Category Archives: Politics/Other

Why govern within your means nationally when there are children to terrorize over a few bucks?

New Tacos at Burger King– Just $0.99!!!

^^Parents will feast on this economic option to help keep kids from the State’s clutches. In its eternal mission to emulate the federal government by creating and solving novel problems at great public expense, Pennsylvania school district Wyoming Valley West is using delinquent lunch money balances to justify seizing children from their parents.

About 1,000 parents got a written reprimand recently that included the passage: You can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food. The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care.”

Apparently, the school was preparing the children for a lifetime of welfare dependency by feeding them for free when their parents sent them to government-mandated (also under threat of legal penalty) day camp without lunch money. The district is now out a cool $22,000–and planning to collect.

Amidst national backlash, school attorney Charles Coslett (above), who railed against the “nanny-state mentality” in the Philadelphia Enquirer, mused, “Hopefully, [this] gets their attention and it certainly did, didn’t it?”

School district officials say they plan to pursue other legal avenues to get the lunch money, such as filing a district court complaint or placing liens on properties.

La Colombe coffee CEO Todd Carmichael was unable to add to the “Philanthropic Endeavors” section on his Wikipedia page: the district rejected his check for the balance.

Upon speaking with the school board president Joseph Mazur, La Colombe’s “consultant” Aren Platt was also snubbed.

Mazur said that he believed most of the families who owed money could afford the debt, and that it was their responsibility to pay. “His counter was, ‘These are affluent families who just want to get something for free,’” said Platt. “This wasn’t ever about repayment of a debt. It was about shaming people.”

It was also quite the departure from the cushy offerings of Warwick, RI’s school district, which provided non-paying students a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich, a carton of milk, the vegetable of the day and a piece of fruit until their parents settled the balance.

That district’s $77,000 loss was ultimately covered by local citizens Cait Clement and Angelica Penta’s fundraising efforts, with a bump from yogurt manufacturer Chobani.

Enquirer:

Federal law mandates school districts offer children food even when they have unpaid bills for school lunches.

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Sonny Perdue’s Department of Agriculture is reportedly slow-walking politically unpalatable results of climate change studies by discouraging its Agricultural Research Service from promoting the papers. Politico reports USDA casually “sought to prevent dissemination of the findings” by University of Washington of a two-year effort–in collaboration with USDA’s own scientists, as well as those of Japan, China and Australia–that allegedly suggests increased atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases the nutritional content of rice.

This included pulling a planned ARS release of the headline, and warning UW to similarly sit on the results.

Apparently, there are relatively few climate-related articles publicized by ARS to begin with. But Politico notes the only two that warranted a press release under Trump played more to the interests of Big Meat than Average American Who Should Stop Eating Meat for Health Reasons Alone, But Also the Planet.

Of these two, [o]ne found that beef production makes a relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and another that removing animal products from the diet for environmental reasons would likely cause widespread nutritional problems.

In other agri-news, Vox reported Arkansas is trying to join Mississippi and Missouri in outlawing plant-based imitation meats from being labeled “veggie burger.”

Arkansas, which is being sued by the dream team of Tofurkey/ACLU, also endeavors to ban “soy milk” labels, ostensibly because ignorant consumers might be suddenly hoodwinked into thinking the product–available since 1916, according to soyinfocenter–is actually cow’s milk.


The legislator who introduced the [Arkansas] bill, David Hillman, said that his aim was to “protect the agricultural producers in this state”.

Of the Mississippi bill earlier this year, Vox noted: “This bill will protect our cattle farmers from having to compete with products not harvested from an animal,” said Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation president Mike McCormick in January when the bill passed in the Mississippi state House.

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Trump tweeted Monday evening that oily Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin colluded with Congressional “leadership” to shit out another deficit-expanding, government-growing list of liabilities for the younger generation (discretionary spending measure), just in time to avoid denying Congress their six-week recess that starts Friday.

Democratic leaders Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) gushed in a statement that the anticipated signing of their fiscal negligence will “invest in middle class priorities and well being of the American people.”

Reason notes the budget could add as much as $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan groups that favors balanced budgets.

Pending Trump’s signature, Congress will have “raised the roof” to suspend the debt ceiling until mid-2021. Despite the added trillions, The Hill is casting the monstrosity as “the $320 billion deal,” presumably because that will be this year’s hike in discretionary spending (which pales in comparison to the entitlement spending that consumes most federal confiscation).

Some buzz-worthy provisions of the latest “fuck you” to everyone under age 50 reportedly include over $20,000,000,000 for the VA Mission Act (the Feds’ latest bumbling attempt to provide veterans health care through non-VA alternatives, pushed by Pelosi herself as an extra non-Defense priority); more vague initiatives for the nation to spend its way out of the opioid epidemic; and $2,500,000,000 for the 2020 census (to more accurately round citizens up for confiscation when the creditors come knocking).

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) last month got just 22 votes of the 60 required for cloture to hold a vote on his plan to balance the budget by cutting just 2% of spending. It reportedly would have protected Social Security (currently projected to slash benefits in 2035 due to insolvency, per CRFB), all while keeping the evil Trump tax cuts intact. Presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were among nine who didn’t show up for the cloture vote.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/parents-told-could-lose-kids-173048837.html

https://www.inquirer.com/news/school-lunch-debt-foster-care-pennsylvania-todd-carmichael-la-colombe-20190723.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/23/agriculture-department-climate-change-1376413

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/7/22/20706073/arkansas-tofurky-veggie-burger-ban-aclu

http://www.soyinfocenter.com/HSS/soymilk1.php

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/7/3/20680731/mississippi-veggie-burgers-illegal-meatless-meat

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/454206-trump-backs-two-year-budget-deal?userid=115887

https://reason.com/2019/07/22/possible-budget-deal-will-add-2-trillion-to-the-national-debt/

http://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/pelosi-extra-veterans-health-care-funds-needed-in-debt-deal

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/republicans-join-democrats-to-kill-rand-pauls-fiscally-responsible-pennies-plan-because-no-one-cares-about-the-debt-crisis

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=116&session=1&vote=00130#position

http://www.crfb.org/papers/analysis-2019-social-security-trustees-report

https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/454245-the-hills-morning-report

Dangerous Vendors; Who will Foot the Bill?

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.”

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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].

Thanks to our sources:

https://nypost.com/2019/06/05/dozens-of-nyc-ice-cream-trucks-seized-over-multimillion-dollar-ticket-scam/

https://reason.com/2019/06/06/widely-unpopular-bill-de-blasio-leads-major-crackdown-on-highly-popular-ice-cream-trucks-over-unpaid-parking-tickets/

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bill-de-blasio-takes-heat-for-missing-puerto-rican-day-parade-so-he-can-campaign-in-iowa

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/06/10/us-customs-border-protection-says-photos-travelers-into-out-country-were-recently-taken-data-breach/?utm_term=.dfe078645e90

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qv7zxx/perceptics-license-plate-readers-hacked

Pop Fizz Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.

Related:

Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”

Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:

[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.

And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??

Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.

[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.

Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.

According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.

How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.

MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.

While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.

Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.

[…]

After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.

Read more here:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/residents-of-philadelphia-found-a-novel-way-around-the-citys-unpopular-soda-tax-2019-01-11

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3302335

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The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”

Newsom and ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle

California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/15/18224717/california-high-speed-rail-canceled

Also,

[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.

Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?

“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.

Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)

“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”

[our emphasis]

Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only
complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.

No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.

Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

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The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,

Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.

[our emphasis]

According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6788865/Philadelphia-city-ban-discriminatory-cashless-stores.html

https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/21/inside-amazons-surveillance-powered-no-checkout-convenience-store/

https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Gavin-Newsom-Sacramento-Fair-Oaks-home-13556456.php#photo-16816028

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2018/12/14/jerry-brown-leaves-california-with-100b-train-debt-as-texas-pursues-its-own-rail-boondoggle/#7bbfc012b65d

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-gavin-newsom-high-speed-rail-train-scale-back_us_5c632372e4b0a8731aeae3d0

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/politics/california-high-speed-rail-cancel-grant/index.html

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-high-speed-rail-20190219-story.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/dont-do-it-gavin-newsom

$22,000,000,000,000 and Counting

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.

[our emphasis]

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.”

[our emphasis]

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[.]

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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.

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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…Fairness PAC.

De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devil the “richest man on earth” Amazon‘s sudden 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.

[our emphasis]

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.”

https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f

https://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/jeff-bezos-lauren-sanchez-text-messages-affair-scandal/

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:

Thanks to our sources:

https://nypost.com/2019/02/15/de-blasio-rips-into-aocs-amazon-opposition-working-people-want-jobs/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/amazon-aoc-democrats-future/index.html

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/10/02/love-ny-signs-removed/1496503002/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/2019/02/cuomo-blames-other-dems-for-amazon-exit-as-aoc-celebrates.htmlhttps://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-14/amazon-was-holding-talks-wednesday-to-make-nyc-deal-happen

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2019/02/06/delta-airlines-apologizes-creepy-diet-coke-flight-napkins/2796432002/

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/donald-trump-national-enquirer-allies-defect-david-pecker-michael-cohen

https://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/australian-journalist-dylan-howard-reportedly-granted-immunity-could-give-info-on-trump-payments/news-story/14439dc2474d2971cde68851b5e6b85c

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-68

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-sought-options-to-strike-iran-11547375404

http://www.newser.com/story/264957/us-army-falls-short-of-2018-recruiting-goal.html

https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/the-looming-national-security-crisis-young-americans-unable-serve-the-military

http://time.com/2938158/youth-fail-to-qualify-military-service/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/13/politics/brock-long-fema/index.html

http://www.fox5ny.com/news/mayor-progressive-agenda-paid-vacation

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/new-york-mayor-bill-de-blasio-explained-his-loyalty-to-the-red-sox-on-the-jonah-keri-podcast/

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2019/02/11/de-blasio-heads-to-new-hampshire-as-he-contemplates-run-for-president-848323

State of Discontent

INFECTED!!! The holier-than-thou Pacific Northwest is battling a measles outbreak that has triggered a state of emergency declaration in Washington (State, not cesspool).

All of the 35 confirmed patients suffering from the rarely fatal virus (which according to the CDC was eradicated from America in 2000) were either unvaccinated or have not had their vaccination status verified. We need to investigate that latter group so Twitter can attack the appropriate side.

NPR reports:
Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963 measles was the single leading killer of children in the world. To this day, it still kills 100,000 children a year worldwide, most under the age of five.

Popular locations to pick up this outbreak: if you picked someone up at
Portland International Airport in neighboring Oregon; attended a pick up NBA game featuring the Portland Trailblazers; picked up groceries at Wal-Mart in Vancouver; patronized the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry; or stumbled upon any of the other “four dozen locations” teased by Associated Press.

*

It’s still a terrible time to live in Chicago. Although thug mayor Rahm Emanuel (below, duck face) mercifully realized last month he would be the city’s first mayor in generations unable to buy his reelection if he didn’t step aside, the “Windy City” will still be frozen in hardship, namely due to dangerous winds this week from the polar vortex.

Specifically, the high temperature Wednesday of -13 degrees F will drop to a “feels like” of -50 when wind is factored in.

ABC7 of Chicago spotlighted our next online outrage mob victim, Jane Bozym, who whined from O’Hare airport:
“I am going to Phoenix [AZ], where I live now, I moved there a year ago. I am a little bit sad that I am actually going to miss the cold, just to say that I lived it.”

The Metra train service has deploy[ed] crews to set fires on switchers to keep the tracks from contracting.

Related: https://www.techspot.com/news/73061-all-20000-boring-company-flamethrowers-have-sold-out.html

Reportedly, “several inches” of snow fell on the city Monday.

But the race to replace burned-out ballerina Rahm won’t be smooth sledding. USA Today noted the four top-funded candidates, including reported frontrunner and current Illinois comptroller Susana Mendoza (above, gesturing), have all been forced to explain away associations with city council member/ “alderman” (since 1969) Edward “Ed” Burke (below, mafia costume).

The wizened former police officer and attorney, accused of extortion (maximum penalty: 20 years of prison or 5 months of forced residence in Chicago) earlier this month, allegedly [tried] to steer business to his private law firm [Klafter & Burke] from a company seeking to renovate a fast food restaurant[Burger King] in his ward. Burke denies trying so brazenly trying to have it his way.

[T]he FBI found 23 guns in raids on Burke’s City Hall and ward offices. As a condition of his bond, [he] was ordered to surrender the firearms and any others he may own within 48 hours of his release.

Mendoza was married by Burke’s wife Anne, a judge on the state Supreme Court (who was quietly sworn in to a second 10-year term on Nov. 29, the same day her husband’s offices were raided), in the Burke house. She is donating to the Montford Point Marines veterans group $141,550 in campaign contributions banked from alderman Danny Solis, and organizations run by him and his family (including, ironically, this being Chicago–see below–a debt collection firm). Why should we take solace in her dissociation from a different career criminal?

The Sun-Times noted Mendoza’s decision came one day after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Solis, retiring chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, has spent the last two years wired up to help federal investigators build their corruption case against Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th). Normally, elected officials agree to go undercover only after they themselves have been caught in corruption scandals.

The suddenly-virtuous comptroller blasted rival mayoral candidate,
Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, demanding she likewise relinquish $116,000 Preckwinkle bagged from a 2018 fundraiser with Establishment Ed:

“By waiting until the end of March to return this tainted money, [Preckwinkle] is choosing to use dirty money to get her through this mayoral election. That’s shameful.”

Preckwinkle (above) has called on Burke to resign from the City Council [and] proposed prohibiting council members from holding outside employment.

Preckwinkle said later in the month she would return the money, and characterized Burke as “Susana Mendoza’s mentor.” More problematic may be her advocacy for Ed Burke, Jr.’s (below, mugshot) most recent employment.

[D]espite the fact that Burke Jr. was under investigation on allegations he made inappropriate sexual comments to co-workers at his prior job *in* the Cook County sheriff’s office, Preckwinkle forwarded his resume to the Department of Homeland Security for a promotion to their Cook County Emergency Management Department. Sun-Times reported Preckwinkle admits the recommendation came after she personally met with Burke Sr.

[our emphasis]

A Preckwinkle official said her office was not aware of the investigation when Burke was hired for the homeland security job.

Sun-Times notes a $10,000 contribution from Burke Sr. to Preckwinkle is mentioned in the extortion charges. Burke Jr. retired from the $110,000/year gig last year prior to a June domestic battery arrest in which all charges were “swiftly” dropped (sort of like his pants, as the arresting officers found him “extremely intoxicated, naked, acting violently, and destroying furniture inside [his] residence” not three hours after police originally escorted him there earlier in the evening), according to Chicago Tribune.

For his part, Burke Sr. has endorsed former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico to succeed Emanuel.

Klafter & Burke reportedly helped Trump do his taxes until last year.

*

Last November, Chicago caught up with Sony to enforce a new 9% cloud tax. PlayStation streaming services just became more costly. The 2015 job-discouraging measure was already kowtowed to by other gaming platform streamers like Xbox. (This is in addition to special Chicago taxes on movies, bottled water and cell phones, according to Fee.) Apparently,

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Bill McCaffrey, recently said,”If a business is not collecting the tax where we believe it applies, the city takes the necessary steps and works with the company to ensure compliance with the law.”

[…]

When Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel approved the additional tax on streaming services, it was done so with the explicit purpose of helping to fund the $530 million increase given to Chicago’s police force

[our emphasis]

Homicides? No, we need more resources to harass people binging Storage Wars.

But wait. Illinois Policy reported:

The city’s amusement tax used to mostly apply to purchases of concert and sporting event tickets. However, the Chicago Department of Finance ruled in 2015 that the tax covered streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. This expansion of the amusement tax is commonly dubbed the “Netflix tax” or the “cloud tax.” In addition to being regressive, it is also likely illegal.

Liberty Justice Center has sued the city, but lost the first round. They are currently appealing to First District Court of Appeals. Labell v. City of Chicago argues the city is violating the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which
prohibits states, counties and municipalities from levying taxes that discriminate against electronic commerce.

LJC notes the mendacious metropolis takes the tax from everyone with a Chicago billing address, not necessarily only from those watching Netflix in Chicago.

Apple (who have reportedly refused to confiscate the tax from users) sued with a similar suit.

*

The best reason to steer clear of the Midway surfaced earlier this month, when the city was (again) exposed for confiscating and selling for scrap the vehicles of unfortunate denizens violating the city parking sticker system.

The eventual sale of scofflaw-related cars — 8,000 cars in 2017 alone — doesn’t wipe out any tickets, towing costs, or storage fees. […]

Here’s what the city’s own website says regarding the seizure of cars for ticket debts: “The signing over or involuntary surrender of your vehicle to the City does not waive or decrease any outstanding debt you owe the City.”

The city tickets aggressively for sticker noncompliance […], and at rates far higher in low-income neighborhoods, a WBEZ/ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

[…]

The city faces a class-action lawsuit over fine increases; plaintiffs accuse the city of exceeding legal caps on parking and compliance tickets.

Interestingly,

After Mendoza’s candidacy became official, [fellow candidate,
former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul] Vallas issued a statement slamming her for presiding over increases in vehicle sticker fees and penalties as clerk during Emanuel’s administration.

*

No word yet if the sinking ship SS Chi-town will try to pull what California did in the news-ignorant haze of the holidays. Their Public Utilities Commission briefly tried to tax text messages after voice call revenue plummeted 33% since 2011. They circulated some sob story that “Public Purpose Programs” now have less confiscated wealth to subsidize low-income residents.

But the Federal Communications Commission forced the state to abandon their latest shakedown, ruling that text messages are an “information service” (like internet and phone) that cannot be discouraged by additional grabbing from a revenue-drunk government. Probably because poor people relying on government subsidies for their phones would be regressively raped by a text tax.

Also (duh):


The wireless phone industry argue[d] added fees would put carriers at a higher disadvantage since messaging services like Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger would not be charged under the proposed legislation.



Thanks to our sources:

https://www.npr.org/2019/01/28/689549375/washington-state-officials-declare-state-of-emergency-as-measles-outbreak-contin

https://apnews.com/88fde6e095424d348d1321cf41a6d9b0

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/09/04/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-wont-seek-re-election/1191517002/

https://abc7chicago.com/weather/live-temps-chicago-weather-wind-chill-advisory-in-effect-tuesday/5110996/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/01/23/chicago-federal-political-corruption-scandal-mayor-election-alderman-ed-burke/2581411002/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-alderman-ed-burke-charges-20190103-story.html

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/state-comptrollers-susana-mendozas-announcement-of-chicago-mayoral-run-leads-to-barrage-of-political-attacks/ar-BBPK11A

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/mendoza-contributions-solis-doyle-burke-investigation-montford-point-marines-preckwinkle-chicago-mayor-election-2019/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-ed-burke-jr-domestic-battery-charge-20190125-story.html

https://fee.org/articles/chicago-s-new-playstation-tax-shows-how-greedy-politicians-can-be/?fbclid=IwAR0Xed22MouRFRqFqQ6GkalQGh_WBicreIiqqLMkBa_7eGabolCZoT2q7xQ

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicago-slaps-playstation-users-with-expansion-of-9-percent-amusement-tax/

https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/chicago-seized-and-sold-nearly-50000-cars-over-tickets-since-2011-sticking-owners-with-debt/1d73d0c1-0ed2-4939-a5b2-1431c4cbf1dd

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/california-considers-charging-residents-tax-190318852.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/16/tech/california-text-tax-vote-canceled/index.html

Wild Turkey

“We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan (below).

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! December 8: Pentagon Audit

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.

[our emphasis]

Related:

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

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.

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 29: Two Americans Killed

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.”

[our emphasis]

Defense’s top dog James Mattis had other ideas: “[T]here has been no call for any lethal force[.]”  CNN has him on record that any 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.

[our emphasis]

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.

[our emphasis]

*

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 Hill notes 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.

[…]

Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults say that social media platforms hurt democracy, according to a recent poll by Axios and SurveyMonkey

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.

 

Thanks to our sources: 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pentagon-audit/pentagon-fails-its-first-ever-audit-official-says-idUSKCN1NK2MC?fbclid=IwAR1qfSDx_O6JTkGFclgSzEnWmRo2MrC3fSzbTAZXwN9J1MJqjhdMnNIeukE

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/15/economy/us-budget-deficit/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/feds-have-paid-undercover-informants-migrant-caravan-n938416

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/22/politics/trump-us-troops-lethal-force-closing-border/index.html

https://theintercept.com/2018/11/14/yemen-war-wolves-bill-congress/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2018/10/23/feds-are-ordering-google-to-hand-over-a-load-of-innocent-peoples-locations/?fbclid=IwAR1JfPp2p2fgKwv-xc6KEOMiS_buWrfRFlcjJO_AZkhnZpn7DYvXtl3Z7LU#3ff529b95a0d

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/417933-facebook-faces-calls-for-new-leadership?userid=115887

https://mashable.com/article/facebook-admits-attack-billionaire-george-soros/#mwRhi7bERsOB

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/11/21/zuckerberg-says-he-wont-step-down-sandbergs-job-is-safe-even-after-facebooks-scandals/?utm_term=.604b29fe555f

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/20/africa/south-sudan-child-bride-facebook-auction-intl/index.html

Here Come the Midterms!!!

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)

Pruitt: In Memoriam

, 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.

Caught red-haired.

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 million in planning was disregarded. While we normally detest lavish upgrades to federal facilities, government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington notes 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 noncancelable lease, 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.

[our emphasis]

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 [2016] 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.

[our emphasis]

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].”)

Hillary Email Updates

“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 Tom Price, David ShulkinScott 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.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/atf-400-guns-stolen-ups-facility-tennessee-182600581.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hundreds-of-guns-stolen-from-tennessee-ups-facility-recovered-outside-chicago/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/guns-firearms-theft-ups-facility-uhaul-truck-taveyan-turnbo-roland-jackson-custody-arrested-today-2018-10-03/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-fbi-headquarters-20170310-story.html

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/406659-state-dept-spent-more-than-52k-on-nikki-haleys-apartment-curtains

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/watchdog-group-calls-for-probe-of-gift-flights-for-nikki-haley_us_5bbc3517e4b0876edaa12d30

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fema-bottled-water-hurricane-maria_us_5b9ab22ae4b0b64a336cfb3b

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/13/trump-fema-administrator-under-investigation-821231?nname=playbook&nid=0000014f-1646-d88f-a1cf-5f46b7bd0000&nrid=0000014e-f115-dd93-ad7f-f91513e50001&nlid=630318

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/406819-white-house-considering-replacements-for-fema-administrator-report

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2018/09/26/navy-investigators-join-texas-serial-killer-case/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/10/12/hillary-clinton-security-clearance-withdrawn/1620250002/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/06/who-has-security-clearance/102549298/

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/hillary-clintons-security-clearance-withdrawn-her-request-011003338.html

Your Insecurity is Showing

Correction: the previous version of this post noted Quiet Skies had been in operation for eleven years. In fact, the passenger stalking program is only in its ninth year, as reflected in the edited post below.

Update: We learned David Pecker (again, his actual name) (below) has quit a board position with Canadian media provider, Postmedia, in wake of allegations Pecker’s National Enquirer colluded with Michael Cohen to bury negative press on Trump prior to his election.

Pecker, like Cohen, has reportedly collected federal immunity for informing on Trump’s payoff of Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

*

We are jacking up airport security once again!

TSA’s hitherto secret program: “QUIET SKIES”

Last month, Boston Globe busted the notoriously ham-handed TSA for secretly siccing air marshals (“Special Mission Coverage” or SMC) on up to 50 passengers who may be “unknown or partially-known terrorists” daily. Since 2010.

Every American is automatically screened for the Quiet Skies program when he or she enters the country and, if included, can be tracked on domestic flights, the Globe reported.

The agency bulletin mandates the 17 “rules” of the program are [TRIGGER WARNING] “triggered when individuals enter the United States from foreign locations” to determine the 50 daily targets (35 of whom are followed and analyzed).

Although it presumes to target passengers with history flags like using known terrorist-associated emails to book tickets, the “Selectees” are by definition not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base [sic]. They receive “enhanced screening at security checkpoints,” and other Federal agencies are tipped off if any “derogatory” characteristics are noted by the marshals.

Who, by the way, are documenting such dangerous behaviors as sleeping, face touching, and visiting the bathroom; if the Selectee has gained or lost weight based on their profile; if they have body odor; and whether they leave the airport by bus, taxi, or private vehicle.

Every Selectee is monitored for the shorter of either 90 days or 3 “encounters.”

TSA declined to confirm the program’s existence (or any successful terrorist interceptions) to Globe.

Perhaps fortunately,

[D]ozens of air marshals have raised concerns about the Quiet Skies program with senior officials and colleagues, sought legal counsel, and expressed misgivings about the surveillance program, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Globe.

[…]

In late May, an air marshal complained to colleagues about having just surveilled a working Southwest Airlines flight attendant as part of a Quiet Skies mission. “Cannot make this up,” the air marshal wrote in a message.

One colleague replied: “jeez we need to have an easy way to document this nonsense. Congress needs to know that it’s gone from bad to worse.”

*

Unfortunately, TSA’s malevolent government tentacles are also extending to further baggage scrutiny. Washington Post in June revealed new “screening supervisor discretion” to demand passengers empty their carryon* luggage of snacks.

Not to be confused with Detroit Lions running back, Kerryon Johnson (above).

“TSA asked me to take my snacks out of my bag and I feel personally victimized […] I had a whole bunch of crazy snacks in my bag that I was really excited to eat.”–snack surveillance victim Thea Neal. our emphasis

Essentially, based on the whim of the head TSA screamer screener, food must be xrayed separately with the 3-ounce toothpastes and iPads. A boon for the plastic bin manufacturers.

“There’s a very good reason for everything we do. Nothing is arbitrary.” ––(former?) TSA thug Mike England

A Twitter profile identifies Mike England (above) as “former TSA spokesman” and currently “Deputy Chief of Public Affairs” for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

(our emphasis)

England speculated travelers may be forced to display their food if the cattle line supervisor, faced with a long line of miscreants innocent civilians, believes the surprise inspection will process people through the full-body radiation humiliation station faster. The theory: food looks like explosives to the xray machine, and baring your corn nut fetish decreases manual bag searches.

It’s unclear if TSA ever detects any explosives ushered through the security line.

“The next thing they’re going to make us take out of our bags is medicine. And that would be a real invasion of privacy.” –snack surveillance victim Lauren Rosenberg

*

We might refocus security on the planes themselves! Unfortunate already to be flying with Delta, Delany Luh (below) was recently sexually assaulted on their Chicago-to-Los Angeles run. To placate her, the airline offered a $200 voucher.

Via Twitter.

Luh reported she notified flight attendants immediately, while Delta contends: [a]fter deplaning, Ms. Luh first informed a Delta agent that she had been improperly touched on the leg by another passenger during her flight. Immediately upon learning this information, Delta reported the incident to local and federal law enforcement for their handling.

The alleged perpetrator “Will” fled the airport before security could close with the trademark efficiency we’d have seen if it had been an L.A.-to-Chicago run:

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

*

A rival passenger molesting outfit is celebrating recent justification for eye-fucking unsuspecting travelers. Customs and Border Protection, known for safeguarding Constitutional rights, nabbed an unidentified 26-year-old male landing at Washington Dulles airport from Brazil earlier this week.

(He is unidentified because national security, but the incident is required propaganda to ease citizens into a new layer of government intrusion.)

When the man presented a French passport, the airport scanned his face for comparison (apparently now standard procedure for international arrivals) and them mugs didn’t match.

CBP were so desperate to document the criminal activity, they photographed a physical search maneuver that revealed the man’s valid Republic of Congo ID card, stashed in his shoe.

According to Digital Trends, CBP is already testing a facial-recognition exit in 13 airports and arrival at 10 airports, but Orlando International is the first in the country that has made the commitment to implementing both for international travel.

Everyone should emulate the obsequious citizens of Orlando in committing to national security!

Related:

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

The gentleman is reportedly the “FIRST CAUGHT” by the biometric scanner, as further detailed in CBP’s laudatory statement, in just one week of deploying the new technology.

CBP was recently spotlighted for seizing a U.S. citizen’s phone upon her re-entry to the country in February, attempting to coerce her into unlocking it, and confiscating it to copy the data upon her refusal.

After 120 days, [Rejhane] Lazoja finally got her phone back but only after involving her attorneys, one of which told Ars Technica that federal authorities had “forensically cracked” her phone and copied what was on it before returning it. But as the court documents note, officials have never given any reasons for why the phone was seized in the first place.

[…]

Comments to this article have been closed due to multiple violations of our rules and guidelines including insults, swearing, name-calling, and off-topic conversation.

[our emphasis]

Uncle Sam’s Unsatisfying Anal

*

Meanwhile, The Intercept returned to Edward Snowden‘s classified document dump to spotlight eight major AT&T “peering sites” that have reportedly enabled Federal communications snooping since 1985.

Is your city on the list??

AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help,” per the agency, allows access to emails and phone calls from other domestic carriers like Sprint, as well as international giants using American AT&T networks for data pit stops.

According to the NSA’s documents, it was using AT&T’s networks as of March 2013 to gather some 60 million foreign-to-foreign emails every day, 1.8 billion per month.

*

The family of Justine Damond, allegedly murdered by ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, is suing Minneapolis, Noor, his partner Matthew Harrity, ex-police chief Janee Harteau and current chief Medaria Arradondo for $50 million, plus punitive damages, according to New York Post. Steep!

John Ruszczyk claims his daughter’s civil rights were disregarded when Noor and his partner rolled up to the alley where Damond “became deceased” , because their body cameras were not activated and they proceeded to conduct a cover up.

*

To no one’s surprise, alleged House Democrat hacker Imran Awan got “time served” and three months of “supervised release” to atone for his one count of bank fraud. (He has been under house arrest.) As we have reported extensively, Awan pleaded guilty to merely lying on a bank loan application, despite reported evidence he and several family members stole equipment and data while working lucrative contracts for Democratic congresspeople.

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 25: Debbie, Derelict of Any Responsibility

Prosecutors ultimately concluded there was no evidence of Awan’s guilt in the latter activities.

Perhaps factoring into his sentence was the president’s public railing against Awan’s alleged offenses: Trump has referred to Awan multiple times as “the Pakistani mystery man,” and mentioned him during his joint press conference this summer in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Fox News)

CNN noted Judge Tanya S. Chutkan handed down the lenient punishment along with condemnations for the “unbelievable onslaught of scurrilous media attacks” and “baseless accusations” that were “lobbed at [Awan] from the highest branches of government.”

*

Paul Manafort is likely slated for some serious jail time as his Virginia tax fraud trial ended.

The jury found Manafort guilty on five charges of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. 

His other ten charges–also of bank fraud and failing to report foreign accounts–are up in the air after the jury reached a mistrial.

Next up: a Washington, D.C. trial of Manafort’s charges related to unregistered foreign lobbying and money laundering.

It seems the only “career criminal” boxes he has yet to check are the five charges of manslaughter ABC News erroneously pinned on him in June.

*

While the disgraced ex-Trump campaign chair pleaded not guilty to everything–including the recent witness tampering charge that revoked his house arrest–disgraced ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen (below) pleaded guilty to eight charges, which include making false statements to a bank, tax fraud (evading over $1.4 million in income tax), and campaign finance violations. He’s threatened with up to 65 years of hard time in a cushy white-collar facility.

Style isn’t everything.

Cohen admitted that “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” he kept information that would have harmed Trump from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle.
[…] [Cohen] acted with Trump and his allies, including David Pecker [**YES, HIS ACTUAL NAME**], the CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., to suppress potentially damaging claims against the now-President.
[…] Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of the alcohol that Cohen said he drank on Monday night.

The suppressed info, widely publicized, includes Trump’s alleged extramarital affairs with porn actress Stephanie Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

For her discretion, Cohen paid Clifford a cool $130,000, which was technically considered a Trump campaign contribution and therefore exceeded federal limits.

McDougal banked $150,000 from American Media.

More scandalous, of course, is the Christopher Steele “dossier” allegation that Cohen hobnobbed with Russians in Prague months before Trump’s election. Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel investigation into reported Russian 2016 Trump collusion/election interference may yet give Cohen further appearances to try out the rest of his wardrobe.

Thanks to our sources:

https://apps.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/graphics/2018/07/tsa-quiet-skies/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/quiet-skies-air-marshals_us_5b5e8897e4b0fd5c73d09f15

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/traveling-via-air-expect-to-remove-your-snacks-and-place-them-in-a-bin/2018/06/29/ea0bede2-796c-11e8-aeee-4d04c8ac6158_story.html?utm_term=.62159216ae3f

https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/biometric-entry-and-exit-at-orlando/

https://thenextweb.com/security/2018/08/24/new-facial-recognition-system-at-us-airport-nabs-an-impostor-for-the-first-time/

https://theintercept.com/2018/06/25/att-internet-nsa-spy-hubs/

https://nypost.com/2018/07/23/family-of-bride-to-be-killed-by-officer-sues-for-50m/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/21/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-avoids-jail-time-after-attorneys-complain-about-trump.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/imran-awan-sentencing/index.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/402125-manafort-guilty?userid=115887

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/michael-cohen-plea-deal-talks/index.html

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

*

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 box 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

*

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.

*

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.

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.

*

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.

*

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.

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