Tag Archives: EPA

Flying high again

Sentenced!! Jeffrey Yohai, who is only relevant for a four-year marriage to bumbling fraudster and Trump associate Paul Manafort‘s daughter, picked up a nine year prison term and $6.7 million restitution payment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit (his own separate) bank and wire fraud.

Yohai (above) was out on bond after a 2018 guilty plea including misuse of construction loan funds. While awaiting sentencing,  he ran side projects. Perhaps the most ambitious was a two-tailed investor swindle that reportedly ensnared Hollywood big shot Dustin Hoffman. One on end, Yohai scored $15 million in loans (which he did not repay) to spruce up some Hollywood Hills properties (which he did not own). Then he hoodwinked the real owners into letting him line up rich tenants, pocketed the rent checks, and falsified transfer documentation when the owners demanded payment.

If the victim demanded repayment, Yohai would often buy time by sending checks written on accounts with insufficient funds. When those checks bounced, according to the complaint, Yohai would assert he wired the money back to the victim and send fake wire transfer documentation, “insisting that there must be some banking mistake to explain why the funds never arrive.” [sic]

He also sold “non-existent backstage passes for the Coachella music festival.”

One of the bank fraud convictions for which Papa Paul is currently imprisoned included a dishonest bank loan application with his son, who was not charged on that occasion.

Yohai, a recovering drug addict, also reportedly cheated other abusers. Prosecutors contend that after leaving [rehab], Yohai scammed fellow addicts who paid to live at a “sober living” home he set up in L.A. Yohai allegedly took a $5,000 security deposit from one such man and charged another $35,000 a month “for ‘detox’ care which [Yohai] could not and did not provide.”

Jessica Manafort recently changed her surname (for obvious reasons) to her mother’s maiden name, Bond.

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Scott Warren is back in the news as the Feds attempt to stick the No More Deaths volunteer with his own ten-year stretch on retrial for harboring charges.

Warren allegedly let two undocumented people crossing Arizona’s Sonoran Desert crash at a humanitarian aid workers’ building for a few days. No More Deaths had attracted federal ire by fingering Customs and Border Protection for emptying water jugs left for illegal immigrants. To avoid another hung jury, the government has reportedly filed a motion forbidding the defense from mentioning Trump or his immigration policy at the trial, which would be “irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial.”

“WE DON’T SAY HIS NAME.”

The Intercept notes about 87% of adults surveyed by UCLA/University of Washington, including an overwhelming majority of self-identified Republicans, believe provision of water and first aid to illegal immigrants, of which Warren stands accused, should not be a criminal offense.

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More trouble at the EPA. Instead of destroying the planet, Trump’s infamous deregulation station is reportedly destroying documents. And scandal-plagued ex-chief Scott Pruitt‘s shenanigans may be involved.

Multiple “senior EPA officials” anonymously disputed the shredding allegations to Politico. Documents in question relate to correspondence with a former Comcast lobbyist, Richard Smotkin, who reportedly set up one of Pruitt’s multiple jet-setting trips while in office (Morocco, 2017, over $100,000). Washington Post reported as details leaked last year that Smotkin accompanied Pruitt on the trip, ostensibly to broker a free trade agreement, but to some appearances promoting the sale of U.S. natural gas to Morocco. Smotkin promptly went to work for the Moroccan government.

Though the EPA chief did visit a solar power research installation, he canceled a public appearance with an energy efficiency expert at an international conference in Marrakesh and instead met with the chairman of a large phosphate exporter.

Accused shredder, EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson (below, double chin without glasses) is apparently also not cooperating with an inspector general investigation into how Jackson happened upon the planned Congressional testimony of environmental chemist and former EPA Board of Scientific Counselors chairwoman Deborah Swackhamer in time to harass her before she publicly “criticized the Trump administration’s approach to science.”

Jackson refused to tell IG investigators how he obtained Swackhamer’s testimony in advance, telling them, “I am not going to involve others or point fingers. … Welcome to Washington.”

Current head EPA thug Andrew Wheeler protested that questioning Jackson on the matter “implicates constitutional concerns.” [sic]

Jackson was also reportedly less than forthcoming to IG inquiries into the firing of Pruitt’s aide Madeline Morris for her objections to scrubbing politically sensitive meetings from the official schedule.

As New York Times reported last year, in the final, coal-dark days of Pruitt’s acid rain reign, Jackson waved off the notion Morris was canned for the schedule alterations. Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff who fired Morris and dredged up the issue, was himself fired from EPA that year.

Jackson had refused to comment on Morris’s six weeks of salary collection following her dismissal, an arrangement which would break federal law. IG agents dropped in unannounced to further explore this irregularity last July, and not in especially good faith, in Jackson’s opinion.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/paul-manafort-s-ex-son-law-yohai-charged-another-real-n933526
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/16/manafort-jeffrey-yohai-1498903
https://apnews.com/9a368dcf9ca7484e8e40b87780aed174
https://theintercept.com/2019/11/11/immigration-aid-scott-warren-retrial/
https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/07/epa-ryan-jackson-documents-investigation-067566
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/lobbyist-helped-broker-pruitts-100000-trip-to-morocco/2018/05/01/b2e20ee0-4d76-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/11/07/top-epa-official-watchdog-engaged-standoff-that-inspector-general-calls-flagrant-problem/
https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/epa-aide-questioned-deleting-pruitt-meeting-details-then-was-fired/

Pruitt: In Memoriam

The most pathetic head of a militant, unnecessary government agency was forced out on July 5, ending months of antipathy and taxpayer dollar waste. Scott Pruitt resigned two days after evidence surfaced that he forged his official events calendars to avoid (apparently this is an emotion he is capable of harboring) embarrassment.

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in disgrace last week. 

As we have reported previously, Pruitt was ladling out exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard that distorts the ethanol market. Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley  and Joni Ernst were pissed, and began talking up Pruitt’s scandals.

(Interestingly, while Trump promised to continue this inefficient propping up of Iowa corn farms, ethanol subsidy adversary and Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually won the state’s 2016 GOP primary for president.)

To be fair, while Pruitt did apparently use staffers to land his daughter McKenna the position of clerk of the White House Counsel last summer, a breathlessly-shared New York Times story that he used the EPA mantle to maneuver her into law school at University of Virginia turned out to be shoddy reporting.

He did use his pre-Trump career subordinates to score a letter of recommendation from former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell.  McKenna (below) got the coveted seat.

However, much like Veterans Affairs, the pompous Oklahoman kept two sets of schedules: the official public record, and his actual itineraries. Reportedly, the former were doctored:

Pruitt’s aides would print sections of the private calendar containing details of events, gather around a table, sometimes in Pruitt’s office, and decide what would be omitted or altered on the public calendar.

Some calendar events hidden from the public and uncovered by CNN include Pruitt noshing with coal producer Alliance Resource Partners CEO, Joseph Craft, and Vatican official (and accused sex criminal) Cardinal Pell when Pruitt blew through $120,000 of taxpayer cash in Italy last year.

Seven of the undisclosed meetings involved individuals who were nominated or reportedly under consideration for EPA positions.

Vox reported on perhaps Pruitt’s most disturbing extravagance yet:

The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos.”

Pruitt’s office spent $24,115 on a variety of tactical clothing and body armor in seven separate orders. 

[our emphasis]

Unfortunately, the “arm ourselves against the weather” notion is a holdover from previous administrations:

EPA Spends $200,000 on Body Armor to Prepare For Changing Climate

Much of the dirt on Pruitt, including the calendar alterations and daughter internship overture, came from Trump handler Kevin Chmielewski (below, not Trump), who was fired from EPA in March.

Washington Free Beacon, however, found evidence Chmielewski actually resigned without giving a reason.

Apparently, the Presidential Personnel office, which had no qualms tolerating a similar situation for Jared Kushner, raised Cain over irregularities in the former bagman’s security clearance. Chmielewski, who worked briefly for DHS before EPA, was flustered:

In a lengthy, combative interview with the Free Beacon, Chmielewski repeatedly refused to answer several questions and threatened to spend the “rest of his career going after” this reporter.

He said neither the PPO, nor anyone else in the federal government, ever contacted him with background check concerns. He told the Free Beacon that he has a permanent Top Secret-level security clearance but would not provide any paperwork to prove it.

“This is how ridiculous and idiotic you are,” Chmielewski said in the interview.

Free Beacon also found $7,667 in unpaid taxes to the state of Maryland and a 2005 DUI tarnishing Chmielewski’s record.

Pruitt was replaced by deputy Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist who squints all the time.

Andrew Wheeler official photo.jpg

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An ingenious Chicago man, Dushaun Henderson-Spruce (below), duped the US Postal Service into forwarding all corporate mail for (wildly more successful, despite USPS’s government-backed box monopoly) rival UPS to Henderson-Spruce’s apartment. For three months.

NPR reported the paper form–top government efficiency!–was not even filled out correctly:

At first, the initials ‘HS’ were written on the signature line, but the initials were then scratched out and replaced with ‘UPS,’ according to the charges.

Henderson-Spruce, who told investigators he briefly worked for UPS several years ago, was previously charged in 2016 for one count of misdemeanor bank fraud, for possession of a stolen check.

New charges carry a potential 25 years.

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In May, NSA indiscriminately wiped hundreds of millions of “call detail records”–everything they (unconstitutionally) compiled since 2015–because in coercing the telephone companies to relinquish private phone records, they inadvertently bagged “some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive.”

Because you weren’t allowed to know they were recording all your call logs until Snowden revealed the spy agency’s Constitution trampling, you also get no insight into the deletion process. Shut up and let the Government take care of you.

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In June, bumbling criminal and ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was sent to jail, his house arrest revoked for new charges of witness tampering. He picked up new charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, to which he pleaded not guilty.

After initially bitching from his private solitary suite that being two hours outside of D.C. limited face time with his attorneys to prepare his defense, Manafort is now reportedly boasting on the monitored prison phone lines that he circumvents the prison’s “no email” rule by typing emails on a laptop that his associates move in and out of the compound. The messages send as soon as the team hits a “hotspot.”

Even the smartest criminals slip up occasionally:

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down

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Delta is weathering another rough summer. First, public backlash was fierce when Delta banned “pitbull-type service animals” because–get this–they bite:

“We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk.”

(Washington Post did a fun expose in January on passengers abusing the “emotional support animal” loophole to get large dogs–and ducks–seats on planes.)

Delta said it flew 250,000 [emotional support] animals last year, up 150 percent from 2015, while “incidents” such as biting or defecating had nearly doubled since 2016.

Then, Delta’s contractor SkyWest Airlines turned a plane back to the gate at Fort Wayne International when a passenger was too slow to turn her phone to “airplane mode” during taxi.

Other passengers, including a Latina woman, who spoke up in defense of Rodgers […] [a] total of four adults and a child were removed from the flight.

The original transgressor, Robyn Rogers, is on Instagram as “DJ Reborn.”

If it matters, from the New York Post-obtained video, Rogers appears to be black, and the flight attendant white.

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Sketchy suspected House Democrat data downloader Imran Awan, who we are not allowed to characterize as sketchy because he is an immigrant, pleaded guilty to a single charge of bank fraud.

Mr. Awan’s sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 21. Under federal guidelines, he faces a likely range of zero to six months in prison. And as part of the agreement, the government will ask the court to dismiss all charges against [Awan’s wife] Ms. Alvi when Mr. Awan is sentenced.

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

Politico broke it down:

At the time of his arrest, Awan was accused of attempting to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property, which is against the credit union’s policies since it is not the owner’s primary residence. Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to the indictment filed against Awan.

Media shrills such as Washington Post, which have completely ignored Awan & company’s sordid subterfuge because it makes the Democrats look like idiots, gleefully declared Awan’s legal victory to “debunk […] conspiracy theories.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted right-wing news sites and Trump’s reactionary interest in the “Pakistani mystery man” is an “anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job.”

Right-wing Daily Caller obtained a transcription from a September 2016 powerpoint presentation of Theresa Grafenstine, Inspector General for the House who conveniently retired last year.

According to her LinkedIn, Grafenstine (above) now works for Deloitte Consulting.

Grafenstine found that Imran made “unauthorized access” to congressional servers in a way that suggested he was trying to “conceal” his activity and that his unusual activity suggested a server could be used for “nefarious purposes.”

As we have reported previously, Awan and his highly-paid relatives, who were all fired, were trippin’ with the inventory. The IG report found over $100,000 in electronics were removed from House inventory when the alleged conspirators (“shared employees” Imran Awan, Abid Awan, Hina Alvi, Jamal Awan and Rao Abbas) could not produce them for an audit. Purchase prices were manipulated so individual items could be reported as “office supplies” to the Federal bean counters.

Also, the employees continued to access the House server months after they were fired.

It is noteworthy the IG had evidence of this potentially criminal activity at least seven months before the “shared employees” were canned in February 2017. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) kept Imran on the payroll until his July 2017 arrest.

Federal prosecutors spoke with 40 witnesses, but found no evidence that Mr. Awan had engaged in illegal conduct involving House computer systems, per the plea agreement.

As a conservative opinion writer noted earlier this year, none of the Awan IT aides were subjected to background checks for employment, using a loophole in hiring procedures that exempts potential hires from background checks if another member of Congress vouches for them.

Awan’s attorney, a longtime Hillary crony, will seek a fine for his client instead of jail time, per Fox News.

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Speaking of plea deals for the privileged, disgraced FBI agent Chase Bishop (below) has been re-armed and offered a sweet settlement of his second-degree assault charge by the prosecution. The details will not be released, because he is your employee.

chase-bishop-in-court.jpg

Bishop’s lawyer, David Goddard, said that the FBI strongly encourages its agents to carry their guns when they’re not working

[our emphasis]

(This is why we need the Federal Government to control our gun use, while packing themselves without any accountability. Federal agents are beyond reproach.)

Also shielded from the public are Bishop’s toxicology results from the night his butter fingers put a round in the leg of Tom Reddington at a (presumably) drunken “dance-off” in a Denver bar last month. Bishop ran away, but was eventually picked up by police.

Prosecutors told Denver Post the blood alcohol level “[does] not support further charges” for Bishop.

He is due back in court on…also August 21.

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And George Clooney was out of sight to the high-rolling driver who collided with the Hollywood has-been in Italy last week.

Ambulance personnel tend to actor George Clooney after he was involved in a scooter accident Tuesday in Italy.

Video of Clooney going up in the air was obtained by Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

While later headlines billed the Batman and Robin star’s transpo means as a “motorcycle,” the pictures above from CNN and OK Magazine indicate the manly mishap was indeed sustained on a scooter.

It is unclear if Clooney wore a helmet.

CNN reports he received a negative scan at Giovanni Paolo II hospital. The overrated actor also told CNN he hit 65 mph before tagging the Mercedes that cut in front of him.

The video shows the scooter going maybe 35 mph.

Related:

Clinton/Clooney Cash: Cum One, Come All

According to The Federalist and New York Post, a lawsuit originally filed with the FEC last year by pro-Trump organization Committee to Defend the President alleges Hillary bagged hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from individual wealthy donors by funneling to state Democratic parties, which can make unlimited contributions to the DNC via the Hillary Victory Fund. This would appear to be a loophole around the federal limit of $2700 per person, per candidate, per election–in the amount of $84 million. This allegedly allowed Hillary to control the DNC in exchange for paying down their debt.

BONUSIn a very public spectacle, FBI agent Peter Strzok treated the public to a 10-hour array of smug expressions (cataloged by someone on Steemit) as the House Judiciary Committee questioned Strzok about his former investigative role under Robert Mueller into Trump’s 2016 campaign. We have not watched the actual video.

550a814a8c7a20c609e1d338f0e2b88db7c37d7c818121b0e816f365aa8cf941.jpg

Apparently, Strzok, refused to answer a question out of loyalty to the FBI. GOP dinosaur and Chair of the committee, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte (below, right), incorrectly claimed Strzok had been subpoenaed and threatened to hold him in contempt.

Republican Louie (his actual, adult name) Gohmert of Texas found an opening to mention Strzok’s extramarital affair with fellow ex-Mueller investigator Lisa Page, to the consternation of Democrats, who proceeded to suggest Gohmert harbors a psychiatric illness.

Page, who received Strzok’s “we’ll stop [the election of Donald Trump]” text that was hidden from the public until the Justice Dept IG report dropped last month, participated in part one of a two-day, private interview by the HJC. She had refused to comply with a subpoena for public hearing Wednesday and was also threatened with contempt. According to The Hill, although Republicans were gratified with her responses to some questions friend-with-benefits Strzok refused to answer, they were off-put she showed up with an FBI attorney. (Page, unlike Strzok, has resigned from the FBI.)

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/05/politics/scott-pruitt-epa-resigns/index.html

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/392461-pruitt-frequently-asked-aides-to-help

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/392570-pruitts-new-problem-with-the-gop-ethanol

http://time.com/4203690/iowa-caucuses-ted-cruz/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/politics/scott-pruitt-whistleblower-secret-calendar/index.html

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/394791-nsa-deletes-scores-of-call-records-over-technical-irregularities

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/6/21/17488454/scott-pruitt-tactical-pants-scandal

http://freebeacon.com/issues/epa-whistleblower-run-ins-law-enforcement-background-check-red-flags/

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/judge-jails-ex-trump-campaign-chair-manafort-ahead-155410775–politics.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/delta-bans-pit-bulls-dogs-115851622.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/nation-now/2018/06/28/delta-attendant-kicks-passengers-off-plane-over-airplane-mode-dispute/741161002/

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article163818253.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2018/07/04/Imran-Awan-an-ex-congressional-IT-worker-for-Democrats-pleads-guilty-to-bank-fraud/stories/201807040068

http://thehill.com/opinion/cybersecurity/384125-democratic-house-it-scandal-illustrates-the-hazards-of-reckless

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/03/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-pleads-guilty-to-bank-fraud-in-deal-with-prosecutors.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/judge-dancing-fbi-agent-accused-in-backflip-gunfire-incident-can-carry-weapon-again/

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/dancing-fbi-agent-offered-plea-deal-in-club-shooting/73-572427832

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/10/europe/george-clooney-scooter-accident-italy-intl/index.html

https://nypost.com/2018/06/09/democratic-parties-accused-of-funneling-84m-into-clinton-campaign/

http://thefederalist.com/2018/04/24/bombshell-fec-records-indicate-hillary-campaign-illegally-laundered-84-million/

https://steemit.com/informationwar/@gregorypatrick/my-favorite-c-span-clip-from-the-peter-strzok-hearing-did-you-use-that-smirk-when-you-lied-to-your-wife?sort=author_reputation

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/396980-former-fbi-lawyer-lisa-page-gets-closed-door-grilling-from-house

Cinco de ResignO and Corn

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

Related:

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

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

Scott Pruitt is pictured. |Getty Images

Above: Pruitt makes a point.

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

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

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

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

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

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Speaking of the EPA…oh boy.

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

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

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

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

SpiritBank Logo

Kelly (below) also resigned from EPA on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Post:

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

Chicago Tribune:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

FBI Rapes More Phones

FBI Rapes More Phones (Continued)

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

*

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

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

Page was photographed in “active wear.” Chilly!

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

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

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

*

Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.

*

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

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

Fox News reports a plea deal may be planned.

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

 

Thanks to our sources: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! February 27–Justice Department and EPA

Associated Press reported that new EPA head Scott Pruitt is under scrutiny for using personal email to communicate official business while Attorney General for Oklahoma, and lying about it to Congress.

A review of Pruitt emails obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request showed a 2014 exchange where the Republican emailed a member of his staff using a personal Apple email account.

Emails released under court order last week in response to a different public records request yielded additional examples where emails were addressed to Pruitt’s private account, including a 2013 exchange with a petroleum industry lobbyist who emailed Pruitt and a lawyer on the attorney general’s staff. That suggests Pruitt made his private email address available to professional contacts outside his office.

It is not illegal in Oklahoma for public officials to use private email as long as they are retained and made available as public records. Pruitt’s use of the private account appears to directly contradict statements he made last month as part of his Senate confirmation.

Pruitt’s deception came from the forward-thinking 2020 presidential hopeful, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker in a written inquiry for Pruitt prior to his confirmation hearing. Cabinet nominees apparently respond to written questions for vetting because it is more efficient for the Senate panels to process nominations.

Mr. Booker apparently sought to avoid the confusion caused by both Obama’s Secretary of State and Attorney General, who used personal emails throughout their tenures to flout Freedom of Information Act lawsuits:

Hillary Updates

The FOIA avoidance is especially relevant recently, because the National Security Archive FOIA Audit released March 11 revealed that only 38 out of 99 federal agencies have updated their FOIA regulations in compliance with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.

This allows about 60% of our agencies are ignoring the new improvements on FOIA, which require agencies to notify citizens of their right to seek assistance with the FOIA liaison and prohibiting the charge of search or duplication fees when the agency fails to meet the notice requirements and time limits set by existing law.

Oh well.

Interestingly, Elijah Cummings said of the FOIA reform during 2016 floor debate:

“This is a simple improvement that every agency should adopt, and I look forward to working with Chairman [Jason] Chaffetz [R-Utah] in the years ahead on such commonsense [sic] reforms.”

[our emphasis]

Cummings Not Going

Let’s see if the career criminal Cummings holds his own future moves to the same standard of transparency.

The Hill:

Booker […] asked Pruitt whether he had ever conducted state business using personal email accounts. Pruitt responded: “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.”

[…]

AP and other news organizations reported last week that 7,500 pages of emails released following a lawsuit filed by a left-leaning advocacy group showed Pruitt and his staff in Oklahoma coordinated closely on legal strategy with fossil-fuel companies and special interest groups working to undermine federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

The emails were released after an Oklahoma judge ruled that Pruitt had been illegally withholding his correspondence, which is public record under state law, for the last two years.

[…]

Pruitt’s use of private email was first reported earlier this month by FOX 25 television of Oklahoma City.

The Hill notes that Republicans rammed through Pruitt’s confirmation vote earlier in February prior to the release of the emails. Senator Booker joined all but two of his fellow Democrats in voting against Pruitt, who was confirmed 52-46.

***

The Pruitt predicament is interesting, because it was only one month ago (January 26) that…

Outgoing DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other officials fought Obama-appointed US District Court Judge Randolph Moss‘s order to preserve their emails for public record.

Conservative group Judicial Watch was conducting a Freedom of Information Act investigation of Johnson and his lackeys using private emails on government computers. Judge Moss declared the emails should be copied for official record for “an abundance of caution.” Just in case Johnson wanted to delete them. Like Hillary.

Politico:

“DHS’s present understanding is that the former officials are not independently aware of how to transfer e-mails from a web-based account (i.e., Gmail) to a thumb drive and that DHS information technology staff who were consulted did not have any particular knowledge about how to transfer the e-mails, either,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.

The filing suggests the ex-officials and DHS staff are also unsure about how to copy part of the private emails archives, since the suit sought only work-related emails between certain dates in 2013 and 2015.

If Moss won’t lift his order, the Justice Department asked that he let the officials move the messages to encrypted DVDs instead of thumb drives or hard drives.

As brilliant and dedicated as our “public servants” are, moving an email to a thumb drive is apparently beyond their capabilities. But burning “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” on a DVD? Easy.

As we have referenced above, disgraced ex-Attorney General Eric Holder deliberately used the email alias Lew Alcindor for official government proceedings to shield his official communications from FOIA lawsuits.

*

For all the missteps and truly troubling actions of his nascent leadership, Trump appeared to actually propose meaningful conservative budget reforms this week, reducing spending for State Department and EPA in a budget draft. The Hill:

The Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent spending cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to multiple reports.

U.S. officials say the suggested decrease would likely require laying off employees, including security contractors at diplomatic facilities overseas, The Associated Press said Tuesday.

[…]

The agencies together received $50.1 billion during the current fiscal year, it added, a little more than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Career Republicans in Washington whose careers depend on lavishing their constituents’ money (which they exhausted $20 trillion ago) were not pleased.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he would oppose drastic cuts to the State Department. 

“Probably not,” he said when asked if Congress could pass a 37 percent reduction at the department, according to Fox News.

The leaked EPA budget proposal suggested Trump will cut spending by 24% (a reduction of $2 billion to $6.1 billion), possibly reducing the EPA “work”force by about 20% to “only” 12,000 employees.

Pathetic presidential hopeful, carpet-bombing and corporate welfare advocate Lindsey  Graham had equally strong reservations as McConnell on the proposal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said Trump’s reported plans for his first budget were “dead on arrival.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said, according to NBC News. “It would be a disaster. A budget this lean would put those who serve overseas for the State Department at risk. And it’s not going to happen.”

Ex-Im Bank Updates

The Trump budget will reportedly not touch the entitlement spending that is financially dooming everyone who does not die in the next 20 years.

Defense spending will increase by $54,000,000,000. That amount will be cut from non-defense spending.

As a reminder, the earlier full Trump budget proposal increased the national debt by $9,700,000,000,000 over the next 10 years. Rand Paul was the only Republican to vote against it.

*

Washington Free Beacon had some damning juice on the EPA this week as well.

Environmental Protection Agency employees used their government purchase cards to spend $14,985 on fitness memberships, according to an audit by the inspector general of the agency.

[…]

Three other transactions [from the audit] were made to vendors who were considered high risk[.]

[…]

Auditors also noted that this is not the first time the agency did not have adequate oversight of the purchase-card program. In March of 2014, the inspector general released a report noting that of the $152,602 in transactions that they evaluated, $79,254 went to purchases that were prohibited, improper, or erroneous.

[Less than 50% of sampled spending was allowed…that’s success, right?]

After the most recent findings, the inspector general said that the risk for the purchase-card program “is high enough to warrant an audit.”

The EPA did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/01/justice-department-dhs-officials-emails-234253

http://freebeacon.com/issues/epa-purchase-card-fitness-memberships/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/records-show-epas-pruitt-used-private-email-despite-203908715–politics.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/321605-trump-pitches-37-percent-cut-to-state-budget-reports

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/20170311-2017-FOIA-Audit-shows-3-in-5-Agencies-Failed-to-Follow-New-FOIA-Law-Instructions/

FOIA Reform Adopted after Years-Long Battle

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 13–NSA, Castro, Budget and EPA Paternalistic Destruction of Citizens’ Well-Being

January 13 (Friday “News Dump”)

According to AFP, Obama finished his “normalization of relations” with Cuba in his last week of office:

[Obama] scrapped, with immediate effect, a 1995 policy that had given near-automatic entry to the US to Cubans who managed to set foot on American soil, regardless of their visa status.

The end of “wet foot, dry foot” apparently means:

[O]verland Cuban migrants will now be treated like those who have attempted to cross into the US by water and can be sent back to Cuba — unless they can convince US officials that they fear persecution or have valid humanitarian reasons to be let in.

Reportedly, Cuban migrants, now facing Trump’s immigration round-up squads, were upset:

“We feel sadness because we are all coming with a dream that comes from pain, hunger and a lot of work to get this far,” said Lorena Pena, a woman four months pregnant who left Cuba with her husband and four-year-old daughter.

Obama, she said, “screwed up, because what he’s done is hurt us — so he really isn’t as good as everyone says.”

Ulises Ferrer, a carpenter from Havana, said: “We don’t know what we’re going to do now. But what we’re certain of is that we’re not going back to Cuba unless we’re dead.”

[our red]

Related:

Obama Pays Respects to Anti-American Communist Killer Fidel Castro

*

According to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Obama also used his “last burst” of executive power to further enable the NSA to continue collecting (without warrant) communications data on all Americans. [Trump won’t support a surveillance state though, right? So we’re good.]

EFF:

New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

The Times‘ take? [I]f analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.

[It’s like in Maryland v. King (2013) where that evil conservative Scalia had to join the liberals to write a minority dissent in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that upheld a Maryland statute that when someone gets charged with “a crime of violence or an attempt to commit a crime of violence; or… burglary or an attempt to commit burglary,” the government can arbitrarily take DNA samples to try and nail them for cold cases of rape or murder. SINCE WE HAVE YOU HERE ANYWAY…HOW ABOUT A CHEEK SWAB???]

Obama’s opponents who decried his “communism” or whatever were certainly correct about one thing: Federal agencies love “sharing.” [see: equitable sharing in civil asset forfeiture!]

Federal Government Resumes “Equitable Sharing” Funding

This NSA expansion (“relaxation” of restrictions?) was especially telling because also on January 13, human rights advocates from ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International delivered a 1,000,000+ signature petition to Obama urging him to pardon NSA whistle-blower (and, according to Obama, Espionage Act violator) Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden-2.jpg

Spoiler alert: Obama did not pardon Snowden. Stay tuned for other [alliteration alert] political power plays via pardon he did manage to squeeze in.

*

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only Republican to vote against Trump’s budget proposal. Like Presidents George W. Bush and Obama each did before him, Trump will add roughly $10,000,000,000,000 to the national debt over the next 10 years. (That’s a total of $30,000,000,000,000, but who’s counting.)

In the House, nine Republicans voted against the bill, which reportedly passed 227-198. Some, like Tom Price (still awaiting confirmation to head HHS) did not vote at all.

*

And the EPA declared its breach of the Gold King Mine in Colorado on August 5, 2015 a “discretionary” action, and the 3 million gallons of toxic cadmium, lead, arsenic, zinc, manganese and other metals it dropped into the Animas River to flow to San Juan River and Lake Powell a case for limited civil liability.

Environmental Protection Agency logo.svg

Congressman Ben Ray Luján and Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, all New Mexico Democrats, released a statement that expressed concern for the Federal fuck-up and even seemed to address the dwindling livelihood of American Indians the Federal Government represented their constituents in all but destroying many years ago:

“We are outraged at this last-ditch move by the federal government’s lawyers to go back on the EPA’s promise to the people of the state of New Mexico — and especially the Navajo Nation — that it would fully address this environmental disaster that still plagues the people of the Four Corners region.”

gold-king-mine-spill

A warning sign from the city is displayed in front of the Animas River as orange sludge from a mine spill upstream flows past Berg Park in Farmington, N.M., on Aug. 8, 2015. About 1 million gallons of wastewater from Colorado's Gold King Mine began spilling into the Animas River on Wednesday when a cleanup crew supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally breached a debris dam that had formed inside the mine. The mine has been inactive since 1923. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times via AP) **FILE**

First photo from Colorado Politics. Second photo from Washington Times.

Gina McCarthy official portrait.jpg

Gina McCarthy, Obama’s head climate change czar, suffers no mention of the Animas disaster on her Wikipedia page. She initially dodged testifying to Congress on her agency’s conduct. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee eventually subpoenaed McCarthy to testify in 2016, according to Washington Times.

IMPORTANT:

Because the EPA-created disaster occurred as they were poking around in the mine to save us from climate change (or something), which was apparently concurrent with other environmental justice projects across the country, McCarthy reassured Denver Post at the time [our emphasis]:

[C]leanup operations at similar mines throughout the country have been “put on hold” until the EPA determines how the Gold King accident happened.

[“WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU!!!” —Federal Government]

McCarthy also said the disaster was heartbreaking and the EPA “couldn’t be more sorry.”

“Right now, rest assured, we will learn lessons from this, and we will move those lessons forward in the work moving ahead.”

DP on August 12, 2015 noted McCarthy assured the affected citizens the Animas water specifically (through benevolent EPA treatment of the water they destroyed) was now returned to pre-event conditions.” However:

While the EPA says it’s treating contaminated water still flowing from the Gold King Mine, three adjacent mines continue to release more than 540 gallons per minute of waste laced with heavy metals.

*

In February 2016, the EPA, which waited a full 24 hours after starting the destruction to tell local authorities of their shenanigans, had some dire admissions for Denver Post:

Hays Griswold, the [EPA] on-scene coordinator, wrote in an October e-mail to other EPA officials that he personally knew the blockage “could be holding back a lot of water and I believe the others in the group knew as well.”

“This is why I was approaching (the mine) as if it were full.”

A 2015 postmortem would seem to contradict this: according to the EPA’s internal review [prior to causing the disaster], water inside the Gold King was not very high because of draining at the site and based on seep levels above its opening. Those factors, officials said, made checking pressure seem unnecessary, and it was never done.

[our emphasis]

*

USA Today continued in January of 2017:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will not pay more than $1.2  billion in claims filed against it in response to the Gold King Mine spill.

The EPA says the Federal Tort Claims Act prevents the agency from paying claims the [sic] result from “discretionary” government actions. Congress passed the law to allow government agencies — and in this case, contractors working on their behalf — to act “without the fear of paying damages in the event something went wrong while taking the action,” according to a press release from the EPA.

An EPA agency official said paying the claims would discourage such cleanup efforts in the future.

[all our emphasis]

Instead, the agency reportedly encouraged victims of the spill to file litigation, placing the onus of responsibility on citizens to recover from the Federal Government-manufactured mess.

It’s just like civil asset forfeiture! Want justice for what we (your employees) took from you? Start hiring lawyers! 🙂

Interestingly,

An EPA official says 73 claims related to the mine spill were filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Four were from governmental agencies and the rest were from individuals and companies.

[emphasis ours]

Because bloated bureaucracies need to cash in on the blunders of other toxic, incompetent bureaucracies. We all win as long as the taxpayers lose.

Plus, EPA has other funding priorities from their $8,000,000,000 annual budget:

EPA Spends $200,000 on Body Armor to Prepare For Changing Climate

Thanks to our sources:

Rand Paul Only GOP Vote Against Debt Increase

https://pardonsnowden.org/news/delivery-letter

https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-ends-open-door-policy-cuban-migrants-white-225551661.html

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll058.xml

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/01/obama-expands-surveillance-powers-his-way-out

EPA on Gold King Mine spill: We don’t have to pay for our mess

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/01/13/epa-wont-pay-claims-mine-spill-released-3m-gallons-toxic-water/96555846/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/3/mccarthy-wont-appear-house-hearing-animas-spill/

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/13/epa-mccarthy-subpoenaed-testify-gold-king-spill/

EPA chief Gina McCarthy says water quality in Animas back to “pre-event conditions”

EPA employee in charge of Gold King Mine knew of blowout risk, e-mail shows

Gunning For Justice

Not 48 hours after kicking off a campaign event to help elevate his “criminally negligent” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to succeed him as president, Barack Obama remarked the fatal police take-downs of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana yesterday and Tuesday, respectively, demonstrate America has a “serious problem,” Associated Press reported today.

*

President “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon [Martin]” did not, in the article’s appraisal of his bully pulpit, appear to single out his home town of Chicago, where 2,000 people have been victims of gun violence since January 1st. At least 319 have died, including 4 over the Independence Day weekend (out of 46 shot and stabbed).

It’s not that the cops aren’t trying; CNN reports:

Chicago police executed an aggressive gang raid on Friday, hoping to decrease violence over the holiday weekend.
Eighty-eight people were arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges, according to police. Of that group, 55 were convicted felons, and 16 were serving parole sentences for earlier crimes, police said.
*

They [police shootings of black men] are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post.

AP notes Obama has been advised not to comment in cases of ongoing investigations, although one of yesterday’s deaths appears pretty clear shot cut:

The White House has sought to avoid weighing in on specific cases, particularly while they’re being investigated, and Obama said he was limited in what he could say about the facts. Early in his presidency, Obama caused a major stir when he said a Massachusetts officer had “acted stupidly” in arresting a black Harvard University professor at his home.

*

Obama’s Justice Department, led by Loretta Lynch–who decided over the holiday weekend to defer to the recommendations of the FBI in prosecuting Hillary Clinton for her Secret Server (trademark) after Bill Clinton boarded Lynch’s private plane in a disgusting display of the Clinton machine’s tentacles in every facet of Federal Government–is reportedly investigating the death of Alton Sterling, 37, at the hands of two white police officers in Louisiana Tuesday. The slaying was caught on tape.

Philando Castile, 32, was shot to death in a Minnesota traffic stop yesterday. Mr. Castile, according to his girlfriend who narrated the aftermath of the incident in a viral video as Castile bled out beside her and a pair of white arms trained a services weapon on his slumped body, was reaching for his wallet as requested by the officer. Mr. Castile apparently mentioned as he went for the wallet that he had a concealed carry permit and did not want to get in trouble, so he was notifying the officer of Castile’s weapon.

*

Meanwhile, Federal Government agencies are building their firepower arsenals. openthebooks.com has detailed a massive increase in non-military firepower purchases by the Federal Government since George W. Bush handed the reins to Obama in 2008:

According to a recent report from openthebooks.com, non-military spending on guns, ammo and military-style equipment soared from $119.3 million in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office, to a high of $224.7 million dollars in 2012, the year Obama won re-election.

Agencies bearing arms include the EPA and the FDA. Who will build the roads Who else will shoot the trees and the trans fats?

PJ Media, a conservative site, details some more disturbing findings of the report, which covers fiscal years 2006-2014:

 

  • Sixty-seven non-military federal agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment.
  • Of that total amount, ‘Traditional Law Enforcement’ Agencies spent 77 percent ($1.14 billion) while ‘Administrative’ or ‘General’ Agencies spent 23 percent ($335.1 million).
  • Non-military federal spending on guns and ammunition jumped 104 percent from $55 million (FY2006) to $112 million (FY2011).
  • Nearly 6 percent ($42 million) of all federal guns and ammunition purchase transactions were wrongly coded. Some purchases were actually for ping-pong balls, gym equipment, bread, copiers, cotton balls, or cable television including a line item from the Coast Guard entered as “Cable Dude”.
  • Administrative agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Mint, Department of Education, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and many other agencies purchased guns, ammo, and military-style equipment.
  • Since 2004, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) purchased 1.7 billion bullets including 453 million hollow-point bullets. As of 1/1/2014, DHS estimated its bullet inventory-reserve at 22-months, or 160 million rounds.
  • Between 1998 and 2008 (the most recent comprehensive data available) the number of law enforcement officers employed by federal agencies increased nearly 50 percent from 83,000 (1998) to 120,000 (2008). However, Department of Justice officer count increased from 40,000 (2008) to 69,000 (2013) and Department of Homeland Security officer count increased from 55,000 (2008) to 70,000 (2013).
  • The Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,316 special agents, spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent $3.1 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. The EPA has spent $715 million on its ‘Criminal Enforcement Division’ from FY2005 to present even as the agency has come under fire for failing to perform its basic functions.
  • Federal agencies spent $313,958 on paintball equipment, along with $14.7 million on Tasers, $1.6 million on unmanned aircraft, $8.2 million on buckshot, $7.44 million on projectiles, and $4 million on grenades/launchers.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $11.66 million including more than $200,000 on ‘night vision equipment,’ $2.3 million on ‘armor – personal,’ more than $2 million on guns, and $3.6 million on ammunition. Veterans Affairs has 3,700 law enforcement officers guarding and securing VA medical centers.
  • The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent $4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote controlled helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes, and more.

[all emphasis–ooh we can do text colors!–ours]

National Institute of Standards and Technology, as we previously reported, are the agency building a database of all tattoos on Americans’ bodies so they can more easily identify us. They started with thousands of images scanned from prisoners. The Nazis would have gone apeshit if they could’ve use barcodes instead of reading those long numbers individually.

http://darthfrankthetank.com/2016/06/privacy-groups-up-in-arms-over-fbi-tattoo-tracking-program/

*

Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina recently saw some IRS agents training at his local AR-15 range, and told Politico maybe we should pay attention to this.

“When I left there, it’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability,” Duncan told POLITICO. “Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?”

The paycheck-garnishing g-men did not like the implication. Per Politico:

“As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately,” the IRS said.

[emphasis and coloring ours]

 

Thanks to our other sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house-obama-deeply-disturbed-police-shootings-162549486.html; http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/05/us/chicago-violence-july-4/; https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/07/06/while-dems-obama-fight-for-gun-control-federal-agencies-are-arming-up/1/

EPA Spends $200,000 on Body Armor to Prepare For Changing Climate

President Barack Obama jokes with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and EPA staff members who worked on the power plant emissions standards, in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 2, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Since 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency purchased nearly a quarter-million dollars of body armor for its agents from its $8,200,00,000 budget (fiscal year 2014). “Let’s face it,” Administrator Gina McCarthy (above, cackling, center) told the Washington press, “the 0.2 Celsius degrees this president’s regulations and restrictions will preserve in the global climate may be enough to keep the ice frozen. But I’ll be damned if my armed agents are going to ward off the mosquitoes breeding in our current land environment, stemming from abuse of fossil fuels, without a little Kevlar over their vital organs. Nasty suckers, literally.” In other Washington reports, riot helmets, defender shields, body armor, a “milo return fire cannon system,” armored mobile shields, Kevlar blankets, tactical gear and equipment for crowd control were purchased by the Department of Veterans Affairs for a mere $2,000,000. The agency cited high veteran satisfaction rates with their health care for the modest expenditures for arming its private police force.

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