Trump has a long history of appointing administrators who undermine the agencies they lead. That strategy of sabotaging our government continues unabated:
As Homer Simpson might say, “It’s Opposite Land!”
You and I know these grand statements from T are just his 2020 campaign talking points. This is not an agreement amongst all the parties…
President Trump’s confident assertion that the Taliban is ready and even eager for a cease-fire demanded by the United States in Afghanistan’s 18-year-old war may be more wishful thinking than reality.
Declaring that the U.S.-Taliban talks he abruptly canceled in September are back in motion, Trump said during a Thanksgiving Day visit to troops in Afghanistan that the Taliban “wants to make a deal. And we’re meeting with them, and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire.”
“They didn’t want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire,” Trump said of the militants. “It will probably work out that way. . . . We’ve made tremendous progress,” he added.
‘American Soil’ Is Increasingly Foreign Owned
Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can’t be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.
When the stock market tanked during the past recession, foreign investors began buying up big swaths of U.S. farmland. And because there are no federal restrictions on the amount of land that can be foreign owned, it’s been left up to individual states to decide on any limitations.
It’s likely that even more American land will end up in foreign hands, especially in states with no restrictions on ownership. With the median age of U.S. farmers at 55, many face retirement with no prospect of family members willing to take over. The National Young Farmers Coalition anticipates that two-thirds of the nation’s farmland will change hands in the next few decades.
“Texas is kind of a free-for-all, so they don’t have a limit on how much land can be owned,” say’s Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ty Higgins. “You look at Iowa and they restrict it — no land in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity.”
Ohio, like Texas, also has no restrictions, and nearly half a million acres of prime farmland are held by foreign-owned entities. In the northwestern corner of the state, below Toledo, companies from the Netherlands alone have purchased 64,000 acres for wind farms.
There are two counties in this region with the highest concentration of foreign-owned farmland — more than 41,000 acres each. One of those is Paulding County, where three wind farms straddle the Ohio-Indiana line.
Higgins says that this kind of consumption of farmland by foreign entities is starting to cause concern. “One of the main reasons that we’re watching this … is because once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good.”
His other concern is that every acre of productive farmland that is converted over to something other than agriculture is an acre of land that no longer produces food. That loss is felt from the state level all the way down to rural communities, where one in six Ohioans has ties to agriculture.
Angela Huffman is a sixth-generation farmer in Wyandot County, which, along with Paulding County, has more than 41,000 acres of foreign-owned farmland. Her modest, two-story white farmhouse has been in her family for almost 200 years. Her grandfather was the last person to actively farm the land here. When he got out of farming due to declining markets, none of his five children wanted to take over, and the cropland is now leased.
But Huffman, a young millennial who lives here with her mother, wants to try to keep the farm going and revive her family heritage.
Walking out to the barn, a huge white Great Pyrenees dog watches over a small flock of sheep. Huffman says she’s worried about the effects of foreign land ownership on her rural community — which she describes as similar to Walmart pushing local businesses out of the market.
“Right out my back door here, Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, has recently bought out a couple grain elevators,” Huffman says, pointing across the field behind her house, “basically extracting the wealth out of the community.”
To be fair, U.S. farmers and corporations also invest in overseas agriculture, owning billions of dollars of farmland from Australia to Brazil, but the Smithfield Food buyout has really raised concerns with American farmers. As part of that 2013 sale, a Chinese company now owns 146,000 acres of prime U.S. farmland.
Back in the Huffman farmhouse, Joe Maxwell is typing on a laptop at the kitchen table. Maxwell is a fourth-generation farmer from Missouri. He and Huffman are part of the Organization for Competitive Markets, an advocacy group of farmers and ranchers across the nation.
Maxwell points to the Smithfield Foods elevators across the field: “The money that those elevators used to make stayed within the community. Today the money those elevators make will go into the pocket of someone thousands of thousands of miles away. This is going on across America.”
Maxwell is concerned that, as other states put restrictions on foreign purchases in place, Ohio in particular is being targeted. “So when they’re looking for investments in the U.S. and agriculture,” he says, “Ohio’s a great ag state, and you don’t have any restrictions like other states.”
Nationwide, Canadian investors own the most farmland. In Ohio, it’s Germany, with 71,000 acres.
On the southern central part of the state, John Trimmer manages 30,000 acres of corn and soybeans for German investors. He’s been working with German families that have wanted to get into U.S. agriculture since the 1980s. “They started to buy land in Iowa and Minnesota,” Trimmer explains, “but right when they started, [Iowa and Minnesota] passed state laws which restricted foreign ownership.”
"None of them have an interest in the farm."
Instead, the Germans turned to Ohio.
But, Trimmer says, there is a misconception about foreign owners — that they aren’t good neighbors or good stewards of the land. What he sees is a growing divide between older family members who still live on the farm, and their children who have no interest in the family business and want to cash out the land.
“The last two farms we bought here, through an owner, her and her brothers and sisters inherited it from their mother, and none of them wanted to farm. None of them have an interest in the farm.” Trimmer explains that his German clients have established a reputation in the community for letting the tenants — often aging parents or grown children — continue to live in the houses on the farms they buy.
Sellers work directly with his German clients — instead of putting the property up on the market, the sale ensures that family members can live out their lives in the family homestead, while still getting cash value for the farmland.
Lisa Page finally speaks…and gives her side of the story of how she and Strzok were purposefully laid out for ridicule by T 'n Co. She will be exonerated by the IG report apparently.
The original IG on the FBI’s actions said that her affair with Stzrok was never to have been revealed and she was promised it would not. But she and Strzok begame huge punching bags for T and R’s.
Very interesting read.
She is convinced that she’s followed the rules. She is after all a lawyer and knows that she is a restricted employee under the Hatch Act and can’t engage in partisan political activity. “And I know I’m nowhere close to that,” she says. “I don’t engage in any sort of partisan politicking at all. But having an opinion and sharing that opinion publicly or privately with another person is squarely within the permissible bounds of the Hatch Act. It’s in the regs. Yeah, it says it plainly. I’m thinking, I know I’m a federal employee, but I retain my First Amendment rights. So I’m really not all that worried about it.”
So she hires a lawyer and meets with the IG, who interviews her a number of times. A very small number of people at the FBI know about the investigation, and it stays a secret for six months, and it remains a secret for six months, until the day after Michael Flynn pleads guilty. Then in early December 2017, the day after Michael Flynn pleads guilty, a story comes out about Page being under investigation for political bias—and it includes the affair. The affair was not part of IG’s investigation and not part of their review.
The Inspector General’s office had guaranteed Page and Strzok that the affair would not be made public. But then, The Washington Post included the affair in its story. And in a slip of a second, Page goes from being an anonymous government lawyer to playing an unwilling and recurring role in Trump’s twisted tweetstorms.
“So now I have to deal with the aftermath of having the most wrong thing I’ve ever done in my life become public,” she says. “And that’s when I become the source of the president’s personal mockery and insults. Because before this moment in time, there’s not a person outside of my small legal community who knows who I am or what I do. I’m a normal public servant, just a G-15, standard-level lawyer, like every other lawyer at the Justice Department.”
And despite how awful that felt, Page had no idea it was going to get much, much worse.
Trump’s ‘Truly Reprehensible…Stunt’
“After this comes out, there’s a firestorm, of course, and now the president and the Republicans on the Hill latch on to this, and it becomes about political bias,” she explains. “A week or two later, Rod Rosenstein [then the deputy attorney general] was scheduled to testify on the Hill. And the night before his testimony, the Justice Department spokesperson, Sarah Flores, calls the beat reporters into the Justice Department. This is late at night on a weekday. Calls them in to provide a cherry-picked selection of my text messages to review and report on in advance of Rod Rosenstein going to the Hill the next morning.”
Trump’s Syria retreat is giving ISIS ‘time and space’ to strike the West, blistering Pentagon report says
Multiple Banks Have Given Trump’s Financial Records To The New York Attorney General
Bill Barr Peddled ‘Made Up’ Theories in Front of Congress to Help Trump, Says Ex-Prosecutor
Scientists Warn: Nine Climate Tipping Points Now ‘Active’ – Could Threaten the Existence of Human Civilization
Greta Thunberg inspires hundreds of thousands of climate change protesters across Europe and Asia
NATO meeting comes as cracks in alliance’s armor – beyond Trump’s criticisms – begin to show
Trump Acting Out ‘Orgasm’ To Mock FBI’s Lisa Page, Peter Strzok Was Last Straw, She Says
Flashier headline…same info though…
yes, we get it.
Page (and Strzok) were mercilessly pummeled.
A post was merged into an existing topic: Immigration: issues and policy
‘Black ledger’ shows payments to Manafort from pro-Russia Ukraine
Was Manafort’s work in Ukraine the real start of Russiagate?
This is an update on threats Trump made a while ago toward the homeless.
Trump has spoken about rounding up the homeless into camps and warehouses in the past, and of how they hurt property values.
Trump Is Readying Some Kind Of Homeless Crackdown
But his new homelessness czar won’t share any details about it.
Under secret Stephen Miller plan, ICE to use data on migrant children to expand deportation efforts
The White House sought this month to embed immigration enforcement agents within the U.S. refugee agency that cares for unaccompanied migrant children, part of a long-standing effort to use information from their parents and relatives to target them for deportation, according to six current and former administration officials.
Though senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services rejected the attempt, they agreed to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to collect fingerprints and other biometric information from adults seeking to claim migrant children at government shelters. If those adults are deemed ineligible to take custody of children, ICE could then use their information to target them for arrest and deportation.
The arrangement appears to circumvent laws that restrict the use of the refugee program for deportation enforcement; Congress has made clear that it does not want those who come forward as potential sponsors of minors in U.S. custody to be frightened away by possible deportation. But, in the reasoning of senior Trump administration officials, adults denied custody of children lose their status as “potential sponsors” and are fair game for arrest.
The plan has not been announced publicly. It was developed by Stephen Miller, President Trump’s top immigration adviser, who has long argued that HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement is being exploited by parents who hire smugglers to bring their children into the United States illegally. The agency manages shelters that care for underage migrants who cross the border without a parent and tries to identify sponsors — typically family members — eligible to take custody of the minors.
Previous Trump administration attempts to give ICE more access to the refugee program have generated significant opposition, because it potentially forces migrant parents to choose between reclaiming their children and risking arrest. Administration officials acknowledge the arrangement will instill fear among migrant parents, but they say it will deter families from having their children cross into the United States illegally.
Officials at ICE and HHS said that the information shared with enforcement agents primarily would be used to screen adults for criminal violations and other “red flags,” and that it would not be focused on capturing parents and relatives who come forward to claim what the government calls “unaccompanied alien children.”
Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman, said his agency will help HHS ensure that children are not placed with sponsors until the sponsors have been thoroughly vetted, a review process that includes using biometric data. Cox said his agency has more-powerful screening tools at its disposal than HHS has, “including better capabilities to identify fraudulent documents or documents obtained by fraud.”
After the Trump administration began a similar information-sharing initiative last year, which predictably led to fewer sponsors coming forward and created a massive backlog of children in U.S. custody, Democrats fought to put a firewall between ICE and ORR. Language in the 2019 funding bill specifically prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from using child sponsor data — addresses, names, phone numbers — to generate ICE target lists.
According to those provisions, no federal funds “may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child.”
HHS officials have generally tried to keep ICE at a distance, insisting that their agency’s mission is to safeguard children and not to facilitate the arrest of their relatives.
Cox defended the legality of the program, citing the technical wording of the law: When a potential sponsor’s application is rejected, “that individual is no longer considered to be a sponsor or potential sponsor,” and the person is therefore open to ICE arrest, he said.
While acknowledging the program could leave children in government custody for longer periods, Cox said better screening “should take precedence over speed of placement to what may ultimately be an unsafe environment for the child.”
ICE officials said their enforcement priority would be adult sponsors with criminal records.
Mark Weber, a spokesman for HHS, which oversees ORR, said in a written response that no ICE personnel are stationed at the agency and that there are “no plans for ICE personnel to be placed at HHS.”
Weber did not address questions about the legality of the new information-sharing agreement with ICE.
Three officials familiar with Miller’s plan said it was part of his broader effort to chip away at congressionally mandated barriers between ICE and the refugee program.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment Friday. One senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Trump administration — which was widely denounced for separating thousands of children from their parents last year under its “zero tolerance” border crackdown — is “in the business of protecting child welfare.”
“Smuggling children into our country is an abomination and horrible for child welfare, and under the system set up under the Obama administration, the level of child smuggling has been atrocious,” the senior administration official said.
By expanding ICE’s role at ORR “we’ll be able to significantly reduce the incentives for child smuggling, and protect thousands — thousands — of children.”
Some officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection have objected to past information-sharing efforts between ORR and ICE, saying that the practice discourages adult sponsors from reclaiming children in U.S. government custody. When fewer adults come forward, more children must stay in shelters and border stations, and CBP has been faced with caring for infants and young children in austere facilities designed for the short-term detention of adults.
As the migration crisis at the border has abated in recent months, Miller has once again worked to tear down the information wall between the refugee agency and ICE, according to those familiar with his efforts.
Miller arranged the new information-sharing plan through discussions with ORR Director Jonathan Hayes, according to two of those officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they fear being fired.
As part of the plan, a senior official at ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations unit, Caleb Vitello, was supposed to be temporarily assigned to work inside ORR. But senior HHS officials rejected that part of the plan during a meeting Thursday, two administration officials said. White House officials have privately denounced HHS staff as having “sabotaged” attempts at implementing information-sharing agreements.
Vitello had previously worked with Miller at the White House on assignment to the National Security Council, according to three officials who have worked with both men.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar was not informed of Miller’s effort to place an ICE official at his agency, two officials said.
Azar has worked to keep his agency out of the maelstrom of immigration politics after the “zero tolerance” episode, which separated at least 2,700 children from their parents or other adult relatives until Trump was forced to reverse course.
According to the latest ORR data, the government has approximately 4,300 minors in its care, down from 15,000 a year ago. Children spend an average of 69 days in ORR custody, down from 93 days a year ago but still far longer than in recent years.
Before zero tolerance, minors spent an average of about 50 days in government shelters, even though ORR had responsibility for twice as many children at the time.
HHS also is seeing a growing number of cases they call “category four,” which mean the agency cannot find a parent, relative or other eligible adult to take custody. After several months, those minors are typically placed in long-term foster care. An HHS official said the agency does not have an available tally of the number of category four children.
Arrests on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico have fallen more than 70 percent since May, when 144,116 migrants were taken into custody amid a record influx of families and children from Central America.
The Trump administration has implemented deterrent measures making it significantly more difficult for migrants who cross the border to qualify for U.S. asylum protections. Since the beginning of the year, border officials have sent more than 53,000 migrants back to Mexico to wait outside U.S. territory while their asylum claims are processed.
The government also has started sending asylum seekers to Guatemala under the terms of one of several new agreements that will allow Homeland Security officials to send those seeking refuge in the United States to the same crime-plagued region they are fleeing.
Those measures cannot be used to reject underage migrants who arrive and seek protection in the United States, so administration officials continue to view the ORR program as a “loophole” that allows migrants living illegally in the United States to send for their children to be brought into the country.
The number of unaccompanied minors taken into custody increased 17 percent from October to November, to 3,321, while two other significant demographic categories — family groups and single adults — continued to show declines, the latest enforcement figures show.
Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy is resulting in parents, with children, being kidnapped, tortured, and held for ransom.
‘I’m Kidnapped’: A Father’s Nightmare on the Border
A father was tortured in front of his 3-year-old son until his wife in New Jersey paid $2,000 to his captors. Chilling audio of the negotiations for his release shows how migrants, turned back by the U.S., are facing new dangers in Mexico.
The Saudis have had a show trial in which they sentenced five unnamed people to death, 3 more to prison, and exonerated anybody high-ranking or known.
Saudi Arabia says five sentenced to death in killing of Jamal Khashoggi
ISTANBUL — Five people have been sentenced to death in connection with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced Monday, but the two most senior officials implicated in the case, including an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were cleared of wrongdoing.
The slaying of Khashoggi in October 2018 sparked a global outcry against Saudi Arabia and led to greater scrutiny of a crackdown on dissidents pursued by the crown prince. Khashoggi, who contributed columns to The Washington Post, was one of Mohammed’s most prominent critics.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who lived in Virginia, was killed soon after he arrived at the Saudi consulate to obtain documents that would allow him to remarry. Turkish and Saudi prosecutors say he was killed by a team of agents who had flown to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia. His body was dismembered; his remains have not been found.
The verdicts came after a trial in Riyadh’s criminal court that lasted nearly a year and was largely shrouded in secrecy, with sessions closed to the general public. Human rights groups warned that the lack of transparency made the proceedings unfair, and increased the likelihood that senior officials could escape justice.
Diplomats from the United States, Turkey and several other countries were allowed to attend but told not to reveal details of the trial. Members of Khashoggi’s family also attended, according to Shalaan al-Shalaan, a spokesman for the Saudi public prosecutor.
In addition to the five people who received the death penalty, three more people were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years, Shalaan said. He did not name any of the convicted defendants. The death sentences must be confirmed by higher courts before they may be carried out, he said.
The CIA concluded last year that the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’ s assassination, contradicting Saudi Arabia’s insistence that Mohammed had no knowledge of the plot. However, Saudi authorities said they were investigating the roles played by two senior aides to the crown prince in organizing and dispatching the team of agents who killed Khashoggi.
Shalaan said Monday that the two senior aides — Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri — had been exonerated.
Qahtani, a media adviser to the crown prince and one of the kingdom’s most strident defenders, was “investigated by the public prosecutor and was not charged because of lack of evidence against him,” Shalaan said.
Salah Khashoggi, the eldest of Jamal’s four children, called the findings “just.”
“The fairness of the judiciary is based on two principles: justice and the speed of litigation, so that there is no injustice or procrastination,” he said on twitter. “Today the judiciary was just to us, the sons of Jamal Khashoggi. … And we affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary on all its levels, in it being fair to us, and achieving justice. Thanks be to Allah.”
Post publisher Fred Ryan questioned the results.
“The complete lack of transparency and the Saudi government’s refusal to cooperate with independent investigators suggests that this was merely a sham trial,” he said in a statement. “Those ultimately responsible, at the highest level of the Saudi government, continue to escape responsibility for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
The Trump administration last year imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi citizens, including Qahtani, who officials said was “part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”
Assiri, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy head of intelligence, was charged after prosecutors said he was responsible for issuing the order for Khashoggi’s forcible return to Saudi Arabia. Shalaan said Monday that Assiri’s guilt “was not proved.”
Turkish officials insisted that Khashoggi’s killing was planned. Saudi Arabia maintained that it was a “rogue” operation carried out by overzealous agents who had been instructed to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia alive. On Monday, Shalaan said the investigation showed “there was no prior intention to kill at the start of this mission.”
The killing, he added, was a “snap decision.”
Saudi officials have repeatedly called Khashoggi’s killing a mistake and pointed to the trial as evidence that they were responding to international outrage. Human rights advocates said a fair trial was all but impossible in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy with no independent institutions where the crown prince enjoys unrivaled power.
A U.N. investigator in June called for a U.N.-assisted criminal inquiry, saying Saudi authorities participated in the destruction of evidence after Khashoggi was killed and that culpability extended beyond the Saudis who are were on trial. Agnès Callamard, a special rapporteur with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Khashoggi’s slaying “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”
Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a text message Monday that Saudi Arabia’s “absolution of its senior leadership of any culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises serious concerns over the fairness of the criminal proceedings.”
The kingdom’s handling of the killing — “from complete denial to hanging the murder on lower-level operatives in a trial that lacked transparency, demonstrates the need for an independent criminal inquiry,” he wrote.
Tom Metcalf and Jack Witzig
December 27, 2019, 2:54 AM PST
… [In 2019] the world’s 500 wealthiest people tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index added $1.2 trillion, boosting their collective net worth 25% to $5.9 trillion.
Such gains are sure to add fuel to the already heated debate about widening wealth and income inequality. In the U.S., the richest 0.1% control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since 1929, prompting some politicians to call for a radical restructuring of the economy.
Still, the defeat of Britain’s socialist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose campaign included attacks on billionaires and calls to “rewrite the rules of our economy,” gave an added boost to mega-fortunes.
Leading the 2019 gains was France’s Bernard Arnault, who added $36.5 billion as he rose on the Bloomberg index to become the world’s third-richest person and one of three centibillionaires – those with a net worth of at least $100 billion.
Here’s what the year looked like for the 0.001%:
Representation from China continued to grow, with the nation’s contingent rising to 54, second only to the U.S. He Xiangjian, founder of China’s biggest air-conditioner exporter, was the standout performer as his wealth surged 79% to $23.3 billion.
Russia’s richest added $51 billion, a collective increase of 21%, as emerging-market assets from currencies to stocks and bonds rebounded in 2019 after posting big losses a year earlier.
Note: The article refers to the 500 wealthiest people on earth as the top 0.001%. That is staggeringly inaccurate. I’m surprised that the magazine’s fact checkers didn’t call out the authors on this. The world’s population is 7.5 billion. By my calculation, that makes these 500 people the top 0.0000067%. Or am I missing something? I majored in English and am no math whiz.
Close enough. You move it two decimals over to get a percentage. So 5/100 is .05 or 5%.
Thus this is .00067% – “percent” is “per cent”, like cents, century, centimeter, so on, so it’s “per hundred.”
My mind gets boggled by all the zeros – so I went back and checked my old high school math – but I’m still coming up with 0.0000067% (this figure includes moving the decimal two places).
500 people / 7500000000 people = 0.000000067. Then divide by 100 (i.e., move the decimal two places to the right) which gives 0.0000067%.
I also cheated by looking it up on Percentage Calculator .
Odd, when I did the math it said it was e5. Mind you, I am a bit dyslexic and had to give up a physics major because without ritalin the numbers get jumbled in my head.
Double major English and Journalism, minor in Theater. I love science, and still follow it, but have trouble at times with numbers. Phone numbers, converting dates to ages, my brain wants to do the opposite or switch things about.
Describes me precisely!
Eddie Gallagher ‘Is Freaking Evil’ Says Fellow Navy SEAL in Damning Leaked Videos
“You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” said a Navy SEAL member in the special operations chief’s platoon
I really, really hate everything about this petty, cruel, greedy regime.
My parents took in a dog rescued from a puppy mill.