Tag Archives: Customs and Border Protection

Dangerous Vendors; Who will Foot the Bill?

Can you tie ’em in a knot? Can you tie ’em in a bow? Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder Like a continental soldier?

Ill-equipped 2020 presidential candidate Bill de Blasio attempted to build his likability numbers by attempting to snatch 46 ice cream trucks off New York City streets just as summer is heating up. (Twelve reportedly escaped.)

The government presumably tolerates these childhood diabetes factories, more mobile than their customers, because they generate tax revenue.

It’s astonishing food trucks operate at all in the City of Urine and Yankees, because they have to pay daily parking tickets:

Food trucks “have to legally get [parking] tickets in a way because there are no locations in New York that are good that are not metered. The trucks understand that it’s just a cost of doing business,” [New York Food Truck Association CEO Ben] Goldberg tells Reason.

According to Reason, selling food from metered parking spaces is illegal in New York. It’s almost like they don’t want businesses to succeed.

Unless the proprietor can rely on “drive by” sales.

de Blaz the Buffoon launched Operation Meltdown to crack down on those trucks with at least $10,000 in outstanding traffic fines (ingeniously shirked since 2007 by changing the name of each truck’s owner to, for example, “Meathead Inc” at the DMV before the city could subpoena the operator for a certain threshold of ticket debt)–$4.5 million in total!

One driver told New York Post the truck owner garnished their wages to cover the tickets. Apparently the city’s check got lost in the mail.

Foremost among the six defendants is apparently mysterious New York Ice Cream founder Dimitrios Tsirkos, whose picture (below) was obtained from the website of something called Pieria Society. (Mr. Tsirkos is president of the board of directors.)

According to New York Times, Tsirkos renamed his dozen Mister Softee franchise trucks “Master Softee” in 2013 and was ordered to pay $767,000 for infringing on the Softee trademark. Tsirkos responded by infringing on–and capturing–the unofficial Softee selling territory, using his newly-painted NYIC trucks to physically intimidate the “softer” seller.

But drivers for Mister Softee, whose cone-headed, bowtied likeness adorns more than 350 trucks across the five boroughs, can play hard, too.

In 2012, a frozen yogurt vendor said that a Softee duo snapped his brakes with a crowbar, and the founder of the Van Leeuwen ice cream company said he had gotten death threats from Softee drivers. 

The Mayor is in for a rough summer himself. Less popular than Trump in their home state (29 vs 34% “favorable” rating, in a poll out today), de Blasio is feeling the heat for skipping all ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of D-Day last week.

New York’s CBS Local reports:

He found time to go to his Park Slope gym and take his dirty linen to the local dry cleaner. The only event on his public schedule was a dinner to honor Puerto Rican heritage. 

The last was likely in vain, as Bill was Puerto-roasted for spending the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in Iowa, pandering for votes alongside other “1 or less percenters” at the Iowa Democratic party’s “Hall of Fame dinner” last weekend.

New York Post‘s editorial board noted de Blasio would be the first mayor in “decades” not to march in the parade as they implored him to attend days before.

He also missed a memorial dedication for Ground Zero first responder victims on May 30. A spokesperson claimed, “[t]he event was not brought to his attention.”

*

Out now for download: images of your car and face from the latest shameful traipse back from Tijuana.

Customs and Border Protection admitted Monday a federal subcontractor fell victim to cyber attack and juicy shots of license plates crawling through points of entry (joke’s on them, it would have been faster to join this spring’s record number of illegal border crossers) were “compromised.” The Feds officially stated these goods were not found to be available for internet download by criminals. Update: yes they are.

Washington Post reports a trove of stolen data from the company Perceptics was up on the dark web–for free download!–last month. (British press highlighted the theft three weeks ago. Apparently the American government hoped it would escape public notice like when the EPA accidentally poisoned the Animas River.)

We still don’t know, in fact, if the plate images expose border crossings or international airport pickups. CBP declined to share which portions of its database including passport and visa photos that is [also] used at airports as part of an agency facial-recognition program specifically were now available to criminals.

Perceptics has provided license plate reading technology for American borders since 2002. While it’s reassuring they, not the feds, are were securely storing the data, government probing and intrusion of innocent air travelers and border crossers has nonetheless undermined privacy for all the world’s leering.

Vice reported the hacker’s alias as “Boris Bullet-Dodger” [sic].

Thanks to our sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATED 6/12/18:

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

180612-chase-bishop-mugshot.jpg

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

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

Original post continues below:

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

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

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

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

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

A Little Forfeiture

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for tsa worker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Rustem Kazazi

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

FBI Agent Shoots Amazon Packer

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

CIA: Careless, Incompetent, and Arrogant

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

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

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

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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

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

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

The Liberty University graduate is a former Army intelligence officer.

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

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

The “National Security” Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks to our sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puerto Rico Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

In Defense of Defense

It bumps up to $716 billion  for 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNBC noted:

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

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

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

*

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

Image result

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

*

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

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

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

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

[our emphasis]

Colleen Manaher

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

*

And in the wonderful state of Kansas,

Kansas: Helpful Public Servants and Meddlesome Neighbors

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

 

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

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

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

*

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

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

–DHS website, our emphasis

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

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

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

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

[our emphasis]

Fortunately, according to Charlotte Observer in 2016:

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

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

Thanks to our sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refrigerators, ICE and Ex-Im Updates

Trump is under fire for his proclivity to keep food cold.

The Guardian tore into two new refrigerators slated for installation on Air Force One, replacing the current 1990 installations for $23.7 million.

The military apparently requires the jumbo 747’s five coolers to carry 3,000 meals.

Lost in the food fight is Boeing (the largest corporate welfare cow of the Export-Import Bank), who scored the culinary contract last year to install the fridges on their own 747 model and deferred reporters’ questions to Air Force One.

EXIM

As we have previously reported, the infamous Ex-Im backs loans for foreigners and sticks American taxpayers with the bill.

Ex-Im Bank Updates

According to this recent rosy budget request, the agency “operates at no cost to taxpayers,” “supports 180,000 jobs” in 2018, and generates $492.2 million in deficit-reducing receipts” (about half of 1% of fiscal year 2018’s projected deficit of over $1,000,000,000,000).

This apparently justifies their $95.5 million demand for operating expenses.

In Ex-Im’s defense, the 2018 request reduces their staff by 15 (fifteen!) full-time employees, and shrinks the operating budget 17.7% compared to fiscal year 2017. Which isn’t that difficult when you justify your existence with net income to the Treasury, then pocket a paltry (by Washington standards) budget.

But there are bigger fish to fry (cooling the leftovers in the president’s new refrigerators).

Ex-Im, which dodged dismantling in late 2016, still lacks a quorum on its board of directors to approve loans over $10,000,000. (Recall Ex-Im’s primary objective is to help small businesses actually located in America.)

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: June 29: Michigan Congressman Bucks Party on Ex-Im Bank

Scott Garrett is pictured. | AP Photo

Trumps’ pick to lead Ex-Im, former New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (above) didn’t even make it out of the Senate Banking Committee vote in December, much less to full Senate confirmation. Garrett twice voted against reauthorizing Ex-Im while in Congress and faced opposition from U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Acting chairman and president, Obama appointee Charles Hall, left in December, lamenting the lapse in fee collections due to a backlog of bigger loans for lack of quorum (which Hall exacerbated by leaving): “If we don’t get a board, probably sometime in 2018 I would anticipate that we would cease to be self-sustaining.”

The government website shows three of the seven board positions currently filled. No quorum for you!

Image result for soup nazi

Interestingly, Delta Airlines spent millions lobbying against the Ex-Im reauthorization in recent years (though they were outspent 7 to 1 by Boeing). Apparently, European countries are tempted to buy Airbus (the only other double-wide jumbo jet manufacturer in the world) if U.S. taxpayer-backed loans are not offered for Boeing contracts.

Delta’s beef is the Ex-Im guarantees save international competitors like Air India enough on borrowing for jets that they can slash ticket prices and siphon Delta customers.

*

Meanwhile, NBC spotlighted Scott Daniel Warren, a volunteer at No More Deaths, who was arrested January 17 for allegedly lavishing a pair of illegal immigrants with food and shelter in Ajo, AZ.

Carlos Diaz, a division chief of ICE’s Customs and Border Protection, denied the arrest was related to a video the non-profit released earlier that day, which showed CBP agents dumping water jugs left in the treacherous stretch of desert for illegal immigrants to consume. Diaz alleges agents are instructed to leave water jugs intact.

Should immigrants evade death, their movements will be newly scrutinized in a fashion sure to violate the privacy of law-abiding citizens as well.

Vigilant Solutions

ICE recently inked a contract with Vigilant Solutions to tap into 2 billion license plate photos and recordings of 100 million “sightings” (including date, time, and GPS coordinates) monthly. The purpose? Better “law enforcement” of illegal immigrants. (Vigilant also contracts with smaller enforcement agencies, presumably to collar real, dangerous criminals.)

ICE agents would be able to query [the] database in two ways. A historical search would turn up every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years, a detailed record of the target’s movements. That data could be used to find a given subject’s residence or even identify associates if a given car is regularly spotted in a specific parking lot.

ICE will get email alerts when a plate they’re watching pops up anywhere Vigilant is installed–on local police dash cams, traffic cams, who knows.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson reportedly killed a similar program in 2012, presumably because it’s unconstitutional.

Related:

Air Surveillance of Baltimore Little People

Homeland Security reassured the horrified public that while ICE gets flags for anything tagged by Vigilant, none of ICE’s ham-handed enforcement terrorizing of non-citizens will flow back to Vigilant. (Probably convenient for ICE.)

How this private-sector database of citizens and non-citizens’ movements will be shared or disseminated with other Federal thugs remains to be seen.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/26/donald-trump-refrigerator-air-force-one

http://www.defenseone.com/business/2018/01/air-force-one-needs-new-refrigerators-they-cost-24-million/145457/

http://fortune.com/2017/12/19/scott-garrett-rejected-export-import-bank/

http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2017/12/depleted-export-import-bank-hit-another-vacancy/144272/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/volunteer-arrested-after-giving-food-water-undocumented-immigrants-arizona-n840386

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/26/16932350/ice-immigration-customs-license-plate-recognition-contract-vigilant-solutions

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 20: Customs and Border Protection “Protect” Parents of Critically Ill Infant, Delay Operation

 

Irma and Oscar Sanchez were apprehended by the Border Patrol when they took their infant son, Isaac, to Driscoll Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery on his pyloric stenosis.

NPR reports that Customs and Border Protection apparently maintained a “checkpoint” along the highway to Corpus Christi from the couple’s local emergency room in Harlingen, TX, which did not have the appropriate pediatric surgeon.

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

Oscar Sanchez told NPR they could not take Isaac to receive the necessary life-saving treatment because Federal thugs would take them into custody: they were in Texas on expired visitor visas issued in 2005. The point was moot when a nurse reportedly tipped off CBP, whose agents showed up in the ER to bully the distraught parents. Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez accepted an “escort” by the agents past the checkpoint and agreed to be arrested and deported in exchange.

Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a policy that immigration agents should avoid enforcement actions at hospitals, schools, churches and public demonstrations unless there are special circumstances.

Clearly, the Trump administration’s DHS (the umbrella agency of CBP) makes no such allowances. It’s easy to keep the little people in line when multi-billion dollar agencies change up their method of control with the country’s chief executive.

At Corpus Christi, the agents followed Mr. Sanchez to the bathroom and forced Mrs. Sanchez to breastfeed with her door open. Just in case she ran with her recently sewed-together son.

Oscar reported he and his wife were “followed…everywhere in the hospital;” CBP countered they surveilled the couple “in the least restrictive manner possible.”

The parents were separately dragged to the CBP station for booking and fingerprinting. The unnamed surgeon delayed the operation until both parents were present. CBP told NPR the operation’s delay was the surgeon’s decision and irrespective of their law-enforcing.

 

The best response to NPR‘s story had to be CBP sector chief Manny Padilla’s self-congratulatory statement: We’re happy to have been able to help a human life […] CBP was notified by the Harlingen hospital that there was a child with undocumented parents in need of urgent medical care and that the family would have to go through a checkpoint to the Corpus Christi hospital. To get the child to the care it urgently needed, Border Patrol agents did everything in their power to assist the family, including escorting the ambulance, unimpeded, through the checkpoint.”

[our emphasis]

[apparently ambulance sirens don’t work on them checkpoints]

The operation was covered by Medicaid, because Isaac (like his three siblings) is a U.S. citizen. When NPR interviewed the family months after the operation, they were still in Texas and scheduled for immigration hearing in December.

Thanks to our source:

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/20/552339976/border-patrol-arrests-parents-while-infant-awaits-serious-operation?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170920

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13: Customs & Border Protection Keep Their Clothing Borders in Place for Harassment; Immigration and Customs Enforcement Force Their Authority on Undocumented Motel 6 Customers

The Department of Homeland Security was all over the news for (more than usual) disgraceful reasons.

First, ABC reported on a trio of Customs and Border Protection (2016 budget: $13.5 billion) agents who apparently dry-humped their co-workers in Newark, NJ‘s Liberty airport.

Patch of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.svg

CBP is the largest subdivision of DHS.

Tito Catota, Parmenio Perez and Michael Papagni “pinned” two anonymous males in their “unit” to a “rape table,” subject[ing them] (according to court documents) to senseless physical abuse… while on duty.

The abuse included “grinding” and the simulation of a sex act.

Image result for grinding

Ouch!

The special squad incidentally, was responsible for “identifying and intercepting” passengers who might be carrying contraband. Just in case the regular TSA guys insufficiently groped a testicle on the passenger’s initial humiliation, perhaps.

ABC reports that eleven CBP thugs were put on leave when the agency learned of the grinding, and three supervisors among them were fired.

Each charge of the forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating, and interfering  of which the trio stand accused carries a potential eight years in prison.

*

Two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix, AZ appeared to cozy up with Immigration and Customs Enforcement ($5.3 billion budget).

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Logo.svg

Phoenix News Times found at least 20 ICE arrests between February and August between the 4130 North Black Canyon Highway and 1530 North 52nd Drive Motel 6 locations.

A rumor from immigration lawyer Denise Aguilar suggests ICE offered Motel 6 clerks a $200 per “referral” bounty. When you look at the prices on the motel’s soda machines, that’s an easy decision for your average employee.

ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe did not provide many details, noting the “knock and talk” (which accounted for one-third of the arrests in question) method of uprooting peoples’ lives is perfectly justified: if you open your hotel room door for a Federal badge that “just happens” to be harassing hotel guests and can’t provide papers, they have every right to take you in.

She refused to share ICE’s sources of intel on the dangerous non-citizens who must be taken, but apparently did not deny desk clerks were bribed to turn in their customers.

Related image

“We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” one front-desk clerk explained. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”

AZ Central reported Arizona’s Latino leaders in the state legislature held a protest/press conference outside a Motel 6 location on September 15.

Protesters hold a press conference in front of a Motel

Motel 6 pleaded ignorance, casting the systematic sellout as a local franchise mistake.

[According to their 9/15 statement, t]he company will send a directive to 1,400 locations stating employees are prohibited from voluntarily providing guest lists, and conduct a review of current practices that could lead to new company-wide guidelines.

“Protecting the privacy and security of our guests are core values of our company. Motel 6 apologizes for this incident and will continue to work to earn the trust and patronage of our millions of loyal guests,” the statement read.

Phoenix News Times notes: Thanks to a 2015 Supreme Court decision, the city can’t require motels to turn over that information without a warrant. But if a motel chooses to do so voluntarily, that’s up to the owner.

Thanks to our sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/border-patrol-agents-arrested-hazing-victims-rape-table/story?id=49822737

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/motel-6-calling-ice-undocumented-guests-phoenix-immigration-lawyers-9683244

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-breaking/2017/09/15/phoenix-leaders-demand-motel-6-fire-employees-who-gave-customer-names-ice/671050001/

 

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 7: DHS Saving Us From Terrorism by Adding to National Debt Via Software They Don’t Use

Note: On July 31, John Kelly, DHS Secretary since January, became Trump’s Chief of Staff. Elaine Duke (below) succeeded Kelly to manage the clusterfuck agency as its Acting Secretary.

Elaine Duke official photo.jpg

It’s not quite the $12,000,000 IRS email system that was never used, or the $18,000,000 fraud prevention program they still can’t operate,

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

but the Department of Homeland Security is doing its damnedest to stay in stride with the rival agency as they strive to justify their multi-billion dollar molestation of taxpayers.

Inspector General John Roth (appointed by Obama in 2013 as the second-ever IG for the George W. Bush-created monstrosity) released a report on June 30 detailing DHS’s pissing away nearly $25 million since 2013 on software called “Performance and Learning Management System” (PALMS).

Background: in May 2013, DHS entered a blanket purchase agreement (sounds financially sound!) with Visionary Integration Professionals to spend a “ceiling” of $95,000,000 on PALMS to track employee performance and…manage employee learning? it’s unclear. 

Business InsiderThe contract held out the promise of savings of more than $52 million over five years.

The PALMS was supposed to go live in December 2013, but only became “partially operational” nearly two years later, in October 2015.

The Government Accountability Office warned in 2016 that DHS had not monitored the costs of the PALMS, used risk management or documented milestones. (The rosy title of that report was literally: “Oversight of Neglected Human Resources Information Technology Investment Is Needed.”)

[our emphasis]

Business Insider (our emphasis):

 DHS is the third largest federal department – behind only the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs — and employs more than 240,000 people.

Beyond the $24.2 million in expenditures on the overall contract, DHS spent more than $5.7 million for unused and partially-used subscriptions to the software, $11 million to extend contracts of existing learning management systems and $813,000 for unexpected, increased program management costs.

With multiple “learning management systems” in place, DHS might have at least “learned” by now how to implement a new one!

Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg

The DHS budget request for fiscal year 2017 was $40,600,000,000.

Some other highlights from the Roth report:

-Of 481 operational requirements, PALMS program officials did not test 97 requirements, accepted 21 requirements despite failed test results, and did not verify 13 requirements for compliance with system specifications.

-Before it tried to go live in 2015, PALMS’ readiness was openly doubted by representatives of DHS’s component agencies: ICE, TSA, the Secret Service, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and DHS headquarters.

**Note: some of TSA’s recent good work:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 26–TSA Festivities

DHS Shakes Down Reporter

TSA Shakes Things Up

-Despite these issues and recommendations, a September 2016 acquisition decision memorandum, based on a June 2016 acquisition review board decision, directed the Chief Information Officer to stop further development of three critical performance management requirements and allow DHS components to implement PALMS ‘as is.’

-As part of the agile development approach, the PALMS contractor developed a requirements management plan in August 2013 to manage PALMS operational requirements including conversion of requirements into “user stories.”

[To repeat: the government contractor’s original plan was dubbed “agile development” and sought to create “user stories“.]

In October 2015, the Department approved and accepted this plan as complete even though the contractor did not develop user stories for 99 percent of the requirements

-The contractor’s “migration of headquarters data” was completed nine months behind schedule. The IG notes DHS “should have received $72,901.68” towards subscription costs, but it is unclear if this money was recovered.

DHS incurred more than $11.8 million in additional costs due to PALMS implementation delays. The majority of this waste was incurred because PALMS was scheduled to overlap with the Learning Management Systems contract that expired in 2012, BUT DHS paid for multiple extensions and simply extended the existing (“legacy”) contracts while the new PALMS went unused.

**Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection did not know the number of legacy LMS contract extensions or the amount; therefore, OIG [Office of Inspector General] could not include their extension costs.”**

-Of 345,685 PALMS subscriptions purchased, 67% were unused. The remainder were partially used. Per the IG: DHS wasted more than $5.7 million for PALMS subscriptions.

[all emphasis ours]

DHS requested a budget of $44,100,000,000 for fiscal year 2018, a 1.01% increase.

[Of note, this includes: $1.6 billion for 32 miles of new border wall construction, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego Sector, where apprehensions are
the highest along the Southwest Border, and where a border wall system will deny access to drug and alien smuggling organizations.]

Can anyone say “face-PALMS”?

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2017/07/how-homeland-security-spent-millions-nonexistent-service/139276/?oref=ge-android-article-share

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-homeland-security-wasted-millions-on-software-that-doesnt-work-2017-7