US News

April 1, 2019
Jeff Bezos’ Investigator Says Saudi Arabia Hacked Amazon CEO’s Phone Before Affair Exposé

The feud between Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer took another stunning turn over the weekend when a personal investigator for the Inc. chief executive officer accused Saudi Arabia of accessing Bezos’ phone data before the tabloid exposed his extramarital affair.

Gavin de Becker, a security consultant for Bezos, made his accusations in a 2000-plus-word post in the Daily Beast, which the news site labeled as “opinion.” The investigator gave no direct evidence to reinforce his allegations, which furthered a suggestion made by Bezos in February that the tabloid’s interest in his personal life could be linked to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Enquirer parent American Media Inc. has offered an explanation with far less political intrigue: It learned of Bezos’ affair from his lover’s brother.

De Becker said Bezos is a target of the Saudi government because Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has written extensively about Khashoggi’s murder at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The investigation “concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’s phone, and gained private information,” de Becker said in the column. It’s unclear to what degree American Media was aware of the details, he wrote. Bezos has accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him.

The investigation “studied the well-documented and close relationship” between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and AMI Chairman David Pecker, de Becker said. De Becker’s post makes no mention as to whether any sensitive information about Amazon was compromised. The company has been expanding in the Middle East and purchased e-commerce site in 2017. Amazon representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

In a blog post on Feb. 7, Bezos alleged that American Media, threatened to publish embarrassing photos of himself and a woman who wasn’t his wife. It was the Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, that, on its front page in January, said Bezos had been “caught cheating on his wife of 25 years with the spouse of a Hollywood mogul!”—a former TV anchor named Lauren Sanchez.

American Media said in a statement that Sanchez’s brother was its only source for the report. “Despite the false and unsubstantiated claims of Mr. de Becker, American Media has, and continues to, refute the unsubstantiated claims that the materials for our report were acquired with the help of anyone other than the single source who first brought them to us.”

Bezos wrote in his blog post that the Post’s “unrelenting coverage” of the murder of its columnist is “undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.” Khashoggi, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was a leading critic of the country’s ruling crown prince, whom Trump regards as an important ally. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by people close to the crown prince and U.S. lawmakers say intelligence indicates that the crown prince was involved in the murder.

In February, Jeff Bezos enlisted celebrity lawyer Marty Singer, who has made a name for himself by scaring the tabloids away from his clients, to take on the National Enquirer over its threat to publish personal photos.    Source

March 27, 2019
White Separatists And White Nationalists To Be Banned From Facebook

Social media company found that words matter when it comes to hate speech.

Facebook announced in a blog post today that they are banning any praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism.

Motherboard reported last spring that Facebook moderators were banning users from promoting white supremacy, whereas white nationalism and separatism were allowed.

Heidi Beirich, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Project, told Motherboard last year that “white nationalism is something that people like David Duke [former leader of the Ku Klux Klan] and others came up with to sound less bad.”

Facebook determined that white nationalism and white separatism are just “less bad” ways of saying white supremacy, and that all are concepts that are deeply linked to organized hate groups.

The new policy will go into effect next week.

Ulrick Casseus is a subject matter expert on hate groups on Facebook’s policy team. He told Motherboard that they repeatedly saw instances that those claiming they were not racists or white supremacists but were white nationalists would use hateful speech and hateful behaviors.

“They’re trying to normalize it and based upon what we’ve seen and who we’ve talked to, we determined that this is hateful, and it’s tied to organized hate,” Casseus said.

Rebecca Lewis studies white supremacy on social media for nonprofit technology research organization Data & Society.

She told NBC that “for years, Facebook has tiptoed around the issue of white supremacy on its website, which has ultimately allowed it to thrive there, mostly unchecked.” She said that Facebook’s announcement today is another step in the right direction, but warned that social media companies have not always made good on maintaining their platforms after initial announcements.

Facebook got much of the blame for the mass dissemination of a first-person video detailing the shooting earlier this month at a New Zealand mosque. The shooter, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, broadcast the carnage as a live-stream on Facebook.

The footage was easily accessible both during and after the attack, as users recorded the video and shared on YouTube and Twitter.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the difficulty of policing content from its 2.7 billion users, according to Bloomberg. People are more likely to share posts that will cause an emotional reaction, which leads to a side effect of fake news and extremism.

NBC reported Senator Bob Casey has recently introduced legislation that would require the Justice and Commerce departments to study how the internet fuels hate crimes.

Facebook is the parent company of Instagram, which will be implementing the same policy changes.   Source

March 12, 2019
Business Insider
The Pentagon reportedly dropped $4.6 million on crab and lobster and bought a $9,000 chair in a last-minute spending spree

  • The Department of Defense spent $61 billion in a single month last year in a “use-it-or-lose-it” spending spree, according to a report from OpenTheBooks, a nonprofit dedicated to federal transparency and efficiency.
  • At the end of every fiscal year, during a time known as “Christmas in September,” federal agencies push to spend all that’s left in their annual budgets.
  • According to the report, the Pentagon spent more than $9,000 on a leather chair, 4.6 million on crab and lobster, and $32 million on batteries.

The federal government found a way to spend $97 billion in a single month last year, of which more than $61 billion can be attributed to the Pentagon.

It’s not a new phenomenon. In the last month of every fiscal year, federal agencies work to spend all that’s left in their annual budgets. If they don’t, the agencies worry they’ll be appropriated a smaller share by Congress next year, hence the “use-it or lose-it” spending sprees.

Rather than spend money on frivolous items, federal agencies like the Defense Department should admit their offices can be run on less, according to Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.

OpenTheBooks is a nonprofit aimed at bringing transparency and efficiency to the federal budget. They released a report this March detailing fiscal 2018 use-it-or-lose-it spending habits.

The military spent the most, by far, which isn’t surprising, Andrzejewski told Military Times.

“Let me clear: Congress is the problem here, not DoD or other agencies,” he said. “Historically, both parties tend to look the other way at Pentagon waste. This is a shame because the troops and taxpayers suffer. Lower priority items get funded while mission critical needs are short-changed.”

Andrzejewski calls the spending spree “Christmas in September” for the federal government. And last fiscal year was the worst his group has tracked so far.

One of the stand-out purchases by the Pentagon included a $9,341 Wexford leather club chair purchased from the Interior Resource Group, according to the report.

The DoD also bought $32 million worth of batteries, $4.3 million worth of books and pamphlets, $220 million worth of furniture, $7.6 million worth of workout equipment and $786.3 million on “guns, ammunition and bombs.”

The Pentagon spent the most on five of those products: $124.3 million on medium caliber ammunition, $92.3 million for modification purposes, $75 million on the Paveway family of laser-guided bombs, nearly $54 million on M795 TNT, and $2.8 million on 40mm ammunition systems.

Federal agencies also like to splurge on luxury food items before the end of the fiscal year, according to the report. The Pentagon spent $2.3 million on crab, including snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and crab legs and claws, as well as another $2.3 million on lobster tail. Federal agencies also spent $293,245 on steak, to include rib eye, top sirloin and flank steak.

Andrzejewski said that in some cases, like the surf-and-turf, the spending can actually trickle down to the troops. But that doesn’t mean the dollars couldn’t be better allocated on more necessary items at the beginning of the year if the funds are actually needed.

“Our theory is that, in many cases, the people in charge of the accounts simply follow the path of least resistance,” he said. “When faced with the structural use-it or lose-it deadline they spend as much as they can on whatever is easiest to spend money on. Again, Congress created this perverse incentive structure.”

The DoD also spent big on public relations and marketing in September, inking $153.3 million in contracts.

The military also dropped $86.5 million on transportation contracts, of which more than $53.5 million went to passenger vehicles from Navistar Defense, the maker of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

Some of the big ticket spending items are attributed to the usual major defense contractors. The Pentagon spent $8.1 billion on contracts with Lockheed Martin and $5.1 billion with Boeing in September, for instance.

Some congressional leaders have shown an interest in reigning in this type of end-of-the-year spending, “but we need more,” Andrzejewski said.

“Senators Rand Paul, Mark Warner and Joni Ernst understand Congress needs to make structural reforms to get this problem under control,” he added.

Just prior to the spending spree kicking off, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter on Aug. 29 to the DoD’s chief financial officer warning against the wasteful spending at the end of the quarter.

“According to a recent report, with only limited time left in the current fiscal year, eight of the top 10 highest-spending federal agencies have not used as much as 40 percent of their budgets,” the lawmakers wrote in August. “Some observers have raised concerns that this year’s annual spending binge could be the biggest yet.”

And big it was. The $97 billion spent on contracts in September 2018 marks a 16 percent increase from fiscal 2017, and a 39-percent increase from fiscal 2015, according to OpenTheBooks.

In the final week of the year, federal agencies spent $53 billion, more than they spent in the entire month of August, according to the OpenTheBooks report.

Given the odd spending habits, it’s entirely fair to require agencies like the Pentagon to better explain their last-minute purchases, Andrzejewski said.

“According to Pentagon disclosures captured by our auditors at, a large percentage of contract procurement on the year happened in the final month,” he said. “Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable to ask for justification and the fact that the Pentagon flunked their comprehensive audit only causes further concern.”

Read the original article on Military Times. Copyright 2019.

March 6, 2019
The Challenges of Innovating Access to Abortion

A year ago, when Kanuʻuhiwa Thomas, a twenty-four-year-old who lives in Hawaii, found out that she was two weeks pregnant, she decided to terminate the pregnancy. (Kanuʻuhiwa Thomas is an alias.) “I don’t have any type of support system,” Thomas told me. “I’m still trying to finish my schooling, which is really important to me because a lot of girls here don’t finish their education—they just get pregnant and maybe get married and have kids and have to live off the system. I’m just kind of adamant about making sure I can take care of a child before I have one.”

Hawaii has one of the most liberal abortion policies in the country, but, like many rural and geographically expansive states, services are hard to come by. At the time, only two of the Hawaiian Islands had abortion providers—Maui, which is a hundred miles from the Big Island, where Thomas lives, and Oahu, two hundred miles away. She began to make phone calls. “All I wanted was someone who could help me do it,” she said. “I was afraid they were going to scold me on the phone and hang up.” Eventually, she heard about a service called TelAbortion, which uses video conferencing to connect doctor and patient. Once an ultrasound confirms that the pregnancy is no more than ten weeks along and the TelAbortion physician gives the O.K., the patient is sent medications that, essentially, induce a miscarriage, ending the pregnancy.

Telemedicine—obtaining medical services over the phone or through the Internet—is not a new phenomenon. In the U.S., it began to take off in the late nineteen-fifties, and a 2016 federal grant to increase access to health care in rural areas has made it more mainstream. Medical abortion (as distinct from surgical) relies on a drug protocol that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. What makes TelAbortion unique is the coupling of the two technologies. It enables a woman to terminate a pregnancy in the privacy of her own home, but with medical oversight.

The F.D.A. protocol, which involves two drugs—mifepristone and misoprostol—now accounts for thirty-one per cent of all non-hospital abortions in the United States, according to a 2014 study from the Guttmacher Institue, a nonprofit reproductive-health research and advocacy organization. When the two medications are taken together, they work between ninety-five and ninety-nine per cent of the time, depending on gestational age. Medical abortion has also proved to be safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, complications from medical abortion result in hospitalization 0.4 per cent of the time. By contrast, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2017, found that women are fourteen times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than from taking mifepristone for a medical abortion. (Mifepristone can be taken by itself, but it is more effective taken in tandem with misopristol.)

The TelAbortion service that Thomas hoped to use is part of a five-state trial that the reproductive-health initiative Gynuity launched, in 2016, in response to the ever-diminishing availability of abortion services in the United States. As of the end of January, two hundred and eighty-three women had received TelAbortions, a hundred and fifty-eight of them in Hawaii. The Gynuity trial, which is also available in New York, Oregon, Washington, and Maine, is not the first or the only medical-abortion protocol. More typically, women are required to visit a clinic and take the abortifacient drugs in the presence of a clinician. What makes the TelAbortion protocol so unusual is that once a woman consults with a physician, she is on her own.

Dr. Bliss Kaneshiro, an ob-gyn at the University of Hawaii, who is one of four physicians in her practice participating in the Gynuity trial, told me that consulting with patients over the Internet has been surprisingly intimate. “I was worried that the video visits wouldn’t be as personal as they are in the office, but I’ve found it’s very personal,” she said. “I get to glimpse into people’s lives. I see kids in the background and a partner listening. I see patients in their bedrooms. I get a sense of how this is playing out in their lives.”

So far, Kaneshiro has done about eighty telemedical abortions. “So many patients have vocalized how much they’ve preferred this de-medicalized process,” she said. One patient who lived a mile from the office simply preferred to communicate screen-to-screen. But most of the women in the trial, like Thomas, are hampered by geography, finding it expensive and often logistically impossible to access distant services. “I didn’t have to get a hotel or buy a flight to Oahu,” Thomas told me. “I got to be home, which was not just financially efficient, it was just comforting and private.” The total cost of her abortion was less than three hundred dollars.

Leah Coplon, who runs the Gynuity trial in Maine, said, “For some folks, it’s a scheduling issue. Even though we have very good access here in Maine, it still can be hard if somebody works nights or they only have child care on weekends.” This flexibility is vital, Coplon told me, but so is the opportunity to avoid the gauntlet of protesters who routinely show up at clinics that provide abortion services.

Although the five states in the TelAbortion trial have some of the most accommodating abortion laws in the country, Gynuity is only able to run the trial with a waiver from the F.D.A., which has put onerous restrictions on the distribution of abortifacients. Mifeprex, the trade name of mifepristone, is one of only seventy-five F.D.A.-approved medications (out of thousands) controlled through its Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (rems), and only one of fifty with its most stringent restrictions. According to the F.D.A.rems, which regulates such drugs as Clozapine, an antipsychotic medication, and Thalidomide, which is known to cause birth defects, is a drug-safety program for “medications with serious safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.” The rems mandates that Mifeprex only be dispensed to a patient in a clinic, medical office, or hospital. A doctor can’t send a patient to her local pharmacy with a prescription for the medication, because pharmacies are not allowed to carry it. This limits the ability of physicians to administer the medication and of patients to obtain it, despite nearly twenty years of evidence demonstrating its safety and efficacy, which is why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended eliminating the rems altogether. An F.D.A. panel of experts recommended eliminating one aspect of the rems in 2016 when the Mifeprex rems came up for review. It was overruled by the F.D.A. commissioner, an Obama appointee.

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the F.D.A. over the rems on behalf of the California Academy of Family Physicians; the Society of Family Planning; Pharmacists’ Planning Services, Inc.; and Dr. Graham Chelius, the chief of staff at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, who is the named plaintiff. “While many of my patients have much-wanted pregnancies, a substantial percentage choose to end their pregnancies and come to me seeking abortion care,” he wrote in his sworn testimony. “Most of these women are medically eligible for the FDA-approved medication abortion regimen.” The problem, according to Chelius’s lawyer at the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project, Julia Kaye, is that the rems makes this impossible because “rather than writing a prescription for the patient to fill at a retail pharmacy, you have to get multiple layers of approval. It has to go through the pharmacy therapeutics committee and you may need the chief resident to sign off and the nursing committee and all the way up to the chief medical officer.” As Chelius wrote in his testimony, “If I were to comply with the Mifeprex rems, I would be doing more than just supporting access to abortion in my individual professional capacity. I would also have to involve, and win the approval of, multiple colleagues and staff members in the process of procuring, stocking, dispensing, and billing for Mifeprex.” For Dr. Chelius, who practices in a small, tight-knit community, there are also privacy concerns. Almost everyone knows someone who works at the hospital. He is also concerned for his and his family’s safety.

As the A.C.L.U. lawsuit wends its way through the legal system, Republican members of Congress, the President, and a number of state legislatures continue to whittle away at the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. In late February, the Trump Administration said that it would eliminate family-planning funding for organizations that refer patients to abortion services. A few days later, legislation introduced by Senate Republicans which would have placed criminal liabilities on doctors who failed to save the lives of babies born alive during abortions was narrowly defeated. (Opposition to so-called late-term abortion has become a public relations strategy of anti-abortion advocates—most recently, Donald Trump accused pro-choice Democrats of encouraging infanticide—even though third-trimester abortions are extremely rare and live-birth abortions even rarer.)

Meanwhile, a number of state legislatures are passing laws to ban abortions in the event that Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court, while simultaneously making them increasingly difficult to obtain: more than four hundred new abortion restrictions have been passed since 2011. An Iowa law, which was struck down at the beginning of the year, sought to ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be heard, sometimes as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. Arkansas passed a comparable law, in 2013, that was also struck down, but other states—Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri among them—are considering similar bans. There are now six states—Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kentucky, and West Virginia—with only a single abortion provider. In states like Texas, where the number of abortion clinics has been halved, some women have to travel up to three hundred miles to a clinic and then are forced, by law, to wait twenty-four hours after their first appointment before receiving an abortion.

Medical abortion should make access easier, but some of the more recent state restrictions also make getting abortifacient drugs, which are already constrained by the rems, more difficult. Seventeen states require that a clinician be physically present when the mifepristone is taken. Thirty-four states require those clinicians to be licensed physicians. Women who obtain and self-administer abortifacients outside the traditional medical establishment, typically from an Internet pharmacy, may be subject to arrest and imprisonment. In 2013, a woman in Pennsylvania who had ordered them online for her teen-age daughter was sentenced to a nine-to-eighteen-month jail term for “providing abortion without a medical license, dispensing drugs without being a pharmacist, assault and endangering the welfare of a child.” It is now possible to order these medications through Aid Access, a program overseen by a doctor in the Netherlands. So far, no one has been arrested, but the promulgation of fetal-homicide laws—thirty-eight states now have them—and aggressive prosecutors puts women at risk of arrest if they obtain them this way. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “these laws are even being used to pursue women who are merely suspected of having self-induced an abortion but in fact had suffered miscarriages.”

As a resident of Hawaii, and as a participant in the Gynuity trial, Thomas was shielded from these dangers. After she was finally cleared to talk with Dr. Kaneshiro, Thomas sat outside, under a tree, during her lunch break, pulled out her smartphone, and spent about half an hour talking with the doctor. Soon afterward, the medications (and instructions) arrived in the mail. She would talk to Kaneshiro one more time, about a week after the abortion.

Thomas took the pills after she got home from work, the first one at 4:30 p.m., the second set at six, and, by eight, she was cramping. “I was just kind of watching TV and riding out the contractions,” which lasted for about six hours, she said. “I was exhausted, so, when it happened, it caught me so off-guard. The fetus was really small, but it was significant to me, so I cried. I just sat there, crying.” The abortion itself, she said, “was a really natural process.” After a day of rest, Thomas was back at work; she is now a year away from finishing college. “I knew it was going to be hard, emotionally, because I have huge maternal instincts and I love children,” she said. “But as hard as it was, and as sad as I was, and as much as I cried, I know that it wasn’t in any way a bad decision, because I would never want to take care of a child except in the best possible way.”     Source

February 25, 2019
Senate defeats anti-abortion bill, as GOP tries to jam Dems

The Senate on Monday rejected a bill making it a felony for a doctor to harm or neglect an infant who survives an “attempted abortion,” part of a Republican effort to squeeze Democrats ahead of the 2020 campaign.

The vote split mainly along party lines, 53-44. Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed the aisle to vote for it; no Republicans broke ranks. Sixty votes are required for the bill to advance.

“Evidently the far left is no longer convinced that all babies are created equal,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Ahead of the vote, the bill’s Republican sponsors and outside anti-abortion groups lobbying for its passage made it clear that the intent of Monday’s vote was to undermine the growing pool of Senate Democrats running for president.

In a speech just before the vote, bill author Sen. Ben Sasse quoted campaign stump speeches by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and independent Bernie Sanders vowing to look out for society’s “voiceless and vulnerable” and accused them of hypocrisy for opposing his bill’s regulations for the care of newborns.

“Was that all just clap track for the campaign trail and for soundbites? Or do people mean the stuff that they say around here?” he said of his colleagues with White House aspirations.

Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group closely allied with Hill Republicans and the Trump administration, said Monday that it was “watching this vote closely to see whether leading Democratic candidates for president in 2020 will go on the record for or against infanticide.”

“This bill is important in itself but it‘s also important as a setup for the coming election, where there will be a stark contrast between the president of the United States and any one of the Democratic nominees,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in an interview. She stood just outside the Senate chamber lobbying senators as they entered to cast their votes.

Sanders, Harris, Warren, Booker and Gillibrand all voted against the measure. Sherrod Brown, another Democratic senator exploring a White House bid, complained to POLITICO that the vote was held in bad faith.

“This is pure Mitch McConnell. It’s all aimed at keeping his base in line, while the president grows increasingly unpopular,” the Ohio Democrat said. “We’re not doing infrastructure, we’re not doing health care. We’re not doing anything that matters to help our country. It’s just votes on abortion and other kinds of divisive votes he’s going to bring.”

Democrats and reproductive rights advocates blasted the bill, saying it’s already a felony to harm or neglect an infant and that the “medically irresponsible” bill would restricts doctors from making case-by-case decisions about what is best for infants and mothers.

“This bill is not about protecting infants, as Republicans have claimed — because that is not up for debate and it is already the law,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “This bill is government interference in women’s health care, in families’ lives, and in medicine on steroids.”

The bill was previously introduced in the House by now-Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Sasse first tried to force a vote on it earlier this month, capitalizing on a wave of outrage among conservatives after New York loosened its restrictions on third-trimester abortions and embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gave an interview defending similar efforts in his state.

Democrats led by Murray objected to that fast-track procedure and blocked a floor vote, prompting Republicans to vow to try again.

Susan B. Anthony list said earlier this month that even though the Senate lacks the votes to pass abortion restrictions, it should continue to hold votes to put pressure on Democrats and divide the caucus. The move is part of a larger strategy designed to maintain current abortion restrictions while revving up the GOP’s conservative base ahead of 2020 and courting independents who may be turned off by Democrats’ position on abortion rights.

“We’re seeing a gradual movement to hammer a wedge right into the middle of the Democratic Party, and at some point soon here, they’re just going to have to cry mercy,” Dannenfelser said.

February 16, 2019
The Hill
Michelle Obama remark defrauded $18,000 from FEMA: report

A former West Virginia official who lost her job in 2016 after she referred to then-first lady Michelle Obama as an “ape” has captured headlines again after she pleaded guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands of dollars intended for flood victims, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

According to the local paper, Pamela Taylor, the former director of the Clay County Development Corp., pleaded guilty earlier this week to taking more than $18,000 in relief benefits from the agency intended to help those whose homes were damaged in the 2016 floods that ravaged regions of the state.

Taylor, 57, wrongfully registered for the benefits and falsely claimed that her home had been damaged by the floods and that she was forced to stay in a rental property, according to the newspaper.

But it was later reportedly discovered that Taylor’s primary residence was undamaged by the floods and she was still residing there.

Taylor has since reportedly agreed to pay $18,149.04 in restitution in her plea agreement. The former government employee also reportedly faces up to 30 years in prison, in addition to a maximum fine of $500,000.

Taylor will reportedly be sentenced in May.

The West Virginia woman first captured national attention after she was removed from her position in November 2016 when she said in a Facebook post that “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

The post instantly became a source of outrage among the public, with many demanding public apologies and her termination.  Source

January 28, 2019
No one was expected to show up for Texas veteran’s burial — now cemetery is planning for big turnout

Initially, a Texas cemetery didn’t expect anyone to attend Air Force veteran Joseph Walker’s burial on Monday.

But administrators put a call out on social media last week asking for the public to attend, and now the cemetery is expecting a big turnout.

Walker, who served in the Air Force from September 1964 to September 1968, died in November, according to an online obituary. He will be buried at 10 a.m. Monday at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen — and he won’t be alone.

It’s very safe to say that the response has been absolutely overwhelming for us,” said Texas General Land Office communications director Karina Erickson.

Erickson said that because there is no RSVP system in place, officials don’t have a firm head count of how many people are expected Monday.

But the cemetery’s call for people to come pay their respects has been shared repeatedly online, she said, and the staff is planning for a large turnout.

“It’s been a mission of ours to get these to go viral so we can get these veterans the respect they truly deserve,” she said.

Erickson noted that CNN anchor and Washington correspondent Jake Tapper shared information about Walker’s funeral Saturday night, racking up thousands of retweets.

Jake Tapper



No one is expected to attend the funeral for Joseph Walker, who served in the US Air Force 1964-1968.

His funeral will take place Monday at 10 a.m. at the Central Texas State Cemetery.

11463 SH 195
Killeen, Texas 76542

VIDEO –  via @KVUE

‘No veteran should be buried alone’: No one expected to attend Texas veteran’s funeral

Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker will be laid to rest Monday, and no one is expected to attend

A Central Texas motorcycle club is organizing a ride from Round Rock to Killeen to attend Walker’s burial.

Luis Rodriguez, president of the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, told the San Antonio Express-News his heart sank when he saw the cemetery’s post saying no one was expected at Walker’s burial.

Rodriguez told the paper he’s counting on anywhere between 20 and 200 people to join the ride Monday morning.

Erickson said once veterans’ groups started sharing the information about Walker’s burial, “people really just banded together” to show their support.

She said cemetery staff does their due diligence in trying to find next-of-kin for the veteran.

But when family can’t be found, the Texas Veterans Land Board, which operates the cemetery in Killeen and others around the state, accepts the flag used in burial services for the veteran and holds it for 90 days in case a relative is found or comes forward. After the 90 days has passed, the flag is flown on the cemetery’s main flag pole.

Before the Unaccompanied Veterans Program was established in 2015, it was up to county judges to make decisions on how to honor veterans’ remains if their families couldn’t be found, Erickson said. Since then, eligible veterans have been interred with appropriate military honors through the program.

Texas State Veterans Cemetery deputy director Eric Brown said he has been asked before why a community would attend the burial of someone they never knew.

“My response was swift and simple,” Brown said in a written statement. “The veteran likely didn’t know the community members in attendance either, but they were willing to put their lives on the line for the attendees, in defense of our nation, and our nation’s interests.”

Anyone wishing to attend the burial service is welcome. The service will begin at 10 a.m. at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195, Killeen, TX 76542.  Source

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