Lawmakers and educators battle over how to reopen schools safely this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
New York Attorney General Letitia James may be able to do what no politician before her has been able to accomplish – take down the National Rifle Association. Her lawsuit alleging self-dealing and misconduct could, if successful, dissolve the entire organization. While the suit is civil in nature, it reads like an old-fashioned corruption indictment. It alleges that the not-for profit organization violated New York state laws governing charities by diverting tens of millions of dollars away from the organization’s mission for the personal benefit of its leaders, with Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s Executive Vice President for the past 29 years, and three other officers named as defendants along with the organization itself. According to the complaint, LaPierre used NRA funds for eight private plane flights to the Bahamas, where they enjoyed life on the 107-foot yacht of an NRA vendor, as well as for safaris in Africa and elsewhere. The complaint also claims that LaPierre allotted millions of dollars for private security for himself without sufficient oversight (and cited “security” concerns to explain why he didn’t disclose those trips to the NRA’s board), that he spent $1.2 million of the group’s funds on gifts from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for favored friends and vendors, and that he negotiated a post-employment contract for himself valued at $17 million without board approval. ‘Fraught With Fraud and Abuse’: NY Attorney General Sues to Dissolve the National Rifle AssociationNew York, like most states, requires non-profit organizations to file annual financial reports as a condition of its non-profit status, which confers tax benefits for the organization and its donors. The law requires funds to be used to serve the organization’s members and advance its charitable mission. The complaint alleges that the NRA’s leaders “blatantly ignored” those rules by failing to ensure proper internal controls, ignoring whistleblowers and concealing problems from auditors. Like other cases of corruption, this easily could have been framed as a criminal case. Filing false registration and disclosure documents as part of a scheme to defraud can serve as the basis for federal mail or wire fraud, and often does in public corruption cases. When I served as a federal prosecutor, my former office brought public corruption cases on such theories in similar cases in which officials misused funds for personal benefit. Why then, is it left to James, whose office’s oversight over charities is civil in nature, to bring this action? The silence of the U.S. Department of Justice here is deafening. But the effect of the state attorney general’s civil case might be even more devastating than a criminal case because one of the remedies of her action is dissolution of the NRA itself. She used the same tactics to dissolve the Trump Foundation in November. There, she reached a settlement with President Donald Trump and family members to pay $2 million to resolve allegations of misuse of charitable funds to influence the 2016 presidential primary election and to further his own personal interests. Among the improper use of funds was doling out $500,000 to potential voters at a 2016 campaign rally in Iowa. As part of that settlement, James required Trump to personally admit to misusing the Foundation’s funds. Sometimes, parties to settlements are permitted to publicly state that a resolution is not an admission of wrongdoing. James would not let them off so easily. Her success in the Trump Foundation case puts teeth into her legal quest to dissolve the NRA as well. Trump to NRA Bigwigs: Get Better LawyersSince 1871, the NRA has been the nation’s largest gun advocacy group. Founded to improve marksmanship following the Civil War, the organization has lately become a powerful lobbying organization and campaign funder that can make or break candidates for political office depending on their stance on firearms regulations. As its website boasts, the NRA is “widely recognized today as a major political force.” Following mass shootings in America, Democratic candidates for office have blamed the NRA for the inability to pass gun reform legislation, and have demanded campaign finance reform to expose and limit the organization’s influence on elections. No doubt, there will be Second Amendment advocates who claim that the New York lawsuit is politically motivated effort to strike a blow against gun ownership. Indeed, if the allegations are true that the NRA engaged in cartoonishly corrupt self-dealing and misconduct, then the dissolution of the NRA would end its 139-year run as the nation’s strongest advocate for gun rights. The law may be the only weapon that can take down the NRA. And if James can prove her case, then the demise of the NRA will be a self-inflicted wound. Lawsuit: The NRA’s ‘School Safety Initiative’ Was a Front to Increase FundraisingRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Against the backdrop of protests over racial injustice and police brutality and with allegations of misconduct emboldening challengers, the top prosecutor in Georgia’s most populous county is fighting to keep his job. After two decades of running unopposed, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard placed second in the June Democratic primary and faces a tough runoff election Tuesday. The extended primary contest has unfolded as Atlanta rocked with protests sparked by the killing of an African American, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Igor Grechushkin was questioned by Cyprus police on Thursday over the MV Rhosus, the ship that carried ammonium nitrate to Beirut, local reports say.
Protesters in Portland allegedly threw white paint over a woman, as demonstrators clashed with police for a third consecutive day.On Friday, following two days of protests marred by vandalism, more than 200 people clashed with police, as two other Black Lives Matter protests marched peacefully through the city.
Biden has vowed to choose a woman as his potential vice president. Following widespread protests over racial injustice and police brutality, pressure increased on Biden to choose a woman of color. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents, fits the bill.
The SS Richard Montgomery is basically a bomb waiting to go off.
Clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers headed to large gathering could spread coronavirus to tribal groupsThousands of bikers heading to South Dakota’s 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will not be allowed through Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints, a spokesman for the Native American group said on Saturday.The decision to prevent access across tribal lands to the annual rally, which could attract as many as 250,000 bikers amid fears it could lead to a massive, regional coronavirus outbreak, comes as part of larger Covid-19 prevention policy. The policy has pitted seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation against federal and state authorities, which both claim the checkpoints are illegal.A duty officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux told the Guardian on Saturday that only commercial and emergency vehicles will be let through the checkpoints onto reservation land.A number of bikers had tried to enter but had been turned back, they said. Other reservations in the region, including the Oglala Sioux, were also turning away bikers that had attempted routes to Sturgis that pass through sovereign land.Under Cheyenne River tribal guidelines non-residents driving non-commercial out-of-state vehicles are never allowed through the reservation. During the rally, non-commercial vehicles with South Dakota plates are also not allowed through.The clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers visiting Sturgis for the largest gathering of people since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic could spread the virus to tribal groups that are already experiencing a rise in cases.Oglala Sioux recorded 163 cases last week, while the Cheyenne River Sioux has seen cases rise to 79, according to the tribe’s website.The restrictions come as local law enforcement reported a convergence of bikers from all directions. According to reports, many bikers heading for Sturgis expressed defiance at rules and restrictions that have marked life during the coronavirus pandemic.While South Dakota has fared better than most states – it ranks 38th in Covid deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally – cases have risen in recent weeks as hotspots move into the midwest.During the rally, people are expected to cram bars and pack concerts with at least 34 acts playing. “Screw COVID,” read the design on one T-shirt on sale. “I went to Sturgis.”> I trusted my people, they trusted me, and South Dakota is in a good spot in our fight against COVID-19. > > The Sturgis motorcycle rally starts this weekend, and we're excited for visitors to see what our great state has to offer! https://t.co/UiHvaYviqa> > — Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) August 6, 2020Stephen Sample, who rode his Harley-Davidson from Arizona, told the Associated Press that the event was a break from the routine of the last several months.“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” Sample, 66, said, adding that he had weighed the risks of navigating the crowds, but the same thrill-seeking that attracted him to riding motorcycles seemed to win out.“I think we’re all willing to take a chance,” he said, but acknowledged the trip “could be a major mistake.”South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, has supported holding the Sturgis rally, pointing out that no virus outbreak was documented from the several thousand people who turned out to see Donald Trump at Mount Rushmore last month.The rally is marking its 80th anniversary and typically injects $800m into South Dakota’s economy. Meade county sheriff, Rob Merwin, said: “It’s going to be a lot of people and a lot of motorcycles all over the place. People are tired of being penned up by this pandemic.”On Friday, a worker at the event told the Guardian crowds seemed larger than in previous years and warned that Sturgis attendees were paying little heed to medical advice.“I’ve not seen one single person wearing a mask,” said bartender Jessica Christian, 29. “It’s just pretty much the mentality that, ‘If I get it, I get it.’”“In downtown Sturgis it’s just madness,” Christian added. “People not socially distancing, everybody touching each other. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.”Over 60% of Sturgis 6,900 residents who responded to a city council survey in May said they wanted the rally canceled.A month later, the council voted to move ahead, although it canceled all city-sponsored events associated with the rally and included measures such as hand-sanitizing stations. Sturgis mayor Mark Carstensen said throughout the pandemic, “the state of South Dakota has been the freedom state and the city of Sturgis has stayed true to that”.
The Salt Lake Tribune had reported that the officer had downloaded, shared and bragged about the photos
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