US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also at the Paris meeting, said that if the “increasing stream of senior military defectors” was any indication, then “regime insiders and the military establishment were starting to vote with their feet”. – Syria Manaf Tlas defection ‘hard blow’ for Assad
WHAT’S GOING on inside Syria is being represented by those fleeing the Assad regime.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius tells the Friends of Syria meeting after Brig Gen Manaf Tlas’ defection: “The regime is unsustainable.” [BBC]
Syrian Prime Minister Riyad al-Hijab, in a statement to Al Jazeera Arabic TV, now becomes part of what he calls the “dignified revolution.’
?I am announcing that I am defecting from this regime, which is a murderous and terrorist regime,? the statement said. ?I join the ranks of this dignified revolution.? [Washington Post]
However, as you can hear from King Abdullah of Jordan above in his interview with Charlie Rose, none of this guarantees that Pres. Assad will give up power any time soon. Abdullah told Rose he doesn’t see the “system changing” even if Bashar al-Assad falls, and that the “clock is ticking” and that the international community has until the end of the year, otherwise sectarian and civil war will escalate.
Organized crime figure Sheldon Adelson is now the #1 biggest donor to the Mitt Romney campaign and to the Republican Party. He also gave unprecedented $5 million dollar bribes-- walking around money-- to both Eric Cantor and John Boehner. Boehner, horrified, immediately turned the tainted cash over to the NRCC. Cantor has been using it to build personal power by electing preferred stooges in GOP primaries, like Richard Hudson over Tea Party fave Scott Keadle in North Carolina. Romney, the GOP and Cantor are reveling in all that Adelson cash knowing full well it's all suspect money and that Adelson is under investigation by the Feds for a life that is a veritable crime spree.
When the DCCC reported on a blog that Adelson runs a Chinese prostitution ring-- which a former senior executive in his sleazy gambling empire has testified is true-- Adelson threatened to sue and the DCCC immediately backed down and, tail between their legs, apologized. Yesterday Las Vegas Review Journal columnist Steve Sebelius suggested they shouldn't have and went on to list some of the known knowns about Adleson.
Adelson has elected not to sign a contract with the Culinary union, which is his right. But Adelson went further: When the Culinary staged a pre-opening protest at The Venetian, the casino's staff demanded police arrest demonstrators, and when officers refused, Sands sued. A federal judge determined the sidewalks outside Strip casinos are public forums, but Sands appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court before being rebuffed.
Or the time Adelson took offense when an event hosted by Temple Beth Shalom honoring then-Mayor Oscar Goodman was moved from The Venetian to the Four Seasons after Goodman refused to come to the casino because of the union dispute. Adelson confronted Rabbi Felipe Goodman in his office and spoke to him so harshly it brought the rabbi to tears, Rabbi Goodman later told the Review-Journal.
Republicans are fond of excoriating President Barack Obama for not being sufficiently pro-America. But where are their cries of outrage at the online video in which Adelson says it was unfortunate that he wore an American and not Israeli uniform during his military service?
"I am not Israeli," Adelson says. "The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and one of my daughters was in the IDF."
What about the irony of Adelson denouncing President Obama for "socialist-style" policies while, according to Forbes magazine, seeing his own personal fortune jump more than any other person in America under Obama's tenure?
"What scares me is the continuation of the socialist-style economy we've been experiencing for almost four years," he said. "That scares me because the redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism, and to more of the government controlling people's lives."
Of course, Adelson's most lucrative casinos are in Macau, which is territory controlled by actual socialists. It's there that Adelson's company is under investigation for allegedly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But now, Adelson has pledged to spend millions electing the man who could appoint the next attorney general, who will oversee that investigation.
All of that to say this: There's no need to reach for salacious, unproven details to suggest Adelson isn't very nice. There's plenty to prove that case.
Federal authorities are investigating whether Las Vegas Sands Corp. [Adelson's company] and several of its executives violated money-laundering laws by failing to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to its casinos by two Las Vegas high rollers, according to lawyers and others involved in the matter.
The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles is examining the casino company's handling of money received several years ago from a Mexican businessman later accused of drug trafficking and a former California executive subsequently convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, according to the people involved.
The probe comes as the casino giant, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, faces possible legal trouble on another front. U.S. authorities are also investigating whether Sands violated U.S. antibribery laws in its operations in the Chinese territory of Macau.
Senior Justice Department and Treasury officials say they have grown concerned in recent years about the risk that casinos could be used for money laundering and terrorism financing, and that compliance standards in the industry aren't strong enough. The Sands investigation could become an important test case of federal efforts to force casinos to become more like banks in knowing where customers are getting their money.
...The Sands money-laundering probe is focused on whether the casino and some of its executives ignored warning signs about two customers and failed to alert federal authorities about large quantities of money they had deposited, people familiar with the matter said. Both were so-called whales, the kind of big-spending gamblers who are heavily courted by casinos. Both spent the majority of their money at the Venetian casino, which is owned by Sands, according to court records and people familiar with the matter... The case has its roots in a series of money transfers in the mid-2000s by Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-born Mexican national who owned three Mexican pharmaceutical companies and was a Vegas high roller, say several people familiar with the investigation.
In July 2007, Mr. Ye Gon was indicted in the U.S. on charges of trafficking products used to make methamphetamine, four months after Mexican authorities and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided his Mexico City home and found more than $205 million in U.S. dollars. He has said he is a legitimate businessman and didn't supply the illegal narcotics trade.
Mr. Ye Gon clearly had been a lucrative casino customer. He told the Associated Press in a 2007 interview that he would bet $150,000 a hand at baccarat during his gambling sprees, and that the Sands-owned Venetian casino gave him a Rolls Royce. He lost more than $125 million at Vegas casinos, including the Venetian, according to a 2007 affidavit by a federal agent who reviewed casino records, although $40 million of that was lent to him by casinos and never paid back.
It isn't clear whether prosecutors suspect Mr. Ye Gon was trying to launder money through the casinos to make it appear clean, or was simply transferring money there for gambling purposes. Either way, if the money was illicit, it could be considered money laundering, according to lawyers involved in the case.
In 2006, Mr. Ye Gon made tens of millions of dollars in transfers to Sands accounts from Mexican "casas de cambio," which are currency-exchange firms that have been the focus of several recent money-laundering probes in the U.S., several people involved in the case said. He transferred a total of around $85 million to casinos owned by Sands and other operators, court filings indicate. Prosecutors have told lawyers representing Sands employees that Mr. Ye Gon's use of Mexican exchange houses to handle such huge transfers was a red flag.
In a court filing, a DEA agent said a woman he described as Mr. Ye Gon's former mistress suggested Mr. Ye Gon used the casinos to launder money. According to the mistress, "the traffickers instructed him to use his bank accounts to send the money to Las Vegas where he could launder it and that the money in Mr. Ye Gon's accounts at the Venetian was drug money," the filing said.
...At the time of Mr. Ye Gon's arrest, another high roller, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, then a vice president at retail chain Fry's Electronics with a salary of about $200,000, was making big bets at Sands casinos.
Sands received more than $100 million from Mr. Siddiqui through a circuitous route, according to court filings in a later criminal case against him for taking kickbacks from Fry's vendors. Filings in that case indicate that Mr. Siddiqui created a company called PC International LLC to receive kickbacks, then wired more than $100 million to two Sands companies, Venetian Marketing Inc. and WDR LLC, over a three-year period ending in 2008. That company also wired about $20 million to Destron, an MGM Resorts subsidiary, according to the filings.
...Federal prosecutors said that Mr. Siddiqui spent that money, and millions more, at the casinos, which gave Mr. Siddiqui huge lines of credit, free luxury hotel suites and free private-jet rides, according to court filings. Separately, documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show that Mr. Siddiqui used an internal Sands credit system that allowed high rollers to deposit millions of dollars in accounts in Las Vegas and then access the funds in Macau, or vice versa.
Federal agents arrested Mr. Siddiqui in 2009 on charges of taking illegal kickbacks. He pleaded guilty and now is serving a six-year prison term. Mr. Siddiqui's lawyer declined to comment on the probe.
That same year, the government's case against Mr. Ye Gon was dismissed after prosecutors found problems with evidence and witnesses. He still is being held in custody pending extradition to Mexico, where authorities want to put him on trial for drug trafficking and money laundering, according to court records filed in the extradition case.
It's time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.Before we get started, let's go over a few basic ground rules.1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy it's time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it's easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to...
Our guest blogger is Jon Soltz, founder and chairman of VoteVets.org.
When I read stories this weekend that said the Obama campaign was suing to restrict the voting rights of military in Ohio, my blood got boiling. Of course, Think Progress has already documented that story, inflamed by the Romney campaign, is patently false. In fact, the Obama campaign was suing to block an Ohio law which restricts a very successful early voting program in the state. The President?s campaign was trying to keep expanded voting rights in place for everyone, military included. So, why am I still so disturbed?
Because Mitt Romney, by supporting the Ohio law that would do away with three days of early voting for all but those covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (?UOCAVA?), is supporting the restriction of voting rights for as many as 913,000 Ohio veterans. This includes military retirees with over 20 years of service and multiple deployments. In short, Mitt Romney supports efforts to make voting more difficult for the very people who have put their lives on the line after swearing an oath to uphold our Constitution and democracy.
Once you leave the military, you are no longer covered by UOCAVA. Your voting rights are the same as any civilian. That means the early voting law which Mitt Romney wants to undo, provided hundreds of thousands of Ohio veterans with more of an opportunity to vote. By all accounts, Ohio voters liked and used the early voting law. In 2008, nearly one-third of all ballots was cast under the early voting measures, surely many of them veterans.
Interestingly, the press reported that 15 military and veterans? groups supported Romney?s position. That isn?t the case. Those groups actually petitioned the court to be involved in the case, because of their concerns that the end result, whatever it was, might hurt troops? ability to vote. On Friday, the Obama Campaign actually signed a brief to the court that backed the petition of those groups ? welcoming them into the case, because the Obama campaign says it wants to ensure that military voters aren?t kept from early voting. Now that we know the truth, I hope those groups will come out and fully support the President?s campaign, in court. Because if they don?t, the change in law will hurt so many who have served in uniform.
So, how is the law about to change? Under the previous statute, Ohioans were allowed to vote early, all the way up to election day. Under the new law that the Obama campaign is seeking to block, almost all Ohioans will not be able to vote early starting three days before the election ? doing away with weekend voting, which was the easiest for those with a full time job, or multiple jobs.
For veterans, most of whom have full-time work, often in jobs they can?t leave during the day, that lessens their ability to vote.
We?ve already seen what a non-early-voting Ohio looks like. We saw it in 2004, when in many polling places had extremely long lines (especially in urban areas), and polling places were shut down before everyone in line had a chance to vote. Non-early voting, quite literally, resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters. That?s what Mitt Romney wants to go back to. That?s what he wants to subject nearly a million Ohio veterans to, after they wore the uniform, and swore their lives to uphold our Constitution, including the right to vote.
My question for Mitt Romney is simple: ?Why won?t you join the Obama lawsuit in Ohio, and protect our veterans? right to vote??
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s daily round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but please let us know what stories you?re following as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- A former Library of Congress employee is suing, accusing his supervisor of harassing and humiliating him for over a year with anti-gay rhetoric.
- According to HRC’s Congressional score cards, Congress’ support of marriage equality lags far behind that of the public.
- HRC is donating $1,000,000 across the four states with marriage ballot campaigns (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington).
- Washington, DC’s Office of Human Rights has launched a campaign to fight anti-transgender discrimination.
- Meet Jon and Nedo, a married binational same-sex couple who may be separated by deportation.
- Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson endorsed an effort to repeal Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.
- Despite some police harassment and arrests, LGBT activists held a success Pride weekend in Uganda, where a “Kill the Gays” law is still being considered. On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Uganda’s activists for standing strong in spite of the nation’s homophobic culture.
- Hundreds marched in Nepal in support of LGBT rights this weekend.
- Vietnam also held its first gay pride parade.
- Poland’s Parliament rejected a bill to create same-sex civil unions.
- The Australian state of Tasmania plans to advance marriage equality before the end of the year.
- The magazine Men’s Health seems to believe that all of its readers are straight.
– Syrian media reported that President Bashar al-Assad fired Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab but opposition activists countered that he defected. Meanwhile, a Turkish media outlet is reporting that Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Fares, the first Syrian in space, has fled to Turkey after defecting from the Syrian army.
– Syrian forces are threatening to mount a “decisive battle” for Aleppo, the country’s largest city. In the capital Damascus, “militiamen appeared to step up guerrilla-like forays in central districts that were once firmly in the regime’s hands.”
– The Washington Post took a look at what’s going on in Iraq seven months after the U.S. withdrawal: “Iraqis are surprisingly optimistic about the future” but “many people said that their lives were safer and more prosperous under [Saddam] Hussein and that the U.S. invasion was not worth the price both countries have paid.”
– Afghanistan’s parliament dismissed the country’s interior and defense ministers over the weekend leading President Hamid Karzai to try to reassure NATO allies “that he would avoid a vacuum in the two ministries charged with fighting the war and organizing the transition to Afghan control.”
– The New York Times reports: Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians? bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations.
I like Chick-Fil-A and Daily Kos Radio.
What? What are you looking at? Nothing!Daily Kos Radio is on the air, Monday through Friday, now from 9 a.m. to noon, ET. We start with two hours of the Kagro in the Morning show from 9-11, and then it's The Ministry of Truth, with Armando Llorens, starring Jesse LaGreca from 11-12.
How to Listen
Your options to listen LIVE:
For podcasts you can stream or download, watch the Daily Kos Radio group page, where we post our shows daily.
OK, I've totally got the call-in system working, at least for the Kagro in the Morning show! Call us at (617) 500-7147, then dial extension 14, and you'll be put in the call queue. (You can hear the show on your phone while you're waiting, so turn that "radio" down.)
What'd you miss if you skipped Daily Kos Radio last week? Well, some of the good stuff went like this:
The craziness in MI-11, or how flying reindeer caused 9/11:
On today's show
Get all the latest news on the polls, issues and horse races coast-to-coast, with the bookends of contributing editors DemFromCT and Steve Singiser.
Be sure to hang around afterwards for Jesse and Armando, and a full day of solid, progressive programming afterward, brought to you by the gang at Netroots Radio!
The Daily Kos Radio Player
Congress is out of session this week, and in fact for all of August. So let's all get together on Daily Kos Radio and talk about them behind their backs!
Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, arid summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees. [Wall Street Journal]
About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. Nebraska fishery officials said they have seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon.
Biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass and channel catfish and is threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state endangered species.
GOP lawmakers say this year’s harsh weather that has produced devastating wildfires and the most widespread drought in 50 years has not changed their minds on climate change. [The Hill]
At least 18 wildfires raged in Oklahoma on Sunday as firefighters battled the consequences of a severe drought that shows no signs of letting up. [Los Angeles Times]
More quickly than any other place in the United States, the Alaskan Arctic is being transformed by global warming. The impacts of climate change are threatening a way of life. [Washington Post]
Ocean acidification caused by climate change is making it harder for creatures from clams to sea urchins to grow their shells, and the trend is likely to be felt most in polar regions, scientists said today. [Sydney Morning Herald]
Several biological challenges threaten to shrink the world?s coffee supply. [News Observer]
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will pledge 100 million pounds ($156 million) for two investment funds that seek to back renewable and energy efficient projects. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Geeze, talk about timing. This ad appeared on the same day as the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.
As we all know, it's "too soon" to talk about gun control, and it would be "wrong" to use a tragedy to make a "political point." Plus, if all those people in that temple had guns, this wouldn't have happened. Besides, someone could have used a brick to hit them in the heads if he didn't have a gun, so no gun control necessary, okay? And criminals still find a way to get guns illegally, even if mass killers got their weapons legally. So no more talking about gun control, okay? Even if the cops on the scene are calling the Wisconsin shootings "domestic terrorism":
A group of US mayors joined forces with survivors of the Tucson gun rampage on Sunday to step up their campaign for tighter gun controls in the wake of the recent mass killing in Aurora, Colorado.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the bipartisan coalition of more than 700 mayors including New York's Michael Bloomberg, released a television advertisement during Olympics coverage and the US's top politics shows calling for president Barack Obama and his rival governor Mitt Romney to tackle gun violence.
The ad features survivors of the Tucson shooting in January 2011 that claimed six lives and left another 13 injured, including US representative Gabby Giffords.
"Because 48,000 Americans will be murdered with guns during the next president's term. That's three Aurora shootings every day. We need less silence. And more courage," the survivors say.