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The Pronk Pops Show 1324, September 20, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Approved Sending U.S. Troops To Bolster Saudi Arabia’s Air and Missile Defenses — Videos — Story 2: Partisan Whistle Blower Complaint of Trump Phone Call To World Leader — Just Another Hack Job — Dead on Arrival — Junk Journalism — Videos — Story 3: Federal Reserve Injects Billions Into Economy As Business and Investors Demand for Money Increases — Videos — Story 4: Collectivist Climate Change Cult Child Abuser Alarmists — The Green New Steal — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Approved Sending U.S. Troops To Bolster Saudi Arabia’s Air and Missile Defenses — Videos

Pentagon announces troop deployment to Saudi Arabia

US deploys troops to Saudi Arabia

PBS NewsHour full episode September 20, 2019

Pentagon briefs Trump on military options against Iran

POLL: Just 13% Support Trump’s War For Saudi Arabia

Iran Attack on Saudi Arabia Oil Not Slowing Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia unveils new strategic drone program ‘Saqr 1’

Did Satellites Spot a Secret Drone Hangar in Saudi Arabia?

United States sending troops to bolster Saudi defenses after attack

by Reuters
Friday, 20 September 2019 23:57 GMT

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

 U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.

The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops – not numbering thousands – and would be primarily defensive in nature. It also detailed plans to expedite delivery of military equipment to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.

“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing.

“We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.

The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defenses.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he believed his military restraint so far showed “strength,” as he instead imposed another round of economic sanctions on Tehran.

“Because the easiest thing I could do, ‘Okay, go ahead. Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.’ … But I’m not looking to do that if I can,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the deployment could further aggravate Iran, which has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension. It denies responsibility for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE, has claimed responsibility for the strikes.

ATTACK LAUNCHED FROM IRAN?

Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated sharply since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.

For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.

However, Iran has denied any role in a series of attacks in recent months, including bombings of tankers in the Gulf and strikes claimed by the Houthis.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have fingered southwest Iran as the staging ground for the attack, an assessment based at least in part on still-classified imagery showing Iran appearing to prepare an aerial strike.

They have dismissed Houthi claims that the attacks originated in Yemen.

One of the officials told Reuters the strike may have been authorized by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States is wary of getting dragged into another conflict in the Middle East. It has troops positioned in Syria and Iraq, two countries where Iranian influence is strong and Iran-backed forces operate openly.

U.S. officials fear Iran’s proxies might attempt to strike American troops there, something that could easily trigger a broader regional conflict.

Saudi Arabia has said it was attacked by a total of 25 drones and missiles, including Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and “Ya Ali” cruise missiles.

U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were still hammering out the best array of capabilities to defend Saudi Arabia, noting the difficulty combating a swarm of drones.

No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that, but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran,” Dunford said. (Reporting by Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali, Eric Beech and Mohammad Zargham Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman)

http://news.trust.org/item/20190920230811-gljdq

Story 2: Partisan Whistle Blower Complaint of Trump Phone Call To World Leader — Just Another Hack Job — Dead on Arrival — Junk Journalism — Videos

Schiff demands access to Trump whistleblower complaint

Hannity: Media frenzy over unknown ‘promise’ to unknown foreign leader

mr. NSA Inspector General On Whistleblower And President Donald Trump | The Last Word | MSNBC

PBS NewsHour full episode September 19, 2019

McCarthy rips Schiff for politicizing Trump whistleblower complaint

Shields and Brooks on the whistleblower complaint, Saudi oil attack

Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter

September 19 at 8:04 PM

A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.

The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.

Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

The Democrats’ investigation was launched earlier this month, before revelations that an intelligence official had lodged a complaint with the inspector general. The Washington Post first reported on Wednesday that the complaint had to do with a “promise” that Trump made when communicating with a foreign leader.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sept. 19 said a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community met the threshold requiring notification of Congress. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

On Thursday, the inspector general testified behind closed doors to members of the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower’s complaint.

Over the course of three hours, Michael Atkinson repeatedly declined to discuss with members the content of the complaint, saying he was not authorized to do so.

He and the members spent much of their time discussing the process Atkinson followed, the statute governing his investigation of the complaint and the nature of an “urgent concern” that he believed it represented, according to a person familiar with the briefing, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“He was being excruciatingly careful about the language he used,” the person said.

What is a whistleblower: How to be a journalist
Whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg take personal risks to expose wrongdoing. (The Washington Post)

Atkinson made clear that he disagreed with a lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who had contradicted the inspector general and found that the whistleblower complaint did not meet the statutory definition of an urgent concern because it involved a matter not under the DNI’s jurisdiction.

Atkinson told the committee that the complaint did not stem from just one conversation, according to two people familiar with his testimony.

Following the meeting, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, warned of legal action if intelligence officials did not share the whistleblower complaint.

Schiff described acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to share the complaint with Congress as “unprecedented” and said he understood the Justice Department was involved in that decision.

“We cannot get an answer to the question about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress,” Schiff said, adding: “We’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is to make sure that the national security is protected.”

Trump has denied doing anything improper. In a tweet Thursday morning, the president wrote, “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself.

“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call,” Trump wrote.

But Maguire prevented Atkinson from doing so, according to correspondence that has been made public. Atkinson wrote that he had requested permission from Maguire to inform the congressional intelligence committees about the general subject matter of the complaint, but was denied.

Maguire, Atkinson wrote, had consulted with the Justice Department, which determined that the law didn’t require disclosing the complaint to the committee because it didn’t involve a member of the intelligence community or “an intelligence activity under the DNI’s supervision.”

Maguire is scheduled to testify before the Intelligence Committee in a public session next Thursday.

In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity” — one to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump.

Lawmakers also became aware in August that the Trump administration may be trying to stop the aid from reaching Ukraine, according to a congressional official.

Giuliani dismissed the reports of the whistle blower and Trump’s “promise” to a foreign leader.

“I’m not even aware of the fact that he had such a phone call,” Giuliani said Thursday. “If I’m not worried about it, he’s not worried about it.”

The filing of the whistleblower complaint has led to what veterans of U.S. spy agencies described as an unprecedented situation with potentially grave consequences for the already troubled relationship between the president and the nation’s powerful intelligence community.

It remains unclear how the whistleblower gained access to details of the president’s calls — whether through “readouts” generated by White House aides or through other means.

Memos that serve as transcripts of such calls are created routinely. But if that is the source in this instance, it would appear to mean that White House aides made a formal record of comments by the president later deemed deeply troubling by the intelligence community’s chief watchdog.

John Wagner, Karoun Demirjian, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey contributed reporting.

Story 3: Federal Reserve Injects Billions Into Economy As Business and Investors Demand for Money Increases — Videos

 

NY Fed to pump $75 bn into money markets daily through Oct 10

AFP
The New York Fed -- which handles the levers that control the flow of money in the system -- has for the past four days had to pump billions into money markets after bank demand for cash pushed interest rates above the Fed's target
The New York Fed — which handles the levers that control the flow of money in the system — has for the past four days had to pump billions into money markets after bank demand for cash pushed interest rates above the Fed’s target (AFP Photo/Delil SOULEIMAN)
More

New York (AFP) – The New York Federal Reserve Bank said Friday it will inject billions into the US financial plumbing on a daily basis for the next three weeks in an effort to prevent a spike in short-term interest rates.

The Fed will offer up to $75 billion a day in repurchase agreements — exchanging secure assets for cash for very short periods — through October 10, it said in a statement.

In addition, it will offer three 14-day “repo” operations of at least $30 billion each.

Banks have struggled in recent days to find the cash needed to meet reserve requirements which has pushed up short-term borrowing rates, prompting the New York Fed to pump billions into US money markets with repo operations over the past four days.

However, in a sign a cash crunch could be easing, demand for liquidity on Friday did not significantly exceed the amount offered, as it had on two prior days.

After October 10, the New York Fed will “conduct operations as necessary to help maintain the federal funds rate in the target range, the amounts and timing of which have not yet been determined.”

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell this week downplayed concerns about the money market’s cash crunch, saying it was not a sign of problems in the wider economy or a concern for monetary policy.

Economists say an array of conditions converged to dry up liquidity in the banking system — including quarterly corporate tax payments and a surge in government debt sold to investors, which drained cash out of banks.

Banks borrow regularly in markets for very short periods, usually overnight, to make sure their daily cash reserves do not fall below the required level. But interest rates increase with demand.

The New York Fed adds or removes liquidity to keep interest rates in line with the desired target, but the cash shortage in recent days prompted it to pump funds into the short-term repo market as rates soared and threatened to break out of the Fed’s target range.

The central bank cut benchmark lending rates interest rate on Wednesday, and also made some technical adjustments to try to keep the market rates from breaking out of the range, including cutting the interest it offers on bank reserves held at the Fed that are in excess of the minimum required level.

Story 4: Collectivist Climate Change Cult Child Abuser Alarmists — The Green New Steal — Videos

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First Global Climate Strike arrests in London as teachers encourage pupils to take to the streets and join mass protest inspired by eco-activist Greta Thunberg

  • The Metropolitan Police said two people had been arrested in the Strand as activists gathered across London
  • Schoolchildren joined the protests in Britain after they were urged to walk out of classes and lectures today
  • State schools urged pupils not to attend, while some private schools urged them to make their own decision
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan have been among those to praise young demonstrators
  • Do you know any of the protesters taking part in today’s climate action? You can email tips@dailymail.co.uk

Police have moved in and made their first arrests as the largest worldwide climate protest in history arrived in London today with hundreds of thousands of Brits taking part in demonstrations across the country.

Activists, many of whom carried Extinction Rebellion flags and banners, have descended on the capital as the Global Strike 4 Climate Change movement kicked off in the UK to coincide with protests all over the planet.

The Metropolitan Police said two people had been arrested in the Strand for breaching conditions imposed on the protesters which dictate they must gather in a specific place in Westminster, central London.

Schoolchildren, many of them dressed in their uniforms, joined in on more than 200 different climate events in Britain after they were urged to walk out of classes and lectures today.

Politicians have been split on whether or not pupils should be skipping lessons to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to commend young demonstrators.

Mr Corbyn addressed a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament and praised those who had missed lessons to attend, adding: ‘Thank you for being here to teach me and everyone else a lesson about the environment.’

State school leaders have urged youngsters not to take part, saying they understand the strength of feeling around the issue, but have concerns about pupil welfare.

But Suzie Longstaff, headmistress of the £18,900-a-year private Putney High School in south-west London, said that young people should be able to make their own decisions about whether to take part in today’s action.

Scroll down for video 

A protester is arrested by police officers stationed outside outside King's College London as mass demonstrations hit the UK this morning

A protester is arrested by police officers stationed outside outside King’s College London as mass demonstrations hit the UK this morning

A protester is led away by police in handcuffs

An Extinction Rebellion protester is shown outside King's College London

A protester is led away by police in handcuffs this morning (shown left), while an Extinction Rebellion activist is shown waving a XR flag outside King’s College London

Two protesters are placed in handcuffs outside King's College London near the Strand as mass demonstrations kicked off in the capital today

Two protesters are placed in handcuffs outside King’s College London near the Strand as mass demonstrations kicked off in the capital today

Schoolchildren protest with banners outside parliament in London after youngsters were urged to skip lessons in order to take part in demonstrations

Schoolchildren protest with banners outside parliament in London after youngsters were urged to skip lessons in order to take part in demonstrations

Youngsters take part in today's climate change demonstrations after thousands skipped lessons and lectures this morning

Youngsters take part in today’s climate change demonstrations after thousands skipped lessons and lectures this morning

Thousands of protesters gather near the Houses of Parliament for today's climate change demonstration, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak later this afternoon

Thousands of protesters gather near the Houses of Parliament for today’s climate change demonstration, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak later this afternoon

Police officers carry a protester away in the Strand after issuing section 14 notices amid mass-scale demonstrations in London today

Police officers carry a protester away in the Strand after issuing section 14 notices amid mass-scale demonstrations in London today

An aerial shot from Central London shows thousands of protesters gathering during one of more 200 events across the UK this afternoon

An aerial shot from Central London shows thousands of protesters gathering during one of more 200 events across the UK this afternoon

Scottish  comedian Billy Connolly was among those to lend his support to protesters marching in Glasgow this afternoon

Scottish  comedian Billy Connolly was among those to lend his support to protesters marching in Glasgow this afternoon

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted an image from the protest in London and is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament, while dozens of other mass-scale events are being held up and down the country

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted an image from the protest in London and is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament, while dozens of other mass-scale events are being held up and down the country

Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through the streets outsude the Houses of Parliament

Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through the streets outsude the Houses of Parliament

Police officers form a cordon outside Parliament Square, as demonstrators were asked to protest in specified areas

Police officers form a cordon outside Parliament Square, as demonstrators were asked to protest in specified areas

A young child looks out at the masses of people who gathered in central London today for the what is expected to be the world's largest ever join climate change demonstration

A young child looks out at the masses of people who gathered in central London today for the what is expected to be the world’s largest ever join climate change demonstration

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger was among those to give their support to those taking part in the Global Climate Strike

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger was among those to give their support to those taking part in the Global Climate Strike

The Global Strike For Climate in London is being held only days ahead of the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York

The Global Strike For Climate in London is being held only days ahead of the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York

Hundreds of protesters hold a 'die-in' at the UK Student Climate Network's Global Climate Strike in Cambridge this afternoon

Hundreds of protesters hold a ‘die-in’ at the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Cambridge this afternoon

But Ms Longstaff said: ‘Every day we are educating the young people of the future to speak out and make their own decisions.

‘We are trying to provide a modern and relevant education which includes connecting to topics that they feel passionate about. We can’t pick and choose what those are.

‘I’m proud that Putney students have both a social and environmental conscience and I applaud them. Those who feel strongly about protesting will be there.’

Sylvie Craig, 11, and her friend Eva De Pear, 12, both of Shepherds Bush in west London, took the day off school and brought their mothers to the demonstration.

Sylvie said: ‘Climate change is really important. We can’t just talk about it, we have to do something about it ‘

Her mother Bay Garnett, a fashion director, said: ‘I am here for my children and all children. I think every mother feels the same. They need a healthy planet to live on.’

Eva skipped her biology lesson on Friday, saying that going to it made ‘no sense’ because ‘the planet is in real big trouble’. She said: ‘I am here to teach people a lesson instead of learning a lesson.’

Her mother Leila Amanpour said: ‘I feel that unless we come out into the streets, especially the children, the Government is not going to do anything about climate change.’

Thousands of protesters, including hundreds of children, many wearing school uniform, gathered in Birmingham’s Victoria Square before marching through nearby streets.

Meanwhile, West Mercia Police advised drivers to find alternatives routes after around 40 Extinction Rebellion members intermittently blocked traffic in Worcester.

Tweeting a photo from a climate strike in London, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Young people here and across the world are making it impossible to ignore the environment and climate emergency.

‘This is the wonderful youth Climate Strike in my constituency; now I’m on my way to the main London demonstration.’

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tweeted: ‘Great to see so many people the Glasgow Youth Climate March, all raising awareness of the climate crisis.

‘We demand immediate, strong action to stop irreversible damage. We must protect both our planet and future generations.’

Protesters gather ahead of the UK Student Climate Network's Global Climate Strike at Millbank in London today

Protesters gather ahead of the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike at Millbank in London today

Young climate strikers across the country (pictured here in Millbank, London this morning) are taking to the streets as part of a global protest to demand urgent action to tackle climate change

Young climate strikers across the country (pictured here in Millbank, London this morning) are taking to the streets as part of a global protest to demand urgent action to tackle climate change

Protesters hold banners as they attend the Global Climate Strike taking place outside the Houses of Parliament this morning

Protesters hold banners as they attend the Global Climate Strike taking place outside the Houses of Parliament this morning

A sign posted on the outside of the Ben and Jerry's store in Wardour Street, London, shows the firm's support of the climate strikes today

A sign posted on the outside of the Ben and Jerry’s store in Wardour Street, London, shows the firm’s support of the climate strikes today

London joins in global Climate change strikes call for action
Workers joined thousands of schoolchildren in taking part in the mass-scale demonstrations in London today (pictured in Westminster)

Workers joined thousands of schoolchildren in taking part in the mass-scale demonstrations in London today (pictured in Westminster)

Medical professionals were shown marching near Westminster holding up banners and homemade signs declaring their support of climate intervention

Medical professionals were shown marching near Westminster holding up banners and homemade signs declaring their support of climate intervention

State school leaders have urged youngsters not to take part, saying they understand the strength of feeling around the issue, but have concerns about pupil welfare

State school leaders have urged youngsters not to take part, saying they understand the strength of feeling around the issue, but have concerns about pupil welfare

Students hold placards as they attend a climate change demonstration in London this morning (pictured on the lawns outside the Houses of Parliament)

Students hold placards as they attend a climate change demonstration in London this morning (pictured on the lawns outside the Houses of Parliament)

Hundreds demonstrate in Bristol in global climate change strike

London Mayor Mr Khan called on the Government to ‘step up’ action on climate change, adding: ‘I am standing in solidarity with all those who are taking part in the Global Climate Strike.

‘Here in London, City Hall staff have also been encouraged to observe the strike by taking time out of their day to send a message to the world that London demands more ambitious climate actions from governments.’

However business, energy and clean growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he could not endorse children leaving school to take part in the protests, which have been inspired by teenage eco-activist Greta Thunberg.

He told BBC Breakfast on Friday that he supports the ‘energy and creativity’ of students, but said time spent in school is ‘incredibly important’.

Jessica Ahmed, 16, who is studying for an International Baccalaureate had emailed her school to warn that she would be walking out on Friday.

Speaking at a protest in Westminster, Miss Ahmed of Barnet, north London, said: ‘There are no excuses in this. School is important but so is my future.

‘If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognised the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school.

‘I would be doing the maths exam I have studied for.

She called on the Government to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis and for youth to be included in policy-making, adding ‘With so many people striking, surely Government have got to take notice?’

Slogans such as ‘if you breath air you should care’, ‘us snowflakes are melting’, ‘learn to change or learn to swim’, and ‘don’t be a fossil fool’, were among the homemade banners held aloft in the crowd.

Politicians have been split on whether or not children should be skipping lessons to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to praise young demonstrators

Politicians have been split on whether or not children should be skipping lessons to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to praise young demonstrators

Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through Parliament Square in central London this afternoon

Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through Parliament Square in central London this afternoon

The protests in central London today are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg's school strikes outside the Swedish parliament

The protests in central London today are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament

Politicians have been split on whether or not students should be skipping lectures to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to praise young demonstrators

As protests got under way across the UK, the Metropolitan Police said two adults had been arrested on The Strand in central London - where XR Universities, an Extinction Rebellion group are holding a protest (pictured)

As protests got under way across the UK, the Metropolitan Police said two adults had been arrested on The Strand in central London – where XR Universities, an Extinction Rebellion group are holding a protest (pictured)

In Belfast, hundreds of young people took over the Corn Market area of the city centre, where they staged a colourful protest, with speeches and chants, before lying on the ground to participate in a mass ‘die-in’.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.

He said: ‘The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it’s too late.’

Metropolitan Police announced it had made a couple of arrests relating to protests this morning, adding in a tweet: ‘Two adults have been arrested in the Strand for breach of the S14 conditions.

‘We would ask everyone attending #ClimateStrike please attend Millbank, where in conjunction with the organisers we have created a safe space for protest.’

Missing a day of school for climate protest will hit your child’s exam chances, says UK’s schools minister

British schools minister Nick Gibb said the Government ‘shares young people’s passion’ for tackling climate change, but said children should not miss school to protest.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said schools need to record the absences.

He said: ‘We share the passion, as a Government, of young people for tackling climate change, and that is why this Government and this country is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gasses by 2050.’

He added: ‘We don’t think it should be at the expense of a child’s education because what we want is for the next generation to be as well educated as possible to tackle these kinds of problems, and you don’t do that by missing out on an education.’

He said even missing out on one day of school can affect GCSE results.

The ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change‘ rally started in Sydney this morning where Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India joined 50,000 in a rally that saw some violent clashes between police and protesters.

Throughout the day the movement is spreading west across the world to most of the planet’s biggest cities including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, London and New York.

But in China – the world’s most polluting nation – President Xi’s government has banned the movement from protesting in its cities.

In New York, the city’s Department of Education says all its 1.1million schoolchildren can skip class to participate in the strike if they had parental consent – without any fear of punishment.

Miss Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel prize for her climate activism, will spearhead a rally at the United Nations headquarters in the city later.

As the sea of people made their way through the city, some school students on scooters could be seen heading in the opposite direction, while there was some fighting between protesters and police.

Others could be seen scribbling their signs on old pieces of cardboard on the footpath as they waited for the event to begin.’.

Britons joining the climate strikes can expect a day of unseasonably warm weather on Friday as they call on businesses and politicians to cut emissions.

Children and young people are preparing to walk out of lessons and lectures, with hundreds of thousands of workers expected to join them.

The protests are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament.

It comes ahead of a climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.

Much steeper measures are needed across the globe to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Sydney: A protester clashes with police during the climate rally in the Australian city on Friday before he was arrested and removed from the area

Sydney: A protester clashes with police during the climate rally in the Australian city on Friday before he was arrested and removed from the area

Sydney: Children chanting for change march through Australia's largest city today as the 'Global Strike 4 Climate Change' began

Sydney: Children chanting for change march through Australia’s largest city today as the ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change’ began

Climate demonstrators shut down Sydney streets
In Australia today 300,000 people have taken part including more than 50,000 people in Sydney with Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India (pictured) among those who flooded the streets

50,000 people in Sydney flooded the streets

Sydney: In Australia today 300,000 people have taken part including more than 50,000 people in Sydney with Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India among those who flooded the streets

Canberra: A baby takes part in the The Global Strike 4 Climate rally with his parents displaying a warning about the extinction of animals in his car seat

Canberra: A baby takes part in the The Global Strike 4 Climate rally with his parents displaying a warning about the extinction of animals in his car seat

Marovo Island, Solomon Islands: Students in traditional dress gathered on the South Pacific Ocean took part in a march along the beach

Marovo Island, Solomon Islands: Students in traditional dress gathered on the South Pacific Ocean took part in a march along the beach

Bangkok: Marchers in Thailand decided to block the roads outside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as they demanded action

Bangkok: Marchers in Thailand decided to block the roads outside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as they demanded action

Indonesia: Youths walk with signs through the main road during a Global Climate Strike rally as smog covers the city due to the forest fires in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province

Indonesia: Youths walk with signs through the main road during a Global Climate Strike rally as smog covers the city due to the forest fires in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province

As if to underline the urgency of the issues, the mercury is set to hit 26C (78.8F) this weekend – 8C(46.4F) above average for the time of year.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘It is unbelievable that we should need global strike action for the future of our planet to be taken seriously.

‘The stark reality is that our climate is changing rapidly and we are running out of time to address it.’

He promised strikers his full support, adding that City Hall had been invited to observe the strike themselves.

‘I hope governments around the world who are failing to take action hear the voices of millions of people, young and old, unified in their call for action to save our planet. Our future depends on it,’ he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament on Friday, while other events are being held up and down the country.

The UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK, with – for the first time – adults being encouraged to join the youngsters as they strike.

UKSCN is calling on politicians to bring in a ‘Green New Deal’ to cut the UK’s emissions to zero and improve lives, changes to education to equip youngsters to deal with the climate crisis and votes at 16 to give them a voice.

Bali: People display placards during a rally as part of a global climate change campaign at Sanur beach on Indonesia's resort island

Bali: People display placards during a rally as part of a global climate change campaign at Sanur beach on Indonesia’s resort island

Dhaka: Bangladeshi students join the protest and claim world leaders are 'acting like children' over climate change

Dhaka: Bangladeshi students join the protest and claim world leaders are ‘acting like children’ over climate change

Berlin: Activists chose to cycle to block traffic at Ernst-Reuter-Platz square as they take part in the Global Climate Strike

Berlin: Activists chose to cycle to block traffic at Ernst-Reuter-Platz square as they take part in the Global Climate Strike

Brisbane: Millions of people from across the globe are expected to walk out of work and school as part of 'Strike 4 Climate Action' which will be held in 150 countries on September 20

Brisbane: Millions of people from across the globe are expected to walk out of work and school as part of ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ which will be held in 150 countries on September 20

Sydney: Two young girls climb a pole as thousands gathered in the centre of the city as part of global mass day of action

Sydney: Two young girls climb a pole as thousands gathered in the centre of the city as part of global mass day of action

Sydney: A man clashes with police during the climate rally in Sydney on Friday. He was arrested and removed from the area

Sydney: A man clashes with police during the climate rally in Sydney on Friday. He was arrested and removed from the area

Sydney: Parents took their children out of school to take part in the protest. However, acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said students should be in school as it was 'just a disruption'

Sydney: Parents took their children out of school to take part in the protest. However, acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said students should be in school as it was ‘just a disruption’

Among the many trade unions throwing their weight behind the strikes are the TUC Congress, the University and College Union and Unite.

Some businesses are actively supporting their workers to take action, with outdoor clothing company Patagonia closing stores and offices globally, and taking out adverts to support the strikers.

The Co-operative Bank has also teamed up with Unite to support its workforce to take part in the climate strikes around the country.

Worldwide, there are more than 4,600 events in 139 countries taking place as part of the Fridays for Future movement between Friday September 20 and 27, and campaign group 350.org says more than 70 unions, 500 organisations and 1,000 companies have come out in support of the strikes.

Muna Suleiman, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said most people wanted to fix the climate crisis but politicians needed to act.

She said: ‘Right when we need our leaders to step up, they continue to let us down.

‘From filling the skies with more planes, to backing fracking in the UK and funding oil and gas projects abroad.

‘That’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with young people to call on our politicians to deliver emergency climate action now. And we’re asking everyone to join us.’

Sydney: The Global Strike 4 Climate will on Friday take place in 110 towns and cities across Australia, with organisers demanding government and business commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Sydney: The Global Strike 4 Climate will on Friday take place in 110 towns and cities across Australia, with organisers demanding government and business commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Sydney: More than 50,000 people flooded Sydney's streets as they made their way to the Domain to take part in the demonstration calling for governments and businesses to commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Sydney: More than 50,000 people flooded Sydney’s streets as they made their way to the Domain to take part in the demonstration calling for governments and businesses to commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030

'Can't eat money, can't drink money': Protesters take to the streets in Sydney as part of the rally which happened across the globe on Friday

‘Can’t eat money, can’t drink money’: Protesters take to the streets in Sydney as part of the rally which happened across the globe on Friday

Climate change protestors are seen crossing the Victoria Bridge during the Global Strike 4 Climate rally in Brisbane

Large crowds gather during the The Global Strike 4 Climate rally Melbourne,

Brisbane (left) and Melbourne (right): More than 300,000 Australians have chosen to take part in the Global Strike 4 Climate

In Australia there were hundreds of young people proving their dedication to the cause as they carried artistic placards they had made the night before, which read: 'Time is almost up' and 'There is no Planet B'

In Australia there were hundreds of young people proving their dedication to the cause as they carried artistic placards they had made the night before, which read: ‘Time is almost up’ and ‘There is no Planet B’

Sydney: A young girl sits on a man's shoulders during the Sydney protest on Friday. She held a sign which read: 'There is no planet B'

Sydney: A young girl sits on a man’s shoulders during the Sydney protest on Friday. She held a sign which read: ‘There is no planet B’

Sydney: Children allowed out of school chant and throw their arms in the air during the world's biggest planned climate protests

Sydney: Children allowed out of school chant and throw their arms in the air during the world’s biggest planned climate protests

Sydney: Thousands of protesters turned out for the climate strike on Friday. This woman wore green and wrapped a vine around her neck for the cause

Sydney: Thousands of protesters turned out for the climate strike on Friday. This woman wore green and wrapped a vine around her neck for the cause

Bangkok: Thai people protest in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Bangkok: Thai people protest in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Bangkok: Children with megaphones demand their politicians make changes to protect the future of the planet

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7485615/First-Global-Climate-Strike-arrests-London-teachers-encourage-pupils-streets.html

 

Nolte: Climate ‘Experts’ Are 0-41 with Their Doomsday Predictions

 

For more than 50 years Climate Alarmists in the scientific community and environmental movement have not gotten even one prediction correct, but they do have a perfect record of getting 41 predictions wrong.

In other words, on at least 41 occasions, these so-called experts have predicted some terrible environmental catastrophe was imminent … and it never happened.

And not once — not even once! — have these alarmists had one of their predictions come true.

Think about that… the so-called experts are 0-41 with their predictions, but those of us who are skeptical of “expert” prediction number 42, the one that says that if we don’t immediately convert to socialism and allow Alexandria Ocasio-Crazy to control and organize our lives, the planet will become uninhabitable.

Why would any sane person listen to someone with a 0-41 record?

Why would we completely restructure our economy and sacrifice our personal freedom for “experts” who are 0-41, who have never once gotten it right?

If you had an investment counselor who steered you wrong 41times, would you hang in there for number 42?

Of course not. You’d fire him after failed prediction two or three.

And if that’s not crazy enough, the latest ploy is to trot out a 16-year-old girt to spread prediction number 42, because it is so much more credible that way.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh.

Anyway, I want you to have the data, so go ahead and print this out in advance of Thanksgiving dinner with your obnoxious Millennial nephew.

LIST OF DOOMSDAY PREDICTIONS CLIMATE ALARMIST GOT RIGHT

NONE.

ZIP.

ZERO.

NADA.

BLANK

DONUT HOLE

NIL.

NOTHING.

VOID.

ZILCH.

LIST OF DOOMSDAY PREDICTIONS THE CLIMATE ALARMIST GOT WRONG

Here is the source for numbers 1-27. As you will see, the individual sources are not crackpots, but scientific studies and media reports on “expert” predictions. The sources for numbers 28-41 are linked individually.

  1. 1967: Dire Famine Forecast By 1975
  2. 1969: Everyone Will Disappear In a Cloud Of Blue Steam By 1989 (1969)
  3. 1970: Ice Age By 2000
  4. 1970: America Subject to Water Rationing By 1974 and Food Rationing By 1980
  5. 1971: New Ice Age Coming By 2020 or 2030
  6. 1972: New Ice Age By 2070
  7. 1974: Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast
  8. 1974: Another Ice Age?
  9. 1974: Ozone Depletion a ‘Great Peril to Life
  10. 1976: Scientific Consensus Planet Cooling, Famines imminent
  11. 1980: Acid Rain Kills Life In Lakes
  12. 1978: No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend
  13. 1988: Regional Droughts (that never happened) in 1990s
  14. 1988: Temperatures in DC Will Hit Record Highs
  15. 1988: Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018 (they’re not)
  16. 1989: Rising Sea Levels will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000
  17. 1989: New York City’s West Side Highway Underwater by 2019 (it’s not)
  18. 2000: Children Won’t Know what Snow Is
  19. 2002: Famine In 10 Years If We Don’t Give Up Eating Fish, Meat, and Dairy
  20. 2004: Britain will Be Siberia by 2024
  21. 2008: Arctic will Be Ice Free by 2018
  22. 2008: Climate Genius Al Gore Predicts Ice-Free Arctic by 2013
  23. 2009: Climate Genius Prince Charles Says we Have 96 Months to Save World
  24. 2009: UK Prime Minister Says 50 Days to ‘Save The Planet From Catastrophe’
  25. 2009: Climate Genius Al Gore Moves 2013 Prediction of Ice-Free Arctic to 2014
  26. 2013: Arctic Ice-Free by 2015
  27. 2014: Only 500 Days Before ‘Climate Chaos’
  28. 1968: Overpopulation Will Spread Worldwide
  29. 1970: World Will Use Up All its Natural Resources
  30. 1966: Oil Gone in Ten Years
  31. 1972: Oil Depleted in 20 Years
  32. 1977: Department of Energy Says Oil will Peak in 90s
  33. 1980: Peak Oil In 2000
  34. 1996: Peak Oil in 2020
  35. 2002: Peak Oil in 2010
  36. 2006: Super Hurricanes!
  37. 2005 : Manhattan Underwater by 2015
  38. 1970: Urban Citizens Will Require Gas Masks by 1985
  39. 1970: Nitrogen buildup Will Make All Land Unusable
  40. 1970: Decaying Pollution Will Kill all the Fish
  41. 1970s: Killer Bees!

Sorry, Experts… Sorry, Scientific Consensus… Only a fool comes running for the 42nd cry of wolf.

Don’t litter, be kind to animals, recycling’s for suckers (it’s all going to end up in the ground eventually), so stop feeling guilty… Go out there and embrace all the bounty that comes with being a 21st century American — you know, like Obama, who says he believes in Global Warming with his mouth but proves he doesn’t with the $15 million he just spent on oceanfront that we’re told is doomed to flooding

https://www.breitbart.com/environment/2019/09/20/nolte-climate-experts-are-0-41-with-their-doomsday-predictions/

Corporate America Has Found a Way to Turn a Profit Off Being Green

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(Bloomberg) — It’s time to stop crediting corporate sustainability efforts as acts of altruism. For big business, protecting the environment often means padding the bottom line.

Nike Inc. has come up with a way to weave more efficiently, reducing the raw material and labor time needed to make each shoe. That has kept more than 3.5 million pounds of waste from reaching landfills since 2012. But the good news doesn’t stop with the environmental impact. The company is spending less on transportation, materials and waste disposal.

The shoemaker’s “more environmentally conscious product has been a source of cost savings,” said James Duffy, an analyst at Stifel.

Those flimsy plastic water bottles sold by Nestle SA? The ultra-thin design has a smaller impact on the environment while pushing down costs associated with packaging and shipping. Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. have poured tens of millions of dollars into a fund that builds out recycling infrastructure, reducing landfill tipping fees and recovering material that could be sold as new products.

Tech giants have spent billions of dollars on solar and wind power, cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and energy expenditures at the same time. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon and Facebook Inc. are now some of the largest buyers of green power in America.

Turns out it’s not just easy being green—it’s also profitable.

“We’ve moved past this concept that business versus the environment is a tradeoff,” said Tom Murray, who advises companies on reducing emissions at Environmental Defense Fund, including Walmart, McDonald’s Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. “The business benefits were always there, but more and more companies are going after them.”

The business case for going green has never been stronger as companies find ways to make more from less. Here’s a look at the ways corporate sustainability is making environmentalism pay.

Lightweight Flights Cost Less

United Airlines Holdings Inc. has been making its planes lighter, driving down fuel use and costs. Airlines account for almost 2% global carbon emissions. Not even the in-flight magazine has been spared in the search for unnecessary heft: changing to a lighter paper stock saved almost $300,000 per year on fuel. United redesigned airplane bathrooms, switched out beverage carts and ended duty-free sales. The company was also working on reducing its cabin waste to zero.

What it pays: United has saved more than $2 billion on fuel so far.

Hanging Hotel Towels Saves More Than Water

It turns out that simply asking guests to hang up towels to dry and forego daily sheet changes can save hotel operators 25% off annual energy costs. “To some surprise within the hotel industry, this option was quickly embraced by hotel guests as a small way to engage in energy conservation,” according to a report by the Urban Land Institute. Clarion Partners LLC does that at all of its hotels and went a step further by reducing flows through toilets, faucets and showerheads.

What it pays: Cutting water use saves Clarion hotels about $17,250 per year.

Idle Trucks, Real Money

Walmart runs one of the biggest trucking fleets in the U.S. That means scores of semis standing in traffic at any given time. At that scale, the introduction of technology that reduces energy use when trucks or idling and software that creates more efficient routes can improve fuel efficiency by 90%, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

What it pays: Diesel averages almost $3 a gallon in the U.S.

Tech’s Green Power Payoff

Google, Facebook and Amazon are among the largest energy consumers in the U.S., and a lot of that power is now emission-free. Each company committed to getting 100% of their power for their data centers from renewable resources such as wind and solar. Exxon Mobil signed up to energize its operations in Texas with solar and wind energy starting next year, which would place the oil producer among the top 10 buyers.

What it pays: With renewables now cheaper than fossil fuels, these green energy commitments shave an estimated 10% off tech giants’ gargantuan utility bills.

Paperless Bathrooms Are Cheaper

Restaurants, movie theaters and others have been making the switch from paper towels to hand dryers in their restrooms for years. Dryers have become the norm because of the savings on the cost of paper towels and the expense of sending garbage to the landfill. Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, made the switch and cut carbon emissions by 76% per use.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-business-turns-profit-environmentalism-100018045.html

Patrick Michaels

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Patrick J. Michaels
Patrick Michaels by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Michaels in 2016
Born February 15, 1950 (age 69)

Residence United States
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Chicago,
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known for Work on global warming
Scientific career
Fields ClimatologyEcology
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison,
University of Virginia,
Cato Institute
Thesis Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America (1979)
Website Patrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute

Patrick J. (“Pat“) Michaels (born February 15, 1950) is an American climatologist. Michaels was a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute until Spring 2019. Until 2007 he was research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where he had worked from 1980.[2][3][4]

A self-described skeptic on the issue of global warming, he is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has written a number of books and papers on climate change, including Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), The Satanic Gases (2000), and Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (2004). He’s also the co-author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know (2009).[2] Michaels’ viewpoint, as argued in a 2002 article in the journal Climate Research, is that the planet will see “a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C” for the 1990 to 2100 period (a value far smaller than the IPCC’s average predictions).[5]

Contents

Education

Patrick Michaels obtained an A.B. in biological science in 1971 and an S.M. in biology in 1975 from the University of Chicago, and in 1979 obtained his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[6] His doctoral thesis was titled Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America.[7]

Views on climate change

Michaels has said that he does not contest the basic scientific principles behind greenhouse warming and acknowledges that the global mean temperature has increased in recent decades.[8] He is quoted as being skeptical of global warming,[citation needed][9] and is described by Michael E. Mann as a “prominent climate change contrarian.”[10] He contends that the changes will be minor, not catastrophic, and may even be beneficial.[11]

He has written extensive editorials on this topic for the mass media, and for think tanks and their publications such as Regulation. He stated in 2000:[11]

[S]cientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (C) [in 50 years]

All this has to do with basic physics, which isn’t real hard to understand. It has been known since 1872 that as we emit more and more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, each increment results in less and less warming. In other words, the first changes produce the most warming, and subsequent ones produce a bit less, and so on. But we also assume carbon dioxide continues to go into the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate. In other words, the increase from year-to-year isn’t constant, but itself is increasing. The effect of increasing the rate of carbon dioxide emissions, coupled with the fact that more and more carbon dioxide produces less and less warming compels our climate projections for the future warming to be pretty much a straight line. Translation: Once human beings start to warm the climate, they do so at a constant rate.[12]

Michaels has stated in the Wall Street Journal:

Why is the news on global warming always bad? Perhaps because there’s little incentive to look at things the other way. If you do, you’re liable to be pilloried by your colleagues. If global warming isn’t such a threat, who needs all that funding?[13]

A 2002 article published in the journal Climate Research by Michaels and three other scholars has predicted “a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C” over the 1990 to 2100 period, although he remarked that the “temperature range and central values determined in our study may be too great.” He made the argument that the climate feedback system involving current warming trends was weaker than generally asserted, coming to a conclusion that set his views apart from that of the IPCC’s estimates.[5]

In 2009, Michaels authored a Cato report arguing that “Congress should pass no legislation restricting emissions of carbon dioxide, repeal current ethanol mandates, and inform the public about how little climate change would be prevented by proposed legislation.” [14]

In 2018, Michaels asserted on Fox News, “probably about half, maybe half of that nine-tenths of the degree [of total warming] might be caused by greenhouse gases.” Climate Feedback, a fact-checking website for media coverage on climate change, wrote of Michaels’ assertion, “no evidence or research is provided to support this claim, which contradicts the published scientific literature.”[15]

Advocacy

Expert witness for Western Fuels Association

In May 1994 Richard Lindzen, Michaels, and Robert Balling served as expert witnesses on behalf of Western Fuels Association in St. Paul, Minnesota to determine the environmental cost of coal burning by state power plants.[16] Western Fuels Association is a consortium of coal producers that uses collective advocacy to represent industry interests.[17]

1998: Michaels and Balling complaint against Star Tribune upheld

In May 1997 Ross Gelbspan made a presentation in Minneapolis discussing his concerns, documented in his 1997 book The Heat is On, that some climatologists were involved in a “disinformation campaign” to counter the scientific consensus on global warming. The Minnesota Star Tribune ran an editorial praising this as a public service exposing undue credit given to the “unsubsantiated opinions” of a handful of contrarian scientists, and naming Michaels and his colleague Robert Balling as skeptics whose views had been examined and dismissed by numerous other scientists. Michaels and Balling took a complaint against the Star Tribune to the Minnesota News Council, and at a hearing in April 1998 by a 9–4 decision the council “voted to sustain the complaint that the Star Tribune editorial unfairly characterized the scientific reputations of Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling.”[18]

World Climate Report, Greening Earth Society, and Western Fuels Association

The World Climate Report, a newsletter edited by Michaels was first published by the Greening Earth Society. The society was a public relations organization associated with the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies.[19][20][21]It has been called a “front group created by the coal industry”[22] and an “industry front”.[23] Fred Palmer, a society staffer, is a registered lobbyist for Peabody Energy, a coal company.[24] WFA founded the group in 1997, according to an archived version of its website, “as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use.”[25]

2003 John Holdren

Office of Science and Technology Policy director, John Holdren,[26] told the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee in June 2003, “Michaels is another of the handful of U.S. climate-change contrarians … He has published little if anything of distinction in the professional literature, being noted rather for his shrill op-ed pieces and indiscriminate denunciations of virtually every finding of mainstream climate science.”[27] In 2009 Michaels responded in a Washington Examiner Op-Ed, saying that the IPCC had subverted the peer review process, and adding the IPCC had “left out plenty of peer-reviewed science that it found inconveniently disagreeable.”[28]

International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group in 2007

Michaels was one of hundreds of US reviewers composing the International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group in 2007.

Although the Greening Earth Society was generally skeptical of the impact of climate change, it acknowledged some degree of global warming as real: “Fact #1. The rate of global warming during the past several decades has been about 0.18°C per decade”.[29] Note that the actual increase in the global surface temperature during the 100 years ending in 2005 was 0.74 ± 0.18 °C.[30]

Climate scientist Tom Wigley,[31] a lead author of parts of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has stated that “Michaels’ statements on the subject of computer models are a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation … Many of the supposedly factual statements made in Michaels’ testimony are either inaccurate or are seriously misleading.”[32]

Climate of Extremes

Michaels received praise for his book, Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know (2009) from University of Alabama-Huntsville Principal Research Scientist Roy Spencer, who wrote, “Michaels and [Co-Author Robert] Balling have provided a treasure trove of the latest global warming science.”[33] Will Happer, Professor of Physics and Former Chairman of the University Research Board at Princeton University, also praised the book and wrote it “…provides important and honest information about climate change that is hard to find elsewhere.”[34]

Funding from energy or fossil fuel companies

On July 27, 2006 ABC News reported that a Colorado energy cooperative, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, had given Michaels $100,000.[35] An Associated Press report said that the donations had been made after Michaels had “told Western business leaders … that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists’ global warming research” and noted that the cooperative had a vested interest in opposing mandatory carbon dioxide caps, a situation that raised conflict of interest concerns.[36]

Michaels said on CNN that 40 per cent of his funding came from the oil industry.[37] According to Fred Pearce, fossil fuel companies have helped fund Michaels’ projects, including his World Climate Report, published every year since 1994, and his “advocacy science consulting firm”, New Hope Environmental Services.[38]

A 2005 article published by the Seattle Times reported that Michaels had received more than $165,000 in fuel-industry funding, including money from the coal industry to publish his own climate journal.[9]

Selected publications

Michaels is the author of several books including: Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), Satanic Gases (2002; as coauthor), Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media (2004), published by the Cato Institute, and Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming (2005; as editor and coauthor).

His writing has been published in major scientific journals, including Climate ResearchClimatic ChangeGeophysical Research LettersJournal of ClimateNature, and Science, as well as in popular serials such as the Washington PostWashington TimesLos Angeles TimesUSA TodayHouston Chronicle, and Journal of Commerce.[2] He was an author of the climate “paper of the year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers in 2004.[2]

Science papers and technical comments

Books

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Michaels

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The Pronk Pops Show 1194, January 10, 2019, Story 1: Trump’s Manhattan Project — A Completed 2000 Mile Big Beautiful Border Barrier By July 4, 2020 — Common Sense Steel Slat Security From Drug Dealers, Terrorists and Illegal Aliens –A Sure Winner Setting Trump Up For A Landslide Trump Presidential Victory In 2020 — Promises Made and Promises Kept — Videos

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Story 1: Trump’s Manhattan Project — A Completed 2000 Mile Big Beautiful Border Barrier By July 4, 2020 — Common Sense Steel Slate Security From Drug Dealers, Terrorists and Illegal Aliens –A Sure Winner Setting Trump Up For A Landslide Trump Presidential Victory In 2020 — Promises Made and Promises Kept — Videos

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THE UNITED STATES’ STATES OF EMERGENCIES

Trump’s threat to use a national emergency for the border wall taps into a history of far-reaching executive power.
View of the U.S.–Mexico border wall on January 7th, 2019 in Tijuana, Mexico. President Donald Trump is considering declaring a national emergency if Democrats do not approve of $5.7 billion in funding to build a wall.

View of the U.S.–Mexico border wall on January 7th, 2019 in Tijuana, Mexico. President Donald Trump is considering declaring a national emergency if Democrats do not approve of $5.7 billion in funding to build a wall.

(Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The United States has been in a near-constant state of emergency for 40 years. Now, President Donald Trump is considering treating the border as one.

On Sunday, Trump told reporters that he was considering invoking executive authority to resolve the government shutdown and secure funding for his border wall. “I may declare a national emergency dependent on what’s going to happen over the next few days,” Trump said, according to the Hill.

Immediately, politicians and experts from both sides weighed in, disavowing this statement and threatening legal action. “He’ll face a challenge, I’m sure, if he oversteps what the law requires when it comes to his responsibility as commander-in-chief,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said on CBS.

While experts say it’s possible for the president to use some of his emergency powers to build a border wall, they also agree it would be an overstep—at least “a violation of constitutional norms,” as the New York Times reports, sure to be settled in the courts. Reports show the president’s claims about the “threat” of illegal immigration are unfounded, although the conditions for asylum seekers are worsening.

This is not the first time a president has contemplated such authority: According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, a “vast set of laws gives the president greatly enhanced powers during emergencies.” These include 136 statutory powers that touch on everything from the military to criminal law—and 96 require only the president’s signature.

Here’s how we got here.

THE STATE OF EMERGENCY EMERGES

Under the U.S. Constitution, presidents have amassed many powers that spring to life during crisis. President Harry Truman first declared a state of emergency during the Korean War, in an order that remained in effect until Congress attempted to regulate this authority years later, according to the Lawfare Institute. In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, codifying—without truly restricting—this authority. The law gives a president the power to declare a national emergency when she or he wishes. Under the act, an emergency lapses after a year, unless it’s renewed—and it often is.

President Jimmy Carter declared the first national emergency under the NEA in 1979, with an order blocking Iranian government property from entering the U.S. in response to the Iran hostage crisis. Carter determined that this situation, like the many to follow it, met the criteria of being “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security.”

Although the act is intended to combat threats, it also authorizes far-reaching powers, which critics consider a threat of their own. The Brennan Center has catalogued many it considers easily exploitable, including the ability to suspend a ban on human testing of chemical and biological weapons, or a complete White House takeover of radio and wire communications. A president does not necessarily invoke all of these powers when declaring an emergency, nor are they all relevant or even possible. (The researchers note that one statute, still on the books, exempts World War II veterans from the draft.) However, as The Atlantic reports, Trump could still use the act for a “presidential power grab,” giving him control over, say, Internet traffic and computer systems—including voter databases.

FOUR DECADES OF EMERGENCIES

Since that first order in 1979, American presidents have declared 58 national emergencies. According to the Brennan Center’s running count, 31 of these are still in effect—including the ban on Iranian property, which was extended in November of 2018. In other words, the country has been in some state of emergency for almost four decades.

These 58 national emergencies include declarations over dealings with Yemen, Syria, and North Korea, among others; sanctions against an array of terrorist groups, including one after 9/11; and various orders concerning nuclear weapons, diamonds imported from Sierra Leone, and the 2009 swine flu epidemic. Most recently, George W. Bush declared 13 and Barack Obama 12, most of which are still in effect, according to CNN.

TRUMP’S STATES OF EMERGENCY

So far, the president has declared three national emergencies under the National Emergencies Act, according to the Brennan Center. The first was in December of 2017, when Trump sanctioned 13 people for human rights abuses and corruption using an executive order. Many were generals and heads of state accused of ordering executions and mass murder, including ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

The second came in September of 2018. Criticized as too broad at the time, the ordersanctioned people found to be involved in hacking and social media campaigns for the purpose of influencing elections, Politico reports. In November, Trump declared a third national emergency over Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s regime and its “use of indiscriminate violence and repressive tactics against civilians.”

The opioid crisis gets an honorable mention; although Trump said he would declare a national emergency over the crisis, the White House designated it a public-health emergency instead. However, a year later, Pacific Standard found that officials squandered their legal powers under the declaration.

Now, the president is contemplating a national emergency that few are calling for. But as with the opioid crisis, the president’s statement may never become a declaration. “We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely,” he said on Friday. Then: “We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it.”

 

Any attempt to seize the remittances from such families would be devastating. Fluctuating between $20 billion and $25 billion annually during the past decade, remittances from the United States have amounted to about 3 percent of Mexico’s GDP, representing the third–largest source of foreign revenue after oil and tourism. The remittances enable human and economic development throughout the country, and this in turn reduces the incentives for further migration to the United States—precisely what Trump is aiming to do.

A tunnel between Tijuana and a warehouse in California featured an elevator. Getty Images

WHY THE WALL WOULDN’T STOP SMUGGLING

Why the DHS believes that a 30–foot tall wall cannot be scaled and a tunnel cannot be built deeper than six feet below ground is not clear.

smuggling tunnel can be as deep as 70 feet, lower than the wall being 6 feet deep

Drug smugglers have been using tunnels to get drugs into the United States ever since Mexico’s most famous drug trafficker, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloa Cartel, pioneered the method in 1989. And the sophistication of these tunnels has only grown over time. In April 2016, U.S. law enforcement officials discovered a drug tunnel that ran more than half a mile from Tijuana to San Diego and was equipped with ventilation vents, rails, and electricity. It is the longest such tunnel to be found so far, but one of 13 of great length and technological expertise discovered since 2006. Altogether, between 1990 and 2016, 224 tunnels have been unearthed at the U.S.–Mexico border.

Other smuggling methods increasingly include the use of drones and catapults as well as joint drainage systems between border towns that have wide tunnels or tubes through which people can crawl and drugs can be pulled. But even if the land border were to become much more secure, that would only intensify the trend toward smuggling goods as well as people via boats that sail far to the north, where they land on the California coast.

Another thing to consider is that a barrier in the form of a wall is increasingly irrelevant to the drug trade as it is now practiced because most of the drugs smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico no longer arrive on the backs of those who cross illegally. Instead, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, most of the smuggled marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines comes through the 52 legal ports of entry on the border. These ports have to process literally millions of people, cars, trucks, and trains every week. Traffickers hide their illicit cargo in secret, state–of–the art compartments designed for cars, or under legal goods in trailer trucks. And they have learned many techniques for fooling the border patrol. Mike, a grizzled U.S. border official whom I interviewed in El Paso in 2013, shrugged: “The narcos sometimes tip us off, letting us find a car full of drugs while they send six other cars elsewhere. Such write–offs are part of their business expense. Other times the tipoffs are false. We search cars and cars, snarl up the traffic for hours on, and find nothing.”

Beyond the Sinaloa Cartel, 44 other significant criminal groups operate today in Mexico. The infighting within and among them has made Mexico one of the world’s most violent countries. In 2016 alone this violence claimed between 21,000 and 23,000 lives. Between 2007 and 2017, a staggering 177,000 people were murdered in Mexico, a number that could actually be much higher, as many bodies are buried in mass graves that are hidden and never found. Those Mexican border cities that are principal entry points of drugs into the Unites States have been particularly badly affected by the violence.

Take Ciudad Juárez, for example. Directly across the border from peaceful El Paso. Ciudad Juárez was likely the world’s most violent city when I was there in 2011 and it epitomizes what can happen during these drug wars. In 2011 the Sinaloa Cartel was battling the local Juárez Cartel, trying to take over the city’s smuggling routes to the United States, and causing a veritable bloodbath. Walking around the contested colonías at the time was like touring a cemetery: Residents would point out places where people were killed the day before, three days before, five weeks ago.

bullet holebullet holebullet holebullet holebullet holebullet holebullet holebullet holebullet hole

Juan, a skinny 19–year–old whom I met there that year, told me that he was trying to get out of a local gang (the name of which he wouldn’t reveal). He had started working for the gang as a halcone (a lookout) when he was 15, he said. But now as the drug war raged in the city and the local gangs were pulled into the infighting between the big cartels, his friends in the gang were being asked to do much more than he wanted to do—to kill. Without any training, they were given assault weapons. Having no shooting skills, they just sprayed bullets in the vicinity of their assigned targets, hoping that at least some of the people they killed would be the ones they were supposed to kill, because if they didn’t succeed, they themselves might be murdered by those who had contracted them to do the job.

I met Juan through Valeria, whose NGO was trying to help gang members like Juan get on the straight and narrow. But it was tough going for her and her staff to make the case. As Juan had explained to me, a member who refused to do the bidding of the gangs could be killed for his failure to cooperate.

“And America does nothing to stop the weapons coming here!” Valeria exclaimed to me.

While President Trump accuses Mexico of exporting violent crime and drugs to the United States, many Mexican officials as well as people like Valeria, who are on the ground in the fight against the drug wars, complain of a tide of violence and corruption that flows in the opposite direction. Some 70 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2009 and 2014 originated in the United States. Although amounting to over 73,000 guns, these seizures still likely represented only a fraction of the weapons smuggled from the United States. Moreover, billions of dollars per year are made in the illegal retail drug market in the United States and smuggled back to Mexico, where the cartels depend on this money for their basic operations. Sometimes, sophisticated money–laundering schemes, such as trade–based deals, are used; but large parts of the proceeds are smuggled as bulk cash hidden in secret compartments and among goods in the cars and trains daily crossing the border south to Mexico.

Some 70 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2009 and 2014 originated in the United States.

And of course it is the U.S. demand for drugs that fuels Mexican drug smuggling in the first place. Take, for example, the current heroin epidemic in the United States. It originated in the over–prescription of medical opiates to treat pain. The subsequent efforts to reduce the over–prescription of painkillers led those Americans who became dependent on them to resort to illegal heroin. That in turn stimulated a vast expansion of poppy cultivation in Mexico, particularly in Guerrero. In 2015, Mexico’s opium poppy cultivation reached perhaps 28,000 hectares, enough to distill about 70 tons of heroin (which is even more than the 24–50 tons estimated to be necessary to meet the U.S. demand).

Heroin brand name stamps. DEA

Mexico’s large drug cartels, including El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel, which is estimated to supply between 40 and 60 percent of the cocaine and heroin sold on the streets in the United States, are the dominant wholesale suppliers of illegal drugs in the United States. For the retail trade, however, they usually recruit business partners among U.S. crime gangs. And thanks to the deterrence capacity of U.S. law enforcement, insofar as Mexican drug–trafficking groups do have in–country operations in the U.S., such as in wholesale supply, they have behaved strikingly peacefully and have not resorted to the vicious aggression and infighting that characterizes their business in Mexico. So the U.S. has been spared the drug–traffic–related explosions of violence that have ravaged so many of the drug–producing or smuggling areas of Mexico.

Both the George W. Bush administration and the Obama administration recognized the joint responsibility for drug trafficking between the United States and Mexico, an attitude that allowed for unprecedented collaborative efforts to fight crime and secure borders. This collaboration allowed U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agents to operate in Mexico and help their Mexican counterparts in intelligence development, training, vetting, establishment of police procedures and protocols, and interdiction operations. The collaboration also led to Mexico being far more willing than it ever had been before to patrol both its northern border with the United States and its southern border with Central America, as part of the effort to help apprehend undocumented workers trying to cross into the United States.

The Trump administration’s hostility to Mexico could jeopardize this progress. In retaliation for building the wall, for any efforts the U.S. might make to force Mexico to pay for the wall, or for the collapse of NAFTA, the Mexican government could, for example, give up on its efforts to secure its southern border or stop sharing counterterrorism intelligence with the United States. Yet Mexico’s cooperation is far more important for U.S. security than any wall.

Chicago police at the scene of a shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Getty Images

WHAT THE WALL WOULD MEAN FOR CRIME IN THE U.S.

Although President Trump has railed against the “carnage” of crime in the United States, the crime statistics, with few exceptions, tell a very different story.

In 2014, 14,249 people were murdered, the lowest homicide rate since 1991 when there were 24,703, and part of a pattern of steady decline in violent crime over that entire period. In 2015, however, murders in the U.S. did shoot up to 15,696. This increase was largely driven by three cities—Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Baltimore and Chicago have decreasing populations, and all three have higher poverty and unemployment than the national average, high income and racial inequality, and troubled relations between residents and police—conditions conducive to a rise in violent crime. In 2016, homicides fell in Washington and Baltimore, but continued rising in Chicago.

There is no evidence, however, that undocumented residents accounted for either the rise in crime or even for a substantial number of the crimes, in Chicago or elsewhere. The vast majority of violent crimes, including murders, are committed by native–born Americans. Multiple criminological studies show that foreign–born individuals commit much lower levels of crime than do the native–born. In California, for example, where there is a large immigrant population, including of undocumented migrants, U.S.–born men were incarcerated at a rate 2.5 times higher than foreign–born men.

A Mexican man is fingerprinted while in custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Reuters

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is promoting a policing approach that insists on prioritizing hunting down undocumented workers, including by using regular police forces, and this kind of misguided law enforcement policy is spreading: In Texas, which has an estimated 1.5 million undocumented immigrants, Republican Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a law to punish sanctuary cities. Among the punishments are draconian measures (such as removal from office, fines, and up to one–year imprisonment) to be enacted against local police officials who do not embrace immigration enforcement. Abbott signed the law despite the fact that police chiefs from all five of Texas’s largest cities—Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth—published a statement condemning it: “This legislation is bad for Texas and will make our communities more dangerous for all,” they wrote in their Dallas Morning News op–ed. They argued that immigration enforcement is a federal, not a state responsibility, and that the new law would widen a gap between police and immigrant communities, discouraging cooperation with police on serious crimes, and resulting in widespread underreporting of crimes perpetrated against immigrants. There is powerful and consistent evidence that if people begin to question the fairness, equity, and legitimacy of law enforcement and government institutions, then they stop reporting crime, and homicides increase.

Police chiefs in other parts of the country, from Los Angeles to Denver, have expressed similar concerns and also their dismay at having to devote their already overstrained resources to hunting down undocumented workers.

The Trump administration has broadened the Obama–era criteria for “expedited removal.” Under Obama any immigrant arrested within 100 miles of the border who had been in the country for less than 14 days—i.e., before he or she could establish roots in the United States—could be deported without due process. The result: In fiscal year 2016, 85 percent of all removals (forced) and returns (voluntary) were of noncitizens who met those criteria. Almost all (more than 90 percent) of the remaining 15 percent had been convicted of serious crimes.

Now, however, any undocumented person anywhere in the country who has been here for as long as two years can be removed. And although it claims it will focus on deporting immigrants who commit serious crimes, the Trump administration is gearing up for mass deportations of many of the 11.1 million undocumented residents in the U.S., by far the largest number of whom come from Mexico (6.2 million), Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador, and Colombia. To that end, it is vastly expanding the definition of what constitutes deportable crime, including fraud in any official matter, such as abuse of “any program related to the receipt of public benefits” or even using a fake Social Security number to pay U.S. taxes. The Trump administration is also reviving the highly controversial 287(g) program under which local law enforcement officials can be deputized to perform immigration duties and can inquire about a person’s immigration status during routine policing of matters as insignificant as jaywalking.

Many of the people being targeted have for decades lived lawful, safe, and productive lives here. About 60 percent of the undocumented have lived in the United States for at least a decade. A third of undocumented immigrants aged 15 and older have at least one child who is a U.S. citizen by birth. The ripping apart of such families has tragic consequences for those involved, as I have seen first–hand.

Many of the people being targeted [for deportation] have for decades lived lawful, safe, and productive lives here.”

Antonio, whom I interviewed in Tijuana in 2013, had lived for many years in Las Vegas, where he worked in construction and his wife cleaned hotels. Having had no encounters with U.S. law enforcement, he risked going back to Mexico to visit his ailing mother in Sinaloa. But he got nabbed trying to sneak back into the U.S. After a legal ordeal, which included being handcuffed and shackled and a degrading stay in a U.S. detention facility, he was dumped in Tijuana, where I met him shortly after his arrival there. He dreaded being forever separated from his wife and their two little boys, who had been born seven and five years before. But Sinaloa is a poor, tough place to live, strongly under the sway of the narcos, and Antonio did not want his loved ones to sacrifice themselves in order to rejoin him. As Antonio choked back tears talking about how much he missed his family, I asked him whether they might travel to San Diego to speak with him across the bars of Friendship Park. But Antonio wasn’t sure how long he could stay in Tijuana. He was afraid he would be arrested again, this time in Mexico, because in order to please U.S. law enforcement officials by appearing diligent in combating crime, Tijuana’s police force had gotten into the habit of arresting, for the most minor of infractions, Mexicans and Central Americans deported from the United States. Sweeping homeless poor migrants and deportees off the streets made Tijuana’s city center appear peaceful, bustling, and clean again, after years of a cartel bloodbath. Mexican businesses were pleased by the orderly look of the city center, the U.S. was gratified by Mexico’s cooperation, and tourists were returning, with U.S. college students again partying and getting drunk in Tijuana’s cantinas and clubs. If harmless victims of U.S. deportation policies like Antonio had to pay the price for these benefits, so be it.

Immigrant farm workers harvest spinach near Coachella, California. Getty Images

HOW THE WALL WOULD HURT THE U.S. ECONOMY

If immigrants are not responsible for any significant amount of crime in the United States and in fact are considerably less likely than native–born citizens to commit crime, then what about the other justification for President Trump’s vilification of immigrants, legal and illegal, and his determination to wall them out: Do immigrants steal U.S. jobs and suppress U.S. wages?

There is little evidence to support such claims. According to a comprehensive National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine analysis, immigration does not significantly impact the overall employment levels of most native–born workers. The impact of immigrant labor on the wages of native–born workers is also low. Immigrant labor does have some negative effects on the employment and wages of native–born high school dropouts, however, and also on prior immigrants, because all three groups compete for low–skilled jobs and the newest immigrants are often willing to work for less than their competition. To a large extent, however, undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back–breaking jobs that native–born workers are not willing to do. Sectors with large numbers of undocumented workers include agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality services, and seafood processing. The fish–cutting industry, for example, is unable to recruit a sufficient number of legal workers and therefore is overwhelmingly dependent on an undocumented workforce. Skinning, deboning, and cutting fish is a smelly, slimy, grimy, chilly, monotonous, and exacting job. Many workers rapidly develop carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be a dangerous job, with machinery for cutting off fish heads and deboning knives everywhere frequently leading to amputated fingers. The risk of infections from cuts and the bloody water used to wash fish is also substantial. Over the past ten years, multiple exposés have revealed that both in the United States and abroad, workers in the fishing and seafood processing industries, often undocumented in other countries also, are subjected to forced labor conditions, and sometimes treated like slaves.

Typical housing for migrant farmworkers in a work camp in Sampson County, in central North Carolina. Getty Images

While paying more than jobs she could obtain in Honduras, the fish cutting job was hard for 38–year–old Marta Escoto, profiled by Robin Shulman in a 2007 article in The Washington Post. But she put up with it for the sake of her two young children, one of them a four–year–old daughter who couldn’t walk and suffered from a gastrointestinal illness that prevented her from absorbing enough nutrition. Yet the fear of raids to which the Massachusetts fish–cutting industry was subjected a decade ago, in an earlier wave of anti–immigrant fervor, drove her to seek a job as a seamstress in a Massachusetts factory producing uniforms for U.S. soldiers. But misfortune struck there, too. Like the seafood processing plants, the New Bedford factory was raided by U.S. immigration officers; and although Marta had no criminal record, she was arrested and rapidly flown to a detention facility in Texas while her children were left alone in a day care center. Unlike many other immigrants swept up in those raids, Marta was ultimately lucky: She had a sister living in Massachusetts who could retrieve her children. And as a result of large political outcry in Massachusetts following those raids, with Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy strongly speaking out against them, Marta was released and could reunite with her two small children. But she remained without documents authorizing her to work and stay in the United States and would again be subject to deportation in the future.

Estimated undocumented immigrant population

by state, 2014

  • 10,000 or less
  • 25,000 – 95,000
  • 100,000 – 130,000
  • 180,000 – 450,000
  • 500,000 – 2,350,000
  • Immigrant workers are actually having a net positive effect on the economy. Because of a native–born population that is both declining in numbers and increasing in age, the U.S. needs its immigrant workers. The portion of foreign–born now accounts for about 16 percent of the labor force, with immigrants and their children accounting for the vast majority of current and future workforce growth in the United States, If the number of immigrants to the United States was reduced—by deportation or barriers to further immigration—so that foreign–born represented only about 10 percent of the population, the number of working–age Americans in the coming decades would remain essentially static at the current number of 175 million. If, however, the proportion of foreign–born remains at the current level, then the number of working–age residents in the U.S. will increase by about 30 million in the next 50 years. We need these workers not just to fill jobs but to increase productivity, which has diminished sharply. We also need them because the number of the elderly drawing expensive benefits like Medicare and Social Security—the costs of which are paid for by workers’ taxes—is growing substantially. Nearly 44 million people aged 65 or older currently draw Social Security; in 2050 that number is estimated to rise to 86 million. Even undocumented workers support Social Security: Since at least 1.8 million were working with fake Social Security cards in 2010 in order to get employment but were mostly unable to draw the benefits, they contributed $13 billion that year into the retirement trust fund, and took out only $1 billion.
    Counterfeit Social Security cards confiscated by ICE agents. Reuters

    If immigrants are not stealing U.S. jobs and suppressing wages to any significant extent, is NAFTA doing so? Sal Moceri, a 61–year–old Ford worker in Michigan, fervently believes so. He has not lost his job himself, but he saw his co–workers and neighbors lose jobs and sees new workers accepting lower wages for which he would not settle. Although he calls himself a “lifelong Democrat,” he voted for Trump in 2016 because of Trump’s promise to renegotiate or end NAFTA. In a CNNMoney interview with Heather Long, he blamed NAFTA for the job losses and decreases in wages around him, disbelieving the claims of economists that automation, not NAFTA, is the source of the job losses in U.S. manufacturing. He loves automation and hates NAFTA.

    But contrary to Trump’s claim and Moceri’s passionate belief, NAFTA has not siphoned off a large number of U.S. jobs. It did force some U.S. workers to find other kinds of work, but the net number of jobs that was lost is relatively small, with estimates varying between 116,400 and 851,700, out of 146,135,000 jobs in the U.S. economy. Countering these losses is the fact that the bilateral trade fostered by NAFTA has had far–reaching positive effects on the economy.

    The trade agreement eliminated tariffs on half of the industrial goods exported to Mexico from the United States (tariffs which before NAFTA averaged 10 percent), and eliminated other Mexican protectionist measures as well, allowing, for example, the export of corn from the United States to Mexico.

    NAFTA has enabled the development of joint production lines between the United States and Mexico and allows the U.S. to more cheaply import components used for manufacturing in the United States. Without this kind of co–operation, many jobs would be lost, including jobs provided by cars imported from Mexico. In 2016, for example, the United States imported 1.6 million cars from Mexico—but about 40 percent of the value of their components was produced in the United States. Leaving NAFTA could jeopardize 31,000 jobs in the automotive industry in the United States alone. But now that it is threatened with the collapse or renegotiation of NAFTA, Mexico has already begun actively exploring new trade partnerships with Europe and China.

    The big picture: Mexico is the third largest U.S. trade partner after China and Canada, and the third–largest supplier of U.S. imports. Some 79 percent of Mexico’s total exports in 2013 went to the United States. Yes, the United States had a $64.3 billion deficit with Mexico in 2016, but trade with Mexico is a two–way street. The United States exports more to Mexico than to any other country except Canada, its other NAFTA partner. Moreover, the half trillion dollars in goods and services traded between Mexico and the United States each year since NAFTA was enacted over 23 years ago has resulted in millions of jobs for workers in both countries. According to a Woodrow Wilson Center study, nearly five million U.S. jobs now depend on trade with Mexico.

    Trade, investment, joint production, and travel across the U.S.–Mexico border remain a way of life for border communities, including those in the United States. Disrupting them will create substantial economic costs for both countries. And a significantly weakened Mexican economy will also exacerbate Mexico’s severe criminal violence and encourage violence–driven immigration to the United States.

    The U.S.-Mexico border fence through the Sonoran Desert, in the Tohono O’odham Reservation, Arizona. Getty Images

  • The U.S.-Mexico border fence through the Sonoran Desert, in the Tohono O’odham Reservation, Arizona. Getty Images
  • WHAT THE WALL WOULD DO TO COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

    If erected, Trump’s wall will not be the first significant barrier to be built on the border. That distinction goes to the 700–mile fence the U.S. began to put up—over protests from those on both sides of the border—some years ago.

    These people include 26 federally–recognized Native American Nations in the U.S. and eight Indigenous Peoples in Mexico. The border on which the wall is to be built cuts through their tribal homelands and separates tribal members from their relatives and their sacred sites, while also sundering them from the natural environment which is crucial not just to their livelihoods but to their cultural and religious identity. In recognition of this problem, the U.S. Congress passed an act in 1983 allowing free travel across the borders within their homelands to one of the Native American Nations tribes. But when the fence was built, by waiving statutes like the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994, Congress compromised that freedom of travel and made it hard for indigenous people to visit their family members and sacred sites.

    Indigenous people from the Tohono O’odham Reservation protest against a border wall. Getty Images

    Trump’s wall will, of course, exacerbate the damage to these Native American communities, causing great pain and anger among the inhabitants. “If someone came into your house and built a wall in your living room, tell me, how would you feel about that?” asked Verlon Jose, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, in an interview by The New York Times’ Fernanda Santos in February 2017. Stretching out his arms to embrace the saguaro desert around him, he said, “This is our home.” Many in his tribe want to resist the construction of the wall. Others fear that if the border barrier is weaker on the tribal land, drug smuggling will be funneled there as happened before with the fence, harming and ensnarling the community.

    As Native American communities, conservation biologists, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all have highlighted, the wall will also have significant environmental costs in areas that host some of the greatest biodiversity in North America. Deriving its name from the isolated mountain ranges whose 10,000–foot peaks thrust into the skies, the “Sky Islands” region spanning southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico, for example, features a staggering array of flora and fauna. Its precious, but fragile, biodiversity is due to the unusual convergence of four major ecoregions: the southern terminus of the temperate Rocky Mountains; the eastern extent of the low–elevation Sonoran Desert; the northern edge of the subtropical Sierra Madre Occidental; and the western terminus of the higher–elevation Chihuahuan Desert. Among the endangered species that will be affected by the wall are the jaguar, Sonoran pronghorn, Chiricahua leopard frog, lesser long–nose bat, Cactus ferruginous pygmy–owl, Mexican gray wolf, black–tailed prairie dog, jaguarondi, ocelot, and American bison. Other negatively–affected species will include desert tortoise, black bear, desert mule deer, and a variety of snakes. Even species that can fly, such as Rufous hummingbirds and Swainson and Gray hawks could be harmed, and vital insect pollinators that migrate across the border could be burnt up by the lights necessary to illuminate the wall.

  • Bison on the grasslands of Rancho “El Uno” in northern Mexico. Reuters

Altogether, more than 100 species of animals that occur along the U.S.–Mexico border, in the Sky Islands area as well as in the Big Bend National Park in Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley, are endangered or threatened. But just as the DHS waived numerous cultural protection statutes to build the fence, it also overrode many crucial environmental laws—including the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, and the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Trump administration wants to bulldoze through any remaining environmental considerations.

The administration’s approach threatens years of binational environmental border cooperation that has protected not only many wild species, but also agriculture on both sides of the border. Take the boll weevil, a beetle that flies between Mexico and the United States and devastates cotton crops. In the late 1890s, the boll weevil nearly wiped out the U.S. cotton industry. Since then, the United States and Mexico have spent decades trying to eradicate the pest and almost succeeded. But the wall may so sour U.S.–Mexico environmental and security cooperation that Mexico may simply give up on eradication efforts. This will cause little damage to those in Mexico, since there is little cotton cultivation along that part of the Mexican border, but it will result in significant damage to U.S. farmers.

A poisoned U.S.–Mexican relationship could also prevent the renegotiation of water sharing agreements that are critical to the environment as well as to water and food security, and to farming. For example, the 1970 Boundary Treaty between the United States and Mexico specifies that officials from both the U.S. and Mexico must agree if either side wants to build any structure that could affect the flow of the Rio Grande or its flood waters, water that is vital to livestock and agriculture along the border. The fence was built despite Mexico’s objections to it, and because its steel slats become clogged with debris during the rainy season, it has caused floods affecting cities and previously protected areas on both sides of the border, resulting in millions of dollars in damages.

The Rio Grande curving through Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas. Getty Images

It wasn’t just Mexico that didn’t want that fence. U.S. farmers and businessmen along the Texas border in the Rio Grande valley opposed it, too, since it blocks their access to the river water and also augments the severity of floods. Now the wall is to be brought to flood plain areas in Texas where water issues precisely like these had prevented the construction of the fence before.

Meanwhile, manufacturing, agriculture, hydraulic fracking, energy production, and ecosystems on both sides of the border depend on equitable and effective water sharing from the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, with both sides vulnerable to water scarcities. Over the decades there have been many challenges to the joint agreements governing water usage, and both Mexico and the U.S. have at times considered themselves the aggrieved parties. But in general, U.S.–Mexico cooperation over both the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers has been exceptional by international standards and has been hugely beneficial to both partners to the various treaties. That kind of co–operation is now at risk.

U.S.–Mexico cooperation over both the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers has been exceptional by international standards and has been hugely beneficial to both partners

If in retaliation for the Trump administration’s vitriolic, anti–Mexican language and policies, Mexico decided not live up to its side of the water bargain, U.S. farmers and others along the Rio Grande would be under severe threat of losing their livelihoods. One of them is Dale Murden in Monte Alto, who on his 20,000–acre farm cultivates sugarcane, grapefruit, cotton, citrus, and grain. Named in January 2017 the Citrus King of Texas, the former Texas Farm Bureau state director has dedicated his life to agriculture in southern Texas, relying on a Latino workforce. Yet he has memories of devastating water shortages in 2011 and 2013, when because of a severe drought Mexico could not send its allocation of the Rio Conches to the United States and 30 percent of his land became unproductive, with many crops dying. At that time he hoped that the U.S. State Department could persuade Mexico to release some water, even as Mexican farmers were also facing immense water shortages and devastation. U.S. diplomacy did work, no doubt helped by the rain that replenished Mexico’s tributaries of the Rio Grande. Without the rain, Mexico would not have been able to pay back its accumulated water debt. But without collaborative U.S.–Mexico diplomacy and an atmosphere of a closer–than–ever U.S.–Mexico cooperation, Mexico still could have failed to deliver the water despite the rain. That positive spirit of cooperation also produced one of the world’s most enlightened, environmentally–sensitive, and water–use–savvy version of a water treaty, the so–called Minute 319 of the 1944 Colorado River U.S.–Mexico water agreement. Unique in its recognition of the Colorado River delta as a water user, the update committed the United States to sending a so–called “pulse flow” to that ecosystem, thus helping to restore those unique wetlands. The United States also agreed to pay $18 million for water conservation in Mexico. In turn, Mexico delivered 124,000 acre–feet of Mexican water to Lake Mead. It was a win–win–win: for U.S. farmers, Mexican farmers, and ecosystems. But those were the good days of the U.S.–Mexico relationship, before the Trump administration. A new update to the treaty is under negotiation—once again a vital agreement and a lifeline for some 40 million people on both sides of the border that could fall prey to the Trump administration’s approach to Mexico.

River basins of the Colorado river and Rio Grande.

Yet this is a moment when maintaining cooperation is crucial because climate–change–increased evaporation rates, invasive plant infestation, and greater demands for water around the border and deep into U.S. and Mexican territories will only put further pressure on water use and increase the likelihood of severe scarcity.

Rather than a line of separation, the border should be conceived of as a membrane, connecting the tissues of communities on both sides, enabling mutually beneficial trade, manufacturing, ecosystem improvements, and security, while enhancing inter–cultural exchanges.In 1971, When First Lady Pat Nixon attended the inauguration of Friendship Park—that tragic place that allows separated families only the most limited amount of contact—she said, “I hope there won’t be a fence here too long.” She supported two–way positive exchanges between the United States and Mexico, not barriers. In fact, for her visit, she had the fence in Friendship Park torn down. Unfortunately, it’s still there, bigger, taller, and harder than when she visited, and with the wall about to get much worse yet.
Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies. Her fieldwork and research have covered, among others, Afghanistan, South Asia, Burma, Indonesia, the Andean region, Mexico, Morocco, Somalia, and eastern Africa. Her books include The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking and How to Counter It (Hurst, 2017) and Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in political science from MIT and her bachelor’s from Harvard University
.https://www.brookings.edu/essay/the-wall-the-real-costs-of-a-barrier-between-the-united-states-and-mexico/

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The Pronk Pops Show 1119, August 2, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Rising In Polls Hits 50 Percent Approval for Job Performance — Party Affiliation of Voters — Independents 41 Percent — Democrats 30 Percent and Republican 26 Percent — Videos — Story 2: Third Quarter 2018 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Could Hit 5 Percent — Advance Estimate Released on October 26 — Videos — Story 3: Number of Americans on Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Declining As Budgets Decline –Food in A Box — Less Money More Food — Videos — Story 4: Obesity Expanding In America — Fat Ass Americans — Pandemic — Keeping America Fat — Promises Kept — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1119, August 2, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1115, July 26, 2018

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Story 1: President Trump Rising In Polls Hits 50 Percent Approval for Job Performance — Party Affiliation of Voters: Independents 41 Percent — Democrats 30 Percent and Republican 26 Percent — Videos —

 

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 35% who Strongly Approve of the way Trump is performing and 41% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -6. (see trends).

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project.Learn more about how you can contribute.

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to  beth@rasmussenreports.com .

President Trump in a tweet yesterday reiterated that the Justice Department should end the Special Counsel’s investigation into whether there were “links and/or coordination” between the Russian Government and his 2016 campaign.

Stemming from that investigation, the trial of former Trump campaign manager and business associate Paul Manafort enters its third day in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Will the trial lead to criminal charges against the president? We’ll tell you at 10:30 what voters say.

Nearly half of voters don’t believe Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is worth what it has spent (more than $22 million as of July, according to one report) investigating allegations of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, and few believe the outcome will benefit the United States.  

Vice President Mike Pence yesterday led a ceremony in Honolulu to receive the remains of U.S. servicemen killed during the Korean War. Their return resulted from President Trump’s June summit in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Voters are only slightly more positive about the president’s dealings with North Korea but are cautiously optimistic about the denuclearization deal Trump and Kim have signed. As is often the case, however, partisan affiliation makes a huge difference in perceptions.

While his daily approval rating is 50% today, President Trump has earned a monthly job approval of 46% in July.

Democrats continue to lead over Republicans on the latest Rasmussen Reports Generic Congressional Ballot.

20-Jan-1729-Mar-1705-Jun-1711-Aug-1718-Oct-1729-Dec-1709-Mar-1816-May-1802-Aug-180%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%www.RasmussenReports.comTotal Approve (Trump)Total Approve (Obama)

It has been almost two years since Trump was elected president, but for a third of voters, the 2016 presidential election has had long-lasting negative effects on relationships with family and friends. Most voters also think Americans are less tolerant of each other’s political opinions these days.

Several U.S. Democratic gubernatorial and senatorial candidates have been stumping for single-payer healthcare as part of their 2018 midterm election platforms. Voters are now closely divided on whether the federal government should provide healthcare for everyone even though most believe their personal taxes will increase as a result.

While most voters continue to give the health care they receive a positive rating, few hold the nation’s health care system in high regard.

 

-620-Jan-1729-Mar-1705-Jun-1711-Aug-1718-Oct-1729-Dec-1709-Mar-1816-May-1802-Aug-1810%20%30%40%50%60%www.RasmussenReports.comStrongly DisapproveStrongly Approve

Some readers wonder how we come up with our job approval ratings for the president since they often don’t show as dramatic a change as some other pollsters do. It depends on how you ask the question and whom you ask.

To get a sense of longer-term job approval trends for the president, Rasmussen Reports compiles our tracking data on a full month-by-month basis.

Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology).

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Platinum Members.

 

Trump got a dynamite GDP number last quarter — and early signs point to the next one being even better

trump thumbs upReuters
  • President Donald Trump took a victory lap Friday after second quarter GDP came in at 4.1%, the strongest since the third quarter of 2014.
  • Trump said the GDP reading proved that his policies were working and that the country was on track to fulfill his promise of sustained 4% annual GDP growth.
  • Many economists doubted the strong growth would continue, since transitory factors help boost the second quarter number.
  • But early estimates for third quarter GDP look potentially even stronger.

President Donald Trump took a victory lap Friday after the release of a strong second-quarter GDP number, and early signs point to the celebration continuing in the third quarter.

The 4.1% second-quarter reading was the highest since 2014, as both the White House and GOP pointed to the growth as proof that Trump’s policies were boosting the US economy. The president also touted the number as proof the economy could achieve his promise of annual GDP growth over 4%, a claim of which almost all economists were skeptical .

While Friday’s release was substantial, many economists pointed to short-term factors that could fade in future quarters — like a huge boost in soybean exports ahead of Trump’s tariffs and fiscal stimulus from the federal budget.

But early indications from third-quarter economic data show that Trump may have reason to boast about the third quarter, too.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow measure, which uses available data to predict the current quarter’s GDP growth, stands at 5% as of Thursday — up slightly from an initial estimate of 4.7%.

The estimate has a strong track record of prediction. But GDPNow isn’t perfect, especially so early in a quarter, and it is subject to updates as more data emerges.

But Neil Dutta, head of US economics at research firm Renaissance Macro, pointed to data that shows the strong initial reading from the Atlanta Fed is likely to hold up.

While Dutta said it’s “unlikely that we’ll get 5% for the third quarter,” the economist noted that the average move for the GDPNow reading over the course of a quarter since its inception is a 0.6-percentage point drop. Given the initial reading, that would put the final third quarter GDPNow estimate at 4.1%, which would be on par second quarter and one of the highest post-recession readings.

Screen Shot 2018 08 02 at 2.23.43 PMRenaissance Macro Research
  • The biggest downward move in the GDPNow’s estimate over the course of a quarter was 2.2 percentage points, per Dutta’s breakdown, which would still leave GDP growth at a respectable 2.5%.
  • On the other end, the largest upward move was 1.5 percentage points, so an equal move from this quarter’s reading would put the third quarter at 6.5%. That would be the highest quarterly GDP print since the third quarter of 2003.

“Anything in that range is consistent with strong, above-trend growth and would be a reasonably solid number coming after a 4% GDP print,” Dutta said.

In the second quarter, the 4.1% GDP reading was also above the Atlanta Fed’s final estimate of 3.8%.

Trump, for his part, is already banking on a big third-quarter reading, which is set to be released October 26.

“I happen to think we’re going to do extraordinarily well in our next report,” Trump said at the press conference Friday.

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-gdp-growth-q3-third-quarter-strong-2018-8

Story 3: Less Than 40 Million Americans on Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Declining As U.S. Federal Budget For SNAP Cut — Trump Proposed America’s Harvest Box — Less Money More Food — People Want Choice Not Preselected Boxes of Food –Little Boxes — Walk Off The Earth — Videos

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Little Boxes – Walk off the Earth

The history of food stamps

SNAP, Food Stamps, Obesity, and Behavioral Economics

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Donald Trump’s Budget Declares War on Hungry Children and Families w/ the ‘American Harvest Box’

Republicans Put Rural Poor SNAP In Crosshairs

How Trump’s ‘food box’ proposal could affect families in Wisconsin

Bay Area families worry about the future of SNAP benefits after President Trump proposes cuts

SNAP EBT Food Stamps CUT! true or not true REPLACED By Food Delivery! DO SOME RESEARCH FOR U

Concerns White House Proposal To Food Stamp Program

Food stamp changes worrying business owner

Food Stamp Cuts Will Affect You Whether You Get Them Or Not

President Donald Trump Wants To Cut SNAP And Give Poor Boxes Of Food | AM Joy | MSNBC

Trump Wants To Replace Food Stamps With Food Boxes

Trump Wants To Send People On SNAP Cheap Food Boxes

Trump To Cut Half Of Food Stamps (SNAP) And Replace Them With “America’s Harvest Box” (REACTION)

Look What Trump Just Did To Food Stamps—Millions Of Freeloaders Enraged

Little Boxes – Walk off the Earth

 

Overview

Last Published: 08/01/2018

The Program Data site provides selected statistical information on activity in all major Food and Nutrition Service Programs (FNS). These include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Child Nutrition Programs (National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care, Summer Food Service and Special Milk); and Food Distribution Programs (Schools, Emergency Food Assistance, Indian Reservations, Commodity Supplemental, Nutrition for the Elderly, and Charitable Institutions).

Four types of tables are provided: historical summaries, annual state level data for selected elements, monthly national level data for major programs, and the latest available month for state-level participation in major programs. The summaries begin with 1969, the year that FNS was established to administer the Department of Agriculture’s nutrition assistance programs. Data are provided by federal fiscal year rather than calendar or school year. This includes the months of October through September (prior to FY 1977, it covered July through June). Annual state-level tables include data for the five most recent complete years (2013-2017). The latest month for state-level activity is April 2018. Data are as of July 06, 2018; FY 2017 and 2018 numbers are preliminary and are subject to significant revision.

If you need additional information or have any questions, please e-mail us. The following program area pages provide detailed program explanations and information: SNAPChild NutritionWIC and Food Distribution.

Food Stamp Cuts Could Hurt Thousands of Service Members

Posted By  on Thu, Jul 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm

screen_shot_2018-05-29_at_5.12.17_pm.png

Military service members are among the millions of Americans who would be affected by proposed budget cuts to federal food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In February, President Donald Trump released a fiscal-year 2019 budget proposal that included a new approach to the program that “combines traditional SNAP benefits with 100-percent American grown foods provided directly to households.” The change would cut SNAP funding by $213 billion dollars over 10 years.

According to a 2016 report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), approximately 23,000 active duty military service members were SNAP recipients in 2013.

Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities and management at GAO, oversaw development of the report.

“Don’t assume that service members don’t need help,” Farrell said. “We all know that over the years the pay has increased and bonuses have been there to attract the right people, but you still have pockets where the need is still there.”

The San Antonio Food Bank provides food for 58,000 people a week, and one in seven active or former military service members use similar services across the U.S., according to food bank President and CEO Eric Cooper. 

“We know from our work that many active enlisted servicemen and women call our center,” Cooper said. “Sometimes they might not want to share with people they are closest to that they are in need, so they reach out to the food bank as a neutral place so they don’t have to ask for help from those who are closest to them.”

According to Cooper, the House proposal increases some barriers and the program’s cost while cutting some benefits for low-income families.

“Our current farm bill has a strong nutrition title,” Cooper said. “It’s not perfect, but it helps to ensure that 42 million Americans have access to good nutrition. … It just never seems to make sense to me that we would increase cost and bureaucracy while decreasing services and benefits to someone in need.”

The San Antonio Food Bank and its partner agencies have been discussing how to move forward if the budget cuts are approved, Cooper said, but their ability to meet people’s needs is heavily dependent on farmers, donors and food industry partners.

“If the proposed SNAP cuts go through, it will literally take food off the table,” Cooper said. “For that need to be met, we feel that we will see longer lines at our food pantries and the demand for services will be even greater for us at the San Antonio Food Bank.”

Cooper said there are some challenges unique to service members that frequently result in them turning to the food-stamp program. Often they have children and a spouse who’s unable to build a career due to the constant mobility of active-duty life. The military’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefit can also present a challenge since it can make a person ineligible for food-stamp assistance.

San Antonio’s Director of Military Affairs Juan Ayala said there has been a shift in the people who volunteer for service.

“If you take a look at the average service member that joins today, a lot of them are married and have dependent children,” Ayala said. “That is different than when I came into the Marine Corps in 1976, when almost everybody that came in was single. … Less than one percent of the population in the United States think about joining the military, and a small number actually join so sometimes the pool for recruiting is challenging so sometimes we get older recruits.”

Ayala said lower-ranking service members are the most likely to need food assistance services because they make the lowest salaries, and with a familythey could easily become eligible for SNAP.

Lower ranking troops stationed in high cost areas such as California and Washington D.C. will be the most directly affected by the SNAP budget cuts, according to Ayala.

“It is going to affect those that are in uniform, a lot of those that are deployed and can’t get a second job,” Ayala said. “If you’re in uniform performing a service to the country I think that it should be taken into consideration — for anybody that really deserves [SNAP] and really needs it — but especially for the troops.”

Trump’s ‘Harvest Box’ Isn’t Viable in SNAP Overhaul, Officials Say

Image
People paid for fresh produce using federal assistance at a farmers market in Lake Orion, Mich., in 2013.CreditLauren Abdel-Razzaq/The Detroit News, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers about 46 million low-income Americans both sustenance and economic choice by providing an allowance to buy the fruit, meat, fresh vegetables, soda, ice cream and kind of bread they want to eat.

But on Monday, the Trump administration sprung a surprise: Under a proposal in the president’s budget many participants in the program would be given half their benefits in the form of a “Harvest Box” full of food preselected for nutritional value and economic benefit to American farmers. The cache of cheaper peanut butter, canned goods, pasta, cereal, “shelf stable” milk and other products would now be selected by the federal government, not by the people actually eating it.

The proposal seemed like a radical overhaul of the country’s core food assistance program — once called food stamps but now commonly known as SNAP. The idea was to shave about $21 billion a year from the federal deficit over the next 10 years. But the reaction was immediate, and largely negative.

Democrats claimed the plan shackled the poor while business groups, led by big food retailers, would stand to lose billions of dollars in lost SNAP business. The head of one trade association typically supportive of President Trump’s economic policies accused the administration of reneging on its pledge to cut “red tape and regulations.”

Instead, the idea, according to two administration officials who worked on the proposal, was a political gambit by fiscal hawks in the administration aimed at outraging liberals and stirring up members of the president’s own party working on the latest version of the farm bill. The move, they said, was intended to lay down a marker that the administration is serious about pressing for about $85 billion in other cuts to food assistance programs that will be achieved, in part, by imposing strict new work requirements on recipients.

“I don’t think there’s really any support for their box plan. And, I worry that it’s a distraction from the budget’s proposal to cut SNAP by some 30 percent. That’s the real battle,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive Washington think tank. “The dangers are these other proposals to cut benefits. But all anyone is talking about today are the boxes.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the agriculture committee, doubted the motives behind the plan.

“This isn’t a serious proposal and is clearly meant to be a distraction,” Ms. Stabenow said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stealthily pitched the idea over the last few weeks to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council as a novel way to reach the administration’s self-imposed goal of slashing federal food assistance programs by $214 billion over the next decade. It was quickly embraced by Mr. Mulvaney, a fiscal hawk who is seeking to steer a debate increasingly dominated by free-spending Republicans and Mr. Trump, who has insisted on major budget increases for the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

Neither man had any illusions that the plan would be immediately embraced by congressional Republicans, who were not given advance notice of the proposal, the officials said.

That the food-box approach has been tried only in small demonstration projects and never been seriously discussed during dozens of congressional hearings on the SNAP program in recent years did not stop administration officials from putting the force of Mr. Trump’s presidency behind it.

The budget documents released on Monday omitted other important details, including the real costs of creating a nationwide distribution network for the boxes, especially in rural areas hard hit by the economic downturn and the opioid crisis.

“We have had like 25 hearings on SNAP. The witness list was controlled by Republicans and this idea was never, ever broached,” said Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees federal food assistance programs. “I think it’s dead on arrival — I hope it is — but either way it’s a cruel joke. My God, these people are awful. In addition to being totally misinformed on policy, they are really just not nice people.”

In a statement, Mr. Perdue defended the proposal as humane and cost effective, saying his plan offered the “same level of food value” provided by the SNAP program, which replaced the food stamp program in the late 1990s.

He described the boxes as “a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families — and all of it is grown by American farmers and producers.”

Still, the idea landed with a thud. It was quickly dismissed by two Republican committee chairmen, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, who leads the Senate agriculture committee, and his counterpart in the House, Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas.

 

Mr. Conaway is drafting a farm bill that is expected to slash billions in spending in the SNAP program through the tightening of some eligibility requirements. Mr. Roberts is overseeing an effort to craft a version of the bill that is expected to include fewer cuts in hopes of gaining the bipartisan support needed to push the measure through the Senate.

SNAP, like many other safety net programs, is designed to expand during hard economic times and contract when the economy improves. Nonetheless, the program’s rolls have remained at historically elevated levels, reaching a peak of 47.8 million recipients in 2012 before edging down to 45.6 million last year, according to federal estimates.

Mr. Perdue, in particular, has been outspoken in his call to reduce its rolls, criticizing what he calls a culture of dependency among SNAP recipients.

But Mr. McGovern said the administration was painting “a distorted picture” of the poor and ignoring the fact that most SNAP recipients are employed and more than a quarter are disabled and unable to seek work.

“They have to stop playing to the cheap seats,” he said. “The majority of people in the program are children and seniors and people working in jobs that pay too little to feed their families.”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Am I Eligible for SNAP?

Last Published: 06/27/2018

To get SNAP benefits, you must apply in the State in which you currently live and you must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits, which are described on this page. SNAP income and resource limits are updated annually. The information on this page is for October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018.

There are special SNAP rules for households with elderly or disabled members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible for SNAP?

Your household must meet certain requirements to be eligible for SNAP and receive benefits. If your State agency determines that you are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you will receive benefits back to the date you submitted your application.

To see if you might be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, visit our pre-screening tool.

Note: The FNS SNAP pre-screening eligibility tool is an interactive site with general information about eligibility requirements and how benefits are determined. Sharing your information in that form does not mean you filed an application for benefits. You will still need to submit an application through your State SNAP agency or local SNAP office.

How do I apply for SNAP?

You must apply for SNAP in the State where you currently live. Because each State has a different application form and process, a member of your household must contact your State agency directly to apply.

You can contact your State agency by visiting your local SNAP office, visiting your State agency’s website, or calling your State’s toll-free SNAP Information hotline. Some States have online applications that can be completed from the State agency website.

Where can I get my State information?

If you are unable to go to your local SNAP office or do not have access to the internet, you may have another person act as an authorized representative by applying and being interviewed on your behalf. You must designate the authorized representative in writing.

Note: Please contact your SNAP State agency directly to apply and to request information about the status of your application. FNS does not process applications or have access to case information.

What happens when I apply for SNAP?

In most cases, once you submit your application, your State agency or local SNAP office will process it and send you a notice telling you whether or not you are eligible for benefits within 30 days.

During the 30 days, you will need to complete an eligibility interview and give proof (verification) of the information you provided. The interview is typically completed over the telephone or in-person. If you are found eligible, you will receive benefits based on the date you submitted your application.

You may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits within 7 days of your application date if you meet additional requirements. For example, if your household has less than $100 in liquid resources and $150 in monthly gross income, or if your household’s combined monthly gross income and liquid resources are less than what you pay each month for rent or mortgage and utilities expenses. Contact your State agency for additional details.

How do I receive SNAP benefits?

If you are found eligible, you will receive SNAP benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. Benefits are automatically loaded into your account each month. You can use your EBT card to buy groceries at authorized food stores and retailers.

How long will I receive SNAP?

If you are found eligible, you will receive a notice that tells you how long you will receive SNAP benefits for; this is called your certification period. Before your certification period ends, you will receive another notice that says you must recertify to continue receiving benefits. Your local SNAP office will provide you with information about how to recertify.

Who is in a SNAP household?

Everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares meals together is grouped together as one SNAP household.

Some people who live together, such as spouses and most children under age 22, are included in the same SNAP household, even if they purchase and prepare meals separately.

If a person is 60 years of age or older and unable to purchase and prepare meals separately because of a permanent disability, the person and the person’s spouse may be a separate SNAP household if the others they live with do not have very much income (no more than 165 percent of the poverty level).

Normally you are not eligible for SNAP benefits if an institution gives you most of your meals. There are exceptions for elderly persons and disabled persons.

What resources can I have (and still get SNAP benefits)?

Resources

Households may have $2,250 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled.

However, certain resources are NOT counted when determining eligibility for SNAP:

  • A home and lot;
  • Resources of people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Resources of people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF; also known as welfare); and
  • Most retirement and pension plans (withdrawals from these accounts may count as either income or resources depending on how often they occur).

Vehicles

Vehicles count as a resource for SNAP purposes. States determine how vehicles may count toward household resources.

Licensed vehicles are NOT counted if they are:

  • Used for income-producing purposes (e.g., taxi, truck or delivery vehicle);
  • Annually producing income consistent with their fair market value;
  • Needed for long distance travel for work (other than daily commute);
  • Used as the home;
  • Needed to transport a physically disabled household member;
  • Needed to carry most of the household’s fuel or water; or
  • If the sale of the vehicle would result in less than $1500.

For non-excluded licensed vehicles, the fair market value over $4,650 counts as a resource.

Licensed vehicles are also subject to an equity test, which is the fair market value less any amount owed on the vehicle. The following vehicles are excluded from the equity test:

  • One vehicle per adult household member; and
  • Any other vehicle used by a household member under 18 to drive to work, school, job training, or to look for work.

For vehicles with both a fair market value over $4,650 and an equity value, the greater of the two amounts is counted as a resource.

Additionally, the equity value of unlicensed vehicles generally counts as a resource, with some exceptions.

What are the SNAP income limits?

In most cases, your household must meet both the gross and net income limits described below or you are not eligible for SNAP and cannot receive benefits.

Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income, before any deductions have been made.

Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions.

A household with an elderly or disabled person only has to meet the net income limit, as described on the elderly and disabled page.

If all members of your household are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or in some places other general assistance, your household may be deemed “categorically eligible” for SNAP because you have already been determined eligible for another means-tested program.

The information provided in the table below applies to households in the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia that apply for SNAP between October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018.

Table 1: SNAP Income Eligibility Limits – October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018

Household Size Gross monthly income

(130 percent of poverty)

Net monthly income

(100 percent of poverty)

1 $1,307 $ 1,005
2 $1,760 $1,354
3 $2,213 $1,702
4 $2,665 $2,050
5 $3,118 $2,399
6 $3,571 $2,747
7 $4,024 $3,095
8 $4,477 $3,444
Each additional member +$453 +$349

* SNAP gross and net income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

What deductions are allowed in SNAP?

The following deductions are allowed for SNAP:

  • A 20-percent deduction from earned income.
  • A standard deduction of $160 for household sizes of 1 to 3 people and $170 for a household size of 4 (higher for some larger households and for households in Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam).
  • A dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education.
  • Medical expenses for elderly or disabled members that are more than $35 for the month if they are not paid by insurance or someone else. This is described on the elderly and disabled page.
  • In some States, legally owed child support payments.
  • In some States, a standard shelter deduction for homeless households of $143.
  • Excess shelter costs as described below.

SNAP Excess Shelter Costs Deduction

The shelter deduction is for shelter costs that are more than half of the household’s income after other deductions.

Allowable shelter costs include:

  • Fuel to heat and cook with.
  • Electricity.
  • Water.
  • The basic fee for one telephone.
  • Rent or mortgage payments and interest.
  • Taxes on the home.

Some States allow a set amount for utility costs instead of actual costs.

The amount of the shelter deduction is capped at (or limited to) $535 unless one person in the household is elderly or disabled. The limit is higher in Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam. For a household with an elderly or disabled member all shelter costs over half of the household’s income may be deducted.

Table 2: How to Calculate SNAP Gross Income

Gross Income Calculation Example
Determine household size . . . 4 people with no elderly or disabled members.
Add gross monthly income . . . $1,500 earned income + $550 social security =  $2,050 gross income.
If gross monthly income is less than the limit for household size, determine net income. $2,050 is less than the $2,665 allowed for a 4-person household, so determine net income.

 

Table 3: How to Calculate SNAP Net Income

Net Income Calculation Example
Subtract 20% earned income deduction . . . $2,050 gross income

 

$1,500 earned income x 20% = $300. $2,050 – $300 = $1,750

Subtract standard deduction . . . $1,750 – $170 standard deduction for a 4-person household = $1,580
Subtract dependent care deduction  . . . $1,580 – $361 dependent care = $1,219
Subtract child support deduction . . . 0
Subtract medical costs over $35 for elderly and disabled . . . 0
Excess shelter deduction . . .
Determine half of adjusted income . . . $1,219 adjusted income/2 = $609.50
Determine if shelter costs are more than half of adjusted income . . . $700 total shelter – $609 (half of income) = $90 excess shelter cost
Subtract excess amount, but not more than the limit, from adjusted income . . . $1,219 – $90.50 = $1,128.50 Net monthly income
Apply the net income test . . . Since the net monthly income is less than $2,050 allowed for 4-person household, the household has met the income test.

How much could I receive in SNAP benefits?

The total amount of SNAP benefits your household gets each month is called an allotment.

Because SNAP households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their own resources on food, your allotment is calculated by multiplying your household’s net monthly income by 0.3, and subtracting the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size.

Table 4: SNAP Maximum Monthly Allotment Based on Household Size

People in Household Maximum Monthly Allotment
1 $   192
2 $   352
3 $   504
4 $   640
5 $   760
6 $   913
7 $ 1,009
8 $ 1,153
Each additional person $ 144

Note: The allotments described here are for households in the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia. The allotments are different in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Table 5: Example of SNAP Benefit Calculation

Benefit Calculation Example
Multiply net income by 30%…  (Round up) $1,128.50 net monthly income  x 0.3 = 338.55 (round up to $339)
Subtract 30% of net income from the maximum allotment for the household size… $640 maximum allotment for 4-person household – $339 (30% of   net income) = $301, SNAP Allotment for a full month

What are the SNAP work requirements?

In general, people must meet work requirements to be eligible for SNAP. These work requirements include:

  • Registering for work;
  • Not voluntarily quitting a job or reducing hours;
  • Taking a job if offered; and
  • Participating in employment and training programs, if assigned by the State.

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in disqualification from the Program.

In addition, able bodied adults without dependents are required to work or participate in a work program for at least 20 hours per week in order to receive SNAP benefits for more than 3 months in a 36-month period.

Some special groups may not be subject to these requirements including:

  • Children;
  • Seniors;
  • Pregnant women; and
  • People who are exempt for physical or mental health reasons.

Are non-citizens eligible for SNAP?

SNAP eligibility has never been extended to undocumented non-citizens. Specific requirements for non-citizens who may be eligible have changed substantially over the years and become more complicated in certain areas. The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 limits eligibility for SNAP benefits to U.S. citizens and certain lawfully present non-citizens.

Generally, to qualify for SNAP, non-citizens must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have lived in the United States for at least 5 years.
  • Be receiving disability-related assistance or benefits.
  • Be children under 18.

Additionally, these individuals must also satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and resource limits in order to qualify for benefits.

If certain members of a household are ineligible for SNAP, State agencies must still determine eligibility for SNAP for any remaining household members who are seeking assistance.

For additional information see: SNAP Policy on Non-Citizen Eligibility and SNAP Guidance on Non-Citizen Eligibility.

What if I disagree with a decision made on my SNAP case?

If you disagree with a decision in your case, you may request a fair hearing with an official who is required by law to review the facts of your case in a fair and objective manner.

Note: You must request a fair hearing within 90 days of the day your local SNAP office made the decision in your case that you disagree with.

You can request a fair hearing over the phone, in writing, or in person at the local SNAP office.

Although a fair hearing cannot change the laws or regulations governing SNAP, it can ensure that decisions on your case have been made correctly.

Nondiscrimination in SNAP

SNAP benefits are available to all eligible households regardless of race, sex, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs.

The USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital and family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326- W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Where can I get additional information about SNAP?

For additional information about SNAP in your State, to file an application for SNAP benefits, or to get information about your SNAP case, you must contact your local SNAP office.  Where Can I Get My State Information?

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

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SNAP logo

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),[1] formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the United States. It is a federal aidprogram, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), though benefits are distributed by each U.S. state‘s Division of Social Services or Children and Family Services.

SNAP benefits cost $70.9 billion in fiscal year 2016 and supplied roughly 44.2 million Americans (14% of the population)[2] with an average of $125.51 for each person per month in food assistance. Beneficiaries and costs increased sharply with the Great Recession, peaked in 2013 and have declined through 2016 as the economy recovered.[3] It is the largest nutrition program of the 15 administered by FNS and is a component of the federal social safety netfor low-income Americans.[4]

The amount of SNAP benefits received by a household depends on the household’s size, income, and expenses. For most of its history, the program used paper-denominated “stamps” or coupons – worth US$1 (brown), $5 (blue), and $10 (green) – bound into booklets of various denominations, to be torn out individually and used in single-use exchange. Because of their 1:1 value ratio with actual currency, the coupons were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Their rectangular shape resembled a U.S. dollar bill (although about one-half the size), including intaglio printing on high-quality paper with watermarks. In the late 1990s, the Food Stamp Program was revamped, with some states phasing out actual stamps in favor of a specialized debit card system known as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), provided by private contractors. EBT has been implemented in all states since June 2004. Each month, SNAP food stamp benefits are directly deposited into the household’s EBT card account. Households may use EBT to pay for food at supermarkets, convenience stores, and other food retailers, including certain farmers’ markets.[5]

History

First Food Stamp Program (FSP) (May 16, 1939 – Spring 1943)[edit]

An effort to manage agricultural surpluses, the first food stamps came off the presses April 20, 1939.
Orange stamps were good for any grocery item the purchaser chose, except drugs, liquor and items consumed on the premises.
Blue stamps bought only surplus foods—dairy products, eggs, citrus fruits, prunes and fresh vegetables.

The idea for the first food stamp program has been credited to various people, most notably U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and the program’s first administrator, Milo Perkins.[6] Of the program, Perkins said, “We got a picture of a gorge, with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other. We set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm.”[7] The program operated by permitting people on relief to buy orange stamps equal to their normal food expenditures; for every $1 of orange stamps purchased, 50 cents’ worth of blue stamps were received. Orange stamps could be used to buy any food; blue stamps could be used only to buy food determined by the department to be surplus.

Over the course of nearly four years, the first FSP reached approximately 20 million people in nearly half of the counties in the U.S., at a total cost of $262 million. At its peak, the program assisted an estimated four million people. The first recipient was Mabel McFiggin of Rochester, New York; the first retailer to redeem the stamps was Joseph Mutolo; and the first retailer caught violating program rules was Nick Salzano in October 1939. The program ended when the conditions that brought the program into being—unmarketable food surpluses and widespread unemployment—ceased to exist.[8]

Pilot Food Stamp Program (1961–1964)

The 18 years between the end of the first FSP and the inception of the next were filled with studies, reports, and legislative proposals. Prominent U.S. Senators actively associated with attempts to enact a food stamp program during this period included George AikenRobert M. La Follette, Jr.Hubert HumphreyEstes Kefauver, and Stuart Symington. From 1954 on, U.S. Representative Leonor Sullivan strove to pass food-stamp-program legislation.

On September 21, 1959, P.L. 86-341 authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to operate a food-stamp system through January 31, 1962. The Eisenhower Administration never used the authority. However, in fulfillment of a campaign promise made in West Virginia, President John F. Kennedy‘s first Executive Order called for expanded food distribution and, on February 2, 1961, he announced that food stamp pilot programs would be initiated. The pilot programs would retain the requirement that the food stamps be purchased, but eliminated the concept of special stamps for surplus foods. A Department spokesman indicated the emphasis would be on increasing the consumption of perishables.

Of the program, U.S. Representative Leonor K. Sullivan of Missouri asserted, “…the Department of Agriculture seemed bent on outlining a possible food stamp plan of such scope and magnitude, involving some 25 million persons, as to make the whole idea seem ridiculous and tear food stamp plans to smithereens.”[9][10]

Food Stamp Act of 1964

The Food Stamp Act of 1964 appropriated $75 million to 350,000 individuals in 40 counties and three cities. The measure drew overwhelming support from House Democrats, 90 percent from urban areas, 96 percent from the suburbs, and 87 percent from rural areas. Republican lawmakers opposed the initial measure: only 12 percent of urban Republicans, 11 percent from the suburbs, and 5 percent from rural areas voted affirmatively. President Lyndon B. Johnson hailed food stamps as “a realistic and responsible step toward the fuller and wiser use of an agricultural abundance”.[11]

Rooted in congressional logrolling, the act was part of a larger appropriation that raised price supports for cotton and wheat. Rural lawmakers supported the program so that their urban colleagues would not dismantle farm subsidies. Food stamps, along with MedicaidHead Start, and the Job Corps were foremost among the growing anti-poverty programs.

President Johnson called for a permanent food-stamp program on January 31, 1964, as part of his “War on Poverty” platform introduced at the State of the Union a few weeks earlier. Agriculture Secretary Orville Freemansubmitted the legislation on April 17, 1964. The bill eventually passed by Congress was H.R. 10222, introduced by Congresswoman Sullivan. One of the members on the House Committee on Agriculture who voted against the FSP in Committee was then Representative Bob Dole.

As a Senator, Dole became a staunch supporter of the program, after he worked with George McGovern to produce a bipartisan solution to two of the main problems associated with food stamps: cumbersome purchase requirements and lax eligibility standards. Dole told Congress regarding the new provisions, “I am confident that this bill eliminates the greedy and feeds the needy.”[citation needed] The law was intended to strengthen the agricultural economy and provide improved levels of nutrition among low-income households; however, the practical purpose was to bring the pilot FSP under congressional control and to enact the regulations into law.

The major provisions were:

  • The State Plan of Operation requirement and development of eligibility standards by States;
  • They required that the recipients should purchase their food stamps, while paying the average money spent on food then receiving an amount of food stamps representing an opportunity more nearly to obtain a low-cost nutritionally adequate diet;
  • The eligibility for purchase with food stamps of all items intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages and imported foods (the House version would have prohibited the purchase of soft drinks, luxury foods, and luxury frozen foods);
  • Prohibitions against discrimination on basis of race, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs;
  • The division of responsibilities between States (certification and issuance) and the Federal Government (funding of benefits and authorization of retailers and wholesalers), with shared responsibility for funding costs of administration; and
  • Appropriations for the first year limited to $75 million; for the second year, to $100 million; and, for the third year, to $200 million.

The Agriculture Department estimated that participation in a national FSP would eventually reach 4 million, at a cost of $360 million annually, far below the actual numbers.

Program expansion: participation milestones in the 1960s and early 1970s

In April 1965, participation topped half a million. (Actual participation was 561,261 people.) Participation topped 1 million in March 1966, 2 million in October 1967, 3 million in February 1969, 4 million in February 1970, 5 million one month later in March 1970, 6 million two months later in May 1970, 10 million in February 1971, and 15 million in October 1974. Rapid increases in participation during this period were primarily due to geographic expansion.

Major legislative changes (early 1970s)

The early 1970s were a period of growth in participation, concern about the cost of providing food stamp benefits, and questions about administration, primarily timely certification. During this time, the issue was framed that would dominate food stamp legislation ever after: how to balance program access with program accountability. Three major pieces of legislation shaped this period, leading up to massive reform to follow:

P.L. 91-671 (January 11, 1971) established uniform national standards of eligibility and work requirements; required that allotments be equivalent to the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet; limited households’ purchase requirements to 30 percent of their income; instituted an outreach requirement; authorized the Agriculture Department to pay 62.5 percent of specific administrative costs incurred by States; expanded the FSP to GuamPuerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands of the United States; and provided $1.75 billion appropriations for Fiscal Year 1971.

Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-86, August 10, 1973) required States to expand the program to every political jurisdiction before July 1, 1974; expanded the program to drug addicts and alcoholics in treatment and rehabilitation centers; established semi-annual allotment adjustments, bi-monthly issuance, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) “cash-out” (which gave the option to states to issue Food Stamp benefits to SSI recipients in the form of their estimated cash value consolidated within the SSI grant, in order to reduce administrative costs); introduced statutory complexity in the income definition (by including in-kind payments and providing an accompanying exception); and required the Department to establish temporary eligibility standards for disasters.

P.L. 93-347 (July 12, 1974) authorized the Department to pay 50 percent of all states’ costs for administering the program and established the requirement for efficient and effective administration by the States.

1974 nationwide program

In accordance with P.L. 93-86, the FSP began operating nationwide on July 1, 1974. (The program was not fully implemented in Puerto Rico until November 1, 1974.) Participation for July 1974 was almost 14 million.

Eligible access to Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries[edit]

Once a person is a beneficiary of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program he (or she) may be automatically eligible for Food Stamps depending on his (or her) state’s laws. How much money in food stamps they receive also varies by state. Supplemental Security Income was created in 1974.[12]

Food Stamp Act of 1977

Both the outgoing Republican Administration and the new Democratic Administration offered Congress proposed legislation to reform the FSP in 1977. The Republican bill stressed targeting benefits to the neediest, simplifying administration, and tightening controls on the program; the Democratic bill focused on increasing access to those most in need and simplifying and streamlining a complicated and cumbersome process that delayed benefit delivery as well as reducing errors, and curbing abuse. The chief force for the Democratic Administration was Robert Greenstein, Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

In Congress, major players were Senators George McGovernJacob Javits, Humphrey, and Dole and Congressmen Foley and Richmond. Amid all the themes, the one that became the rallying cry for FSP reform was “EPR”—eliminate the purchase requirement—because of the barrier to participation the purchase requirement represented.[citation needed] The bill that became the law (S. 275) did eliminate the purchase requirement. It also:[citation needed]

  • eliminated categorical eligibility;
  • established statutory income eligibility guidelines at the poverty line;
  • established 10 categories of excluded income;
  • reduced the number of deductions used to calculate net income and established a standard deduction to take the place of eliminated deductions;
  • raised the general resource limit to $1,750;
  • established the fair market value (FMV) test for evaluating vehicles as resources;
  • penalized households whose heads voluntarily quit jobs;
  • restricted eligibility for students and aliens;
  • eliminated the requirement that households must have cooking facilities;
  • replaced store due bills with cash change up to 99 cents;
  • established the principle that stores must sell a substantial amount of staple foods if they are to be authorized;
  • established the ground rules for Indian Tribal Organization administration of the FSP on reservations; and
  • introduced demonstration project authority.

In addition to EPR, the Food Stamp Act of 1977 included several access provisions:[citation needed]

  • using mail, telephone, or home visits for certification;
  • requirements for outreach, bilingual personnel and materials, and nutrition education materials;
  • recipients’ right to submit applications the first day they attempt to do so;
  • 30-day processing standard and inception of the concept of expedited service;
  • SSI joint processing and coordination with Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the major cash welfare program;
  • notice, recertification, and retroactive benefit protections; and
  • a requirement for States to develop a disaster plan.

The integrity provisions of the new program included fraud disqualifications, enhanced Federal funding for States’ anti-fraud activities, and financial incentives for low error rates.

The House Report for the 1977 legislation points out that the changes in the Food Stamp Program are needed without reference to upcoming welfare reform since “the path to welfare reform is, indeed, rocky….”[citation needed]

EPR was implemented January 1, 1979. Participation that month increased 1.5 million over the preceding month.

Cutbacks of the early 1980s[

The large and expensive FSP proved to be a favorite subject of close scrutiny from both the Executive Branch and Congress in the early 1980s. Major legislation in 1981 and 1982 enacted cutbacks including:

  • addition of a gross income eligibility test in addition to the net income test for most households;
  • temporary freeze on adjustments of the shelter deduction cap and the standard deduction and constraints on future adjustments;
  • annual adjustments in food stamp allotments rather than semi-annual;
  • consideration of non-elderly parents who live with their children and non-elderly siblings who live together as one household;
  • required periodic reporting and retrospective budgeting;
  • prohibition against using Federal funds for outreach;
  • replacing the FSP in Puerto Rico with a block grant for nutrition assistance;
  • counting retirement accounts as resources;
  • state option to require job search of applicants as well as participants; and
  • increased disqualification periods for voluntary quitters.

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) began in ReadingPennsylvania, in 1984.

Mid-to-late 1980s

Recognition of the severe domestic hunger problem in the latter half of the 1980s led to incremental expansions of the FSP in 1985 and 1987, such as elimination of sales tax on food stamp purchases, reinstitution of categorical eligibility, increased resource limit for most households ($2,000), eligibility for the homeless, and expanded nutrition education. The Hunger Prevention Act of 1988 and the Mickey Leland Memorial Domestic Hunger Relief Act in 1990 foretold the improvements that would be coming. The 1988 and 1990 legislation accomplished the following:

  • increasing benefits by applying a multiplication factor to Thrifty Food Plan costs;
  • making outreach an optional activity for States;
  • excluding advance earned income tax credits as income;
  • simplifying procedures for calculating medical deductions;
  • instituting periodic adjustments of the minimum benefit;
  • authorizing nutrition education grants;
  • establishing severe penalties for violations by individuals or participating firms; and
  • establishing EBT as an issuance alternative.

Throughout this era, significant players were principally various committee chairmen: Congressmen Leland, Hall, Foley, Leon Panetta, and, de la Garza and Senator Patrick Leahy.

1993 Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act

By 1993, major changes in food stamp benefits had arrived. The final legislation provided for $2.8 billion in benefit increases over Fiscal Years 1984-1988. Leon Panetta, in his new role as OMB Director, played a major role as did Senator Leahy. Substantive changes included:

  • eliminating the shelter deduction cap beginning January 1, 1997;
  • providing a deduction for legally binding child support payments made to nonhousehold members;
  • raising the cap on the dependent care deduction from $160 to $200 for children under 2 years old and $175 for all other dependents;
  • improving employment and training (E&T) dependent care reimbursements;
  • increasing the FMV test for vehicles to $4,550 on September 1, 1994 and $4,600 on October 1, 1995, then annually adjusting the value from $5,000 on October 1, 1996;
  • mandating asset accumulation demonstration projects; and
  • simplifying the household definition.

Later participation milestones

In December 1979, participation finally surpassed 20 million. In March 1994, participation hit a new high of 28 million.

1996 welfare reform and subsequent amendments

The mid-1990s was a period of welfare reform. Prior to 1996, the rules for the cash welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), were waived for many states. With the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform act, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), AFDC, an entitlement program, was replaced that with a new block grant to states called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

Although the Food Stamp Program was reauthorized in the 1996 Farm Bill, the 1996 welfare reform made several changes to the program, including:

  • eliminating eligibility to food stamps of most legal immigrants who had been in the country less than five years;
  • placing a time limit on food stamp receipt of three out of 36 months for Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs), who are not working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a work program;
  • reducing the maximum allotments to 100 percent of the change in the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) from 103 percent of the change in the TFP;
  • freezing the standard deduction, the vehicle limit, and the minimum benefit;
  • setting the shelter cap at graduated specified levels up to $300 by fiscal year 2001, and allowing states to mandate the use of the standard utility allowance;
  • revising provisions for disqualification, including comparable disqualification with other means-tested programs; and
  • requiring states to implement EBT before October 1, 2002.

As a result of all these changes, “participation rates plummeted” in the late 1990s, according to Slate online magazine.[13][quantify]

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) and the Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Act of 1998 (AREERA) made some changes to these provisions, most significantly:

  • using additional Employment and Training (E&T) funds to providing work program opportunities for able-bodied adults without dependents;
  • allowing states to exempt up to 15 percent of the able-bodied adults without dependents who would otherwise be ineligible;
  • restoring eligibility for certain elderly, disabled, and minor immigrants who resided in the United States when the 1996 welfare reform act was enacted; and
  • cutting administrative funding for states to account for certain administrative costs that previously had been allocated to the AFDC program and now were required to be allocated to the Food Stamp Program.

The fiscal year 2001 agriculture appropriations bill included two significant changes. The legislation increased the excess shelter cap to $340 in fiscal year 2001 and then indexed the cap to changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Consumers each year beginning in fiscal year 2002. The legislation also allowed states to use the vehicle limit they use in a TANF assistance program, if it would be result in a lower attribution of resources for the household.

Electronic Benefits Transfer

In the late 1990s, the Food Stamp Program was revamped, with some states phasing out actual stamps in favor of a specialized debit card system known as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), provided by private contractors. Many states merged the use of the EBT card for public welfare programs as well, such as cash assistance. The move was designed to save the government money by not printing the coupons, make benefits available immediately instead of requiring the recipient to wait for mailing or picking up the booklets in person, and reduce theft and diversion.[5]

Renaming the Food Stamp Program

The 2008 farm bill renamed the Food Stamp Program as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (beginning October 2008) and replaced all references to “stamp” or “coupon” in federal law with “card” or “EBT.”[14][15]

Temporary benefits increase from April 2009 to November 2013

SNAP benefits temporarily increased with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a federal stimulus package to help Americans affected by the Great Recession of 2007.[16] Beginning in April 2009 and continuing through the expansion’s expiration on November 1, 2013, the ARRA appropriated $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit levels to an average of $133.[16][17] This amounted to a 13.6 percent funding increase for SNAP recipients.[17]

This temporary expansion expired on November 1, 2013, resulting in a relative benefit decrease for SNAP households; on average, benefits decreased by 5 percent.[16] According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the maximum monthly benefit for a family of four dropped from $668 to $632, while the maximum monthly benefit for an individual dropped from $200 to $189.[16]

Corporate influence and support

In June 2014, Mother Jones reported that “Overall, 18 percent of all food benefits money is spent at Walmart,” and that Walmart had submitted a statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stating,

Our business operations are subject to numerous risks, factors, and uncertainties, domestically and internationally, which are outside our control. These factors include… changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan and other public assistance plans, [and] changes in the eligibility requirements of public assistance plans.[18]

Companies that have lobbied on behalf of SNAP include PepsiCoCoca-Cola, and the grocery chain KrogerKraft Foods, which receives “One-sixth [of its] revenues … from food stamp purchases” also opposes food stamp cuts.[18]

Eligibility

Because SNAP is a means-tested program, recipients must meet all eligibility criteria in order to receive benefits. There are income and resource requirements for SNAP, as well as specific requirements for immigrants, elderly persons and persons with disabilities.[19][20]

Income requirements

For income, individuals and households may qualify for benefits if they earn a gross monthly income that is 130% (or less) of the federal poverty level for a specific household size. For example: the SNAP-eligible gross monthly income is $1,245 or less for an individual. For a household of 4, the SNAP eligible gross monthly income is $2,552 or less. Gross monthly income is the amount an individual makes each month before any deductions, i.e. taxes, insurance, pensions, etc.[19]

Resource requirements

There is also a resource requirement for SNAP, although eligibility requirements vary slightly from state to state. Generally speaking, households may have up to $2,250 in a bank account or other countable sources. If at least one person is age 60 or older and/or has disabilities, households may have $3,500 in countable resources.[19]

Housing expenditure

The lack of affordable housing in urban areas means that money that could have been spent on food is spent on housing expenses. Housing is generally considered affordable when it costs 30% or less of total household income; rising housing costs have made this ideal difficult to attain.

This is especially true in New York City, where 28% of rent stabilized tenants spend more than half their income on rent.[21] Among lower income families the percentage is much higher. According to an estimate by the Community Service Society, 65% of New York City families living below the federal poverty line are paying more than half of their income toward rent.[22]

The current eligibility criteria attempt to address this, by including a deduction for “excess shelter costs”. This applies only to households that spend more than half of their net income on rent. For the purpose of this calculation, a household’s net income is obtained by subtracting certain deductions from their gross (before deductions) income. If the household’s total expenditures on rent exceed 50% of that net income, then the net income is further reduced by the amount of rent that exceeds 50% of net income. For 2007, this deduction can be no more than $417, except in households that include an elderly or disabled person.[23] Deductions include:

  1. a standard deduction that is subtracted from income for all recipients,
  2. an earned income deduction reflecting taxes and work expenses,
  3. a deduction for dependent care expenses related to work or training (up to certain limits),
  4. a deduction for child support payments,
  5. a deduction for medical expenses above a set amount per month (only available to elderly and disabled recipients), and
  6. a deduction for excessively high shelter expenses.[24]

The adjusted net income, including the deduction for excess shelter costs, is used to determine whether a household is eligible for food stamps.

Immigrant status and eligibility

The 2002 Farm Bill restores SNAP eligibility to most legal immigrants that:

  • Have lived in the country for 5 years; or
  • Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits; or
  • Have children under 18

Certain non-citizens, such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence, may also be eligible for SNAP. Eligible household members can get SNAP benefits even if there are other members of the household that are not eligible.[19]

Applying for SNAP benefits

To apply for SNAP benefits, an applicant must first fill out a program application and return it to the state or local SNAP office. Each state has a different application, which is usually available online. There is more information about various state applications processes, including locations of SNAP offices in various state, displayed on an interactive Outreach Map found on the FNS website.[25] Individuals who believe they may be eligible for SNAP benefits may use the Food and Nutrition Services’ SNAP Screening Tool, which can help gauge eligibility.

Eligible food items under SNAP

As per USDA rules, households can use SNAP benefits to purchase:

  • Foods for the household to eat, such as:
    • fruits and vegetables;
    • breads and cereals;
    • dairy products;
    • meats, fish and;
    • poultry
  • Plants and seeds which are fit for household consumption.

Additionally, restaurants operating in certain areas may be permitted to accept SNAP benefits from eligible candidates like elderly, homeless or disabled people in return for affordable meals.

However, the USDA clearly mentions that households cannot use SNAP benefits to purchase the following:

  • Wine, beer, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Certain nonfood items like:
    • soaps, paper products, deodorant
    • household supplies, and
    • pet foods
  • Hot foods
  • Food items that are consumable in the store
  • Vitamins and medicines[26]

Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are classified as food items and are therefore eligible items. Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items.[26]

Energy drinks which have a nutrition facts label are eligible foods, but energy drinks which have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements, and are therefore not eligible.[26]

Live animals and birds may not be purchased; but live fish and shellfish are eligible foods.[26] Pumpkins are eligible, but inedible gourds and solely ornamental pumpkins are not.[26]

Gift baskets containing both food and non-food items “are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50 percent of the purchase price. Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the price.”[26]

State options

States are allowed under federal law to administer SNAP in different ways. As of April 2015, the USDA had published eleven periodic State Options Reports outlining variations in how states have administered the program.[27] The USDA’s most recent State Options Report, published in April 2015, summarizes:

SNAP’s statutes, regulations, and waivers provide State agencies with various policy options. State agencies use this flexibility to adapt their programs to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income people in their States. Modernization and technology have provided States with new opportunities and options in administering the program. Certain options may facilitate program design goals, such as removing or reducing barriers to access for low-income families and individuals, or providing better support for those working or looking for work. This flexibility helps States better target benefits to those most in need, streamline program administration and field operations, and coordinate SNAP activities with those of other programs.[28]

Some areas of differences among states include: when and how frequently SNAP recipients must report household circumstances; on whether the state agency acts on all reported changes or only some changes; whether the state uses a simplified method for determining the cost of doing business in cases where an applicant is self-employed; and whether legally obligated child support payments made to non-household members are counted as an income exclusion rather than a deduction.[28]

State agencies also have an option to call their program SNAP; whether to continue to refer to their program under its former name, the Food Stamp Program; or whether to choose an alternate name.[28] Among the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, 32 call their program SNAP; five continue to call the program the Food Stamp Program; and 16 have adopted their own name.[28] For example, California calls its SNAP implementation “CalFresh“, while Arizona calls its program “Nutrition Assistance”.[28]

States and counties with highest use of SNAP per capita

According to January 2015 figures reported by the Census Bureau and USDA and compiled by USA Today, the states and district with the most food stamp recipients per capita are:[29]

State % of population
receiving
SNAP benefits
District of Columbia 22%
Mississippi 21%
New Mexico 22%
West Virginia 20%
Oregon 20%
Tennessee 20%
Louisiana 19%

According to June 2009 figures reported by the state agencies, the USDA, and Census Bureau, and compiled by the New York Times, the individual counties with the highest levels of SNAP usage were:

County (or equivalent) % of population
receiving
SNAP benefits
Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska 49%
Owsley County, Kentucky 49%
Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota 49%
Pemiscot County, Missouri 47%
Todd County, South Dakota 46%
Sioux County, North Dakota 45%
Dunklin County, Missouri 44%
East Carroll Parish, Louisiana 43%
Humphreys County, Mississippi 43%
Wolfe County, Kentucky 42%
Perry County, Alabama 41%
Phillips County, Arkansas 39%
Rolette County, North Dakota 39%
Ripley County, Missouri 39%
Ziebach County, South Dakota 39%

Impact

During the recession of 2008, SNAP participation hit an all-time high. Arguing in support for SNAP, the Food Research and Action Center argued that “putting more resources quickly into the hands of the people most likely to turn around and spend it can both boost the economy and cushion the hardships on vulnerable people who face a constant struggle against hunger.[30] Researchers have found that every $1 that is spent from SNAP results in $1.73 of economic activity. In California, the cost-benefit ratio is even higher: for every $1 spent from SNAP between $3.67 to $8.34 is saved in health care costs.[31][32][33] The Congressional Budget Office also rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.[33]

Participants

A summary statistical report indicated that an average of 44.2 million people used the program in FY 2016, down from 45.8 million in 2015 and below the 2013 peak of 47.6 million.[34] SNAP is able to support 75% of those eligible for the program. Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.[35]

As of 2013, more than 15% of the U.S. population receive food assistance, and more than 20% in GeorgiaKentuckyLouisianaNew MexicoOregon and Tennessee. Washington D.C. was the highest share of the population to receive food assistance at over 23%.[36]

Average number of persons participating in the SNAP, 2000–2016. The number of participants increased due to the Great Recession, peaking in 2013, and has since fallen.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (based on a study of data gathered in Fiscal Year 2010), statistics for the food stamp program are as follows:[37]

  • 49% of all participant households have children (17 or younger), and 55% of those are single-parent households.
  • 15% of all participant households have elderly (age 60 or over) members.
  • 20% of all participant households have non-elderly disabled members.
  • The average gross monthly income per food stamp household is $731; The average net income is $336.
  • 37% of participants are White, 22% are African-American, 10% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian, 4% are Native American, and 19% are of unknown race or ethnicity.[37]

Costs

Total program costs from 2000 to 2016. The amount increased sharply after 2008 due to the Great Recession, and has fallen since 2013 as the economy recovers.

SNAP benefits cost since the 1960s

Amounts paid to program beneficiaries rose from $28.6 billion in 2005 to $76.1 billion in 2013, falling back to $66.6 billion by 2016. This increase was due to the high unemployment rate (leading to higher SNAP participation) and the increased benefit per person with the passing of ARRA. SNAP average monthly benefits increased from $96.18 per person to $133.08 per person. Other program costs, which include the Federal share of State administrative expenses, Nutrition Education, and Employment and Training, amounted to roughly $3.7 million in 2013.[5] There were cuts into the program’s budget introduced in 2014 that were estimated to save $8.6 billion over 10 years. Some of the states are looking for measures within the states to balance the cuts, so they would not affect the recipients of the federal aid program.[38]

Food security and insecurity

While SNAP participants and other low-income nonparticipants spend similar amounts on food spending, SNAP participants tend to still experience greater food insecurity than nonparticipants. This is believed to be a reflection of the welfare of individuals who take the time to apply for SNAP benefits rather than the shortcomings of SNAP. Households facing the greatest hardships are the most likely to bear the burden of applying for program benefits.[39]Therefore, SNAP participants tend to be, on average, less food secure than other low-income nonparticipants.[39]

Self-selection by more food-needy households into SNAP makes it difficult to observe positive effects on food security from survey data.[40] Statistical models that control for this endogeneity suggest that SNAP receipt reduces the likelihood of being food insecure and very food insecure by roughly 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively.[41]

Poverty

Because SNAP is a means-tested entitlement program, participation rates are closely related to the number of individuals living in poverty in a given period. In periods of economic recession, SNAP enrollment tends to increase and in periods of prosperity, SNAP participation tends to be lower.[39] Unemployment is therefore also related to SNAP participation. However, ERS data shows that poverty and SNAP participation levels have continued to rise following the 2008 recession, even though unemployment rates have leveled off. Poverty levels are the strongest correlates for program participation.

A 2016 study found that SNAP benefits lead to greater expenditures on housing, transportation, and education by beneficiaries.[42]

SNAP is closely related to poverty and unemployment

Income maintenance

The purpose of the Food Stamp Program as laid out in its implementation was to assist low-income households in obtaining adequate and nutritious diets. According to Peter H. Rossi, a sociologist whose work involved evaluation of social programs, “the program rests on the assumption that households with restricted incomes may skimp on food purchases and live on diets that are inadequate in quantity and quality, or, alternatively skimp on other necessities to maintain an adequate diet”.[43] Food stamps, as many like Rossi, MacDonald, and Eisinger contend, are used not only for increasing food but also as income maintenance. Income maintenance is money that households are able to spend on other things because they no longer have to spend it on food. According to various studies shown by Rossi, because of income maintenance only about $0.17–$0.47 more is being spent on food for every food stamp dollar than was spent prior to individuals receiving food stamps.[44]

Diet quality

Studies are inconclusive as to whether SNAP has a direct effect on the nutritional quality of food choices made by participants. Unlike other federal programs that provide food subsidies, i.e. the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), SNAP does not have nutritional standards for purchases. Critics of the program suggest that this lack of structure represents a missed opportunity for public health advancement and cost containment.[45][46] In April 2013, the USDA research body, the Economic Research Service (ERS), published a study that examined diet quality in SNAP participants compared to low-income nonparticipants. The study revealed a difference in diet quality between SNAP participants and low-income nonparticipants, finding that SNAP participants score slightly lower on the Healthy Eating Index[47] (HEI) than nonparticipants. The study also concluded that SNAP increases the likelihood that participants will consume whole fruit by 23 percentage points. However, the analysis also suggests that SNAP participation decreases participants’ intake of dark green and orange vegetables by a modest amount.[48]

A 2016 study found no evidence that SNAP increased expenditures on tobacco by beneficiaries.[42]

Macroeconomic effect

The USDA’s Economic Research Service explains: “SNAP is a counter-cyclical government assistance program—it provides assistance to more low-income households during an economic downturn or recession and to fewer households during an economic expansion. The rise in SNAP participation during an economic downturn results in greater SNAP expenditures which, in turn, stimulate the economy.”[49]

In 2011, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave a statement regarding SNAP benefits: “Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity.”[50] Vilsack’s estimate was based on a 2002 USDA study which found that “ultimately, the additional $5 billion of FSP (Food Stamp Program) expenditures triggered an increase in total economic activity (production, sales, and value of shipments) of $9.2 billion and an increase in jobs of 82,100,” or $1.84 stimulus for every dollar spent.[51]

A January 2008 report by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi analyzed measures of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and found that in a weak economy, every $1 in SNAP expenditures generates $1.73 in real GDP increase, making it the most effective stimulus among all the provisions of the act, including both tax cuts and spending increases.[52][53]

A 2010 report by Kenneth Hanson published by the USDA’s Economic Research Service estimated that a $1 billion increase in SNAP expenditures increases economic activity (GDP) by $1.79 billion (i.e., the GDP multiplier is 1.79).[54] The same report also estimated that the “preferred jobs impact … are the 8,900 full-time equivalent jobs plus self-employed or the 9,800 full-time and part-time jobs plus self-employed from $1 billion of SNAP benefits.”[54]

Local economic effects

In March 2013, the Washington Post reported that one-third of Woonsocket, Rhode Island‘s population used food stamps, putting local merchants on a “boom or bust” cycle each month when EBT payments were deposited. The Post stated that “a federal program that began as a last resort for a few million hungry people has grown into an economic lifeline for entire towns.”[55] And this growth “has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust”.[56]

In addition to local town merchants, national retailers are starting to take in an increasing large percentage of SNAP benefits. For example, “Walmart estimates it takes in about 18% of total U.S. outlays on food stamps.”[57]

Fraud and abuse

In March 2012, the USDA published its fifth report in a series of periodic analyses to estimate the extent of trafficking in SNAP; that is, selling or otherwise converting SNAP benefits for cash payouts. Although trafficking does not directly increase costs to the Federal Government,[58][59][60] it diverts benefits from their intended purpose of helping low-income families access a nutritious diet. Also trafficking may indirectly increase costs by encouraging participants to stay in the program longer than intended, or by incentivizing new participants seeking to profit from trafficking. The FNS aggressively acts to control trafficking by using SNAP purchase data to identify suspicious transaction patterns, conducting undercover investigations, and collaborating with other investigative agencies.

Trafficking diverted an estimated one cent of each SNAP dollar ($330 million annually) from SNAP benefits between 2006 and 2008. Trafficking has declined over time from nearly 4 percent in the 1990s. About 8.2 percent of all stores trafficked from 2006 to 2008 compared to the 10.5 percent of SNAP authorized stores involved in trafficking in 2011.[61] A variety of store characteristics and settings were related to the level of trafficking. Although large stores accounted for 87.3 percent of all SNAP redemptions, they only accounted for about 5.4 percent of trafficking redemptions. Trafficking was much less likely to occur among publicly owned than privately owned stores and was much less likely among stores in areas with less poverty rather than more. The total annual value of trafficked benefits increased at about the same rate as overall program growth. The current estimate of total SNAP dollars trafficked is higher than observed in the previous 2002–2005 period. This increase is consistent, however, with the almost 37 percent growths in average annual SNAP benefits from the 2002–2005 study periods to the most recent one. The methodology used to generate these estimates has known limitations. However, given variable data and resources, it is the most practical approach available to FNS. Further improvements to SNAP trafficking estimates would require new resources to assess the prevalence of trafficking among a random sample of stores.[62]

The USDA report released in August 2013 says the dollar value of trafficking increased to 1.3 percent, up from 1 percent in the USDA’s 2006–2008 survey,[61] and “About 18 percent of those stores classified as convenience stores or small groceries were estimated to have trafficked. For larger stores (supermarkets and large groceries), only 0.32 percent were estimated to have trafficked. In terms of redemptions, about 17 percent of small groceries redemptions and 14 percent of convenience store redemptions were estimated to have been trafficked. This compares with a rate of 0.2 percent for large stores.”[63]

The USDA, in December 2011, announced new policies to attempt to curb waste, fraud, and abuse. These changes will include stiffer penalties for retailers who are caught participating in illegal or fraudulent activities.[64] “The department is proposing increasing penalties for retailers and providing states with access to large federal databases they would be required to use to verify information from applicants. SNAP benefit fraud, generally in the form of store employees buying EBT cards from recipients is widespread in urban areas, with one in seven corner stores engaging in such behavior, according to a recent government estimate. There are in excess of 200,000 stores, and we have 100 agents spread across the country. Some do undercover work, but the principal way we track fraud is through analyzing electronic transactions” for suspicious patterns, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon told The Washington Times.[65] Also, states will be given additional guidance that will help develop a tighter policy for those seeking to effectively investigate fraud and clarifying the definition of trafficking.

According to the Government Accountability Office, at a 2009 count, there was a payment error rate of 4.36% of SNAP benefits down from 9.86% in 1999.[66] A 2003 analysis found that two-thirds of all improper payments were the fault of the caseworker, not the participant.[66] There are also instances of fraud involving exchange of SNAP benefits for cash and/or for items not eligible for purchase with EBT cards.[67] In 2011, the Michigan program raised eligibility requirements for full-time college students, to save taxpayer money and to end student use of monthly SNAP benefits.[68]

In Maine, incidents of recycling fraud have occurred in the past where individuals once committed fraud by using their EBT cards to buy canned or bottled beverages (requiring a deposit to be paid at the point of purchase for each beverage container), dump the contents out so the empty beverage container could be returned for deposit redemption, and thereby, allowed these individuals to eventually purchase non-EBT authorized products with cash from the beverage container deposits.[69]

The State of Utah developed a system called “eFind” to monitor, evaluate and cross-examine qualifying and reporting data of recipients assets. Utah’s eFind system is a “back end”, web-based system that gathers, filters, and organizes information from various federal, state, and local databases. The data in eFind is used to help state eligibility workers determine applicants’ eligibility for public assistance programs, including Medicaid, CHIP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and child care assistance.[70] When information is changed in one database, the reported changes become available to other departments utilizing the system. This system was developed with federal funds and it is available to other states free of charge.

The USDA only reports direct fraud and trafficking in benefits, which was officially estimated at $858 million in 2012. The Cato Institute reports that there was another $2.2 billion in erroneous payouts in 2009.[citation needed] Cato also reported that the erroneous payout rate dropped significantly from 5.6 percent in 2007 to 3.8 percent in 2011.[citation needed]

Role of SNAP in healthy diets

Background[edit]

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized $20 million to be spent on pilot projects to determine whether incentives provided to SNAP recipients at the point-of-sale would increase the purchase of fruits, vegetables, or other healthful foods.[71] Fifteen states expressed interest in having the pilot program and, ultimately, five states submitted applications to be considered for HIP. Hampden County, Massachusetts was selected as the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) site. HIP is designed to take place from August 2010 to April 2013 with the actual operation phase of the pilot program scheduled to last 15 months, from November 2011 to January 2013.[72]

HIP offers select SNAP recipients a 30% subsidy on produce, which is credited to the participant’s EBT card, for 15 months. 7,500 households will participate HIP and an equal number will not; the differences between the two groups will be analyzed to see the effects of the program.[73] Produce, under the HIP, is defined as fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables that do not have any added sugar, salt, fat, or oil.

Administrative responsibility[edit]

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is the state agency responsible for SNAP. DTA has recruited retailers to take part in HIP and sell more produce, planned for the EBT system change with the state EBT vendor, and hired six new staff members dedicated to HIP. DTA has agreed to provide FNS with monthly reports, data collection and evaluation.

Proposals to restrict “junk food” or “luxury items”

Periodically, proposals have been raised to restrict SNAP benefits from being used to purchase various categories or types of food which have been criticized as “junk food” or “luxury items”. However, Congress and the Department of Agriculture have repeatedly rejected such proposals on both administrative burden and personal freedom grounds. The Food and Nutrition Service noted in 2007 that no federal standards exist to determine which foods should be considered “healthy” or not, that “vegetables, fruits, grain products, meat and meat alternatives account for nearly three-quarters of the money value of food used by food stamp households” and that “food stamp recipients are no more likely to consume soft drinks than are higher-income individuals, and are less likely to consume sweets and salty snacks.”[74] Thomas Farley and Russell Sykes argued that the USDA should reconsider the possibility of restricting “junk food” purchases with SNAP in order to encourage healthy eating, along with incentivizing the purchase of healthy items through a credit or rebate program that makes foods such as fresh vegetables and meats cheaper. They also noted that many urban food stores do a poor job of stocking healthy foods and instead favor high-profit processed items.[75]

See also

General:

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program

Story 4: Obesity Expanding In America — Fat Ass Americans — Pandemic — Keeping America Fat — Promises Kept — Videos

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The Complete Skinny on Obesity

Adult Obesity Facts

Obesity is common, serious and costly

  • The prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults in 2015-2016. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief PDF-603KB]
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read paper]

Obesity affects some groups more than others

[Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief [PDF-603KB]]

  • Hispanics (47.0%) and non-Hispanic blacks (46.8%) had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by non-Hispanic whites (37.9%) and non-Hispanic Asians (12.7%).
  • The prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults age 20–39 years, 42.8% among middle-aged adults age 40-59 years, and 41.0% among older adults age 60 and over.

Obesity and socioeconomic status

[Read the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)]

The association between obesity and income or educational level is complex and differs by sex, and race/ethnicity.

  • Overall, men and women with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence compared with those with less education.
  • By race/ethnicity, the same obesity and education pattern was seen among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic women, and also among non-Hispanic white men, although the differences were not all statistically significant. Although the difference was not statistically significant among non-Hispanic black men, obesity prevalence increased with educational attainment. Among non-Hispanic Asian women and men and Hispanic men there were no differences in obesity prevalence by education level.
  • Among men, obesity prevalence was lower in the lowest and highest income groups compared with the middle income group. This pattern was seen among non-Hispanic white and Hispanic men. Obesity prevalence was higher in the highest income group than in the lowest income group among non-Hispanic black men.
  • Among women, obesity prevalence was lower in the highest income group than in the middle and lowest income groups. This pattern was observed among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic women. Among non-Hispanic black women, there was no difference in obesity prevalence by income.

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  • Obesity Prevalence Maps
    State-specific data on adult obesity prevalence using self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) shows that obesity prevalence remains high in the United States.

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Story 4: Obesity Expanding In America — Fat Ass Americans — Pandemic — Keeping America Fat — Promises Kept — Videos

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Gary Taubes on How Big Government Made Us Fat

The Complete Skinny on Obesity

Sweet Revenge Turning the Tables on Processed Food (no vegetarian/vegan propaganda)

My Big Fat Body Full Documentary YouTube

The Weight of the Nation: Poverty and Obesity (HBO Docs)

The Weight of the Nation: Part 1 – Consequences (HBO Docs)

The Weight of the Nation: Part 2 – Choices (HBO Docs)

The Weight of the Nation: Part 3 – Children in Crisis (HBO Docs)

 

Our Fat Pets

Sixty percent of cats tip the scales at unhealthy weights, slightly more than the 56 percent of dogs. It’s not good for them.

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CreditiStock

By Susan Jenks

Like most cats, Max had a swagger in his walk. But because he was slightly overweight, the 15-year-old Maine coon began having trouble “jumping up on things,” his owner says, the extra pounds worsening his arthritis.

So his owner, Jaime Wilson, decided her pet needed to go on a diet — barely two tablespoons of dry food in the morning and again at night, along with a larger portion of canned wet food once a day and a supervised exercise program that included treadmill work and running through stationary poles.

“He was ravenous all the time,” his owner concedes. But after six months, “he’s very sleek and thin,” says Mrs. Wilson, who works at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. “Not having the extra pounds has been great for his joints.”

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that in the United States, veterinarians now classify more than 100 million dogs and cats as overweight or obese, up from 80 million five years ago. Sixty percent of cats tip the scales at unhealthy weights, slightly more than the 56 percent of dogs.

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Worse yet, many pet owners fail to recognize the potential severity of the problem, finding their pets’ weight gain of little concern or even “cute,” says Dr. Justin Schmalberg, service chief of integrative medicine at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville. And show animals, often held up as exemplary models, he says, sometimes tend toward the pudgy side.

“In part, it’s an issue of perception,” Dr. Schmalberg says. “Generally, the public is more tolerant of obese animals than they are of thin ones. There’s not as much stigma with animals being overweight as with people.”

Obesity and the inflammatory effects of excess fat can bring a host of health problems. Max’s six-month journey to a healthier weight reduced his risk for insulin-dependent diabetes, the most common health problem veterinarians see in overweight or obese cats. Overweight dogs rarely develop this form of diabetes, veterinarians say, though large breeds often face joint injuries from excess weight, while smaller ones can have breathing difficulties if airways collapse.

Along with diabetes and arthritis, extra heft puts pets at increased risk for liver and kidney diseases, high blood pressure, heart failure and even some cancers. And at least one widely cited study in Labrador retrievers found that even moderately overweight dogs have shorter life spans than their lean counterparts.

Veterinarians assess a pet’s overall body health using a system similar to the body mass index, or B.M.I., used in people. Emaciated dogs or cats get the lowest score on a nine-point scale, obese ones the highest, with a desirable weight usually in the four to five range, says Dr. Deborah Linder, head of Tufts University’s obesity clinic for animals in Boston. An animal at six is considered clinically overweight, with a score of seven or more, obese.

Veterinarians also complete a physical exam to assess obesity, feeling over the rib cage by the animal’s armpit, “where tissue should be no thicker than the back of your hand,” Dr. Linder says. Another sign of healthy girth, she says, is a tuck in the belly, similar to an “hourglass figure.”

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Although some pets are genetically vulnerable to unwanted pounds, others may have diseases like hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s disease, in which the adrenal glands pump out too much of a stress hormone, stimulating appetite. Once these conditions are ruled out, veterinarians say, aging itself poses an ongoing risk as metabolism slows — the pet version of middle-age spread.

Neutering or spaying also decreases an animal’s energy needs by a third, Dr. Schmalberg says, so “calories in, calories out,” takes on greater importance in maintaining a pet’s proper weight.

Researchers have recently identified another risk factor for pet obesity: rapid growth in early life, though the reasons for this remain poorly understood. “Dogs and cats that grow quickly are highly likely to become obese later in life,” says Dr. Alex German, a professor at the University of Liverpool in England.

But veterinarians single out overfeeding as the greatest contributor to pet obesity. Giving pets easy access to food around the house, or “free feeding,” can quickly add unwanted pounds, they say, as can an overindulgence in high-calorie treats. Throw small children into the household mix with “sneak feeding” and the situation becomes worse, says Dr. Sarah Nord, a staff veterinarian at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet insurer. “It’s definitely not uncommon,” she says with a laugh.

Whether pets, like some owners, “stress eat” is difficult to measure. “In my experience, when animals are stressed, they tend to go off feeding,” Dr. Nord says. “But we don’t know.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/well/fat-pets-dog-cat-health.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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Honda “Impossible Dream” Commercial

Honda Advert: Impossible Dream II 2010

Lyrics
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe, to reach the unreachable star
Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh
The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company

 

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not
by V. Lance Tarrance

Donald Trump is a man who throws down gauntlets, and he threw down several big ones during his campaign for president — confronting the status quos on immigration, onhealthcare and on taxes, to name a few. He is now pursuing bold policy changes on each. But it could be Trump’s action on taxes that matters most to whether the stock market continues to ride high, GDP growth returns to a healthy 3% and, therefore, whether his presidency is judged well in posterity.

News about taxes has been relatively slow thus far in Trump’s administration. Judicial blowback against his immigration policies and Congressional blowback on healthcare reform have received far more attention than the general tax-plan principles he announced in April. Still, achieving detailed tax reform may prove even more difficult than his other policy struggles once the wheels start turning.

Before making tax reform a year-end goal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially said he hoped to complete tax reform by August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by saying that tax reform is a “very complicated subject” and harder to do now than the last time Congress achieved it in 1986. And passing the 1986 tax reform legislation was no easy task — it required winning the support of a Democratic House and a Republican president, and took nearly two years of intense negotiations. Alluding more cynically to the significant political obstacles that often impede changing the tax code, former House Speaker John Boehner said the passing of a tax code overhaul is “just a bunch of happy talk.”

Now, however, current Speaker Paul Ryan is also pushing for tax reform by the end of 2017, making these obstacles appear a little less daunting than if the administration were going it alone.

Aside from whether tax experts and Washington politicians are willing to upend the tax code, it is important to note where the American people stand on the need for action on taxes. It must be remembered that taxpayers may dislike the current tax system but not be convinced that Congress and the Trump administration will make it any better — change could be worse. Without a strong push from the American people, Trump’s tax reform might not materialize.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump’s tax proposals.

  • He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.
  • His proposal to simplify the federal tax code — reducing the current seven tax brackets to four — was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.
  • Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump’s general plan to “significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle class” positively: 61% agreed with the plan (with no mention of Trump in the question), 26% disagreed and 13% had no opinion. Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates, however, elicited a split decision, with 38% reacting positively, 43% negatively and the potentially decisive 19% “no opinion” group apparently needing more information.

These findings suggest Americans could respond favorably to many of the specific elements of Trump’s ultimate tax plan, provided they make it into whatever legislation Congress winds up debating. For example, in spite of closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, the plan is expected to end up cutting taxes on the wealthy, not raising them. But as long as the plan also cuts taxes on the middle class, that fact alone is unlikely to sink it with Americans. Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts in 2001, which more Americans at the time said were a “good thing” than a “bad thing,” are a perfect illustration of this.

Whether Americans feel a sense of urgency about enacting tax reform is another matter.

In April 2017, Gallup found that Americans’ concern about their own federal tax burden had actually cooled somewhat, as barely half (51%) felt their taxes were “too high,” down from 57% in 2016. By contrast, in June 1985, the year before the revolutionary Tax Reform Act of 1986 went into effect, 63% of Americans said their taxes were too high.

While public demand for lowering taxes may have waned, it is not gone. Public concern about taxes fell the most over the past year among Republicans — a familiar political pattern given the partisan shift in presidential power. With a Republican in the White House, the Republican rank and file are less likely to say anything negative about the government, including about taxes. Still, 62% of Republicans call their taxes too high, as do 52% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

The implication? While not as intense as Congressional leaders may have expected, public demand for tax reform is still there, especially among the Republicans who may matter most to GOP lawmakers.

Common Ground Exists on Tax Reform

As the U.S. Congress is about to start its summer recess, tax reform remains ill defined by the administration, and negotiations over sub-issues like the border adjustment tax have stalled any pivot to immediate tax legislation. More importantly, there seems to be no bipartisan support this time, while there was under Reagan in 1986. Granted, this may seem like less of an issue now, as Republicans today control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But real tax reform always makes for winners and losers, and it is problematic for only one party to pass new reforms. One need only look at the electoral consequences that Democrats have repeatedly suffered since 2010, the year they passed major healthcare reform legislation on party-line votes, to understand the danger Republicans could face if they pursue tax reform alone.

To make tax reform possible from a bipartisan standpoint, Congress needs to make sure the bill can be branded a “middle-class winner.” As noted previously, Americans favor tax cuts for the middle class, and as the following table shows, Republicans and Democrats are also more likely to believe middle-income people are currently paying too much in taxes than to say they are paying their fair share or paying too little.

Both Party Groups Tend to Believe Middle-Income Americans Pay Too Much in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 51 49
Fair share 40 43
Too little 5 7
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

To ensure tax reform enjoys at least some bipartisan support, Democrats will need a win during negotiations, meaning taxes would likely need to be raised on the nation’s wealthier class of citizens. Republicans are split on the issue of the fairness of taxes paid by upper-income people, but Democrats are in solid agreement that they pay too little.

Parties Diverge on Perceptions of What Upper-Income Americans Pay in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 18 4
Fair share 38 13
Too little 40 82
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

Bottom Line

With the Trump administration wanting tax reform before the end of 2017, Ryan is now promising to put it on the front burner. However, even Republican leaders’ enthusiasm for tax reform may not be enough to overcome the triad of legislative challenges that exist: the slimness of the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the power of special interest groups in Washington, D.C., to protect their vested interests. This is why comprehensive tax reform is historically so rare.

One thing working in Republicans’ favor is that a majority of Americans support tax relief for the middle class, and members of both major parties tend to believe middle-class taxes are too high. If the bill can be positioned strongly as middle-class tax relief, its chances for success will be higher.

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/213239/taxes-may-certain-tax-reform-not.aspx

The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

  • 04/22/2016
  • FAIRtax 
  • by: Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4)
The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

At more than 73,000 pages, it’s no wonder our country’s tax code spells headache for millions of hardworking Americans across the country. This bloated document, riddled with complicated loopholes, is anything but navigable for working-class people who can’t afford to hire accountants, lawyers or tax professionals. Yet like clockwork every spring, Americans throw away countless time and treasure in an attempt to properly comply with the process of giving their hard-earned money to the federal government.

The rigors of compliance aside, our tax code penalizes economic growth and American competitiveness. By imposing some of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, American business are incentivized to entertain corporate inversions, and leave trillions of dollars of cash abroad where it can’t be invested in American growth. While the well-to-do and well-connected may be able to navigate this byzantine world, taxpayers across the country and throughout the 18 counties in Texas I represent are frustrated, and rightfully so. The American people deserve better.

Frustration with the IRS reached new levels in 2013 when revelations surfaced that the agency was targeting conservative groups. When Congress launched investigations, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly obstructed justice by refusing to testify and failing to produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigations. This is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the IRS experienced a cyber-attack in 2015 that left more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts vulnerable. And according to a GAO report released just last month, the IRS has improved only marginally since that time in regard to its data security. Taxpayers should not be subject to the political whims of unelected bureaucrats who refuse to follow the law and falsify facts before Congress, all the while placing their personal financial data at risk.

As a staunch fiscal conservative, I’ve been vocal and outspoken about the need for a fairer, flatter tax code – one that doesn’t stifle growth or punish economic success. After all, Ronald Reagan famously said that the role of government should be to fostereconomic growth, not smother it. That’s why I’ve joined more than 70 of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would eliminate all individual and corporate income taxes – the FairTax Act of 2015 (H.R. 25).

The FairTax Act, introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-7), eliminates all personal, corporate, gift and estate taxes and replaces them with a simple, point-of-sale consumption tax. Beyond this, it completely abolishes the IRS and all of the bureaucratic red tape and corporate cronyism that comes with it – and remains revenue neutral in the process.

The FairTax Act combats the corruption and inefficiency of the IRS, and instead promotes American growth and investment. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this key piece of legislation, because it recognizes that more freedom and less government is the formula for economic success. It’s this model that’s allowed Texas to lead the nation in job growth since 2008, and it’s about time for Washington to get an overdue dose of these commonsense, Texas economic values. The FairTax Act will do just that, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Congressman John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th district, serving the outer eastern suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplexsince 2015.  He is a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the House Homeland Security Committee, serving as Chairman of its Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.  Prior to Congress, he served as Mayor of Heath, Texas.  In addition, during the George W. Bush Administration, he was appointed to multiple posts, including U.S. Attorney and Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.

Your Money, Your Decision

The current federal income tax system is clearly broken — unfair, overly complex, and almost impossible for most Americans to understand. But there is a reasonable, nonpartisan alternative before Congress that is both fair and easy to understand. A system that allows you to keep your whole paycheck and only pay taxes on what you spend.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate. The FairTax rate after necessities is 23% compared to combining the 15% income tax bracket with the 7.65% of employee payroll taxes under the current system — both of which will be eliminated!

Important to note: the FairTax is the only tax plan currently being proposed that includes the removal of the payroll tax.

Keep Your Paycheck

For the first time in recent history, American workers will get to keep every dime they earn; including what would have been paid in federal income taxes and payroll taxes. You will get an instant raise in your pay!

Social Security & Medicare Funding

Benefits will not change. The FairTax actually puts these programs on a more solid funding foundation. Instead of being funded by taxes on workers’ wages, which is a small pool, they’ll be funded by taxes on overall consumption by all residents. Learn More .

Get a Tax Refund in Advance on Purchases of Basic Necessities

The FairTax provides a progressive program called a prebate. This gives every legal resident household an “advance refund” at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free. The prebate prevents an unfair burden on low-income families. Learn more .

Pay Tax on Only What You Spend

Be in control of your financial destiny. You alone can control your tax burden. If you’re thrifty, you’ll pay lower taxes than somebody who is not. Most importantly, you’ll be taxed fairly. Learn moreabout what is taxed.

Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

Tax evasion and the underground economy cost each taxpayer an additional $2,500 every year! But by taxing new products and services consumed, the FairTax puts everyone in the country at the same level at the cash register. Further, only legal residents are eligible for the prebate. Learn more .

The IRS is No Longer Needed

No more complicated tax forms, individual audits, or intrusive federal bureaucracy. Retailers will collect the FairTax just as they do now with state sales taxes. All money will be collected and remitted to the U.S. Treasury, and both the retailers and states will be paid a fee for their collection service. Learn More

Summer looms with GOP stuck on health care, budget, taxes

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. The Republican leadership in the Senate decided this week to delay a vote on their…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are stuck on health care, can’t pass a budget, and hopes for a big, bipartisan infrastructure package are fizzling. Overhauling the tax code looks more and more like a distant dream.

The GOP-led Congress has yet to salt away a single major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump — and a summer of drift may lead to a logistical nightmare this fall.

Instead, Trump’s allies appear both divided and indecisive, unable to deliver on his agenda while letting other must-do congressional business — chiefly their core responsibilities of passing a budget and spending bills, and keeping the government solvent — slide onto an already daunting fall agenda that is looking more and more like it’ll be a train wreck.

Friday brought more bad news for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders as 20 GOP moderates signaled a revolt on the budget, penning a letter to Ryan announcing their opposition to an emerging plan to force cuts to government agencies and benefit programs such as food stamps. The letter, authored by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., warned that without an agreement with Democrats on increasing agency spending, moderates will be “reticent to support any budget.”

“It’s looking like they’re very disorganized. They got obviously a lot of conflict over spending preferences and it’s not just a two-way conflict,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. “It’s just a tough Rubik’s Cube they’re trying to solve.”

So it’s not just the Senate effort to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law that’s foundering. The annual congressional budget measure — a prerequisite to this fall’s hoped-for tax effort — is languishing as well, as are the 12 annual spending bills that typically consume weeks of House floor time each summer.

But GOP leaders say all is going well. Ryan told a Wisconsin radio host on Thursday that “it’s the most productive Congress since the mid-’80s” and issued a news release Friday titled “Despite What You May Hear, We Are Getting Things Done.” The release cites a bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs accountability measure and 14 bills repealing Obama-era regulations as Congress’ top achievements.

“It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping,” Ryan said. “But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.”

In the first year of a presidency, the annual August congressional recess is a traditional point to take stock. By that point, Obama had signed an economic recovery bill and President George W. Bush had won his landmark tax cuts, while President Bill Clinton was celebrating a hard-fought budget package.

Trump has no comparable successes to trumpet — but his allies in Congress say they’re not worried.

“We laid out an agenda in November and December, and we’re needing to get there,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “And we can effectively get there. The questions that confound us are those that we can answer ourselves. And we will.”

And as Republicans are stalled on health care, the budget and infrastructure, there are several other problems that need to be taken care of, including increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, preventing a government shutdown, and lifting budget “caps” that are hobbling efforts to beef up the military.

Unlike health care, the debt limit and a deal to fix the spending caps — a leftover from a failed 2011 budget deal — can only be resolved with Democratic help. However, they promise to consume political capital and valuable time and energy, and there’s no political pay-off, other than forestalling disaster.

First, Congress is off on vacation to return in July for a three-week session. Then comes the traditional monthlong August recess.

After Labor Day comes a four-week sprint to October and the deadline to avert a government shutdown with a temporary spending bill — and to forestall a disastrous default on U.S. obligations by lifting the debt limit, which is a politically toxic vote for many Republicans.

Sentiment is building among some lawmakers to shorten the recess to make progress on the unfinished work that is piling up. On Friday, 10 GOP senators, led by David Perdue of Georgia, sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter citing delays on health care, the budget, a stopgap spending bill and the debt limit as reasons to consider canceling some or all of the recess.

“If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform,” the letter said. “Growing the economy, repairing our infrastructure, and rebuilding our military are all dependent on accomplishing the tasks before us.”

http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/summer-looms-with-gop-stuck-on-health-care-budget-taxes/

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update

February 1, 2017

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The Pronk Pops Show 853, March 8, 2017, Story 1: Republicans United For Clean Repeal of Obamacare and Divided On Obamacare Replacement — Conservatives, Classical Liberals and Libertarians Oppose House Rollover Republican Ryancare — CATO Institute, Club for Growth, Freedom Works Heritage Foundation and House Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and American People All Oppose Obamacare 2.0 Lite — Support Senator Rand Paul’s Bill and Freedom Caucus — Negotiate — Negotiate — Negotiate — Videos — Story 2: Wikileaks Vault 7 Release Reveals CIA’s Collection of Hacking Tools and Malware of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Intelligence Community Are Listening and Watching — George Orwell Was An Optimist — Two Party Turnkey Tyranny — Videos -_

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 812: December 12, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 811: December 9, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 810: December 8, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 809: December 7, 2016

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Pronk Pops Show 807: December 5, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 806: December 2, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 805: December 1, 2016

 

Story 1: Republicans United For Clean Repeal of Obamacare and Divided On Obamacare Replacement — Conservatives, Classical Liberals and Libertarians Oppose House Rollover Republican Ryancare — CATO Institute, Club for Growth, Freedom Works Heritage Foundation and House Freedom Caucus,  Republican Study Committee and American People  All Oppose Obamacare 2.0 Lite — Support Senator Rand Paul’s Bill and Freedom Caucus — Negotiate — Negotiate — Negotiate — Videos — 

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Conservative Freedom Caucus Torpedoes GOP Obamacare Replacement

MAJOR: Paul Ryan Introduces American Health Care Act, House GOP’s Obamacare Replacement

SABOTAGE! WHAT PAUL RYAN JUST DID TO TRUMPCARE PROVES HE’S A TRAITOR TO THE PRESIDENT

Speaker Paul Ryan: There isn’t chaos in GOP-led Congress

SEAN HANNITY INTERVIEWS TOM PRICE ABOUT TRUMP’S NEW HEALTHCARE PLAN – 3/7/17

Trump’s HHS Secretary On Obamacare Replacement Bill

Ingraham takes issue with GOP’s health care replacement bill

Herman Cain on Obamacare replacement bill: Consumers now back in charge

Laffer: Obamacare replacement bill worth 2,000-3,000 points on the Dow

President Trump Holds Meeting On Obamacare Replacement with House Deputy Whip Team 3/7/17

GOP releases Obamacare replacement details

York: Fate of GOP health care bill lies with Freedom Caucus

Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement

Trump backs healthcare tax credit amid conservative opposition

Sen. Rand Paul unveils ObamaCare replacement plan

Conservatives lash out at House GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill

March 7 at 3:01 PM
Influential conservative lawmakers and activist groups panned health-care legislation drafted by House Republican leaders Tuesday, throwing the GOP’s plan to undo the Affordable Care Act in serious doubt less than 24 hours after it was released.Those groups dubbed the House bill, backed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), as “Obamacare Lite,” “RyanCare” or “RINOcare” — a reference to “Republican in name only,” a popular conservative epithet for establishment politicians.The Ryan-backed bill offers a more conservative vision for the nation’s health-care system, replacing federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and phasing out most of the ACA’s taxes. But key lawmakers and outside groups, who can rile up the party’s base against legislative plans, said the legislation does not go far enough in pulling back elements of President Barack Obama’s overhaul.“The House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” Michael Needham, the head of Heritage Action for America, said in a statement Tuesday. “Congressional Republicans should fully repeal the failed law and begin a genuine effort to deliver on longstanding campaign promises that create a free market health care system.”Two other groups, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, decried the plans Tuesday as a betrayal of campaign promises.

A day after House Republicans released a plan to supplant the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) outlined the issues he has with their proposal, indicating it might be unconstitutional. (Alice Li, Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

“If this warmed-over substitute for government-run health care remains unchanged, the Club for Growth will key vote against it,” said the group’s president, David McIntosh, referring to a process in which lawmakers are graded on their votes, the better to use them as ammunition on the campaign trail.

The dilemma Republican congressional leaders face is, if they change the legislation to appease hard-line conservatives, they are likely to alienate more-moderate members who are wary of disrupting insurance markets and taking coverage away from those who gained it under the ACA.

The margin for dissent is slim: Assuming no Democrats break ranks to support the bill, for the overhaul to pass, Republicans can lose only 21 votes in the House and two votes in the Senate.

CONTENT FROM WELLS FARGO ADVISORS
Keep these factors in mind when planning for retirement
Understanding the risks that can come between you and the retirement you want is an important step toward meeting your goals.

Four key Republicans in the Senate have expressed worries about the plan’s possible impact on lower-income people who received Medicaid coverage through the ACA’s expansion of that program. The four senators are split on exactly what proposals would meet their standards, but none are likely to support the course of action favored by many conservatives — passing a 2015 bill that repealed key ACA provisions without immediately including replacement provisions.

There were some signs of hope for the House plan Tuesday. President Trump offered an early boost to GOP leaders with a morning tweet: “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster — is imploding fast!”

Vice President Pence attended a Senate Republican policy luncheon Tuesday and, in a break with normal practice, joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders at a news conference afterward to defend the House approach as “the framework for reform.”

“We are certainly open to improvements and recommendations in the legislative process, but this is the bill, and the president supports the American Health Care Act,” he said. “We are looking forward to working very directly with leadership in the House and the Senate in the weeks ahead. We are very confident that the American Health Care Act, with their help, will be on the president’s desk.”

In another sign of the administration’s support, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price sent a letter Tuesday to the chairmen of the two House committees processing the legislation, calling it a “necessary and important first step toward fulfilling our promises to the American people.”

But Price, who authored a similar ACA replacement proposal when he served in the House, said that achieving all of Trump’s health-care goals “will require more than what is possible” in the current legislation, which is limited in its scope to take advantage of special budget rules allowing for easier Senate passage.

He specifically mentioned allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, pharmaceutical cost reductions and “medical legal reforms,” an apparent reference to long-standing GOP proposals to limit malpractice liability.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered measured support for the proposed legislation and said he would bring it to the Senate floor should it pass the House.

“I encourage every member to review [the legislation] because I hope to call it up when we receive it from the House,” McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve got a lot further to go, but we’re making significant progress. Working arm in arm with the House and the new administration, we’re going to keep our promise to the American people.”

While some of the fiercest criticism came from hard-right activist groups that have dogged Republican congressional leaders for years, other more establishment-minded organs joined the chorus of dissent.

National Review published an editorial Tuesday that said the legislation was “a disappointment” and has “serious flaws even as a first step toward full repeal and replacement.”

Republicans, the influential conservative magazine said, “would be better off rallying behind a bill in which they really believe, even if Democrats kill it with a filibuster,than trying and failing to enact a bill that they support only tepidly.”

Leaders involved in drafting the bills sought to defend their plan against the onslaught of criticism, describing it as the product of months of internal discussions and saying its details could still change.

“We now have a bill that’s available for all to read,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which helped craft one of them, at a news conference Tuesday. “I’d encourage them to do it. I’d encourage them to look against their own bills and what they’ve supported in the past. And then let’s have a thoughtful legislative discussion.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which produced the other bill, said: “As Republicans, we have a choice. We can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare and begin a new chapter of freedom for the American people. House Republicans are choosing to act now.”

Still, agitation among conservatives was evident Monday night and poured into Tuesday.

CONTENT FROM WELLS FARGO ADVISORS
Keep these factors in mind when planning for retirement
Understanding the risks that can come between you and the retirement you want is an important step toward meeting your goals.

“Keep the ‘Cadillac’ tax in place? Keep Medicaid in place until 2020?” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, referring to high-priced health-care plans. “We didn’t have Medicaid expansion in the bill we sent to President Obama, but we have it in the one we send to President Trump? That makes no sense to me.”

“Obamacare 2.0,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a libertarian who frequently breaks with GOP leadership.

Under two bills drafted by separate House committees, the government would no longer penalize Americans for failing to have health insurance but would try to encourage people to maintain coverage by allowing insurers to impose a 30 percent surcharge for those who do not have continuous coverage.

The legislation would preserve two of the most popular features of the 2010 health-care law, letting young adults stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and forbidding insurers to deny coverage or charge more to people with preexisting medical problems. It would also target Planned Parenthood, rendering the women’s health organization ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family -planning grants — a key priority for antiabortion groups.

Taken together, the bills introduced Monday represent the Republicans’ first attempt — and best shot to date, with an ally in the White House — to translate into action seven years of talking points about demolishing the ACA.

At the same time, major aspects of the House GOP plan reflect the treacherous terrain that Republicans face to win enough votes within their own conferences in the GOP-controlled House and Senate.

The bills must address concerns of both conservatives worried about the plan’s cost and the notion it might enshrine a new federal entitlement, as well as more moderate members who want to ensure that their constituents, including those who received coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, retain access to affordable health care.

The Freedom Caucus, a block of roughly 30 House hard-liners who criticized earlier versions of the bill, is set to meet Tuesday night to discuss the health-care bill and perhaps develop a list of demands to present to GOP leaders.

Members of the Republican Study Committee, a larger conservative group, were already critical of key elements of the plan. “This is a Republican welfare entitlement,” reads an RSC analysis distributed late Monday, addressing the inclusion of refundable tax credits in the plan.

With no Democrats expected to vote to pass the bill and four House GOP seats vacant, Republicans can afford to lose no more than 21 members in the lower chamber.

In recognition of the close vote that is expected, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and several deputy whips are expected to visit the White House Tuesday afternoon to discuss the health-care bill with Trump administration officials.

On Tuesday morning, Trump signaled the work on the proposal was not completely finished, referring to selling insurance across state lines and saying that change would come in “phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout.” The president also said he was “working on new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry” that will lead prices to “come way down.”

Conservative critics of the measure had noted the plan’s exclusion of selling insurance across state lines. “The problems with this bill are not just what’s in it, but also what’s missing,” said McIntosh.

Yet attacks from the right were not the only challenge facing Republican leaders.

Four key Republican senators, all from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA, said they would oppose any new plan that would leave millions of Americans uninsured.

“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) wrote in a letter to McConnell on Monday.

The plan from House Republicans would substantially redesign Medicaid with the goal of balancing the GOP’s antipathy toward the ACA’s expansion of the program against the concerns of a significant cadre of Republican governors — and the lawmakers from their states — who fear losing millions of dollars that the law has funneled to help insure low-income residents.

Democrats, meanwhile, have given no indication that they intend to work with Republicans, and top party leaders decried the GOP plan Monday as a betrayal of everyday Americans. “Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In particular, the plan to target Planned Parenthood has already generated fierce pushback from Democrats and doubts from some Republicans who have noted that federal funds are already barred from funding abortions and that Planned Parenthood provides routine medical care to millions of American women.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-leaders-brace-for-the-task-ahead-selling-obamacare-lite/2017/03/07/ab2f721e-02e5-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.b64bbc38491c

A Disappointing Start

by THE EDITORS March 7, 2017 12:45 PM We believe that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with policies that enable Americans to make their own decisions about what sort of health insurance to

We believe that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with policies that enable Americans to make their own decisions about what sort of health insurance to buy, and that their options should include low-premium coverage that protects them against the risk of major financial setbacks resulting from health care. The legislation released last night by House Republicans is, even on the most charitable reading, only a first step toward that goal.

It does not repeal all of Obamacare, leaving many of its regulations in place. The apparent rationale for this omission is that eliminating the regulations would subject the legislation to a fatal Senate filibuster. We have recommended that Republicans defang the regulations by replacing Obamacare’s subsidies with a simple new tax credit that people could use to buy insurance governed by a new, lighter regulatory regime. That way Obamacare’s regulations would stay on the books but no longer hinder consumer choice. But Republicans shrank from this option, too.

We disagree with this tactical decision, which places Senate parliamentary rules — or, rather, places guesses about how those rules would operate — ahead of good health policy and making good on longstanding party promises. It also seems to us that Republicans would be better off rallying behind a bill in which they really believe, even if Democrats kill it with a filibuster, than trying and failing to enact a bill that they support only tepidly. That second outcome may now take place.

Moreover, the legislation has some serious flaws even as a first step toward full repeal and replacement. It eliminates Obamacare’s fines on people who go without insurance, but in their place creates a new surcharge for people who let their insurance lapse and then try to purchase a new policy. The goal is to keep healthy people from leaving the insurance rolls and thus destabilizing insurance markets.

The surcharge is a heavy-handed instrument: Insurers would be obligated to impose it regardless of their preferences. Yet the surcharge might not achieve its goal. A lot of healthy people might well decide to go without insurance and run the risk of paying a surcharge if they get sick later. The surcharge even undermines its own goal, since it would discourage healthy people who had already left the insurance rolls from getting back on them.

The bill has its good points. If the surcharge works, the deregulation in the bill would lower premiums. Many of Obamacare’s taxes would be repealed. Obamacare’s tax credits create high effective marginal tax rates for people in the lower middle class; the bill’s replacement tax credits would avoid this problem. Permissible contributions to and limits on health savings accounts would be loosened. Federal contributions to Medicaid would be capped, ending the perverse incentives that have for decades enabled the growth of the program. All in all, though, the bill is a disappointment. And it is not too late to get a second opinion.

All in all, though, the bill is a disappointment. And it is not too late to get a second opinion.

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445558/obamacare-replacement-republican-plan-house-representatives-disappointing

Story 2: Wikileaks Vault 7 Release Reveals CIA’s Collection of Hacking Tools and Malware of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Intelligence Community Are Listening and Watching — George Orwell Was An Optimist — Two Party Turnkey Tyranny — Videos — 

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Wikileaks Unveils ‘Vault 7’: “The Largest Ever Publication Of Confidential CIA Documents”; Another Snowden Emerges

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WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of ‘Vault 7’, a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA’s Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley, and which can be seen on the org chart below, which Wikileaks also released:

A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of ‘Year Zero’, the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed ‘Vault 7.’ WikiLeaks said that ‘Year Zero’ revealed details of the CIA’s “global covert hacking program,” including “weaponized exploits” used against company products including “Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

Among the more notable disclosures which, if confirmed, “would rock the technology world“, the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Another profound revelation is that the CIA can engage in “false flag” cyberattacks which portray Russia as the assailant. Discussing the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group, Wikileaks’ source notes that it “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from. UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.”

As Kim Dotcom summarizes this finding, “CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE

CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE

But perhaps what is most notable is the purported emergence of another Snowden-type whistleblower: the source of the information told WikiLeaks in a statement that they wish to initiate a public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”  Policy questions that should be debated in public include “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” WikiLeaks claims the source said.

The FAQ section of the release, shown below, provides further details on the extent of the leak, which was “obtained recently and covers through 2016”. The time period covered in the latest leak is between the years 2013 and 2016, according to the CIA timestamps on the documents themselves. Secondly, WikiLeaks has asserted that it has not mined the entire leak and has only verified it, asking that journalists and activists do the leg work.

Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, “CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones” and added ” CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update”

BREAKING: CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones.

Dotcom also added that “Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!”

Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Key Highlights from the Vault 7 release so far:

  • “Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
  • Wikileaks claims that the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.
  • By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.
  • The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.
  • Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Snowden 2.0?

  • In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

CIA targets iPhones, Androids, smart TVs:

  • CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).
  • The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

Also cars, suggesting that the CIA may have a role in the death of Michael Hastings:

  • As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks.
  • The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

And computers:

  • The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Hoarding of Zero Day exploits:

  • In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.
  • Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

Proliferation of leaked/hacked Cyberwar programs:

  • While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain. Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.
  • Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booze Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.
  • Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

The U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a covert CIA hacker base

  • In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover.
  • The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

Examples of CIA projects

  • The CIA’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by “Year Zero”) each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools. The majority of these projects relate to tools that are used for penetration, infestation (“implanting”), control, and exfiltration.
  • Umbrage: The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.
  • Fine Dining:  Fine Dining comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case officers fill out. The questionnaire is used by the agency’s OSB (Operational Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically “exfiltrating” information from computer systems) for specific operations.  Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.
  • ‘Improvise’; a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools supporting all major operating systems like Windows (Bartender), MacOS (JukeBox) and Linux (DanceFloor).
  • HIVE: HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate with these implants. The implants are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any number of cover domains.

And some key sections from the FAQ:

  • What time period is covered? The years 2013 to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first). WikiLeaks has obtained the CIA’s creation/last modification date for each page but these do not yet appear for technical reasons. Usually the date can be discerned or approximated from the content and the page order. If it is critical to know the exact time/date contact WikiLeaks.
  • What is “Vault 7” “Vault 7” is a substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.
  • What is the total size of “Vault 7”? The series is the largest intelligence publication in history.
  • When was each part of “Vault 7” obtained?: Part one was obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.
  • Is each part of “Vault 7” from a different source? Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.
  • How did WikiLeaks obtain each part of “Vault 7”? Sources trust WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify them.
  • Isn’t WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to stop the series? No. That would be certainly counter-productive.

* * *

PREVIOUSLY

As a reminder, last night Wikileaks announced that it has released an encrypted torrent file which reportedly contains information on the mysterious “Vault 7”, and which we now know is the biggest “collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.publication in history.” It can be downloaded now at the following URL, and accessed using the password “SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds”

Wikileaks had previously announced that it would hold an 8am Eastern press conference, as part of the unveiling.

ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks press conference in under five hours at 8am ET / 1pm UTC / 14:00 CET. Streamed live.

However, there appeared to have been some complications, with Wikileaks tweeting that “the press conference is under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency plans”

Press conf under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency (1/2)

Wikileaks then announced that “As Mr. Assange’s Perscipe+Facebook video stream links are under attack his video press conference will be rescheduled.”

NOTICE: As Mr. Assange’s Perscipe+Facebook video stream links are under attack his video press conference will be rescheduled.

In a separate tweet, Wikileaks has just released the passphrase to decrypt the torrent file: RELEASE: CIA Vault 7 Year Zero decryption passphrase:

SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds

RELEASE: CIA Vault 7 Year Zero decryption passphrase:

SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds

As a result, since Assange appears to have been unable to launch his previously scheduled press conference, he has gone ahead and issued the press release on Vault 7 Part 1 “Year Zero, which is titled: Inside the CIA’s global hacking force:

Press Release

Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed

Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in “Year Zero” for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in “Vault 7” part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

* * *

Analysis

CIA malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).

The EDG is responsible for the development, testing and operational support of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert operations world-wide.

The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.

The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includes numerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

Many of these infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA’s Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA malware, such as “Assassin” and “Medusa”.

Attacks against Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the CIA’s Network Devices Branch (NDB).

The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB’s “HIVE” and the related “Cutthroat” and “Swindle” tools, which are described in the examples section below.

CIA ‘hoarded’ vulnerabilities (“zero days”)

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.

Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

The U.S. government’s commitment to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities. The government stated that it would disclose all pervasive vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.

“Year Zero” documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration’s commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA’s cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in “Year Zero” is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts. The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities (“zero days”) possessed by the CIA but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone &mdsh; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.

‘Cyberwar’ programs are a serious proliferation risk

Cyber ‘weapons’ are not possible to keep under effective control.

While nuclear proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber ‘weapons’, once developed, are very hard to retain.

Cyber ‘weapons’ are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can be copied quickly with no marginal cost.

Securing such ‘weapons’ is particularly difficult since the same people who develop and use them have the skills to exfiltrate copies without leaving traces — sometimes by using the very same ‘weapons’ against the organizations that contain them. There are substantial price incentives for government hackers and consultants to obtain copies since there is a global “vulnerability market” that will pay hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for copies of such ‘weapons’. Similarly, contractors and companies who obtain such ‘weapons’ sometimes use them for their own purposes, obtaining advantage over their competitors in selling ‘hacking’ services.

Over the last three years the United States intelligence sector, which consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and their contractors, such as Booze Allan Hamilton, has been subject to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own workers.

A number of intelligence community members not yet publicly named have been arrested or subject to federal criminal investigations in separate incidents.

Most visibly, on February 8, 2017 a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Harold T. Martin III with 20 counts of mishandling classified information. The Department of Justice alleged that it seized some 50,000 gigabytes of information from Harold T. Martin III that he had obtained from classified programs at NSA and CIA, including the source code for numerous hacking tools.

Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-07/wikileaks-hold-press-conference-vault-7-release-8am-eastern

WikiLeaks Posts Thousands of Purported CIA Cyberhacking Documents

Records show CIA able to spy on smartphones, internet TVs

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed hacking tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses.

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed hacking tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses.PHOTO: LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

WASHINGTON—WikiLeaks released thousands of documents and files Tuesday that it said exposed tools the Central Intelligence Agency uses to hack smartphones, computer operating systems, messenger applications and internet-connected televisions.

The unauthorized disclosure—the first part of which WikiLeaks said consisted of 8,761 documents and files from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence—confronts President Donald Trump with a threat from the very organization that leaked documents on his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

WikiLeaks named the series of files “Vault 7” and called the unauthorized disclosure the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency,” saying it exposed the malware and exploits the agency amassed to hack smartphones and turn some televisions into covert microphones.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment “on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

An intelligence source said some of the information does pertain to tools that the CIA uses to hack computers and other devices. This person said disclosing the information would jeopardize ongoing intelligence-gathering operations and the revelations were far more significant than the leaks of Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency who exposed active surveillance programs in 2013.

Mr. Snowden’s leaks revealed names of programs, companies that assist the NSA in surveillance and in some cases the targets of American spying. But the recent leak purports to contain highly technical details about how surveillance is carried out. That would make them far more revealing and useful to an adversary, this person said.

In one sense, Mr. Snowden provided a briefing book on U.S. surveillance, but the CIA leaks could provide the blueprints.

WikiLeaks said in its statement that it was not publishing such information as computer source code that could be used to replicate the tools it claims to have exposed. But the group left open the possibility of publishing those crucial details if “a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should [sic] analyzed, disarmed and published.”

Mr. Snowden said in a tweet Tuesday, “Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.”

WikiLeaks said the CIA recently “lost control” of the majority of its hacking arsenal. “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” the site said in a statement. “The archive appears to have been circulating among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”

The website put out what it called the first installment in a series of planned leaks on Tuesday, calling it “Year Zero.” It said the first installment “introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products.”

WikiLeaks said the information on CIA hacking came from an unidentified source who believes the spy agency’s hacking authorities “urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.”

Much of what WikiLeaks posted Tuesday appeared to be a kind of internal Wikipedia for U.S. cyber-warfare developers to collaborate, post and access information about available hacking tools. In many instances, WikiLeaks has redacted entries that appear to link to specific executable files. The documents show, for example, what capabilities exist to bypass antivirus software, with a different entry for each antivirus company.

The revelations are sure to fuel an ongoing debate over whether intelligence agencies that discover security flaws in popular technology should disclose them, so that the users can defend themselves from hackers, or keep that information secret for use in intelligence operations.

One document claims that the CIA has discovered numerous ways to hack into versions of Apple’s iOS, the mobile operating system used on iPhones. In general, hacking tools for the iPhone are considered especially valuable because the technology is so widely used, experts said. One particular hacking tool appears to remain on an iPhone even after it has been rebooted, which would make it particularly valuable to an intruder.

“These documents, which appear to be authentic, show that the intelligence community has deliberately maintained vulnerabilities in the most common devices used by hundreds of millions of people,” Ben Wizner, the director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

“Those vulnerabilities will be exploited not just by our security agencies, but by hackers and governments around the world. The government has the capacity and obligation to help technology companies fix vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered,” Mr. Wizner said.

This is the latest high-profile leak of information by WikiLeaks, which last fall published emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian government hackers stole those emails and provided them to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks said the documents show the CIA’s ability to bypass the encryption of popular messenger applications, including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Confide by hacking the smartphones they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before the applications encrypt the user’s texts.

The site said the documents also show how the CIA developed other mobile hacking technologies, including the ability to activate the camera and microphone of a target’s smartphone covertly and surreptitiously retrieve a target’s geolocation, audio and text communications.

WikiLeaks said one of the documents also shows how the CIA developed a program to hack internet-connected televisions in conjunction with British intelligence. The attacks can place Samsung smart TVs in a fake off mode, so the owner believes the television is switched off, while in reality it is functioning as a bug and recording conversations in the room, WikiLeaks said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/wikileaks-posts-thousands-of-purported-cia-cyberhacking-documents-1488905823

WikiLeaks publishes massive trove of CIA spying files in ‘Vault 7’ release

Julian Assange claims that documents are the most comprehensive CIA release ever and are far larger than the Snowden files

The Independent Tech

WikiLeaks has published a huge trove of what appear to be CIA spying secrets.

The files are the most comprehensive release of US spying files ever made public, according to Julian Assange. In all, there are 8,761 documents that account for “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA”, Mr Assange claimed in a release, and the trove is just the first of a series of “Vault 7” leaks.

Already, the files include far more pages than the Snowden files that exposed the vast hacking power of the NSA and other agencies.

 In publishing the documents, WikiLeaks had ensured that the CIA had “lost control of its arsenal”, he claimed. That included a range of software and exploits that if real could allow unparalleled control of computers around the world.

It includes software that could allow people to take control of the most popular consumer electronics products used today, claimed WikiLeaks.

“‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones,” the organisation said in a release.

The public files don’t include the cyber weapons themselves, according to a statement. The organisation will refrain from distributing “armed” software “until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published”, it said.

The files were made available by a source who intended for them to start a conversation about whether the CIA had gained too much power, according to the organisation.

“In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” a release read. “The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

It also redacts the details of some of the names, locations and targets that are identified in the documents.

The organisation had teased the release in advance with strange messages about the release being “Year Zero”, and references to “Vault 7”. It had planned to release the files later on but that plan was thrown off when its press conference came under cyber attack, Mr Assange claimed.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikileaks-cia-vault-7-julian-assange-year-zero-documents-download-spying-secrets-a7616031.html

WikiLeaks releases ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’

Gutfeld: ‘Day Without a Woman’ strike sends wrong message

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released what it said is the full hacking capacity of the CIA in a stunning 8,000-plus page disclosure the anti-secrecy website contends is “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”

The 8,761 documents and files — released as “Vault 7 Part 1” and titled “Year Zero” — were obtained from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., a press release from the website said. The trove had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors,” one of whom “recently” gave the archive to WikiLeaks. The CIA allegedly employs more than 5,000 people in its cyber spying operation and had produced more than 1,000 programs as of 2016.

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox News.

The collection of purported intelligence documents includes information on CIA-developed malware — bearing names such as “Assassin” and “Medusa” — intended to target iPhones, Android phones, smart TVs and Microsoft, Mac and Linux operating systems, among others. An entire unit in the CIA is devoted to inventing programs to hack data from Apple products, according to WikiLeaks.

WIKILEAKS OFFERS REWARD FOR INFO ON OBAMA MISDEEDS

Some of the remote hacking programs can allegedly turn numerous electronic devices into recording and transmitting stations to spy on their targets, with the information then sent back to secret CIA servers. One document appears to show the CIA was trying to “infect” vehicle control systems in cars and trucks for unspecified means.

WikiLeaks hinted that the capabilites revealed in Tuesday’s disclosure could have even darker utility than simply spying.

“It would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” the release stated.

WikiLeaks confirms CIA can effectively bypass Signal + Telegram + WhatsApp + Confide encryptionhttps://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1 

FLASHBACK: WIKILEAKS REVEALS CLINTON ‘HITS’ FILE ON SANDERS

The site said the CIA additionally failed to disclose security vulnerabilities and bugs to major U.S. software manufacturers, violating an Obama administration commitment made in January 2014. Instead, the agency used the software vulnerabilities — which could also be exploited by rival agencies, nations and groups — for its own ends, WikiLeaks said.