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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

DEA inspector general report shows officials didn't want to look too closely at its thousands of confidential informants

MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave reports:

A scathing audit released yesterday by the Justice Department’s inspector general lists a slew of issues with the DEA’s management of confidential sources. Auditors found that DEA brass reauthorized long-term informants after mere seconds of review, and that the agency has weak oversight for illegal activity conducted by undercover sources.

The inspector general further alleges that the DEA blocked a deeper review by withholding files from auditors or delaying access for months without cause. While the agency denies stonewalling the audit, the DEA put a moratorium on federal disability filings on behalf of informants and ordered of full review of policies.

The audit shows that senior level management at DEA sometimes instructed lower level employees not to file formal risk evaluations about their informants, many of whom are actively engaged in illegal activity while working for the federal government.

That could be because the DEA has some uncomfortable alliances better left undocumented, such as its reported protection of the Sinaloa drug cartel run by infamous gangster El Chapo. Chicago federal court documents disclosed by a Mexican newspaper last year revealed that the DEA had been protecting the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for information about other drug gangs for at least twelve years, between 2000 and 2012. During that time, the Sinaloa cartel expanded its operations in the United States. According to the DEA itself, 80% of heroin that moves through Chicago is controlled by the Sinaloa gang.

The just-released DEA inspector general report reveals that during the very years the DEA was protecting high-level Sinaloa members, the agency's long-term informant committee, tasked with evaluating performance and risk, often did the bare minimum—reviewing individual informants for as little as 13 seconds a piece—and in some years didn't meet at all. Perhaps they didn't want to know.

Read the full IG report, linked from MuckRock.

How Lobbyists for Monsanto, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and the Telecom Industry are Bundling Funds for Hillary

The pantsuit revolutionary is at it again. Once again demonstrating her populist chops by employing the services of lobbyists to bundle millions in campaign funds. It’s no wonder opinion polls on her have been plunging as of late.

We learnfromBloombergthat:

When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008—and later for reelection in 2012—he promised he wouldn’t take money from registered lobbyists, not even as bundlers. In the race to succeed him, Hillary Clinton is not following in his footsteps.

The former secretary of state raised more than $2 million from 40 “bundlers”—fundraisers who get their contacts to give to campaigns—who were also lobbyists,according to financial forms released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission. In all, the Clinton campaign raised $46.7 million between the beginning of April and the end of June.

Clinton’s bundlers include some familiar names: Jerry Crawford, an outside lobbyist to Monsanto and Iowa kingmaker, put together another $35,000 or so. Tony Podesta, a mega-lobbyist who co-founded the Podesta Group and is the brother of Clinton’s campaign chair John, bundled almost $75,000. 

Other bundlers lobby for big companies including Microsoft (Fred Humphries) and Exxon Mobil (Theresa Fariello) or industry groups including the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (Daphna Peled).Another group includes former staffers for prominent Democratic politicians (including President Clinton) and politicians themselves, including former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges. Lobbyist bundlers don’t have to disclose their employers, but the names appear on both Clinton’s disclosures and 2015 lobbyist registrations.

She certainly knows how to diversify her portfolio when it comes to people who bribe U.S. Congress for a living.

Clinton was the only Democrat running for president to have declared lobbyist bundlers as of Thursday.Two Republicans candidates, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also filed disclosures on lobbyist bundlers, with Bush raising more than $228,000 from eight lobbyist bundlers and Rubio raising more than $133,000 from three lobbyist bundlers.

Lobbyist participation in a campaign can be hard to avoid: Despite President Obama’s promise, the New York Times found in 2011 that at least 15 of his bundlers had strong links to lobbyists, including “overseeing” them, even if they weren’t registered themselves.

But hey,

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VIDEO: The T-1000 is Coming. Revolutionary 3D Printing Grows Objects From a Pool of Liquid


If you think conventional 3D printing is cool, wait until you see Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) in action. It takes the creation of objects to a fantastic new level, rising from a pool of liquid media like the cyborg cop in Terminator 2.

The new technology can make ready-to-use products 25 to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing, and vastly expands the materials that can be used and the geometries that can be achieved. It will open doors to innovations in health care and medicine, as well as the automotive and aviation industries.

Carbon3D Inc. demonstrates their technology in this surreal video.

“CLIP…manipulates light and oxygen to fuse objects in liquid media, creating the first 3D printing process that uses tunable photochemistry instead of the layer-by-layer approach that has defined the technology for decades. It works by projecting beams of light through an oxygen-permeable window into a liquid resin. Working in tandem, light and oxygen control the solidification of the resin, creating commercially viable objects that can have feature sizes below 20 microns, or less than one-quarter of the width of a piece of paper.”

The technique allows the creation of 3D parts with novel properties in a matter of minutes, and could provide a model for the synthesis of new materials.

CLIP already holds great promise in the medical field. Doctors could create on-demand objects in a medical setting, such as cardiac stents personally tailored to a specific patient, dental implants or prosthetics.

In the commercial realm this new 3D printing can produce parts with consistent and predictable mechanical properties, unlike traditional 3D-printed parts which are inconsistent due to the layer-by-layer approach.

Investors and manufacturers are taking a keen interest in Carbon3D’s revolutionary technology, with leading software company Autodesk investing $10 million into the startup, and Ford Motor Company dedicating a new research program to using CLIP for vehicle-ready parts.

Obamanomics? More Chidren Live In Poverty Now Than During Crisis

For all the back-patting exuberance over manipulated record high stock prices and record periods of illusory job gains, it appears the administration and its Obamanomics forgot one important thing - the children! As USA Today reports, a higher percentage of children live in poverty now than did during the Great Recession, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Tuesday.

“Where you grew up is similar to where you end up when you’re an adult,” Bloome said. “That helps perpetuate racial segregation.”


As USA Today reports,

About 22% of children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line in 2013, compared with 18% in 2008, the foundation's 2015 Kids Count Data Book reported. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Human and Health Service's official poverty line was $23,624 for a family with two adults and two children.


“The fact that it’s happening is disturbing on lots of levels,” said Laura Speer, the associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, a non-profit based in Baltimore. “Those kids often don’t have the access to the things they need to thrive.” The foundation says its mission is to help low-income children in the U.S. by providing grants and advocating for policies that promote economic opportunity.

As AECF details,

Millions of low-income U.S. families with children face considerable daily obstacles that can threaten the entire family’s stability and lead to lifelong difficulties for their kids. A family-supporting job that provides a steady source of parental income and opportunities for advancement is critical to moving children out of poverty.



But having a job, even one that pays enough to support a family, is only part of the solution. Working parents need access to paid time off to adequately care for themselves and their children. Access to affordable, high-quality, flexible child care is critical for all working parents with young children, but the need is especially great for those parents working in low-paying jobs with irregular, often erratic work hours.


Even several years after the recession ended, the number of children living in low-income working families continues to increase. In 2013, one in four children, 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States. This is 1.7 million more than in 2008. And, 27 percent of children in low-income working families are younger than age 6.