Tag Archives: oppression

29 Republicans and all Democrats vote to kill Senate balanced budget proposal

Apropos of my post earlier today: In the Senate yesterday twenty-nine Republicans and every Democrat voted to kill a balanced budget proposal offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).

Paul’s plan would have reduced spending by $404.8 billion in the fiscal year that starts October 1. After the budget balanced in five years, spending would be held to 1 percent increases per year, resulting in a budget that was 14.6 percent bigger in 10 years that it is now.

This very mild proposal to trim the equivalent of a penny from every dollar spent was too much for these spend-thrifts. The article at the link lists all 29 Republicans who voted against it, all of whom were liars when they said during their campaigns that they support a balanced budget, fiscal responsibility, and smaller government.

Let me repeat it so no one has any doubts about what I mean: These Senators are liars. They didn’t misconstrue the facts. Their statements weren’t misguided. They simply lied during their campaigns, and they have so done repeatedly.

The only saving grace about this story is that the trend has been to replace these crooks. Since 2010 the voters have been favoring candidates who mean what they say, on both sides of the aisle. And the result has been an increase in the numbers of real conservatives in Congress. Their influence is growing.

We also might be getting outright socialists and communists elected on the Democratic side, but at least they are being honest about who they are, unlike the lying Democrats who in the past were also outright socialists or communists, but tried to hide their beliefs behind equally offensive lies.

This honesty will maybe finally allow us to deal with the issue of the out-of-control federal budget. Or it will bankrupt us with more legislators willing to spend money like it is water. In the latter case, however, the result will be because this is what the American people choose to do, rather than being deceived by their leaders. And if that is what we choose, then at least we will deserve the hell we bring down upon ourselves.

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The federal government’s blank check

Three articles this morning about actions taken by Congress in connection with the budgets for NASA and NOAA illustrate the bankrupt nature of our federal government.

The first story describes how several legislators from the House Appropriations Committee have inserted amendments into their budget bill that will restore a $10 million NASA climate monitoring program that the Trump administration had shut down.

The second story describes how that same budget bill generously funds both NASA and NOAA at levels far above their own requests.
» Read more

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Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign

Confirmed: The Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, using a variety of illicit methods, from monitoring phonecalls to inserting spies within the campaign.

The article outlines the entire range of abuse of power by the Obama FBI and Justice Department, but two actions stand out to me as most egregious, both outlined in this quote:

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said…

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.

First, the Obama administration went after the campaign of their opponent, based not on any reasonable suspicion of a crime but merely because they were participating in an opposition campaign.

Second, much of this spying was instigated using these national security letters, which do not require a judge’s warrant and on their face are completely unconstitutional.

Read it all. This behavior was a direct attack on our American democracy. If no one gets punished expect far worse from future administrations, from both the left and the right, all intent on maintaining their power regardless of the wishes of the American electorate.

I must add one more detail. This information comes from a badly written New York Times propaganda piece designed to support the actions of the Obama FBI. Yet, buried in that report was this quote:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

Let that sink in. After two years of open-ended investigation using unlimited resources, these petty tyrants have yet to find any evidence of Russian collusion. The time has come to shut this kangaroo court down.

Update: This article does an excellent job of outlining the outright abuse of power by the Obama administration. As the author notes succinctly,

The scandal is that the FBI, lacking the incriminating evidence needed to justify opening a criminal investigation of the Trump campaign, decided to open a counterintelligence investigation. With the blessing of the Obama White House, they took the powers that enable our government to spy on foreign adversaries and used them to spy on Americans — Americans who just happened to be their political adversaries. [emphasis in original]

This is Watergate times infinity, and if there is anything left of our Constitutional government, it should put a lot of people from the Obama administration in jail.

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Boulder bans assault weapons, gun owners sue

Fascists: The city council in Boulder, Colorado, this week passed a local law banning “assault weapons” and other gun accessories.

Its city council unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday to ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines — becoming one of a handful of cities nationwide that has taken action to change its gun laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting massacre.

…The new law requires people who own bump stock devices and magazines that hold 10 or more rounds of ammunition to dispose of or sell the firearm accessories by July 15, according to Colorado Public Radio.

A lawsuit against the law was immediately filed.

I think however that this quote by the city councilwoman who proposed the law illustrates best its stupidity.

“It felt like a no-brainer to propose this.”

That’s right, it is very clear that the council and this councilwoman used no brains at all in writing and approving the law. It not only is vague, unenforceable, and oppressive, it puts the blame for past murders on innocent law-abiding citizens.

The problem however is that this might very well be constitutional. As long as this local ordinance does not violate Colorado state law, it would be permissible under the Constitution, as the second amendment was designed to limit federal authority, not state or local authorities. As such, it illustrates the growing rise of fascism in some communities within the U.S., places where the majority sees nothing wrong with oppressing a minority, merely because they disagree about public policy. Expect more of this in the coming years. Expect also that these fascist localities to become havens of poverty, crime, oppression, and economic collapse.

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All charges dropped against ARCA CEO

After a grand jury refused to issue an indictment, all charges have been dropped against Dumitru Popescu, the CEO of the smallsat rocket company ARCA.

I am reminded of the Emily Latila character from the early days of Saturday night life.

Even though he has been entirely cleared, the prosecution served to seriously delay the company’s plans.

At the time the charges were filed last fall, ARCA had been about two weeks from launching a test rocket from Spaceport America, according to Popescu. The criminal case stalled progress. Now, the company plans to carry out the rocket test in Europe. After that, it’s likely the company will launch a test of a second rocket system from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

It is also possible the company will now exit either New Mexico or the U.S., since it appears the state government here is hostile to it.

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Evergreen State College: 20% enrollment drop and $6 million budget cut

Evergreen State College, where bigoted riots occurred last year, has been forced to institute $6 million in budget cuts due to a 20% enrollment drop.

The cuts were outlined by President George Bridges in a May 8 memo to the Board of Trustees, and are accompanied by plans to raise various student fees by hundreds of dollars, The Olympian reported last week. “The most likely explanation, indeed, the only viable explanation to my mind, is that the impact of last year’s events are playing out in the enrollment numbers.”

Has the college learned anything from this experience? It appears not. Though the administration has officially ended its annual “Days of Absence” event, where students were divided by race with some events excluding whites, the students have decided to organize the event themselves. Their self-segregated “People of Color” event (POC) will include gatherings where either whites are excluded, or “antiracist workshops” where only whites can attend so that they may be properly chastised for the evils of their race.

The university is meanwhile running something it calls “an equity symposium.” I guarantee there has been some covert coordination between the two.

The problem here continues to be the leftist-dominated culture that controls most academic institutions. For example, a professor at the University of Akron thought it perfectly reasonable to give higher grades to his female students, merely because they were female. He claimed this was part of a “national movement to encourage female students to go [in]to information sciences” and added that this national movement

…was a “conglomerate of discussions, initiatives, and cals for action to address gender imbalance issue in the IT field.” He referred to Facebook’s “Annual Leadership Day for female employees around the world” and to Google’s training program for “women to establish links with men in coding.” Liu said he was also following a plan of action by Microsoft to close the gap between men and women in STEM and IT fields.

I have no doubt, from his leftist perspective, surrounded by leftist professors and leftist administrators and reading only the leftist news outlets and journals, that he truly believes there is a “national movement” to favor women over men in his IT field. The problem is that he is trapped in a bubble of leftism that has no connection with the real world.

While there is evidence that some universities are attempting to change, be prepared for much worse behavior from this academic community. They really don’t wish to change, and the leftist bubble is very well entrenched there. To really institute change in many of these places will literally require them to go bankrupt and go out of business.

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Socialists win four Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania

At least they’re honest about who they are: Four socialist candidates won the Democratic Party primaries in Pennsylvania yesterday.

Two were in Philadelphia, and two were in Pittsburgh. Three of the four face no Republican opposition in the general election, which means there will be in increased polarization in the Pennsylvania state government. This also likely means that the governments of both cities will shift leftward. We can therefore reliably predict, as has happened in every place where socialists take power, that the quality of life in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will go down, even as both experience ballooning budgets and deficits.

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Russian government audit finds $20 billion in “spending violations”

An audit by the Russian equivalent of the GAO has found more than $20 billion in “spending violations” within the government, most of which occurred in the defense and space sectors.

Other words for describing these “spending violations” might be “theft,” “embezzlement,” “misuse of funds,” or any number of more honest direct terms. The Russian government is simply very corrupt, and its culture includes the assumption by administrators and everyone else that it is their right to skim off as much as they can, for themselves.

Sadly, I do not see any reform occurring in the near future. This corruption is deeply ingrained, and the Putin government, also deeply entrenched, apparently likes it, as long as the thefts don’t become so obvious that nothing gets done, as happened at the new Vostochny spaceport during its construction.

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Redactions in Strzok/Page texts reveal FBI/Justice is hiding something

Link here. Essentially, the author did a very careful review of the texts between anti-Trump FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during the week in July 2016 when the FBI investigation into Trump-Russian collusion began. What he found was that the many redactions in the texts serve only to hide what was really happening, as well as the extent of involvement in the Obama White House.

It would be interesting to know what is in the emails that apparently clarify how the Obama administration divided responsibility for running the Trump-Russia investigation. Just like it would be interesting to know what is behind all the many redactions in these texts about how and why the Trump-Russia investigation got started.

On what basis has the Justice Department concealed passages and references to government officials from these significant conversations? Are Justice and the Bureau claiming that the redactions are necessary because the information is classified — even though we’re talking about communications between highly trained intelligence officials?

And if that is the claim, are they telling us that Hillary Clinton was investigated — and given a pass — for the unauthorized transmission of classified information by FBI officials who were themselves actively engaged in the unauthorized transmission of classified information?

Based on past revelations, when we finally see what was redacted I expect we shall discover that the redactions had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with hiding malfeasance and the abuse of power by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Obama administration.

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1984 at the University of Michigan

Fascist academia: The University of Michigan has been sued by a free speech organization for its 1984-like rules that threaten students with punishment, even re-education camps, if they dare express any opinion that might offend its organized thought police.

As the lawsuit says, the university has created an “elaborate investigatory and disciplinary apparatus to suppress and punish speech other students deem ‘demeaning,’ ‘bothersome,’ or ‘hurtful’.” Yes, really: The student disciplinary code defines “harassment” as any “unwanted negative attention perceived as intimidating, demeaning, or bothersome to an individual”

…The university has its version of the Stasi and Orwell’s Thought Police — a “Bias Response Team” that investigates supposed “bias” complaints from offended students — students who can file their complaints anonymously. So if you are accused of wrongdoing, you don’t even have a right to confront your accuser — just like the former citizens of East Germany where the Stasi had literally hundreds of thousands of informers who could be your next-door neighbor or even a member of your own family. Or in this case, a student down the hall or from one of your classes.

If you think this Star Chamber process is limited to verbal speech, think again. Just like the electronic surveillance in Oceania, the “Bias Incident Report Log” posted by Michigan on its website shows that the Bias Response Team may come after you for what you do and say in “On-line/Social Media” communications including texts, emails, and Twitter.

The log also shows that the campus secret police — sorry, the Bias Response Team — also goes after “Off Campus” speech. So students aren’t safe anywhere. Their First Amendment rights are severely restricted, no matter what they are doing or where they are.

So a student may literally receive a knock on his door “from a team of University officials threatening to refer the student to formal disciplinary authorities” for something some unknown, anonymous informant alleges that he said, something the informant doesn’t like, or doesn’t agree with, or is uncomfortable with. Unless, of course, as the complaint says, the student agrees to submit “to ‘restorative justice,’ ‘individual education,’ or ‘unconscious bias training’.”

In other words, the only way a student may be able to avoid formal charges against meritless claims is by agreeing to submit to the academic equivalent of a communist-style “re-education” camp or brainwashing about the latest liberal fad like “unconscious bias.”

Read it all. It is pretty horrible, and makes me wonder why the state government is providing any funds to this fascist-run university. Time to shut it down.

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Dozens killed, including armed terrorists, in Gaza border violence

They also call this cutting off your nose to spite your face: Dozens have been killed today in riots along the Gaza-Israreli border as thousands of Gazan protesters attempted to invade Israel.

More than 35,000 protesters amassed at a dozen locations along the security fence, with many engaging in skirmishes that pushed the death toll Monday to the highest in Gaza since a 2014 cross-border standoff between the militant group Hamas and the Jewish state, according to the Associated Press.

Gaza health officials told the news agency that 41 people so far have been killed in Monday’s violence, and at least 772 have been wounded.

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv, a key campaign promise of President Trump, has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.

“Moments ago, an IDF patrol foiled a bomb-laying attack by a cell of three armed terrorists near Rafah, close to the border,” the Israeli military said Monday. “This is a particularly violent protest point. The troops responded with fire at the terrorists. The terrorists were killed.”

You want to live in peace? You show others that you mean it. You want others to see you as violent and a killer? You do things that prove it.

These demonstrations prove the latter. In the seventy years since Israel’s founding, that nation has shown, time after time, that it is more than willing to work with the Arabs, the Palestinians, the international community, anyone, in order to establish peaceful relations with its neighbors. Israel even unilaterally walked out of Gaza in order to show the world and the Palestinians that they are willing to allow an independent Palestinian state to exist side-by-side with Israel.

The Gazans here once again prove that they are unready to do so. They only hate, and want to kill, emotions that are hardly a good foundation for a reliable peace treaty.

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The cave dwellers of China

Even as China tries to make them move out, the ethnic Miao villagers that have built homes and lived inside a cave for the past century or so refuse to leave.

Why? This explains it:

A cottage industry has popped up in which the cave dwellers earn extra money by renting out rooms in their homes, which over time have clustered within Zhong cave, a limestone cavern big enough to hold four American football fields. The hangar-like cave is so large that their wooden or bamboo-made residences form a small, subterranean village built along its undulating walls.

…Officials say that residents have not taken care of the cave, leaving it unsuitable for inhabitation, and that the government should oversee the village as it is listed as a protected community by the Getu River Tourism Administration, a local agency. They have offered each resident 60,000 renminbi, or approximately $9,500, to leave.

Only five families have agreed to move. The remaining 18 families have held on stubbornly to their homes inside the cave. They say that the new homes are too small, that they fear losing access to their land, and that they alone, because of their historical connection to the cave, should have the right to independently control its small tourism economy.

The Chinese government is simply not offering them enough to leave. And should they leave, I would expect the villagers to come out on the raw end of the deal, while the cave itself, no longer protected by their presence and financial self-interest to preserve it, will also suffer.

Hat tip Willi Kusche.

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Did the Obama administration use the FBI to put a spy in the Trump campaign?

New evidence forced by Congress from the FBI now suggests that during the campaign the Obama administration used the FBI to insert a spy into the Trump campaign.

The details can be found here, including this quote:

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

If this is true, this abuse of power here by the Obama administration, during a campaign, is far worse that anything anyone has accused Trump of doing. More important, we have zero evidence against Trump, but now ample evidence against Obama and the Democrats. Just as Obama weaponized the IRS illegally to attack conservatives, it now appears he used the FBI and the Justice Department to illegally spy on the Republican campaign for President.

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Customs steals $41K from nurse

Theft by government: When a nurse decided to bring $41K in cash savings to Nigeria to open a medical clinic there, U.S. Customs decided it wanted the money instead and simply stole it.

The questioning threw her off guard. She explained she had legally earned the money and she was alone. Nwaorie, who lives in Katy, Tex., became a U.S. citizen since 1994. She showed her passport, thinking perhaps they were questioning her legal status. The agents took her to a room to search her and her luggage anyway.

Then they seized all $41,377 dollars. “It was like I was a criminal,” she said. “I felt so humiliated, so petrified, too. They were talking among themselves, saying how ‘this is how people smuggle money out of the country. This is how they do it.’”

More than six months later, Customs and Border Protection still has not given back her money.

This, despite the fact that the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of Texas did not bring a civil asset forfeiture case against her or charge her with any crime. The infraction she committed was failing to declare the money to Customs before traveling. According to the agency’s website, “there is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out” of the country, but if a traveler is carrying more than $10,000 in currency they must fill out a declaration, a rule she said she did not know existed.

Read the article. It illustrates once again the power-hungry and corrupt nature of the federal government. For example, Nwaorie’s suit to get her money back states,

According to documents provided to The Post, prosecutors declined to pursue a case against Nwaorie. The lawsuit states that under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, the government should have been required to “promptly release” Nwaorie’s $41,000 to her, no questions asked. Alban contends that forcing a person to agree not to sue the government — and to pay the government’s legal fees if CBP has to enforce the agreement in court — is an “unconstitutional condition.”

Apparently, despite a law that requires them to return the money immediately if no charges are brought, Customs is still refusing to give it back. This is more evidence that government agencies are increasingly willing to nonchalantly ignore the law, when they wish to.

I think some of these government officials should face prison.

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House committee boosts NASA budget while micromanaging its projects

A NASA budget proposal released earlier this week by the House Appropriations Committee boosts NASA’s budget to $21.5 billion, while also micro-managing some of NASA’s planetary projects.

The bill, though, does specify funding for some programs. It calls for spending $545 million on the Europa Clipper mission and $195 million for a follow-on lander. NASA requested only $264.7 million for Europa Clipper and nothing for the lander.

NASA said in the budget proposal it was seeking to launch Europa Clipper in 2025 on a commercial vehicle, while the bill calls for the use of the Space Launch System and a launch by 2022. In its budget proposal, NASA estimated needing $565 million in 2019 to keep Europa Clipper on track for a 2022 launch but warned of “potential impacts to the rest of the Science portfolio” if funded at that level.

The bill also included $3.5 billion for SLS/Orion, continuing that boondoggle as it continues to fall behind schedule and go over budget. Also in the bill was a half billion dollars for LOP-G, confirming Congress’s desire to get this new boondoggle running, even though the rocket and capsule necessary to fly it, SLS/Orion, hasn’t even come close to completion after almost two decades of work and almost $40 billion so far in spending.

Overall, this NASA budget proposal illustrates once again why we have Trump. Congress is corrupt, is only interested in distributing money to its corporate buddies, and doesn’t care if that cash ever produces anything. In fact, it appears they prefer that nothing ever get built, as a real space effort would carry risk, and we can’t have that!

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Putin dumps Rogozin

In a reshuffle of cabinet positions, Putin has replaced Dmitri Rogozin, putting a new man in charge of the Russian defense and space industry.

The new guy, Yuri Borisov, appears to have the title of Vice Prime Minister. I suspect Putin had grown tired of the continuing corruption and loss of market share under Rogozin’s watch during the past decade. I also suspect that Borisov will have little ability to change things. The problem isn’t the person in charge. The problem is Russia’s centralized top-down method of operations. It discourages competition and cost control, while providing no incentives for innovation and quality control.

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Software issue caused self-driving car accident that killed pedestrian

Sources in the investigation of an accident where a self-driving car hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March now say that the car’s programming was at fault.

According to two anonymous sources who talked to Efrati, Uber’s sensors did, in fact, detect Herzberg as she crossed the street with her bicycle. Unfortunately, the software classified her as a “false positive” and decided it didn’t need to stop for her.

Distinguishing between real objects and illusory ones is one of the most basic challenges of developing self-driving car software. Software needs to detect objects like cars, pedestrians, and large rocks in its path and stop or swerve to avoid them. However, there may be other objects—like a plastic bag in the road or a trash can on the sidewalk—that a car can safely ignore. Sensor anomalies may also cause software to detect apparent objects where no objects actually exist.

Software designers face a basic tradeoff here. If the software is programmed to be too cautious, the ride will be slow and jerky, as the car constantly slows down for objects that pose no threat to the car or aren’t there at all. Tuning the software in the opposite direction will produce a smooth ride most of the time—but at the risk that the software will occasionally ignore a real object. According to Efrati, that’s what happened in Tempe in March—and unfortunately the “real object” was a human being.

I honestly do not understand the need for self-driving cars. In the end, I simply cannot see the software ever being capable of handling all the variables created by the presence of the unpredictable life that will surround it. And should it get that good, I wonder if we will then regret it.

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Trump pulls U.S. from Iran nuclear deal

As he promised during the campaign as well as several times since he became President, Trump today announced that the U.S. is leaving the Iran nuclear treaty that had been negotiated by the Obama administration.

Laying out his case, Trump contended, “If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

The administration said it would re-impose sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity. Companies and banks doing business with Iran will have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. government.

…Trump, who repeatedly criticized the accord during his presidential campaign, said Tuesday that documents recently released by Netanyahu showed Iran had attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the previous decade, especially before 2003. Although Trump gave no explicit evidence that Iran violated the deal, he said Iran had clearly lied in the past and could not be trusted.

The AP article at the link is a decidedly anti-Trump partisan hit job, less interested in reporting this news story than telling us how terrible Trump’s actions are. Nor should we be surprised, as two of the AP writers who contributed to the story are based in Tehran.

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FBI/DOJ redactions hid their misbehavior, not protect national security

The recent release of mostly unredacted FBI documents has revealed that the earlier redactions had nothing to do with protecting national security, but were done to hide misbehavior and corrupt actions by FBI and Department of Justice officials.

Now that we can see what they wanted to conceal, it is clear, yet again, that the Justice Department and the FBI cannot be trusted to decide what the public gets to learn about their decision-making.

They tell us that their lack of transparency is necessary for the protection of national security, vital intelligence, and investigative operations. But what we find out is that they were concealing their own questionable judgments and conflicting explanations for their actions; their use of foreign-intelligence and criminal-investigative authorities to investigate Michael Flynn, Trump’s top campaign supporter and former national-security adviser; and their explicitly stated belief that Flynn did not lie in the FBI interview for which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has since prosecuted him on false-statements charges. [emphasis mine]

The article is detailed and well researched. It compares the redacted documents with what we now know those documents actually said. Repeatedly, the redactions either concealed bad behavior by the FBI, or were done to conceal information that discredited their prosecution of Michael Flynn.

The author, while condemning the FBI and the Justice Department, is even more condemning of Donald Trump.

It is simply ridiculous for President Trump to continue bloviating about this situation on Twitter and in friendly media interviews, and for congressional Republicans to continue pretending that the problem is Justice Department and FBI leadership — as if Trump were not responsible for his own administration’s actions. The president has not only the authority but the duty to ensure that his subordinates honor lawful disclosure requests from Congress.

What happened with these redactions is inexcusable.

While the author is right, politically it might have been a very wise decision for Trump to have done nothing. Mueller and the FBI have no case. Their effort to pin Russian collusion on Trump has always been laughable on its face. Letting them blow in the wind with this fake investigation allows the public to slowly recognize this fact, and thus discredit them in the public’s eye. If Trump were to shut the investigation down, however, he would lay himself open to accusations of obstructing justice.

This way, he lets them hang themselves, as the story above illustrates.

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Judge challenges the scope of the Mueller investigation

In a blunt and brutal rebuke, a federal judge today challenged the direction of the Mueller investigation, suggesting that it had gone beyond its legal reach.

A federal judge on Friday harshly rebuked Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during a hearing for ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort – suggesting they lied about the scope of the investigation, are seeking “unfettered power” and are more interested in bringing down the president.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

Further, Ellis demanded to see the unredacted “scope memo,” a document outlining the scope of the special counsel’s Russia probe that congressional Republicans have also sought.

Ellis wants to see the scope memo to see if Mueller’s investigation has gone beyond its authority. When Mueller’s team tried to justify its indictment of Paul Manafort, an indictment that had nothing to do with Russian collusion and involved events that had occurred as far back as 2005, the judge’s summary of their argument was equally blunt and contemptuous.

Ellis seemed amused and not persuaded. He summed up the argument of the Special Counsel’s Office as, “We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.” [emphasis mine]

This is very bad news for Mueller. It appears that the legal profession is becoming increasingly disturbed by its star chamber witchhunt nature, allowing them to do anything and investigate everything in an effort to find some crime they can pin on Trump and his allies.

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Russian to fly on Orion?

In negotiations between NASA and Roscosmos on their hoped-for partnership to build the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), it has been proposed that when SLS carries Orion and the platform’s Russian airlock to lunar orbit a Russian will go as well.

“Within the framework of talks, draft plans of future manned missions to the lunar stations have been made. Among other issues, the possibility to send one Russian cosmonaut as part of the crew of the Orion spacecraft that will drag the Russian airlock module to the moon is on the agenda. The Russian cosmonaut will have to ensure the integration of the module with the station,” the source said.

A source in Russia’s Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) that would produce the module confirmed this information to Sputnik, saying that four manned missions were expected to be sent to the station and the Russian cosmonaut should accompany the Russian-made module during its transportation to the Earth satellite.

This all sounds so wonderful. Too bad it is so unconnected with reality. Congress has yet to provide any funds for LOP-G. At the moment, SLS/Orion is only funded through its first manned mission.

At the same time, I am getting the feeling that both NASA and Congress expect SLS/Orion’s $4 billion-plus annual budget that it has gotten since the program started in the late 2000s will simply continue, giving them the money to build this Potemkin Village in orbit around the Moon while funding the Russian contributions.

That’s what happened with ISS. The U.S. footed most of the bills for the Russian portion of ISS, and the Russians are now hoping we will do the same for LOP-G. Sadly, I also expect our corrupt Congress will go along, focused as they are in only distributing pork to local districts while encouraging a global international village having nothing to do with American interests. They see LOP-G not as exploring space, but as a jobs program, both here in the U.S. and in Russia.

And a jobs program is exactly what it is. Just like it will take SLS/Orion almost two decades to complete its first manned launch, LOP-G will likely not get anything built in orbit around the Moon for more than a decade. Don’t expect anything substantial assembled in lunar orbit before the mid-2030s, at the earliest.

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Democrat demands prison for those who don’t cooperate with proposed gun buyback

And people wonder why I call them fascists: A California Democratic Congressman has proposed a new federal gun buyback program that would also prosecute anyone who decides they don’t want to participate.

[Congressman Eric Swalwell]suggests the government should institute a buy-back program, which would take existing assault weapons out of possession. The congressman also advocates the prosecution of any individual who decides to keep their firearm. “Reinstating the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 would prohibit manufacture and sales, but it would not affect weapons already possessed,” Swalwell writes. “This would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.”

“Instead,” he continues, “we should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law, and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons.” Swalwell notes that law enforcement officials and shooting clubs would be exempt.

Throughout his op-ed, Swalwell never defines what he considers a “military-style semiautomatic assault weapon.” Instead, he classifies an assault weapon as a firearm that is capable of “spraying a crowd” with “lethal fire in seconds.”

I am also not surprised this guy is from fascist California, where increasingly it is becoming downright dangerous to dissent from the leftist Democratic Party agenda.

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GAO predicts more delays and cost increases in NASA’s big projects

The Government Accountability Office is predicting more delays and cost increases for most of NASA’s big projects in its tenth annual report.

The cost and schedule performance” of NASA’s major projects “has deteriorated, but the extent of cost deterioration is unknown” because NASA does not have a cost estimate for Orion. Orion is “one of the largest projects in the portfolio” and NASA “expects cost growth.”

As for schedule, “the average launch delay for the portfolio was 12 months, the highest delay GAO has reported in its 10 years” of making these assessments. GAO said the 12-month average delay is up from 7 months in last year’s assessment.

Further, NASA faces the risk of more cost and schedule growth because of “new, large, complex projects that will enter the portfolio and expensive projects remaining the portfolio longer than expected.” Europa Clipper, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and Europa Lander are cited as examples of those future large, complex projects. GAO did give NASA credit for putting processes in place to control the costs of Europa Clipper and WFIRST.

GAO identified nine existing projects as the biggest contributors to the poor cost and schedule performance: SLS, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS), the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) cited in the 2017 report, Mars 2020, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), ICESat-2, NISAR, ICON, and GRACE-FO (GRACE-Follow On).

Orion has cost already cost the taxpayer about $15 billion, all of which will only buy the taxpayer three capsules (two unmanned test flights and a single manned flight). And yet they don’t have enough money yet, and NASA can’t provide a total cost estimate? To me, this appears to be outright theft. Building three capsules simply shouldn’t cost that much. (Note: the report claims Orion has cost about $6.6 billion. My number above comes from actual appropriations by Congress specifically for Orion. I think my number is a far more accurate reflection of the project’s true cost.)

Though the report expresses concerns about schedule delays in the commercial crew program, it is with the NASA-run projects that the report finds the worst cost overruns and delays. All of the usual suspects above come in for criticism: Webb, WFIRST, SLS (and its associated ground facilities), Orion, LOP-G.

I will make a prediction: All these NASA projects will be cited for further cost overruns and further delays in next year’s GAO report. By that time, we shall have also seen the first test flights of the commercial crew capsules by Boeing and SpaceX.

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“God damn you to hell.”

The quote above were the concluding words of Michael Caputo, a Republican consultant and former Trump campaign aide, in testimony yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was being questioned by the Democrats on whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and decided to tell them exactly what he thought of them, all because of the hell that the committee and the Democrats have put both him and his family through as part of this witchhunt.

Caputo called for an “investigation of the investigators” and said he wanted to know who was “coordinating this attack on President Donald Trump.”

“Forget about all the death threats against my family. I want to know who cost us so much money, who crushed our kids, who forced us out of our home, all because you lost an election,” Caputo said. “I want to know because God damn you to hell.”

Read it all. Caputo outlines in great detail the effort being made to persecute him and his family. Worse, after more than two years of this harassment, there remains no evidence of any collusion between Trump and the Russians. For example,

Caputo said that he was asked about approximately 20 people affiliated with the Trump campaign and whether he was aware if they had been in touch with Russian officials.

“My answer for each of them was the same,” Caputo said. “There was none.”

Lacking evidence of any wrong-doing by Trump and his campaign, what we do have instead is an effort by Washington insiders, mostly Democrats with the help of more than a few Republicans, to destroy the lives of anyone connected with Trump.

Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State gave the Russians control of one quarter of the U.S.’s uranium resources in exchange for significant pay-offs. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that Democrats in the House handed over to Pakistani agents control of their entire computer system, waiving all background checks. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that the Democratic Party rigged its primary elections to guarantee a victory for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, there is outright and very obvious evidence, in plain sight, that Hillary Clinton broke numerous security laws when she set up her own private server to handle her State Department communications, in direct violation of the law.

None of these things, however, have been investigated by Robert Mueller, the FBI, or the Department of Justice, even though the evidence for each is blatant and has been well documented, in public sources.

The 2018 election will determine with we will live in a free society run by the rule of law. Based on recent events, I am not hopeful. It appears to me that too many Americans have decided that witchhunts against people they disagree with is a good thing, and they want more of them.

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Poll finds Democrats losing ground with millenials

A poll of more than 16,000 registered voters between 18 and 34 years old has found a significant loss of support in the past two years for the Democratic Party.

The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.

Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.

I normally don’t report on polls, as they are a notoriously unreliable predictor of future events. However, the number of participants here is so high that I decided it merited consideration.

At the same time, Republicans should not begin their victory dance. The poll also noted that “Only 28 percent of those polled expressed overt support for Republicans in the 2018 poll – about the same percentage as two years earlier.”

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Summit between leaders of North and South Korea began today

The first summit in more than a decade between the leaders of North and South Korea began today.

The two leaders are meeting at Peace House, south of the demarcation line in the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Kim is the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War, and the two leaders are expected to discuss issues relating to peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The two leaders smiled and shook hands after which Kim gestured to Moon to cross over to North Korea briefly, which they did for a few steps, then returned to the South, holding hands.

Though no one should trust much of what Kim says or does, this summit is certainly a testament to the foreign policy of Donald Trump. During the Obama administration, all we had from North Korea were nuclear tests and threats of war, with the U.S. weakly responding with typically empty diplomatic statements of “serious concern.”

Now Kim is signing the guest register in South Korea like so: “New history starts now; age of peace, from the starting point of history.” Trump forced his allies, most specifically China, to put pressure on him, and it has apparently had a positive effect.

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UC-San Diego requires new faculty to stand for “diversity”

Fascist California: UC-San Diego now requires anyone applying for a teaching job to submit a statement demonstrating their commitment to “diversity,” including proving that their research, in whatever field, “highlights inequalities.”

“All candidates applying for faculty appointments at UC San Diego are required to submit a personal statement on their contributions to diversity. The purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have the professional skills, experience, and/or willingness to engage in activities that will advance our campus diversity and equity goals.

“In accordance with APM 210-1-d, ‘these contributions to diversity and equal opportunity can take a variety of forms including efforts to advance equitable access to education, public service that addresses the needs of California’s diverse population, or research in a scholar’s area of expertise that highlights inequalities.’”

In other words, the university will police the research of all faculty, and require them to only do research that serves the university’s leftist political ends. And I say that confidently, because I have no doubt that these rules have nothing to do with equal justice before the law or with preventing racial prejudice or discrimination. No, these requirements are there to guarantee that the only people UC-San Diego hires are leftist ideologues.

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House passes law reforming commercial space licensing rules

The House yesterday passed a new law to reform the commercial space licensing rules.

Essentially, the bill shifts a majority of commercial space regulation to the Department of Commerce, and matches somewhat closely the recommendations being put forth by the Trump administration.

The bill appears to be almost identical to the version I analyzed in great detail in an op-ed for The Federalist last year. It has the same positives and negatives. While it definitely aims at simplifying the licensing process for space (abolishing such agencies as NOAA’s Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs that recently tried to claim it had the right to license all photograph of Earth from space.), it does not appear to completely make Commerce that “one-stop shop” for all licensing, allowing the FAA and FCC to retain their space licensing responsibilities. Moreover, it appears, as I noted in my op-ed, to avoid the more essential legal problems, such as the Outer Space Treaty, that hamper private space today and will hamper private space even more in the future.

Regardless, it does appear that the turf war over licensing between Commerce and the FAA is over. Though the law still must get through the Senate, it does appear that Commerce has mostly won. It will get the majority of this bureaucratic bauble. What that bureaucracy will do with it, however, is the real question.

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Penn State cuts support for outdoor clubs because they are not perfectly safe

The coming dark age: Penn State has pulled all support for three outdoor clubs, two that have existed for 70 and 100 years respectively, because a risk analysis suggested they were simply too risky.

These organizations have a long history attached to Penn State.

Nittany Grotto has been a resource that introduced students to caving with regularly scheduled Wednesday trips for 70 years, while the Outing Club is nearing the century mark in bringing students together hiking, backpacking, kayaking and enjoying the outdoors in whatever capacity possible.

“Losing affiliation with the university as a recognized student organization or club sport at Penn State means losing all privileges granted to a student organization,” Outing Club president Christina Platt said via email. “These privileges include the ability to reserve rooms to meet on campus, to be protected with $1,000,000 liability insurance, to use ASA to manage club funds, to fundraise through special university funding opportunities (such as stadium cleanup), to recruit at the Involvement Fair, and to use the university name on merchandise.”

More here, which notes the following:

Two other outdoor recreation clubs — the spelunking Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers SCUBA Club — also have been directed to end trip offerings.

“Safety is a legitimate concern, but it wasn’t an open dialogue,” Waltz said. Christina Platt, the Outing Club’s incoming president, said, “I can hardly blame Penn State for protecting itself against further litigation after a number of high-profile scandals in the past decade.” Student safety is the school’s primary focus, university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a statement.

Penn State conducted a “proactive risk assessment” not based on any previous participant injuries, according to Powers. She said Outing Club activities were rated high risk because they take place in remote environments with poor cell service and distance from emergency services.

I guess students must only be allowed in a safe space where nothing bad can ever happen to them, and they can therefore avoid the horror of experiencing life to its fullest.

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North Korea suspends nuclear and rocket programs

Can we believe it? In anticipation of the upcoming summits with both South Korea and President Trump, North Korea today announced that it has suspended both its nuclear and missile programs.

The new policy, which sets the table for further negotiations when the summits begin, was announced by leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the North Korean ruling party’s Central Committee on Friday and reported by the North’s state-run media early Saturday.

Kim justified the suspension to his party by saying that the situation around North Korea has been rapidly changing “in favor of the Korean revolution” since he announced last year his country had completed its nuclear forces. He said North Korea has reached the level where it no longer needs to conduct underground testing or test-launching of ICBMs.

I think the real reason he announced this is that he knows that if he continues the program, he shall be increasingly isolated. Trump’s pressure on China forced that nation to put the screws on Kim, and as a result he really has no choice but announce the suspension of these programs.

What we really don’t know is if this announcement can be taken seriously. Its public framing, justified under the lie that the programs were completed, makes me very suspicious that he is lying about everything. We shall see how Trump takes it in the coming months..

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