Paul Manafort and Rick Gates taken into custody

Hopefully this is just the tip of the Trumpberg:

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump's former Campaign Chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president's first year in office. Also charged was Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protege and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies Mr. Manafort's firm set up in Cyprus, to receive payments from politicians and business people in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by the New York Times show. Mr Manafort has been under investigation for violation of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

This is good news, but if Mueller really wants to get into money laundering, he needs to take a look at condos and apartments Trump has been selling to Russian crime-lords. That's a big, stinking mess, and one that should have already gotten Trump put behind bars. *Edited to add* Here's a link to the indictment, and it's a doozy.

Monday News: Running scared

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TRUMP TWEETS OUT DESPERATE ATTACK ON HILLARY AS INDICTMENTS LOOM: President Donald Trump expressed renewed frustration Sunday over the investigations into alleged ties between his campaign associates and Russian government officials, saying on Twitter that the "facts are pouring out" about links to Russia by his former presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. "DO SOMETHING!" Trump urged in one of five morning tweets. Trump's tweets followed a CNN report late Friday that a federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first charges in a criminal investigation into Russia ties led by special counsel Robert Mueller. In a final tweet on the subject, Trump suggests that Russia's re-emergence into the conversation is no accident. "All of this 'Russia' talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!"
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article181635066.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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GENE NICHOL: PHIL BERGER RULES BY WHIM TO GAIN PARTISAN OMNIPOTENCE: State Senate leader Phil Berger and his crew have determined, apparently, that -- gerrymandering the judges’ districts; eliminating their primaries; restricting their powers of judicial review; ending public funding for their campaigns; manipulating the size of the Court of Appeals; stacking individual Supreme Court elections; and becoming the first state in a century to demand the partisan election of judges -- isn’t enough to deliver the precise courts the Republicans require. Clearing the whole offending slate and forcing them to run constant, expensive, relentless and hyper-partisan campaigns seems now to be the trick. No matter that judges take oaths to be accountable to the law and the Constitution, not to the voters. Or that our jurists would have little time for their actual work, given the demands of perpetual campaigning. Party fealty, again, is all that matters.
http://www.wral.com/gene-nichol-phil-berger-rules-by-whim-to-gain-partisan-omnipotence/17065670/

Saturday News: Lock 'em up

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MUELLER PROBE INTO TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION YIELDS INDICTMENTS FROM GRAND JURY: The first round of charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election were approved Friday – but it's still not known what they are or who they target. A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., approved the charges, CNN reported Friday, citing sources briefed in the matter. The network said plans were being made to take anyone charged into custody on Monday. CNN said a spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment. The special counsel has been digging into allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign since May.
http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/article181410621.html

Oregon billionaire's charter school empire invades North Carolina

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And Team CFA likes to keep the money in the family:

In fall of 2016 Aristotle Prep -CFA received an F from the state and failed to meet academic growth standards. This year Aristotle Prep – CFA received a D. Last year Aristotle enrollment was 150 students, compared with 550 projected when it received the charter. The Aristotle Prep – CFA and Achievement for All Children contract requires state Board of Education approval. A fundamental problem is that Aristotle’s board did not seek proposals from other management companies. It seems a sweetheart deal for Aristotle Prep-CFA was arranged by a network of TeamCFA members.

In this case, the advisory board requested a three-person panel of state Board of Education members to review the Aristotle Prep -CFA plan. The trio endorsed the plan originally, but conflict of interest concerns moved the full board voted unanimously to defer action and get a ruling from the ethics commission.

That's a pretty sweet deal if you think about it: Screw up the academic status of your school while bilking taxpayers for tuition, which then triggers an "in-house" contract to fix the problem you created. Making money coming and going. Be on the lookout for these charter school pirates sailing into your home town:

Court appoints Special Master to review gerrymandered Legislative maps

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And this isn't the Professor's first rodeo either:

Judge Catherine Eagles informed the attorneys in the order that Nathaniel Persily, who has helped draw districts for New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut, would review North Carolina’s new legislative maps and possibly help the judges draw new lines for 2018. Persily will be paid $500 an hour, which the judges described as half his typical hourly rate. The filing period for state legislative races is set to begin in February.

“If any party has grounds to believe that Professor Persily has a conflict of interest which would disqualify him from serving as Special Master or is otherwise objectionable,” the judges said, the attorneys should file an objection within two business days. Any objectors may suggest a different mapmaker, the judges added.

This article corrects something I've been getting wrong for several weeks: Candidate filing for Legislative races is in February, not December, so we've got more breathing room on that. Also something to keep in mind: Persily's involvement in evaluating and potentially redrawing district lines may be limited to just a handful of races:

Friday News: The company he keeps

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DAN FOREST ATTENDS FUNDRAISER WITH SPINDALE CULT LEADERS: A photo provided to The News & Observer shows Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at a fundraiser with a leader of a western North Carolina church that’s being sued by a former member who says church leaders tried to beat the “homosexual demons” out of him. Forest, who was elected to a second term last year, is a socially conservative Republican who’s expected to run for governor in 2020. The photo shows Forest standing in a living room with Robin Webster, a leader of Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale in Rutherford County, about 70 miles west of Charlotte. Word of Faith has come under scrutiny in recent months after 43 former members told the Associated Press that church members try to expel demons using “blasting” prayers where congregants were smacked, choked, punched and thrown to the floor.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article181105496.html

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