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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
February 28, 2019

CNN to feature Gabbard, Delaney, Buttigieg at SXSW town hall

CNN is set to host a town hall next month with three Democratic presidential hopefuls – former Rep. John Delaney (Md.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg – at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Texas.

The March 10 event, moderated by CNN "State of the Union" and "The Lead" host Jake Tapper and the network's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, will be broadcast from the Moody Theater in Austin, the network announced Thursday.


Delaney, who served three terms in Congress and opted not to run for reelection last year to pursue a presidential bid, will be the first candidate featured at the event starting at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Gabbard at 8 p.m. and Buttigieg at 9 p.m.


February 28, 2019

TODAY: Booker, Lee, Khanna to Introduce Landmark Marijuana Legalization Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), today will reintroduce their landmark bill to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.

The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. Beyond removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances – making it legal at the federal level – the bill would also automatically expunge the convictions of those who have served federal time for marijuana use and possession offenses, and it would reinvest in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs through a community fund. This community reinvestment fund could be used for projects like job training programs, re-entry services, and community centers

The bill would also incentivize states through the use of federal funds to change their marijuana laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals and/or people of color.

By going further than simply rescheduling marijuana with expungement and community reinvestment, Booker, Lee, and Khanna’s bill is the most far-reaching marijuana legislation ever to be introduced in Congress.


February 26, 2019

Arizona Students Plan School Walkout to Demand Action on Climate Change

A group of Phoenix students plan to join youth rallying across the nation next month to demand action on climate change.

They're preparing to walk out of school on Friday, March 15, to urge Arizona politicians to reduce emissions and avert a climate crisis.

"I feel like our state legislators aren't taking the precautions that they should be to prevent this crisis and all these issues that are affecting us," said Aditi Narayanan, 16, a junior at BASIS Phoenix.

Currently, about 15 students in their leadership team in the Valley and around Arizona are organizing to participate in the walkout, according to Narayanan. They plan to gather outside of the Capitol around 4 p.m. on the day of the event, a Friday, after leaving school.


February 19, 2019

How former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games

Long read this is ESPN's cover story

How former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games

In 2007, NBA ref Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to betting on games he officiated. But it was never proved that he fixed them -- until now. Our two-year investigation reveals how he did it, whom he did it with and the millions that flowed from the conspiracy.

James "Jimmy" "Bah-Bah" "The Sheep" Battista was a stressed-out, overweight, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, in the hole to some underground gamblers for sums he'd sort of lost track of, when he settled in to watch an NBA game for which he believed he'd just put in the fix. It was January 2007. A month or so back, not long before Christmas, he'd done something audacious: He'd sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. Now he feared the scheme had become too obvious.

"You wanna get paid?" Battista had said to the ref. "Then you gotta cover the f---ing spread." The bribe was only two dimes, $2,000 per game -- an outrageous bargain. If the pick won, the ref got his two dimes. If the pick missed, the ref owed nothing; Battista would eat the loss. A "free roll," as they call it. But this referee didn't lose much. His picks were winning at an 88 percent clip, totally unheard of in sports betting for any sustained period of time. They were now entering the sixth week of the scheme -- what you might call a sustained period of time.

Cast of characters
(in order of appearance)

James "Bah-Bah" "Sheep" Battista
Underground bet broker, or mover, who was at the center of the Tim Donaghy betting scheme.

Tim Donaghy
Veteran NBA referee who wagered on his own games but was never charged with manipulating them.

Tommy Martino
High school friend of Donaghy and Battista who served as the go-between in the betting scheme during the 2006-2007 NBA season.

Jack Concannon
Suburban Philadelphia insurance salesman and friend of Donaghy who, in spring 2003, partnered with Donaghy to bet on NBA games that the referee was working.

Pete "Rhino" Ruggieri
Gambler, bookmaker and sometime partner of Battista and the Animals betting office who took over the Donaghy scheme after Battista went to rehab but quickly ended the operation.

Kim Donaghy
Wife of Tim Donaghy at the time of the scandal. Filed for divorce immediately after the investigation became public.

Phil Scala
FBI special agent and head of the investigative unit focused on the Gambino crime family at the time of the investigation. Supervisor of the FBI probe.

David Stern
NBA commissioner at the time of the scandal.

Battista had known the ref, Timmy Donaghy, for 25 years. They'd gone to the same parochial high school in the working-class Catholic neighborhoods of Delaware County, just outside Philadelphia -- Delco, as it's sometimes called -- where the sports bars are abundant, where a certain easy familiarity with all forms of gambling prevails, where guys have bookies like they've got dentists.

Battista was a creature of that world. He was what's known as a mover. Strictly speaking, movers are neither gamblers nor bookmakers. They're a species of broker that provides services to sports bettors, laying down wagers on their clients' behalf with bookmakers of various types around the world, legal and not. Battista was positioned well enough in that world that, without Donaghy's knowledge but based on Donaghy's picks, he'd helped set up a kind of loose, disorderly hedge fund. Several people from the sports-betting underworld had, in effect, staked Battista a bankroll -- a fund he was now using to bet on games officiated by this one NBA referee. One member of the group called it "the ticket" and "the company."



February 15, 2019

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid settle grievance case against NFL

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid have reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league, it was announced Friday.

"For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL," attorney Mark Geragos and the NFL said a joint statement issued Friday. "As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party."

Kaepernick filed a grievance last fall under the collective bargaining agreement alleging collusion against signing him to an NFL contract.

The filing, which demanded an arbitration hearing on the matter, said the NFL and its owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."


February 10, 2019

CIA may have used contractor who inspired 'Mission: Impossible' to kill RFK, new book alleges

Was Robert Maheu, an aide to Howard Hughes, responsible for Bobby Kennedy’s assassination?
By Tom Jackman

February 9, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Robert A. Maheu was such a colorful character that it’s widely believed the television show “Mission: Impossible” was based on him and his private investigative agency.

As an ex-FBI agent, the CIA asked him to handle jobs it wanted to steer clear of, such as lining up prostitutes for a foreign president or hiring the mafia to kill Fidel Castro. For more than 15 years, Maheu and his Washington-based company were on monthly retainer to “The Agency,” CIA records show. And during much of that time, Maheu was the right-hand man to Howard Hughes as Hughes bought up vast swaths of Las Vegas and helped finance CIA operations.

Now, a new book alleges that Maheu may have performed another mission for the CIA: the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.).


Maheu would have had access to the CIA’s experiments in hypnosis and mind control, which were being conducted at the time in California and elsewhere. That would have enabled him to frame Sirhan Sirhan as a patsy for the slaying of Kennedy, while other gunmen actually fired the fatal shots, argues author Lisa Pease, who spent 25 years researching her book, “A Lie Too Big to Fail."


February 7, 2019

Sergei Millian, identified as an unwitting source for the Steele dossier, sought proximity to Trump'

Sergei Millian, identified as an unwitting source for the Steele dossier, sought proximity to Trump’s world in 2016

Around the time of President Trump’s inauguration, two of his supporters met to toast the new administration at the Russia House, a Washington restaurant known among Russian diplomats and emigres for its vodka and caviar.

The Dupont Circle spot was suggested by Sergei Millian, according to onetime Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who said he met with the Belarus-born businessman there.

The get-together followed months of outreach Millian had made to the young aide — including offering him a lucrative consulting contract to work simultaneously for Trump and an unidentified Russian, which Papadopoulos said he rebuffed. FBI agents later pressed Papadopoulos about his relationship with Millian, Papadopoulos’s lawyers have said.

The interactions between the two men — the extent of which have not been reported previously — show how Millian, a self-described real estate developer who served as an unwitting source of information for former British spy Christopher Steele, was in closer proximity to Trump’s world than previously known.


February 6, 2019

A Lobbyist At The Trump Tower Meeting Received Half A Million Dollars In Suspicious Payments

A bank flagged transactions, including large cash deposits, made before and after Rinat Akhmetshin attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

By Emma Loop and Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold and Tanya Kozyreva and John Templon

A Russian-born lobbyist who attended the controversial Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 received a series of suspicious payments totaling half a million dollars before and after the encounter.

Documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News show that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military officer turned Washington lobbyist, deposited large, round-number amounts of cash in the months preceding and following the meeting, where a Russian lawyer offered senior Trump campaign officials dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The lobbyist also received a large payment that bank investigators deemed suspicious from Denis Katsyv, whose company Prevezon Holdings was accused by the US Justice Department of laundering the proceeds of a $230 million Russian tax fraud.

The Trump Tower meeting and those who attended it have become a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. As part of that inquiry, banks were asked to pull financial information on the meeting attendees, and investigators at Wells Fargo handed over documents on Akhmetshin to the US Treasury in 2017. Those records were passed to Mueller's team, but Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the special counsel, declined to say whether the transactions are under investigation. Congressional investigators also requested the financial information from the Treasury Department.


The Money Trail

February 4, 2019

R-Dan Crenshaw sarcastically suggests a 70% tax rate on the Patriots for winning Super Bowls


This topic covers politics, economics, and sports.

I think it misses the mark for several reasons. One of them as AOC points out as well as the NFL has a salary cap as well as a reverse order draft to address issues of fairness and competition. One other thing is the NFL receives a lot of government help in the form of subsidies for stadiums, antitrust protections, etc.

How the government helps the NFL maintain its power and profitability


Goodell, who was paid $44 million last year, has been able to ink extraordinarily lucrative broadcast and cable deals for the league’s powerful owners.

But it’s not all Goodell’s work, according to sports economists. The league also benefits from a litany of benefits from federal and state governments — many of which were conceived decades ago when the NFL was still a fledgling organization and Americans were just tuning in to watch games on television.


An antitrust exemption: In 1961, Congress approved legislation that allowed professional football teams to pool together when negotiating radio and television broadcasts rights. The law, signed by President John F. Kennedy, was the first action by the federal government that would spur the growth of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, academics say. CBS paid $2 million for the right to broadcast the NFL’s championship game in 1966, the year Congress approved the NFL’s merger with the AFL and expanded the combined league’s antitrust exemption. The idea was to support the fledgling sports league. Today, however, the NFL makes an estimated $7 billion in revenues just from their television deals. Hands down, NFL games are the most popular programming on television. Last fall, 34 of the 35 most-watched TV shows were NFL games.

“Apple or ExxonMobil can only dream of permission to function as a monopoly: the 1966 law was effectively a license for the NFL owners to print money,” wrote Gregg Easterbrook, author of “The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America,” in an article for The Atlantic.


For regular updates on the topic of sports subsidies I recommend Field of Schemes.


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