Month: October 2020


Is Papadopoulos key to how bad probe will get for Trump?


first_imgThat’s because while Manafort and Gates sure look like they’re going to jail, as of yet they aren’t cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.George Papadopoulos is, which means that he likely has information that will lead Mueller closer to the heart of the case.Papadopoulos was a junior foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.In August we learned that he had tried to set up meetings between Trump officials – and even Trump himself – with representatives of the Russian government.At the time, his suggestion was characterized as having been rejected by other Trump officials as inappropriate while Trump was still a candidate and not yet president.But now that we’ve seen the details of Papadopoulos’ plea, it sure looks like that wasn’t the whole story.Papadopoulos has agreed to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWhile the biggest news of the day is the indictments Robert Mueller has handed down against former President Donald Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, Monday he also released a plea bargain with a heretofore minor figure in the Russia scandal by the name of George.And that could actually be the day’s biggest news. “I think it’s a fair conclusion to think that he has information that is valuable in the prosecution of others,” McQuade says.“You would only offer that cooperation if you’ve sat down with him and learned that he has information that is of value.”And that appears to be what is happening: in return for what will likely be a reduced sentence, Papadopoulos has agreed to sing.As the letter laying out the terms of the plea agreement says, “The Government agrees to bring to the Court’s attention at sentencing the defendant’s efforts to cooperate with the Government, on the condition that your client continues to respond and provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant.”Who does Papadopoulos have information on? We don’t know.The plea document mentions his discussions (his efforts to set up a meeting with the Russians) with people who are referred to as “Senior Policy Adviser,” “Campaign Supervisor,” and “High-Ranking Campaign Official,” but we don’t know who that is. Then there’s this:“On or about May 4, 2016, the Russian MFA Connection sent an email (the ‘May 4 MFA Email’) to defendant PAPADOPOULOS and the Professor that stated: ‘I have just talked to my colleagues from the MFA. The[y] are open for cooperation. One of the options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.’ Defendant PAPADOPOULOS responded that he was ‘[g]lad the MFA is interested.’ Defendant PAPADOPOULOS forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to the High-Ranking Campaign Official, adding: ‘What do you think? Is this something we want to move forward with?’ The next day, on or about May 5, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS had a phone call with the Campaign Supervisor, and then forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to him, adding to the top of the email: ‘Russia updates.’” This exchange happened not long before Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner had their infamous meeting with representatives of the Russian government who purportedly had damaging information on Clinton to offer.Given that context, it seems rather unlikely that Papadopoulos would not have mentioned the possibility that the Russians had of “dirt” on Clinton contained in “thousands of emails.”But we don’t yet know for sure.What we do know is that the prosecutors believe that Papadopoulos’ information will be valuable to them in building a case against others. Paul Manafort, on the other hand, is not cooperating – at least not yet.“The fact that he was indicted suggests to me that pre-indictment he said ‘No, I don’t want to cooperate.’ I’m sure they presented him with the opportunity,” says McQuade.It’s a common tactic to hand down one set of indictments and then offer a defendant the chance to start cooperating, since if he doesn’t they’ll keep investigating, and who knows what else they’ll find.“I think that’s quite possible, that there are additional potential charges against Manafort, and he could still cooperate,” McQuade said.center_img Specifically, he falsely claimed that they had occurred before he joined the campaign in March 2016.He had communication with a professor who had contacts in the Russian government; this professor told him that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”The professor introduced him to a female Russian national who was supposedly Vladimir Putin’s niece (it turned out she wasn’t), and to someone who supposedly had connections in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).Based on those conversations, Papadopoulos pressed the campaign to set up meetings with the Russians, a suggestion that never came to fruition.So what does this have to do with the larger case? I spoke this morning with Barbara McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan law school who is a former U.S. Attorney and has worked extensively in criminal and national security cases.I asked: If Papadopoulos was just some low-level nobody tossing around ideas that were rejected by the campaign’s higher-ups, why would Mueller offer him a plea deal that is contingent on his cooperation?Doesn’t that suggest that he has information that can be used to build a case against someone more important than him? If Manfort is going to flip, there are only so many people he could flip on, who are actually closer to the center of whatever happened than he was.That could include Jared Kushner, perhaps Donald Trump Jr., and of course President Trump himself.But right now, Papadopoulos is the one who is providing Mueller an entry into the heart of the Trump campaign and its relationship to Russia.Which is why McQuade says, “That one, because of its relevance to that larger question, strikes me as maybe the more important development today.” And this is just getting started.Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Washington Post Plum Line blog, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more


Banking regulations might just survive the GOP


first_imgJudging by the bill moving through the Senate with bipartisan support, it is to grant regulatory relief to small banks while letting some big ones, but not the biggest, go along for the ride.Specifically, banks with less than $10 billion in assets would be exempt from the Volcker rule, a ban on trading risky securities; and the level of assets at which banks are considered systemically risky and subject to stricter capital requirements and other crisis-prevention rules would grow from $50 billion to $250 billion.The effect of the latter change would be to relax crisis-prevention controls on 26 of the 38 biggest banks in the United States, though the Federal Reserve could adjust that in certain cases.The bill will certainly please much of the financial sector, especially politically influential community banks; but this is not the same as saying it is wise.The failure of one or more $200 billon banks could pose systemic risks. Nor is it necessary.Community banks — 92 percent of federally insured institutions — are generally doing fine, according to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. statistics, which show that lending grew among these institutions during 2017, and that fourth-quarter net income would have increased 17 percent from a year ago but for one-time income tax charges.Indeed, bank stability and profitability had both recovered in recent years under Dodd-Frank, as has the economy as a whole, thus calling into question the bank lobby’s claim that deregulation is vital to restored growth. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post:“We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank,” President Donald Trump promised in the early days of his administration, implying imminent achievement of the long-standing Republican goal of repealing, or gutting, the signature financial reform law of President Barack Obama’s tenure.What Trump neglected to mention, of course, is that the only relevant number, big or small, was 60. That’s how many senators it would take to pass new legislation. Republicans could change Dodd-Frank only to the extent consistent with attracting sufficient Democratic votes. Now we’re finding out what the lowest common denominator may be. A case could be made that further toughening of capital requirements for the largest banks is in order and that Democrats should have insisted on it as the price of regulatory relief for small ones.Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari advocates a 38 percent equity capital minimum — which could force the giants to break up.You don’t have to agree with Kashkari to worry nevertheless that the Senate bill sets a precedent for the biggest institutions to demand lower capital requirements the next time Congress takes up the issue.For now, that doesn’t seem politically possible; the Senate bill could represent the high-water mark of this Republican deregulatory wave.The House financial deregulation bill, which really would gut Dodd-Frank, has no chance of attracting enough Democratic support to pass the Senate.Though weakened, the basic Dodd-Frank regulatory framework might just survive two years of Republican control of the presidency and Congress, which certainly beats the alternative.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more


Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, April 24


first_imgGreen New Deal sets goals for climateThe Green New Deal charts a way for our future. Without it, or something like it, we have no goal to work towards. Maybe we can’t accomplish it all by a certain date. But if we don’t start soon, we have no chance at all. Officials who deny climate change are not being honest with you and they aren’t protecting your best interests.They are thinking about their donors, many from the fossil-fuel industry, who want us to continue burning coal, oil and gas until the planet has no chance at all. If people aren’t aware of what is coming, they can’t protect themselves, their families or their property. We need strong, intelligent leaders at all levels of government to inform and challenge us. Climate change is a very scary issue. I agree, I’d rather not think about it either.But I can’t ignore it because reality smacks me in the face when we talk to our family in Alaska, where the climate is warming twice as fast as predicted.Ask your children what they are learning about climate change in school and how they feel about their future. They will have to live with the choices we make now. Take some time to read Bill McKibben’s new book “Falter,” James Hansen’s book, “Storms of My Grandchildren,” and Fred Pearce’s, “With Speed and Violence.”Those are among hundreds of books about climate change that will knock your socks off about the reality of desertification, climate refugees, melting permafrost, rising seas, storms and fires.We should have done something sooner, but we’d better do something now. We need a Green New Deal.Florence CarnahanSchenectady Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionFocus commitment to the environmentWe must put a sharp focus on the need for government at all levels to incentivize good energy practices, regulate energy efficiency and discourage greenhouse gas emissions.New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers municipalities a broad variety of programs: • The Clean Energy Communities program provides no-match grants to help fund municipal projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. • Community Choice Aggregation allows municipalities to negotiate with clean energy suppliers for bulk purchase of low-cost renewable electricity for all customers in their jurisdiction (with opt-out provisions).• Other NYSERDA programs promote clean transportation, rooftop solar, community solar farms and more.Other efforts governments can promote: • Energy efficiency investments in buildings for heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, updated hot water heaters and kitchen appliances. Nearly 40 percent of United States’ energy demand comes from operating buildings. • Sustainable agriculture methods to sequester CO2 and reduce CO2 and methane emissions. • Healthful, Earth-friendly nutrition and dietary practices. Governments can pass legislation to commit to renewable energy goals, to stop initiating fossil fuel projects, to transition to zero emission transportation and heating and cooling of buildings, and to create new, equitable green sector employment opportunities. State legislators have proposed AB 3565, the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act to implement these policies.Let’s press our representatives for commitments like these in all of our communities.Amy Lauterbach PokornyBerne Ship immigrants   to New York CityAs a Texan who summers in New York, I think I have a solution to the illegal immigrant problem that is costing us so much in social services here in Texas.Let’s see, the cheapest bus ticket from El Paso to the port authority New York City costs $162. We are on pace to get 1 million illegal immigrants this year.So moving them from El Paso to New York City (a sanctuary city whose mayor says they want them) would only cost $162 million. That’s less than the $181 million we plan to give El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in 2019.Eureka, I have solved the problem and saved money.Cut all the money to those countries (ostensibly to improve living conditions there, which obviously hasn’t worked), ship the illegal immigrants to New York City and save United States taxpayers $19 million.William MalecFredericksburg, Texas The writer is a Galway summer resident.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccinelast_img read more


Letters to the Editor for Friday, Dec. 13


first_imgWhen this past storm hit us, I went out no less than nine times to clear my property and my neighbor’s properties. When I arrived home on Thursday night, after working an 11-hour day, I found that once again the plows had gone through. At the end of my driveway was a large boulder of snow/ice (one piece about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide) that the trucks had plowed there and left there. This was not able to be removed by a snowblower because it would have clearly damaged the machine. I sent an email to the mayor’s office requesting that they rectify the situation and asked for a call or an email telling me how they planned to fix it. Surprise, surprise, I never heard from anyone.So when I came home on Friday, I had to use an ax to chop it down. And thanks to a great neighbor, who used his snowblower to help me. Of course. this would not have been necessary if the job had been done correctly in the first place. The city’s response to this snowstorm was horrible. We pay extremely high taxes, and to have such a poor response is ridiculous. For the city not to respond to an email that was written in a very nice tone is unacceptable. What gives, Mr. Mayor?Lynn LaBargeSchenectadyTime for update to polarizing societyIronic, isn’t it? It’s nearly 2020. Nationally and globally, we are in a state of blossoming, and yet we are clinging to old systems, with no meaningful updates. Even my phone updates daily.We should be forming a council to consider starting again. Then, just maybe, democracy could grow stronger in its flexibility.If we continue to polarize, we will surely hemorrhage. There is ample evidence.Without difference, this whole world would be boring. Everyone is a beautiful expression of the whole, which in turn, is you. And we should all be spending more time reinforcing and harnessing that, in my humble opinion.Noah J. StisserEsperanceFree will is to blame for many injusticesThe Dec. 1 letter from Anthony Santos (“I see why evangelicals are drawn to Trump”) was disturbing. In a few paragraphs, he manages to vilify evangelists, the president and even God. He claims that the evangelistic mistaken belief in a good God is what makes it possible for them to accept President Trump as a viable leader. He contends that there is not a good God because a good God would not allow all the horrible evil and injustice that exists in the world.Apparently Mr. Santos is not familiar with the doctrine of free will even as he expresses his own. One of the greatest and very underappreciated gifts from the Creator to mankind is free will.Unfortunately it is also the source of mankind’s evil and injustice.Jim NorrisClifton ParkGrateful for care at Ellis for stroke scareOn Nov. 11, I had an incident at home while taking my morning medications. Suddenly I was unable to swallow; water and pills exited quickly.My husband quickly gave me a baby aspirin and we sped to Ellis Hospital (which is only 10 minutes from our home), where we were met by the Emergency Room nurse. I was taken into a room and quickly attended to. Everything happened quickly and efficiently. I was admitted to the C Wing 6th floor under the excellent care of Dr. Konstantin Timofeev in the Neuroscience Center. Fortunately, I did not have a stroke. I was treated with medications, observed overnight and released the next evening. I recovered well and am now back to normal. The staff said I did the right thing by seeking medical care immediately.I would like to thank the entire nursing staff, my night nurse Claudette, day nurse, Jade, and student nurse Victoria (who graduates in May) and all the nurses for their excellent care. They checked on me constantly. I received the best care from them. I am very fortunate  that we live near such an excellent hospital with an excellent, caring staff. Thank you all.Mary CaterRotterdam Socialist ideals are helping AmericansThis is in response to Michael Sheedy’s Nov. 9 letter (“Stalin policies similar to Democrats’ plans.”)His comparisons to articles 120 and 121 of the Soviet Constitution are enlightening.The right to maintenance in old age or disability (Social Security?) ensured by the development of social insurance of workers and employees.Free medical insurance (ACA or Medicare expansion?).The right to education, compulsory at the elementary level and free at higher levels by a system of state stipends?I assume that Mr. Sheedy thinks that all of these things are evil socialist ideas and ideals — most of which we have currently here in the United States.Do so-called conservatives of his ilk really think that Social Security, disability, unemployment, compulsory education, and free or at least affordable medical care are bad ideas based on socialist concepts? Really? Then “Go Bernie.”Mark RuddimanSchenectadyCity’s snow removal issues are not newI feel sorry for the Schenectady residents and businesses that are dealing with snow plowing and removal in the city.Sad to say, it hasn’t changed from when we moved to our first house from Rotterdam to Harrison Avenue in Bellevue in 1967.Our first deep snow that winter was about 12-14 inches. After hand-shoveling a large shared driveway, I couldn’t get out because the road wasn’t cleared that day. Early on day two, the street still wasn’t plowed, and our oil furnace clogged and quit.I called Burmaster for help. The repair man just made it to our house only because he had a heavy truck with new snow tires.I called our city councilman at the time, Jim Devine. He downplayed the situation and explained that this was a normal circumstance. Coming from Rotterdam, I knew this was not the norm.After three years, we moved back to west Rotterdam.This past snowfall, our roads were cleared by 6:45 the first morning. Then they were continually addressed until the next day.The plow operators from the Rotterdam Highway Department did a great job in our neighborhood.I realize that snow removal in a development is not comparable to the city. The point is that the city response to snowstorms hasn’t changed in 50 years. Really?Bob LullSchenectadyAllow New Yorkers to die with dignityNew York state has been considering a Death with Dignity Law for several years.It is time for our elected officials to allow this option for New Yorkers who wish to have it. It would provide peace of mind and comfort to many people.The law would be there for those who want it.Those states that now have laws permitting physician aid in dying (PAD) offer terminally ill people a compassionate alternative. At this time, nine states and the District of Columbia permit physician aid in dying.That means that about 20% of Americans could avail themselves of PAD, if they wished. There have been no instances of abuse, and extensive safeguards are in place which guarantee the integrity of the process.Aid-in-dying laws are based on the idea that terminally ill people should have the right to make end-of-life decisions, to determine how much suffering and pain they endure, and to access the enormous psychological comfort that comes from having control over their death.Death with dignity laws allow mentally competent adults with a terminal illness or confirmed diagnosis of less than six months to live to request a prescription that will grant them a peaceful death.As a member of Final Exit Network, and as a supporter of Compassion and Choices, I have long worked to educate New Yorkers about end-of-life options.Control over one’s body is a basic right.No one should suffer a prolonged and agonizing death.Eleanor AronsteinSchenectady Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionCity’s response to storm was horriblecenter_img More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more


Soros poaches PRICOA dealmaker for Euro drive


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FPDSavills snatches Best Resi Development prize


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Allders moves into Lakeside


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Brum’s Fort Dunlop scheme scaled back


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Still no takers for Lowry lot


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DTZ loses charitable fund to rival company


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