By Diana Jean Schemo
In Honduras, two inmates were released from prison for the day, ostensibly to run an errand for a drug dealer. Steps from the prison, assassins gunned them down. The two women waiting to pick them up were later murdered as well.
Crooked cops killed the son of a university president. The country’s drug czar was murdered. And last month Gustavo Alfredo Landaverde, a “soft-spoken, bespectacled former deputy drug czar” of 71, died in a drive-by hit targeting his Kia sedan.
In a remarkable portrait of a nation at the mercy of rogues and killers, the Miami Herald’s Frances Robles declares Honduras “murder capital of the world,” noting that its homicide rate is the highest, at 82.1 murders per 100,000 residents. (In comparison, Florida’s murder rate is 5.5 per 100,000.)
Just two weeks before his death, Landaverde had told Robles that the government was “rotten to the core,” infested with criminals. “We are at the border of an abyss,” the security expert said. “These are criminal organizations inside and out.”
Usually, the implicit tradeoffs of campaign contributions are a matter of debate, with politicians insisting that the ka-ching of donations pouring in somehow has nothing to do with their legislative judgment.
Not so last week, when Chris Dodd, the veteran former Democratic Senator from Connecticut, worked his connections to push controversial anti-piracy legislation for his new employer, the Motion Picture Association of America.
In his outrage over the legislation’s setback in the face of Internet-based opposition, Dodd made some surprisingly revealing remarks, warning Democratic lawmakers and politicians not to count on Hollywood’s largesse if they don’t do its bidding.
“Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” Dodd told Fox News. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
As Justin Elliott noted in Salon, “The premise of Dodd’s remarks is that campaign contributions are essentially transactional, and that Hollywood money comes with an implied–or perhaps explicit–quid pro quo.” Given Dodd’s decades in Congress and proximity to other such lucrative contributors–banking reform anyone?–Elliott drew the obvious conclusion: “Dodd is speaking from experience.”
Since Dodd’s remarks, a petition launched by a Texas man on the White House website, “We the People,” demanding Dodd be investigated for bribery, has collected more than 26,000 signatures in just three days.
For the first time, a sitting Pennsylvania lawmaker is on trial for corruption in Harrisburg. Bill DeWeese, a former House speaker and Democratic Party floor leader from southwestern Pennsylvania, is accused of using state employees and taxpayer money to finance his reelection campaigns.
In opening arguments, state prosecutor Ken Brown called DeWeese “a common thief with uncommon access to other people’s time, other people’s money, and other people’s efforts.” DeWeese’s attorney does not dispute that his aides worked on his reelection campaigns, but contends that the lawmaker had advised them to use accrued leave during the time they worked on his campaigns.