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Zoe Schlanger

Zoë Schlanger is Frontpage Editor at TPM. Zoë was a TPM intern in 2011, and prior to returning here she was editor in chief of NYU Local, the alternative independent student news site at NYU. Zoë has interned at places like the Nation, InsideClimate News, The Rachel Maddow Show and Gothamist. She can be reached at zoe@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Zoe

Charlie Rangel, the dean of the New York congressional delegation, has blamed Republicans for the 2010 House ethics investigation into his fund-raising and legislative activities which drove him from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel also complains frequently about the way the media treats him and other Democrats.

Today, he married those two themes when I asked him about State Senator Malcolm Smith, the chair of the Senate's Independent Democratic conference, who was arrested and charged yesterday with trying to bribe his way into the Republican mayoral primary.

"Malcolm Smith was all right until he left the Democratic Party," the congressman told me shortly before the start of the National Action Network's annual conference in midtown this morning. "I don't know any of the people that he was involved in this corruption with, but it proves to me, whether in religion, academics, you try to shortcut the system, if you try to poison the well that you drank from, it doesn't work out. And I feel so sorry for him and his family. And, really, don't see that this will have any impact on the Democratic Party."

Rangel added, "It just seems as though something happened within the Republican Party, and surprisingly the press doesn't go to any of them asking how they feel. But I've been deluged with questions, which, I'm not complaining, but it just seems to me that it is a serious Republican problem."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was standing nearby when Rangel was speaking and took away a slightly different lesson from the scandal.

"It's time for real reform" of the distribution of City Council member items, he said.

Part of the scandal involved City Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican from Queens, who allegedly promised to steer $80,000 in member items to a nonprofit group in exchange for direct cash payments and campaign donations.

 

Capital New York is a website about how New York City works, featuring news, analysis and investigations on politics, media, culture and sports. For more, visit http://www.capitalnewyork.com/. (c) 2012 Capital New York.

The Guardian is an independent, global news organisation that invests in original journalism and in-depth analysis. For more from the Guardian, visit http://www.guardiannews.com. © 2011 Guardian News And Media Limited.

Independent Democratic state senator Malcolm Smith tried bribing his way into the Republican mayoral primary and was in talks to give a plum job in his administration to a Republican councilman who was helping him, according to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The attorney, Preet Bharara, announced the arrest of six people in connection with the sweeping bribery and corruption scandal.

The unlikelihood of Smith winning a Republican primary, let alone a general election, didn't deter him, Halloran or two other Republicans, the Bronx County Republican chairman Jay Savino and Queens County Republican operative Vince Tabone, from seeking money in order to help Smith get onto the ballot without changing his party registration by acquiring what's known as a "Wilson Pakula" from at least three of the five Republican county committees in New York City.

"Malcolm Smith thought it was possible," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who announced the arrest of Smith and five others connected to the wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Bharara repeatedly said the arrests today were emblematic of a broader problem in New York.

"Many may understandably fear that there is no vote that is not for sale, no office without a price and no official clean of corruption," he said.

In exchange for helping arrange meetings with Republican leaders, Halloran allegedly wanted to become a "deputy police commissioner" or "deputy mayor" in a Smith mayoral administration. "There were people involved in the scheme who thought it was a realistic possibility," Bharara said.

 

 

Separately, Halloran is also accused of steering $40,000 to $80,000 in discretionary member items to a company he thought was controlled by a wealthy contributor who in fact was an undercover agent. In exchange, Halloran is alleged to have received "straw donations" to his failed congressional campaign last year.

Halloran is running for re-election to his City Council seat in Bayside, a district that has elected Democrats and Republicans in the past.

Smith was overwhelmingly re-elected last year to his State Senate seat after Republicans redrew his district and helped him avoid a potential primary from James Sanders, a term-limited city councilman who later ran a primary and ousted Shirley Huntley (who was charged and later pled guilty to an unrelated corruption probe launched by the State Attorney General).

Smith later defected from the Democratic conference and joined the Independent Democratic Conference, which formed a power-sharing alliance with the Republicans in the State Senate. Later, the size of Smith's staff grew substantially, according to the New York Post.

At the press conference with Bharara this morning, the assistant director for the F.B.I. in New York, George Venizelos, said the cooperating witness and undercover F.B.I. agent working on the case "did not have to twist any arms. The defendants were eager to take bribes" and in at least one instance, "Tabone patted down the undercover" agent to see if he was wearing a wire to record their conversation.

Bharara said the "public corruption crisis in New York is more than a prosecutor's problem." He said locking up "dirty politicians" won't bring about a better government, and that that would require a real "change in the culture" in New York politics.

"What can we expect where there continues to be, even after a parade of politicians have been hauled off to prison, a lack of transparency, lack of self disclosure, a lack of self-policing, a lack of will and a failure of leadership," said Bharara. "What can we expect when transgressions seem to be tolerated and nothing seems ever to change?"

When asked by reporters to elaborate, Bharara declined to name specific people he thought should play a greater role in helping combat corruption. He also cited a policy against commenting on current federal of state laws.

I asked Bharara to elaborate on where he felt there was a lack of transparency.

"If you take a look at what the rules of disclosure are in New York, they are not as transparent as they are in other places," he said. "Often when people are putting through proposals for greater disclosure, those are opposed and I think people who care about making sure that the bad deed are punished and miscreants are punished, that more disclosure is better."

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the allegations "serious" and "very, very troubling. We have zero tolerance for any violation of the public integrity and the public trust."

Speaking to reporters upstate after a ceremonial bill-signing of the state budget, Cuomo said he hoped Smith was cooperating fully with the investigation.

In a statement, Smith's spokesman said he'd be vindicated once all the facts are made public. Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, who employed Tabone, said he was aware of the investigation for about a year and that his company and campaign have been cooperating fully with investigators.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Democratic mayoral candidate, said the allegations against Halloran would be reviewed by the Council's ethics committee.

The State Republican Party's spokesman said they learned of the probe from news accounts this morning.

 

Capital New York is a website about how New York City works, featuring news, analysis and investigations on politics, media, culture and sports. For more, visit http://www.capitalnewyork.com/. (c) 2012 Capital New York.

It may have been April 1st yesterday, but televangelist Pat Robertson wasn't kidding when he told a viewer that Americans aren't experiencing God's miracles because they are too "sophisticated."

Why do miracles "happen with great frequency in Africa, and not here in the USA?" asked a 700 Club patron Ken. "People overseas didn't go to Ivy League schools," Robertson replied with a chuckle.

"We are so sophisticated, we think we've got everything figured out," the Christian Broadcasting Network chairman continued. "We know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that says God isn't real, we know about all this stuff."

According to Robertson, it's the "skepticism and secularism" that is being taught at "the most advanced schools" around the country that is keeping God's miracles at bay.

Meanwhile, Africans are "simple" and "humble." "You tell 'em God loves 'em and they say, 'Okay, he loves me'," said Robertson. "You say God will do miracles and they say, 'Okay, we believe him'."

If Americans wish to experience more miracle, Robertson concluded, they must reject their miracle-negating sophistication in favor of the more credulous African way of life.

[video via RightWingWatch]

Gawker dishes the nation's most current and cutting gossip across media, entertainment, technology, and business. Founded in 2002 and namechecked frequently in mainstream publications, the site is essential reading for those who want big media hypocrisy debunked and faux-sincerity exposed, all with a healthy dose of snark.

The Guardian is an independent, global news organisation that invests in original journalism and in-depth analysis. For more from the Guardian, visit http://www.guardiannews.com. © 2011 Guardian News And Media Limited.

Ever since the New York City Police Department initiated its reviled stop-and-frisk technique, the force's laughable refrain has been that its officers are not engaging in racial profiling. It may not look like racial profiling to Mayor Michael Bloomberg or NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who oversee stop and frisk, but to the millions of blacks and Latinos harassed by the NYPD over the years it is a blatant campaign against dark skin.

Today, a New York legislator testifying in a class-action suit against stop and frisk confirmed that those suspicious of the program's racial motivations are correct. Doubling down on an accusation he made in 2011, New York State Senator Eric Adams said on the record that he heard Commissioner Kelly tell then-Governor David Paterson and a room of other lawmakers that stop and frisk targets minorities because "he wanted to instill fear in them that any time they leave their homes they could be targeted by police."

Adams said he was "amazed" and "shocked" by Kelly's alleged remarks, adding: "I told him that was illegal."

He said Kelly responded by asking: "How else are we going to get rid of guns?"

It should be noted that 88 percent of the the people stopped and frisked turn out to be totally innocent, and that many others are guilty only of possessing a small amount of marijuana. But tough talk about guns is how Bloomberg and Kelly have been able to sustain stop and frisk despite near constant protestations.

All that may be over soon, however, as the NYPD continues to struggle against a mounting pile of evidence that stop and frisk is less about stopping gun violence than it is an easy way to bust young male minorities for low-level crimes. Less than two weeks ago, news broke that a Bronx police officer had recorded his superior telling him directly to conduct street stops of "male blacks 14 to 20, 21." And last year The Nation released a recording in which police conducting a stop and frisk threatened to break a young man's arm. That young man was found to not be breaking any laws.

[Image via AP]

Gawker dishes the nation's most current and cutting gossip across media, entertainment, technology, and business. Founded in 2002 and namechecked frequently in mainstream publications, the site is essential reading for those who want big media hypocrisy debunked and faux-sincerity exposed, all with a healthy dose of snark.

A pipeline carrying crude oil from tar sands in Canada ruptured Friday in the small Arkansas town of Mayflower, forcing the evacuation of 22 homes. The Pegasus pipeline, owned by Exxon, spilled almost 10,000 barrels of oil into a development, with the oil now sitting outside of homes and in wooded areas as emergency workers try to clean it up. This is the second spill of Canadian oil this week after a train carrying crude oil derailed on Wednesday, spilling 15,000 gallons of oil.

The video of the immediate aftermath of the spill is pretty amazing, showing the oil running into front yards and through the drainage system of the Arkansas subdivision:

Mayflower residents are growing frustrated with Exxon over when they will be able to move back into their homes:

"We're getting contradictory answer when we were initially evacuated we were told pack for two days it'll be cleaned up," said Darren Hale, a homeowner who was forced to evacuate. "Then we were told this morning to pack for at least a week."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has labeled the rupture as a "major spill."

[Photos and Video courtesy of KATV]

Gawker dishes the nation's most current and cutting gossip across media, entertainment, technology, and business. Founded in 2002 and namechecked frequently in mainstream publications, the site is essential reading for those who want big media hypocrisy debunked and faux-sincerity exposed, all with a healthy dose of snark.

When Facebook started to plan the Facebook West building, a 433,555-square-foot complex across the road from its current headquarters, the company was looking for anonymity. So they employed the always understated, subtle, visually legible, little known architect of humble homes Frank Gehry.

The company won a 4-0 vote of approval from the Menlo Park city council to proceed with the campus expansion. Ever the beacon of gaudy style, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was not interested in outlandish embellishments on his buildings. Gehry's partner Craig Webb detailed some of Facebook's aesthetic requests.

"They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous. Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building."

From above, the designs for the Facebook West campus appear to be a raised platform of earth, due to an extensive rooftop garden. The designs for Facebook West as of September reveal a series of verdant walkways for inspirational jaunts, large boxy windows for gazing into the real world, and slouching white stucco buildings obscured by dangling flora. Judging from the height of the trees in the rooftop garden rendering, one might expect roots to dangle into the offices below.

In September of 2012, Craig noted:

"Facebook told us they wanted a building that's very anonymous, a building that blends into the neighborhood, that doesn't call a lot of attention to themselves."

But of course. We know just the man for that!

Frank Gehry Designed New Facebook Headquarters to Look Like the Ground

Frank Gehry Designed New Facebook Headquarters to Look Like the Ground

[Wired, Renderings via Gehry Partners LLP via Menlo Park City Council]

Gawker dishes the nation's most current and cutting gossip across media, entertainment, technology, and business. Founded in 2002 and namechecked frequently in mainstream publications, the site is essential reading for those who want big media hypocrisy debunked and faux-sincerity exposed, all with a healthy dose of snark.

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