wilmot Library on Dec. 6.

The Forgeries

ccording to Miller, the museums curator discovered in the late 1970s that Wassily Kandinskys painting Ruhe was a forgery. The director happened upon a poster reproduction of Ruhe, which did not look like the original and began to inspect museum files to research its provenance.

It turned out that parts of paintings provenance was fictional. The original was still part of a private collection belonging to Nathan Cummings, making the one hanging in the museum a forgery.

After the Kandinsky painting was found to be a forgery, the curator began tracking all the other pieces sold by the same gallery from which it had been bought. Miller said a sculpture called Dancer Posing by Edgar Degas was also discovered to be a fake after being inspected by experts at Harvard.

The conservators called the sculpture a poor copy of a copy, Miller said. It was not even a good forgery.

After the Kandinsky painting was found to be a forgery, the curator began tracking all the other pieces sold by the same gallery from which it had been bought. Miller said that a sculpture called "Dancer Posing" by Edgar Degas was also discovered to be a fake after being inspected by experts at Harvard.

The conservators called the sculpture a poor copy of a copy, Miller said. It was not even a good forgery.

The two falsified artworks were gifts from Edward Gallagher Jr.

According to the art museums website, Gallagher Jr. donated about 200 world-class modern art pieces to the museum in honor of his son who passed away.

Miller said the Kandinsky and Degas artworks were sold to Gallagher Jr. by a gallery that had supplied him many pieces, the majority of which later turned out to be forgeries.

She mentioned that a preparatory sculpture by Henry Moore is currently not on display, as it is from the same untrustworthy gallery and the authenticity is still unknown.

[These forgery discoveries] were quite unfortunate because the gallery owner and Gallagher had been friends since high school, Miller said.

It was found out that the gallery owner established an elaborate scheme. Apparently, he had forged letters from a non-existent corporation owner and created a shell company, all to deceive Gallagher Jr. and knowingly sell him forged artwork, according to Miller.

I guarantee that there are museums right now that have forgeries on view and just dont know it yet, Miller said. In 2016, half of a museum in France happened to be fake.

Karen Barber is an adult services librarian who has taken part in the organization of the art talks since 2012. Apparently, the first talk they ever hosted was about the Gallagher collection. Now, seven years later, the talk is about how Gallagher was duped.

I had no idea that the [UA] had all those forgeries, Barber said after the talk. I think its fascinating that [the museum is] being so open about the forgeries.

The Stolen Painting

The museums talk was brought up during Millers re-telling of the story about Willem de Koonings Woman-Ochre painting that was stolen over 30 years ago.

According to UA Police Chief Brian Seastone, on the morning of Nov. 29, 1985, a man and a woman entered the museum. Police believe that the woman distracted the security guard while the man went up to the second floor.

The security guard was suspicious after they left and immediately went upstairs to check on the artworks, Miller said. He discovered that the painting had been cut from its frame shortly after they left.

It wasnt until 2009 when Lauren Rabb became the curator of art at the UA art museum that Woman-Ochre came back into the spotlight. According to Rabb, she was always interested in art theft.

Art crime fascinates me because while its usually considered a victimless crime, at the same time its a crime against humanity, Rabb said in an email. Humanity is deprived of that work of art of the ability to experience it anymore.

According to Rabb, awareness about the stolen de Kooning painting needed to spread if it were ever to be returned to the art museum. Rabb contacted the FBI to remind them about the robbery and to inquire about the status of their investigations.

It seemed like a good time to reopen the case and make sure there was publicity around the 30-year anniversary of the theft, Rabb said.

Miller said the museum hosted an event titled Out of the Vault Art Crime, prompted by Rabb in 2015. It was about past forgeries, Woman-Ochre and the FBIs progress on the stolen painting case.

This talk renewed interest toward the unsolved disappearance within the community. According to Miller, the event received international press attention and an article was written about the stolen painting a few weeks later by Anne Ryman for the Arizona Republic.

On Aug. 3, 2017, we got a call that changed our lives, Miller said.

David Van Auker, an owner of an antique store in New Mexico, called the art museum to say that he believed he found the stolen de Kooning after he researched the painting he bought and came across Rymans article.

At first, I was cautious about getting excited, Miller said. It wasnt that I didnt believe him, but we wanted more proof, especially after discovering so many other forgeries in the museum.

Finally, it was found that Van Auker was indeed in possession of the long-lost painting. According to Miller, if it werent for the transparency and educational reach of the Out of the Vault Art Crime event, Rymans article wouldnt have been written.

Museums are public institutions, Miller said. The public should be aware of what goes on inside them. Keeping the public informed is what helped us recover Woman-Ochre.

Today, Woman-Ochre is being tested and repaired at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Miller expects that the art museum will get to welcome the painting back home in Spring of 2021.

Over 30 years after the crime, UA Museum of Art employees and community members alike celebrate the paintings recovery.

Art crime is a real and current issue, Miller said. Just recently, a couple paintings were burglarized in Germany. For [the art museum], its about finding a balance between visitor experience and painting safety.

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Forgery to thievery, a brief history of art crime at the UA Museum - Arizona Daily Wildcat

My first reaction was anger followed very quickly by deep sadness – The Recorder

First storm of the year and what a storm! After I cleared my and my neighbors drive today, and shoveled out the local fireplug, it was off to the cemetery to dig out and visit my recently deceased wifes grave. That section of the cemetery isnt plowed, but with four-wheel-drive, no problem. I knew as I pulled up and looked that something was amiss. There should have been a snowy lump in front of her stone where I placed an evergreen basket a short time ago. A little digging confirmed you had stolen it. (You might see this, so Ive chosen to address you directly.)

My first reaction was anger followed very quickly by deep sadness. Not for me, or my wife, but for you. Perhaps you needed a Thanksgiving gift, but lacked the money. A better gift would have been to tell your Mom, wife, or girlfriend (it seems likely youre male), I wanted to get you something, but I didnt have the money. I was going to steal a beautiful, wood-slab sided basket with a branch for a handle, filled with evergreens, pine cones and a red ribbon, from the cemetery. But then I thought of you, and what you would think of me, and I couldnt do it. I hope you forgive me.

But instead, you stole the basket from the grave of a woman you never met. Perhaps you didnt notice the date on the stone. Its nearly the first anniversary of her passing, so its still very raw for me, her family and friends. Or perhaps you did, and didnt care.

Since you have her basket, you should know a few things about her. She was 70 years old when she died, and more beautiful than the day we met nearly 40 years ago. She was, in younger days, a three-time Womens National Judo Champion. So, congratulations. You stole a souvenir from a nationally ranked athlete.

Midlife, she scrapped a successful career and became a well-respected criminal appellate attorney for Massachusettss prisoners serving life without parole, primarily murderers, people that, in many cases, started out like you, committing petty crimes. Things often escalate from there, and due to joint-venture laws, many got caught up in something they never would have dreamed of. She was revered by her clients for her kindness, and never judging them. She helped more than a few with prison education programs. So, congratulations. You stole a memorial basket from a woman who would have worked tirelessly to preserve your rights.

Theres so much else to know. She was a talented portrait painter, and exhibited and sold many works. She played the piano. She was eternally optimistic, even during the course of the undiagnosable disease that took her life. She only knew two kinds of people, friends and friends she hadnt gotten to know yet. Had she known you, its a pretty sure bet she would have liked you, despite your shortcomings.

Perhaps you thought this was a victimless crime. After all, shed never know, right? But there are several victims here, and youre the first. Because youre not a petty thief or larcenist anymore. No, you have a new name. Grave robber. Now its your secret shame, your secret stain, to bear throughout your life. You may believe theres no price to pay for that, and who am I to say differently? But, regardless of your beliefs, or mine, this world seems all about balance, and youve tipped the scales. I have no idea what form it may take, and certainly offer no prediction, but I think what you have thrown out of balance will be restored one day. Good luck with that. The grave has been dug out, so you could put the basket back, which would help. You could pause there for a moment, just another mourner, and tell her youre sorry, and that youre going to make a real effort to turn things around in your life, to avoid becoming a client of someone just like her.

Being an optimist, she would believe you just might do that. Yin to her Yang, I tend to doubt it. But no matter. I know your name now, and thats enough.

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My first reaction was anger followed very quickly by deep sadness - The Recorder

DOJ Awards ~$153 Million to Reduce Crime, Improve Public Safety in Georgia – All On Georgia

The Peach State has received a considerable amount of money from the federal government to combat crime and improve public safety.

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Claire Murray and Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan joined Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp on Tuesday in announcing awards of almost $153 million to fight crime and improve community safety in Georgia.

Nearly $4.3 million will help law enforcement officials and victim service providers in the state investigate and prosecute human traffickers and aid human trafficking survivors. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. BJay Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Charlie Peeler and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also participated in the announcement.

Human trafficking is a cruel and barbaric practice that calls to mind the darkest moments of our history, and sadly it has left its mark on the communities of Georgia, said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Murray. Under the direction of Attorney General Barr, the Department of Justice is putting the full weight of its resources behind the brave men and women of the state who are fighting trafficking perpetrators and bringing relief to victims. We commend these courageous and compassionate professionals and are proud to lend them our full support.

Human trafficking is an obscene violation of human rights and human dignity, affecting millions of people worldwide, countless victims in this country and hundreds if not thousands of men, women and children right here in Georgia, said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sullivan. We are so grateful to the law enforcement officers who pursue these vicious criminals and to the dedicated service providers who work around the clock to get survivors the help they so desperately need and deserve.

Department officials and First Lady Kemp made the announcement at a press event alongside law enforcement officials, anti-trafficking advocates and members of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Georgias leaders have concentrated the states resources on fighting human trafficking, establishing a Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit in the Georgia Department of Law. First Lady Kemp co-chairs the Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion and Education, or GRACE, Commission, a task force of public officials, law enforcement and health care professionals, for-profit and non-profit organizations and subject matter experts dedicated to combating human trafficking in Georgia.

Many trafficking victims in Georgia are teenagers who are sexually exploited. Of the 375 cases reported from the state to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year, most involved sex trafficking and almost a quarter involved a minor. During an FBI-led, month-long, nationwide operation focused on recovering child victims of sex trafficking, known as Operation Independence Day, the FBI, in cooperation with 400 law enforcement agencies, identified and/or recovered more than 100 child victims of sex trafficking, including seven in Georgia. Law enforcement officials also arrested 67 suspected traffickers. Grantee organizations that received previous Justice Department funding served 140 human trafficking clients in 2018.

The awards today support a range of activities designed to bring sex and labor traffickers to justice and provide critical services to victims. A grant to the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will fund a multidisciplinary task force composed of law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and several victim service organizations. Funds will also support direct victim services provided under the auspices of the Georgia Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking. Other awards will help ensure that children and minors who are victimized receive counseling, case management and other critical services. Georgia Care Connection Office, Inc.; Wellspring Living, Inc.; Tapestri, Inc.; and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy are among the grant recipients.

Human and sex trafficking are not victimless crimes. These grants will go a long way in not just furthering our prosecutorial efforts for these terrible crimes, but also in providing much needed victim-centered services. Our office continues to be fully committed to eradicating human trafficking within the Northern District of Georgia, said Byung J. BJay Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

In Georgia, the fight against human trafficking is a coordinated effort of federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecuting agencies working together to identify, arrest and prosecute those who choose to engage in this horrific industry, said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District Charlie Peeler. In the Middle District, we aggressively investigate and prosecute cases where offenders prey on vulnerable citizens, taking advantage of their age, their desire for love and affection, their financial status and their addictions. I am confident that these federal dollars will provide critical support to those who are dedicated to protecting victims and arresting perpetrators, which will lead to the end of human trafficking in our state.

Human trafficking is a pervasive, growing threat plaguing communities across our state and country, said First Lady Kemp. I applaud the federal, state and local partners who are committed to healing victims, seeking justice and holding bad actors accountable. By working together, we will end this criminal enterprise once and for all.

We thank the Department of Justice for making it possible for us to continue and expand on our anti-trafficking efforts in Georgia, said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. The resources announced today, will help ensure more victims in Georgia get the support they need and help ensure that our law enforcement officials have every tool at their disposal to put buyers and traffickers behind bars where they belong.

The remainder of the states awards cover a wide range of criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim service activities. Grants will support school safety initiatives, law enforcement hiring, services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, inmate reentry services, youth mentoring and efforts to combat online child exploitation and manage sex offenders. Awards were made by the three grant-making components of the Department of Justice OJP, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Office on Violence Against Women.

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DOJ Awards ~$153 Million to Reduce Crime, Improve Public Safety in Georgia - All On Georgia

Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner reveals new approach aimed at tackling shoplifters – Punchline Gloucester

Retailers across Gloucestershire have welcomed new proposals put forward by the county's Police and Crime Commissioner aimed at reducing shoplifting.

Around 50 of the county's most prominent retail businesses were represented at the launch of a report into retail crime produced by Martin Surl's office.

The 33-page review painted a picture of retail crime up nationally by 25% since the turn of the century and highlighted many of the reasons for it.

In it, the PCC mapped out a new approach that will commit Gloucestershire Police to: investigate every retail theft and simplifying the way retailers are able to report crime.

It also sets out to establish Crime Prevention Advisors to improve links with businesses, improve information sharing and improve partnership working.

PCC Martin Surl said "Shop theft is considered attractive because of its accessibility and low detection rate. But it is not the victimless crime it is often perceived to be.

"Unfortunately, this is compounded by a police response which can only be described as 'patchy' due to an approach which has given priority to crimes considered to be more serious.

"This is a flawed approach. Every crime matters and what might seem trivial today can often lead to something much more serious tomorrow ".

The manager of Gloucester retailers' organisation 'City Safe' Steve Lindsay said, "The PCC's report is fantastic. It's honest; it's factual. It's what we've waiting years for."

Detective Superintendent Steve Bean, Gloucestershire Constabulary's Head of Investigations answered questions from retailers and promised to look into their complaints.

He told them, "The OPCC has conducted research both locally and nationally and you can't disagree with any of the recommendations.

"The PCC is right. Every crime does matter and it's clear to me the quality of investigation is nowhere near to where it should be.

"We've become oblivious to how bad the police response has been and be under no illusion we intend to address it".

Cheltenham BID Director Kevin Blackadder said, "It was a really good idea to bring together a number of businesses quite clearly concerned about the levels of retail crime.

"It gave them the opportunity to make it clear how they're suffering from crime that's not just a business problem but a society problem.

"I'm pleased the police recognise shoplifting can lead to more serious crime and their commitment to report back in six months".

To read the retail crime review in full on the OPCC website, Safer Days and Nights priority pages - https://www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/priorities/safer-days-and-nights-for-all/

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Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner reveals new approach aimed at tackling shoplifters - Punchline Gloucester

What if we turned off the spigot of grief?: Tom Wetzel and Denise DeBiase – cleveland.com

Guest columnists Tom Wetzel and Denise DeBiase are certified law enforcement executives with close to 60 years of combined police experience.

Having collectively been police officers for over half a century, we, like cops everywhere, have seen and felt plenty of the damage caused by criminal activity. It is easy to wonder what more we can do to prevent or measurably reduce it.

The phrase We have met the enemy, and they are us is a good starting point.

What we mean by that is quite simple. Our appetite for pleasure can often be found in the form of vice crimes. These personal choices can have mind-boggling consequences for so many others. There may be debate on whether these types of activities should even be classified as crimes, as they often seem to be victimless on their face. But dig deeper, and you will see that these actions create a victim count beyond measure.

Drug use and prostitution are two such vices that both of us know have caused incalculable pain and have resulted in far-reaching criminal activity and suffering.

What would happen if we could find a way to reduce or eradicate our weaknesses toward certain behaviors like these? What if we turned off the spigot on criminal profits because our collective self-discipline suppressed demand? How much could we reduce crime not just in America, but across the entire world?

Anyone who has watched movies has probably seen a major motion picture that dramatized the life of real or fictionalized drug traffickers and how rich they got off the addictions of others. And now we are watching the loss of life in staggering numbers due to heroin and fentanyl overdoses.

How do we get people to stop? It is a complex matter, but we could start with a deeper understanding about how much suffering is caused when we decide to find pleasure or relieve pain through a mind-altering substance.

That same suffering is also caused when someone decides to solicit sex. Many may argue that there is a significant demand that must be met. But the woman who prostitutes herself isnt doing it for fun. Shes doing it for money. But that cash has a huge price tag, which includes exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, cruel physical violence, addiction to drugs and a battered soul.

Were certain these women didnt wake up one day and decide this was the best thing for them to do.

How do women who prostitute themselves mentally recover? For the most part, many wont, or the healing may take decades. As a society, we havent helped them enough. We need to find opportunities to help women avoid the poisonous siren call of prostitution, as well as provide opportunities to heal and nurture these exploited souls.

Another way is to find innovative ways to stifle the demand and let these customers understand that their actions are caustic and burn many around them.

We know that suppressing desires for pleasure or for pain avoidance is easier said than done. But an empathetic society will recognize that it holds the power within its individual members to snuff out so much criminal activity, simply by making them more aware that choices have consequences beyond the person looking in the mirror.

Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using Notification Settings (in blue) just below.

Readers are invited to submit Opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for consideration to Ann Norman at anorman@cleveland.com. Essays must include a brief bio and headshot of the writer. Essays rebutting todays topics are also welcome.

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What if we turned off the spigot of grief?: Tom Wetzel and Denise DeBiase - cleveland.com

Retailers welcome proposals to tackle shoplifting | Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard – Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

Retailers have welcomed new proposals aimed at reducing shoplifting in Gloucestershire.

Around 50 of the countys most prominent businesses were represented at the launch of a report into retail crime produced by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

PCC Martin Surl said Shop theft is considered attractive because of its accessibility and low detection rate. But it is not the victimless crime it is often perceived to be.

Unfortunately, this is compounded by a police response which can only be described as patchy due to an approach which has given priority to crimes considered to be more serious.

This is a flawed approach. Every crime matters and what might seem trivial today can often lead to something much more serious tomorrow.

You can read the retail crime review on the OPCC website at gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/priorities/safer-days-and-nights-for-all/

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Retailers welcome proposals to tackle shoplifting | Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard - Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

Iowa considers stepping backward on criminal justice reform – The Gazette

As state and federal policymakers are brainstorming ways to reduce prison populations and establish alternatives to incarceration, Iowa Auditor Rob Sand wants to go backward.

Sand is asking the Iowa Legislature to pass a bill requiring prison time for people convicted of a felony for stealing $1,000 or more of taxpayer money.

White-collar criminals frequently receive soft sentences, Sand laments, and often avoid jail time altogether. His bill would not impose mandatory minimums, but would mandate some amount of jail time, perhaps only days or weeks in some cases.

If we tell people who do this youre going to be treated like a criminal, I think we actually can deter people from doing it because theyre less likely to risk that reputational value, Sand told me in an interview last week.

I get it. Fraudsters are bad people. Bad people deserve to go to jail, or so weve been told. Most Iowans probably agree with Sands idea.

However, I challenge Iowans to reconsider the knee-jerk reaction to lock up people who do bad things. There are other ways to enforce laws and manage offenders, some of which actually work, unlike mass incarceration.

The open secret about our criminal justice system is that prison is not a great way to deter criminals. A significant body of research shows this, but people who write and enforce laws often ignore it.

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In a brief published during the Obama administration, the National Institute of Justice summarized it as such: Prisons are good for punishing criminals and keeping them off the street, but prison sentences unlikely to deter future crime.

There is relatively little research about whether short prison sentences are an effective deterrent to financial crimes like the ones Sands proposal focuses on, but given everything else we know about incarceration, we have to wonder.

In most cases, incarceration is not a strategy to prevent future crimes or physically restrain people who are imminent threats to others. Its a tool to satisfy our desire for vengeance.

Tough-on-crime policymaking has been a disaster, making the United States the world leader in incarceration. There are an estimated 2.2 million people in American prisons and jails, a 500 percent increase over the last 40 years, according to the Sentencing Project.

It cannot be the case that Americans are simply more criminal than other people. This is a systematic problem.

Encouragingly, Americans are evolving on the issues of crime and punishment. There is an emerging consensus that mandatory sentences are bad, and that imprisoning people has negative unintended consequences on society.

I admit it is difficult to get too worked up about thieves serving short jail sentences for stealing taxpayer money at a moment when we know peaceful people have been sent away for decades for victimless crimes.

We must recognize that jailing people who deserve it does not set free the people who dont. Quite the opposite, new sentencing mandates will grow and embolden the incarceration state, tightening its grip on current victims and claiming new ones.

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The movement to radically diminish the role of incarceration got national attention this month following the sentencing of Amber Guyger, a Texas police officer convicted of murdering a black man in his own apartment last year.

Many Americans were rightly frustrated that Guygers 10-year sentence seemed out of line with punishments handed down to people of color who have committed far less serious crimes.

In an essay published in the Appeal, lawyer and justice reformer Elisabeth Epps made the case that Guyger should be held accountable in some form, but not in a jail cell.

Abolitionists want and work to create a world where prisons need not exist. A necessary step in abolishing prisons, a prerequisite to ending mass incarceration, is stopping the inhumane practice of keeping people in cages even people like killer cop Guyger. Why?

Because people do not belong in cages, Epps wrote.

We have other tools besides cages. There are promising models for restorative and rehabilitative justice that seek to right whats wrong, rather than simply building more jail cells that we cant afford.

Prison abolition is a radical movement, but one whose vision a world where prisons need not exist we all should embrace.

We cant close the prisons tomorrow. But we can stop passing new laws to mandate prison time.

Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

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Iowa considers stepping backward on criminal justice reform - The Gazette

Lori Loughlin Charged With ANOTHER Crime As Daughters Chill Out At Jonas Brothers Concert! – PerezHilton.com

Prosecutors are NOT willing to letLori Loughlin off the hook so easily.

Earlier, we heard theFull House stars chances of getting a late game plea deal had gone up thanks to a departmental dispute.

She and fashion designer hubbyMossimo Giannulli were arrested as part of the infamous Operation Varsity Blues and accused of bribing USC officials $500,000 to get their daughters fraudulently put on the crew team (despite the fact neither rowed) to ensure their conditional acceptance to the college.

The couple pleaded not guilty, but with their acknowledgement of the crimes caught on audio recording and others involved having already confessed and pled guilty, the case seems like a slam dunk.

However, insiders said prosecutors were worried after theprobation departments sentencing report of fellow college admissions scandal participantFelicity Huffman, which judged the crime to be victimless.

Related:Alec Baldwin Doesnt Think Felicity Or Lori Should Serve Jail Time!

Considering colleges only admit a certain number of students every year, cheating your way into those opportunities definitely knocks innocent people off the list, but OK. Lets say enough people think this way. Does it mean Lori is more likely to win her trial? Or to face an incredibly light sentence if she is found guilty?

Well, it turns out prosecutors are open to a plea deal, but theyre coming at it from a position of strength they just hit the Giannulllis with yet ANOTHER new charge to go along with mail fraud and money laundering.

The US Attorney out of Boston just charged 11 of the 15 parents who had pleaded not guilty with a new crime: federal program bribery.

The bribery chargecarries a max 5-year sentence btw, bringing Lori and Mossimos possible sentence to an intimidating 45 years.

Apparently the families were all given the heads up. They had a chance to reverse their pleas or else they would face even more charges, and four of the parents took deals.

(Some of the athletic officials involved were also hit by the bribery charges, as well asnew fraud conspiracy charges. The prosecutors are NOT messing around.)

However, since Lori and Moss chose not to fold under the threat of another charge, they likely wont take a plea deal at all. They vowed to fight this and they apparently still plan to.

So how are the girls taking all this? You know, the beneficiaries of all the alleged crimes,Olivia Jade andIsabella Giannulli?

Theyre still living their best lives following officially cutting ties from USC; on Monday night they went to see theJonas Brothers!

The infamous young women were spotted at the concert sharing a 4-seat box with with two girlfriends. Olivias on-again boyfriendJackson Guthy was in a nearby box with three other guys.

According to witnesses spilling toET, the couple met in the middle for a big kiss whenNick Jonas sangJealous!

Awwww. How romantic! Its like all the criminal charges and lifelong ignominy just melt away

[Image viaAdriana M. Barraza/WENN/Olivia Jade/Instagram.]

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Lori Loughlin Charged With ANOTHER Crime As Daughters Chill Out At Jonas Brothers Concert! - PerezHilton.com

The persistent problem of hazing – Yellowhammer News – Yellowhammer News

Two Troy University fraternities were recently suspended for hazing, which is a recurring problem at our nations colleges. According to Wikipedia, 20 college students have died in hazing incidents this decade. Economics can offer insight into how initiation rituals help build groups and why hazing persists.

In addition to fraternities and sororities, bands, sports teams, firefighters, and military units have all had abusive initiations exposed. Economists would hope that our insights will apply across different groups.

Economics distinguishes between positive and normative analysis. Positive analysis focuses on factual questions, cause and effect, and how things work. Normative economics deals with questions about what should be.

My discussion is positive. Personally I did not join a fraternity and consider initiation rituals ridiculous. Economists focus on understanding practices in society without imposing personal biases. We should understand what rituals do before we possibly ban hazing.

Enduring initiation signals a new members commitment to a groups cause or purpose. Initiation differs from training. Training develops skills used in group tasks; initiation generally does not. Demanding training can cause many applicants to drop out, similar to initiation.

What types of groups benefit from making prospective members signal commitment? Ones where the group experience or its performance depends on members actions and effort, and where the valued types of effort are difficult to describe. Fires and coworkers carelessness can put firefighters in grave danger. Firefighters need to have each others backs, and in ways that go beyond training protocols. Initiation signals this willingness.

Initiation screens prospective members. Sometimes a group can enroll all applicants and boot those failing to perform. Natural limits on group size make signaling more valuable. Only eleven players play football at once, only so many firefighters ride on a truck, and an exclusive fraternity or sorority cannot admit everyone.

Signaling also generates value when other ways of screening fail to identify high quality applicants. The inability of resumes, interviews, and background checks to identify the best potential members makes signaling more important.

An action works as a signal when only outstanding potential members willingly take the action. That is, a good signal separates the prospective great members from others. Many things serve as signals in life; I recently wrote about Professor Bryan Caplans book on higher education as a signal.

Economic models of signaling reveal an unpleasant truth: a signal is valuable because it is costly. Initiation rituals consequently must be unpleasant or humiliating. A pleasurable initiation would not deter any would-be members.

Initiation likely persists because it helps sustain cohesive groups. Yet even if hazing works, alternatives may exist. Perhaps a less costly signal could still separate the prospective good and bad members. The initiation could be less demeaning and dangerous and not cross the line into hazing and still help a fraternity or fire department function effectively.

Human emotions can make initiations unnecessarily dangerous or persist when no longer needed. Turnabout may not be fair play, but is a natural reaction after we undergo a trial. Rituals may not be precise and are carried out by members with imperfect memories. Members may believe they endured worse abuse than occurred and unintentionally push exercise and drinking into hazing.

Economics also suggests that preventing hazing will be difficult. A cooperative victim greatly facilitates criminal prosecutions. Normally crime victims want their attacker punished. Prosecuting victimless crimes like drugs or gambling is difficult because all parties voluntarily participate; few gamblers want their bookie arrested and put out of business.

Young men and women choose to join fraternities and sororities and undergo initiation. Pledges will be reluctant to report hazing, even with websites and hazing hotlines. And illegality serves as a further barrier to reporting; a fraternity member risks punishment when reporting an initiation that went too far.

Should initiations be done away with as a relic of the past? Perhaps, but we should recognize that they play a role in building valued groups in society. We should constantly assess if safer initiations can serve the signaling function.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

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The persistent problem of hazing - Yellowhammer News - Yellowhammer News

New Orleans City Council looking to throw out thousands of outstanding warrants – WDSU New Orleans

The New Orleans City Council is looking at throwing out a majority of the city's 56,000 outstanding municipal and traffic court warrants. Some of those warrants date back to 2002. Others say those people still need to face the consequences of their actions. "They're still locking me up behind the same tickets that are 30-something years old," said Anthony Lee. "And I'm still suffering behind it."Lee said he'd repeatedly been to jail for the same tickets. He said he hopes to see some relief soon. Councilman Jason Williams is proposing a resolution to wipe out thousands of arrest warrants and wave the accumulated court fines and fees. "Poor residents committing victimless crimes out of desperation and poverty are too often trapped in a hopeless cycle of outstanding fines, fees and resulting warrants that ultimately drain all of our taxpayer resources," Williams said. The resolution would apply to low-level, nonviolent offenses often associated with homelessness and poverty. The group "Stand With Dignity" says these offenses account for a majority of the 56,000 warrants for municipal and traffic offenses. "These issues are not criminal," said Councilman Jay Banks. "Economic poverty should not be a crime. Somebody that hasn't done anything that will affect anybody's life other than theirs and their family, they should not be called criminal."Rafael Goyeneche, the director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said there have to be consequences. Goyeneche said there are many layers to this issue and, while it may look good politically, it is doing a disservice to public service and safety. The City Council Criminal Justice Committee gave its full support to the resolution.

The New Orleans City Council is looking at throwing out a majority of the city's 56,000 outstanding municipal and traffic court warrants.

Some of those warrants date back to 2002.

Others say those people still need to face the consequences of their actions.

"They're still locking me up behind the same tickets that are 30-something years old," said Anthony Lee. "And I'm still suffering behind it."

Lee said he'd repeatedly been to jail for the same tickets. He said he hopes to see some relief soon.

Councilman Jason Williams is proposing a resolution to wipe out thousands of arrest warrants and wave the accumulated court fines and fees.

"Poor residents committing victimless crimes out of desperation and poverty are too often trapped in a hopeless cycle of outstanding fines, fees and resulting warrants that ultimately drain all of our taxpayer resources," Williams said.

The resolution would apply to low-level, nonviolent offenses often associated with homelessness and poverty.

The group "Stand With Dignity" says these offenses account for a majority of the 56,000 warrants for municipal and traffic offenses.

"These issues are not criminal," said Councilman Jay Banks. "Economic poverty should not be a crime. Somebody that hasn't done anything that will affect anybody's life other than theirs and their family, they should not be called criminal."

Rafael Goyeneche, the director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said there have to be consequences.

Goyeneche said there are many layers to this issue and, while it may look good politically, it is doing a disservice to public service and safety.

The City Council Criminal Justice Committee gave its full support to the resolution.

See the rest here:

New Orleans City Council looking to throw out thousands of outstanding warrants - WDSU New Orleans

Victorians less likely to be victims of crime today than in last 15 years – The Age

Chief statistican Fiona Dowsley said it was "certainly not" the case that the overall crime rate had risen in the past 12 months, although she pointed to a sharp increase in the number of family violence incidents recorded.

Family-related crimes increased by 8.6 per cent in the past 12 months to 82,652 incidents.

The rate of family violence also increased, by 6.4 per cent, reaching 1253.1 incidents per 100,000 people.

The agency, which uses Victoria Police data, said the state had recorded the highest number of unique alleged offenders or 84,989 individuals in the 12 months to June, which equates to about one alleged criminal for each 78 Victorians.

But this rise was accompanied by the lowest "victimisation rate" on record, which could be explained by the rise in "victimless crimes", or crimes against the state, like people breaching court orders.

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"In terms of the overall crime that's occured, that's obviously pretty stable," Ms Dowsley said.

"We are seeing record numbers of alleged offenders being processed by Victoria Police and the average age of these alleged offenders has been increasing," Ms Dowsley said.

"In terms of the victimisation rate [falling], that's unequivocally a good thing."

The average age of offenders is at an all-time high, with men 34.2 years old, and women 33.3 years old at the time of their alleged crimes.

A recent Ipsos study showed Victorians were more worried about crime than people in any other state, despite crime rates falling.

Forty per cent of Victorian respondents to a national survey nominated crime as their biggest worry, compared with 24 per cent in other states, where residents were more concerned about healthcare and the cost of living.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton, speaking with Police Minister Lisa Neville as the statistics were being released on Thursday morning, welcomed the drop in residential burglaries, which were down 11.2 per cent to 26,444 cases the lowest on record.

Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville Credit:AAP

However, other crimes continue to preoccupy police, like carjackings, aggravated burglaries and rammings. While less common, they had a bigger impact on people.

"Its an absolute priority," he said. "This is what were putting all our attempts into. We know they are crimes that the public are very frightened of and rightly so."

Early on Thursday, a police officer and a teenage girl were hospitalised after being hit by an allegedly stolen car driven by a 19-year-old man north of Geelong.

The police officer was left with a fractured leg.

"Thats what confronts out members everyday," Mr Patton said.

"One every day is virtually occuring. Thats happening on a daily basis. Thats frightening."

In terms of young offenders, he said there were fewer criminals, but those who were offending were committing more crimes until they were arrested.

"There's a small core group of youths who continue to commit serious and regular crimes," Ms Neville said.

The question now, she said, was what authorities could do to help them. Getting them off the streets and into education or training was not working for this group.

"These kids seem to not care."

Opposition police spokesman David Southwick said the figures showed the Andrews government had no answer to crime increases.

"Daniel Andrews and Labor have no plan to keep families safe in their homes, take guns and drugs off our streets, and save young people from a life of crime," he said.

"Todays crime statistics show why Victoria has the worst perception of safety in the nation and this will continue until Daniel Andrews puts community safety first."

Bianca Hall is a senior reporter for The Age. She has previously worked in the Canberra bureau as immigration correspondent, Sunday political correspondent and deputy editor.

Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.

Continued here:

Victorians less likely to be victims of crime today than in last 15 years - The Age



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