FYI current reports show that union workers at the docks are refusing to move relief aid because they want more money. Sad!
‘Inept’ Puerto Rican government ‘riddled with corruption’
Jorge Rodriguez, 49, is the Harvard-educated CEO of PACIV, an international engineering firm based in Puerto Rico that works with the medical and pharmaceutical sectors. The Puerto Rican-born engineer says he has dispatched 50 engineers to help FEMA rehabilitate the devastated island — a commonwealth of the United States — after Hurricane Maria. He refuses to work with the local government, which he called inept and riddled with corruption.
For the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don’t see it functioning in a crisis like this one. Even before the hurricane hit, water and power systems were already broken. And our $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement.
The governor Ricardo Rossello has little experience. He’s 36 and never really held a job and never dealt with a budget. His entire administration is totally inexperienced and they have no clue how to handle a crisis of this magnitude.
For instance, shortly after the hurricane hit, the government imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am and then changed it. Now, it’s 7 pm to 5 am, and makes no sense. The curfew has prevented fuel trucks from transporting their loads. These trucks should have been allowed to run for 24 hours to address our needs, but they have been stalled, and so we have massive lines at gas stations and severe shortages of diesel at our hospitals and supermarkets.
I’m really tired of Puerto Rican government officials blaming the federal government for their woes and for not acting fast enough to help people on the island. Last week I had three federal agents in my office and I was so embarrassed; I went out of my way to apologize to them for the attitude of my government and what they have been saying about the US response. When the hurricane hit we had experts from FEMA from all over the US on the ground and I was really proud of their quick response. The first responders and FEMA have all been outstanding in this crisis, and should be supported.
I have 50 engineers that I have sent out pro bono to help local companies get back on their feet. This includes getting people gasoline and cash, and helping them connect to others that can assist with repairs without delays.
I won’t allow my people to work with the local government.
I have a message for the U.S. Congress: Watch out what relief funds you approve and let our local government handle. Don’t let the Puerto Rican government play the victim and fool you. They have no clue what they are doing, and I worry that they will mishandle anything that comes their way.
They don’t need another aircraft carrier. They need experienced people to run a proper disaster command center.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal, Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its “hate group” designations, pushes millions of dollars to offshore entities as part of its business dealings, records show.
Additionally, the nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to its top directors and key employees while spending little on legal services despite its stated intent of “fighting hate and bigotry” using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is perhaps best known for its “hate map,” a collection of organizations the nonprofit deems “domestic hate groups” that lists mainstream conservative organizations alongside racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and is often referenced in the media. A gunman opened fire at the Washington, D.C., offices of the conservative Family Research Council in 2012 after seeing it listed as an “anti-gay” group on SPLC’s website.
The SPLC has turned into a fundraising powerhouse, recording more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit. SPLC’s Form 990-T, its business income tax return, from the same year shows that they have “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. No information is available beyond the acknowledgment of the interests at the bottom of the form.
However, the Washington Free Beacon discovered forms from 2014 that shed light on some of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s transfers to foreign entities.
The SPLC’s Form 8865, a Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships, from 2014 shows that the nonprofit transferred hundreds of thousands to an account located in the Cayman Islands.
SPLC lists Tiger Global Management LLC, a New York-based private equity financial firm, as an agent on its form. The form shows a foreign partnership between the SPLC and Tiger Global Private Investment Partners IX, L.P., a pooled investment fund in the Cayman Islands. SPLC transferred $960,000 in cash on Nov. 24, 2014 to Tiger Global Private Investment Partners IX, L.P, its records show.
The SPLC’s Form 926, a Return by a U.S. Transferor of Property to a Foreign Corporation, from 2014 shows additional cash transactions that the nonprofit had sent to offshore funds.
The SPLC reported a $102,007 cash transfer on Dec. 24, 2014 to BPV-III Cayman X Limited, a foreign entity located in the Cayman Islands. The group then sent $157,574 in cash to BPV-III Cayman XI Limited on Dec. 31, 2014, an entity that lists the same PO Box address in Grand Cayman as the previous transfer.
The nonprofit pushed millions more into offshore funds at the beginning of 2015.
On March 1, 2015, SPLC sent $2,200,000 to an entity incorporated in Canana Bay, Cayman Islands, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records and run by a firm firm based in Greenwich, Ct. Another $2,200,000 cash transfer was made on the same day to another fund whose business is located at the same address as the previous fund in the Cayman Islands, according to SEC records.
No information is contained on its interests in Bermuda on the 2014 forms. SPLC’s financial stakes in the British Virgin Islands were not acknowledged until its 2015 tax form.
Lucinda Chappelle, a principal at Jackson Thornton, the public accounting firm in Montgomery, Ala., that prepared the SPLC’s tax forms, said she does not discuss client matters and hung up the phone when the Free Beacon contacted her in an attempt to get the most updated forms from the group in relation to its foreign business dealings.
Tax experts expressed confusion when being told of the transfer.
“I’ve never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts,” said Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. “My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with.”
“It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas,” said Casil. “I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.”
“It seems extremely unusual for a ‘501(c)(3)’ concentrating upon reducing poverty in the American South to have multiple bank accounts in tax haven nations,” Charles Ortel, a former Wall Street analyst and financial advisor who helped uncover a 2009 financial scandal at General Electric, told the Free Beacon.
The nonprofit also pays lucrative salaries to its top leadership.
Richard Cohen, president and chief executive officer of the SPLC, was given $346,218 in base compensation in 2015, its tax forms show. Cohen received $20,000 more in other reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits. Morris Dees, SPLC’s chief trial counsel, received a salary of $329,560 with $42,000 in additional reportable compensation and non-taxable benefits.
The minimum amount paid to an officer, director, trustee, or key employee in 2015 was $140,000 in base salary, not including other compensation. The group spent $20 million on salaries throughout the year.
The SPLC, which claims to boast a staff of 75 lawyers who practice in the area of children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform, reported spending only $61,000 on legal services in 2015.
Following recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., the group raised a great deal of money.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told his employees that the company is donating $1 million to the SPLC and would match employee contributions two to one. Cook also placed an SPLC donation button in its iTunes store. The company is additionally providing a $1 million donation to the Anti-Defamation League.
J.P Morgan Chase vowed to add a $500,000 donation for the group’s “work in tracking, exposing, and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations.”
The Washington Times reported that CNN ran a wire story following the Charlottesville events originally titled, “Here are all the active hate groups where you live” using SPLC’s list of 917 groups.
Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based group that defends “religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties without charge,” was listed on the “hate groups” list.
“Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It’s simple. They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn’t agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology,” Dacus told the Times. “This isn’t about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights.”
“I am shocked that CNN would publish such a false report on the heels of the Charlottesville tragedy,” added Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit that provides pro bono assistance and representation, which is also featured on SPLC’s list. “To lump peaceful Christian organizations, which condemn violence and racism, in with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists is offensive. This is the epitome of fake news and is why people no longer trust the media.”
CNN later changed its headline to, “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.”
“The SPLC is an anti-conservative, anti-Christian hate group that the media have given pretend legitimacy to. One glance at their 990 tax forms is a reminder just what a fund-raising super-power it is,” Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, told the Free Beacon. “Its assets are over $328 million in 2015 and went up $13 million in just one year. It doesn’t need new liberal money. It could operate for at least six years and never raise a penny. It’s like a perpetual motion machine for fundraisers.”
The SPLC has also been hit with a number of lawsuits over “hate” defamation claims in recent days.
The Southern Poverty Law Center did not return a request for comment on its foreign financial dealings by press time.
It’s time to put them where they belong — museums and cemeteries.
Robert E. Lee wasn’t a Nazi, and surely would have had no sympathy for the white-supremacist goons who made his statue a rallying point in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.
That doesn’t change the fact that his statue is now associated with a campaign of racist violence against the picturesque town where Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. The statue of Lee was already slated for removal by the city, but the Battle of Charlottesville should be an inflection point in the broader debate over Confederate statuary. The monuments should go.
Some of them simply should be trashed; others transmitted to museums, battlefields, and cemeteries. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention, with white nationalists often mustering in their defense. Some discrimination is in order.
There’s no reason to honor Jefferson Davis, the blessedly incompetent president of the Confederacy. New Orleans just sent a statue of him to storage — good riddance. Amazingly enough, Baltimore has a statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of the monstrous Dred Scott decision, which helped precipitate the war.
A city commission has, rightly, recommended its destruction. Will President Trump fire Robert Mueller? 00:08 00:56 Powered by Robert E. Lee, on the other hand, is a more complicated case. He was no great friend of slavery. He wrote in a letter to his wife “that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country” (he added, shamefully, that it was good for blacks — “the painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race”). After the war, he accepted defeat and did his part to promote national healing.
Yet, faced with a momentous choice at the start of the war, he decided he was a Virginia patriot rather than an American nationalist. He told one of President Abraham Lincoln’s advisers: “I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four million slaves in the South I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”
He betrayed the U.S. government and fought on the side devoted to preserving chattel slavery. The heroism and losses of Confederate soldiers should be commemorated, but not in everyday public spaces where the monuments are flashpoints in poisonous racial contention. That is a grievous political sin, although he obviously wasn’t the only one guilty of it.
The Civil War was an American conflict, with Americans on both sides. An honorable soldier, Lee is an apt symbol for the Confederate rank and file whose sacrifices in the war’s charnel house shouldn’t be flushed down the memory hole. The Baltimore commission has called for moving a striking dual statue of Lee and Stonewall Jackson to the Chancellorsville, Va., battlefield where the two last met before Jackson’s death. This would be appropriate, and would take a page from the Gettysburg battlefield.
A statue of Lee commemorates Virginia’s losses and overlooks the field where General George Pickett undertook his doomed charge. If you can’t honor Robert E. Lee there, you can’t honor him anywhere. For some of the Left, that’s the right answer, but this unsparing attitude rejects the generosity of spirit of the two great heroes of the war, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Notably, Grant vehemently opposed trying Lee for treason. For supporters of the Confederate monuments, removing them from parks and avenues will be a blow against their heritage and historical memory. But the statues have often been part of an effort to whitewash the Confederacy.
And it’s one thing for a statue to be merely a resting place for pigeons; it’s another for it to be a fighting cause for neo-Nazis. Lee himself opposed building Confederate monuments in the immediate aftermath of the war. “I think it wiser,” he said, “not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” After Charlottesville, it’s time to revisit his advice.
Who would have thought that the unifying note in the Time of Trump would be Vietnam? Our country, after all, has been tearing itself apart over ObamaCare, tax policy, Russian meddling, immigration, climate change and the Middle East.
And what they agree on is that a modest, retired coach and teacher from Michigan, James McCloughan, now 71, deserves our nation’s highest military honor for deeds done nearly 50 years ago. And in a war on which our own Congress turned its back.
In Vietnam, Kettles had repeatedly flown his helicopter through heavy fire to rescue from an enemy attack 40 of his fellow GIs. It was an incredible display of valor. “Entire family trees,” Obama said, “were made possible by the actions of this one man.”
In 2014, Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to two Vietnam veterans. Sgt. Donald Sloat, honored posthumously, clutched an enemy grenade to his breast to save his buddies. The other, Command Sgt. Major Bennie Adkins, slew as many as 175 enemy soldiers while rescuing his comrades and sustaining 18 wounds himself.
It was Obama who signed the waiver legislation needed to enable James McCloughan to be awarded the Medal of Honor so long after the war (awarding the medal is restricted to the five years after the actions it recognizes). President Trump rose to the occasion, in a powerful White House ceremony.
It honored McCloughan for saving the lives of 10 fellow soldiers during 48 hours of desperate combat on a hill called Nui Yom. “It was as if the strength and the pride of our whole nation were beating inside Jim’s heart,” Trump said.
What a contrast to the way The New York Times is marking the 50th anniversary of Vietnam in 1967, which it calls the year that changed the war and America. It’s running a series riddled with praise for those on the Communist side or those who, while loyal to our side, opposed the war.
Unless I missed it, though, there’s nothing about Jim McCloughan and the other outsized heroes who were touched by glory in Vietnam. Or about what turn history might have taken had we let the Communists seize Indochina without a fight.
These oversights might be rectified in the new series on Vietnam by documentary film-maker Ken Burns. It is set to be released in September. He and his filmmaking partner, Lynn Novick, have a piece in the Times series on the war.
“If we are to begin the process of healing,” they write, “we must first honor the courage, heroism and sacrifice of those who served and those who died, not just as we do today, on Memorial Day, but every day.”
A preview of their documentary makes clear how wracked with guilt are those who greeted returning veterans with sneers and jeers. One antiwar activist they filmed appears close to tears as she recalls such behavior.
Hence the importance of what Obama and Trump are doing. Let the next step in honoring the courage, heroism and sacrifice of those who served (and sometimes died) in Vietnam be finding a way to acknowledge that theirs was, as Reagan put it, a noble cause.
The United States and the global aviation community face an adaptive and agile enemy. Terrorist groups continue to target passenger aircraft, and we have seen a “spider web” of threats to commercial aviation as terrorist pursue new attack methods. Based on these concerns, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to raise the baseline of global aviation security to keep the traveling public safe, in coordination with our international partners.
Change to Global Aviation Security Requirements
In light of evaluated intelligence, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has determined it is necessary to implement enhanced security measures for all commercial flights to the United States. These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports.
Airports: 280 (approximate number as it will vary based on seasonal airports)
Total airlines: 180
Average daily flights: 2,100
Passengers: 325,000 average daily passengers
Enhanced Security Measures and Timeline
The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:
Enhancing overall passenger screening;
Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented. Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.
International Flights Bound for the United States
These enhanced security measures will help to secure all commercial flights departing from 280 airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States.
The latest acid attacks in north-east London on Thursday, which saw five people being sprayed with a corrosive liquid, add to a growing number of cases being reported in the UK.
Last month cousins Resham Khan and Jameel Muhktar were left with life-changing injuries after a corrosive liquid was thrown at them through a car window.
And in April clubbers in east London were caught up in an attack involving acid, which left 20 people injured.
Assaults involving corrosive substances have more than doubled in England since 2012, police figures show.
The vast majority of cases were in London.
It is legal to purchase strong acid but there have been growing calls for regulations to be tightened in the wake of recent incidents.
The National Police Chiefs Council lead for corrosive attacks, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, told the BBC Asian Network that reported acid attacks had seen a significant rise in percentage terms, but that compared with knife crime the number of incidents were “tiny”.
Takeaway restaurant owner Imran Khan was attacked while out delivering food in Barking, east London, in November.
He was confronted by a group of youths who demanded money and food while hurling racist abuse at him. When he got back into his vehicle they squirted a corrosive liquid in his face.
Mr Khan says the pain “overtook everything” and he feared he would be left completely blind.
He was saved from long-term damage by a quick thinking shopkeeper who washed his face with clean water at the scene of the attack.
He says the attack affected him “big time” leaving him feeling unsafe in public, especially after dark.
Weapon of choice
Attacks in London in 2016-17
Crimes using “corrosive substances”
Violence against the person
caused serious injuries, 1 was fatal
10 of which left victims with serious injuries
2 sexual offences, including 1 rape
Source: Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police figures obtained by the BBC show men are twice as likely to be victims of acid attacks in London than women after being linked to a number of gang crimes.
The vast majority of cases never reach trial.
Dr Simon Harding, a criminologist and expert on gangs at Middlesex University, says acid is becoming “a weapon of first choice”.
“Acid throwing is a way of showing dominance, power and control, building enormous fear among gang peer groups,” he says.
Gang members know there are advantages in using acid to hurt someone rather than a knife because “the charges are more serious if you are caught with a knife and the tariff for prison sentences are much higher”.
Dr Harding added that “acid is likely to attract a ‘GBH with intent’ charge while using a knife is more likely to lead to the attacker being charged with attempted murder”
“There’s no specific offence of throwing acid. It’s a harder offence to prove because there is rarely any DNA evidence and its much easier to dispose of a plastic bottle than it is a knife.”
Dr Harding says the government needs to attack the problem on three fronts.
He says acid is too easily available, sentencing needs to be brought into line with knife crime and a programme of education is required.
“Gang members do respond when they realise a victim of an acid attack may never work again or may need 15 or 20 plastic surgery operations.”
Physical and emotional damage.
“This is a horrendous crime, it maims, it disfigures,” ACC Kearton explains.
“What particularly disgusts me about this crime is that it’s premeditated, no-one carries acid around on the streets for any other reason than using it for this reason.
“The intention behind this is for someone to live with this for the rest of their lives.
“That is lasting physical and emotional damage, its sometimes why some people choose this as a form of attack.”
Asked what can be done to stop it she says: “To have an acid in a different bottle to the one it was purchased in can be an offence, we can also regulate volumes of sale, we can regulate ages at which people can buy it.”
Jaf Shah, from the London charity Acid Survivors Trust International says the phenomenon isn’t new and dates back to the Victorian times in Britain, but says the recent figures are shocking.
“The recent spike in attacks means the UK has the highest number of reported acid attacks per capita in the world.”
He is among those calling for regulations on the sale of acid to be tightened.
What does the law say?
There are no age restrictions on buying household bleach or drain cleaning products containing acid in the UK.
There are rules which limit the sale of certain substances under the explosives precursors and poisons (EPP) rules aimed at businesses who sell or supply such chemicals in bulk.
The Met said it was working with retailers to raise awareness that people might be buying corrosive substances to use as weapons.
But Jaf Shah wants the government to make it compulsory when purchasing corrosive chemicals to pay by card that is traceable to an individual and to make acid available only under licence.
Labour MP for East Ham Stephen Timms has tabled an adjournment debate for Monday in the House of Commons on the rise in the number of acid attacks.
About a third of last year’s acid attacks in the capital took place in the London borough of Newham, which is in his constituency.
Mr Timms says he is “most concerned about sulphuric acid” and that carrying a bottle without justification should be treated as an offence, like carrying a knife.