The Obamas’ nonstop jet-setter vacay continues. Sorry, Sasha.
“Continuing on in their new life as rich wastrels mooching off left-wing billionaires, the Obamas have continued their quest for nonstop vacation by posing for pictures on a $300-million luxury yacht owned by Hollywood bigshot David Geffen in Tahiti. The A-listers were there with them: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, and Oprah Winfrey on their longest of spring breaks on Marlon Brando’s hideaway resort. Not exactly a hideaway, given that the Daily Mail has the story and photos.
I suppose they have a right to do it, and if Geffen wants to waste his money this way, no doubt in expectation of a future payoff when the next Democrat is elected, one supposes that this is their prerogative.
What’s unseemly is how different it is from the picture they painted of themselves leaving office. President Obama said he intended to stay in Washington for the time being, renting out a luxury house in tony Kalorama – not to continue to politically meddle, he assured, but to ensure that his young daughter Sasha, now a high schooler at the exclusive Sidwell Friends Academy, got as much of a normal childhood as she deserved and could complete her high school without too much family trauma. Get a load of this treacly account here.
Turns out that those needs went by the wayside now that David Geffen’s yacht beckoned. The house, it turns out, seems to have been an abode for onetime Obama consigliere Valerie Jarrett, who actually lives and cooks up political meddling plots there.”
Nevada Sec. State: DMV Instructed Employees To Register Non-Citizens To Vote
| Daily Caller
“Nevada’s Secretary of State blamed the Department of Motor Vehicles registration for adding people to the state voter rolls who were not U.S. Citizens.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske told state DMV director, Terri Albertson in a letter Friday evening about her concerns regarding the registrations.
“It has come to our attention that when offering voter registration opportunities to customers, DMV’s employees offer voter registration materials to DMV customers whom they know to be non-citizens based upon their presentation of a Green Card for identification purposes,” Cegavske wrote.
“More specifically, it is our understanding that some DMV employees have been instructed to accept registration materials from all customers, including those who present a Green Card for identification purposes…This practice must cease immediately. Please take appropriate actions, as we have reason to believe that non-citizens have unlawfully registered to vote in Nevada as a direct result of DMV’s practices. Moreover, we now have confirmed that some non-citizens illegally cast votes in the 2016 election.”
Experts say police who dragged passenger had other options
“We wouldn’t get (someone) off just because the airline wants them off.” – LAX PD
Officers with the Los Angeles Airport Police do not get involved in civil matters such as business disputes between airlines and passengers. They have sometimes refused airlines’ requests to board planes, said spokesman and police officer Rob Pedregon.
“We don’t just fly into action when someone calls us,” he said. Officers will “basically find out the whole situation, why we’re here, get the background and then decide if it’s within our legal authority. We wouldn’t get (someone) off just because the airline wants them off. If a law is broken, then we will take action.”
“CHICAGO — Airport police officers called to remove a passenger who refused to leave a United Express flight essentially walked into what law enforcement experts say was a no-win situation: enforcing a business decision by a private company.
But if the passenger posed no threat and was not being disruptive, officers almost certainly could have tried an approach other than dragging him out of his seat and down the aisle, including simply telling the airline to resolve the situation itself, experts said.
Cellphone video of the bloodied passenger, 69-year-old David Dao of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has become a public-relations nightmare for United and led to the suspension of three police officers who worked for the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The video also underscores a growing dilemma: From airlines to schools, police are called to deal with situations that in the past might have been handled without them, sometimes leading officers to respond with force far beyond the provocation.
“Police have an innate bias for action, but there are times that it’s not in their best interest or that of their agency to get involved in an issue that requires you to use a high level of force,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based research group, and former police chief in Redlands, California. “You have to ask whether … you really needed to use force when doing the airline’s bidding.”
It’s unclear what police were told by the airline about the situation. Screaming can be heard on the videos as Dao is dragged from his window seat and across the armrest, but he is not seen fighting with the officers. He appears relatively passive while being dragged. Later he’s seen standing in the aisle saying quietly, “I want to go home, I want to go home.”
But once police were aboard the plane, it would have been difficult to walk away, especially if they did not know why the passenger was asked to leave, said Kevin Murphy, executive director of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network.
“Once you’re there, it becomes tough to disengage. You have an obligation,” Murphy said. “If someone is saying they’re staying no matter what the property owner says, you have to wonder why they want to try so hard,” to stay … “Is there something else going on?”
….Continue reading @ Star Tribune
The Real Reason a Man Was Dragged Off That United Flight, and How to Stop It From Happening Again
“This was a tough situation all-around for which there were no good solutions. And things turned from bad to worse when a passenger refused to get off the plane when told to do so by the airline and by police. And it became the source of worldwide outrage when the police overreacted, dragged him off, and bloodied him.
There are a lot of myths about the situation, and it’s leading people to some bad conclusions:
This didn’t happen because United sold too many tickets. United Express (Republic Airlines) had to send four crew members to work a flight the next morning. The weekend was operationally challenging, this was a replacement crew, if the employees didn’t get to Louisville a whole plane load of passengers were going to be ‘bumped’ when that flight was cancelled, and likely other passengers on other flights using that aircraft would have their own important travel plans screwed up as well.
United couldn’t have just sent another plane to take their crew even if they had such a plane it’s not clear they had the crew to operate it legally, or that they could have gotten the plane back to Chicago in time legally so prevent ‘bumping’ via cancellation the whole plane load of passengers it was supposed to carry next.
If the passenger could have just taken Uber, why not the crew? because United doesn’t get to transport its crew any way it wishes whenever it wishes, they’re bound by union contracts and in any case they were following standard established procedures. We can debate those procedures, that’s productive, but United didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
United should have just kept increasing the denied boarding offer passengers didn’t willingly get off at $800, they should have gone to $1000 (would that have made a difference?) or $5000 or $100,000 — it’s not the passengers’ fault United didn’t have enough seats. Though the time this would have taken might have lost a takeoff window or taken time where the crew went illegal (and the whole flight had to cancel) or the replacement crew wouldn’t get the legally required rest.
More importantly, United didn’t do it because Department of Transportation regulations set maximum required compensation for involuntary denied boarding (in this case 4 times the passenger’s fare paid up to a maximum of $1350). So they’re not going to offer more than that for voluntary denied boardings, especially since the violent outcome here wasn’t expected and the United Express gate agent had no authority to do more.
Fault here lies with:
United for not having as many seats as they sold, although it wasn’t because they sold more seats than the plane held, it was because their operation became a mess and they needed to salvage that to inconvenience the fewest passengers overall. It wasn’t “to maximize their profits” although they certainly wanted to limit their losses by limiting passenger inconvenience.
The passenger who should have gotten off the plane when ordered to do so. It sucked for him and wasn’t his fault, but refusing airline and police instructions unless designed to provoke a violent response for media attention to promote a civil rights cause is a bad idea.
The Chicago Aviation Police shouldn’t have responded with the force they did. They’re the most to blame. If they hadn’t used as much force this whole thing would never even have been a story.
United’s statements backing their employee, refusing to name the victim, or acknowledge that the police really did hurt him are deplorable.
Korean Air changes Taser policy one week after Richard Marx subdues passenger
“Think twice before complaining on your next Korean Air flight — flight crew can now use Tasers to deal with mid-air disturbances.
The airline has made the decision to loosen its Taser usage policy after a violent incident on a flight last week resulted in ’80s’ pop star Richard Marx having to subdue an unruly passenger.
On-board crew already have had Tasers on hand for years but could only use them when lives or the physical safety of passengers and cabin crew was threatened.
But new rules will allow for “more active use” of Tasers, a Korean Air spokesperson told CNN.
Employees will also get routine training in security gear, and the male to female ratio of flight crew will be reviewed. Passengers who cause a disturbance will be banned for an indeterminate period.
The announcement comes one week after Marx had to help restrain a passenger on board a Korean Air flight. Reports of the incident — and Marx’s scathing assessment of the flight crew’s performance — went viral.
The man was tied up with ropes, but broke free of them three times, according to Marx’s wife, ’90s’ MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes.”
China Threatens To Bomb North Korea’s Nuclear Facilities If It Crosses Beijing’s “Bottom Line”
“With everyone putting down new and/or revised “red lines”, be it on Syria or North Korea, it was now China’s turn to reveal its “red” or rather “bottom line”, and in a harshly worded editorial titled “The United States Must Not Choose a Wrong Direction to Break the DPRK Nuclear Deadlock on Wednesday” Beijing warned it would attack North Korea’s facilities producing nuclear bombs, effectively engaging in an act of war, if North Korea crosses China’s “bottom line.”
The editorial in the military-focused Global Times tabloid, owned and operated by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, said that North Korea’s nuclear activities must not jeopardize northeastern China, and that if the North impacts China with its illicit nuclear tests through either “nuclear leakage or pollution”, then China will respond with force.
“China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs, that is, the security and stability of northeast China… If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces in the US’ blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”
This, as the editorial puts it, is the “bottom line” for China; should it be crossed China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back,” warned the editorial.
It is worth noting is that shortly after publication, the article seems to have been retracted without explanation, the URL now returning a “404” error. However not before the original article was cached on a webpage owned by China Military, courtesy of google.
In the editorial, the author also declared that the “People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own. A strike to nuclear facilities of the DPRK is the best military means in the opinion of the outside world.” The northeastern Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin share borders with North Korea. These two provinces and Heilongjiang are part of the Shenyang Military Region, one of seven military regions of the People’s Liberation Army.
The editorial also explained the advantages to the world of a Chinese attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities.
It noted China and the world know the locations of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. Once the PLA attacks these nuclear sites, North Korea will permanently suspend its nuclear weapons programs. North Korea “has limited resources of nuclear materials and is strictly blockaded in the outside world, erasing the possibility for DPRK to get the materials again.”
China also noted that “nuclear weapons is DPRK’s trump card for its defiance of China and the United States. Once this card is lost, it will become obedient immediately.”
The author then speculated rhetorically that if North Korea’s “nuclear facilities are destroyed, they will not even fight back, but probably block the news to fool its domestic people. The DPRK will freak out if its nuclear facilities are destroyed.” And yes, a Chinese author said “freak out.”
The report also said that “the DPRK must not fall into the turmoil to send a large number of refugees, it is not allowed to have a government that is hostile against China on the other side of the Yalu River, and the US military must not push forward its forces to the Yalu River.” It notes that “this sentence is meant for the United States, because the premise of it is that the US military has launched attacks to the DPRK.”
US deploys THAAD missile defence, special operatives that took out Osama bin Laden to North Korea
“The crack US Navy Seal team that took out Osama bin Laden is reportedly in training in South Korea, conducting “field training operations”, amid rising tension with North Korea.
South Korean media claims the famed Seal Team 6 — which killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 — is part of the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercise being carried out from March 7 to April 30 in South Korea.
While US military would not confirm the reports, it said “ground, air, naval and special operations” are taking part in “several joint and combined field training operations” which involve up to 17,000 troops.
The special operations teams are thought to also include the Army Rangers, Delta Force and Green Berets. The training commenced one day after US deployed its state of the art THAAD missile defence system to the region.
South Korea’s JoongAng Daily has claimed the teams would take part in a drill to simulate the removal of Kim Jong-un — a move denied by Former US Navy Commander Gary Ross.
Asked about the Navy team’s participation in March, Commander Ross said: “There are variety of Special Operations Forces (SOF) participating in Foal Eagle, as they do in most regional exercises.”
“Foal Eagle is a regularly-scheduled, annual exercise that is the culmination of many months of planning and it is not being conducted in response to the current situation on peninsula,” he said.
KEY LINE OF DEFENCE
The training began the day after the US deployed their mobile THAAD missile defence system to South Korea that is becoming increasingly important as tensions mount with Pyongyang.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) is a “hit to kill” system that provides capability to intercept and defend population centres around the world. Makers Lockheed Martin claim it has a 100 per cent success rate and describe it as “one of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world.”
‘Ban Cars to Stop Terror’ Says Sweden’s Best-Selling Newspaper After Stockholm Attack
“Cars and other vehicles “have turned into deadly weapons”, and should be banished from cities to stop attacks like the one in Stockholm from happening in future, according to Aftonbladet editorialist Eva Franchell.
Crackdowns on immigration or extremist ideology are not the way forward when it comes to terror prevention, according to the veteran journalist, writing after Friday’s terror attack in Stockholm left four people dead.
Instead, it is cars — which she calls “effective murder machines” — that Franchell says “must simply be removed from city centres and places where people gather, if people are to be protected in future”.
Vehicles are “easy to steal, and so nothing has been able to stop their advance”, writes Ms. Franchell.
“It just isn’t reasonable that a big truck can be driven right into one of Stockholm’s busiest streets on a Friday afternoon right before Easter.”
Noting how it is a popular destination for tourists, Franchell says the city centre must be a “safe environment” for visitors to enjoy. She described it as “remarkable” that it is possible to drive around the Swedish capital’s medieval old town.
Outlining her vision for a car-free Stockholm, she argues: “Most problems with regards to mobility and public transport can be solved, and deliveries to shops and restaurants could take place at times when people aren’t out on the streets.”
“Vehicles have been allowed to dominate our cities for decades and it’s the people who need space. It’s vital now that cars be regulated,” the piece concludes.
The idea of reducing the number of cars in Swedish cities was backed last month by Sweden’s environment minister, who argued that driving is a gender equality issue as well as a matter of shrinking the nation’s carbon emissions.
“Cars are driven largely by men so by giving a lot of space to cars; we’re giving a lot of space to men — at the expense of women,” Karolina Skog explained.”
12 Dead as Pakistani ‘Refugee’ Ploughs Truck Through Berlin Christmas Market
“A large truck has stormed through a Christmas market in the German capital of Berlin killing 12 people and injuring many others. German press reports a 23-year old recent migrant has been arrested, and United States President-elect Donald Trump has called the attack part of a “global jihad”.
UPDATE 11:30 GMT — Following intelligence that European Christmas markets were being targeted by would-be Islamist killers, British police forces deployed concrete barriers to prevent the ingress of speeding vehicles and patrolled armed officers. Anti-gun activists on Twitter criticised the move, prompting at least one force to defend the move.”
12 Dead, 48 Injured After Pakistan-Born Refugee Rammed Truck Into Berlin Christmas Market
“What is notable about this attack, and what may led to even more populist anger, is that as we reported last night, on November 21, the state department warned Americans travelling to Europe to be aware of possible terrorist attacks on Christmas markets.
We are confident Merkel will be asked why she didn’t give out a similar warning to her own citizens.
The Police have said that the first indications from the ongoing investigation suggest the truck crash was an attack on the Christmas market.”
Oil Glut Set to Worsen as Nigeria and Libya Fields Restart
“Amid the most enduring global oil glut in decades, two OPEC crude producers whose supplies have been crushed by domestic conflicts are preparing to add hundreds of thousands of barrels to world markets within weeks.
Libya’s state oil company on Wednesday lifted curbs on crude sales from the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Zueitina, potentially unlocking 300,000 barrels a day of supply. In Nigeria, Exxon Mobil Corp. was said to be ready to resume shipments of Qua Iboe crude, the country’s biggest export grade, which averaged about 340,000 barrels a day in shipments last year, according to Bloomberg estimates. On top of that, a second Nigerian grade operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc is scheduled to restart about 200,000 barrels a day of flow within days.
While there are reasons to be cautious about whether the barrels will actually flow as anticipated, a resumption of those supplies — more than 800,000 barrels a day in all — could more than triple the global surplus that has kept prices at less than half their levels in 2014. It would also come just as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia are set to meet in Algiers later this month to discuss a possible output freeze to steady world oil markets.
“If you have some restart of Nigeria and some restart of Libya, then the rebalancing gets pushed even further out,” Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland, said by phone. “It complicates matters a lot before the meeting in Algeria.”
“Now is the time to tackle head-on our infrastructure costs,” he said.
Jonathan Pruzan, chief financial officer at the bank, provided an update on the situation at the Barclays Financial Services Conference on Monday.
“We said we were going to deploy 1250 people into our lower cost centers of excellence in Mumbai and other parts of the world,” he said. “We have had about 450 jobs that we’ve put in those centers so far.”
“To date, the vast, vast majority has been through attrition, so when someone leaves in a core location, we replace that in one of these centers of excellence,” he added.
Dell-EMC to Lay Off 2,000 – 3,000 US Workers after Requesting 5,000 H-1B Visas & Green Cards to Import Foreign Workers
Trying to find efficiencies and synergies to save $1.7 billion.
The ink was barely dry on Dell’s acquisition of EMC, the largest technology deal ever, valued at $67 billion when it was announced in October last year – and already the layoff rumors are oozing from the woodwork.
“People familiar with the company’s plans” told Bloomberg that Dell will cut 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.
Dell spokesman Dave Farmer refused to comment specifically on the report on Thursday but said instead, as sort of a confirmation: “As is common with deals of this size, there will be some overlaps we will need to manage and where some employee reduction will occur.”
On Wednesday, the day the deal closed, CEO Michael Dell gave some clues in an interview: “There are some overlapping functions and that sort of thing – that’s not the primary feature of this, but there is some of that.”
These “overlaps” or “overlapping functions” are terms in corporate speak for real people, and these real people are mostly working in the US, according to the report: supply chain, marketing, and general and administrative positions.
Dell is trying to find some efficiencies and synergies to save about $1.7 billion in the first 18 months after the deal closes, so starting from Wednesday. They’re not dilly-dallying around cutting costs and laying off people.”
“The start couldn’t be more balanced: in 1985, the U.S. exported $3.9 billion to China, and imported goods and services for the exact same amount. But by 2015, there was a staggering imbalance, to China’s advantage, of $365.7 billion – an all-time record, not just for U.S.-China trade, but for any bilateral trade,ever.
It’s not that U.S. exports to China haven’t increased. They have, and by a lot. America exported an impressive $116.2 billion into China last year, 30 times more than in 1985. That makes China the U.S.’s third-biggest export market, nearly twice as important as Japan ($62.5 billion), in fourth place. But that’s still a lot less than U.S. exports to Canada ($280.3 billion) or Mexico ($236.4 billion). Meanwhile, Chinese exports to the U.S. have exploded. In 2015, China exported $481.9 billion to the U.S. – an amazing 123 times more than in 1985.
But it’s transforming these raw data into moving images that really brings home the runaway nature of America’s trade deficit with China.”