All posts by darthfrank99

Pruitt: In Memoriam

The most pathetic head of a militant, unnecessary government agency was forced out on July 5, ending months of antipathy and taxpayer dollar waste. Scott Pruitt resigned two days after evidence surfaced that he forged his official events calendars to avoid (apparently this is an emotion he is capable of harboring) embarrassment.

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in disgrace last week. 

As we have reported previously, Pruitt was ladling out exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard that distorts the ethanol market. Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley  and Joni Ernst were pissed, and began talking up Pruitt’s scandals.

(Interestingly, while Trump promised to continue this inefficient propping up of Iowa corn farms, ethanol subsidy adversary and Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually won the state’s 2016 GOP primary for president.)

To be fair, while Pruitt did apparently use staffers to land his daughter McKenna the position of clerk of the White House Counsel last summer, a breathlessly-shared New York Times story that he used the EPA mantle to maneuver her into law school at University of Virginia turned out to be shoddy reporting.

He did use his pre-Trump career subordinates to score a letter of recommendation from former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell.  McKenna (below) got the coveted seat.

However, much like Veterans Affairs, the pompous Oklahoman kept two sets of schedules: the official public record, and his actual itineraries. Reportedly, the former were doctored:

Pruitt’s aides would print sections of the private calendar containing details of events, gather around a table, sometimes in Pruitt’s office, and decide what would be omitted or altered on the public calendar.

Some calendar events hidden from the public and uncovered by CNN include Pruitt noshing with coal producer Alliance Resource Partners CEO, Joseph Craft, and Vatican official (and accused sex criminal) Cardinal Pell when Pruitt blew through $120,000 of taxpayer cash in Italy last year.

Seven of the undisclosed meetings involved individuals who were nominated or reportedly under consideration for EPA positions.

Vox reported on perhaps Pruitt’s most disturbing extravagance yet:

The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos.”

Pruitt’s office spent $24,115 on a variety of tactical clothing and body armor in seven separate orders. 

[our emphasis]

Unfortunately, the “arm ourselves against the weather” notion is a holdover from previous administrations:

EPA Spends $200,000 on Body Armor to Prepare For Changing Climate

Much of the dirt on Pruitt, including the calendar alterations and daughter internship overture, came from Trump handler Kevin Chmielewski (below, not Trump), who was fired from EPA in March.

Washington Free Beacon, however, found evidence Chmielewski actually resigned without giving a reason.

Apparently, the Presidential Personnel office, which had no qualms tolerating a similar situation for Jared Kushner, raised Cain over irregularities in the former bagman’s security clearance. Chmielewski, who worked briefly for DHS before EPA, was flustered:

In a lengthy, combative interview with the Free Beacon, Chmielewski repeatedly refused to answer several questions and threatened to spend the “rest of his career going after” this reporter.

He said neither the PPO, nor anyone else in the federal government, ever contacted him with background check concerns. He told the Free Beacon that he has a permanent Top Secret-level security clearance but would not provide any paperwork to prove it.

“This is how ridiculous and idiotic you are,” Chmielewski said in the interview.

Free Beacon also found $7,667 in unpaid taxes to the state of Maryland and a 2005 DUI tarnishing Chmielewski’s record.

Pruitt was replaced by deputy Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist who squints all the time.

Andrew Wheeler official photo.jpg

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An ingenious Chicago man, Dushaun Henderson-Spruce (below), duped the US Postal Service into forwarding all corporate mail for (wildly more successful, despite USPS’s government-backed monopoly) rival UPS to Henderson-Spruce’s apartment. For three months.

NPR reported the paper form–top government efficiency!–was not even filled out correctly:

At first, the initials ‘HS’ were written on the signature line, but the initials were then scratched out and replaced with ‘UPS,’ according to the charges.

Henderson-Spruce, who told investigators he briefly worked for UPS several years ago, was previously charged in 2016 for one count of misdemeanor bank fraud, for possession of a stolen check.

New charges carry a potential 25 years.

*

In May, NSA indiscriminately wiped hundreds of millions of “call detail records”–everything they (unconstitutionally) compiled since 2015–because in coercing the telephone companies to relinquish private phone records, they inadvertently bagged “some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive.”

Because you weren’t allowed to know they were recording all your call logs until Snowden revealed the spy agency’s Constitution trampling, you also get no insight into the deletion process. Shut up and let the Government take care of you.

*

In June, bumbling criminal and ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was sent to jail, his house arrest revoked for new charges of witness tampering. He picked up new charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, to which he pleaded not guilty.

After initially bitching from his private solitary suite that being two hours outside of D.C. limited face time with his attorneys to prepare his defense, Manafort is now reportedly boasting on the monitored prison phone lines that he circumvents the prison’s “no email” rule by typing emails on a laptop that his associates move in and out of the compound. The messages send as soon as the team hits a “hotspot.”

Even the smartest criminals slip up occasionally:

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down

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Delta is weathering another rough summer. First, public backlash was fierce when Delta banned “pitbull-type service animals” because–get this–they bite:

“We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk.”

(Washington Post did a fun expose in January on passengers abusing the “emotional support animal” loophole to get large dogs–and ducks–seats on planes.)

Delta said it flew 250,000 [emotional support] animals last year, up 150 percent from 2015, while “incidents” such as biting or defecating had nearly doubled since 2016.

Then, Delta’s contractor SkyWest Airlines turned a plane back to the gate at Fort Wayne International when a passenger was too slow to turn her phone to “airplane mode” during taxi.

Other passengers, including a Latina woman, who spoke up in defense of Rodgers […] [a] total of four adults and a child were removed from the flight.

The original transgressor, Robyn Rogers, is on Instagram as “DJ Reborn.”

If it matters, from the New York Post-obtained video, Rogers appears to be black, and the flight attendant white.

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Sketchy suspected House Democrat data downloader Imran Awan, who we are not allowed to characterize as sketchy because he is an immigrant, pleaded guilty to a single charge of bank fraud.

Mr. Awan’s sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 21. Under federal guidelines, he faces a likely range of zero to six months in prison. And as part of the agreement, the government will ask the court to dismiss all charges against [Awan’s wife] Ms. Alvi when Mr. Awan is sentenced.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! Awan Updates

Politico broke it down:

At the time of his arrest, Awan was accused of attempting to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property, which is against the credit union’s policies since it is not the owner’s primary residence. Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to the indictment filed against Awan.

Media shrills such as Washington Post, which have completely ignored Awan & company’s sordid subterfuge because it makes the Democrats look like idiots, gleefully declared Awan’s legal victory to “debunk […] conspiracy theories.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted right-wing news sites and Trump’s reactionary interest in the “Pakistani mystery man” is an “anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job.”

Right-wing Daily Caller obtained a transcription from a September 2016 powerpoint presentation of Theresa Grafenstine, Inspector General for the House who conveniently retired last year.

Theresa "Terry" Grafenstine

According to her LinkedIn, Grafenstine (above) now works for Deloitte Consulting.

Grafenstine found that Imran made “unauthorized access” to congressional servers in a way that suggested he was trying to “conceal” his activity and that his unusual activity suggested a server could be used for “nefarious purposes.”

As we have reported previously, Awan and his highly-paid relatives, who were all fired, were trippin’ with the inventory. The IG report found over $100,000 in electronics were removed from House inventory when the alleged conspirators (“shared employees” Imran Awan, Abid Awan, Hina Alvi, Jamal Awan and Rao Abbas) could not produce them for an audit. Purchase prices were manipulated so individual items could be reported as “office supplies” to the Federal bean counters.

Also, the employees continued to access the House server months after they were fired.

It is noteworthy the IG had evidence of this potentially criminal activity at least seven months before the “shared employees” were canned in February 2017. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) kept Imran on the payroll until his July 2017 arrest.

Federal prosecutors spoke with 40 witnesses, but found no evidence that Mr. Awan had engaged in illegal conduct involving House computer systems, per the plea agreement.

As a conservative opinion writer noted earlier this year, none of the Awan IT aides were subjected to background checks for employment, using a loophole in hiring procedures that exempts potential hires from background checks if another member of Congress vouches for them.

Awan’s attorney, a longtime Hillary crony, will seek a fine for his client instead of jail time, per Fox News.

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Speaking of plea deals for the privileged, disgraced FBI agent Chase Bishop (below) has been re-armed and offered a sweet settlement of his second-degree assault charge by the prosecution. The details will not be released, because he is your employee.

chase-bishop-in-court.jpg

Bishop’s lawyer, David Goddard, said that the FBI strongly encourages its agents to carry their guns when they’re not working

[our emphasis]

(This is why we need the Federal Government to control our gun use, while packing themselves without any accountability. Federal agents are beyond reproach.)

Also shielded from the public are Bishop’s toxicology results from the night his butter fingers put a round in the leg of Tom Reddington at a (presumably) drunken “dance-off” in a Denver bar last month. Bishop ran away, but was eventually picked up by police.

Prosecutors told Denver Post the blood alcohol level “[does] not support further charges” for Bishop.

He is due back in court on…also August 21.

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And George Clooney was out of sight to the high-rolling driver who collided with the Hollywood has-been in Italy last week.

Ambulance personnel tend to actor George Clooney after he was involved in a scooter accident Tuesday in Italy.

Video of Clooney going up in the air was obtained by Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

While later headlines billed the Batman and Robin star’s transpo means as a “motorcycle,” the pictures above from CNN and OK Magazine indicate the manly mishap was indeed sustained on a scooter.

It is unclear if Clooney wore a helmet.

CNN reports he received a negative scan at Giovanni Paolo II hospital. The overrated actor also told CNN he hit 65 mph before tagging the Mercedes that cut in front of him.

The video shows the scooter going maybe 35 mph.

Related:

Clinton/Clooney Cash: Cum One, Come All

According to The Federalist and New York Post, a lawsuit originally filed with the FEC last year by pro-Trump organization Committee to Defend the President alleges Hillary bagged hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from individual wealthy donors by funneling to state Democratic parties, which can make unlimited contributions to the DNC via the Hillary Victory Fund. This would appear to be a loophole around the federal limit of $2700 per person, per candidate, per election–in the amount of $84 million. This allegedly allowed Hillary to control the DNC in exchange for paying down their debt.

BONUSIn a very public spectacle, FBI agent Peter Strzok treated the public to a 10-hour array of smug expressions (cataloged by someone on Steemit) as the House Judiciary Committee questioned Strzok about his former investigative role under Robert Mueller into Trump’s 2016 campaign. We have not watched the actual video.

550a814a8c7a20c609e1d338f0e2b88db7c37d7c818121b0e816f365aa8cf941.jpg

Apparently, Strzok, refused to answer a question out of loyalty to the FBI. GOP dinosaur and Chair of the committee, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte (below, right), incorrectly claimed Strzok had been subpoenaed and threatened to hold him in contempt.

Republican Louie (his actual, adult name) Gohmert of Texas found an opening to mention Strzok’s extramarital affair with fellow ex-Mueller investigator Lisa Page, to the consternation of Democrats, who proceeded to suggest Gohmert harbors a psychiatric illness.

Page, who received Strzok’s “we’ll stop [the election of Donald Trump]” text that was hidden from the public until the Justice Dept IG report dropped last month, participated in part one of a two-day, private interview by the HJC. She had refused to comply with a subpoena for public hearing Wednesday and was also threatened with contempt. According to The Hill, although Republicans were gratified with her responses to some questions friend-with-benefits Strzok refused to answer, they were off-put she showed up with an FBI attorney. (Page, unlike Strzok, has resigned from the FBI.)

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/05/politics/scott-pruitt-epa-resigns/index.html

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/392461-pruitt-frequently-asked-aides-to-help

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/392570-pruitts-new-problem-with-the-gop-ethanol

http://time.com/4203690/iowa-caucuses-ted-cruz/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/politics/scott-pruitt-whistleblower-secret-calendar/index.html

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/394791-nsa-deletes-scores-of-call-records-over-technical-irregularities

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/6/21/17488454/scott-pruitt-tactical-pants-scandal

http://freebeacon.com/issues/epa-whistleblower-run-ins-law-enforcement-background-check-red-flags/

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/judge-jails-ex-trump-campaign-chair-manafort-ahead-155410775–politics.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/delta-bans-pit-bulls-dogs-115851622.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/nation-now/2018/06/28/delta-attendant-kicks-passengers-off-plane-over-airplane-mode-dispute/741161002/

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article163818253.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2018/07/04/Imran-Awan-an-ex-congressional-IT-worker-for-Democrats-pleads-guilty-to-bank-fraud/stories/201807040068

http://thehill.com/opinion/cybersecurity/384125-democratic-house-it-scandal-illustrates-the-hazards-of-reckless

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/03/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-pleads-guilty-to-bank-fraud-in-deal-with-prosecutors.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/judge-dancing-fbi-agent-accused-in-backflip-gunfire-incident-can-carry-weapon-again/

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/dancing-fbi-agent-offered-plea-deal-in-club-shooting/73-572427832

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/10/europe/george-clooney-scooter-accident-italy-intl/index.html

https://nypost.com/2018/06/09/democratic-parties-accused-of-funneling-84m-into-clinton-campaign/

http://thefederalist.com/2018/04/24/bombshell-fec-records-indicate-hillary-campaign-illegally-laundered-84-million/

https://steemit.com/informationwar/@gregorypatrick/my-favorite-c-span-clip-from-the-peter-strzok-hearing-did-you-use-that-smirk-when-you-lied-to-your-wife?sort=author_reputation

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/396980-former-fbi-lawyer-lisa-page-gets-closed-door-grilling-from-house

Scott Pruitt Loves Chik-fil-A and Lotion–UPDATED

UPDATED 6/12/18:

Chase Bishop has surrendered to the Denver Sheriff Office to face a charge of second-degree assault announced Tuesday, according to CBS.

180612-chase-bishop-mugshot.jpg

District Attorney Beth McCann notes the belated arrest is justified even without Bishop’s blood alcohol level, a lab result that takes minutes to run in any American health care facility but nonetheless “could take another week.”

We also learned Bishop (normally based in Washington, D.C.) was in Denver for vacation, not training.

Original post continues below:

Disgraced spendthrift Scott Pruitt, vital national security interest and Gestapo-minded head of the EPA, is causing more trouble for fellow Republicans who must actually get re-elected in November.

The shameless Oklahoman lost his lawyer, Sarah Greenwalt, and scheduler, Millan Hupp to resignations last week.

Sydney Hupp, Millan’s sister and another EPA scheduler, personally  emailed Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy last year to throw the weight of Pruitt’s office behind a highly-selective franchise acquisition application for his wife Marlyn, according to Washington Post. Sydney is also no longer with EPA. Marlyn did not get her Chik-fil-A.

Millan (below) had other questionable duties, according to Politico, including help[ing] Pruitt find housing and inquir[ing] about purchasing a used mattress for him from the Trump International Hotel.

Millan Hupp

But Vox noted the most demeaning tasks that fell to Pruitt’s multi-million dollar security squad: driving him to multiple locations to look for a moisturizing lotion offered by Ritz-Carlton hotels, and picking up his dry cleaning.

A Little Forfeiture

Unlike Imran Awan‘s wife, Hina Alvi, who was confronted by FBI agents and subsequently allowed to board an international flight with over $10 g’s in cash despite charges of bank fraud, U.S. citizen Rustem Kazazi had his life savings confiscated while flying from Cleveland to New Jersey last October.

He was ultimately en route to his original home country of Albania, because no self-respecting person would set foot in New Jersey except for a layover. While Mr. Kazazi was not required to report carriage of his “life savings”–$58,100 earmarked for purchasing a retirement home and assisting less fortunate Albanian family members–on a domestic flight, he was reportedly prepared to declare the funds during his layover in –ughhh–Newark, NJ.

However, government wants their money. Cleveland TSA thugs saw the cash surreptitiously sequestered in a large envelope marked “$58,100” in the 64-year-old’s carry-on bag. You can probably guess what happened next.

At the time, presumably because there was no real suspicion of criminal activity, Kazazi (who speaks little English) was merely searched, interrogated without an interpreter, given a receipt that read “U.S. currency” (no amount specified), and allowed to continue to Albania without the money.

In December, TSA’s fellow agency under DHS, the Customs and Border Protection, informed Kazazi they had his money, which was suspected of being “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” The amount had dropped to $57,330. The extra $770 must have been a “finder’s fee” for the sharp-eyed agent at the x-ray machine.

Image result for tsa worker

(Which is interesting, because according to USA Today, TSA actually harasses people leaving the country–the setting in which Kazazi was shortchanged–while CBP harasses them coming in.)

Forfeiture usually targets small entrepreneurs on bullshit charges like “structuring” deposits to avoid extra paperwork, because the Feds know these people will not have the resources to sue the government and reclaim property. As we have reported, over 90% of these seizures recently studied by the IRS inspector general came from innocent people:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

Because they got caught and publicly shamed by the press (and served by Institute for Justice, who is helping the family sue the government pro bono), the Feds announced earlier this week they would refund Kazazi’s $57,330 within 30 days.

Rustem Kazazi and his son, Erald, are pleased that the government is returning the money taken from them at the airport, but said their vision of America has been affected. (Michael Sangiacomo / Plain Dealer)

The disappearance of the $770 remains a mystery. Rustem’s son Erald (above, right), who helped prepare the money for the trip, notes it was all in $100 bills.

“I always thought the government was here to protect us.”

–Rustem Kazazi

*

A’wanna Have Awan’s Luck with Lucrative Employment and Soft Criminal Proceedings

Awan, unlike Kazazi, is actually facing criminal charges. But his case may have been boosted by the bumbling Capitol Police, who unloaded a glut of evidence to Awan’s defense attorney, Bill and Hillary Clinton associate Chris Gowen. After he copied everything, law enforcement reportedly angrily admitted they thought Gowen was with the prosecution. Oops.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! Awan Updates

Interestingly, although Gowen told Daily Caller the erroneous evidence disclosure was useless to the defense, it reportedly consisted of a copy of a laptop Awan’s former tenant, Laurel Everly, turned in to the Capitol Police in hopes of seeing whether Awan had hacked her. Everly previously complained of her landlord’s allegedly suspicious behavior and called him an “extortionist.”

Daily Caller also notes Awan argued against a different, government laptop  potentially implicating his family and friends’ theft of Democratic House members’ server data Awan left in a [obsolete term alert] phone booth being entered into evidence because he put a note that said “attorney client privilege” near it.

Fox News reported Awan will likely enter a plea agreement in the next hearing on July 3.

FBI Agent Shoots Amazon Packer

It’s not quite the “imperiling disabled children by mishandling live ordinance” level of functioning displayed by the CIA,

CIA: Careless, Incompetent, and Arrogant

but the FBI is making a play for “most unaccountable Federal Agency of the month” (May 2018). The setting: Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar, Denver, CO.

Agent Chase Bishop, 29, visiting Denver for agency-funded training and intoxication, accidentally capped a bystander in the leg while retrieving the firearm that jostled out of his ass crack after he failed to properly land a backflip on the Mile High dance floor in the early morning of June 2. Such a white boy move.

The video from Good Morning America shows Bishop swaggering away with a smirk, raising his hands as he disappears into the crowd.

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

It’s unclear if he identified himself as law enforcement. Mile High put out a statement that loaded firearms are prohibited on the premises. Heavy, however, reports that the agent is probably above the law:

Bob Pence, a retired FBI agent who was the Agent-in-Charge of the Denver field office, told Denver 7 that FBI agents are “considered on-duty 24 hours a day,” and were therefore permitted to carry their weapons everywhere. Pence told the news network that agents “should not drink excessively.”

Charges have not yet been announced, pending toxicology results. It’s been eight days, so with typical Washington efficiency a blood sample must have been sent to an out-of-state lab via carrier pigeon.

The Liberty University graduate is a former Army intelligence officer.

PHOTO: Tom Reddington is interviewed at his home in Denver, June 6, 2018. He was accidentally shot by the back-flipping FBI agent. (GMA)

The victim, 24-year-old Tom Reddington (above), works for the much-maligned super-corporation Amazon loading trucks. He has since been offered lifetime complimentary beverages from Mile High.

The “National Security” Front

Facebook is back in the newsfeed, publicly broadcasting the posts of “as many as 14 million users” after a “bug” set the default setting to “public” on all those users’ posts between May 18 and May 27. The social media giant supposedly changed the setting back to preferred privacy parameters once the bug was discovered.

When confronted by the ACLU, Orlando, FL police were forced to admit Amazon’s dystopian face-and-movement tracking technology Rekognition (showcased in the self-congratulatory promotion for a revolutionary grocery store below) has been deployed for public surveillance downtown.

Although chief John Mina insisted the system is merely “testing” recognition by capturing footage of seven department officers (and lamented the State is “a long way” from–Engadget‘s words–“tracking persons of interest”), he reneged on a public promise to reveal the cameras’ locations. A spokeswoman helped cover Mina’s ass by proclaiming his ignorance of the test cameras, because why would a police chief be aware of his office’s ongoing efforts to usurp civil liberties?

 Mina also said that he doesn’t know whether those cameras’ footage are uploaded to any Amazon server.

Mina (below) is resigning this year to run for election as Orange County sheriff.

The ACLU also learned that Amazon provided Washington County [Oregon] a roadmap under a non-disclosure agreement, and offered to link the county to other government customers interested in Rekognition, such as a body camera manufacturer. That’s particularly problematic when facial recognition on body cameras is illegal in Oregon. Amazon deleted mentions of body cams from its site after the ACLU raised the issue.

Amazon has lauded the cameras’ usefulness for identifying guests at the recent royal wedding in the UK.

Some of our previous coverage of facial recognition and its propensity to finger innocent people–especially African-Americans and women–when searching databases for a suspect can be found here:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 10, 19 and 22–Genes, Tattoos and Faces

Not to be outdone, Google helped fund some new research into algorithms that Futurism.com reports will allow Artificial Intelligence to create realistic footage of people from existing images or video. Perhaps those captured by police cameras.

[P]articipants in an experiment struggled to determine whether or not the resulting videos were real.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/06/pruitt-epa-republicans-scandal-scarred-599048

https://www.vox.com/2018/6/7/17437628/scott-pruitt-ritz-carlton-trump-epa-white-house

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/06/notes_do_not_publish.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/02/us/ohio-us-customs-cash-taken/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Most+Recent%29

http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/24/washington-dc-capitol-police-evidence-house-hacking-suspect-attorney/

http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/06/imran-awan-very-strongly-wants-to-block-review-of-hard-drive-was-using-alias/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/06/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-poised-for-plea-deal-after-months-mysterious-delays.html

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/victim-shot-back-flipping-fbi-agent-says-initially-115504028–abc-news-topstories.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2018/06/07/A-software-bug-made-some-private-posts-public-for-up-to-14-million-Facebook-users/stories/201806070253

https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/22/amazon-selling-facial-recognition-tech-to-law-enforcement/

https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/25/orlando-amazon-facial-recognition-tech/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-john-mina-retirement-sheriff-race-20180607-story.html

Cinco de ResignO and Corn

Ex-Trump adviser Carl Icahn‘s oil refinery is cashing in on a “financial hardship waiver” from Trump’s EPA, freeing the facility from a key Federal regulation.

Related:

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

CVR Energy Inc (based in EPA “administrator” Scott Pruitt‘s home state of Oklahoma) is one of a lucky two dozen “small” oil refineries (75,000 or fewer barrels produced daily) to score the coveted exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard regulation in 2017, potentially saving tens of millions of dollars according to Reuters.

Scott Pruitt is pictured. |Getty Images

Above: Pruitt makes a point.

Because the Federal Government’s main purpose is to preserve jobs that are no longer useful or exist only at the behest of enormous lobbies, all gasoline and diesel is required to contain a certain percentage of corn-based ethanol, which subsidizes corn farmers to use gasoline-powered tractors to harvest corn we don’t need to force-feed the animal flesh (locked in a race with global warming to destroy human civilization) and mix in with the real fossil fuels.

Reuters reports the program (originating under George W. Bush in 2005 and increasing the required “renewable” portion of blended fuel each year) purports to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports and support corn farmers.

Unfortunately, when government rules with unconstitutional regulations, the little people get shucked first. Small refineries must prove disproportionate financial hardship to legally waive the “blending credits” all oil outfits must otherwise either produce or purchase to present as annual tribute to the EPA. The “hardship” definition is more inclusive under Trump, leading to more waivers compared with those granted by Obama’s EPA.

The EPA’s oily move on CVR was lambasted by a separate corn-fed state official, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

According to Reuters, Icahn is currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for his role in influencing biofuels policy while serving as Trump’s adviser.

*

Speaking of the EPA…oh boy.

EPA head Scott Pruitt's security costs have been encouraged by his head of security, former Secret Service Pasquale 'Nino' Perrotta

Head EPA security thug Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta (above) resigned Tuesday under allegations of terminating whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski for refusing to retroactively approve some lavish travel for a former Pruitt aide. He was scheduled to talk to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday regarding their federal ethics investigation of the agency and it’s unclear how that will be refined settled.

According to The Hill, [o]nce someone leaves government employment, the inspector general’s office [which would concern internal, not congressional testimony-taking anyway] cannot compel someone to comply with an investigation.

(This may apply more to Albert Kelly, Pruitt’s head of the Superfund at EPA who, ironically enough, funded Pruitt through loans from his Bristow, OK-based SpiritBank. Apparently, the FDIC hit Kelly with a $125,000 fine and a lifetime banking ban last year after SpiritBank squandered $30 million in TARP bailout funds.)

SpiritBank Logo

Kelly (below) also resigned from EPA on Tuesday.

EPA's Albert Kelly. Photo credit: Oklahoma State Home Builders Association

(Credit to Daily Mail for obtaining a photo of Perrotta–apparently no easy feat, as even his LinkedIn profile keeps that ugly mug anonymous. But Daily Mail has a consistent typo implying Pruitt is receiving a blowjob rather than “taking heat” for his shameless exploitation of government office.)

From Nino’s LinkedIn profile, the former Secret Service agent fancies himself as a less-literate version of Liam Neeson from Taken:

I have a very “unique” law enforcement career with extensive leadership and law enforcement experience; world – wide [sic]. For the past ten years, as a hobby, I created and sold a very successful startup construction firm that accomplished numerous home improvement projects throughout the D.C. area. Today I manage a boutique security and investigative firm; [sic] Sequoia Security Group, Inc. which is based out of Bethesda, Maryland. The Sequoia team is comprised of highly successful, diversified team members, all having “unique” experience making our firm very successful at meeting our client needs. 

I am a results driven individual that enjoys [sic] seeing progress at work!

“Nino” reportedly encouraged Pruitt’s much-publicized police state preparations, including his upgraded Chevy Suburban with Kevlar-lined seat covers, twenty (20) bodyguards and $43,000 soundproof booth. (The proposed bulletproof desks never got installed.)

Sequoia Security Group associate, Edwin Steinmetz, reportedly won the $3,000 contract to shake down Pruitt’s office for possible concealed listening devices in March.

Washington Post:

Pruitt also had biometric locks installed in his office […] for a cost of $5,656.75. Those expenditures, first reported by AP, weren’t disclosed on the government’s contracting website because they were split into two payments and the threshold for reporting stands at $3,500.

Chicago Tribune:

[T]he 2014 Chevy Tahoe with four-wheel-drive that was used by Gina McCarthy, Pruitt’s predecessor as EPA administrator, has largely sat idle at the EPA headquarters, according to several current and former staffers. The agency had its lease renewed on Feb. 2, 2017, at a cost of $9,180.

Under House questioning in April, Pruitt admitted he delegated approval of larger pay raises for two subordinates (reversing his previous pleas of ignorance): Senior legal counsel Sarah Greenwalt received a raise of more than $66,000, bringing her salary to $164,200, and scheduling director Millian Hupp saw her salary jump from $48,000 to $114,590.

But citizens are perhaps most indignant at Pruitt’s self-indulgent travel portfolio. Washington Post alleges the administrator sought to use his office as a dress rehearsal for taxpayer-funded retirement: Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel.

Apparently, Pruitt’s essential EPA mission to Morocco last December–four days, $100,000–was planned by ex-Comcast lobbyist Richard Smotkin, who subsequently scored a $40,000/month position lobbying for the Moroccan government. Cha-CHING !!!

John Konkus of EPA’s press office and Liz Bowman of the public affairs division also quit late last week.

*

The NSA more than tripled its metadata collection of phone calls last year compared to 2016, sweeping up 530 million call records. For your protection.

These call records include what number the unsuspecting citizen target dialed and how long they spoke. 40 individuals were targeted in 2017.

Surveillance requests under FISA section 702, which do not require a warrant, increased from 5,288 to 7,512.

NSA’s FISA Festivities Extended with Bipartisan Support; Rest of Government Fights for Funding–Updated with Related FBI Dereliction of Duty

Tech Crunch extrapolates that more Americans innocent until proven guilty (hope you have nothing to hide!) were “unmasked” by intelligence agencies.

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

Use of the pen register/trace and tap orders (for which Government prosecutors need only suggest that “the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation”) decreased. Lots of paperwork.

*

We missed some big news from March, in which ex-FBI director James Comey (currently self-enriching on the book tour and talk show circuit) was shown to have misled the public regarding options for cracking the Syed Farook iPhone in February 2016.

FBI Rapes More Phones

FBI Rapes More Phones (Continued)

Tech Crunch reported that days after Comey’s public pity party aimed at manipulating the public against the encryption on their iPhones that ostensibly prevented his investigation of the San Bernardino mass murderer, the FBI decided to ask existing vendors if that was even true. Apparently not, because the Remote Operations Unit (ROU), who handles the vendors, told the Inspector General that Comey never bothered to call them.

The OIG report cited former FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess:

Hess expressed concerns that an [Operational Technology Division] unit may have had techniques available to exploit the Farook iPhone that certain unidentified OTD officials did not employ and that these officials were indifferent to the fact that FBI leadership and others were testifying to Congress, and filing affidavits in court, that the FBI had no such capability.

[Hess] became concerned that the CEAU [Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit–a division of ODT] Chief did not seem to want to find a technical solution, and that perhaps he knew of a solution but remained silent in order to pursue his own agenda of obtaining a favorable court ruling against Apple. 

[…]

[He] told the OIG that, after the outside vendor came forward, he became frustrated that the case against Apple could no longer go forward, and he vented his frustration to the ROU Chief. He acknowledged that during this conversation between the two, he expressed disappointment that the ROU Chief had engaged an outside vendor to assist with the Farook iPhone, asking the ROU Chief, “Why did you do that for? [sic]”

As we reported previously, the iPhone was successfully hacked by an anonymous vendor.

On the book tour, Comey has reportedly stated his agents grilling  Michael Flynn believed the ex-Trump adviser deceived the bureau about his Kremlin communications. This was apparently contradicted by newly un-redacted House Intelligence Committee testimony from Comey, who professed the agents thought Flynn was being truthful.

*

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page, recently demoted in the wake of anti-Trump texts exchanged with Peter Strzok while helping Mueller investigate Trump’s alleged 2016 collusion with Moscow (see our link “NSA’s FISA Festivities…” above), resigned Friday.

Lisa Page, FBI agent who bashed Trump in texts, resigns

Page was photographed in “active wear.” Chilly!

(She may be modeling a new Washington trend, “take the pension and run.”)

For example, former Comey associate and chief FBI lawyer (recently demoted) James Baker…also resigned on Friday.

He is alleged to have spoken with Mother Jones prior to the breaking news of Trump’s alleged Kremlin connections in “the dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele. MJ reporter (yes, his actual name) David Corn denied Baker leaked the story.

*

Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.

*

And alleged House Democrat hacker Imran Awan continues to evade prosecution for charges of bank fraud and conspiracy. The most recent postponement moved his U.S. District Court hearing from Friday to June.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! Awan Updates

Fox News reports a plea deal may be planned.

Awan’s attorney contends the conservative site Daily Caller, as well as goading tweets from Trump, are keeping the story alive, requiring time-consuming provision of evidence.

 

Thanks to our sources: 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biofuels-epa-icahn/exclusive-u-s-epa-grants-biofuels-waiver-to-billionaire-icahns-oil-refinery-sources-idUSKBN1I10YB

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/386281-upheaval-at-pruitts-epa-as-departures-mount?userid=115887

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/06/man-hired-to-sweep-scott-pruitts-office-for-bugs-is-in-business-with-a-top-epa-security-official/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a295cf156f0e

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/12/pruitt-epa-security-chief-spending-pasquale-perrotta-480825

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-scott-pruitt-suv-bullet-proof-seat-covers-20180417-story.html

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/epa-chief-faces-capitol-hill-grilling-over-ethical-043405198–politics.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-lobbyists-foreign-travel_us_5aebd4bfe4b0ab5c3d63a64e

 

NSA triples metadata collection numbers, sucking up over 500 million call records in 2017

https://nypost.com/2018/05/05/house-intel-panel-report-reveals-comey-book-tour-discrepancy/

Inquiry finds FBI sued Apple to unlock phone without considering all options

https://nypost.com/2018/05/05/lisa-page-fbi-agent-who-bashed-trump-in-texts-resigns/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/04/politics/fbi-officials-lisa-page-james-baker-resign/index.html

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/385881-cambridge-analytica-shutting-down-report?userid=115887

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/05/04/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-s-case-hit-with-repeated-delays-as-feds-probe-new-allegations.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxnews%2Fpolitics+%28Internal+-+Politics+-+Text%29

Criminals and Confirmation

As usual, we’re a bit behind. Dysfunction in Washington and abroad continues.

Mark Zuckerberg‘s downfall: part 3! On the eve of his Senate testimony on tracking, profiling and possibly influencing unsuspecting minds post-Cambridge Analytica revelations, Facebook’s founder and CEO admitted the European Union‘s new “General Data Protection Regulation” requirements of the social behemoth to  protect user privacy would not be extended to Western hemisphere social media slaves.

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

Specifically, COO Sheryl Sandberg grudgingly kowtowed to Europe’s modern socialism by “[arranging] the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for [European] people to manage their data” earlier this year.

46 of the 55 House members on the Energy and Commerce committee (which apparently regulates the internet), who grilled Zucks on April 11, banked donations from Facebook. Perhaps appropriately, the outfit is Facebook’s biggest campaign cash recipient.

On the House [Energy and Commerce] committee, Republicans got roughly twice as much as Democrats, counter to the broader trend in Facebook campaign gifts. Of the $7 million in contributions to all federal candidates tied to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network, Democrats got 65% to Republicans’ 33%.

Zucks empathized with the average site user by removing his own sent messages (and those from a few privileged executives) from recipient inboxes. Once he got caught, Facebook tried to salvage public support, announcing an “unsend” feature will launch for the commoners later this year. Their oily boss will reportedly be restrained from manipulating others’ inboxes until then.

TechCrunch:

None of Facebook’s terms of service appear to give it the right to remove content from users’ accounts unless it violates the company’s community standards.

In 2010, Silicon Alley Insider aka Business Insider published now-infamous instant messages from a 19-year-old Zuckerberg to a friend shortly after starting The Facebook in 2004. “yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard . . . just ask . . . i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns” Zuckerberg wrote to a friend. “what!? how’d you manage that one?” they asked. “people just submitted it . .  i don’t know why . . . they ‘trust me’ . . . dumb fucks” Zuckerberg explained.

Also in April, Facebook was caught haggling with hospital systems such as those associated with Stanford University Medical School to hand over de-identified patient profiles–including their diagnoses and prescriptions–that Facebook could then align with their database to assist in “medical research.”

Once they got caught (this is becoming a pattern), Facebook reassured the internet their sordid stealth operation was still in the “planning phase,” and anyhow paused as the company focused on “doing a better job of protecting people’s data and being clearer with them about how that data is used in our products and services.” This was a terse referral to the Cambridge catastrophe that siphoned 87,000,000 users’ data to help political ads better target voters.

*

The IRS gifted the little people an additional 24 hours to submit tax returns after their computers malfunctioned as the country closed in on the April 17 deadline for filing.

“Taxpayers do not need to do anything to receive this extra time,” the magnanimous agency soothed.

Trump reportedly asked for a six-month extension on his return; according to Reuters this option is also open to Washington’s disenchanted subjects. When the hundreds of billions of dollars confiscated for income tax annually covers only the interest on your existing national debt, and not any of the trillions of dollars spent by the government, time is not particularly of the essence.

*

Puerto Rico took another machete to its morale with an island-wide blackout last week, brought to you by a bulldozer from D. Grimm, a subcontractor of Mammoth‘s Cobra Acquisitions.

DGrimm Inc

According to their website, the company is “women owned.”

Puerto Rico Updates

Perplexed Governor Richard Rossello sternly “suggested” that the island’s energy monopoly, PREPA, cut ties with D. Grimm. Apparently, two weeks before this Grimm vehicle tagged a live wire and cut the power of basically all 3.4 million Puerto Ricans, the subcontractor was also blamed for a tree [falling] on a major electric transmission line and shorting out 870,000 citizens’ power, according to ThinkProgress.

Image result for fallen tree power line

The culprit, completely preventable by D. Grimm.

The timing was inopportune for PREPA’s move toward [trigger warningprivatization, which the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis maintains would exacerbate award of cushy contracts to government insiders, such as (to all appearances) the island’s first foray into unproven contractors with the Whitefish fiasco.

The pension reform is apparently fallout from 2016’s increased Federal oversight of Puerto Rico by a Financial Oversight Management Board as stipulated in the PROMESA bailout. The new management of $120 billion in debt was recently slammed by Rossello as “truly disturbing“,  “anti-democratic” and showing “reckless disregard“.

The FOMB reportedly voted last week for a five-year freeze on public sector wages and deep cuts to the University of Puerto Rico to help stop the financial bleeding.

*

ICE continues to terrorize undocumented citizens. Their new focus appears to be those who have served time for wrongful conviction.

Ricardo Rodriguez, a lawful permanent resident with two marijuana possession convictions, spent 20 years in prison for murdering Rodney Kemppainen. That conviction was overturned in March, the tenth such mistake linked to disgraced former Detective Reynaldo Guevara (below), formerly of Chicago police, who allegedly beat confessions out of suspects and created eyewitnesses.

Former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara

Upon his March release, Rodriguez was picked up by ICE. Apparently, he lost permanent resident status with his erroneous arrest in 1995. It is unclear where they stuck him.

Cook County is a favorite haunt for ICE. Last December, Mexican nationals Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes (below, left and right) were cleared of a double murder (including confessions orchestrated by Guevara via brass knuckles) that had kept them jailed since 1998. Both were collared by ICE before they even left prison.

Solache spent another 41 days incarcerated before he came up with bond money in February.

Tellingly, both men expressed a desire to return to Mexico voluntarily. For Reyes, ICE has appealed this “request,” favoring a forced removal that will make a future return to America more difficult.

Reyes filed a civil suit against Guevara and the Chicago police. Solache is also suing, alleging Guevara beat him to the point of hearing loss.

*

As we have extensively reported, Trump’s unapologetic VA secretary, David Shulkin (below), set a new precedent for personal perks while disregarding ailing veterans.

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down

Shulkin was fired at the end of March (the White House maintains he resigned). Trump nominated his personal physician, Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson (below) (his actual, adult name is “Ronny”) to fill the vacancy.

The solution was short-lived. According to The Hill, the Navy doctor, 50, didn’t even get a vote. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member Jon Tester (D-MT) yesterday dropped damning allegations including Jackson’s passing out Percocet, prescribing opioids to himself, showing up to work drunk and crashing a government vehicle while leaving a Secret Service retirement party. Also drunk.

It is unclear from the whistleblower report if that was the same Secret Service retirement party where agents Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie also left drunk and caused a security lockdown with their vehicle:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 15 and 17: Secret Service Slips with Security; Separately, Another White House Intruder, Donna Brazile Pouts and Rand Ruffles Feathers

Several Republican senators were previously concerned Jackson was unqualified for the position. Jackson, denying the car incident, withdrew from consideration April 26.

Mike Pompeo official CIA portrait.jpg

Trump did get his way with new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (above). Despite the porky Kansan’s probable complicity in torture cover-up as Trump’s CIA director,  Pompeo cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote (which is just a recommendation to the full Senate, but would have been a historic humiliation for the oval office) after committee member Senator Rand Paul caved and accepted Pompeo’s admission that America’s 17-year nation building exercise in Afghanistan should end.

Pompeo was confirmed 57-42.

Incidentally, Senator Tester opposed Pompeo. Several Democrats up for re-election in November, such as Bill Nelson (FL), voted “yes.”

*

Alex van der Zwaan (below, hair) became the next casualty of the Mueller probe, receiving 30 days of hard time and $20,000 in fines after pleading guilty to making false statements.

Image result for Alex van der Zwaan

The dashing Dutchman reportedly worked with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to put out positive propaganda for Viktor Yanukovych’s Ukrainian government in 2012.

Related:

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

*

The Department of Homeland Security will be “monitoring” about 300,000 journalists, news stations and “media influencers” worldwide. The resulting database will compile coverage of the DHS “or a particular event.” [????????]

A sneering spokesperson tweeted:

“Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”

This is apparently so innocuous that the spokesperson, Tyler Q. Houlton, took out an op-ed in USA Today the following week defending the Maoist move.

*

And Noor Salman was found not guilty of assisting her late husband Omar Mateen‘s ISIS-inspired assault on Pulse nightclub in 2016. She had served 14 months in prison after signing a confession handwritten by FBI agents after a marathon interrogation that was not recorded.

Another problem with the Feds’ case: the Orlando-based jury was presumably more sympathetic to the deaths of 49 predominantly gay and lesbian clubbers–just as the government intended. They presented Mateen as targeting the LGBT community and “casing” locations for his massacre with Salman. Data from security cameras and phone records show Mateen googled “downtown orlando nightclubs,” not “gay nightclubs” as the public was led to believe.

Salman’s signed confession that she had driven by Pulse with Mateen was proven false.

It didn’t help that the prosecution purposefully concealed the fact that Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, is a longtime FBI informant.

Election Updates 2016

 

Thanks to our sources:

Facebook to exclude North American users from some privacy enhancements

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-taxes/irs-gives-taxpayers-one-day-extension-after-computer-glitch-idUSKBN1HO354

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/04/04/facebook-gave-most-contributions-house-committee-question-zuckerberg-also-got-most-contributions-fac/486313002/

Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/23/puerto-rico-power-outage-prepa-privatization/

Puerto Rico to sever relationship with contractor after island-wide power outage

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-puertorico-debt-letter/puerto-rico-governor-slams-congressman-over-dictatorial-letter-idUSKCN1H91Y1

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-wrongful-conviction-legal-resident-20180328-story,amp.html?__twitter_impression=true&utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikehayes/prosecutors-tossed-their-murder-convictions-so-ice-seized?utm_term=.kqQrWvL6g#.ixNwyA3x6

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/man-cleared-in-murder-case-goes-free-19-years-in-prison-month-in-ice-detention/

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/31/chic-m31.html

https://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/man-freed-from-prison-and-turned-over-to-ice-sues-ex-cpd-detective-guevara/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/immigration/ct-met-solache-reyes-ice-0210-story.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/29/597866101/fired-va-secretary-says-white-house-muzzled-him

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/384642-trump-va-pick-withdraws-nomination?userid=115887

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/384945-republicans-want-trumps-va-nominee-to-withdraw?rnd=1524702171?userid=115887

https://www.npr.org/2018/04/26/605471807/dr-ronny-jackson-withdraws-as-va-nominee

 

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/381413-judge-hands-down-first-sentence-in-mueller-probe?userid=115887

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/department-of-homeland-security-journalists-influencers-database-a8293906.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/noor-salman-verdict-pulse-nightclub-shooting_us_5abcefb6e4b03e2a5c7a15da

https://theintercept.com/2018/03/05/as-the-trial-of-omar-mateens-wife-begins-new-evidence-undermines-beliefs-about-the-pulse-massacre-including-motive/

Band-aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes or Budgets

What a week in Washington and beyond.

Mohamed Noor was ultimately charged in his alleged slaying of Justine Damond last July. Besides third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges (and a maximum 35 years in prison), the 32-year-old finally earned a termination from the Minneapolis Police Department. Which is interesting, because police chief Janee Harteau was forced out within a month of the incident:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 18: Crime and Punishment

Neither Noor [alliteration or repetition coming up? you decide] nor his partner Matthew Harrity had their body cameras running when Noor allegedly shot Damond across Harrity from the patrol car’s passenger seat.

Harrity (with whom Noor is now court-ordered not to associate) testified to a grand jury last month.

Although the Minnesota police union reported 35 to 40 Minneapolis police officers were initially subpoenaed, apparently no one talked, prompting a grand jury. Noor’s own first conversation with the law was reportedly Tuesday night when he surrendered. The prosecution noticed:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman blamed stonewalling by the Minneapolis police for the eight-month delay in charging Noor.

“This would have been done a good deal quicker if we had gotten cooperation,” he said at a news conference Tuesday after Noor was charged.

Noor made $400,000 bail Wednesday after a night in jail.

[His attorney Thomas Plunkett is either the Mafia don on the left or the unkempt man on the right.]

Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage director Justin Terrell opined that the Somali-American Noor’s treatment for shooting a white Australian woman is disproportionately punitive and rooted in racism.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman described how Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor reached across his partner's body and shot Justine Ruszczy

Freeman (above, accusatory pointing) was reportedly reluctant to resort to a grand jury because the public detests secret proceedings and, well, police in Minnesota lately racked up multiple high-profile casualties:

Christmas Special: Mohamed Noor and Justine Damond Updates

Speaking of which, somewhat lost in the highly-publicized “March for our Lives” this weekend was the Sacramento police slaughter of 22-year-old Stephon Alonzo Clark, who was reportedly breaking windows. The law cornered the father of two in his grandparents’ backyard and delivered 20 rounds of ammunition when they mistook Clark’s cellphone for a gun.

Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento Police on Sunday night.

Police released video from their heat-seeking tactical chopper:

We can see Clark enter the yard (the cursor on the screen immerses the pilot in a video game hunting experience)…

…then get dropped by the officers:

There was some disagreement as to whether the officers announced their identities. Because that’s the biggest problem here.

Sacramento police guidelines posted on the department’s website do not specify that officers must identify themselves when encountering suspects. Sacramento police spokeswoman Linda Matthew said she did not believe such a policy existed.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said that policies for departments vary across the country, but it would be impractical under such circumstances to expect officers to identify themselves.

“If you’re in a chase and everybody’s running, there isn’t a lot of talking back and forth going on,” he said.

According to Capital Public Radio, who have the body cam footage:

The video also confirms that law enforcement and first responders waited more than 5 minutes to approach Clark after the shooting. When they did, they put him in handcuffs before performing medical treatment.

*

After several months on the back burner, Trump’s decision to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military has been resurrected, this time with the approval of Defense secretary James “Jim” Mattis.

*

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reluctantly provided his first public admission of wrongdoing since he attempted to drum up “empathy” for Hurricane Maria victims with a virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico’s utter destruction last October:

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 3.53.15 PM

The overpriced Q-tip (below) is prepared to testify to Congress on the evil workings of Cambridge Analytica.

The short version: a Facebook app offered users to sign away rights to their personal information (and that of online “friends”) to take a personality quiz. That data was used by Cambridge’s right-wing customers to assist in Trump’s election.

[reason notes the same privacy-usurping approach via third-party Facebook app–“Graph API“–successfully sealed Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Because Obama was a Democrat, the ploy was revolutionary, not fascist.]

However, the social media platform apparently pledged to pull the plug on Graph API and disallow further mass collection from millions of unwitting Americans in April 2015. Oops.

Facebook lost $50 billion over the past week.

Zucks admitted to selling out the ignorant masses–and finally offered an apology–via a medium long extinct to all but nostalgic elites and non-internet households: print journalism.

*

TSA‘s competence was on full display Friday night when Costa Rican customs found 58 grams of marijuana, edibles, pipes and cannabis oil the crack security squad at Fort Lauderdale International Airport apparently missed in New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon‘s luggage.

[Most of the weed was in a can of Arizona Iced Tea–peach flavor! Given the TSA’s notorious beverage ban at security, Harmon must have checked the suitcase.]

Harmon was shipped back to the states. According to the C’Rican Fiscal Control Police, who were on alert for “spring break” travelers,  “[w]e want to prevent undesirable people from entering the country.”

USP NFL: SUPER BOWL LII-PHILADELPHIA EAGLES VS NEW S FBN USA MN

TSA will reclaim its investigative dominance with a new regulation: forcing passengers to remove electronic tablets from carry-on luggage in addition to laptops. A spokeswoman boasted the new harassment, which was [PUN ALERT] pilot tested in 10 airports last year (and apparently met with little resistance!) is part of “the first broad-scale changes to TSA screening procedures in the security checkpoint in more than 11 years.”

Clearly she forgot the revolutionary “which line do I get to stand in” randomizer app:

Swipe Left for Overfunded Incompetence–UPDATED

*

And Congress plowed ahead with its latest spending blitz to meet an appropriations deadline. The damage: $1.3 trillion, which keeps the Feds afloat for six more months.

In the Senate, more Democrats than Republicans voted for Mitch McConnell‘s latest pork-stuffed financial condemnation of the country’s younger generations. Notably, McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul (a “no”) allowed the 65-32 vote without a procedural holdup similar to his protest just a few weeks prior (the last time a temporary, last-second spending patch was scraped together by the cancerous Federal installation that ran out of other people’s money over $21,000,000,000,000 ago).

FEMA Withdraws Aid Withdrawal Amid Backlash, Raises Stakes with Seedy Power Provider and Drops the Ball on Puerto Rican Food Delivery; Congress Shits on Taxpayers Again; Your Location and Face Broadcast to More Federal Agencies

Jim Risch (R-ID) (“no”) almost dinged McConnell’s dwindling pride by striking a provision renaming a wildlife refuge after a former political rival of Risch. Priorities.

Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

(The rival is reportedly the recently deceased former Democratic Beehive State governor Cecil Andrus.)

But the House had already passed the bill 256-157 (more “no” votes came from the majority party, just like the Senate), and an unnamed member objected to the modification.

(Of note, Congress had a two-week vacation starting Friday evening.)

On Thursday night Paul live-tweeted his attempt to read the 2,200-page bill, which was provided to both houses of Congress about 48 hours before the funding deadline. He reportedly got through 600 pages.

View image on Twitter

McConnell heralded the measure as “the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to Department of Defense funding […] the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in fifteen years.”

Other reactions included no-voters John Kennedy (R-LA) (“a great dane-sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer”) and Bob Corker (R-TN) (“one of the most grotesque pieces of legislation I can remember”).

Buried in the bill was a $48.8 million increase in the Senate budget. The House upped their budget by $10.9 million.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-minneapolis-police-officer-charged-justine-damond-killing-makes-bail-n858876

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/police-partner-of-justine-damonds-killer-testifies-at-grand-jury

http://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-police-officer-mohamed-noor-turns-himself-in-on-charges-in-justine-damond-killing/477405923/#1

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-police-policy/california-police-shooting-of-unarmed-black-man-forcing-look-at-policies-idUSKBN1H003T

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-police-policy/california-police-shooting-of-unarmed-black-man-forcing-look-at-policies-idUSKBN1H003T

https://www.recode.net/2018/3/21/17149964/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-congress-data-privacy-cambridge-analytica

Zuck apologizes for Cambridge Analytica scandal with full-page print ad

https://www.necn.com/news/sports/New-England-Patriots-Duron-Harmon-Marijuana-Costa-Rica-477819263.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/03/24/duron-harmon-marijuana-costa-rica-arrest-detained/455944002/

https://news.co.cr/new-england-patriots-player-duron-harmon-attempts-to-enter-costa-rica-with-marijuana/71750/

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/s63

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/379883-senate-approves-13-trillion-spending-bill-sending-to-trump?userid=115887&utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14308

House OKs Spending Bill to Fund Government, but 90 Republicans Vote No

http://freebeacon.com/politics/congress-gives-bonus-omnibus/

Defendant, Doors, Drew, Drama, Debt and Disgrace

After pleading not guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in Virginia–necessitating a second ankle bracelet, as he is already on house arrest from Robert Mueller indictments in D.C.–disgraced ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort requested charges for false statements and conspiracy money laundering. His attorneys note these two charges are covered in the ongoing federal case.

Manafort has sued the Justice Department for exceeding the scope of the Mueller investigation on collusion with Russia in 2016 by pursuing all possible criminal activity by Manafort under a “blank check” of prosecution.

CNN reports Manafort faces a combined maximum sentence of over 300 years, the majority stemming from the Virginia fraud charges.

*

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke‘s office (not the secretary himself, the bumbling bureaucracy noted) ordered three (3) sets of double doors for $139,669.68. And that included reusing “existing door handles, locks and latches.”

A spokeswoman blamed  “regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules.”

Duke Ellington School of the Arts of Mismanaging Renovation

The doors were last replaced about six years into U.S. nation-building in Afghanistan (2007).

PHOTO: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addresses criticism of his travel practices before delivering a speech billed as A Vision for American Energy Dominance, at the Heritage Foundation, Sept. 29, 2017, in Washington.

Zinke (above) rode to the rescue (probably not on a charter flight, which he exploits on taxpayer dollars somewhat less frequently than other Trump cabinet members, per ABC News), informing a House committee “we got it down to $75,000” by “manipulating” the contract terms. He did not elaborate.

Taxpayer-backed luxurious travel for multimillionaire “public servants” is back in the news, however. Head Treasury thug Steven Mnuchin put in some tough hours on military jets between spring and fall of 2017. His eight known trips–pried from redacted FOIA requests by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington–topped $995,000.

A source within Treasury who declined to be named told POLITICO that [Mnuchin predecessor Jack] Lew spent $3.25 million on travel expenses in 2016, which, according to the documents obtained by CREW, included 10 international trips using military aircraft, with stops in a combined 25 cities.

CREW notes that Mnuchin’s manifest is far stingier than previous secretary’s, however. He does not mix with commoners.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

Besides reportedly flying commercial not once during his tenure, one example of the former Goldman Sachs hack’s public exploitation is his self-designated Presidential Mission Trip to Miami last June. The original $27,000 FAA aircraft back from the Miami meeting with Mexico’s finance minister lacked a secure phone line, so Mnuchin upgraded to a $45,000 military plane. There were five people on the trip. His own travel office noted “for your awareness, the cost per person on commercial air is approx.: $688 roundtrip.” 

Treasury maintains Mnuchin has been off high-priced military aircraft since a $180,000 journey to the Middle East last October, but will require  jet next week for the G-20 summit in Argentina.

Mnuchin also told Sunday news host Chuck Todd that Trump’s characterization of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) as “a very low I.Q. individual” was just a “funny name”:

“You know [Trump] likes to put names on people. He did that through the entire presidential election, including all the Republicans that he beat. […] He’s using these vulgarities in the context of a campaign and obviously there were a lot of funny moments in that rally.”

*

Conor Lamb

Democrat Conor Lamb‘s (above) upset win in a special election to serve the remainder of 2018 for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district (which is redrawn for the midterms), despite two Trump rallies (including the “Maxine Waters has a low I.Q.” performance), had House Republicans worried.

“If you’re getting outraised [financially], this is a wake up call. Prepare to bear down.”–Steve Stivers (R-OH) 

Trump Dump

[our emphasis]

“Winning is better than losing,” reported Jim Jordan (R-OH), noting failed GOP candidate Rick Saccone‘s loss in a district that overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016 was “not good.”

The race flowed with evil “outside money.” Although Lamb was boosted by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and End Citizens United, the bigger story seemed to be Saccone’s $10 million backing from national Republicans.

Libertarian candidate Drew Miller (above) scored about 0.6% of the vote, or double the margin between Lamb and Saccone, after raising $2,000.

*

Ryan McAvoy, a White House staffer, left his personal email and password at a bus stop, but for Trump allies like Jared Kushner, House Intelligence Committee Democrats can’t rely on idiocy alone to seek out possible Russian collusion on non-official channels of communication. They’re floating subpoenas for the disgraced, temporary security clearance-stripped “Peace in the Middle East” adviser’s (below) transition team messages on “SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

Jared Kushner is pictured. | AP Photo

Hillary Updates

Trump ousted secretary of state Rex Tillerson (below, left) and appointed CIA director Mike Pompeo (below that) in his stead.

Image result

Tillerson’s deputy Steve Goldstein (below) was also fired.

Irwin Goldstein.jpg

Current CIA deputy director Gina Haspel is nominated to take Pompeo’s place.

Gina Haspel official CIA portrait.jpg

There were reports (now retracted) that Haspel directed the 2002 waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah (below) at a CIA black site in Thailand.

Abu Zubaydah.jpg

She did oversee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri‘s (below) waterboarding later that year and order destruction of the tapes of Zubaydah’s torture.

Nashiri.jpg

Both men are currently held without charges at Guantanamo Bay.

Senator Rand Paul will filibuster both Haspel and Pompeo’s nominations.

*

The president wasn’t done. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe (below), who has been on “terminal leave” since January (using accrued days off to make it until a planned retirement in March), was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday, less than two days before he would have qualified for a pension, for allegedly not cooperating with an Inspector General.

Retiring FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

Two days before Christmas, Trump tweeted, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

Apparently, Trump is still sour at McCabe’s involvement in the Hillary Secret Server probe that ended without charges for the former secretary of state. That announcement came from recently-fired FBI chief James Comey.

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 9: FBI Director Comey Fired

There were reports that current FBI head Christopher Wray refused Sessions’ request to fire McCabe back in January.

Trump tweeted early Saturday morning: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

McCabe protested the move as Trump’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the [Mueller] special counsel investigation.”

Former CIA head John Brennan, who famously hacked Senator Dianne Feinstein‘s computer attempting to bury a report on American torture, tweeted to Trump:

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

*

The National Debt closed at over $21,000,000,000,000 on Thursday. Additionally, within the next decade, interest alone on the debt is projected to top $1 trillion annually–about triple the take of corporate tax in f.y. 2017 (or about 2/3 of the total confiscated in income tax).

Unconcerned Republicans now intend to make permanent some of their newly-enacted cuts to individual tax rates, which currently expire in 2025. The accompanying corporate tax cuts are already permanent, because priorities.

*

In more local news, Seaside, California teacher, city council member and reserve police officer Dennis Alexander shot up the ceiling and injured three students while leading a firearms safety demonstration. He is now on leave from the police and school positions.

Teacher who accidentally fired gun at school apologizes and thanks community for support

A Glock 21, semi-automatic .45 caliber service pistol was used in the demonstration.

The Seaside High School website lists Anderson as an educator in the career and technical department responsible for introductory classes on fire and police, as well as public safety.

Class resumed after “no major injuries” were discovered. The children’s parents might not have found out, except one boy came home with a bloody shirt and later had part of a slug pulled out of his neck at the emergency room:

​Bullet fragments removed from student's neck

The boy’s father noted: “He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be OK. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”

Although Alexander had taught the class in the past, the weapon itself was apparently banned from school premises. Maybe police get special privileges.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/14/politics/paul-manafort-motion-to-dismiss/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/13/politics/paul-manafort-faces-305-years/index.html

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/interior-spend-139-000-doors-zinkes-office-034103697–abc-news-topstories.html

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20180315/news/303159870

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/15/steven-mnuchin-plane-travel-cost-421176

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/378390-house-gop-frets-over-pennsylvania-race?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14145

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mnuchin-trump-insult-maxine-waters-iq_us_5aa52df9e4b01b9b0a3c53df

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/13/us/elections/results-pennsylvania-house-special-election.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-replaces-secretary-state-tillerson-cia-director-n856091

https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/18/rand-paul-gina-haspel-cia-217653

ProPublica’s Retraction Doesn’t Mean Gina Haspel Didn’t Oversee Torture, She Still Totally Did

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/18/rand-paul-gina-haspel-cia-217653

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/18/politics/rand-paul-mike-pompeo-gina-haspel-cnntv/index.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/the-defenestration-of-andrew-mccabe/551771/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/former-fbi-deputy-director-mccabe-booted-agency-052802977–politics.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/john-brennan-donald-trump-andrew-mccabe_us_5aad0cf7e4b05b2217ff0e53

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/national-debt-hits-21-trillion

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/15/opinions/trillion-dollar-debt-interest-opinion-macguineas/index.html

A closer look at who does (and doesn’t) pay U.S. income tax

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/378861-gop-pushes-for-phase-two-of-tax-cuts

http://thehill.com/opinion/finance/366889-democrats-should-get-on-board-with-making-trump-tax-cuts-permanent

https://www.yahoo.com/news/california-teacher-injures-three-pupils-131503194.html

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-seaside-high-school-gun-apology-20180316-story.html

http://www.ksbw.com/article/seaside-high-teacher-accidentally-fires-gun-in-class/19426017

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson feverishly tried to cancel a December order of $31,561 in mahogany dining room furniture for his office.

Seal of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.svg

 

Because the U.S. is on financially sound footing, HUD pumped $1,100 into repairing the existing LBJ-era chairs before ordering the  good stuff (each new chair cost about $1,000).

New blinds for Carson’s office cost $3,400.

Carson blamed his wife, Candy, for the expensive decisions.

Ben & Candy Carson

The Twitter profile photo of “Dr. Ben & Candy Carson”

Meanwhile, senior HUD official Helen Foster, a Treasury employee from the Obama administration who warned Carson of the $5,000 limit on redecorating offices, was reassigned as HUD’s chief FOIA officer last October.

During the Trump transition, acting HUD secretary Craig Clemmensen advised Foster that past administrations “found ways around” the limit.

Foster’s complaint says […] Clemmensen repeatedly told her to “find money” to purchase furniture for Carson’s office and said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”

It appears that in her new assignment as FOIA chief, Clemmensen told Foster to circumvent required procedure for two FOIA requests, citing Maren Kasper (below) of the transition team.

[Maren Kasper, Executive Vice President, Ginnie Mae]

Foster was also discouraged from reporting the department’s $10.8 million deficit from 2016 and instructed by Carson to fund a new security system for his Virginia residence (he eventually withdrew the request).

The Carsons denied wrongdoing on Twitter using Psalm 91:4 and noted only the blinds counted toward the $5,000 limit, as the mahogany was a “building expense.”

According to ABC, [t]he Trump administration’s proposed budget recommends an 18 percent decrease in funding for HUD, including a decrease in funds intended to help low income individuals pay their rent.

The agency’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 is over $41,000,000,000 according to their website.

*

D.C. “streetcars”: do they not have enough Congresspeople’s children driving for Lyft while illegally sporting official tags?

The dirty district has fielded a fleet of free rides for the public since 2016 (it was initially supposed to launch in 2009), but needs to replace all the cars–at a cost of at least $25 million–starting in 2021. The existing $200,000,000 vanity project cannot repair its existing cars, because the only spare parts manufacturer is in another country. Therefore, repair parts “will likely require reverse engineering” according to D.C.’s department of transportation.

The 2.4-mile route runs exactly parallel to an existing bus route.

Another eight miles to Georgetown is planned, projected to cost $400 million.

CityLab alleges the line of public extortion is good for the city:

If economic development rather than moving people around were the only metric for the streetcar’s success, it would be viewed as an unequivocal triumph. Between June of 2010 and January 2018, the median home value in the Near Northeast neighborhood, which encompasses a significant part of the line, jumped from $441,000 to $705,000, according to Zillow, an increase 10 percent greater than the District overall during that period. Massive new apartment buildings and condos have significantly boosted the density of the neighborhood in recent years.

*

The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Jennings v. Rodriguez that immigrants, whether illegal or permanent legal residents, are not entitled to periodic bond hearings and may be detained indefinitely. Elena Kagan recused herself.

Obama reportedly did not like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s verdict that detained immigrants and asylum seekers are entitled to bond hearings every six months, and kicked the case to the Supreme Court.

*

Carl Icahn in 2014.

Trump adviser Carl Icahn sold over $31 million in Manitowoc Company Inc. stock seven days prior to the president’s inane announcement that American steel imports will suffer a 24% tariff.

Manitowoc, which makes cranes, lost about $8 per share following the tariff announcement. Icahn had unloaded nearly 1 million shares.

*

The Florida high school massacre on February 14 continues to fuel our betters in the media. Delta Airlines made perhaps the biggest splash–not in one of their routine emergency landings, but by ending their discount program for National Rifle Association members traveling to the lobby’s annual convention.

USA Today noted that just 13 passengers ever used the discount, (estimated at about 10% off ticket price).

That didn’t stop the Georgia legislature from ripping a jet fuel tax break from its tax legislation–an estimated loss of $40 million for the shoddy Atlanta-based airline, whose breakup with NRA was perceived as an affront to the 2nd Constitutional amendment.

Proponents of the retaliatory move included Republican Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (below), who is running to succeed his boss Nathan Deal.

Casey Cagle

According to Reuters, Delta is “review[ing] [the] end [of] group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.” CEO Ed Bastian insists “our values are not for sale” and insinuated legislature members first threatened the airline with nixing the tax break to get them to reinstate the NRArrangement.

Delta’s even more overpriced rival United Airlines also ended its NRA convention discount.

Meanwhile, FedEx announced it would retain its 26% shipping discount for NRA Business Alliance members. ThinkProgress reported what they characterize as “rule bending”: “Some [FedEx] customers have been approved for an exception to ship firearms with a 2-day (AM or PM) service,” a confidential internal document revealed.

Apparently, the decrepit United States Postal Service will rarely ship firearms at all, leaving most of the market to UPS and FedEx. While the latter two private companies require overnight shipping on all firearms, FedEx reportedly saves self-defense (or child assault?) enthusiasts some coin…by allowing them to wait an additional day for their weapon.

Documents obtained by CNN show cops were called to Nikolas Cruz's (pictured) home more times than originally thought.

The massacre allegedly perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz, 19 (above), at his former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL left 17 dead. The fallout continues, from a math teacher accused of locking his students out of the classroom to public flailing of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI .

Sheriff Scott Israel (below) is especially [TRIGGER WARNING FOR TRIGGER WARNING] [TRIGGER WARNING] under fire for the 45 police visits to Cruz’ adoptive mother’s house over the past 10 years.

Documents obtained by CNN show cops were called to Nikolas Cruz's home more times than originally thought. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel pictured above.

Daily Mail reported the disgraced law man is now preemptively characterizing the suspect (who has reportedly confessed, but not yet been tried) as “killer” and downplaying the number of police contacts:

‘Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family. STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE,’ a statement from the sheriff’s office said on Saturday. 

CNN obtained the figure of 45 police visits.

Neighbor Joelle Guarino (below) finally buzzed 911 herself in 2016 after seeing Cruz’ Instagram threat to [TRIGGER WARNING“shoot up a school.”

Meanwhile, former neighbor Joelle Guarino (pictured) is speaking out to detail Cruz's disturbing behavior growing up

Cruz reportedly threw a rock at Guarino’s own son several years ago and dissected toads on her lawn.

Lynda Cruz died in November of pneumonia.

FBI director Christopher Wray bit the bullet on February 16, admitting his agency not only dropped the ball in September when a blogger alerted Mississippi agents to Cruz’ YouTube comment–this is very subtle–“I am going to be a professional school shooter”, but also with an anonymous tipster in January:

The […] woman identified Cruz by his full name, his age and where he lived […] then frantically warned about his mental instability, his arsenal of firearms, his posting of assault rifles on social media, his threats to kill himself and other people, and that “he’s so into ISIS,” the notorious Middle East terrorist group.

*

But the Feds have everything under control now. While Congress waffles on “background checks” and “raising the age to purchase assault weapons” to prevent the few high-profile American mass killings among 15,000-plus murders annually, Pasadena, CA police officer Vasken Gourdikian, 48, is taking matters into his own hands.

Feds charge former Pasadena police spokesman with illegally selling more than 100 guns

The 24-year peace-keeping veteran pleaded not guilty to four felony counts from a grand jury who allege he illegally moved over 100 firearms in the past 3 years for profit.

His special privileges as a police officer included buying more than one handgun every 30 days, skipping the 10-day mandatory waiting period, and access to “off-roster” weapons not available to other civilians.

He has been on paid leave for the past year.

The 62 guns seized from Gourdikian’s home are now listed as “potential forfeited assets.”

Police Take Again Because They Can

Federal Government Resumes “Equitable Sharing” Funding

*

Trump mused that the government should just confiscate guns without warrants:

“I like taking the guns early,” Trump said during a televised meeting on gun laws at the White House on Wednesday. “To go to court would have taken a long time.”

*

Mammoth Energy Services (through its parent Cobra) picked up another $500 million in work for rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid, bringing its total contract to $945 million. Mammoth can now purchase its own supplies instead of relying on PREPA third party contractors and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

Thanks to our sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hud-spent-31000-dining-set-ben-carsons-office/story?id=53391444

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/ben-carson-asks-hud-cancel-order-31-000-172204658–abc-news-topstories.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ben-carson-cancel-31-000-dining-set-order-backlash-article-1.3848810

https://www.hud.gov/privacy/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/baltimore-insider-blog/bs-fe-ben-carson-hud-furniture-20180301-story.html

DC considers plan to replace streetcar fleet, still has no plans to make riders pay

https://www.citymetric.com/transport/7-things-washington-dcs-200m-streetcar-taught-us-about-public-transport-1962

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/03/is-dc-streetcar-rage-justified/554729/

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/27/589096901/supreme-court-ruling-means-immigrants-can-continue-to-be-detained-indefinitely?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20180227

Trump confidant dumped millions in steel-related stock last week

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/03/02/delta-reviews-all-fare-discount-programs-after-nra-dispute-costs-georgia-tax-break/388587002/

Delta and United abruptly reverse course, sever contracts with the NRA

https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-guns-delta-air-nra/delta-reviewing-ties-with-all-politically-divisive-groups-after-nra-controversy-idUSL2N1QK16B

FedEx won’t drop the NRA so these companies are dropping FedEx

EXCLUSIVE: FedEx’s secret deal with the NRA and the gun industry

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5440273/Cops-called-Nikolas-Cruzs-home-45-TIMES-past-decade.html

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article202934059.html

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-pasadena-police-indictment-20180302-story.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/california-police-lieutenant-arrested-gun-selling-charges-223942359.html

http://time.com/5184160/trump-guns-due-process/

https://www.epmag.com/mammoth-energy-increases-puerto-rico-contract-945-million-1686726

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down

 

Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump, will cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. (Aaron P. Bernstein via Getty Images)

On Friday, Richard Gates (above, who, according to Wikipedia, goes by “Rick”), formerly of the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and false statements to the FBI during the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian 2016 election interference.

Last October, Gates, 45, was hit with twelve charges related to laundering $30 million with his fellow accused, ousted Trump campaign head Paul Manafort. To these, Gates had pleaded not guilty.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

“Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart. The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.” –Richard Gates

He is expected to serve 18 months in exchange for cooperation.

Manafort maintained his innocence. Word on the street is special counselor Robert Mueller of Justice had to flip Gates to nail his longtime associate.

To secure $20 million in fraudulent bank loans, Manafort, 68, emailed PDF files of his company Davis Manafort Inc. to Gates for assistance in converting them to Word documents. Manafort was then able to falsify profits and losses, inadvertantly helping to build the prosecution’s case.

Gates’ other associate, Alex van der Zwaan, 33, (below) on Tuesday pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors.

Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, 30, (below, left, unshaven) pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI.

Image result for George Papadopoulos

*

Disgraced VA secretary David Shulkin has sicced his new chief of staff, Peter O’Rourke (below), on the “subversion” offered by critics of the secretary’s reign.

Peter O'Rourke Biography Image

His boss is suddenly very concerned with accountability, O’Rourke told Politico“Those who crossed the line in the past are going to have to be accountable for those decisions.”

Shulkin, touting Trump’s reported blessing to crack some skulls on Tuesday, noted “I don’t think everybody’s going to remain at the VA.” He also referred to the infamous Federal neglect of veterans as “my operation.”

Thanks to our sources:

Who Is Rick Gates?

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/375309-former-trump-adviser-pleads-guilty-in-mueller-probe?userid=115887

https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/30/politics/paul-manafort-russia-investigation-surrender/index.html

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/new-charges-against-manafort-and-gates-cast-uncertainty-on-direction-of-special-counsel-probe.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/20/shulkin-veterans-agency-purge-417896

ICE, IRS, VA and the Russia Thing

A chief counsel at ICE, Raphael Sanchez, resigned Monday after his four-year scheme of stealing seven immigrants’ identities and spending $190,000 on credit cards and Amazon accounts opened in their names was exposed.

This required forging social security cards and drivers licenses from the ICE database. Not to be confused with the Vigilant database ICE now accesses for new prey:

Refrigerators, ICE and Ex-Im Updates

(Accolades are in order for Alameda, CA, whose residents recently nixed a $500,000 contract for a Vigilant license plate reader network.)

The 44-year-old Seattle-based lawyer, whose job description is “immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington”,  claimed three illegal immigrants as dependents on his tax returns with impunity, but got pinched when he used a Chinese national’s permanent resident card to pay his electric bill.

Through his own lawyer, Sanchez offered “sincere and immense regret” and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. His recommended sentence is four years.

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Despite Pentagon comptroller David Norquist echoing military leaders’ “pleading” with Congress to save $2,000,000,000 PER YEAR by closing “tens of thousands of excess military bases around the world” [our emphasis], our entitled representatives have so thoroughly refuted the move that Defense didn’t even broach the subject in their 2019 budget request. According to Washington Times, the improbable decision to conduct a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is out of the question this election year.

The last BRAC round occurred in 2005 and took a decade to complete. It is estimated to have cost $24 billion and the Pentagon estimates it will save about $4 billion per year.

The House Armed Services Committee dismissed the Pentagon’s request last year, because America was founded on the basis of a stifling cent Federal government whose chief objective is to provide military and contracting jobs indefinitely.

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As the IRS gears up for tax season, they’re dogged by the independent Taxpayer Advocate Service‘s damning details of last year’s effort to recover $920 million that was mistakenly not confiscated. Private collection agencies and IRS itself were allowed to pocket 25% commissioneach–of what they scored for the Feds.

Image result

IRS’ target group unfortunately included many struggling taxpayers. The 4,100 targets had a median household income of $41,000 (national median last year was $59,039, according to the Census Bureau); 28% made less than $20,000, and some received Social Security, making them ineligible for shakedown by IRS ground rules.

19% were below the federal poverty level.

Of those bullied into “installment agreements” by the collectors, 45% could not afford to make the payments because they had income that was less than their allowable living
expenses.

According to the report obtained by ThinkProgress, the agencies got paid for accounts actually settled by IRS:

The IRS is aware that it is paying commissions to [collection agencies] with respect to work done by the IRS, but has
no plans to change its procedures to attempt to identify payments that were clearly not attributable to [agencies]…

[our emphasis]

Also, the initiative cost $20 million but recovered just $7 million.

A revenue-neutral FairTax, collected with every purchase to punishe consumption rather than production, eliminating the IRS, is still out of the question.

Related:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

The Department of Veterans Affairs is back under the microscope.

Last week’s Office of Inspector General report scrutinized VA secretary David Shulkin (below) for attending the Wimbeldon tennis tournament–and stopping in Copenhagen, Denmark–last July in conjunction with the London Ministerial Summit on Veterans’ Affairs.

A portrait of David Shulkin, secretary of the Department

The Obama-appointed Undersecretary is the only Trump nominee to wield unanimous 100-0 consent from the Senate from his 2017 confirmation to head VA.

Washington Post, who apparently got the story first in September, noted Shulkin previously denied reaching out to Prince Harry’s 2016 Invictus Games head Victoria Gosling to poach the tennis tickets (worth thousands on the street). It turns out Shulkin did exactly that, and got served when OIG found Gosling could not come up with the first name of Shulkin’s wife, Dr. Merle Bari. This did not match Shulkin’s story that Gosling was a friend, so the exchange did not require ethics clearance.

Dr. Bari proved to be a very expensive add in add on to the delegation, adding $4300 in plane tickets alone to the $122,000, 11-day European extravaganza funded by the VA’s taxpayer-provided budget. Her status as “invitational traveler” cleared the VA ethics office just two weeks after her husband directed the agency to determine “essential” travel to “decrease employee travel and generate savings.”

Shulkin (2016 net worth: $17 million) repaid the government for Bari’s ticket.

A member of the security team’s expense voucher included “an inexplicable $3,825 overpayment for airport parking and a $2,718 overpayment for lodging.”

The report mentions another unusual expense: VA had official “Trip Book” itineraries printed for the entourage, 15 copies at a cost of $100 each.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

The best part? Shulkin’s chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson (below) resigned Friday after altering emails to VA’s ethics lawyer to suggest Shulkin received an award on the trip’s Denmark leg (which would have justified his wife’s traveling at taxpayer expense). OIG, of course, found Shulkin had no idea of the malfeasance.

636543769466427466-Screen-Shot-2018-02-16-at-11.19.54-AM.jpg

(Wright Simpson flew in economy class, but changed her connecting city, adding $2900 to the cost of her ticket.)

Two other staff members indulged in the trip, with six (6) security employees requiring “several additional days of advance travel.” So several of the trip itinerary booklets were apparently extras.

It’s unclear if Shulkin has yet rewritten VA hiring guidelines as he promised last December when USA Today found the agency has routinely–in violation of Federal law–employed physicians with revoked medical licenses for the past 15 years.

*

Besides Shulkin, four other Trump officials are under investigation for lavish travel using government funds. EPA head Scott Pruitt, for example, traveled from Cincinnati to New York on a military plane at a cost of $36,068.50 to catch his first-class flight to Rome, according to CNBC. Pruitt, according to the EPA, is awarded first or business class (for his frequent travel on jumbo jets to spread environmental protection) to avoid repeating past “security threats.” The Hill:

Pruitt has a “blanket waiver” to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime.

*

Paul Manafort‘s release from house arrest looks even less likely, as Robert Mueller‘s long awaited Russia probe turned up evidence of his “additional criminial conduct…[including]  a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.”

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

It’s unclear if the still-pending $10 million bail deal will proceed for Manafort’s alleged overstatement of income by his company DMP International to secure a $9.5 million mortgage for his other venture, Summerbreeze LLC. No additional charges are yet filed, and D.C. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (below) has everyone under gag order as her office aims for an October trial.

Amy Berman Jackson.jpg

On February 16, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein indicted 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian entities for spreading anti-Hillary and pro-Trump propaganda during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election via (according to Politicoidentity theft, fake accounts, carefully orchestrated trips and outreach, a concerted social media strategy and even real live rallies across the United States secretly planned from Russia.

Specifically: Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except [Bernie] Sanders and Trump—we support them)[.]”

[our emphasis]

According to The Hill, the Russians sought to suppress support among black voters for Hillary Clinton, creating fake accounts on social platforms including Facebook and Instagram with names like “Blacktivist” and “Woke Blacks” — and suggesting that she was not strong enough on issues germane to African-Americans. 

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ice-lawyer-seattle-charged-stealing-immigrants-ids-n847856?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/ICE-Seattle-Immigration-Corruption-12617163.php

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/raphael-sanchez-ice-chief-steal-immigrants-identity-fraud-us-immigration-customs-enforcement-a8214511.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/pentagon-drops-effort-to-close-unneeded-military-bases-that-cost-2-billion-per-year/article/2648854

IRS paid private debt collectors $20 million to recoup $6.7 million from low-income Americans

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/veterans-affairs-chief-shulkin-staff-misled-ethics-officials-about-european-trip-report-finds/2018/02/14/f7fbc020-0c3a-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.39103093bba7

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/16/va-secretary-david-shulkins-chief-staff-retiring-amid-travel-report-findings/344810002/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/15/trump-cabinet-officials-in-ethics-scandals.html

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/373811-pruitt-coach-travel-yielded-interactions-that-were-not-the-best

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/16/mueller-russia-indictments-not-playing-around-217014

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/bernie-sanders-russia-2016-election-interference-415691

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/mueller-manafort-bank-fraud-accusations-416509

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/374302-five-key-takeaways-from-the-russian-indictments?userid=115887

FEMA Withdraws Aid Withdrawal Amid Backlash, Raises Stakes with Seedy Power Provider and Drops the Ball on Puerto Rican Food Delivery; Congress Shits on Taxpayers Again; Your Location and Face Broadcast to More Federal Agencies

FEMA threatened to cut Puerto Rico off their particular division of the federal teat at the end of January, congratulating themselves for distributing over 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals since the island was largely destroyed by last autumn’s Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Updates

The agency estimated after pumping $500 million of “public assistance,” and $3.2 million of unemployment aid into the island, just 1% of its inhabitants still require emergency food.

Remaining supplies were transferred to the island’s own disaster agency, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA)–not to be confused with the floundering state-run power supplier, PREPA.

Some far-flung areas of the island were slated to continue suffering. NPR cited Mayor Carmen Maldonado of Morovis, who was not contacted by PREMA regarding the 10,000 citizens of her municipality still dependent on soon-to-evaporate FEMA rations.

Days after that story broke, the Feds sought to save face:

As the New York Times reports, FEMA now claims that it never intended to end the aid and that it has no plans to at this time. Instead, the Jan. 31 cutoff date was “mistakenly publicized by the agency[.]”

If it really was a mistake, they might have just sacked an employee for pressing the wrong button and promptly reassigned him to continue soaking the taxpayers with his “public service.”

Rather, the hapless agency apparently folds on deadlines at the first hint of (justified) taxpayer discontent. And believe anything disreputable contractors say:

Those millions of FEMA meals may not have included 30 million promised by Tiffany Brown (below) of Tribute Contracting LLC in Atlanta in her October 3 bid. (At $5.10 per meal, Tribute was the lowest bidder.)

Brown bagged (pun alert) one of the biggest contracts for brown bag meals to send to the island (only they didn’t include the required heating pouches, which would have made them fancier than traditional brown bag lunches): $156 million for 30 million meals. At the mid-October deadline for the first 18.5 million, Brown’s one-woman operation had delivered…none. 

Apparently, she farmed the job out to a subcontractor: an eleven-person caterer down the road (who curiously managed anonymity across multiple media outlets). They did have the heating pouches, however:

PHOTO: A photo in Tribute Contracting, LLCs contract with a catering company show examples of self heating meals that include a meal in one pouch with a food heater, water pouch, cutlery, and seasonings.

The caterers weren’t too interested in working either, it appears. Tribute was fired.

“My biggest mistake was not asking for more help.”–Tiffany Brown

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Oversight Committee noted this is Brown’s sixth terminated Federal contract. Four were failures to deliver food to the Federal Prison System. The fifth fuck-up came in 2016 for the Government Printing Office, who issued a decision in 2016 that “no agency in the executive branch” would enter contracts with Tribute until 2019. But FEMA said […]that exclusion only applied to GPO.

The GPO angle is interesting: the feckless Feds only banned Tribute from contracts over $35,000, and only until January 2019. And all Tribune did to GPO was fail to put the Marine Corps logo on both sides of some tote bags. Wait. New York Times:

An investigation by [GPO]’s inspector general found that Tribute “altered and submitted a false shipping document and subcontracted the predominant production function on two contracts without proper authorization,” according to a 2015 report submitted to Congress.

Which doesn’t explain why GPO returned to Tribute for the tote bags a year later.

FEMA never gave Brown any money. She is now suing the government for $70 million in debt accrued for the 50,000 meals she managed to almost deliver.

Brown told FEMA officials in an email exchange on Oct. 19 that, because of issues with suppliers, all 30 million meals would instead be delivered by November 7 – two weeks after the deadline.

She told ABC News on Friday that the original schedule in the contract was flexible and that she had been communicating with FEMA officials about the changes.

You can check out her website, but we took some screenshots just in case she stumbles upon some shame and takes it down:

Brown, who reportedly lost family in FEMA’s other notable success story, Hurricane Katrina, spoke with ABC on Friday:

“I think there’s a lacking of seeing the human aspect of everyone, the human aspect of the citizens of Puerto Rico and how they feel, the human aspect of the business owners trying to support them just trying to help out maybe that doesn’t have the larger infrastructure but out of the kindness of their own heart they want to be able to help they’re not seeing the human aspect they’re only seeing a lowest possible bid or trying to meet a budget and not about the people.”

She also fingered “a lack of infrastructure, particularly payment infrastructure on FEMA’s part.”

It appears the 50,000 meals (which actually made it to Jacksonville, FL for shipment before FEMA pulled the plug) actually came from Brown’s other partner, the non-profit Breedlove. Not to drag them into this, but their website is here.

*

As we noted above, Cobra Acquisitions may be picking up the slack. Nasdaq reported the subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based energy giant Mammoth (which is reportedly flirting with serious self-enrichment if the new Puerto Rico power grid is built to run on fossil fuels)…more than doubled its contract to rebuild the Puerto Rican power grid on January 28, from the $200 million already invested in quarter four of 2017 to a cool $445 million.

PREPA requested FEMA clear the contract as “reasonable” and “in compliance with emergency procurement provisions of Puerto Rico;” the federal agency obliged in late December.

*

Everyone knows the only solution to government incompetence is to pour more confiscated taxpayer cash onto the fire. So last week, as the seventeen-day stopgap fizzled out and the Feds ran out of borrowing power for the second time this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) huddled to further destroy the livelihood of their subjects employers.

Wading through the details, the disgustingly unaffordable package funds the Federal government for at least another month.

It blows through the 2011 Budget Control Act‘s limit on domestic spending by $57,000,000,000$117 billion more than Trump requested.

Military spending will swell to $700 billion this year, a monstrous 13% increase from 2016, if our numbers are correct.

In Defense of Defense

It bumps up to $716 billion  for 2019.

$90 billion for hurricane and wildfire relief was shoved in there, which sounds generous if you don’t factor in that the victims of these disasters now have more debt to pay off when McConnell and Schumer are long dead.

Some choice goodies that were slipped in, according to New York Times, include: tax credits to prop up renewable energy (it’ll be cheaper and safer for everyone, just wait); extension of a tax break for racehorse owners; exemption from a new college investment income excise tax for the non-tution-charging Berea College (conveniently located in McConnell’s state of Kentucky); funding for abstinence-only sex ed (can’t trust condoms, guys); repeal of $1.35 billion for an Obamacare public health program; repeal of Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which ostensibly controls Medicare spending; faster implementation of shrinking the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole;” and extension of temporary subsidies to rural hospitals and underserved areas’ health provider tuition loans.

And also billions for the VA, billions for NIH, billions for community health centers, billions for “infrastructure”…all of which Vox suggests will yield major fiscal stimulus.

The deal did not address protections for DACA recipients, the catalyst for last month’s Federal shutdown (and a vote McConnell had promised Schumer to end the impasse). Like the rest of the country, these people appear to be utterly disregarded by McConnell’s rabid lust for accumulating debt. Schumer forgot his earlier advocacy as well:

“After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “After months of fiscal brinksmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship.”

He proclaimed the deal has consigned “the pointless and arbitrary sequester caps to the ash heaps of history.”

A speed bump emerged when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) forced a procedural delay because the leadership would not allow any amendments to the fiscal depravity. While railing against idiotic government grants (including $700,000 studying whether Neil Armstrong inserted an extra “a” in his famous moon landing line, and coming up empty), Paul pointed out Republicans famously struck the Budget Control Act merely to slow down the rate of spending growth, and decried each and every deficit from the Obama administration.

The 2018 deficit, with this added $300 billion, is projected at $955 billion. Trillion-dollar deficits have become typical since George W. Bush in 2008. TheBalance.com shows how much we’ve added to our over $20,600,000,000,000 in national debt in each of recent years (which is slightly divorced from deficit).

“The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot,” Paul said. “I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, ‘How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?'”

Paul’s fellow Republicans were pissed, as several are up for re-election this year and all reportedly wanted to start the weekend early. The most bone-headed reaction to Paul’s pragmatism came from our favorite crony cow, Lindsey Graham:

“It appears ‘General’ @RandPaul is at it again. He just called for the immediate withdrawal of all forces from Afghanistan as a way to give the US military a pay raise,” Graham tweeted. “Fortunately, only ‘General’ Paul — and the Taliban – think that’s a good idea.”

[America has been in Afghanistan, killing and being killed, without declaring war, for over 16 years.]

CNBC noted:

The vast majority of the Republican lawmakers who are opposing the budget agreement, including Paul, voted for the GOP tax law. The massive tax cuts are estimated to add more than $1 trillion to budget deficits over 10 years, even after economic growth is taken into account, according to the CBO.

The bill eventually passed early Friday morning, 71-28, and technically shuttered the government for several hours before the House could ram it through and get it to Trump to sign. It’s unclear if anyone read all of the nearly 700 pages.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave a House-record eight-hour speech advocating for DACA protections, largely reading testimony from Dreamers (DACA recipients) threatened with deportation next month, as the program was not extended by the crooked Schumer-McConnell generational theft. Pelosi voted against the bill, but it passed the House 240-186.

*

As we boosted the defense budget with fake money we don’t have, it emerged as the Pentagon undergoes its first-ever audit that its own Defense Logistics Agency (annual budget: $40 billion) lost track of $800 million in construction projects.

Image result

The outside firm Ernst & Young who discovered the glaring errors (and warned more will be uncovered) are just one of the third party consultants who comprise $367 million of the nearly $1 billion audit. Politico reports the rest is to go back and fix broken accounting systems that are crucial to better financial management.

*

Customs and Border Protection continues to safeguard your liberties…by expanding locations at which it scans your face. To better patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, the McAllen, TX checkpoint will now catalog the face of every driver and passenger. About time:

The agency will use the results of the South Texas effort to set the stage for a wider rollout along the southern and northern borders, where the technology someday could be used to identify fugitives or wanted terror suspects. Customs and Border Protection already operates facial recognition exit programs at nearly a dozen international airports, including Houston’s, aimed at making sure travelers are who they say they are.

Traveler acceptance is really high, and we can thank the Apples and the Googles for that,” said Colleen Manaher, CBP executive director of planning, program analysis and evaluation, in an interview at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, where she revealed the Anzalduas project. “It’s a game-changer.”

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 10, 19 and 22–Genes, Tattoos and Faces

[our emphasis]

Colleen Manaher

Manaher (above) called the prospect of getting her grubby fingers on identification of just 50 percent of faces crossing the Port Anzalduas bridge “a home run.”

*

And in the wonderful state of Kansas,

Kansas: Helpful Public Servants and Meddlesome Neighbors

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! December 12: Kansas Lawsuit Settled

 

the two-party duopoly cracked down on attempts by the country’s debt-laden youth to gain representation.

After six teenage boys filed to run in this year’s gubernatorial election, the state House committee swiftly passed a bill from Rep. Blake Carpenter (R) requiring candidates to be “qualified electors”–that is, at least 18 years old, and able to vote.

The bill, which would not take effect until after the election, was reportedly co-drafted by Libertarian candidate Ethan Randleas (who happens to be 18). It is lauded as TRIGGER WARNINGcommon sense” by 17-year-old Tyler Ruzich (Republican candidate) and slammed as “reactionary” and “disenfranchis[ing]” by Jack Bergeson, 17 (Democratic candidate).

*

It’s turning into a rocky year even for Kansans who are eighteen or older: renewing a drivers license may require residents to obtain new social security cards if their middle initial, not their full middle name is currently displayed; new state-issued birth certificates if all they have is a hospital document; and a marriage license, if they’ve ever changed their name. This will transform one’s license into a Federal Real ID.

Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy.

–DHS website, our emphasis

The Federal Real ID Act was passed over 12 years ago on recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, but, like Common Core, has faced massive public opposition. It mandatory compliance has therefore been extended for various states (yellow, below).

On October 10, residents of non-compliant states will no longer be granted access to airports or military bases with their state-issued drivers license.

The veil is sliding off DHS’s threat to states refusing to funneling all your passport, birth certificate, marriage license and other ID info into a single police state card with a literal TRIGGER WARNING gold star  (they’re calling it a yellow star, for obvious reasons) that can pool all surveillance of your life at the filthy fingertips of the Federal agent manning the bar code reader:

It has been 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. It is time that the remaining jurisdictions turn their commitments to secure identification into action.

[our emphasis]

Fortunately, according to Charlotte Observer in 2016:

By 2010, more than 25 state legislatures had passed laws criticizing or refusing to comply with the law.

Kansas is currently “in compliance” until 2020. The Feds are signaling that for other, less obedient states that later this year,

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/29/581511023/fema-to-end-food-and-water-aid-for-puerto-rico

https://www.theroot.com/fema-cutting-off-food-and-water-aid-to-puerto-rico-1822558738

https://www.theroot.com/tiffany-brown-head-of-the-one-woman-company-which-deli-1822897056

http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/cobras-puerto-rico-contract-increased-to-approximately-445-million-update-on-puerto-rico-activities-20180129-01030

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fema-contractor-scapegoat-controversy-canceled-contract/story?id=52915221

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/372748-senate-leaders-agree-to-two-year-budget-deal?userid=115887

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-split-on-budget-deal-1518115903

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/budget-vote-congress-shutdown/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/rand-paul-analysis/index.html

http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/07/news/economy/rising-deficits/index.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/shutdown-news-rand-paul-holds-up-senate-budget-vote.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/05/pentagon-logistics-agency-review-funds-322860

https://www.mystatesman.com/news/facial-recognition-scanners-tested-soon-texas-mexico-border/K5zgnDYPlrvASb1k5c2vIP/

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article198664404.html

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2018/feb/11/new-drivers-license-requirements-causing-headaches/

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id