Sentenced!! Jeffrey Yohai, who is only relevant for a four-year marriage to bumbling fraudster and Trump associate Paul Manafort‘s daughter, picked up a nine year prison term and $6.7 million restitution payment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit (his own separate) bank and wire fraud.
Yohai (above) was out on bond after a 2018 guilty plea including misuse of construction loan funds. While awaiting sentencing, he ran side projects. Perhaps the most ambitious was a two-tailed investor swindle that reportedly ensnared Hollywood big shot Dustin Hoffman. One on end, Yohai scored $15 million in loans (which he did not repay) to spruce up some Hollywood Hills properties (which he did not own). Then he hoodwinked the real owners into letting him line up rich tenants, pocketed the rent checks, and falsified transfer documentation when the owners demanded payment.
If the victim demanded repayment, Yohai would often buy time by sending checks written on accounts with insufficient funds. When those checks bounced, according to the complaint, Yohai would assert he wired the money back to the victim and send fake wire transfer documentation, “insisting that there must be some banking mistake to explain why the funds never arrive.” [sic]
He also sold “non-existent backstage passes for the Coachella music festival.”
One of the bank fraud convictions for which Papa Paul is currently imprisoned included a dishonest bank loan application with his son, who was not charged on that occasion.
Yohai, a recovering drug addict, also reportedly cheated other abusers. Prosecutors contend that after leaving [rehab], Yohai scammed fellow addicts who paid to live at a “sober living” home he set up in L.A. Yohai allegedly took a $5,000 security deposit from one such man and charged another $35,000 a month “for ‘detox’ care which [Yohai] could not and did not provide.”
Jessica Manafort recently changed her surname (for obvious reasons) to her mother’s maiden name, Bond.
Scott Warren is back in the news as the Feds attempt to stick the No More Deaths volunteer with his own ten-year stretch on retrial for harboring charges.
Warren allegedly let two undocumented people crossing Arizona’s Sonoran Desert crash at a humanitarian aid workers’ building for a few days. No More Deaths had attracted federal ire by fingering Customs and Border Protection for emptying water jugs left for illegal immigrants. To avoid another hung jury, the government has reportedly filed a motion forbiddingthe defense from mentioning Trump or his immigration policy at the trial, which would be “irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial.”
The Intercept notes about 87% of adults surveyed by UCLA/University of Washington, including an overwhelming majority of self-identified Republicans, believe provision of water and first aid to illegal immigrants, of which Warren stands accused, should not be a criminal offense.
More trouble at the EPA. Instead of destroying the planet, Trump’s infamous deregulation station is reportedly destroying documents. And scandal-plagued ex-chief Scott Pruitt‘s shenanigans may be involved.
Multiple “senior EPA officials” anonymously disputed the shredding allegations to Politico. Documents in question relate to correspondence with a former Comcast lobbyist, Richard Smotkin, who reportedly set up one of Pruitt’s multiple jet-setting trips while in office (Morocco, 2017, over $100,000). Washington Post reported as details leaked last year that Smotkin accompanied Pruitt on the trip, ostensibly to broker a free trade agreement, but to some appearances promoting the sale of U.S. natural gas to Morocco. Smotkin promptly went to work for the Moroccan government.
Though the EPA chief did visit a solar power research installation, he canceled a public appearance with an energy efficiency expert at an international conference in Marrakesh and instead met with the chairman of a large phosphate exporter.
Accused shredder, EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson (below, double chin without glasses) is apparently also not cooperating with an inspector general investigation into how Jackson happened upon the planned Congressional testimony of environmental chemist and former EPA Board of Scientific Counselors chairwoman Deborah Swackhamer in time to harass her before she publicly “criticized the Trump administration’s approach to science.”
Jackson refused to tell IG investigators how he obtained Swackhamer’s testimony in advance, telling them, “I am not going to involve others or point fingers. … Welcome to Washington.”
Current head EPA thug Andrew Wheeler protested that questioning Jackson on the matter “implicates constitutional concerns.” [sic]
Jackson was also reportedly less than forthcoming to IG inquiries into the firing of Pruitt’s aide Madeline Morris for her objections to scrubbing politically sensitive meetings from the official schedule.
As New York Times reported last year, in the final, coal-dark days of Pruitt’s acid rain reign, Jackson waved off the notion Morris was canned for the schedule alterations. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff who fired Morris and dredged up the issue, was himself fired from EPA that year.
Jackson had refused to comment on Morris’s six weeks of salary collection following her dismissal, an arrangement which would break federal law. IG agents dropped in unannounced to further explore this irregularity last July, and not in especially good faith, in Jackson’s opinion.
“Students and parents protested Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approach to integration in Manhattan earlier this summer.”–New York Times
Bill de Blasio’s crack squad at the New York City School Diversity Advisory Group recommends eliminating gifted and talented programs to promote “equity and excellence,” in the mayor’s words.
The large-headed, long-odds 2020 presidential candidate and his socialist Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (above) want to desegregate NYC public schools, the most selective of which require an entrance exam, the SHSAT.
The advocacy group SunsetSHSAT, whose homepage states “denying the harm in using a single multiple-choice exam as the sole measure of a child’s academic worth with the mountains of scientific evidence we now have is similar to denying global warming,” transcribed some of Carranza’s wisdom from a February 12 town hall (source link below), notable for its concern the SHSAT has not been evaluated by a “psychometrician.”
Besides phasing out GOT G&T over the next five years, the SDAG advised de Blasio should not consider lateness or attendance in evaluating prospective students for the “elite” public schools and redesign [the] competitive high school admissions process to ensure that high schools reflect the racial and economic make up of their boroughs.
Carranza, who New York Times admits did not develop any significant integration policies of his own during his first year on the job, cackled in February he’s skeptical that “over 35% of students [are] designated as gifted and talented,” and “that is far beyond the percentage of gifted and talented that, from a statistical perspective, should be found in the population.” (data not shown, apparently)
An April poll of New York City voters found 63 percent favor admissions changes to boost diversity, and 57 percent say to scrap the sole entrance exam in favor of considering other factors for admission.
Interestingly, the white and Asian constituencies the mayor “risks alienating” by implementing the recommendations may already have bailed, per the following poll, in which Vox decides Asian voters are not “people of color” (our emphasis):
According to an April Quinnipiac University poll, […] De Blasio’s approval rating is 31-58 percent among white voters, 33-44 percent among Asian voters, 40-40 percent among Hispanic voters, and 66-23 percent among black voters. In other words, de Blasio does poorly among white New York voters. Among voters of color, it’s a different story.
According to New York Times, de Blasio dodged commentary on the SDAG report during an MSNBC interview last week.
The city seems to be trending up, given the belated removal of killer cop Daniel Pantaleo from the NYDP earlier this month, a mere five years after he strangled Eric Garner to death on camera.
However, their prison security seems wanting. After already-convicted, minimally-punished sex offender Jeffrey Epstein “hanged himself” in an unusually violent fashion on August 10 while awaiting trial for alleged sex trafficking, the Metropolitan Correctional Center had to send not one, but two malfunctioning surveillance cameras from outside his cell to the FBI for analysis. (While not even a functional video recording of Garner’s homicide was enough to immediately remove Pantaleo from duty, Epstein’s death, cracked hyoid and all, was dismissed as a homicide solely on the medical examiner’s testimony, without any video evidence.)
Accused quadruple murderer Nicholas Tartaglione, who we spotlighted earlier (below), was rooming with Epstein when the disgraced financial manager first sustained “neck injuries” back in July. This may have been an earlier suicide attempt, but Epstein reportedly told his attorney Tartaglione was responsible. Tartaglione’s attorney told the federal judge his guards have strongly advised the ex-cop to keep his chiseled jaw shut about the night of Epstein’s demise.
Guards at border detention facilities, apparently short on burritos, allegedly threw rations (still partially frozen) on cell floors for child prisoners to violently divide among themselves during their 8 to 10 day confinement in Texas and California lockups.
Some other highlights from Washington state’s AG investigator Alma Poletti, whose team interviewed teenagers detained by Customs and Border Protection, then “placed” by Refugee Resettlement (part of Health and Human Services) over the past year, include reports of twelve children packed into a 10 by 14′ cell; younger children being threatened by guards and stashed in “small metal cages” or a “dark room” (solitary confinement) for perceived misbehavior; fluorescent lights and air conditioners rolling 24 hours daily; “roll call” every three hours during the night; blanket confiscation at 4:00 AM; and, when one girl was allowed a shower, being afforded only “a paper towel” to dry herself. The toilets did not have soap, but one did have a CCTV camera pointed at it.
The older girls were introduced to America’s patriarchy, charged with keeping the younger children quiet to avoid punishment. Although a teenage boy interviewed by Poletti had no small child charges, his cell was just 7 by 12′ and had twenty-six occupants.
Trump deflected concerns of cruelty at a recent press conference, waxing, in part, that “when they realize the borders are closing […] they won’t come and many people will be saved.”
CBP confirmed to CNBC that those temporarily detained are not being given flu vaccines, although the virus has contributed to killing three of them in the past year.
American children untouched by border conditions are facing off their own orchestrated injustice in the ongoing school lunch shaming, this time in New Jersey. Cherry Hill School District’s new proposal proposes a sort of caste system to recoup over $14,000 in outstanding “lunch debt”: balances less than $10 (about three meals) will not have Collections sicced on the parents at all. More than $10 but less than $20 will relegate students to a tuna fish sandwich, vegetable, fruit and juice or milk. Students owing over $20 will not be served; this policy has always been in place, but not enforced, per Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars, who also told Philadelphia Enquirer peanut butter was eschewed as the forced option for the 10 to 20 crowd because children “would…happily eat peanut butter and jelly.”
About 20 percent of the district’s students are eligible for free lunch or reduced prices.
USDA’s National School Lunch Program reports that although participation in the subsidy is at a 13-year low, [i]n 2018, school cafeterias served nearly 5 billion lunches, with nearly three-quarters of the lunches free or at a reduced price.
Can you tie ’em in a knot? Can you tie ’em in a bow? Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder Like a continental soldier?
Ill-equipped 2020 presidential candidate Bill de Blasio attempted to build his likability numbers by attempting to snatch 46 ice cream trucks off New York City streets just as summer is heating up. (Twelve reportedly escaped.)
The government presumably tolerates these childhood diabetes factories, more mobile than their customers, because they generate tax revenue.
It’s astonishing food trucks operate at all in the City of Urine and Yankees, because they have to pay daily parking tickets:
Food trucks “have to legally get [parking] tickets in a way because there are no locations in New York that are good that are not metered. The trucks understand that it’s just a cost of doing business,” [New York Food Truck Association CEO Ben] Goldberg tells Reason.
According to Reason, selling food from metered parking spaces is illegal in New York. It’s almost like they don’t want businesses to succeed.
Unless the proprietor can rely on “drive by” sales.
de Blaz the Buffoon launched Operation Meltdown to crack down on those trucks with at least $10,000 in outstanding traffic fines (ingeniously shirked since 2007 by changing the name of each truck’s owner to, for example, “Meathead Inc” at the DMV before the city could subpoena the operator for a certain threshold of ticket debt)–$4.5 million in total!
One driver told New York Post the truck owner garnished their wages to cover the tickets. Apparently the city’s check got lost in the mail.
Foremost among the six defendants is apparently mysterious New York Ice Cream founder Dimitrios Tsirkos, whose picture (below) was obtained from the website of something called Pieria Society. (Mr. Tsirkos is president of the board of directors.)
According to New York Times, Tsirkos renamed his dozen Mister Softee franchise trucks “Master Softee” in 2013 and was ordered to pay $767,000 for infringing on the Softee trademark. Tsirkos responded by infringing on–and capturing–the unofficial Softee selling territory, using his newly-painted NYIC trucks to physically intimidate the “softer” seller.
But drivers for Mister Softee, whose cone-headed, bowtied likeness adorns more than 350 trucks across the five boroughs, can play hard, too.
In 2012, a frozen yogurt vendor said that a Softee duo snapped his brakes with a crowbar, and the founder of the Van Leeuwen ice cream company said he had gotten death threats from Softee drivers.
The Mayor is in for a rough summer himself. Less popular than Trump in their home state (29 vs 34% “favorable” rating, in a poll out today), de Blasio is feeling the heat for skipping all ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of D-Day last week.
New York’s CBS Local reports:
He found time to go to his Park Slope gym and take his dirty linen to the local dry cleaner. The only event on his public schedule was a dinner to honor Puerto Rican heritage.
The last was likely in vain, as Bill was Puerto-roasted for spending the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in Iowa, pandering for votes alongside other “1 or less percenters” at the Iowa Democratic party’s “Hall of Fame dinner” last weekend.
New York Post‘s editorial board noted de Blasio would be the first mayor in “decades” not to march in the parade as they implored him to attend days before.
He also missed a memorial dedication for Ground Zero first responder victims on May 30. A spokesperson claimed, “[t]he event was not brought to his attention.”
Out now for download: images of your car and face from the latest shameful traipse back from Tijuana.
Customs and Border Protection admitted Monday a federal subcontractor fell victim to cyber attack and juicy shots of license plates crawling through points of entry (joke’s on them, it would have been faster to join this spring’s record number of illegal border crossers) were “compromised.” The Feds officially stated these goods were not found to be available for internet download by criminals. Update: yes they are.
Washington Post reports a trove of stolen data from the company Perceptics was up on the dark web–for free download!–last month. (British press highlighted the theft three weeks ago. Apparently the American government hoped it would escape public notice like when the EPA accidentally poisoned the Animas River.)
We still don’t know, in fact, if the plate images expose border crossings or international airport pickups. CBP declined to share which portions of its database including passport and visa photos that is [also] used at airports as part of an agency facial-recognition program specifically were now available to criminals.
Perceptics has provided license plate reading technology for American borders since 2002. While it’s reassuring they, not the feds, are were securely storing the data, government probing and intrusion of innocent air travelers and border crossers has nonetheless undermined privacy for all the world’s leering.
Vice reported the hacker’s alias as “Boris Bullet-Dodger” [sic].
2019 is scheduled to deliver more rough times for the uninvited purveyor of your junk mail. USPS‘ first quarter report reveals a $2.08 billion loss, which is even worse than fourth quarter 2018, which noted a net loss of “$1.5 billion, an increase […] of nearly $1.0 billion compared to the same quarter last year.”
In February’s report for October through December 2018, Megan Brennan, Postmaster General Extraordinaire (below), helms an already sinking ship whose Marketing Mail (which comprises the following tree-destroying garbage “non-first class” items: printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs and small parcels) explosion of $553 million to the bank was more than negated by “increases in compensation and benefits of $657 million”…
CFO Joseph Corbett, oblivious to basic math, bemoaned the “increases in transportation costs due to these higher volumes.” Fortunately (?), quarter one of 2019 saw marketing mail revenue fall by 3.9%.
Trump’s “Task Force on the United States Postal System,” chaired by entitled Treasury thug Steven Mnuchin, reported last year that “ USPS has been losing money for more than a decade and is on an unsustainable financial path.” The recommendations knocked Brennan for her apparent micromanagement deficiency, noting “USPS suffers from a lack of institutional governance. […] Between December 2016 and August 2018, the USPS Board of Governors (the Board) had no Governors [;] […] the Postmaster General managed the USPS’s financial and operational challenges without strategic direction and guidance, exacerbating management’s limited power to effect needed organizational change[.]”
Interestingly, according to CBS News, the report, which we did not read in its entirety, suggests a “new pricing model that [TRIGGER WARNING: CAPITALIST IDEAS AHEAD] would remove current price caps and charge market-based prices for mail and packages that were not deemed to be ‘essential postal services[,]’ [which] could raise costs for Amazon […]”
The evil e-commerce empire itself, incidentally, contributed to the report.
For the Bernie Sanders enthusiasts, the report also warned against any misguided foray into banking by the ailing office: “[G]iven the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, USPS should not pursue expanding into new sectors, such as postal banking, where the USPS does not have a demonstrated competency or comparative advantage [.]” [our emphasis]
The USPS website fancies the organization as “at the core of the $1.4 trillion U.S. mailing industry that employs more than 7.5 million people.” Their self-reported $70.6 billion in revenue (which, again, fails to cover USPS’ expenses) comes out to about 5% of that $1.4 trillion.
Citizens Against Government Waste reports USPS has lost $70 billion in since 2007.
In January, the price of a “forever” stamp for first class mail was hiked by 10%, to $0.55.
A pulmonary function lab at Duke University admitted to violating the False Claims Act by defrauding the federal government and is paying heavily. After canning a lab technician, Erin Potts-Kant, for embezzlement from Duke (that they’ll be sure to notice; gotta maintain the bottom line. for the children), the institution “discovered possible research misconduct in 2013[.]” The “misconduct” consisted of Potts-Kant’s lab bagging millions in NIH and EPA grants based on falsified data.
Erin Potts-Kant was supposed to certify the validity of the unit’s work and ensure that it fulfilled government requirements. But instead, the suit state[s], “Potts-Kant engaged in systematic and near-universal research fraud,” including, in some cases, making up data outright “in lieu of actually performing experiments.”
NPR reported in March that 17 scientific papers building on the bogus findings were forced to be retracted. The ruse also helped Potts-Kant co-author and publish 38 articles in scholarly journals with her fellow Duke researchers — which were, in turn, cited in 417 other articles when the suit was filed in 2013.
The university must pay the federal government $112.5 million to settle the suit, but apparently not on the Feds’ initiative. They declined to tangle with the $8.5 billion endowed non-profit, a grateful participant in the federally subsidized higher education empire.
Former Duke lab analyst Joseph Thomas (above), who first reported the fraud in 2013, took it upon himself to sue the university where the government wouldn’t; he will pocket an additional $33.75 million under False Claim Act whistleblower stipulations–a cool 30%.
Thomas’ attorneys say he stuck with the case after the government opted not to mount its own investigation after he reported his allegations and filed suit.
Duke released a statement reassuring everyone that Potts-Kant eventually pled [sic] guilty to two counts of forgery and paid restitution to Duke .
The ordeal has allowed Duke to give Geeta Swamy the new role of “vice dean and associate vice provost for scientific integrity.” And hers is not the only new role!
Duke’s new Advisory Panel on Research Integrity and Excellence, to be chaired by pediatric microbiologist and former research dean of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, Ann Arvin, will examine ways of “improving the structure and function of research administration, with a focus on promoting research integrity[.]”
To give San Francisco credit where due, the city’s 11-member Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 with two absences to usurp the police state’s facial recognition capabilities. It is the first American city to respect this invasion of privacy.
The board’s rules committee unanimously advanced the law last week, noting it would also require city departments to get approval from the Board of Supervisors before purchasing other surveillance technology ― including license plate readers, body cameras and biometrics technology, among other items.
None of the 53 city departments may use the technology beginning next month. According to CNN, the police department dabbled with the faulty, Orwellian techniques between 2013 and 2017. It’s anyone’s guess how many stills they have stockpiled.
The airport and seaport are exempted, however, so check your makeup before getting groped by their TSA.
Vanessa and Keana Rodel, Filipino refugees lost in the legal limbo of Hong Kong and threatened with deportation for temporarily housing Edward Snowden, achieved Canadian asylum at the end of March.
But five others remain stateless in Hong Kong after that government rejected their asylum claims in 2017. You can donate to support them here:
The already flimsy legal proceedings into Robert Kraft‘s alleged postseason porking (see our previous post) continue to crumble. NFL.com reports Florida Judge Leonard Hanser has blocked prosecutors from screening hidden camera footage of Kraft honing his craft in the courtroom.
When taping the New England Patriots owner’s January jaunts at Orchids of Asia Day Spa, the authorities“did not do enough to minimize the invasion of privacy of customers who did not commit crimes.”
Big Man on Campus, Congressman Eric Swallow Swalwell (D-CA) has entered the 2020 presidential race!! Can he solve these BIGPROBLEMS??
The Department of Defense recently misplaced (at least on paper) over $2,000,000,000 designated for F-35 fighter jet parts. An inspector general at the Pentagon dug into the books on America’s $400 billion effort to produce “next‑generation strike fighter aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and international partners.”
The Hill notes that neither the F-35 program nor a separate, billion-dollar federal agency that administers Defense contracts (creatively named Defense Contract Management Agency) can account for these “3.45 million pieces of government property” and must rely on the supplier, super-contractor Lockheed Martin, to detail for Defense if and when they purchased the engine parts GOING BACK TO THE YEAR 2002.
Politico reported in 2015: [t]he F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is $163 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and will cost taxpayers about twice as much as sending a man to the moon.
According to Lockheed Martin’s 2017 annual report, the F-35 manufacture comprises 25% of their sales.
Defense’s F-35 office Fed-splained away the OIG findings in a comment to The Hill: “There were no surprises in the report and the items mentioned are well known to the F-35 Enterprise. [somewhat ironic, as the billions of dollars in “items” themselves are not known at all] […] [F-35 office] will continue to inventory, track and contractually account for all [government furnished parts] associated with the F-35 system.”
The phrase “continue to” now means “start to” in gov-speak.
“Remember that $2.1 billion we’ve sent you over the past sixteen years? Can you just real quick confirm that was actually used to make planes because we don’t know lol.”
The Trump administration’s Secret Service has shown a real talent for ineptitude, as we have documented.
On Monday, Secret Service director Randolph Alles was on his way out quietly (a scheduled sayonara, according to Randolph Alles) before someone leaked the plan to the press and Trump had to unceremoniously ax the two-year Secret Service and 35-year Marine Corps veteran.
Secret Service officials have been caught by surprise with the news and are only finding out through CNN, according to the source.
A source familiar with the director said his ouster was not related to the recent scrutiny the Secret Service got after a Chinese woman illegally entered the President’s Mar-a-Lago club carrying Chinese passports and a flash drive containing malware. Just five days ago, Trump said he “could not be happier with Secret Service” following the Mar-a-Lago incident.
The “incident” involved Yujing Zhang (below) entering Trump’s Florida country club on the pretense of swimming some laps while carrying “a thumb drive with malicious software on it, four phones, a laptop and a separate hard drive[,]” but no bathing suit.
She is being held without bail and is charged with lying to a federal agent and entering restricted property without permission. There is speculation of espionage after more thumb drives, cash and a “hidden camera detector” were recovered in a raid of Zhang’s apparently off-Largo hotel room.
Samuel Ivanovich, Secret Service agent extraordinaire, neglected to use a Mandarin-speaking agent for the first “hours” of interrogation, although the club staff who let Zhang into reception (and through a metal detector with all her gadgets) blamed a “language barrier.” He also forgot to record audio of the first four hours of footage, so when the raw tape is played for the jury it will be slightly less realistic than a Law & Order episode (New York Times reported Mr. Clouseau didn’t realize that the agency’s office in Palm Beach didn’t have that capability.
Washington Post had more:
Ivanovich also testified that when the thumb drive they recovered from Zhang at the club was inserted into another agent’s computer, “a file immediately began to install itself.” The agent, Ivanovich said, had never seen that happen before. …
Acting director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello, and his boss up the food chain, DHS SecretaryKirstjen Nielsen, also recently left the Federal terror security business.
Maybe the Feds should study counter-espionage from local police in nearby Jupiter, who lied about a bomb in the building to execute a secret (“delayed notice”) warrant and plant secret cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is criminally charged with getting his dick wet.
USA Today notes the Florida Department of Health, which buttressed a human trafficking investigation into the spa, used some sloppy techniques, including answering “N/A” to a qualifier as to why such intrusive and Constitutionally-shady techniques were required for surveillance, and citing two beds (in a massage parlor), bottled water and ranch dressing as evidence of people being sold.
Kraft’s lawyers [argued] in their latest motion to suppress video evidence [that] the Jan. 20 traffic stop after Kraft allegedly exited the spa […] had the “sole purpose of identifying Mr. Kraft – a passenger in the car – in the absence of any traffic violation or reasonable suspicion of one by the driver.”
Ironically, the warrant did not allow audio recording, so Kraft’s jury, like Zhang’s, will have to watch in awkward silence if the tapes are allowed into evidence. And be spared the stipulations of hidden valleys into which to pump that Ranch.
The Trump Defense Department should be taking fire for presumed upcoming abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
The account is separate from the Pentagon’s mere $576,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2020. But unlike the “defense” budget, OCO funding is exempt from budget caps.
The Trump administration is seeking roughly an additional $150 billion (possibly as much as $174 billion, which would bring the overall budget for defense to $750 billion) for the war fund […] Entire programs, such as the U.S. Army’s accounts for ammunition and training, will be moved to this war account, according to multiple sources.
OCO spent just $90,000,000,000 last year.
Is the President’s request a harbinger of an upcoming endless war that need not be bound by a budget, as Trump’s batshit crazy, warmongering national security adviser John Bolton (who Wall Street Journal reported in January started drafting plans to bomb Iran after an explosion near the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a completely different country, last year) would prefer?
The funds can be shoveled to less nefarious purposes, such as a troop pay raise as the waning days of the Obama administration brought us in f.y. 2017’s bloated National Defense Authorization Act. We reported:
But it’s ultimately another venue for the Dirty Dems and Rotten Republicans to come together and skirt the budget caps that were supposed to curtail federal spending over the past decade in exchange for short-term increases to the debt ceiling, succeeding in achieving only in the latter.
For example, in 2016 the Government Accountability Office reported the vast majority of these “emergency war” funds in the f.y. 2017 appropriations supported our decades-long, unconstitutional occupation of Afghanistan.
In fact, according to this January https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44519.pdf report from Congressional Research Service, fighting abstract “terror” outside of legislators’ purse string control is so ingrained in the “emergency war” fund, terror has entered the acronym:
“Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 trillion in discretionary budget authority designated as emergency requirements or for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks and for other related international affairs activities.”
Extra budget wiggle room certainly can’t solve the recruiting woes of the most expensive defense force on the planet. The Army missed its goal enrollment by over 6,000 last year, “despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.”
Heritage Foundation recently reminded us that just 29% of 17-to-24-year-old Americans are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces. Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 [t]he ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD and those with certain tattoos and ear gauges[.]
Disgraced FEMA director Brock Long has resigned, boasting that “[d]uring my tenure, the Agency worked more than 220 declared disasters[,]” which is slightly greater than the number of days on the job he spent getting chauffeured to and from North Carolina.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering making the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 look more palatable. Politico reported the large-headed enforcer kicks off a tour of early primary state New Hampshire this week, continuing a trend of quality candidates from the Empire State.
Probably good to start self-promoting in a state with fewer citizens viscerally offended by the phrase “c.p. time” :
Politico suggested Bombastic Bill is already floating slogans:
“There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,” [de Blasio] declared at his State of the City address last month.
De Blasio seized the occasion to pitch socialist policies including ten mandatory paid vacation days annually for everyone working in the city.
“I’m not aware of any other state or city that requires [paid vacation],” said Rick McGahey, an economist at the New School for Social Research who served as an assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration.
Puerto Rico does mandate paid vacation days, McGahey said[…]
Puerto Rico recently went bankrupt.
The part-time mayor, full-time Red Sox fan’s travel bill is covered by his federal political action committee…FairnessPAC.
De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devilthe “richest man on earth”Amazon‘ssudden decision Thursday to scrap plans for its New York City location as “unfair.” Instead, he found the move “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”
“Working people are very smart and very discerning. They want jobs, they want revenue, they want the kinds of things that government can do for them,” the mayor lectured WNYC’s radio audience, explaining that industrious New Yorkers would have valued the opportunity to work hard so their earnings can be redistributed. Working people can’t be trusted to responsibly spend their own money. They’re smart, but not that smart.
This would put de Blasio at odds with hometown social justice warrior, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,(D-NY), (below), who according to CNN had publicly railed against the tech company’s incentives extended from New York’s layer cake of municipal regulators to build in Long Island City, Queens. New York Post reported these included $2.5 billion in tax credits, a $500 million state construction subsidy and the ability to sidestep the city’s laborious zoning process.
Apparently, that pot of honestly confiscated taxes was not worth sacrificing for an estimated 25,000 jobs with wages averaging 150,000 [sic].
Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
The first-term representative also recently proposed legislation to eliminate the country’s airplanes, which are only used by those making $150,000 or more annually.
New York governor and family mobster Andrew Cuomo (D) (below, jowls), desperate to brand his third term with something besides the murder of Eric Garner, a decrepit subway, and millions of dollars of illegal state-sponsored street signs, was nearly as angry as de Blasio.
Syracuse.com reports Cuomo blustered that “[t]he New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
Amazon said Thursday that local opposition was the main reason it is dropping its New York City plans, despite 70 percent of Empire State residents supporting the investment.
While he apparently didn’t single out Ocasio-Cortez, the governor’s spokesperson noted Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky (below, squinting) “tanked the Amazon plan by placing a stalwart Amazon opponent on the government approval board to pander to the local socialists.”
It’s unclear whether that board had a representative in Wednesday’s [trigger warning] powwow in Cuomo’s office. Amazon’s people were hammering out the proposed employees’ ability to unionize, aided by representatives of AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Union bosses directly determining the fate of corporate satellite headquarters must be a key element of de Blasio’s declaring New York “the greatest city in the world” while pouting on WNYC.
According to Bloomberg, the meeting was productive, and one of the AFL-CIO affiliate’s presidents was about to deploy his–this is the actual self-important term for union regulatory writers–*wordsmiths* to solidify union influence in the deal when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the plug the following day.
Mr. Bezos, by the way, alleges National Enquirer publisher David Pecker–again, his actual name–is using a subordinate to blackmail Bezos into dropping his investigation of the sources behind the tabloid’s article, “Jeff Bezos’ Raunchy Text Messages That Prove Illicit Affair.”
Dylan Howard, an Australian national and VP of Pecker’s AMI‘s National Enquirer, (below), reportedly has damning images of Bezos, some involving a Lauren Sanchez. These include a fully-clothed “selfie,” a “selfie” in which Bezos wears“just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and “Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.”
As we reported earlier, Pecker himself, whose empire Vanity Fair describes as “Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News,” rolled on the president last year, corroborating Cohen’s “hush money to Trump mistresses” scheme in exchange for federal immunity. Howard, an Australian national, has also been protected by the deal.
Delta Airlines‘ latest scandal has also dragged soft drink giant Coca-Cola into the gutter.
Getting an early jump on the Valentine’s Day festivities, the soon-to-be-Green-New-Dealed-Into-Obscurity carrier apparently tried to spark in-flight stalking while reminding passengers to keep it trim by sucking down Diet Coke. Twitter went peanuts nuts, and the inflammatory line of napkins was pulled starting last month:
Disgraced ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen (above, caught with phone in class) picked up 36 months’ hard time in a (presumably) white collar facility for paying off Trump’s mistresses–amounting to campaign finance violations–as the 2016 presidential contest heated up.
While the desirable deal also hit Cohen for nearly $2 million in restitution and fines, he apparently caught a break for singing to Robert Mueller regarding the Russia Investigation.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for [Cohen] to face between 51 and 63 months — four to five years — in prison for the tax fraud, false statements and campaign finance violations he pleaded guilty to in August.
Assuring his return to the “public villain with oversized head” section of the Halloween costume inventory for 2019, the high-rolling Cohen, according to NPR, observed, “Today I get my freedom back.” That’ll look great on a Starbucks cup!
Rather than leave the Senate gracefully, deposed lawmaker Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused her colleagues who actually won their re-elections campaigns of forgoing “tough votes.” Presumably these include her decisive decision to continue unconstitutional surveillance of Americans.
The 65-year-old bemoaned the office that will launch her lucrative lobbyist or consultant career for its preponderance of “embarrassing uncles,” blissfully unaware Joe Biden has now been gone for ten years.
Immigration Situation, CBP Improvisation, Park Defecation and TSA Implication
As detailed by Trump’s bluster of a “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” the Federal Government is enjoying a partial shut down after the Senate refused to vote on a House funding bill that allocates $5.7 billion for Trump’s Border Wall. National focus is trained not on the fact our inept employees who failed to write their own budget now can’t begrudgingly provide mediocre services on which they hold a monopoly, but on the paychecks they cannot collect:
Some 800,000 federal workers across the country find themselves in financial uncertainty as the government shutdown crawls into its 12th day. Some 420,000 employees are considered “essential,” and are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home.
Our muckraking the laughable TSA is old news. The bumbling seem to be on the “essential” list, as “88% of [parent agency] Department of Homeland Security” is working for IOUs. But according to Huffington Post, TSA agents first ducking their unpaid assignments by calling out sick are now just quitting.
CNN reported a 200-300 percent increase in agents calling out sick at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and also claimed that throughout the first week of January, as many as 170 agents called out at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport each day.
Via their union, the remaining TSA agents threatened a “massive security risk for American travelers […] there are problems that will arise – least of which would be increased wait times for travelers.”
[TSA employee union American Federation of Government Employees]launched a lawsuit against the federal government for forcing federal employees to show up to work uncompensated, calling the demands “inhumane.”
The logic here is that every day we don’t borrow more money to reopen the government, there are fewer …professionals to cup our genitals before we’re allowed to fly. Aren’t you motivated to call the Congress and complain?
Big brass at TSA got defensive when news of the “people who root through innocent peoples’ dirty laundry all day without changing gloves are sick but more than usual” stats broke:
Trump joined the fight, and CNN promoted their “bananas are the devil” analogy in response:
This comes on the heels of a monumental shift in TSA air marshal policy: starting December 28, the undercover agents moved–to the back of the plane. Good luck picking them out now!
Not everyone was PUN ALERT on board with the change:
“The TSA wants to change the way operations are carried out, and the men and women of the Federal Air Marshal Service do not support these changes,” Brian Borek, representative of the air marshals to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “The TSA, riddled with their own organizational issues, should allow the air marshals to do what they have continued to do best — fly operationally sound missions to protect the integrity of the aircraft, its crew, and passengers in the manner that they have been training and perfecting for the last 17 years.”
Borek also noted implementing the change amidst the madness of the tail end of Christmas travel was an idiotic move“does not pass the common-sense [sic] test.”
John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said it appears that DHS and TSA are making important decisions arbitrarily.
“Changes to security routines on planes and at airports are serious and should not be enacted haphazardly […] And there is clearly a perception that is what is going on here.”
Interestingly, Boston Globe reported just last month the TSA had pulled the plug on Quiet Skies (see above link), following widespread criticism that federal air marshals were spying on thousands of unwitting fliers who are not suspected of any crime or on any terrorist watch list.
But back to the real domestic security crisis: starving homeless people.
First, ICE helped deal with undocumented children flooding into the country by arresting those who volunteered to shelter them. Apparently, Trump made a rule that every adult in a volunteer household must surrender “biometric data, including fingerprints” to the Federal Government.
Nearly two thirds of those arrested — 109 in total — had no criminal record, the agency said.
Just under 80 percent of people screened by ICE during the sponsorship process showed results that theywere not in the country legally.
It’s important to protect the immigrants from other immigrants. Our solution is to continue warehousing them in government facilities. So far only two (that we know of) have not survived.
On December 7, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, of Guatemala, apparently went into septic shock just after boarding the bus with her father to get from her point of entry (Antelope Hills, NM) to the “processing” hub at Lordsburg, NM. She reportedly had a medical screening and “observation,” as well as access to food and water, in the 6ish hours before the bus came. However, after she started seizing, got airlifted and died, government records indicated she had gone “several days” without food or water.
Then Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, also of Guatemala, died on Christmas eve despite receiving Amoxicillin for his 103-degree fever, diagnosed as “common cold,” at an Alamogordo, NM hospital earlier in the day.
Felipe and his father were detained by CBP for about a week, an unusually long time that the agency did not fully explain[.]
Perhaps under scrutiny after burying news of Maquin’s demise for a week, Custom and Border “Protection” promptly released the following sensitive Christmas day headline: “An eight year-old Guatemalan national previously apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection was died [sic] shortly after midnight on December 25 at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. “
According to Washington Post, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency’s holding cells are “incompatible” with the new reality of parents with children coming across the border to surrender to agents en masse, requesting asylum.
“Our Border Patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children[.]”
The shutdown will not curtail the border-crossers getting caged. Associated Press reports CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.
The other government tentacle attracting attention is the parks, because we all prefer our government to take control of the Grand Canyon and charge $35 for parking.
CNN had to fill some space and noted on Monday:
In the 16 days since the government shutdown began and more than 21,000 National Park Service employees were furloughed, seven visitors to national parks have died.[…] [T]he tally of deaths is not out of the ordinary for the expansive National Park Service, which sees an average of six deaths per week[:] accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes, as well as medical incidents such as heart attacks.
Other self-evident observations from the rabid media: [A]dmissions have […] surged because no one is collecting admission fees.
Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration [has left] parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs.
And if there’s one necessary government function exposed out of all this, it’s human waste disposal. Joshua Tree had to close its campground:
“The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” the park service said. “In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off-road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.” Signs at Joshua Tree informed campers this week that the grounds would close “for the safety of visitors and park resources” due to a “lapse in federal appropriations.” Handwritten signs urged visitors: “Pack out your trash. There are no trash services at this time.”
Human beings are incapable of picking up their own trash. Perhaps that’s why the Feds took control of the parks.
Even when the government reopens, don’t expect your travel difficulties to end with a soft molestation at the xray machine. DeltaAirlines hopes to board passengers faster by rolling out eight boarding groups, color coded, starting later in January.
This is the actual (reportedly “more complicated“) new boarding order, according to CNN, which should send you running for an actual good airline:
Premium Select (or First Class “if applicable”)
Sky Priority (the poor souls who use frequent flier “perks” at Delta Airlines)
Economy Main Cabin 1 and Delta credit card holders and Silver Medallion members
Economy Main Cabin 2
Economy Main Cabin 3
CNN notes that the cheapest ticket holders get to make everyone else board and wait for them, so you can save money and spend less time in a cramped seat next to a stranger. Maybe they have to deplane last.
Delta wasn’t done. As of December 18, all animals in Delta cabins must be at least four months old. Also, “emotional support animals” (greatest country in the world, everyone) are banned from flights eight hours or longer. Because if you’re too fragile to fly without your platypus, Delta believes you can suck it up if only the flight is longer.
Service and support animals fly free on Delta — unlike regular pets, which cost passengers $125 each way.Delta says the number of service animals on its flights has increased nearly 150% since 2015.
So either travelers are replicating the “put all my shit in a carryon bag because Delta started charging to check suitcases” workaround with their animals, or we just need much more emotional support when flying with the dirty Delta.
Refresh the ‘Feed
Facebook closed the year on a high note by revealing that between 5 and 7 million users were over-exposed for nearly two weeks in September, courtesy of a “bug.”
The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they’d uploaded to Facebook but never shared.
In January, CNBC interviewed the diaspora of ex-Facebook employees to investigate the company’s performance evaluation system. Apparently, given the cap on highly graded employees, you have to suck ass starting on orientation day to survive semiannual reviews.
Many former employees blamed the cult-like atmosphere partly on […] [the] peer review system [, which] pressures employees to forge friendships with colleagues at every possible opportunity, whether it be going to lunch together each day or hanging out after work.
Also, when promotions come up in December, employees[…] focus on short-term goals and push out features that drive user engagement and improve their own metrics without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy, multiple former employees said.
We’ve all realized you can’t delete a Facebook account, but are those who never enrolled in the public tantrum train safe? No.
UK Charity Privacy International found 34 Android apps upload user data to Zuckerberg’s machine upon launch. Known culprit apps include Pregnancy+, MigraineBuddy, Bible+ and Muslim Pro.
Regardless of an unsuspecting Android owner’s PUN ALERT status with the social media giant, any app running Facebook’s Software Developer Kit (SDK) provides a window to your soul:
A Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo News, “Facebook’s SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances.”
Technology Tangle Continues for Manafort
God bless Paul Manafort. As we previously reported, the convicted tax cheat helped pen his own prosecution by virtue of inability to convert a Word document to PDF.
The Trump associate’s shenanigans were further exposed Tuesday when his defense team contested–with a sloppily-constructed document–Mueller’s charge that Manafort blew his plea deal by lying to the Feds last year.
[W]hile portions of the filing were supposed to be redacted and shielded from the public, court watchers were able to view the filing in its entirety by copying and pasting the redacted sections.
Oops. The dirty details, reportedly shielded on the court docket within an hour, showed additional accusations from Mueller that Manafort dealt 2016 US election polls to Konstantin Kilimnik, and met the suspected Russian intelligence operative (and fellow Mueller indictee) during the 2016 campaign.
Interesting tidbit, courtesy of The Hill: Mueller’s middle name is “Swan.”
The Pentagon wrapped its first-ever audit and the results were apparently so humiliating they were not released.
Defense News does note the year-long endeavor consumed $413 million […] [another] $406 million was spend [sic] on addressing issues found by the department, with another $153 million on “financial system fixes,” per a DoD factsheet — a total […] of $972 million.
While shoveling Federal Reserve-weakened cash toward improving the system is an honorable step, we won’t hold our breath for any legitimate proposals to more efficiently administer what Reuters characterizes–in perhaps the rosiest pro-big Government euphemism of the year–numerous military bases of various sizes at home and abroad and troops deployed in far-flung locales.
Meanwhile, the Federal Deficit packed on an additional 17% in preparation for holiday hedonism. Fiscal year 2018 saw a $779 billion shortfall, and, to their credit, CNN admitted the gap could not be blamed on the recent Republican tax cut, which was more than offset by increased revenues from individual and self-employment taxes.
[Why tax cuts are so maligned when they apparently lead to more tax revenue, we’ll never understand.]
Rather, [s]pending rose 3% over the previous year, fueled in part by increases to the defense budget agreed upon in September 2017 as part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats to head off a government shutdown. Social Security and interest on the federal debt also contributed to the increase.
When your national debt is a record $21,000,000,000,000-plus, and even ultra-left wing NPR cautions merely covering the interest on that monstrosity will outstrip defense spending in a few years, the obvious solution is to spend more on defense. It’s all about winning.
Another example of winning: the lame-duck GOP majority snuffed out a bipartisan effort to end our unconstitutional Yemen carnage with a 201-187 procedural ploy.
This greased the wheels for the Manage Our Wolves Act, whose passage will reportedly strip “endangered species” status from American gray wolves. And, according to The Intercept, incidentally block a floor vote on whether to direct President Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen.
A September resolution by Ro Khanna (D-CA) mandating the end of America’s unconstitutional interference in the conflict had the standing for a floor vote without the blessing of the Establishment-controlled Rules Committee under the War Powers Act. Not anymore.
Even the Humane Society of the United States implored Congress for mercy towards the ferocious mammals. And, perhaps unbeknownst to them, the shell-shocked, cholera-stricken Yemeni, with whom we are not at war.
Just twelve Republicans, including Justin Amash (R-MI), had the stones to oppose the final bill (although a combined 54 members chose not to show up), which passed by a mere 16 votes.
Trump’s election year fear mongering over the migrant caravan got a little-noticed boost from the “law and order” angle when NBC revealed the DHS has infiltrated the estimated 4,000 Central American asylum seekers by paying moles to monitor their progress. Namely, the new Federal employees are tapping the WhatsApp communication of the refugees.
Trump, according to CNN, deployed 6,000 American troops to the border just prior to his party’s somewhat muted shellacking in the midterms, because you need 1.5 heavily-armed Americans to safely deny each starving homeless Honduran access to the country. Or for a more nefarious purpose:
“If [the troops] have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to[…] I have no choice[;] [y]ou’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals[,] rough people.”
Defense’s top dog James Mattis had other ideas: “[T]here has been no call for any lethal force[.]” CNN has him on record thatany troops backing up customs personnel would not be carrying firearms but could be equipped with shields and batons.
Trump fired back: “[If]our people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control […] [t]he whole border. I mean the whole border.”
Forbes reported the Federal Government is successfully prying innocent Americans’ locations from technology companies via warrants demanding details on anyone essentially using a phone within a certain radius of the coordinates of alleged crimes.
Those users could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell [phone].
Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department in Minnesota said it wasn’t just Google that could furnish cops with a startling mount [sic] of detailed location data. Facebook and Snapchat [had also] proven useful.
Fortunately, the ham-handed FBI might have struck out in this instance, which featured a location sweep for the time frames surrounding five (5) armed robberies of the same Hernico, VA Dollar Tree earlier this year (four at the store, one of their manager at the local bank deposit box):
[F]or unknown reasons, no records were returned. Forbes couldn’t find any charges against individuals named as suspects in the document. Forbes also contacted the prosecutor who signed off on the search warrant, but had not received a response at the time of publication.
Not to be outdone, Facebook is weathering scrutiny for siccing right wing researchers Definers Public Affairs on those who would bring the social decay giant scrutiny: with intent to smear [Facebook]’s critics by linking them to the billionaire liberal donor George Soros.
The Hillnotes Facebook has seen more than a quarter of its value wiped out this year amid data privacy issues, strict regulations in Europe, the threat of regulations in the U.S. and stagnant user growth.
The oven gloves were off on Thanksgiving eve, as Facebook quietly admitted to asking an opposition-research company to investigate billionaire George Soros over his public criticism of the social network.
Mashable reported soon-to-depart policy pusher Elliot Schrage (below) will take the kitchen heat for head Q-tip Mark Zuckerberg, stammering the tech giant used “public information” to determine Soros was funding the heretofore “grassroots” organization Freedom from Facebook, whose ambitious call to action can be found here.
COO Sheryl Sandberg (below) was also on the carving block, and to her credit assumed responsibility for using Definers, despite her recent duplicity as the scandal unfolded. Like Obama, she hears about her own operations from the news.
Sandberg said she did not initially remember Definers when she read a New York Times story that detailed how Facebook had employed the firm. She subsequently asked her staff to look into the matter to “double-check whether anything had crossed my desk.”
The silver lining for Facebook: their failure to swiftly deploy speech restriction policies as photos and discussions of a 17-year-old South Sudanese child bride being auctioned off from a reportedly unrelated platform sprouted on the social media site was largely ignored over the holiday weekend.
Facebook said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it, but that wasn’t until after the girl involved was married.
One suspect consequence of the Dirty Dems’ recapture of the House of Representatives Tuesday: disgraced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke [below, hat]’s oversized neck on the subpoena chopping block, according to Huffington Post.
A priority of both [House Natural Resources Committee–yes, your tax money pays for a committee to save the trees from their own cabinet department amidst partisan division–member Raul] Grijalva [D-AZ] [above, close-set eyes] and [House Oversight Committee vice ranking member and man with a hard-on for titles that are apparently meaningless unless your party holds the majority Jerry] Connolly [D-VA] [below, pedophile garb and ‘stache] will be getting to the bottom of what Connolly called an “abortive attempt” to replace the head of Interior’s office of inspector general with a Trump political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The OIG has several ongoing investigations into Zinke’s conduct.
Emails from Ben Carson [below, wide shot] at Housing and Urban Development, obtained by The Hill, indeed reveal the Trump ally’s intention to install his subordinate at Interior, in a covert move linking the agencies we will dub OperationTreeHouse:
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Suzanne Israel Tufts [below Carson, tufted feather pin on sweater], our Assistant Secretary for Administration, has decided to leave HUD to become the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Interior,” Carson wrote in his email with the subject line “Fond Farewell.”
Interestingly, Think Progress spoke to an Interior spokesperson who noted since a deputy had been serving in the acting role […] Tufts’ appointment to oversee Zinke’s investigations [does] not require Senate approval.
The public outcry was swift. Within one week, Tufts cashed out, perhaps to employ her former Federal connections by returning to consulting:
“Ms. Tufts is not employed by the (Interior) Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior,” spokeswoman Heather Swift said.
[An] HUD official on Friday blamed the announcement on a “miscommunication at the staff level,” suggesting Carson was given bad information.
How Interior’s OIG is investigating the big brass at peak efficiency despite, as confirmed by Federal News Network, not having an inspector general for nearly a decade, is unclear. But they are still running investigations (below).
The number of federal probes into alleged misconduct by Zinke as of August of his second year at Interior, according to Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, was 17. Three had cleared him of wrongdoing. Five were closed for “lack of cooperation or records,” including Zinke “not provid[ing] complete information” on charter flights; and demonstrating he was “unable” to explain pulling the plug on a $1 million federal study, instigated under Obama in the waning days of his administration, on the health impact of “mountaintop removal” coal mining.
[Interior’s OIG] added the cancellation “wasted” some $455,110 that had already been spent on research and that the remaining $548,443 would be returned to the Treasury in 2021.
Speaking of slow-walking accountability entreaties to Federal miscreants…
Chase Bishop: Back in Court
The butterfingered fibbie has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault for allegedly accidentally blowing a hole in a fellow bar patron in June. On January 17, however, we will reportedly learn if a plea deal has been reached.
Amid astonished reports that Trump skipped an observation ceremony at Belleau for fallen Americans in World War I after a light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site, former national security adviser and career prick Ben Rhodes deftly took to Twitter, explaining to the little people that he “helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years. There is always a rain option. Always.”
Rhodes failed to realize Trump’s “rain option,” flawlessly executed, was to send in his stead Chief of Staff John Kelly, who does not matter as much.
The president (below, with Melania and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) did make it to Arc de Triomphe Sunday morning for the 100-year commemoration of Armistice Day.
USA Today flexed, however, that several world leaders (it’s unclear if this included Trump), arrived, “rain-soaked,” a few minutes beyond the official 11:00 AM mark at local time for the exact 100-year anniversary of the 1918 cease-fire. Because that’s what’s important.
I Will Note be a Party to This
And current Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) pulled further ahead of Republican rival Martha McSally in her quest to replace retiring GOP Senator Jeff Flake.
Sinema’s 28,000-vote lead as of Saturday evening is an interesting illustration of third party effects on national races. Green Party candidate Angela Green (her actual name) (below), despite ending her bid and endorsing Sinema five days before the election, collected at least 43,000 votes as of Friday. News outlets such as CNN continue to breathlessly update results including only Sinema and McSally.
Sometimes Federal agencies actually justify their existence. After over 350 firearms were lifted from a Memphis distribution facility owned by UPS (who recently fell victim to the incompetence of Federally-subsidized rival USPS)
, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) made a quick recovery.
Roland Jackson, 24, and Taveyan Turnbo, 18 (below) were both captured after fleeing on foot from the complicit U-haul in Midlothian, IL two days after UPS reported the theft.
CBS did not explain how the passenger window got bashed in, but notes the duo fenced three of the guns prior to capture.
Some thieves are more successful. Rishi K. Sharma, (below) allegedly ordered $927,000 worth of cable service from Time Warner using multiple fake accounts under Ohio and New York corporate addresses.
The 28-year-old Florida man reportedly exploited the “service for 90 days until Time Warner realizes you haven’t paid the bill” feature on 68 different occasions in 2015 and 2016. He is now charged with wire fraud.
The FBI may have difficulty investigating Sharma because their new headquarters has been held up after $20 millionin planning was disregarded. While we normally detest lavish upgrades to federal facilities, government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washingtonnotes the overdue “renovate or relocate” dilemma regarding the FBI’s crumbling crib was punted by Trump–and his hotel interests may have factored in.
Because all citizens are criminals who exist only to feed the Federal government, the FBI workforce is expanding. GAO and GSA have agreed the current building, constructed from 1965 to 1975 at a cost of over $120 million(over $500 million in today’s Federal Reserve-eroded dollars and $60 million over budget), according to Wikipedia, must be renovated at enormous cost if a new site is not chosen, because some staff would have to lease other locations during such a renovation.
(GSA’s Inspector General found in August that the Public Building Service of GSA has neglected to report on $21 million in annual Federal lease payments for buildings that sit half-empty. This is an intriguing waste of revenue, as many of the underutilized buildings, under noncancelablelease, contain IRS employees.
PBS blathered that since the agencies continue to make rent payments on the unused space, they are not required to report it as unused–or attempt to recover the loss to taxpayers by “backfilling” with other tenants.)
The cheapest play was therefore a new building at a different location–$1.2 billion on the face, but with $1 billion in savings promised absent the leasing employees.
Last year, GSA determined that moving forward without full funding would put the Government at risk for project cost escalations.
In February 2018, the FBI announced that instead of moving, it will build a new headquarters on the old site. The plan is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and will require 2,300 staff to move to other locations — a costly plan that does not address the needs that prompted the project.
CREW notes the newly-renovated Trump International Hotel, which opened just before election day 2016, would face competition if any of the multiple luxury hotel chains succeed in their bids to GSA for the old FBI building.
Establishment thug Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) had ensured the $390 million new digs for the FBI would land in her state just before leaving office in 2016. It’s the Feds’ money, not yours. Baltimore Sun reported early last year:
Virginia and Maryland officials have been competing for years to land the proposed the 2.1 million-square-foot FBI headquarters, which would house roughly 11,000 employees, making it one of the largest federal facilities in either state.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in November  that Trump’s victory should make it a “slam dunk” for Maryland to land the FBI facility. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has long been closely allied to Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (below) is resigning in December. Depending on your political leanings, she either ordered $50,000 curtains for her state residence or merely allowed their [TRIGGER WARNING] hanging:
The New York Times reports that the curtains, installed last year in UN ambassador’s New York residence, cost $29,000, while a motorized opener for the curtains cost another $22,801.
While the installation occurred during Haley’s tenure as ambassador, a spokesman told the Times, which later updated its story, that the purchase decision was made during the Obama administration in 2016.
Who justified Haley’s upholding the purchase during hard times? Left-wing prince Patrick J Kennedy (below, sober six years) (the former Rhode Island representative, not undersecretary at the State Dept Patrick Kennedy who defended Hillary’s Secret Server because she “[did] not know how to use a computer to do email [sic].”)
“All [Haley]’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important[.]”
But the more damaging story appears to transcend such window dressing. CREW cried foul on seven private jet trips Haley disclosed from last year. Unlike the cushy flight accommodations disgraced ex-Trump associates TomPrice, DavidShulkin, Scott Pruitt, and current perk-indulger Steven Mnuchin banked from the public, Haley’s travels were provided by South Carolina business executives, which could be construed as purchase of influence from the administration:
Jimmy Gibbs, CEO of textile machine company Gibbs International Inc., paid for four of the flights. Others were paid for by Smyth McKissick, CEO of his family’s Alice Manufacturing, and Mikee Johnson, then-CEO of Cox Industries, his family’s wood business, according to Haley’s report.
She also estimated the jaunts’ value at $3,200, while CREW contends it was more like $24,000.
We won’t be calling curtains on the former SC Governor’s political career just yet.
FEMA is back in the crosshairs as hurricane season winds down. The latest Federal success in rebuilding Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was on display on a Ceiba tarmac.
On the water’s surface, these pallets of undrinkable water may not represent a complete collapse of the embattled agency’s routinely underwhelming efforts. Seven months ago, FEMA moved the water outside to save $300,000 in daily storage costs.
Now neither the agency nor Puerto Rico will take ownership of the undrinkable bottled water, which saw a limited distribution in May to very poor reviews.
[Ottmar] Chávez [Puerto Rico’s General Services Administration chief] said […] the agency plans to “return those waters [sic] to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) inventory.” FEMA told HuffPost in a statement that after the ASG requested and accepted the bottles, “the water became property of the government of Puerto Rico.”
Meanwhile, FEMA faces criticism of administrator Brock Long (below), who is reportedly reimbursing taxpayers for using public vehicles to commute between North Carolina and D.C.
Apparently, Long is under investigation for dragging aides along for weekends in NC and lodging them at taxpayer expense. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (her actual name) noticed Long’s routine absences from the office due to frequent six-hour drives.
The [Inspector General]’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles — a black Suburban — was involved in an accident, according to one of the officials.
Long could have tried the Steven Mnuchin defense:
[A] former DHS official said Long, as administrator, is entitled to have a contingency aide accompany him so he can have secure communications in case of a national emergency.
Politico noted Nielsen raised the issue with Long months before they broke the story. It’s unclear if she asked him to resign. Long committed to cooperate with the IG investigation, which already found he often travel[ed] with a caravan of federal workers and has spent roughly 150 days in North Carolina since taking the job in June 2017.
HuffPost also noted Trump moved $9.8 million from FEMA’s budget to fund immigrant detention and deportation as hurricane season kicked off. This enable DHS to perform at peak efficiency, exemplified by Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, 35, (below), who stands accused of killing at least four women.
County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Ortiz sought out vulnerable addicts and sex workers near Laredo, shooting them all in the head with a pistol in a “cold and callous way,” the AP reported.
Ortiz’s fifth alleged victim escaped on Sept. 14 and alerted authorities.
Hillary Clinton requested the Feds end her security clearance, as well as that of henchwoman Cheryl Mills.
According to USA Today, Mills and four other, redacted individuals had retained access to classified information after Hillary’s State Department designated them “researchers.”
ABC News reports the “researcher” designation allowed the Hillary allies to keep clearances after she resigned from State.
The 4.3-ish million Americans with security clearances are “reviewed” by the Defense Department every five to fifteen years. However, Defense has decreed “[t]o preclude excessive clearances, the Facility Security Officer should continually review the number of employees with the personnel security clearances and reduce the number of clearances whenever possible.”
Clinton associate Nick Merrill whined on Twitter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley should not have publicly flashed the honoring of Hillary’s clandestine request from August 30, submitted after Trump [TRIGGER WARNING] stripped Brennan last summer. Merrill suggested Grassley was dunking in a fashion as politically motivated as Trump’s reactionary move to the cretinous Brennan, who had criticized the president.
Grassley’s office released the letter Friday night despite a warning from the State Department not to do so.
Merrill also maintained State’s former secretaries retaining clearance was “customary.”
Incidentally, the failed 2016 presidential candidate recently announced she and Bill will conduct a self-promotion tour, squeezing sympathists for between $70 and $699 for a “conversation” with (between?) the power couple in 13 U.S. and Canadian cities through 2018 and part of 2019.
A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on how much the Clintons will be paid for the tour.