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Monday, 14 September 2015

Merkel’s grandstanding on Syrian refugees will lead to many more deaths at sea

The incentive is greater for people to risk the perilous journey to Europe
12 September 2015

Of all the irresponsible decisions taken in recent years by European politicians, few will cause as much human misery as Angela Merkel’s plan to welcome Syrian refugees to Germany. Hailed as enlightened moral leadership, it is in fact the result of panic and muddled thinking. Her pronouncements will lure thousands more into the hands of unscrupulous people-traffickers. Her insistence that the rest of the continent should share the burden will add political instability to the mix. Merkel has made a dire situation worse.

On Tuesday last week, Germany declared that any Syrian who reaches the country can claim asylum there. In the days that followed, 25,000 arrived at Munich central station and that number is growing fast. Some trains from Austria have been diverted to other German cities to ease the pressure. Merkel now wants to use her clout to distribute these refugees around Europe — arguing that EU plans to resettle 160,000 may not be sufficient.

The current wave of migration started about 15 years ago, an unforeseen side-effect of globalisation. It has been vastly intensified by the chaos which followed the Arab Spring, and particularly the civil war in Syria. The EU’s responsibility is laid out in the Dublin Convention of 1990, which decrees that refugees must claim asylum in the first European Union country that they reach. This crucial safeguard was torn up by Merkel when her government declared that it will be ‘responsible’ for processing the claims of Syrians. The Dublin rules were made for a reason: to save lives, as well as to protect Europe’s borders. German panic has imperilled both priorities.

The welcome that has been given to refugees in Germany is remarkable. But encouraging these people to continue their journey is risky. The 71 refugees found dead in a lorry on an Austrian motorway last month might still be alive today had they ended their journey in Budapest. Some 7,000 refugees are estimated to have passed through Vienna during one day this week, but fewer than 100 claimed asylum there, choosing instead to head on north. Austria is rich, but Merkel’s promise exerts such a pull that people don’t want to stop until they reach Germany.

The distinction between refugee and economic migrant is also being elided. Many of the Syrians making this journey are fleeing war, but many others are fleeing camps in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey. The incentive to do this is growing, because life there is becoming harsher. As Michael Moller, the head of the UN’s Geneva office, warned this week, these millions will ‘get up and leave and come to Europe’ unless conditions in the camps improve. Iraqis are also joining in; extra flights are being laid on from Baghdad to Turkey as people go on the move in the belief that Merkel has created a window of migration opportunity that may not last. It is at this point that the distinction between refugee and immigrant, on which European law is based, breaks down.

The economic pull is exacerbated because, unlike in previous times, the residents of the refugee camps have access to mobile phones and information. They know that Germany has said it expects to accept 800,000 asylum-seekers this year (a figure greater than the population of some EU members). They will have heard about — or seen — the welcome being given to refugees arriving there, the reception committees and the politicians holding placards saying ‘refugees welcome’. All of this will encourage many more to embark on the perilous journey to Europe.

The European Union’s energies would be far better spent improving life in the camps and finding ways to allow people to work there, as Professor Paul Collier suggested in these pages last month. The camps should be properly funded. The UNHCR claims it currently has a $795 million funding gap in its Syrian operation. France has given a fraction of what Britain has to this work, which puts a rather different perspective on François Hollande’s insistence that Britain must take on more of the refugee burden. No country in Europe has given more to the refugee camps than Britain.

Another danger of Merkel’s open-door policy is that it may make Syria’s recovery from civil war harder. By accepting those who have managed to make it to Europe, rather than those still in the camps, Germany is, intentionally or not, cherry-picking the more prosperous members of what used to be Syrian society, those who have sufficient resources to pay the traffickers. Without them, their ravaged country is far less likely to make a recovery once the fighting eventually stops. As the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius warned this week, ‘If all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Isis has won the game.’

Compounding Merkel’s folly is her desire to impose mandatory refugee quotas on the rest of the EU. (Britain won’t be part of this, we are one of the countries with an opt-out.) Forcing countries to accept refugees they don’t want is bound to boost support for populist anti-immigrant parties. German public opinion might be strikingly liberal on these issues — it is important to remember that, before her recent announcements, Merkel was being criticised for not doing enough to help — but opinion in other European countries is far less so. Strong-arming recalcitrant eastern European countries into taking a significant numbers of refugees will push politics to the nationalist right in these countries. In France, Marine Le Pen has already been making political hay out of Merkel’s actions.

Given the disaster unfolding on the continent, it’s odd to see Britain coming under pressure to become more like Germany. The Prime Minister’s decision to accept refugees from the camps, rather than send thousands more into the hands of people traffickers, seems to demonstrate a better understanding of the issue. To criticise the Prime Minister for not taking those refugees who have already reached Europe is bizarre; it seems to play into the hands of the people-traffickers, who would be pushing for their customers — those who have reached Europe — to be given priority over those who are still on the Syrian border.

Many in Cameron’s circle are furious at Merkel. There is a suspicion that, as one of the Prime Minister’s confidants puts it, ‘This has more to do with what happened in Europe 70 years ago than what is happening today.’ There is also anger at the criticism being directed at London from other European capitals. One Downing Street figure says that if Britain were not supporting the camps on Syria’s borders, at least a million more people would be coming to Europe. And we should remember those who aren’t even in the camps, those who have been forced from their homes but remain trapped inside Syria.

To save lives, Europe needs to stop people from thinking that if they take the risk of trying to cross into the European Union, then they will be able to claim asylum. This means turning around the boats that attempt the journey, and paying for processing stations in Turkey and Egypt. This may be hard, but there is nothing compassionate about giving desperate people false hope.

Britain can be the voice of sanity in this debate, while others panic. Cameron can point out that refugees and migrants who are already in Europe are not in imminent fear for their lives. Those gathered at Calais trying to cross the Channel might have once fled Syria, Somali or other war-torn countries — but they are now risking their lives to leave France, which is another matter entirely.

Merkel’s actions, now, will be hard to correct: her words cannot be unsaid. She has exacerbated a problem that will be with us for years, perhaps decades. More than 40 per cent of those who applied for asylum in Germany in the first half of this year came from the former Yugoslavia; the last of its wars ended 14 years ago. Handling all of this correctly will require true statesmanship, which means thinking through consequences. Merkel is failing that test spectacularly.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Pope Francis Praises Author of Children's Book That Includes Lesbian Rabbits and Gay Penguin Parents

An Italian book that explores different types of families – including same-sex couples – has caused quite a stir after the mayor of Venice banned it from schools. Now, Pope Francis has upped the ante by writing a letter praising the author for her work, The Guardian reports.

In the book Piccolo Uovo, which means "Little Egg," Italian author Francesca Pardi writes about an egg that comes across a pair of gay penguins and lesbian rabbits raising a family, as well as a single-parent hippo, a mixed-race dog couple, and kangaroos who've adopted polar bear cubs.

Pardi's conservative critics say she's spreading a pro-homosexuality theory. The new mayor of Venice, Luidi Brugnaro, banned the book (and about 50 others) from schools in June. That decision caused 250 Italian authors to demand their own books be removed from city shelves as a "protest against an appalling gesture of censorship and ignorance," the paper reports.

Pope Francis Praises Author of Children's Book That Includes Lesbian Rabbits and Gay Penguin Parents| Religion, Gay and Lesbian, Pope Francis

In a bid for recognition, Pardi sent a package to Pope Francis with seven or eight children's books addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues from her publisher, Lo Stampatello. She included a heartfelt note explaining her predicament.

"Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us," she writes. "We have respect for Catholics ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can't we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?"

Much to her surprise, the Pope wrote back.

"His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values," writes Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state, in the letter dated July 9.

"It's not that I think that he's for gay families, because there's the Catholic doctrine, but we mustn't think that we don’t have rights," Pardi tells the paper.

Historically, the Vatican deems homosexual relationships "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law." It preaches that gay people must live a life of chastity in order to be considered good Catholics. Pope Francis, 78, has adopted a more welcoming approach during his papacy.

Francis has previously said while the Church has a right to its opinions, it cannot "interfere spiritually" in the lives of homosexuals. The remark built on another he made in 2013 about gay priests: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

While the Pope has a more inclusive approach than his predecessors, it's unlikely his thoughts on Pardi's work will create a significant shift in the Vatican's view of gay relationships.

The pontiff will make his first papal visit to the U.S. next month for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia – a gathering of Catholics from across the globe – but LGBT groups have not been invited to share their views. He's also set to host a mass for a million pilgrims, visit a prison, and meet with families of inmates; prisoners in the city have been working hard to hand-carve a special chair for him.

[Some Pope!]

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Issued via <> to sundry media pm on Wednesday 29th July 2015

The text of the letter from the Forgotten British Heroes Campaign
to the Israel ambassador in London, Daniel Taub.

This will be delivered to the Israel Embassy on Saturday 1st August, the day on which the Campaign will hold a wreath-laying and then a meeting at the site of a notorious Zionist terrorist bombing near to Trafalgar Square (the former British Colonies Club).

The event will commemorate various murders, bombings and other atrocities perpetrated by Zionist terrorists both in Britain and Palestine against British soldiers, Crown servants and civilians and against the indigenous Arab population of Palestine.


Forgotten British Heroes CampaignPO Box 301, Carshalton, Surrey SM5 4QW
Tel: 07932 049019

Saturday 1st August 2015

His Excellency Daniel Taub,
The Israel Ambassador,
Israel Embassy,
2 Palace Green,
W8 4QB.

Your Excellency:

Our organisation has been formed to preserve the memory of British servicemen and civilians whose sacrifices for their country have been airbrushed from history by venal Westminster politicians of all the major parties at the behest of powerful alien pressure groups and donors.

Today is close to the anniversaries of two dreadful events in Palestine: the murder of two 20-year-old British Army sergeants: Mervyn Paice and Clifford Martin on Wednesday 30th July 1947 and the bombing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, on Tuesday 22nd July 1946. In respect of these and other atrocities we have a number of requests to make of the government and people of Israel, and of the Israel-supporting Jewish community in Britain.

As to the murders of Sgts Paice and Martin: These young soldiers were kidnapped on 20th June 1947 by the Irgun Zwei Leumi, a Zionist terrorist group led by Menachem Begin. Begin threatened to hang them if the UN-authorised British Mandate authority in Palestine carried out the execution of three Irgun terrorists who had been lawfully tried, convicted and sentenced to death on 16th June 1947 for their part in a murderous attack on the Fortress of Acre on 4th May 1947 to assist the escape of other Irgun terrorists who were held there.

When the three Irgun terrorists were hanged according to law, Begin personally assisted with the hanging of Sgts Paice and Martin, who had been held for many days in tiny dark underground cells. Their bodies were found, suspended by the neck with piano wire, in a eucalyptus grove at Netanya. The area around them had been booby-trapped so that those tasked with cutting them down might also be murdered. A photograph of the hanging sergeants was published on the front page of the Daily Express on Friday 1st August 1947. Shortly after, the original negative of that photograph disappeared from that newspaper’s archives and now only copies of copies survive.

The British government of the time issued a warrant for the arrest of Begin for this and multiple other terrorist acts and offered a reward of £10,000 for his capture — the equivalent of circa £300,000 today — an indication of the heinous nature of his crimes. That warrant was never rescinded. An attempt to activate the warrant was made by former Palestine Police sergeant, the late James Sawyer, on Monday 5th December 1977, by means of an application to Bristol Magistrates Court — Bristol being the home town of Sgt Mervyn Paice.

This application was made on the occasion of the visit to Britain of the terrorist Begin who the people of Israel had elected to be their Prime Minister. The magistrate, Alwyn Webber Thomas, refused Mr Sawyer’s application and refused to give any reason for so doing, which was unlawful. Mr. Sawyer immediately resorted to the High Court in London to secure an Order of Mandamus to compel the magistrate to set out his reasons. His application was frustrated by a sequence of contrived procedural obstacles until Begin had departed from this country the next day.

As to the bombing of the King David Hotel: This terrorist atrocity was perpetrated by the Irgun on the orders of Begin on 22nd July 1946. Huge quantities of explosives were smuggled into the basement of the hotel, part of which was occupied by British Mandate Authority officials. The massive explosion demolished most of the building killing 100 military and civilian personnel.

Many other lethal terrorist acts were perpetrated by the Irgun and by allied Zionist terrorist groups such as the Lehi, otherwise known as the Stern Gang, led by Yitzhak Shamir, who, like his


associate Begin, was in due course elected by the people of Israel to be their prime minister.

Here in London we are especially mindful of three such terrorist acts committed by the Stern Gang on British soil: the bombing of the British Colonial Club just off Trafalgar Square in March 1947; the attempted bombing of the Colonial Office in Whitehall in April 1947; and the letter bomb which killed Rex Farran, brother of SAS anti-terrorism specialist Captain Roy Farran
DSO, MC at the Farran family home in May 1948. The parcel, was addressed simply to “R. Farran”.

We were therefore appalled by the speech by Home Secretary Theresa May during a ceremony on 22nd April this year at Finchley United Synagogue to mark the 67th anniversary of the State of Israel. Mrs May insulted the memory of British servicemen by assuring her audience: “… we remember the sacrifice of those who fought to achieve and protect that independence”.  Mrs May chose to honour the Stern Gang assassins who gunned down British Minister Lord Moyne and his driver Lance-Corporal Arthur Fuller. Your government also honoured these gunmen, who had been justly executed for their crimes but reburied with full military honours more than thirty years later. Patriotic British people dissociate themselves from Mrs May’s homage to Zionist terrorists.

In mentioning these atrocities against British personnel, we also bear in mind the vast number of genocidal war crimes against Palestinians, such as at Deir Yassin on 10th April 1948, where more than 250 people, mainly women and children, were rounded up and shot. Such exterminations were perpetrated to terrorise Palestinians to flee their homeland in order to allow cynical Zionist propagandists to claim: “Israel is a land without people for a people without land”. We note with horror that this genocide has continued until the present time, as seen in Gaza last year. In the interests of peace in the Middle East, we request that you urge your government to cease such genocidal activity and secure a just settlement with the greatly oppressed Palestinian people.

The overwhelmingly pro-Israel Jewish communities throughout the world, through bodies such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, have co-ordinated themselves in a campaign against acts of terrorism against them conducted mainly by Muslims. But this campaign is designed to criminalise any criticism of Israel and Jewry by anybody. We assert that Jewry is not above criticism.

We therefore request you to urge on your government and on Jewish communal bodies such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council:

1) to make a public statement of regret recognising that Zionist groups such as the Irgun and the Stern Gang were the creators of terrorist methods which were subsequently copied by extremists of all kinds throughout the world; and to make grants of financial compensation to the families of British service personnel who were murdered by Zionist terrorists in Palestine prior to May 1948;

2) to pay appropriate compensation and pensions to surviving British servicemen who in most cases fought in the Second World War (now taught to European schoolchildren as having been fought to defend Jewry) only to find themselves under attack in Palestine;

3) to erect a memorial at the King David Hotel to honour the victims of the Zionist bomb attack;

4) to establish a ‘Victims of Zionism’ museum in Israel to honour the many British and Palestinian victims of the process which created that state; and to ensure that all Israeli educational institutions make awareness of Zionist war crimes a mandatory part of the school curriculum; and,

5) for Jewish communities everywhere — including in Britain — to cease the relentless insidious campaign to load the British people with a false burden of guilt with the suggestion that they, their parents and their grandparents did not do enough to aid Jewry during the last century; and, instead, to acknowledge that Jewry owes Britain an unrepayable debt of gratitude.

Yours respectfully,

Martin Webster  ·  Richard Edmonds  ·  Lady Michèle Renouf  ·  Jeremy Turner  ·  Peter Rushton
Forgotten British Heroes Campaign

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Bizarre Family Life

Revealed: The bizarre family tree at the heart of an extraordinary court battle over one little girl - involving two lesbian mothers, a gay sperm donor and a transsexual lover now living with a man 

But judge rules said that another effective parent would risk harm 

  • Girl is the biological child of lesbian woman and gay sperm donor
  • They see her occasionally and she lives with mother's lesbian ex
  • The step-mother's former partner, a transsexual, wants contact with girl
  • By Vanessa Allen: 3 June 2015

A transexual man went to court yesterday for the right to contact the child of his former lesbian partner. He brought the civil case despite having no biological connection with the nine-year-old girl.

Identified only as Alice, she was born to two lesbians who used donor sperm from a man also in a same-sex relationship. Family tree: The transsexual partner of a former lesbian lover of a nine-year-old's natural mother has been refused access to see the girl after a judge found that her life was complicated enough

'Complicated': The transsexual partner of a former lesbian lover of a nine-year-old's natural mother has been refused access to see the girl after a judge found that her life was complicated enough.

The couple – known as Rachel and Helen – split up when she was three. Rachel, who was Alice’s natural mother, was sectioned with schizophrenia and Helen entered a relationship with Matthew, the man who has brought the case. When he met Helen he was a woman having treatment to live as a man.

They were together for four years – Alice living with them – and he claims she called him ‘daddy’ and he became her effective stepfather. They split up in 2013 and Matthew has had no contact with Alice, who has been diagnosed with autism, for almost a year. Having completed his gender reassignment, Matthew asked the Family Court to allow him to apply for an order for contact with Alice.

Judge Bellamy was asked to rule on the case of the 'complicated family' with two gay parents, a lesbian step-mother and transsexual 'stepfather'. His request was opposed by both Helen and Rachel, who said Alice had started to call herself Daniel and claim she was a boy while living with Matthew.

Helen was said to be very concerned that he encouraged Alice to wear boys’ clothes and told her to avoid playing with ‘gender appropriate toys’. She told the court in London that Matthew had been ‘controlling and verbally and mentally abusive’ during their relationship, and that his testosterone treatment had made him aggressive. Helen, who suffers from a personality disorder and has limited mobility, said she did not want Alice to stay overnight at the home of Matthew and his new partner, James.

Rachel, who had been Helen’s civil partner, said Alice already had contact with both her mothers and her biological father, the gay sperm donor. In a statement to the court, Rachel, who is now living in the community in supported accommodation, said: ‘It is time to put the dangerous drama of the past behind her once and for all. She must be allowed to simply settle down. She has all that she needs.’
Matthew, who also has psychiatric problems, said Alice knew he used to be a woman but had only known him as a man.

His sex change had been explained to her ‘in an age-appropriate way’, the court was told. Matthew denied that he had encouraged her to call herself Daniel or say she was a boy. He said he had played a central role in helping to raise her. Deputy High Court Judge Clifford Bellamy said Matthew had applied to the court for permission to ask for an order for contact with Alice.

The judge said he accepted that Matthew may have become a ‘social and psychological parent’ to Alice but said his contact application could be ‘potentially damaging’ for an autistic child.
Such an order would require months of psychiatric assessments, social services reports and court hearings and would be stressful for the family, he said. The judge refused Matthew’s contact request, saying: ‘There is a risk of Matthew’s application disrupting Alice’s life to such an extent that she would be harmed by it.

‘Alice’s story is an example of the different ways in which modern family life is formed. Modern family life can be complicated.’ None of the family can be identified for legal reasons and the judge said he had changed the names of everyone involved to protect Alice’s anonymity.

The judge, sitting at the High Court in London, denied the transsexual 'stepfather' should not have contact

Source Daily Mail :- 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Denmark moves closer to a cashless society

by DOUG BOLTON   Thursday 07 May 2015

Denmark has moved one step closer to becoming the world's first cashless society, as the government proposes scrapping the obligation for retailers to accept cash as payment.

The Danish government has said that as of next year, business such as clothing retailers, restaurants and petrol stations should no longer be legally bound to accept cash payments.

The proposal is part of a package of economic growth measures, which are being released ahead of this year's Danish election. It aims to reduce costs and increase productivity for Danish businesses.

Finansrådet, a Danish finance industry lobbying group, says the change would free retailers from the cost of security, and the burden of managing change and notes.
Although it seems like a drastic step, the Danes are already moving away from paper and metal money.

Almost a third of the population uses an official Danske Bank app called MobilePay - it links your mobile to other users' phones or to a sensor at the till, allowing you to confirm payments with a simple swipe on your smartphone's screen.

Similar technologies like Paym are available in the UK, which allows users to transfer money to others by entering their mobile number. Google Wallet turns your phone into a contactless card, allowing you to tap your device against readers to transfer money - however, it is currently only available in the USA.
But both of these technologies are still yet to see the level of adoption that MobilePay has in Denmark.

There are fears that moving to totally cashless payments could increase the risk of fraud - in Sweden, a nation with one of the highest numbers of bank transactions per person in the European Union, cases of card fraud have doubled in the last decade.

However, Danske Bank has taken steps to fight fraud, by linking individuals' MobilePay accounts to their national insurance numbers.
The change would need to be approved in a vote at the Folketing, the Danish parliament, but the timing of the vote has not yet been set.
However, in a country where cashless payments are so common, it looks unlikely that the proposal will face much opposition.
The Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland lead the world in cashless payments - cash payments for even the smallest items, such as a packet of chewing gum, are commonplace.

In 2013, a Swedish bank robber left empty-handed, after he found out that the Stockholm bank he held up did not carry any cash.

Five of Sweden's six big banks now operate cashless branches where possible, and some predict the country could become cashless by 2030.


Monday, 26 January 2015

First UK school specifically for gay and transgender pupils planned


A school catering to only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people could be open within three years. The backers say it would provide a safe haven from discrimination.

The school is to be based in Manchester and will offer 40 full time places, and 20 part time places for students who wish to also attend a mainstream state school. .

According to the school’s founders, the need to open the institution was “about saving lives” and helping vulnerable young people who would be at risk at an ordinary state school. .

“Despite the laws that claim to protect gay people from homophobic bullying, the truth is that in schools especially, bullying is still incredibly common and causes young people to feel isolated and alienated, which often leads to truanting and, in the worst-case scenarios, to suicide,” Amelia Lee, the strategic director for LGBT North West, told the Guardian. .

“This is not about making a little, safe enclave away from the real world: we work with 9,000 mainstream pupils and 1,000 teachers a year to help educate them about homosexuality. In addition, the support this new school will offer to part-time pupils could happen in their mainstream school, if that’s what they want,” she added. .

The school’s development comes as the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Manchester City Council discuss how it can provide services and support for LGBT young people. .

Last September, 14-year-old Elizabeth Lowe committed suicide in a Manchester park because she was scared of coming out as gay to her parents. .

“We have an education system that sets up 5 percent to 10 percent of pupils to fail through fear and structure, because it routinely fails to recognize and incorporate the needs of young people struggling with their identities. We can either hope every school is going to be inclusive, or we can recognize we are not there yet and so, for the moment, we need more specialized schools,” Lee said. .

While the school will operate as an ordinary state institution, it will also emphasize personal skills and confidence building. The school will be part of Manchester’s Joyce Layland LGBT Centre, which provides support to the LGBT community in the city. .

“We are only too aware of how some schools leave their LGBT and questioning students to flounder and we know the high level of attempted suicides,” she said. “We strongly support this exciting and important venture,” said Sue Saunders, the national chair of Schools Out UK..

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council confirmed talks were taking place to open a dedicated school, as well as expanding services to help LGBT young people..

“One of their development ambitions is around how they might make additional educational support available to LGBT young people. We’ve had an initial discussion with them about that, but there are no current plans that we’re aware of to open a LGBT school in the city,” the spokesperson said. .">manchester-lgbt-school-plan/

New York powerbroker Sheldon Silver

by Nate Raymond
Thursday 22nd January 2015

Longtime Assembly Speaker is iconic Lower East Side Politician

(Reuteres) —  New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state’s most powerful politicians for more than two decades, was charged on Thursday with pocketing $4 million from bribery and kickback schemes.

Silver, a Democrat who has served as the highest-ranking state assemblyman since 1994, was accused in a federal criminal complaint in New York, as authorities moved to seize $3.8 million in proceeds tied to the alleged corruption
The 70-year-old Silver, a licensed lawyer who represents Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is known as one of Albany’s three most powerful men, alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. He has been a leading voice in years of negotiations over state budgets and key legislation.

The Assembly canceled its Thursday session following Silver’s arrest, less than two weeks after the new legislative session opened.

Silver would lose his seat if convicted of any of five felony counts and faces a maximum of 20 years of prison on each count.

He became the latest addition to a long line of New York politicians implicated in corruption scandals. At least 30 New York politicians have faced legal or ethics charges since 2000.
“As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters.

At a brief court appearance on Thursday afternoon, a judge released Silver on a $200,000 bond.
Asked for a comment outside the courtroom, he said, “I am confident that after a full hearing and due process I will be vindicated for these charges.”

Despite some calls for Silver’s resignation, Albany Democrats emerged from a private meeting on Thursday to declare their support for him, with Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle saying the members “overwhelmingly” stood behind Silver.

Cuomo has not commented on the arrest, but said in an interview with the New York Daily News that it was “a bad reflection on government,” adding that he didn’t know enough to form a judgment about the case.

Another prominent Democrat, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said he did not think Silver should step down, citing his “due process rights.”

“In my experience with Shelly Silver, I’ve seen integrity and public service,” de Blasio told reporters, according to a transcript released by his office.

In 2013, Cuomo launched an anticorruption panel called the Moreland Commission to probe wrongdoing in the state’s capital.

But he abruptly shut the commission down in March, drawing criticism from Bharara, whose office took possession of its files to continue any investigations.

The commission’s work was merged with an ongoing federal probe of Silver’s outside income initiated in June 2013, the criminal complaint said.

Silver had long listed New York personal injury firm Weitz & Luxenberg on his financial disclosure forms as a source of income for representing its clients in cases.

But the complaint said over $3 million of his income was for referring asbestos sufferers from a doctor whose research had been secretly provided $500,000 in state funds at Silver’s direction, as well as other benefits.

Prosecutors said Silver also received $700,000 in kickbacks by steering real estate developers with business before the legislature to another law firm, identified by its defense lawyer as Goldberg & Iryami.

“He simply sat back and collected millions of dollars by cashing in on his political office,” Bharara said.

Weitz & Luxenberg in a statement said it had cooperated with the investigation and was “not aware of any improprieties whatsoever.” Michael Ross, a lawyer for Goldberg & Iryami, declined comment on the allegations.

The complaint did not name the doctor but said he had created a mesothelioma research center at a New York university hospital.

Details in the complaint match those of Robert Taub, a professor at Columbia University. In 2011, the assembly passed a resolution, sponsored by Silver, honoring Taub for his contributions to mesothelioma treatment.

A spokesman for Columbia said it had no knowledge of the allegations and will cooperate with the investigation. Taub did not respond to a request for comment.

After surrendering to authorities in lower Manhattan at about 8 a.m., a somber-looking Silver headed to nearby federal court, wearing a dark suit and a black hat, his car mobbed by reporters and photographers.

“It is unfortunate that the prosecutors chose to pursue this as a criminal case,” Silver’s attorney, Steven Molo, said by email. “We intend to vigorously contest the charges and Mr. Silver looks forward to his day in court.”

Silver’s longtime Senate counterpart, Joseph Bruno, was acquitted in May at a retrial on bribery charges.

One of Silver’s predecessors as speaker, Mel Miller, was convicted of corruption in the early 1990s, but the conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court.

Two former state Senate Democratic leaders, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, are also facing criminal charges.