Sunday, 25 March 2018

The American Resistance has many faces and these are just three of them (21)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), media release, 20 March 2018:

Washington—A federal judge today granted Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) summary judgement in its landmark case against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the second time the Court has ruled against the FEC for dismissing CREW’s complaint against a dark money group that spent millions in federal elections.

Judge Christopher Cooper ruled in September 2016 that the FEC acted “contrary to law” by dismissing a complaint against American Action Network (AAN), which spent millions on ads without revealing its donors, finding that the FEC’s analysis “blinks reality” and returning the case to the FEC to correct its error. Nevertheless, the three Republican commissioners once again blocked action against the organization, leading Judge Cooper today to correct the commissioners on their continued failure to follow the law.

This decision will have a major impact on disclosure by dark money groups, as the FEC can no longer ignore organizations’ spending on ads that air just before an election that try to hide their political purposes behind a sham “call” for viewers to contact their representatives about legislation.

“This decision marks a major victory not just for CREW but for believers in an open and transparent political process,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “We hope to see a major change in the way the FEC approaches investigations of nonprofit organizations engaged in politics.”

The case revolves around clearly political ads aired by AAN which the FEC decided were not meant to influence an election. The judge wrote in the first decision that “it blinks reality to conclude that many of the ads considered by the Commissioners in this case were not designed to influence the election or defeat of a particular candidate.” Yet the FEC still failed to act. The judge wrote in today’s decision, “The controlling Commissioners did not find that this ad (nor any others mentioning healthcare) had an election-related purpose…Seriously?”

“It’s a shame we have to keep taking the FEC to court to make it do its job,” Bookbinder said. “Unfortunately, they have given us no other choice. If they do not want to keep losing in court, they should start enforcing the law.”

Click here to read the decision

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Quotes of the Week

"We've started off a little bit on the idealistic, and maybe naive, side ... what we've learned over time very clearly is that the most important thing always is making sure that people's data is locked down."  [Mark Zuckerberg, founder Facebook Inc, CNN interview, 22 March 2018]

"I don’t know why. They trust me — dumb fucks".  [Mark Zuckerberg, founder Facebook Inc, talking about Facebook users, 2004]

Tweet from one of life's monumental failures

Friday, 23 March 2018

Federal Liberals behaving badly in 2018

This was the Liberal MP for Leichardt and Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia Warren George Entsch on 7 March 2018 at

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch is calling for big ideas from the community that could help shape the future of the region.

Mr Entsch said the $272 million Regional Growth Fund would support major projects in regional, rural and remote areas that delivered long-term economic benefits.
“This is an exciting program that is set to deliver major projects over $20 million that take advantage of the region’s natural economic strengths,” Mr Entsch said.

“The Regional Growth Fund will support additional investment for sustainable economic growth, including from the private sector, other levels of government, and not-for-profit organisations.

“Initial applications close on 27 April 2018 and I encourage everyone eligible in our community to look at the program guidelines and get started on an application.”

Mr Entsch said the Federal Government would invest a minimum of $10 million toward each successful infrastructure project, representing a maximum of 50 per cent of project costs.

This was The Cairns Post on the subject of a particular pork barrel and Mr. Entsch…..

22 March 2018

It was a long and tough election campaign for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He finally buckled late in the 2016 race and matched Labor’s pledge to fund the final $100 million to build Townsville’s stadium.

It was a welcome boost to Coalition MPs but Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch needed a lift too.

Mr Turnbull threw him a bone in the form of a $20 million regional jobs and investment package.

It wasn’t a $100 million pledge but it struck at the heart of something the region desperately needed: jobs.

The announcement received a lot of media and Mr Entsch was delivered another term in Canberra.

But 100 days after the Coalition was sworn in there was little action and even less in the way of detail on how businesses could access the funding. Time dragged on until Advance Cairns chairman and campaign director for Mr Entsch, Trent Twomey was named chairman of the Local Planning Committee for the fund in January 2017.

Among the committee’s brief was to set the eligibility criteria. The application process was finally rolled out, closing in July 2017. Throughout the process the Cairns Post has watched, waited and asked questions to ensure the fund was not just a hollow election promise. After 20 months Mr Entsch announced in February a list of recipients; among them was a $2.4m grant for QRX Group 1 to establish a first for FNQ — a pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution centre. The project, never heard of until the announcement, has raised many eyebrows. There are questions that need answering about the true number of jobs it will generate, a key criterion of the funding, and if there is a real conflict of interest with Mr Twomey’s wife a one-third owner of QRX Group 1.

22 March 2018

Leichardt MP Warren Entsch could face a quizzing over how the wife of his campaign director Trent Twomey won a $2.4 million federal grant to expand her family pharmaceutical empire.

The Australian Federal Police is looking into a formal complaint of alleged fraud and misconduct in the handling of the multi-million dollar handout.

Far North civic and business leaders told the Cairns Post many taxpayers held concerns about LNP pork-barrelling and whether it “passes the sniff test”.

Mr Entsch, whose son works for the pharmacy company behind the deal, said it was a “brilliant project” and he was outraged by suggestions “about fraud and corruption” over the $220m Regional Jobs and Investment Package (RJIP).

“It ticked all the boxes,’’ he said.

Mr Entsch appointed his election campaign manager Trent Twomey, a local pharmacist and Advance Cairns chairman, to head an RJIP committee panel to identify key priorities for $20m in federal grants to stimulate jobs growth and investment.

The shelf company QRX Group 1 – where Mr Twomey’s wife Georgina and business partner Leo Maltam are listed in company records as directors – won $2,415,400 in funds to build a $5m pharmacy distribution facility……

The Australian Federal Police has been referred a formal complaint but are yet to launch an official “active” fraud investigation. An AFP spokesman suggested the matter might be referred to the Department of Regional Development’s internal probity and audit unit.

Business leaders and pharmacy owners said the vision to build Northern Australia’s first pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution centre was unheard of until the grant was announced two weeks ago.…….

The president doth protest too much, methinks

On 15 March 2018 the mainstream media reported that the Special Counsel Russia Investigation has served a subpoena on the Trump Organisation.

Since then US President Donald J Trump has removed an FBI deputy-director and tweeted his defiance of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As usual the only words in Trump's tweets that can be relied on are connecting words like "and", "or" & "but'  - everthing else is bound to be a distortion of fact or a downright lie.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The tweet Malcolm Bligh Turnbull thought it was wise to delete from Twitter

On 22 March 2018 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull deleted this tweet.

The video this tweet contained survives for a limited time elsewhere.

The reason why this tweet came and went so swiftly? Because many of the people with speaking parts are not low-income aged pensioners who just happen to have shares.

They are former business owners who are now self-funded retirees and, a least one of them structured his superannuation now in the pension phase on the premise that he would be receiving a taxpayer-funded cashback payment for unused franking credits - that is cash handouts for tax he never paid - for forever and a day.

One suspects that Turnbull suddenly realised that the video was not the tearjerker he originally thought it was.