Category Archives: Trump

$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[.]

*

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…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

Shutdown Updates

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.

Trump normally allows liberal use of the costly planes.

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…

https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/westlake-man-indicted-for-food-stamp-fraud-and-running-unregulated-slaughterhouse-from-home

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.

[our emphasis]

(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.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/pelosi-schumer-trump-response-immigration-1088722

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/pelosi-jabs-trump-maybe-he-thinks-it-s-ok-not-n959841

https://nypost.com/2018/07/18/whats-behind-the-governments-record-income-tax-collection/h

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/426032-pelosi-accuses-trump-of-outing-trip-to-afghanistan?userid=115887

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-government-shutdown-furloughed-federal-workers-paid-by-mistake-trump-a8724511.html

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-many-stores-cant-accept-food-stamps-during-the-shutdown

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/426102-national-parks-cautiously-brace-for-long-weekend-amid-shutdown

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/425015-dems-struggling-to-help-low-wage-contractors-harmed-by-shutdown

December Doom! Walls and Wall Street Weasels

Cohen Cooperates

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!

*

New Beginnings

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.”

Also,


[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 fewerprofessionals 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.

[…]
TSA administrator David Pekoske 
acknowledged in a congressional hearing in September that Quiet Skies has not foiled any terrorist threats or led to any arrests.

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.

However,

Just under 80 percent of people screened by ICE during the sponsorship process showed results that they were not in the country legally.

[our emphasis]

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.

[our emphasis]

Other self-evident observations from the rabid media:
[A]dmissions have […] surged because no one is collecting admission fees.

(Huffington Post)

Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration [has left] parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs.

(USA Today)

“US military war veterans visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The US Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top through the efforts of Honor Flight, a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. The US government shut down Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after a gridlocked Congress failed to reach a federal budget deal amid bitter brinkmanship. Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed in a move reminiscent of two previous shutdowns — for six days in November 1995 and 21 days from December that year into early 1996. AFP Photo/Karen BLEIERKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images (Newscom TagID: afplivefive358687.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]”

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. Delta Airlines 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:

  1. Preboarders
  2. Delta One
  3. Premium Select (or First Class “if applicable”)
  4. Comfort+ 
  5. Sky Priority (the poor souls who use frequent flier “perks” at Delta Airlines)
  6. Economy Main Cabin 1 and Delta credit card holders and Silver Medallion members 
  7. Economy Main Cabin 2
  8. Economy Main Cabin 3
  9. Basic Economy

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.

Notably,

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.

Is Zuckerberg’s camaraderie, like the advertised health benefits of his piss-colored Gatorade, dubious??

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.”

[our emphasis]

*

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.”

Thanks to our sources:

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/421004-cohen-sentenced-to-three-years-in-prison?userid=115887

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/12/676040070/michael-cohen-sentenced-to-3-years-in-prison-following-plea-that-implicated-trum?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2042&fbclid=IwAR2MsX_fPHlwM7XIKuPcCxNAqvIHQz5AvmKUnnGcV549JtAG9wJ9SoBquUk

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/senate-has-too-many-embarrassing-uncles-mccaskill-says-in-farewell-remarks-2018-12-13?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/trump-to-deliver-primetime-address-on-national-security-crisis-at-the-border

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shutdown/trump-threatens-to-use-emergency-power-to-build-wall-end-shutdown-idUSKCN1P416X

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/21/679073393/trump-warns-of-very-long-shutdown-unless-senate-approves-border-wall-funds

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/09/shutdown-highlights-that-4-in-5-us-workers-live-paycheck-to-paycheck.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heres-what-shuts-down-in-a-government-shutdown/

https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/tsa-union-warns-apos-massive-130215466.html

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/homeland-security-denies-hundreds-tsa-225049079.html

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/exclusive-tsa-planning-major-shift-air-marshal-operations-212505199–abc-news-topstories.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/12/15/curtails-quiet-skies-passenger-surveillance/2lRAv2AwjGpUcgq08mHaPM/story.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/ice-arrested-170-immigrants-seeking-sponsor-migrant-children-n946621?cid=sm_npd_ms_tw_ma

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/7-year-old-migrant-girl-taken-into-border-patrol-custody-dies-of-dehydration-exhaustion/2018/12/13/8909e356-ff03-11e8-862a-b6a6f3ce8199_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d18bffbf4190

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/14/us/guatemalan-girl-death-ice/index.html

https://apnews.com/0a7e7ec16cd743e4840c321a99e005ef?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP&utm_campaign=SocialFlow

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/12/25/guatemalan-national-passes-away-gerald-champion-regional-medical-center-alamogordo

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/07/us/national-parks-deaths-trnd/index.html

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/heartbreaking-government-shutdown-causing-garbage-162718272.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/01/free-all-national-parks-overrun-garbage-other-bad-behavior/2456757002/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/01/us/government-shutdown-national-parks-toilets-services/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/11/business/delta-new-boarding-process/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/12/us/delta-airlines-bans-support-animals-trnd/index.html


https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/08/facebook-culture-cult-performance-review-process-blamed.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/android-apps-sending-data-facebook-even-dont-account-105540553.html

https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/424380-redaction-error-in-court-filing-reveals-manafort-shared-polling-info?userid=115887

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

Zinkes! Buy Me a New Job. Or at Least an Umbrella

Midterm Musings

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.

Related:

Defendant, Doors, Drew, Drama, Debt and Disgrace

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! November 6: Whitefish Flounders; Bronze Star LLC Bungles Tarps for Puerto Rico

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.

[our emphasis]

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 Operation Tree House:

“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.”

More on Tufts’ predecessor’s departure:

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

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.

Convenient!

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.

[our emphasis]

[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 Networknot 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.

[our emphasis]

*

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.

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

*

Let it Rain

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.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ryan-zinke-democrats-house-investigation_us_5be48602e4b0dbe871a8a02c

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/19/politics/doi-inspector-general/index.html

Trump administration replaces independent oversight of Zinke investigations with Trump appointee

A Guide to the 17 Federal Investigations into Ryan Zinke

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-interior-coal/u-s-interior-department-axed-health-study-on-coal-without-clear-reason-watchdog-idUSKBN1J82Z5

FBI agent who accidentally shot man in Denver nightclub pleads not guilty

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-france-memorial/trump-cancels-ww1-memorial-at-u-s-cemetery-in-france-due-to-rain-idUSKCN1NF0NU

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/11/11/world-leaders-miss-exact-armistice-day/1966857002/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/10/politics/arizona-senate-race-sinema-mcsally/index.html

https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/414439-arizonas-green-party-candidate-drops-out-of-senate-race-and-endorses

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/green-party-candidate-spoiler-tight-arizona-senate-race/story?id=59071399

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

Cinco de ResignO and Corn

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

Related:

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

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

Scott Pruitt is pictured. |Getty Images

Above: Pruitt makes a point.

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

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

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

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

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

*

Speaking of the EPA…oh boy.

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

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

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

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

SpiritBank Logo

Kelly (below) also resigned from EPA on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Post:

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

Chicago Tribune:

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

FBI Rapes More Phones

FBI Rapes More Phones (Continued)

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

*

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

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

Page was photographed in “active wear.” Chilly!

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

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

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

*

Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.

*

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

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

Fox News reports a plea deal may be planned.

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

 

Thanks to our sources: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminals and Confirmation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TechCrunch:

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

*

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

DGrimm Inc

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

Puerto Rico Updates

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

Image result for fallen tree power line

The culprit, completely preventable by D. Grimm.

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

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

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

*

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

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

Former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Pompeo official CIA portrait.jpg

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

Pompeo was confirmed 57-42.

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

*

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

Image result for Alex van der Zwaan

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

Related:

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

*

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

A sneering spokesperson tweeted:

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

Election Updates 2016

 

Thanks to our sources:

Facebook to exclude North American users from some privacy enhancements

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

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

Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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