In the first half, writer, teacher, and author Bill Friedman discussed the inside story of the criminal careers of the leaders of the three biggest liquor gangs and how they built 80% of the Las Vegas Strip gambling resorts from the Flamingo in 1946 to Caesars Palace in 1966. During Prohibition, the leaders of the organized crime gangs ran huge operations importing fine quality liquors, but when Prohibition ended, the gangs all started getting into gambling, opening high end casinos across America that were fronted by nightclubs. As a reform movement closed casinos around the country, the gang leaders focused on developing the Las Vegas Strip. Friedman, who worked as blackjack dealer during the early era of Vegas casinos, cited Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, and Moe Dalitz as among the most powerful mobsters who started and ran the casinos.
Friedman said Dalitz, who built the Stardust (in its day, it was the the biggest hotel and casino in the world), was particularly influential in teaching the other bosses in how to go about running such operations. In organized crime, the goal is to separate a person from their money, but what made the Vegas mobsters different is that with gamblers they could get their money without having to harm anyone physically, Friedman explained. In fact, these top Vegas bosses rejected vendettas and preached to the rest of the underworld-- "let's stop the violence" when it came to competitors, as there was enough money to go around, he added.
In the latter half, founder of Black Box Voting, an investigative reporting and public education organization for elections, Bev Harris, talked about voting issues related to the presidential primaries, and past elections. At the 2016 Iowa caucus, the Democrats have been refusing requests for transparency, and the Des Moines Register called the Democratic caucus the "equivalent to a smoke-filled backroom," she reported. Looking toward the primary in New Hampshire, the state's voting process is less transparent than Iowa, with final results tabulated by a single person onto an Excel spreadsheet that no one is allowed to watch, Harris revealed.
South Carolina, which uses a completely paperless touchscreen that sends results to a company in Tampa for counting, also has a troubled history when it comes to elections, she cited. The state "is so under the thumb of political party bosses in the most invisible way possible...What I expect to see in South Carolina is that the candidates who are not favored with their state political parties will be dropped down considerably," she remarked. Curiously, she noted that when Internet or smart phone voting has been tried out such as in Hawaii-- rather than increasing the number of voters as would be expected, participation actually goes down. For more, check out a documentary on Harris' work, called Hacking Democracy.