Most folks have no idea what federal agencies do. John Stossel reports on wasteful programs like the Agriculture Department forcing farmers to let cherries rot…
John Stossel investigates what government agencies actually do and finds out that your tax money goes to ridiculous things.
The Agriculture Department actually forces farmers to dump cherries on the ground so you pay higher prices at the supermarket.
President Trump wanted to cut the budgets for many government departments – like the Commerce Department and the Agriculture Department. But Congress increased spending on the very departments Trump wanted to cut.
Departments that almost nobody knows what they even do.
Ed Stringham, President of the American Institute for Economic Research, tells Stossel about how the Agriculture Department even forced one farmer to dump cherries on the ground and let them rot. The government wanted to keep the price of cherries higher, which helps some cherry farmers.
White supremacy dictates that Black prosperity, excellence and empowerment must never be allowed to see the light of day and shine of its own accord. The latest story emanating from Prince George’s County, Md., is a case in point. Republican Governor Larry Hogan has decided to investigate the predominantly Black county, which is among the most prosperous Black communities in the nation over allegations of grade inflation and rising high school graduation rates.
In a letter, the governor has asked Maryland State Board of Education President Andrew Smarick to look into potential wrongdoing in the Prince George’s County school system amid allegations students’ grades were fraudulently altered in order to boost graduation rates, as AP reported. The county has an 81 percent graduation rate, which some state board members and local officials claiming it was due to manipulation of grades and credits, according to WTOP.
Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of the county schools, issued a statement maintaining the allegations are false. “From the beginning, I have maintained that politics lie at the root of the accusations,” Maxwell said in a statement. “There has been no systemic effort to promote students in Prince George’s County Public Schools who did not meet state graduation requirements in order to inflate our graduation rates.
“We look forward to collaborating with the Maryland State Department of Education to resolve this matter.”
Maxwell makes a valid point when he argues there is a political motivation behind the governor’s actions. After all, Hogan is a white conservative Republican going after a Black county, that voted against his election as governor. As Stephan Neidenbach wrote in The Method, Prince George’s County is home to 7 of the 10 of the wealthiest Black communities in the U.S., and among the best educated in the country. More importantly, Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Chief Executive, recently announced his run for governor against Hogan just days before.
Under Baker’s leadership and due to a neighborhood initiative, violent crime has dropped 36 percent and homicides 40 percent. This, as graduation rates have increased. If Hogan’s motivations were sincere, Neidenbach suggests, he would have investigated the overwhelmingly white Carroll County, which is at the head of the class in state graduation rates, yet has witnessed a troubling spike in crime. More crime and more graduations are an unlikely combination that raise suspicion. What is likely, however, is that Hogan will not come for the school system in a white county that voted to put him in the governor’s mansion.
White politicians in the Republican Party have perfected the art of scapegoating Black populations, conjuring the image of Black fraud and incompetence to justify neocolonialist policies that usurp the rights of Black people, depriving them of democracy and autonomy. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder invoked his state’s emergency manager law, signed into law in 2011, to take over financially struggling cities and school districts such as Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Ecorse. Coincidentally, the municipalities targeted for state takeover have been majority Black. Assigning unelected officials to control these Black-controlled cities amounted to reversing and eliminating the electoral process for those people who voted for their mayor, city council and other local officials. The Flint water crisis, in which the city’s residents have suffered from the lead poisoning of their drinking water, was an outgrowth of the emergency manager law.
Looking at the case of Maryland, it is by no means surprising that white officials who are hostile to the interests of Black people would react to signs of Black prosperity and success with open aggression. A prime example of this mentality is the destruction of the booming Greenwood community in Tulsa, Okla., —also known as Black Wall Street — by a white mob in 1921.
It is established that white conservatives regard the high academic achievement of Black children with great consternation, seeking to steal our children’s thunder and downplay their intellectual capabilities and educational achievement. They often accomplish this by changing the rules of the game after the fact. For example, the mother of the first Black valedictorian at a Mississippi high school has filed a lawsuit alleging her daughter was forced to share her title as “co-valedictorian” with a white classmate who had a lower GPA.
As Prince George’s County is faced with claims of fraudulent grading, allegations of fraud as a pretext to clamp down on the rights of Black folks is taking place on a national level. Trump has enlisted the aid of white supremacist Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, to lead a national commission on “election integrity” whose purpose is to legitimize unsubstantiated and imaginary claims of massive voter fraud — presumably on the part of Blacks, Latino and other nonwhite voters — in order to justify the Republican Party’s voter suppression efforts against these groups. Kobach’s requests for voter information have been rebuffed by 44 states and the District of Columbia, as CNN reported. Maryland’s Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda informed the Hogan administration that he resigned from the commission, as the Baltimore Sun reported.
The recent inquiry by Hogan into the high graduation rate of Prince George’s County — the county with the highest concentration of Black wealth in America — smells a lot like an assault on Black excellence and deserves our collective side eye.
WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia. Late Tuesday, Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the F.B.I. turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey.
Such documents, Mr. Chaffetz wrote, would “raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede” the F.B.I.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, replying only: “I agree he is a good guy.”
In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
Mr. Chaffetz’s letter, sent to the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, set a May 24 deadline for the internal documents to be delivered to the House committee. The congressman, a Republican, was criticized in recent months for showing little of the appetite he demonstrated in pursuing Hillary Clinton to pursue investigations into Mr. Trump’s associates.
But since announcing in April that he will not seek re-election in 2018, Mr. Chaffetz has shown more interest in the Russia investigation, and held out the potential for a subpoena on Tuesday, a notably aggressive move as most Republicans have tried to stay out of the fray.
In testimony to the Senate last week, Mr. McCabe said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.” Mr. McCabe was referring to the broad investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation into Mr. Flynn is separate.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.
Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”
The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial links to Russia and Turkey.
Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.
After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.
Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.
The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the continuing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an inquiry into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.
The Oval Office meeting occurred a little over two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner at the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.
The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.
The FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the arson and vandalism of an African-American church in Mississippi, where someone spray-painted “Vote Trump” in what the mayor called a “heinous, hateful, cowardly act.”
The pulpit and pews were burned, and soot stained the brick around some windows. Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. said the fire was set by someone and estimated the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was 80 percent destroyed.
“We consider it a hate crime,” Mayor Errick Simmons said. “Because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.”
The US health agency in charge of fighting Zika used a less effective test to diagnose the virus and punished a whistleblower who raised his concerns both internally and to health officials, an investigation revealed.
Dr. Robert Lanciotti, a microbiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accused the federal agency of prioritizing a substantially less sensitive test versus an alternative approach that in his studies proved to be more effective in detecting Zika.
He claimed that the CDC “created a substantial and specific danger to public health” when it did not disclose lower sensitivity of the test it used.
The tests Lanciotti was talking about are the Trioplex and the Singleplex. The first detects not only Zika, but also dengue and chikungunya, and is recommended for testing by the CDC. The second test is only used for diagnosing Zika, the virus transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas known to cause microcephaly in newborn babies.
From different angles, the videos show the same scene.
An unarmed black man walks on a Tulsa, Oklahoma, road with his hands in the air. Police officers follow closely behind him as he approaches his vehicle. He stands beside the car, then falls to the ground after one officer pulls the trigger.
Now 40-year-old Terence Crutcher is dead. Crutcher’s sister is demanding that prosecutors charge the officer who shot him. And the police videos of the incident are fueling criticism about the case.
Federal, state and local authorities are investigating the Friday night shooting.
Crutcher’s family says he was waiting for help on the road after his SUV broke down.
The officer’s attorney says she was afraid Crutcher was reaching for a weapon when she opened fire. Attorney Benjamin Crump, part of the legal team representing Crutcher’s family, countered at a Tuesday news conference that Crutcher’s window was rolled up, making it unlikely he was reaching into the car.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has recommended firing eight officers accused of covering up the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
An initial investigation into the incident carried out by the city’s inspector general also recommended that two other officers involved should be fired. According to a statement from Chicago Police Department (CPD), however, these two officers “have since retired.”
Johnson was also advised by the inspector general that a 10th officer, a female, should also be sacked, but Johnson has decided against this.
In a message to rank and file officers on Thursday, Johnson wrote that he’s aware “this type of action can come with many questions and varying opinions,” but added that “these decisions were not made lightly.”
“As I have said before, with every decision that I make, I always keep in mind the tremendous sacrifice, bravery and commitment of every officer,” he continued, according to the Chicago Sun Times.