These astonishing photographs taken from space reveal the true scale of the wildfires obliterating Alberta.
The remarkable pictures taken by British astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station show thick smoke pouring over Canada.
The massive blaze is set to cover more than 200,000 hectares (495,000 acres) by the end of Sunday because of high temperatures, dry conditions and high winds.
Wildfires could rage on for months, officials warned, with fears they could double in size and reach a major oil sands mine…
The conservatives who have declared war on the primary victor are displaying a myopia that could be deadly in November when Donald Trump will lead Republicans against a party that has divided the country, destroyed its borders, empowered its enemies, and put 93 million Americans into dependency on the state.
This reckless disregard for consequences is matched only by a blindness to what has made Trump the presumptive nominee. When he entered the Republican primaries a year ago, Trump was given no chance of surviving even the first contest, let alone becoming the Republican nominee. That was the view of all the experts, and especially those experts with the best records of prediction.
Trump – who had never held political office and had no experience in any political job – faced a field of sixteen tested political leaders, including nine governors and five senators from major states. Most of his political opponents were conservatives. During the primaries, several hundred million dollars were spent in negative campaign ads – nastier and more personal than in any Republican primary in memory…
Austrian Teacher Investigated After Telling Class Mohammad Was A Child Molester – Gateway Pundit
An Austrian middle school teacher is being investigated by prosecutors after telling her class the prophet Mohammad was a child molester.
Mohammad’s third wife Aisha was nine years-old when the marriage was consummated.
Apparently, telling the true story of Islam is forbidden in Austria today.
Vol.at reported, via Vlad Tepes:
“A middle school teacher allegedly referred to Mohammed as child molester in front of her pupils.”…
Obama Embraces ‘Transgender’ Moms In Mother’s Day Decree – WorldNetDaily
In his 2016 Mother’s Day proclamation, President Obama included a new class of mothers in his announcement: transgenders.
“On Mother’s Day, we celebrate those who are first to welcome us into the world,” Obama began. “Performing the most important work there is, mothers – biological, foster, or adoptive – are our first role models and earliest motivators. They balance enormous responsibilities and shape who we become as adults, their lessons guiding us through life.”
The president continued, “Regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, mothers have always moved our nation forward and remained steadfast in their pursuit of a better and brighter future for their children.”
The inclusion of “gender identity” in the White House proclamation is a new development this year.
In 2015, Obama didn’t include it but gave a shout-out to mothers who are “married or single, LGBT or straight, biological, adoptive, or foster.”…
Benghazi Committee Chairman Gowdy Sends Scathing Letter In Response To Pentagon Critique – The Blaze
The chairman of the House Benghazi panel fired back Friday at the Defense Department for criticizing the Republican-led investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., outlined his objections in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, telling the Pentagon chief that his top assistant for legislative affairs had in recent correspondence intentionally mischaracterized the inquiry.
“It is also riddled with factual inaccuracies, which not only does a disservice to the public but also does a disservice to the women and men who work for the Department of Defense,” Gowdy wrote…
Despicable BLM Member Threatens To Murder Donald Trump, Wife Melania And Daughter Ivanka – Right Wing News
Another demented Black Lives Matter supporter threatened to kill Donald Trump and his wife and daughter on Youtube.
Ah yes, the tolerant #Blacklivesmatter folk. What a clown.
Covering your face while uploading your threat to Youtube, is not going to protect you, dumb-dumb. IP Address.
So while you wait for law enforcement, you really should not be swinging the barrels of the guns back and forth between the camera and your head, with your fingers on the triggers… you know what? Keep doing that, yeah…
New State Department documents belatedly provided to the watchdog group Judicial Watch show that Hillary Clinton told different stories as secretary of state to different foreign leaders about a YouTube video that the Obama administration falsely blamed for the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks.
The documents, which Judicial Watch obtained last month, include notes of calls that Clinton had with world leaders after the terrorist attacks.
One set of notes comes from a Sept. 15 telephone call Clinton had with then-Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr. During the chat, Clinton referred to the “stupid, very offensive film” as the root cause of the Benghazi violence, which left four Americans dead.
“I have repeatedly, as has the President and other officials in our government, deplored not only the content of this stupid, very offensive film, but also intentional efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” Clinton told Amr.
“This runs counter to American history and the Constitution. But we’ve made clear that violent attacks are never justified in any religion,” she continued, adding that “we have to exercise more self-discipline.”
That call took place a day before then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on several Sunday morning talk shows to blame the “heinous and offensive video” as the impetus for the attacks.
Clinton also appeared to blame the film – “Innocence of Muslims” – in a Sept. 12 call with Afghan President Hamid Kharzi.
“We appreciate your statement in response to the video. Especially, the point that the people that make these kind of videos are a fringe group,” Clinton said during the call.
“We need to talk about religious feelings and insults and defamation,” she added.
Judicial Watch says that the State Department provided those call notes only last month in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It is unclear why it took so long for the agency to hand over the documents.
Also unclear is why in other private conversations Clinton claimed that the video was not the spark for the Benghazi attacks.
During a Sept. 12 phone call with then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil Clinton said that the Benghazi attacks “had nothing to do with the film.”
“You’re not kidding. Based on the information we saw today we believe that group that claimed responsibility for this is affiliated with al-Qaeda,” Kandil responded to Clinton during their chat.
Clinton’s call with Kandil was referred to during Clinton’s Oct. 22 testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. As was an email that Clinton exchanged with her daughter, Chelsea, on the night of the attack. In that email she acknowledged that an “Al Qaeda-like group” had carried out the attack.
But Clinton’s comments in those communiques were at odds with the public position that she and others in the Obama administration took in the days after the attack.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said in a White House-approved statement on the night of the onslaught. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
Further complicating matters is Clinton’s statement during the Oct. 22 Select Committee hearing and during a Democratic debate that she believes that the video did play a role in the Bengahzi attacks.
“Congressman, I believe to this day the video played a role,” she told Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan
during the Benghazi hearing.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said that the new documents show that Clinton offered inconsistent stories about the root cause of the attacks.
“There are two scandals here,” Fitton said in a statement.
“The first is Hillary Clinton was telling different stories to different foreign leaders about the Benghazi attack – including an admission that it was a terrorist attack.”
The second, he said “is the State Department’s cover-up of these documents.”
He accused the agency of playing “whack-a-mole” with the Benghazi documents.
“It is no wonder that two frustrated federal court judges granted Judicial Watch discovery into the Clinton FOIA issues.”
A Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that a lawsuit against the maker of a rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings can go forward.
Under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, gun manufacturers are generally not able to be held liable for crimes committed with their products.
However, Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the PLCAA does not prevent lawyers for the families of Sandy Hook victims from arguing that the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle is a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians.
More from the Hartford Courant:
The lawsuit accuses the Remington Arms Co. and other defendants of negligently selling to civilians a weapon the plaintiffs claim is suitable only for the military and law enforcement. At a hearing in February, Bridgeport lawyer Josh Koskoff argued against dismissing the case, saying the lawsuit’s claim of “negligent entrustment” is an exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Bellis agreed with the plaintiffs that she has the jurisdiction to continue with the case, but she did not rule whether or not the PLCAA actually blocks the plaintiffs and their attorneys from pursing their lawsuit.
“At this juncture, the court need not and will not consider the merits of the plaintiffs’ negligent entrustment theory,” Bellis wrote.
Koskoff, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, was happy with the decision.
“We are thrilled that the gun companies’ motion to dismiss was denied,” he said in a statement, according to Newsweek. “The families look forward to continuing their fight in court.”
Fortunately for Koskoff, they won’t have to wait long. The two sides are due back in court Tuesday.
The Syrian-origin Swedish passport holder arrested in Belgium last week for his involvement in the Brussels bomb attacks is a former poster boy for Sweden’s efforts at integrating migrants into their society.
Now accused of murder, and captured on CCTV cameras carrying bags which contained the explosive devices which killed 32 civilians, Islamist Osama Krayem had once been hailed as a model of integration. A former employee of the city of Malmo, at the age of 11 Osama starred in a documentary about migrants in Sweden.
Both of Osama’s parents are Syrian migrants to Sweden, and have told tabloid Aftonbladet they wanted to see their son integrate into Swedish society. The family featured in a 2005 documentary called ‘Without Borders – A Film About Sport And Integration’, in which football-mad Krayem demonstrated how the Malmo football team had helped him settle into Swedish society.
The club had run an integration project, encouraging local migrant youth to play football. Club marketing manager Christer Girke said of the programme: “We wanted to show the importance of integration… the boys were to go to the association to see what the other Swedes did and get to know the [football] associations were important, how it can be a gateway to jobs and much more”.
At the time of the film’s release, he had told local media: “90 percent of our members have a migrant background, as this integration is something I think a lot about. With this project we want to take responsibility for the society we all be living in formed. And how we are formed as people”.
A school friend told the paper that he was “noticeable” by the fact he didn’t party or drink because of his religion. Even when Krayem started posting pictures of himself on Facebook with Islamic State flags and guns, his old friends didn’t think anything was wrong. One said he just thought Krayem was trying to be “cool”, and that was just what “young people are doing”.
Shot with a budget of £22,000, an opening-night review of ‘Without Borders; in Sydsvenskan hailed the “football mad sons” of the Krayem family – the central players in the film – as showing “the essential role of sport for integration”.
When Osama Krayem got a job with Malmo city council as a management intern, he may have been displaying the outward signs of assimilation that were expected of him, but what his employers did not know is that he was saving his salary to buy tickets to Syria. He worked for a year, before suddenly failing to turn up for work one day in 2014.
Osama had successfully joined the Islamic State and started posting pictures of his exploits on Facebook. A year later, Krayem has swapped the migrant enclave he had grown up in – Rosengard – for another. Traveling through Greece as a refugee, he came to reside in Molenbeek, Brussels, he took on took a leading role in organising the bomb attacks.
That superficially well integrated migrants could be plotting attacks or engaging in criminal activity is not a phenomenon limited to Sweden. Breitbart London reported in January on four “unaccompanied minor” migrants who sexually abused young girls at their new school shortly after arrival.
The headmistress of the school responsible for the boys, who abused girls as young as 14, said they were ““integrating themselves very well” into Austrian society.
The family of a highly decorated U.S. Navy Seal veteran who died of cancer two months before his wedding is fighting the deportation of his Thai fiancee, the mother of his 11-year-old daughter.
Tim Farrell served 21 years for his country before moving to Thailand in 1998. There, he met Bao, and in 2004, the couple welcomed their daughter, Thawan.
Tim, a North Andover native, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June, and, by August, he had bought a house and moved his family to Derry, New Hampshire, so that Thawan could continue the education she started at a prestigious English-language school in Thailand. Tim had always planned to move his daughter to the United States for school, but hastened his plans as he became sick.
Tim died on Dec. 26, two months before he and Bao were to marry and get Bao a green card. Now Bao’s visiting visa has expired and she has filed for an extension through August, as Tim’s siblings reach out to attorneys and politicians in the hope of securing her a green card.
Thawan is a U.S. citizen and can stay in the country, but, at just 11 years old, the fifth-grader needs her mom.
“It’s been really hard without my dad, and my mom is here for me. So that’s why I really want her to stay with me,” Thawan said, through tears. “I want to ask them, ‘Why she can’t stay here with me?”
But attorneys and the offices of elected officials have told the family the situation is bleak and there may be no avoiding deportation.
“I literally was standing by his bed when he died, and I told him, ‘I’ll make sure your family stays here,'” said Tim’s sister Janice Moro, who started an online petition to help her sister-in-law stay in the country. “I can’t expect that anyone would want to separate mom and daughter.”
Immigration attorney Randall Drew, whose office is in Bedford, New Hampshire, told FOX25’s Christine McCarthy that the family’s situation is dire, but there are some possible options.
“It’s a pretty tough spot to be in,” Drew said. “What needs to happen is the government needs to execute some prosecutorial discretion and allow her to stay, grant her something called deferred action or perhaps humanitarian parole.”
That outcome is rare, Drew said, but the family’s situation is extreme.
Another possibility, Drew said, is to apply for a green card through a common-law marriage after death.
“There is a section in the New Hampshire law that states, if you’ve lived together as a married couple and held yourself out as such for the past three years or more and one of the partners dies, under that limited set of circumstances, the person can be recognized as the spouse of the deceased,” Drew said.
If Bao qualifies as a common-law spouse, she would then need to self-petition for her green card as the spouse of a service member. That, in conjunction with proof that Tim’s time in the service might have contributed to his illness or aggravated it, could help her.
Drew recommended the family reach out to elected officials and appeal for help, while also working with both an immigration attorney and a family law attorney.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” Moro said. “Twenty-one years he gave for this country. They should be able to do something.”
Over 40 percent of those in student loan programs have stopped making payments. Many borrowers have never made any payments.
The department of education (a useless body that I would eliminate in one second if given the chance), cannot figure out why this is happening.
“We obviously have not cracked that nut but we want to keep working on it,” said Ted Mitchell, the Education Department’s under secretary.
The Wall Street Journal reports More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments.
More than 40% of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are behind on more than $200 billion owed, raising worries that millions of them may never repay.
While most have since left school and joined the workforce, 43% of the roughly 22 million Americans with federal student loans weren’t making payments as of Jan. 1, according to a quarterly snapshot of the Education Department’s $1.2 trillion student-loan portfolio.
About 1 in 6 borrowers, or 3.6 million, were in default on $56 billion in student debt, meaning they had gone at least a year without making a payment. Three million more owing roughly $66 billion were at least a month behind.
Meantime, another three million owing almost $110 billion were in “forbearance” or “deferment,” meaning they had received permission to temporarily halt payments due to a financial emergency, such as unemployment. The figures exclude borrowers still in school and those with government-guaranteed private loans.
Navient Corp., which services student loans and offers payment plans tied to income, says it attempts to reach each borrower on average 230 to 300 times – through letters, emails, calls and text messages – in the year leading up to his or her default. Ninety percent of those borrowers, which include federal borrowers as well as those who hold private loans, never respond and more than half never make a single payment before they default, the company says.
Crisis Easy to Explain
Carlo Salerno, an economist who studies higher education and has consulted for the private student-lending industry, noted that the government imposes virtually no credit checks on borrowers, requires no cosigners and doesn’t screen people for their preparedness for college-level course work. “On what planet does a financing vehicle with those kinds of terms and those kinds of performance metrics make sense,” he said.
I could easily come up with numerous reasons off the top of my head.
1. Being in the workforce and having a job are two different things.
2. Having a job and making enough money to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars is yet another thing.
3. Some feel cheated by the system, as well they should.
4. Many have figured out the consequences of default are small. The worst that can happen is wage garnishment. Should that happen, one can always find another low-paying job, buying time until they are discovered again.
5. Some never intended to pay back the loans in the first place. To those borrowers, it’s all free money for a few years. They will stay in school as long as they can. If by some miracle they actually graduate (or are kicked out), they never make a payment.
A large portion of the blame for this mess goes to George W. Bush. Seriously.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act enacted April 20, 2005 made it much more difficult to discharge debts in bankruptcy.
Among other things, “BAPCPA amended the law to broaden the types of educational (“student”) loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy absent proof of “undue hardship.” The nature of the lender became irrelevant. Even loans from “for-profit” or “non-governmental” entities are not dischargeable.
The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005
I predicted this mess when Bush signed the bill. As proof, I offer The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005.
Here are my lead paragraphs as I wrote them at the time.
Today Congress passed the “The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005” currently known as the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”. Twenty years from now economists are going to be studying legislation from this Congress and signed by this administration and be wondering: “What the * were they thinking?”.
Consumer Protection Act? LMAO
Anytime this administration passes a law with the “protection” in it, assume it will do just the opposite.
Student Debt Highly Deflationary
I have wanted to refer back to that post on numerous occasions.
I had not done so previously because I strongly dislike my writing style in those days. I frequently used chat room talk like “LMAO” (laughing my ass off), in those early posts.
There are other aspects of my 2005 post that I dislike as well. However, I nailed the idea correctly. Student debt is a hugely deflationary force.
In the wake of that act (albeit with a bit of a delay), we saw massive amounts of seemingly reckless lending to students. Because of government guarantees, lenders did not give a damn who they lent to.
For profit universities flourished. Abuses at the University of Phoenix became rampant. And because of various lending programs that followed, education costs soared as well.
Those debts cannot be paid back, and household formation has gone into reverse. Students moved back home after graduation, and attitudes on debt have changed.
These are all debt deflation forces.
Modest Fee Request
The Department of Education will no doubt waste millions of taxpayer dollars studying this issue, only to come up with the wrong answers because students will lie.
Will anyone realistically admit “I never intended to pay back these loans”?
My modest fee for this analysis is a mere $250,000. Of that amount, I pledge $249,999.99 to the Khan Academy.
All I ask is a penny for my thoughts, saving taxpayers countless millions in useless department of education studies.
For more on the Khan Academy please see Teaching Revolution: Online, Accredited, Free; Start Learning Now!
President Obama does not escape criticism for his efforts to fuel the problem.
Here’s my blast at Obama: For Profit Schools Turn Students Into Debt Zombies; It’s Time To Kill The Entire Pell Grant Program.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but I have not seen a single person take this crisis back to the logical origin, the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” making student debt non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
It’s nice to be rich, and not just because you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from. No, being a millionaire is the ultimate definition of “never having to say you’re sorry.” But now Chicago millionaires are fleeing the city due to concerns over racial tensions and rising crime rates, according to a report by research firm New World Wealth. That’s right, the very people that have milked the city dry through corruption and bribery for the last 90 years, are packing their bags and leaving the ruins to the rabble, you.
“About 3,000 individuals with net assets of $1 million or more, not including the value of their primary residences, moved from the city last year, with many citing rising racial tensions and worries about crime as factors in the decision,” says the report. Chicago is third on the list of cities experiencing an exodus of millionaires, behind Paris and Rome. Both of which are cities that have been ran by Socialist administrations since the last world war. The French capital lost a stunning 7,000 millionaires – 6 per cent – over the last year alone, while Rome lost 5,000 or 7 per cent.
Increasing wealth inequality combined with the rise of extreme protest movements like ‘Black Lives Matter’ provide a toxic cocktail that virtually guarantees social disorder. Wealthy elites are also installing panic rooms in their big city apartments due to fears over potential civil unrest and skyrocketing crime. “The world is a very scary place right now, especially for people of means; they feel cornered and threatened,” Tom Gaffney, the president of Gaffco Ballistics, a company which installs safe rooms in New York City, told the NY Times.
Fearing global unrest and the possibility of another major conflict, many members of the elite have also been buying remote property and land in places like New Zealand, according to reports that emerged out of last year’s Davos Economic Forum. Economist Robert Johnson said the rich were making such purchases “because they think they need a getaway” from Ferguson-style riots that will erupt as a result of widening wealth inequality, which it at its worse in virtually all developed countries since the 1980s. According to realtors involved in the sale of remote property, the elite are concerned about “what is happening around them” and are looking for stable areas of the world to both live and store their wealth due to their “paranoia” over the precarious global situation.
An illegal alien who hit a Texas firefighter head-on and killed him and his four-year-old stepdaughter and 22-month-old son will be charged with criminally negligent homicide if he recovers from his critical injuries.
The man did not have a drivers license and was in the country illegally, according to the CBS affiliate for Dallas/Fort Worth. He first came to the U.S. in 2006 but was deported in 2008.
L.P. Phillips of KRLD radio in Dallas spoke to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials who verified that Margarito Quintero was an illegal alien.
CBS DFW reported that ICE officials had no contact with Quintero until the accident.
Section 19.05 of the Texas Penal Code provides that “A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.” This offense is a state jail felony.
The North Texas volunteer firefighter, Captain Peter Hacking was hit head-on by Quintero. The 36-year-old father leaves a wife, a son, and four stepchildren.
“He was a great family man, that was first, family was first always and his fire department family,” firefighter Amy Cortez told the CBS affiliate. Captain Hacking was reported to always have a smile and be ready for telling a joke. He lived with his children in Nevada, a small community in Collin County. The volunteer fire department protects both the Nevada and Levon communities.
A fund has been set up for the family at the Independent Bank. A gofundme account has also been established to assist his widow and their surviving children.
The funerals for Captian Hacking and his two young children will be held this Saturday.
In 60 years, the U.S. economy has not suffered a 16-month continuous YoY drop in Factory orders without being in recession. Moments ago the Department of Commerce confirmed that this is precisely what the U.S. economy did, when factory orders not only dropped for the 16th consecutive month Y/Y, after declining 1.7% from last month…
…but at $454 billion for the headline number, this was the lowest print since the summer of 2011.
Market reaction: stocks rebound on the news and are now well in the green.
Media Bias: The Washington Post led its Monday paper with a story titled “How Clinton’s Email Scandal Took Root.” What it revealed was that, left to the mainstream press, the story might never have hit the ground.
No one reading the Post’s 5,000-word account can come away thinking that the Clinton email scandal is unimportant.
The FBI now has 147 agents chasing down leads. A key person involved in the scandal has been granted immunity. Hillary Clinton – who has already been caught in several lies – might be questioned by federal agents. There are fairly obvious violations of the law, even if it’s just those governing record-keeping. And there were, and continue to be, concerns that national security secrets were compromised, or at least casually disregarded.
The story details, for example, the many high-level security concerns that officials had about her use of a private BlackBerry to do her emailing, to say nothing of her homebrew email server.
Clinton got a warning from a State Department security official in March 2009 that “any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails, and exploiting calendars.”
Clinton responded that she “gets it,” but as the Post reports, she “kept using her private BlackBerry – and the basement server.”
The Post deserves credit for devoting so much space to summing the entire saga up. And for exposing something the reporter and his editors probably never intended: The media’s negligence as the scandal unfolded.
While the New York Times was the first national media outlet to write about Clinton’s use of a private email account last March, the Post summation makes clear that the mainstream press had almost nothing to do with uncovering the truth or advancing the story.
* The Post notes that it was a nonprofit group called CREW that first cracked the story open, when the State Department responded to its FOIA request for Clinton’s State Department email addresses by saying “no records responsive to your request.”
* The much-ballyhooed House Select Committee on Benghazi discovered her use of a private email account after demanding copies of her email traffic around the time of the attack on the embassy.
* Private cybersecurity firm Venafi discovered how Clinton’s email server had been unencrypted for months. The company “took it upon itself,” the Post notes, to publish its findings on its own website.
* The public release of all Clinton’s State Department emails resulted not from pressure from NBC News, CNN or the New York Times, but from a FOIA request by a startup online news site called Vice News.
* Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, has been more aggressive than any media outlet in going after Clinton’s records, and as a result uncovered several damning emails, including a chain of emails showing how her staff was “taking steps that would help her circumvent” Clinton’s own promise of openness and transparency.
* And where has the “telling truth to power” press been during all this time? Sure, they’ve been passively sharing information when it came out – although often grudgingly and dismissively. But there are few elements of it that reporters themselves were responsible for breaking.
Normally, with a scandal this juicy and involving a would-be president, reporters would be falling over themselves to “advance the story.” But “normal” never seems to apply when a scandal involves a Democrat.
The FBI has 147 investigators focused on the Clinton email case. One wonders how many investigative reporters the New York Times, the Post, and all the other big media outlets have.
The animus between Cruzites and the Trumpians is so strong these days that anyone in either camp who tries to point out that one side isn’t always right and the other side isn’t always wrong results in knee-jerk, moonbat-like hostility the likes of which I’ve not seen among the Republican electorate in my lifetime.
For instance, I read a brief post the other day on some social media network by an ardent Trump fan wherein he(?) mentioned that Cruz gets a bum rap for being a part of the “RINO-Bush” 2000 campaign. The Trumpian in question merely pointed out that, at the time, Bush was the most conservative guy in the race who had any chance of beating Al Gore, and that Ted was simply supporting his party’s nominee. He opined that Cruz wasn’t necessarily some establishment assclown just because he’d backed George Dubya for president, and he was exactly right in that assessment, but that didn’t stop other Trump backers from treating him like he was the worst traitor since Benedict Arnold.
Similarly, I was attacked by faceless, #NeverTrump SM-warriors just the other day for defending The Donald over accusations by Ted Cruz that he had planted the National Enquirer sex-scandal story. All I did was share information which confirmed that it was allies of Marco Rubio who had been shopping that story around for months prior to it becoming public. Afterward I mentioned that I thought it was hypocritical of Cruz to be doing exactly what he’d accused Trump of doing only days before, which was holding someone to account for acts that no one could prove they’d actually committed. Based upon the reactions I got from my fellow Cruzites, one would have thought that I’d tortured a puppy on live video. I was branded a Trumpaloompa, a TrumpRump and other such monikers, even though I’d made it clear from the start that I’ve always backed Ted Cruz for president and still do. Not only did none of the people who responded to me exhibit the intellectual honesty to admit that I’d made a valid, fact-based point, but they seemed to assume I was a part of some pro-Trump, lunatic-fringe spy network or something.
In both of the above cases, the various respondents behaved with irrational contempt toward well-intentioned and well-reasoned people, and nobody else piped up at any time to illuminate these folks as to how completely leftist they all sounded. Yes, I said LEFTIST!
Look, I don’t give a damn who you support for president or why, that’s your business. However, what I DO care about is the manner in which you choose to do it, and if your idea of righteous campaigning is to defame and denigrate anyone who has the temerity to expose the inconsistencies and outright falsehoods perpetrated by whatever candidate you happen to embrace, then you’re no better than a filthy neo-socialist parasite!
And that goes doubly for people who support Ted cruz for president. Why? Because the number one criticism I hear leveled at Trump from my fellow Cruzites is that he will say or do anything to get elected. And while that may be true, when you turn a blind eye to the fact that Ted Cruz does not appear to be above dirty tricks and hypocrisy himself, you’ve just ceded any moral or ethical high ground you may have had to the opposition. Indeed, I hold Cruz supporters to a higher standard than I do the followers of other candidates in this race, and if you’re to have any real integrity as a Cruzite, you will too.
Moreover, I’m sick to death of seeing people whom I’ve always considered to be genuine, well-principled conservatives take sides against Donald Trump absolutely every time some left-wing media asshat invents a “scandal” out of thin air. Sure, you have every right to criticize The Donald for the myriad dumbass things he’s said over the years, but jumping on the let’s-bash-Trump bandwagon every time the opportunity presents itself is just plain pathetic. It’s beneath men and women of good faith to act in such a way, and what pisses me off the most about this state of affairs is that I am often forced to defend a man I don’t even like very much in the name of fairness and basic decency against others of my own ideological bent.
It angers me, and for that reason I now beseech my fellow Crusites to GROW THE FUCK UP and start behaving like the sort of people you profess to want running our country, instead of the unprincipled swine who’ve done nothing but steer it straight into the crapper since the day after President Ronald Reagan gave his farewell address from the Oval Office.
Edward L. Daley
Former Secretary Hillary Clinton and her State Department colleagues have given “constantly shifting” stories about her secret email account, a federal judge said Tuesday, finding there’s evidence the Obama administration showed “bad faith” in how it followed open-records laws.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth said it remains to be seen whether the government did try to obfuscate matters, but said there’s at least enough smoke that Judicial Watch, the conservative interest group suing to get a look at all of Mrs. Clinton’s records, should be allowed to press for more details about how the State Department made its decisions.
“Plaintiff is relying on constantly shifting admissions by the government and the former government officials,” Judge Lamberth said.
Mrs. Clinton declined to use a State.gov email account during her term as secretary, instead using an email account tied to a server she kept at her home in New York.
All of her messages that concerned official business were supposed to be archived by the State Department, but she kept them, only returning them in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office and only at the prompting of the House committee probing the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.
That meant that during her four years in office and nearly two years afterward, the State Department was not searching those documents in response to open-records requests from Congress or the public.
Last month, the State Department finally finished processing more than 30,000 pages of Mrs. Clinton’s emails and made them public on the department’s Freedom of Information Act web page – a mammoth undertaking that has put a treasure trove of information in the public’s eye.
Judicial Watch and others argue that some 30,000 other messages Mrs. Clinton sent from her secret address during her time in office, but which she has deemed private business, should also be reviewed by the government.
The State Department told Judge Lamberth it never misled the public because it never said it was searching Mrs. Clinton’s emails in the first place. The department said that meant it wasn’t acting in bad faith when it responded to open-records requests.
Judge Lamberth, though, said more evidence is needed before those conclusions can be reached.
“The government argues that this does not show a lack of good faith, but that is what remains to be seen, and the factual record must be developed appropriately in order for this court to make that determination,” he said in a brief ruling.
The Justice Department declined to comment on Judge Lamberth’s ruling, which marks the third legal black eye for the Obama administration in recent weeks.
Last week, a federal appeals court said the Justice Department was turning the law on its head to protect the IRS from taxpayers, rather than to protect taxpayers from the IRS.
And another judge issued a “show cause” order demanding to know why the government appeared to conceal documents in an open-records case brought against a top Obama climate adviser. Judge Amit Mehta, who serves on the district court in Washington, D.C., along with Judge Lamberth, raised the possibility of punishing the administration for its actions.
Judge Lamberth’s decision Tuesday joins that of Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, also in the district court in Washington, who earlier this year granted discovery in another case brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department.
Judge Sullivan even said he was inclined to order the State Department to demand all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails – including the 30,000 or so messages she said were private business, not public records, that she sent from her secret account during her time in office.
Judge Lamberth said he’ll wait to see what Judge Sullivan decides before moving ahead with discovery in his own case.
Recent news reports indicate that the FBI is investigating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for granting favors to her family’s foundation donors and for its systematic accounting fraud. In January, the Sunday Times of London cited former Judge Andrew Napolitano, a conservative libertarian and frequent Fox News guest, as saying that the FBI was taking evidence “seriously” and that Hillary “could hear about that soon from the Department of Justice.”
It’s hard to believe that the Obama administration and its hideously politicized Justice Department would ever indict Ms. Clinton, given that President Barack Obama picked her for secretary of state and its clear favoritism toward her in the presidential race. But there is massive evidence that shows financial abuses – including money laundering – at the Clinton Foundation and overwhelming evidence that donors were helped by Ms. Clinton.
To take one of so many examples, there’s the case of Clinton Foundation donor Claudio Osorio – who is now housed at a federal prison serving 12 years for fraud – who in 2010, with Ms. Clinton’s (and Bill Clinton’s) help, won a $10 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
The loan was granted to an Osorio firm called InnoVida, which was supposed to build houses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Instead, Osorio pocketed the money and used it to underwrite his lavish lifestyle and to pay off politicians. For political muscle, Osorio – who also had close ties to Jeb Bush, who sat on the board of a bank he owned – paid a lobbyist and major Hillary fundraiser named Jonathan Mantz.
And that leads me to another Clinton Foundation donor Ms. Clinton helped out who happened to use Mr. Mantz (who now runs Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign Super PAC) and apparently with the same great effect: Gonzalo Tirado, a crooked Venezuelan financier.
Mr. Tirado was president of and ran Venezuelan operations for the famously corrupt Stanford Bank, which was headquartered in Antigua and was named for its American founder, Allen Stanford. He and Mr. Stanford came to be extremely close and “were like father and son,” one well-placed source told me.
Mr. Stanford’s name may ring a bell as he was sentenced to prison for 110 years for committing an $8 billion Ponzi scheme. In 2006, the Hugo Chavez government was asked to investigate Mr. Tirado by scandal-plagued, pro-Wall Street New York Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and a major recipient of cash and perks from jailbird Allen Stanford. Mr. Tirado was charged with tax evasion and theft, The Hill newspaper reported.
As I’ll detail below – and I uncovered this story with help from the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group – Tirado soon fled for Miami to avoid prosecution and petitioned the State Department, through Mr. Mantz, for political asylum. It’s not clear if he won asylum – and he doesn’t seem to merit it as he had no record of political opposition to the Chavez government – but it is clear that he was allowed to remain in the U.S. and live a life of luxury.
(Mr. Tirado, who did not reply to a request for comment, has kept a low profile as of late. His last reported sighting came in 2014, when he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide, or at least claimed he intended to kill himself.)
Incredibly, the Obama administration not only failed to help the Chavez government investigate Mr. Tirado, but it also indicted a legendary former DEA agent named Tom Raffanello, a one-time head of the DEA’s Miami office and the agency’s chief of congressional affairs during Bill Clinton’s first term as president.
Mr. Raffanello’s subsequent prosecution, which ended in abysmal failure, almost surely was prompted and abetted by Mr. Tirado, a secret FBI informant. Unsurprisingly, the vindicated Mr. Raffanello had few kind words for Mr. Tirado or Ms. Clinton during a recent interview.
“Tirado believed in buying influence,” Mr. Raffanello said of the crooked financier. “He wouldn’t give away 10 cents that he didn’t think he’d get back a dollar on. That was his entire philosophy.”
As for Ms. Clinton, he said that during her years in the Obama administration the “prevailing wisdom in Miami at the time, among people in high profile civil and criminal defense circles, was that giving money to the Clinton Foundation was very helpful. She was secretary of state and a potential future president. I’m sure that’s the same thinking now.”
(Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign did not reply to a request for comment.)
Up until 2006, life was cushy for pampered, wealthy, jet-setting Gonzalo Tirado, who was running the Stanford Bank’s Venezuela operations. Events took a turn for the worse when an internal Stanford Bank audit discovered that he had fleeced about $5 million from the company.
Mr. Tirado’s actions did not sit well with Stanford, and the Venezuelan beat a hasty exit from his job. He soon opened a bank of his own and lured in a few local investors. His new enterprise went down the tubes, and the defrauded locals, who were very close to the Chavez government, looked to it for help, leading to an investigation of Mr. Tirado.
At the same time, the Chavez government was investigating Mr. Tirado at the behest of Stanford, through his hand-picked emissary, Congressman Meeks. (See this Wikileaked cable for more on the topic and on Mr. Tirado’s feud with the Venezuelan government.) That led to the filing of criminal charges against Mr. Tirado, as noted above. (The Venezuelan embassy in Washington did not reply to a request for comment.)
Mr. Tirado, apparently a conscienceless paranoid who felt no remorse for his actions, became convinced that Stanford Bank was monitoring his activities and tapping his phone and was the source of all of his troubles. Perhaps sensing he was in deep trouble, he fled Venezuela for Miami.
Mr. Tirado began spending money like a drunken sailor. He purchased at least two luxury estates in the Miami area. He also became a major investor in several companies, including a security firm called Command Consulting Group for which he recruited as a front man W. Ralph Basham, a former senior official with the Department of Homeland Security under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Command Consulting Group, “an international security and intelligence consulting firm that provides advisory services to governments, corporations, and high net worth individuals,” according to its website, and whose top officials include a number of other former senior government terror and security veterans, is currently run out of an office in Washington. (Mr. Basham did not reply to a request for comment.)
As 2009 dawned, life could hardly have been better for the pampered Mr. Tirado. There was just one small problem: He needed to stay in the U.S. to avoid being sent back back to Venezuela, where he was sure to face trial and imprisonment. To stay in the U.S., Mr. Tirado needed the continued indulgence of the U.S. State Department.
Fortunately for Mr. Tirado, the U.S. government had been hostile to Venezuela ever since the South American nation of 31 million moved to the left in 2002, when Chavez was elected to the first of his three terms.
(Note and disclosure: Chavez died in 2013, and the country is now led by his former vice president, Nicolás Maduro. Despite its flaws, the country’s socialist government has made remarkable strides in bettering the lives of Venezuela’s poor majority. In 2004, I met Chavez as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and I consider him to be the greatest force for democratic change in modern Latin American history with the possible exception of Che Guevera.)
The George W. Bush administration had regularly conspired with the rancid political opposition, which Chavez displaced from power, and had sought to destabilize and overthrow the Chavez government with the help of local Venezuelan surrogates. Incoming President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, were rabid opponents of Chavez’s as well, but Mr. Tirado didn’t want to count on that alone.
Knowing how the corrupt U.S. political system works, he hired an American lobbyist, Jonathan Mantz, to game the asylum process for him while he took it easy and spent his loot in America.
Mantz then worked at BGR, the firm of Republican Haley Barbour, the famously overweight former Mississippi governor and one of the most prominent of all GOP lobby shops. He had previously worked as finance director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and for the laughably corrupt New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
Mr. Mantz, who had no real qualifications to be a lobbyist other than his ability to raise money – and who did not reply to a request for comment – had drummed up cash for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Currently Mr. Mantz chairs Hillary’s 2016 Super PAC, Priorities USA Action. Mr. Tirado paid BGR $350,000.
Now sufficiently motivated, Mantz went to work lobbying Hillary’s State Department to let Tirado stay in Miami. Meanwhile, the crooked Mr. Tirado donated between $5,000 and $10,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website. As is its custom, the foundation does not state when the donation was made and declined to answer questions about the money it took from Mr. Tirado.
Coincidentally or not, Mr. Tirado was one four of Mr. Mantz’ clients who donated to the Clinton Foundation during his brief 16-month career as a lobbyist.
Now let’s discuss the story of former DEA agent Thomas Raffanello, at which point this story becomes even more outrageous.
Mr. Raffanello worked for the DEA for more than three decades. He left in 2004 and went to work as the head of security for the Stanford Bank. “We set up cameras to prevent bank robberies and generally provided security at bank offices and functions,” Mr. Raffanello told me last weekend during the course of several lengthy phone interviews. “I was based in Miami but had offices in Caracas, Quito, Antigua and a few other places.”
Mr. Raffanello said Allen Stanford “couldn’t balance a checkbook” and described him as “a spoiled billionaire.” When I asked him why he went to work for Stanford in the first place he said, “I did due diligence. I called several associates, including the former head of DEA in Miami before me and several former assistant U.S. attorneys who worked for him. No one ever gave me a bad word; they said he was eccentric but a straight shooter. Madeleine Albright worked for him, and the former president of Switzerland was one of his board members.”
Stanford Bank collapsed and was put into receivership in 2010, at which point Mr. Raffanello left the company. But well before then Mr. Tirado – who, a source told me, had become an FBI informant – had become convinced that Mr. Raffanello was the source for all of his problems with the Chavez government and its investigation into him. Hence, he began a smear campaign against Mr. Raffanello in Venezuela and the United States.
As I mentioned above, it was Congressman Meeks – who currently supports Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and who took in more money from Stanford than any single member of Congress other than Charles Rangel and Pete Sessions of Texas – who prompted the Chavez government to look into Mr. Tirado.
But the paranoid Mr. Tirado, certain Mr. Raffanello was to blame, paid Venezuelan writers to place stories saying Mr. Raffanello worked for the CIA, Mr. Raffanello told me. That led to the Chavez government questioning Mr. Raffanello for alleged corruption involving the Stanford bank, though it determined the allegations were groundless and never charged him.
“Venezuela is like Casablanca,” Mr. Raffanello said. “If you tell a story twice it becomes the truth. It became impossible for me to go to Venezuela because I feared I’d get picked up by law enforcement.”
“I thought I was going to get Shanghaied, but you can’t make something out of nothing.” – Thomas Raffanello.
Meanwhile, Mr. Raffanello said, Mr. Tirado told the FBI and the Justice Department that he was trying to arrange Mr. Tirado’s kidnapping and was spying on him. “The guy knows how to play the game, and he played it at a high level because he had plenty of money,” Mr. Raffanello said.
About a year after Mr. Raffanello left Stanford Bank, he was indicted by the Obama Justice Department for allegedly shredding Stanford Bank documents. The case went to trial in Miami in 2010. On February 10 of that year, as the jury was deliberating, Judge Richard Goldberg interrupted its deliberations and unilaterally acquitted Raffanello (and another defendant), saying the evidence against him was “substantially lacking.”
It is highly unusual for a person to escape conviction after being indicted by a federal grand jury, let alone for the government to be humiliated in court as it was in the Raffanello case. Stunned federal prosecutors begged the judge to at least allow the jury to render a verdict because the acquittal would prevent them from appealing a verdict.
The judge dismissed their plea, and Mr. Raffanello’s ordeal was over. “I thought I was going to get Shanghaied, but you can’t make something out of nothing,” he said.
To sum up here, a corrupt Venezuelan banker hired a lobbyist close to Hillary Clinton, made a donation to her family’s foundation and has been allowed to live in the United States without fear of prosecution in his homeland. At a time that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Obama Administration staged what can only be described as a political prosecution of an honest man and long-time government employee.
Mr. Raffanello has concluded this about Hillary Clinton’s campaign: “I learned a lot about her and her family when I was in the government, and how they are put together,” he said. “She is a person who will say and do anything in order to get elected president. I don’t think she’s going to win, but there’s nothing she won’t do while trying.”
So, some smarmy Cruz supporters decided to attack Donald Trump’s wife over the fact that the former model posed nude in GQ magazine back in 2000. This they did on the eve of Tuesday’s Utah caucus for obvious religious reasons, and Ted – who claims he knew nothing about the smear campaign beforehand – didn’t bother condemning them for it.
Predictably, Donald Trump decided to respond in kind, insinuating that Cruz’s wife is ugly in comparison to his own and threatening to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz, whatever that means.
With equal predictability, Ted Cruz hit back, calling The Donald a “sniveling coward”, and warning him to leave his wife “the hell alone.”
Last night, that bastion of journalistic integrity known as the National Enquirer jumped into the mix, releasing a story which claims that Cruz has had five extramarital affairs over the years. So far, two of the women named by the Enquirer, Katrina Pierson and Amanda Carpenter, have denied the allegations, and now Ted Cruz is blaming “sleazy Donald” Trump – who is friends with the Enquirer’s CEO – for planting the story.
This afternoon, Trump posted on his facebook page that he had “absolutely nothing to do with” the National Enquirer story, adding that “unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence.”
In the meantime, neither Ted nor Donald is spending much time talking about the fact that the current President of the United States just told a bunch of Argentinians that there’s essentially no difference between Capitalism and Communism. They’ve also neglected to righteously hammer Hillary Clinton for being a provable felon, as well as an habitual liar who should be sitting in a jail cell right now awaiting prosecution for crimes too numerous to enumerate.
Oh well, I guess people have their priorities. After all, it’s not like the country will be irreversibly harmed or anything if the Wicked Witch of Benghazi gets into the Oval Office next January.
Oh wait, YES IT WILL!