Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feds Indict Powerful Maryland State Lawmaker Ulysses Currie on Bribery Charges

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON – Powerful Maryland state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie, 73, finds himself in big trouble.
Sen. Ulysses Currie/senate photo The feds in Baltimore  on Wednesday indicted him for allegedly taking more than $245,000 in bribes to use his office to help a grocery chain, Shoppers Food and Pharmacy. Two former Shoppers Food officials were also indicted. (read indictment)

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore said it filed a separate criminal information against Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp. The company has agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement, which calls for it to pay a $2.5 million penalty.

The indictment alleges that shortly after Currie became chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee in 2002, he asked to be placed on the payroll of Shoppers Food Warehouse Corporation to use his elected position to help the grocery chain.

Among the things Currie,a Democrat representing the suburban Prince George’s County,  did to assist the chain was to help it sell liquor at a store and save on the construction of another store, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Read more »

NY Feds Deny Misconduct in Gambino Crime Family Case

new-york-mapBy Allan Lengel
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office challenged allegations by a defense attorney that the government was involved in misconduct in a mob case in which a cooperating witness ran a prostitution ring that used a 15-year-old girl, the New York Times reported.

The Times reported that the government, in a court filing Wednesday, said it ended the operation when it learned that the teen was involved.

The filing came in response to a motion by defense attorney, Gerald J. McMahon, who claimed in court papers that the government was engaged in ”outrageous government misconduct” by using the teen. He asked that the case be dismissed.

The motions were in connection with the indictment in April of 14 people linked to the Gambino crime family.
To read more click here.

Chicago Tribune: Prosecuting Baseball Star Roger Clemens Waste of “Prosecutorial Resources”

*Jan 06 - 00:05* 
By Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
If it were a crime to venture onto Capitol Hill to reveal yourself as a self-absorbed liar with an inability to admit mistakes, there would be tumbleweeds blowing through the vacant halls of Congress. Fortunately for members of the legislative branch, that is not a crime. Unless your name is Roger Clemens.
The eccentric baseball legend is not one to let people disparage him without a forceful response, any more than he was one to let batters crowd the plate without retaliation. A couple of years ago, after being accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, he voluntarily appeared before a House committee to heap scorn on the charge.

His denial was not very convincing, since other witnesses — notably longtime teammate Andy Pettitte — had given statements contradicting him. He was repeatedly reminded by skeptical interrogators that he was under oath. Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis joined together afterward to advise the Justice Department that “significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens’ truthfulness.”
But never mind if anyone believed him, or if his alleged dissembling made any difference on anything. Federal prosecutors got him indicted for perjury, and he faces trial on charges that carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison.

It’s possible to imagine less worthy uses of prosecutorial resources, but not many.
To read more click here.

Aroldis Chapman Brings 102 MPH Heat In Major League Debut [Video]

22-year-old Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman made his major league debut tonight for the Cincinnati Reds. If the first eight pitches of his career were any indication this kid could be the real deal. He blew away three Brewers batters in order and hit 102 MPH on the radar gun! The video highlights of his debut are unavailable on ESPN but we have it right here. Note: It is rumored that Chapman hit 105 MPH during a minor league game. Busted Coverage dug up these sweet pictures of Chapman partying at a club in Boston.

Nuggets: ‘No trade Carmelo'

Looks like Carmelo Anthony won’t be going anywhere, well at least for this season anyways…
They’ve already had one press conference in Denver this week, but that will almost certainly be the only one.

The Nuggets and new vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, just introduced Tuesday to the local media, are not close to announcing a Carmelo Anthony trade.

Sorry to disappoint again: Anthony isn’t even on the market.

Not yet, anyway.

That status could certainly change before NBA teams open training camps later this month, should Ujiri prove unsuccessful in his forthcoming attempt(s) to convince Anthony to sign the three-year, $65 million contract extension that the Nuggets, right around the June draft, believed Melo was on the verge of accepting.

The current reality, however, is that Melo is not in play for trade pitches.
The Nuggets can do nothing to prevent the future of Anthony – along with Chris Paul and Deron Williams (“I have a feeling he’s next for all these trade stories,” one Western Conference team official said of D-Will) – from becoming the new season’s sidebar obsession to the actual basketball. But they can tell teams that call about Anthony that they’re not ready to discuss potential Melo trade scenarios.
They can and they have said that already.

Read the full story via ESPN

Sex Tape Cost NFLer $60,000+ Endorsement Deal

Posted by Brooks

The marketing agent for New England Patriot rookie Brandon Spikes confirmed this week that his client’s appearance in an internet-leaked sex tape has resulted in the loss of a proposed, lucrative endorsement deal with Reebok.

Brandon Spikes loses Reebok Endorsement deal over sex tape
The BOSTON HERALD reports:
Terry Watson, who represents the Pats second round draft pick, confirmed that Reebok, the well-known producer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories, and a company that also has a longstanding relationship with the National Football League, had turned away from his client.
Watson, who verifed the information through Spikes’ marketing agent, did not know any of the specifics of the proposed deal.
So how much money did Spikes lose because the sex tape surfaced on the web?
According to a Boston Herald-cited blog, $60,000:
According to a source close to Spikes, the rookie was notified by Reebok as of yesterday that his shoe deal was yanked. The source also noted that Spikes’ contract with Reebok was worth $60,000 plus “playing achievement incentives”.
The NFL is also reportedly investigating the circumstances surrounding the video surfacing on the web, though it’s unknown if the probe was predicated on the possibility of disciplinary action against Spikes.
Spikes has yet to comment on the circumstances surrounding the video leak and the subsequent lost endorsement deal.
UPDATE: Reebok has released a statement on the issue of the company’s proposed deal with Spikes. Excerpt:
We had discussions with Brandon earlier this summer, as we do with many NFL players, but no agreement has been reached and he is not currently under contract with Reebok.
Reebok also noted in its statement that an existing deal with Spikes did not previously exist - as the Herald reported and I subsequently noted.

A Journey into Tony Blair's Brutopia

In his new autobiography Tony Blair tells the story of a passenger jet that breached closed British airspace in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A senior RAF commander was following the plane which was out of contact and heading towards London. The commander was awaiting instruction from Downing St to shoot it down. As recounted in "A Journey" (published yesterday) Blair said he talked with his advisors for several minutes “trying desperately to get an instinct as to whether this was threat or mishap”. When the deadline came, Blair decided to wait. “Moments later the plane regained contact. It had been a technical error,” Blair wrote. “I needed to sit down and thank God for that one.”

In this story, Blair’s desperation for a sign of “instinct” is almost as telling a factor about his make-up as is his gratitude to “God” for the way it eventually passed without incident. Blair is ultimate proof of John Gray’s suggestion in Black Mass modern politics is merely a chapter in the history of religion. While Blair initially recoiled with desperate horror against the possibility of making a preemptive strike against someone who may or may not be a threat, such decisions grew a lot easier for him in the years that followed. 9/11 was a watershed moment for Blair, as much as it was for the Bush administration as it marked a time when Gray said foreign policy was shaped by Utopian thinking.

Blair always had a strong dash of neo-liberalism to go with his strong powers of faith. He came to the Labour leadership in 1994 when the party had been out of office for 15 years. He inherited Margaret Thatcher’s total belief in the power of the markets. John Gray said Thatcher’s aim of destroying socialism in Britain assisted Blair in his political rise. By dismantling the Labour settlement that had served Britain since the end of World War II, she removed the chief reason for the existence of the Conservative Party. Without an enemy, it lacked identity. Blair’s “New Labour” easily stepped into its shoes and deprived them of relevance for a decade.

As the 1997 British election proved, strategy and organisation were more important than policy. Once he won that election, Blair carried on Thatcher’s privatisation agenda moving it into the justice system and prison service while also making the NHS and schools subject to market forces. In his early international dealings he advocated a “doctrine of international community” which reflected the “end of history” thesis that infected much 1990s intellectual thought. It was destroyed with the towers on 11 September 2001 and exposed Blair’s more naked belief in the power of good intentions to triumph regardless of flaw in the execution.

Like Bush, Blair saw his destiny as the unfolding of providential design. The neocons in the White House made it abundantly clear to him on a Camp David visit in April 2002 the Afghan War would be a sideshow and Iraq was the real target. The Foreign Office knew the case for war was a thin one; Saddam was little threat and had no weapons to speak of. Yet by the time of the 23 July Downing Street Memo, he accepted the advice of MI6 war was inevitable and “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”.

He cautioned Bush to seek UN support but in January 2003 Bush told him plainly the US was invading with or without a resolution. Bush offered Blair the opportunity to pull out given the strong anti-war rhetoric in the UK but Blair pledged his support. Blair actively covered up any intelligence that contradicted the official line Iraq was a major threat that had to be stopped. The March 2002 Iraq Options paper produced by the Cabinet Office and the February 2003 Defence Intelligence Staff document both said there was no justification for invasion. All they succeeded in doing was to get Blair to shift the case to arguments about WMD where as Grey said “intelligence could be more easily manipulated”.

Blair wasn’t interested in the facts. Armed with his dogged Utopian belief in the ineluctable nature of progress, he screened out inconvenient data. Blair was only interested in faith-based intelligence that supported his moral imperative. As the disasters unfolded in the aftermath of invasion such as Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition, Blair kept silent. Again Gray: “deception is justified if it advances human progress...Blair’s untruths are not true lies. They are prophetic glimpses of the future course of history and they carry the hazards of all such revelations.”

Blair’s militant faith in human progress brought him eventually to the political abyss. His was a true enlightenment view of unending human progress. In his ten years as Prime Minister his overriding concern was the shaping of public opinion to support his beliefs and his lies became an integral feature of government function. Despite winning three elections, he was remembered only as a lackey of the Bush administration. Both practiced missionary politics and saw their goal as the salvation of humankind.

The difference was Bush could do faith better than Blair in a country with a lot more millenarian tendencies than the UK. An American Lt Col in Fallujah could get away with saying the war was “battle against Satan”; a British General in Basrah could not. But in the end both Britain and the US have now left the country. Iraq turned out not to be a Utopian project after all.

JAVIER DAVID COMMENTARY: Congressional Black Caucus Bogged Down By New Ethics Scandal

The conservative writer in New York City argues that rather than representing the best of Dr. King's dream, many of his self-described intellectual heirs are using their public platforms to enrich themselves and those around them: "The latest African-American member of Congress to be caught engaging in ethically-questionable behavior, Ms. [Eddie Bernice] Johnson [a Congresswoman who steered $20,000+ in Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her relatives and her staffer's children] joins veteran legislators Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters on the hotseat for lavish malfeasance with other people's money. Though surely the congresswoman from Dallas sets a new standard for political chutzpah: when cornered by reporters about her actions, Ms. Johnson averred that she might not have given the money to her grandchildren had more qualified scholarship applicants materialized."

He continues his commentary: "Ms. Johnson's actions are all the more disdainful when viewed in light of the scandals that have beset the Congressional Black Caucus in recent months. Many observers have been quick to accuse the CBC's critics of racism. But in these cases, an unfortunate yet unambiguous pattern has emerged: many black congressmen have begun taking care of themselves instead of the constituents they represent. In the midst of a polarized electorate and what is expected to be a hotly contested midterm election, one might think that congressmen of all ethnicities and regions might be more circumspect in how they discharge the public's trust. But Ms. Johnson's moves - and her brazen attempts to defend herself - are symptomatic of a larger disease that seems to have infected the black political establishment."

Obama Considering Tax Cuts to Boost Economy

    Earlier today new reports emerged predicting that the Obama administration will propose a set of new cuts to Congress. These tax incentives are said to be aimed at helping small business owners to help with the country’s ongoing unemployment problem.
    On the morning after President Obama told Americans in a primetime address from the Oval Office on Iraq that getting the economy moving again was his "central responsibility as president," The Wall Street Journal ($) reported the administration is considering tax cuts to give the economy a boost.
    Unnamed sources tell the newspaper that Mr. Obama's economic team might ask Congress for additional tax cuts for small businesses in addition to the $30 billion of similar cuts awaiting a vote in the Senate.
    The Journal reports there's not a clear view of what kinds of small businesses would benefit from the yet-to-be-proposed cuts or how much revenue the government would lose.
    The administration might also propose a payroll tax cut for businesses and individuals, the sources told the newspaper. Tax cuts passed during the president of George W. Bush are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, which would make income taxes rise.
    Whether any major proposal will receive congressional approval between now and the pivotal mid-term elections is uncertain. The House and the Senate aren't scheduled to convene again until Sept. 13. Democratic aides on Capitol Hill told the newspaper that there's not much of a chance for any immediate action with the party's majorities at stake.
Read more here 

T.I. And Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle: Arrested For Possession Of A Controlled Substance

According to TMZ, rapper T.I. and his wife Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle were arrested last night for possession of a controlled substance. They were apparently pulled over for making an illegal u-turn and after cops smelled marijuana, they searched T.I.'s Maybach and he along with Tiny were arrested for possession, but it hasn't been reported exactly what was in the vehicle.
Tameka Tiny Cottle Arrest Picture
It is believed the controlled substance may have been Sizzurp (aka purple drank, syrup) which is a concoction of a prescription cough syrup containing promethazine-codeine, soda, and some folks even throw in a Jolly Rancher.

The couple was cuffed, stuffed and released from jail early this morning on $10,000 bail. T.I. is on probation after serving time in prison for federal weapons charges and this arrest could qualify as a violation of his probation and there's a possibility he could be sent back to prison.

After getting out of the clink, Tiny twittered a message thanking friends and fans for their support.

"Jus wanted 2say thank u 2every1 dats been leaving encouraging msgs & prayers! We love u guys:-)going 2bed now! So glad 2b n a nice clean bed."

If you're driving around smoking weed and sipping on purple drank, don't do something stupid like make an illegal u-turn which will end up getting you pulled over!