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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BILLY GRAHAM DEAD AT 99, FRIEND TO DR MLK & U.S. PRESIDENTS, SOULWINNER (RIP)








BILLY GRAHAM DEAD AT 99, FRIEND TO DR MLK & ALL U.S. PRESIDENTS:

GRAHAM LED MORE THAN 1 MILLION PEOPLE TO JESUS CHRIST REGARDLESS OF THEIR RACE.

BILLY GRAHAM IS NOW IN HEAVEN WITH JESUS.

GREAT IS BILLY GRAHAM’S REWARD.

REST IN PEACE & GOD BLESS HIS FAMILY.


Sources: AP, HuffPost, Yahoo News, Youtube


****** Billy Graham, 'America's Pastor' And Noted Evangelist, Dead At 99


Billy Graham, the famed evangelist who became known as “America’s Pastor,” has died at the age of 99, The Associated Press reported.

Graham died at his home Wednesday morning from natural causes, a family spokesman told ABC News.

Born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, William Franklin Graham Jr. was the oldest of the four children of William and Morrow Graham. He was raised on a dairy farm, and little in his childhood suggested he would become a world-renowned preacher.

Then at 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by outspoken evangelist Mordecai Ham. The two months he spent listening to Ham’s sermons on sin sparked a spiritual awakening in Graham and prompted him to enroll at Bob Jones College. When the conservative Christian school’s strict doctrine didn’t align with his personal beliefs, he transferred to the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida) and joined a Southern Baptist Convention church. He was ordained in 1939.

Graham received additional training at Illinois’ Wheaton College, where he met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell. They were married for 64 years, until her death in 2007, and had five children.

After serving briefly as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, Graham launched his first radio program, “Songs in the Night,” in 1943. Although he left a year later, Graham liked the idea of sharing his message with a wide audience. As noted on his website, Graham took Jesus Christ literally when he said in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

Graham was still in his early 30s when entered the public spotlight by giving a series of well-attended “sin-smashing” revival meetings that were held under a circus tent in a Los Angeles parking lot. The press took interest in the charismatic young preacher and began writing articles about him. To get his message to even more people, Graham founded his own ministry, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Graham viewed the Bible as the infallible word of God. He believed that Jesus led a sinless life and that all men were lost and would face God’s judgment. Most importantly, he was convinced he must use “every modern means of communication available” to spread the Gospel throughout the world, and did so in print, on radio and television, online and in person.

Graham’s sermons promoted evangelism and railed against “godless communism,” drugs, sex and violence. And for the next five decades, his electric personality connected with audiences in more than 185 countries.

Graham was the first evangelist of note to speak behind the Iron Curtain, and during the Apartheid era he refused to visit South Africa until the government allowed integrated seating at his events. He published dozens of best-selling books, including Angels: God’s Secret Agents and The Jesus Generation, and wrote a weekly column that was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers.

Graham received numerous honors, including the Horatio Alger Award, the George Washington Honor Medal, the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award and the Congressional Gold Medal. A highway in Charlotte bears his name, as does part of Interstate 240 near his home in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1989, he became the first clergyman to be granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as a minister.

Graham also had a major effect on the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. His early crusades were segregated, but once the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which found public school segregation unconstitutional, Graham integrated the seatings at his revival meetings.

Graham befriended the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as well, and together they preached to more than 2 million people in New York City. When questioned about his views on faith and race, Graham argued there was no scriptural basis for segregation.

As his message spread, Graham was granted personal audiences with royalty, dignitaries and many sitting presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. Three presidents were even on hand in 2007 for the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Despite being a registered Democrat, Graham opposed the candidacy of John F. Kennedy, and actively encouraged other religious leaders to speak out about the dangers of having a Roman Catholic in the White House.

Though beloved by millions, Graham was not without his detractors. Some fundamentalist Christians took issue with his ecumenical approach to evangelism, and after his 1957 crusade in New York, opponents of Graham’s more liberal theology began calling him “the Antichrist.” According to the biography Billy: A Personal Look at Bill Graham, the World’s Best-Loved Evangelist by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, one Christian educator even said that Graham was “the worst thing to happen to the Christian church in two thousand years.” More recently, detractors blasted Graham’s continued belief that homosexual behavior was a “sinister form of perversion,” and his intolerance against the very presence of gay and lesbian couples within Christianity.

As his health began to fail, Graham decided to announce his retirement in 2005. His final sermon, “The Cross ― Billy Graham’s Message To America,” called for a national spiritual awakening.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

JIMMY KIMMEL vs TRUMP - “YOU’VE LITERALLY DONE NOTHING” (GUN CONTROL)








JIMMY KIMMEL vs TRUMP - “YOU’VE LITERALLY DONE NOTHING” (GUN CONTROL):

KIMMEL SAID, “TELL YOUR ALLEGED CHRISTIAN BUDDIES IN CONGRESS TO DO SOMETHING”.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE KIMMEL’S BOLDNESS & HIS SINCERE PASSION.

TRUMP USED TO DISPLAY SAME BOLDNESS UNTIL HE WENT TO THE SWAMP.

DEAR GOD PLEASE HELP THOSE HURTING FAMILIES IN PARKLAND, FLORIDA.

DEAR GOD PLEASE EXPOSE THE TRUTH ABOUT WHO INFLUENCED OR PAID NICKOLAS CRUZ, 19.


Sources: NBC, CNN, WASHINGTON POST, YouTube


****** Jimmy Kimmel to Trump after school shooting: 'You've literally done nothing


An emotional Jimmy Kimmel opened his show Thursday night by speaking to both his audience and President Trump following Wednesday's school shooting that took place in Florida.

"As I'm sure you know and feel, this is another very sad day in America," Kimmel said on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" "At least 17 lives have been lost. More than a dozen people are hospitalized, and our President, as he should, weighed in on the tragic events this morning from the White House."

The host then showed clips of Trump's speech from the White House on Thursday morning in which the president said, "No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning."

"Agreed," the host responded. "Here's what you do to fix that. Tell your buddies in Congress -- tell Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio, all the family men who care so much about their communities -- that what we need are laws. Real laws that do everything possible to keep assault rifles out of the hands of people who are going to shoot our kids."

Authorities say that Nikolas Cruz, 19, gunned down students and staff with a rifle on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. It is at least the eighth shooting at a U.S. school this year.

Kimmel, who was visibly shaken, continued by speaking directly to Trump.

"Tell these Congressmen and lobbyists, who infest that swamp you said you were going to drain, force these allegedly Christian men and women who stuff their pockets with money from the NRA year after year after year to do something," he said. "Now. Not later. Now."

The host told Trump not to let anyone say that "it's too soon to be talking about it."
"Children are being murdered. Do something," Kimmel said with his voice breaking. "We still haven't even talked about it. You still haven't done anything about this. Nothing. You've literally done nothing."

Kimmel kept addressing Trump by adding that politicians and the president like to say that mass shootings are a mental health issue.

He then said that one of the first acts of Trump's presidency was to roll back a regulation designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"Your party voted to repeal the mandates on coverage for mental health," Kimmel said. "So I agree, this is a mental illness issue because if you don't think we need to do something about it, you are obviously mentally ill."
Kimmel finished his monologue by saying that viewers could write or call their representatives to demand gun control. And if they don't listen, he said, people can vote those representatives out.

"Whatever you do, do something because I, for one, am very, very, very, very tired of this," he said before showing clips of politicians and the president saying it's too early to talk about gun control.

"Yeah, no it isn't," Kimmel said.


NIKOLAS CRUZ’S DISTURBING INSTAGRAM PAGES vs FREEDOM OF SPEECH (LAWSUITS)











NIKOLAS CRUZ’S DISTURBING INSTAGRAM PAGES vs FREEDOM OF SPEECH:

WHY DID INSTAGRAM EMPLOYEES IGNORE CRUZ’S OBSESSION WITH GUNS?

WHAT WAS CRUZ’S MOTIVE & WHO INFLUENCED HIM?

A 19-YEAR OLD COULD NOT PLAN SUCH MASS MURDER, PREMEDITATED EVIL ALL BY HIMSELF.

CRUZ’S INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK PAGES SHOULD HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THE FBI.

WHY DIDN’T FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM REPORT CRUZ TO THE FBI??

THE PARENTS OF THOSE 17 DEAD TEENS SHOULD SUE INSTAGRAM.


Sources: Telegraph.co.uk, CBS News, Fox News, TIME, Youtube


***** Nikolas Cruz: Florida school massacre suspect had 'disturbing' social media history and 'was crazy about guns'


TThe gunman who allegedly killed at least 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday was a former student who posted disturbing material on social media and was "crazy about guns".

Police identified the suspect as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami.

The suspect was wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida told CNN.

Mr Nelson, who said he had been briefed by the FBI, said the attacker "set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. And there the carnage began."

He said he did not know if the gunman had used the smoke grenades but he assumed that's why he had a gas mask on.

Frightened students ran out onto the streets as shots rang out before SWAT team members swarmed the building.

Authorities later announced that they had taken the suspect into custody and took him to hospital after locating him in Coral Springs, a little over a mile away from the school. The gunman surrendered to police without a struggle, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

Inside the suspect's disturbing Instagram page

The Instagram page of the alleged shooter paints a picture of a man obsessed with guns and knives.

One of the more recent posts shows target practice, captioned "Group therapy. Sometimes it really f---ing works."

Others show him posing proudly with his weapons, which include pistols and knives, and in one Instagram post, he seemingly asks followers for advice on a certain model of gun.

He also posed for selfies where he wore all black clothes and a balaclava.

One photograph shows a dead toad, which he claims to have killed.

His Instagram profile contained the word “annihilator.”

One post about purchasing a shotgun reads: “I plan on getting this but I need more information on it so if someone could give advice on how much I’m spending and background cheeks [sic] please to god let me know."

Students at the school have confirmed the Instagram page is his.

One student, who escaped the shooting, wrote on Twitter: "He literally had an Instagram where he posted pictures of animals he killed gruesomely."

Flagged as a threat

Jim Gard, a Maths teacher, said Cruz had been in his class last year.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Mr Gard told the Miami Herald. “There were problems with him last year threatening students.”

However, Robert Runcie, the Broward County School District Superintendent, told reporters he was not aware of any concerns raised about the student.

“We received no warnings,” Mr Runcie said outside the school. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn't have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

One student, who did not wish to be named, told TV station WSVN-7 that Cruz had said he had guns at home and talked about using them.

“He’s been a troubled kid,” the student said. “He’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.”

'Very disturbing' social media history

Mr Israel said the gunman had an AR-15 assault rifle and "countless magazines".

“We already began to dissect his websites and the things on social media that he was on and some of the things that came to mind are very, very disturbing," he said.

His Instagram account was taken down after the shooting, but screenshots were sent to various media outlets.

“Everything he posts is about weapons,” one student told ABC News. “It’s sick.”

Daniel Huerfano, a student who fled Wednesday's attack, said he recognised Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz posed with a gun in front of his face. Huerfano recalled Cruz as a shy student and remembered seeing him walking around with his lunch bag.

"He was that weird kid that you see ... like a loner," he added.

One pupil said other teenagers had long thought the suspect would “shoot up the school”.

The pupil told local television station WFOR-TV: “A lot of people were saying it was going to be him. A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out that everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.”

Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said during an interview with CNN that the shooter was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but that he hadn't been back to the clinic for more than a year.

"It wasn't like there wasn't concern for him," Mr Furr said. "We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren't connected ... Most teachers try to steer them toward some kind of connections. ... In this case, we didn't find a way to connect with this kid."

Another student, named as Brandon, was asked whether he was surprised to learn the identity of the gunman, and replied: “No.” He continued: “He told me he got kicked out of two private schools, and was held back twice. He seemed a little off.”

'Crazy about guns'

Chad Williams, 18, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High school, remembered Cruz as a troubled classmate from when they attended middle school together. He said Cruz would set off the fire alarm, day after day, and finally got expelled in the eighth grade.

More recently, Williams saw Cruz carrying several publications about guns when they ran into each other at the high school. Williams thought Cruz was there to pick up a younger sibling.

“He was crazy about guns,” Williams told Reuters, speaking by the side of the road near the high school. “He was kind of an outcast. He didn’t have many friends. He would do anything crazy for a laugh, but he was trouble.”

Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, said Cruz was expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. She said Cruz had been abusive to his girlfriend.

'If anyone would do it, it was him'

Dakota Mutchler, 17, said he used to be close friends with Cruz but hadn't seen him in more than a year following his expulsion from school.

"He started progressively getting a little more weird," Mutchler said. "He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there.

"I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him."

Travis Julmice, an 18-year-old senior, said he had not been in a class with Cruz since middle school.

"You could tell he was a little off," Julmice told Reuters at the Coral Springs hotel. "He was always like a troubled kid, getting in-school suspension a lot. And detentions."

MONIQUE DESTROYS KHIA & TSMADISON’S CAREER TOO (MISERY)










MONIQUE DESTROYS KHIA & TSMADISON’S CAREER TOO:

MISERY LOVES COMPANY & IT SEEMS MONIQUE LOVES SPREADING MISERY.


Sources: Bossip, Lipstick Alley, Periscope, Youtube


After destroying her own career within the Entertainment Industry, Black comedian and actress Monique appears to be determined to destroy the careers of other Black entertainers, including KHIA and TS Madison, hosts of the smash Internet show “The Queen’s Court”.


**** Her Royal Cryness Mo’Nique Appeared On Queens Court & Things Went Terribly Wrong

Oscar-winning actress-turned-polarizing talking head Mo’Nique actually showed up for Khia & Maddie’s wildly popular (and hilariously petty) Facebook roast party/talk show The Queens Court but things went terribly wrong mostly because of technical difficulties that riled up Chatty Patty Twitter.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

FLORIDA SHOOTING, 15+ DEAD, ACTION NEEDED, GUN CONTROL






FLORIDA SHOOTING, 15+ DEAD, ACTION NEEDED, GUN CONTROL:

SHOOTING SUSPECT IS NICHOLAS CRUZ, 19.

I SUPPORT 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHTS BUT GUN CONTROL SHOULD BE ENFORCED.

SOME FORM OF GUN CONTROL IS BETTER THAN NO GUN CONTROL AT ALL.

EVEN IF THE U.S. MILITARY NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED.

OUR GOV’T HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS.

IT’S TIME FOR MORE PRAYER.

IT’S ALSO TIME FOR A LEGISLATIVE COMPROMISE ON GUN CONTROL.

TIME FOR PRES TRUMP & CONGRESS TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED THEM INTO PUBLIC OFFICE.

NO MORE SLAUGHTER OF HUMAN LIVES VIA MASS SHOOTINGS.

DEAR GOD, HELP US ALL.


Sources: AP, CNN, Yahoo News, Youtube


****** At least 17 dead in Florida school shooting, law enforcement says


At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

The suspect, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, is in custody, the sheriff said. The sheriff said he was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

At least 14 people have been taken to area hospitals following the shooting, Israel said.

Law enforcement responded to reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly before 3 p.m. The shooting sent students and staff streaming out of the school in a panic. Some students said a fire drill earlier in the day added to the confusion.

mmediately after the shooting, aerial footage from CNN affiliate WSVN showed people lying on the ground outside the school, being treated for injuries and moved to ambulances.

Freshman Kayden Hanafi said he heard two gunshots and saw people running out of another building on campus. As he and his classmates went into lockdown in a classroom, many thought the noise might have been firecrackers.
"It's really a blessing to still be alive," he said.

Nicole Baltzer, 18, said she was in trigonometry class about 10 minutes before the end of the school day when the fire alarm went off. As students evacuated, she heard six gunshots and everyone started running back inside the school, Baltzer told CNN's Sara Ganim.

"I heard so many gunshots, at least like six. They were very close," Baltzer said.

A police officer told her to close her eyes as she walked past a classroom with broken glass, telling her "there's nothing good to see in there," she said.
A freshman named Aidan posted a photo on social media from inside his math class while on lockdown. Since then, he has left the building.

"We have been liberated. God bless, America," Aidan tweeted after being evacuated from the building. "Love each other. You may never know when it may be the last day you meet someone."
There had been a fire drill at the school earlier in the day, leading some to believe at first that the afternoon incident was another drill, a student told CNN affiliate WSVN. "Everyone just started freaking out."
"But then word started going around that it was shots and not just, like, something else, everyone just started running towards the canal," the student said.

Parkland, with a population of 31,000 people in 2016, was named Florida's safest city last year, according to an analysis by the Washington-based National Council for Home Safety and Security, a home security industry trade association.

The south Florida city had seven reported violent crimes and 186 property crimes the previous year, according to the analysis.

Stoneman Douglas High School had an enrollment of about 3,100 students in the 2015-16 year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

As news of the shooting spread, desperate parents gathered near the property searching for their children.
Lissette Rozenblat told CNN that her daughter safely evacuated the school and took shelter at a nearby Walmart.
"She was very nervous, she said that she could hear the person who was shot crying out for help, and was just a nervous wreck," Rozenblat said.

Agents from the Miami office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are responding to the scene, a spokesman said.

TRUMP’S FOOD STAMP FOOD BOX - BRILLIANT STRATEGY (BLUE APRON)




TRUMP’S FOOD STAMP FOOD BOX - BRILLIANT STRATEGY (BLUE APRON):

FOOD BOXES WILL PREVENT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS & FOOD STAMP CARD FRAUDSTERS FROM ABUSING SNAP SYSTEM.

PROVIDING POOR FAMILIES WITH FULLY STOCKED, NUTRITIONAL FOOD BOXES INSTEAD OF FOOD STAMP CARDS WHICH CAN BE SOLD FOR CASH.

DEMOCRATS SHOULD STOP POLITICIZING THIS IDEA AND CARE MORE ABOUT HUNGRY CHILDREN NOT BEING FED BECAUSE PARENTS ARE SELLING FOOD STAMPS.

RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE FOR LOW INCOME WORKERS.


Sources: Washington Post, CNBC, Youtube


**** Trump wants to slash food stamps and replace them with a ‘Blue Apron-type program’


The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods — a change that Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.”

“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don't want to steal somebody's copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they're getting nutritious food. So we're pretty excited about that.”

Mulvaney's remarks drew raised eyebrows from some critics, who accuse the Trump administration official of drawing an unfair comparison between the food stamp program, which delivers an average of $1.37 per meal to America's poorest, and a high-end meal kit that runs $10 per serving.

On Monday, the Trump administration proposed cutting food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $17 billion in 2019 and more than $213 billion over the next decade.

The dramatic reductions came as part of a budget proposal that made sweeping, across-the-board cuts to popular safety net programs, including federal housing subsidies and Medicaid.

But the administration's SNAP proposal was particularly striking, advocates and experts said, because it advocates a fundamental change to the program's administration. For the past 40 years, the Agriculture Department has distributed benefits as either paper coupons or virtual disbursements on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, allowing recipients to use them as cash on foods of their choice and at their own grocery store.

But under the Trump proposal, which the Agriculture Department has dubbed “America’s Harvest Box,” all households receiving more than $90 per month in benefits — 81 percent of SNAP households overall — would begin receiving about half their benefits in the form of government-purchased, nonperishable food items.

Those foods would include shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned meat, fruits and vegetables, according to the USDA. The department estimates that it could supply these goods at about half the cost of retail, slashing the cost of SNAP while still feeding the hungry.

“USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families – and all of it is home grown by American farmers and producers," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. "It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.”

It is this program that Mulvaney likened to meal-kit delivery service Blue Apron — whose shipments typically include fresh fish, meat and produce — earning the derision of some on social media. A spokeswoman for Blue Apron could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Hearing that the Trump Admin is selling this as the 'Blue Apron-ing' of SNAP. Um, no,” tweeted Chad Bolt, a senior policy manager at the progressive group Indivisible.


“With Blue Apron, you get to pick your meals and decide when they come. And it gives you all the ingredients you need to complete it,” echoed New York Times op-ed writer Bryce Covert. “Under Trump's plan, the government decides what you get and when you get it.”

Many anti-hunger advocates and analysts are equally skeptical of the proposed “food box,” which — if approved — would affect 16.4 million households. They say it's unclear how USDA would deliver the boxes and how much that would cost. Equally unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with young children.

“It boggles the mind how that would play out,” said Kathy Fisher, policy director at Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger. “We know SNAP works now, when people can choose what they need. How they would distribute foods to people with specialized diets, or [to people in] rural areas … It’s very expensive and very complicated.”

The proposal is also likely to enrage food retailers — particularly Walmart, Target and Aldi — that stand to lose billions if food stamp benefits are cut, analysts say. On Monday, the Food Marketing Institute, a trade association for grocery stores, condemned the Harvest Box proposal as expensive, inefficient and unlikely to generate any long-term government savings.

Ironically, that sort of criticism has also dogged Blue Apron, which saw its customer base contract in 2017. A recent report by the market research firm Datassential found that four in 10 lapsed meal-kit subscribers dropped their service because they were too costly.

As much as a third of the price per box goes toward shipping and logistics, which remain daunting, industry analysts told The Washington Post last June. Food policy experts expressed skepticism that the government could do better.

In a statement, Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, described the proposal as a “a Rube-Goldberg designed system of commodity distribution via food boxes.”

"[It] will be administratively costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure,” Weill added. "[And it] will return the country to Depression-era anti-hunger approaches.”


METRO DC 2018 BUDGET CUTS FORCES SYSTEM REFORM (TRUMP)





METRO DC BUDGET CUTS FORCES SYSTEM REFORM (TRUMP):

SLASHING METRO DC’S FEDERAL FUNDING WILL ALSO HELP ELIMINATE SYSTEMIC WASTE, FRAUD & POOR REGIONAL PLANNING.

BUDGET CUTS FORCES METRO DC TO MOVE INTO THE 21st CENTURY.

WILL METRO DC RETALIATE AGAINST MEDIA OUTLETS WHICH REPORT ON SYSTEMIC WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS?

GIVING METRO DC & WMATA MORE MONEY IS NOT THE ANSWER.

REFORMING AND RESTRUCTURING METRO DC IS THE ANSWER.

ALL METRO ACCESS DRIVERS SHOULD HAVE CDL LICENSES.

ALL DISPATCHERS SHOULD BE WMATA DISPATCHERS NOT CONTRACTORS.

ALL FARES SHOULD BE REASONABLE & AFFORDABLE.

METRO DC SHOULD OPERATE 24-HOURS.

TRAIN ALL WMATA & METRO EMPLOYEES ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICIES.


Sources: Washington Post, WTOP, Youtube


****** Trump administration budget trims Metro subsidy instead of killing it, as feared


Metro got a little good news Monday when President Trump’s budget proposed to trim the agency’s federal subsidy to $120 million from $150 million rather than eliminate it, as feared.
But the White House and the Transportation Department also warned that they want to shrink federal support for Metro, at a time when the region’s top elected officials of both parties are seeking to increase such backing.

The office of Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said earlier this month that the Trump administration planned to omit a critical grant for the transit agency from its budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

It wasn’t clear Monday whether the White House had changed its mind, possibly under pressure from Congress, or whether Warner and others had misread or overstated the administration’s intentions.

Either way, the Trump administration made clear it hopes the $30 million reduction is only the beginning of a decline in federal spending on Metro.

“The administration does believe that long-term, [the] federal role needs to be lessened, and reducing the federal contribution reflects that,” an Office of Management and Budget official said. “Federal direct subsidies and oversight should be curtailed.”

A Transportation spokeswoman said in a statement that “it makes sense for the Department to scale down” funding for Metro. The statement cited “constrained resources,” Metro’s advances in fixing safety issues, and progress in the District, Maryland and Virginia in raising funds on their own.

Warner and other local officials have been pressing the administration both to provide full federal funding for Metro and to increase such support. Two of the region’s top Republican officials — Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — have urged increased federal funding if Metro meets certain conditions.

Warner raised the alarm previously that the White House might scrap the Metro subsidy altogether. He said the administration believed the 10-year federal grant program for Metro has expired and cited a Federal Transit Administration briefing to Congress in the spring of 2017 that made that point.

OMB and the Transportation Department appeared to differ on that issue Monday. OMB said the authorization expires in 2019.

Transportation said it expires in fiscal 2018, but the White House proposes to continue direct funding at $120 million in fiscal 2019 anyway.

Metro welcomed Monday’s budget news and said it would work in Congress to reverse the proposed $30 million cut. Any reduction in funding would complicate Metro’s financial picture at a time when the agency is pushing for the federal grant program to be renewed to meet its considerable capital needs.

The grant money is used to purchase new rail cars, pay for track upgrades and replace aging equipment. The grant is part of the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, known as PRIIA.

“We appreciate the Administration’s recognition of the important safety and reliability investments Metro requires, as well as this acknowledgment of the critical role the system plays in the nation’s capital,” a Metro spokeswoman said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our congressional delegation and leadership on the Hill to ensure the full $150 million ­PRIIA funding is included in the federal FY19 appropriations.”

Warner sought to claim some credit Monday for what he portrayed as a reversal.

“Not long ago, the Administration was planning to zero out funding for [Metro] in its budget request to Congress,” Warner said in a statement. “I, along with other members of the Capital Region delegation, publicly pushed the Administration to honor the federal government’s ten-year commitment to Metro.

We’ll keep up the fight in Congress to ensure that Metro receives the full $150 million in federal funds that they are owed for the next fiscal year.”

The FTA’s position last spring that the 10-year Metro funding program expires this year was based on a technicality in the wording of the bill.

It appeared to leave open the possibility that the authorization ends in the current fiscal year. But the FTA also said that Congress could extend the authorization to make sure Metro got the full allotment.

“Every indication from the administration was that they were strongly considering omitting the funding from the budget request,” Warner spokeswoman Rachel Cohen said.

Comstock, the only Republican in Congress who represents a jurisdiction in the immediate Washington area, said she had not heard from anyone except Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that the White House was considering omitting the Metro grant.

“I’m not sure what happened there,” Comstock said. “As we have in the past, we’ll fight for the full $150 million.”

Warner issued the warning about the administration’s plans at the same time that he, Kaine, and the two Democratic senators from Maryland — Chris Van Hollen and Benjamin L. Cardin — wrote to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging continuation of the PRIIA funds.

HAPPY VALENTINES’ DAY EVERYONE (HUGS)






HAPPY VALENTINES’ DAY EVERYONE:

HUG SOMEONE TODAY & TELL THEM GOD STILL LOVES THEM.


Sources: Youtube


“Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,

does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.
But as for prophecies,
they will come to an end;
as for languages, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

Now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.“
1 CORINTHIANS 13

Sunday, February 11, 2018

LISA NICOLE’S 2018 ELEVATION COLLECTION (“MARRIED TO MEDICINE”)




LISA NICOLE’S 2018 ELEVATION COLLECTION (“MARRIED TO MEDICINE”)


Sources: Lisa Nicole Cloud, YouTube


Last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to Lisa Nicole Cloud’s ELEVATION Designer Collection Fashion extravaganza.

Lisa Nicole is married to Dr Darren Nagules (also in attendance) and is a former cast member of the Bravo network reality show “Married to Medicine”.

Lisa and Darren reside in Atlanta, Ga and are the proud parents of two lovely, intelligent Children.

Lisa Nicole’s Fashion extravaganza was hosted in my native hometown of New York City and the main sponsor was Rolls Royce.

It was a lavish event, attended by many members of the Fashion industry and Mainstream Media Press.

I sincerely thank Lisa Nicole and her gracious Staff for allowing me to witness such a beautiful collection of Designer couture.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

IMMIGRATION REFORM CORNERSTONE OF TRUMP'S SOTU SPEECH (MS-13)







IMMIGRATION REFORM CORNERSTONE OF TRUMP'S SOTU SPEECH (MS-13):

DEALING WITH FAKE SYRIAN REFUGEES AND VICIOUS, COLD-BLOODED MS-13 GANGS EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT.

THIS IS NOT ABOUT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MUSLIMS OR LATINOS.

IT’S SOLELY ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY.


Sources: Yahoo News, CBC News, Fox News, Youtube


Tuesday night, January 30, 2018 Donald J. Trump our 45th legally elected leader of the Free world (USA), delivered his first State of the Union address before the entire world.

During his speech Trump talked about his administration’s first year achievements as all U.S. Presidents have done when delivering their SOTU speeches.

Trump then proceeded to provide an update on the cornerstone topic of his administration’s agenda and the topic which helped to secure his 2016 election.

That topic is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION REFORM.

Trump mentioned during his SOTU address that he is halting the FAKE Syrian Refugee program until further notice.

Considering how most of the Men who entered America’s borders under the guise of “Syrian Refugees” were actually from IRAQ and were actually members of ISIL, I can see how choosing to halt this program although not POLITICALLY CORRECT, would be in the best interest of our country as it relates to NATIONAL SECURITY.

Trump then went on to discuss his agenda for dealing with GANG WARFARE as in the notorious, most Cold-Blooded Gang to ever exist.......the MS-13.

MS-13 is an international Gang comprised solely of Young LATINO Men, not BLACK Men.

These Young LATINO Men hail from MEXICO, South America, Central America and Honduras.

MS-13 Gang Members are so cold-blooded and violent, they also target and viciously MURDER LATINO citizens just as easily as they frequently Kill American citizens.

This Gang uses MURDER to Terrorize, Intimidate and Control entire American Communities.

In many instances even the POLICE are afraid of MS-13 Gang Members.

Choosing to prosecute and deport Young LATINO Men who are active members of MS-13 is not a POLITICALLY CORRECT decision for Trump’s administration because for years Politicians and other Elected Officials have feared throwing Latino or Middle Eastern Men into Jail, or Deporting them even for MURDER or TERRORISM because it’s not POLITICALLY CORRECT.

However these Politicians and Elected Officials had absolutely No Fear of throwing Young BLACK Men into Jail in a New York minute, even for minor offenses.

Can you say Double Standard based on RACE??

Yet were it not for BLACK Voters, neither VIRGINIA nor ALABAMA Democrats would have won the 2017 elections.

So I commend Pres Trump for standing up for what is right for the USA even when it’s not Popular or POLITICALLY CORRECT to do so.

To wrap it up........

If you are from MEXICO and have been living in the United States for more than 10 years and enjoying America’s FREEDOM and RESOURCES, yet you have NEVER applied for LEGAL CITIZENSHIP, you should be made to Apply ASAP or be Deported.


****** Trump honors parents of MS-13 gang victims at SOTU


One of the longest standing ovations during President Trump’s first State of the Union address came when he introduced the parents of two teenage victims of gang violence.

Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens were invited by the White House to attend Tuesday’s speech. Their daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens respectively — were killed by members of the MS-13 gang on Long Island in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th birthday. Federal authorities later arrested 13 gang members in connection with their deaths. Ten of those arrested had entered the country illegally.

Trump used their killings to highlight what he views as America’s “open borders” that “have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities.”

“These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown,” Trump said. “Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors — and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.”

The president turned to their parents, who were seated next to first lady Melania Trump.

“Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you,” Trump said. “Everyone in America is grieving for you. And 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.”

The parents then received a long standing ovation as they wiped away tears.

Trump called on Congress to “finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminals to break into our country.”

“We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws and support our ICE and Border Patrol agents, so that this cannot ever happen again,” he continued. “So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”

DC’S METRO TRANSIT MESS (REP COMSTOCK’S REFORM BILL)







DC’S METRO MESS (REP COMSTOCK’S REFORM BILL):

FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE DMV’s METRO SYSTEM SHOULD BE HALTED UNTIL PEOPLE SEE CHANGE.

METRO PASSENGERS & DMV BLACK VOTERS DESERVE TO BE RESPECTED.

DISABLED & SENIOR PASSENGERS ALSO DESERVE TO BE RESPECTED.

Sources: WTOP, NBC News, Washington Post, House.gov, YouTube

District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia all share the responsibility of managing a massive public transportation system called the METRO.

More than 600,000 people utilize the METRO System each week to travel to Work and other various reasons.
The METRO operates via Federal Funding and extremely high-priced, unregulated Passenger Fares.
It’s unregulated because each region is legally allowed to charge passengers whatever the Elected officials choose to for service.

Unlike New York’s very well-organized MTA Public Transportation system, the DMV’s METRO System can legally charge riders up to three different Fares for just one trip.

Yet despite receiving Billions and Billions of Federal dollars, along with daily Fares from passengers the DMV’s METRO Public Transportation system remains plagued with:

***** Poor Service levels (Late Arrivals),
Poorly trained Operators,
Waste & Abuse of Federal Funds,
No Accountability,
Black Management Employees with Bad Attitudes who consistently display Poor Customer Service especially to Black patronage,
Corrupt Private Contracts (Dispatchers),
Preventable Accidents,
Broken Escalators (SUITLAND),
Workplace Drama (Adulterous Affairs & Sexual Harassment) which adversely impacts Employee Performance,
Top Heavy Management who are in it only for MONEY,
Nepotism,
etc.

I welcome Congresswoman Rep BARBARA COMSTOCK’S Metro Reform Bill to help straighten out this maze of the DMV’s Public Transit Mess.

Federal Funding should be halted until REAL Change is evident to the Voters and METRO’s passengers who deserve better from their Elected Officials.


***** New bill in Congress promises more money for Metro if…

Metro would get billions more in federal funding in exchange for a more powerful inspector general and better service under a new proposal to be introduced in Congress.

The region’s Democrats led by Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly are proposing to continue current federal funding of $150 million per year for capital projects, but would add another $50 million per year to support Metro’ operations for the first time plus $2 billion in additional cash over 20 years.

The proposed funding is dependent on a more independent inspector general, and that Metro would meet targets set by the U.S. Department of Transportation for better, safer, more cost effective service.

Among other competing proposals on Capitol Hill, Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock’s bill would require different reforms and provide significantly less money than the Democrats’ new proposal. She is the only Republican in Congress whose district includes a Metro station.

Even that bill has yet to have a hearing in the Republican-led House, so the prospects for the Democrats’ bill appear dim at best. Comstock opposes the latest proposal.

“It’s unfortunate that in the 9 years it took Gerry Connolly to write an 8-page bill, he failed to include any of the substantial management, financial or pension reforms advocated on a bipartisan basis by numerous transportation experts and Metro advocates who have been working for years to seriously improve and reform the system.

Throwing billions more at Metro without defined reforms is a dead on arrival strategy,” Comstock said in a statement.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has said additional money is needed beyond current levels to pay for maintenance and repairs that were put off for decades.

Without additional federal money, local taxpayers would have to foot the bill alone. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are considering legislation to boost their share of dedicated funding for Metro.

The co-sponsors of the newly introduced bill with Connolly are Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown and John Sarbanes; Virginia’s Don Beyer; and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Raskin and Brown had also introduced their own Metro bill that tracked transit union recommendations.
A separate bill from Maryland Democrat John Delaney would require changes to Metro’s collective bargaining structure and the size of Metro’s Board in exchange for an extra $750 million over 10 years.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

TRUMP'S 2018 STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH - 9pm EST (LIVE VIDEO); MILESTONES FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION










TRUMP'S 2018 STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH - 9pm EST:

EXPECTED TOPICS -

MILESTONES FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

HOW TO UNIFY OUR NATION

MORE TRAINING FOR U.S. TROOPS

UPDATES ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

GOP TAX PLAN

MORE FUNDING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

WALL STREET & THE STOCK MARKET

AFFORDABLE EDUCATION & HEALTH CARE

SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREA & RUSSIA

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

ETC.,


Sources: NY Times, Youtube


******* State of the Union: Trump to Declare a ‘New American Moment’


• President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, and The New York Times will be streaming it live on our website and on our app. Follow our coverage for the latest updates and analysis.

• The White House has released excerpts from the speech.

• The president will arrive at the Capitol amid remarkable tumult: Anger that he has declined to impose sanctions on Russia and worry over a Republican memo on the origins of the Russia investigation.

White House releases excerpts — “the New American Moment.”
The White House released excerpts from the State of the Union address, a tradition that gives the president a few hours’ head start to highlight what he wants the audience to focus on.

Here are a few, as prepared for delivery:

“We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.”

“Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker.”

“This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

“For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.”

“In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.”

“America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.”

“America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year — isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”

“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.”

“Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.”

“As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.”

“Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.”

Sonny Perdue, agriculture secretary, designated survivor.
Yeah, there’s the first lady’s clothes or which big wig will fall asleep this year. But the State of the Union proceedings also have this bit of intrigue: Which cabinet official will earn the distinction of designated survivor?

The mystery this time was solved two hours before Mr. Trump was due to give his address on Tuesday, when the White House said that the honor would go to Mr. Perdue, the former governor of Georgia and the president’s agriculture secretary.

Glamorous in title but, thankfully, not so far in practice, the designated survivor does not attend the president’s address, and is poised to take over the commander-in-chief’s responsibilities in the event that catastrophe strikes the Capitol and wipes out most of the government. If tradition holds, Mr. Perdue will be watching from a distant and secure location while Mr. Trump speaks.

The short tenure of the designated survivor has an oversize presence in the public imagination: There is a TV series by the same title, about a low-profile cabinet member who suddenly assumes the presidency after a terror attack.

How might he measure up in the Oval Office? Mr. Perdue, a conservative Republican, shares something in common with Mr. Trump: As governor of Georgia, he faced ethical criticisms for not appearing to fully separate himself from his business interests. He once ran a grain and fertilizer business.

— Katie Rogers

“You’ve gotta have heart.”
Hours before his first State of the Union address, President Trump told a group of news anchors at a lunch in the White House that his first year in office has taught him that the biggest difference between excelling in business and performing his current job is that governing takes compassion.

“I’ve really learned a lot,” Mr. Trump told the reporters, according to a partial transcript of an off-the-record lunch released publicly by the White House. “In doing what I’m doing now, a lot of it is heart, a lot of it is compassion, a lot of it is far beyond money — such as immigration.”

Mr. Trump, who is expected to use Tuesday night’s speech to call for a bipartisan compromise that pairs legal status for a group of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children with funding for a border wall, tougher enforcement and new restrictions on legal immigration, recently said he was hoping to sign a “bill of love.”

That tone is sharply at odds with the president’s approach on immigration thus far, which has included a travel ban against visitors from six countries, slashing refugee resettlement and revoking temporary protected status for people from El Salvador and Haiti. He has been more publicly conflicted about his decision last fall to rescind DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that has given legal status to certain people brought illegally to the United States as children.

“I’m telling you, the immigration is so easy to solve if it was purely a business matter, but it’s not,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think that’s something that I’ve learned maybe more than anything else: You have to — you govern with all of the instincts of a businessperson, but you have to add much more heart and soul into your decisions than you would ever have even thought of before.”

Dreamers head to the Capitol — despite the risk.
Democratic lawmakers have decided to put a face on the difficult negotiations happening in Congress over the fate of young, undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. They are bringing scores of such “Dreamers” to the Capitol for Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Representative Nancy Pelosi’s guest, Melody Klingenfuss, is just one of them. Born in Guatemala, she was brought to Los Angeles when she was 9, earned a degree in communications and political science from California State University, Los Angeles, a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, then won protection under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2015.

“Tonight, when President Trump looks into the gallery during his State of the Union, he will see the dignity, courage and patriotism of dozens of Dreamers,” said Ms. Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

But there is a flip side. Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, has called the cops.

So much for the warm welcome.

Mr. Gosar’s fellow Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake, didn’t take kindly to his colleague’s citizen’s arrest.

Are we facing a “Constitutional crisis”?
The Trump administration’s announcement on Monday that it would not impose sanctions on countries that buy Russian military equipment sparked an angry response in Congress, where the Senate and House overwhelmingly approved the sanctions to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri who faces a difficult re-election campaign this year, set the tone with a blast on Twitter.

That concern is bipartisan, at least in some quarters of the Republican Party. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, was flummoxed by the administration’s decision:

“That bill passed with only two dissenting votes in the Senate. It was not partisan in the least,” she said on CNN. “The one thing we know for sure already is the Russians did attempt to meddle in our elections, and not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions, but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year, because we know that the Russians have not given up on their disinformation campaign and their attempt to sow discord in this country and also to undermine faith in democratic institutions.”

Testifying before a Senate panel on Tuesday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department had followed instructions under the sanctions law and drawn up a list of Russian targets for sanctions. An imposition of sanctions could still follow.

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and one of the authors of the sanctions legislation, declined to criticize the administration’s actions. He did say, “I look forward” to the implementation of the sanctions.

Speaker Ryan weighs in on Russia memo.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin spent part of the morning before Mr. Trump’s speech tamping down expectations about a secretive Republican memo that some House members have claimed contains evidence that could undercut the Russia investigation.

In a closed-door meeting of House Republicans this morning, Mr. Ryan “implored” his fellow lawmakers not to overstate the facts of the memo, which the House Intelligence Committee voted to release Monday night. And he urged them not to tie the contentious document — which Democrats call dangerously misleading — to the work of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to a person in the room.

Mr. Ryan reiterated some of those points during a public news conference an hour later, saying that he had faith in the F.B.I. and Justice Department’s broadly and that he thought Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the man overseeing the Russia investigation, was “doing a fine job.” Still, Mr. Ryan defended the Republicans’ overall approach, saying that they were following proper processes and that only transparency would lead to accountability at the agencies.

That was not enough to quiet the most ardent proponents of the notion that federal law enforcement agents have conspired to bring down the Trump White House. Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, called on the president to release the memo during the State of the Union.

DC METRO REFORM BILL SHOWDOWN - DEMS vs GOP (METRO NEEDS MORE WHITE RIDERSHIP)














DC METRO REFORM BILL SHOWDOWN - DEMS vs GOP:

DEMS ARE OPPOSING REP BARBARA COMSTOCK'S (R) METRO REFORM BILL BECAUSE IT CALLS FOR REAL REFORM AND A BADLY NEEDED NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

WASHINGTON DC'S METRO SYSTEM NEEDS MORE WHITE RIDERSHIP.

IF MOST OF THE RIDERSHIP WERE WHITE, MAYOR BOWSER & DEMOCRAT LEADERS WOULD CARE MORE ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMIC REFORM.

HOWEVER SINCE MOST OF THE RIDERS ARE BLACK, DC'S POLITICAL LEADERS COULD CARE LESS.

YET THEY STILL WANT THE BLACK VOTE IN 2018 & 2020.


Sources: Washington Post, Youtube


****** D.C.-area Democrats offer federal Metro bill to counter that of GOP’s Rep. Comstock


A partisan split in the Washington area’s congressional delegation over how to increase federal funding for Metro has raised concerns that the lack of unity will lead Congress to balk at giving the transit system critically needed support.

The division emerged Tuesday when Democratic House members from the area filed a Metro funding bill that would double the federal subsidy to the transit agency and be more friendly to its unions than legislation proposed by Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.).

The House bill, a copy of which was obtained in advance by The Washington Post, would raise the federal contribution to the transit agency from $150 million a year to $300 million a year for 10 years. Comstock’s bill would increase it by 50 percent, to $225 million annually.

The Democrats’ legislation also would provide a federal subsidy for Metro’s operating costs. That would be a significant change. The grants Metro receives — such as other direct federal subsidies for public transit — pay only for capital investments.

In perhaps the most important difference from Comstock’s bill, the Democrats’ legislation would not require the creation of a five-member reform board with power to revise existing union contracts and take other steps to restrain labor costs.

Instead, it addresses concerns about Metro’s performance by requiring that the agency to strengthen its Office of the Inspector General and meet targets for safety, reliability and cost efficiency as conditions for receiving the extra money.

“The other bill almost reads punitive when it comes to labor unions and the workforce,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), the lead sponsor of the Democratic legislation. “We don’t tell Metro they have to vitiate existing labor contracts,” or weaken pension guarantees or limit overtime, as Comstock’s bill does, he said.

Connolly said his bill has support throughout the Washington region. Co-sponsors, all Democrats, include Reps. Anthony G. Brown, Steny H. Hoyer, Jamie Raskin and John Sarbanes, all of Maryland; Rep. Don Beyer (Va.); and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

But Comstock’s bill, which she filed in December, has the advantage of being sponsored by a member of the party that controls both the House and the Senate. Her bill, which was drafted in consultation with regional business leaders, including some Democrats, also reflects their support for replacing the 16-member Metro board with a reform board designed to improve the agency’s governance.

Comstock defended her bill in a statement Tuesday and faulted the Democrats’ legislation for not requiring specific management reforms on pensions and overtime supported by Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld.

“Throwing billions more at Metro without defined reforms is a dead-on-arrival strategy,” Comstock said. “It’s unfortunate that in the nine years it took Gerry Connolly to write an eight-page bill, he failed to include any of the substantial management, financial or pension reforms advocated on a bipartisan basis by numerous transportation experts and Metro advocates who have been working for years to seriously improve and reform the system.”

The differences between the parties’ bills aggravated concerns among Metro supporters that Congress will be reluctant to endorse a package that lacks unified support from the region.

“What’s so discouraging about this is, it really undercuts the bipartisan necessity of getting a federal funding source for Metro,” said Gus Bauman, a former chairman of the Maryland Blue Ribbon Transportation Funding Commission. “To have an all-Democratic bill and an all-Republican one does no one any good.”

The Democrats’ decision to take on Comstock appears aimed in part at hurting her chances of positioning herself as an effective champion of Metro when she seeks reelection in November. Comstock, whose Northern Virginia district has been trending Democratic, is viewed as vulnerable.

“I don’t know their true motivations, but they must be intensely aware that giving a major victory on Metro funding to Barbara Comstock would be an enormous benefit to her reelection chances this year,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

MetroNow, a coalition of leading business groups and nonprofit organizations, issued a statement applauding Connolly’s leadership, but warned that the region’s politicians need to work together on Metro.

“This is a critical time when our leaders must collaborate instead of compete against one another,” the group said.

While the region’s federal representatives trade jabs, there have been signs recently of a narrowing of partisan differences in Maryland and Virginia, where state lawmakers are considering bills to provide Metro with dedicated funding.

Numerous political obstacles remain to the legislation in both states, but many Metro supporters and political veterans say there is unprecedented momentum for change. The federal bickering adds another hurdle.

The Democrats’ position partly reflects their desire to represent the interests of labor, an important part of their political base.

Brown noted that his congressional district, which includes portions of Prince George’s County, is home to more Metro workers than any other, and said “they deserve a voice” in the debate about the agency.

“It’s mistaken to believe that Metro’s problems are excessive labor costs,” Brown said. “I don’t think you need to mess around with their pensions and arbitration, or somehow blow up or reform the board, and think that’s going to solve it.”

The Connolly and Comstock bills have one thing in common: They call for extending and increasing a $150 million annual federal subsidy for Metro that is scheduled to expire after the fiscal year ending in 2019.

Connolly’s bill would do so in two steps.

First, it would extend the program, part of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), for 10 years and increase the subsidy to $200 million a year. Of that, $150 million would continue to be for capital investment. The District, Maryland and Virginia would continue making a matching contribution totaling $150 million.

The additional $50 million in the Connolly bill would go to operations. Of the latter, $10 million would be for Metro’s inspector general. This money would not require a local match.

Obtaining federal money for operating expenses — such as wages, fuel and electricity — would be a breakthrough long sought by many Metro supporters. They have complained for years that the District, Maryland and Virginia pay for all of Metro’s operating subsidies even though the federal government depends on the system to get its workers in the Washington area to their jobs.

“I have always believed that the federal government gets a free ride,” Connolly said. “The largest single user of Metro every day is the federal government.”

The condition for extending and increasing PRIIA money would be to strengthen the Office of the Inspector General by giving it new powers, including independent budget, procurement and hiring authority. Congress and others have pressed for a more robust IG to hold Metro accountable.

The second part of the funding plan in Connolly’s bill would give Metro an additional $100 million a year in grants for capital investment for 20 years. These federal grants also would have to be matched by a total of $100 million annually contributed by the three jurisdictions.

For the first five years, the additional money would be subject to the condition of Metro meeting performance bench marks set by the U.S. transportation secretary together with the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The secretary would grant the money each year only after certifying that Metro was “making progress toward goals and metrics for system performance established by the Secretary in collaboration with the signatories to the [Metro] Compact on safety, reliability and operations costs as measured by vehicle revenue miles,” the bill says.

For the remaining 15 years, the $100 million a year in additional grants would be conditioned on continued progress toward the goals and metrics, plus the establishment of a dedicated funding source by the District, Maryland and Virginia of at least $300 million a year.

METRO ACCESS' CORRUPT DISPATCHER CONTRACTS (IN MD & DC); PRIVATE CONTRACTOR DISPATCHERS vs WMATA UNION DISPATCHERS












METRO ACCESS' CORRUPT DISPATCHER CONTRACTS (MD & DC):

PRIVATE CONTRACTOR DISPATCHERS vs WMATA UNION DISPATCHERS.

UNPROFESSIONAL, POORLY TRAINED, PRIVATE CONTRACTED DISPATCHERS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO FREQUENT LATE PASSENGER PICK-UPS, SAFETY VIOLATIONS AND WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT ISSUES.

REAL METRO SYSTEM REFORM SHOULD INCLUDE INVESTIGATING CORRUPT DISPATCHER CONTRACTOR AGREEMENTS.


Sources: Washington Post, Youtube


****** Suit says MetroAccess diverted dispatching contract in ‘self-dealing’ scheme


A recently unsealed lawsuit alleges that MetroAccess and MetroAccess contractors steered taxpayer-funded paratransit service to favored firms and subcontractors, resulting in longer trips and more expensive rides for the region’s most vulnerable commuters.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt by the owner of a Maryland cab company, plaintiff Scott Bretner alleges that Metro and three of its contractors broke the law by shifting MetroAccess dispatch responsibilities from one contractor, MV Transportation, to another, Transdev North America.

The suit alleges that this led to a pattern of “self-dealing” in which Transdev would assign taxi trips to a service it owns and in other cases direct passengers to MetroAccess vans unnecessarily for its own financial benefit.

“Transdev is steering riders to use the vans unnecessarily, presumably to inflate its revenues, notwithstanding that vans often must travel from distant points including Virginia to serve riders in Prince George’s County,” the complaint reads.

MetroAccess is the transit agency’s door-to-door service for the elderly and people with disabilities. The contract splits dispatch and service delivery responsibilities to prevent the kind of conflict Bretner alleges. Transdev is responsible for providing 50 percent of MetroAccess service, and the remaining share of trips is to be divided between two other firms not named in the suit, according to the contract.

Further, the suit alleges that a third contractor, Medical Transportation Management, the company contracted to oversee MetroAccess, failed to bring the alleged conflict of interest to light.

“MV has continued to collect funds provided by the Federal Government and the compact jurisdictions despite knowingly and intentionally surrendering its responsibilities to Transdev,” the suit reads. “MTM has utterly failed to provide any meaningful quality assurance safeguards or oversight of Transdev and MV,” the suit says.

Metro did not respond to questions about the lawsuit. A spokesman said the agency could not comment on pending litigation.

Transdev declined to comment on the lawsuit.

MV Transportation and MTM did not respond to several email requests for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland did not respond to an inquiry as to why it declined to intervene in the suit. The United States is named as a co-plaintiff along with the District.

Bretner’s attorney said summonses have yet to be served in the suit, so the defendants have not responded in court.

With about 43,000 registered users, MetroAccess is the transit agency’s fastest-growing and most expensive service. The agency spends more than $100 million annually to provide the service through five contractors.

MetroAccess performance dropped sharply during a stretch beginning last fall — at one point, on-time performance was down nearly 10 percentage points from target — but has recovered in recent months, according to the latest figures. Pressed to explain the performance drop in a recent report, Metro and its contractors blamed the issues on a driver shortage that left the companies 10 percent short of the 1,000 needed to run at full capacity.

It’s unknown, however, whether problems with dispatch factored into the service decline.

Bretner, who owns Transportation Maintenance Services, Blue Bird Cab Co., and Prince George’s Yellow Cab Company, said in the lawsuit that he was thwarted in his attempts to become a MetroAccess subcontractor after months of “obfuscation and delay” as the alleged scheme unfolded. Bretner’s attorney, Ryan S. Spiegel, said the alleged offenses are particularly egregious, given the vulnerable population MetroAccess serves.

Neither Spiegel nor Bretner could immediately provide evidence directly supporting their claims, which were said to be based upon “information and belief,” but they said they planned to present evidence in court.

“In this case, the MetroAccess contract at issue was very clear that there were supposed to be different silos of activity that were supposed to be intentionally separate and independent,” Spiegel said in an interview. “The contract was also clear that the service providers were supposed to use a very specific system to provide a vulnerable population with a necessary service.

“We think the evidence is pretty strong that in this case, these defendants knowingly violated those obligations.”

In addition to the contractors, the lawsuit filed by Bretner names Metro and MetroAccess chief Christian Kent as bearing responsibility in the alleged arrangement. Metro, on behalf of Kent, declined to comment.

Bretner claims that Transdev, Metro, Kent, MTM and MV Transportation violated the federal and state False Claims Acts by “falsely certifying that they would comply with local laws governing taxicab services and then knowingly circumventing those laws.” Further, the lawsuit says, Metro and its paratransit contractors “knowingly presented” or conspired to present “false claims to obtain government money under the . . . MetroAccess program.”

It goes on to claim that Transdev has been directing customers onto vans unnecessarily, despite the fact that many customers in Prince George’s County — the most popular MetroAccess jurisdiction — can walk and don’t require wheelchair-accessible vans.

“Now that Transdev is essentially in control of the [call center], it has every incentive to use MetroAccess vans more often than necessary, because its reimbursement rate from [Metro] for those van trips — approximately $65 per ride — is much higher than the rate for subcontractor taxi trips billed at $3.77 per mile,” the complaint alleges.

“Indeed, [Metro], through Mr. Kent and others, has been knowingly complicit in this unlawful conduct by Transdev,” the lawsuit says.

The suit comes three years after another Maryland cab company, Challenger Transportation, alleged a conflict of interest in the awarding of the MetroAccess contract because then-Metro board chairman Tom Downs also helmed the board of advisers for Veolia Transportation of North America (now Transdev North America) at the time the agreement was reached. That lawsuit, also filed in U.S. District Court, has not been resolved, and Bretner’s suit renews the conflict-of-interest concerns, alleging that Downs’s failure to disclose those ties at the time was a violation of the law.

Downs said that while he knew from internal conversations at Veolia that the company was considering bidding for the MetroAccess contract, he recused himself from discussions of any potential contract.

He said he also recused himself from any action, contact or information about the bid. In addition, he physically left Metro headquarters whenever the contract was discussed, he said.

“I was physically removing myself from the board meeting and to be extra safe, I said I was leaving the building during this discussion,” he said.

A written recusal followed, Downs said.

Asked whether his dual roles as Metro board chairman and chairman of Veolia North America’s board could have contributed in any way to the contract’s award: “If you doubt [former Metro General Manager] Rich Sarles’s integrity,” Downs said. “I asked Rich to make sure that . . . I received no verbal or written information at any time from any staff and that they were not to even accidentally provide me with any information.”

The suit also accuses another cab company, Sun Cab, of benefiting from Transdev’s arrangement. It says Transdev dispatched taxi trips to companies unlicensed for access services in Prince George’s, with the money going back into the parent corporation’s pocket.

“By controlling the [dispatch services], Transdev has directed a vast majority of the taxi trips in the overall MetroAccess service region to Sun Cab, which Transdev also owns,” the suit alleges. “Therefore Transdev is able to engage in self-dealing and to ‘double dip’ and pay itself twice for each such instance of taxi service delivery.”

Reached by phone, a person who identified himself as Sun Cab’s general manager referred any questions about the lawsuit to Transdev.

The amended complaint was filed in June, but the case was under seal until late that month as the jurisdictions named as co-plaintiffs decided whether to intervene. Maryland and Virginia sought to remove themselves from the case, and late last month, a federal judge asked that any claims filed on their behalf be dismissed.