“Students and parents protested Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approach to integration in Manhattan earlier this summer.”–New York Times
Bill de Blasio’s crack squad at the New York City School Diversity Advisory Group recommends eliminating gifted and talented programs to promote “equity and excellence,” in the mayor’s words.
The large-headed, long-odds 2020 presidential candidate and his socialist Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (above) want to desegregate NYC public schools, the most selective of which require an entrance exam, the SHSAT.
The advocacy group SunsetSHSAT, whose homepage states “denying the harm in using a single multiple-choice exam as the sole measure of a child’s academic worth with the mountains of scientific evidence we now have is similar to denying global warming,” transcribed some of Carranza’s wisdom from a February 12 town hall (source link below), notable for its concern the SHSAT has not been evaluated by a “psychometrician.”
Besides phasing out GOT G&T over the next five years, the SDAG advised de Blasio should not consider lateness or attendance in evaluating prospective students for the “elite” public schools and redesign [the] competitive high school admissions process to ensure that high schools reflect the racial and economic make up of their boroughs.
Carranza, who New York Times admits did not develop any significant integration policies of his own during his first year on the job, cackled in February he’s skeptical that “over 35% of students [are] designated as gifted and talented,” and “that is far beyond the percentage of gifted and talented that, from a statistical perspective, should be found in the population.” (data not shown, apparently)
An April poll of New York City voters found 63 percent favor admissions changes to boost diversity, and 57 percent say to scrap the sole entrance exam in favor of considering other factors for admission.
Interestingly, the white and Asian constituencies the mayor “risks alienating” by implementing the recommendations may already have bailed, per the following poll, in which Vox decides Asian voters are not “people of color” (our emphasis):
According to an April Quinnipiac University poll, […] De Blasio’s approval rating is 31-58 percent among white voters, 33-44 percent among Asian voters, 40-40 percent among Hispanic voters, and 66-23 percent among black voters. In other words, de Blasio does poorly among white New York voters. Among voters of color, it’s a different story.
According to New York Times, de Blasio dodged commentary on the SDAG report during an MSNBC interview last week.
The city seems to be trending up, given the belated removal of killer cop Daniel Pantaleo from the NYDP earlier this month, a mere five years after he strangled Eric Garner to death on camera.
However, their prison security seems wanting. After already-convicted, minimally-punished sex offender Jeffrey Epstein “hanged himself” in an unusually violent fashion on August 10 while awaiting trial for alleged sex trafficking, the Metropolitan Correctional Center had to send not one, but two malfunctioning surveillance cameras from outside his cell to the FBI for analysis. (While not even a functional video recording of Garner’s homicide was enough to immediately remove Pantaleo from duty, Epstein’s death, cracked hyoid and all, was dismissed as a homicide solely on the medical examiner’s testimony, without any video evidence.)
Accused quadruple murderer Nicholas Tartaglione, who we spotlighted earlier (below), was rooming with Epstein when the disgraced financial manager first sustained “neck injuries” back in July. This may have been an earlier suicide attempt, but Epstein reportedly told his attorney Tartaglione was responsible. Tartaglione’s attorney told the federal judge his guards have strongly advised the ex-cop to keep his chiseled jaw shut about the night of Epstein’s demise.
Guards at border detention facilities, apparently short on burritos, allegedly threw rations (still partially frozen) on cell floors for child prisoners to violently divide among themselves during their 8 to 10 day confinement in Texas and California lockups.
Some other highlights from Washington state’s AG investigator Alma Poletti, whose team interviewed teenagers detained by Customs and Border Protection, then “placed” by Refugee Resettlement (part of Health and Human Services) over the past year, include reports of twelve children packed into a 10 by 14′ cell; younger children being threatened by guards and stashed in “small metal cages” or a “dark room” (solitary confinement) for perceived misbehavior; fluorescent lights and air conditioners rolling 24 hours daily; “roll call” every three hours during the night; blanket confiscation at 4:00 AM; and, when one girl was allowed a shower, being afforded only “a paper towel” to dry herself. The toilets did not have soap, but one did have a CCTV camera pointed at it.
The older girls were introduced to America’s patriarchy, charged with keeping the younger children quiet to avoid punishment. Although a teenage boy interviewed by Poletti had no small child charges, his cell was just 7 by 12′ and had twenty-six occupants.
Trump deflected concerns of cruelty at a recent press conference, waxing, in part, that “when they realize the borders are closing […] they won’t come and many people will be saved.”
CBP confirmed to CNBC that those temporarily detained are not being given flu vaccines, although the virus has contributed to killing three of them in the past year.
American children untouched by border conditions are facing off their own orchestrated injustice in the ongoing school lunch shaming, this time in New Jersey. Cherry Hill School District’s new proposal proposes a sort of caste system to recoup over $14,000 in outstanding “lunch debt”: balances less than $10 (about three meals) will not have Collections sicced on the parents at all. More than $10 but less than $20 will relegate students to a tuna fish sandwich, vegetable, fruit and juice or milk. Students owing over $20 will not be served; this policy has always been in place, but not enforced, per Assistant Superintendent Lynn Shugars, who also told Philadelphia Enquirer peanut butter was eschewed as the forced option for the 10 to 20 crowd because children “would…happily eat peanut butter and jelly.”
About 20 percent of the district’s students are eligible for free lunch or reduced prices.
USDA’s National School Lunch Program reports that although participation in the subsidy is at a 13-year low, [i]n 2018, school cafeterias served nearly 5 billion lunches, with nearly three-quarters of the lunches free or at a reduced price.
^^Parents will feast on this economic option to help keep kids from the State’s clutches. In its eternal mission to emulate the federal government by creating and solving novel problems at great public expense, Pennsylvania school district Wyoming Valley West is using delinquent lunch money balances to justify seizing children from their parents.
About 1,000 parents got a written reprimand recently that included the passage: “You can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food. The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care.”
Apparently, the school was preparing the children for a lifetime of welfare dependency by feeding them for free when their parents sent them to government-mandated (also under threat of legal penalty) day camp without lunch money. The district is now out a cool $22,000–and planning to collect.
Amidst national backlash, school attorney Charles Coslett (above), who railed against the “nanny-state mentality” in the Philadelphia Enquirer, mused, “Hopefully, [this] gets their attention and it certainly did, didn’t it?”
School district officials say they plan to pursue other legal avenues to get the lunch money, such as filing a district court complaint or placing liens on properties.
La Colombe coffee CEO Todd Carmichael was unable to add to the “Philanthropic Endeavors” section on his Wikipedia page: the district rejected his check for the balance.
Upon speaking with the school board president Joseph Mazur, La Colombe’s “consultant” Aren Platt was also snubbed.
Mazur said that he believed most of the families who owed money could afford the debt, and that it was their responsibility to pay. “His counter was, ‘These are affluent families who just want to get something for free,’” said Platt. “This wasn’t ever about repayment of a debt. It was about shaming people.”
It was also quite the departure from the cushy offerings of Warwick, RI’s school district, which provided non-paying students a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich, a carton of milk, the vegetable of the day and a piece of fruit until their parents settled the balance.
That district’s $77,000 loss was ultimately covered by local citizens Cait Clement and Angelica Penta’s fundraising efforts, with a bump from yogurt manufacturer Chobani.
Federal law mandates school districts offer children food even when they have unpaid bills for school lunches.
Sonny Perdue’s Department of Agriculture is reportedly slow-walking politically unpalatable results of climate change studies by discouraging its Agricultural Research Service from promoting the papers. Politico reports USDA casually “sought to prevent dissemination of the findings” by University of Washington of a two-year effort–in collaboration with USDA’s own scientists, as well as those of Japan, China and Australia–that allegedly suggests increased atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases the nutritional content of rice.
This included pulling a planned ARS release of the headline, and warning UW to similarly sit on the results.
Apparently, there are relatively few climate-related articles publicized by ARS to begin with. But Politico notes the only two that warranted a press release under Trump played more to the interests of Big Meat than Average American Who Should Stop Eating Meat for Health Reasons Alone, But Also the Planet.
Of these two, [o]ne found that beef production makes a relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and another that removing animal products from the diet for environmental reasons would likely cause widespread nutritional problems.
In other agri-news, Vox reported Arkansas is trying to join Mississippi and Missouri in outlawing plant-based imitation meats from being labeled “veggie burger.”
Arkansas, which is being sued by the dream team of Tofurkey/ACLU, also endeavors to ban “soy milk” labels, ostensibly because ignorant consumers might be suddenly hoodwinked into thinking the product–available since 1916, according to soyinfocenter–is actually cow’s milk.
Trump tweeted Monday evening that oily Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin colluded with Congressional “leadership” to shit out another deficit-expanding, government-growing list of liabilities for the younger generation (discretionary spending measure), just in time to avoid denying Congress their six-week recess that starts Friday.
Democratic leaders Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) gushed in a statement that the anticipated signing of their fiscal negligence will “invest in middle class priorities and well being of the American people.”
Reason notes the budget could add as much as $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan groups that favors balanced budgets.
Pending Trump’s signature, Congress will have “raised the roof” to suspend the debt ceiling until mid-2021. Despite the added trillions, The Hill is casting the monstrosity as “the $320 billion deal,” presumably because that will be this year’s hike in discretionary spending (which pales in comparison to the entitlement spending that consumes most federal confiscation).
Some buzz-worthy provisions of the latest “fuck you” to everyone under age 50 reportedly include over $20,000,000,000 for the VA Mission Act (the Feds’ latest bumbling attempt to provide veterans health care through non-VA alternatives, pushed by Pelosi herself as an extra non-Defense priority); more vague initiatives for the nation to spend its way out of the opioid epidemic; and $2,500,000,000 for the 2020 census (to more accurately round citizens up for confiscation when the creditors come knocking).
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) last month got just 22 votes of the 60 required for cloture to hold a vote on his plan to balance the budget by cutting just 2% of spending. It reportedly would have protected Social Security (currently projected to slash benefits in 2035 due to insolvency, per CRFB), all while keeping the evil Trump tax cuts intact. Presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were among nine who didn’t show up for the cloture vote.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.
Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”
Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:
[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.
And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??
Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.
[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.
Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.
According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.
How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.
MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.
While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.
Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.
After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.
The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”
California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:
[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.
Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?
“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.
Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)
“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”
Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.
No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.
Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.
“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”
Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”
The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,
Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.
According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:
The Trump Defense Department should be taking fire for presumed upcoming abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.
The account is separate from the Pentagon’s mere $576,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2020. But unlike the “defense” budget, OCO funding is exempt from budget caps.
The Trump administration is seeking roughly an additional $150 billion (possibly as much as $174 billion, which would bring the overall budget for defense to $750 billion) for the war fund […] Entire programs, such as the U.S. Army’s accounts for ammunition and training, will be moved to this war account, according to multiple sources.
OCO spent just $90,000,000,000 last year.
Is the President’s request a harbinger of an upcoming endless war that need not be bound by a budget, as Trump’s batshit crazy, warmongering national security adviser John Bolton (who Wall Street Journal reported in January started drafting plans to bomb Iran after an explosion near the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a completely different country, last year) would prefer?
The funds can be shoveled to less nefarious purposes, such as a troop pay raise as the waning days of the Obama administration brought us in f.y. 2017’s bloated National Defense Authorization Act. We reported:
But it’s ultimately another venue for the Dirty Dems and Rotten Republicans to come together and skirt the budget caps that were supposed to curtail federal spending over the past decade in exchange for short-term increases to the debt ceiling, succeeding in achieving only in the latter.
For example, in 2016 the Government Accountability Office reported the vast majority of these “emergency war” funds in the f.y. 2017 appropriations supported our decades-long, unconstitutional occupation of Afghanistan.
In fact, according to this January https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44519.pdf report from Congressional Research Service, fighting abstract “terror” outside of legislators’ purse string control is so ingrained in the “emergency war” fund, terror has entered the acronym:
“Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 trillion in discretionary budget authority designated as emergency requirements or for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks and for other related international affairs activities.”
Extra budget wiggle room certainly can’t solve the recruiting woes of the most expensive defense force on the planet. The Army missed its goal enrollment by over 6,000 last year, “despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.”
Heritage Foundation recently reminded us that just 29% of 17-to-24-year-old Americans are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces. Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 [t]he ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD and those with certain tattoos and ear gauges[.]
Disgraced FEMA director Brock Long has resigned, boasting that “[d]uring my tenure, the Agency worked more than 220 declared disasters[,]” which is slightly greater than the number of days on the job he spent getting chauffeured to and from North Carolina.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering making the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 look more palatable. Politico reported the large-headed enforcer kicks off a tour of early primary state New Hampshire this week, continuing a trend of quality candidates from the Empire State.
Probably good to start self-promoting in a state with fewer citizens viscerally offended by the phrase “c.p. time” :
Politico suggested Bombastic Bill is already floating slogans:
“There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,” [de Blasio] declared at his State of the City address last month.
De Blasio seized the occasion to pitch socialist policies including ten mandatory paid vacation days annually for everyone working in the city.
“I’m not aware of any other state or city that requires [paid vacation],” said Rick McGahey, an economist at the New School for Social Research who served as an assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration.
Puerto Rico does mandate paid vacation days, McGahey said[…]
Puerto Rico recently went bankrupt.
The part-time mayor, full-time Red Sox fan’s travel bill is covered by his federal political action committee…FairnessPAC.
De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devilthe “richest man on earth”Amazon‘ssudden decision Thursday to scrap plans for its New York City location as “unfair.” Instead, he found the move “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”
“Working people are very smart and very discerning. They want jobs, they want revenue, they want the kinds of things that government can do for them,” the mayor lectured WNYC’s radio audience, explaining that industrious New Yorkers would have valued the opportunity to work hard so their earnings can be redistributed. Working people can’t be trusted to responsibly spend their own money. They’re smart, but not that smart.
This would put de Blasio at odds with hometown social justice warrior, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,(D-NY), (below), who according to CNN had publicly railed against the tech company’s incentives extended from New York’s layer cake of municipal regulators to build in Long Island City, Queens. New York Post reported these included $2.5 billion in tax credits, a $500 million state construction subsidy and the ability to sidestep the city’s laborious zoning process.
Apparently, that pot of honestly confiscated taxes was not worth sacrificing for an estimated 25,000 jobs with wages averaging 150,000 [sic].
Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter: “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
The first-term representative also recently proposed legislation to eliminate the country’s airplanes, which are only used by those making $150,000 or more annually.
New York governor and family mobster Andrew Cuomo (D) (below, jowls), desperate to brand his third term with something besides the murder of Eric Garner, a decrepit subway, and millions of dollars of illegal state-sponsored street signs, was nearly as angry as de Blasio.
Syracuse.com reports Cuomo blustered that “[t]he New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”
Amazon said Thursday that local opposition was the main reason it is dropping its New York City plans, despite 70 percent of Empire State residents supporting the investment.
While he apparently didn’t single out Ocasio-Cortez, the governor’s spokesperson noted Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky (below, squinting) “tanked the Amazon plan by placing a stalwart Amazon opponent on the government approval board to pander to the local socialists.”
It’s unclear whether that board had a representative in Wednesday’s [trigger warning] powwow in Cuomo’s office. Amazon’s people were hammering out the proposed employees’ ability to unionize, aided by representatives of AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Union bosses directly determining the fate of corporate satellite headquarters must be a key element of de Blasio’s declaring New York “the greatest city in the world” while pouting on WNYC.
According to Bloomberg, the meeting was productive, and one of the AFL-CIO affiliate’s presidents was about to deploy his–this is the actual self-important term for union regulatory writers–*wordsmiths* to solidify union influence in the deal when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the plug the following day.
Mr. Bezos, by the way, alleges National Enquirer publisher David Pecker–again, his actual name–is using a subordinate to blackmail Bezos into dropping his investigation of the sources behind the tabloid’s article, “Jeff Bezos’ Raunchy Text Messages That Prove Illicit Affair.”
Dylan Howard, an Australian national and VP of Pecker’s AMI‘s National Enquirer, (below), reportedly has damning images of Bezos, some involving a Lauren Sanchez. These include a fully-clothed “selfie,” a “selfie” in which Bezos wears“just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and “Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.”
As we reported earlier, Pecker himself, whose empire Vanity Fair describes as “Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News,” rolled on the president last year, corroborating Cohen’s “hush money to Trump mistresses” scheme in exchange for federal immunity. Howard, an Australian national, has also been protected by the deal.
Delta Airlines‘ latest scandal has also dragged soft drink giant Coca-Cola into the gutter.
Getting an early jump on the Valentine’s Day festivities, the soon-to-be-Green-New-Dealed-Into-Obscurity carrier apparently tried to spark in-flight stalking while reminding passengers to keep it trim by sucking down Diet Coke. Twitter went peanuts nuts, and the inflammatory line of napkins was pulled starting last month:
Above: Senate Minority “Leader” Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi deliver a bombast response to Trump’s “Prime Time Border Wall” speech January 8, a political theater duel utterly distinct from the annual “State of the Union” and choreographed response (both traditionally scripted later in the month).
The Trump Shutdown continues and according to NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell, even newly crowned repeat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not anticipate the stalemate becoming so stale.
Pelosi’s “I thought you would have caved by now” subtext in denying Trump a national platform for the constitutionally-mandated State of the Union show likely masked fury at the president’s pulling the plug on her multi-representative jaunt to (per Trump) Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan last week. A spokesperson advised NBC News of the trip’s ambitious aims: “to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”
Alas, The itinerary included a required stop in Brussels to allow the pilot to rest, the statement said, adding that the delegation planned to meet NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies […] The trip did not include a stop in Egypt.
We’re supposed to have copilots and planes that basically fly themselves to avoid these costly layovers, but after again collecting record income tax last year, the Filthy Feds still ran a deficit. And Pelosi’s posse was scheduled to fly…military aircraft.
Pelosi last week requested Trump deliver State of the Union in writing so certain security workers wouldn’t have to work without pay that night, as they (and the rest of DHS who haven’t quit yet) have been doing for four and a half weeks. After turning the Speaker’s trip around right after they boarded the bus, Trump proceeded to fundraise off the squelched speech.
And, after stopping the bus, the president or someone in the administration is now accused of chucking Nancy under it. After suggesting she mix with the heathen masses and catch a commercial plane to Afghanistan, it was apparently broadcast to that particular war zone (we are still avenging a terrorist attack from 18 years ago by violently rebuilding the Middle East) that the Speaker’s delegation was, in fact, planning to travel to Afghanistan on a commercial plane. Pelosi cast the move as “inexperience[d]” on the part of the accused, and fingered the now-woke “bad actors” in Afghanistan obliging her to again cancel the trip.
As a country, we know how to throw a classy shutdown. Or at least a classically inept rendition. The Independent noted one of the myriad, bumbling, unaccountable Federal agencies that is still burning bread in times of “we haven’t borrowed a budget yet” mistakenly paid about 30 employees at the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
The culprit Interior Business Centre [sic], an IT division of Department of Interior, blamed a “clerical error.”
The leaders of the chemical safety board quickly sent out an urgent email asking employees not to spend the money. “PLEASE DO NOT ACCESS THE FUNDS,” the email read.[…] Three years ago, the Interior Business Centre became a source of ire for federal employees after it failed to pay 40,000 of them on time.
The logical conclusion is the pay error rate is much higher when the IBC (which, to their credit, siphons taxpayer dough to 240,000 employees) is actually up and running.
Although the nation is mostly worried about overpaid bureaucrats and private sector drones with cushy contracts (see below), PBS pointed out a few thousand food stores cannot accept SNAP (food stamp) government benefits starting February 1 because they missed the deadline to renew their license for processing the payments.
Normally we’d shit on the Federal prerogative to coerce communities into expensive programs, then literally regulate them to extinction, but…
But oh, no, the parks. Remaining rangers deplored that their skeleton crews would be unable to keep control over the past holiday weekend, because “visitors are not enjoying the parks they way they should be[.]” (John Lauretig, former National Park Service ranger and executive director of Friends of Joshua Tree) [our emphasis]
More importantly, The Hill bemoaned this missed opportunity. Holiday weekends typically are big revenue generators. Lauretig estimated that a three-day weekend at Joshua Tree could generate close to $100,000.
(Putting land under federal control GENERATES money out of thin air. It’s also JOB CREATION for rangers…if the children running Washington can shit out a budget on time.)
Fortunately, Interior gave its blessing for subagency National Park Service to bring back some staff using the revenue fees. Some essential Parks employees have been ranging without pay until now.
The Democrats have not forgotten about government contractors, drafting some ideas for the 3.7ish million who are not only missing paychecks now, but (unlike Federal employees) won’t get that cheddar in backpay when (if?) the behemoth resumes its meddling. Add in a dash of class warfare, of course:
Lawmakers say they want to help low-wage workers who are shut out of work while doing so in a way that doesn’t pad the pockets of higher-wage contractors who can more easily withstand the financial strain of a shutdown.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill that would provide back pay for any “retail, food, custodial, or security services” contractors put on leave due to a shutdown. But so far Democratic leaders have not included it in their legislation aimed at fully reopening the government.
Disgraced ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen (above, caught with phone in class) picked up 36 months’ hard time in a (presumably) white collar facility for paying off Trump’s mistresses–amounting to campaign finance violations–as the 2016 presidential contest heated up.
While the desirable deal also hit Cohen for nearly $2 million in restitution and fines, he apparently caught a break for singing to Robert Mueller regarding the Russia Investigation.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for [Cohen] to face between 51 and 63 months — four to five years — in prison for the tax fraud, false statements and campaign finance violations he pleaded guilty to in August.
Assuring his return to the “public villain with oversized head” section of the Halloween costume inventory for 2019, the high-rolling Cohen, according to NPR, observed, “Today I get my freedom back.” That’ll look great on a Starbucks cup!
Rather than leave the Senate gracefully, deposed lawmaker Claire McCaskill (D-MO) accused her colleagues who actually won their re-elections campaigns of forgoing “tough votes.” Presumably these include her decisive decision to continue unconstitutional surveillance of Americans.
The 65-year-old bemoaned the office that will launch her lucrative lobbyist or consultant career for its preponderance of “embarrassing uncles,” blissfully unaware Joe Biden has now been gone for ten years.
Immigration Situation, CBP Improvisation, Park Defecation and TSA Implication
As detailed by Trump’s bluster of a “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border,” the Federal Government is enjoying a partial shut down after the Senate refused to vote on a House funding bill that allocates $5.7 billion for Trump’s Border Wall. National focus is trained not on the fact our inept employees who failed to write their own budget now can’t begrudgingly provide mediocre services on which they hold a monopoly, but on the paychecks they cannot collect:
Some 800,000 federal workers across the country find themselves in financial uncertainty as the government shutdown crawls into its 12th day. Some 420,000 employees are considered “essential,” and are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home.
Our muckraking the laughable TSA is old news. The bumbling seem to be on the “essential” list, as “88% of [parent agency] Department of Homeland Security” is working for IOUs. But according to Huffington Post, TSA agents first ducking their unpaid assignments by calling out sick are now just quitting.
CNN reported a 200-300 percent increase in agents calling out sick at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and also claimed that throughout the first week of January, as many as 170 agents called out at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport each day.
Via their union, the remaining TSA agents threatened a “massive security risk for American travelers […] there are problems that will arise – least of which would be increased wait times for travelers.”
[TSA employee union American Federation of Government Employees]launched a lawsuit against the federal government for forcing federal employees to show up to work uncompensated, calling the demands “inhumane.”
The logic here is that every day we don’t borrow more money to reopen the government, there are fewer …professionals to cup our genitals before we’re allowed to fly. Aren’t you motivated to call the Congress and complain?
Big brass at TSA got defensive when news of the “people who root through innocent peoples’ dirty laundry all day without changing gloves are sick but more than usual” stats broke:
Trump joined the fight, and CNN promoted their “bananas are the devil” analogy in response:
This comes on the heels of a monumental shift in TSA air marshal policy: starting December 28, the undercover agents moved–to the back of the plane. Good luck picking them out now!
Not everyone was PUN ALERT on board with the change:
“The TSA wants to change the way operations are carried out, and the men and women of the Federal Air Marshal Service do not support these changes,” Brian Borek, representative of the air marshals to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “The TSA, riddled with their own organizational issues, should allow the air marshals to do what they have continued to do best — fly operationally sound missions to protect the integrity of the aircraft, its crew, and passengers in the manner that they have been training and perfecting for the last 17 years.”
Borek also noted implementing the change amidst the madness of the tail end of Christmas travel was an idiotic move“does not pass the common-sense [sic] test.”
John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said it appears that DHS and TSA are making important decisions arbitrarily.
“Changes to security routines on planes and at airports are serious and should not be enacted haphazardly […] And there is clearly a perception that is what is going on here.”
Interestingly, Boston Globe reported just last month the TSA had pulled the plug on Quiet Skies (see above link), following widespread criticism that federal air marshals were spying on thousands of unwitting fliers who are not suspected of any crime or on any terrorist watch list.
But back to the real domestic security crisis: starving homeless people.
First, ICE helped deal with undocumented children flooding into the country by arresting those who volunteered to shelter them. Apparently, Trump made a rule that every adult in a volunteer household must surrender “biometric data, including fingerprints” to the Federal Government.
Nearly two thirds of those arrested — 109 in total — had no criminal record, the agency said.
Just under 80 percent of people screened by ICE during the sponsorship process showed results that theywere not in the country legally.
It’s important to protect the immigrants from other immigrants. Our solution is to continue warehousing them in government facilities. So far only two (that we know of) have not survived.
On December 7, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, of Guatemala, apparently went into septic shock just after boarding the bus with her father to get from her point of entry (Antelope Hills, NM) to the “processing” hub at Lordsburg, NM. She reportedly had a medical screening and “observation,” as well as access to food and water, in the 6ish hours before the bus came. However, after she started seizing, got airlifted and died, government records indicated she had gone “several days” without food or water.
Then Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, also of Guatemala, died on Christmas eve despite receiving Amoxicillin for his 103-degree fever, diagnosed as “common cold,” at an Alamogordo, NM hospital earlier in the day.
Felipe and his father were detained by CBP for about a week, an unusually long time that the agency did not fully explain[.]
Perhaps under scrutiny after burying news of Maquin’s demise for a week, Custom and Border “Protection” promptly released the following sensitive Christmas day headline: “An eight year-old Guatemalan national previously apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection was died [sic] shortly after midnight on December 25 at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. “
According to Washington Post, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency’s holding cells are “incompatible” with the new reality of parents with children coming across the border to surrender to agents en masse, requesting asylum.
“Our Border Patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children[.]”
The shutdown will not curtail the border-crossers getting caged. Associated Press reports CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.
The other government tentacle attracting attention is the parks, because we all prefer our government to take control of the Grand Canyon and charge $35 for parking.
CNN had to fill some space and noted on Monday:
In the 16 days since the government shutdown began and more than 21,000 National Park Service employees were furloughed, seven visitors to national parks have died.[…] [T]he tally of deaths is not out of the ordinary for the expansive National Park Service, which sees an average of six deaths per week[:] accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes, as well as medical incidents such as heart attacks.
Other self-evident observations from the rabid media: [A]dmissions have […] surged because no one is collecting admission fees.
Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration [has left] parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs.
And if there’s one necessary government function exposed out of all this, it’s human waste disposal. Joshua Tree had to close its campground:
“The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” the park service said. “In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off-road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.” Signs at Joshua Tree informed campers this week that the grounds would close “for the safety of visitors and park resources” due to a “lapse in federal appropriations.” Handwritten signs urged visitors: “Pack out your trash. There are no trash services at this time.”
Human beings are incapable of picking up their own trash. Perhaps that’s why the Feds took control of the parks.
Even when the government reopens, don’t expect your travel difficulties to end with a soft molestation at the xray machine. DeltaAirlines hopes to board passengers faster by rolling out eight boarding groups, color coded, starting later in January.
This is the actual (reportedly “more complicated“) new boarding order, according to CNN, which should send you running for an actual good airline:
Premium Select (or First Class “if applicable”)
Sky Priority (the poor souls who use frequent flier “perks” at Delta Airlines)
Economy Main Cabin 1 and Delta credit card holders and Silver Medallion members
Economy Main Cabin 2
Economy Main Cabin 3
CNN notes that the cheapest ticket holders get to make everyone else board and wait for them, so you can save money and spend less time in a cramped seat next to a stranger. Maybe they have to deplane last.
Delta wasn’t done. As of December 18, all animals in Delta cabins must be at least four months old. Also, “emotional support animals” (greatest country in the world, everyone) are banned from flights eight hours or longer. Because if you’re too fragile to fly without your platypus, Delta believes you can suck it up if only the flight is longer.
Service and support animals fly free on Delta — unlike regular pets, which cost passengers $125 each way.Delta says the number of service animals on its flights has increased nearly 150% since 2015.
So either travelers are replicating the “put all my shit in a carryon bag because Delta started charging to check suitcases” workaround with their animals, or we just need much more emotional support when flying with the dirty Delta.
Refresh the ‘Feed
Facebook closed the year on a high note by revealing that between 5 and 7 million users were over-exposed for nearly two weeks in September, courtesy of a “bug.”
The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they’d uploaded to Facebook but never shared.
In January, CNBC interviewed the diaspora of ex-Facebook employees to investigate the company’s performance evaluation system. Apparently, given the cap on highly graded employees, you have to suck ass starting on orientation day to survive semiannual reviews.
Many former employees blamed the cult-like atmosphere partly on […] [the] peer review system [, which] pressures employees to forge friendships with colleagues at every possible opportunity, whether it be going to lunch together each day or hanging out after work.
Also, when promotions come up in December, employees[…] focus on short-term goals and push out features that drive user engagement and improve their own metrics without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy, multiple former employees said.
We’ve all realized you can’t delete a Facebook account, but are those who never enrolled in the public tantrum train safe? No.
UK Charity Privacy International found 34 Android apps upload user data to Zuckerberg’s machine upon launch. Known culprit apps include Pregnancy+, MigraineBuddy, Bible+ and Muslim Pro.
Regardless of an unsuspecting Android owner’s PUN ALERT status with the social media giant, any app running Facebook’s Software Developer Kit (SDK) provides a window to your soul:
A Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo News, “Facebook’s SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances.”
Technology Tangle Continues for Manafort
God bless Paul Manafort. As we previously reported, the convicted tax cheat helped pen his own prosecution by virtue of inability to convert a Word document to PDF.
The Trump associate’s shenanigans were further exposed Tuesday when his defense team contested–with a sloppily-constructed document–Mueller’s charge that Manafort blew his plea deal by lying to the Feds last year.
[W]hile portions of the filing were supposed to be redacted and shielded from the public, court watchers were able to view the filing in its entirety by copying and pasting the redacted sections.
Oops. The dirty details, reportedly shielded on the court docket within an hour, showed additional accusations from Mueller that Manafort dealt 2016 US election polls to Konstantin Kilimnik, and met the suspected Russian intelligence operative (and fellow Mueller indictee) during the 2016 campaign.
Interesting tidbit, courtesy of The Hill: Mueller’s middle name is “Swan.”
The Pentagon wrapped its first-ever audit and the results were apparently so humiliating they were not released.
Defense News does note the year-long endeavor consumed $413 million […] [another] $406 million was spend [sic] on addressing issues found by the department, with another $153 million on “financial system fixes,” per a DoD factsheet — a total […] of $972 million.
While shoveling Federal Reserve-weakened cash toward improving the system is an honorable step, we won’t hold our breath for any legitimate proposals to more efficiently administer what Reuters characterizes–in perhaps the rosiest pro-big Government euphemism of the year–numerous military bases of various sizes at home and abroad and troops deployed in far-flung locales.
Meanwhile, the Federal Deficit packed on an additional 17% in preparation for holiday hedonism. Fiscal year 2018 saw a $779 billion shortfall, and, to their credit, CNN admitted the gap could not be blamed on the recent Republican tax cut, which was more than offset by increased revenues from individual and self-employment taxes.
[Why tax cuts are so maligned when they apparently lead to more tax revenue, we’ll never understand.]
Rather, [s]pending rose 3% over the previous year, fueled in part by increases to the defense budget agreed upon in September 2017 as part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats to head off a government shutdown. Social Security and interest on the federal debt also contributed to the increase.
When your national debt is a record $21,000,000,000,000-plus, and even ultra-left wing NPR cautions merely covering the interest on that monstrosity will outstrip defense spending in a few years, the obvious solution is to spend more on defense. It’s all about winning.
Another example of winning: the lame-duck GOP majority snuffed out a bipartisan effort to end our unconstitutional Yemen carnage with a 201-187 procedural ploy.
This greased the wheels for the Manage Our Wolves Act, whose passage will reportedly strip “endangered species” status from American gray wolves. And, according to The Intercept, incidentally block a floor vote on whether to direct President Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen.
A September resolution by Ro Khanna (D-CA) mandating the end of America’s unconstitutional interference in the conflict had the standing for a floor vote without the blessing of the Establishment-controlled Rules Committee under the War Powers Act. Not anymore.
Even the Humane Society of the United States implored Congress for mercy towards the ferocious mammals. And, perhaps unbeknownst to them, the shell-shocked, cholera-stricken Yemeni, with whom we are not at war.
Just twelve Republicans, including Justin Amash (R-MI), had the stones to oppose the final bill (although a combined 54 members chose not to show up), which passed by a mere 16 votes.
Trump’s election year fear mongering over the migrant caravan got a little-noticed boost from the “law and order” angle when NBC revealed the DHS has infiltrated the estimated 4,000 Central American asylum seekers by paying moles to monitor their progress. Namely, the new Federal employees are tapping the WhatsApp communication of the refugees.
Trump, according to CNN, deployed 6,000 American troops to the border just prior to his party’s somewhat muted shellacking in the midterms, because you need 1.5 heavily-armed Americans to safely deny each starving homeless Honduran access to the country. Or for a more nefarious purpose:
“If [the troops] have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to[…] I have no choice[;] [y]ou’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals[,] rough people.”
Defense’s top dog James Mattis had other ideas: “[T]here has been no call for any lethal force[.]” CNN has him on record thatany troops backing up customs personnel would not be carrying firearms but could be equipped with shields and batons.
Trump fired back: “[If]our people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control […] [t]he whole border. I mean the whole border.”
Forbes reported the Federal Government is successfully prying innocent Americans’ locations from technology companies via warrants demanding details on anyone essentially using a phone within a certain radius of the coordinates of alleged crimes.
Those users could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell [phone].
Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department in Minnesota said it wasn’t just Google that could furnish cops with a startling mount [sic] of detailed location data. Facebook and Snapchat [had also] proven useful.
Fortunately, the ham-handed FBI might have struck out in this instance, which featured a location sweep for the time frames surrounding five (5) armed robberies of the same Hernico, VA Dollar Tree earlier this year (four at the store, one of their manager at the local bank deposit box):
[F]or unknown reasons, no records were returned. Forbes couldn’t find any charges against individuals named as suspects in the document. Forbes also contacted the prosecutor who signed off on the search warrant, but had not received a response at the time of publication.
Not to be outdone, Facebook is weathering scrutiny for siccing right wing researchers Definers Public Affairs on those who would bring the social decay giant scrutiny: with intent to smear [Facebook]’s critics by linking them to the billionaire liberal donor George Soros.
The Hillnotes Facebook has seen more than a quarter of its value wiped out this year amid data privacy issues, strict regulations in Europe, the threat of regulations in the U.S. and stagnant user growth.
The oven gloves were off on Thanksgiving eve, as Facebook quietly admitted to asking an opposition-research company to investigate billionaire George Soros over his public criticism of the social network.
Mashable reported soon-to-depart policy pusher Elliot Schrage (below) will take the kitchen heat for head Q-tip Mark Zuckerberg, stammering the tech giant used “public information” to determine Soros was funding the heretofore “grassroots” organization Freedom from Facebook, whose ambitious call to action can be found here.
COO Sheryl Sandberg (below) was also on the carving block, and to her credit assumed responsibility for using Definers, despite her recent duplicity as the scandal unfolded. Like Obama, she hears about her own operations from the news.
Sandberg said she did not initially remember Definers when she read a New York Times story that detailed how Facebook had employed the firm. She subsequently asked her staff to look into the matter to “double-check whether anything had crossed my desk.”
The silver lining for Facebook: their failure to swiftly deploy speech restriction policies as photos and discussions of a 17-year-old South Sudanese child bride being auctioned off from a reportedly unrelated platform sprouted on the social media site was largely ignored over the holiday weekend.
Facebook said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it, but that wasn’t until after the girl involved was married.
One suspect consequence of the Dirty Dems’ recapture of the House of Representatives Tuesday: disgraced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke [below, hat]’s oversized neck on the subpoena chopping block, according to Huffington Post.
A priority of both [House Natural Resources Committee–yes, your tax money pays for a committee to save the trees from their own cabinet department amidst partisan division–member Raul] Grijalva [D-AZ] [above, close-set eyes] and [House Oversight Committee vice ranking member and man with a hard-on for titles that are apparently meaningless unless your party holds the majority Jerry] Connolly [D-VA] [below, pedophile garb and ‘stache] will be getting to the bottom of what Connolly called an “abortive attempt” to replace the head of Interior’s office of inspector general with a Trump political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The OIG has several ongoing investigations into Zinke’s conduct.
Emails from Ben Carson [below, wide shot] at Housing and Urban Development, obtained by The Hill, indeed reveal the Trump ally’s intention to install his subordinate at Interior, in a covert move linking the agencies we will dub OperationTreeHouse:
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Suzanne Israel Tufts [below Carson, tufted feather pin on sweater], our Assistant Secretary for Administration, has decided to leave HUD to become the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Interior,” Carson wrote in his email with the subject line “Fond Farewell.”
Interestingly, Think Progress spoke to an Interior spokesperson who noted since a deputy had been serving in the acting role […] Tufts’ appointment to oversee Zinke’s investigations [does] not require Senate approval.
The public outcry was swift. Within one week, Tufts cashed out, perhaps to employ her former Federal connections by returning to consulting:
“Ms. Tufts is not employed by the (Interior) Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior,” spokeswoman Heather Swift said.
[An] HUD official on Friday blamed the announcement on a “miscommunication at the staff level,” suggesting Carson was given bad information.
How Interior’s OIG is investigating the big brass at peak efficiency despite, as confirmed by Federal News Network, not having an inspector general for nearly a decade, is unclear. But they are still running investigations (below).
The number of federal probes into alleged misconduct by Zinke as of August of his second year at Interior, according to Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, was 17. Three had cleared him of wrongdoing. Five were closed for “lack of cooperation or records,” including Zinke “not provid[ing] complete information” on charter flights; and demonstrating he was “unable” to explain pulling the plug on a $1 million federal study, instigated under Obama in the waning days of his administration, on the health impact of “mountaintop removal” coal mining.
[Interior’s OIG] added the cancellation “wasted” some $455,110 that had already been spent on research and that the remaining $548,443 would be returned to the Treasury in 2021.
Speaking of slow-walking accountability entreaties to Federal miscreants…
Chase Bishop: Back in Court
The butterfingered fibbie has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault for allegedly accidentally blowing a hole in a fellow bar patron in June. On January 17, however, we will reportedly learn if a plea deal has been reached.
Amid astonished reports that Trump skipped an observation ceremony at Belleau for fallen Americans in World War I after a light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site, former national security adviser and career prick Ben Rhodes deftly took to Twitter, explaining to the little people that he “helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years. There is always a rain option. Always.”
Rhodes failed to realize Trump’s “rain option,” flawlessly executed, was to send in his stead Chief of Staff John Kelly, who does not matter as much.
The president (below, with Melania and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) did make it to Arc de Triomphe Sunday morning for the 100-year commemoration of Armistice Day.
USA Today flexed, however, that several world leaders (it’s unclear if this included Trump), arrived, “rain-soaked,” a few minutes beyond the official 11:00 AM mark at local time for the exact 100-year anniversary of the 1918 cease-fire. Because that’s what’s important.
I Will Note be a Party to This
And current Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) pulled further ahead of Republican rival Martha McSally in her quest to replace retiring GOP Senator Jeff Flake.
Sinema’s 28,000-vote lead as of Saturday evening is an interesting illustration of third party effects on national races. Green Party candidate Angela Green (her actual name) (below), despite ending her bid and endorsing Sinema five days before the election, collected at least 43,000 votes as of Friday. News outlets such as CNN continue to breathlessly update results including only Sinema and McSally.
Sometimes Federal agencies actually justify their existence. After over 350 firearms were lifted from a Memphis distribution facility owned by UPS (who recently fell victim to the incompetence of Federally-subsidized rival USPS)
, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) made a quick recovery.
Roland Jackson, 24, and Taveyan Turnbo, 18 (below) were both captured after fleeing on foot from the complicit U-haul in Midlothian, IL two days after UPS reported the theft.
CBS did not explain how the passenger window got bashed in, but notes the duo fenced three of the guns prior to capture.
Some thieves are more successful. Rishi K. Sharma, (below) allegedly ordered $927,000 worth of cable service from Time Warner using multiple fake accounts under Ohio and New York corporate addresses.
The 28-year-old Florida man reportedly exploited the “service for 90 days until Time Warner realizes you haven’t paid the bill” feature on 68 different occasions in 2015 and 2016. He is now charged with wire fraud.
The FBI may have difficulty investigating Sharma because their new headquarters has been held up after $20 millionin planning was disregarded. While we normally detest lavish upgrades to federal facilities, government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washingtonnotes the overdue “renovate or relocate” dilemma regarding the FBI’s crumbling crib was punted by Trump–and his hotel interests may have factored in.
Because all citizens are criminals who exist only to feed the Federal government, the FBI workforce is expanding. GAO and GSA have agreed the current building, constructed from 1965 to 1975 at a cost of over $120 million(over $500 million in today’s Federal Reserve-eroded dollars and $60 million over budget), according to Wikipedia, must be renovated at enormous cost if a new site is not chosen, because some staff would have to lease other locations during such a renovation.
(GSA’s Inspector General found in August that the Public Building Service of GSA has neglected to report on $21 million in annual Federal lease payments for buildings that sit half-empty. This is an intriguing waste of revenue, as many of the underutilized buildings, under noncancelablelease, contain IRS employees.
PBS blathered that since the agencies continue to make rent payments on the unused space, they are not required to report it as unused–or attempt to recover the loss to taxpayers by “backfilling” with other tenants.)
The cheapest play was therefore a new building at a different location–$1.2 billion on the face, but with $1 billion in savings promised absent the leasing employees.
Last year, GSA determined that moving forward without full funding would put the Government at risk for project cost escalations.
In February 2018, the FBI announced that instead of moving, it will build a new headquarters on the old site. The plan is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and will require 2,300 staff to move to other locations — a costly plan that does not address the needs that prompted the project.
CREW notes the newly-renovated Trump International Hotel, which opened just before election day 2016, would face competition if any of the multiple luxury hotel chains succeed in their bids to GSA for the old FBI building.
Establishment thug Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) had ensured the $390 million new digs for the FBI would land in her state just before leaving office in 2016. It’s the Feds’ money, not yours. Baltimore Sun reported early last year:
Virginia and Maryland officials have been competing for years to land the proposed the 2.1 million-square-foot FBI headquarters, which would house roughly 11,000 employees, making it one of the largest federal facilities in either state.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in November  that Trump’s victory should make it a “slam dunk” for Maryland to land the FBI facility. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has long been closely allied to Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (below) is resigning in December. Depending on your political leanings, she either ordered $50,000 curtains for her state residence or merely allowed their [TRIGGER WARNING] hanging:
The New York Times reports that the curtains, installed last year in UN ambassador’s New York residence, cost $29,000, while a motorized opener for the curtains cost another $22,801.
While the installation occurred during Haley’s tenure as ambassador, a spokesman told the Times, which later updated its story, that the purchase decision was made during the Obama administration in 2016.
Who justified Haley’s upholding the purchase during hard times? Left-wing prince Patrick J Kennedy (below, sober six years) (the former Rhode Island representative, not undersecretary at the State Dept Patrick Kennedy who defended Hillary’s Secret Server because she “[did] not know how to use a computer to do email [sic].”)
“All [Haley]’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important[.]”
But the more damaging story appears to transcend such window dressing. CREW cried foul on seven private jet trips Haley disclosed from last year. Unlike the cushy flight accommodations disgraced ex-Trump associates TomPrice, DavidShulkin, Scott Pruitt, and current perk-indulger Steven Mnuchin banked from the public, Haley’s travels were provided by South Carolina business executives, which could be construed as purchase of influence from the administration:
Jimmy Gibbs, CEO of textile machine company Gibbs International Inc., paid for four of the flights. Others were paid for by Smyth McKissick, CEO of his family’s Alice Manufacturing, and Mikee Johnson, then-CEO of Cox Industries, his family’s wood business, according to Haley’s report.
She also estimated the jaunts’ value at $3,200, while CREW contends it was more like $24,000.
We won’t be calling curtains on the former SC Governor’s political career just yet.
FEMA is back in the crosshairs as hurricane season winds down. The latest Federal success in rebuilding Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was on display on a Ceiba tarmac.
On the water’s surface, these pallets of undrinkable water may not represent a complete collapse of the embattled agency’s routinely underwhelming efforts. Seven months ago, FEMA moved the water outside to save $300,000 in daily storage costs.
Now neither the agency nor Puerto Rico will take ownership of the undrinkable bottled water, which saw a limited distribution in May to very poor reviews.
[Ottmar] Chávez [Puerto Rico’s General Services Administration chief] said […] the agency plans to “return those waters [sic] to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) inventory.” FEMA told HuffPost in a statement that after the ASG requested and accepted the bottles, “the water became property of the government of Puerto Rico.”
Meanwhile, FEMA faces criticism of administrator Brock Long (below), who is reportedly reimbursing taxpayers for using public vehicles to commute between North Carolina and D.C.
Apparently, Long is under investigation for dragging aides along for weekends in NC and lodging them at taxpayer expense. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (her actual name) noticed Long’s routine absences from the office due to frequent six-hour drives.
The [Inspector General]’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles — a black Suburban — was involved in an accident, according to one of the officials.
Long could have tried the Steven Mnuchin defense:
[A] former DHS official said Long, as administrator, is entitled to have a contingency aide accompany him so he can have secure communications in case of a national emergency.
Politico noted Nielsen raised the issue with Long months before they broke the story. It’s unclear if she asked him to resign. Long committed to cooperate with the IG investigation, which already found he often travel[ed] with a caravan of federal workers and has spent roughly 150 days in North Carolina since taking the job in June 2017.
HuffPost also noted Trump moved $9.8 million from FEMA’s budget to fund immigrant detention and deportation as hurricane season kicked off. This enable DHS to perform at peak efficiency, exemplified by Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, 35, (below), who stands accused of killing at least four women.
County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Ortiz sought out vulnerable addicts and sex workers near Laredo, shooting them all in the head with a pistol in a “cold and callous way,” the AP reported.
Ortiz’s fifth alleged victim escaped on Sept. 14 and alerted authorities.
Hillary Clinton requested the Feds end her security clearance, as well as that of henchwoman Cheryl Mills.
According to USA Today, Mills and four other, redacted individuals had retained access to classified information after Hillary’s State Department designated them “researchers.”
ABC News reports the “researcher” designation allowed the Hillary allies to keep clearances after she resigned from State.
The 4.3-ish million Americans with security clearances are “reviewed” by the Defense Department every five to fifteen years. However, Defense has decreed “[t]o preclude excessive clearances, the Facility Security Officer should continually review the number of employees with the personnel security clearances and reduce the number of clearances whenever possible.”
Clinton associate Nick Merrill whined on Twitter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley should not have publicly flashed the honoring of Hillary’s clandestine request from August 30, submitted after Trump [TRIGGER WARNING] stripped Brennan last summer. Merrill suggested Grassley was dunking in a fashion as politically motivated as Trump’s reactionary move to the cretinous Brennan, who had criticized the president.
Grassley’s office released the letter Friday night despite a warning from the State Department not to do so.
Merrill also maintained State’s former secretaries retaining clearance was “customary.”
Incidentally, the failed 2016 presidential candidate recently announced she and Bill will conduct a self-promotion tour, squeezing sympathists for between $70 and $699 for a “conversation” with (between?) the power couple in 13 U.S. and Canadian cities through 2018 and part of 2019.
A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on how much the Clintons will be paid for the tour.
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.
[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.
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.
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:
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 committingto national security!
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.
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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.
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.
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 $150,000from 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.