TBR News April 3, 2016

Jun 03 2016

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. June 3, 2016: “It is entertaining to read the print media, and its Internet counterparts, and watch the headlines about Donald Trump. We see such thrilling topics as” “Trump put Kittens in Microwave.” “Trump beats wives,” “Hillary surges ahead of Trump for the tenth time this day” and on and on. The media is under the mistaken opinion that people actually read them and, more important, are guided by their utterances. Some years ago, Frank Wisner of the CIA boasted that he controlled the news input for both the New York Times and the Washington Post but now that these papers have lost the great part of their subscribers, their websites read like a script for the Dubuque, Iowa National Farm and Home hour. The pubic, insofar as it leave off text messaging long enough to read anything of interest, gets its news from the Internet, not the print media. I don’t think anyone has informed the papers of this fact so we see in the New York Times the above-the-fold story about a new pizza restaurant in the Bronx or that Irmgard Wigglehouser who invented kitty litter passed away at the age of 104. Between trashing Trump and Putin, the print media is as useless as tits on a boar pig.”

The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951
At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.
This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Thursday, 25 May 1950
The dinner was a tremendous success! I had to take time to digest the food and the evening, in equal amounts, and allow things to return to their usual chaotic levels before taking the time to jot down various impressions for this journal.

Someday, I suppose, I should publish it but, God forbid! not while I am alive or I shortly wouldn’t be.

All of the plans were carefully laid, the food and wines laid in, the whole lower floors carefully cleaned and polished, the temporary servants instructed, last minute changes taken care of and so on.

I have had my friends in before but never like this.

Truman came quietly but very punctually at eight. We were to eat at nine and everyone was in their best dress. As I wished, I was able to wear my decorations (some in miniature); the tailor had delivered my formal wear and gave me the last minute fitting about five in the afternoon.

Bunny and her aunt arrived at seven thirty and all of us went into the drawing room to talk and wait for the President to arrive. He was announced exactly at eight and I was in the main hall with Bunny to greet him. He brought two aides with him, very discreet fellows, and no great retinue of guards such as Hitler or Stalin would have used at such occasions.

Neither Truman nor myself grew up in a great house but I dare say we all behaved in a most civilized and correct manner. Introductions were made and we all sat in the drawing room and had very polite conversations until dinner was announced.

The President took Bunny’s aunt in to dinner, I took Bunny, Heini took Irmgard and the rest followed two by two. I had footmen in the halls, standing along the corridor, and the dining room was magnificent to behold. The crystal chandelier blazed with light and there were glorious floral arrangements on the table and sideboards. All of the china and silver had the Imperial Russian eagle displayed. I never bothered to tell Truman that this had come from the Imperial palace complex at Pushkin, courtesy of the Wehrmacht.
There was a servant for each guest, a forest of crystal glasses and a great rack of knives, forks and spoons displayed on each side of the service plates. Elaborate folded linen napkins and hand-lettered place cards were all there. I must say, it looked like a state dinner, not a pleasant evening among friends.

Truman sat at one end of the table and I the other and we were still close enough to hear each other’s remarks. I think we could have had more women present but three was almost enough.

The dinner was perfect. Klaus had surpassed himself (he did get in a French cook to help him) and the service was seamless. The footmen stood against the walls until they were needed and Klaus did not make the portions so large that there would be no room for the next one.

I began with a toast to the President who graciously responded with a toast to me and then we all sat down to a magnificent dinner and actually interesting conversation.
After dinner, we all went to the music room and Bunny and I performed the Bach for Truman. It went off very well and neither of us missed a note. The piece was just long enough to enjoy and not be bored. When it was over, Truman stood up and applauded and we both bowed to him. And then, I thought a nice touch, I said,

“Now, Mr. President, from the sublime to the ridiculous…”

And without mentioning this to Bunny (for it was an impulse on my part) I sat down and played Joplin’s “Felicity Rag” for him. It went very quickly and when I looked over at him, he was beating time with one foot as well as his hand. I also noticed that he was smiling broadly. And he also gave me a round of applause when it was over saying,
“Of course the Bach was first class but I really enjoyed the last piece.” And he asked me where I learned it.

We discussed music for a few minutes and then I took him by the arm and said I had a pleasant surprise for him and would the company excuse us? They did and I walked the President down the hall to my study.

It is far too ornate for me to work in but I have a desk in there and like to receive important people there rather than upstairs in my bedroom where I actually work.
The room was filled with relics of Catherine II, including a huge portrait in a gilt frame over the marble fireplace, and two large glass cabinets with extremely rare Russian icons displayed. The President was suitably impressed and I asked him to sit in one of the leather armchairs while I poured both of us a drink. I had my usual cognac and I gave him a Waterford glass with the good bourbon in it.

One drink of it and his entire face lit up.”My God, Heinrich, this is first class! Where did you get it?”

And I told him.

All together, he had three drinks (he holds his liquor very well) and I had two plus a good cigar.

Basically, we talked about his career and mine and his plans for the future. And, of course, we had a very serious discussion about the people and groups who thought they controlled this country. A very frank discussion, I must say. And T. kept asking me for my opinions on various matters that, considering everything, was most flattering.
Whether it was good manners, the drinks or the overall evening, I do not know but he was certainly open and very sincere.

He hates McCarthy as a crude demagogue and a man “who has no character to lose,” but recognizes that what M. is doing is important in neutralizing the influence the extreme left has had in this country. He will continue to rail against the Senator from Wisconsin but will do nothing.

Clifford had dug up some of McCarthy’s homosexual activities but Truman flatly refuses to permit this to be used.

This led us into a discussion about the Senate vote on Wednesday to fund an investigation into homosexuality and other such perverse activity in higher government circles. The local police estimate that there are many hundreds of these assholes working in the State Department alone and Truman agrees that we have to weed them out.
My argument was that we ought not to simply persecute these creatures for their activities but to get rid of any such government employee so inclined because of the very real risk that Soviet intelligence might discover their activities and blackmail them into working for them!!! Not that they haven’t already but it must not be permitted to continue.

State has already dismissed about a hundred such in the past year but it doesn’t touch the rest and this must go on.

Of course, as I told Harry (he has asked me to call him that!) that if we weeded out all the homosexuals in government, did that include Congress as well? And where would it stop? Better to frighten them, like I am frightening the communists and their friends, so as to keep them quiet. Like Voltaire’s “Candide,” we can shoot one to encourage the others.

I did also mention the concern I had about excluding Asia from our sphere of influence. I clarified this by saying that I had no agenda for him but was merely expressing my concern based entirely on my knowledge of Stalin and his workings. Harry agreed with me completely and will try to give the impression that we are not disinterested in Asia.
When I judged that we had said enough, and he had drunk enough, I rose and we went out into the hall and down to the drawing room. It appeared that everyone was enjoying themselves without us and all in all, it was a pleasant, and for me, a very important moment in my life. After all, I was never invited into the Chancellery or to the Berghof for one of Hitler’s social occasions and I can just see what would have happened if he had come to one of my wife’s one-pot dinners!

I like to sit back and enjoy a good cigar and a glass of first class cognac in peace and quiet and to contemplate the amazing things that Fortune does for some of us!

When Harry was leaving, I had one of the servants carry out the remainder of the case of bourbon to put into his car. “My Lord,” he said, “now that’s what I call a royal present. Believe me, I would rather have a case of that than get an honorary degree from Harvard!”

And we all parted in the very best of humor and I went upstairs, kicked off my pumps and had my cigar and a final cognac before going to bed, all alone except for the ever-attentive Maxl who seemed to know how pleased I was.

Müller had strong views on security and he had no hesitation in expressing them when and where he thought best. He had no real knowledge of the actual condition in Asia other than as it might be reflected in Stalin’s plans. By linking the two together, he made a number of very well educated guesses. How successful he was will be seen later.
During the late 1940s, the question of homosexuality in government was coming to the forefront in America along with a long-festering fear of communist infiltration.
There is no doubt that many government employees were so inclined and openly recruited others of their persuasion to also seek government service. This was not to promote sedition but merely to have congenial working conditions, and perhaps, even more congenial after-hours activities.

Intelligence officials do not tend to be moralists or they would not be in their occupations, and their basic concerns insofar as homosexuality is concerned is a vulnerability of the subject to outside pressures and very possible manipulation by outside persons or agencies to gain influence or confidential information.
The Russians are well known to exploit sex as an effective tool for recruitment or entrapment, and this exploitation certainly did not stop with Glasnost or the subsequent disintegration of the former Soviet Union.

Just before the end of that geopolitical entity, a scandal involving a homosexual prostitution ring surfaced in Washington at the highest levels and the major concern expressed at that time was the possibility that the KGB might very well be involved.
One of the people involved was a White House press aide who briefed President Reagan daily on press matters.
When his name was found on credit card vouchers for what turned out to be service fees for male prostitutes, Todd Blodgett, 28, admitted his name had been used and that parties with naked male prostitutes had taken place in his apartment but, like Harry Dexter White, flatly denied that he had any guilty knowledge and had “no idea at all” how his name and signature had gotten onto the vouchers.

At the time this scandal broke, the major concern among the Secret Service and other intelligence agencies in Washington was that the inclusion of top government and military officials in the scandal could well, and strongly, indicate the delicate hand of the KGB. A full discussion of this issue and its intelligence concerns is made in an in-depth, front page article in the “Washington Times” of Thursday, June 29, 1989, “Homosexual prostitution inquiry ensnares VIPs with Reagan, Bush.”

‘Stab in the back’: Turkey responds fiercely to Germany’s ‘disgraceful’ Armenia genocide vote
June 3, 2016

Turkish media and government figures have condemned Germany’s vote to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces as a genocide.
Multiple Turkish news sources made comparisons between German President Angela Merkel and Adolf Hitler, drawing comparisons between the Armenian genocide and Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.

“Comrade stabs us in the back”, “Turkey will not forget” and “Open the gates” are just some of the headlines splashed across Turkey’s newspapers Friday morning, reports Turkish Anadolu Agency.

“Shame on You” screams the non-government funded Hurriyet along with a picture of the voting German parliament.
Sozcu, a secular-nationalist newspaper writes: “The grandchildren of Hitler accusing Turkey of genocide” accompanied by a photo of Merkel outfitted with a Hitler mustache and swastika flag.

The strongest cover came from the AK Party-related journal, Star, which devoted a full page to Merkel with a Hitler mustache with the headline: “Everything for the PKK”, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkish security forces are currently engaged in operations against the PKK in southeast Turkey.

Holocaust comparisons to match those harsh words came from within the Turkish government too.
“They burned Jews in furnaces and now they slander the Turkish people by accusing us of some genocide. Why don’t you look at your own history first,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ was quoted by the Anadolu Agency.

On Friday the Turkish foreign ministry responded to the German vote in a written statement, published on their official website and translated by AA, where they describe the motion as “an example of ignorance” and “disgraceful.”

“This resolution is an example of ignorance and disrespect for the law, politicizing history, preventing free discussion on historical issues and trying to impose the self-created taboo of the Armenian narrative as an indisputable fact,” said the ministry.
“There is nothing that Turkey will learn from the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany,” they added.

Turkey denies allegations of genocide, instead acknowledging that there were “casualties on both sides.” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said these were “Ordinary events that could take place in any society or any country… in 1915, under conditions of World War I,” when speaking to the press on Thursday, Hurriyet reported.

“The history of the Turkish nation is clear. There is no single event in our history that we feel ashamed of,” said Yildrim to the Star as cited by AA.

Despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying relations between Germany and Turkey will be “seriously affected”, by Friday PM Yildirim had adopted a less severe approach.

“Nobody should expect that our relations with Germany to get worse completely and suddenly due to such resolutions,” he said.

Hard Time
The U.S. Is the Only Country That Routinely Sentences Children to Life in Prison Without Parole
June 3 2016
by Lisa Armstrong
The Intercept
It was a late summer morning when Robert “Fat Daddy” Taylor woke up, smoked two blunts, and decided to turn himself in. He’d been on the run for four days, and it seemed that everywhere he went in and around the 7 Mile neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, there were photos of him in stores, and people quick to call the police, to claim the $1,000 reward for finding him

“The streets talk,” Taylor told me recently. “Everybody was telling me, ‘Yo, Fats, man, those boys trying to get you.’ I couldn’t go nowhere. [The police] was everywhere.”Taylor was not afraid — after all, he was only a person of interest, not a suspect, in a murder that had taken place 15 days earlier, and he knew he had not committed the crime. Still, he was only 16, so he decided to seek the counsel of John McCoy, a 40-something-year-old neighborhood friend. McCoy assured Taylor that the police could not charge him, so Taylor continued walking along East Jefferson Avenue and made his way to the Beaubien police station. He was too young to conceive that this would essentially be his last day of freedom, that this simple act would lead to an arrest, then a life without parole sentence for a crime he insists he did not commit.

“I was 16 years old. I was still a young boy, still a puppy in the hood running reckless,” said Taylor, who is currently incarcerated at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border. “But [white people] see a person from the gutter, the ghetto, coming over there and killing one of theirs. There was no way they was ever going to let me go home.”

Taylor’s was a high-profile case. Prosecutors argued that on August 9, 2009, he and his co-defendant, Ihab Masalmani, who was then 17, robbed 21-year-old Matthew Landry after abducting him from an Eastpointe, Michigan, Quiznos restaurant. Masalmani then killed Landry in a burnt-out building in Detroit while, prosecutors said, Taylor stood by. In November 2010 and February 2011, Masalmani and Taylor were first sentenced to mandatory life without parole, a sentence that at the time was legal for minors.
In June 2012, the Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama and banned the use of mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles; in January 2016, the Court decided in Montgomery v. Louisiana that the Miller ruling is retroactive, so even those who were sentenced as minors before 2012 are eligible for resentencing. Under Miller, judges can still sentence minors to life without parole as long as mitigating factors — the child’s age, home environment, extent of participation in the crime, and potential for rehabilitation — are considered. In the Miller ruling, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that given “children’s diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change,” life without parole sentences for minors should be “uncommon.” The Miller majority further states:

Although we do not foreclose a sentencer’s ability to make that judgment [life without parole] in homicide cases, we require it to take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison … just as the chronological age of a minor is itself a relevant mitigating factor of great weight, so must the background and mental and emotional development of a youthful defendant be duly considered in assessing his culpability.

But in some states, judges are still giving juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences on a fairly frequent basis. According to data collected by Phillips Black, a nonprofit law firm, 84 percent of all JLWOP sentences given between June 2012 and May 2015 were given in just four states: Louisiana, California, Florida, and Michigan. While Florida and California had the highest numbers — 28 and 26 JLWOP sentences respectively — Louisiana (21) and Michigan (17) had the highest numbers per capita. In these four states, some judges are using the very mitigating factors that are meant to be an argument against a life sentence as evidence that these juveniles cannot be rehabilitated, and should spend the rest of their lives in prison.

That’s exactly what happened to Taylor and Masalmani. In the fall of 2014, Judge Diane Druzinski of the Macomb County Circuit Court heard the mitigating factors in Taylor’s and Masalmani’s cases. Both were again sentenced to life without parole in January 2015.

The United States is the only country in the world that routinely sentences children to life in prison without parole, and, according to estimates from nonprofits and advocacy groups, there are between 2,300 and 2,500 people serving life without parole for crimes committed when they were minors. Two-thirds of those were sentenced in just five states: Louisiana, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Ninety-seven percent of them are male, according to figures from the Sentencing Project, and 60 percent are black.

There are between 2,300 and 2,500 people serving life without parole for crimes committed when they were minors.

Although these young people have been charged and convicted of heinous crimes, advocates argue that they should not be sentenced to life in prison, because they can be rehabilitated and should not pay such a stiff penalty for crimes committed when they weren’t mature enough to truly understand the ramifications.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, teenagers and young adults often act impulsively, without much consideration for consequences, because in teens “the parts of the brain involved in emotional responses are fully online, or even more active than in adults, while the parts of the brain involved in keeping emotional, impulsive responses in check are still reaching maturity.” The frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and decision-making, does not reach full development until around age 25, which is in part why the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Bar Association, and other organizations have issued statements opposing JLWOP sentences, because they do not believe children should be held morally culpable in the same way adults are.

This does not mean, however, that minors should not take responsibility and face consequences for their actions. “This is about review, this isn’t guaranteeing that people will be released,” said Jody Kent Lavy, director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. “We’re advocating for periodic reviews to see whether they’ve changed and are prepared to be resentenced or come before a parole board and be released. We know that the vast majority of these young people age out of criminal behavior once they’ve matured and the brain stops developing at around age 25 and believe it is an appropriate time to check in on them and determine whether they can be released and returned to their communities as productive members of society.”

The other issue that plays a part in almost all JLWOP cases is childhood trauma. According to the Sentencing Project, 79 percent of minors sentenced to life without parole witnessed violence in their homes, and almost 50 percent experienced physical abuse. Eighteen percent were not living with a close adult relative at the time they were incarcerated, and were homeless, or living with friends or in group homes.
The details of Taylor’s childhood came out in court during his mitigation hearing. Taylor grew up primarily in 7 Mile, a neighborhood of stark contrasts: Nicely kept homes with baskets of pink flowers and wind chimes and American flags on front porches sit opposite defeated houses with shattered windows, vines enveloping their facades, and trees growing through them. It’s a neighborhood where gunshots, drugs, and death were a regular part of life.

Though Detroit police statistics show that the homicide rate has fallen from a high of 55 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2012 to 43 per 100,000 residents last year, Detroit as a whole is consistently ranked one of the most violent cities in the country.
During an interview at the prison, Taylor told me that he got his first gun, a 38-caliber revolver, when he was 12, and was shot in the back when he was 14.

We were seated at the back of the visiting room, farthest from the wall of windows that let in a stream of light from the late-afternoon sun. Taylor pulled up the sleeve of his blue and white button-down shirt to reveal a tattoo of the grim reaper on his left arm, which he got because, he said: “I felt like he was always hanging out over my neighborhood.”
Taylor’s father has been in prison for most of his life. His mother had her first child at 13 and raised Taylor and his five siblings primarily alone. Court documents state that Taylor grew up in an “unstable and unsafe” environment:

Wayne County neglect records reflected Robert’s mother had a long history of instability, that she often left the children without food and proper supervision. … There were previous complaints alleging physical neglect and physical abuse. Robert’s older brother, Demetrius Taylor … reported his mother was beaten by her boyfriends in front of the children and that on one occasion she was beaten with a pistol, her neck was broken and that her boyfriend attempted to set fire to the house when she and the children were at home.

“It was traumatizing, and it was scary,” Taylor said of his home environment. He was speaking in a low voice — he said he’s always been soft spoken, but was trying his best to ensure that the corrections officer at the other end of the visiting room wouldn’t hear. He said he didn’t want people to think ill of his mother. “There was no love there. I didn’t never feel like it was my home, even though I was living there.”

Taylor said that when he was 11, his mother pointed a gun at his head as a joke during an argument over a pair of sneakers. He left home and lived on his own, bouncing from one friend’s house to another.

Taylor is small — at the time of his arrest, he was only about 5-foot-6 and still had remnants of the early childhood pudginess that had earned him the name “Fat Daddy” from his grandmother. He often hung out with older men with whom he felt protected. Many were involved in criminal activity.

This is what led me [to prison],” said Taylor. “This is what led to me hanging around people who I shouldn’t never have been around. I’m 12, 13 years old, and they thinking I’m like 20 because I’m out all night. This is what led me here — not having a stable condition at my house.”Taylor’s mother, Rhonda, said that she has never owned a gun and would certainly never have pointed one at her son’s head. She said that while she struggled to raise her children pretty much on her own, working multiple jobs and having to move houses several times, she provided a stable environment for them. The children did sometimes stay at friends’ homes, but, she said, it was only for short periods of time.

“At some point, boys act out. So, when they get into it with they parents they want to storm out,” Rhonda said. “If I feel one of my kids disrespecting me, you got to leave. You got to do something with yourself because I’m not about to sit here and accept that from any of my kids in terms of disrespecting me.”

When Taylor was 12, he was charged with larceny for stealing a phone. He claims he didn’t steal the phone, but took the rap for a 17-year-old friend who had told him that since he was 12, he would only serve two or three months in a juvenile facility. Instead, he spent just over a year at various juvenile detention facilities. He was allowed to go home for periodic visits, but said his mother would pick him up, drop him off at home, and leave.

After Taylor was released, he continued to essentially live on his own. He said that while it was fairly easy to find places to sleep at night, it was still hard for him to fend for himself at such a young age. “It was actually kind of scary, man, not knowing when the next time you going to go eat or whatever, but I made a way.”

Though Taylor’s attorney, Jonathan Simon, used the unfortunate facts of Taylor’s life to ask the court for leniency, as stipulated in Miller, Judge Druzinski suggested they were proof that Taylor was unlikely to change. “The difficulty of defendant’s upbringing is the only factor which could be said to weigh in favor of an indeterminate sentence,” she ruled, “but this factor also suggests that defendant’s prospects for rehabilitation are minimal.”

The prosecutor, William Cataldo, implied during the mitigation hearing that Taylor needed to be in prison, where his life would have some order, as opposed to on the streets, where it had been so chaotic. When an expert witness, a counselor named Kathleen Schaefer, said that Taylor had matured, and that she could see that change from his level of introspection, Cataldo replied: “And this interview is taking place when he is in a structured environment, being told where to be, what to do, when to eat, and how to behave. That’s what prison is, isn’t it? … You haven’t met him when he’s out on the street having to live on his own and making his own way.”

The other issue in Taylor’s case as it pertains to the mitigating factors outlined in the Miller ruling was his level of involvement in the crime. Masalmani was the primary suspect, but prosecutors said that Taylor had been a lookout when Landry was abducted, and was with Masalmani from the time they left the Quiznos until the murder at 14711 Maddelein St. Taylor maintains that although he was present when Landry was kidnapped, he had no idea that Masalmani was going to rob and then shoot Landry, and was not in the house when Landry was killed.

It was sweltering that August afternoon — at 94 degrees, it was the hottest day that year — and Taylor and Masalmani rode their bikes to a nearby pool to swim. They didn’t have the money to pay the entrance fee and went to Quiznos at around 2:30 p.m. to get some water.

As they exited the Quiznos, according to Taylor, Masalmani told him to tackle Landry so that they could get his keys and steal his car. Taylor says he was more focused on fixing the chain on his bike, which had slipped, so when Landry came out, it was Masalmani who wrestled with Landry and forced him into the green Honda Accord.

“[Masalmani] got to doing his thing with the victim, but I did not put my hands on this guy, I did not carjack this guy, I did not take him from point A to point B,” said Taylor. “But I was dumb as hell; I jumped in the vehicle and we went back to the city.”
An eyewitness confirmed that it was Masalmani, not Taylor, who attacked Landry, but said that Taylor appeared to be the lookout. During the trial, a detective testified that on the day that Taylor turned himself in, he admitted that he had been the lookout; Taylor denies having done so.

Taylor said that as Masalmani drove back to Detroit, Landry seemed relatively calm as he sat in the passenger seat. He was listening to music and smoking cigarettes. Taylor was concerned, however. Masalmani was known to be erratic, and appeared to be on edge, as if he were high on drugs. Taylor also noticed that Masalmani had a gun sticking out of the waist of his pants. Taylor said that he sat quietly in the back seat.

Taylor said that it was not unusual to see Landry, a middle-class white man, being driven around the predominantly poor and African-American east side of Detroit by two young men of color. (Taylor is African-American and Masalmani is originally from the Middle East.) “Dope fiends come through that neck of the woods all the time and give little homeboys they cars to drive while they be smoking,” said Taylor. “So that’s not nothing un-normal that they ain’t never saw before. It was no reason for people to be like, ‘What’s going on?’”

The story of what happened once Landry, Masalmani, and Taylor got to 7 Mile varies. During the trial, Michael Sadur, who was incarcerated with Taylor in the maximum security unit at the Macomb County jail, testified that Taylor had confessed to him: “He said after they put [Landry] in the car, Ihab pulled out … a 40 caliber. And he drove away, heading to Detroit. … Mr. Landry was, he was like nausea, sick, smoking back to back, because he knew what time it was. They told him what time it was.” Sadur said Taylor told him that they had driven Landry directly to the abandoned house, where Masalmani then shot him. “[Taylor] said Ihab really didn’t care. He just turned around like nothing happened, and walk away. And told Taylor: ‘Come on. Let’s go spend some money or something.’”

Fredrick Singletone, an admitted crack addict, testified that he saw Taylor, Masalmani, and Landry at around 10 p.m. in a drug den at the corner of Maddelein and Monarch, where he was smoking crack. He said that Masalmani gave him money to purchase more crack, and that Taylor and Landry sat quietly on the sofa while everyone else got high.
Taylor and Masalmani maintain that they were never in that house, which is just steps away from the property where Landry’s body was found, and Taylor believes both Sadur and Singletone, who was also incarcerated at the time he testified, were coerced by law enforcement officials to make up their accounts, in return for reduced sentences. Sadur and Singletone, in their trial testimony, both denied they had made such a deal.

Taylor told me that he, Masalmani, and Landry drove the 3 miles directly from Eastpointe to 7 Mile, and when they got to Maddelein Street, Masalmani parked the car, and the three got out. Taylor was more at ease now that he was back in his neighborhood, and he talked with friends while Masalmani and Landry walked into 14711 Maddelein St. Taylor said he wasn’t keeping track of time, but Masalmani returned some time later, alone.

Until the late 19th century, the U.S. did not have an established juvenile justice system, and courts essentially treated children as adults. Then, the “child saver” movement advocated for a new system of criminal justice for children that would evaluate each individual child, and rehabilitate him in a home-like environment rather than simply punishing him. Robin Walker Sterling, a professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, argues that this new system was designed for white children. Black children continued to be lynched and otherwise punished more harshly then their white counterparts. “In other words,” she writes in a paper, “black children were black before they were children, and were therefore exempt from the presumption that they were amenable to rehabilitation.”

In the 1990s, the notion of the “superpredator” — mainly black youth who were portrayed by the media and politicians as running wild, terrorizing law-abiding citizens — led to states moving minors into adult courts and giving them harsher sentences, including life without parole. Princeton political scientist John J. DiIulio warned that these superpredators were: “born of abject ‘moral poverty’ … it is the poverty of growing up surrounded by deviant, delinquent, and criminal adults in chaotic, dysfunctional, fatherless, Godless, and jobless settings where drug abuse and child abuse are twins, and self-respecting young men literally aspire to get away with murder.”

The fear was that without drastic methods, the number of violent crimes by minors would continue to rise. In 1996, first lady Hillary Clinton gave a speech in support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act, which provided for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons, and $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programs. She described these superpredator children as having: “No conscience, no empathy; we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.” (After being confronted by a protestor at a February 2016 presidential campaign event, Clinton apologized for this comment.)

While juvenile violent crime did increase at the beginning of the 1990s, it began to fall in the mid-1990s and reached record lows in the early 2000s. The superpredator theory was debunked, but many of the harsh juvenile sentences remained in place.

When Miller was decided in 2012, 28 states and the federal government had mandatory JLWOP and 15 allowed for discretionary JLWOP. Since Miller, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, Vermont, and Utah have abolished JLWOP entirely.

In Michigan and in eight other states, 17-year-olds are still automatically tried as adults. (In recent months, both Michigan and Louisiana have taken up bills that would mandate the prosecution of 17-year-olds as minors.) Michigan law also imposes the same penalty on both those who actually commit homicides as well as on accessories, which is how many minors end up with JLWOP sentences. “We have this extremely broad homicide law which says aiding and abetting, felony murder, and premeditated first degree are all treated exactly the same,” said Deborah LaBelle, director of the ACLU’s Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative.

LaBelle also said that the harsh sentencing practices mean that many judges are using mitigating factors against minors: “Instead of them seeing these matters as mitigating circumstances, the judges appear to be doing the exact opposite of what the Supreme Court said,” she said. “One, you don’t blame the child for this, these are mitigating circumstances, and two, you are not a prophet. You cannot tell at the front end whether or not a child can be rehabilitated down the line.”

When Juwan Wickware was sentenced in the murder of a pizza delivery man in Flint, Michigan, that occurred when Wickware was 16, the judge used the hardships Wickware had experienced against him. Wickware was not the shooter, but received a life without parole sentence in August 2013, and was the first minor to be sentenced to life without parole in Michigan after Miller.

Like Taylor, Wickware moved frequently as a child and his mother had to raise him alone because his father was incarcerated. He and his siblings were removed from their home by child protective services at a time when their mother was unemployed and did not have a permanent home. When he was 14, Wickware, who was deemed functionally illiterate during his mitigation hearing, was suspended from school for 120 days. He started hanging out on the streets with older gang members and, because he was small for his age — just 5-foot-5 and slight — he felt he needed a gun to protect himself.
At the sentencing, Judge Archie Hayman said of Wickware: “I think his family failed him first. And I think, secondly, the school may have failed him. And then I think, thirdly, possibly society as a whole has failed him to some extent. … I think his family life has been chaotic; it’s been unstable. I think it unfortunately has put him in a position where he is not socially developed and lacks the social skills to be in society.”

But Wickware changed in prison. The boy who was reading at a third-grade level when he went into prison earned his GED. He has worked on curbing his anger, and doesn’t swear as much as he used to. He was eventually resentenced, but his earliest release date is March 28, 2042.

“When I first came [to prison], my goal was to get myself right. Every day I wake up, I have to have an accomplishment,” he said during an interview at the St. Louis Correctional Facility. “I’m stronger now. I’m a man now. It’s over for all that kid stuff.”
One of the things that struck people most during Ihab Masalmani’s trial was his behavior and apparent lack of remorse. He laughed at times and spat on the floor. Even his own attorney described him as “feral.” Back then, Masalmani’s lawyers insisted that he had not killed Landry. Now, Masalmani, who is serving his life sentence at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, about 40 miles south of Lansing, says that he did commit the murder, and that Taylor did not know that he was going to kill Landry and was not present when he did.

From just his voice alone, Masalmani seems to be easygoing, self-assured. He is matter of fact about everything, from the details of the crime to those of his tumultuous childhood.

He told me during a phone interview that he is telling the truth now because he has done some soul searching in prison, and has been reading books on emotional intelligence and psychology in order to better understand himself. “By me learning what I’m learning now is really what led to me feeling like it’s injustice on my co-defendant’s behalf to be locked up for something that he didn’t even do and had no conspiracy to doing,” Masalmani said. “I feel like the system railroaded both of us, but he got it the worst for the simple fact that he’s sitting in here for something he didn’t participate in or had no knowledge of what it was leading to.”

When Masalmani was 8, his mother sent him and his sister by themselves from Lebanon to Florida. The children were held in an immigration detention center and when they were released, went to live with an uncle, who Masalmani said sexually abused his sister. His sister was eventually deported, and Masalmani moved from one foster home to another. In one home, according to court documents, his foster mother used marijuana and had sex in his presence. Masalmani told me that he struggled in school, in part because he didn’t speak English when he came to the U.S.

Masalmani said he told Taylor to tackle Landry as he exited the Quiznos, so that they could steal his car. But, he said, “[Taylor] never went through with that. Everything else that happened after that was something that I was coming up with as it went along. [Taylor] just played along. He just was there. He didn’t know that I was going to do that to that man — drive to a vacant house and kill him. He didn’t know none of that.”
Masalmani said that even though he showed Landry his gun, he was able to put him at ease. “I made everybody feel as though everything was going to be OK,” he said. “I’m assuming Matt Landry thought that too. I’m telling him like, ‘We’re just going to use this car and give it back to you and let you go.’”

But as he drove, Masalmani realized that he could not just let Landry go, as he had seen his and Taylor’s faces, and would likely report them to the police. Masalmani did not tell Taylor what he was thinking, and was making decisions moment to moment. Though Taylor maintains he was never left alone with Landry, Masalmani said that he left Taylor and Landry in the car when he went to an ATM to withdraw money using Landry’s debit card. Then, he drove to the burnt-out house on Maddelein Street. The three men got out of the car. Masalmani said that he told Taylor to go back to the car while he went inside with Landry. There, he made Landry turn, and shot him in the back of the head.

This is the image that haunts Matthew Landry’s mother, Doreen. “The image of them walking Matthew from one house into another house, putting him on his knees, putting a gun to the back of his head, shooting him, is an image that wakes me up in the middle of the night in a panic,” she said, right after Masalmani and Taylor were resentenced. “I have to live with that. That’s my life sentence. And there’s nothing that’s going to lighten that for me, so why should their sentence be lightened?”

Jody Robinson, president of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers, believes that victims’ families need the closure that comes with a life without parole sentence, even in the cases of minors. Without it, families are forced to relive the horror of their loved ones’ murders with each parole hearing. “When you’re talking about having a loved one ripped from you, you go in there and you’re seeking justice,” said Robinson, whose brother James was killed by a teen in 1990. “A life without parole sentence ensures that when you walk out of court, once you’re through the appeals process, you can put this behind you, at least the legal aspect of it, and you can work on your life, and healing.”

Judges are elected in Michigan, and advocates say they feel pressure from victims’ families and the public to give the harshest sentences possible, particularly in high-profile cases.

Judge Fred Mester sat on the Oakland County, Michigan, bench for 27 years, and during that time sentenced juveniles to life without parole. “I was caught up in the same idea that you do the crime, you do the time,” Mester told me. “That is, if you do an adult crime — that is a physical assault, a sexual assault, or murder — that you must do the time of whatever the maximum sentence would be.” Mester takes issue, however, with the way sentencing guidelines changed in the 1970s and 1980s, with a move from individual justice — “You look at the victim, you look at the crime, you look at the defendant, and come up with what you believe would be a fair sentence” — to mandatory sentences that left judges with few options.

Such was the case with Jennifer Pruitt, whom Mester sentenced to life without parole in 1993 for a crime committed when she was 16. Mester had two options — he could have had Pruitt tried as a juvenile, which meant she would have been held just until her 21st birthday if found guilty, or he could have had her tried as an adult, facing a mandatory life sentence. Even though Pruitt had not been the one to actually commit the murder, Mester felt that incarcerating her for just a few years as a juvenile would have been too lenient.

After hearing about the sexual abuse Pruitt suffered in prison, and also seeing how she had matured, and was acting as a mentor and advocate for other women, Mester has now become an advocate himself, pushing for judges to follow the Miller guidelines and return the focus to “individual justice and rehabilitation.”

The problem is that many judges are still giving life without parole sentences because they’re simply used to handing out mandatory life sentences for certain crimes. “As a judge you become so used to these violent acts and you think the best way, or the only way, is ‘I have to keep you away from the rest of society, not even to punish, but to protect those people who aren’t criminals,’” said Judge Stephen Borrello, of the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a recent phone interview.

The other issue is that although it’s been almost four years since the Miller ruling, some judges, prosecutors, and even public defenders don’t know about Miller. Advocates say that because minors facing life without parole sentences have been transferred to adult courts, they are sometimes assigned public defenders who do not know much about adolescent brain development, the details of Miller, and the need or requirements for a mitigation hearing.

But the biggest issue is rehabilitation. Even if judges see potential for rehabilitation, there is no guarantee that minors will receive the counseling, education, and other services they need in prison in order to truly change. “It’s very rare that we see people who are actually rehabilitated by the prison system,” said Borrello. “The only thing we know how to do, that we’re really good at, is locking them up. It costs a lot of money to actually rehabilitate somebody. It costs a lot of money to give somebody an education.”
Both Taylor and Masalmani say that they haven’t had access to adequate psychosocial services in prison. Taylor has tried to take a number of classes, including a violent offenders program, “Cage Your Rage,” and a substance abuse course, even though he says he doesn’t have a substance abuse problem. He is on waiting lists for these courses that are two to three years long.

“They have to put those guys in them classes with shorter out dates or out dates period. They put them in there first,” Taylor said. “So the only thing for me to do while I’m in here is get in trouble. So I got to be strong enough to remain focused on getting up out of here because I’m set up for failure.”

Taylor did not show much emotion either time the judge delivered his life without parole sentence. But inside, he told me, he felt “every feeling in the world except happy. I was mad. I was angry, frustrated. I was actually angry at myself. I was angry at my attorney.” Taylor believes his case was mishandled from beginning to end. When he turned himself in, he was questioned without the presence of an adult relative or a lawyer. Detective Steven Sellers testified that they could not find Taylor’s mother. Taylor told me he was scared and said things out of fear that were later used against him. Detective Sellers confirmed that during the interrogation he told Taylor that he would never see daylight again and he would be imprisoned for life if he didn’t cooperate. Both Taylor and his mother say that his initial attorney, Louis Zaidan, fell asleep numerous times during the trial. Zaidan did not respond to requests for an interview.

But the biggest injustice for Taylor is that he is in prison for a crime that Masalmani has admitted to, and has said Taylor knew nothing about. Taylor believes that the truth is irrelevant to the prosecutor and judge, because they were focused solely on getting a conviction. He also feels that because Masalmani was the main suspect, no one, including his lawyer, really paid much attention to what was happening in his case. “The case is not really about me. It’s about him,” says Taylor. “I was just a string-along. They don’t really care about me.”

During Masalmani’s resentencing hearing, his attorney, Valerie Newman, presented his confession to the court as evidence that he had matured in prison, but also in the hopes that it would lessen Taylor’s sentence. Judge Druzinski and the prosecutor declined requests for an interview, but given that Taylor and Masalmani were both resentenced to life, it appears that Masalmani’s confession had little impact.

“Judges are focusing on the crime, and that’s not what Miller is about,” says Newman. “These are all bad crimes. We know that. What we’re doing is looking at whether or not someone is irreparably corrupt, or whether they have potential for rehabilitation.”
When he was initially sentenced, Taylor apologized to Landry’s family, not as an admission of guilt, but because “[Landry] lost his life for something that was not necessary.” Taylor’s mother also expressed her condolences to the Landry family.
Masalmani has also wanted to reach out to the Landrys, though he says his words and actions would do little to ease their pain, but his lawyer has advised him not to. Newman also wanted to contact the Landry family as well, after Masalmani’s hearing. “I’m a big believer in restorative justice and I think these folks have got to be in tremendous pain, and sitting through that hearing had to have been tremendously difficult,” she said. “I just wanted to let them know that I feel their pain. Criminal defense attorneys are not heartless people. I would like them to understand that this is in no way meant as a disservice to Matt Landry’s life.”

For now, Taylor and Masalmani are appealing their resentencing, but there is also a case, People v. Skinner, which could affect theirs and other Michigan JLWOP cases.
In August 2015, Judge Borrello heard the appeal of Tia Skinner, who was sentenced to life without parole for a crime committed when she was 17. He ruled that based on the Sixth Amendment, a jury, not the judge, should determine whether a minor’s crime is evidence of “irreparable corruption” warranting a life without parole sentence. The case is now with the Michigan Supreme Court.

Taylor is hopeful that he will one day be released. He says that it isn’t that he’s oblivious to reality, just that what you put your mind to is what manifests, so he doesn’t like to focus too much on the fact that he is currently in prison for the rest of his life. Still, he doesn’t tell people that he thinks that one day he’ll be released. “Having hope is a sign of weakness,” he said. “I got a lot of time. You don’t want to be soft in here.”

Taylor sticks to himself, to stay out of trouble, and spends much of his time listening to and writing music. When he is released from prison, he plans to leave Michigan, perhaps go to Florida, perhaps New York, to pursue his music career. He hopes to be a successful rapper.

“There is nothing, nothing, that can bring me down. Nothing can stop me from having hope of anything that I’m putting my mind into. Nothing,” he said. “I don’t care if you tell me no a million times. I’m going to still be like, yeah, whatever. They got to bury me with that.”

America’s Habit of Fighting Unnecessary Wars
June 1, 2016
by Daniel Larison
The American Conservative

Max Boot offers some typically wrongheaded thoughts on America’s foreign wars. He alleges that the U.S. has a habit of losing “won” wars:

What do all these betrayals of trust have in common? A failure by the American population and politicians to sustain a long-term commitment that would build on battlefield gains [bold mine-DL].

In every case Boot cites, he faults the “population and politicians” for their unwillingness to persist in prolonged conflicts or long-term postwar political projects that weren’t part of the original reasons for the war. If this keeps happening, it is probably because the public can’t see the value in sacrificing more American lives in unnecessary wars that had little or nothing to do with U.S. security, and it is probably because no one expected that fighting a given war entailed making a decades-long commitment to remaking the country in question. If that were understood in advance, Americans would likely be much less willing to support those wars, which is one reason why supporters of each new war always minimize how much it will cost, how long it will last, and how much the U.S. will have to keep doing once the initial campaign has ended.

The fault here doesn’t lie with the people or their representatives that don’t want long, open-ended foreign conflicts and occupations, but with the policymakers that embark on wars without understanding or acknowledging the cost, duration, and difficulty of the task they are giving the military. War supporters carelessly involve the U.S. in avoidable wars, and then complain that the people back home aren’t willing to make an enormous commitment that no one ever told them would be required. Then when the people recoil from the costs of the unnecessary war or overambitious reconstruction scheme that the war supporters insist on, the latter accuse them of betrayal. Someone has betrayed an important trust in all this, but it isn’t the people here at home.

The most absurd example Boot offers is post-WWI Europe:

More than 116,000 U.S. troops perished in that conflict only to have the U.S. pull out of Europe immediately afterward [bold mine-DL], allowing Nazis and fascists to come to power and setting the stage for another world war — one that would consume 400,000 American lives.

Where does Boot suppose that U.S. troops would have stayed after the Armistice? What would they have been doing? Guarding against revanchism that wouldn’t happen for another twenty years? Why would Americans have agreed to pay for this? Why would the major powers of Europe have agreed to let Americans establish garrisons on their territory? The war was over, and there was no chance that U.S. forces would not have been demobilized and sent home.

It’s not as if there was any appetite in Europe or in the U.S. to have American soldiers there after the war, nor was there any need for them to be there. Boot refers to the U.S. “allowing Nazis and fascists to come to power,” which credits the U.S. with some magical ability to dictate political developments in multiple countries simply by maintaining a military presence in the region. Does anyone seriously think that a large-scale American occupation force would have made post-WWI Germans and Italians less inclined to radical nationalism? Of course not.

The WWI example is odd in another way, since it was arguably the Allied victory that created the conditions for later interwar political developments. WWI was a war in which the U.S. and its allies forced their enemies to give up and sign humiliating treaties. If the peace was lost, that was in no small part due to the nature of the peace imposed on the defeated parties. The problem wasn’t that the U.S. left after the war had ended, but that the U.S. helped the Allies to achieve a victory that they exploited as vengefully as possible. The mistake, as usual, was the decision to enter a war that the U.S. could have avoided.

German states speed up refugee deportations under federal pressure
Germany’s federal government and states are blaming each other over the pace of deportation for asylum seekers – both accusing the other of slowing down the process. Meanwhile, the rate of deportations is accelerating.
June 3,2016

A row between the federal and state governments has erupted after a Federal Interior Ministry report was leaked to the “Bild” newspaper on Wednesday that named a host of reasons why deportations of asylum seekers were not happening as quickly as they would like.

In the internal report, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere accused the states of “only now developing the political will to implement the residency law,” a problem compounded by the “very poor staffing” in the relevant offices. Not only that, de Maiziere complained, there was poor cooperation with countries of origin, whose embassies were not issuing replacement papers for their citizens.

In general, de Maiziere bemoaned the long time it takes for “the organization and implementation of deportation measures, which makes it easier for those obliged to leave the country to disappear.”

Nevertheless, the Interior Ministry’s own figures showed that the rate of deportations was speeding up, and would rise in 2016 by 4,500 to around 27,000. Not only that, the ministry also expects the number of asylum seekers to leave voluntarily would also rise significantly – from 37,500 in 2015 to 61,000 this year.
Altogether, the government estimates that there are some 220,000 people in Germany who should be deported, of whom 168,000 have been granted “toleration” status – a temporary reprieve from deportation for legal reasons.

Deportation despite work

The political pressure for more deportations has made itself felt. “In Bavaria the deportations have significantly risen,” Stephan Dünnwald, of the Bavarian Refugee Council, told DW. “The Bavarian interior minister is trying to force through at least one deportation flight a week.”

States are also investing a lot more resources in accelerating deportation. “In Bavaria they want to create 750 more positions in central deportation authorities,” said Dünnwald. “That’s an immense number, and their aim is certainly to force through deportation.”

“When it’s centralized like that it becomes an anonymous thing,” he added. “Often they don’t look for reasons that might speak against deportation – like a training contract, or an illness – the first thing they want to do is force the deportation, with a lot of pressure against human rights and human common sense.”

“I had a deportation case yesterday,” said Oda Jentsch, a lawyer who represents asylum cases in Berlin. “He was an Afghan, he’d been in Germany for seven years, and he had work. The court could have said, okay we’ll give you tolerance status, and if you manage to keep your job and prove you have your own income – which he had – we’ll look into residence status.’ This wouldn’t have been a deportation case before the recent law change.”

Jentsch has certainly seen the extra pressure from the authorities to speed up deportation. “That was a case where I would say the authorities have completely lost all sense of perspective,” she told DW. “They’re no longer assessing things properly, but trying to fill statistics.”

Defensive states

In response to de Maiziere’s accusations, various state interior ministers took to the media on Thursday and Friday to defend their work. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ralf Jäger, speaking on behalf other Social Democrat-held interior ministries, said the “extremely uncooperative” countries of origin were mainly to blame, along with the “completely impractical” deportation agreement that the federal government had agreed with Morocco.

This, he claimed, could mean that deportations to that country could take 25 years. (This was at odds with Jäger’s statements in February, when the minister enthusiastically welcomed the Morocco agreement.)

Jäger also credited the local government’s migration offices with taking on the bulk of the burden. “If the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees had managed a similar feat, the asylum processes in Germany wouldn’t take nearly a year,” he said.

Berlin Interior Minister Frank Henkel was similarly defensive. His state came under particular criticism in the federal government report, because only 16 percent of those obliged to leave Berlin had been deported. But Henkel had stats of his own. “After just four months we have already reached 75 percent of the total for 2015,” he told “Deutschlandfunk” radio. “That means, the doubling that the federal government had formulated as an expectation is very realistic from a Berlin point of view.”

Balancing quotas with the law

As Jentsch pointed out, states don’t just have a responsibility to fulfill their deportation quotas, they also have to make sure the law is being observed in each asylum case. The increased political pressure has not come with any relief of their responsibilities.
“It doesn’t just mean taking a refugee and putting them on a chartered plane,” she said. “If they are sick then you have to make sure that there will be treatment in the country of origin.”

“I can imagine it’s very difficult for the states,” she added. “They have to guarantee that everything will be processed properly, so if suddenly there have to be so and so many deportations – that can’t be lawful, that can’t be sensible. That’s worrying for us.”

New York state launches inquiry of online lenders
June 3, 2016
by Suzanne Barlyn and Michael Erman

New York state’s financial regulator sent a letter to 28 companies this week requesting information about their online lending activities, according to a person familiar with the matter and a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

The New York Department of Financial Services sent the letter to San Francisco-based Prosper, the second-largest online lender, as well as to Avant, Funding Circle, Upstart and others, according to the person, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The business is raising some novel questions for banking regulators, because online lenders have shunned a traditional banking model that uses deposits to make loans, and bypass their regulations. Instead, online lenders either connect borrowers directly with retail investors who want to fund loans, or they extend credit to borrowers, then quickly bundle the loans into securities that are sold to investors.

The department demanded “immediate compliance” with New York licensing requirements for debt collection, money transmission and mortgage lending activities, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by Reuters.

Online lenders that do not believe they require New York licenses must respond with descriptions of products and services they provide to New Yorkers, as well as cash flow charts, the letter said.

The department also requested details about types of loans and fees the companies pay to, or receive from, other financial institutions. The letter was sent out on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Funding Circle has not received a letter from the agency, but when it does receive inquiries it aims to cooperate fully and respond, spokeswoman Liz Pollock said in an email.

Upstart had not received a letter as of Friday, general counsel Alison Nicoll said in a phone call.

Avant said it received the letter and would respond in a timely fashion.

Representatives of the other companies could not be immediately reached for comment.
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn and Michael Erman; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang)

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