Scott Morrison’s gold standard ICAC distractions

It’s both comical and disconcerting to see the Prime Minister huffing and puffing over a few, admittedly expensive, gold watches.

As news of Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate’s up-market gifts for her senior executives surfaced this week, Morrison was apparently incensed.

The PM bellowed that he was “appalled”, he was “disgusted” with the “abuse of taxpayers’ money” and that it was “disgraceful”, before the suitably theatrical finale of, “And it’s not on!”.

It’s firstly comical that the PM can say the words “gold watch” with a straight face, given another gold watch fiasco a few years back. During that particular gift bonanza, it was Coalition ministers who received gold watches. Worth $250,000, those Rolexes were worth ten times as much as the “bargain basement” ones Holgate bestowed. One of the recipients of those earlier and classier timepieces was also Stuart Robert — a senior minister in the current Morrison Cabinet.

This, however, Morrison was neither shocked nor appalled to discover. 

Morrison’s confected outrage over Holgate’s gifts to executives is even more disconcerting when you consider that it is his hand-picked Australia Post board that approved these particular gold watches in the first place.

Yet, in his characteristic, “let’s-find-a-scapegoat” style, it is only the current CEO who has warranted the PM’s furious displeasure.

The Coalition protection racket: Why Tudge won't budge

And Communications Minister Paul Fletcher jumped on the outrage bandwagon faster than you could say “Western Sydney Airport land deal“.

Fletcher contributed:

“I was as shocked and concerned as everybody else to discover this … I have asked the chair [of Australia Post] to provide the full support of the company for this investigation, and I have also asked the chair to inform the chief executive that she will be asked to stand aside during the course of this investigation.”

Holgate, who also scrapped $7 million in executive bonuses this year, said:

“I have not used taxpayers’ money. We do not receive government funding. We are a commercial organisation … It was a recommendation from our chair that these people get rewarded.”

In an added twist, hundreds of post office licensees across the country are each mailing Prime Minister Scott Morrison a $5 note in a show of support for the Australia Post CEO.

Licensed Post Office Group executive director Angela Cramp said:

‘”There’s a huge groundswell of support for Christine Holgate.”

According to Cramp, the watches were “minuscule in the face of $100 million in savings each year for five years” and a fraction of the money Holgate has saved Australia Post licensees and taxpayers.

The Morrison Government: When rorting became sporting

Areas that should warrant some of the outrage the PM found for the watches but apparently do not, include, but are not limited to:

Turnbull, the #Reefgate rort and Rupert

Then there are the CEOs still raking in the mega bonuses while claiming JobKeeper handouts and even sacking staff, such as:

  • Star Entertainment Group CEO Matt Bekier, who received an $800,000 share bonus, laid off 90 per cent of staff and raked in $64 million in government handouts;
  • SeaLink Travel Group CEO Clinton Feuerherdt, who received $504,000 in short-term bonuses, paid shareholders $18.9 million in dividends and received $8.6 million in JobKeeper payments; and
  • 1300 Smiles managing director Daryl Holmes, who will get around $2 million out of the total $3 million shareholder dividends paid and received $2 million in JobKeeper payments.

If we extend the scope of Morrison’s dubious moral compass to include state premiers, it seems incongruous that his “gold-standard” premier, Gladys Berejiklian, whose deeds have her mired in alleged corruption, have, by contrast, only inspired the PM to pledge his absolute support.

Lastly, if none of the above warrants Morrison’s immediate attention or outrage, then his Government’s growing list of failed promises should at least warrant ours.

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • the $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Fund where just 291,000 of the 7.1 million people impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires have received disaster recovery payments and which may also be pilfered for other projects;
  • the HomeBuilder scheme which has 11,367 applications of which only 780 have been funded;
  • the $100 million recycling fund that has yet to invest in any recycling projects;
  • $600 million promised for community projects to boost the economy which has failed to materialise;
  • the $2 million COVIDsafe app (and additional advertising costs) which managed to identify a grand total of 17 people; and
  • the promised 450,000 jobs to be generated by JobMaker now revealed to only be 45,000.

It’s easy to brag about gold standards and make promises you have no intention of keeping; as easy as feigning outrage over four gold watches while billions are being pilfered.

Instead of the endless PR and diversion tactics, it is time the Morrison Government was held to account. Perhaps Scotty from Marketing needs to invest in a good time-keeping mechanism to help him find the time to finally organise a Federal independent commission against corruption.

This is only half the story! Read the rest of this editorial in the IA members-only area. It takes less than a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a small sum for superb journalism and lots of extras. 

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @VMP9Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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Miles Taylor Admits He Was ‘Anonymous’ WH Official Behind NYT ‘Resistance’ Op-ed

Miles Taylor, chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security under Kirstjen Nielsen, revealed Wednesday that he was the anonymous “senior” white house official who authored a critical op-ed of President Donald Trump.

The 2018 op-ed published by the New York Times described President Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” and said that he was just one of many officials in the administration working against the president.

Taylor revealed his identity to prominent media outlets on Wednesday afternoon, despite denying he was responsible for the op-ed in previous interviews.

Taylor was chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security under Kirstjen Nielsen and resigned from the administration and took a job with Google before taking leave to publicly endorse former Vice President Joe Biden for president and campaign against Trump. He was also signed as a CNN contributor earlier this fall.

Taylor had very little access to the president, but the Times described him as a “senior” official at the time of the op-ed’s publishing.

The Times defended running the anonymous op-ed, noting that it “adds significant value to the public’s understanding of what is going on in the Trump administration from someone who is in a position to know.”

The op-ed fueled weeks of cable news speculation about the identity of the Trump official and raised concerns of the “deep state” working against the president.

Breitbart News first reported on Taylor’s opposition to the president’s agenda in May 2019.

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Short Thoughts on Bobulinski Interview…

Essentially, Hunter Biden was a bag man for the Biden family; courting foreign businesses and governments for money so the payments could be laundered (by front businesses) and used to support the Biden family. That is the general takeaway from the interview with one of the legitimate business people, Tony Bobulinski.

More curiously though…. Mr. Bobulinski has the receipts; actual evidence of how businesses were set up to funnel the bribes, scheme and graft payments into the Biden family. According to the details he laid out Bobulinski was recruited to help set-up and facilitate the influence peddling program.

The described network is a smaller, start-up version of the Clinton Global Initiative; but essentially the intents and purposes were the same.

As Bobulinski detailed the engagements, one of the more glaring aspects was how easily the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement apparatus could monitor everything that was happening. Many of the meetings were with foreign officials outside the U.S; and many of the structural parts of the network were assembled in locations easily infiltrated by the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

The Biden network’s attempted communication was not too sophisticated. Their electronic trail of communication was captured and recorded by people inside the network. There is a ton of evidence for what they were doing including text messages, emails, phone call records and traceable meetings with all of the participants as outlined by Bobulinski.

So, knowing that, why did the U.S. intelligence apparatus not do anything about it?

Obviously, as outlined during the interview, some of the initial set-up was taking place while Joe Biden was Vice-President. The aggregate U.S. intelligence apparatus was obviously monitoring these activities; it would be intellectually dishonest not to accept that at some level this was well known inside the U.S. government.

Later on, as Hunter Biden began a downward spiral of addiction and dangerously abhorrent behavior; and keeping in mind he was formerly in the U.S. military -and kicked out due to a cocaine addiction- so his risk behaviors and issues would have been known as a risk by the U.S. government; he was a prime target for an influence operation by foreign intelligence adversaries.   This would have been clear to anyone in the intelligence community and undoubtedly shared up the information chain.

Yet, at no point did anyone do anything to try and stop the construction of the schemes?

It just doesn’t make any sense… unless….

…Unless the objective of those within the U.S. intelligence background (writ large) was to capture and retain all of this information as part of a black file for use as leverage/control later on against a Biden administration, and likely the Biden family.

There is a similarity of purpose here resembling the FBI refusing to provide a defensive briefing for presidential candidate Donald Trump as part of a strategy to gather evidence against Trump in their sketchy investigation of him.  However, in the Trump example, ultimately was no ‘there‘ there; so the investigation held no value beyond the assembly of a political narrative.  Ergo, Weissmann/Mueller and the insurance policy.

The transparent lack of effort by the U.S. intelligence community to intercept the Biden issues well in advance of the compromise of national security, is alarming.  However, it must be considered their lack of action was a purposeful decision…. and then the motive of those entities really becomes the bigger question.

This is a rather dangerous rabbit hole to start to consider.  However, against what we know of the intelligence community as a result of President Trump holding office, there are some really serious questions that need to be explored.

Pray more.

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Watch: Miles Taylor Denies Being ‘Anonymous’ in August CNN Appearance — ‘I Wear a Mask for Two Things … Halloween and Pandemics’

On Wednesday, former Department of Homeland Security official Miles Taylor revealed himself to be “Anonymous,” the author of a New York Times op-ed and a subsequent book critical of President Donald Trump.

However, when asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper back in August if he was “Anonymous,” Taylor denied it.
Partial transcript as follows:

COOPER: There was an op-ed, a book by someone calling themselves Anonymous. Are you aware of who that is?

TAYLOR: I’m not. Look, that was a parlor game that happened in Washington D.C., of a lot of folks trying to think who that might be. And I have my own thoughts who that might be —

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You are not Anonymous?

TAYLOR: I wear a mask for two things, Anderson, Halloween and pandemics. So, no.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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Hurricane Zeta Landfall Imminent – Southeastern Louisiana Landfall – Storm Surge Warnings: Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama…

Fast moving Hurricane Zeta is approaching the southeastern gulf region of Louisiana. Currently traveling over 20mph and expected to increase in forward speed Zeta is carrying winds near 100mph and pushing a dangerous storm surge along the coastline. Residents in the southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastal areas should be prepared.

[Hurricane Center] the center of Hurricane Zeta was located near latitude 27.9 North, longitude 91.1 West. Zeta is moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (35 km/h). A faster north-northeastward motion is expected through tonight followed by an even faster northeastward motion on Thursday and an east-northeastward motion early Friday.

On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will make landfall in southeastern Louisiana this afternoon. Zeta will then move close to the Mississippi coast this evening, and move across the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 100 mph (155 km/h) with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is possible during the next few hours, and Zeta is expected to reach the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane before weakening over the southeastern United States on Thursday. (more)

The hurricane eye-wall is 35 miles and the storm is moving fast. Both aspects are good news, but the strength of the storm is still an issue.  Be careful and if you find yourself in need of any assistance, feel free to reach out in the comments section or send us an email.

Prayers.

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Michigan fan gets prison time for threatening mass shooting at OSU game

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A California man was sentenced to prison today for making violent threats toward The Ohio State University and its football players during the 2018 Ohio State v. Michigan game.

Daniel Lee Rippy, 29, of Livermore, Calif., was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for making an interstate threat.

According to court documents, Rippy sent a message over Facebook threatening a shooting at The Ohio State University and vowing to hurt football players. He sent several other threats during the game – which was being played in Columbus – to injure or kill players, their family members and the head coach.

“In the middle of Ohio State’s annual rival game with the University of Michigan and with more than 100,000 fans in the stadium, law enforcement suddenly had a potential threat of a shooting,” said U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers. “Because of Rippy, law enforcement officials at the stadium were placed on high alert and re-allocated resources to investigate the threat. His words are not without consequence, as illustrated by today’s sentence of imprisonment.”

Rippy’s prior connections to the state of Michigan initially concerned law enforcement given the ease with which Rippy could travel to – or perhaps already be at – the game. Officials ultimately determined that Rippy was in California at the time he made the threat, though, and did not pose an immediate danger.

“By threatening to harm Ohio State football players, coaches, and others, Mr. Rippy committed a serious federal crime,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman. “Threats like these are thoroughly investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force along with our law enforcement partners and result in significant consequences.”

FBI agents arrested Rippy in California in December 2019 and he was released on bond, but he was re-arrested and U.S. Marshals transported him to Columbus after he failed to appear for a scheduled appointment with the court.

Rippy pleaded guilty in July 2020 to one count of making a threat in interstate communications.

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Man Arrested In 2008 Kidnapping Of American Journalist David Rohde

REUTERS

The Department of Justice announced the unsealing of a federal indictment charging Haji Najibullah, a/k/a “Najibullah Naim,” a/k/a “Abu Tayeb,” a/k/a “Atiqullah” with six counts related to the 2008 kidnapping of an American journalist and two Afghan nationals. Najibullah, 44, was arrested and transferred to the United States from Ukraine to face the charges in the indictment.

“Najibullah is charged with taking an American journalist and others hostage in Afghanistan in November 2008. Journalists risk their lives bringing us news from conflict zones, and no matter how much time may pass, our resolve to find and hold accountable those who target and harm them and other Americans will never wane,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “The defendant, like many others before and surely others to come, will now face justice in an American courtroom.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Nearly 12 years ago, the defendant arranged to kidnap at gunpoint an American journalist and two other men, and held them hostage for more than seven months,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. “The prosecution of Haji Najibullah shows that law enforcement will never stop in our mission to hold accountable those who commit violent crimes against American citizens.”

“Whether someone commits a violent act against an American citizen here at home or overseas, we’ll never stop aggressively pursuing charges against them and, when necessary, seeking their transfer to U.S. custody,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the FBI William F. Sweeney Jr. “Najibullah’s reprehensible actions over a decade ago earned him a flight to the U.S. yesterday. Today he arrived in U.S. federal court to face our justice system.”

“The FBI, along with our partners, continue to work tirelessly in the pursuit of justice and to hold accountable those who are responsible for the kidnapping and hostage taking of U.S. citizens abroad,” said Assistant Director Jill Sanborn of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “We remain steadfast in our obligation to see justice served, regardless of the how long it may take or where those individuals are located. This investigation and resulting indictment reflects the FBI’s perseverance and commitment to the victims of these heinous acts – We never forget, and we never give up.”

“Haji Najibullah’s alleged kidnapping of a United States journalist and two Afghan nationals was a crime against America, a crime against the freedom of the press, and against the integral work of shining a light on important international affairs,” said Police Commissioner Shea. “While today’s federal indictment reflects events that occurred a dozen years ago, it shows once again that the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and all of our law enforcement partners will wait as long and go as far as it takes to bring justice.”

According to the Indictment:

On or about Nov. 10, 2008, Najibullah and his co-conspirators, armed with machineguns, kidnapped American journalist David Rohde, then a reporter for The New York Times now with The New Yorker, and two Afghan nationals who were assisting Rohde at gunpoint in Afghanistan. Approximately five days later, on or about Nov. 15, 2008, Najibullah and his co-conspirators forced the three hostages to hike across the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan, where Najibullah and his co-conspirators detained the hostages. For the next seven months, Najibullah and his co-conspirators held the hostages captive in Pakistan.

During their captivity, Najibullah and his co-conspirators forced the victims to make numerous calls and videos seeking help. For example, on or about Nov. 19, 2008, while in Pakistan, Najibullah and a co-conspirator (CC-1) directed Rohde to call his wife in New York. In addition, Najibullah and his co-conspirators made the victims create at least three videos in which they begged for help while surrounded by masked guards armed with machineguns. In one of the videos, Rohde was forced to beg for his life while a guard pointed a machinegun at his face.

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Najibullah, 44, of Afghanistan is charged with hostage taking, conspiracy to commit hostage taking, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and two counts of using and possessing a machinegun in furtherance of crimes of violence. Each of the six counts of the indictment carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Ms. Strauss and Mr. Demers praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force. They also thanked the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police, the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the Legal Attaché Office/U.S. Embassy Kyiv and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division for its assistance with this investigation, as well as the Ukrainian authorities and the Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division for their assistance in the extradition.

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Proposed bipartisan Sen. bill would bolster DHS screening of visas amid concerns of ISIS’ western recruits

October 28, 2020

DHS

Two senators on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, one Republican and one Democrat, have proposed a bill this week that seeks to bolster the Department of Homeland Security‘s (DHS) visa screening process, amid shared fears of foreign Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists as its caliphate has crumbled, The Hill reports. This move comes after IS killed 24 people on Saturday when they bombed an education center in Kabul, Afghanistan and recent fighting between the Taliban and U.S.-backed government forces.

RELATED: U.S. charges two Islamic State terrorists for killing U.S. hostages

The Visa Security Expansion Act, introduced by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the committee’s chair, and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), would have the DHS and the State Department boost the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations agents at U.S. embassies abroad. These personnel are trained in counterterrorism and assist the State Department in running interviews for non-immigrant visa applicants and deciding which applicants should receive visas.

Sen. Johnson claims that this bipartisan bill will aid national security “by placing agents with subject matter expertise and specialized training at posts deemed to be the highest risk.”

Sen. Hassan echoed this sentiment, stating that this legislation “will help protect us from this threat by expanding the number of counterterrorism agents who aid the State Department in making decisions about whether to grant U.S. visas to foreign nationals.”

“With the fall of ISIS’s caliphate,” she said, “I am deeply concerned about the threat that ISIS foreign fighters, armed with western passports, could pose to our homeland and our allies.”

The bill, per The Hill, would specifically order the DHS and the State Department to hike up the number of these visa security agents each year in at least two U.S. embassies or consulates. Additionally, in order to pay for the new personnel, the bill includes imposing a “security fee” on visa applications from non-immigrants.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Polls Leading Up To Election Day

On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, RealClearPolitics Co-Founder and President Tom Bevan joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to explain what the polls do and do not tell us heading into Election Day 2020.

“I think this race is trending toward being close, and being closer to a repeat of 2016 than the other end of the spectrum which is a Biden blowout where he wins all these states including you know Georgia and Texas and it’s a national wipeout, which is what some of the some of these pundits are suggesting,” Bevan said.

It’s this closeness in the race for the White House, Bevan suggested, that could create delayed election results.

“I think we will be into recounts and court battles, and it’s going to be an ugly post-election period this time,” he said.

The Senate races in these in these states where Biden and Trump are vying for victory will be also close, Bevan noted.

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While polls show Biden is in the lead, Trump is a “historical anomaly” whose performance with voters isn’t as easily tracked as with other candidates.

“The balance of the evidence suggests that Joe Biden has a lead nationally and that he is leading in these swing states,” Bevan said. “His lead in these swing states is bigger than Hillary Clinton’s was at this point four years ago, but it’s still not so big that it is inconceivable that Trump could have his supporters could turn out big on Election Day and that he couldn’t win in a number of these states.”

Listen here:


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