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Profile Information

Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 78,365

Journal Archives

Chad Wolf says he didn't know naturalization would be seen at RNC

Source: Politico

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said Sunday that he did not know a video of him participating in a naturalization ceremony would be broadcast at the Republican National Convention.

Wolf went on the defense when asked about the video’s use at the RNC, noting that the department does “hundreds, if not, thousands” of ceremonies like it every year.

“It was uploaded to a public YouTube channel,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Anyone, any individual, organization or political party can pull down that video and do with it as they wish.”

But Jonathan Karl, the program’s co-anchor and chief Washington correspondent, doubled down on the question — asking Wolf if he knew it would be used at the Republican National Convention.

Wolf replied: “No.”

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/30/chad-wolf-naturalization-republican-convention-405214

I Was a U.S. Diplomat. Customs and Border Protection Only Cared That I Was Black.


On Nov. 19, 2018, I was driving from my home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border to El Paso, Texas, when a Customs and Border Protection agent in his booth looked at my car, looked at me, and waved me to the left, through yellow poles separating the lanes, and into one of a half-dozen parking spaces off to the side. He told me to park under a roofed area and sit on a metal bench alongside my car.

I was a freshly minted 26-year-old U.S. diplomat, stationed at the U.S. Consulate General in Mexico, just a few miles from the border. Ciudad Juarez and El Paso are effectively two halves of a single metropolitan area of over 2 million people, and the line between them is one of the busiest border crossings in the world. Residents of one side frequently drive over the border to shop, go to the doctor or dine at restaurants. All the diplomats working at the consulate visit El Paso frequently; some even send their children to school on the Texas side, and cross the border as often as twice a day for school activities.

If you’re working at the State Department, like I was, and traffic isn’t bad, your trip across the border usually just takes a few minutes. The border between Juarez and El Paso has two lanes set aside for “trusted travelers,” people who travel frequently into and out of the country and who’ve been vetted in advance by the U.S. government. This group, which includes business travelers and diplomats, carry a pass known as a SENTRI card, issued by CBP, which is supposed to allow “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.” You’re directed to special lanes and hold your card up to a camera a few feet in front of a booth manned by CBP officers. Most of the time the officers wave through travelers using SENTRI cards, so the whole process takes just a few seconds. But if the officers have questions about the identity of the travelers, or any other suspicion, they can flag them off to the side for additional questioning and searches, including putting the car through an X-ray machine.

This is called “secondary inspection,” and sometimes being picked out for secondary inspection is just arbitrary, like a random check by the Transportation Security Agency at an airport. It's rare for U.S. consular officers to be regularly pulled over; in addition to having a SENTRI card, we carry diplomatic passports. Some of my fellow diplomats have told me they had not once been pulled into secondary inspection after living in Juarez for years. One told me he was always greeted with, “Welcome home to America, sir.”

Trump's favorability and perceptions of COVID-19 response stagnate post-convention: POLL

Source: ABC News

President Donald Trump's efforts to build his appeal and define his opponent at the Republican National Convention, using pageantry and the White House as the backdrop, had little apparent impact on the electorate's impressions of both him and former Vice President Joe Biden, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

Trump's week of celebration did not improve his favorability, even among his own base, and the country still remains widely critical of his handling of the major crisis of his presidency: COVID-19.

Less than one-third (31%) of the country has a favorable view of the president in the days after he accepted the Republican nomination for the second time -- a stagnant reality for Trump. His favorability rating stood at 32% in the last poll, taken a week earlier, right after the Democratic National Convention.


In the new survey, which was conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel, Biden's favorability remains higher than his unfavorability, 46% to 40%, solidifying his improvement in favorability from last week, when attitudes about the Democratic nominee improved to a net positive from his slightly underwater position prior to the convention.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-favorability-perceptions-covid-19-response-stagnate-post/story?id=72705268

Trump's message discipline vanishes a day after convention

Source: CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden presented two alternate realities of the state of America at their conventions over the past two weeks -- and the President's ability to persuade wavering moderates and independents will hinge on his ability to stay on message.

But the restraint that Trump showed on Thursday night in an unusually muted speech accepting the renomination of his party had vanished by the time he touched down in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Friday night where he told supporters — who were not socially distanced and booed when the public address announcers asked them to wear masks — that he felt free to "wing it."

After charging that Biden is "weak as hell" and an enabler of "rioters" and "anarchists," Trump suggested that protesters in Washington, DC, who surrounded and harassed Sen. Rand Paul as he left the White House on Thursday night would have killed him if police had not intervened, and then launched a baseless new attack on Kamala Harris at a time when he's facing a historical deficit with women.

"Joe Biden is coming out of the basement, because the poll numbers have totally swung -- they've totally swung," Trump said, mocking Biden's announcement Thursday that he would be resuming campaign events after Labor Day. "Sleepy Joe is coming out. ... Ten days! That's like an eternity in Trumpville."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/29/politics/2020-election-donald-trump-joe-biden/index.html

Elon Musk unveils pig with computer chip in brain

Source: The Hil

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Friday showcased pigs with computer brain chips during his unveiling of Neuralink, an upcoming technology aiming to bring symbiosis between artificial intelligence and the human brain.

The live showcase involved displaying real-time neural signals from one of the pigs, which Musk named Gertrude, CNBC reported.

Musk said the process for installing a Neuralink in a human brain would be an hour-long operation that is no more invasive than LASIK eye surgery, inserting a coin-sized device into the skull that would leave a tiny scar after the electrodes are inserted in the brain.

He likened the technology to being essentially a "Fitbit in your skull."

Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/technology/514255-elon-musk-unveils-pig-with-computer-chip-in-brain

The conspiracy theories write themselves,..

McConnell's campaign hires Covington grad Nicholas Sandmann

Source: The Hil

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reelection campaign confirmed that it has hired Nicholas Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who garnered national attention for his viral encounter with a Native American elder in a crowd last year at the Lincoln Memorial.

The campaign confirmed to The Hill on Saturday that Sandmann will work as a grassroots director for McConnell’s reelection bid and that he started in the new role this month. His job will entail assisting in field operations and building coalitions.

“We’re excited to have Nicholas on Team Mitch. Along with our already strong team, his efforts to bring people together all across Kentucky will be critical to Senator McConnell’s victory this November,” said campaign manager Kevin Golden.

Sandmann, who will remain a student at Transylvania University as he works for the McConnell campaign, first appeared to announce the news Thursday when he tweeted, “finally got to add more to my bio than just my schools.”

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/514258-mcconnells-campaign-team-hires-covington-graduate-nicholas-sandmann

Judge orders jury trial in Sarah Palin libel suit against New York Times

Source: Politico

A federal judge has ordered a jury trial in former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s libel suit against the New York Times over an editorial linking her to the 2011 Arizona shooting rampage that badly wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six others.

In the latest round of litigation in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff rejected separate motions in which the Times and Palin claimed they should prevail based on the existing evidence and depositions in the case.

In a ruling issued Friday evening, Rakoff said the issues were not as clear cut as either party suggested, so the matter will have to be decided by a jury. He set Feb. 1, 2021, as a target for a trial to open in the case, but noted that the date could be delayed as courts continue to struggle with in-person proceedings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The initial version of the 2017 Times editorial said it was “clear” that the 2011 shooting was linked to a map Palin’s political action committee released that included crosshairs over Giffords’ Tucson district. However, no such link has ever been established. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was mentally ill and was sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/29/sarah-palin-libel-new-york-times-404810

N.Y.C. Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into Appearing in R.N.C. Video

Source: New York Times

It started with an unexpected call last week from Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump associate who oversees federal housing programs in New York.

Ms. Patton told a leader of a tenants’ group at the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest, that she was interested in speaking with residents about conditions in the authority’s buildings, which have long been in poor repair.

Four tenants soon assembled in front of a video camera and were interviewed for more than four hours by Ms. Patton herself. Three of the tenants were never told that their interviews would be edited into a two-minute video clip that would air prominently on Thursday night at the Republican National Convention and be used to bash Mayor Bill de Blasio, the three tenants said in interviews on Friday.

“I am not a Trump supporter,” said one of the tenants, Claudia Perez. “I am not a supporter of his racist policies on immigration. I am a first-generation Honduran. It was my people he was sending back.”

Read more: Link to source

Meadows says Trump willing to sign $1.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill

Source: The Hil

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Friday that President Trump would sign a coronavirus relief package totaling $1.3 trillion, an increase over the $1.1 trillion proposed by Senate Republicans.

“The president right now is willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion,” Meadows told reporters at the White House, saying that the figure had been offered privately to Democrats. He had previously said the White House was willing to go “north” of $1 trillion but did not offer a precise figure.

He said, however, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has stood firm in her demand for a $2.2 trillion relief package.

Meadows and Pelosi spoke Thursday afternoon, resuming negotiations on the next coronavirus package that have been stalled for three weeks. Pelosi said Thursday that she offered Meadows a concession by proposing a $2.2 trillion bill, down from a $2.4 trillion offer earlier this month.

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/514190-meadows-says-trump-willing-to-sign-13-trillion-coronavirus-relief

Memo outlines plan to defer payroll taxes for federal employees

Source: Politico

At least part of the federal government is preparing to implement President Trump’s plan to defer payroll taxes even before his administration finishes spelling out the details of how it will work.

The National Finance Center, which handles payroll for thousands of federal workers, said it will begin deferring Social Security taxes for “all” employees who are eligible for the initiative — apparently not giving them the option of whether to participate.

In a memo posted on its website, NFC is also telling workers that the deferred taxes will eventually be forgiven, though that is hardly certain — only Congress can do that.

“This is a deferral of the deductions, and Treasury should look to have legislation put in place so that employees do not have to pay back these deferred amounts,” reads the memo, which was first reported by the tax journal Tax Notes.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/28/payroll-tax-federal-employees-deferral-404546
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