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 on: March 23, 2017, 06:51:21 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Andrew Schneider: A real journalist in an era of fake news

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

LONG BEFORE Donald Trump started employing a Stalinist locution, “enemies of the people,” to slander journalists, investigative reporter Andrew Schneider was considered a threat, if not an enemy, by inept bureaucrats, miserly corporate bosses, venal con men and abusers of political power. That's because he spent a lifetime asking the questions and printing the answers that exposed many kinds of harm caused by the callousness and greed of the powerful.

On Saturday, I was in Seattle joining with former colleagues from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times to mourn Schneider's death and celebrate his life. My purpose here is not to pay tribute to Schneider; his closest friends did an eloquent job of that on Saturday and another crew of colleagues will do the same at an upcoming memorial at the Newseum in Washington. What I want to do is describe Schneider's exemplary journalism to Trump voters and Republicans who see the press as a politicized adversary, to folks on the left who fixate on the trope of the sold-out corporate media, and to people of any political persuasion — especially young Americans raised in the world of Twitter and Facebook — who may think news is just another form of gossip.

When any of you hear the word “journalist,” the image that comes to mind should not include the daffy morning trio on “Fox and Friends”. It should not be a ranting conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones. It should not be the panels of partisan advocates on CNN. It should not be a blogger who merely borrows information already revealed through the hard work of a diligent reporter.

The image in your mind should be of someone like Andy Schneider.

Schneider worked for news organizations in cities from Pittsburgh and Washington to Seattle and St. Louis. At the Pittsburgh Press, he won Pulitzers in 1986 and 1987. His first Pulitzer honored a globe-spanning story that exposed a system of greed and criminality that distorted the process of getting kidneys and other donated organs to patients in dire need of transplants. The second recognized Schneider’s investigation into the failure of airlines to prevent drugged or medically impaired pilots from flying.

Schneider's long catalog of significant reporting also included stories about railroad companies allowing tracks and bridges to dangerously deteriorate without repairs or replacement; examples of the Red Cross putting fundraising ahead of disaster relief; fraudulent, bogus and underfunded insurance companies; children dying from abuse because of lax state oversight and enforcement; mining companies exploiting public lands and leaving taxpayers to pay cleanup costs for the environmental messes they left behind; and nursing home patients dying because corporate owners pumped up their profits by cutting staff and services.

There were two especially significant stories Schneider developed during the time we worked together at the Post-Intelligencer. One uncovered a miscarriage of justice perpetrated by overzealous police, prosecutors and mental health workers in a small Central Washington city. A group of adults had been sent to jail and families were torn apart by accusations of child sexual abuse. Schneider and his reporting partner, Mike Barber, dug into the story and revealed a modern day witch hunt that had snared innocent people who lacked the resources to defend themselves.

The other story — perhaps the biggest of Schneider's career — began when he got wind of a disturbing pattern of deaths in the town of Libby, Montana. Schneider led a multi-year investigation that showed asbestos from a vermiculite mine had killed hundreds of the town's residents and poisoned many more, even as the corporate owners of the mine ignored the dangers. When he died, Schneider was still investigating instances of harm caused by asbestos exposure in locales throughout the United States.

Schneider's relentless reporting provided a forceful voice for people who lacked the resources or the knowledge to speak up for themselves. But he didn't do it alone. Other reporters worked at his side. Good editors and publishers backed him up. Long-established journalistic standards guided him. He triple-checked information, got sources to go on the record and made sure every sentence of every story could be defended as fact. Andy Schneider was one of the best, but he was just one stellar reporter in a profession where a great many men and women dedicate their lives to uncovering information that saves lives and protects our democratic institutions.

Contrary to the vilifying comments spouted by the current occupant of the White House, professional journalists do not deal in fake news. They are not political partisans. They follow strict protocols that demand accuracy and require quick admission of errors. They are not enemies of the people, they are defenders of the powerless.

Trump's senior political advisor, Stephen Bannon, has said the news media is the administration's real opposition and, for once, he is right. Reporters are, and will continue to be, Trump's most annoying antagonists whenever he spreads falsehoods to further his personal interests and whenever the people who speak on his behalf respond to straightforward questions with bizarre evasions while insisting their “alternative facts” are equal to verifiable truth.

Bannon has told the media to simply shut up. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, a Tea Party activist or a Bernie Bro, you do not want that to happen. You want tough questions asked, you want hard facts to triumph over manipulative mendacity and you want investigative reporters like Andrew Schneider to expose the depredations of the greedy and to call out abusers of power from the lowliest county sheriff to the highest office in the land.

Why do you want this? Because without that kind of journalism, a free society is impossible. The day there are no more Andy Schneiders — or those who aspire to be like him — will be the day American democracy ends.


 on: March 23, 2017, 06:50:26 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Secret Service asked for $60 million extra for
Trump-era travel and protection, documents show

The funding request, which was rejected, offers the most detailed estimate
yet of rising costs related to the first family's elaborate lifestyle.

By DREW HARWELL and AMY BRITTAIN | 8:01PM EDT - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Secret Service members wait with a motorcade before President-elect Donald Trump disembarks his plane in Hebron, Kentucky, on December 1st, 2016. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Secret Service members wait with a motorcade before President-elect Donald Trump disembarks his plane in Hebron, Kentucky,
on December 1st, 2016. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

THE U.S. Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

Nearly half of the additional money, $26.8 million, would pay to protect President Trump's family and private home in New York's Trump Tower, the documents show, while $33 million would be spent on travel costs incurred by “the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state.”

The documents, part of the Secret Service's request for the fiscal 2018 budget, reflect the costly surprise facing Secret Service agents tasked with guarding the president's large and far-flung family, accommodating their ambitious travel schedules and fortifying the three-floor Manhattan penthouse where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron live.

Trump has spent most of his weekends since the inauguration at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and his sons have traveled the world to promote Trump properties with Secret Service agents in tow.

The documents reviewed by The Washington Post did not show how the new budget requests compare with the funding needs for past presidents, and such figures are not public information. The Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, declined to provide cost breakdowns and have said in the past that such figures are confidential, citing security concerns.

A person familiar with internal Secret Service budget discussions said the requests for additional funding, prepared in late February, were rejected by the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House. That means the agency will probably have to divert other spending to handle the additional burden. While best known for protecting the president, Secret Service agents also investigate cyber­crimes, counterfeit-money operations, and cases involving missing and exploited minors.

The Secret Service declined to respond to questions after The Post provided a summary of the documents. The service referred questions to DHS, which also declined to comment. The White House referred questions to the Secret Service and the Office of Management and Budget, which did not initially respond to requests for comment. After the article was posted online on Wednesday, an OMB staffer issued a statement to The Post saying that the Secret Service is continuing to refine its budgetary estimates. The staffer also said that the claim that OMB denied the $26.8 million request for Trump Tower and family expenses was “outright untrue” and that OMB “supported its funding.”

The budget requests reflect a potentially awkward contrast between Trump's efforts to cut federal spending in many areas and the escalating costs of his travel itinerary. Trump jetted to Mar-a-Lago on Friday for his fifth post-inauguration weekend trip, one day after the White House released a federal budget proposing deep cuts to many government programs.

Former agents said the requests indicate that the agency had to adapt to offer full protection for a president and first family who appear to have placed few limits on their personal travel and living arrangements.

“The Secret Service cannot dictate the lifestyle of the protectee. They have to work around it,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee who is now executive director of the risk-mitigation company RANE. “I don't think they expected him to go to Florida so often.

“This was an unanticipated reality,” he added, for which the Secret Service “had to quickly re­adjust operations.”

Some of the public funding could potentially become revenue for Trump's private company, the Trump Organization, which owns the Trump Tower that agents must now protect. The Defense Department and Secret Service have sought to rent space in Trump Tower but have not said how much space they're interested in, or at what cost. Neither the Secret Service nor the Trump Organization have disclosed how much public money, if any, is being spent toward Trump Tower space or other costs.

The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

The Secret Service would not provide any details on the typical budget for protecting the first family. The agency requested $734 million for its fiscal 2017 “operations and support” protection budget, which would include the expenses for all protected individuals and foreign heads of state, DHS budget documents show.

The $26.8 million funding request says the money is needed for “residence security operations at the president's private residence in Trump Tower,” with roughly $12.5 million earmarked to cover “personnel related costs in New York.”

The money would also go toward protective assignments for the president's children and grandchildren, as well as costs for “protective advances and protective intelligence activities.” The request also sought six additional full-time-equivalent positions for the Trump security details.

The $26.8 million budget item is marked as $0 in previous years, which former Secret Service agents said probably meant that the costs were part of a new budget category designed to encapsulate the unusual expense of protecting the first lady and the president's youngest son because they live outside the White House.

There were also additional undisclosed costs, spent in fiscal 2017, to install “equipment and infrastructure to secure Trump Tower,” according to the request.

W. Ralph Basham, a longtime Secret Service employee who served as director under President George W. Bush, said that the agency clearly had no “crystal ball” to predict Trump's victory and, thus, had not accounted for the price tag of his presidency.

“The expense of taking on a family like the Trumps versus taking on a family like the Clintons,” he said. “It's a totally different funding scenario.”

Banke International director Niraj Masand, far left, poses for a photo with Eric Trump, Banke International director Porush Jhunjhunwala, Donald Trump Jr. and DAMAC Properties Chairman Hussain Sajwani during festivities marking the formal opening of the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai on February 18th. — Photograph: Associated Press.
Banke International director Niraj Masand, far left, poses for a photo with Eric Trump, Banke International
director Porush Jhunjhunwala, Donald Trump Jr. and DAMAC Properties Chairman Hussain Sajwani during
festivities marking the formal opening of the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai on February 18th.
 — Photograph: Associated Press.

New York City boasts some of the highest real estate prices in the nation, and Basham noted that the Secret Service “does not have the liberty of going out in New Jersey” to find cheap rental space. “You have to be there,” he said, referring to Trump Tower.

Basham said it is difficult to pinpoint exact expenses at this stage in the budget process. But he estimated that the $26.8 million request would probably include costs for command centers, agents' room and board, communications expenses and rental space.

Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of the book Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service with former Secret Service agent Joseph Petro, said the logistics of protecting Trump Tower are “a nightmare” because of its easily accessible location on Fifth Avenue.

“They have to secure Trump Tower because Melania is there,” Robinson said. “They protect the first family. They have to protect the grandchildren. This is going to be an expensive operation.”

Robinson said the budget request is not surprising, considering that the agency is mandated by Congress to protect the president. “They need the money that they need,” he said.

A separate travel-funding request seeks $33 million on top of the agency's $74 million fiscal 2018 protection-travel budget. The document justifies the request by saying that Secret Service travel, in general, is “extremely variable, difficult to predict and difficult to plan for in advance as many protectees' travel plans are unknown with limited time to prepare.”

The request does not specifically name Mar-a-Lago, and the travel budget changes year to year based on many factors. The total protective travel budget for fiscal 2015 was about $80 million. That figure climbed to $160 million in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, when agents were protecting multiple candidates.

But former agents said that, typically, costs go down in the first year of a new presidency.

Before taking office, Trump repeatedly criticized the cost of President Barack Obama's travel, saying the fact that Obama's trips were “costing taxpayers millions of dollars” was “unbelievable.” During the campaign, Trump pledged to save public money by working diligently in Washington and skipping out on expensive travel.

“There's no time for vacation. We're not going to be big on vacations,” Trump said at a campaign rally last year. “The White House is this incredible place. It represents so much, and you're there for a limited period of time. If you're at the White House and you have so much work to do, why do you fly? Why do you leave so much?”

The conservative group Judicial Watch, which closely tracked Obama's family travel, estimated the Obamas' vacation expenses totaled nearly $97 million over eight years.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday countered criticism of Trump's frequent travel to Mar-a-Lago, saying: “The president is very clear that he works seven days a week. This is where he goes to see his family. He brings people down there. This is part of being president.”

Experts say that it is common for incoming presidential administrations to have unique logistical challenges, including George W. Bush, who preferred to spend time at his remote ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Mar-a-Lago has quickly become a capital of Trump's presidency and will play host to Chinese President Xi Jinping next month. On Friday night, the president surprised attendees when he popped into a Mar-a-Lago Club charity event to congratulate honoree Patrick Park, a Palm Beach philanthropist who has said he hopes to be named U.S. ambassador to Austria.

The Secret Service's protection costs are a small fraction of the total public spending devoted to safe­guarding Trump properties. New York police spent roughly $24 million toward security costs at Trump Tower between the election and inauguration, according to police figures provided to The Washington Post.

The agency is seeking federal reimbursement for the security costs. When the president is in town, New York police expect to spend about $300,000 a day safeguarding Trump Tower. On days when only the first lady and their son are in town, police expect security costs will drop to between $127,000 and $145,000 a day. A police spokesman said the estimates could change based on officer deployments, intelligence and other factors.

At Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach County officials say their sheriff's office has spent more than $1.5 million toward overtime for deputies guarding the exclusive resort Trump has taken to calling “the southern White House” and “winter White House.”

County officials have proposed levying a special fee on the resort, saying they would have to otherwise raise local taxes on residents to help cover its high security costs. The Coast Guard has also paid to provide round-the-clock patrols of the resort's two coastlines, including through the use of a gun-mounted response boat that, according to agency budget documents, costs $1,500 an hour.

The Secret Service has struggled through years of budget shortages and low morale. Former Secret Service agents said tightening budgets have hit agents hard and that, unlike other agencies, the Secret Service can't travel less or staff fewer people to keep costs down because full protection for the first family is guaranteed.

“Everything will get done,” said Wackrow, the former agent who served in Obama's protective detail. “But at what pain point does it get done?”

Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Julie Tate and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

• Drew Harwell is a national business reporter at The Washington Post.

• Amy Brittain is a reporter for The Washington Post's investigative team.


Read more on this topic:

 • Trump family's elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense


 on: March 23, 2017, 06:49:53 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

‘He's baaaack!’: Trump's visits to Mar-a-Lago are stretching
Palm Beach's budget and locals' patience

Trump's visits have cost the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office more than $1.5 million.

By ABBY PHILLIP and LORI ROZSA | 10:55PM EDT - Monday, March 20, 2017

President Trump has visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on more than half of the weekends since his inauguration. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Trump has visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on more than half of the weekends since his inauguration.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — It is high season in South Florida: blue skies, low humidity, warm temperatures and increasingly regular visits from the president of the United States.

With those visits, the busiest time of year for residents of Palm Beach has taken on a new unpleasantness. Airplane noise, traffic, and a rash of angry confrontations between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators are beginning to seem like the new normal.

“He's baaaack!” one resident warned on a neighborhood blog. “Get out your earplugs it is going to be another noisy weekend!”

President Trump's trips here — which have added up to more than half of the weekends since his inauguration — are also forcing a brewing budgetary crisis for Palm Beach County, which faces the prospect of millions of dollars in unexpected costs associated with helping to secure the president's luxury estate.

“I'm not sure that anyone understood that when the president referred to Mar-a-Lago as the ‘southern White House’, he really intended to visit almost every week,” said Representative Theodore E. Deutch (Democrat-Florida), who represents Palm Beach and is pushing for federal appropriators to address the growing costs. “There are a lot of people who come to Palm Beach County over the entire winter to enjoy the weather and enjoy the golfing.”

“When the president chooses to do the same thing, it raises a whole host of other issues,” he added.

County officials are warning about the ballooning costs associated with paying time and a half to sheriff's deputies to secure the president's exclusive members-only club — a price tag that is already more than $1.5 million — and county commissioners are pleading with federal officials to step in and relieve the financial burden.

“I would never consider a proposal that says we're not going to use our county resources when the president's here. It's our patriotic duty,” said County Commissioner David Kerner. “It's just unfair that burden should be borne alone.”

Kerner has proposed one solution: levying a “special benefit” fee on Mar-a-Lago to recoup some of the cost. The alternative, according to Kerner, is raising taxes for everyone or making cuts to the budget.

Doing that could imperil proposals to allocate more county money to combat opioid abuse and to hire more sheriff's deputies next year.

“Those are real issues: keeping cops off the street and diminishing our opioid epidemic response,” Kerner said.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who has known Trump for 25 years, met privately with the president in February at Mar-a-Lago.

“I told him we were incurring these expenses, and he said, ‘I'm going to take care of law enforcement’,” Bradshaw said. “We were having a conversation, and he said, ‘I'm a big supporter of law enforcement; you guys are doing a good job down here with the Secret Service, and I don't expect that you guys are doing it for free’. So he gets it; he knows what's happening.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether the president thinks the county should be reimbursed for the cost of assisting in his security.

Once just another celebrity living on what locals call “millionaires' row,” Trump is now the leader of the free world, and along with straining the county's budget, his presence has upended some of the carefree peace of his winter enclave.

A local airport faces “devastation,” officials say, as a result of flight restrictions. Residents in neighborhoods nearby complain about the constant rumbling of commercial flights redirected over their homes.

“They'll start with the planes going over at 5:30 a.m.,” said Carol Canright, a West Palm Beach resident. “You have to turn up the volume to hear over it.”

Local real estate agent Linda Cullen said flights take off over her house every three minutes when Trump is in town.

“You would think that he would be open to some way of softening the impact,” she said.

Meanwhile, a 15-minute drive from Mar-a-Lago, the president's presence has all but shut down the small local airport. On a South Florida weekend like this past one, with clear skies, sunshine and a slight breeze, activity around the Lantana Airport should be at its busiest.

“It's a perfect day,” said Altaf Hussain, owner of Pilot Training Center, a flight school based at the airport. “This place should be buzzing.”

It's one of the nation's busiest general-aviation airports for flight training, and winter weekends are the prime time for students to practice their skills in the air. These weekends are also popular with tourists renting flights to cruise above the nearby beaches, and for banner planes taking off with advertisements unfurling from their tails. More than two dozen businesses employing 400 people operate out of the airport.

Instead of overseeing flights, Hussain sat outside his hangar Saturday, his five Cessna 172 fixed-wing planes parked nearby, grounded for the weekend by a “temporary flight restriction” order from the Secret Service — the highest level of restrictions aimed at pilots, used whenever the president is in town.

For the first time on Saturday, Hussain and other business owners at Lantana were told by the Secret Service that not only were they prohibited from flying, they couldn't even start their engines for regular maintenance.

So Hussain spent his morning putting together a barbecue grill.

“The weekend flights are 33 percent of my business,” he said. “I'm surviving, but I don't know how much longer. I lose $8,500 a weekend when we're shut down. For a small guy like me, that's a lot of money.”

Jonathan Miller, who operates the airport, told the Associated Press last month that a helicopter company has decided to move elsewhere, costing Lantana $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales.

“It's a ghost town,” Ryan Dougherty said as he worked on a plane at a Lantana hangar. Dougherty works at Florida Aero Paint, painting helicopters and other aircraft. “We can't even get UPS deliveries. Every time this happens, it sets us back four days. Customers don't want to wait that long.”

Local and federal officials met recently for more than two hours with the Secret Service, which explained that the airport's proximity to Mar-a-Lago meant that making special accommodations for Lantana was impossible.

The situation could be a one-two financial punch for the county as well, which owns the airport but leases it to tenant businesses. Since the start of the year, the county's profits from operating Lantana have grown smaller and smaller, according to Kerner, the county commissioner. And officials may be forced to aid the small businesses hit hardest by the flight restrictions.

“It's just devastation,” Kerner said. “I'm going to have to fight for those businesses in the county budget, and maybe rent rebates or some sort of subsidy that way.”

Recently, residents have noticed a military-grade radar parked in an open lot on the airport's grounds, one more sign of the permanence of their new normal.

“There's federal infrastructure coming in,” Kerner commented.

If there is a silver lining, it is that Trump's visits could boost an already thriving tourism industry in Palm Beach.

Visits to Palm Beach County were up to record levels before Trump took office — 7.35 million visitors for 2016, above 6.9 million the year before, according to Ashley Svarney, director of public relations and communications for Discover the Palm Beaches, the local tourism promotion agency.

“So far this year, the numbers are pretty good, but it's too early to tell,” she said.

But having the media covering Trump at his beachside estate during the height of the tourist season has its benefits, she said.

“When people see the photos and video of the crystal-clear blue skies, the turquoise waters, the beautiful homes, it may make them think more about visiting,” Svarney said.

Some of the visitors to the area around Mar-a-Lago are arriving less to enjoy the beautiful scenery than to take part in the intense political debate ushered in by Trump's election.

West Palm Beach resident Christy Cary planted herself on the thin stretch of beach lining a narrow two-lane road a few hundred feet from Mar-a-Lago on a recent Saturday morning. She took a last puff of her cigarette and stared out over the water as a heavily armed Coast Guard boat floated by.

“I just think it's such a beautiful, lovely place; I come down here and spread some support,” said Cary, who that day donned her “I'm an adorable deplorable: Trump 2016” T-shirt.

Cary and several friends, all Trump supporters, have made a habit of coming to the beach to counter anti-Trump protesters who also tend to gather here when the president is in town.

“We're all down here being peaceful all day until they come, and then it starts,” Cary said of the protesters. Her friend Jennifer, a vocal Trump supporter, is the one who engages, Cary said.

“She'll stay down here until everyone’s gone, [that] type of girl,” Cary said. “That's why we always drive separate.”

Cary has less patience with the protesters.

“I don't like being cussed at,” she added.

During Sunday afternoon, her efforts paid off. As Trump's motorcade passed Cary and her friends waving and cheering, the president waved back and later summoned them to meet him at Mar-a-Lago.

“I'm like, what am I supposed to say to the president?” Cary said, dazed, after the meeting. “It still doesn't even really feel real.”

• Abby Phillip is a national political reporter covering the White House for The Washington Post.


Related to this topic:

 • At Mar-a-Lago, a new world of security, gawking tourists and a president-elect

 • VIDEO: Mar-a-Lago isn't just Trump's vacation spot; it's his second White House

 • PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY: See what President Trump has been doing since taking office


 on: March 23, 2017, 06:48:49 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

What a SELFISH TWAT Donald Trump is....putting local jobs at risk.

Somebody should lock him up in a cage at the White House.

 on: March 23, 2017, 06:48:03 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

South Florida pilots learning that skies are less friendly
with airspace restrictions during Trump visits

By LISA J. HURIASH | 2:45PM PST - Saturday, March 04, 2017

Air Force One lands in Palm Beach, Florida. At least 27 aircraft have violated airspace restrictions near President Trump's estate. — Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press.
Air Force One lands in Palm Beach, Florida. At least 27 aircraft have violated airspace restrictions near President Trump's estate.
 — Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press.

SOME PILOTS just aren't getting the message: They can't come and go as they please across South Florida's skies like they used to, at least not when the president is in town.

Since last month, at least 27 aircraft have violated a temporary restriction on the airspace near President Trump's estate in Palm Beach, federal officials say. And it's going to take some time and anxious moments for South Florida's aviation community to get used to it, experts say.

When President George W. Bush visited his ranch south of Dallas at the beginning of his presidency in 2001, there was a learning curve for pilots who “went out flying on a Saturday and didn't check,” recalls aviation attorney and former U.S. Air Force officer David Norton of Dallas.

If aviators don't comply, they'll be stunned to see a fighter pilot hanging off their wing, he said.

“The flying community will get used to it and they need to be careful: It can really catch you off guard,” he said.

With Mar-a-Lago serving as Trump's winter White House, South Florida faces becoming “real quiet” on weekends for air traffic, said Janet Marnane, a former Navy flight officer during the Cold War.

“These pilots are not used to having so many [restrictions] in this area, but they are going to get used to it real fast,” said Marnane, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It is going to be the new normal, but only on the weekends.”

To heighten awareness of the restrictions, the Federal Aviation Administration says it plans to do more outreach to educate local pilots.

The president's schedule this weekend included a tour of an Orlando Catholic school for a meet-and-greet Friday, before he traveled to Palm Beach, where he was to attend the Republican National Committee spring retreat.

Trump is spending his fourth weekend in South Florida since becoming president; the three prior weekend visits came back-to-back in February.

Each time he visits, pilots within a 30-mile ring around the mansion must abide by the rules — or risk being intercepted by Air Force fighter jets.

President Donald J. Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. — Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
President Donald J. Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. — Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

During the president's visits to Mar-a-Lago in February, dozens of local aviators violated the airspace restrictions, including 14 times between February 17th and February 20th.

The FAA has declined to release the names of the pilots who violated the airspace restrictions or discuss their cases, citing ongoing investigations.

Pilots violating airspace restrictions might get off with a warning, but presidential-related intrusions likely will lead to a license suspension, Norton said.

Violators, after being forced to land, will “be met by Secret Service and you are going to spend many hours explaining why you were there,” Norton said.

Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for North American Aerospace Defense Command based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said that fighter pilots scrambled to intercept planes in restricted airspace will often try to first get a pilot's attention with visual hand signals.

If that fails, they’ll “rock the wings,” which means the military jet will fly in front for attention and sway to each side signaling for the pilot to follow.

Another attention-grabbing method: the release of flares that are “essentially dropped in front of the pilot if all these other things don't work," he said.

Shooting down a plane “remains an option” although “that would be a very bad day,” he said.

One notable violation occurred last month when two Air Force F-15s hit supersonic speeds to intercept an aircraft, causing a sonic boom that residents heard from Broward to Palm Beach counties.

“I thought it was an actual bomb,” said Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell. “The house shook; you felt it vibrate.”

Jets having to reach supersonic speeds, about 750 mph, to intercept a violator is “atypical” and “situationally dependent,” Kucharek said. “We prefer not to go sonic over populated areas. It's done with the utmost caution so as not to alarm folks on the ground.”

Despite the FAA's outreach efforts, officials say it's up to pilots to safely conduct their flights. They're responsible for checking notices as part of their flight preparations so they're aware of any presidential-airspace issues that could affect them.

Pilots who hop on their aircraft for no other reason than to “buy a gallon of milk” will need to start checking in to learn of restrictions, said Michael Anthony Punziano, the owner of ATA Flight School in Pembroke Pines south of Palm Beach and a retired Air Force pilot.

“I wish he [trump] was golfing at Camp David like Obama used to do,” he said.

Lisa J. Huriash reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


 on: March 23, 2017, 06:46:35 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Trump's Florida visits puts small airport in tailspin

By TERRY SPENCER | Friday, February 17, 2017

Jorge Gonzalez, of Skywords Advertising, is seen with his Piper Super Cub at the hangar he rents at Lantana Airport in Latana, Florida. Gonzalez said during a meeting with U.S. Representative Lois Frankel that he might have to shutter his business if President Trump continues to visit Palm Beach and close the air space on weekends. — Photograph: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Associated Press.
Jorge Gonzalez, of Skywords Advertising, is seen with his Piper Super Cub at the hangar he rents at Lantana Airport in Latana, Florida. Gonzalez
said during a meeting with U.S. Representative Lois Frankel that he might have to shutter his business if President Trump continues to visit
Palm Beach and close the air space on weekends. — Photograph: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Associated Press.

LANTANA, FLORIDA — President Donald Trump wants small businesses to thrive, but his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive.

The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport on Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president's return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year's busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already.

The airport, which handles only small, propeller-driven planes and helicopters, is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that’s closed to most private planes when he's in town. Trump flies into Palm Beach International Airport, which is 2.5 miles from Mar-a-Lago, and remains opens as it handles commercial flights. Small private planes can also use that airport during presidential visits if they meet certain stringent conditions.

The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump's security while keeping their businesses open. They involve letting pilots fly in a closely monitored corridor headed away from the resort until they are outside a 10-mile ban around Mar-a-Lago and a 30-mile zone where flying lessons are restricted. Pilots, planes and cargo would undergo preflight screening by Transportation Security Administration agents.

“None of us are suggesting that we shouldn't do everything to keep the president safe but we believe there are things that can be done to keep us in operation,” said Jonathan Miller, the contractor who operates the Palm Beach County-owned airport.

The airport and its 28 businesses have an economic impact of about $27 million annually and employ about 200 people full-time, many of them making about $30,000 a year. They don't get paid when the airport is closed.

Miller is already losing a helicopter company, which is moving rather than deal with the closures. That will cost him $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham directed questions to the Secret Service. The agency also declined comment. Flight restrictions have long been standard around buildings where a president is staying to protect him from an airborne attack.

U.S. Representative Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents the area, met with the business owners this week. She said she will meet with the Secret Service next week to see if a compromise can be reached.

Lantana Airport opened in 1941 as a Civil Air Patrol station, with planes flying along the coast during World War II to spot German submarines attempting to sink cargo ships. Today, the 300-acre, three-runway facility handles an average of 350 arrivals and departures daily, peaking on winter weekends as tourists enjoy South Florida's temperate weather. Summer, with its stifling, visitor-repelling heat and the constant threat of plane-grounding thunderstorms, is not nearly as lucrative.

Marian Smith, owner of Palm Beach Flight Training, said her 19-year-old business is losing 24 flights daily when closed and three students cancelled. She lost $28,000 combined the last two weekends and will lose $18,000 on this President's Day weekend. She estimates her 19 instructors are each losing up to $750 a weekend.

“What's frustrating is that we get little notice when this is going to happen,” she said.

This week, rumors began during Monday. The closure notice arrived on Wednesday.

David Johnson, owner of Palm Beach Aircraft Services, said his 27-year-old repair and maintenance business generates $2 million in sales annually, but has taken a hit over the last month and he fears it will cascade if flight schools like Smith's close. He has written a letter he hopes gets delivered to Trump this weekend asking him, one businessman to another, to help resolve the conflict.

“Even if the TSA had to screen every pilot going out of here, we would be open to that,” Johnson said. “But so far, we've gotten nothing.”

Jorge Gonzalez, owner of SkyWords Advertising, a banner towing service, said his company lost four contracts totaling $42,500 because of Trump's visits. He wants exceptions made for three pilots to fly within the restricted zone when the president visits because it is where thousands of residents live and tourists stay.

“We have spent 10 years building this business,” said Gonzalez's wife, Hadley Doyle-Gonzalez. “We just can't pick up and move.”

Associated Press news story.


 on: March 23, 2017, 04:06:13 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants
Trump team communications captured by intelligence community surveillance, Nunes says


 on: March 23, 2017, 04:02:08 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants
Hahaha more bullshit from the globalist propaganda agency
they should be called washington pissing in the wind missing the post alt left nazi org.
the washington post is the mouthpiece for the real owners of the planet who are nazi mass murderers because they profited from the endless wars for the last 60 years..

its a fucken club ktj and you're not in it lol

 on: March 23, 2017, 03:57:00 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Mark Morford

Springtime! And the scent of the FBI is in the air

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist | 12:58PM PDT - Monday, March 20, 2017

The man of springtime!
The man of springtime!

SPRINGTIME! Wildflowers, birdsong, bees doing their thing, bright new growth, more daylight and more sunshine and the expectant tremble of fresh possibilities in the world, all mingling, twirling, swirling with the intoxicating scent of sober FBI investigations into the world's most horrible, corrupt president and all to warm your heart, put a bounce in your step and a hint of hope in your heart. Springtime!

The vernal equinox! It's that fecund time in which day almost equals night, when the soul's attention shifts from internal to external, from winter's cozy home/hearth to nature's boundless fertility, when the tides tremble and the moon winks and dogs get that look in their eye and James Comey almost does, too.

A time in which, in the poetic words of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “Atmospheric refraction hastens sunrise & delays sunset, adding to daylight.” So you know it must be good.

Can you resist? You cannot resist. Spring is irrepressible, unstoppable, astonishing in her tenacity. Mother Nature, am I right? Despite all our attempts to poison and derail her, nevertheless, she persists.

Not only that, she insists. She says, “Sure, be as dour and fatalistic as you want (and with damn good reason), but hey, check out these cherry blossoms, what? The groggy bears coming out of hibernation, these frogs going nuts in ponds, these moose dropping their antlers, the testes of Siberian hamsters growing to 17 times their normal size, these falcons building nests in the ground. I mean, come on.

“Look at this fresh, green bud of possibility that the Orange Goblin might not be long for this presidency after all, and the world's intel agencies will soon reveal the true scale of greatest scam ever perpetrated on the American people!” Nature bats last, but the FBI better not f--king bunt. Springtime!

Sunshine! Joy! Resistance! A time when the entire world prays that the great seed of hope we all sowed back in November will flower forth, and we will all soon be dancing around the bright, resplendent image of Trump and Bannon being yanked away in handcuffs from the West Wing, as Pence, Ryan and McConnell resign in shame and the GOP convulses into noxious ash.

Fantasy? Delusion? Not at all. Springtime!

Spring, she be tenacious.
Spring, she be tenacious.

The boys of springtime. You know, in hell.
The boys of springtime. You know, in hell.

Happy fragrant upbeat flowery green buds of spring! Also, impeach the Orange Goblin, James. Do it now.
Happy fragrant upbeat flowery green buds of spring! Also, impeach the Orange Goblin, James. Do it now.

Spring, she be tenacious.
Spring, she be tenacious.

Bees are all, OK fine, we'll try this again, but there aren't many of us left so take it easy, OK?
Bees are all, OK fine, we'll try this again, but there aren't many of us left so take it easy, OK?

Pretty things abound. Tell the FBI.
Pretty things abound. Tell the FBI.

Reading “Guide to the Resistance” amidst nature's support.
Reading “Guide to the Resistance” amidst nature's support.

Spring, she be tenacious.
Spring, she be tenacious.

Spring, she be tenacious.
Spring, she be tenacious.

Cherry blossoms defy the apocalypse, again.
Cherry blossoms defy the apocalypse, again.

Celebrating the increasingly possible (imminent?) demise and glorious arrest of the Orange Goblin. Also, bubbles!
Celebrating the increasingly possible (imminent?) demise and glorious arrest of the Orange Goblin.
Also, bubbles!

Is this the last one? Will she ever come again? Sure. Maybe. Hard to say. Carpe diem, caveat emptor and best celebrate this one with all your might. Just, you know, in case.

After all, the non-stop orgy of new life bouncing and bounding forth all over the relentlessly upbeat, life-at-all-costs planet right now might or might not be enough to make your forget that we probably just passed the threshold for CO² emissions in the atmosphere, AKA scientists’ terrifying “point of no return” for permanent, irreversible atmospheric devastation, perfectly timed to coincide with the deregulation of oil industry, the gutting of your health care, the elimination of arts funding, the decimation of the Paris Climate agreement and the head of the EPA, Scott “to hell with breathable air” Pruitt, openly rejecting the idea that humans have anything to do with nature’s demise. Meanwhile, the Great Barrier Reef turns white, the oceans flip more acidic and extreme weather ravages the world. Shhh!!

Springtime! Reject fatalism. Deny the apocalypse. Down with zippers. Arrest the Orange Monster. Mimosas all around.


Email: Mark Morford

Mark Morford on Twitter and Facebook.


 on: March 23, 2017, 03:55:26 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

The American presidency is shrinking before the world's eyes

Foreigners are seeing the country take on a smaller stature.

By MICHAEL GERSON | 7:48PM EDT - Monday, March 20, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

IT IS difficult to overestimate the geopolitical risks of this moment — or the (both disturbed and eager) global scrutiny now being given to the American president.

Aggression is growing along the westward reach of Russian influence and the southern boundary of Chinese influence. Intercontinental nuclear capacity may soon be in the hands of a mental pubescent in North Korea. In the Middle East, a hostile alliance of Russia and Shiite powers is ascendant; radical Sunnis have a territorial foothold and inspire strikes in Western cities; America's traditional Sunni friends and allies feel devalued or abandoned; perhaps 500,000 Syrians are dead and millions of refugees suffer in conditions that incubate anger. Cyber-terrorism and cyber-espionage are exploiting and weaponizing our own technological dependence. Add to this a massive famine in East Africa, threatening the lives of 20 million people, and the picture of chaos is complete — until the next crisis breaks.

It is in this context that the diplomatic bloopers reel of the past few days has been played — the casual association of British intelligence with alleged surveillance at Trump Tower; the presidential tweets undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his Asia trip; and the rude and childish treatment given the German chancellor. When President Trump and Angela Merkel sat together in the Oval Office, we were seeing the leader of the free world — and that guy pouting in public.

Every new administration has a shakeout period. But this assumes an ability to learn from mistakes. And this would require admitting mistakes. The spectacle of an American president blaming a Fox News commentator for a major diplomatic incident was another milestone in the miniaturization of the presidency.

An interested foreigner (friend or foe) must be a student of Trump's temperament, which is just as bad as advertised. He is inexperienced, uninformed, easily provoked and supremely confident in his own judgment. His advantage is the choice of some serious, experienced advisers, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. But success in their jobs depends on Trump's listening skills.

Mere incompetence would be bad enough. But foreigners trying to understand the United States must now study (of all things) the intellectual influences of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. His vision of a Western alliance of ethno-nationalist, right-wing populists against globalists, multiculturalists, Islamists and (fill in the blank with your preferred minority) is the administration's most vivid and rhetorically ascendant foreign policy viewpoint. How does this affect the alliances of the previous dispensation? That is the background against which Trump's peevishness is being viewed.

Animated gif of “Trump is hanging on by a tweet” created by Ann Telnaes.
Animated gif of “Trump is hanging on by a tweet” created by Ann Telnaes.

Foreigners see a president who has blamed his predecessor, in banana-republic style, of a serious crime, for which FBI Director James B. Comey testified on Monday there is no evidence. They see an administration whose campaign activities are being actively investigated by the executive branch and Congress. If close Trump associates are directly connected to Russian hacking, foreigners will see the president engulfed in an impeachment crisis — the only constitutional mechanism that would remove the taint of larceny from the 2016 election.

And foreigners are seeing politics, not national security, in the driver's seat of the administration. Tillerson was given the job of secretary of state, then denied his choice of deputy for political reasons, then ordered to make a 28 percent cut in the budget for diplomacy and development. Never mind that Tillerson has been left a diminished figure. Never mind that stability operations in Somalia and northern Nigeria — the recruiting grounds of Islamist terrorism — would likely be eliminated under the Trump budget. Never mind that programs to prevent famines would be slashed.

When asked if he was worried about cutting these programs during a famine, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney responded: “The president said specifically hundreds of times … I'm going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home. And that's exactly what we're doing with this budget.” The benighted cruelty of such a statement — assuming that the only way to help Americans is to let foreign children die — is remarkable, and typical.

The sum total? Foreigners see a Darwinian, nationalist framework for American foreign policy; a diminished commitment to global engagement; a brewing scandal that could distract and cripple the administration; and a president who often conducts his affairs with peevish ignorance.

Some will look at this spectacle and live in fear; others may see a golden opportunity.

• Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Washington Post.


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