Tag Archives: corruption

A good summary of the Wikileaks DNC emails

Link here. This Reddit post essential lists several dozen links to specific DNC emails at the Wikileaks site, all illustrating some pretty unsavory behavior by Democratic Party officials and politicians as well as a number of so-called journalists.

Many of these stories are simply the ordinary dirty business of politics, laid bare to see. Others though reveal the significant levels of corruption that permeate the Democratic Party, levels I think that far worse than anything one could find among the Republicans, bad as that party’s leadership happens to be.

Above all, the emails that document the close teamwork between the press and the Democratic Party are probably the most important. It is not that this is surprising. The emails merely prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. MSNBC and its head Phil Griffin especially are revealed to be nothing more than Democratic operatives, working closely with the DNC to push its agenda.

Congress demands Air Force spend less and more at the same time

A House budget report has cut the Air Force launch budget while simultaneously requiring the Air Force to favor more expensive launch companies.

In addition to cutting the funding available for new launch contracts, House appropriators also want the Air Force to consider “the best value to the government” in evaluating bids.

ULA has been pushing for the best-value approach since it sat out last fall’s GPS-3 launch competition saying it couldn’t win a price shootout against SpaceX, which will launch the satellite which was awarded an $82.7 million contract last month for a May 2018 launch of a GPS-3 satellite. That contract was awarded as part of a best value source selection. “We do not yet feel we are in a position to win price-only competitions with our competitor,” Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive, said in a March interview with SpaceNews. “We believe we have better performance, reliability and schedule certainty.” Those traits would carry greater weight in a best-value competition.

Only our precious Congress. On one hand they cut the budget for launches because they think the Air Force is wasting money On the other they demand that the Air Force spend extra millions on launch contracts so that the company they favor, ULA, gets the work. One would almost think they do not have the nation’s interests in mind..

Fake images in biology research papers

The uncertainty of peer review: A new study has found that since 1995 as many as 5.5% of all biomedical research papers per year contain duplicate or faked images.

Bik, who is at Stanford University in California, spent two years looking at articles published from 1995 to 2014 in 40 different journals, hunting for instances in which identical images were used to represent different experiments within the same paper. She cross-checked the duplications that she found with her two co-authors, both microbiologists.

Overall, 4% of the inspected papers contained such images, the researchers found. But rates ranged from over 12% in the International Journal of Oncology, to 0.3% in the Journal of Cell Biology, which has since 2002 systematically scanned images in its accepted papers before publication. Journals with higher impact factors generally had lower rates of duplicated images.

…Many of the problems were probably sloppy mistakes where people selected the wrong photograph, says Bik. But half or more look deliberate — because images are flipped or rotated or the same features occur twice in the same photograph. [emphasis mine]

Essentially, a significant number of scientists in medical research are purposely faking data.

Further chaos at Vostochny

One week after the Moscow Commercial Court ordered the contractor building the new Russian spaceport Vostochny to repay $52 million in bank loans, that contractor has now filed three lawsuits totaling $17.9 million against the organization that runs the spaceport.

The new lawsuits suggest that even as the contractor’s managers were embezzling millions from the spaceport, the spaceport organization was also pocketing some money that was supposed to go to the contractor.

Russia: a true worker’s paradise!

Vostochny contractor ordered to pay loans

A Moscow court has ordered the main contractor building the Vostochny spaceport to pay back 3.5 billion rubles in debt to its bank.

VTB [the bank] has filed several lawsuits to recover debt from Dalspetsstroy [the contractor]. On February 24, the Moscow Commercial Court granted the bank’s lawsuit seeking 722 million rubles ($11 million) from the company. Another claim for 777 million rubles ($11.5 million) should be considered today.

It was the ex-CEO of this contractor, plus his two sons, who are charged with embezzling over a hundred million rubles from the project.

In related news, this Moscow Times article provides some nice details about Russia’s just approved ten-year plan for its space program. As reported earlier, Russia’s bad economic times has forced them to cut the program to the bone.

Somehow, why do I think that these two stories have so much to do with each other? Could it be that there is some inherent corruption within Russia’s giant government-run aerospace monopoly called Roscosmos that prevents that monopoly from innovating, competing, and doing things efficiently?

VA reinstates worker who committed armed robbery

Our government at work: A VA worker has been reinstated with back pay after being fired for participating in an armed robbery.

It is worse than you think. The reason her union won her case was because the VA hadn’t fired other workers who had broken the law, so thus it was unfair to fire her as well.

A Department of Veterans Affairs employee in Puerto Rico was fired after being arrested for armed robbery, but her union quickly got her reinstated — despite a guilty plea — by pointing out that management’s labor relations negotiator is a registered sex offender, and the hospital’s director was once arrested and found with painkiller drugs…

Employees said the union demanded her job back and pointed out that Tito Santiago Martinez, the management-side labor relations specialist in Puerto Rico, who is in charge of dealing with the union and employee discipline, is a convicted sex offender. Martinez reportedly disclosed his conviction to the hospital and VA hired him anyway, reasoning that “there’s no children in [the hospital], so they figure I could not harm anyone here.”

The union’s position — that another employee committed a crime and got away with it, so this one should, too — has been upheld by the highest civil service rules arbiters, and has created a vicious Catch-22 where the department’s prior indefensible inaction against bad employees has handcuffed it from taking action now against other scofflaws.

And the intellectual elites in Washington wonder why people are angry and want to throw the bums out. In fact, that they remain clueless about this anger and continue to do nothing about this kind of obscene corruption in the government departments that they control is only more reason to throw them out. Maybe we should even consider bringing back that old American custom: to tar and feather them and ride them out of town on a rail.

More data tampering at NOAA

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of the 2015 climate data released by NOAA suggests that they continue to adjust the data on a yearly basis to cool the past and warm the present so as to create the false illusion of global warming,.

More here. There is no justification for these adjustments. None. Worse, the NOAA scientists don’t even bother to try to explain the changes, even the changes to past data from 2014 to 2015.

The most damning aspect is that the adjustments only shift things in one direction — increasing the illusion that the climate is warming. This strongly suggests that these changes are political and not scientific, and that there is fraud and corruption at NOAA.

Audit finds Obama administration complicent in the Obamacare website fraud and cost overruns

Finding out what’s in it: A federal audit has found that the Obama administration looked the other way, and in some cases even helped, while the contractors hired to create the Obamacare website committed significant fraud and negligence.

The investigation focused on nearly two dozen contracts considered to be most important to the operation of the website, which was supposed to create a marketplace that serves as a one-stop shop for health insurance. Instead, it’s had a multitude of problems that have been well-documented in the media. The deals to develop this federal insurance marketplace went mostly to eight politically connected companies that raked in north of $600 million, the IG’s report says. “As of March 31, 2014, CMS had identified 62 contracts that it had awarded to 35 different contractors to develop, implement, and operate the Federal marketplace,” the report states.

That means there are a lot of taxpayer dollars floating around for this cause. You’d think the government would select its finest employees to oversee the deals. Instead, CMS violated federal rules by assigning unqualified employees to oversee contracts worth more than $10 million, according to the audit. In one case an unqualified agency employee, who didn’t even have lower-level certification to supervise contracts over $25,000, oversaw a $130 million deal for more than a year. In a separate case documented by the IG, an unauthorized CMS worker allowed an eye-popping $28 million cost overrun that wasn’t even identified until the agency finally assigned a more knowledgeable staffer to take over the deal.

These atrocious examples are probably not the half of it because CMS couldn’t even provide investigators with routine documents that should have been readily available. That means there’s no telling the true magnitude of the damage. As for accountability, there appears to be none as is often the case in government. The Obama officials—former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former CMS head Marilyn Tavenner—in charge of this boondoggle are both gone and it’s highly unlikely either will face any consequences.

Hey, what’s a little graft and embezzlement of tax dollars among friends? Besides, they are Democrats, and we always forgive Democrats for their corrupt practices. More important, it is never their fault. Bush and Reagan and that evil right wing conspiracy is obviously to blame.

Two more arrests for embezzlement at Vostochny

The Russians today arrested two more individuals for the embezzlement of funds during the construction work at the new spaceport in Vostochny.

The Lyublino district court of Moscow has ruled to take into custody director of the VIP Stroi Engineering company Vadim Mitryakov and former head of the Nizhny Novgorod Volga-Vyatka construction company (VVSK) Yevgenia Degtyareva, suspected of embezzling 300 million rubles ($4.42 million) allocated for the construction of roads to the Vostochny cosmodrome, the court said on Monday. “The court granted the investigation’s request on the measure of restraint for Mitryakov and Degtyareva — arrest for 2 months, i.e. until November 7,” the court’s press service told TASS.

This puts five now under arrest in the case.

The one climate prediction that has come true

Fraud at NOAA: Several years ago Steve Goddard predicted that, no matter what the temperature records told us, NOAA scientists would begin to declare every month the hottest on record. It turns out he was 100% right!

Be sure and look at the next to last graph at the link. It shows the increasing difference between the raw, unadjusted temperature data and the adjustments made by NOAA scientists. Not surprisingly, the adjustments all increase the trend towards warming, and have been doing so more and more with each year. Nothing can justify such adjustments, under any rational scientific argument. These guys are either incompetent, stooges for their political bosses, or political hacks. Or all three.

Posted on the outskirts of Phoenix.

IRS defies judge’s court order in Lerner email scandal

Contempt for the law: The IRS and the Obama administration today directly defied the ruling of a federal judge, who — faced with their stonewalling — had ordered them to release 1800 Lois Lerner emails to the court each Monday.

It appears to me that the IRS and the Obama administration are doing whatever they can to obstruct this investigation and to prevent these emails from ever being seen by the public. This also strongly suggests that there are some real bombshells in those emails, including evidence that there was a blatent effort by the White House, the IRS, and Democratic members of Congress to use the IRS to harass and destroy their political opponents.

I am waiting for this judge to finally show some real backbone and declare several Obama and IRS officials in direct contempt of the court and then have them arrested and imprisoned. Until he does, the Obama administration is going to continue to thumb its nose at him, and the law.

NOAA caught tampering with temperature data again

A close look at NOAA’s temperature data for Maine has revealed that sometime between 2013 and 2015 the data was drastically adjusted to cool the past and warm the present.

No explanations for these changes has been offered. For some years they cooled the past as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit, an adjustment that cannot be justified under any scientific method. As asked at the link, “Would someone please try to explain why this isn’t the biggest scandal in the history of science?”

“American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies [and] the results have been catastrophic.”

Link here. As the author bluntly notes, in referencing Baltimore in particular,

Yes, Baltimore seems to have some police problems. But let us be clear about whose fecklessness and dishonesty we are talking about here: No Republican, and certainly no conservative, has left so much as a thumbprint on the public institutions of Baltimore in a generation. Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project.

When will the Left be held to account for the brutality in Baltimore — brutality for which it bears a measure of responsibility on both sides? There aren’t any Republicans out there cheering on the looters, and there aren’t any Republicans exercising real political power over the police or other municipal institutions in Baltimore. Community-organizer — a wretched term — Adam Jackson declared that in Baltimore “the Democrats and the Republicans have both failed.” Really? Which Republicans? Ulysses S. Grant? Unless I’m reading the charts wrong, the Baltimore city council is 100 percent Democratic. [emphasis mine]

Like Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, and a host of other major metropolitan cities that are disasters for the middle class and the poor, Baltimore has been run by Democrats as a one-party monopoly for literally generations. The disasters we are seeing there have nothing to do with Republican policies, and everything to do with the terrible and failed policies of the progressive left. They are to blame, but they keep trying to spread that blame around.

It is time for Americans to see them for what they are — failures — and to stop voting for them. Republicans certainly don’t have all the answers, and should certainly be fired quickly if they fail to serve the public, but Republicans also have had nothing to do with the failures of the inner cities.

The most important thing a free person has is the freedom to choose. I pray that inner city Americans, both black and white, finally realize that it is time to choose differently.

Social Security still has 6.5 million people older than 112 active in its files

Obviously we must give the government more responsibility! An inspector general audit of the Social Security administration has found more than 6.5 million names of people older than 112 still in the agency’s files.

The audit, dated March 4, 2015, concluded that SSA lacks the controls necessary to note death information on the records of number-holders who exceed “maximum reasonable life expectancies. … We obtained Numident data that identified approximately 6.5 million number holders born before June 16, 1901 who did not have a date of death on their record,” the report states.

Some of the numbers assigned to long-dead people were used fraudulently to open bank accounts. And thousands of those numbers apparently were used by illegal immigrants to apply for work: “During Calendar Years 2008 through 2011, SSA received 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using the SSNs of 3,873 numberholders born before June 16, 1901,” the report said. “These inquiries indicate individuals’ attempts to use the SSNs to apply for work.”

Moreover, to even think of trimming the budget of any government agency is madness! Madness! They need every penny!

Inspector General to report tonight on Lois Lerner email recovery

Transparency! The inspector general for the Treasury Department is scheduled to testify this evening before a House committee on his investigation into the IRS’s effort to recover emails of Lois Lerner that the IRS said were forever lost.

“House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz remains concerned the IRS potentially mislead the American people about its efforts to recover former Director Lerner’s emails. The IRS has claimed under oath that most of her emails from a key time period were destroyed by a crashed hard drive, that back-up tapes were erased, and were therefore unrecoverable,” a statement from the Committee says. “Through their ongoing efforts, the Inspector General’s office has discovered that the back-up tapes do exist, the data on them was never erased, and the emails are in fact recoverable.”

Should be quite interesting.

The crooks in the tea party movement

John Hawkins has released a blockbuster report revealing which tea pary/Republican PACS are legitimate and helpful to conservative candidates and which are nothing more than scams.

The bottom line:

If you gave a dollar to the gold standard of PACs that we researched, Club for Growth Action, 88 cents of every dollar you gave went to a candidate. On the other hand, there were a number of PACs that gave 10% or less of the money they received to candidates. When there’s a 78 cents per dollar difference in the effective use of money between the top of the heap and more than half of the PACs we researched, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

It is essential that conservatives review carefully the graph at the link before they give money to anyone.

Improper charge card use by government employees wastes millions

Serving the taxpayer: Federal employees given charge cards that allow them to buy things freely wasted millions of dollars in unauthorized or improper purchases, according to an inspector general report.

Government purchase cards are intended to be used only for purchases of approved merchandise under $3,000. Southern Command employees used the cards improperly nearly 6,000 times at a cost of $5.1 million, according to a Department of Defense inspector general report. Another $160,000 was spent on an estimated 3,500 unnecessary gifts in the years since 2010, often just days before the government’s fiscal years ended. The items remained in storage at least three years. “The wasteful expenditures could have been put to use in other operational areas and are considered abusive use of the [purchase cards],” the IG said.

Not surprisingly, government officials disagreed with the report, even as they admitted there was nothing factually wrong with it.

Despite the clear misuse of taxpayer dollars, DOD officials disagreed with the IG’s recommendations for tighter management. Southern Command’s chief of staff told the IG “he was unaware of unnecessary gifts in the gift locker.”

The federal government is entirely out of control, and needs to be reined in aggressively. Many people who work there need to be fired. Some need to go to prison for theft. Until that happens, it will continue to suffocate our society with its crippling overspending and increased debt.

Delta employee caught repeatedly smuggling guns on flights

Does this make you feel safer? A Delta employee was arrested today for smuggling guns on several commercial flights.

Henry allegedly brought the firearms in his carry-on luggage on at least five flights from Atlanta to New York between May 1 and December 10. During that time frame, Henry supplied a total of 129 handguns and two assault rifles to co-conspirators in New York, the affidavit states. One of those co-conspirators ended up selling the firearms to an undercover New York police officer.

Henry was arrested in New York on December 10 after landing at JFK airport with 18 handguns in his bag — seven of which were loaded, the affidavit says.

He apparently used his security clearance to bypass the TSA, thus avoiding getting sexually abused while also bringing loads of weapons on board numerous flights.

But the TSA works! The government tells us so!

The geography of scientific plagiarism

A review of the text of hundreds of thousands of papers submitted by scientists worldwide has revealed the countries from which plagiarism is most likely.

Researchers from countries that submit the lion’s share of arXiv papers—the United States, Canada, and a small number of industrialized countries in Europe and Asia—tend to plagiarize less often than researchers elsewhere. For example, more than 20% (38 of 186) of authors who submitted papers from Bulgaria were flagged, more than eight times the proportion from New Zealand (five of 207). In Japan, about 6% (269 of 4759) of submitting authors were flagged, compared with over 15% (164 out of 1054) from Iran.

The global map illustrating this geography at the link is quite fascinating to peruse, as it generally shows the cultural roots of plagiarism. Happily, western culture does not appear to be the source.

Judicial Watch demands right to cross-examine IRS officials

Citing the apparent IRS cover-up, Judicial Watch has asked a federal court for the right to cross-examine IRS individuals under oath.

Judicial Watch is also seeking information about missing documents from as many as eight additional IRS officials involved in targeting Tea Party and conservative groups. Judicial Watch argues that the IRS’s unwillingness to provide this and other crucial information: “information that the IRS was ordered to disclose to this Court, under oath, more than two months ago – demonstrates that the only way the information is ever likely to be provided is if discovery is allowed and Judicial Watch is permitted to cross-examine agency witnesses…”

More fraud in academia

A simple background check on a West Virginia academic who was touted as a “genius” has discovered that his entire resume was a fraud.

[Anoop] Shankar isn’t a Ph.D. He didn’t graduate from the Harvard of India. He didn’t write dozens of the scholarly publications on his resume, and as for the Royal College of Physicians, they’ve never heard of him. He does have a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina and an Indian medical degree, but at least two of his green card references—attesting to “world class creativity,” “genius insight,” and “a new avenue for treating hypertension”—were a forgery.

Worse, when the investigation threatened his bright future he used two students to try to destroy the career of an investigator by faking a sexual attack.

And even worse yet, the academic community remains unwilling to deal with this fraud aggressively.

Although Shankar was forced out of WVU in December of 2012, the university has yet to address the case publicly, allowing Shankar and his work to continue unchallenged. In the last year alone, he’s published at least three papers, including one in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. He also landed a new job on the backs of taxpayers: associate professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, a large public university in Richmond.

So far, the investigation has only focused on the man’s faked resume. No one has taken a close look at his medical research, though the article does describe one example where Shankar was actually teaching his students to manipulate data unethically to get the results they wanted.

As the article notes, “How many more are there out there?” As I’ve documented repeatedly in the climate field, academia no longer seems interested in cleaning house and maintaining honest standards. This story only reinforces this fact.

The background to the Rick Perry indictment

A look at the historical background behind the absurd indictment this weekend.of Texas governor Rick Perry.

This indictment appears to be an example of the new Democratic Party modus operandi: Make up criminal charges against your opponents when you can’t beat them at the ballot box. They tried it in Alaska against Sarah Palin, they tried it in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and as many tea party activists there as possible, they tried it in Texas against Tom Delay, and back in the nineties they tried it against Newt Gingrich. In every case the charges were absurd and were eventually dropped or dismissed.

Now they are trying it against Rick Perry. If this is the best they can do it is no wonder no Democrat has won a state-wide election in Texas in years.

White House defies House subpoena

Claiming that White House officials have absolute immunity from testifying to Congress, the administration today ignored a subpoena issued by a House committee investigating violations of the Hatch act.

The White House warned Issa late Tuesday that David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, would not be appearing. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote that Simas is “immune” from any effort by Congress to compel him to testify. “[T]he committee’s effort to compel Mr. Simas’s testimony threatens longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy, as well as his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his constitutional duties,” Eggleston wrote. “In light of those principles… Mr. Simas is immune from congressional compulsion to testify on matters relating to his official duties and will not appear at the July 16, 2014 hearing.”

Issa said late Tuesday that he would hold the hearing in the hopes that Simas would appear, and when the hearing started Wednesday morning, Simas was not there. Issa started the hearing by saying he received Eggleston’s “deeply disturbing” letter late Tuesday night, and argued that this decision goes against court rulings that say White House officials are not immune from having to appear before Congress. “A federal judge wrote that senior advisers to the president of the United States are ‘not absolutely immune from congressional process,’ ” Issa said.

Why am I so strongly reminded of Richard Nixon and his claim of executive privilege to prevent his subordinates from being questioned by Congress? As Issa notes correctly, the courts ruled against Nixon, and we eventually found out that executive privilege was merely Nixon’s way of stonewalling the investigation. I suspect this is Obama’s sole reason now for stonewalling.

Sixty science papers retracted

The uncertainty of peer review: An internal investigation has caused the retraction of sixty peer-reviewed scientific papers that were published by a single journal, the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC).

The network of JVC papers that emerged was incestuous, with the same small group of authors reviewing each other’s work and appearing together as co-authors. By the end of the year, the investigators had a list of 130 e-mail addresses associated with 60 papers, with one scientist as co-author on all of them: Chen-Yuan Chen of NPUE, who goes by “Peter.” When SAGE sent an e-mail to all 130 e-mail addresses requesting that the authors confirm their identity, none responded. “The authors were contacted again by SAGE in May 2014 to inform them that their papers would be retracted in the July 2014 issue,” says Sherman, but again none responded. According to SAGE’s official statement, Chen resigned from NPUE in February. Neither Chen nor officials at NPUE responded to e-mails from ScienceInsider

How was it possible for a scientist to become the sole reviewer on dozens of his own papers? The answer appears to be that Chen was allowed to nominate his own reviewers, who were not vetted by JVC,

Chen apparently created fake gmail accounts for both real and non-existing scientists and then chose these scientists both as his co-authors as well as his peer-reviewers.

Free paid vacations for House lawmakers

Who says they’re conservatives? The House Ethics committee, run by Republicans, has quietly eliminated the requirement that elected officials list any privately sponsored travel they receive in their annual financial-disclosure forms.

The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings. “This is such an obvious effort to avoid accountability,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There’s no legitimate reason. There’s no good reason for it.”

Once again more evidence that we the voters must replace as many of these crooks, from both parties, as we can.

The sad and dishonest state of economic research

A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want.

From the paper’s abstract:

This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered “questionable,” e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice. [emphasis mine]

That less than 4% engage in “data fabrication or plagiarism” might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic. Worse, the other results make me think that the many of the 96% who said they didn’t do this were lying. 40% admit to doing what they agree are “questionable” research practices, while 94% admit to committing “at least one unaccepted research practice.”

In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, “these behaviors are widespread.”

“How many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, ‘Maybe this isn’t the best steward of these veterans?’”

Veterans Administration: “How many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, ‘Maybe this isn’t the best steward of these veterans?’”

More here.

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