Day: July 30, 2017

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Son of Nashville mayor dies of apparent drug overdose – VIDEO: CDC releases new statistics on nation's opioid crisis


Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says her only child has died of an apparent drug overdose.

A statement released Sunday from Barry and her husband, Bruce, says 22-year-old Max Barry died Saturday night in Denver.

Max Barry graduated in June from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

The statement says the couple “cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing our only child.”

It adds that the family is asking for privacy “as we mourn the loss of our child and begin to understand a world without his laughter and love in our lives.”



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Eric Shawn Exclusive: The Jimmy Hoffa investigation and Frank Sheeran's role in union boss' murder


It all started, and ended, on this day 42 years ago.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a 1975 maroon Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success.

But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it.

“Suspects Outside of Michigan: Francis Joseph “Frank” Sheeran, age 43, president local 326, Wilmington, Delaware. Resides in Philadelphia and is known associate of Russel Bufalino, La Cosa Nostra Chief, Eastern Pennsylvania,” reads the 1976 HOFFEX memo, the compilation of everything investigators knew about Hoffa’s disappearance that was prepared for a high level, secret conference at FBI headquarters six months after he vanished.

Sheeran, known as “The Irishman,” told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank’s story.

No one who has ever boasted about knowing what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa has had their claims tested, scrutinized, and then corroborated by independently discovered evidence… except Frank.

He is also the only one of the FBI’s dozen suspects who has ever come forward and talked publicly about the killing, let alone admit involvement.

Every other claim that you have ever heard about, from Hoffa being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium to being entombed under a strip of highway asphalt somewhere, came from people who were never on the bureau’s list of people suspected of actual involvement.

For that reason, Frank stands alone.

Six weeks after Hoffa disappeared, Frank, along with the other suspects, was summoned before the Detroit grand jury investigating the case. He took the Fifth.

When I met him in the spring of 2001, Frank freely talked.

My meeting with Frank was arranged so that I could take his measure, and he mine, for a possible in-depth investigation, interview and news story about his claims. He was accompanied by his former lawyer Charlie Brandt, the author of Frank’s then-proposed biography, which tells the Hoffa story. Charlie had been able to spring Frank from a Mafia-related federal racketeering prison sentence, and for that reason was taken into Frank’s confidence.

It would be three years before the book, “I Hear You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran And Closing The Case On Jimmy Hoffa” would be published by Steerforth Press, and before the first of my many news stories about Frank, and our investigation, would air on television.

His story is this: He and others were ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa to prevent him from trying to run again for the presidency of the Teamsters union. Hoffa had resigned after serving prison time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud convictions. Frank picked Hoffa up at the restaurant, accompanied by two others, to supposedly drive Hoffa to a mob meeting. When they walked into the empty house together, with Frank a step behind Hoffa, he raised his pistol at point-blank range and fired two fatal shots into his unsuspecting target, turned around and left. He said the body was then dragged down the hall by two awaiting accomplices, and that he was later told Hoffa was cremated at a mob-connected funeral home.

Frank had an imposing, old-school mobster way about him that even his advanced years — he was 80 — did not betray. His menacing aura was not diminished by a severe case of arthritis that crippled him so badly that he was hunched over when he slowly walked with two canes, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I found Frank tough, determined, steely.

As I listened to his matter-of-fact recounting of what he said went down at that house, and giving such detail, I remember thinking what he was saying could actually be true.

Here’s why:

There is no doubt that Frank was a close confidant of Hoffa, someone who Hoffa trusted. And Hoffa didn’t trust very many.

Frank was both a long-time top Teamsters Union official in Delaware as well as an admitted Bufalino crime family hit-man and top aide to the boss himself.

The FBI admits that Frank was “known to be in Detroit area at the time of JRH disappearance, and considered to be a close friend of JRH,” as the HOFFEX memo states.

Hoffa’s son, current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, told me in September 2001 that his father would have gotten into the car with Frank. He said that his father would not have taken that ride with some of the other FBI suspects whom I mentioned.

Frank, in the book, says that he sat in the front passenger seat of the car as a subtle warning to Hoffa, who habitually sat there. He felt a deep friendship and loyalty to Hoffa, yet knew what his own fate would be if he failed to carry out the lethal order from his mob masters. So he sat in the front seat hoping Hoffa would realize something was wrong. He did not.

The FBI did find “a single three-inch brown hair . . . in the rear seat back rest” of that car that matches Hoffa, and three dogs picked up “a strong indication of JRH scents in the rear right seat.”

I asked Frank if he remembered how to get to the house. I thought finding where Hoffa was killed, and investigating everything about the house, could be key to the case. Frank rattled off the driving directions from the restaurant and described the house’s interior layout.

Killers may not remember an exact address of a murder scene, but they never forget how they got there and what they did when they arrived.

“Sheeran gave us the directions,” Charlie wrote in the book. “This was the first time he had ever revealed the directions to me. His deepened voice and hard demeanor was chilling, when, for the first time ever, he stated publicly to someone other than me that he had shot Jimmy Hoffa.”

A year after our meeting, Charlie and Frank drove to Detroit to try to find the house, and when they did Frank pointed it out to Charlie. They did not go in.

Three years later, in 2004, I, along with producer Ed Barnes and Charlie, first stepped foot into the foyer where Frank said he shot Hoffa, looked around the first floor and as it turned out, Frank’s description fit the interior to a tee.

Ed and I arranged with the homeowners to actually take up the foyer and hallway floorboards and remove the press-on vinyl floor tiles that they had put down over the original hardwood floors when they bought the house in 1989.

We hired a forensic team of retired Michigan state police investigators to try to find any blood evidence. They sprayed the chemical luminol on the floors, which homicide detectives routinely use to discover the presence of blood.

We found it.

The testing revealed a specific pattern of blood evidence, laid out like a map of clues to the nation’s most infamous unsolved murder. Little yellow numbered tags were placed throughout the first floor foyer and hallway, to mark each spot where the investigators’ testing yielded positive hits.

The pattern certainly told the story of how Hoffa was killed.

The greatest amount of positive hits were found right next to the front door, where Hoffa’s bleeding head would have hit the floor.

Seven more tags lined the narrow hallway toward the rear kitchen, marking the drops that perfectly mimic Frank’s story of Hoffa’s lifeless body being dragged to the kitchen by the two waiting accomplices, who then stuffed it into a body bag and carried it out the back kitchen door.

We arranged for the Oakland County prosecutor’s office to remove the floorboards for DNA testing by the FBI, though Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca cautioned that it would be “a miracle” if Hoffa’s DNA was recovered.

I knew those odds. A DNA hit was beyond a long shot.

Experts told me that such tiny samples of genetic material, degraded by the passage of 29 years and exposure to air and the elements under a homeowner’s heavily trafficked floor, would likely not provide enough material to result in a DNA match.

The FBI lab report says that chemical tests were conducted on 50 specimens; 28 tested positive for the possible presence of blood, and DNA was only recovered from two samples.

The FBI compared what was recovered to the DNA from a known strand of Hoffa’s hair. One sample was found to be “of male origin,” but it was not determined from whom. The other result was “largely inconclusive.”

Was I disappointed that a DNA match was not possible? Yes. Was I surprised? No. Did I think this disproved Frank’s claim? No.

Think about it.

What are the chances of any random house in America testing positive for blood traces from more than two dozen samples, in the exact pattern that corroborates a man’s murder confession?

What would luminol reveal under your home’s floor?

There are other reasons to believe why Frank’s scenario fits.

The house was most likely empty on that fateful summer day. It was built in the 1920’s and owned for five decades by a single woman, Martha Sellers, a teacher and department store employee. By the summer of 1975, Sellers was in her 80s, and not even living there full time. Her family told The Detroit News and Free Press that she had bought another home in Plymouth, Mich., where she would move permanently the next year.

Frank says that a man he called “a real estater” lived in the house. The Sellers family remembered that boarder, who they recalled resided in an upstairs bedroom. He was described as “a shadowy figure . . . who would disappear. He never said more than a few words and they know nothing about him, not even his name.”

It is quite possible that “the real estater,” was the link between the house and the Detroit mob, providing an empty house as needed, when Sellers was absent, for whatever purpose…including using it as a Mafia hit house to murder Jimmy Hoffa.

The FBI clearly believed Sheeran had credibility.  Agents visited him in his final years, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure his cooperation.

While we were conducting our investigation in Detroit in 2004, the FBI, I was told, tried to find the house even before we aired our story.

And the views of those closest to Jimmy Hoffa, his son and daughter seem especially relevant when assessing Frank’s credibility.

Not only did James P. Hoffa confirm that his father would have driven off with Frank, but his sister, Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, wrote Frank a poignant letter begging him to come clean about their father’s fate.

In the one-page heartfelt note, handwritten to Frank on March 5, 1995, she wrote:

“It is my personal belief that there are many people who called themselves loyal friends who know what happened to James R. Hoffa, who did it and why. The fact that not one of them has ever told his family — even under a vow of secrecy, is painful to me…”

She then underlined: “I believe you are one of those people.”

Crancer confirmed to me that she wrote that letter.

Sadly for the Hoffa family, Frank never directly honored her request. When I sat with him, he said that his No. 1 priority was not to go back to “college,” meaning prison. He decided that the best way to avoid that possibility, while also revealing his story, was to share his secrets for the book and my reporting.

Frank died on Dec. 14, 2003. He was 83.

While authorities no doubt will continue to respond to more tips, as they should, I believe that we already know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Frank described the most precise and credible scenario yet to be recounted, and the evidence that we found from the floor backs up his confession.

In the more than four decades since, Hoffa’s life and legacy as a pivotal part of the American labor movement has been somewhat overshadowed by his disappearance. But it seems clear that organized crime bosses did not want him to resume the mantle of the Teamster’s presidency, and went to the ultimate length, through Sheeran, to prevent his return.

Today Hoffa’s union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, represents 1.4 million workers and continues to be headed  by his son. Two years ago a milestone was marked in the attempts to shed any specter of possible organized crime.  In 2015, Federal Judge Loretta Preska approved the Department of Justice and union agreement that ended the U.S. government oversight of the Teamsters that had lasted for more than 25 years.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, Preet Bharara, said that the union had made “significant progress” in “ridding…the influence of organized crime and corruption,” though he cautioned that “the threat…persists.”

Hoffa called it “an historic agreement…our union is committed to the democratic process, and we can proudly declare that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters.”

Sadly, it was those corrupt elements that took the life of his father as he tried to take back his union.

“Jimmy Hoffa raised millions of workers and their families out of poverty and into the middle class,” noted the Teamsters Union in a statement to Fox News.

“He gave his life while fighting to remove corrupt elements from the union and return power to the members. This tragic anniversary is particularly difficult on his family who lost a father and grandfather much too soon. They want nothing more than to have the closure that they so deserve.”

Frank’s story will be told in a major motion picture, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro as Frank and directed by Martin Scorsese. Tribeca Films and Sikelia Productions, in association with Netflix, will bring this story to the big screen and the streaming service in 2018. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are said to also have roles, uniting the legendary actors of the genre in one last mob movie.  I am proud of pushing the film idea, which will no doubt become an iconic motion picture.

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV



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This generation cheats less


When Amanda Chatel’s husband cheated on her after a year and a half into their marriage, she was flabbergasted. “I think cheating is one of the worst things you can do to a person,” said Chatel, who coped with the shock by throwing herself a lavish divorce party at The Plaza two years ago when she was 35.

She also never anticipated it. She explained that, “I was in my early 30s when I got married, so any interest I would have had to hook up was gone.

“There wasn’t a single ounce of my being that would have even considered cheating.”

Chatel’s attitude is in keeping with a younger generation that seems to view adultery as more cataclysmic than their predecessors.

A new study from the Institute for Family Studies claims 20 percent of those older than 55 years old reported having sex outside of marriage. That’s compared with only 14 percent of those under 55. (The study constitutes infidelity as having sex with anyone but your husband and wife.)

Millennials, generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, take a particularly dim view of cheating. While Generation X, born between 1964 and 1981, report a 17 percent extramarital-sex rate, those aged 37 and under claim a rate of 12 percent, according to the study.

Why are millennials so faithful? Could it be that we are all beautiful, pure-hearted people? Maybe, but it’s likely there are other factors at play.

For one thing, millennials are less sexually adventurous than their predecessors.

A 2015 study by Jean Twenge that ran in Archives of Sexual Behavior noted that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) averaged an estimated 11 sexual partners throughout adulthood, while millennials averaged just eight.

Perhaps today’s youth isn’t as hot to trot as the over-55 free-love crowd was in their day.

 

Baby boomers came of age during the “Summer of Love” in 1967, when people were encouraged to “make love not war.”

Mate swapping was a fad in the ’70s. Meanwhile, millennials grew up watching the president get impeached for receiving extramarital oral sex. We learned early on that there might be some pretty bad consequences to adultery.

Plus, when you’re surrounded by devices like Tinder ensuring that a hookup is just a swipe away, a fling may seem less exciting than when you had to go to a bar with the mere hope of meeting someone.

Moreover many younger people, like Chatel, marry later.

According to a Pew Research Center study “Millennials in Adulthood,” 26 percent of millennials are married, while 48 percent of baby boomers were married when they were millennials’ age. (Which makes it really impressive that they managed to rack up those 11 partners so quickly).

Being a bit older may help millennials make smarter choices about whether marriage — and the person they’re marrying — is right for them.

Christopher Shelley, a New York-based wedding officiant notes that most of the couples he sees are in their early 30s, with the youngest this year being 23.

He says that, in general, “the older couples I’ve married are exquisitely bonded to each other in a way these young couples aren’t. Older couples have better stories, and if you could do a comparison of blood-pressure levels of older couples versus younger couples at the actual ceremony, medical experts would be shocked at how much calmer the older couples are.”

And if those couples didn’t want to commit for life, they’d probably just be single.

Andrea Syrtash, author of the book “Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse,” claims that, “for the most part, there’s no longer a stigma associated with being 30 and single or living with someone without being married to him or her.”

“Many people today get married because they want to — not because they ‘should.’ ” Syrtash adds. “This is a big paradigm shift and very different from people who married decades ago.”

Meanwhile, other factors — like social media — are being introduced late into the lives of baby boomers, which can make them curious about extramarital options.

According to Pew Research, 8.6 million baby boomers joined Facebook between July 2015 and December 2016.

Maria Avgitidis, founder of Agape Matchmaking, explains that as a result, “people over 55 suddenly have a bigger network. They’re seeing people they haven’t seen in 20 years and want to play now.”

After 30 years of marriage, your high-school boyfriend might suddenly seem like a good option again.

But then, it might be easier to refrain from cheating at the start of a marriage. Thirty years down the road, millennials may find themselves in a very different mind-set.

After all, who knows what kind of sexy virtual reality they’ll have developed by then?

It might be enough to get us up to 11 partners.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post



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BREAKING NEWS: Al-Shabab fighters attack African Union convoy in southern Somalia, killing at least 8


Fighters with the al-Shabab extremist group ambushed an African Union convoy in southern Somalia on Sunday, killing at least eight soldiers, a Somali military officer said.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab fighters attacked the convoy near Bulo-Marer town in Lower Shabelle region, Col. Muhyadin Yasin said. The attack came hours after a car bomb in the capital killed at least five people, most of them civilians.

Uganda’s defense ministry confirmed the attack on the multinational force, saying an unknown number of troops were killed. “A lot of damage was inflicted on the enemy,” a statement said.

Al-Shabab claimed that the attack killed 39 soldiers.

Despite being forced out of many cities and towns across Somalia, the extremist group continues to launch lethal attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere. Al-Shabab wants to oust the central government and install a strict version of Shariah law.

The extremist group maintains a presence largely in rural areas and continues to pose immense challenges to the allied Somali and African Union forces travelling between remote towns. Al-Shabab also attacks their military bases as well as neighboring countries that have sent troops to support Somalia’s fragile central government.

Hundreds of African Union soldiers have been killed in recent years.

Earlier Sunday, a car bomb blast near a police station in Mogadishu killed at least five people and wounded at least 13 others, police said. The explosion shattered a month of relative calm in the capital, often a target of the extremist group al-Shabab.

The blast near Waberi police station along the busy Maka Almukarramah road may have been a suicide bomber, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said. Most of the victims were civilians.

Al-Shabab often carries out deadly bombings in Mogadishu against high-profile targets such as hotels and checkpoints.

Sunday’s blast occurred amid a traffic jam while soldiers were searching cars at a nearby intersection.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said no such blast had occurred in the capital for a month.



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Lightning kills at least 11 during monsoon season in eastern India


A government official says lightning has killed 11 people in eastern India, with most of the victims dying while working in rice paddies.

Official Rajendra Panda says that one of those killed on Sunday was standing under a tree as a thunderstorm and monsoon rains lashed Orissa state.

The Press Trust of India news agency cited Panda as saying eight other people suffered injuries and were hospitalized in Bhadrak, Balasore and Kendrapara districts in Orissa.

Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September. Scores of people have been killed by massive flooding, electrocution and house collapses in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and other states since June.

Tens of thousands of villagers have been evacuated to higher ground in those states.



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Former NFL player: League's brand now anti-Americanism and thuggery


Steve Cortes on Sanctuary Cities: It’s Racist to Not Protect Americans


Former National Football League player Burgess Owens said he remembers the NFL being known for its patriotism and character, but now its brand is “anti-Americanism and thuggery.”

“We’re fighting against an agenda of liberalism, socialism, and Marxism,” Owens, who played for the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders in the 1970s and ’80s told “Fox & Friends” on Sunday.

Owens’ comments come after a new poll suggests that the biggest reason football fans tuned out to the National Football League in 2016 was San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem at games.

Around 26 percent of NFL fans polled said they stopped watching as much because of the protests, a J.D. Power poll found.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Owens said of viewers’ disappointment.

Owens said the national anthem protests are related to the way the Left uses the black community to get elected.

 “We have these young people now that are reeling,” Ownes comtinued. “Every single election cycle they [politicians] get them the anti-American sentiment, anti-flag, anti-police, anti-white, and it’s all to do one thing: get white and black socialist liberal elitists elected.

“We need to stand strong because the American way has always been the way that our country has thrived and come together.”


‘Let the Kids Be Kids’: Lawrence Jones Slams ‘Whiteness’ Conference for K-12 Teachers

9-Year-Old Gets Answer to His Letter to Trump



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Minnesota bridge collapse still reverberates 10 years later


Ten years ago Tuesday, a bridge carrying a busy stretch of freeway collapsed without warning into the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis during the evening rush hour. Many leaders saw the disaster, which killed 13 people and injured 145, as a wake-up call about the country’s deteriorating infrastructure.

Here’s a look at what happened, what’s changed since then, and how Minnesota is marking the anniversary:

THE COLLAPSE

The Interstate 35W bridge was one of the busiest in Minnesota before it fell Aug. 1, 2007.

First responders scrambled to rescue survivors from the debris, including a school bus carrying 52 students and several adults. Navy divers spent two weeks recovering bodies from dark waters full of sharp steel. Federal investigators stayed for months. A fast-tracked replacement opened less than 14 months later.

The state and two contractors ultimately paid out more than $100 million to survivors and families of the dead. Most used the money to cover medical bills and get on with their lives. One young survivor from the bus used much of his money in 2014 to travel to Turkey and Syria to join the Islamic State group. He’s still believed to be in Syria.

THE CAUSE

While the collapse drew attention to the condition of America’s aging infrastructure, federal investigators said poor maintenance wasn’t the chief cause. They ruled it was a design defect in the bridge, which was built in the 1960s.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that crucial gusset plates that held the bridge’s beams together were only half as thick as they should have been. A contributing factor was the nearly 300 tons of construction materials stockpiled on the deck for renovations.

The 35W bridge had been rated “structurally deficient,” a term that means in need of repair or replacement, before it fell. It was also “fracture critical,” which means bridges at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. While neither category means there is an immediate safety threat, they are red flags.

WHAT CHANGED

The American Society of Civil Engineers says the number of structurally deficient bridges nationwide declined from 12 percent in 2007 to 9 percent today. Minnesota improved from 8 percent to 6 percent, according to the group’s latest report card on the country’s infrastructure. The figures ranged from 2 percent in Nevada to 25 percent in Rhode Island. The report card still estimates it would take $123 billion to address the nation’s backlog of bridge rehabilitation needs.

The improvements happened because states stepped up, said Andy Hermann, a former president of the society and one of its experts on bridges. He said federal funding has been “pretty stagnant,” but about 20 states raised taxes to increase their bridge spending.

Minnesota launched a 10-year, $2.5 billion improvement program in 2008 that targeted 172 structurally deficient or fracture-critical bridges. About 120 of them have been replaced or repaired, or will be soon. Another 32 need only routine maintenance. Most of the rest will be repaired or replaced by late 2018. And the state now requires a formal independent peer review during the design phase for major bridges to minimize the risk of critical errors.

The collapse gave added impetus to a nationwide trend of design improvements, Hermann said. Most bridges built in the 1950s and 60s were designed to last around 50 years, he said. Newer bridges are typically designed to last 75 to 100 years, he said. Engineers are also choosing improved materials, he said, such as better steel and concrete.

The collapse also turned a new focus on inspection. Bridges typically are inspected every two years, but Congress has mandated a more data-driven approach that will mean more frequent inspections for some, and longer intervals for others, to focus resources on the biggest risks. That plan is still in rulemaking.

THE FUTURE

It’s unclear whether anything will come from President Donald Trump’s proposal for a $1 trillion overhaul of the country’s roads and bridges. While he held a week of events last month to tout the idea, he has yet to flesh out the details and it hasn’t gained much traction in Congress. His budget proposal calls for $200 billion in tax breaks over nine years that theoretically would leverage $1 trillion worth of construction.

THE ANNIVERSARY

Minneapolis is taking a low-key approach. Leaders will hold a ceremony for survivors, families and first responders at the city’s Emergency Operations Training Facility, several miles upstream from the collapse site, where a piece of the bridge will be installed permanently outside.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which led much of the response, held a wreath-laying ceremony earlier in July on the river with Navy divers who participated in the recovery.

And the Mill City Museum, just a few blocks upstream from the site, opened a display July 28 of one of the failed gusset plates.



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Conway still mum on who reports directly to Trump, after Kelly's arrival – Kelly bringing DHS deputy to the White House – OPINION: Trump's troubles are far from over with Kelly as new chief of staff – VIDEO: Who is Trump's new chief of staff?


President Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway declined Sunday to say whether she and new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci will report directly to new Chief of Staff John Kelly, raising questions about whether the president’s recent staff shakeup will bring order to the West Wing.

“I will speak with General Kelly and the president about that as will Mr. Scaramucci,” Conway, counselor to the president, told “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump announced Friday that he would replace Reince Priebus with Kelly as the new chief of staff, with Kelly officially starting in the new post on Monday.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, was the administration’s Homeland Security secretary until the change.

Trump made the change as part of a broader effort to stop damaging leaks within the White House that included recently appointing Scaramucci and forcing out White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Scaramucci said after his hiring and before Kelly replaced Priebus that he would report directly to Trump.

“I will do whatever the president and the new chief of staff asks us to do,” also said Conway, who on Friday declined to say who will report directly to Trump. “I’m always a protocol, pecking order kinda gal.”



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'Collusion' Collapses: Dem Congressional Espionage Ring Takes Center Ring


In truth, the Russians “colluded” through GPS Fusion to harm, not help, Trump and the evidence of that is coming out. It’s time to repeal the Special Counsel law which has now been used twice to hamstring two Republican Presidents, has dubious constitutional authority, and will never result in the indictment of a prominent Democratic politician.

Under the Constitution there are three ways to deal with official corruption: the ballot box, impeachment, or criminal prosecution. Instead, in recent years we have tried two different means: the Independent Counsel law, now lapsed, and the Special Counsel law.  Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas M. Kmiec explains the difference and argues that the features of the independent counsel, which the Supreme Court held constitutional, and the special counsel law that has not been challenged, are different, notably that the absence of outside supervision of the prosecutor and failure in both instances of the application of the Special Counsel act — the Plame case, and the Russian interference case now under Mueller — lack what the Court called a necessary predicate for such an investigation: a finding by the attorney general that there is reason to believe that a crime has occurred. That did not occur in the “collusion” investigation. In the Plame case, as I show, the major figures all knew there was no crime before they began the investigation.

In the case of the Independent Counsel investigation of Whitewater, you may recall the prosecutor said that they had reason to believe Hillary Clinton had committed perjury before the grand jury, but as prosecutors should not indict unless they believe a conviction is likely and the case would be brought before an Arkansas jury who would never convict Bill Clinton’s wife, no indictment would be sought. 

Absent a dramatic shift in D.C. demography and political sentiment, you can be sure this would be the case should any special prosecutor find criminal wrongdoing by a prominent Democrat, especially Hillary Clinton. She has a ticket to ride (as she did when Comey absolved her of gross misuse of classified information).  In contrast, any prominent Republican tried here already has a strike against him.

My online friend “Ignatz Ratzykywatzky” now describes what we have:

 So Comey intentionally leaked his memo to cause Mueller to be appointed to investigate a plan by Putin to generate a fake scandal to fool dopes like Comey.


Top. Men.

But for the addition of a new player, GPS-Fusion, this case is remarkably similar in evolution and cast of characters to the Plame case. The genesis of the Mueller investigation was the recusal of Attorney General Sessions on the ground that he was too close to the subject of the investigation. It was on the same ground that former Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself in the Plame leak case. In both cases the media incited recusal.

On October 31, 2016 David Corn (who worked for the Nation during the Plame case and now for Mother Jones), wrote in Mother Jones “A veteran spy [David Steele of GPS Fusion] has given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to cultivate Donald Trump.” GPS-Fusion is a smear-for-hire operation. Among the smears created by this outfit of which we are now aware were a number against Mitt Romney, including the tape of his remarks about Obama supporters secretly made at a donors’ meeting; the false claim that the videos of Planned Parenthood negotiating for the sale of fetus body parts was “fake,” and attacks on the credibility of Venezuelan dissidents who had charged Venezuelan officials with graft and money laundering. In addition, they were working to get Russian sanctions via the Magnitsky Act lifted, having been hired to do so by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the woman who tried to entrap Donald J. Trump. Prior to David Corn’s article, GPS met with a Mother Jones “journalist“ according to Steele himself. And that journalist was most certainly the Democrat’s water bearer, David Corn. Steele’s group had shopped the story around and on January 19, 2017 BuzzFeed published the GPS dossier.

After BuzzFeed published Steele’s dossier, individuals mentioned in the dossier sued Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence for defamation. In his defense, Steele blamed Fusion GPS for circulating his dossier among reporters without his permission. However, he admitted “off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016.” Steele’s defense contended that in October 2016, “Fusion GPS instructed him to brief a journalist from Mother Jones”, as Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross summarized.


Despite Steele admitting that his dossier was never verified, and despite specific allegations in the dossier being disproven, Corn has continued to promote the dossier’s thesis, recently publishing an article claiming that “Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier”. In his recent piece, Corn argued that Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya vindicates Steele’s dossier:


Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele — full of investigative leads and tips to follow — not finished reports, vetted and confirmed. 


[snip]


But that media firestorm, based on nothing but unverified information — probably fed to GPS by the Russians — from a smear for pay outfit caused Sessions to recuse himself.

In the previous special counsel case – Plame — both Mueller, then head of the FBI, and Comey, then acting attorney general upon Ashcroft’s recusal, were informed even before Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed that no one had deliberately “outed” her to punish her husband; that the information Novak published came from Richard Armitage, a Colin Powell underling and that it was absolutely inadvertent. And yet they used that to hamstring GW Bush and his administration and to convict Lewis Libby. That conviction is proving to be, as I argued at the time, a prosecution without a crime.

Last year, Libby sought and received a reinstatement of his law license and an investigation was held, with counsel confirming his innocence:

In the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Disciplinary Counsel’s Report readmitting Libby, the Counsel noted that Libby had continued to assert his innocence. As a result, the Counsel had to “undertake a more complex evaluation of a Petition for reinstatement” than when a petitioner admits guilt. But the Counsel found that “Libby has presented credible evidence in support of his version of events and it appears that one key prosecution witnesses [sic], Judith Miller, has changed her recollection of the events in question.” The reference to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter, involved her memoir, The Story, A Reporter’s Journey. In the book, Miller said she read Plame’s memoir and discovered that Plame’s cover was at the State Department, a fact Miller said the prosecution had withheld from her. In rereading what she called her “elliptical” notes (meaning hard to decipher), she realized they were about Plame’s cover, not her job at the CIA. She concluded that her testimony that Libby had told her Plame worked at the CIA was wrong. “Had I helped convict an innocent man?” she asked. Miller went on to note that John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel, had said in his memoir that there was no evidence that the outing of Plame had caused any damage to CIA operations or agents, including Plame. That statement rebuts the prosecution’s closing argument that as a result of the disclosure of Plame’s identity, a CIA operative could be “arrested, tortured, or killed.” 

Who paid for the GPS-Fusion smear job which was used to persuade Sessions to recuse himself and which led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel? Well, that’s a mystery the Democrats are doing everything to hide.

Kimberley Strassel reports:

What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility. [snip] We know that at the exact time Fusion was working with the Russians, the firm had also hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele compiled his material, according to his memos, based on allegations from unnamed Kremlin insiders and other Russians. Many of the claims sound eerily similar to the sort of “oppo” Mr. Akhmetshin peddled.


We know that Mr. [Glenn] Simpson is tight with Democrats. His current attorney, Joshua Levy, used to work in Congress as counsel to no less than Chuck Schumer. We know from a Grassley letter that Fusion has in the past sheltered its clients’ true identities by filtering money through law firms or shell companies (Bean LLC and Kernel LLC).


Word is Mr. Simpson has made clear he will appear for a voluntary committee interview only if he is not specifically asked who hired him to dig dirt on Mr. Trump. Democrats are going to the mat for him over that demand. Those on the Judiciary Committee pointedly did not sign letters in which Mr. Grassley demanded that Fusion reveal who hired it.


Here’s a thought: What if it was the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? What if that money flowed from a political entity on the left, to a private law firm, to Fusion, to a British spook, and then to Russian sources? Moreover, what if those Kremlin-tied sources already knew about this dirt-digging, tipped off by Mr. Akhmetshin? What if they specifically made up claims to dupe Mr. Steele, to trick him into writing this dossier?


[snip]


If the Russian intention was to sow chaos in the American political system, few things could have been more effective than that dossier, which ramped up an FBI investigation and sparked congressional probes and a special counsel, deeply wounding the president. This is all to Mr. Putin’s benefit, and the question is whether Russia engineered it.

While the press has been promoting a ridiculous and ass backwards Russian collusion story, it has been sitting on a far bigger story: The likelihood that the Congressional Democrats financed and enabled the largest espionage ring in U.S. history. This story has been percolating on the internet for weeks with no mainstream media coverage. It got a tiny, misleading smattering of coverage this week when the FBI arrested Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s internet employee, for trying to flee the country after transferring almost $300,000 dollars to Pakistan.

Ignatz sums up the media U Turn:

“1. The wsj, nyt and wapo now all agree what wasn’t a crime didn’t occur.

2. Because they all know what was a series of crimes by the Dems, did occur, so now it’s time to move on to more important things… like not seeing Dems in handcuffs.”

The most detailed coverage of how the Awan brothers were hired, overpaid, and had access to all the Democrat’s communications and how Schultz protected Imran and kept him on her payroll even after the Capitol Police denied him and his three brothers further access to the Democrats’ computers was on the Daily Caller:

Should the press decide it’s past time to sit around promoting GPS Fusion smears and do some work?

1. Who coordinated the hiring of the Awan brothers by dozens of Democratic Congressman?

2. Why were they so grossly overcompensated (millions of dollars) for no work?

3. Were they kicking back money to the Democrats, doing “dirty” work for them, or blackmailing them?

4. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep the Capitol Police from searching her laptop they had confiscated from Imran Awan?

5. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep him on her payroll after the Capitol Police further barred him and his brothers from accessing Congressional computers?

6. Why did the Iraqi fugitive and Hezb’allah supporter Dr. Ali-al Attar “lend” them $100,000?

7. Who is paying Chris Gowan, a Clinton insider, to represent Imran Awan?

8. Why did the Awan brothers continue to have security clearances when they had declared several bankruptcies and were engaged in financial misdealing?

9. Why were the Awans broke when they were making so much money and living so modestly?

10. Why did eight members of the House Permanent Select committee on Intelligence issue a letter demanding the Awans be granted access to Top Secret information?

11.Were the Awans working for Pakistani intelligence and the Moslem Brotherhood?

12. To whom were the Awans sending data to on an offsite server?

Buckle your seatbelts. Draining the swamp is going to create a lot of waves.

In truth, the Russians “colluded” through GPS Fusion to harm, not help, Trump and the evidence of that is coming out. It’s time to repeal the Special Counsel law which has now been used twice to hamstring two Republican Presidents, has dubious constitutional authority, and will never result in the indictment of a prominent Democratic politician.

Under the Constitution there are three ways to deal with official corruption: the ballot box, impeachment, or criminal prosecution. Instead, in recent years we have tried two different means: the Independent Counsel law, now lapsed, and the Special Counsel law.  Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas M. Kmiec explains the difference and argues that the features of the independent counsel, which the Supreme Court held constitutional, and the special counsel law that has not been challenged, are different, notably that the absence of outside supervision of the prosecutor and failure in both instances of the application of the Special Counsel act — the Plame case, and the Russian interference case now under Mueller — lack what the Court called a necessary predicate for such an investigation: a finding by the attorney general that there is reason to believe that a crime has occurred. That did not occur in the “collusion” investigation. In the Plame case, as I show, the major figures all knew there was no crime before they began the investigation.

In the case of the Independent Counsel investigation of Whitewater, you may recall the prosecutor said that they had reason to believe Hillary Clinton had committed perjury before the grand jury, but as prosecutors should not indict unless they believe a conviction is likely and the case would be brought before an Arkansas jury who would never convict Bill Clinton’s wife, no indictment would be sought. 

Absent a dramatic shift in D.C. demography and political sentiment, you can be sure this would be the case should any special prosecutor find criminal wrongdoing by a prominent Democrat, especially Hillary Clinton. She has a ticket to ride (as she did when Comey absolved her of gross misuse of classified information).  In contrast, any prominent Republican tried here already has a strike against him.

My online friend “Ignatz Ratzykywatzky” now describes what we have:

 So Comey intentionally leaked his memo to cause Mueller to be appointed to investigate a plan by Putin to generate a fake scandal to fool dopes like Comey.


Top. Men.

But for the addition of a new player, GPS-Fusion, this case is remarkably similar in evolution and cast of characters to the Plame case. The genesis of the Mueller investigation was the recusal of Attorney General Sessions on the ground that he was too close to the subject of the investigation. It was on the same ground that former Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself in the Plame leak case. In both cases the media incited recusal.

On October 31, 2016 David Corn (who worked for the Nation during the Plame case and now for Mother Jones), wrote in Mother Jones “A veteran spy [David Steele of GPS Fusion] has given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to cultivate Donald Trump.” GPS-Fusion is a smear-for-hire operation. Among the smears created by this outfit of which we are now aware were a number against Mitt Romney, including the tape of his remarks about Obama supporters secretly made at a donors’ meeting; the false claim that the videos of Planned Parenthood negotiating for the sale of fetus body parts was “fake,” and attacks on the credibility of Venezuelan dissidents who had charged Venezuelan officials with graft and money laundering. In addition, they were working to get Russian sanctions via the Magnitsky Act lifted, having been hired to do so by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the woman who tried to entrap Donald J. Trump. Prior to David Corn’s article, GPS met with a Mother Jones “journalist“ according to Steele himself. And that journalist was most certainly the Democrat’s water bearer, David Corn. Steele’s group had shopped the story around and on January 19, 2017 BuzzFeed published the GPS dossier.

After BuzzFeed published Steele’s dossier, individuals mentioned in the dossier sued Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence for defamation. In his defense, Steele blamed Fusion GPS for circulating his dossier among reporters without his permission. However, he admitted “off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016.” Steele’s defense contended that in October 2016, “Fusion GPS instructed him to brief a journalist from Mother Jones”, as Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross summarized.


Despite Steele admitting that his dossier was never verified, and despite specific allegations in the dossier being disproven, Corn has continued to promote the dossier’s thesis, recently publishing an article claiming that “Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier”. In his recent piece, Corn argued that Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya vindicates Steele’s dossier:


Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele — full of investigative leads and tips to follow — not finished reports, vetted and confirmed. 


[snip]


But that media firestorm, based on nothing but unverified information — probably fed to GPS by the Russians — from a smear for pay outfit caused Sessions to recuse himself.

In the previous special counsel case – Plame — both Mueller, then head of the FBI, and Comey, then acting attorney general upon Ashcroft’s recusal, were informed even before Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed that no one had deliberately “outed” her to punish her husband; that the information Novak published came from Richard Armitage, a Colin Powell underling and that it was absolutely inadvertent. And yet they used that to hamstring GW Bush and his administration and to convict Lewis Libby. That conviction is proving to be, as I argued at the time, a prosecution without a crime.

Last year, Libby sought and received a reinstatement of his law license and an investigation was held, with counsel confirming his innocence:

In the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Disciplinary Counsel’s Report readmitting Libby, the Counsel noted that Libby had continued to assert his innocence. As a result, the Counsel had to “undertake a more complex evaluation of a Petition for reinstatement” than when a petitioner admits guilt. But the Counsel found that “Libby has presented credible evidence in support of his version of events and it appears that one key prosecution witnesses [sic], Judith Miller, has changed her recollection of the events in question.” The reference to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter, involved her memoir, The Story, A Reporter’s Journey. In the book, Miller said she read Plame’s memoir and discovered that Plame’s cover was at the State Department, a fact Miller said the prosecution had withheld from her. In rereading what she called her “elliptical” notes (meaning hard to decipher), she realized they were about Plame’s cover, not her job at the CIA. She concluded that her testimony that Libby had told her Plame worked at the CIA was wrong. “Had I helped convict an innocent man?” she asked. Miller went on to note that John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel, had said in his memoir that there was no evidence that the outing of Plame had caused any damage to CIA operations or agents, including Plame. That statement rebuts the prosecution’s closing argument that as a result of the disclosure of Plame’s identity, a CIA operative could be “arrested, tortured, or killed.” 

Who paid for the GPS-Fusion smear job which was used to persuade Sessions to recuse himself and which led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel? Well, that’s a mystery the Democrats are doing everything to hide.

Kimberley Strassel reports:

What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility. [snip] We know that at the exact time Fusion was working with the Russians, the firm had also hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele compiled his material, according to his memos, based on allegations from unnamed Kremlin insiders and other Russians. Many of the claims sound eerily similar to the sort of “oppo” Mr. Akhmetshin peddled.


We know that Mr. [Glenn] Simpson is tight with Democrats. His current attorney, Joshua Levy, used to work in Congress as counsel to no less than Chuck Schumer. We know from a Grassley letter that Fusion has in the past sheltered its clients’ true identities by filtering money through law firms or shell companies (Bean LLC and Kernel LLC).


Word is Mr. Simpson has made clear he will appear for a voluntary committee interview only if he is not specifically asked who hired him to dig dirt on Mr. Trump. Democrats are going to the mat for him over that demand. Those on the Judiciary Committee pointedly did not sign letters in which Mr. Grassley demanded that Fusion reveal who hired it.


Here’s a thought: What if it was the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? What if that money flowed from a political entity on the left, to a private law firm, to Fusion, to a British spook, and then to Russian sources? Moreover, what if those Kremlin-tied sources already knew about this dirt-digging, tipped off by Mr. Akhmetshin? What if they specifically made up claims to dupe Mr. Steele, to trick him into writing this dossier?


[snip]


If the Russian intention was to sow chaos in the American political system, few things could have been more effective than that dossier, which ramped up an FBI investigation and sparked congressional probes and a special counsel, deeply wounding the president. This is all to Mr. Putin’s benefit, and the question is whether Russia engineered it.

While the press has been promoting a ridiculous and ass backwards Russian collusion story, it has been sitting on a far bigger story: The likelihood that the Congressional Democrats financed and enabled the largest espionage ring in U.S. history. This story has been percolating on the internet for weeks with no mainstream media coverage. It got a tiny, misleading smattering of coverage this week when the FBI arrested Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s internet employee, for trying to flee the country after transferring almost $300,000 dollars to Pakistan.

Ignatz sums up the media U Turn:

“1. The wsj, nyt and wapo now all agree what wasn’t a crime didn’t occur.

2. Because they all know what was a series of crimes by the Dems, did occur, so now it’s time to move on to more important things… like not seeing Dems in handcuffs.”

The most detailed coverage of how the Awan brothers were hired, overpaid, and had access to all the Democrat’s communications and how Schultz protected Imran and kept him on her payroll even after the Capitol Police denied him and his three brothers further access to the Democrats’ computers was on the Daily Caller:

Should the press decide it’s past time to sit around promoting GPS Fusion smears and do some work?

1. Who coordinated the hiring of the Awan brothers by dozens of Democratic Congressman?

2. Why were they so grossly overcompensated (millions of dollars) for no work?

3. Were they kicking back money to the Democrats, doing “dirty” work for them, or blackmailing them?

4. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep the Capitol Police from searching her laptop they had confiscated from Imran Awan?

5. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep him on her payroll after the Capitol Police further barred him and his brothers from accessing Congressional computers?

6. Why did the Iraqi fugitive and Hezb’allah supporter Dr. Ali-al Attar “lend” them $100,000?

7. Who is paying Chris Gowan, a Clinton insider, to represent Imran Awan?

8. Why did the Awan brothers continue to have security clearances when they had declared several bankruptcies and were engaged in financial misdealing?

9. Why were the Awans broke when they were making so much money and living so modestly?

10. Why did eight members of the House Permanent Select committee on Intelligence issue a letter demanding the Awans be granted access to Top Secret information?

11.Were the Awans working for Pakistani intelligence and the Moslem Brotherhood?

12. To whom were the Awans sending data to on an offsite server?

Buckle your seatbelts. Draining the swamp is going to create a lot of waves.



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83-year-old woman, her son charged in murder-for-hire plot


An 83-year-old woman and her 63-year-old son have been charged in a murder-for-hire plot involving his ex-wife, police said Friday.

Pauline Chase and Maurice Temple were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder and attempt to commit murder.

The two Plainfield residents were each held on $1 million bail Friday in Claremont and are not allowed to have contact with each other. They were represented by public defenders.

WMUR-TV reported court paperwork shows Maurice Temple was in an ongoing dispute with his ex-wife over money he owed her because of their divorce. He was arrested and jailed recently for failing to make his court-ordered payments.

Messages were left for Temple, who runs an excavating and snowplow business. A possible phone number for Chase was out of service.

According to the police complaint, both had conversations with another person about causing the death of Temple’s ex-wife and provided about $5,000 as a down payment.

The state police crimes unit, the attorney general’s office’s drug task force and the Sullivan County attorney’s office were involved in the investigation.

Plainfield Police Chief Paul Roberts couldn’t comment when asked if a violent act had occurred, the Valley News reported. Roberts said the case is “still fluid,” and he described the investigation as “active.”



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