U.S. Navy Admiral Sentenced To Prison In Bribery Scandal

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for lying to federal officials investigating a massive corruption scandal.

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AP

An active-duty U.S. Navy admiral was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to federal authorities about his relationship with a foreign defense contractor involved in a massive bribery and fraud scandal that has engulfed more than a dozen current or former Navy officials.

Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau had pleaded guilty last June to one count of making false statements. According to a release issued by the Department of Justice, Gilbeau is the highest ranking U.S. Navy officer to be sentenced in the scandal so far.

“This is the first time our nation will incarcerate a Navy admiral for a federal crime committed during the course of his official duty, and it is truly a somber day,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson said in a statement.

As the Two-Way reported, Gilbeau could have faced a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

A Singapore-based defense contractor named Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, is at the heart of the scandal. He goes by the nickname “Fat Leonard” due to his girth. His company provided basic services such as trash and sewage removal, food, water, security and fuel to U.S. Navy ships. American prosecutors say Francis overcharged the U.S. Navy to the tune of more than $34 million.

Gilbeau admitted that he was lying when he told investigators that he always paid for his half of dinner when he and Francis dined together about three times a year. The admiral also admitted that when learned that Francis and others had been arrested in September 2013, he destroyed documents and deleted computer files.

Francis has already pleaded guilty to bribing scores of Navy officials with luxury hotels, meals, cash, parties and prostitutes. In exchange, Gilbeau signed off on Francis’ fraudulent invoices.

In a statement, Robinson said, “When tempted by parties and prostitutes, one of our most respected leaders chose karaoke over character, and cover-up over confession, and in doing so he forever tarnished the reputation of a revered institution.”

In his court appearance, Gilbeau expressed remorse for his actions. “I’m deeply sorry and regretful I made the decision I made to make a false official statement,” he said. “I can’t really explain all the circumstances of why I did that.”

In addition to his 18-month sentence, Gilbeau will serve three years of probation, work 300 hours of community service and pay the Navy $150,00 in restitution and fines.

The Department of Justice statement says that 20 current or former Navy officials have been charged in the bribery and fraud scandal. Ten have pleaded guilty and another ten cases are pending.

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Dow Industrials Drop On Worries Over Political Turmoil In Washington

The Dow Jones industrial average and other stock indices fell sharply Wednesday, as investors worried about political turmoil in Washington.

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Washington politics spilled over into the financial markets today, as the week’s turmoil, including questions over what President Trump said to former FBI Director James Comey before firing him, has put the administration’s pro-business legislative agenda in question, most notably the president’s proposed tax cuts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 372 points, or 1.78 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Index was down 2.57 percent, and the S&P 500 down 1.82 percent.

Congress, it appears, will be tied up in investigations, instead of passing legislation, says Aron Szapiro, director of policy research at the investment analysis firm Morningstar.

“All these things take time, and these investigations are going to eat up a lot of it,” he says. (After Szapiro made his comments, a fresh investigation was commenced, with the Justice Department appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel.)

Szapiro shies away from saying that political turmoil is are the main reason investors sought the relative safe havens of gold and bonds today. And, he argues, politics has always been unpredictable, and a tax overhaul — even without scandal — would have been a difficult feat for the administration to pull off.

“There are tough choices, there are difficult conversations, and there is just a lot of work that has to go into it,” he says.

The surprise victory of Trump in November had ushered in a long market rally that sent the Dow and other stock indices into record-high territory. Bank stocks in particular rallied, as did the stocks of industrial companies, on pledges of rolling back financial regulations and big boosts in infrastructure spending. Those sectors were particularly hard-hit today.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise that financials and industrials are getting harder today than most, but the sell-off today is really across the board,” says David Kretzmann, an analyst with the personal finance firm Motley Fool. He, too, says he advises investors to look at the long game, and think of the underlying business dynamics for companies — and those things don’t change because of a scandal.

Even with the day’s losses, Kretzmann says, investors are enjoying a bull market.

“We’re just back to where we were at the end of April. So it’s not like the sky is falling; no one was worried about the world ending in April, so you have to keep things in perspective,” he says. “The S&P 500 is still up 5 percent for the year. It’s up over 15 percent for the past year.”

He says he’s advising clients to diversify their stock portfolios, to balance out the political volatility and ride out any scandal that might befall Washington.

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This Simple Puzzle Test Sealed The Fate Of Immigrants At Ellis Island

A wooden puzzle in the silhouette of a human head might look fun if the stakes weren’t so high. A doctor named Howard Knox invented The Feature Profile Test — the formal name for this puzzle —after officials struggled to administer IQ tests to immigrants due to issues with language and literacy.

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A wooden puzzle in the silhouette of a human head might look fun if the stakes weren’t so high.

Historians at Smithsonian Magazine say this simple puzzle containing facial features broken into pieces was administered to immigrants on Ellis Island in the early 1900s. The goal was to weed out the “feeble-minded” and ensure a “better class” of foreign-born people were ushered into U.S. citizenship. The puzzle is currently housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The Feature Profile Test — the formal name for this puzzle — sprung out of an idealistic policy that was supposed to be fair, writes historian Adam Cohen. A doctor named Howard Knox invented it after officials struggled to administer IQ tests to immigrants due to issues with language and literacy.

“This was in some ways a progressive reform,” Cohen says. “The idea that this would be a puzzle that no matter where you were born in the world, where you came from, people generally had the idea of what a faced looked like, so it had a kind of democratic impulse behind it.”

At the same time, the eugenics movement was informing U.S. immigration policy. Cohen says the eugenicists were worried the wrong types of people were coming into the country.

“They believed that in various ways we had to test and weed out the people who would bring the wrong genes,” Cohen says. “That included trying to have fewer people from countries that were deemed to have worse genes, and then also using tests like this to at the individual level weed out people who were unintelligent, feeble-minded, unfit.”

Use the audio link above to hear the full story.

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Former FBI Director Mueller Appointed Special Counsel To Oversee Russia Probe

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee during the annual open hearing on worldwide threats on March 12, 2013. Mueller has been named special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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The Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the growing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign.

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination,” Rosenstein continued. “What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

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Many Of California's Salmon Populations Unlikely To Survive The Century

Workers prepare to release thousands of fingerling Chinook salmon into the Mare Island Strait in Vallejo, Calif., in 2014. A new report names climate change, dams and agriculture as the major threats to the prized and iconic fish, which is still the core of the state’s robust fishing industry.

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Wild Chinook salmon, probably the most prized seafood item on the West Coast, could all but vanish from California within a hundred years, according to a report released Tuesday.

The authors, with the University of California, Davis, and the conservation group California Trout, name climate change, dams and agriculture as the major threats to the prized and iconic fish, which is still the core of the state’s robust fishing industry.

Chinook salmon are just one species at risk of disappearing. All told, California is home to 31 genetically distinct kinds of salmon and trout — 23 of which are at risk of going extinct sometime in the next century, according to the report.

The report, titled State of the Salmonids II: Fish in Hot Water, comes as an update to a 2008 assessment that made similar conclusions – except that nine years ago, the outlook wasn’t nearly so bad. At the time, the authors – among them UC Davis fisheries biologist Peter Moyle, who works at the university’s Center for Watershed Sciences and also contributed to the new report – concluded that five genetically distinct types of California salmon might vanish in the next five decades.

Now, the 50-year outlook is three times as bad, with 14 species and subspecies deemed likely to disappear if current trends continue. Though some factors affecting fish, like degraded river habitat and excessive diversions for irrigation, can be reversed, the report says climate change, already underway, could devastate California’s salmon and trout populations.

“As we began drafting the 2017 report, we realized that the new information and increasingly obvious impacts of climate change required us to rethink the metrics used in the 2008 report to evaluate status [of each species],” says Moyle, who wrote the new report with UC Davis colleague Robert Lusardi and California Trout’s conservation program coordinator, Patrick J. Samuel.

Salmon and trout depend on clean – and, especially – cold water. But as the Earth warms, there will be less snow and cold water in the mountains where rivers, like the once salmon-rich Sacramento and the Klamath, begin. Many waterways will become too warm for the fish to tolerate, or even dry up completely, in the summer months, the authors predict.

Agriculture can have similar impacts on watersheds, and in their 106-page report, the authors repeatedly cite production of food, marijuana, wine and other crops as a major threat to California’s salmon and trout. Farming and grazing can foul waterways with eroded sediments and chemicals. Irrigating crops also means pumping large amounts of water out of rivers, which can disrupt salmon migration patterns or strand them in warm, shallow water.

On California’s North Coast, in a region known as the “emerald triangle” for its marijuana production, Coho salmon – once thick in nearly every small coastal creek as far south as Santa Cruz – are critically threatened, according to the report. The authors estimate that, as recently as 75 years ago, 100,000 to 300,000 Coho spawned each year in northern California’s and southern Oregon’s coastal streams. Today, less than 5,000 still swim upstream to lay and fertilize their eggs.

Fingerling Chinook salmon are dumped into a holding pen as they are transfered from a truck into the Sacramento River in Rio Vista, Calif., in March 2014.

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Northern California marijuana growers — whose crop was legalized late last year – are known to suck dry creeks where Coho salmon spawn, especially in the summer, when virtually no rain falls in most of the state and growers become especially reliant on irrigation.

The juveniles of Chinook salmon, by contrast, spend just a few months in freshwater before migrating to the sea, which makes them somewhat less vulnerable to inland habitat loss. Still, Chinook salmon – the only salmon species that is commercially fished and marketed in California – are not doing well, either. The report says six of California’s eight genetically distinct Chinook populations are likely to disappear.

While hundreds of thousands of Chinook still spawn in California in a productive year, these prized fish are mostly the products of hatcheries that fertilize salmon eggs in tanks and release babies into the wild at several months of age. According to the authors, this life-support system, though good for fishermen in the short term, is bad for wild, self-sustaining runs of salmon and steelhead. That’s because the hatchery fish often spawn with wild fish, weakening gene lines and blurring the genetic distinctions between different populations.

California’s salmon are not necessarily all goners. The authors suggest restoring riverside floodplains and coastal marshes, where young fish find abundant food. They also recommend focusing conservation efforts on streams that arise from mountain springs. Such spring-fed creeks will likely remain cold even as the planet warms, and they might be the only places for salmon to spawn in the future. Removing dams also could allow salmon access to cold-water tributaries, the authors say.

During a media teleconference call on Tuesday, California Trout’s executive director Curtis Knight said native salmon might still be a part of California’s culture, economy and diet in the future.

“We do still have time, and we are optimistic that with some effort, we can have a future that involves these fish,” he said.


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