Friday, April 20, 2018

The Bo$ton Globe is Fake News

"The “Dangerous to Our Democracy” Viral Video and its Hypocritical Media Coverage" April 3, 2018

A video compilation proving that countless local news networks read the same exact scripts around the United States is a chilling reminder of the Orwellian, heavily controlled nature of mass media. Even more chilling: The media coverage of this video.

Yes, what is happening in this video is indeed “extremely dangerous to our democracy”. The viral video, posted online by Deadspin, mashes together segments from a variety of television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group – the largest television station operator in the United States. Dozens of newscasters, reduced to the state of word-parroting drones, are seen reciting the same script, one that obviously came from “above”. The creepy, Orwellian vibe emanating from the video and its clever editing clearly highlights the fact that mass media is owned by a few mega-companies.
In a twist of irony, the script read by the newscasters ominously warns viewers about “fake and biased news circulating on social media”, the same way Big Brother frowns against “thoughtcrime” in Orwell’s 1984.

While the video highlights the propaganda function of mass media, it was spun by mass media to generate … propaganda.

Media Spin

Shortly after the video went viral, major news outlets responded with engineered outrage and disgust. It did not take long before the blame was put on Sinclair, a “conservative, pro-Trump media conglomerate”.

The video, which highlights a major problem that is rampant across all mass media, is used to attack one specific company: Sinclair Broadcast Group. CNN is already reporting that Kentucky Democrat candidate Amy McGrath is pulling ads from Sinclair stations and is calling for a boycott. Is Sinclair the only company guilty of such news tampering? Of course not.

The fact that media sources are attempting to frame this issue in a liberal vs conservative debate only highlights the mediocrity, the lack of objectivity and the complete bias of modern journalism. If journalists were actually about “unbiased” facts, they would point out that all media sources are owned by a handful of conglomerates which are connected to the same world elite.

Not About Liberals vs Conservatives

If one closely watches the above video, one can easily note that the same script was read on CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX networks. That means it was read on EVERY major television network in the United States, and these stations are owned by mega companies that are represented in elite organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg group and so forth. NBC is owned by Comcast; CBS is owned by Viacom; ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company; Fox TV stations are owned by 21st Century Fox which was sold to … the Walt Disney Company.
The fact that the local news are scripted from above is far from new. This has been happening for decades. Here are a few examples from several years ago.

Mass media is currently spinning the story in order to turn it into a political debate and to attack one specific company.

By doing so, it purposely ignores the core truth about the video. The news segment was about not trusting “fake news on social media”. Mass media created the term “fake news” to censor and suppress real, factual news that go against the elite’s interests and that reveal unflattering truths (i.e. pedogate).

In recent years, a growing number of people have been learning important facts through “alternative” news. This has struck the elite with intense fear and panic, causing it to use all of its mass media control to deliver Orwellian warnings about “fake news”. This is what the newscasters were forced to recite on the news. This is not about liberals versus conservatives. This is about truth-seeking journalism versus elite-sponsored propaganda.



"Fake Fake News Is a Danger to Our Fake Democracy
April 6, 2018

By Truthstream Media
Our upside-down world is increasingly on full display as critical thinking is labeled fake news, and proven orchestrated mainstream news scripts are seen as reputable. Maybe the only thing we can agree upon is that “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

Aaron & Melissa Dykes are the founders of, Subscribe to them on YouTube, like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, support on Patreon.

Watch their mini-documentary Obsolete here.



"VIRAL VIDEOS are often frivolous and sometimes poisonous. But occasionally, they can be clarifying....."


Now time to obfuscate and obscure again:

"Trump defends Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s ‘false news’ promo" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff   April 02, 2018

By now you’ve probably seen the Deadspin video montage of television anchors from around the country reading from a script decrying “biased and false” reports, in a message with striking parallels to President Trump’s “fake news” mantra.

I watched it, and it was eerie.

On Monday morning, Trump lavished praise on the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of nearly 200 television stations that recently directed anchors to read the message during news broadcasts. Sinclair employs Boris Ephshteyn, a former Trump aide, as its chief political analyst.

One of Trump’s favorite targets, CNN, posted a story Monday quoting an unnamed Sinclair employee who said the on-air advisory “sickens me.”

It evidently heartens the president.

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” Trump tweeted Monday. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”

Among the anchors who read the on-air message were Alison Bologna and Frank Coletta of WJAR-TV in Providence. The Deadspin video mashup [was] posted over the weekend.

A transcript of the on-air advisory posted to Deadspin read in part, “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. ... More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.”

The New York Times already half-heartedly apologized for Iraq WMD.

The script went on to accuse unnamed reporters of using “their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda” to control what people think.

Mika Brzezinski admitted as much in a diatribe against Trump.

On Monday morning, Brian Stelter of CNN posted an article quoting an investigative reporter at Sinclair who said, “It sickens me the way this company is encroaching upon trusted news brands in rural markets.” The reporter spoke on the condition of anonymity....


Look who is coming to the rescue:

"Report for America supports journalism where cutbacks hit hard" by Nellie Bowles New York Times  April 15, 2018

A group of journalists have decided to do something about the diminution of newsrooms at the local level. They’re making reporting part of a national service program.

Oh, good. Then the veneer of a free pre$$ can vanish in the face of state media.

Report for America, a nonprofit organization modeled after AmeriCorps, aims to install 1,000 journalists in understaffed newsrooms by 2022. Now in its pilot stage, the initiative has placed three reporters in Appalachia. It has chosen nine more, from 740 applicants, to be deployed across the country in June.

Molly Born, 29, was one of the first three selected for the program. She grew up in West Virginia and has the state motto tattooed on her back: “Montani Semper Liberi” (“Mountaineers Are Always Free”). A reporter at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the last six years, Born applied to Report for America with the hope of covering her home state.

“I felt like I needed to give something back to a place that has given a lot to me, and journalism is the way for me to do that. It’s important to have reporters based in parts of America where some people feel misunderstood. It just helps us get a greater understanding of who we are and who our neighbors are,” she said.

Report for America fellowships last one to two years, and the pay is about $40,000, with half covered by the program and the rest split between participating news organizations and donations. Two media veterans, Steven Waldman and Charles Sennott, started the project with funding from sponsors.

Yeah, who?

In 1990, daily and weekly newspapers employed about 455,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By January 2016, that number had fallen to 173,000.

Less now. That was over two years ago!

Before the creation of Report for America, Waldman ran Beliefnet, a site dedicated to faith and spirituality, and worked for the Federal Communications Commission as a senior adviser. In 2015, he wrote a paper funded by the Ford Foundation arguing for the creation of a national service program for journalists.

To teach them how to be PROPAGANDISTS!

The other founder, Sennott, once was Jerusalem-based Middle East bureau chief for The Boston Globe. He has covered wars and insurgencies in more than a dozen countries. In 2014, he founded GroundTruth, a nonprofit organization that trains foreign correspondents.

I don't want to go sour on them, but.....

He decided to join Waldman in establishing Report for America after the 2016 election.

“I was focused on reporting on divided societies and struggling democracies,” Sennott said. “Then I realized we live in one.”

Because they had seen how Facebook and Google contributed to the destruction of the advertising-based business model that had long kept local newspapers afloat, they asked them to kick in to their project. While Google has committed money and training, Facebook has yet to sign on.

“Mark Zuckerberg could solve the local news problem with the money that’s falling between his couch cushions,” Waldman said. “Folks like Facebook and Google and the other winners have the money to solve this problem, and it is a solvable problem.”

For the nine reporter slots, 85 newsrooms applied asking for corps members, describing a crucial beat that needed filling. Reporters who make the cut start with eight days of training before joining their host newsrooms. They must also fulfill a service requirement, such as working as mentors to student journalists, during their stints.

The founders refer to those who take part in the program as “corps members,” rather than fellows, an attempt to signal that Report for America is not meant to be simply a chance to burnish a resume.

“It’s not a reward for bright young graduate students,” Sennott said. “It’s a call to get in there.”


Let's go live for a report:

"TV host resigns after threatening school shooting survivor" AP  April 11, 2018

ST. LOUIS — A conservative commentator who sent a tweet saying he would use ‘‘a hot poker’’ to sexually assault an outspoken 17-year-old survivor of the Florida high school shooting has resigned from a St. Louis TV station and been taken off the radio after several advertisers withdrew from his shows.

KDNL-TV accepted Jamie Allman’s resignation and canceled ‘‘The Allman Report,’’ according to a brief statement from Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates the TV station.

Before the show’s launch in January 2015, KDNL-TV touted it as a nontraditional newscast with a conservative spin.

Allman’s radio show on KFTK-FM has been taken off the air while the company ‘‘looks into the matter,’’ said Esther-Mireya Tejeda, a spokeswoman for Entercom.

Several businesses pulled advertising from Allman’s shows after he sent the March 26 tweet. Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham took a week’s leave after apologizing via social media for her tweet.

Ingraham hasn’t discussed that episode specifically but promised upcoming stories about conservatives who she says are fighting attempts to silence them.....

Laura is still number 1 in her time slot.


"New study suggests fake news might have won Donald Trump the 2016 election" by Aaron Blake Washington Post  April 03, 2018

Or it couldn't win it for Killary.

President Trump has said repeatedly that Russian interference didn’t matter in the 2016 election, and he has suggested — wrongly — that the intelligence and law enforcement communities have said the same. His overriding fear seems to be that Russian interference and the ‘‘fake news’’ it promoted would undermine the legitimacy of his election win.

Trump won’t like this new study one bit.

The study from researchers at Ohio State University finds that fake news likely played a significant role in depressing Hillary Clinton’s support on Election Day 2016. The study, which has not been peer reviewed but which may be the first look at how fake news impacted voter choices, suggests that roughly 4 percent of Barack Obama’s 2012 supporters were dissuaded from voting for Clinton in 2016 by belief in fake news stories.


Here are the false stories, along with the percentages of Obama supporters who believed they were at least ‘‘probably’’ true (in parentheses):

Two of the three ARE true!

This alone does not prove that fake news was a difference-maker, of course. A recent Princeton-led study of fake news consumption during the 2016 campaign found that fake news articles made up only 2.6 percent of all hard-news articles late in the 2016 election, with the stories most often reaching intense partisans who were likely not persuadable. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Obama voters who weren’t reliable Democratic supporters were more apt to believe fake news stories that affirmed their decision not to vote for Clinton.

Hey, what's another fake news, agenda-pushing study to support the narrative?

So the researchers sought to control for other factors like gender, race, age, education, political leaning, and even personal feelings about Clinton and Trump using multiple regression analysis. According to the researchers, all of these factors combined to explain 38 percent of the defection of Obama voters from Clinton, but belief in fake news explained another 11 percent.

Something is regressing, all right.

For those defecting from Clinton, believing fake news had a greater impact than anything except being a Republican or personally disliking Clinton. Obama voters who believed one of these fake news stories ‘‘were 3.9 times more likely to defect from the Democratic ticket in 2016 than those who believed none of these false claims, after taking into account all of these other factors,’’ the researchers write.

‘‘We cannot prove that belief in fake news caused these former Obama voters to defect from the Democratic candidate in 2016,’’ they write. ‘‘These data strongly suggest, however, that exposure to fake news did have a significant impact on voting decisions.’’ 

She lost because she was a corrupt cretin. 

Why can't you guys accept that?

Exactly how that translates into raw votes and whether it swung the election is the big, unanswered question — and the one that seems to preoccupy Trump

Actually, he hasn't mentioned it in months; it's the pre$$ that is still obsessing about it and crying in their beer!

It’s difficult to know how fake news played specifically in the three states that delivered him the presidency: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But the fact that Clinton lost each of these divisive states by less than one percentage point means that even a slight impact by Russia and/or fake news — or even then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement about Clinton’s e-mails or some other factor — could logically have changed the result.

If only!


Maybe the answer is what India tried to do:

"India withdraws sweeping new rule clamping down on fake news" AP  April 04, 2018

NEW DELHI — India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday withdrew a sweeping new order clamping down on journalists accused of spreading fake news.

The U-turn came hours after the ministry announced that reporters’ press credentials could be suspended simply for an accusation of spreading fake news.

The rules, issued by a government often deeply sensitive to media criticism, angered journalists and opposition politicians, who called it an attempt to gag the media in the run-up to national elections expected next year.

The good thing about the AmeriKan media is they are self-censoring.

Several Indian news outlets reported that the initial order, announced late Monday night, was withdrawn on the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said that issues surrounding fake news should be dealt with by the Press Council of India, a semi-independent press group.

It was unclear what caused the reversal, particularly with a prime minister who takes pride in being deeply involved in nearly all major decisions.


Here is their first test case:

"Malaysia looks to punish fake news with 10 years in jail" Associated Press  March 27, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s government proposed new legislation Monday to outlaw fake news and punish offenders with a 10-year jail sentence, a move slammed by critics as an attempt to crack down on dissent ahead of a general election.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has been dogged by a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal involving an indebted state fund, and rights activists fear the new law could be used to criminalize news reports and opinions critical of government misconduct. A general election must be held by August but is widely expected in the next few weeks.

The fake news bill, which must be approved by Parliament, calls for penalizing those who create, offer, circulate, print, or publish fake news or publications containing fake news with a 10-year jail term, a fine of up to $128,000, or both.

The bill defines fake news as any news, information, data, or report that is wholly or partly false, “whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.’’

Can you imagine it? 

You go to the newsstand and there are no papers on the rack.

It covers all mediums and extends to foreigners outside Malaysia as long as Malaysia or its citizens are affected.


"Key Malaysian opposition party suspended ahead of election" Associated Press  April 06, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian authorities ordered former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s political party to temporarily disband Thursday in a blow to the opposition ahead of an expected general election.

The Registrar of Societies said the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia failed to submit adequate documentation for its registration and asked it to do so within a month or be permanently deregistered.

Elections are due by August, but Prime Minister Najib Razak is widely expected to dissolve Parliament on Friday to pave the way for a vote next month. Support for Najib’s ruling coalition has dwindled in the last two elections, and in 2013 it lost the popular vote for the first time.

Mahathir, called the order tyranny and unconstitutional because the party had given all the documents to the registrar.

Mahathir, 92, said the party will appeal to the home minister, and if that is unsuccessful, it will file a legal suit challenging the order. He said the move was aimed at preventing Pribumi from contesting the election and at blocking the registration of the opposition alliance as a united front.


You want to know the real reason he is being banned?


Woman suspected in YouTube shooting ‘hated’ the company

The piece had been totally rewritten from what was in my printed paper, and yeah, this IS "insane."

"YouTube attacker’s videos were both admired and mocked in Iran" by Matthew Haag New York Times   April 05, 2018

NEW YORK —Investigators on Wednesday said they believed YouTube’s policies motivated a woman who shot three people at YouTubes headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., before killing herself.

The attacker, identified as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, had been seen at a nearby shooting range before the attack, and a gun registered in her name was found at the scene.

Aghdam, who was in her late 30s and had lived in Southern California, often discussed Persian culture, veganism and animal cruelty; performed music parodies; and gave exercise tutorials on YouTube and on her personal website.

In Iran, Aghdam was known as “Green Nasim,” a social media star with followings on YouTube, Instagram, and elsewhere who was sometimes admired and sometimes mocked.

Aghdam had YouTube pages in Persian, Turkish, and English. In several of her videos, she stated she had been born in Iran, in the city of Urmia. She explained in videos that she and her family are members of the Baha’i faith, a persecuted minority in majority Muslim Iran.

And that was when I smelled another false flag:

"In contrast to Iranian Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, tolerated minorities who even have their own representatives in Parliament, the Bahais have been persecuted in Iran ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Their belief in another prophet after Muhammad is anathema to Shi’ite Muslim clerics, who consider Muhammad the final messenger of God. There are five million to seven million Bahais worldwide. Their headquarters is in Haifa, Israel, another reason Iran’s establishment distrusts them. “The leader of their cult is Zionism,” the head of Iran’s paramilitary Basij organization, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, said Monday. “Supporting them means being a lackey of the Zionists,” because they are considered impure."

Looks like a Holy War coming, huh?

It was perhaps her inability to easily fit a stereotype that drew her to so many in Iran, where she had tens of thousands of followers on social media. Several of her colorful — and sometimes bizarre — videos had gone viral.

Life in the United States had not been good, she said in one video posted last week. “There they kill you by ax,” she said of Iran. “Here they kill you with cotton” — an Iranian expression meaning to die by something that you do not know is dangerous.

In another video, she responded to viewers who had begun to wonder if she was mentally ill: “I don’t have any special mental or physical disease, but I live on a planet filled with disease, disorders, perversions and injustices.”

Aghdam fired “multiple shots” from a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun, which was registered to her, Ed Barberini, chief of the San Bruno Police Department, said Wednesday. The gun was recovered at the scene.

There is no evidence linking Aghdam to any of the shooting victims, Barberini said.

Initial reports were of a domestic dispute.

On Tuesday morning, before driving to the YouTube offices, Aghdam visited a local gun range, police said. Investigators were searching two homes in Southern California associated with the suspect.

Aghdam parked her car at a business near YouTube. She entered one of the company’s parking garages and then walked into an outdoor courtyard where employees were eating lunch.

“At this point in the investigation, it is believed that the suspect was upset at the policies and practices of YouTube. This appears to be the motive for this incident,” Barberini said. The chief said his department had worked with YouTube to develop security measures for the campus.

The three victims were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Two women, a 32-year-old who was admitted in serious condition and a 27-year-old who was admitted in fair condition, were released late Tuesday, a hospital spokesman said. The third victim, a 36-year-old man, had improved from critical to serious condition and remained in the hospital.

Police in Mountain View, Calif., about 30 miles south of San Bruno, said they had found Aghdam sleeping in a car near a shopping center around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. The car was parked a few miles from the headquarters of Google, YouTube’s parent company.

The officers searched records related to the car’s license plate and discovered the vehicle was connected to a person who had been reported missing on March 31 in San Diego County, the Mountain View police said Wednesday.

The officers called the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office and were told that Aghdam’s family had expressed concern about her well-being because she had never disappeared that way before. Aghdam told Mountain View officers that she was not a danger to herself or to others and that she had traveled to the San Francisco area to look for a job, police said. She was interviewed for about 20 minutes, police said.

“At no point during our roughly 20-minute interaction with her did she mention anything about YouTube, if she was upset with them, or that she had planned to harm herself or others,” the Mountain View police said in a statement posted on the department’s website. “Throughout our entire interaction with her, she was calm and cooperative.

After the conversation ended, the officers called Aghdam’s family to say she had been located, the police said. The family did not mention anything about YouTube at the time, the police said. But her father and brother called back about an hour later and told the police she had made a series of videos about veganism that she had posted on YouTube.

“At no point did her father or brother mention anything about potential acts of violence or a possibility of Aghdam lashing out as a result of her issues with her videos,” the police said in the statement.

Barberini declined to comment on local reports that Aghdam’s family had warned police in Mountain View that she was headed toward YouTube’s offices. But he said that it received no information in advance of the shooting.


You shake you head because it is always the same old script (save for her profile, not that of the typical shooter).

Time to turn off JouTube:

"YouTubers angry with ad restrictions shouldn’t be able to dictate company policy" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff  April 04, 2018

Do you have a right to be seen on YouTube? Nasim Aghdam seems to have thought so. For now, that’s the most likely explanation for her shooting spree at YouTube headquarters Tuesday.

According to news accounts, Aghdam believed YouTube was unfairly limiting access to videos she’d posted on the site, costing her online popularity and money from advertisers.

But neither she nor the other people who complain about YouTube’s mercurial censorship and advertising policies should be able to dictate the company’s editorial policies, much as they try.

One prominent conservative tried to sue YouTube to get restrictions lifted off his videos, and others have denounced them as unfair and incoherent.

And former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon even suggested that Alphabet Inc., parent company of YouTube and search giant Google, should operate like a public utility, under constant government oversight. If you don’t want California billionaires deciding what we can see on YouTube, imagine giving the job to Washington bureaucrats.

YouTube has several censorship tools at its disposal. It can and often does delete videos that feature violence or sexually explicit content. That’s the easy part. What about the millions of videos that are crude or shocking, but not quite bad enough to ban?

For these, YouTube often attaches a “restricted” flag. Most users can still see them. But those who have their YouTube settings filter out distasteful materials will be blocked from restricted videos. Many parents do this to keep their children from seeing things they don’t want them to; lots of schools and libraries use it as well.

RelatedYouTube is improperly collecting children’s data, groups say

Globe must not have wanted you to see it because that item never saw print.

In her video, Aghdam griped that YouTube had restricted access to some of her yoga training videos, in which she’s rather skimpily dressed. She correctly points out YouTube transmits far more salacious videos by major pop stars, with no restrictions at all.

You don’t have to show any skin to draw a restricted flag. The same fate has befallen dozens of videos published by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, videos devoid of nudity, violence, or bad language. Last October, Prager filed a federal lawsuit against YouTube, arguing it has become as vital to democracy as the old-fashioned town square. Therefore, this private company should be bound by the First Amendment and should provide unrestricted access to his political videos.

Nice try, but a federal judge tossed the lawsuit in March, and rightly so. I agree with Prager that YouTube’s restrictions make no sense, but the company has the right to be wrong.

According to an interview with Aghdam’s father reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Aghdam was furious her YouTube videos weren’t bringing in as much money as they once had. YouTube hasn’t responded to my inquiries, but this sounds like a case of “demonetization.”

When a YouTuber attracts a large following, the company cashes in by showing a commercial before the main video. The video maker gets a cut, too. The biggest YouTubers can earn thousands of dollars a month. But in 2016, major advertisers were outraged to see their products attached to YouTube videos promoting hatred and violence. The advertisers demanded and got a crackdown, with YouTube removing the ads from some channels — and the revenues that went with them.

Some of these demonetized videos are devoid of overtly hateful language but still feature plenty of “fighting words.” And lots of companies don’t want their products promoted alongside, say, hardcore political videos of the right or the left. So YouTube is just doing what it’s got to do. If you don’t like demonetization, take it up with the advertisers.

I’m inclined to sympathize with those who believe YouTube has too much power in setting the global media agenda. But there are other places to watch videos online, and any company or organization with reasonably deep pockets can start up more of them. If a creator feels unwelcome on YouTube, and the audience is big enough, there will always be alternatives.

Look at what happened when YouTube announced it was dropping many popular gun-related videos in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. A company called Full30, which already hosts gun videos, said it would expand its offerings. A company called Utah Gun Exchange, a sort of eBay for firearms shoppers, also said it will host gun videos. And another website for gun buffs, InRangeTV, said it will offer its videos on, of all places, the pornography site Pornhub. That’s a slimy step down from YouTube, but not too big a step.

While YouTube is America’s second-most-popular website according to the Alexa tracking service, Pornhub ranks 18th. It’s decisive proof that you don’t have to be on YouTube to attract a lot of eyeballs.

YouTube’s parent company, the dominant Internet search service Google, is owned by Alphabet. That’s a lot of power for one corporation, and you can make a good case for a federal antitrust action, maybe even a move to spin off YouTube as a separate entity. But when it comes to which videos should run on YouTube, only the company gets to decide.


Shouldn't be watching it at work anyway:

"Not your parents’ office? Now it is: Tech workspaces start to grow up" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff  April 05, 2018

The Ping-Pong tables have given way to long work tables, beanbag chairs to straight-backed couches, beer taps to cold-brew coffee.

Boston’s tech workplaces are growing up. Play spaces that were designed to recruit twentysomething workers are out; low-key but tasteful furniture is in, as are areas set aside for quiet work and group collaboration.

You know, like a regular office.

One factor behind the switch: the high cost of renting or owning offices, which is forcing area employers to make tough choices maximizing the utility of their space. At the same time, tech companies seeking to diversify their largely young, white male workforces are choosing office designs that emphasize professionalism, wellness, and work-life balance over frat house fun.

The boys are gonna love you, ladies!

“For hiring and recruiting talent, there’s much more of an interest now in what they actually can accomplish and who they’re going to work with than how cool the office looks,” said Matt Lock, managing director at the design firm Unispace.

Boston’s tech offices were never as ostentatious as those in Silicon Valley — notorious for ball pits, hammocks, and adult-sized slides — but many businesses here did mimic some of the playground aesthetic.

“As tech has grown up, there’s been a recognition that this is not an extension of a college dorm for everyone,” said Amy Spurling, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Boston startup Compt, which helps companies manage workplace perks. “We need to have a work environment that makes more than just one group of people happy.”

And there’s a practical element, too, said Spurling: “Hey, if you’re 40, getting out of a beanbag chair hurts!”

Perhaps no local tech firm exemplifies the trend better than HubSpot, whose East Cambridge headquarters is like a life-sized diorama of the recent evolution of tech office design. Kenneth Papa, HubSpot facilities director, said tech offices a decade ago sent a fairly obvious message to workers: you were expected to be constantly on the job.

The older parts of HubSpot’s office have aspects like that, places where food is always available and a lobby designed to suggest constant activity. But Papa said more recent additions serve a more diverse workforce that has emerged at one of the region’s biggest and most successful tech companies.

“It’s murky ground. It’s very much a gray area where you build something to get people to never want to leave versus building something that people want, could use, and will give them a better quality of life,” Papa said.

There is still a nap room, yes, and table tennis remains popular with the engineers. But more recent additions to the HubSpot office, Papa said, include an expansive maternity suite where the walls are decorated with quotes from famous women writers; a quiet area decked out with safari decor; and a verdant meditation room lit dimly by glowing geodes. That last one was the product of a contest for workplace improvements.

Even the candy dispensers are now filled mostly with nuts and granola.

For smaller companies, office choices are driven largely by practicality. Many employers say it’s essential to locate near transit hubs to attract workers. Proximity comes at a premium, so companies want to maximize the value of every inch.

At Janeiro Digital, a software company that recently moved to offices near North Station, that meant leaving behind a big shuffleboard table. There are better uses for space, said Janeiro chief executive Jonathan Bingham. Janeiro still has a tiny foosball game that can be played on top of a table, and a video game system that connects to a big office TV.

But both can be moved to make room for staff gatherings, client visits, and other functions. The result is a modern, industrial-style office with an open area off the kitchen offering a big view of the North End.

“The ability to come in and have everything you need to do your job well, that’s a company’s first priority. It shouldn’t be your second,” Bingham said. “If you’re going to set a culture for everybody to come in and have a good time, and then do your job really well, that’s probably a mistake.”

Bingham and others said workers also prefer to have more security at their offices, such as security guards and other staff on hand during late hours. The shooting at YouTube headquarters in California has also touched off a new round of discussion over workplace safety measures.

Was that the purpose of this event?

Another factor, said Aaron Jodka, research director with real estate services firm Colliers International in Boston, is the whole phenomenon of co-working and shared office spaces. It’s common for a company or workers these days to start out in co-working spaces. That may imbue some with a preference for collaborative space, which is increasingly in demand.

And landlords are also getting into the perks game, Jodka said, giving companies less of an incentive to build out their own extras.

For instance, CloudHealth Technologies, an IT software startup, is moving from Fort Point to 100 Summer Street, an office tower that has its own space where offerings include free drinks, coffee, private showers, and games.

Melodye Mueller, vice president of marketing at CloudHealth, said this allowed the company to incorporate designs that employees wanted: space to work efficiently together with easy access to management, and space to focus.

“They were screaming for quiet,” she said.

There are still companies trying to program fun spaces into their workplace designs. Bynder, a brand management company with offices in Fort Point, has devoted a big area to a pool table felted in the light blue color of the company’s logo.

Office manager Nonet Muhring said the pool table remains a substantial draw for employees needing a change of scenery.

Morgan Mosher, principal at T3 Advisors, which helps tech companies design offices, said employers should listen to employees about the workplace setup. After all, every choice will have an effect on who comes to work there, and how productive they’ll be.

She said a company considering installing something that would be appropriate in a rec room should think hard about whether it will really benefit employees, or whether it’s just “a cliche thing to have in the office.”

“Startups are now trying to realize what amenities are actually important,” Mosher said. “Amenities are now focused on what actually makes people happy.”


Also see: 5 Compelling Reasons Why The YouTube Shooting Has Disappeared From Headlines

Haven't seen a word since. 


Must be the environment we are working in

"EPA chief Scott Pruitt paid $50 a night for D.C. condo linked to lobbyist" Associated Press  March 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency paid just $50 a night to stay in a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent Washington lobbyist whose firm represents a roster of fossil fuel companies.

I suppose that is fine as long as he isn't smoking weed.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt paid for a single bedroom in the building on a leafy street about a block from the US Capitol, staying for about six months in 2017 during nights he was in Washington.

Records show three units inside the building are listed as belonging to a corporation co-owned by the wife of J. Steven Hart, the chairman and CEO of the powerhouse lobbying firm Williams and Jensen PLLC.

The firm’s clients include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the major liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. — companies that have billions at stake in regulatory decisions over which Pruitt presides. Records show in at least one case Pruitt met in his EPA office with a lobbyist from Hart’s firm while he was renting the room.

Justina Fugh, an ethics lawyer at EPA, told The Associated Press on Friday Pruitt’s rental agreement allowed him to only pay for nights he occupied the room, totaling about $6,000 in payments over the term of the lease.

Fugh said she was first briefed by other EPA officials about the terms of lease on Thursday, shortly after ABC News first reported on Pruitt’s prior living arrangements.

Fugh said she was not asked to review the lease or issue a formal legal opinion on it, though she did not immediately see it as an ethical concern since Pruitt paid for the room.

Fugh said she was told Pruitt has since moved to another apartment, though she said she was not privy to any details about where the administrator is currently staying, who owns that property or what rate he is paying.

Inside the White House on Friday, staffers expressed frustration by the optics of Pruitt’s living arrangements, which come on the heels of the dismissal of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin over ethical missteps.

But while officials in the West Wing are reviewing the seriousness of the questions around Pruitt, it was too soon to know if the EPA secretary would face harsh internal questioning or draw the ire of President’s Donald Trump, according to a White House official not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

A Republican who previously served as the state attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt has long been a champion of the oil and gas industry.

Hart said Pruitt is a casual friend from Oklahoma who moved into the building in early 2017. Hart said he had no contact with Pruitt for many months, other than a brief exchange at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

EPA’s press office also did not respond to messages seeking comment Thursday or Friday about Pruitt’s Washington living arrangements.


The pre$$ will keep knocking at the door, though:

"Top Pruitt aide at EPA also shopped for housing on his behalf" by Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis The Washington Post  April 03, 2018

WASHINGTON — A top aide at the Environmental Protection Agency, who recently received a 33 percent raise from Administrator Scott Pruitt despite a lack of approval from the White House, helped shop for housing options for him and his wife last year, according to several individuals with knowledge of the matter.

Must be $omething going around.

Millan Hupp, 26, who serves as Pruitt’s director of scheduling and advance, contacted a local real estate firm last summer as the EPA chief was moving out of a $50-per-night rental condo owned by the wife of an energy and transportation lobbyist. Three individuals, including current and former EPA employees, said Hupp was the point person for Pruitt’s search.

Between July and September, Hupp corresponded with a real estate company and on some evenings and weekends went to view properties for rent or sale, according to two of the individuals. She typically used her private e-mail but at times contacted the company during work hours. At other times, Pruitt himself viewed properties, the individuals said.

‘‘This is not news,’’ EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement. ‘‘The notion that government resources were used to assist in finding housing is categorically false. Administrator Pruitt and his wife looked at numerous housing options.’’

More fake news.

But Don Fox, the former acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics, said in an interview that federal officials are barred from enlisting one of their subordinates to do personal tasks for them, even if those take place during off hours.

‘‘There’s a general prohibition against misusing government resources, and employees are government resources,’’ Fox said. ‘‘It’s clearly personal, and frankly, it doesn’t matter if she did it 11 a.m. on a Tuesday or at 2 p.m. on a Saturday if, in fact, that was an expectation of the job.’’

The details of Hupp’s house-shopping on behalf of Pruitt mark the latest development in a string of ethical questions dogging the EPA chief. Pruitt has faced ongoing criticism and inquiries from government watchdogs and members of both parties on Capitol Hill.

The intensifying scrutiny has increased speculation about whether one of President Trump’s favorite and most effective Cabinet members can weather the most recent issues.

Midday at the White House, before a working lunch with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room, Trump was asked by reporters whether he still supports Pruitt. ‘‘I hope he’s going to be great,’’ Trump replied.

The White House did not respond to a request for specific comment on the new questions being raised about the EPA head. But multiple senior administration officials confirmed that the president had called Pruitt Monday night to convey his support. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly followed up with a call Tuesday morning to reinforce that message, officials said.

The president told Pruitt, ‘‘Keep your head up, keep fighting. We have your back,’’ according to these officials. CBS News first reported on the calls.

Hupp was one of two EPA employees who recently received significant raises despite a lack of White House approval. Her salary jumped nearly 33 percent last month, from $86,460 to $114,590.

After graduating in 2014 from Oklahoma State University, where she majored in hotel and restaurant administration, Hupp spent less than a year working at an Embassy Suites hotel near the Nashville airport as a business travel sales manager, according to her online résumé and LinkedIn page.

In early 2015, according to her résumé, Hupp went to work for Pruitt as his deputy finance director, where her duties included hunting for new donors and a role as ‘‘on-the-ground orchestrator of activity for the attorney general during political travel.’’

Around the same time, Hupp became a ‘‘financial and political consultant’’ for Pruitt’s two private fund-raising vehicles, Liberty 2.0 Super PAC and Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC.

Another EPA employee, 30-year-old Sarah Greenwalt, who serves as Pruitt’s senior counsel after working with him in Oklahoma, also received a sharp raise in recent weeks. Her salary jumped more than 52 percent, from $107,435 to $164,200.


"EPA’s Scott Pruitt started his tenure with extensive travel" by Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis Washington Post  April 04, 2018

After moving out of the Capitol Hill condo apartment he rented for $50 a night last summer, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears to not have maintained a Washington residence for a month, instead traveling extensively for work and remaining for weeks at his Tulsa, Okla., home.

Pruitt ended his housing arrangement with lobbyist Vicki Hart on Aug. 4. At that point, he already had embarked on a more than weeklong trip across five states to visit with elected officials and farmers about the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda, with a weekend at home in Tulsa along the way.

He then took an extended vacation, according to agency records, during which time officials said that he underwent knee surgery and recuperated at home while receiving staff briefings. After another round of meetings in Oklahoma and a visit to Texas to survey the damage from Hurricane Harvey, Pruitt returned to EPA headquarters Sept. 5, according to his public calendars. Members of his round-the-clock security detail remained with him while he was away from Washington.

While the EPA has declined to disclose when the administrator began renting his second Washington apartment in the U Street area, the new building was under construction much of the summer, and no residents moved into the complex before Aug. 29, according to the property.

Multiple agency employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Pruitt had instructed his staff to arrange an extensive travel schedule during early August. Another individual involved in Pruitt’s housing search said he continued to consider different rental options and made clear he would be away much of the month.

A statement Wednesday from EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox noted: ‘‘The administrator had knee surgery in Tulsa and remained there for recovery. During that time he had a number of staff briefings.’’

Pruitt’s travel plans also had included a 10-day trip to Australia that was slated to begin Aug. 31, but it was canceled after Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast. ‘‘The official trip to Australia was canceled as soon as Hurricane Harvey hit the US, and the administrator instead traveled to Texas for hurricane briefings and EPA responsiveness,’’ Wilcox added.

He also canceled a trip to Israel.

Pruitt’s decision not to maintain a fixed address in the city where he was leading a major federal agency underscores how he has operated during his tenure — crisscrossing the country and parts of the world to tout the president’s agenda but regularly returning to Oklahoma, often at taxpayer expense.

In recent weeks, Pruitt has been dogged by revelations that he took dozens of first-class flights during his government travels, which EPA officials have argued was necessary due to security concerns, as well as by the disclosure of a housing agreement he struck during his early months in Washington with the wife of a lobbyist he knew from Oklahoma. Under that arrangement, Pruitt paid for a room in the condo a block from the Capitol but only paid for the nights he stayed. Both his living and travel arrangements have drawn inquiries from lawmakers and government investigators.

As for his month away from Washington last August, in which he appeared to run the EPA from afar when not on vacation, Environmental Integrity Project executive director Eric Schaeffer said it raises additional cost and transparency questions. The EPA has not divulged much about Pruitt’s schedule or his whereabouts since he took office 14 months ago, even when he was traveling on government business.

‘‘Since Mr. Pruitt has insisted on round-the-clock protection, every day he spends in Oklahoma means taxpayers are covering hotel and food bills for his security detail,’’ Schaeffer said. ‘‘EPA needs to come clean and give us a full accounting of where Mr. Pruitt was, how his time was spent and how much it cost for him to operate out of Tulsa instead of the office of the agency he heads.’’

Pruitt has given interviews in the past 24 hours to several conservative media outlets, arguing that he has come under fire for his housing and travel logistics by people who oppose the president’s policies.

‘‘Do I think that because we are leading on this agenda that there are some who want to keep that from happening?’’ he told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. ‘‘Absolutely. And do I think that they will resort to anything to achieve that? Yes.’’

Referring to his rental arrangement with Vicki Hart, Pruitt said he ‘‘was living out of a suitcase for the first four or five months I was here.’’ He said he had known her husband, J. Steven Hart, whose law firm lobbies on energy as well as other matters, long before moving to Washington.

‘‘I’m dumbfounded that that’s controversial,’’ Pruitt said of the condo rental.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Pruitt elaborated on the arrangement. ‘‘This was like an Airbnb situation. . . . When I was not there, the landlord, they had access to the entirety of the facility,’’ he said. ‘‘When I was there, I only had access to a room.’’

He also told Fox he had learned Tuesday that his senior counsel, Sarah Greenwalt, and his director of scheduling and advance, Millan Hupp, had gotten raises in March of 52 percent and 33 percent respectively. Hupp had overseen Pruitt’s housing hunt last year. Her and Greenwalt’s pay increases went through after the two were reappointed under an obscure provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

‘‘I found out this yesterday, and I corrected the action, and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting that going forward,’’ Pruitt said.


"Trump expresses confidence in EPA chief as questions linger" by Michael Biesecker  AP  |
April 4, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials sounded increasingly doubtful Thursday about the future of embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, even as President Donald Trump appeared to throw him a public lifeline.

Look at the pre$$ trying to get rid of him!

Speaking Thursday to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump used a series of superlatives to describe Pruitt. “I think he’s done a fantastic job,” the president said. “I think he’s done an incredible job. He’s been very courageous. It hasn’t been easy, but I think he’s done a fantastic job. I think he’ll be fine. “

That was contrasted by more tepid remarks earlier from White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley.

“They say we all serve at the pleasure of the president,” Gidley told reporters. “The president himself said he had confidence (in Pruitt), and so that’s where we stand today.”

Someone tell that to Nikki Haley.

Pruitt has been under fire for days amid numerous ethics questions, including his rental of a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo with ties to a fossil fuels lobbyist. If Trump were to fire him, he would be the fourth agency head ousted in the Trump administration’s first 15 months.

They are practically goading him to.

Trump has often lavished praise on Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who has worked relentlessly to scrap, delay or rewrite Obama-era environmental regulations opposed by the oil, gas and coal industries, but he also has publicly expressed support for other administration officials who were fired or resigned, right up until sending tweets announcing their departure.

A review of Pruitt’s ethical conduct by White House officials is underway, adding to other probes already being conducted by congressional committees and EPA’s inspector general into outsized spending on luxury air travel and unusual security precautions.

The ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, called Thursday for Pruitt to appear on Capitol Hill next week to provide sworn testimony. In a letter to the committee chairman, Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, Cummings said EPA had failed to fully comply with prior demands for Pruitt’s travel records and requested that the documents be subpoenaed.

The New York Times reported Thursday that at least five EPA officials were reassigned or demoted after pushing back against spending requests that included a $100,000-a-month private jet membership, a bulletproof vehicle and $70,000 to replace two desks in the administrator’s office suite. None of those purchases were approved, but Pruitt is reported to have gotten an ornate refurbished desk comparable in grandeur to the one in the Oval Office.

CBS News first reported that the head of Pruitt’s security detail was demoted last year after the career employee refused the administrator’s demand to use the lights and sirens on his EPA vehicle to get him through D.C. traffic faster.

That's a Jon Corzine trick, remember? 

"The executive protection unit has the discretion to move through traffic by stepping up its speed and using flashing lights when necessary."

Meanwhile, an EPA ethics official said Wednesday he wasn’t provided all of the relevant “factual information” before determining last week that Pruitt’s $50-a-night rental was not an ethics violation. EPA lawyer Kevin Minoli said his finding that Pruitt was paying fair-market value was based on the assumption that Pruitt occupied only one bedroom for $50 a night, as outlined in the lease. Media reports later disclosed that Pruitt’s college-aged daughter occupied a second bedroom in the unit while she interned at the White House last summer. Minoli said he did not consider the value of a second room in his analysis.

Pruitt paid about $1,000 a month, less than a third of what Minoli’s review found nearby two-bedroom homes listed for. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Minoli’s letter, which was first reported by CNN.

Pruitt had gone on the offensive Wednesday, trying to shore up his position in a series of interviews with Fox News and conservative media outlets during which he continued to suggest he had lived alone.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Trump is not OK with some of the details that have emerged, including news this week of enormous raises awarded to two of Pruitt’s close aides. In a combative Fox News interview, Pruitt said he didn’t approve the raises and doesn’t know who did.

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York on Thursday became the third House Republican to say Pruitt should go, joining a growing chorus of Democrats and environmentalists. She was speaking to about 200 constituents in her home district.

Amid the ethics cloud, one of Pruitt’s closest aides has resigned. Samantha Dravis served as his senior counsel and associate administrator for policy. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Thursday that Dravis, 34, was leaving to pursue other opportunities. Dravis previously worked for a fundraising group founded by Pruitt before being hired at EPA. She often accompanied the administrator on his frequent trips across the country and oversees.

Given these odd living arrangements, the word affairs comes to mind.

The condo rented by Pruitt is co-owned by the wife of J. Steven Hart, chairman and CEO of the powerhouse lobbying firm Williams & Jensen. On Pruitt’s lease, a copy of which was reviewed by AP, Steven Hart’s name was originally typed in as “landlord” but was scratched out. The name of his wife, health care lobbyist Vicki Hart, was scribbled in.

Federal disclosure reports show Hart’s firm lobbied EPA, including Pruitt himself, extensively over the past year.

The Associated Press reported last week that while living in the Hart condo he met in his EPA office with a lobbyist from Hart’s firm and two executives from an energy company seeking to scuttle tighter pollution standards for coal-fired power plants.

Beyond the question of whether Pruitt paid a fair-market value for the rental, Hart’s business interests potentially raise other ethics issues that Minoli said he did not consider as part of his earlier review of whether the favorable lease constituted an improper gift to Pruitt from the lobbyist.

Ethics rules covering federal officials say they must remain impartial when making regulatory decisions and can’t show favoritism. Pruitt also signed an ethics pledge when joining the Trump administration in which he promised not to accept gifts from lobbyists.

But, ultimately, it’s up to the president to determine whether Pruitt goes or stays.

“I’ll make that determination,” Trump said when asked whether he was bothered by the ethics issues surrounding Pruitt. “But he’s a good man, he’s done a terrific job. But I’ll take a look at it.”


"Kelly advised a resistant Trump to fire EPA chief" by Julie Hirschfeld Davis New York Times   April 06, 2018

NEW YORK — John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told President Trump last week that Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, should go amid allegations of ethical infractions and spending irregularities, according to two officials briefed about the conversation.

But Trump, who is personally fond of Pruitt and sees him as a crucial ally in his effort to roll back environmental protections, has resisted firing him. He disregarded warnings that the drumbeat of negative headlines has grown unsustainable, and that more embarrassing revelations could surface.


White House officials said Friday that Trump continues to believe that Pruitt has been effective in his role, and stressed that it was up to him alone to decide his future.

“No one other than the president has the authority to hire and fire,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders the White House press secretary, told reporters. “The president feels that the administrator has done a good job at EPA.”

Pruitt has been dogged by a series of scandals in recent weeks, including revelations that he rented a condominium co-owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 per night; and that he spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded first-class travel.

Pruitt also spent millions in taxpayer funds on unprecedented security precautions that included a full-time detail of 20 armed officers, the Associated Press reported, citing agency sources and documents.

Pruitt allegedly sidelined or demoted at least five high-ranking EPA employees who had raised questions about his spending.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job at EPA,” Trump told reporters Thursday as he returned to Washington from an event in West Virginia. “I think he’ll be fine.”

In interviews in recent days with conservative media outlets including Fox News and the Washington Examiner, Pruitt rejected accusations that his actions were unethical.

In a separate development, Trump’s nomination of CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is being challenged by an array of critics over what they say is Pompeo’s record of anti-Muslim remarks and ties to anti-Islam groups.

American Muslims, Jews, civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, and former State Department officials are among those pushing senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take a closer look, even though Pompeo appears on track to be easily confirmed.

He claims silence is complicity when it comes to Muslims, and yet he -- nor any other member of the AmeriKan government from what I've read in the Globe -- hasn't said a word about Gaza.

“My concern is that Mr. Pompeo has left a trail of horrific, inaccurate, bigoted statements, and associations vis-à-vis Muslims around the world,” said Shaun Casey, a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

Islamic and Jewish groups have raised similar concerns about John R. Bolton, Trump’s choice for national security adviser and a former ambassador to the United Nations.

Have they?

Related: Bolton is a great choice for NSA and a true friend of Israel

My Jewi$h War Pre$$ is two-faced

Or a liar!

Bolton and Pompeo have ties to individuals and groups that regard Islam not so much as a religion, but as a political ideology that is infiltrating the United States and other Western countries with the goal of imposing Muslim law.

Maybe we should give it a try. Can't be any worse than the Zionist laws we live under.

In a separate matter Friday, the governors of Montana, Nevada, and Oregon said they oppose a plan by Trump to use National Guard troops to shore up security at the nation’s borders.....


I left this letter unopened.

"EPA files question need for Pruitt’s 24/7 security, first-class travel; Democrats seek probe" by Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis Washington Post  April 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — Two Democratic senators demanded a congressional inquiry Tuesday into the justification underpinning the round-the-clock security detail for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, citing new documents suggesting that level of security is not justified.

Pruitt’s aides and members of the EPA’s Inspector General Office have repeatedly said Pruitt faces a higher level of threats than his immediate predecessors, which has prompted round-the-clock protection and his repeated use of first-class flights since shortly after he took office. The salary and travel costs of his detail alone have reached nearly $3 million, according to an EPA official.

The agency pushed back Tuesday. ‘‘Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him,’’ spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement, noting that threat assessments are conducted by the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, using information provided by Pruitt’s personal security detail, the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, and its inspector general. ‘‘Americans should all agree that members of the President’s cabinet should be kept safe.’’

Also on Tuesday, according to two current agency staffers, a career official who had been involved in some of the assessment cited in the senators’ letter to Barrasso was removed from his post. Mario Caraballo, a military veteran who served as deputy associate administrator at the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, was placed on leave. It was unclear whether the move, first reported by Politico, was triggered by the release of information related to Pruitt’s security.....

He was the inside part of a plot to assassinate?


Time for Pruitt to contemplate his political future.

"Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp.’ So what’s happening with his Cabinet?" by Astead W. Herndon, Globe Staff April 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The refrain began on the campaign trail in 2015 and has since become synonymous with President Trump’s over-the-top brand of political rhetoric.

“I only hire the best people,” the president has repeated over and over. “I . . . will hire the best people, not the biggest donors.”

But nearly 15 months into his administration, Trump’s bid to surround himself with top-quality associates has devolved into constant controversy and scandal. The merry-go-round of West Wing aides has captured national headlines, but Trump’s handpicked presidential Cabinet has also been mired in constant allegations of impropriety.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is currently under fire for multiple controversies including allegations that he rented an apartment at a cut-rate price from a lobbyist in Washington and that he spent public funds on a 24-hour security detail during private trips to Disney World and the Rose Bowl.

In the last month, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was forced out after he used taxpayer dollars to fund a 2017 European trip with his wife, and Ben Carson, who runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development, incurred Trump’s ire for spending $31,000 of taxpayer money on a ornate dining set for his office.

The former secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, resigned in September after news broke that he was extensively using taxpayer money to purchase chartered flights.

“The Trump Cabinet is to a normal Cabinet the way the Addams Family was to a real family. It’s a mockery of the norm,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

Whitehouse was the first lawmaker to draw attention to Pruitt’s unusual use of his security detail. In a sign of the growing cloud around Trump’s Cabinet, even some Republicans are now saying the rash of scandals has reached eye-popping levels.

“Not all of my choices were good,’’ he said in Miami, while praising two he called “great,’’ Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

In the case of Pruitt, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Maine Senator Susan Collins, — who voted against Pruitt’s confirmation — and three House Republicans have all publicly said they don’t believe the former Oklahoma lawmaker has the integrity to lead the EPA.

David J. Apol, the federal government’s top ethics official and Trump’s acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote the EPA a letter on Monday raising questions about Pruitt’s actions.

“The success of our government depends on maintaining trust of the people we serve,” Apol wrote in a highly unusual letter to the EPA. “If a violation is found, [the Office of Government Ethics] also expects that appropriate action will be taken in response.”

The last four words are key there: "the people [they] serve." 

That's not you or me, reader, and even if it were, it is too late for this government to regain the trust of the people -- especially with it lying to us day after day after day.

Other presidents have certainly had high-level officials become wrapped up in ethics controversies. But with Trump, the scandals occur more frequently and lead to more staff turnover, according to data tracked by the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

Now Brookings is non-partisan, and I guess it is at that, and it's not the scandals are more frequent, it's the pre$$ has finally started to report them. Too bad they are penny ante compared to the DoJ's politicized protection of the Clintons and the Obama administrations spying on the Trump campaign and transition team.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this month, as the White House dealt with more questions about unseemly behavior from a Cabinet official — mainly Pruitt’s sweetheart condo deal — Trump surrogates refused to offer the EPA administrator their unequivocal support, which political insiders viewed as a bad sign for Pruitt.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a recent briefing that the administration was “still reviewing” Pruitt’s living arrangements and could therefore not comment. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said recently on Fox News that he “couldn’t speak to the future of Scott Pruitt.”

Republican senators, however, have mounted a pro-Pruitt public relations assault. On Twitter — the president’s favorite social media platform — multiple prominent conservative lawmakers made the public case for Pruitt to stay in his current job. Pruitt has amassed good will from many conservatives for rolling back several of former president Obama’s regulations regarding climate change and natural resources.

“.@EPAScottPruitt is likely the bravest and most conservative member of Trump’s Cabinet,” wrote Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul. “We need him to help @realDonaldTrump drain the regulatory swamp.”

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, also offered his support.

“Why do Obama and his media cronies want so badly to drive @EPAScottPruitt out of office? @realDonaldTrump is too cagey to be duped and bullied by the Obama groupies,” Cruz said.

More bad news regarding Pruitt continued. News outlets reported this month that Pruitt had a member of his security detail reassigned because the officer told Pruitt he could not use his emergency sirens to bypass traffic. Another story said he gave certain top aides significant raises without the White House’s consent.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Richard Painter, the Republican ethics lawyer under former president George W. Bush.

The scandals also threaten to fuel further disconnect between the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, political observers said. In what’s already been deemed a bad political environment for Republicans, the president keeps firing Cabinet members, and therefore throwing tough Cabinet confirmations onto the already-crowded plate for lawmakers.

Trump has made three additional Cabinet-level changes in the early stages of his second year in office, removing Shulkin and replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with former CIA chief Mike Pompeo. According to Brookings, the changes now mean Trump is fast approaching the total Cabinet turnover that Obama had during eight years in office. He has already surpassed George W. Bush’s total.....

That's what happens when the neocon war-mongers and their pre$$ mouthpieces conspire to move Trump's team out and their own men in.



GAO says EPA violated spending law on Scott Pruitt’s privacy booth

The soundproof booth cost a mere $43,000.

Pruitt upgraded to a larger, customized SUV with bullet-resistant seat covers

His monthly payment is $839.

A second agency probes Pruitt’s EPA phone booth

Trump is still defending him.

"EPA waiving biofuel quotas spurs rebuke" by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Mario Parker Bloomberg News  April 05, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency has given more than two dozen small refiners permission to ignore the nation’s renewable fuel mandate, angering competitors and farm-state lawmakers who say the exceptions undermine the program.

I never liked the idea of burning food for fuel with so many hungry people (unless its GMO corn).

Allowing refineries to escape annual blending quotas ‘‘fundamentally undermines’’ the mandate requiring refiners and fuel importers to mix ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline and diesel, said Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and fierce defender of the US renewable fuel requirement.

‘‘It appears EPA granted a secret waiver that is legally reserved for small refiners to one of the largest oil refining companies in the country,’’ Grassley said in an e-mailed statement.

The waivers are being issued under a program Congress established in the Renewable Fuel Standard law that allows small refineries to be granted temporary exemptions if they can prove complying with the quotas would cause them to suffer hardship.

‘‘The criteria used to grant waivers has not changed since previous administrations,’’ EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said by e-mail. ‘‘EPA follows a long-standing, established process where the agency uses a DOE analysis to inform decisions about refiner exemptions.’’

The American Petroleum Institute, which has members including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and other large oil companies, has warned against refinery-specific exemptions, arguing they create uncertainty and distort a ‘‘level playing field.’’


"National Park Service Reconsiders Steep Fee Increase After Backlash" by Daniel Victor   April 06, 2018

A Trump administration proposal to steeply increase entrance fees to the most popular national parks landed with a thud when it was presented in November, and park officials say they are now reconsidering it.

The proposal, which would apply during the peak visitor season to 17 parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, called for a $70 fee for noncommercial vehicles, up from $30. The fee for motorcycles would rise to $50 from $25, while pedestrians and cyclists would be charged $30, up from $15.

Officials received more than 109,000 comments during a monthlong public comment period last year, with most commenters writing against the increase. Many said they would no longer be able to afford a trip, or would choose other options for vacations.

“If you enact this insane fee, I will no longer be able to afford to visit the national parks,” one said. “If that is your ultimate goal, well done.”

A National Park Service spokesman said this week the plan was “still being reviewed and not yet finalized.”

“We’ve taken the public’s suggestions seriously and have amended the plan to reflect those,” the service said in a statement.

No information was available about how the plan was amended. But some lawmakers hope a bipartisan bill introduced in March, led by Republican Representative Lamar Alexander of Tennessee could address funding shortfalls. It would use revenue from energy produced on federal lands to chip away at a backlog of maintenance projects, estimated to cost more than $11 billion, at national parks.

Richard Dolesh, vice president for strategic initiatives at the National Recreation and Park Association, an advocacy group, said he was pleased that the administration appeared to be moving away from the initial proposal.

He said his group was not opposed to a more moderate fee increase, but that higher fees alone would not address the maintenance backlog, which includes basic infrastructure needs such as rebuilding roads and facility improvements.

“It really needs the attention of Congress and it needs dedicated long-term funding to address it,” he said.

Advocates are concerned the $70 fee would make the parks inaccessible to lower-income families, which Dolesh said could have the long-term effect of the next generation never learning to love parks.

A survey of 1,000 Americans by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids in December found that 64 percent said they would be less likely to visit a park if the fees were increased, including 71 percent of parkgoers with an income under $30,000.

Among public comments the National Park Service gathered, many said they would no longer be able to afford park visits, or expressed concern for those who would not.

“Our parks are for ALL of the American people, not just those who are wealthy,” one person wrote. “This increase needs to be stopped. Give the parks the money they need out of the federal government’s budget, not the pockets of the people.”

Where does he think the federal budget comes from?

“We do not want our parks to become only a destination for the wealthy and for foreign tourists — these parks are America’s heritage, and everyone deserves to see them,” another wrote.

Still, others were supportive of the fee increase, citing the need for improvements.

“It’s too bad these necessary maintenance and upgrades must come at the expense of access by the less well-off, but such is today’s political climate,” one person wrote. “Raise the fees.”


Who is screening these people?

"Office that screens Trump appointees plagued by inexperience" by Robert O’Harrow Jr. Washington Post  March 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and screening thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government, documents and interviews show.

At the same time, two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks, and a lance corporal in the Marine Corps reserves with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer, and underage drinking.

The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.

Under President Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts, and a source of jobs for friends and family, a Washington Post investigation found.

Like most government bureaucracies at the federal, state, and local level.

One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to surround himself ‘‘only with the best and most serious people,’’ but his administration has been buffeted by failed appointments and vacancies in key posts.

From the start, the office struggled to keep pace with its enormous responsibilities, with only about 30 employees on hand, less than a third of the staffing in prior administrations, The Post found.

Six senior officials over age 35 went elsewhere in government just months after their arrival, documents and interviews show. Since the inauguration, most of the staffers in the PPO have been in their 20s, some with little professional experience apart from their work on Trump’s campaign, The Post found.

Even as the demands to fill government mounted, the PPO offices on the first floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became something of a social hub, where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, current and former White House officials said.

PPO leaders hosted happy hours last year in their offices that included beer, wine, and snacks for dozens of PPO employees and White House liaisons who work in federal agencies, White House officials confirmed.

In January, they played a drinking game in the office called ‘‘Icing’’ to celebrate the deputy director’s 30th birthday. Icing involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, a flavored malt liquor, and demanding that the person who discovers it, in this case the deputy director, guzzle it.

The White House confirmed that PPO officials played the Icing game but said it and the happy hours are not unique to the PPO and are a way to network and let off steam.

Hey, the whole eight years of Obama was party time for the regulators and bureaucrats.

The PPO is ultimately responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, about 1,600 requiring Senate approval.

The shortcomings of the office, and Trump’s appointment process in general, are among the most pronounced in memory, according to presidential scholars. ‘‘No administration has done it as poorly as the current one,’’ said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group.

White House officials said the PPO is performing well, even though they acknowledged the office is much smaller “than at any time in recent history.’’

The officials said the office is starting to make progress on nominees for positions that require Senate confirmation. They blamed delays on Democrats and slow background checks.....



Time for me to burn some rubber:

"Sorry, burning rubber is not a form of protected speech, police in Maine say" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  April 03, 2018

You can’t believe everything that you read.

Or anything, for that matter!

A student at a high school in Oakland, Maine — population approximately 7,000 — learned that valuable lesson last week after he was informed by a police officer who pulled him over for spinning his tires that burning rubber, in fact, is not a “right to free speech.”

Sergeant Tracey Frost, a school resource officer in the town just outside of Augusta, said he was on duty in his cruiser last Wednesday near Messalonskee High School when he made eye contact with a student who was driving a “souped-up” truck.

As the student held the officer’s gaze, he proceeded to “chirp” his tires right in front of Frost, causing the wheels to spin while the vehicle remained in place.

Frost said he pulled the student over and asked him point-blank: “Really? Have you lost your mind?!”

The student, confident he did nothing wrong, told Frost, “You can’t do anything about it anymore,” Frost said, and then pulled out his smartphone to show the officer a news article that claimed Maine’s Supreme Court had ruled recently that burning rubber is “now protected free speech.”

Turns out, the so-called news article was written by “New Maine News,” a popular satirical website that posts content similar to what one might find on “The Onion.”

“When he showed me the article, I started laughing on the side of the road,” said Frost, who was familiar with the website. “He had an interesting reaction to that. It took me a minute or two to explain to him that this is not a legitimate website.”

Frost figured that would be obvious because the fake article includes a quote from a chief justice that reads, “What good is a huge truck? What good are fat tires, a screaming exhaust set-up, and a killer big block if all that power can’t be used to make a statement?”

Following the interaction, Frost hopped on the Oakland Police Department’s Facebook page, which he manages, and wrote about what had transpired between himself and the student. The post was shared more than 1,200 times, including by the New Maine News.

Frost said he took a light-hearted approach to reprimanding the student. Rather than issuing him a ticket for burning rubber right in front of an officer, Frost “chewed him out a little bit, because that’s what a good police officer does” — and then educated him about double-checking news sources in a time when information online is often questionable.

Bullying is what a good police officer does?

“I used the opportunity as a matter of education,” said Frost, who has been a resource officer in town for 11 years. “I figured the amount of kids who are going to pick on him at the high school about it was either equal or worse to giving him a summons. . . . He got off with a life lesson, and we all moved on.”



It was all for your own good!

"One of the country’s biggest publishers of fake news says he did it for our own good" by Billy Baker Globe Staff  April 07, 2018

WATERBORO, Maine — He makes his living telling lies on the Internet.

Fact-checking organizations like Snopes and PolitiFact have labeled Christopher Blair one of the Web’s most notorious creators of fake news. Hidden behind his Internet persona, “Busta Troll,” he has for several years pumped out geysers of newsy-looking posts for an audience eager to believe them.

His headlines often pinball across the Internet, propelled by thousands of shares and “likes,” generating advertising revenue for Blair in the process — and bringing a chorus of critics who accuse him of fanning the flames of a divided country for personal gain. 

You will NEVER, EVER see that HERE! 

I'm not in this for the money, I'm in it for the aggravation!

He doesn’t deny that he intentionally fools people. But Blair says he does so for an unusual reason — because he’s a hard-core Democrat, a “liberal troll” with a mission of undercutting the far right. His work, he says, is satire, meant to expose what he views as the bigotry and hypocrisy of those willing to accept his inflammatory fictions as truth. And he claims that it is working, that he — with the aid of an army of about 100 other liberal trolls — has actually helped stanch the tide of fake news online.

By providing fake news he's helped to limit it, yup. 

What you realize upon reading this is it is part of the post-Trump Clarification, the sudden realization that the opponents of the American right are no better, and are usually far worse, than even the worst of the right.

It’s a claim that has invited more questions, but as Busta Troll gained online notoriety, Blair himself stayed out of sight, evading media organizations attempting to report on him. He convinced several, including BuzzFeed, that he was a fictitious character he invented, Christopher Lyman, “a veteran who lives in Orono, Maine.” Even after his real name emerged, Blair kept himself at a safe distance, answering questions only via e-mail and refusing to confirm his exact whereabouts.

The Globe, using public records and Blair’s Internet trail, tracked him to a small house at the end of a dirt driveway in North Waterboro. A young man who answered the door said Blair was on vacation. A few days later, Blair e-mailed to say he was willing to meet.

And there he was waiting in the back corner of Dunkin’ Donuts one recent day, when a reporter arrived. A huge man, but with an unexpectedly soft, low voice, he made his case, that “in all this fake news horror that’s going on, there is this one anomaly that does good.”

At least they didn't meet at a Starbucks!

Tea Party triggered birth of Busta

Blair, 46, was born in Lowell and, in many ways, has an outwardly ordinary life. He has a wife and three children and about once a week in summer he umpires Little League games. His kids don’t play, but they show up anyway to root for Dad.

Blair says he was raised a Massachusetts Democrat.

That explains everything!

When the economy crashed in 2008, he lost work and struggled to support his family. He blamed it on President George W. Bush. Social media and online forums became welcome places to vent his anger. Busta Troll was born after the election of Barack Obama, and was triggered, Blair says, by the rise of the Tea Party movement that arose in opposition. Online, he found himself aligning with a small offshoot of people who live to goad and prank and maybe silence extreme conservatives.

In 2014, Blair, as Busta Troll, pulled off a prank that won him wide admiration in that community. The United States had just traded five Taliban prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, an Army soldier captured in Afghanistan after deserting his post. The prisoner swap ignited anger in far-right groups, and a Facebook page dedicated to the issue quickly became a “dumping ground for bilious accusations against Bergdahl and anti-Obama chatter,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which wrote about it at the time.

Blair says he hung out in the comments section of the page, masquerading as one of the enraged, piling on along with them, eventually earning the trust of the people running the page. He asked to be made one of the administrators of the group, a request that was granted, essentially giving him the keys to the entire operation.

Blair then changed every image on the page to a photo of a goat.

It was considered a triumphant hoax in the liberal troll community — one of several similar “goatings” Blair had already orchestrated. The prank raised his profile and led him into a new line of work.

He said he left his construction job and wrote blog posts, first for Alan Colmes, the late liberal commentator for Fox News, and then for the Addicting Info Network, which calls itself “a resource to discredit all the lies and propaganda that the right-wing spreads.”

But Blair found himself missing something he had come to enjoy: masquerading as a man of the far right. So he created a fake news blog he called “The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense.”

It was mostly to entertain himself, he says, to see what he could get people to believe. But as Donald Trump’s candidacy built momentum, he says, the website took off because he bought Facebook ads targeting people who met three criteria: They were over the age of 55, and they “liked” Donald Trump and Sean Hannity. Very quickly, his Facebook headlines began generating thousands of online “shares.”

Blair soon built a fake news network, creating more blogs with names like “Freedum Junkshun,” “America — Love It or Leave It,” “Patriot Post,” and “Reagan Was Right.” By the thousands, credulous readers shared the fake headlines. Few clicked on the links to the stories under those headlines, where they would have found disclaimers that the stories were satire.

As his sites built up a huge following on Facebook, several of the stories went viral, and fact-checkers at wrote with growing annoyance at Blair’s output as they debunked one story after another, always placing his claims of satire in quotation marks while pointing out that his material is “regularly shared as ‘real news.’”

I can understand the feeling. Happens every day when I'm reading a Globe.

Facebook posts monitored

To come up with his material, Blair said, he starts each day prowling right-wing blogs and the comment sections on outlets like Fox News and, hunting for the gossip and conspiracy theories that are gathering steam. Then he and a writer who works with him craft the material into made-up news items.

So when to the Cambridge Analytica-type hearings begin on this guy?

“A lot of people pretend we pull this stuff out of thin air, but we don’t,” Blair’s writer, who uses several pseudonyms online and says his name is John Prager, wrote in an e-mail. “It’s us holding up a mirror to actual stuff conservatives say on a daily basis.”

Once the fake stories are published on Blair’s websites and then shared on Facebook, Blair and his fellow liberal trolls monitor the Facebook posts and wait for people to leave a comment — or share the article with a comment — indicating that they believe the story is real. Then they pounce, lashing out at the person for believing the fake article. He says if the person’s comment includes racist, violent, or hate speech, they report the offender to Facebook in an attempt to get the account suspended or banned.

That's why I shut off comments.

In short, he says, he is fighting fake news with fake news. “I’m injecting them with stupidity to cure their stupidity,” he says.

Another way he tries to accomplish this is by saturating a topic, producing so many fake stories on a hot issue that interest scatters and fades. For example, when he and his writer noticed a run of fake news about Malia Obama, he says, they produced a constant stream of ridiculous Malia Obama stories until people stopped clicking on them.

“You can tell a story is saturated when you get four shares and 400 comments calling it fake,” Blair said.

Blair says his biggest takedown, “the thing I am most proud of,” came after he discovered that his fake articles were being repackaged as “real news” and posted by overseas click-bait farms that had audiences of millions.

In March, BuzzFeed published a story illustrating how one fake article from Blair’s “Last Line of Defense” blog — about the FBI obtaining a warrant to arrest Barack Obama for wiretapping Trump — was immediately reposted by 19 websites that originated in Macedonia, the Republic of Georgia, and Kosovo.

A fake story that went too far

Sitting in the Dunkin’ Donuts in Maine, unmasked for the first time, Blair has not come for contrition. He does not back down from his work. He paints a picture of himself as a missionary, not an opportunist.

Of course, there is also a profit motive. This is how he makes his living. He does not divulge how much money he has made spreading fake news, but he claims that his critics wildly overstate his reach and how much he has cashed in on it. A hit story, he says, “might be enough to buy a new couch.” His small brown house is certainly not fancy. It would be a stretch to even call it nice.

The one area where he squirms is on the question of the potential harm he inflicts on those fooled by his creations, and those he lies about.

“I can’t claim we do no harm,” Blair says, the one point in the interview where his long torso slumps in his chair. “What we do is what we do, and it’s been very successful.”

Still, there have been times when Blair knows he’s gone too far, most notably with a story that landed at #1 on Vice’s list of “The 10 Most Toxic Pieces of Fake News in 2017.”

Profits are disappearing

Blair doesn’t back down often, much less apologize. He thinks his influence is wildly overstated, and says he is flabbergasted at being characterized as some kind of kingpin of “clickbait fake news for cash.”

Blair says whatever cash there was in the game is disappearing. Saturation plus awareness plus a change in the Facebook news feed algorithm have made it more and more difficult to get fake news past people. He said his traffic has been diminishing since late summer and has slowed to a trickle, taking most of the advertising dollars he was making with it.

So has mine the last two weeks or so.

“We’ve known for a long time that this would turn into a labor of love, and we’ll gladly volunteer to keep doing it,” he says.

I wish I could say the same, but truthfully, this is no longer a labor of love and hasn't been for some time.

Already, he’s turned his attention to a new venture: “No Fake News Online,” a satirical site that fact-checks ridiculous news that he makes up. In one such item, he debunked his own invented claim that actor Gary Busey is the biological father of Eric Trump.

Why not just jerk off then?

By the end of what he called his first-ever sit-down interview, Blair seemed to have let down his guard; he was relaxed, confident, OK with being out in the daylight after all the years in the shadows.

“This is important to me,” he says of his work. “This wasn’t just to make money, just to [expletive] people off. I understand that people hate it, but I ask they give it a little chance and wonder if the little bit of harm it may do isn’t worth it.”

So says Weiss's wisdom, anyway!



"The troubled truth behind the Masters’ champ is far more revealing than the packaged pageantry" by Kevin Cullen Globe Columnist  April 09, 2018

There are certain rites of spring I love. One of them is the Red Sox returning to the Fens like the swallows to Capistrano.

Another great spring tradition is The Masters, the iconic golf tournament at Augusta National in Georgia. It is, with the British Open — or what the Brits just call The Open — my favorite of the four major golf tournaments. I usually watch a lot of it, but family and work commitments combined to limit my viewing this year to just a chunk of the final day on Sunday.

The drama centered on whether Patrick Reed could hold off charges by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and, with a ridiculous closing 64, Jordan Spieth.

In one sense, Patrick Reed had indeed become an American icon.

It was all very poignant. But it was all very staged and devoid of the most basic facets of reality, I later learned, when I got up early Monday morning, before the dawn, and read a haunting story by Alan Shipnuck in Golf magazine.

Yeah, somehow golf's history of anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism is forgotten.

It turns out CBS did not allow the real story to intrude on its version of the story, complete with a sappy, melodramatic soundtrack and misty-eyed nostalgia. Nostalgia, by the way, which completely glosses over a history of racial and social exclusion practiced by the great and the good who run that beautiful golf club in Georgia where the Masters is held every year.

But, then, why spoil a ratings-driven narrative with something as inconvenient as the truth?

We will get back to that question below as it pertains to a certain recently completed race.

And the truth is, Patrick Reed celebrated his Masters win with only half of his family because he is estranged from the other half, his parents and his sister.

That was the real story.

If CBS had even a passing interest in the truth, instead of just making money, then it would have been impossible to ignore the elephant who walked up the 18th fairway with Patrick Reed.

Watch me!

The elephant that stood next to Reed as he lined up the putt that would, as Jim Nantz repeated ad nauseum, change his life forever. The elephant that followed Reed into the Butler Cabin where last year’s winner, Sergio Garcia, helped Reed put on the green jacket that symbolizes Reed’s membership in one of the most exclusive clubs in the world.

That elephant is the fact that six years ago, Reed got married at 22 to an older woman who fully supported his decision to cut off any contact with his parents and his sibling.

As Alan Shipnuck explained, the real story is that Patrick Reed is a complicated young man whose march to greatness has been accompanied by almost painful separation — from his college teammates, from his colleagues on the PGA tour, and, most poignantly, from his own flesh and blood.

But when you’re hawking some Madison Avenue version of the American dream, something as messy and as complicated as real life is not for sale. Everything else is. Including integrity.

The irony, of course, is that the real story is far more interesting, far more real, far more revealing of the human condition, than the packaged one.

But, again, what unfolds on CBS every April is not real. It’s entertainment, carefully and cynically packaged to make the network and its sponsors the most amount of money possible.

Those who control the packaging have decided that family dysfunction doesn’t sell cars and expensive watches and the other overpriced stuff they hawk during the four days of the Masters tournament.

The funny thing is that if the people in the control room trusted the truth as much as they trust the people who tell them what to do, they would realize the truth might actually boost their ratings.

It might even save the new$paper industry!

The fact is that, compared to identifying with multi-millionaires who can routinely drive a golf ball more than 300 yards, far more people sitting at home could relate to what the Reeds and his wife’s family are engaged in: the pitting of one family against another, the way money can act as fuel to any family fire, the animosities that breed in forced silences, the way grievances real and imagined can make people who once loved each other hate each other.

After reading Alan Shipnuck’s stunning story, I turned on “CBS This Morning,’’ wondering how they’d cover it. I have appeared on the program and know and like and respect many of the people on that show, because they do good, serious, important journalism.

But the script hadn’t changed overnight, even as Shipnuck’s story went viral. So the script was all breathless hype.

When someone wins The Masters, there is an elaborate ceremony, rich in tradition, in which all these millionaires sit around in their gaudy green jackets, like a meeting of some secret society. Except it’s anything but secret. It’s broadcast to the world. Those green jackets are symbols of exclusivity, of being part of something millions of others covet but never will be lucky or talented enough to achieve.

It’s all a bunch of jive, of course. Because at the end of the day, when Patrick Reed got home and hung up that green jacket in his closet, the fact remained that he had hugged a bunch of strangers on a day he chose not to hug his own mom, a day we’re all told was the greatest day of his life.

And if you can’t hug your mom after winning The Masters, what’s the point?

Or of reading this?


RelatedBoston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen fabricates details of Marathon bombing


It's not the first time he was WRONG, either!

As for today, their top story is Trump bringing in crime-scene destroyer and cover-up specialist Rudy Giuliani. I think his job is going to be to remind Mueller that we all have our hands dirty, Bob (Mueller took over at the FBI a couple of weeks before that fateful day). Either made to do things to ensure complicity or were actively involved in carrying out the infamous false flag atrocity of a certain late summer morning that predicated a whole range of actions for certain special interests. 

The front page feature is a couple of Jewish jurists arguing about Mueller's time in Bo$tin and whether he was in on the Whitey Bulger cover-up. 

Meanwhile, the real lead is to be found on page A2. Comey now looks like a clown, completely politicized, entirely self-serving, any testimony now corrupted (was that the point of $acrificing his reputation and appearing on the pre$$?) and yet the first item on the Globe's website this morning when I logged in was this:

In Comey memos, Trump talks of jailed journalists, ‘hookers’

That's funny because the discredited former FBI director worked under an AG that did exactly that, as well as later having to apologize to the corporate pre$$ for spying on them. The REAL SCANDAL is shielding Clintons, FISA ABUSE using a Russian-sourced, British intel agent piece of political opposition research paper that was full of lies and briefly buried (looks like Manafort is about to be absolved as well) vs Trump campaign and transition plus complete politicization of NS apparatus by Obama. DoJ was turned into a political chop shop. I guess lying to the government only counts if it is Lance Armstrong.

Now, after having cleaned out his Cabinet and staff to the point where the president must look out at the table during the meetings and wonder who the hell are these people, we are told ‘‘it has been the tradition of the Senate for the entire distance of the republic, that we give great deference to the president on choosing qualifications.’’ That means Pompeo 
is now a cinch and your only recourse is the courts.