“Students and parents protested Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approach to integration in Manhattan earlier this summer.”–New York Times
Bill de Blasio’s crack squad at the New York City School Diversity Advisory Group recommends eliminating gifted and talented programs to promote “equity and excellence,” in the mayor’s words.
The large-headed, long-odds 2020 presidential candidate and his socialist Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (above) want to desegregate NYC public schools, the most selective of which require an entrance exam, the SHSAT.
The advocacy group SunsetSHSAT, whose homepage states “denying the harm in using a single multiple-choice exam as the sole measure of a child’s academic worth with the mountains of scientific evidence we now have is similar to denying global warming,” transcribed some of Carranza’s wisdom from a February 12 town hall (source link below), notable for its concern the SHSAT has not been evaluated by a “psychometrician.”
Besides phasing out GOT G&T over the next five years, the SDAG advised de Blasio should not consider lateness or attendance in evaluating prospective students for the “elite” public schools and redesign [the] competitive high school admissions process to ensure that high schools reflect the racial and economic make up of their boroughs.
Carranza, who New York Times admits did not develop any significant integration policies of his own during his first year on the job, cackled in February he’s skeptical that “over 35% of students [are] designated as gifted and talented,” and “that is far beyond the percentage of gifted and talented that, from a statistical perspective, should be found in the population.” (data not shown, apparently)
An April poll of New York City voters found 63 percent favor admissions changes to boost diversity, and 57 percent say to scrap the sole entrance exam in favor of considering other factors for admission.
Interestingly, the white and Asian constituencies the mayor “risks alienating” by implementing the recommendations may already have bailed, per the following poll, in which Vox decides Asian voters are not “people of color” (our emphasis):
According to an April Quinnipiac University poll, […] De Blasio’s approval rating is 31-58 percent among white voters, 33-44 percent among Asian voters, 40-40 percent among Hispanic voters, and 66-23 percent among black voters. In other words, de Blasio does poorly among white New York voters. Among voters of color, it’s a different story.
According to New York Times, de Blasio dodged commentary on the SDAG report during an MSNBC interview last week.
The city seems to be trending up, given the belated removal of killer cop Daniel Pantaleo from the NYDP earlier this month, a mere five years after he strangled Eric Garner to death on camera.
However, their prison security seems wanting. After already-convicted, minimally-punished sex offender Jeffrey Epstein “hanged himself” in an unusually violent fashion on August 10 while awaiting trial for alleged sex trafficking, the Metropolitan Correctional Center had to send not one, but two malfunctioning surveillance cameras from outside his cell to the FBI for analysis. (While not even a functional video recording of Garner’s homicide was enough to immediately remove Pantaleo from duty, Epstein’s death, cracked hyoid and all, was dismissed as a homicide solely on the medical examiner’s testimony, without any video evidence.)
Accused quadruple murderer Nicholas Tartaglione, who we spotlighted earlier (below), was rooming with Epstein when the disgraced financial manager first sustained “neck injuries” back in July. This may have been an earlier suicide attempt, but Epstein reportedly told his attorney Tartaglione was responsible. Tartaglione’s attorney told the federal judge his guards have strongly advised the ex-cop to keep his chiseled jaw shut about the night of Epstein’s demise.
Guards at border detention facilities, apparently short on burritos, allegedly threw rations (still partially frozen) on cell floors for child prisoners to violently divide among themselves during their 8 to 10 day confinement in Texas and California lockups.
Some other highlights from Washington state’s AG investigator Alma Poletti, whose team interviewed teenagers detained by Customs and Border Protection, then “placed” by Refugee Resettlement (part of Health and Human Services) over the past year, include reports of twelve children packed into a 10 by 14′ cell; younger children being threatened by guards and stashed in “small metal cages” or a “dark room” (solitary confinement) for perceived misbehavior; fluorescent lights and air conditioners rolling 24 hours daily; “roll call” every three hours during the night; blanket confiscation at 4:00 AM; and, when one girl was allowed a shower, being afforded only “a paper towel” to dry herself. The toilets did not have soap, but one did have a CCTV camera pointed at it.
The older girls were introduced to America’s patriarchy, charged with keeping the younger children quiet to avoid punishment. Although a teenage boy interviewed by Poletti had no small child charges, his cell was just 7 by 12′ and had twenty-six occupants.
Trump deflected concerns of cruelty at a recent press conference, waxing, in part, that “when they realize the borders are closing […] they won’t come and many people will be saved.”
CBP confirmed to CNBC that those temporarily detained are not being given flu vaccines, although the virus has contributed to killing three of them in the past year.
American children untouched by border conditions are facing off their own orchestrated injustice in the ongoing school lunch shaming, this time in New Jersey. Cherry Hill School District’s new proposal proposes a sort of caste system to recoup over $14,000 in outstanding “lunch debt”: balances less than $10 (about three meals) will not have Collections sicced on the parents at all. More than $10 but less than $20 will relegate students to a tuna fish sandwich, vegetable, fruit and juice or milk. Students owing over $20 will not be served; this policy has always been in place, but not enforced, per Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars, who also told Philadelphia Enquirer peanut butter was eschewed as the forced option for the 10 to 20 crowd because children “would…happily eat peanut butter and jelly.”
About 20 percent of the district’s students are eligible for free lunch or reduced prices.
USDA’s National School Lunch Program reports that although participation in the subsidy is at a 13-year low, [i]n 2018, school cafeterias served nearly 5 billion lunches, with nearly three-quarters of the lunches free or at a reduced price.
^^Parents will feast on this economic option to help keep kids from the State’s clutches. In its eternal mission to emulate the federal government by creating and solving novel problems at great public expense, Pennsylvania school district Wyoming Valley West is using delinquent lunch money balances to justify seizing children from their parents.
About 1,000 parents got a written reprimand recently that included the passage: “You can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food. The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care.”
Apparently, the school was preparing the children for a lifetime of welfare dependency by feeding them for free when their parents sent them to government-mandated (also under threat of legal penalty) day camp without lunch money. The district is now out a cool $22,000–and planning to collect.
Amidst national backlash, school attorney Charles Coslett (above), who railed against the “nanny-state mentality” in the Philadelphia Enquirer, mused, “Hopefully, [this] gets their attention and it certainly did, didn’t it?”
School district officials say they plan to pursue other legal avenues to get the lunch money, such as filing a district court complaint or placing liens on properties.
La Colombe coffee CEO Todd Carmichael was unable to add to the “Philanthropic Endeavors” section on his Wikipedia page: the district rejected his check for the balance.
Upon speaking with the school board president Joseph Mazur, La Colombe’s “consultant” Aren Platt was also snubbed.
Mazur said that he believed most of the families who owed money could afford the debt, and that it was their responsibility to pay. “His counter was, ‘These are affluent families who just want to get something for free,’” said Platt. “This wasn’t ever about repayment of a debt. It was about shaming people.”
It was also quite the departure from the cushy offerings of Warwick, RI’s school district, which provided non-paying students a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich, a carton of milk, the vegetable of the day and a piece of fruit until their parents settled the balance.
That district’s $77,000 loss was ultimately covered by local citizens Cait Clement and Angelica Penta’s fundraising efforts, with a bump from yogurt manufacturer Chobani.
Federal law mandates school districts offer children food even when they have unpaid bills for school lunches.
Sonny Perdue’s Department of Agriculture is reportedly slow-walking politically unpalatable results of climate change studies by discouraging its Agricultural Research Service from promoting the papers. Politico reports USDA casually “sought to prevent dissemination of the findings” by University of Washington of a two-year effort–in collaboration with USDA’s own scientists, as well as those of Japan, China and Australia–that allegedly suggests increased atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases the nutritional content of rice.
This included pulling a planned ARS release of the headline, and warning UW to similarly sit on the results.
Apparently, there are relatively few climate-related articles publicized by ARS to begin with. But Politico notes the only two that warranted a press release under Trump played more to the interests of Big Meat than Average American Who Should Stop Eating Meat for Health Reasons Alone, But Also the Planet.
Of these two, [o]ne found that beef production makes a relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and another that removing animal products from the diet for environmental reasons would likely cause widespread nutritional problems.
In other agri-news, Vox reported Arkansas is trying to join Mississippi and Missouri in outlawing plant-based imitation meats from being labeled “veggie burger.”
Arkansas, which is being sued by the dream team of Tofurkey/ACLU, also endeavors to ban “soy milk” labels, ostensibly because ignorant consumers might be suddenly hoodwinked into thinking the product–available since 1916, according to soyinfocenter–is actually cow’s milk.
Trump tweeted Monday evening that oily Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin colluded with Congressional “leadership” to shit out another deficit-expanding, government-growing list of liabilities for the younger generation (discretionary spending measure), just in time to avoid denying Congress their six-week recess that starts Friday.
Democratic leaders Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) gushed in a statement that the anticipated signing of their fiscal negligence will “invest in middle class priorities and well being of the American people.”
Reason notes the budget could add as much as $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan groups that favors balanced budgets.
Pending Trump’s signature, Congress will have “raised the roof” to suspend the debt ceiling until mid-2021. Despite the added trillions, The Hill is casting the monstrosity as “the $320 billion deal,” presumably because that will be this year’s hike in discretionary spending (which pales in comparison to the entitlement spending that consumes most federal confiscation).
Some buzz-worthy provisions of the latest “fuck you” to everyone under age 50 reportedly include over $20,000,000,000 for the VA Mission Act (the Feds’ latest bumbling attempt to provide veterans health care through non-VA alternatives, pushed by Pelosi herself as an extra non-Defense priority); more vague initiatives for the nation to spend its way out of the opioid epidemic; and $2,500,000,000 for the 2020 census (to more accurately round citizens up for confiscation when the creditors come knocking).
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) last month got just 22 votes of the 60 required for cloture to hold a vote on his plan to balance the budget by cutting just 2% of spending. It reportedly would have protected Social Security (currently projected to slash benefits in 2035 due to insolvency, per CRFB), all while keeping the evil Trump tax cuts intact. Presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were among nine who didn’t show up for the cloture vote.
Can you tie ’em in a knot? Can you tie ’em in a bow? Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder Like a continental soldier?
Ill-equipped 2020 presidential candidate Bill de Blasio attempted to build his likability numbers by attempting to snatch 46 ice cream trucks off New York City streets just as summer is heating up. (Twelve reportedly escaped.)
The government presumably tolerates these childhood diabetes factories, more mobile than their customers, because they generate tax revenue.
It’s astonishing food trucks operate at all in the City of Urine and Yankees, because they have to pay daily parking tickets:
Food trucks “have to legally get [parking] tickets in a way because there are no locations in New York that are good that are not metered. The trucks understand that it’s just a cost of doing business,” [New York Food Truck Association CEO Ben] Goldberg tells Reason.
According to Reason, selling food from metered parking spaces is illegal in New York. It’s almost like they don’t want businesses to succeed.
Unless the proprietor can rely on “drive by” sales.
de Blaz the Buffoon launched Operation Meltdown to crack down on those trucks with at least $10,000 in outstanding traffic fines (ingeniously shirked since 2007 by changing the name of each truck’s owner to, for example, “Meathead Inc” at the DMV before the city could subpoena the operator for a certain threshold of ticket debt)–$4.5 million in total!
One driver told New York Post the truck owner garnished their wages to cover the tickets. Apparently the city’s check got lost in the mail.
Foremost among the six defendants is apparently mysterious New York Ice Cream founder Dimitrios Tsirkos, whose picture (below) was obtained from the website of something called Pieria Society. (Mr. Tsirkos is president of the board of directors.)
According to New York Times, Tsirkos renamed his dozen Mister Softee franchise trucks “Master Softee” in 2013 and was ordered to pay $767,000 for infringing on the Softee trademark. Tsirkos responded by infringing on–and capturing–the unofficial Softee selling territory, using his newly-painted NYIC trucks to physically intimidate the “softer” seller.
But drivers for Mister Softee, whose cone-headed, bowtied likeness adorns more than 350 trucks across the five boroughs, can play hard, too.
In 2012, a frozen yogurt vendor said that a Softee duo snapped his brakes with a crowbar, and the founder of the Van Leeuwen ice cream company said he had gotten death threats from Softee drivers.
The Mayor is in for a rough summer himself. Less popular than Trump in their home state (29 vs 34% “favorable” rating, in a poll out today), de Blasio is feeling the heat for skipping all ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of D-Day last week.
New York’s CBS Local reports:
He found time to go to his Park Slope gym and take his dirty linen to the local dry cleaner. The only event on his public schedule was a dinner to honor Puerto Rican heritage.
The last was likely in vain, as Bill was Puerto-roasted for spending the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in Iowa, pandering for votes alongside other “1 or less percenters” at the Iowa Democratic party’s “Hall of Fame dinner” last weekend.
New York Post‘s editorial board noted de Blasio would be the first mayor in “decades” not to march in the parade as they implored him to attend days before.
He also missed a memorial dedication for Ground Zero first responder victims on May 30. A spokesperson claimed, “[t]he event was not brought to his attention.”
Out now for download: images of your car and face from the latest shameful traipse back from Tijuana.
Customs and Border Protection admitted Monday a federal subcontractor fell victim to cyber attack and juicy shots of license plates crawling through points of entry (joke’s on them, it would have been faster to join this spring’s record number of illegal border crossers) were “compromised.” The Feds officially stated these goods were not found to be available for internet download by criminals. Update: yes they are.
Washington Post reports a trove of stolen data from the company Perceptics was up on the dark web–for free download!–last month. (British press highlighted the theft three weeks ago. Apparently the American government hoped it would escape public notice like when the EPA accidentally poisoned the Animas River.)
We still don’t know, in fact, if the plate images expose border crossings or international airport pickups. CBP declined to share which portions of its database including passport and visa photos that is [also] used at airports as part of an agency facial-recognition program specifically were now available to criminals.
Perceptics has provided license plate reading technology for American borders since 2002. While it’s reassuring they, not the feds, are were securely storing the data, government probing and intrusion of innocent air travelers and border crossers has nonetheless undermined privacy for all the world’s leering.
Vice reported the hacker’s alias as “Boris Bullet-Dodger” [sic].
2019 is scheduled to deliver more rough times for the uninvited purveyor of your junk mail. USPS‘ first quarter report reveals a $2.08 billion loss, which is even worse than fourth quarter 2018, which noted a net loss of “$1.5 billion, an increase […] of nearly $1.0 billion compared to the same quarter last year.”
In February’s report for October through December 2018, Megan Brennan, Postmaster General Extraordinaire (below), helms an already sinking ship whose Marketing Mail (which comprises the following tree-destroying garbage “non-first class” items: printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs and small parcels) explosion of $553 million to the bank was more than negated by “increases in compensation and benefits of $657 million”…
CFO Joseph Corbett, oblivious to basic math, bemoaned the “increases in transportation costs due to these higher volumes.” Fortunately (?), quarter one of 2019 saw marketing mail revenue fall by 3.9%.
Trump’s “Task Force on the United States Postal System,” chaired by entitled Treasury thug Steven Mnuchin, reported last year that “ USPS has been losing money for more than a decade and is on an unsustainable financial path.” The recommendations knocked Brennan for her apparent micromanagement deficiency, noting “USPS suffers from a lack of institutional governance. […] Between December 2016 and August 2018, the USPS Board of Governors (the Board) had no Governors [;] […] the Postmaster General managed the USPS’s financial and operational challenges without strategic direction and guidance, exacerbating management’s limited power to effect needed organizational change[.]”
Interestingly, according to CBS News, the report, which we did not read in its entirety, suggests a “new pricing model that [TRIGGER WARNING: CAPITALIST IDEAS AHEAD] would remove current price caps and charge market-based prices for mail and packages that were not deemed to be ‘essential postal services[,]’ [which] could raise costs for Amazon […]”
The evil e-commerce empire itself, incidentally, contributed to the report.
For the Bernie Sanders enthusiasts, the report also warned against any misguided foray into banking by the ailing office: “[G]iven the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, USPS should not pursue expanding into new sectors, such as postal banking, where the USPS does not have a demonstrated competency or comparative advantage [.]” [our emphasis]
The USPS website fancies the organization as “at the core of the $1.4 trillion U.S. mailing industry that employs more than 7.5 million people.” Their self-reported $70.6 billion in revenue (which, again, fails to cover USPS’ expenses) comes out to about 5% of that $1.4 trillion.
Citizens Against Government Waste reports USPS has lost $70 billion in since 2007.
In January, the price of a “forever” stamp for first class mail was hiked by 10%, to $0.55.
A pulmonary function lab at Duke University admitted to violating the False Claims Act by defrauding the federal government and is paying heavily. After canning a lab technician, Erin Potts-Kant, for embezzlement from Duke (that they’ll be sure to notice; gotta maintain the bottom line. for the children), the institution “discovered possible research misconduct in 2013[.]” The “misconduct” consisted of Potts-Kant’s lab bagging millions in NIH and EPA grants based on falsified data.
Erin Potts-Kant was supposed to certify the validity of the unit’s work and ensure that it fulfilled government requirements. But instead, the suit state[s], “Potts-Kant engaged in systematic and near-universal research fraud,” including, in some cases, making up data outright “in lieu of actually performing experiments.”
NPR reported in March that 17 scientific papers building on the bogus findings were forced to be retracted. The ruse also helped Potts-Kant co-author and publish 38 articles in scholarly journals with her fellow Duke researchers — which were, in turn, cited in 417 other articles when the suit was filed in 2013.
The university must pay the federal government $112.5 million to settle the suit, but apparently not on the Feds’ initiative. They declined to tangle with the $8.5 billion endowed non-profit, a grateful participant in the federally subsidized higher education empire.
Former Duke lab analyst Joseph Thomas (above), who first reported the fraud in 2013, took it upon himself to sue the university where the government wouldn’t; he will pocket an additional $33.75 million under False Claim Act whistleblower stipulations–a cool 30%.
Thomas’ attorneys say he stuck with the case after the government opted not to mount its own investigation after he reported his allegations and filed suit.
Duke released a statement reassuring everyone that Potts-Kant eventually pled [sic] guilty to two counts of forgery and paid restitution to Duke .
The ordeal has allowed Duke to give Geeta Swamy the new role of “vice dean and associate vice provost for scientific integrity.” And hers is not the only new role!
Duke’s new Advisory Panel on Research Integrity and Excellence, to be chaired by pediatric microbiologist and former research dean of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, Ann Arvin, will examine ways of “improving the structure and function of research administration, with a focus on promoting research integrity[.]”
To give San Francisco credit where due, the city’s 11-member Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 with two absences to usurp the police state’s facial recognition capabilities. It is the first American city to respect this invasion of privacy.
The board’s rules committee unanimously advanced the law last week, noting it would also require city departments to get approval from the Board of Supervisors before purchasing other surveillance technology ― including license plate readers, body cameras and biometrics technology, among other items.
None of the 53 city departments may use the technology beginning next month. According to CNN, the police department dabbled with the faulty, Orwellian techniques between 2013 and 2017. It’s anyone’s guess how many stills they have stockpiled.
The airport and seaport are exempted, however, so check your makeup before getting groped by their TSA.
Vanessa and Keana Rodel, Filipino refugees lost in the legal limbo of Hong Kong and threatened with deportation for temporarily housing Edward Snowden, achieved Canadian asylum at the end of March.
But five others remain stateless in Hong Kong after that government rejected their asylum claims in 2017. You can donate to support them here:
The already flimsy legal proceedings into Robert Kraft‘s alleged postseason porking (see our previous post) continue to crumble. NFL.com reports Florida Judge Leonard Hanser has blocked prosecutors from screening hidden camera footage of Kraft honing his craft in the courtroom.
When taping the New England Patriots owner’s January jaunts at Orchids of Asia Day Spa, the authorities“did not do enough to minimize the invasion of privacy of customers who did not commit crimes.”
Big Man on Campus, Congressman Eric Swallow Swalwell (D-CA) has entered the 2020 presidential race!! Can he solve these BIGPROBLEMS??
The Department of Defense recently misplaced (at least on paper) over $2,000,000,000 designated for F-35 fighter jet parts. An inspector general at the Pentagon dug into the books on America’s $400 billion effort to produce “next‑generation strike fighter aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and international partners.”
The Hill notes that neither the F-35 program nor a separate, billion-dollar federal agency that administers Defense contracts (creatively named Defense Contract Management Agency) can account for these “3.45 million pieces of government property” and must rely on the supplier, super-contractor Lockheed Martin, to detail for Defense if and when they purchased the engine parts GOING BACK TO THE YEAR 2002.
Politico reported in 2015: [t]he F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is $163 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and will cost taxpayers about twice as much as sending a man to the moon.
According to Lockheed Martin’s 2017 annual report, the F-35 manufacture comprises 25% of their sales.
Defense’s F-35 office Fed-splained away the OIG findings in a comment to The Hill: “There were no surprises in the report and the items mentioned are well known to the F-35 Enterprise. [somewhat ironic, as the billions of dollars in “items” themselves are not known at all] […] [F-35 office] will continue to inventory, track and contractually account for all [government furnished parts] associated with the F-35 system.”
The phrase “continue to” now means “start to” in gov-speak.
“Remember that $2.1 billion we’ve sent you over the past sixteen years? Can you just real quick confirm that was actually used to make planes because we don’t know lol.”
The Trump administration’s Secret Service has shown a real talent for ineptitude, as we have documented.
On Monday, Secret Service director Randolph Alles was on his way out quietly (a scheduled sayonara, according to Randolph Alles) before someone leaked the plan to the press and Trump had to unceremoniously ax the two-year Secret Service and 35-year Marine Corps veteran.
Secret Service officials have been caught by surprise with the news and are only finding out through CNN, according to the source.
A source familiar with the director said his ouster was not related to the recent scrutiny the Secret Service got after a Chinese woman illegally entered the President’s Mar-a-Lago club carrying Chinese passports and a flash drive containing malware. Just five days ago, Trump said he “could not be happier with Secret Service” following the Mar-a-Lago incident.
The “incident” involved Yujing Zhang (below) entering Trump’s Florida country club on the pretense of swimming some laps while carrying “a thumb drive with malicious software on it, four phones, a laptop and a separate hard drive[,]” but no bathing suit.
She is being held without bail and is charged with lying to a federal agent and entering restricted property without permission. There is speculation of espionage after more thumb drives, cash and a “hidden camera detector” were recovered in a raid of Zhang’s apparently off-Largo hotel room.
Samuel Ivanovich, Secret Service agent extraordinaire, neglected to use a Mandarin-speaking agent for the first “hours” of interrogation, although the club staff who let Zhang into reception (and through a metal detector with all her gadgets) blamed a “language barrier.” He also forgot to record audio of the first four hours of footage, so when the raw tape is played for the jury it will be slightly less realistic than a Law & Order episode (New York Times reported Mr. Clouseau didn’t realize that the agency’s office in Palm Beach didn’t have that capability.
Washington Post had more:
Ivanovich also testified that when the thumb drive they recovered from Zhang at the club was inserted into another agent’s computer, “a file immediately began to install itself.” The agent, Ivanovich said, had never seen that happen before. …
Acting director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello, and his boss up the food chain, DHS SecretaryKirstjen Nielsen, also recently left the Federal terror security business.
Maybe the Feds should study counter-espionage from local police in nearby Jupiter, who lied about a bomb in the building to execute a secret (“delayed notice”) warrant and plant secret cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is criminally charged with getting his dick wet.
USA Today notes the Florida Department of Health, which buttressed a human trafficking investigation into the spa, used some sloppy techniques, including answering “N/A” to a qualifier as to why such intrusive and Constitutionally-shady techniques were required for surveillance, and citing two beds (in a massage parlor), bottled water and ranch dressing as evidence of people being sold.
Kraft’s lawyers [argued] in their latest motion to suppress video evidence [that] the Jan. 20 traffic stop after Kraft allegedly exited the spa […] had the “sole purpose of identifying Mr. Kraft – a passenger in the car – in the absence of any traffic violation or reasonable suspicion of one by the driver.”
Ironically, the warrant did not allow audio recording, so Kraft’s jury, like Zhang’s, will have to watch in awkward silence if the tapes are allowed into evidence. And be spared the stipulations of hidden valleys into which to pump that Ranch.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.
Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”
Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:
[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.
And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??
Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.
[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.
Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.
According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.
How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.
MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.
While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.
Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.
After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.
The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”
California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:
[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.
Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?
“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.
Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)
“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”
Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.
No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.
Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.
“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”
Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”
The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,
Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.
According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:
The Trump Defense Department should be taking fire for presumed upcoming abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
The account is separate from the Pentagon’s mere $576,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2020. But unlike the “defense” budget, OCO funding is exempt from budget caps.
The Trump administration is seeking roughly an additional $150 billion (possibly as much as $174 billion, which would bring the overall budget for defense to $750 billion) for the war fund […] Entire programs, such as the U.S. Army’s accounts for ammunition and training, will be moved to this war account, according to multiple sources.
OCO spent just $90,000,000,000 last year.
Is the President’s request a harbinger of an upcoming endless war that need not be bound by a budget, as Trump’s batshit crazy, warmongering national security adviser John Bolton (who Wall Street Journal reported in January started drafting plans to bomb Iran after an explosion near the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a completely different country, last year) would prefer?
The funds can be shoveled to less nefarious purposes, such as a troop pay raise as the waning days of the Obama administration brought us in f.y. 2017’s bloated National Defense Authorization Act. We reported:
But it’s ultimately another venue for the Dirty Dems and Rotten Republicans to come together and skirt the budget caps that were supposed to curtail federal spending over the past decade in exchange for short-term increases to the debt ceiling, succeeding in achieving only in the latter.
For example, in 2016 the Government Accountability Office reported the vast majority of these “emergency war” funds in the f.y. 2017 appropriations supported our decades-long, unconstitutional occupation of Afghanistan.
In fact, according to this January https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44519.pdf report from Congressional Research Service, fighting abstract “terror” outside of legislators’ purse string control is so ingrained in the “emergency war” fund, terror has entered the acronym:
“Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 trillion in discretionary budget authority designated as emergency requirements or for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks and for other related international affairs activities.”
Extra budget wiggle room certainly can’t solve the recruiting woes of the most expensive defense force on the planet. The Army missed its goal enrollment by over 6,000 last year, “despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.”
Heritage Foundation recently reminded us that just 29% of 17-to-24-year-old Americans are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces. Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 [t]he ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD and those with certain tattoos and ear gauges[.]
Disgraced FEMA director Brock Long has resigned, boasting that “[d]uring my tenure, the Agency worked more than 220 declared disasters[,]” which is slightly greater than the number of days on the job he spent getting chauffeured to and from North Carolina.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering making the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 look more palatable. Politico reported the large-headed enforcer kicks off a tour of early primary state New Hampshire this week, continuing a trend of quality candidates from the Empire State.
Probably good to start self-promoting in a state with fewer citizens viscerally offended by the phrase “c.p. time” :
Politico suggested Bombastic Bill is already floating slogans:
“There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,” [de Blasio] declared at his State of the City address last month.
De Blasio seized the occasion to pitch socialist policies including ten mandatory paid vacation days annually for everyone working in the city.
“I’m not aware of any other state or city that requires [paid vacation],” said Rick McGahey, an economist at the New School for Social Research who served as an assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration.
Puerto Rico does mandate paid vacation days, McGahey said[…]
Puerto Rico recently went bankrupt.
The part-time mayor, full-time Red Sox fan’s travel bill is covered by his federal political action committee…FairnessPAC.
De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devilthe “richest man on earth”Amazon‘ssudden decision Thursday to scrap plans for its New York City location as “unfair.” Instead, he found the move “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”
“Working people are very smart and very discerning. They want jobs, they want revenue, they want the kinds of things that government can do for them,” the mayor lectured WNYC’s radio audience, explaining that industrious New Yorkers would have valued the opportunity to work hard so their earnings can be redistributed. Working people can’t be trusted to responsibly spend their own money. They’re smart, but not that smart.
This would put de Blasio at odds with hometown social justice warrior, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,(D-NY), (below), who according to CNN had publicly railed against the tech company’s incentives extended from New York’s layer cake of municipal regulators to build in Long Island City, Queens. New York Post reported these included $2.5 billion in tax credits, a $500 million state construction subsidy and the ability to sidestep the city’s laborious zoning process.
Apparently, that pot of honestly confiscated taxes was not worth sacrificing for an estimated 25,000 jobs with wages averaging 150,000 [sic].
Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
The first-term representative also recently proposed legislation to eliminate the country’s airplanes, which are only used by those making $150,000 or more annually.
New York governor and family mobster Andrew Cuomo (D) (below, jowls), desperate to brand his third term with something besides the murder of Eric Garner, a decrepit subway, and millions of dollars of illegal state-sponsored street signs, was nearly as angry as de Blasio.
Syracuse.com reports Cuomo blustered that “[t]he New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
Amazon said Thursday that local opposition was the main reason it is dropping its New York City plans, despite 70 percent of Empire State residents supporting the investment.
While he apparently didn’t single out Ocasio-Cortez, the governor’s spokesperson noted Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky (below, squinting) “tanked the Amazon plan by placing a stalwart Amazon opponent on the government approval board to pander to the local socialists.”
It’s unclear whether that board had a representative in Wednesday’s [trigger warning] powwow in Cuomo’s office. Amazon’s people were hammering out the proposed employees’ ability to unionize, aided by representatives of AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Union bosses directly determining the fate of corporate satellite headquarters must be a key element of de Blasio’s declaring New York “the greatest city in the world” while pouting on WNYC.
According to Bloomberg, the meeting was productive, and one of the AFL-CIO affiliate’s presidents was about to deploy his–this is the actual self-important term for union regulatory writers–*wordsmiths* to solidify union influence in the deal when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the plug the following day.
Mr. Bezos, by the way, alleges National Enquirer publisher David Pecker–again, his actual name–is using a subordinate to blackmail Bezos into dropping his investigation of the sources behind the tabloid’s article, “Jeff Bezos’ Raunchy Text Messages That Prove Illicit Affair.”
Dylan Howard, an Australian national and VP of Pecker’s AMI‘s National Enquirer, (below), reportedly has damning images of Bezos, some involving a Lauren Sanchez. These include a fully-clothed “selfie,” a “selfie” in which Bezos wears“just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and “Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.”
As we reported earlier, Pecker himself, whose empire Vanity Fair describes as “Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News,” rolled on the president last year, corroborating Cohen’s “hush money to Trump mistresses” scheme in exchange for federal immunity. Howard, an Australian national, has also been protected by the deal.
Delta Airlines‘ latest scandal has also dragged soft drink giant Coca-Cola into the gutter.
Getting an early jump on the Valentine’s Day festivities, the soon-to-be-Green-New-Dealed-Into-Obscurity carrier apparently tried to spark in-flight stalking while reminding passengers to keep it trim by sucking down Diet Coke. Twitter went peanuts nuts, and the inflammatory line of napkins was pulled starting last month:
INFECTED!!! The holier-than-thou Pacific Northwest is battling a measles outbreak that has triggered a state of emergency declaration in Washington (State, not cesspool).
All of the 35 confirmed patients suffering from the rarely fatal virus (which according to the CDC was eradicated from America in 2000) were either unvaccinated or have not had their vaccination status verified. We need to investigate that latter group so Twitter can attack the appropriate side.
NPR reports: Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963 measles was the single leading killer of children in the world. To this day, it still kills 100,000 children a year worldwide, most under the age of five.
Popular locations to pick up this outbreak: if you picked someone up at Portland International Airport in neighboring Oregon; attended a pick up NBA game featuring the Portland Trailblazers; picked up groceries at Wal-Mart in Vancouver; patronized the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry; or stumbled upon any of the other “four dozen locations” teased by Associated Press.
It’s still a terrible time to live in Chicago. Although thug mayor Rahm Emanuel (below, duck face) mercifully realized last month he would be the city’s first mayor in generations unable to buy his reelection if he didn’t step aside, the “Windy City” will still be frozen in hardship, namely due to dangerous winds this week from the polar vortex.
Specifically, the high temperature Wednesday of -13 degrees F will drop to a “feels like” of -50 when wind is factored in.
ABC7 of Chicago spotlighted our next online outrage mob victim, Jane Bozym, who whined from O’Hare airport: “I am going to Phoenix [AZ], where I live now, I moved there a year ago. I am a little bit sad that I am actually going to miss the cold, just to say that I lived it.”
The Metra train service has deploy[ed] crews to set fires on switchers to keep the tracks from contracting.
Reportedly, “several inches” of snow fell on the city Monday.
But the race to replace burned-out ballerina Rahm won’t be smooth sledding. USA Today noted the four top-funded candidates, including reported frontrunner and current Illinois comptroller Susana Mendoza (above, gesturing), have all been forced to explain away associations with city council member/ “alderman” (since 1969) Edward “Ed” Burke (below, mafia costume).
The wizened former police officer and attorney, accused of extortion (maximum penalty: 20 years of prison or 5 months of forced residence in Chicago) earlier this month, allegedly [tried] to steer business to his private law firm [Klafter & Burke] from a company seeking to renovate a fast food restaurant[Burger King] in his ward. Burke denies trying so brazenly trying to have it his way.
[T]he FBI found 23 guns in raids on Burke’s City Hall and ward offices. As a condition of his bond, [he] was ordered to surrender the firearms and any others he may own within 48 hours of his release.
Mendoza was married by Burke’s wife Anne, a judge on the state Supreme Court (who was quietly sworn in to a second 10-year term on Nov. 29, the same day her husband’s offices were raided), in the Burke house. She is donating to the Montford Point Marines veterans group $141,550 in campaign contributions banked from alderman Danny Solis, and organizations run by him and his family (including, ironically, this being Chicago–see below–a debt collection firm). Why should we take solace in her dissociation from a different career criminal?
The Sun-Times noted Mendoza’s decision came one day after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Solis, retiring chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, has spent the last two years wired up to help federal investigators build their corruption case against Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th). Normally, elected officials agree to go undercover only after they themselves have been caught in corruption scandals.
The suddenly-virtuous comptroller blasted rival mayoral candidate, Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, demanding she likewise relinquish $116,000 Preckwinkle bagged from a 2018 fundraiser with Establishment Ed:
“By waiting until the end of March to return this tainted money, [Preckwinkle] is choosing to use dirty money to get her through this mayoral election. That’s shameful.”
Preckwinkle (above) has called on Burke to resign from the City Council [and] proposed prohibiting council members from holding outside employment.
Preckwinkle said later in the month she would return the money, and characterized Burke as “Susana Mendoza’s mentor.” More problematic may be her advocacy for Ed Burke, Jr.’s (below, mugshot) most recent employment.
A Preckwinkle official said her office was not aware of the investigation when Burke was hired for the homeland security job.
Sun-Times notes a $10,000 contribution from Burke Sr. to Preckwinkle is mentioned in the extortion charges. Burke Jr. retired from the $110,000/year gig last year prior to a June domestic battery arrest in which all charges were “swiftly” dropped (sort of like his pants, as the arresting officers found him “extremely intoxicated, naked, acting violently, and destroying furniture inside [his] residence” not three hours after police originally escorted him there earlier in the evening), according to Chicago Tribune.
For his part, Burke Sr. has endorsed former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico to succeed Emanuel.
Klafter & Burke reportedly helped Trump do his taxes until last year.
Last November, Chicago caught up with Sony to enforce a new 9% cloud tax. PlayStation streaming services just became more costly. The 2015 job-discouraging measure was already kowtowed to by other gaming platform streamers like Xbox. (This is in addition to special Chicago taxes on movies, bottled water and cell phones, according to Fee.) Apparently,
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Bill McCaffrey, recently said,”If a business is not collecting the tax where we believe it applies, the city takes the necessary steps and works with the company to ensure compliance with the law.”
When Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel approved the additional tax on streaming services, it was done so with the explicit purpose of helping to fund the $530 million increase given to Chicago’s police force.
Homicides? No, we need more resources to harass people binging Storage Wars.
But wait. Illinois Policy reported:
The city’s amusement tax used to mostly apply to purchases of concert and sporting event tickets. However, the Chicago Department of Finance ruled in 2015 that the tax covered streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. This expansion of the amusement tax is commonly dubbed the “Netflix tax” or the “cloud tax.” In addition to being regressive, it is also likely illegal.
Liberty Justice Center has sued the city, but lost the first round. They are currently appealing to First District Court of Appeals. Labell v. City of Chicago argues the city is violating the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits states, counties and municipalities from levying taxes that discriminate against electronic commerce.
LJC notes the mendacious metropolis takes the tax from everyone with a Chicago billing address, not necessarily only from those watching Netflix in Chicago.
Apple (who have reportedly refused to confiscate the tax from users) sued with a similar suit.
The best reason to steer clear of the Midway surfaced earlier this month, when the city was (again) exposed for confiscating and selling for scrap the vehicles of unfortunate denizens violating the city parking sticker system.
The eventual sale of scofflaw-related cars — 8,000 cars in 2017 alone — doesn’t wipe out any tickets, towing costs, or storage fees. […]
Here’s what the city’s own website says regarding the seizure of cars for ticket debts: “The signing over or involuntary surrender of your vehicle to the City does not waive or decrease any outstanding debt you owe the City.”
The city faces a class-action lawsuit over fine increases; plaintiffs accuse the city of exceeding legal caps on parking and compliance tickets.
After Mendoza’s candidacy became official,[fellow candidate, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul] Vallas issued a statement slamming her for presiding over increases in vehicle sticker fees and penalties as clerk during Emanuel’s administration.
No word yet if the sinking ship SS Chi-town will try to pull what California did in the news-ignorant haze of the holidays. Their Public Utilities Commission briefly tried to tax text messages after voice call revenue plummeted 33% since 2011. They circulated some sob story that “Public Purpose Programs” now have less confiscated wealth to subsidize low-income residents.
But the Federal Communications Commission forced the state to abandon their latest shakedown, ruling that text messages are an “information service” (like internet and phone) that cannot be discouraged by additional grabbing from a revenue-drunk government. Probably because poor people relying on government subsidies for their phones would be regressively raped by a text tax.
The wireless phone industry argue[d] added fees would put carriers at a higher disadvantage since messaging services like Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger would not be charged under the proposed legislation.
Above: Senate Minority “Leader” Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi deliver a bombast response to Trump’s “Prime Time Border Wall” speech January 8, a political theater duel utterly distinct from the annual “State of the Union” and choreographed response (both traditionally scripted later in the month).
The Trump Shutdown continues and according to NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell, even newly crowned repeat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not anticipate the stalemate becoming so stale.
Pelosi’s “I thought you would have caved by now” subtext in denying Trump a national platform for the constitutionally-mandated State of the Union show likely masked fury at the president’s pulling the plug on her multi-representative jaunt to (per Trump) Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan last week. A spokesperson advised NBC News of the trip’s ambitious aims: “to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”
Alas, The itinerary included a required stop in Brussels to allow the pilot to rest, the statement said, adding that the delegation planned to meet NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies […] The trip did not include a stop in Egypt.
We’re supposed to have copilots and planes that basically fly themselves to avoid these costly layovers, but after again collecting record income tax last year, the Filthy Feds still ran a deficit. And Pelosi’s posse was scheduled to fly…military aircraft.
Pelosi last week requested Trump deliver State of the Union in writing so certain security workers wouldn’t have to work without pay that night, as they (and the rest of DHS who haven’t quit yet) have been doing for four and a half weeks. After turning the Speaker’s trip around right after they boarded the bus, Trump proceeded to fundraise off the squelched speech.
And, after stopping the bus, the president or someone in the administration is now accused of chucking Nancy under it. After suggesting she mix with the heathen masses and catch a commercial plane to Afghanistan, it was apparently broadcast to that particular war zone (we are still avenging a terrorist attack from 18 years ago by violently rebuilding the Middle East) that the Speaker’s delegation was, in fact, planning to travel to Afghanistan on a commercial plane. Pelosi cast the move as “inexperience[d]” on the part of the accused, and fingered the now-woke “bad actors” in Afghanistan obliging her to again cancel the trip.
As a country, we know how to throw a classy shutdown. Or at least a classically inept rendition. The Independent noted one of the myriad, bumbling, unaccountable Federal agencies that is still burning bread in times of “we haven’t borrowed a budget yet” mistakenly paid about 30 employees at the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
The culprit Interior Business Centre [sic], an IT division of Department of Interior, blamed a “clerical error.”
The leaders of the chemical safety board quickly sent out an urgent email asking employees not to spend the money. “PLEASE DO NOT ACCESS THE FUNDS,” the email read.[…] Three years ago, the Interior Business Centre became a source of ire for federal employees after it failed to pay 40,000 of them on time.
The logical conclusion is the pay error rate is much higher when the IBC (which, to their credit, siphons taxpayer dough to 240,000 employees) is actually up and running.
Although the nation is mostly worried about overpaid bureaucrats and private sector drones with cushy contracts (see below), PBS pointed out a few thousand food stores cannot accept SNAP (food stamp) government benefits starting February 1 because they missed the deadline to renew their license for processing the payments.
Normally we’d shit on the Federal prerogative to coerce communities into expensive programs, then literally regulate them to extinction, but…
But oh, no, the parks. Remaining rangers deplored that their skeleton crews would be unable to keep control over the past holiday weekend, because “visitors are not enjoying the parks they way they should be[.]” (John Lauretig, former National Park Service ranger and executive director of Friends of Joshua Tree) [our emphasis]
More importantly, The Hill bemoaned this missed opportunity. Holiday weekends typically are big revenue generators. Lauretig estimated that a three-day weekend at Joshua Tree could generate close to $100,000.
(Putting land under federal control GENERATES money out of thin air. It’s also JOB CREATION for rangers…if the children running Washington can shit out a budget on time.)
Fortunately, Interior gave its blessing for subagency National Park Service to bring back some staff using the revenue fees. Some essential Parks employees have been ranging without pay until now.
The Democrats have not forgotten about government contractors, drafting some ideas for the 3.7ish million who are not only missing paychecks now, but (unlike Federal employees) won’t get that cheddar in backpay when (if?) the behemoth resumes its meddling. Add in a dash of class warfare, of course:
Lawmakers say they want to help low-wage workers who are shut out of work while doing so in a way that doesn’t pad the pockets of higher-wage contractors who can more easily withstand the financial strain of a shutdown.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill that would provide back pay for any “retail, food, custodial, or security services” contractors put on leave due to a shutdown. But so far Democratic leaders have not included it in their legislation aimed at fully reopening the government.
Disgraced ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen (above, caught with phone in class) picked up 36 months’ hard time in a (presumably) white collar facility for paying off Trump’s mistresses–amounting to campaign finance violations–as the 2016 presidential contest heated up.
While the desirable deal also hit Cohen for nearly $2 million in restitution and fines, he apparently caught a break for singing to Robert Mueller regarding the Russia Investigation.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for [Cohen] to face between 51 and 63 months — four to five years — in prison for the tax fraud, false statements and campaign finance violations he pleaded guilty to in August.
Assuring his return to the “public villain with oversized head” section of the Halloween costume inventory for 2019, the high-rolling Cohen, according to NPR, observed, “Today I get my freedom back.” That’ll look great on a Starbucks cup!
Rather than leave the Senate gracefully, deposed lawmaker Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused her colleagues who actually won their re-elections campaigns of forgoing “tough votes.” Presumably these include her decisive decision to continue unconstitutional surveillance of Americans.
The 65-year-old bemoaned the office that will launch her lucrative lobbyist or consultant career for its preponderance of “embarrassing uncles,” blissfully unaware Joe Biden has now been gone for ten years.
Immigration Situation, CBP Improvisation, Park Defecation and TSA Implication
As detailed by Trump’s bluster of a “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” the Federal Government is enjoying a partial shut down after the Senate refused to vote on a House funding bill that allocates $5.7 billion for Trump’s Border Wall. National focus is trained not on the fact our inept employees who failed to write their own budget now can’t begrudgingly provide mediocre services on which they hold a monopoly, but on the paychecks they cannot collect:
Some 800,000 federal workers across the country find themselves in financial uncertainty as the government shutdown crawls into its 12th day. Some 420,000 employees are considered “essential,” and are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home.
Our muckraking the laughable TSA is old news. The bumbling seem to be on the “essential” list, as “88% of [parent agency] Department of Homeland Security” is working for IOUs. But according to Huffington Post, TSA agents first ducking their unpaid assignments by calling out sick are now just quitting.
CNN reported a 200-300 percent increase in agents calling out sick at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and also claimed that throughout the first week of January, as many as 170 agents called out at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport each day.
Via their union, the remaining TSA agents threatened a “massive security risk for American travelers […] there are problems that will arise – least of which would be increased wait times for travelers.”
[TSA employee union American Federation of Government Employees]launched a lawsuit against the federal government for forcing federal employees to show up to work uncompensated, calling the demands “inhumane.”
The logic here is that every day we don’t borrow more money to reopen the government, there are fewer …professionals to cup our genitals before we’re allowed to fly. Aren’t you motivated to call the Congress and complain?
Big brass at TSA got defensive when news of the “people who root through innocent peoples’ dirty laundry all day without changing gloves are sick but more than usual” stats broke:
Trump joined the fight, and CNN promoted their “bananas are the devil” analogy in response:
This comes on the heels of a monumental shift in TSA air marshal policy: starting December 28, the undercover agents moved–to the back of the plane. Good luck picking them out now!
Not everyone was PUN ALERT on board with the change:
“The TSA wants to change the way operations are carried out, and the men and women of the Federal Air Marshal Service do not support these changes,” Brian Borek, representative of the air marshals to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “The TSA, riddled with their own organizational issues, should allow the air marshals to do what they have continued to do best — fly operationally sound missions to protect the integrity of the aircraft, its crew, and passengers in the manner that they have been training and perfecting for the last 17 years.”
Borek also noted implementing the change amidst the madness of the tail end of Christmas travel was an idiotic move“does not pass the common-sense [sic] test.”
John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said it appears that DHS and TSA are making important decisions arbitrarily.
“Changes to security routines on planes and at airports are serious and should not be enacted haphazardly […] And there is clearly a perception that is what is going on here.”
Interestingly, Boston Globe reported just last month the TSA had pulled the plug on Quiet Skies (see above link), following widespread criticism that federal air marshals were spying on thousands of unwitting fliers who are not suspected of any crime or on any terrorist watch list.
But back to the real domestic security crisis: starving homeless people.
First, ICE helped deal with undocumented children flooding into the country by arresting those who volunteered to shelter them. Apparently, Trump made a rule that every adult in a volunteer household must surrender “biometric data, including fingerprints” to the Federal Government.
Nearly two thirds of those arrested — 109 in total — had no criminal record, the agency said.
Just under 80 percent of people screened by ICE during the sponsorship process showed results that theywere not in the country legally.
It’s important to protect the immigrants from other immigrants. Our solution is to continue warehousing them in government facilities. So far only two (that we know of) have not survived.
On December 7, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, of Guatemala, apparently went into septic shock just after boarding the bus with her father to get from her point of entry (Antelope Hills, NM) to the “processing” hub at Lordsburg, NM. She reportedly had a medical screening and “observation,” as well as access to food and water, in the 6ish hours before the bus came. However, after she started seizing, got airlifted and died, government records indicated she had gone “several days” without food or water.
Then Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, also of Guatemala, died on Christmas eve despite receiving Amoxicillin for his 103-degree fever, diagnosed as “common cold,” at an Alamogordo, NM hospital earlier in the day.
Felipe and his father were detained by CBP for about a week, an unusually long time that the agency did not fully explain[.]
Perhaps under scrutiny after burying news of Maquin’s demise for a week, Custom and Border “Protection” promptly released the following sensitive Christmas day headline: “An eight year-old Guatemalan national previously apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection was died [sic] shortly after midnight on December 25 at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. “
According to Washington Post, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency’s holding cells are “incompatible” with the new reality of parents with children coming across the border to surrender to agents en masse, requesting asylum.
“Our Border Patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children[.]”
The shutdown will not curtail the border-crossers getting caged. Associated Press reports CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.
The other government tentacle attracting attention is the parks, because we all prefer our government to take control of the Grand Canyon and charge $35 for parking.
CNN had to fill some space and noted on Monday:
In the 16 days since the government shutdown began and more than 21,000 National Park Service employees were furloughed, seven visitors to national parks have died.[…] [T]he tally of deaths is not out of the ordinary for the expansive National Park Service, which sees an average of six deaths per week[:] accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes, as well as medical incidents such as heart attacks.
Other self-evident observations from the rabid media: [A]dmissions have […] surged because no one is collecting admission fees.
Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration [has left] parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs.
And if there’s one necessary government function exposed out of all this, it’s human waste disposal. Joshua Tree had to close its campground:
“The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” the park service said. “In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off-road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.” Signs at Joshua Tree informed campers this week that the grounds would close “for the safety of visitors and park resources” due to a “lapse in federal appropriations.” Handwritten signs urged visitors: “Pack out your trash. There are no trash services at this time.”
Human beings are incapable of picking up their own trash. Perhaps that’s why the Feds took control of the parks.
Even when the government reopens, don’t expect your travel difficulties to end with a soft molestation at the xray machine. DeltaAirlines hopes to board passengers faster by rolling out eight boarding groups, color coded, starting later in January.
This is the actual (reportedly “more complicated“) new boarding order, according to CNN, which should send you running for an actual good airline:
Premium Select (or First Class “if applicable”)
Sky Priority (the poor souls who use frequent flier “perks” at Delta Airlines)
Economy Main Cabin 1 and Delta credit card holders and Silver Medallion members
Economy Main Cabin 2
Economy Main Cabin 3
CNN notes that the cheapest ticket holders get to make everyone else board and wait for them, so you can save money and spend less time in a cramped seat next to a stranger. Maybe they have to deplane last.
Delta wasn’t done. As of December 18, all animals in Delta cabins must be at least four months old. Also, “emotional support animals” (greatest country in the world, everyone) are banned from flights eight hours or longer. Because if you’re too fragile to fly without your platypus, Delta believes you can suck it up if only the flight is longer.
Service and support animals fly free on Delta — unlike regular pets, which cost passengers $125 each way.Delta says the number of service animals on its flights has increased nearly 150% since 2015.
So either travelers are replicating the “put all my shit in a carryon bag because Delta started charging to check suitcases” workaround with their animals, or we just need much more emotional support when flying with the dirty Delta.
Refresh the ‘Feed
Facebook closed the year on a high note by revealing that between 5 and 7 million users were over-exposed for nearly two weeks in September, courtesy of a “bug.”
The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they’d uploaded to Facebook but never shared.
In January, CNBC interviewed the diaspora of ex-Facebook employees to investigate the company’s performance evaluation system. Apparently, given the cap on highly graded employees, you have to suck ass starting on orientation day to survive semiannual reviews.
Many former employees blamed the cult-like atmosphere partly on […] [the] peer review system [, which] pressures employees to forge friendships with colleagues at every possible opportunity, whether it be going to lunch together each day or hanging out after work.
Also, when promotions come up in December, employees[…] focus on short-term goals and push out features that drive user engagement and improve their own metrics without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy, multiple former employees said.
We’ve all realized you can’t delete a Facebook account, but are those who never enrolled in the public tantrum train safe? No.
UK Charity Privacy International found 34 Android apps upload user data to Zuckerberg’s machine upon launch. Known culprit apps include Pregnancy+, MigraineBuddy, Bible+ and Muslim Pro.
Regardless of an unsuspecting Android owner’s PUN ALERT status with the social media giant, any app running Facebook’s Software Developer Kit (SDK) provides a window to your soul:
A Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo News, “Facebook’s SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances.”
Technology Tangle Continues for Manafort
God bless Paul Manafort. As we previously reported, the convicted tax cheat helped pen his own prosecution by virtue of inability to convert a Word document to PDF.
The Trump associate’s shenanigans were further exposed Tuesday when his defense team contested–with a sloppily-constructed document–Mueller’s charge that Manafort blew his plea deal by lying to the Feds last year.
[W]hile portions of the filing were supposed to be redacted and shielded from the public, court watchers were able to view the filing in its entirety by copying and pasting the redacted sections.
Oops. The dirty details, reportedly shielded on the court docket within an hour, showed additional accusations from Mueller that Manafort dealt 2016 US election polls to Konstantin Kilimnik, and met the suspected Russian intelligence operative (and fellow Mueller indictee) during the 2016 campaign.
Interesting tidbit, courtesy of The Hill: Mueller’s middle name is “Swan.”