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ISIS Using, Making Own Chemical Weapons

September 3rd, 2015 - 2:15 pm

It’s just what the headline says, confirmed by the Pentagon:

Pentagon officials are aware of rocket and mortar attacks using the blistering agent mustard after samples from four locations in the region were analyzed, said defense officials familiar with details of the assessment.

Few details have been released of the confirmed use of chemical arms. However, officials said the chemical agent appears to have been manufactured from chemicals obtained by the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL, and did not appear to be from current or older chemical weapons stockpiles kept in either Syria or Iraq. [Emphasis added, because damn.]

Still the jayvee, Mr President?

We’re long past time for action, serious action, against the Caliphate.

Clinton Aide to Take the Fifth

September 3rd, 2015 - 1:23 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

But of course:

On Monday, Mark MacDougall, the attorney for former State Department employee Bryan Pagliano, sent a letter to House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy indicating that Pagliano would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to appear before the Select Committee for a deposition on September 10, 2015. A copy of the letter was obtained by CNN.

MacDougall also says that Pagliano would likewise “decline to produce documents that may be responsive to the subpoena.” In the letter, MacDougall defends the decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment by expressing concern about “the current political environment” surrounding Clinton’s email use.

Political climate — or legal climate, compadre?

300,000 Vets Died Waiting for VA Care

September 3rd, 2015 - 12:02 pm

The Operative: “It’s worse than you know.”

Capt. Mal Reynolds: “It usually is.”

-From Serenity

Joss Whedon’s timeless dialog could very well have been about our very own Veterans Administration, according to new findings:

The IG report says “serious” problems with enrollment data are making it impossible to determine exactly how many veterans are actively seeking health care from the VA, and how many were. For example, “data limitations” prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when.

But the findings would appear to confirm reports that first surfaced last year that many veterans died while awaiting care, as their applications got stuck in a system that the VA has struggled to overhaul. Some applications, the IG report says, go back nearly two decades.

The report addresses serious issues with the record-keeping itself.

More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators “could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in VA health care, the report said.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.

Jail is too good for these sons of bitches.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Disband the VA entirely, prosecute hundreds or thousands of these SOBs under RICO, and provide each vet a simple voucher for care anywhere for service-related healthcare needs.

And did I mention prosecuting the hell out of these VA SOBs?

It Isn’t Just Hillary

September 3rd, 2015 - 10:42 am

The FBI is just getting started:

EmailGate has barely touched the White House directly, although it’s clear that some senior administration officials beyond the State Department were aware of Hillary’s unorthodox email and server habits, given how widely some of the emails from Clinton and her staff were forwarded around the Beltway. Obama’s inner circle may not be off-limits to the FBI for long, however, particularly since the slipshod security practices of certain senior White House officials have been a topic of discussions in the Intelligence Community for years.

Hillary Clinton was far from the only senior Obama appointee to play fast and loose with classified materials, according to Intelligence Community insiders. While most counterspies agree that Hillary’s practices—especially using her own server and having her staffers place classified information into unclassified emails, in violation of Federal law—were especially egregious, any broad-brush investigation into security matters are likely to turn up other suspects, they maintain.

This is the most entitled crew to staff the White House since maybe ever — an attitude which starts at the very top.

The question isn’t if foreign intelligence has years of our secrets, or even how many secrets were spilled. The question is how many years will it take to clean up the damage, and how much we’ll be hurt until then.

Required Reading

September 3rd, 2015 - 9:20 am

DRUDGE

You’ve probably seen The Independent’s front page today, or at least Drudge’s above-the-banner treatment of it. Now read Noah Rothman’s take on how that young Syrian boy ended up dead on beach in Turkey:

It was President Barack Obama who declared the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria a “red line” for action, and it was President Barack Obama who flinched when it became clear that the regime in Damascus had ignored him. Soon, images began to filter into the Western press revealing the horrors wrought by these WMDs. Rooms full of bodies; people seizing, foaming at the mouth; children contorted and writhing as they met their horrible, terrifying end. The West had to act, but it did not.

Instead, jealous guardians of our comfort and privilege, Western governments opted for an off-ramp. Confronted by obstinate and recalcitrant voters both at home and in ostensibly allied states like Great Britain, Barack Obama declined to make the case for intervention in Syria. Instead, he made a case for a Trojan Horse. The Russian government had offered to preserve its client in Damascus in exchange for an unworkable plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria. Today, their client remains, but the chemical weapons were not entirely removed. Many of them are still in theater, and some have now fallen into the hands of ISIS – a terrorist enterprise of unfathomable brutality.

In reward for Obama’s pliant response to Russian overtures, Moscow responded to turmoil on its Western border by invading and annexing sovereign territory in Europe for the first time since World War II. Today, the flames of war again lap at European heels.

Read the whole thing.

Buying Ink by the Capsule

September 3rd, 2015 - 8:05 am

Nothing is too small to escape the nanny-stater’s gaze — even tattoo ink, which is set to come under intense regulation in New York:

Cuomo signed the bill, which forces tattoo artists to use only single-use ink capsules, in August—but apparently failed to consult a single tattoo artist before doing so.

A major concern for tattoo artists is perfecting their ink mixtures. One New York City artist told Gothamist that professionals “spend their entire career seeking pigments and perfecting recipes for ink.”

The regulation would force the tattoo parlors to buy mass-produced single-use capsules, taking the artistry out of the industry, critics say.

According to the petition, “single use, prepackaged inks” are “incredibly expensive and not offered by any of the better quality brands of ink.” The prepackaged inks are also only available in certain pigments.

At one point the story says Governor Cuomo has already signed the bill, but elsewhere it says that there’s still time to change the language of the bill.

Which is it? Not even a New York tattoo artist knows for sure.

Oh, Those Classified Emails

September 3rd, 2015 - 7:29 am

Via Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ jlw comes today’s big whoops:

Just as email-gate looked to be winding down, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned a person claiming to be a computer specialist has come forward with the stunning news that 32,000 emails from Hillary Clinton‘s private email account are up for sale. The price tag — a whopping $500,000!

Promising to give the trove of the former Secretary of State’s emails to the highest bidder, the specialist is showing subject lines as proof of what appear to be legitimate messages.

“Hillary or someone from her camp erased the outbox containing her emails, but forgot to erase the emails that were in her sent box,” an insider reveals to Radar of the Presidential contender’s latest nightmare.

I’m far from convinced this seller has the real goods — but it does seem just comically incompetent enough to be true, doesn’t it?

An Army Literally of One

September 3rd, 2015 - 6:40 am

The Army is taking steps to address a new threat — UAVs armed with IEDs:

That’s why the Army is adapting C-RAM [originally designed to protect against designed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars] for use against UAVs. “The smaller and smaller the protective area, the more efficient the gun systems become compared to missiles,” Luciano said. “You don’t need as many, and the gun system has certain logistics advantages.”

The EAPS ARDEC gun alternative could include a 50mm cannon to launch command guided interceptors and use a precision tracking radar interferometer as a sensor, a fire control computer and a radio frequency transmitter and receiver for launching munitions into an engagement basket, the Army said.

In April, the development team tested the system by shooting down a class 2 UAV – a short range tactical UAV such as the RQ-7A/B Shadow 200 – with command guidance and command warhead detonation.

It won’t be long before each infantryman has enough firepower (both offensive and defensive) on his own person, carried by a robotic exoskeleton, to have all the firepower of a platoon of 30 men. He’ll also have all the logistical needs of a platoon, all of a platoon’s intel requirements, and more computing power than a modern workstation.

And what happens to the grunt, to the privates and the lower NCOs, when the job of a single infantryman requires the skills, training, and pay of a commissioned officer? It takes a lieutenant to lead a platoon, but the way we’re headed eventually that lieutenant will be the platoon. The grunts, I suspect, will be the lieutenant’s little robot friends who scurry from depot to battlefield and back, keeping him full of ammo, batteries, water, and all his other logistical requirements. There will also be semiautomated drones flying around him, looking for bad guys, firing the occasional missile, and engaging in miniature air battles with enemy drones.

The platoon-infantryman will have to be kept apprised of all of these robotic goings on through an AI system which is able to separate all the wheat form the chaff, presenting him only with the information he needs, exactly when he needs it. All of this, I should add, is on top of his moving, firing, and coordinating with his fellow platoon-infantrymen and with the brass commanding his unit.

You get the idea that all that gear would emit enough to fry an egg simply by tossing it into the air.

The bad news is, there might not be many men (or women) who possess the physical and mental acumen to perform all of these tasks at once, even with all the computer and robotic aid they’ll receive. The good news is, if you can think about it this way, is that we won’t be able to afford to equip and field many platoon-infantrymen.

Still, it would be nice to have some real grunts around for when all the high-tech gear goes Tango Uniform.

Book Her, Danno

September 3rd, 2015 - 5:34 am

Last week my five-year-old came home from kindergarten with a nasty little stomach bug — poor kid was up half the night throwing up everything in his stomach and then some. Friday was Melissa’s turn. On Saturday my nine-year-old got it, and lost most of a precious Saturday to the Angry Toilet Gods. When I didn’t come down with it by Tuesday, I figured I was safe. Then came the Zero Dark Thirty hours of Wednesday morning, and it was every bit as awful as my little family had led me to expect.

But that bug wasn’t nearly as sick-making as the latest on Hillary Clinton and her wheeler-dealing as secretary of State:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails reveal how prominently the Clinton Foundation factored into her thinking as America’s top diplomat, raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.

In one instance, Mrs. Clinton appeared to try to steer a Haiti earthquake recovery project to the foundation, according to new emails released this week as the State Department belatedly complies with open records requests for her communications during her four years in office.

Another email shows Mrs. Clinton directing a State Department employee to handle solicitation of money from Norway for a program she was about to announce in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, and which was being run by the United Nations Foundation, another nonprofit created by Ted Turner that has close ties to her family’s operation.

These are the insider sweetheart deals we know about. The former secretary, when she wasn’t busy pimping out her husband, found the time to delete 32,000 emails. What was contained in those? We may never know, but it’s safe to assume that they weren’t all wedding plans and yoga positions.

There’s more:

In another exchange, Mrs. Clinton praised an idea to set up schools in Haiti, developed by David Domenici, longtime domestic partner to top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, who was her chief of staff at the department.

Ms. Mills, who served as a member of the Clinton Foundation’s board of directors before and after her stint at the State Department under Mrs. Clinton, forwarded the ideas to Mrs. Clinton, who responded enthusiastically.

“Great ideas (no surprise). Let’s work toward solid proposal maybe to Red Cross and Clinton Foundation since they have unencumbered $,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

The Clinton’s private foundation — let us not insult actual charitable organizations by calling the Clinton Foundation a charity — was used to direct foreign aid dollars to cronies, while Clinton used her position as SecState to put the deals together.

Two more items for you.

The first comes from Fox News, which reports on State Department efforts to conceal the “true extent of classified information” on the privately-owned clintonemail.com by deliberately changing or hiding the Top Secret headers:

The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May, was confirmed by two sources — one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department’s legal office, the designation was switched to “B5″ — also known as “deliberative process,” which refers to internal deliberations by the Executive Branch. Such discussions are exempt from public release.

The B5 coding has the effect, according to a congressional source, of dropping the email content “down a deep black hole.”

The next revelation comes from the Washington Post:

While she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote and sent at least six e-mails using her private server that contained what government officials now say is classified information, according to thousands of e-mails released by the State Department.

Although government officials deemed the e-mails classified after Clinton left office, they could complicate her efforts to move beyond the political fallout from the controversy. They suggest that her role in distributing sensitive material via her private e-mail system went beyond receiving notes written by others, and appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information.

I’ll reiterate: These are the ones we know about. So far.

And the only proper response to WaPo’s weasel-phrase that these classified emails “appear to contradict earlier public statements” is to tell them, “My ass it appears that way!” C’mon, she was lying then and she’s lying now, even in the face of all this new evidence, that her State Department was her and Bill’s private and very profitable plaything.

Le Département d’État c’est moi, if I may paraphrase another entitled and corrupt world leader, sums up exactly how Clinton treated her time at State.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

RTW Is A-OK

September 2nd, 2015 - 7:21 am
(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

Heritage busts union claims that Right-to-Work laws harm worker:

Unions and their advocates argue that, by reducing their membership, RTW laws reduce wages. They claim that weakening union power reduces the pressure on businesses to pay more.

In its new study, The Heritage Foundation has replicated the research that unions and some economists use to support that claim, and has found it fundamentally flawed, as it only partially controlled for cost-of-living differences among states.[2] Using the same model but fully controlling for price differences shows that RTW laws have no effect on private-sector workers’ purchasing power. Heritage did find that government employees make approximately 5 percent less in RTW states.

Unions remain stuck in the New Deal fallacy that the way to riches is to make everything more expensive.

Carded for Coke

September 2nd, 2015 - 6:10 am

Deep in your heart you had to know this was coming:

New York State Assemblyman Matthew Titone, D-Staten Island, has proposed legislation that would ban the sale of sugary drinks 16 ounces or larger to minors across the state.

That means, yes, you’d have to show ID before buying a bottle of cola.

Though minors couldn’t buy soda on their own, adults could do it for them, Titone told reporters when he announced the bill.

“If the adult buys it for the minor, that’s fine. That’s a parent or a guardian making an informed decision,” Titone said, according to reports from CBS-2 in New York. “We allow children to see G-rated movies on their own, but they can’t see R-rated movies on their own. It’s the same concept,” he said.

Kids can’t play outdoors by themselves, they can’t ride bikes without enough protective gear for a week on Mars, and now we have to stop them from buying soda.

These are Heinlein’s Crazy Years — we just live in them.

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Ashe Schow says that Hillary has nowhere to go but down:

It is when Clinton is not in the spotlight that she is most popular. That may sound like a sexist “women should be seen not heard” observation, but it is a problem unique to Hillary. The same issue does not and has not existed for other First Ladies such as Laura Bush or Michelle Obama, although they haven’t sought office after leaving the White House as Clinton has.

Since the digital age allowed Americans greater access to the First Lady, their approval ratings have been high. Clinton, the first digital-age First Lady, did not register the same approval ratings as Ms. Bush or Ms. Obama, and her negatives were always two to three times that of her successors, reaching a high of 40 percent in January 1995. Conversely, Ms. Bush’s highest disapproval rating was 13 percent, and Ms. Obama’s highest was 8 percent. Neither Ms. Bush nor Ms. Obama’s approval rating fell below 60 percent during their time in office, while Clinton’s did – to 54 percent in 1995. That’s obviously still high, but it is low for First Ladies.

Currently, Clinton’s favorable rating is a dismal 39 percent, while her unfavorable rating sits at 51 percent. At this point in the 2008 election, Clinton’s favorability rating was at 55 percent.

People are waking up to the fact that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Oh, and send Ashe a big congrats for her new gig at Observer.com.

Thought for the Day

September 1st, 2015 - 4:45 pm

China on the Brink

September 1st, 2015 - 1:45 pm

ZeroHedge reports on China’s brand-spankin-new currency control:

Overnight, China decided to take steps to reduce “macro financial risks.”

And by that they mean “do something quick to help ease pressure on the yuan” and by extension, on the PBoC’s rapidly depleting FX reserves.

To that end, starting October 15 banks will have to hold the equivalent of 20% of clients’ FX forward positions with the PBoC, where the money will sit, frozen, for a year, at 0% interest.

Obviously, that will drive up the cost of taking speculative positions which the PBoC hopes will help narrow the gap between onshore and offshore yuan and bring down volatility, although the degree to which this will help fill the CNY-CNH spread looks like an open question.

“It’s a move to ease the reduction in foreign-exchange reserves,” Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Bank Hong Kong, tells Bloomberg. “It will also remove lots of speculative trades that aim at short-term gains as the reserves have a minimum lock-up period of one year,” adds Stan Chart’s Becky Liu.

Currency controls are a bad, bad sign for any economy. In one the size of China’s…

Buy canned goods and ammo.

Sign “O” the Times

September 1st, 2015 - 1:39 pm
United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America - 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America – 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Special Forces morale is plummeting as White House rules interfere with their mission and unjustly ends promising careers:

In recent months, the Army has disciplined, admonished and ended the careers of a number of Green Berets for actions that the soldiers themselves believe were part of combating an evil enemy. Pristine standards for fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda are not achievable, some in the community say.

“There is certainly a belief that upper echelons of leadership have morphed into political positions, and leaders are a lot less willing to risk their own career to support their soldiers,” Danny Quinn, a former Green Beret team leader and West Point graduate, told The Washington Times.

Examples abound.

Read the whole thing.

Saudis Ask Fox to Guard Henhouse

September 1st, 2015 - 12:26 pm
Jordan's Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan's King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

One of the richest potentates in the world will come to the White House begging:

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s three-day visit, strategically scheduled just days before Congress votes on the agreement, offers the Saudi leader a powerful platform to insist that the United States help combat Iranian “mischief.” The king is seeking assurances in the fight against Iran’s proxies across the region, as well as with elements of the nuclear deal itself.

The visit “underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Aug. 27.

“The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts,” Earnest said. “They will also discuss regional topics, including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Assuming the deal goes through, Iran will suddenly become $150,000,000,000 richer, with more to come.

That kind of money can buy an awful lot of “mischief,” which to me is the main reason to oppose the deal. The question isn’t if Iran goes nuclear, but when. The key concern then is containment, which becomes nearly impossible after the sanctions regime is removed.

Required Reading

September 1st, 2015 - 11:44 am

John Schindler exposes Wikileaks as a front for Russian intelligence:

Evidence that Wikileaks is not what it seems to be has mounted over the years. Assange’s RT show didn’t help matters, neither did the fact that, despite having claimed to possess secret Russian intelligence files, Wikileaks has never exposed anything sensitive, as they have done with the purloined files of many other countries. To say nothing of Assange & Co. taking unmistakably pro-Russian positions on a host of controversial issues. Questions logically followed.

Now answers are appearing.

Read the whole thing.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

September 1st, 2015 - 10:38 am
(Photo courtesy Apple.com)

(Photo courtesy Apple.com)

Does anybody really care? Apparently so, if an iMore user survey means anything.

While trying to divine Apple Watch sales is still a fool’s game, but according to that survey, the people who do own them actually use them — a lot.

Read:

93% of those who took the iMore survey wear the Apple Watch 5 or more days a week. 95% wear their Apple Watch for 8 hours or more a day and 79% wear it for 12 hours or more a day. Next we asked which features are most important to our readers.

98% say notifications are the most important.
84% say timekeeping.
77% say health and fitness.
72% say communications.
44% say Apple Pay and Passbook.
42% say information lookup (calendar, maps, stocks, weather, etc.).
23% say remote control or home automation.

Mine became my go-to device almost immediately, replacing my phone in nearly every instance that I don’t actually need the bigger screen or non-Watch functional apps.

I’m curious to see how that compares to Android Wear and Pebble. Android Wear isn’t yet selling in huge numbers (although that should change before too long), and Pebble has a serious hardcore user set.

It’s a big move, and probably a smart one:

In a blog post this weekend, the company’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, explained that “a number of high profile” movies will leave the service next month as a result of Netflix’s decision not to renew the partnership. Films affected include ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, ‘World War Z’ and ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, which viewers have until the end of September to watch.

“While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods. Through our original films and some innovative licensing arrangements with the movie studios, we are aiming to build a better movie experience for you,” Sarandos wrote.

Saving money on blockbusters you can see anywhere in favor of spending more money on exclusives you can’t makes a lot of business sense — especially if Netflix can maintain decent quality.

It also fits in with their CEO’s stated goal of “becoming HBO before HBO becomes us.”

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Damn:

The suspect in the slaying of Texas deputy Darren Goforth was found mentally incompetent in 2012 to stand trial on a felony assault charge, a prosecutor said Monday.

About three years ago, Shannon J. Miles was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after fighting a man at an Austin homeless shelter over the television remote control, said Joe Frederick, a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.

Miles kicked and punched the victim, injuring his face, back and head, Frederick said. The deadly weapon used in the assault was his hands.

Before trial, Miles was found mentally incompetent and sent to Vernon State Mental Hospital for six months, Frederick said. He was determined to be competent and sent back to Travis County for trial, but prosecutors could not find the assault victim and the case was dropped, Frederick said.

We have deluded people freeing crazy people to be turned into killers by bad people.

Somewhere between the horrors and cruelties of early “mental health” asylums and today’s Let Them All Go policy there must lie something both compassionate to the incompetent and safe for society.

ATTKISSON: Clinton Broke FOIA [UPDATED]

September 1st, 2015 - 7:19 am
"Catch me if you can." (AP photo)

“Catch me if you can.”
(AP photo)

The latest from investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

The newly-released batch of Hillary Clinton emails provides further proof that Freedom of Information (FOI) law has been blatantly violated. The documents include material directly responsive to a FOI request I made back in 2012 after the Benghazi terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds. However, the material was not produced at the time, as required by law. Once again, there appears to be nobody who holds government officials and agencies accountable for their routine violation of this law. So the infractions occur frequently and with impunity. If nobody polices our government officials and agencies–if they are above the law–then how does a lawful society function?

Click here to view the WSJ database of emails. One of the many emails that should have been provided under FOI in 2012, but was not, is to Clinton from Huma Abedin on Sept. 14, 2012. Others include Clinton communications on Benghazi with her chief aide Cheryl Mills.

Then there’s this:

Read the email. Check the date.

Hillary Clinton, I don’t hesitate to add, belongs in jail.

MORE:

Boom.

If today turns out to be as full of these revelations as I think, I’ll make this post sticky.

AND ANOTHER:

I don’t know how she survives this.

Actually I do, but it’s difficult even for my jaded self to be quite that cynical.

THIS NEXT EMAIL isn’t quite as shattering as the first three, but it does raise a fascinating question about Huma, her priorities, and her relationship with the Secretary of State:

Let’s go to our friends at Think Progress (“Two Lies in One Name!™”) for the progressive take on what happened when Walmart unilaterally raised the minimum wage for its employees:

One anonymous Walmart worker near Houston told Bloomberg that her store had cut more than 200 hours a week by asking people to go home early. Another in Fort Worth was told that the store would cut 1,500 hours and said that employees who had been asked to stay late for extra work earlier in the week were told to take two-hour lunch breaks later on to make up for those hours.

In February, Walmart announced that it would raise its base pay to at least $9 an hour by April and $10 an hour by early next year, increasing wages for about 500,000 employees and spending more than $1 billion on the effort. At the time, the CEO said the company expected those changes to lower employee turnover and attract better talent, as well as to lead to better customer service that would boost sales.

But earlier this month, the company lowered its annual earnings forecast based in part on the higher cost of employee compensation. It had originally said the cost of higher pay would reduce profit by 20 cents per stock share, but then revised that to 24 cents a share.

Writer Bryce Covert* insists that hiking wages without a commensurate increase in productivity is somehow akin to “long-term investments that don’t pay off as quickly but can increase growth in the long run.” How that is supposed to work is best left to the fevered dreams of progressives.

Meanwhile, here’s how it’s playing out for actual Walmart employees:

GOOD NEWS: You’re getting a raise.

BAD NEWS: Your hours are getting cut.

GOOD NEWS: Your pay works out about the same.

BAD NEWS: Fewer hours mean you no longer qualify for benefits.

Entry level work sucks because it’s entry level — and that’s before well-meaning lefties start screwing with it.

What If You Won the Lottery But Nobody Paid?

September 1st, 2015 - 5:23 am
(Shutterstock image)

(Shutterstock image)

That’s what happened in Illinois:

Danny Chasteen and his girlfriend, Susan Rick, thought they had gotten their big break last month when Chasteen won $250,000 from the Illinois Lottery. Instead, they got an IOU.

The Chicago Tribune reported that disbursements of Illinois Lottery winnings of more than $25,000 have been halted because the state doesn’t have a budget.

“For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break,” Rick said. “And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up.”

Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller’s office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.

Chasteen and Rick had better hope the comptroller makes good on that IOU before lawmakers find some better use for other people’s money.

Thought for the Day

August 31st, 2015 - 4:52 pm

Scenes from a Detroit Courtroom

August 31st, 2015 - 2:05 pm

A horrible case with a sweet touch of real justice at its conclusion:

•Jasmine Gordon, 25, and her boyfriend Clifford Thomas, 34, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Jamila

•On Friday, Jamila’s biological father Dwayne Smith was set to give a victim impact statement in Detroit, Michigan court

•Instead of addressing his daughter’s mother and her boyfriend, he punched Thomas from behind

•Sheriff’s deputies had to intervene to keep the two men apart

•Court later resumed and Gordon and Thomas were sentenced; the judge declined to hold Smith in contempt of court for the outburst

About that last bullet point, sometimes justice can still be blind.

You, Me, and B-3

August 31st, 2015 - 1:46 pm
(Rendering courtesy Northrop-Grumman)

(Rendering courtesy Northrop-Grumman)

Cost overruns already plague the Air Force’s top secret follow-on to the B-2 Spirit stealth heavy bomber:

The problem began last year, when the service told Congress the yet-to-be-built Long-Range Strike Bomber would cost $33.1 billion between 2015 and 2025. It recently updated the estimate (from 2016 to 2026) to $58.4 billion—a hike of $25.3 billion, or 76%.

That works out to a swing of $169 for each of the roughly 150 million Americans who file federal tax returns. But, the Air Force acknowledged last week, the latest cost estimate to develop and buy the aircraft over the coming decade is pegged at $41.7 billion. Apparently, the fledgling stealth bomber can elude fiscal reckoning as well as enemy radar.

An extra $169 over ten years to fund the latest and greatest and invisiblest bomber ever?

Can I just write a check right now?

Compared to most of the places my tax dollars go, this one’s a bargain.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 31st, 2015 - 12:38 pm

Politico just now noticed that the ♡bamaCare!!! Cadillac tax* “could wreck popular medical accounts.”

Since I’ve already used “no s***, Sherlock” once today, I’ll just quote you Politico’s belated take:

Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor’s co-pays to eyeglasses, may vanish in coming years as companies scramble to avoid the law’s 40 percent levy on pricey health care benefits.

“They’ll be one of the first things to go,” said Rich Stover, a health care actuary and principal at Buck Consultants, an employee benefits consulting firm. “It’s a death knell for them. If the Cadillac tax doesn’t change, FSAs will go away very quickly.”

That fact alone could dramatically alter the political equation surrounding Obamacare, potentially blindsiding middle-class voters who may be only vaguely aware of the Cadillac tax.

This comes from Politico’s Brian Faler, who presumably spent January 2009 through July 2015 in some kind of coma.

EXIT QUESTION: If middle class voters are only “vaguely aware” of a great big tax aimed right at their health insurance plan, where might a political news service — named, say, “Politico” — most fairly place the blame for such ignorance?
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Just Gimme One More Hit of ZIRP, Man

August 31st, 2015 - 11:16 am

CNN’s Virginia Harrison boldly proclaims that the “world is still hooked on cheap money.”

Or as we used to say in high school back in the ’80s, “No s***, Sherlock?*”

Harrison comes close to desiring the crux of the problem, but never quite fleshes it out — perhaps to keep her readers from repeating that 1929 classic sporting event, the Wall Street Swan Dive. Here’s as close as she gets:

Central banks in Canada, India, Australia, and Norway have cut interest rates this year and most of those countries are expected to ease further. Rates in Switzerland have languished in negative territory since late last year. And policymakers in Europe and Japan are printing money as a tool to support growth.

The efforts illustrate cracks in the world economy. Five of the seven biggest economies are in cheap money mode, while the U.S. and the U.K. remain stuck in neutral — at least for now.

The U.S. was on track to raise rates as early as next month, but the problems plaguing China and rest of world may put that off. On Wednesday, president of the New York Federal Reserve William Dudley poured cold water on an imminent rate rise, though more clues could come this week when Fed policymakers gather for their annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here’s the fleshier version.

Our economic problems are global, but the roots are strongest in just two places — Washington and Beijing.

The Fed (and previously Congress) pumps cheap money to keep the economy afloat, hoping for a mild bout of inflation to cure the “disease” of business hoarding cash instead of spending it, and to inflate away that other teensy problem called the national debt.

China pumps cheap money to keep the jobs machine working overtime, hoping to continue papering over decades of malinvestment, and to keep the export sector thriving. China also has the teensy problem of needing to create 15-20 million jobs each and every year, to prevent city-bound peasants from revolting against the regime.

The Fed keep trying to inflate, but China keeps exporting deflation to us in the form of cheap goods. Should the Fed raise rates here, like they keep threatening to do, the capital flight from China would create a credit crunch China can’t afford — which would likely bring down the global economy in yet another deflationary spiral.

Meanwhile, the Fed’s cheap money encourages speculative, bubble investing, and China’s cheap money encourages continued malinvestment and overproduction of export goods.

The two biggest economies in the world are run by drug pushers, and everybody’s an addict.

(more…)

Iran Cheating Already?

August 31st, 2015 - 10:09 am

That didn’t take long:

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog — indicates Iran is in broad compliance with its nuclear commitments, but also notes with concern indications of construction activity at the Parchin military site, where Iran is suspected of having carried out covert nuclear-related activities in the past.

The document — part of the agency’s routine review of Iran’s program — states that the IAEA “has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment and probable construction materials.”

“In addition,” the report continues, “a small extension to an existing building appears to have been constructed.”

Critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran are likely to seize on this detail of the report.

Ya think?

But don’t believe those crazy critics for even a moment. Iran sent one of their top men — top men! — to check it out, and he swears everything is on the up-and-up.

Scenes from the Central Valley

August 31st, 2015 - 9:59 am

Damn:

Maria Marquez, a 50-year-old widow, panicked when her shower abruptly ended in June 2014. They couldn’t afford to move, and who would buy a house without running water? Drilling her own new well would cost more than years of earnings from the food truck where she works.

Unlike Lozano, who rents his home, Marquez was eligible as a homeowner to get a tank installed for washing and flushing, to be filled each Monday by a county truck, as well as bottled water for drinking and cooking through California’s $3.7 billion drought relief program, which includes $38 million for drinking water and tanks.

“It’s our home,” said her daughter Judy Munoz, 26. “She doesn’t want to leave it behind.”

California is John Steinbeck novel — again.