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Gender: Male
Hometown: Connecticut
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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Journal Archives

Edwin Sutherland: The 75th Anniversary of His Coining The Term White-Collar Crime

By William K. Black


This year is the 75th anniversary of Edwin Sutherland’s presidential address to the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 1939. In the course of beginning to write a book from a white-collar criminological perspective about our modern financial crises I decided to reread Sutherland’s address (which was published as an article in 1940) to see how it stands up in light of modern white-collar criminological research and theory. It reads exceptionally well today. It is not even archaic in tone. Sutherland begins by listing eleven (there were two van Sweringen brothers involved in their scam) examples of the kind of criminals he was referring to.

“The present-day white-collar criminals, who are more suave and deceptive than the ‘robber barons,’ are represented by Krueger, Stavisky, Whitney, Mitchell, Foshay, Insull, the Van Sweringens, Musica-Coster, Fall, Sinclair, and many other merchant princes and captains of finance and industry, and by a host of lesser followers.”

Musica-Coster is hyphenated because he used an alias, as did his brothers, to aid his ability to continue to defraud even after one set of his frauds was discovered. Each of the eleven people listed ran what we now call a “control fraud” (where the person controlling a seemingly legitimate entity uses it as “weapon” to defraud. Ten of the individuals controlled private entities. Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall was the corrupt public official leading the Tea Pot Dome scandal. I am near Minneapolis this semester (go north for the winter, brilliant idea) and in driving into the city tonight I saw Foshay Tower (the tallest building west of Chicago and east of California when it was built). Wilbur Burton Foshay made Sutherland’s list.

Nine of the eleven fraud schemes involved financial sector frauds. Harry F. Sinclair, who purchased the sweetheart lease to the Tea Pot Dome from Secretary Fall, was engaged in good old fashioned corruption. Sutherland recognized that accounting was what we now call the “weapon of choice” in financial sector frauds.


The Arab Spring is not over

by Jimmy Carter @CarterCenter February 14, 2014

Jimmy Carter writes that the democratic process requires patience and the right forms of assistance

There have been dramatic political upheavals in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and the Carter Center — the nonprofit foundation I head that seeks to promote human rights, democracy and alleviation of suffering worldwide — has been invited to witness the transition process from authoritarianism to democracy in all of them. We still see citizens struggling to improve their lives and shape their own destiny, with sharply different prospects.

Egypt has been least adaptable to change, and is undergoing a reversion to de facto military rule — perhaps even more restrictive than under former President Hosni Mubarak and previous regimes. The Carter Center witnessed reasonably good elections for parliament and president in 2012, when the Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated Freedom and Justice Party and its presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, emerged victorious. But Egypt’s high court nullified the parliamentary choices, and instead of requiring a new election when Morsi proved unable to govern under these circumstances, there was a military takeover with the apparent approval of a public whose first priority was stability.

Dissent was severely restricted for citizens and journalists during last month’s approval of the new constitution, which limits the scope of Islamic law and provides for more gender equality and personal freedom, but gives the military ultimate authority. Seemingly immune from constitutional restrictions, the generals of Egypt’s armed forces control their own budget, select the defense minister and retain the right to conduct trials of civilians in military tribunals. The Interior Ministry and judiciary are also granted extraordinary privileges.

Our role in Libya has been to observe the post-Kaddafi election in July 2012 and prospectively to witness the election this month of delegates who will draft a new constitution. The interim government, expected to function until the end of this year, is weak and unable to administer all regions of the country, especially areas in the east and the southern desert that are controlled by militia factions. This threatens national stability and the oil revenues that fund the state. The delegates will be divided among the country’s three regions, giving exceptional weight to the underpopulated and historically alienated regions — equivalent to advantages that America’s founders gave smaller states in the U.S. Senate and Electoral College, which we have learned to accommodate.


Report Prompts Renewed Push To Limit Restraint, Seclusion

By Michelle Diament

to Senator Harkin, I so do not want him to retire.

February 13, 2014

Widespread use of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s schools is putting kids with disabilities at risk and current laws offer families little recourse, a U.S. Senate investigation finds.

A 54-page report from the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unveiled Wednesday documents 10 cases where students have experienced restraint or seclusion at school. Among them are the story of a 12-year-old Florida boy with developmental disabilities who was restrained 89 times in 14 months without his parents’ knowledge and the case of a 14-year-old in Georgia who committed suicide after being repeatedly secluded at school.

The findings were issued as Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced plans to introduce federal legislation to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, practices which data suggest are most frequently used on students with disabilities.

Currently, Harkin said that there are laws to protect individuals in jails and hospitals but there are no nationwide standards for schools.


( Updated ) Mom creates birthday Facebook page after son says he has no friends

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014 (KALAMAZOO, Mich.) (WLS) -- Ten-year-old Colin, of Kalamazoo, Mich., told his mom not to throw him a birthday party because he has no friends.

Colin, who suffers from Asperger's, told his mom there would be no point in throwing a birthday party because all of the kids at school "don't like me" and "make fun of me."

That's when Colin's mom came up with a special surprise. She created a Facebook page called "Happy Birthday Colin" where people can leave birthday messages for Colin, and it's getting lots of attention.

Leave a birthday wish on Colin's page

"I am Colin's mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th," she wrote February 2. "Because of Colin's disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don't like him... He eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them.

"So I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party. Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day," Mom wrote.

The page has 81,389 likes so far. Colin's mom said she's hoping to keep it a secret until March 9. But he's already heard chatter at school about being on the news.


Misread Telexes Led Analysts to See Iran Nuclear Arms Programme

Analysis by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 2014 (IPS) - When Western intelligence agencies began in the early 1990s to intercept telexes from an Iranian university to foreign high technology firms, intelligence analysts believed they saw the first signs of military involvement in Iran’s nuclear programme. That suspicion led to U.S. intelligence assessments over the next decade that Iran was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.

The supposed evidence of military efforts to procure uranium enrichment equipment shown in the telexes was also the main premise of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation of Iran’s nuclear programme from 2003 through 2007.

But the interpretation of the intercepted telexes on which later assessments were based turned out to have been a fundamental error. The analysts, eager to find evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, had wrongly assumed that the combination of interest in technologies that could be used in a nuclear programme and the apparent role of a military-related institution meant that the military was behind the procurement requests.

The intercepted telexes that set in train the series of U.S. intelligence assessments that Iran was working on nuclear weapons were sent from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Credit: public domain.
In 2007-08, Iran provided hard evidence that the technologies had actually been sought by university teachers and researchers.


BOOK REVIEW – Gareth Porter: A Manufactured Crisis

January 31, 2014

by Peter Jenkins

The subtitle of Gareth Porter’s new book, The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, is well-chosen. Large parts of A Manufactured Crisis are indeed untold till now. They amount to what the author terms an “alternative narrative”.

But don’t be misled by “alternative”. This is not the work of some crank who imagines conspiracies where none exist. One senses, rather, from the author’s meticulous sourcing and the extent of his research that what motivates him is a fierce hunger for truth and aversion to deceit.

Porter has been investigating the Iranian nuclear case for the best part of a decade. The result of his researches is both a fascinating addition to a growing corpus, unlike any previous work on the issue, and a disturbing indictment of US and Israeli policies.

One central theme is that hidden motives have coloured these policies. On the US side, Porter explains, the end of the Cold War led to a federal bureaucratic interest in exaggerating the WMD and missile threat posed by Iran (and other emerging countries) to justify funding bids. During the presidency of George W. Bush some senior administration members also sought to exploit nuclear fears to “delegitimize” the Iranian government and engineer a pretext for enforced regime change.


Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (1964)

"American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

By Harper’s Magazine

In his Easy Chair column this month, Thomas Frank revisits the historian Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” whose fiftieth anniversary of publication will be November of this year. “To read Hofstadter’s 1964 essay,” Frank writes,is to experience numerous shocks of recognition. To begin with, Hofstadter noted that what distinguishes “the modern right wing” is that it “feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind.” . . . The notion that the righteous have been dispossessed is by now so utterly ingrained that conservatives have stopped mincing words about the remedy: they must “take our country back” from the elites and socialists who have stolen it away.

Frank highlights other still-evident traits of the paranoid style, but ultimately lands on a problematic legacy of the essay: its popularization of a “pseudopsychological approach” to political analysis, under which Sarah Palin can be swiftly dismissed as a delusional maniac, or Bill O’Reilly as a narcissist. “We should also note,” Frank writes, “that nowadays the source of the psychiatric style is nearly always the liberal camp.”

Hofstadter was writing at a peak moment of liberal self-confidence, leading Frank to conclude by lamenting the waning of the possibilities presented by that historical moment. “Hofstadter’s warm old liberal consensus was itself in pieces only a few years later — shattered first by its own blunders in Vietnam and then by the leaders of the ‘paranoid’ right.”


**From the November 1964 issue
The Paranoid Style in American Politics

By Richard Hofstadter

It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers.

in full: http://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/?single=1

Reliving Machiavelli in Florence

By Pepe Escobar

FLORENCE - 2014 has barely dawned, and I'm standing in a cold, rainy evening at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, staring at the round plaque on the floor - ignored by the throngs of Chinese tourists - celebrating the hanging and burning of the monk Savonarola in May 23, 1498, accused of conspiring against the Florentine Republic.

Yet I'm thinking - how could I not - of Machiavelli. He was only 29 on that fateful day. He was standing only a few feet away from where I am. What was he thinking?

He had seen how Savonarola, a popular Dominican preacher, had been hailed as the savior of the republic. Savonarola rewrote the
constitution to empower the lower middle class; talk about a risky (populist) move. He allied Florence with France. But he had no counterpunch when the pro-Spanish pope Alexander VI imposed harsh economic sanctions that badly hurt Florence's merchant class (a centuries-old anticipation of US sanctions on Iranian bazaaris).

Savonarola had also conducted the original bonfire of the vanities, whose flaming pyramid included wigs, pots of rouge, perfumes, books with poems by Ovid, Boccaccio and Petrarch, busts and paintings of "profane" subjects (even - horror of horrors - some by Botticelli), lutes, violas, flutes, sculptures of naked women, figures of Greek gods and on top of it all, a hideous effigy of Satan.

in full: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-140114.html

The End of Palestine? An Interview with Norman G. Finkelstein

US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Middle East again this week, conducting intensive talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials and other regional actors. His aim, it has been widely reported, is to reach a "framework agreement" as a prelude to a final settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Norman Finkelstein is the co-author, with Mouin Rabbani, of How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict (OR Books, forthcoming). I spoke with him about the significance of the negotiations, as we enter what may be a decisive phase in the Palestinians' long struggle for self-determination.

You’ve been warning for some time now that the Israeli-Palestinian talks being brokered by Secretary of State Kerry might, unlike many prior rounds of negotiations, actually produce a deal to end the conflict. Its content would amount to Israel’s long-standing terms of settlement. What’s your assessment of where the diplomatic process is currently at?

A “framework agreement” will shortly be reached, and a final settlement will probably be signed in the last six months or so of President Obama’s term in office. When the Kerry process was first announced I was virtually alone in predicting that it would actually go somewhere; now, it’s widely assumed. Many respected Israeli commentators now take for granted that an agreement is just a matter of time.

remainder in full: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_end_of_palestine_an_interview_with_norman_g._finkelstein

Why Aren’t Prep Schools Following Corporate Reforms? By diane ravitch

**Hat tip to yurbud, who posted this in Good Reads

This is a terrific article about the elite prep schools and the fact that they do not follow the “reforms” that are now pushed by the U.S. Department of Education, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and other corporate reformers.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Go ahead and do an online search of the country’s top prep schools, or check out this list from Forbes. Peruse some of the school websites and do a search for anything that mainstream education reformers suggest we implement in your neighborhood public school. Try, for example, common core state standards. How about data-driven instruction? Or, what about two weeks worth of mandated high-stakes, standardized state tests, preceded by weeks, if not months, of benchmarks, short-cyles, and pre-assessments?

Are they likely to hire teachers without advanced degrees?

Check out the proportion of teachers at those schools who possess advanced degrees. At Horace Mann in the Bronx—where 36 percent of students are accepted at an Ivy League school, Stanford, or MIT—94 percent of the teachers have advanced degrees. Now, who was it that said rewarding teachers with advanced degrees is a waste of money? Ah yes, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. How far do you think Mr. Duncan’s argument would get with parents who examine a potential school’s “Ivy/MIT/Stanford pipeline” percentage score? Not very far.

So why are the prep schools avoiding Duncan’s great ideas?

If the reforms mandated by Departments of Education and fawned over by upstart think-tankers were as fantastic as advised again and again, then you can bet that every single one of the country’s best prep schools would be implementing them as rapidly as possible. They’re not, and you shouldn’t accept them either.

in full: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/04/why-arent-prep-schools-following-corporate-reforms/
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