George Soros Is Trying to Buy America a Less Racist Justice System – By Eric Levitz August 30, 2016 6:36 p.m

Soros. Photo: ChinaFotoPress/VCG via Getty Images

Soros. Photo: ChinaFotoPress/VCG via Getty Images

George Soros is trying to buy elections — for district attorneys who support criminal-justice reform. Politico reports that the billionaire financier and right-wing bogeyman has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district-attorney races over the past 12 months, a sum that exceeds “the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.”

Soros has channeled that loot to would-be district attorneys in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas, with the aim of electing prosecutors who will prioritize the reduction of racial disparities in sentencing, and the expansion of alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders.

Most of Soros’s fellow civic-minded oligarchs have concentrated their donations on high-profile national campaigns. Which is a sound enough strategy for winning invitations to parties and access to legislators. But in terms of maximizing one’s chance of immediately impacting policy, it’s hard to imagine a better investment than the one Soros is making.

As good-government liberals have long bemoaned, big-money donors have a much easier time influencing elections on the local level, where cash and media attention are scarce commodities. Soros has proven no exception. Since he began bankrolling a network of state-level super-pacs in 2015, he has already elected reform-minded DAs in Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois, and New Mexico.

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Soros Said to Return to Hands-On Trading, Sees Market Shifts – Andreea Papuc Bloomberg June 8, 2016 — 6:29 PM PDT Updated on June 8, 2016 — 7:43 PM PDT

George Soros. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

George Soros. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Billionaire And Founder Of Soros Fund Management LLC George Soros

Billionaire investor George Soros has become more involved in trading at his family office, concerned about the outlook for the global economy and the risk that large market shifts may be at hand, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Soros, 85, has been spending more time in the office directing trades and recently oversaw a series of big, bearish investments, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Soros Fund Management LLC sold stocks and bought gold and shares of gold miners last quarter, anticipating weakness in various markets, according to a government filing.

A New York-based spokesman for Soros declined to comment in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Soros’s decision.

Charles Koch, Liberal Crusader? – By MICHAEL HIRSH MARCH/APRIL 2015

He’s one of the left’s biggest bogeymen. Now he’s teaming up with George Soros.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at Mar 5, 2015 3.41

It was something of a surreal moment. Charles de Ganahl Koch, the nerdy multibillionaire from Wichita who has become known as the Rasputin of the American Right, was trying to explain to me why he was getting into bed—politically speaking—with people like George Soros, his progressive archrival in the big-money-and-politics set, and Cory Booker, the liberal black senator and former mayor of beleaguered (and very Democratic) Newark, New Jersey.

The vast apparatus of foundations, advocacy groups, corporations and think tanks that Koch oversees and supports—what his critics darkly call the “Kochtopus”—was busy this winter launching programs and initiatives aimed at reeling in the worst excesses of one of the few industries larger than his own: the criminal justice-industrial complex. Koch had decided to help pull together a new coalition of left-right advocacy groups in Washington, including the Hillary Clinton-aligned Center for American Progress, to fight what he calls the “overcriminalization of America.” He was underwriting a documentary screening at the Newseum about Weldon Angelos, a marijuana dealer serving a 55-year sentence that even Angelos’ judge called “unjust” and “cruel”—and helping to train attorneys to aid poor people across the country. In March, Koch’s general counsel, Mark Holden, plans to join with Van Jones, a former Obama administration official who took the liberal side on CNN’s since-canceled “Crossfire,” in mounting the #Cut50 Bipartisan Summit, which will explore strategies for reducing America’s incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years. (Jones’s old CNN adversary, Newt Gingrich, is also involved.)

A passionate prairie libertarian who as a young man wouldn’t permit a friend to bring an Ernest Hemingway novel into his house because “Hemingway was a communist” (the friend had to leave the book on the stoop), the 79-year-old Koch now evinces a much more relaxed attitude toward joining up with Soros and other liberals. “The more the merrier,” he told me. “One of my heroes was Frederick Douglass. He said, ‘I would unite with anyone to do right and with nobody to do wrong.’ We’ve worked with unlikely bedfellows. … But I would say we have gotten the most support in criminal justice reform.”

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Pot lobby vows to blunt Wasserman Schultz – By Marc Caputo 2/19/15 5:33 AM EST Updated 2/19/15 5:33 AM EST

She angered medical marijuana advocates by opposing a voter initiative last year.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is pictured. | Getty

MIAMI — Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interest in running for U.S. Senate has encountered strong resistance from a usual ally of her party: medical-marijuana activists.

Because of her congressional votes and her criticisms of a Florida medical-marijuana initiative last year, four political groups that advocate for prescription cannabis and drug decriminalization vowed to campaign against the Florida representative if she sought the Senate in 2016.

“She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that – not to mince words,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance, which has received funding from liberal luminaries such as George Soros.

“This issue is evolving very quickly and hopefully she will evolve,” Piper said. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”

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The European Union vs. Russia: Talking Heads – Published on Jan 14, 2015

VICE News and the New York Review of Books have partnered to create Talking Heads, a series about the big issues of the day as seen by the Review’s distinguished contributors.

In this episode of Talking Heads, George Soros discusses his essay “A New Policy to Rescue Ukraine.” Soros wrote the essay this month, calling on members of the European Union to behave as countries indirectly at war with Russia and to provide Ukraine with $50 billion to defend itself and kick-start political reforms. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambition has unintentionally brought into being a new Ukraine that is adamantly opposed to endemic corruption and inefficient government. By offering assistance, Europe can foster an open society in Ukraine and protect itself from Russian aggression.

VICE News sat down with Soros to discuss why it is imperative that the EU wakes up and recognizes that the principles on which it was founded are at stake in Ukraine.

How the Left Is Revitalizing Itself – Gara LaMarche August 13, 2014

It’s been almost ten years since progressives, determined to undo the accumulated damage of the Reagan-Bush era, took a page from our opponents’ successes and got to work building our own policy, organizing and electoral infrastructure. At the outset of this effort, in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, I had a ringside seat as an aide to George Soros, who played a crucial role. I’ve recently become president of the Democracy Alliance, an organization of donors whose founding was one of the turning points in building a stronger, more cohesive progressive movement. So I have an unusual vantage point for reflection on what we have managed to do well in the last ten years.

First, we’ve seen much more coordination among donors. Progressive foundations such as Open Society, unions like the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU), consortiums of funders like the Democracy Alliance, and strategic individual donors—for example, Herb Sandler and his late wife Marion, who were among the people providing substantial early capital for the Center for American Progress (CAP)—have built new institutions to fill in the gaps on the progressive side, as well as strengthened the capacity and sustainability of some key organizations that were already in place. Flagship institutions that didn’t exist or had just gotten under way a decade ago include CAP, a wide-ranging think tank and messaging operation that, while still outgunned financially by the Heritage Foundation, has considerably evened the score between left and right in this realm; Media Matters for America, which monitors the conservative press, publicizing and shaming over-the-top behavior and pressing for accountability; America Votes, which coordinates progressive campaigns at the state level; and the American Constitution Society, inspired by the success of the right’s Federalist Society in fostering a pipeline of ideas and personnel for the Justice Department and federal judgeships.

Longstanding progressive anchors whose funding has increased and diversified thanks to the concerted efforts of funders working to strengthen progressive infrastructure include the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budget watchdog launched in the Reagan era, and the Center for Community Change, the organizing support group founded in the wake of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Among others, the NAACP, the Sierra Club and SEIU, the country’s largest labor union, have also shown strong signs of revitalization.

* * *

The conservative writer Tod Lindberg, surveying this landscape from the right with some envy, writes of what he calls “Left 3.0”: “funder networks now gather periodically to strategize where best to deploy resources. Money for the cause appears to be abundant. Activists meet to share information and coordinate plans. Opinion journalists offer up articles and blog posts and tweets. None of this is unique to the Left, of course. But to the extent that the emerging Left 3.0 considered itself lagging [behind] efforts on the Right—what the Left likes to call the ‘right-wing noise machine’—Left 3.0 has now fully caught up.” Admittedly, it doesn’t always look that way from the inside, and we still have a long way to go, but the progress he notes is genuine.

Campaigns aimed at more specific issues have also been much better funded and coordinated. One of them, Health Care for America Now (HCAN)—of which the Atlantic Philanthropies, which I led at the time, was the largest funder—made a significant difference in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. As Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, a keen analyst of movements for public policy change, told The Washington Post: “The investments that philanthropies made in [the HCAN campaign] helped cement links between the national players and the state and local players…that made it possible to push at the very end when many Democrats were ready to drop the whole thing, after Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts.”

Contrasting the path of healthcare reform with the parallel effort on climate change, Skocpol says she was “startled by the level of contempt that many environmentalists had for the health reform push.” But she concludes that progressives “have to build broader coalitions. That was one of the things that health reformers did this time around. They buried hatchets and forged ties with groups they needed to, like medical providers, and reached out to small businesses.”

The Affordable Care Act as it emerged, public option jettisoned, through a razor-thin margin in the House of Representatives is far from perfect. Also, the complexities of its implementation—not to mention the initial technological crashes during its launch—may, in time, when progressives manage to gain control of the White House and both houses of Congress, build momentum for a single-payer system like Medicare for All. But it was a victory, and the ACA has already provided access to health coverage for millions for whom it had been out of reach.

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The world’s largest pension fund is changing the way it invests, with big consequences for the market Mar 15th 2014 | TOKYO | From the print edition

Risk on

WHEN George Soros, a billionaire investor, met Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, at Davos in January, he hectored him about asset management. Japan’s massive public pension fund needed to take more risk, he reportedly told Mr Abe. With ¥128.6 trillion ($1.25 trillion) of assets, the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) is the world’s biggest public-sector investor, outgunning both foreign rivals and Arab sovereign-wealth funds. Yet its mountain of money is run by risk-averse bureaucrats using an investment strategy not much more adventurous than stuffing bundles of yen under a futon. It keeps around two-thirds of assets in bonds, mostly of the local variety. Like an investing novice, it mostly follows indices passively, and hardly ventures abroad.

The government would dearly love to oblige Mr Soros. Mr Abe is now taking steps to overhaul the fund. In November last year an official panel laid out a plan of far-reaching reform, some of which could take effect as soon as this year. To boost returns to future pensioners, it concluded, the GPIF should reduce its reliance on bonds, head into stocks and also invest in different asset classes including infrastructure and venture capital.

Most radically, the government wants to break the ties that bind the GPIF to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. It is the ministry’s cautious bureaucrats that keep the fund so averse to risk-taking. Even with a low return, of an annualised 1.54% over the past 12 years, the GPIF has met its own targets cheaply. The ministry is frugal to the point of meanness. The fund’s 80-strong staff are often unable to buy the market data they need. It is one thing to keep costs low, quite another to forgo receptionists, as the GPIF does at its non-descript office in Tokyo.

For Mr Abe, geeing up the fund is part of his plan to revive Japan’s economy, alongside a radical monetary easing which the Bank of Japan began in earnest in April 2013. As well as defeating deflation, Mr Abe seeks to boost risk-taking in the economy. The planned changes to the fund also include demanding better corporate governance from Japan’s large companies.

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