An undercover FBI agent has been accused of using taxpayer money to pay for prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and the subjects of a federal investigation. A federal defense attorney for 25-year-old Sergio Santiago Syjuco said in a court filing last week that the unnamed agent "spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on prostitutes for himself and for the defendants."
Many of the prostitutes, Deputy Federal Public Defender John Littrell said, were likely minors, citing a raid earlier this year which rescued 60 victims of sex trafficking from one of the locations. Littrell is asking a federal court to toss the case against his client due to "outrageous governmental misconduct" involving the prostitutes, as first reported by TickleTheWire.com.
Syjuco and two co-defendants were charged with violating arms import laws earlier this year. They allegedly sold a number of weapons, including a grenade launcher, to the undercover agent who said he wanted such weapons to be used by drug cartels along the Mexican-U.S. border.
The defense attorney also disclosed a letter from federal prosecutors that recounted reimbursements from the trips to the clubs. The feds said the undercover agent spent $14,500 on eight particular days in 2010 and 2011, including at suspected brothels "Air Force One" and "Area 51" in the Philippines.
The letter from prosecutors, however, maintained the undercover agent "did not engage in prostitution, nor did he solicit prostitutes for himself or your clients." Prosecutors wrote that they believed two defendants in the case engaged in prostitution at the clubs and "shifted the cost of their acts to the undercover when he paid the bar bill, which did not list 'prostitute' as a line item." They said they didn't have copies of the actual receipts.
"Air Force One" manager Gerry Albrido told investigators for the defense team that the FBI agent, going by the name of "Richard Han," was "abusive and degrading" to the prostitutes.
"One on occasion, Han demanded that several prostitutes in the club line up and drink five shots of hard liquor," Litrell wrote. "Most of the girls did so, but one them, who was very small, could not drink the liquor and poured it out. Mr. Alberight stated that Han yelled at the girl and forced her to drink the alcohol until she vomited."
Litrell told the Associated Press that he had "never seen anything like this during my career as a criminal defense lawyer." In a court filing, he said such actions would be "serious federal crimes" if committed by a private citizen.
CALLING FORMER President Bill Clinton “… tireless, passionate advocate…”, President Obama said he was “grateful for your friendship… a great treasure for all of us.” Obama’s speech focused on human[...]
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Twelfth in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality. Less than halfway through his first term as Ohio State Treasurer, Josh Mandel (R) is his party’s nominee against incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). Unlike Brown, a strong supporter of LGBT equality, Mandel has a consistent record of [...]
Romney is seriously overpaying his own staff. That is the only conclusion that you can make after looking at the figures.The Obama campaign is spending slightly more than the Romney campaign ($4.04 million compared to $4.37 million last month), but the Obama team is much larger. When you look at the results, the Obama team is also much more effective. For a business expert, Romney...
In his 60 Minutes interview Sunday night, President Obama laid the gauntlet at Mitt Romney's feet on his warmongering. He straight out challenged Romney to say what he thinks with regard to how Iran should be handled. Responding to a question about his foreign policy, President Obama said "If Governor Romney is suggesting we should start another war, he should say so."
Romney's response to that was a lot of weird, ranty, unintelligible word salad. Asked about it on the campaign plane, Romney said "I'm not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn't. He's trying to fool people into thinking that I think things that I don't." There's a non-denial denial for you right there.
I'm not sure what Romney was trying to say there, but everything he's said to criticize President Obama's foreign policy would suggest he does indeed believe we should start another war, this time with Iran in defense of Israel. It's a thread that runs through everything he says about having a "strong military" to the old "leading from behind" trope that disparages, but says nothing substantive.
From Romney's long-standing friendship with war hawk Netanyahu to his neocon foreign policy team, it's clear Mitt Romney would have absolutely no problem serving keepers like Sheldon Adelson by stepping up pressure against Iran with military force. None whatsoever. No one has to "trick" anyone into "thinking things [Romney] doesn't." The handwriting is all over the wall on that.
Even more interesting than Romney's word salad denial on war, however, is the second segment of this report where Mitt Romney dismisses his "47 percent" remarks by saying "that's not the campaign, that was me!"
Step back and let that sink in for a minute. In that one admission, Mitt Romney owned his remarks as his own, owned the underlying message about writing off half the country, and then distanced the "campaign" from them, expecting that viewers would somehow separate the REAL Romney from his "campaign."
Isn't the campaign about electing Romney? It's not some unrelated monolith out there just rolling around the country for the hell of it. It is an organization of people dedicated to electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States. And if they succeed, that guy -- that "me" -- in those videos will be forming tax policy, foreign policy, and social policy for this nation.
Mitt Romney somehow thinks the debates will redeem him. Good luck with that. Will the real Romney be speaking or the mythical beast known as Campaign?
by Jessica Goad A report released today by the Better Future Project further highlights the wide gulf between academia and politics when it comes to climate science. While 97 percent of climate scientists actively publishing in the field say that climate change is human caused, the issue has become intensely politicized. Today?s study offers a [...]
A Bush appointee, Judge Timothy Corrigan of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, has ruled that there was not sufficient evidence that reducing the number of early voting days from 14 to 8 would have an impact on/disenfranchise[...]
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The leader of the Nuns On A Bus tour that has criss-crossed the nation highlighting the effect the House Republican budget would have on low-income Americans said Monday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent comments about the “47 percent” “show that he is “out of touch” and “has no idea how hard it is [...]
This morning, the Supreme Court did not decide to take Perry v. Hollingsworth, the California Prop. 8 case. According to the conference schedule, the Justices were supposed to discuss it yesterday. They didn?t actively decline to take it; they could still make a decision to hear it in the months to come. But at least for today, no news is good news.
Let me explain. This year, almost every expert I?ve spoken to or seen believes that the Supreme Court will hear argument on some aspect of the marriage-equality question. What many LGBT advocates most profoundly hope is that SCOTUS will take up one of five current challenges to DOMA, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act?and will decline to review the Ninth Circuit?s decision in Perry. Although both the DOMA cases and the Prop 8 case touch on marriage for same-sex couples, the issues are quite different.
In the DOMA cases, couples who are lawfully married in their home states?Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, and California (for a couple that married during those six months when same-sex couples could marry there)?are challenging the law, saying: Our states married us. The federal government has the power to make laws and regulations that hinge on marital status, but it can?t decide which marriages it likes and doesn?t. According to this argument, DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution?s promise that each American will be protected equally by the law. According to this line of argument, the U.S. cannot say that, for instance, Edie Windsor could have inherited her spouse's estate tax-free had she married a man?but, after forty years with her partner, she must pay a tax bill of $363,000 because her dead spouse was a woman. If New York says Edie Windsor was married, the U.S. must follow suit.
Almost everyone I?ve spoken to?I did a number of interviews for an in-depth article in this month's Advocate, just posted on the web?believes that SCOTUS will almost certainly hear a DOMA challenge. And everyone I talked to believes that the Court will probably (no guarantees!) declare DOMA?s Section 3 unconstitutional. That?s the part that says that, for federal purposes, the definition of marriage is a union between one man and one woman, no matter what your home state says. Knock that part down, and, for instance, and my wife will no longer be paying $3,600 peryear in taxes on the fact that I?m covered by her health insurance; once the federal government counts us as married and therefore accepts that I am part of her family, that health insurance will no longer be treated as extra income. That?s just one of the more immediate ripples that would result from the end of DOMA; the annoyances, inconveniences, and costs are many.
Perry, however, is a very different case. Brought by the celebrity legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies, the California Proposition 8 case that is either about (depending on who?s interpreting it) whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry or whether voters can vote to take away a court-appointed constitutional right based on nothing but bias and hatred. The Ninth Circuit already ruled, narrowly and specifically, that under California?s particular and peculiar circumstances, Prop. 8 was as unconstitutional. If SCOTUS declines to hear Perry, same-sex couples in California will be free to marry once again. If it does decide to hear Perry?well, here?s what I wrote for The Advocate:
If the court does take up Perry, be afraid, be very afraid. Almost no one believes the Supreme Court is ready to get out ahead of American opinion on the question at Perry?s heart: Do same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution? Maybe the Supremes would be ready to say this in 10 years, after LGBT forces have repealed most of the state mini-DOMAs, replacing them with marriage equality in all but a handful of Southern states. But not yet. Anyway, the Ninth Circuit already struck down Prop. 8, brilliantly writing a very narrow opinion that applies only to California, given its weird history of having its top state court rule that same-sex couples could marry, then whisking marriage away by popular vote.
But breathe a sigh of relief if the Supreme Court does not take Perry?s appeal, because that means California?s same-sex couples will be able to marry once again, given the neatly delimited judgment issued by the Ninth Circuit.
Yesterday, the Supremes made no decision either way. According to the indefatigable Chris Geidner, the Justices may well have decided that they won?t announce even whether they will take any of the marriage-related cases until after the November election?lest the mere fact that the issue will be up for discussion will influence voters. Or is it that they want to hear what voters say in the four states where marriage is on the ballot?Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington?and where we?re expected to win the popular vote in at least two states, for the first time in such a contest?
If the Supreme Court does take DOMA cases, that won?t be the end of the issue. Again, from my Advocate article:
If the court knocks down DOMA?s section 3, break out the champagne and the confetti: We?re nearly home. The news media will trumpet the victory, more politicians and companies will feel secure coming around to our side, and more individuals? minds will be changed as they see how little changes when same-sex couples are treated fairly. Tens of thousands of same-sex couples in marriage-equality states will be married not just in their home states but also in the United States, saving them money and trouble. Couples from antimarriage states who travel to marry in, say, Iowa will now face the inverse conundrum: They will be married in the United States but not in Kansas or North Carolina. Their families, friends, and employers will start to take the issue personally as they deal with marriage inequality not just as an abstraction but as a daily dilemma for real, human families.
The fight won't be over, but we would be much farther along.
If we lose, and the Court upholds DOMA? Well, that would be no fun. But we?ll just keeping working to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, by which Congress could repeal DOMA, and to pass marriage at the ballot box (as is up for consideration this November in Maine, Maryland, and Washington).
For today, no news is good news. For tomorrow?well, I'll keep reporting. Watch this space!
Allen West brings yet more crazy.Rep. Allen West (R-Outerspace?) just can't contain the crazy. Here's the best part of his response to President Obama's address at the UN General Assembly Tuesday.
My statement to the United Nations would have been, ?The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence? [emphasis added]Does that sound like Allen West thinks he's running for president to anyone else? Maybe delusions of grandeur are rubbing off on him from hanging out with this guy.
Business mogul and reality television star Donald Trump will hold a fundraiser for Florida Rep. Allen West, according to an invitation obtained by The Daily Caller.That's like crazy quadrupled. How could it possibly be topped? Even if you threw Michele Bachman, Steve King, and Joe Walsh into the party, combined they can't compete with The Donald.
But it's a match made in heaven, with the Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle watching over them, I'm sure.
Enough of the crazy. Please donate $3 to Patrick Murphy on ActBlue.