Sunday, September 30, 2018

Last Call For Deportation Nation, Con't

A reminder that even with all the new Trump outrage, the old Trump outrages still exist, still have not been resolved, and are still enabled by Republicans in Congress.  To whit: America still keeps kids in detention camps in the goddamn desert.

In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.

Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.

But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.

These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year.

The average length of time that migrant children spend in custody has nearly doubled over the same period, from 34 days to 59, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their care.

To deal with the surging shelter populations, which have hovered near 90 percent of capacity since May, a mass reshuffling is underway and shows no signs of slowing. Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far.

Not only does our elected government keep kids in camps in the desert, it takes kids living in shelters and foster homes already and puts them in camps anyway.

We will never have oversight of this as long as Republicans remain in control of this government. We will keep putting kids in camps until the voters punish the people in charge enough so that this stops.

Do we understand?

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

House Republicans are now fully drowning with five weeks to go before midterms, and we've now reached the point where vulnerable Republicans are being cut loose to drown in districts where the GOP no longer wants to waste money on seats they no longer feel they can save.  This week, Paul Ryan cut the throats of Colorado GOP Rep Mike Coffman and Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Bishop and is leaving them to bleed out on the beach as the blue wave comes to wash them away.

Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is cutting off support for two Republican incumbents, Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, according to a person familiar with the group's plans.

The super PAC will cancel its planned TV advertising for both members, a move that comes as the party refocuses its funds on races that leaders feel confident they can win — and away from those it sees as out of reach. The organization had $1 million in TV advertising reserved for Coffman and $2.1 million for Bishop, dollars that will now be redistributed elsewhere.
Party officials say both incumbents are trailing Democratic challengers ahead of the midterm elections, and both are expected to be significantly outspent during the final weeks of their campaigns.

“CLF will continue to run strong field operations in these districts and will continue to conduct polling and evaluate races across the country as we do everything we can to protect the Republican majority,” said Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for the group.

There is not complete agreement in the party, however, about Coffman’s prospects. Following the super PAC’s announcement, the National Republican Congressional Committee said it would add $600,000 to its TV reservation in the district, according to a person familiar.

Republicans are waging an uphill battle to protect their 23-seat House majority. In recent weeks they have begun a painful round of political triage, with party officials racing to determine which seats can still be saved. Privately, GOP strategists concede that as many as a dozen of the party’s seats are no longer winnable — half of the margin Democrats need to take back the House.

Among the seats that the party feels increasingly pessimistic about are those held by Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis, Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum.

Party officials say additional incumbents will likely need to be cut off in the weeks to come.

Even if you don't believe the polling, news like this always makes the situation worse.  It's one thing to stop ads in a district where you're up by 15 points in order to refocus some national money down the line to help somebody in a tighter race.  It's entirely something else to stop ads when you're down by that much, or worse, when you're still relatively close.

Coffman is a dead man walking, he's down big and Cook Political Report has his district rated as Likely Dem at this point as Dem challenger Jason Crow has pulled substantially ahead.  But Bishop is still a Toss-Up in his race against Democrat and Iraq War veteran Elissa Slotkin, and pulling the plug on him means things are far, far worse than the GOP is letting on right now.

And like I said, Coffman and Bishop are far from the only House Republicans being cut off at the knees.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has canceled more than $1 million in planned advertising aimed at helping Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) in the coming weeks.

The decision to cut advertising, described to The Hill by a source familiar with the NRCC's strategic thinking, is a hint that Republicans are pessimistic about Yoder's chances of holding his Kansas City-area district.

Yoder has had significant help from outside groups already. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the largest super PAC backing Republican candidates, has spent about $1.8 million on television advertisements on his behalf. The group still has $750,000 booked in the Kansas City media market for the election's final four weeks.

But the NRCC, which faces a huge battlefield in a political environment in which Democrats have an edge, will use its money elsewhere. The committee was slated to spend $1.2 million on ads beginning Oct. 9.

Yoder has represented the district since winning election in 2010, when he replaced Democrat Dennis Moore. Yoder has never faced a particularly stiff challenge from a Democrat, though he only took 51 percent of the vote in 2016.

This year, he faces Sharice Davids (D), an attorney and first-time candidate who worked as a White House fellow in the Obama administration. She would be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress if she wins

Yoder too is firmly in the Cook Toss-Up category.  This should be a winnable race for them and they've already put close to two million on keeping his seat.  It's not going to be winnable though.  Republicans are giving up

Again though, the blue wave only happens if voters show up If you live in any of these districts of have family who does, get engaged and let's finish these guys off.

Sunday Long Read: Some Real Narcotraficante Stuff

In May 2013, in a wealthy Dallas exurb of Southlake, Juan Guererro Chapo was murdered in a drive-by ambush in front of his wife.  He was a former lawyer for Mexico's infamous Gulf Cartel, a man who wanted out of that hell and cut a deal with the US government to get to safety.  He found that there was no such thing as "safe" from Los Zetas.

The brazenness of the crime shocked and titillated the residents of Southlake. There hadn’t been a murder in town in more than a decade—and nothing this dramatic had happened since Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow killed two state troopers nearby, in the thirties. “This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in a place like Southlake,” a Department of Justice official said.

Guerrero’s death was among the lead stories on every local news affiliate for three nights in a row. Fox 4 interviewed one woman who, marveling at the scope of the crime scene, explained that she had to leave her car in a parking lot as investigators examined the area. Another woman, standing by the town’s red brick courthouse, concluded, “It’s a very unsafe situation. Very unstable, and I hope they’re caught very soon.”

The afternoon after the shooting, Southlake police chief Steve Mylett told reporters what many had already concluded on their own: “Obviously, this is a well-orchestrated and deliberate act involving a specific target.” He said the crime appeared to be the work of “an organization that is trained to do this kind of activity.”

Mylett immediately called in help from the FBI and DEA, offering the agencies office space in the local police station, less than half a mile from where Guerrero had been shot. Days later the team was expanded to include representatives from the Texas Rangers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. All told, there were dozens of officers and agents and analysts assisting the case. But it was largely headed by two men.

The lead investigator, Michael Elsey, is a 25-plus-year veteran FBI agent. He has a deep voice, an affinity for fine cigars, and a remarkable ability to evade media attention. One colleague described him as “the most focused person I’ve ever seen.” Another said, “I would never want to be on Mike’s bad side.”

The lead prosecutor, who worked closely with investigators from the start, was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas named Josh Burgess. Burgess is tall and lean, with a boyish face, and he has a far different reputation from Elsey. He’s funnier, more garrulous, more likely to grab a beer with his co-workers at the end of the week. At the time, he taught a weekly Sunday school class for young married couples at his church in Fort Worth. A former JAG officer in the Air Force who once deployed for six months to serve as the only attorney on a base in Kyrgyzstan, Burgess had spent most of his career at the U.S. attorney’s office prosecuting cases involving organized crime, including several that employed wiretaps and undercover agents. One case involved a yearlong undercover investigation of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club; another was a two-year case that led to more than sixty indictments.

Around 9 p.m. the night of the murder, Burgess was at home, reading a book in a recliner, when he was interrupted by a phone call. His counterpart at the U.S. attorney’s office in South Texas informed him that the man murdered in Southlake, whose face was already splashed across every local news channel, had been a high-level cooperator for the U.S. government. Burgess remembers thinking it wouldn’t take long for the press to break the news he’d just heard, bringing even more attention to the shooting. (Of the six DOJ officials dedicated to the case full-time, Burgess is the only one able to speak on the record about it.)

Little is publicly known about Guerrero’s upbringing and life in Mexico, but investigators quickly uncovered his deep ties to one of the most violent criminal organizations in the world. Guerrero, it turns out, was the longtime personal attorney for Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former leader of the Gulf Cartel and one of the founders of its paramilitary enforcement arm, Los Zetas. Cárdenas, whose nickname was El Mata Amigos (“the Friend Killer”), was arrested after a shoot-out with the Mexican military in 2003. He was then extradited to the U.S. in 2007 for drug trafficking, money laundering, and the attempted murder of U.S. agents. The cartel infighting that followed his arrest triggered a famously bloody power struggle that gripped Northern Mexico for a decade. Thousands of people, many of them innocent bystanders, died in the ensuing mayhem.

Two years after Cárdenas’s extradition, he pleaded guilty in federal court. In exchange for a 25-year sentence—and a chance to one day walk out of prison—Cárdenas agreed to turn over $50 million in cash, real estate, and aircraft to the U.S. government. Guerrero was tasked with helping the American agencies collect the assets, an ordeal that included moving several carloads of cash north across the border. Guerrero’s involvement wasn’t made public, but he was nonetheless a potential target; leaders of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel were incensed about the Cárdenas plea deal.

And so, with the knowledge of the U.S. government, Guerrero and his family moved from Monterrey to North Texas. There, he continued cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security. The arrangement was kept so quiet that even high-ranking officials in the local U.S. attorney’s office didn’t know about it until after the murder.

In Texas, Guerrero lived a quiet but complicated life. His autopsy revealed that he had cocaine in his system at the time of his death. He kept a low profile online. His LinkedIn account claimed that he owned a working cattle ranch in the Mexican state of Guanajuato with “a wide range of livestock and farm animals,” including “some of Mexico’s strongest bulls.” It also described, in the third person, his affinity for “the regional flavors of the restaurants in his hometown” and his allegiance to Club León, a second-tier Mexican professional soccer team. A WordPress blog under his name featured three short posts in June 2011 about the Mexican cattle industry. His name was also listed in the paperwork of a few businesses in South Texas, including a gaming corporation and a salvage and recycling company.

The only public photo of him prior to the murder was a mug shot taken in Miami in 2011, in which his dark eyes are glazed and bloodshot, his cheeks bloated and pockmarked. According to a local news report, at around 3 a.m. local officers were dispatched to the posh Fontainebleau hotel, where Guerrero was accused of slapping the 29-year-old woman with whom he was having an affair.

In the spring of 2011, Guerrero was living with Julia and their three kids in Grapevine, just to the east of Southlake, when he got an urgent call from his handler at the Department of Homeland Security. Julia recalled her husband seeming “afraid” and “surprised” after the conversation. “They knew where he lived,” she said. “And they wanted to kill him.”

The family never again returned to the house in Grapevine. They traveled to South Florida, where his brother lived, for spring break, and when they got back to Grapevine, Guerrero told his wife to rent an apartment in her sister’s name and to stop using her cellphone to call Mexico. Soon after, they moved into the house in Southlake. It was purchased in cash, and Guerrero’s name didn’t appear anywhere in the county records.

Julia remembered her husband receiving another distressing call in February 2013, and he fled once again—this time moving from hotel to hotel, traveling to Las Vegas with his brother—but he resumed living with the family again in May. He continued to be cautious, though, she said. He didn’t leave the house often, except to get frozen yogurt.

Even by Mexican cartel true crime standards, this is a good read, and a good reminder of the true cost of the decades-long War on Drugs in America.  We lost it long ago, we just have to decide how the story ends.

Tesla Recoil

Tesla founder Elon Musk's tweets have finally got him in enough hot water to the point where the Board of Directors has dropkicked him from Chairman down to just CEO.

Elon Musk is finally facing some consequences for his August take-Tesla-private dance. The South African-born billionaire will step down as chairman of the electric car company and pay a $20 million fine as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC had sued Musk on Thursday after he reportedly turned down an initial deal at the last minute.

As part of the new agreement announced on Saturday settling the SEC’s suit, Musk will resign as Tesla chairman within 45 days, and he won’t be able to be re-elected to the post for three years. Musk and Tesla will each pay a separate $20 million penalty, which will be distributed to harmed investors, and Tesla will appoint two new independent directors to its board. A judge will have to approve the settlement.

Tesla will also hire a lawyer to keep an eye on Musk’s communications as part of the settlement because, the SEC alleges, the company failed “to implement disclosure controls or procedures” related to the CEO’s Twitter activity. In other words, Musk is getting a Twitter babysitter.

This — at least for now — brings to a close a dramatic chapter for Tesla that was ignited when Musk on August 7 tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and had already secured funding. It wasn’t clear how much groundwork had actually been laid for such a maneuver, and it’s illegal for companies and executives to give shareholders misleading information about potentially meaningful corporate events. The tweets were at the basis of the SEC’s lawsuit against Musk for securities fraud.

As part of Musk’s settlement, he is not allowed to “admit or deny” whether he did indeed commit securities fraud with his tweets. (He ultimately decided to keep Tesla public.) The New York Times reported earlier in the day Saturday that this specific feature of the agreement had been the initial dealbreaker for Musk. The agency and his lawyers reportedly had this set to go on Thursday, but at the last minute, he backed out.

“The resolution is intended to prevent further market disruption and harm to Tesla’s shareholders,” Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement on Saturday.

The Department of Justice is also probing Musk’s privatization tweets. The SEC’s settlement with Musk states that it does not address any potential criminal liability

A Tesla spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on the settlement.

So, still a pretty good chance that the DOJ will want a piece of Musk, but for now, he stays on board.  How long is anyone's guess though, because he's not the kind of guy who is good at taking no for an answer.

"If you're so rich, how come you're not smart?" comes to mind.

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