First Eight Drug Imates Get Commuted Sentences Under Obama’s New Clemency Plan

On Wednesday, President Obama granted clemency to the first eight federal prison inmates convicted of non-violent drug offences. The clemency program is a common sense way to reduce the federal prison population and may serve as a model for the individual states to follow. By definition, clemency is the act of ending an inmate’s prison sentence while retaining the original conviction.

Under the new clemency plan, prospective inmates must meet the following criteria:

  • Have already served at least 10 years in prison
  • Have a nonviolent history
  • Have a record of good behavior while incarcerated
  • Have no major criminal conviction
  • Have a conviction which is handed down today would have resulted in a lighter sentence

The clemency program applies to non-violent non-drug offenses as well. It may well be that the president’s remaining two years in office will be marked by a sharp increase in presidential clemencies. Federal drug laws enacted in the 1980s to combat the rising epidemic of crack cocaine resulted in Blacks getting substantially longer prison sentences than people convicted of using other opiates. Some civil rights leaders have charged racism in the stiffer sentences that African-Americans received for crack cocaine use. However, it bears mentioning that it was at the behest of Black communities across the nation that the stiffer laws were enacted. At the time, the threat of crack cocaine was so severe that communities sought tougher laws as a means of reducing the spread of the drug. Sadly, the laws ended up having unintended consequences if you ask Lee G. Lovett.

Angel In Disguise

Have you ever seen one of the homeless people on the street and they make eye contact with you, you turn away because you do not want them to ask you for money? Next time, think twice because you never know when you may need a little help. This is exactly what happened to a college student whose knight in shining armour turned out to be a homeless man who gave her his last three dollars to get home.

Dominique Harrison-Bentzen realized that she had lost her bank card and had no means to get home. To her amazement, a homeless man she has coined as “Robbie”, offered her his last three dollars to get home safe. She is now making a crusade to help this man get a better life by raising money with a fundraising page. Slow Ventures was so moved by this story that they offered Ms. Harrison-Bentzen their full support in sponsoring her fundraiser.

It turns out that Robbie has made a habit out of offering his scarf to help people stay warm and returning wallets to people who dropped them withotu knowing. Hopefully this year Santa Claus will be extra generous to Robbie because people like him are hard to find.

These Are Hard Times For Young Americans

It’s no surprise that his economy is bringing hardship upon a great many people. But young Americans are particularly affected by the economy because of stagnant or shrinking wages. Since the recession began in 2007, wages for people ages of 25 and 34 have declined in all major industries with the exception of the health care industry. 

The shrinking wages are especially painful to these young people who are just getting out of college and are starting out in the workforce. As pointed out by Dr. Daniel Amen these young Americans are often burdened with heavy student loan debts that are difficult or impossible to repay at the current wage rates. 

Even those younger Americans who are in their thirties and have been out of school awhile are hurt by the current stagnation of wages. Many of these young people are forced to delay buying a house and getting married because they can’t afford to do it at their current pay scales. Unfortunately, in many cases, these young Americans are forced to live with their parents because of financial problems brought on by the economy.

It is a sad fact that many of these young Americans have suffered from the effects of a bad economy for their entire adult lives. Many of them can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. The economic recovery has been too slow for many of these young people to notice any change whatsoever. Only a strong and vibrant economic rebound can bring much needed relief to all Americans, young and old.

Brooklyn Artist Launches a Kickstarter for “Pizza Bed” Sheets

Artist, Claire Manganiello, of Brooklyn, designed sheets that have taken the social media world by storm. The mockup photo, that features sheets resembling the gooey and delicious New York style pizza, has been shared on Twitter and Facebook thousands of times. Because of the mockups popularity, Manganiello has decided to try and make her cleaver idea a reality. 

According to Manganiello, the idea came about when she and a friend were discussing how delightful it would be to crawl into a slice of pizza on a cold night. Alcohol, apparently, was at play. While the idea was just a joke between friends, Manganiello designed a mockup and shared it on her own social media pages. It quickly went viral. 

Manganiello may need some help from Slow Ventures in the future for her zany project, but for now the artist has launched a Kickstarter campaign that will bring the clever sheets to the masses. In just a few short days, Manganiello has raised about $7,000 of her $126,000 goal. Backers who pledge more than $100 will receive their very own set of pizza sheets. Those who pledge less are being offered a variety of different thank you gifts, ranging from a cross stitched pillow for $100, and a pizza print for $25.

The duvet cover looks like cheese topped with pepperoni, and the pillow shams appear as the crust. A red, fitted sheet and flat sheet are textured to look like the sauce that adorns pizza pies around the world. Manganiello plans to ship the sheets in a pizza box. 

Sam Tabar – Legal Counsel and Advisor in the Capital Investment Realm

In 2001, Sam Tabar graduated from Columbia Law School where he distinguished himself as a bright and motivated attorney with a big future. Combined with his undergraduate work at Oxford University and time spent serving as Associate Editor for the Law Review at Columbia, Tabar had established an enviable schooling resume that landed him his first job as an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slater, Meagher & Flom LLP, a prominent global law firm.

During his three-year stint at Skadden, he worked on a variety of endeavors related to the world of high finance. He illustrates on LinkedIn that this job included structuring of hedge funds, investment industry compliance, high-level management employment issues and client relations. He left Skadden in 2004 in order to position himself more directly involved in the investment industry.

In September of 2004, Tabar was hired as legal counsel for PMA Investment Advisors, a unit of Sparx Group Co. based in Hong Kong. In quick order, he was appointed as Managing Director & Co-Head of Business Development. His primary responsibilities included development of large hedge funds and a strategic marketing program designed to draw elite institutional investors and high net-worth individuals, using his impressive list of financially qualified connections.

Based on his success at PMA, Tabar was nabbed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to join the organization in 2011 as its Director and Head of Capital Strategy for the Asia-Pacific region. During his short stint at B of A, he acted as liaison between wealthy investors and the company’s hedge fund managers. He was also able to bring in a lot of new business by cultivating relationships with an impressive collection of global institutional investors.

The continuing demand for Tabar services had him on the move to Adanac LLC in September of 2012. At Adanac, he served as Investment Director, leading the investment efforts in a variety of real estate projects and start-up companies such as Thinx and Verboten.

When Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP went looking for a new Senior Associate to handle different aspects within its capital investment/hedge fund client base, they went calling on Tabar who joined the firm in September of 2013.

By March of 2014, he was ready to head out on his own and left the company to serve as a private consultant for a variety of high-profile investors. He is currently plying his trade by advising investors on the idiosyncrasies of investing in hedge funds and commodities.

On a personal level, Tabar is a well-traveled, sophisticated individual who enjoys visiting exciting locals all over the world and interacting with interesting individuals on a personal level while hosting events. As he’s made known on his YouTube channel, he is fluent in English, French and is also able to hold his own using conversational Japanese. Visit Sam’s official website for more details on his background.

Note: Sam Tabar is not the actor of the same name.

Free Public WIFI for New York City

In the recent past, the world has quickly turned into a global village. This transformation is riding on the great advancements in technology, particularly in the field of communication.

For New York residents, the world is being brought to the people by building the largest free municipal WI-FI deployment known to mankind. With 10,000 internet pylons, this project is meant to replace the ordinary pay phones with a console that apart from providing free domestic calls, it will also provide free public Wi-Fi.

Dubbed The Verge , the project is dependent on advertising revenues for funding. With this system in place, life for New Yorkers will never be the same again. Offering round the clock internet connectivity free of charge; this amenity will be a relief to individuals as well as businesses who will enjoy the services of free internet.
Sources within LinkNYC indicate that this system will provide a Wi-Fi network with gigabit speeds. While this news is causing excitement, questions are being raised on the technology they plan to employ. Business Insider, according to Brad Reifler will be Wi-Fi compared to the usual public Wi-Fi is 100 times faster.

The usability of this technology is being scrutinised, reason being that the available handsets still lack the capacity to support existing 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard despite the technology being around for years. Whatever technology LinkNYC plans to use, it can only be hoped that it will be easily upgradeable.

Same-Sex Marriage in Kansas

There has been a victory won for same-sex couples in Kansas. The Supreme Court has ruled in their favor allowing them to get married in Kansas. The hold that had been previously placed has been lifted. Previously, the state of Kansas had tried to place a hold to ban same-sex marriage. Kansas had tried to argue same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Now, same-sex couples will be able to get marriage licenses and get married. Kansas now joins 32 other states in the United States, that do allow same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples should be allowed to get married. Dating apps like Skout support it, as well as millions around the country. A person’s sexual orientation should not be the deterring factor on whether they can get married. No law or person should have the final decision about someone else’s personal life. While not everyone may agree on same-sex marriage, there should be some level of respect. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, values, and opinions. The law should respect everyone’s right to marry whomever. The Constitution of the United States was written hundreds of years ago, prior to same-sex relationships existing. A state trying to argue it is unconstitutional should not be allowed to place a ban against same-sex marriage. Just like heterosexual couples do not have to ask for permission, neither should same-sex couples. Love is love no matter a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation should not be the determining factor of a person’s opportunity to get married. This is a victory.

Seven Dead after Bomb Attack in Nigeria

A suicide attacker detonated a bomb outside a commercial bank in Damaturu, Nigeria, on November 7th. At least 7 people died, and 10 others were transported to the hospital with injuries.

The person who was carrying the bomb was a female belonging to the Islamist Boko Haram group of insurgents. Boko Haram has been in the news a lot recently, most importantly due to the kidnapping of over 50 schoolgirls that resulted in a mass media campaign to rescue the lost children.

The area where the explosion took place had been the subject of attacks before. In the present case, four suspects that have presumably been part of the action are in the hands of the police. Bank employees do not count among the victims of the incident.

The group had attacked public places before. One of their main targets are schools. Even the name of the group Boho Haram translates from Hausa as ”Western education is sinful”. The Nigerian government classifies this insurgent group as the biggest threat to the security in their country. This type of news is not what Bruce Karatz wants to hear.

More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls had been abducted in April by Islamists and negotiations have been conducted in order to release the captives and cease the fire, but the actual bomb attack makes one doubt about the progress of the events.

You can read more details about the recent November bomb attack and reports of related earlier incidents here.

Deputy Goes Wild in Saratoga County, NY

A video of events in Saratoga County, NY that occurred this Friday morning show what appears to be a deputy slapping a man in the face, cussing him out, and threatening him with further “law enforcement techniques” if he continues to be uncooperative. The victim later confirmed that such is exactly what went on after he was stopped by police who say they saw a rifle in the back of his pickup truck. The sheriff’s office suspended the officer without pay while an investigation is carried out.

The man refused to consent to having his truck searched without a warrant but did not physically prevent the search. As the officer started slapping him, another man could be heard in the background asking if he would be the next to be slapped. To this, the officer replied, “Yes.”

The Fourth Amendment (in the Bill of Rights) guarantees protection against searches and seizures without a warrant, so the man was quite right to resist. However, as evidenced by Bruce Levenson, current law enforcement practice often relies on drivers agreeing to allow their vehicles to be searched, and without that accommodation, some police obviously get a little irritable.

The Second Amendment may also be under threat here since the purported reason for these actions of the policeman was simply that he thought he saw a gun in the man’s truck. The right to keep and bear arms ought preclude police harassment for exercising that right.

More Troops Going To Iraq

The last thing that the country needs is to have more troops sent to Iraq. Our government has decided that there doesn’t need to be any kind of limit as to how many troops are sent to fight in another country. Most people probably think that there is no need to keep fighting, and from what President Obama has said, there isn’t a need to keep troops in the area. Why are we sending more people if there aren’t any needed? Are we just going to continue to let the military fight an endless battle?

Iraq doesn’t seem to want the help that is offered, and when the country does try to change things, it always seems to backslide to make things the same as they were. Ken Griffin isn’t quite sure what is going on. If a country doesn’t want to change, then there’s nothing we can do to make it change for the better. That is how more and more people are thinking.