Author: Maga First News

Page: 7

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Mar 8, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Pitcher Noah Syndergaard fired a shot at the New York Mets front office Sunday, expressing frustration that teammate Jacob deGrom hasn’t been signed to a contract extension and that the team has an unconventional travel schedule prior to Opening Day.

The Mets and deGrom, who won the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, talked in the offseason, but deGrom told reporters Saturday he wasn’t confident of an agreement in the next few days.

The Mets and deGrom agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract rather than go to arbitration in January. He is eligible to become a free agent in 2021, and Syndergaard said he doesn’t want it to reach that point. This weekend, the Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension, and the Houston Astros reached a two-year, $66 million deal with former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

“Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already,” Syndergaard told reporters.

–Cleveland Indians All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was carted off the field after fouling a pitch off his left knee.

The switch-hitter was batting right-handed in the third inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox in Goodyear, Ariz.

Ramirez immediately dropped to the dirt and remained down for several minutes before being assisted to the medical cart. The team called it a left knee contusion and said Ramirez was being taken for X-rays.

–Catcher Erik Kratz will back up Buster Posey in San Francisco after the Giants traded for the veteran.

The Giants sent minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kratz.

Kratz, 38, agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million, with $300,000 guaranteed, with the Brewers in November. Milwaukee added Kratz last May in a deal with the New York Yankees and he played in 67 games for the Brewers, batting .236 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

–The Cleveland Indians signed infielder Brad Miller to a one-year major league contract.

The versatile veteran has played almost every position on the diamond, but the Indians will likely ask him to handle second base while All-Star Jason Kipnis recovers from a right calf strain.

Kipnis has already been ruled out for Thursday’s season opener at Minnesota. Miller, 29, hit .385 with two homers and three RBIs this spring in 12 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

–Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo will open the season on the injured list, manager Brandon Hyde confirmed.

Trumbo, who led the majors with 47 home runs in 2016, has batted .167 in 13 plate appearances this spring as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee. He is a two-time All-Star (2012, 2016) with a .250 career average, 218 home runs and 626 RBIs in 1,085 games with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners and Orioles.

“We’re going to let him continue to do his rehab down here,” Hyde told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., according to “I give him so much credit for everything he’s done during his whole rehab process. Give him a ton of credit for trying to come back from a tough injury earlier than anybody has.”

–The Astros finalized a two-year extension with Justin Verlander, the team announced.

“Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball,” said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal with the team’s ace. “His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years.”

The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander’s current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

–The Chicago Cubs will option outfielder Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa, meaning he won’t start the season on the big-league roster.

Happ, 24, was unhappy with the decision, according to manager Joe Maddon. He is expected to get time in center field, second base and third base. The Cubs also are hoping he’ll get more comfortable batting from the left side of the plate.

“I really don’t blame him,” Maddon said at spring training on Saturday. “The guy has really performed very well for us at different periods of time on the major-league level. He is so ingrained in the culture within the building and within the clubhouse. Great teammate. A lot of the veterans have accepted him very readily, which doesn’t happen often with young players.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices kicked off the week’s trading with losses as concerns of a sharp economic slowdown outweighed supply disruptions from OPEC’s production cutbacks and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

Brent crude oil futures were at $66.79 per barrel at 0022 GMT, down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $58.68 per barrel, down 37 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement.

“Inflation expectations have risen,” said U.S. bank Morgan Stanley.

“Estimates for growth and earnings have been revised down materially across all major regions.”

ANZ bank said the darkening economic outlook “overshadowed the supply-side issues” the oil market was facing amid supply cuts led by producer club OPEC as well as the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-affiliated allies such as Russia, together referred to as ‘OPEC+’, have pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil supply this year to prop up markets, with OPEC’s de-facto leader seen to be pushing for a crude prices of over $70 per barrel.

GRAPHIC: Russia, Saudi & Rest of OPEC crude oil production:

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Source: OANN

Vice President Mike Pence said that Sunday was "a great day for America" after it was revealed Special Counsel Robert Mueller determined the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

"After two years of investigation, and reckless accusations by many Democrats and members of the media, the Special Counsel has confirmed what President Trump said along; there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election," Pence said in a statement.


He said that Attorney General William Barr — who released a four-page summary on Sunday of Mueller’s investigation, that was submitted to the Justice Department on Friday — "confirmed that there was no obstruction of justice."

"This total vindication of the President of the United States and our campaign should be welcomed by every American who cherishes the truth and the integrity of our elections."

Pence said that Americans "can be confident" that the Trump administration will "continue to focus" on what’s most important to the U.S., and added: "We can only hope that Democrats, who have spent so much time on these discredited allegations, will join us to advance an agenda that will make our nation even more prosperous and more secure for every American."

Barr’s summary said that Mueller’s investigation "did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated" with Russians involved in hacking efforts attempting to sway the 2016 election "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."


The investigation, according to the attorney general’s letter, also found that Mueller’s office had insufficient evidence to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice related to the probe, but handed over the responsibility of making that determination over to the attorney general’s office.

The report found that on the issue of obstruction, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Fox News’ Matt Leach contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The text of Attorney General William Barr's letter to congressional lawmakers outlining the principal conclusions reached by the special counsel in the Russia probe (with footnotes below):

March 24, 2019

Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:

As a supplement to the notification provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and to inform you about the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.


On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted to me a "confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions" he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. 600.8(c). This report is entitled "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election." Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.

The report explains that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations that members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and others associated with it, conspired with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or sought to obstruct the related federal investigations. In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.

The Special Counsel obtained a number of indictments and convictions of individuals and entities in connection with his investigation, all of which have been publicly disclosed. During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. Below, I summarize the principal conclusions set out in the Special Counsel's report.

Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The Special Counsel's report is divided into two parts. The first describes the results of the Special Counsel's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts. The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel's investigation was whether any Americans – including individuals associated with the Trump campaign – joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime. The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: "(T)he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." (1)

The Special Counsel's investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.

The second element involved the Russian government's efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.

Obstruction of Justice. The report's second part addresses a number of actions by the President – most of which have been the subject of public reporting – that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a "thorough factual investigation" into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as "difficult issues" of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

The Special Counsel's decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel's office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel's obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president. (2)

In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that "the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President's actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department's principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of- justice offense.


The relevant regulations contemplate that the Special Counsel's report will be a "confidential report" to the Attorney General. See Office of Special Counsel, 64 Fed. Reg. 37,038,37,040-41 (July 9,1999). As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.

Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to "matter(s) occurring before (a) grand jury." Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B). Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. 401(3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.

Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.


As I observed in my initial notification, the Special Counsel regulations provide that "the Attorney General may determine that public release of' notifications to your respective Committees "would be in the public interest." 28 C.F.R. 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.


William P. Barr

Attorney General

(1) In assessing potential conspiracy charges, the Special Counsel also considered whether members of the Trump campaign "coordinated" with Russian election interference activities. The Special Counsel defined "coordination" as an "agreement_tacit or express_between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference."

(2) See A Sitting President's Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222 (2000).

Source: NewsMax Politics

David Hookstead | Reporter

Duke got the scare of a lifetime Sunday against UCF.

The Blue Devils won 77-76, but the dramatics were high. Coach K’s guys took a lead with seconds remaining, and then nearly blew it on two missed shots from the Knights. (RELATED: The March Madness Bracket Has Been Released)

If you have a heart condition or a weak stomach, I wouldn’t recommend watching the ending sequence below.

Simply an unreal finish. UCF had two chances to win after Tacko Fall fouled out. Two of them in the closing seconds!

This game was everything I hoped for and much more. Fall was incredibly entertaining to watch, Zion Williamson was incredible down the stretch and Duke survived to fight another day.

That’s what March Madness is all about. You fight to earn the right to play 40 more minutes. It doesn’t get much more American than that.

There was no reason for Duke to win that game. Absolutely none at all, but they did. That ending was literally the type of situation you can’t script.

Welcome to March, gentlemen. It’s always one hell of a fun ride.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Illustration photo of a U.S. Dollar note
A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

March 25, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar edged back from a six-week low against the yen early on Monday, as a degree of calm returned to the market gripped by fears of a recession in the United States.

The greenback had tumbled on Friday as the spread between 3-month Treasury bills and 10-year note yields inverted for the first time since 2007 following weak U.S. manufacturing PMI data.

An inverted yield curve has historically signaled an impending recession.

Cautious comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve last week had also raised worries about the growth outlook in the United States and the rest of the world.

The dollar was up roughly 0.2 percent at 110.13 yen after sinking to 109.745 on Friday, its lowest since Feb. 11.

“The dollar’s slide on Friday appeared to have been an algo-led reaction to the yield curve inversion and quite simply overdone. Some bargain hunting by market participants emerged to support dollar/yen,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

“The response, on the other hand, to the Mueller report has been limited.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, and did not present enough evidence to warrant charging Trump with obstruction of justice, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Sunday.

The dollar index was unchanged at 96.651 after scraping out a gain of 0.15 percent on Friday.

The euro was little changed at $1.1297. The common currency has lost roughly 0.7 percent on Friday after a much weaker-than-expected German manufacturing survey raised concerns for Europe’s biggest economy and the wider euro zone.

The Australian dollar, viewed as liquid proxy for global growth, stood little changed at $0.7077.

The pound was 0.1 percent lower at $1.3200

Sterling had rallied 0.8 percent on Friday, helped by a weaker euro and after European Union leaders gave British Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve to decide how Britain will leave the European Union.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A river boat cruises down the River Thames as the sun sets behind the Canary Wharf financial district of London
FILE PHOTO: A river boat cruises down the River Thames as the sun sets behind the Canary Wharf financial district of London, Britain, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) – Optimism about the business outlook among Britain’s financial services firms has fallen at its fastest rate since the 2008 financial crisis amid concerns about Britain’s exit from the European Union, a survey showed on Monday.

Business volumes among the 84 top financial firms polled have also fallen at their fastest rate since September 2012, the survey by the Confederation of British Industry and accounting firm PwC showed.

The mounting gloom from banks, insurers, fund managers and other financial firms comes as Prime Minister Theresa May battles to get her twice-rejected withdrawal agreement with the EU through a bitterly divided parliament.

The investment management industry saw the sharpest fall in growth, the CBI/PwC survey said, as investors hold on to their cash in turbulent markets, while insurance brokers were the lone bright spot.

“The alarm bells ringing at the state of optimism in the financial services sector have now reached a deafening level,” Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist said.

Employment across financial services fell at the quickest pace in four years, the poll showed, driven mainly by job cuts in the banking sector as lenders slash branch networks and shift jobs overseas to trim costs.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

March 25, 2019

(Reuters) – YouTube has canceled high-end dramas and comedies on its paid service platform, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, has stopped accepting new pitches for high-budget scripted shows, the report added.

Producers of axed programs like the sci-fi drama “Origin” and the comedy series “Overthinking with Kat & June” are seeking to find new platforms for their shows, Bloomberg said.

YouTube’s head Of original productions, Susanne Daniels, a former MTV executive hired by YouTube in 2015, is looking to move on from her position, Bloomberg reported.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Akshay Balan in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

California Sen. Kamala Harris sent a subtle signal to the old-guard of Democratic politics that every era has its end.

At an Atlanta church service dedicated to youth Sunday, the presidential candidate compared leadership to a relay race in which each generation must ask themselves "what do we do during that period of time when we carry that baton."

Then she added with a smile that for "the older leaders, it also becomes a question of let’s also know when to pass the baton."

The 54-year-old senator — one of the younger contenders for the White House in 2020 — did not mention any other presidential hopeful or tie her remarks to the Democratic presidential scramble. Her spokeswoman said she only wanted to encourage the youth at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Her commentary to the congregation once led by Martin Luther King Jr. comes as former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, considers whether to join a field that already includes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is 77. Both men have run for president before and fallen short.

‘Biden and Sanders are seen as strong contenders for the Democratic nomination, though other candidates and some voters have emphasized the need for a more youthful approach to try and beat President Donald Trump in the general election. Several other candidates in the race, including two governors, are also in their late sixties.

Harris noted Sunday that King was 26 when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycotts that pushed him to the forefront of the civil rights movement.

Later Sunday, Harris told a rally at Morehouse College in Atlanta that Attorney General William Barr should testify under oath on Capitol Hill, rather than just submit the written summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.

The Justice Department said Sunday that Mueller’s team did not find evidence that Trump’s campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller also investigated whether Trump obstructed justice but did not come to a definitive answer.

Other highlights of Sunday campaigning:


Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand assailed President Donald Trump as a coward who is "tearing apart the moral fabric of the vulnerable," as she officially started her campaign for president.

The senator spoke in New York Sunday, feet away from one of Trump’s signature properties, the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

She said that instead of building walls as Trump wants to do along the U.S.-Mexico border, Americans build bridges, community and hope.

Gillibrand also called for full release of Mueller’s report in the Russia investigation. Attorney General William Barr released a summary Sunday afternoon, but Democrats want to see the full details.

Gillibrand is trying to position herself in the crowded field of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination. While some hopefuls have shied away from mentioning Trump, Gillibrand has not hesitated to do so.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday the National Rifle Association is holding "Congress hostage" when it comes to stemming gun violence.

The Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate tells a campaign rally that if seven children were dying from a mysterious virus, "we’d pull out all the stops till we figured out what was wrong." But in terms of gun violence, she said the NRA "keeps calling the shots in Washington."

Warren finished a two-day campaign trip to New Hampshire with an event at a middle school in Conway Sunday afternoon.

Warren focused much of her speech on her approach to economics, but paid special attention to unions Sunday. She said more power needs to be put back in the hands of workers.


Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told voters in Las Vegas Sunday that President Donald Trump bears blame for the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border but responsibility lies with everyone in the country to fix the situation.

O’Rourke spoke Sunday to more than 200 people packed into and snaking around a taco shop on the city’s north end. He said immigrant families are leaving their home countries and journeying on foot because they have no other choice.

The former Texas congressman said desperate families were broken up in the U.S. when they were at their most vulnerable and desperate moments, and what happened to them "is on every single one of us."


Woodall reported from Conway, New Hampshire. Associated Press writers Juana Summers in New York and Michelle Price in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

Bob Barr | Former Congressman (R-GA)

The college-admissions scandal announced this involved public and private colleges and universities from coast to coast. It netted the perpetrators tens of millions of dollars, and ensnared media darlings along with working-class individuals. While it may be the largest such scandal in the history of modern higher education, it is not the first and likely won’t be the last.

At the outset, it is important that this “vast college prep conspiracy” be considered and treated solely and precisely for what it is — a criminal enterprise fueled by greed. Grift on a massive scale.

Already, however, some on the Left are shifting the focus from the crass criminality of the scandal’s many participants, to a broader political attack on “privilege” in America. Others, on the conservative side are blaming affirmative action as the predicate for what the federal indictment properly characterized as a “racketeering enterprise.”

While the cheating scandal very well may exhibit elements of “class privilege” and affirmative-action abuse, obscuring the scheme by viewing it through the lens of contemporary public policy debates diminishes its importance and increases the likelihood it will be repeated.

Ten years ago, the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) system was shaken by a massive cheating scandal; orchestrated not by students trying to improve their grades, but by teachers and administrators fearful that lower student scores on standardized tests mandated by the federal “No Child Left Behind Act,” would slow the spigot of federal tax dollars on which the schools had become dependent.

When news of the APS scandal broke, many educators and public officials in Atlanta and across Georgia sought to have it addressed administratively; as a policy failure rather than a criminal enterprise. The pressure to thus downplay the scandal was pronounced. Fortunately, the venue in which the cases unfolded over the following five years remained exactly where it should have been — in criminal court.

Atlanta’s public schools still have not recovered fully from that sordid scandal, but the example set by aggressive prosecution of the teachers and administrators involved — a process free of partisan politics or racial division — remains a gold star in a state not often cited for upholding high ethical standards.

We all should hope that a decade from now, the 2019 college preparatory cheating scandal will be similarly remembered and cited as an example of how greed rising to the level of systemic criminality must be addressed by prosecution rather than policy debate. This is a task far more difficult than it should be, considering that in today’s hyper-partisan climate virtually every matter of constitutional or legal significance is distilled down to an excuse to challenge someone’s racial, gender, political or class worldview.

A review of the indictment unsealed just days ago — charging more than four dozen individuals with fraud, money laundering and racketeering in a scheme to afford children with parents of means an unfair advantage to gain admittance to top-tier universities — makes clear why the criminal process must remain front and center.

The scheme charted in the federal indictment was extensive in every important respect: taking place over several years and with tentacles reaching from university athletic and admission officials, to individuals employed by organizations supposed to fairly administer college entrance exams and even to include high school teachers; all were part of the grift. Virtually no aspect of the college-entrance process was unsullied by the racketeering scheme, including tax laws and various other federal laws designed to ensure fair competition in college admission processes.

The scheme was so brazen and sophisticated that — as detailed in the indictment — the managers of the conspiracy maintained their own “waiting lists,” so that if a child whose parents already had paid bribes (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars) to secure their admittance to a chosen university ultimately decided not to go to that school, the ringleaders simply gave that “slot” to the child of another crooked parent.

Thankfully, our federal criminal justice system remains largely insulated from the childish vagaries that have infected the parameters of public policy debate in modern America. While it would boost ratings if the scandal were presented as a “reality” show rather than a federal criminal proceeding, allowing it to be trivialized in such way would do great and lasting harm to our nation’s system of higher education.

Bob Barr (@BobBarr) represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Current track