Tag Archives: corruption

Fannie Mae’s new headquarters included $250K chandelier

Government in action! In building its new gold-plated Washington headquarters, officials at Fannie Mae made sure they had the best, spending about $32 million in questionable expenses, including a chandelier that cost $250,000, according to an inspector general report.

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which acts as a conservator for the mortgage lender, recently noted $32 million in questionable costs in an audit for Fannie Mae’s new headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. Fannie Mae will be the flagship of Midtown Center, which is scheduled to complete construction in June 2018. The inspector general reported that costs for the new headquarters have “risen dramatically,” to $171 million, up from $115 million when the consolidated headquarters was announced in 2015.

The inspector general blamed expensive upgrades for cost overruns, such as a third glass walkway costing $2 million to connect Fannie Mae buildings, $1.2 million for “decorative wood slatted ceilings,” decorative wood “lunch huts,” and pergolas, or garden-style pavilions, in elevator lobbies. FHFA officials have had poor oversight of the project, according to the inspector general, because they “did not review whether any of the major upgrades were cost-effective or whether lower cost alternatives were available.”

Among the upgrades: a $250,000 chandelier that no one was quite sure what it was for.

Read the whole article. It outlines some disgusting corruption in Washington that is unfortunately now the norm.

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China punishes more than 500 scientists for peer review fraud

An investigation in China has revealed peer review fraud in more than 100 papers, causing that nation to discipline more than 500 researchers.

MOST’s 27 July announcement marked the culmination of an investigation into the mass retraction this past April of 107 papers by Chinese authors that appeared in a single journal, “Tumor Biology.” The papers, published between 2012 and 2016, were pulled after editors found “strong reason to believe that the peer review process was compromised,” Editor-in-Chief Torgny Stigbrand, of Umeå University in Sweden, wrote on 20 April on the website of the publisher Springer. (Springer, an arm of Springer Nature, published “Tumor Biology” until December 2016; the journal is now operated by SAGE Publications.)

Investigators say the authors engaged in an all-too-common scam. “Tumor Biology” allowed submitting authors to nominate reviewers. The Chinese authors suggested “experts” and provided email addresses that routed messages from the journal back to the researchers themselves, or to accomplices—sometimes third-party firms hired by the authors—who wrote glowing reviews that helped get the papers accepted.

As the article notes, the journal is as guilty as these fake scientists.

“Tumor Biology,” which is owned by the International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers, has a history of problems. In 2016 it retracted 25 papers all at once for similar peer-review problems. The journal now has the dubious distinction of having retracted “the most papers of any other journal,” according to Retraction Watch. An investigation by ScienceInsider found that several scientists listed on its editorial board had no relationship with the journal and one had even passed away several years ago. The journal “should also improve their examination system to prevent [abuse by] unscrupulous researchers,” Chen says.

SAGE took over responsibility for publishing the journal “with the agreement that there would be a complete overhaul of the editorial structure and peer review practices of the journal, specifically the use of preferred reviewers,” a SAGE spokesperson wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.

Not surprisingly, the article includes some whining about the harshness of China’s punishments. Of the more than 500 disciplined, 314 were merely co-authors on a paper, and had not directly participated in the fraud. The investigation concluded that they should have been more diligent and aware of what the lead authors were doing, a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

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IRS routinely rehires fired workers

A new inspector general report has found that the IRS routinely rehires employees it has fired for cause, including some that have committed crimes.

Despite promises to Congress, the Internal Revenue Service has yet to take advantage of a red-flag alert system designed to prevent it from rehiring past employees with blots on their records, a watchdog found.

During the push to expand staff for the annual filing season, the tax agency is supposed to comply with a provision in the 2016 omnibus spending bill that requires a review of any rehire with past conduct or performance problems ranging from tax delinquency to falsification of documents to disruptiveness in the workplace.

But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that more than 200 of 2,000-plus former employees “whom the IRS rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 had been previously terminated or separated from the tax agency while under investigation,” according to a report released on Thursday.

Worse, the rehires were not evenly spread. Some IRS offices were clearly more corrupt than others.

If you dig into the details of the report it appears that roughly ten percent of the rehires this season were previously dismissed for cause. But it wasn’t evenly spread across all of the offices. The Covington, Ky., office had 213 rehires examined and 96 of them were found to have been previously dismissed “while under investigation.”

That’s almost half the people this Kentucky office rehired, of whom a good percentage had been fired for literally breaking the law. Suggests that the management at that office might be complicit in these illegal acts.

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FBI arrest former IT staffer for many Democrats in Congress

A real Washington scandal: The FBI on Tuesday arrested a former Congressional IT staffer as he was trying to flee the country.

The man, Imran Aran, had run the computer systems for many Democrats in Congress, including former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And while most Democrats fired Aran when he came under investigation months ago, Wasserman Schultz had kept in on her payroll until his arrest this week.

Several details that give some important political context to this story, and are not mentioned in the CNN article above:

The last story above includes other details about how Aran also threatened the renter of his home for cooperating with police. As the renter (a Marine and apparently a Democrat) noted, “He’s dangerous. This is a crime syndicate that has successfully infiltrated Congress,” he said. “If Donald Trump and the Republicans had hired foreign nationals to be their top IT guys and somehow their congressional files had been compromised, this would have been all over the news.”

Update: The correction above is because the news article linked to had mistakenly said that the hard drives were taken from Wasserman Schultz’s home. There were instead recovered from the Marine above when he found them in Aran’s former home, which he was now renting.

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Fake “Star Wars” science paper accepted/published by four journals

Peer-review science at its best! A fake science paper, loaded with quotes and references to the Star Wars movies, has been published or accepted for publication by four medical journals.

A neurology expert has revealed they were able to convince a trio of medical journals to publish their Star Wars-themed ‘fake’ manuscript, despite it being packed full of references to George Lucas’ iconic series. The author, who writes online under the name Neuroskeptic, said their paper titled ‘Mitochondria: Structure, Function and Clinical Relevance’ was poorly written and ‘an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes’.

‘I wanted to test whether ‘predatory’ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper,’ the hoax’s author wrote for Discover Magazine. ‘So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.’

The name of the authors given in the fake piece are thinly-veiled references to Lucas – Star Wars’ creator – and Anakin Skywalker. Neuroskeptic went on in their blog post to explain the paper was picked up by four different journals – the American Journal of Medical and Biological Research, the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access, the Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and American Research Journal of Biosciences. The AJMBR did not publish the paper but did request a $360 fee in order to do so.

That this keeps happening suggests that much of what is published in peer-review journals is equally bad, and should never see the light of day. The bad work gets published because the journals make their money by charging the scientists to publish things, and the scientists need to get in print to justify their cushy jobs in academia. Sadly, no one seems to care whether they can teach.

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Another Vostochny executive arrested for taking bribes

The Russian government has arrested another manager at Vostochny for demanding a 4 million ruble bribe from a contractor while simultaneously embezzling 10 million rubles from the project.

The arrests, of which this is one of about a half dozen, indicate both good and bad things. First, they indicate that the Russian government under Putin might actually be trying to rein in some of the corruption that permeates Russian business practices. Second, they indicate the amount of corruption that permeates Russian business practices.

What Putin is probably doing is attempting to control the bribe-taking and embezzling, not stop it. Too much of his bureaucracy and pseudo-private industry depends on this corruption to eliminate it entirely. Moreover, he doesn’t want to eliminate it because he himself benefits from it. He just simply doesn’t want it to get so out-of-hand that it prevents projects from getting completed, as it apparently almost did at Vostochny.

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Did the Pentagon give ULA $27.4 million for work already done?

Corruption: It appears that a Department of Defense $27.4 million contract awarded to ULA on May 16 to develop new avionics for its rockets was for work already completed by the company.

The government award to ULA reinforces the notion that, traditionally in aerospace, the government pays for rocket upgrades. But it is also curious because of its timing—for work to be completed two years from now. Based upon information in an article written by two ULA engineers and published in Advances in the Astronautical Sciences Guidance, Navigation and Control, the avionics system has already been upgraded. Moreover, the February 5, 2016 launch of a GPS satellite for the Air Force marked the first launch of the common avionics system.

“The launch of GPS IIF-12 in February 2016 represents the culmination of several years of development work to update avionics hardware and flight software as well as simulation and test environment tools,” the research article states. “Common avionics addresses the challenge of parts obsolescence any program with the longevity of (this one) must face. ULA has taken advantage of this opportunity to design and produce a more affordable solution for vehicle control that will also expand the capability of our launcher fleet.”

A call into the Air Force for an explanation resulted in no response at all.

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Dog sits on editorial board of seven medical journals

An Australian professor wondered if he could get his dog Ollie picked to be on the editorial board of a number of medical journals, and was astonished to discover seven who agreed without reservations.

Ollie’s owner is Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University in Perth. Ollie likes to watch Mike working on his computer, and Mike gets a lot of emails from predatory journals. Wondering just how low these journals would go, he put together a curriculum vitae for his dog – detailing research interests such as “the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines” – and sent it off to a number of these journals, asking for a spot on their editorial boards.

Remarkably, the vast majority accepted Ollie without demur, and her name now adorns several journal websites. Ollie is a trailblazer, Professor Daube says, being the first dog ever to get on the editorial board of a journal.

“What makes it even more bizarre is that one of these journals has actually asked Ollie to review an article. It’s entitled “Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours and their management.” Some poor soul has actually written an article on this theme in good faith, and the journal has sent it to a dog to review.”

The article provides a nice look at the problems facing the modern peer review journal field.

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NSF voids punishment of scientists who committed plagiarism and data fabrication

An inspector general report has found that the National Science Foundation has routinely cancelled or reduced the punishments of scientists who had committed either plagiarism or data fabrication, allowing them to continue to get grants and advise the government.

The inspector general for the National Science Foundation identified at least 23 instances of plagiarism in proposals, NSF-funded research, and agency publications in 2015 and 2016. It found at least eight instances of data manipulation and fabrication in those years. NSF officials disregarded recommended sanctions against some of the scientists and academics implicated in those findings. Though many were temporarily barred from receiving additional federal funding, nearly all will be eligible for taxpayer support and official roles in NSF-funded research in the future.

In one investigation that concluded in Nov. 2015, the IG found that an NSF-supported researcher had “knowingly plagiarized text into five NSF proposals.”

“These actions were a significant departure from the standards of the research community, and therefore constituted research misconduct,” according to a report on the investigation’s findings.

No wonder the public has become very skeptical of government science. Worse, by turning a blind eye to this bad behavior the National Science Foundation ends up giving a black eye to all science.

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85% of the world’s governments are corrupt

According to one think tank that studies corruption in government, 85% of the world lives under governments that are essentially corrupt.

“Corruption” is defined by Transparency International (TI) as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Each year since 1995, TI has published a Corruption Perceptions Index that scores the world’s nations out of 100 for their public sector honesty and the just-released 2016 report paints the same bleak picture we’ve been seeing now for two decades … except it’s getting worse.

According to the data, despite the illusion of elected government in half the world’s countries, democracy is losing. Only two countries scored 90 out of 100 this year, and just 54 of the 176 countries (30%) assessed in the report scored better than 50. Fifty percent might have constituted a pass in a High School arithmetic test, but for an elected government to be so inept at carrying out the will of the electorate, it is a clear betrayal of the people. The average country score this year is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector is the norm.

Even more damning is that more countries declined than improved in this year’s results.

Not surprisingly, the countries at the bottom of the list are almost all Middle Eastern Islamic nations, all of whom are the source of most of the world’s terrorism and Islamic madness. The few others are those trying to become communist paradises, Venezuela and North Korea.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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“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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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