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Topics - soflorattler
« on: Yesterday at 06:37:55 PM »
Pentagon Contractor Allegedly Threatened to Kill Congresswoman Over Vaccine Bill
« on: Yesterday at 12:18:27 PM »
A privatized housing company is accused of falsifying maintenance records in order to get paid extra incentive fees at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. — to the detriment of military families, according to a new investigative report by Reuters and CBS News.
And for years, a number of housing office employees told Air Force officials about the doctored records, and the “slum-like living conditions” at the base – to no avail, according to the report.
Reuters found that Balfour Beatty Communities kept two maintenance logs for work at Tinker AFB – one for the eyes of Air Force officials showing quick turnaround times for repairs, and another with the factual information about how long it was actually taking to do repairs.
Balfour Beatty, according to the report, falsified the logs in order to get paid millions in incentive fees. Those fees are paid from a pool of money set aside by the Air Force, and the company can receive anywhere from 0 to 100 percent of the incentive fees. Those fees benefit company officials and possibly their employees, in a system that’s similar to getting bonuses. If the company doesn’t get the entire amount of incentive fees, the money goes back into that particular community’s housing project– for improvements and repairs, for example.
Information was not immediately available about whether the Air Force or the other services are investigating similar issues at other bases with Balfour Beatty or other privatized housing companies. Balfour Beatty owns military houses at 55 locations.
Reuters has been conducting an investigation over the last several years into issues with mold, vermin, water leaks and other problems in military housing. Residents have been frustrated at the lack of response from some companies that manage the housing, and the fact that they have no advocates on the military side to listen to their concerns, which in some cases were affecting their families’ health.
The former Balfour Beatty manager at Tinker AFB from 2014 to 2017 told Reuters he “doctored work-order information in the electronic maintenance logs at the direction of his superiors and pressured staff to close out unfinished work orders, so that late responses wouldn’t count against the company,” according to the report. The manager, Air Force retiree Robert Whittington, told Reuters he knew his actions were leaving families in peril, and “after wrestling with his conscience and refusing further orders to alter records, resigned.”
Reuters documented at least 65 instances in 2016 and 2017 in which Balfour Beatty employees backdated repair requests, filed paperwork claiming false exemptions from response-time requirements, or closed out unfinished requests.
Although housing officials at Tinker warned Air Force officials at least 18 times since 2015 that maintenance records were being doctored, the Air Force engineering center reportedly downplayed the requests and gave the company high marks, and advised Tinker housing officials to drop their complaints, Reuters reported.
Balfour Beatty could not immediately be reached for comment. Nor did they provide a comment to Reuters on the allegations of false record-keeping. The company announced in May that it has upgraded its resident portal across its 55 military communities to allow residents to enter and track their repair requests.
John Henderson, the Air Force assistant secretary for installations, told Reuters he will await the outcome of ongoing investigations, and said allegations involving the company’s operations at Tinker were referred to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2017.
In a survey conducted early this year by the Military Family Advisory Network, 40 people at Tinker responded, giving their housing an average rating of 2 out of 5, indicating a “negative” overall rating.
Following hearings earlier this year, the military service branches and DoD are examining their policies regarding their oversight of military privatized housing, and ways to strengthen that oversight. They’re examining ways to improve the incentive fee system, and increasing the number of government housing employees for more oversight close to the communities. They’re also drafting a tenant bill of rights that will provide more protections for service members and their families, such a housing advocate for tenants who will address their concerns.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate have also drafted legislation to improve the oversight of the housing.
The family housing privatization effort was launched in 1996 as the military services faced a backlog of dilapidated housing – a problem that DoD officials said it would otherwise have taken 30 years and $16 billion of taxpayer dollars to fix. Through the housing privatization effort, companies invested money into renovating and replacing housing that suffered from years of lack of upkeep.
The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation's history the deficit has exceeded that level, excluding the four-year period following the Great Recession.
"The 2019 deficit has been revised to a projected $1.0 trillion," the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote in its midyear review.
As a candidate, President Trump promised to wipe out not only the deficit but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
Republicans cast aside projections that their 2017 tax reform law would add $1.9 trillion to the deficit over a decade. Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, claimed just last week that the tax cuts were on track to pay for themselves.
« on: Yesterday at 11:14:24 AM »
As dusk fell on the evening of July 18, 1863, about 600 men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry assembled on a beach near Charleston, South Carolina. At the shout “Forward, Fifty-fourth!” they began to move across a narrow spit of sand toward Fort Wagner, a massive sand-and-wood Confederate stronghold with walls that rose thirty feet high. As they neared the fort, a storm of cannonballs and bullets tore into the blue-coated line.
The 54th Massachusetts was a Northern black regiment organized shortly after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Its ranks were full of young men who volunteered to fight because they knew that if blacks helped win the Civil War, no one could ever think of them as slaves again.
Twenty-three-year-old Sergeant William Carney helped lead the assault on Fort Wagner. At his side ran Sergeant John Wall, carrying the American flag. When enemy fire struck Wall down, Carney threw his rifle aside and grasped the colors before they hit the ground.
As he pressed forward, a bullet hit him in the thigh. He fell to his knees but managed to get up and struggle onto a parapet, where he planted the flag. There he knelt, bearing the colors as the battle raged around him.
When the overwhelmed Union troops fell back, Carney struggled back down the earthworks, determined not to let the flag fall into enemy hands. He was shot twice more as he staggered across the sand to his own lines, still clutching the Stars and Stripes. “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground,” he exclaimed as he collapsed.
The 54th Massachusetts lost nearly half of its men during the assault, but its courage won respect for black soldiers in the North. William Carney recovered from his wounds. For his bravery in protecting the flag that night, he received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
General Discussion Forum / In Lost Essay, Langston Hughes Recounts Meeting A Young Chain Gang Runaway« on: Yesterday at 06:46:14 AM »
Why so many black families are losing their property.
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany State University alumni and community leaders will get together Tuesday to continue their fight against Senate Bill 270.
That bill would merge three historically black college and universities (HBCU) into one.
There are three areas of concentration for Tuesday’s forum:
Financial Investment and fundraising
Housing and student services/quality of life
This will be the fourth HBCU forum that stems from Senate Bill 270.
That proposed bill would merge Albany State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State universities into Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical University under a new separate university system than the University System of Georgia.
“We think that our senators maybe took the wrong route of what to do and we want to say we’re going to give you the strategies of how to make these universities go further than we imagined,” said Pastor Lorenzo Heard.
Five state senators have since withdrawn from the controversial bill.
The forum will take place Tuesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. at the Albany Police Headquarters.
« on: July 17, 2019, 05:53:00 PM »
Judge blocks the effort to conceal details in the Trump campaign crimes case as Bill Barr’s DOJ mysteriously closes the probe
A federal judge confirmed on Wednesday that the Justice Department has ended its investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, indicating that no one else will face charges in the case. But Judge William Pauley also announced that, over the government’s objections, he will be making many of the underlying documents in the case public without requested redactions.
The case stemmed from Cohen’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to secure hush money payments for two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump. Since investigators determined these payments were done in order to help secure Trump’s victory, the spending counted as campaign contributions that were never recorded and were, in fact, illegally concealed. The Trump Organization, Cohen has said, helped repay him for the costs of the hush money while disguising the payment falsely as a legal retainer.
Cohen implicated Trump directly in the crime, saying the then-candidate coordinated with him and directed him to make the payments. There is even a public recording of the pair seeming to discuss one of the payments. Donald Trump Jr., too, maybe implicated in the crime because he allegedly signed some of the repayment checks to Cohen.
For these and other crimes to which he pleaded guilty, Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison. But neither Trump nor no one else apparently involved in the scheme appears to be vulnerable to charges in the case.
As a sitting president, of course, Trump could not be charged with a crime under current Justice Department policy regardless of the evidence. Such a policy wouldn’t protect the president’s son or anyone else involved in his company, though.
So the public has been left with many questions about this case. Would the president have been charged with any related crimes were he not in office? Why weren’t charges brought against other people who appear to have been involved? And was Attorney General Bill Barr — who was chosen by Trump to protect him in the special counsel’s investigation and has shown a clear desire to exonerate the president from any wrongdoing — involvemed in the final decisions?
Additionally: Why weren’t any Trump Organization officials questioned by the investigators in the Southern District of New York, if a recent CNN report is correct?
We may yet get some answers to these questions. Judge Pauley issued an order Wednesday noting that the government has confirmed that the investigation is no longer ongoing, but it asked that some of the underlying materials related to Cohen’s case remain sealed “to protect third-party privacy interests.”
Pauley didn’t buy it.
“[The] weighty public ramifications of the conduct described in the campaign finance portions warrant disclosure,” he wrote. “Moreover, the involvement of most of the relevant third-party actors is now public knowledge, undercutting the need for continued secrecy. … On balance, the ‘strong presumption of public access’ to search warrants and search warrant materials under the common law far outweighs the weakened privacy interests at play here.”
He also argued that the matter is “of national importance” and that “it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials.”
The materials will be unsealed on Thursday morning, he ruled. He allowed that there may be a few limited redactions.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers are in a celebratory mood.
“We are pleased that the investigations surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed,” Jay Sekulow, the president’s attorney, said Wednesday according to USA Today. “We have maintained from the outset that the president never engaged in any campaign finance violation.”
He also suggested that he is not aware of any other federal case in which Trump is a subject. However, reports suggest that an investigation of the president’s inaugural committee remain ongoing.
Green files articles of impeachment against Trump, setting up floor vote
« on: July 16, 2019, 08:03:29 PM »
Trump Official Who Was Named WH Comms Director Just Admitted to Hiring Prostitutes: Report
« on: July 16, 2019, 06:56:38 PM »
If President Trump makes fun of his age or questions his mental state during a debate, Joe Biden has a response at the ready: He’ll challenge him to do push-ups onstage.
The former vice president relayed his plans during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in which he was pressed on whether he is tough enough to stand up to Trump given what many saw as a lackluster performance in the first Democratic debate.
Biden acknowledged that some people could have been left with that impression but said he has never had trouble taking on anyone before. That led co-host Mika Brzezinski to ask what he would do if Trump raised the issues of Biden’s age and mental state.
“I’d say, ‘C’mon Donald, c’mon man. How many push-ups do you want to do here, pal?’” Biden said. “I mean, jokingly. . . . C’mon, run with me, man.”
Biden then relayed that he typically runs along the route when he participates in parades, including a recent one on the Fourth of July in Independence, Mo.
The interview with the Democratic White House hopeful was recorded Monday in Iowa and aired Tuesday.
It wasn’t the first time that Biden, 76, has talked about getting physical with Trump, 73.
Last year, while campaigning for congressional candidates, he talked about fighting him because of the crude way he has talked about women.
“If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” Biden told a crowd at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., in March 2018.
“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life,” Biden added. “I’m a pretty damn good athlete.”