Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 27–Palestine Payment Update

Great news! Obama‘s two hundred million-dollar transfer on his way out the door to Palestine in order to spite our (ostensibly) strongest Middle East ally, Israel, went through.

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 23–Palestine Payment

President Trump allowed the check to clear, according to Business Insider. Multiple sources reported earlier this year that Trump recognized the Congressional “holds” on the highly controversial payment, would review it and was poised to overturn the deal.

The money was reported to go to hospitals and West Bank “infrastructure,” not the Palestinian Authority.

Despite a review imposed on the payment by the incoming Trump administration, and the perception that Obama had turned away from supporting Israel towards the end of his term, acting State Department Spokesman Mark Toner confirmed the money had reached the Palestinians last month. 

[…]

“None of the funding was to go directly to the Palestinian Authority,” said Toner, contrary to reports that came out at the time. “It’s my understanding that the money has been released.”

So it’s not really clear if the money went to Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian Authority, or if Palestine is even actually a country. The United Nations recognizes it as a non-member UN observer state, whatever that means.

[According to Wikipedia, that means:

Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization’s activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations (IGO) to non-member parties and international nongovernmental organizations (INGO) that have an interest in the IGO’s activities. Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions.]

[F]ar from being a slight to Israel, experts say the funds released by Obama, and later approved by Trump, actually promote stability in the region. 

“The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli government are the biggest lobbyists of Congress in favor of continuing Palestinian aid,” Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum, told Business Insider in January

Koplow credits the US and Israel’s aid to the West Bank for keeping it from becoming “a haven for terrorism and a launching ground for rocket attacks,” as is the case with Gaza, another territory occupied by Palestinians. 

As we reported in our previous post, Israel (and America) fund Palestinian authority because it is the most stable alternative, or something. Fortunately, America has no debt and plenty of cash to throw at foreigners.

According to Washington Post on May 2:

The Palestinians are saying they think Trump might be the one — with the right mix of bombast and unpredictability — to restart peace negotiations with Israel with the aim of securing Palestinian borders, a capital and a state.

[…]

In an interview with Reuters on [April 27], Trump said: “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”

[…]

[Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu often says he is prepared to meet [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas anywhere, anytime, without preconditions — before listing his preconditions: that Abbas must recognize not only Israel, which Abbas has done, but Israel as “the Jewish state.” Abbas has been reluctant to do so, in part because more than 20 percent of the Israeli population consists of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

Today, Israel and its congressional supporters are urging Trump to push Abbas to stop social welfare payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and assailants either wounded or killed by Israeli forces­ during terrorist attacks.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-221-million-palestine-israel-foreign-aid-2017-4

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/palestinians-think-trump-can-make-a-deal/2017/05/02/b5a64c7c-2c48-11e7-9081-f5405f56d3e4_story.html?utm_term=.d01daa8ab416

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 21–Bill Nye the Gender Guy/Girl/Continuum Plugs for Eugenics, Orgies and Monsanto

Disclosure: The authors’ viewership of Bill Nye Saves the World consists only of the clips contained in this article.

Climate change awareness propagandist Bill Nye the Science Guy has really [SETTLED SCIENCE ALERT] evolved from the days of his 1990s eponymous, taxpayer-propped series (used to fulfill the Children’s Television Act requirements of TV stations that air children’s programming, levied by the Federal Communications Commission).

His new gig on Netflix, Bill Nye Saves the World, is rated “TV-14.” It is not difficult to see why.

Mother Jones brought us a couple excerpts:

According to the episode list on Wikipedia, Bill starts by exploring (relatively) innocuous and arguably essential public awareness topics such as climate change and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The series then addresses the “sexual spectrum” and “Earth’s people problem.”

Conservative National Review reports the latter episode involves Nye and his guests contemplat[ing] a thorny “scientific” question: How can the state stop people from having “extra kids”?

New York Post had more on that controversial exchange:

[Nye]: “Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?

Travis Rieder, a bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University, said he believed it was a good idea.

“I do think that we should at least consider it,” he told Nye.

 “Well, ‘at least consider it’ is like ‘Do it,’” Nye said.

Rieder replied, “One of the things that we could do that’s kind of least policy-ish is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change, right?”

Presumably this is all in pursuit of conserving resources:

Before Nye posed the controversial question, Rieder had claimed that children in developed countries such as the United States typically used 160 times more resources than those elsewhere.

*

Gender identity is not necessarily relevant to the sexual spectrum episode from the clip we viewed, but can also be a divisive issue politically. Divisive, like telophase of the chromosomes! Nye went back in time to do some editing of his past belief in chromosomes determining a person’s gender.

[YouTube bowed to political pressure and struck the damning video from its streaming servers. The Guardian has what appears to be the entire original episode that includes the chromosome conundrum at 9:07:

Just like with Snowden, we must rely on the British press.

On May 3, Washington Free Beacon reported:

A segment saying that chromosomes determine one’s gender on an episode of the educational children’s show “Bill Nye the Science guy,” is cut out on the Netflix version.

Netflix did not edit Bill Nye The Science Guy. The series was delivered that way by Buena Vista TV, according to a Netflix spokesperson.

[…]

 

[I]n the version of the episode uploaded to Netflix, the segment [asserting genetics determine gender] has been cut entirely. While noncontroversial at the time, the 1996 segment appears to contradict Netflix’s new series “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

The new show endorses a socially liberal understanding of gender, under which gender is defined by self-identification rather than genetics and there are more than just the two traditional genders.

Update May 5, 2017 9:28 a.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Netflix, which says it did not have a role in cutting the segment from the episode.

*

Left-wing Vox notes the intended target audience is “skeptics”: Bill Nye Saves the World’s agenda is explicitly skeptical — that is, it’s geared toward debunking false assumptions about science, bad pseudoscience, medical quackery, and harmful non-scientific beliefs.

[…]

A longstanding criticism of the skeptics community is that its members often profess mocking or condescending attitudes toward anyone who believes in things skeptics are opposed to — primarily religion, the paranormal, and pseudoscience.

[…]

 

This attitude is prevalent on Nye’s show, which frequently takes a scathing and dismissive tone toward non-scientific belief systems.

 At one point during a demonstration of Earth’s origins, Nye banishes from his diorama of early life on the planet a small model of Noah’s ark, declaring, “there’s no freaking Noah’s ark, I’m sorry,” as he tosses it aside.

Vox further exposes Nye’s hypocrisy on GMOs: the D.C. dandy hosts a Monsanto cheerleader in his series:

Nye recently reversed his entire stance on GMOs following a visit to Monsanto, and it quickly becomes evident that [Monsanto chief technical officer Robert] Fraley is there not just to defend GMOs, but Monsanto itself.

[Keep those Federal farm subsidies coming, they’re definitely lifelines for struggling small farmers and not benefiting Big Agriculture and gene-splicing plant technology giants like Monsanto. Hundreds of millions of dollars in farm subsidies are claimed annually by people that have never set foot on a farm according to Environmental Working Group. Oops. Bill the taxpayers.]

Even more to their credit, Vox reports:

[Nye] does briefly bring up that Monsanto produced Agent Orange, but fails to explain what it was: a chemical defoliant used strategically during the Vietnam War that decimated the environment, exposed millions of US soldiers to cancer-causing toxins, and caused hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese children to be born with birth defects. Instead, he lobs a softball question at Fraley in which they both treat Monsanto’s production of Agent Orange as an unfortunate accident from a bygone historical moment — when in fact, Agent Orange continues to impact both the country and Vietnam veterans to this day. Nye also sort-of brings up Roundup’s role in decimating the Monarch butterfly population, yet neglects to mention that Monsanto is the company that makes Roundup.

All emphasis is ours.

Related:

Bill Nye the Statist Guy

Thanks to our sources:

http://nypost.com/2017/04/26/bill-nye-should-we-penalize-parents-for-having-extra-kids/

http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/21/15356610/bill-nye-saves-the-world-review-skepticism-monsanto

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/04/bill-nye-ice-cream-orgy

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447166/bill-nye-repulsive-views

http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2013/10/farming-isn-t-requirement-claim-farm-subsidies

https://www.climaterealityproject.org/video/climate-101-bill-nye

http://freebeacon.com/culture/netflix-edits-bill-nye-episode-remove-segment-chromosomes-determine-gender/

April 12–Chik-fil-A Under Assault Again at Duquesne; Wellesley Defends First Amendment Disregard and Outlines Which Genders May Apply

Duquesne University in Pittsburgh reported on a March 26 Student Government Association attack on the Southern fried chicken vendor, Chik-fil-A.

The fast food franchise operates under Christian Southern Baptist values, famously closing on Sundays to allow employees to attend church. They also found themselves in hot peanut oil in 2012 when founder S. Truett Cathy (age: 91) and his son Dan (then COO, now CEO after S. Truett’s death) made statements to the media expressing their belief in marriage as a union of opposite sexes. Chik-fil-A has also reportedly given millions of dollars to pro-heterosexual marriage only organizations.

Specifically, according to Wikipedia, Dan Cathy said those who “have the audacity to define what marriage is about” were “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

Incidentally, 2012 was the year President Obama announced his support for gay marriage. Hillary Clinton announced her support the following year. Both campaigned for president in 2008 defending marriage as a union between man and woman only.

The Duke:

Senator at Large Niko Martini proposed that the SGA pass a resolution asking the university to reconsider the inclusion of Chick-fil-A as a dining option for students.

[…]

Chick-fil-A has a questionable history on civil rights and human rights,” he said in a statement to The Duke. “I think it’s imperative the university chooses to do business with organizations that coincide with the [university’s] mission and expectations they give students regarding diversity and inclusion.”

[…]

 

Lambda [Gay Straight Alliance] President Rachel Coury personally said she worries the safety provided by Gay-Straight Alliance might be in jeopardy.

“I’ve tried very hard within the last semester and a half to promote this safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community,” Coury said. “So I fear that with the Chick-fil-A being in Options that maybe people will feel that safe place is at risk.”

Duquesne announced March 20 the addition of the Chick-fil-A Express to the Options Food Court beginning in the upcoming fall semester. The decision to add a Chick-fil-A was a response to student feedback, according to Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare.

 

The problem seems to stem from a $1,017,610 donation Chik-fil-A made to Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2014.

The FCA has a “Sexual Purity Statement” for its volunteers and staff. It includes stipulations such as, “The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”

[…]

“It would be a really big deal for Lambda and the whole LGBTQ community on campus if someone could make a statement to eliminate the fear of being marginalized by having this business on campus,” Coury said.

 

[all our emphasis]

*

Duquesne is not the first left-leaning university to decry the dangerous chicken. Student government at The Johns Hopkins University in 2015 preemptively banned Chik-fil-A from operating on campus. The Southern fried chicken giant had reportedly not even considered vending to the $3.4 billion-endowed charitable organization at the time of the ban.

*

It was shaping up to be quite a day for “higher education.” The Wellesley News, student newspaper of the private all-female Massachusetts school Wellesley College, ran a typo- and error-rife editorial defending the suppression of speech they do not endorse.

It read in part:

“Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech [sic?]. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.

“Students who come to Wellesley hail from a variety of diverse backgrounds. With this diversity comes previously-held biases that are in part the products of home environments. Wellesley forces us to both recognize and grow from these beliefs, as is the mark of a good college education. However, as students, it is important to recognize that this process does not occur without bumps along the way. It is inevitable that there will be moments in this growth process where mistakes will happen and controversial statements will be said [sic].

We have all said problematic claims [sic], the origins of which were ingrained in us by our discriminatory and biased society. Luckily, most of us have been taught by our peers and mentors at Wellesley in a productive way. It is vital that we encourage people to correct and learn from their mistakes rather than berate them for a lack of education they could not control.

“This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted.

[…]

It is important to note that our preference for education over beration [sic] regards students who may have not been given the chance to learn. Rather, we are not referring to those who have already had the incentive to learn and should have taken the opportunities to do so [sic]. Paid professional lecturers and politicians are among those who should know better.

[…]

There is no denying that problematic opinions need to be addressed in order to stop Wellesley from becoming a place where hate speech and casual discrimination is okay. 

[all our emphasis]

*

Our research of the $48,802/year-tuition outfit found some guidelines as to exactly what qualifies a woman’s application to Wellesley. (Men are ineligible to apply.)

From the Reaffirmation of Mission and Announcing Gender Policy and FAQ:

What does it mean to “live as a woman and consistently identify as a woman”?

Wellesley invites applications from all those who live as women and consistently identify as women and who are prepared for a rigorous academic environment that challenges them to achieve at their highest potential.
 
“Consistently” simply denotes a student’s commitment to her gender identity. If an applicant’s gender identity is not clearly reflected in her application materials, the College will request additional information that may include a letter from a parent, healthcare provider, teacher, or clergy, to give a few examples.

Are trans men eligible for admission?

No. Wellesley is deeply committed to our mission to educate women and the College is proud of its history of graduating women who demonstrate the value of women’s leadership. Wellesley does not accept applications from men. Those assigned female at birth who identify as men are not eligible for admission.

Are trans women eligible for admission?

Yes. Wellesley accepts applications from women. Those assigned male at birth who identify as women are eligible for admission.

Are individuals assigned female at birth who identify as non-binary eligible for admission?

Yes. That said, Wellesley is a college dedicated to the education of women. The College provides students with a uniquely empowering learning environment—one designed specifically to prepare women to thrive in a complex world. This singular focus on women is a critical part of the Wellesley experience. Wellesley accepts applications from those who were assigned female at birth and who feel they belong in our community of women.

 

What support will Wellesley provide if a student no longer identifies as a woman after matriculation?

We support all of our students. Once accepted to Wellesley, every student receives the full support and mentorship of College faculty, staff, and administrators through graduation. If, after being accepted, a student no longer identifies as a woman, the College will continue to support that student. If a student decides to transfer because the student would prefer another educational and social environment, Wellesley will support and facilitate that choice. If the student wishes to continue on and graduate from Wellesley, we will support that choice as well.

 

[all our emphasis]

Interestingly, Hillary is a Wellesley alumnus.

Thanks to our sources:

Student group leaders concerned about Duquesne Chick-fil-A

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76109_Page2.html

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jun/17/hillary-clinton/hillary-clinton-change-position-same-sex-marriage/

http://time.com/3834244/johns-hopkins-chick-fil-a/

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/wellesley-college-2224

Free speech is not violated at Wellesley

http://www.wellesley.edu/about/president/trustees/announcement#YkQX7R11SdJJJCzC.99

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 11–Federal “Thaw”

That didn’t take long.

After assuming office on promises to rein in entitled agency fat cats and their bureaucracies, President Trump signed an executive order in January imposing a “freeze” on all hiring of civilian Federal “workers.”

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 27–Federal Hiring Freeze and Zuckerberg’s Private Hawaiian Isle

But less than three months later (in which Trump also released a big-spending, unsustainable spending proposal for fiscal year 2018 that will raise deficits beyond the $9.4 trillion in new national debt that will accumulate in the next ten years even without spending increases), the hordes of paper pushers and their armies of union officials, lobbyists and big-government zealots from both major parties persuaded the president a malignant, bloated, stifling Federal “work”force must continue to grow. Like cancer.

As Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney–championed as a conservative cost-cutter in his confirmation hearing–cautioned [STUPID PHRASE ALERT]: “It does not mean the agencies will be free to hire willy-nillyWhat we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that was put in place on day one and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.”

The Hill had more:

[T]he freeze resulted in an increased backlog of benefits claims at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department, which Trump pledged to strengthen during the campaign. 

It also created delays in the processing of Social Security checks, staff shortages at federal prisons, the closure of childcare facilities at military bases and fewer workers at the Food and Drug Administration to work on drug approvals.

But not to worry! For the 2019 fiscal year budget, agencies are required by memorandum to “begin taking immediate actions” to cut their employee numbers (to achieve the Trump budget’s lauded “savings” from cutting domestic programs like EPA–which will reportedly all be funneled to the military) and  to “maximize employee performance” in plans due June 30.

The Hill also reported Mulvaney’s insistence that Trump will not be cutting anything from Social Security or Medicare, keeping his campaign promise to ensure financial ruin for the “millennial” generation and their descendants.

The Feds confiscated a record $3,270,000,000,000 in taxes during fiscal year 2016, and spent that plus an additional $587,000,000,000. The latter amount was our deficit just for 2016.

The total national debt will soon hit $20,000,000,000,000.

Thanks to our sources:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/328371-white-house-to-lift-federal-hiring-freeze

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/328506-trump-cut-social-security-reforms-from-budget-propsal

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-prepares-budget-proposal-actual-u-s-debt/

http://freebeacon.com/issues/government-collects-3-27-trillion-taxes-fiscal-year-2016/

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 9–United We Drag

The Dark Past Of Dr David Dao, Man Abused On United Airlines Flight flight 3

If anyone was living under a rock the week before Easter (like Jesus in the tomb?), United Airlines partnered with the Chicago Police Department to demonstrate the worst possible time slot to physically assault someone on camera with literally close to a hundred witnesses: Sunday night.

For the next week, the national news extensively covered the ensuing public relations crisis that would cast half-assed competitor Delta Airlines as nearly competent by comparison when United instructed Chicago Police Department officers to remove Dr. David Dao from his plane home to Kentucky. They did so, quite forcefully.

Yahoo!:

[Two passengers who reportedly filmed the now-viral footage] gave similar accounts of the incident to the Louisville Courier-Journal and on Twitter: United had overbooked the flight and was looking for four volunteers to leave the plane in order to send four United crew members to Louisville. Passengers were allowed to board and United offered $800 to anyone who gave up their seat, but when there were no volunteers, United said a computer would randomly select four passengers. The man in the video claimed to be a doctor who had patients to see in the morning and refused to leave, at which point airport security dragged him off the plane.

The United Contract of Carriage lays out specific policies for passengers who are not allowed to board overbooked flights but doesn’t cite policy for removing passengers who are already seated on such flights.

United told Yahoo!:

Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.”

*

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly with him to address and resolve this situation.” –United CEO Oscar Munoz

Munoz continued to withhold an actual apology to Dao (which presumably surfaced amidst Dao’s vast monetary settlement).

ABC was all over Munoz’ response within the company:

CEO Oscar Munoz shared information about the incident, captured on video by other passengers, in an internal memo to employees that was obtained by ABC News:

“…When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions,” Munoz wrote.

“He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent,” the memo continued. “Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight.

“We are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are.”

Interestingly, we may have to acknowledge Delta’s rare superiority to a competitor:

In 2016, United denied boarding at a rate of 0.43 per 10,000 passengers, according to the Department of Transportation’s “Air Travel Consumer Report.” American Airlines’ rate was 0.64, and Delta Air Lines’ was 0.10. These numbers include passengers who have confirmed reservations and are involuntarily denied boarding on a flight that is oversold.

*

New York Post reported some unsavory details about the Elizabethtown, KY-based pulmonologist.

 

Specifically, Dao, 69, had his medical license suspended in 2003 following his arrest on charges including unlawful prescribing and trafficking in a controlled substance.

He was accused of providing prescriptions for Vicodin and other narcotics to a former patient he later hired as his office manager, who was identified in news reports at the time as Brian Case.

The men repeatedly hooked up in motels, with Dao paying Case around $200 each time and also sharing in the drugs, according to a 130-page file compiled by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.

On the day he was busted, Dao was secretly videotaped with Case in a Red Carpet Inn in Jefferson County, Ky., “with his shirt off and his pants undone,” the records say.

Dao was convicted after a trial and sentenced to five years’ probation after the judge agreed to suspend a prison term of two-plus years recommended by the jury.

The licensing records also reveal how Dao was “the subject of many complaints” while working at Hardin Memorial Hospital.

The Medical Executive Committee there “took a strong stance in 2002, and put [Dao] on a corrective action plan due to his disruptive behavior” and referred him “for evaluation and anger management,” the papers say.

Since 2006, he’s won nearly $235,000 playing tournament poker, taking home $1,191 in one January contest, according to the World Series of Poker website.

Dao was reportedly working on a provisional reinstatement of his medical license, under supervision of another doctor.

Unilad.co.uk seemed to corroborate Dao’s perhaps sordid past.

*

According to CNBC, thousands of American travelers are involuntarily removed from flights annually. And the numbers are reportedly much lower in recent years. Over 40,000 passengers got pulled last year. Apparently not literally pulled, as Dr. Dao was.

http://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2017/04/11/unitedChart1-01.png

Fortunately (?), [b]y law, bumped passengers can receive up to $1,350 in compensation. The average amount received was around $800, according to Airhelp.com.

Yahoo!:

Two more officers involved in dragging a United Airlines passenger off a plane have been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement provided to Yahoo News.

“The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) continues reviewing the details surrounding the incident,” the CDA said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon. “As part of our review, two additional officers have been placed on administrative leave until further notice. The employees’ collective bargaining agreement prohibits the CDA from releasing their names at this time.”

Initially, one officer was placed on leave Monday following the removal of 69-year-old Dr. David Dao from United Airlines Flight 3411[.]

Dao was selected by the airline to give up his seat but refused, leading to the actions by the three officers.

CDA continued:

“Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) are part of the public safety teams at both O’Hare and Midway, and complement and assist the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and federal law enforcement. While they do have limited authority to make an arrest, Sunday’s incident was not within standard operating procedures nor will we tolerate that kind of action. That is why we quickly placed the aviation security officer on leave pending a thorough review of the situation.”

By Friday, United stock had dropped by over 4%, reducing their “market cap” by $770 million.

But wait. Was Dao bumped within United’s legal constraints? According to Forbes:

[Dao’s] flight from Chicago to Louisville was not overbooked and no passengers were denied boarding. The latter part of that sentence should be abundantly clear by seeing the videos of David Dao being hauled from his seat.

On Tuesday, United appeared to acknowledge that this was not technically an overbooked flight. And the reason for that equivocation is also clear. The four airline employees who needed the seats, presented themselves to the gate agent after the flight was boarded. Further, they were not fare-paying passengers, therefore not “booked.

On April 27, CNN Money reported Dao had been compensated for his international humiliation and physical trauma. Terms were not disclosed. He did, however, sustain a concussion and broken nose in the removal, as well as the forceful “removal” of his two front teeth.

The “disruptive and belligerent” line from Munoz should be considered. According to officers Mauricio Rodriguez and James Long, Dao was “swinging closed fists” when they tried to escort him off with less hubbub.

Rodriguez, Long and two other officers, Steve Smith and John T. Moore, were all eventually placed on leave by Chicago PD.

Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the story were buried in the April 25 CNN article detailing the officers’ report:

Long, who finally removed Dao from the plane, also recounted that Dao was then placed on the floor of the jetway and was offered water after saying that he was a diabetic. Then, Long’s report says, Dao pushed past Rodriguez and another officer and ran back into the plane.

 

“I’m not getting off the plane, just kill me. I want to go home,” Dao said, holding onto a pole in the galley area of the aircraft, according to Rodriguez’s report.

A crew member, whose name is redacted from the documents, confirms the reports, writing that Dao “was spitting blood saying, ‘I’m going home. Just kill me.'”

Rodriguez’s statement to his watch commander, along with another officer’s statement which CNN has seen, was submitted “under duress,” according to the report. “I am only giving this statement at this time because I know that I could lose my job if I refuse the direct order given to me,” the statement reads.

Fly safe, everyone!

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/united-passenger-forcibly-removed-flight-refusing-give-seat-134930951.html

https://gma.yahoo.com/united-ceo-tells-employees-lessons-learn-man-dragged-082800197–abc-news-topstories.html#

http://nypost.com/2017/04/11/doctor-dragged-off-flight-convicted-of-trading-drugs-for-sex/

The Dark Past Of Dr David Dao, Man Abused On United Airlines Flight

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/11/involuntary-airline-re-accomodations-happen-all-the-time.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/additional-officers-placed-leave-united-passenger-removal-222312365.html

http://time.com/money/4739880/united-airlines-fiasco-overbooked-passenger-dragged-stock-price-value/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinenegroni/2017/04/12/united-flight-not-overbooked-airline-admits/#1075b8c32f18

http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/27/news/companies/united-airlines-dao-settlement/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/us/united-airlines-incident-officers-report/

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! Fighting Death with Destruction–April 6

This post has been updated 5/7/17 at 8:00 AM, including its title. The previous title, “Fighting Death with More Death,” was inaccurate because there were reportedly no casualties at the airfield from some sources; Syrian officials reported 15 dead.

Time to play war! U.S. President Donald Trump, after what had to be at least 15 minutes of careful consideration, reacted to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad reportedly gassing citizens in Khan Shaykhun with sarin (this is poisonous) on April 4 by hitting the al-Shayrat airfield in Khan Shaykhun that we think was used to launch the sarin gas. Well, sort of hitting it. ABC of Australia reported at the time:

[In] the first direct American assault on the Syrian Government, and Donald Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president […] [a]bout 60 US Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian Government aircraft launched with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.

[…]

The base was where US officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the attack destroyed six planes in repair hangers, but said only 23 of the rockets hit the target and it was not clear where the other 36 landed, according to Russian news agencies.

Sometimes we have to get shown up by Russia on an international stage because they will call out American failures to score political points. See later in this article.

In a statement, the office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called the attack “reckless” and “irresponsible”, saying it showed Washington was “naively pulled behind a false propaganda campaign”.

According to CNN, Assad’s original sarin spray on a rebel-held town killed more than 80 people and injured more than 500, according to a Syrian Civil Defense report on the attacks.

[Of note, the August 2013 sarin gas attack on Ghouta, Syria civilians, believed to be perpetrated by Assad, killed 1,429 people […] including at least 426 children according to a preliminary U.S. intelligence report. That attack led to America and Russia removing Syria’s chemical weapons. Or did it? See later in this article.]

Regarding the U.S. actions this time around, Russia was pissed:

Russian President Vladimir Putin [said] the US strike broke international law and seriously hurt US-Russia relations.

News agencies citing Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he regarded the US action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext” and as a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq.

Mr Peskov was quoted as saying Russia did not believe that Syria possessed chemical weapons and the US move would inevitably create a serious obstacle to creating an international coalition to fight terrorism, an idea Mr Putin has repeatedly pushed.

Russia said it would now suspend a deal with the US to help prevent mid-air collisions over Syria.

The deal meant Russia and the US would exchange information about their flights to avoid incidents in the crowded skies over Syria.

[Next time, we should just blindfold all our pilots voluntarily. Same danger, but Russia–our ally???–won’t be unnecessarily antagonized.]

Trump supporters were pissed:

In France, National Front leader [and presidential candidate] Marine Le Pen […] appeared to distance herself from Trump, saying on Twitter that she “strongly condemned” the “horrible” strike on the Syrian airbase.

Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, who campaigned for Trump, wrote on Twitter: “Those who wanted us meddling in the Middle East voted for other candidates.” […] “Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast,” she wrote. “Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV.”

And Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) called on Trump to consult on Congress. “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Paul said. “The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate.”

Fortunately, some of our allies with nukes appeared to take America’s side:

[Current] French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — with whom Trump has had particularly chilly relations — said that Syrian President Bashar al “Assad is entirely responsible for the development of the situation.”

Stateside, conservative leaders were split. Hugh Hewitt and Mark Levin, conservative radio hosts, applauded Trump’s decision, according to New York Times.

But Richard Spencer, a “far-right activist and white nationalist…who coined the term ‘alt-right'” condemned the attack.

In fact, the Times noted the most vocal in their outrage were leaders from the small but vocal white nationalist movement.

Brian Williams Babbles

Disgraced “journalist” Brian Williams, who endured a six-month suspension as lead anchor for NBC Nightly News in 2015 after making multiple on-air references to his daring jaunt in 2003 Iraq that turned out to be fabricated, called the American weapons launch “beautiful“:

Yahoo!:

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Williams Thursday night. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

Brian Williams

Hillary the Hawk’s Handle

CNN had some great excerpts of Hillary Clinton urging Trump from a New York City “Women in the World” summit  in the hours before the strike to pursue that particular violent option.

“Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days. And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

 

“I wish, obviously I wish that the international community writ large had been able to rein this in.”

[our emphasis]

[“writ large” is a fancy term for “I’m more rich and powerful than you little people, so I will make up a phrase.”]

She then talked about “the Comey letter,” “Wikileaks,” and “misogyny.” The full transcript was not available, but we assume she was reflecting on her election loss to Donald Trump.

Hillary also mentioned the Republicans had talked about “repeal and replace[ment]” of Obamacare for seven years, but “I don’t know that any of them had ever read the bill!”

*

On Friday April 7, as the legal community began to examine Trump’s unilateral decision to assault Syria, Hillary doubled down on her support of the strikes, this time with a more “it’s the world’s responsibility” tone and less of a “that’s somewhere I could have bombed as Secretary of State but I had to resign and run for president” admission.

“Look, Syria’s been a wicked problem for a very long time. And the images of innocent people, of parents and especially of children suffering in the aftermath of that most recent deadly gas attack were more appalling than I certainly can put into words. As I said yesterday afternoon, it is essential that the world does more to deter Assad  from committing future murderous atrocities. But the action taken last night needs to be followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war and to eliminate ISIS strongholds on both sides of the border. So I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is both strategic and consistent with our values. And I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s doors to them.” 

[our emphasis]

We do not have the most stellar record for slaughtering Syrians.

America dropped thousands of bombs in seven countries last year. Our executive branch has operated behind a 2001 Authorization of Military Force instead of declaring war on any country for the past 16 years.

The vast majority of the 26,171 American bombs detonated in 2016 were dropped in Iraq and Syria. Syria received 12,192. It’s okay because the candidates pandered to taxpayers during the campaign about our responsibility to shelter the refugees we helped create.

On September 17, 2016, America led 37 airstrikes in Deir al-Zour, Syria. While they were reportedly trying to hit ISIS, about 100 friendly Syrian army troops were killed instead. Oops. New York Times got this intelligence from Russia because the American military likes to sweep its utterly unconstitutional destruction sessions under the rug whenever possible.

New York Times:

The United States acknowledged on Saturday that its warplanes had carried out an airstrike in Syria that resulted in the deaths of Syrian government troops. American military officials said the pilots in the attack, in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, believed they were targeting the Islamic State.

[…]
A partial cease-fire that started on Monday continues to steadily unravel after it was declared with much fanfare by the United States and Russia.

A senior Obama administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the strike was still being investigated, said the United States had relayed its regrets to the Syrian government through the Russians for the “unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces” fighting the Islamic State.

Syria’s government labeled the disaster a very serious and flagrant aggression” that aided the Islamic State and proved its long-held assertion that the United States supports the jihadist group as part of an effort to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

These attacks confirmed that the U.S. clearly supports the terrorism of Daesh,” SAMA television, a state-run news outlet, said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The channel quoted a statement issued by the Syrian military’s general command, which said the attack exposed “false claims of fighting terrorism” by the United States.

[U.S.] Central Command, known as Centcom, denied it would carry out such an airstrike on purpose.

New York Times spoke with “a Centcom [U.S. Central Command] official who requested anonymity because the episode was still being investigated”:

The attack went on for about 20 minutes, with the planes destroying the vehicles and gunning down dozens of people in the open desert, the official said. Shortly after this, an urgent call came into the American military command center in Qatar, the outpost in the Persian Gulf that coordinates the aerial campaign in Syria and Iraq.

The call was from a Russian official who said that the American planes were bombing Syrian troops and that the strike should immediately be called off. The Centcom official said the attack was halted within minutes, but not until dozens had been killed.

NYT confirmed with the perpetrators:

“Coalition forces believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position that they had been tracking for a significant amount of time before the strike,” the Centcom statement said. “The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”

Our bumbling UN ambassador at the time:

Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of pulling a “stunt” by calling for an emergency Security Council meeting over the episode.

But wait. So we killed some innocent people. The enemy [ISIS, we think] were not otherwise helped by hundreds of millions of dollars of unconstitutional American bombing accidentally hitting the wrong target. Were they?

The Syrian Army Command said that American warplanes had bombed an army base on Al-Tharda mountain at 5 p.m., allowing “a wide terrorist offensive” by the Islamic State that allowed it to seize the base.

*

Interestingly, hawk Hillary may have missed her chance to bomb Syria as she did Libya (total success, that operation) as she prepared to resign the Secretary position.

According to CNN:

The Obama administration asked Congress in August 2013 for authorization to launch a military strike on Syria [six months after Hillary resigned as Secretary of State]. That vote never happened after a preliminary agreement was struck to remove chemical weapons from Syria.

Of the chemical weapons removal America supervised at that time because we are the world’s security force, Hillary said,
“Who knows whether they hid some or they bought more. We don’t know. We just know the impact.”

 All emphasis is ours.

*

UPDATE:

It is unclear how many casualties resulted from Trump’s strike on the airfield. According to Wikipedia: zero. But just as only some of the missiles actually hit the airfield, the Syrian capabilities to launch sarin gas were reportedly only weakened. Guardian:

Observers had reported the base had been badly destroyed by the 1,000lb warheads and that several planes and a runway had been put out of service. However it is thought that an advance warning given by the US to Russia allowed Syria enough time to remove many of its aircraft before the raid. 

“Although the strike will further weaken the overall air defense and ground attack capabilities of the (Syrian air force), it will not significantly diminish the ability of the Assad regime to conduct further chemical weapons attacks,” wrote analyst Reed Foster of the defense and intelligence publication Jane’s.

In addition to Assad’s possession of 20 additional airbases,

Syrian government officials said the [al-Shayrat] base has played an instrumental role in the fight against the Islamic State group, which until recently controlled the historic town of Palmyra in Homs province.

“This very airport that was attacked by the United States has been fighting against terrorists for the last six years,” Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr Assad, said.

Also,

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, said the attacks had fatally undermined Moscow’s initial trust in the new US administration and brought the countries to the “the verge of a military clash.”

[all our emphasis]

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-07/us-launches-cruise-missile-strike-on-syria/8425132

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/30/government-assessment-syrian-government-s-use-chemical-weapons-august-21

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/07/politics/donald-trump-syria-populist-support/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/17/middleeast/syria-claims-coalition-airstrike-hit-regime-forces/index.htm

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327728-us-launches-missile-strike-against-syria-in-response-to-gas-attack

Hillary Backs Syria Strike, But Says It ‘Needs to Be Followed By a Broader Strategy’

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-media-critics-praise-syria-strikes-154025787.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/politics/hillary-clinton-syria-assad/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/08/syrian-warplanes-take-air-base-bombed-us-tomahawks/

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-airstrike-20170406-story.html

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 7–Neil Gorsuch

SENATE GOES NUCLEAR!!!

Demented DC fixture Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had some hateful speech for the Senate majority as he joined his colleagues in changing the body rules to confirm U.S. Tenth Circuit appellate judge Neil Gorsuch (below) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch official portrait.jpg

Democrats had filibustered the nomination of Gorsuch, 49. Republicans, who hold 52 Senate seats, were unable to muster a supermajority of 60 votes to break the filibuster. Instead, they held a 52-48 party-line vote to implement a “nuclear” option: the Senate will now require just 51 votes to allow a vote on Supreme Court justice appointments.

Yahoo! had more:

“It’s a bad day for democracy,” McCain said before entering the Senate chamber, where he later voted with fellow Republicans to change the rules. “I think it’s a terrible mistake that we will regret for many, many years to come.

[…]

There’s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster, not one,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We all understand that’s what makes the Senate the Senate.”

McCain speaks to reporters after the Senate voted to remove the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees on Thursday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

[McCain (above) was re-elected in November with 53.7% of the vote.]

“I find myself torn between protecting the traditions and practices of the Senate and the importance of having a full complement of justices on the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m left with no choice. I will vote to change the rules an [sic] allow Judge Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.”

[our emphasis]

According to Yahoo!, McCain’s April 4 statement on the matter was even more patronizing to the American people who are apparently supposed to stomach the notion that the six-term senator, 80, has any integrity at all:

I would like to meet that idiot, I’d like to meet the numskull that would say [changing the rule for Gorsuch is a good thing]. Whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions. And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid.”

[our emphasis]

Democrats, led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), similarly changed filibuster rules in 2013, requiring only a 51-vote majority in the Senate to break filibusters on all presidential nominees except Supreme Court justices (i.e., executive branch and all other judicial appointments). Once the filibuster is broken, these nominees can be confirmed by a similar, simple majority vote.

USA Today notes Reid and the Democrats felt unrelenting Republican filibusters of Obama nominees for necessitated the rule change:

The turning point in the decades-long debate over Senate filibuster rules was Republicans’ decision to block all three of Obama’s latest nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation’s second-most-powerful court with vast jurisdiction over federal agencies and regulations.

April’s was therefore the second “nuclear” rule change for the U.S. Senate in four years.

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I believe they are right. The need for change is so very, very obvious.”–then-Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Reid (above; thanks, galleryhip.com) retired in 2016.

Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)famously warned the Democrats: “You will no doubt come to regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

Fifty-two of the fifty-five Democrats and their common-caucusing Independents voted for the 2013 rule change. Of the three Democrats in opposition, only Joe Manchin (WV) remains in the Senate today.

At the time, Dianne Feinstein noted: “I’ve sat on the Judiciary (Committee) for 20 years and it has never, ever been like this. You reach a point where your frustration just overwhelms and things have to change. I think the level of frustration on the Democratic side has just reached the point where it’s worth the risk.”

McCain, per USA Today, called the decision “foolish” and squarely blamed junior Democratic senators. “There are members that have never been in the minority who have been here a short time who basically drove this,” he said.

And Obama praised Reid’s maneuver: “A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to re-fight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal[.]”

*

For Mr. Gorsuch’s confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shamelessly misled the public by attempting to goad the Republicans into “changing the nominee” to allow Democrats to contribute at least eight votes to reach a 60-vote threshold. This is the number needed to end the filibuster Schumer orchestrated. Washington Post:

“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”

Also according to Post, Schumer decided to lead a filibuster because “[Gorsuch] was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Trump, and Mr. Gorsuch was “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology[.]”

Washington Post was complicit in Schumer’s fantasy that all Senate proceedings require 60 “yes” votes to break a filibuster (a sort of holdover from the Obama administration when Republicans filibustered ruthlessly and lead Dirty Harry to change the rules, as above) and not a simple majority of 51:

Among recent Supreme Court nominees, the 60-vote threshold has not caused a problem. President Barack Obama’s choices of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena ­Kagan each received more than 60 confirmation votes. Samuel A. Alito Jr., chosen by President George W. Bush, was confirmed 58 to 42 in 2006, but 72 senators voted to defeat a possible filibuster and allow his confirmation vote to go forward. Indeed, only Alito — among the last 16 Supreme Court nominees — was forced to clear the supermajority hurdle to break a filibuster.

President Obama had nominated chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit Merrick Garland in March 2016 following the unexpected death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans, who held the Senate majority, refused to hold a confirmation vote for Garland, leaving an eight-member court for about one year and prompting allegations they “stole” an additional Obama-appointed Supreme Court seat. The issue became more of a sore spot for liberals with Trump’s unexpected capture of the presidency, ensuring Hillary would not make the next nomination.

After the rule change, Gorsuch was confirmed 54-45 with 51 Republicans (led by now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) joined in the affirmative by three Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Manchin, and Joe Donnelly (IN). All three are up for re-election in 2018. Republican Johnny Isakson (GA) did not vote.

We were unable to find a quote from Obama reacting to the rule change and ensuing Gorsuch confirmation.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-06/gop-begins-nuclear-rule-move-to-advance-trump-high-court-pick

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mccain-filibuster-change-bad-day-democracy-172058093.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Arizona,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gorsuch-confirmation-hearing-to-focus-today-on-testimony-from-friends-foes/2017/03/23/14d21116-0fc7-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.a9fa2a9f85fa

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/11/21/harry-reid-nuclear-senate/3662445/

BREAKING: Comey at the Bat

Updated May 8 with additional reporting on Comey’s FBI priorities for investigations: namely, he apparently tried to warn the public last summer that the FBI was investigating Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election, but then-President Obama’s “Situation Room” shot Comey down.

On May 3, FBI director James Comey told a Senate panel in several hours of testimony he was “mildly nauseous” [someone get a hashtag circulating] about his late-October re-opening of the criminal investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s Secret Server, but stood by his decision.

“It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly it wouldn’t change the decision.”

–James Comey

Comey has been interviewed by the Justice Department inspector general, which is interesting because (see below) he took over the Secret Server investigation from…the Justice Department after Hillary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton stormed onto then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch‘s private jet for purposes still unknown. And in the heat of the investigation (and literal heat of the Phoenix, AZ airport tarmac!), too!

Hillary has recently emphasized Comey’s action as the reason du jour for her upset November loss of the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump.

She was cleared by the FBI for her unprecedented use of unsecured personal email and unilateral, massive-scale deletions of official State Departments communications as Obama’s first Secretary of State.

BREAKING NEWS

However, a separate FBI criminal investigation into top aide Huma Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner led to Comey’s brief return to the Hillary server just days before the presidential election.

BREAKING NEWS–PART ONE

The Hillary campaign decried the FBI’s conduct as “unprecedented” and “irresponsible,” while remaining stubbornly unaware of the irony.

“Unprecedented” and “Irresponsible”

*

Comey also told the Senate Judiciary Committee a little more about the FBI’s rank-pulling on the Hillary Secret Server investigation over the Justice Department.

“A number of things had gone on which I can’t talk about yet, that made me worry that the department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system […]

“And then the [STUPID PHRASE ALERT] capper was — and I’m not picking on the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, who I like very much — but her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me, and I then said, you know what, the department cannot, by itself, credibly end this.”

Hillary Email Updates

*

On the matter of the Weiner emails, classified Hillary communications were indeed found on the disgraced former congressman’s sexting laptop, but the content was already known to the FBI:

“Somehow, [Hillary’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,’’ Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

[Sounds like proper protection of secure state business to us!]

Huma and hubby were not charged, however:

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people . . . had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden, and we were unable to meet it,’’ [Comey] said.

Huma Update (BREAKING NEWS–PART TWO)

*

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressed concern that Comey did not investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election with the same vigor he applied to Hillary’s Secret Server. Comey denied the charge.

Other Democrats joined Feinstein, according to Washington Post, in hitting Comey for not disclosing that the FBI had begun secretly investigating in late July whether any Trump associates might be working with Russian officials to meddle with the presidential campaign.

Senator Patrick Leahy (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, opined that Comey should have concealed his agency’s activities from the public:

“I would have been satisfied if he had done what all Republican and Democratic administrations have done in the past. The Justice Department has a procedure. You do not release information like that just before an election.”

*

And finally, Comey had some strong words for the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks:

“To my mind, it crosses a line when it moves from being trying to educate the public and instead becomes about intelligence porn, quite frankly,” Comey said. A “huge portion” of WikiLeaks’ activities “has nothing to do with legitimate news activity,” he said, “… but is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.”

 

[Spicy!]

All emphasis is ours.

UPDATE 5/8/17:

We neglected to mention a March 30 development that is relevant to Senator Feinstein’s allegations of bias towards investigating Hillary over Russian election interference.

According to Newsweek, Comey tried to educate the public on the Russian efforts to swing the 2016 election Trump’s way.

Comey was silenced by…the Obama White House.

Citing two sources with knowledge of the matter, Newsweek reported: “Comey pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign during a meeting in the White House Situation Room in June or July.”

One source told Newsweek: “He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward.’”

The report continues: “Many in the room didn’t like the idea, and White House officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies.”

A source told the news organization, “An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature. It comes from one person.”

A second source with knowledge of the request told Newsweek, “The op-ed would not have mentioned whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s campaign workers or others close to him for links to the Russians’ interference in the election… it would have included much of the same information as the bombshell declassified intelligence report released January 6, which said Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to influence the presidential election.”

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-james-comey-begins-testimony-to-congress/2017/05/03/9e3244bc-3006-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?utm_term=.41bd452b9d1d

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/comey-loretta-lynch-clinton-tarmac-meeting/index.html?sr=twpol050317comey-loretta-lynch-clinton-tarmac-meeting0716PMVODtopLink&linkId=37160992

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/fbi-chief-james-comey-tried-expose-russian-interference-153140819.html

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 3–Susan Rice Returns

UPDATE May 4: Later on the evening of May 3, Rice declined to testify (through her attorney Kathryn Ruemmler) to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

The letter on Politico, reportedly first on CNN, details that Rice will refuse the invitation because it was not bipartisan in nature: the request was from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham only and not his committee co-chair, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Ruemmler notes the hearing is less than two weeks away (not enough time to get the story straight?) and “it is extremely rare for the Congress to request the testimony of a former senior advisor to the President given the longstanding and well-recognized separation of powers concerns at issue.”

Also according to Politico:

Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate Subcommittee next week on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into two posts to accommodate the platform’s character limit.

The hearing will apparently focus on testimony from the (bipartisan-summoned!) former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Yates suffered a high-profile termination ten days into her tenure after ordering the Justice Department not to enforce Trump’s infamous immigration executive order (widely known as the “Muslim ban”).

Sally Q. Yates.jpg

And according to Salon, Yates will also appear before the House Intelligence Committee:

It now appears that President Donald Trump and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes had good reason to try to stop former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying last month. When she appears before the committee, Yates plans on directly contradicting the Trump administration’s official story about the events leading up to the firing of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

 

Yates is going to testify before the Senate on Monday that she explicitly told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had lied when he repeatedly insisted he had not discussed President Barack Obama’s sanctions against Russia with that nation’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, according to a CNN report. Yates will describe how in a meeting with McGahn on Jan. 26, she told him that she knew Flynn had lied publicly and privately to Trump administration officials about what he had discussed with Kislyak and she conveyed “serious concerns” that this made Flynn vulnerable to being compromised by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

 

Our original post continues below:

Disgraced former Obama national security advisor, UN ambassador and Benghazi massacre whitewasher Susan Rice is back in the national spotlight. To condense a complicated abuse of civil liberties in the name of national security (?), Rice allegedly demanded Donald Trump operatives caught “incidentally” speaking on Federal Government wiretaps of non-Americans be identified, or “unmasked” by the intelligence community agencies that tapped those conversations in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Bloomberg View broke the story on April 3 after Rice fumbled through a March 22 PBS NewsHour interview and deflected inquiries of the unmasking into a “Russia interfered with our election” monologue (see YouTube video later in article).

BV:

White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.

[our emphasis]

God bless the NSA. In addition to sweeping up all our phone records and emails, they also call out (alleged) political power plays that otherwise would have been swept under the rug, quietly violating the privacy rights of Trump transition team members who (reportedly) have done nothing illegal or even suspicious.

Rice.

The question appears to be not whether Rice ordered the unmasking, which she at first denied but now seems to have admitted. Instead, was the breach of privacy legal? And was it within her capacity as a lame-duck presidential advisor to help with national security? Or an abuse of power to execute a sour grapes vendetta against the opposition who handily and unexpectedly beat out her boss’s anointed successor?

(National Review advocates for the latter, placing Rice’s conduct on par with Nixon’s Watergate scandal.)

Daily Wire notes:

U.S. law does not permit surveillance of U.S. persons without a warrant; even if a name surfaces in authorized surveillance of a foreign person, it is “masked.” If a U.S. official is briefed by intelligence officials and determines that a certain communication deals with sensitive security or foreign policy matters, the official can ask the intelligence briefer to “unmask” that person.

They also got some good quotes from former intelligence players:

“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individualsThe overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with. In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

Joseph diGenova, former U.S. attorney. [our emphasis]

“The surveillance initially is the responsibility of the National Security Agency. They have to abide by this guidance when one of the other agencies says, ‘we’re looking at this particular person which we would like to unmask.’ The lawyers and counsel at the NSA surely would be talking to the lawyers and members of counsel at CIA, or at the National Security Council or at the Director of National Intelligence or at the FBI. It’s unbelievable of the level and degree of the [Obama] administration [sic] to look for information on Donald Trump and his associates, his campaign team and his transition team. This is really, really serious stuff.”

Colonel James Waurishuk, former deputy director of U.S. Central Command. [our emphasis]

“[S]omebody blew a hole in the wall between national security secrets and partisan politics […] [the Trump associates’ conversations were] a stream of information that was supposed to be hermetically sealed from politics and the Obama administration found a way to blow a hole in that wall […] [this was] a leaking of signal intelligence. That’s a felony. And you can get 10 years for that. It is a tremendous abuse of the system. We’re not supposed to be monitoring American citizens. Bigger than the crime, is the breach of public trust.”

Michael Doran, former NSC senior director. [our emphasis]

Obama’s condescending maestro of the media “echo chamber” Ben Rhodes (Rice’s second in command) and waterboarding advocate/Senate Intelligence Committee hacker/CIA director John Brennan were reportedly provided the unmasked identity(ies) of the Trump transition people, according to Daily Wire via Fox News.

Related:

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National Security

*

New York thug Governor and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo’s less-successful brother Chris Cuomo derided the story with a reference to the term that lately triggers the hard-on of any other, legitimate journalist: FAKE NEWS!

“President Trump wants you to believe he is the victim of a ‘crooked scheme,’ his words. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing. In fact if anything, the NSA asking for identities was foreign players [sic]. The White House blasting the press for not reporting on another fake scandal being peddled by right-wing media.”

[our emphasis]

*

We know to take Rice’s words with a grain of salt [squandered opportunity for cooking pun] to begin with:

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! February 17–The Michael Flynn Focus and Kennedy Kulpability

 

In March, Rice outright denied the unmasking allegations from Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (CA), who himself is under House Ethics Committee investigation for improper procedures while looking into Russian interference with the U.S. 2016 election.

[Incidentally, Washington Times reported the investigation of Nunes is exploring allegations of “unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

[…]

The committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” Reps. Susan W. Brooks, Indiana Republican, and Theodore E. Deutch, Florida Democrat, said in a joint statement.]

Rice’s initial reaction to the “unmasking” interview question on PBS:

I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”

[March 22]

[our emphasis]

*

“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.”

[April 4]

Some other tidbits from that interview, per The Hill:

On whether Rice would ever request an unmasking:

I don’t solicit reports. They’re giving it to me, if I read it, and I think that in order for me to understand, is it significant or not so significant, I need to know who the ‘U.S. Person’ is, I can make that request.”

“It was not uncommon, it was necessary at times to make [unmasking] requests. [I] don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.”

[our emphasis]

On the “Trump tower wiretap”:

There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals.”

When queried on Trump’s own national security advisor Michael Flynn‘s concealment of communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which was leaked to the media and forced Flynn’s resignation 24 days into his tenure (see our link above):

“I leaked nothing to nobody.”

*

Big government-loving, corporate welfare-advocating pansy Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on May 2 requested Rice testify before his judiciary subcommittee, according to CNN, to determine whether the Obama administration “tried to politicize intelligence” — part of his broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

Ex-Im Bank Updates

CNN has reached out to Rice for comment and has not yet received a response. Over the weekend, Rice denied the unmasking allegation to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

“I did my job, which was to protect the American people, and I did it faithfully and to the best of my ability,” she said. “And never did I do anything that was untoward with respect to the intelligence I received.”

Why have major media outlets that mercilessly mocked Trump for blasting (apparently unsubstantiated) allegations that his campaign was wiretapped utterly shunned burgeoning evidence in the affirmative?

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.dailywire.com/news/15080/report-susan-rice-wanted-detailed-spreadsheet-hank-berrien?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=040417-news&utm_campaign=dwtwitter

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/jackson-richman/2017/04/04/cnn-partisan-cuomo-spins-susan-rice-story-another-fake-scandal

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446415/susan-rice-unmasking-trump-campaign-members-obama-administration-fbi-cia-nsa

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/327594-ethics-panel-announces-investigation-into-nunes

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/327197-rice-denies-obama-administration-inappropriately-unmasked-trump-team

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/6/devin-nunes-susan-rice-unmasking-revelation-worth-/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/02/politics/lindsey-graham-susan-rice-senate-hearing/

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/03/susan-rice-testify-237947

Trump blasts Susan Rice for declining request to testify before Senate panel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Yates

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/03/sally-yates-in-the-spotlight-fired-attorney-general-will-counter-white-house-narrative-on-michael-flynn/