Israeli Election Is Too Close to Call – Netanyahu’s Tenure as Prime Minister in Jeopardy!

Benny Gatnz and Benjamin Netanyahu

Dear Commons Community,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short of securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and nationalist allies in national elections yesterday, initial exit polls showed, setting the stage for a period of coalition negotiations that could threaten his political future.  

Initial results posted by Israel’s three major television stations showed challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party tied or with a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud. While the results do not guarantee that Gantz will be the next prime minister, they signaled that Netanyahu, who has led the country for over 10 years, could have trouble holding on to the job.

Addressing his supporters early today, Netanyahu refused to concede defeat and vowed to work to form a new government that excludes Arab parties. His campaign focused heavily on attacking and questioning the loyalty of the country’s Arab minority — a strategy that drew accusations of racism and incitement from Arab leaders.  As reported by the Associated Press:

“In the coming days we will convene negotiations to assemble a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government,” he said. He claimed that Arab parties “negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” and “glorify bloodthirsty murderers.”

Israeli exit polls are often imprecise, and final results, expected Wednesday, could still swing in Netanyahu’s favor. But all three stations predicted a similar outcome.

According to those polls, neither Likud nor Blue and White, with their smaller respective allies, could control a majority in the 120-seat parliament without the support of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party. That put Lieberman, a former protege of Netanyahu’s who has become one of the prime minister’s fiercest rivals, in the position of kingmaker.

Arab parties, which have never before sat in an Israeli government, also finished strong, and exit polls predicted they would form the third largest party in parliament.

Addressing his supporters late Tuesday, a jubilant Lieberman said he saw only “one option:” a broad, secular coalition with both Blue and White and Likud.

“We’ve always said that a unity government is only possible in emergency situations. And I tell you and I tell every citizen today watching us on television: the situation, both security-wise and economically, are emergency situations,” he said. “The country, therefore, requires a broad government.”

Early Wednesday, Gantz told a cheering rally of supporters that while it was too soon to declare victory, he had begun speaking to potential partners and hoped to form a unity government.

“Starting tonight we will work to form a broad unity government that will express the will of the people,” he said.

Attention will now focus on Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who is to choose the candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a stable coalition. Rivlin is to consult with all parties in the coming days before making his decision.

After that, the prime minister designate would have up to six weeks to form a coalition. If that fails, Rivlin could give another candidate for prime minister 28 days to form a coalition. And if that doesn’t work, new elections would be triggered yet again. Rivlin has said he will do everything possible to avoid such a scenario.

Lieberman called for an immediate start to negotiations and predicted it could be wrapped up quickly. But such a deal promises to be complicated.

Gantz, a former military chief who has presented himself as a unifying figure in a divided nation, has ruled out a partnership with Likud if Netanyahu remains at the helm at a time when he is expected to be indicted on criminal charges.

But in his speech, he made no such conditions. “I intend to speak with everyone,” he said, without mentioning Netanyahu.

Lieberman, who leads a nationalist but secular party, is unlikely to sit with Arab parties on the left or ultra-Orthodox religious parties on the right.

That could limit both Gantz’s and Netanyahu’s ability to maneuver and could potentially put pressure on the longtime leader, who has ruled for over a decade, to step aside.

Likud members said they remained behind their leader.

“We have the basic principal of standing by the party leader who was elected in the party primary, which is why we won’t take action against Netanyahu,” said lawmaker Micky Zohar, a Netanyahu loyalist.

Netanyahu had sought an outright majority with his allies in hopes of passing legislation to give him immunity from the expected indictment.

Israel’s attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three scandals, pending a hearing scheduled next month. A formal indictment would increase the pressure on Netanyahu to step aside if he does not have immunity.

Netanyahu tried to portray himself as a seasoned statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through challenging times during an alarmist campaign marked by mudslinging and slogans that were condemned as racist. Gantz tried to paint Netanyahu as divisive and scandal-plagued, offering himself as a calming influence and honest alternative.

Netanyahu’s campaign promoted images of him jetting off to world capitals and boasting of warm relations with powerful leaders, most notably President Donald Trump.

At the same time, he issued repeated doomsday warnings that his opponents were scheming with politicians from the country’s Arab minority to “steal” the election.

He tried, and failed, to pass legislation that would allow cameras in polling stations, a step he said was needed to crack down on alleged fraud in Arab towns. Facebook suspended his account for 24 hours last week after it published a post saying that “Arabs want to annihilate all of us.”

Netanyahu also sought to appeal to his hardline base with a number of election promises, including plans to annex all of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.

His proposal, which could extinguish any remaining hopes for a Palestinian state, were condemned by much of the world, including important Arab countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But the U.S. remained muted, suggesting he had coordinated with Washington ahead of time.

Netanyahu’s frenetic warnings about Arabs appeared to backfire, turning off some Jewish voters and driving heavy turnout in the Arab sector.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the main Arab faction in parliament, said Netanyahu’s repeated attacks had boosted turnout and hurt Netanyahu in the end.

“There’s a heavy price to pay for incitement,” he told Channel 13 TV.

The election was Israel’s second of the year.

In April’s vote, Netanyahu appeared to have the upper hand, with his traditional allies of nationalist and ultra-religious Jewish parties controlling a parliamentary majority.

But Lieberman, his mercurial ally-turned-rival, refused to join the new coalition, citing excessive influence it granted the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Without a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu dissolved parliament and called a new election.

Lieberman’s gamble paid off Tuesday, and exit polls suggested his party had nearly doubled in strength, to as many as 10 seats.

Israel’s election commission said 69.4% of all eligible voters cast ballots by the time polls closed on Tuesday evening, a slightly larger number than took part in April’s vote. Turnout in April’s elections was 68.5%.”

It ain’t over until it is over!


New Mexico to Announce Plan for Free College for State Residents!

Image result for new mexico state university las cruces

Dear Commons Community,

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico is expected to announce today that tuition to all state colleges would be free for students regardless of family income.  The new program would apply to all 29 of the state’s two- and four-year public institutions. Long one of the poorest states in the country, New Mexico plans to use climbing revenues from oil production to pay for much of the costs.  As reported by the New York Times.

“The move comes as many American families grapple with the rising cost of higher education and as discussions about free public college gain momentum in state legislatures and on the presidential debate stage. Nearly half of the states, including New York, Oregon and Tennessee, have guaranteed free two- or four-year public college to some students. But the New Mexico proposal goes further, promising four years of tuition even to students whose families can afford to pay the sticker price. The program would apply to all 29 of the state’s two- and four-year public institutions. Long one of the poorest states in the country, New Mexico plans to use climbing revenues from oil production to pay for much of the costs. The proposal still requires legislative approval which is expected since Democrats controlled both houses…

… The free-tuition plan points to the shifting political landscape in New Mexico, traditionally a swing state that was up for grabs by both major parties. It is now emerging as a bastion of Democratic power in the West, standing in contrast to other large oil-producing states controlled by Republicans. At the same time, an oil boom in the Permian Basin shared by New Mexico and Texas is lifting the state’s revenues.

In some ways, the burst of interest in free public college is a return to the nation’s educational past. As recently as the 1970s, some public university systems remained largely tuition-free.

As a bigger and more diverse group of undergraduates entered college in recent decades, costs rose, and policymakers began to promote the idea of a degree as less of a public benefit than a private asset akin to a mortgage, according to Professor Zaloom, of N.Y.U. Many states raised tuition, and students became more reliant on grants and loans.

“We should be looking at the examples from our own history,” Professor Zaloom said. Free college educations from the University of California, the City University of New York and other public systems, she added, have been “some of the most successful engines of mobility in this country.”


Congratulations to New Mexico and its political leaders for pushing this forward.


1.1 Million Students in N.Y.C. Can Skip School for Climate Protest on Friday!

Image result for new york students protest climate

Dear Commons Community,

New York City will not penalize students who attend global youth climate strikes on Friday. As reported by the New York Times.

“When New York City announced that public school students could skip classes without penalties to join the youth climate strikes planned around the world on Friday, you could almost hear a sigh of relief.

Before the announcement, the protests, to be held three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit here, had thrown a new complication into the usual back-to-school chaos: With the protests framed as a cry to protect their futures from climate disaster, should students heed the call?

Parents had wondered how to word emails to principals requesting excused absences. Teachers had been wondering how to react. Some students had been vowing to protest no matter what, but others had worried about possible repercussions.

Most of all, the decision last week by the nation’s largest school district buoyed national protest organizers, who are hoping that the demonstrations will be the largest on climate in the country’s history, with at least 800 planned across the 50 states. They expressed hope that other districts around the country would follow suit.

“Holy smokes, this thing could get HUGE,” Jamie Henn, a founder of the climate action organization 350.org, said on Twitter after the decision was announced by New York City’s Department of Education.

But many critics — ranging from climate-change deniers to people who argue for a less radical approach to fighting climate change — said Mayor Bill de Blasio was using school attendance policy to promote a political aim. The New York Post’s editorial board called the decision “out-and-out government sponsorship of a particular point of view.”

There is also always the risk that a few students could take advantage of the opportunity to skip school for fun.

As of yesterday afternoon, many other large districts in the country were debating what position to take. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said officials were “still finalizing our plans.” In the smaller Cambridge, Mass., City Council members on Tuesday will discuss a motion to excuse students.

By itself, the turnout for the protest in New York — including the city’s 1.1 million public school students — is a test of the movement’s ability to make itself felt by disrupting everyday life and getting noticed by the political leaders who are gathering in New York for the climate summit and the General Assembly meeting that follows it.

Demonstrators as young as 9 had already turned up to greet the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg when she arrived last month by an emissions-free yacht in New York Harbor. Greta has inspired Friday student protests in at least 100 countries.

“This completely changes things, and it’s our doing,” said Xiye Bastida, 17, a senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan, where individual teachers were planning to accompany some students to the strike even before the city gave official permission. Xiye, who lives in Morningside Heights, said she worked with other youth organizers to get 15 City Council members to request the excused absences from the Education Department.

“We’re not against the school system,” she said. “We need the schools to work with us because our larger goal is to stop the fossil fuel industry.”

At Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, news of the excused absences “changed the dynamic,” persuading many students on the fence to plan on joining, said Olivia Wohlgemuth, a senior from Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Last year, New York allowed absences for students who protested for gun control in solidarity with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 14 students and three staff members.

Olivia suggested that the parallel to those protests implied climate change was as urgent, tangible and possible to address through legislation as gun violence is.

Students will need consent from their parents or guardians to be excused on Friday, education officials said.

But the excused absences do not by themselves solve every puzzle. Some teachers said they felt torn between attending the strikes and staying in class to teach on the subject to students without permission to leave. And while young children are increasingly showing interest in joining demonstrations, elementary school students, as on ordinary school days, are not allowed to leave school without a caretaker, which will limit the number who can take part.

Some teachers have quietly groused that it would be more effective to teach students in school about climate; and critics of the decision argued that Mr. de Blasio risked politicizing education by granting excused absences for particular causes. The mayor has made climate action a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

The Education Department will send guidelines to schools on Tuesday, encouraging them to hold discussions “about the impact of climate change and the importance of civic engagement,” said a spokesman, Will Mantell.

Teachers will also receive age-appropriate resources on climate change that are part of a curriculum already adopted by many schools, as well as materials on historical student protests and information on the impact of environmental issues.

Some 600 medical professionals across the country have also signed a virtual “doctor’s note” encouraging teachers to excuse students on the grounds that climate change is dangerous to their and others’ health.”

Save our Earth!  It is the only one we have!



New York City’s District Attorney Subpoenas Trump’s Tax Returns!

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New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Dear Commons Community,

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office recently sent a subpoena to Donald Trump’s accounting firm seeking the last eight years of state and federal tax returns for Trump and his company, the Trump Organization.  According to the Associated Press and the New York Times:

Vance, a Democrat, subpoenaed the Trump Organization last month for records related to payments former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to the porn actress Stormy Daniels after she claimed she had an affair with Trump.

Vance’s office declined to comment yesterday on the tax return subpoenas, the news of which was first reported by the New York Times.

The accounting firm, Mazars USA, said in a statement that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

The firm said it believes strongly in ethical and professional rules and regulations governing the accounting industry and does not comment on work it does for clients.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Marc Mukasey, said he is “evaluating the situation and will respond as appropriate.”

Federal prosecutors in New York and Washington spent months probing payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Trump, including Daniels and model Karen McDougal.

Cohen, who made one of the payments himself and arranged for American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, to pay the other, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes and is serving a three-year sentence.

A lawyer for Cohen declined to comment.

Trump, who denies any sexual relationship with either woman, has said any payments were a personal matter, not a campaign expense.

The U.S. attorney’s office in New York informed a court last month that it was finished investigating the payments. No one besides Cohen was charged, though prosecutors said in public court filings that Trump himself was aware of and directed the payments.

The Trump Organization also reimbursed Cohen for money he paid to Daniels. Cohen has argued that organization officials disguised the true nature of the payments and that it is unfair he is the only one prosecuted.

The federal inquiry looked at whether campaign finance laws were broken.

The New York Times reported, citing “people briefed on the matter,” that Vance’s inquiry involves an examination of whether anyone at the Trump Organization falsified business records by falsely listing the reimbursements to Cohen as a legal expense.

Falsifying business records can be a crime under state law.

It will be interesting to see how President and his company can stymie this request.  It has nothing to do with his time as President so executive privilege cannot be invoked. 


United Automobile Workers Go on Strike Against General Motors!

Image result for G.M. auto workers assembly line

Dear Commons Community,

For the first time in twelve years, the United Automobile Workers union went on strike against General Motors, sending nearly 50,000 members at factories across the Midwest and South to picket lines this morning.  With the two sides far apart in the talks, U.A.W. regional leaders in Detroit voted unanimously yesterday to authorize the strike, the union’s first such walkout since 2007. It began at midnight, after the union’s current bargaining agreement expired on Saturday.  As reported by the New York Times:

“Today, we stand strong and say with one voice, we are standing up for our members and for the fundamental rights of working-class people in this nation,” Terry Dittes, a union vice president, said after the meeting.

The U.A.W. is pushing G.M. to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs at others and close or narrow the difference between pay rates for new hires and veteran workers. G.M. wants employees to pay a greater portion of their health care costs, and to increase work-force productivity and flexibility in factories.

Although the company has been earning substantial profits in North America — and it made $8.1 billion globally last year — it has idled three plants in the United States as car sales slide and overall demand for vehicles weakens.

The strike is unfolding as President Trump’s trade war with China wears on manufacturers and has stirred fears of a slowdown.

It could disrupt local economies in factory towns in several swing states like Michigan and Ohio, where President Trump has promised to increase manufacturing jobs. But any impact on the broader economy will depend on how long it lasts.

The auto industry, even if it is far from its employment heights in the 1970s, remains crucial to the economy, counting some 220,000 people who work to manufacture cars. According to the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the broader vehicle industry supports 9.9 million jobs and historically accounts for about 3 percent of gross domestic product.

Even as the unionized share of the nation’s work force continues to fall, down from a peak of one-third in the 1950s, labor has become more assertive in recent years.

The number of people who participated in work stoppages involving over 1,000 workers rose last year to its highest level since the 1980s, buoyed by teacher walkouts and a multi-city hotel workers strike.

Polling data shows that the public has become increasingly supportive of organized labor. A Gallup poll in late August found that 64 percent of Americans approve of unions, up from below 50 percent a decade ago.”

This might be a long strike given the gap in the negotiating positions between the U.A.W. and General Motors.


OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy Protection!

Dear Commons Community,

With more than 2,000 lawsuits alleging the company helped fuel the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy protection last night in White Plains, New York.  Purdue’s board met yesterday to approve the long-expected bankruptcy filing, which the company is pursuing to restructure under terms of a proposal to settle the widespread litigation.  As reported by Reuters:

“Purdue, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in a federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York, reached a tentative deal to resolve lawsuits with 24 states and five U.S. territories, as well as lead lawyers for more than 2,000 cities, counties and other plaintiffs, the company said.

Two dozen states remain opposed or uncommitted to the proposed settlement, setting the stage for contentious legal battles over who bears responsibility for a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest U.S. data.

Thousands of cities and counties, along with nearly every state, have sued Purdue and, in some cases, its controlling Sackler family. The lawsuits, seeking billions of dollars in damages, claim the company and family aggressively marketed prescription painkillers while misleading doctors and patients about their addiction and overdose risks.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied the allegations.

Opposing states, including Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, want the Sacklers to guarantee more of their own money will go toward a settlement, and have questioned Purdue’s calculations valuing the overall deal at more than $10 billion.

The Sacklers, who would cede control of Purdue in the proposed settlement, have offered $3 billion in cash and an additional $1.5 billion or more through the eventual sale of another company they own, called Mundipharma, according to the company and people familiar with the terms. The Sacklers have declined to revise their offer.

“This is the fork in the road. There are only two ways to go from here,” said Purdue Chairman Steve Miller in an interview with Reuters.

Miller said Purdue plans to argue to opposing states that fighting the proposed settlement will likely result in protracted litigation, increasing legal fees and depleting value that could be steered to U.S. communities reeling from opioid abuse. He described bankruptcy proceedings as the “best hope for finalizing and implementing a global resolution to this litigation.”

In a statement, members of the Sackler family controlling Purdue said they hoped those opposing the current settlement offer would eventually change their minds.

“It is our hope the bankruptcy reorganization process that is now underway will end our ownership of Purdue and ensure its assets are dedicated for the public benefit,” the family said.

The outcome of Purdue’s attempted bankruptcy reorganization and settlement negotiations will help determine how much money U.S. communities receive from the company and the Sacklers to address harm from opioids. A reorganization and settlement would ultimately need to be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge.

States suing the Sacklers, including several over the past week, allege the family improperly reaped billions of dollars from opioid sales despite knowledge of their harmful effects. The Sacklers, some of whom previously served on the Purdue’s board and are well-known wealthy philanthropists, have denied the allegations.

Purdue’s proposed settlement envisions it becoming a trust that would contribute to U.S. communities, at little or no cost, tens of millions of doses of drugs the company developed to combat opioid overdoses and addiction, the company said.

Purdue values the drugs at $4.45 billion over a decade, the people familiar with the matter said. Under the proposal’s terms, the restructured Purdue would be permanently bound by so-called injunctive relief, which includes restrictions on the promotion and sale of opioids.

States opposing the settlement offer have vowed to fight attempts by Purdue and the Sacklers to use bankruptcy proceedings to contain the litigation.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she uncovered roughly $1 billion in wire transfers “between the Sacklers, entities they control and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts.”

The information, in records an unnamed financial institution produced in response to a subpoena from James’s office, detailed financial transfers involving former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler, according to court documents her office filed.

He allegedly used shell companies “to shift Purdue money through accounts around the world and then conceal it in at least two separate multimillion-dollar real estate investments back here in New York, sanitized (until now) of any readily-detectable connections to the Sackler family,” a lawyer in James’ office said in one of the court filings.

“There is nothing newsworthy about these decade-old transfers, which were perfectly legal and appropriate in every respect,” a spokesman for Mortimer D.A. Sackler said in a statement.

“This is a cynical attempt by a hostile AG’s office to generate defamatory headlines to try to torpedo a mutually beneficial settlement that is supported by so many other states and would result in billions of dollars going to communities and individuals across the country that need help,” the statement added.

Purdue, meanwhile, plans to ask a bankruptcy judge to halt active litigation so it can negotiate a final settlement, the people said. But the company is preparing for states to argue their lawsuits cannot be halted by a Chapter 11 filing because their legal actions were brought to enforce public health and safety laws – exempting them from the usual bankruptcy rules that would stop their complaints.

Another thorny legal question involves the Sacklers and under what circumstances Purdue could use bankruptcy law in an attempt to also halt lawsuits against them.

Those legal skirmishes could take some time to develop, as Purdue initially must seek court approval to continue paying employees and address routine operating expenses.”

Purdue and the Sackler family are disgraces and should be held accountable for the misery they caused by unleashing opioids on the public.


Donald Trump’s GOP Challengers Call Him Out for Nixed Primaries: Only “Cowards Run”

Dear Commons Community,

The three GOP primary challengers to President Donald Trump have penned a blistering op-ed  in The Washington Post that takes aim at Trump and the Republican parties in states that have nixed their nominating contests for the 2020 election.

“What does this say about the Republican Party?” asked former Reps. Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld in their joint piece that was published on Friday.

 “If a party stands for nothing but reelection, it indeed stands for nothing,” they claimed. “Our next nominee must compete in the marketplace of ideas, values and leadership. Each of us believes we can best lead the party. So does the incumbent. Let us each take our case to the public.”

The GOP parties of Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina have all canceled their contests, citing financial reasons. It means their delegates will pledge to Trump.

The trio claimed it would be “a critical mistake” to allow Democrats to dominate the political conversation during the primary and caucus season.

“The saying ‘may the best man win’ is a quintessential value that the Republican Party must honor if we are to command the respect of the American people,” they wrote. “Cowards run from fights. Warriors stand and fight for what they believe. The United States respects warriors. Only the weak fear competition.” 

But Trump is a bully and all bullies are cowards!


Maureen Dowd:  Let’s Debate: Are Democrats Doomed?

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times’ columnist, Maureen Dowd today raises the question as to whether Donald Trump has changed the political game forever, and if so, are the Democrats doomed in 2020.  She bases her concerns on the Democrat Presidential debate last Thursday where no candidate really won or jumped out of the pack although many observers felt that Elizabeth Warren distanced herself from the others.  Here is an excerpt from Dowd’s column.

“Donald Trump has fundamentally altered the way we experience politics. 

We’ve been trying to figure out for three years if he is a mad aberration, doomed to fade, or if he is rewiring the game in some permanent way.

Watching that depressing debate, one must conclude that the rewiring is well underway.

Trump is one of the phoniest people ever to walk the earth. Maybe that’s why he was uniquely suited to tear through the phony conventions and bloated world of consultants that made up politics as usual.

There were a lot of good politicians on the debate stage in Houston. But the night rang hollow as they clung to the old conventions — the overcoached performances, the canned lines, the pandering, the well-worn childhood anecdotes meant to project “relatability.”

Tactics superseded passion and vision. Everyone seemed one tick off. Unlike with Barack Obama in 2008, none made you feel like you wanted to pump your fist in the air and march into the future behind them.

“Being a good politician doesn’t matter anymore,” lamented one freaked-out congressional Democrat afterward. “It’s like being a great used car salesman. We need a Holden Caulfield to call out all the phonies.”

It’s a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron about a moron: Trump’s faux-thenticity somehow makes the Democratic candidates seem more packaged, more stuck in politician-speak.”

Dowd has a point but I think that the problem with the debate on Thursday was that there were too many candidates.  It was difficult for a candidate to jump to the head of the pack. As I said earlier, many felt that Warren was a few steps ahead of the others.


New York Uncovers $1 Billion in Sackler Family Wire Transfers!

Demonstrators outside the company headquarters of Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn., on Thursday.

Dear Commons Community,

In a court filing yesterday, the New York State attorney general’s office says that it has found new account transfers by members of the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of opioids. The Attorney General said that it had tracked about $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, including through Swiss bank accounts, suggesting that the family tried to shield wealth as it faced a raft of litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.   As reported by the New York Times.

“Earlier this week, thousands of municipal governments and nearly two dozen states tentatively reached a settlement with the Sackler family and the company it owns, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. It was unclear if the new disclosure would change the thinking of any of the parties that agreed to the settlement.

The attorneys general of a majority of states, including New York and Massachusetts, have already balked at the proposed deal, contending that the Sackler family has siphoned off company profits that should be used to pay for the billions of dollars in damage caused by opioids.

The wire transfers are part of a lawsuit against Purdue and individual Sacklers in New York. Letitia James, now the state’s attorney general, had issued subpoenas last month to 33 financial institutions and investment advisers with ties to the Sacklers in an effort to trace the full measure of the family’s wealth.

 “While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct,” Ms. James said in a statement. “Records from one financial institution alone have shown approximately $1 billion in wire transfers between the Sacklers, entities they control, and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts,” she added.

Forbes has estimated that the family fortune is worth $13 billion, a figure the family has not disputed, but many state attorneys general believe that the family has far more hidden away, as a safeguard against the cascade of litigation.

In addition to the thousands of lawsuits in state and federal court aimed at Purdue itself, some 26 states have named the Sacklers individually, with more, most recently North Carolina, having announced they are about to pursue family members as well.”

This family is a disgrace for the pain and hardship it has brought on the American people and should be criminally liable.




New York Times Columnists Rate Democratic Candidates at September 12th Debate!

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Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnists rated the Democratic candidates during their debate on Thursday on a one-to-ten basis. Elizabeth Warren received the highest rating at 7.5 with most of the others in the middle of the pack.  Comments by each columnist for each candidate can be found here.