America’s worldwide popularity is tattered, however our cash might help restore it

This policy depends less on American cultural power than on American money.

After the failure of US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, promoting democracy has a bad reputation. And when it comes to spreading democracy with a weapon, that call is justified. The best evidence suggests that instruments of coercion such as military intervention and sanctions usually fail. Just before the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan four of 15 American nation-building Interventions in the previous century had led to lasting progress towards democracy. Foreign regime changes usually do not result economically Benefits, building a lasting democracy or promoting a more stable one Relationships advance US interests. And sanctions against authoritarian regimes, such as those imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, often only serve that purpose strengthen autocratic institutions while causing considerable suffering.

Although compulsory methods of promoting democracy rarely succeed, a wide range of research shows that unenforced tools like election surveillance and foreign aid can effectively promote democracy – and they don’t depend on high approval ratings for America overseas. For example studies conducted in Afghanistan, Armenia, Indonesia, and Tunisiasuggest, among other things, that election surveillance can reduce election fraud and increase the perceived credibility of elections. And there are significant ones proofs in favor of foreign aid, which depends on countries taking concrete steps to support democracy. Like the political scientists Tobias Heinrich and Matt W. Loftis written“Over a decade of empirical research shows that foreign aid specifically aimed at promoting democracy is remarkably effective in improving the survival and institutional strength of fragile democracies.”

To put this policy into practice, the von Biden administration and Congress should increase support for the US Agency for International Development, the National Foundation for Democracy, and the US Peace Institute. These agencies work to bolster democratic institutions overseas, and all three saw their support cut under the Trump administration.

While the Biden team has rightly insisted on advocating democracy, this is currently being proposed solutions are insufficient. Biden’s main proposal for promoting democracy abroad, for example, is a “Summit for Democracy” that he plans to hold in his first year in office – a largely symbolic project that is likely to get bogged down in debates about which countries are eligible for invitation. Bigger ideas are needed to ease autocratic pressures at home and abroad.

After all, according to Freedom House, 2019 was the 14th consecutive year of retreat for global freedom Annual report. In Central Europe and Central Asia there are are “There are fewer democracies in the region today than there have been since the 1995 annual report.” Hungary, a member of the European Union, is no longer democratic; Poland, another EU member, is tending in the same direction. In Hong Kong, on the same day as the storming of the Capitol, the Chinese government arrested 53 politicians, activists, lawyers and academics, a continuation of Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups in the city.

Some may say that the withdrawal of democratic governance around the world does not necessarily matter to US interests. You would be wrong. Democratic governments don’t just treat their own citizens better;; They also tend to be more benevolent actors on the world stage. Democratic countries are less likely fight rather each other trade with each other and rather cooperate. American interests – not to mention American values ​​- suffer in a more autocratic world.

None of this can be denied that American democracy itself is in dire need of repair. However, reforming domestic democracy and advocating for democracy abroad are not mutually exclusive. They are two sides of the same coin.

Bryan Schonfeld and Sam Winter-Levy are PhD students in Politics at Princeton University.

Stimulus cash won’t be taxed in response to IRS

DES MOINES, Iowa – The IRS sent more than 160 million stimulus checks in 2020, and millions more people are now receiving their second round of checks.

There are still many questions to be answered about the checks. One question we ask is whether Iowa is taxing stimulus money.

According to the IRS website The answer is no. The payment is not income and taxpayers do not owe any taxes on it.

The payment also won’t reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your tax return this year.

One thing to remember is that if for some reason you didn’t receive either of the two stimulus payments but you owed one, you can still get the money that year by filing a 2020 tax return

Arkansas legal professional normal sued, allegedly misused taxpayer cash

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – One lawsuit alleges that Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge misused her office to promote her political endeavors and illegally use tax dollars.

The lawsuit filed Friday in the Pulaski County Circuit Court in Little Rock alleged Rutledge exceeded her authority by filing failed lawsuits reversing the results of the Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin presidential elections, as well as promoting media outlets about the services your office speaks, supports.

“Rutledge … served as the Arkansas state attorney general in highly partisan political activity to promote her political standing and promote her own political ambitions at the expense of Arkansas taxpayers,” the lawsuit said.

Rutledge denies the allegations and calls them politically motivated, said spokeswoman Stephanie Sharp.

“The attorney general has the discretion to act on behalf of the people of Arkansas. This is a frivolous lawsuit and we will ask that it be dismissed, ”Sharp told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

The lawsuit seeks to prohibit Rutledge from transgressing her authority and repaying approximately $ 1.7 million for media advertising.

Rutledge, a Republican who was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018, has announced plans to run for governor in 2022.

To report a correction or typo, please send an email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2021 AP. All rights reserved.

Three methods they will spend their leftover cash from DJ LeMahieu, Corey Kluber signings

The New York Yankees had a busy Friday afternoon, keeping DJ LeMahieu and signing former Cy Young pitcher Corey Kluber. LeMahieu had been in the works for a while but was affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, and both teams even made deals.

The DJ’s worth was far less than expected, however, as the Yankees eventually settled on six years and $ 90 million. His contract pays him 15 million per season, well below the expected $ 20 to 25 million.

General Manager Brian Cashman played the contract negotiations perfectly and won other teams for the fold and lowball DJ. Ultimately, his original offer was what dominated the market, and with the teams routinely offering less money, the Yankees simply compromised and saved a fortune. Initially they only wanted to settle for four years, but since he got so little AAV, they extended the deal to six years and cut the price each year. The Yankees have also saved on luxury taxes.

They had $ 35 million for the free agency – after allocating their two big signings (DJ and club) $ 15 million and $ 11 million, they still had to spend around $ 10 million.

Three ways the New York Yankees can spend their leftover money:

1.) Sign Brett Gardner

One option for the Yankees is to bring Brett Gardner back as outfield depth. Previously, they had turned down his $ 10 million club option for 2021 and decided to buy him out for $ 2.5 million. It had been reported earlier in 2020 that Gardy wanted to play in front of fans in 2021, but that’s still in the air as COVID-19 finds its way across the country. Hopefully, given the successful vaccinations, fans will be able to progress to the stadiums so that Gardner can still play in the stands with his family for another season. The only way the Yankees and Cashman are likely to compromise with Gardy if he accepts a minimal deal.

The team still has gaps to fill and limited financial resources. So if Gardner hits a $ 3-4 million deal for a year, they may find an arrangement. Otherwise, they have a lot of players in the outfield who can survive without him in 2021.

2.) Land a starting jug (Taijuan Walker?)

The starting rotation needs a little more support, as Kluber hasn’t played for two years, Luis Severino hasn’t played for over two years and Domingo German hasn’t played for over a year. The Yankees will rely on three arms who simply don’t have the sample size to ensure high quality 2021 performance. Adding a pitcher that can make an immediate contribution and end 2020 healthily could be a good move.

Is a good option Taijuan Walkerwho loudly announced his desire to join the Yankees on social media the previous day.

He posed for two teams in 2020 and ended with an ERA of 2.70, 8.4 deflections per nine, and a base ball rate of 39.1%. He’s already friends with some of the Yankee players so he might prefer to end up in the Bronx. Walker will be a bit more expensive than the Yankees would hope, but if they could land him for less than $ 10 million, he could be a fantastic addition.

3.) Add to the bullpen

With Tommy Kahnle, who opts for Hyatt Regency and signs a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees have a small defect in their bullpen. It’s not a lack of players, it’s a lack of consistency. Some of them are reliable gun fighters in 2020 but it seems like Cashman still has faith they can turn it around. If not, some players can target in the free agency: Roberto Osuna, Shane Greene, Brad Hand, and Kirby Yates could all make solid short-term deals to bring the Yankees over the top.

2 Biotech Shares That Might Double Your Cash

Biotech stocks were extremely popular with investors in 2020. Last year the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ: IBB), an industry indicator, has compared to the S&P 50014% return over the same period. It is clear that many eyes are on manufacturers of test supplies, drugs and vaccines for the coronavirus.

The extraordinary attention paid to coronavirus stocks has left other highs Biotech out of the spotlight. I think a lot of them are undervalued because of that. Let’s look at why a blue-chip rare disease drug maker and a CRISPR gene therapy developer have the potential to double your money.

Image source: Getty Images.

1st vertex

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) has become a leader in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. This hereditary disease severely restricts the patient’s ability to breathe due to abnormally high levels of viscous fluid in the lungs. Vertex’s triple combination cystic fibrosis therapy, Trikafta, improved patient tidal volume by 14.3% compared to placebo in clinical trials.

While the improvement is arguably small, it did not prevent the drug from becoming very popular in the US and EU. Currently, approximately 50% of the 83,000 cystic fibrosis patients in several developed countries are receiving one of Vertex’s drugs. Vertex also plans to expand Trikafta’s label to treat children and infants with cystic fibrosis. Vertex also has a therapeutic agent in the pipeline for the remaining 10% of patients who need gene therapy to relieve cystic fibrosis.

Thanks to Trikafta, Vertex expects sales and operating income to exceed $ 6 billion and $ 3 billion respectively in 2020. Those numbers are fantastic when you consider that the company had sales of $ 4 billion and operating income of nearly $ 2 billion in 2019.

Despite having 10 times the sales, Vertex is extremely profitable. Because of this result and its impressive growth trajectory, the price-earnings-ratio is 22 easier to swallow. To top it off, Vertex has no debt and more than $ 6 billion in cash on its balance sheet.

2. CRISPR Therapeutics

CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CRSP) has already made investors richer with a return of 235% last year. It is currently leveraging its gene editing technology to help patients overcome inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia. These cause severe, life-threatening deformities in patients’ red blood cells and occur in over 360,000 newborns worldwide each year.

The company proposes to alleviate the diseases by transfusing genetically engineered stem cells containing fetal hemoglobin into patients and allowing the cells to mature into normal adult hemoglobin. During a preliminary phase 1/2 data release, patients’ hemoglobin levels improved to those of healthy adults between five and 18 months after the transfusion.

Even better, CTX001, the company’s treatment, was well tolerated. The results are early, but downright incredible novel treatments Because sickle cell disease cannot go so far as to normalize the patient’s hemoglobin level.

However, CRISPR Therapeutics is not only interested in curing blood disorders. The know-how in the area of ​​gene editing is also used in the area of ​​allogeneic T-cell therapy for cancer treatment.

In this process, the genetic data of T cells from healthy donors is first programmed to target and kill cancer cells. Thereafter, the improved cells are mass-produced and stored. They are then customized for patients based on their type of cancer mutation.

The technique has much higher efficacy and availability than the more traditional autologous T cell therapy, in which T cells are extracted directly from cancer patients, their components modified, and then transfused back into the patient. The entire procedure can take up to three weeks and only result in a single therapy cycle.

The Company’s most promising therapeutic candidate in this area is CTX110. In a preliminary phase 1 data release, 12 patients with late-stage lymphoma received CTX110 transfusions. Of eight participants who received the higher doses, four of these patients developed complete responses with no serious side effects. A “complete response” is defined as the complete elimination of tumor or cancer activity.

Given that a single novel and effective cancer treatment can be worth over $ 10 billion, there is definitely tremendous potential for the CRISPR Therapeutics pipeline. In addition, the company has approximately $ 1 billion in cash and cash equivalents, which is more than enough to offset its operating cash stake of $ 211.3 million. CRISPR is sure to more than double investor money again as it develops a functional cure or effective genetic treatments in its clinical trials.

Hogan: Resetting your cash objectives in 2021 | Information

Once Mama Hogan looked at me and said, “Christopher” – she had my attention when she said my full name – “I never want you to be a ‘been’ brother.”

I said “Huh?”

She explained, “A could, should, would have been some kind of person. You have the opportunity to change some things and make progress. “

Listen people We have all been “brothers” from time to time – wishing we had done things differently or beaten each other for past mistakes. And there is one area that we very much regret: money. Perhaps you take a look at your financial situation and start getting excited. You might be thinking, “There has to be a better way than this.”

Here’s the good news. The new year is like turning the page. When you wake up with breath in your lungs, you have an opportunity to do a little bit better than the day before. All you have to do is change. To help you start over, you have five options to reset your 2021 money goals.

1. Start with the end in mind

What would you like to achieve by changing your money habits? Is This The Year You Can Finally Get Out Of Debt? Are you saving for your kids for college? Are you serious about financing your dream retirement? Take some time to dream about your goals in high definition so you can work toward something specific.

2. Assess your spending habits

Get out your bank statements (even if it hurts to look at them) and take a long, close look at where you’re spending. When I was finally serious about controlling my money and creating a budget, I went through all of my bank statements and asked myself, “Where is my money going?” Guess what? It went to the grocery store – these places got rich from me. I was spending $ 1,2000 on groceries every month! I wouldn’t have noticed if I’d just kept on autopilot and not paying attention to where I’d been spending my hard-earned income.

3. Make a zero based budget

A zero-based budget is hands down the best way to budget. It’s a method of planning your expenses at the beginning of each month so that your total income minus your total expenses is zero. It means you give every dollar a job on budget. And once you have your budget, I want you to really pay attention and keep track of your expenses by recording your transactions throughout the month.

4th. Strengthen your emergency fund

When you have consumer debt, build a $ 1,000 emergency fund to act as a buffer between you and life. However, when you are out of debt, build this emergency fund to have enough cash for savings to cover expenses for three to six months. That way, instead of turning to debt, you can pay cash for life emergencies.

5. Track your progress

I like to tell people that wealth building is a marathon, not a sprint. Since this is a long term game, it is important to track your progress along the way. I want you to visualize and celebrate the small wins so that you can keep going for the long run. There are products out there to help you track your progress – whether you’re out of debt, saving an emergency fund, or investing.

I believe in you. And I know you can make 2021 your best year yet!

Chris Hogan is a bestselling author, financial expert, and host of the “Chris Hogan Show”. He has been with Ramsey Solutions since 2005, providing practical advice on retirement, investing and wealth creation.

Motion clears the way in which for federal cash to assist construct Terrebonne levee system

The Trump administration has cleared the way for federal funds to be spent on a system of dams, sluices and sluices that will protect Terrebonne and part of Lafourche from flooding during hurricanes, officials said today.

US Senator John Kennedy, R-La., Said he had received confirmation from the White House that the Morganza to Gulf hurricane protection system had been labeled “Fresh Start” by the Department of Administration and Budget.

The long-awaited action paves the way for the federal government to spend money on building the system for the first time.

“The people of southern Louisiana worked hard for 13 years to make the Morganza to the Gulf project a reality,” Kennedy said in a press release. “It is both wise and fair for the federal government to get involved and help them complete this crucial project.” Hurricane Protection Initiative.

“I am grateful to the White House and the Trump Administration for recognizing the value of safeguarding lives and property in the Terrebonne community. I am also grateful to the Corps of Engineers for the time and talent they have shown in Morganza invest in golf. “

More:The dike director credits Morganza for keeping Laura’s water out

Reggie Dupre, Terrebonne dyke district manager who is overseeing the construction of Morganza, said the move was an important milestone.

“This is really good news,” Dupre said in an interview tonight. “You will have the opportunity to spend federal money on this massive federal project.”

Congress has approved Morganza as a federal project three times since work on the project began in 1992, but has never provided money. The designation “fresh start” enables the army corps to request and spend money from its budget for Morganza.

Frustrated by delays, the community’s Levee Board began building Morganza, using mostly local sales tax money, after Hurricane Rita flooded an estimated 10,000 homes in Terrebonne in 2005.

So far, the Levee Board has spent $ 506 million to bring Morganza’s levees to their current height of 12 feet. And that doesn’t include the $ 400 million sluice gate on the Houma Navigational Channel, which will begin fines this year. BP and other companies are paying due to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The lockdown is expected to be completed in May 2024.

More:The key part of the Terrebonne storm protection approved for the start of construction

The Levee Board has pushed the interim system in the hopes that the Army Corps will eventually receive the estimated $ 3.2 billion needed to arm itself to protect against what is known as a 100-year storm. It is defined as the type of hurricane that has a 1 percent chance of occurrence in any given year.

Dupre said federal funds and help from the corps with construction are essential to completing this work. Much of the dyke system will be raised to around 20 feet and two massive locks will be built in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, one in Houma and one in Larose.

– Keith Magill, Executive Editor of Courier and Daily Comet, can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.

Perry Colleges saves taxpayers cash with current refinance | Allen County

The Perry School District worked hard during the pandemic, including behind the scenes. They took this opportunity to refinance some of their bonds and save their taxpayers some money.

The school district had over $ 8 million in outstanding loans from building the brand new elementary school. Given the pandemic that made the market quite cheap for borrowers, the Perry Schools saw the perfect time to refinance.

The refinance completed saved the district taxpayers more than $ 3 million, or approximately 30 percent of the refund amount.

Mandy France, CFO of the Treasurer of the Perry School District, said, “It is not necessarily a dollar saving for our district, but it is for our taxpayers and we really value them. We want them to know that we are always working to save them money. ”

The school district says they are always looking for ways to save their community money and have appreciated the support from them along the way.

Homicide, Kidnapping, Drug Trafficking and Cash Laundering: Right here’s How Hawai‘i’s Crime Scene is Altering

 

Illustration: James Nakamura

 

 

Dozens of federal agents swarmed a modest suburban Kailua house before dawn in mid-July, armed with search warrants aimed at a local businessman with a decadeslong reputation for trouble. The operation ended with Michael Miske Jr. behind bars and the U.S. Attorney’s office unveiling an indictment detailing 22 charges against Miske and 10 of his associates. The documents allege the 46-year-old O‘ahu man led an organized crime ring dubbed “the Miske enterprise” which resemble a movie script about murder, murder for hire, kidnapping, drug trafficking, chemical weapons attacks and more.

 

U.S. Attorney Kenji Price declared: “These arrests are part of a sprawling federal investigation into the activities of an organized crime group that has wreaked havoc in our communities for years.” Price said the charges send a message that “no one in Hawai‘i is above the law.”

 

Miske has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney, Tommy Otake, says: “Mr. Miske is not involved in organized crime, and is surely not the leader of it. He is a successful businessman who has been ruined by these false allegations.” Otake describes the U.S. Attorney’s case as “a false narrative that makes for good TV, but it’s not based in reality.” He says Hollywood “has glorified organized crime in countless movies, and because of that, the public is always interested in a good organized crime story.”

 

SEE ALSO: Crime Watch: What’s With All the Brazen Attacks in Honolulu the Past Year?

 

Indeed, the charges made for the splashiest organized crime story in years, with allegations so intriguing the case knocked COVID-19 out of the top spot in local news headlines for the first time in months. But, even before the current lengthy investigation coordinated by multiple agencies, Miske and his associates had been under scrutiny for years. Honolulu Deputy Police Chief John McCarthy says Miske was “nothing but a street-level drug dealer in Kailua until he started making more and more money.” Now he owns a multimillion-dollar home overlooking Spitting Cave in Portlock. And Miske is also alleged to have paid $217,000 in cash as a down payment for a 2017 Ferrari Berlinetta with money transferred from his Kama‘āina Termite Pest & Control business.

 

McCarthy—who has been in law enforcement for 44 years with a career that’s taken him from Chinatown foot patrol to organized crime probes, including a stint with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration—says Miske went into “extortion, theft, kidnapping, the murder. He threw money around to get what he wanted. He kind of fancied himself after [New York crime boss] John Gotti, the Teflon Don, because he would pay off prospective witnesses,” McCarthy says.

 

 

 

What’s next? For Miske, jury selection and trial are set for Sept. 13, 2021, before federal Judge Derrick K. Watson in Honolulu District Court.

 

 

 

Rumors that Miske was a crime boss had spread through the community to his mainstream companies, including the termite company where he was headquartered, according to federal documents. A federal motion to hold him without bail says: “Nothing demonstrates Miske’s penchant for violence more than his meticulously planned and premeditated abduction, kidnapping and murder of Johnathan Fraser in July 2016,” motivated by retribution for what prosecutors say was Miske’s mistaken belief that Fraser was the driver in a crash that eventually took the life of Miske’s son, Caleb-Jordan Miske-Lee.

“The kids nowadays that think they’re criminals aren’t smart enough to organize crime. They’re so driven by immediate gratification.”

— Megan Kau

 

That comes a year after a traffic stop that ties Miske to one of the most notorious cases of the decade: the public corruption conviction of disgraced former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his former deputy city prosecutor wife, Katherine, who also admitted to masterminding her own significant criminal enterprise. Katherine Kealoha pleaded guilty to bank fraud, identity theft and covering up knowledge of a drug operation that involved her doctor brother. Louis Kealoha pleaded guilty to bank fraud and filed for divorce; both are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 30. Investigation of their crimes and cover-ups reached into the Police Department and prosecutor’s office: Two HPD officers were convicted with them, and since March 2019, after the feds alerted him he was also being investigated, Honolulu city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has been on paid leave, still earning $170,000 a year.

 

Megan Kau stepped down after four years as a deputy city prosecutor when Katherine Kealoha became her supervisor in 2010. Now she is a defense attorney (running for city prosecutor when this magazine went to print) and one of her clients is fired Honolulu police Sgt. Albert Lee. Lee testified that in 2017, Katherine Kealoha called him and another officer he was supervising to tell them to back off Miske after they pulled him over for a traffic stop. “That’s when I put together the fact that Michael Miske was tied to the prosecutor’s office,” Kau says. She points to a court document filed by Kealoha saying, “I called the officers and I told them to stand down and leave Michael Miske alone.” Kealoha and Miske have denied knowing each other personally through their attorneys. (Another investigator reported that Katherine Kealoha took time off when Miske’s son died.)

 

SEE ALSO: The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Our Interview With Louis Kealoha 9 Years Before He and Katherine Kealoha Are Found Guilty

 

Kau describes both Miske and Katherine Kealoha as “what some might consider a sociopath, both of them,” skilled at manipulating others. Kau, 43, says she met Miske in her private practice when she worked several months for one of his companies on a civil case, then withdrew. But Kau describes Miske and Kealoha as aberrations. Kau says many of today’s wannabe crooks are too impulsive to be organized. “The kids nowadays that think they’re criminals aren’t smart enough to organize crime. They’re so driven by immediate gratification.” As for gangs, “They’re much more violent. They don’t follow rules. They’re reckless.”

 

That wasn’t the case 50 years ago, when organized crime in the Islands regularly made national news. In 1970, The New York Times wrote about “the Hawaiian Syndicate,” with disturbing details of gangland-style murders—victims tossed in a city incinerator, hacked with axes, blowtorched. State Sen. Larry Kuriyama shot to death in his ‘Aiea home’s carport at about 11 p.m. after returning from a political rally. A Honolulu eatery forced to shut down for a couple of days to sanitize after thugs ran a body through the meat grinder.

 

Community fears were so great that the state created the Hawai‘i Crime Commission in 1977, spurred by stories about contract murders, police corruption, political influence and economic domination by the syndicate. “Extreme fear of organized crime was expressed in daily conversation by government officials, by commercial workers, by news reporters, by laborers, by housewives—in short, encompassing the spectrum of society,” the commission report charged. The citizen panel and staff members eventually helped to increase penalties for gambling and extortion, and they pushed through new procedures for wiretapping and the grand jury system. They also produced a report that outlined more than 60 organized crime-related killings from 1962 to 1978.

 

Organized Crime Mike Mccarthy In The 808 Web

Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino

 

 

“The Hell’s Angels used to come to Hawai‘i to hide a lot when they were wanted up on the Mainland. You go down to Puna, nobody’d find you.”

— John McCarthy

 

Today, the topic is definitely not part of everyday conversation. Yet, former U.S. Attorney and Judge Steve Alm, who is also running for Honolulu prosecutor this year, says organized crime evolved but never went away: “It’s not a small town anymore where people can feel like they can control those crimes.” In 1970, O‘ahu’s population topped 630,000. Now it is close to a million. Alm, 67, emphasizes “organized crime is always here,” but it is quieter, surfacing to the public periodically through large drug busts, moves against international gambling rings and sporadic violence such as the January 2004 midday shooting of three men in the parking lot of Pali Golf Course. More recently violence is turning up at illegal gambling houses.

 

And big bosses are rare. After the kingpins of the ’70s went to prison or died, law enforcement officials say control fractured among local and international groups and individuals. Former longtime Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle thinks fewer dramatic organized crime cases make the news these days because that tight-knit brutal culture disintegrated. Carlisle, 67, started working in the prosecuting attorney’s office as a deputy back in 1978 and headed it from 1997 to 2010. His first local organized crime assignment, however, came even earlier when he was a law student at UCLA doing legal work on the murder retrial of Hawai‘i underworld figure Wilford “Nappy” Pulawa. Pulawa was sentenced to 24 years for tax evasion for his gambling organization that netted more than $2.5 million a year, tried and acquitted for murder and linked by others to a host of violent crimes.

 

Carlisle, who’s now retired, says crimes have changed with technology, and investigative techniques have grown more sophisticated. “We don’t have those grotesquely violent people,” says Carlisle. “They were cold-hearted killers. That type of person seems to have been replaced by the people who are using drugs and doing stupid stuff like that.”

 

By the 1980s, drugs smuggled into Hawai‘i came from enough sources to resemble a travel brochure: California, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Colombia, Brazil and more. “I had a case where a member of the Chicago mafia brought a kilo of cocaine here,” McCarthy says. “The Hell’s Angels used to come to Hawai‘i to hide a lot when they were wanted up on the Mainland,” often to Maui or the Big Island. “You go down to Puna, nobody’d find you,” he adds.

 

At the same time, officials were also tracking increasing activities by the yakuza, Japanese organized crime. McCarthy remembers: “There were a couple places in Waikīkī, adult video bookstores, where you couldn’t even get in without a Japanese passport. Why? Because there was a secret room in the back where they performed live sex shows.”

 

SEE ALSO: Sour Poi Awards: Looking Back on the Best of the Worst News in Hawai‘i from 2019

 

Yakuza involvement in Hawai‘i has ebbed, but gambling, a moneymaker for Pulawa and other crime bosses, seems to be surging again.

 

“Traditionally, gambling is the bread and butter of organized crime in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland,” says former U.S. Attorney Flo Nakakuni, who served in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Hawai‘i for 32 years and headed the office under President Barack Obama. In the 1990s, many Hawai‘i folks started flying to Las Vegas for legal gambling trips, going to places that cater to Isle residents rather than frequenting local gambling houses at home. “Why should I go to some dumpy place in downtown Honolulu when I can go jump on a plane, stay in a nice hotel, gamble in a casino and actually get something out of it?” McCarthy asks. Now, recent robberies, shootings, COVID-19 quarantine violations and even virus outbreaks suggest that the illegal gaming rooms have regained some of their popularity since pandemic restrictions have made traveling more difficult. In the past few months, Honolulu police have busted gaming rooms across town, from Kalihi and Ke‘eaumoku area to a Waikīkī apartment and an ‘Aiea home. Some robberies turn deadly and police raids often lead to the confiscation of drugs and guns as well as gambling devices. As recently as mid-August, a 31-year-old man was killed in an attempted robbery of an Ala Moana area game room. The case gained even more attention when it turned out the victim had COVID-19 and officers who responded to the scene had to quarantine.

 

In September, Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group Animal Wellness Action asked the Honolulu U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate what it describes as an extensive hidden cockfighting network in the Islands, worth millions. McCarthy confirmed that cockfights still attract lucrative gambling operations with “six figures commonly bet in one day or one weekend and at a bigger weekend derby, the winner can go home with six figures.”

 

Big busts still happen, but less often. Gambling cases often take time and resources to go beyond the game-room attendant present for a bust and reach those who control and finance the operations. When Alm was U.S. Attorney, a case focused on breaking up control of O‘ahu gambling activities—including cockfighting and card and dice games—resulted in federal indictments of 32 adults and seizures of half a million dollars, two buildings on Maunakea Street, a home in Hawai‘i Kai and a 1-acre parcel on the Big Island valued at more than $2.6 million. Pivotal to the case was a Honolulu police officer who worked undercover from 1997 to 2000.

 

 

Gambling House2

Illegal game room across from the Kalihi-Pālama post office

 

Gambling House1

Outside an ‘Aiea home, used as a game room, that was raided by police in late August.

 

 

Other big-money property crimes received little public fanfare because the defendants were only loosely tied to the Islands. An international credit card scam involving hundreds of thousands of dollars surfaced in 2013. Several defendants pleaded guilty here after preying on local merchants and posting their loot on social media. McCarthy, who worked the case, says: “We could prove that the credit cards were skimmed at a restaurant in Miami, sold to the Russians, bought by this group. The cards were counterfeited and they traveled all over the United States, primarily tourism areas.” Just a year later, federal prosecution of a more than $670 million internet sports betting operation led to Kaka‘ako businessman Felix Tom. The illegal operation worked through websites registered in Costa Rica from 2005 to 2012. Tom forfeited more than $4 million in assets, including properties in Honolulu and Las Vegas as well as $118,601 in taxes owed. And, after he got caught, he helped the government prosecute others and received a six-month prison sentence.

 

Decades ago, organized crime also controlled other vice operations. But the global economy, mail, internet and other delivery services have made it easier for more factions to sell drugs and broker sex, Alm says, “which meant that organized crime lost control of drugs and prostitution.”

 

Part of why crime may seem less pervasive also reflects shrinking news operations. Over the past decade, Honolulu became a one-newspaper town and news media largely abandoned daily beat coverage of the courts in favor of case-by-case reporting. In addition, many of the people involved in the lower levels of gambling, drugs and more plead out of charges instead of going to trial. And those plea deals often reveal little publicly.

 

Also, state money dedicated to organized crime investigations has disappeared. The state Attorney General’s Office historically includes an organized crime section but it hasn’t been staffed with attorneys in recent years, prompting a bill introduced this year to allocate money for salaries.

 

While the FBI does focus on terrorism, which took center stage on Sept. 11, other priorities include espionage, cyber operations, public corruption, civil rights protection as well as white-collar and violent crime, says the bureau’s Jason White, all of which have cropped up here.

 

White, a special agent with the FBI in Honolulu for more than 20 years, says the agency aims to make a big impact with any organized crime investigation. “We just slowly chip away, build our case,” White says. “Our goal is to completely dismantle, not leave any part of the organization intact.”

 

McCarthy points to the huge amounts of money generated by illegal enterprises as usually leading to their downfall. “The weakness with all these guys, even with Miske, is always the money. You generate too much money, it’s either a tax problem or a money-laundering problem.”

 

For those skeptical of how vigorously organized crime is investigated, McCarthy sums up the scene from a veteran’s perspective: “When it comes to crime, the odds are on the crooks’ side. There’s more of them, they have more access to funds, they don’t have rules. The burden is on us, law enforcement, not them.”

 

SEE ALSO: The Crime That Changed the Islands

MISKE HISTORY

Before the federal indictment, Miske had six felony convictions for kidnapping, first-degree assault, fraudulent use of a credit card, and three counts of second-degree theft and three misdemeanor convictions.

 

In 2013, he was arrested for allegedly hitting pro football tackle Trent Williams over the head with a bottle of Champagne in the M Nightclub, where Miske was a part owner. Williams, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 320 pounds, was unable to play in the Pro Bowl because of his injuries. The case was later dismissed after Williams indicated he would not return for the trial. Mike Mutenbah, aka Mike Malone, an indicted associate, was also arrested in that incident. He’s better known in Honolulu retail as one of the founders of Defend Hawai‘i, the popular street brand that featured an image of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Another man indicted in “the Miske enterprise” is Dae Han Moon, serving time in Arizona for the 2016 Christmas night murder of Steven Feliciano at Ala Moana Center.

 

Another memorable Miske story connects to a stunning and unusual display that appeared in a city park in East Honolulu. Thousands of lights illuminated a tree at the water’s edge at Joe Lukela Beach Park in Hawai‘i Kai the year that Miske’s son died. The tree drew attention from community members and officials who questioned how the private memorial was permitted at a public park. Civil Beat reports revealed emails in which city staffers questioned how the after-the-fact approval happened through a process the staffers hadn’t known existed. Initially, Miske described the tree lights as a memorial to his son, then later said the lights were meant as a memorial for all those whose ashes have been scattered in Maunalua Bay. When the city questioned the lights and inquired about when they would be removed, a battle ensued and park officials said that Miske threatened both to keep putting up the lights and to cut down the tree.

 

While the federal records focus on allegations of crime, Miske also built business connections where his companies worked on prominent jobs. The termite company treated the city-owned Waikīkī Shell, Saint Louis School, as well as the Hōkūle‘a voyaging canoe. Public records showed his companies made several campaign contributions since 2018. And, when Miske was a part-owner of the M Nightclub, the venue attracted several campaign fundraisers to the Restaurant Row venue. The indictment also alleges the enterprise used chemical weapons attacks, throwing pesticide onto the dance floor of rival nightclubs.

 

 

How can I defend my cash from upcoming tax modifications?

Q. Now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, I fear they will take away Trump’s tax breaks. What can I do to make sure I’m not paying a ton? Are there any shelters that I can somehow use?

– Worried

A. There are many ways to protect your income and assets from tax, but the best strategies for you will depend on the specifics of your situation.

Initially, people assume that taxes will go up under President-elect Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress, but that’s not certain.

“Biden said there would be no increase in taxes for people on incomes below $ 400,000,” said Jerry Lynch, certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton. “So if you are under $ 400 I wouldn’t worry or do anything.”

Planning strategies can be more complicated when you have an income in excess of $ 400,000. So speak to a Professional Who can look into your entire financial situation, he said.

“I would wait for the rules to come out and I think it makes sense that due to COVID-19 nothing will happen until at least the end of 2021,” Lynch said.

But no matter what, don’t forget the big picture.

Taxes will keep changing, and that’s why tax planning needs to be built into your budget, Lynch said. If you don’t, you are meant to be in trouble, he said.

“For example, if all of your money is in a deferred tax account, you retire and they collect taxes. How are you? Either you take out more money and run out of money or you spend less and both options stink, ”he said.

The ideal way to deal with unknown taxes is to back off three tax buckets of money, all with different tax characteristics, he said.

The first is a tax-free bucket, This may include funds from the sale of a primary residence that is tax-free for married people filing tax together, up to $ 500,000, and for singles, $ 250,000. This can include income from Muni bonds, Roth IRAs, and cash from your bank or your capital on an investment.

Then you have one Capital Gain Bucket.

“This is money to invest for a year or more, and the tax rates can be 0%, 15% or 20%,” he said.

The last bucket is ordinary income.

“This is the worst bucket. The rates rise to 37% and possibly higher in the future, ”Lynch said.

He said that when you have all three buckets you can control your taxable income by pulling out of the different buckets as needed and based on the tax climate of the time.

“If you only have a pre-tax IRA, you have no options,” he said.

Send your questions by email to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes that Bamboozled Column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com‘s weekly e-newsletter.