Category Archives: Obama

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news stories

FBI

Joe Mullin writes for ArsTechnica, August 27, 2015:

The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

An Electronic Frontier Foundation FOIA request on a different matter revealed the strategy in 2011, but it wasn’t made public until last year, when privacy researcher Chris Soghoian saw evidence of the operation in the documents and tweeted about it. That spurred both the AP and The Seattle Times to complain vocally about the FBI’s behavior.

“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in a letter to then-AG Eric Holder last year.

FBI director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey defended the action in a New York Times op-ed. “We do use deception at times to catch crooks, but we are acting responsibly and legally,” he wrote.

In the op-ed, Comey admitted that not only did the FBI create a fake news story, one of its agents impersonated an AP journalist.

The 2007 operation began when the FBI was contacted by police in Lacey, Washington, after a series of bomb threats were placed to Timberline High School in May and June of that year.

The FBI e-mailed the fake news story via a link to a suspect’s MySpace account. The e-mail was made to look like it came from The Seattle Times. When the suspect clicked on the link, FBI software revealed his location and IP address to agents working the case. A juvenile suspect was arrested on June 14, 2007.

A month later, the student was sentenced to 90 days’ juvenile probation and ordered to pay $8,852 to compensate the school for additional security.

The Associated Press filed today’s lawsuit together with the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, which put in its own FOIA request last year. The lawsuit notes that it has been nearly 300 days since the original request was made and says the FBI failed to respond to the request as it’s legally required to do.

~Éowyn

NLRB expands standards for ‘joint employers’

No doubt this will be heading to a court challenge.

Obama and his union buddy Trumka

Obama and his union buddy Trumka

Seattle Times: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made it easier Thursday for unions to negotiate on behalf of workers at fast-food chains and other companies relying on contractors and franchisees.

The ruling could have an impact on future union talks involving contractors at companies in the Puget Sound region. Many of the Seattle area’s major employers, including Microsoft, Amazon.com, Boeing and Starbucks, use contract workers.

With its ruling in a case involving Browning-Ferris Industries and employees at one of its subcontractors, the labor board redefined what it means to be a “joint employer.”

The new standard is significant because corporations could be held liable for labor-law violations by their subcontractors and could be forced to the bargaining table by unions seeking to organize the employees of a subcontractor or franchisee.

The ruling, adopted in a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, was immediately attacked by business groups, which called on the Republican-controlled Congress to overturn it.

Employers such as McDonald’s and Yum Brands are also likely to challenge the decision if unions manage to organize a group of employees at one or more of their franchises.

The labor board, which is charged with protecting workers’ rights to organize, changed the definition of a crucial employer-employee relationship that had held in some form since the Reagan era of the 1980s.

Now, a company that hires a contractor to staff its facilities may be considered a joint employer of the workers at that facility, even if it does not actively supervise them.

A union representing those workers would be legally entitled to bargain with the parent company, not just the contractor, under federal labor law.

In Microsoft’s case, one of the company’s contractors, Lionbridge Technologies, last year was the subject of a successful union drive by workers seeking paid time off.

“It has pretty huge implications,” said Danielle Franco-Malone, a labor lawyer with Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt in Seattle. Her firm this year represented the union of Lionbridge employees, the Temporary Workers of America, in collective-bargaining talks with Lionbridge.

“The new framework is going to dramatically expand who is going to be considered an employer,” Franco-Malone said. “It’s going to make it harder for companies to use temporary staffing agencies and other intermediaries that insulate themselves from being an employer for labor-relations purposes.”

hopeandchange4

Marshall Babson, a lawyer who helped write a brief opposing the rule for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said: “The decision today could be one of the more significant by the NLRB in the last 35 years. Depending on how the board applies its new ‘indirect test,’ it will likely ensnare an ever-widening circle of employers and bargaining relationships.”

For example, if employees at a fast-food restaurant run by a franchisee were to unionize, they would immediately be entitled to negotiate not just with the owner of the individual restaurant but also with the corporate headquarters.

Many large companies maintain that they should not be required to bargain with employees of their contractors or franchisees and that they should not be held liable for violations of those workers’ rights, if they only exert control over the employees’ work conditions in indirect ways, such as laying out circumstances in which workers should be disciplined or fired.

The labor board explicitly rejected that logic Thursday. “It is not the goal of joint-employer law to guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers, while maintaining control of the workplace,” the Democratic-majority wrote, addressing the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act. “Such an approach has no basis in the act or in federal labor policy.”

The far-reaching implications of the decision stem from a 2013 election petition by the Teamsters union, which sought to represent workers at a Browning-Ferris recycling facility in Milpitas, Calif. The workers were employed by Leadpoint Business Services, a subcontractor, to sort recyclable items and clean the facility.

The petition triggered the question of whether Browning-Ferris and Leadpoint were joint employers. An NLRB regional director found that they were not joint employers because they did not share direct and immediate control over conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing and disciplining workers.

The union appealed the decision, which led to the board decision Thursday. The ruling means that ballots cast in a union election will now be unsealed and counted.

Experts say the case will eventually be appealed and could reach the Supreme Court.

Business representatives said the labor board was making it much harder to operate franchises in the future, undermining a popular path for many entrepreneurs.

Before the ruling Thursday, the prevailing doctrine typically required the parent company to exert “direct and immediate” control over working conditions of employees at its franchisees or contractors to be considered a joint employer.

Under the new test, a company can be considered a joint employer even if it has only indirect control over working conditions, say, by requiring the use of certain scheduling software that locks in the timing and length of workers’ shifts — or if it has the right to control certain conditions even if it doesn’t exercise that right.

DCG

Transgender pornography increasingly popular in America

Michelle's weenieMichelle Obama dancing on The Ellen DeGeneris Show in March 2015. See “Is Michelle Obama a transexual?

More than 1½ months after I published a post asking if and how much the current movement to normalize and popularize transgenderism is driven by Americans’ growing appetite for tranny or T-girl pornography, the main stream media finally picked up on this phenomenon. (See “The dark side of the push for transgenderism: Sex with she-males”)

Chris Morris reports for CNBC, Aug. 27, 2015, that transgender porn has been steadily climbing in popularity for years. But with Bruce Jenner’s coming out as “Caitlyn” and the favorable publicity surrounding that, T-porn has grown into a full-fledged phenomenon.

Chauntelle Tibbals, an independent sociologist (and former visiting scholar at the University of Southern California) who studies the adult entertainment industry, says in typical academic gobbledeegook: “Porn is part and parcel of society, and our culture is getting more aware and understanding. Even though transsexual porn has existed forever, as the world and our culture is becoming more accepting, it looks at and interacts with this content in a way that is more savvy and forthcoming. In that way, the content has to step up its game.”

Transgender porn is becoming a hot seller. GameLink, an online porn provider, says its sales of transgender porn have increased 14% in the past year, and now make up 10% of its overall revenue.

The top states in consumers of GameLink’s tranny porn are:

  1. California, which accounts for 17.6%.
  2. New York, 7.3%.
  3. Illinois, 5.6%.
  4. Texas, 5%.
  5. Arizona, 4.9%.

To date, no other online porn company has revealed statistical data about the transgender viewing habits of its customers. Only Evil Angel has addressed the subject, telling the International Business Times that the category has been its most popular in terms of revenue per scene for decades—since the company can command a premium of more than 20% for the content.

In my July 11 post on tranny porn, I referenced a Salon article by Tracy Clark-Flory, a self-described “gender queer,” which claims that heterosexual men are the main consumers of T-girl porn. According to the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, by Sai Gaddam and Ogi Ogas, T-girl porn is the 4th most popular type of “adult” porn website.

Two male “celebrities” are known to have a penchant for sex with transgenders. One of them is actor Eddie Murphy. The other is former football pro Hank Baskett (husband of reality TV actress and former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner Kendra Wilkinson), who reportedly had an affair with a she-male “model” named Ava Sabrina London when Kendra was 8 months pregnant with the couple’s second child.

Google “transgender porn” and you’ll find naked images of grotesque transgenders men with breast implants and male genitalia. In his book Miracles, C. S. Lewis presciently observed that “Sexual intercourse is rapidly becoming the one thing venerated in a world without veneration.” And in our “post-modern”America where sex is the be-all and end-all, and where there no longer are constraints on sexual behavior, people get bored with normal, ordinary sex and look for new thrills to titillate their jaded but never-satiated appetites. Tranny porn is one of those new thrills.

Is there any wonder that the Devil himself is a transgender?

Baphomet

Meanwhile, 65-year-old Bruce “call me Caitlyn” Jenner is finally admitting his homosexuality, saying that he would like “to date” a man. In a clip from his reality TV show that’s plummeting in ratings, he says, “It would be very attractive to me to have a guy treat me…like a normal woman.”

Caitlyn Jenner is a normal woman?

~Éowyn

Father of slain TV reporter Alison Parker is a former professional actor

Obama has a lot more he wants to accomplish

On August 26, 2015, two employees of CBS affiliate WDBJ of Roanoke, Virginia, were shot dead while conducting a live television interview near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta.

They were 24-year-old news reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old photojournalist Adam Ward.

The gunman was a former WDBJ reporter, 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known by the professional pseudonym of Bryce Williams, who was fired for disruptive conduct in 2013. After a 5-hour manhunt, Flanagan shot himself during a car chase with police officers and died later at a hospital.

Alison’s father, Andy Parker, interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, immediately called for gun control. He vowed:

“I’m not gonna let this issue [gun control] drop. You know, we’ve got to do something about crazy people getting guns. And I, you know, the problem that you guys have got ahead, I know it’s a news business and this is a big story, but next week it ain’t gonna be a story any more and everybody’s gonna forget it. But you mark my words: My mission in life, and I talked to the governor [Terry McAuliffe, a gun control advocate] and he called me and he said, and I told him I’m gonna do something, whatever it takes to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something to close loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns. And he said, ‘You go, I’m right there with you.’ So this is not the last you heard of me. This is something that’s Alison’s legacy that I wanna make happen.”

Note: Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, an ardent advocate of gun control, was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He’s a cousin of Syracuse law professor Sharon McAuliffe, who some suspect is school teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe who allegedly died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. (See “Are the crew members of 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger still alive?“) Coincidentally, Terry McAuliffe is also very much concerned about NASA funding issues. See here and here.

It turns out Andy Parker is a former actor.

On his LinkedIn page, Parker, who is now a “headhunter for the banking industry,” claims to have been a “professional actor” in his youth, for 6 years from 1979 to 1985, in the greater New York City area, and had “appeared on Broadway in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, and at the Kennedy Center in “Pump Boys & Dinettes,” as well as “numerous regional stage credits and regional and national TV commercials.”

Under the section “Volunteer Experience & Causes,” Parker says he’s the founder of a “community theatre organization” called TheatreWorks Community Players (TWCP), where he served as the board president for more than 6 years, from 2004 to 2010.  TWCP went from staging “one summer production a year, to full seasons in its own black box theatre.”

From his bio above, it is not unreasonable for us to gather that Andy Parker is a failed actor who never made it “big time,” but retained his interest in acting, as evidenced by his founding of the community theater.

Is Andy Parker another crisis actor?

Here are the screenshots I took of Andy Parker’s LinkedIn page, in case he scrubs it in the days to come. (Click images to enlarge)

Andy Parker1Andy Parker2Andy Parker3Andy Parker4Andy Parker5Andy Parker6

H/t Professor Doom 1

H/t Memory Hole reader Comrade Ogilvy

Update (Aug. 29, 2015):

Andy Parker says now that he is campaigning for gun control he will probably have to get a firearm to defend himself: “When you’re in the media, as you know, and when you are taking on an issue like this, there are a lot of people who take exception to what you are saying, so I will probably have to do that.” (Source: The Guardian)

HYPOCRITE!

~Éowyn

Blue Cross of New Mexico pulls out of state exchange

obamacare

KRQE: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico announced on Wednesday it “will not offer individual on-exchange health insurance products on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange in 2016.”

Officials say the rates of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico did not cover the claim costs in 2014 and 2015 according to Albuquerque Business First.

“BCBSNM is extremely disappointed that we will not be an option for our customers on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange in 2016. We have been serving New Mexicans for 75 years and we hope to provide more options to individuals in the future,” said Kurt Shipley, president of BCBSNM. “While we are committed to helping communities expand access to health insurance, we cannot offer products in a sustainable and predictable manner without adequate rates. We will continue to offer an HMO product off-exchange in 2016, which will be available to all consumers.”

Earlier this month, the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance denied requests for a rate increase that would have helped cover the costs.

Authorities with BCBSNM said that policies for individuals will still remain in effect through the end of 2015. Also, non-individual policies may not be affected by the changes.

According to Albuquerque Business First, about 35,000 people are enrolled in the individual plans.

As reported via Twitchy:

The letter said Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico lost $19.2 million in 2015 on the 35,000 individuals covered by plans they purchased on and off the exchange. “We were unable to reach an agreement with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance … that would allow us to continue to offer coverage on the state’s health insurance exchange with rates that would be adequate to cover the anticipated needs of our members for the coming year,” Shipley wrote.”

DCG

Report: Solyndra misrepresented facts to get loan guarantee

And in typical government fashion, no one is held accountable. We spent $500 MILLION for a “cautionary tale”.

solyndra

AP: A four-year investigation has concluded that officials of the solar company Solyndra misrepresented facts and omitted key information in their efforts to get a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government taxpayers.

Solyndra was the first company to get federal loan guarantees under a program that was created in 2005 and expanded by President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package.

The company’s failure soon after receiving the loan guarantee likely will cost taxpayers more than $500 million. Republicans and other critics cite it as an example of wasteful spending under the stimulus program.

The report by the Energy Department’s inspector general was released Wednesday. It’s designed to provide federal officials with lessons learned as it proceeds to grant billions of dollars in additional loan guarantees. The inspector general found fault with the department, describing its due diligence work as “less than fully effective.” The report also said department employees felt tremendous pressure to process loan guarantee applications.

In the end, however, the inspector general said the actions of the Solyndra officials “were at the heart of this matter.”

“In our view, the investigative record suggests that the actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the department,” the IG’s report said.

The federal loan guarantee program for energy projects was established under President George W. Bush’s administration. After it was expanded by the 2009 stimulus law, the department disbursed more than $500 million to Solyndra. Obama personally visited the plant in 2010 to cite it as an example of economic progress stemming from the Democratic-led stimulus bill.

solyndra 2

But in September 2011, the company laid off 1,100 employees, ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy protection.

The IG’s report did not identify by name any particular Solyndra leader who gave misleading information.

Miles Ehrlich, counsel for the company’s former CEO, Chris Gronet, disputed the findings. “Solyndra executives were completely truthful and accurate in their representations during this loan process, and the DOE was never misled about Solyndra’s business or prospects,” Ehrlich said in a statement provided by his law office.

Ehrlich said the real cause of Solyndra’s failure had nothing to do with fraud, but was caused by the unexpected dumping of solar panels subsidized by China’s government.

The report notes that federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also participated in the interviewing of witnesses and the examination of hundreds of thousands of documents. In early 2015, the Justice Department informed the inspector general’s office that it would not pursue criminal prosecution of any Solyndra officials.

The inspector general’s report said the department relied on third-party evaluations for part of its analysis of Solyndra. In one case, an engineering firm, R.W. Beck Inc., issued a report on the solar panel market relying on company representations that it had $1.4 billion in revenue under contract through 2012. The report said Solyndra’s “firm” sales contracts supported its financial model. But by the time Beck issued its final report, all four of Solyndra’s customers had been offered price concessions.

“Solyndra’s failure to directly disclose these significant material changes in its contractual relationships distorted the view the department and its consultants had of the market for Solyndra’s products,” the inspector general said.

Solyndra was also required to hire an outside firm, Fitch Ratings Inc., to prepare a credit assessment of the project, located in Fremont, Calif. A Fitch official told investigators that he asked Solyndra if any contract customers had received price concessions and was told no. Additionally, the company’s largest customer had informed the company it would not buy more panels in 2009 because Solyndra’s price was too high. A Fitch official told investigators that if it had been aware of price concessions it would have assigned Solyndra a lower credit rating.

The report was less detailed about the Energy Department’s shortcomings in conducting due diligence. It said the department needed to consider using “new and more intrusive validation techniques.” It also said consultants the department hires must be held accountable for their work.

Solyndra’s failure was the subject of numerous congressional hearings and a report from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The August 2012 report concluded that Solyndra was a cautionary tale on how political pressures and other factors can result in poor decision-making.

“The red flags about Solyndra’s financial condition and the turbulence in the solar market were there for DOE to see when it reviewed Solyndra’s application in 2009. DOE staff and (Office of Management and Budget) staff noted these concerns at the time the loan guarantee was under consideration,” the congressional report concluded.

DCG

Where Have All the Crisis Actors Gone?

Originally posted on Memory Hole:

Crisisactors.org, the website established to represent the collaboration between the Visionbox professional actors studio and FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute has been dormant since August 2014. This is according to information obtained from Internet Archive on June 15, 2015.

crisisactors

On July 29, 2014 a notice retrieved from Internet Archive for crisisactors.org announces:

Maintenance

We apologize for the inconvenience, but Crisis Actors is currently undergoing maintenance.

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