After Functioning for 28 Days, U.S. Election Regulator Will Be Powerless Again – The New York Times – AKA: Koch Brothers buy out commissioner to cripple agency that monitors elections.

Ms. Hunter, whose resignation will take effect July 3, said that she planned to join Stand Together, a philanthropic organization founded by the billionaire Charles G. Koch. She has served on the commission since 2008, when President George W. Bush nominated her to the post. Her term technically expired in April 2013, and she and two fellow commissioners — one Democrat and one independent — have continued to serve beyond their respective terms while waiting for the president and the Senate to replace or renominate them.

FEMA Ordered $10.2 Million in COVID-19 Testing Kits It’s Now Warning States Not to Use

by Ryan Gabrielson and J. David McSwane

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned states not to use COVID-19 testing supplies it bought under a $10.2 million contract after a ProPublica investigation last week showed the vendor was providing contaminated and unusable mini soda bottles.

A FEMA spokeswoman said the agency is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze test tubes filled with saline and sold to the government by Fillakit LLC, whose warehouse is near Houston.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend this media not be used at this time,” spokeswoman Alex Bruner said.

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ProPublica reported on June 18 that Fillakit was using plastic preforms, which are expanded with heat and pressure to become 2-liter soda bottles, to fulfill FEMA’s contract for testing supplies to be used by states. The bottles were shoveled into the warehouse, then filled with saline in what workers described as unsanitary conditions. Some of the states receiving the lab equipment told ProPublica that even if Fillakit’s tubes weren’t contaminated, they were simply too big to be used in lab machinery.

A later story in The Wall Street Journal raised similar allegations. The Journal first reported on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is now looking into the contractor. Fillakit owner Paul Wexler previously told the Journal that allegations of unsanitary conditions were baseless and came from a disgruntled former employee.

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Teresa Green, a retired science teacher and former Fillakit employee, told ProPublica that she spoke with someone identified as a “special agent” with Homeland Security who told her he was looking into Fillakit’s operations. Green declined to elaborate.

A spokesperson for the Homeland Security inspector general’s office said, “As a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny open investigations.”

The FEMA spokeswoman said the agency continues to provide “critically needed testing supplies in a timely manner to our state and local partners in response to the coronavirus.”

FEMA signed its first deal with Fillakit on May 7, just six days after the company was formed by an ex-telemarketer repeatedly accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Fillakit has supplied a total of more than 3 million tubes, which FEMA then approved and sent to all 50 states.

Wexler has previously declined to comment. A ProPublica reporter visited the facility this month and confirmed that workers were using snow shovels to gather up tubes and filling them, all in the open air.

Fillakit continues to advertise COVID-19 testing supplies on its website, including “Premier Leakproof Tubes.” The photos of tubes on its website look nothing like the larger soda preforms it has sold to FEMA, according to photos provided by state health departments and former employees.

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The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes — and Got Unusable Mini Soda Bottles

The plastic tubes supplied for coronavirus testing by Fillakit, a first-time federal contractor with a sketchy owner, don’t even fit the racks used to analyze samples. And they may be contaminated anyway.

Officials in New York, New Jersey, Texas and New Mexico confirmed they were not able to use the Fillakit tubes. Three other states told ProPublica that they received Fillakit supplies and have not distributed them to testing sites. FEMA had previously asked health officials in several states to find an alternative use for the mini soda bottles.

Last week, Missouri health officials asked testing facilities there to not use the Fillakit testing supplies sent out by the state.

ProPublica’s data analysis shows that federal agencies hastily awarded more than $2 billion dollars in COVID-19 contracts to vendors who had no prior federal deals.

In total, the federal government has committed more than $16 billion to more than 4,000 contractors in its attempt to address the spread of the novel coronavirus. More than 1,800 of those deals were given without competitive bidding. Many companies, including Fillakit, had no experience sourcing medical supplies.

ProPublica continues to update its searchable online database of all federal contracts awarded to address the pandemic.

Do you have access to information about federal contracts that should be public? Email david.mcswane@propublica.org or ryan.gabrielson@ propublica.org. Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely.


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Military confirms 40 per cent of COVID-positive troops deployed to long-term care homes were asymptomatic | CBC News

We believe some of those troops that were determined to be affected had been asymptomatic before the operation started. So a testing regime is going to be really critical going forward, ” Vance told a media briefing today on the pending withdrawal of military assistance from long-term care centres. The Canadian Red Cross will stand up hundreds of volunteers to take the place of soldiers over the next month.

Source: Military confirms 40 per cent of COVID-positive troops deployed to long-term care homes were asymptomatic | CBC News

Judge orders Trump adviser Roger Stone to report to prison by July 14

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FILE PHOTO: Roger Stone, longtime adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse where he is set to be sentenced, in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday ordered Roger Stone, President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, to report to prison by July 14 to begin his sentence after being convicted of seven criminal counts last year, granting him a 14-day extension over concerns about the coronavirus.

The 67-year-old veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster,” who lives in South Florida, had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, by next Tuesday. Florida is experiencing rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

Stone was found guilty by a jury last November of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress under oath during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who in February sentenced him to three years and four months in prison, granted the extension sought by Stone and ordered him placed in home confinement.

“This will address the defendant’s stated medical concerns during the current increase of reported cases in Florida, and Broward County in particular, and it will respect and protect the health of other inmates who share defendant’s anxiety over the potential introduction and spread of the virus at this now-unaffected facility,” Berman said.

Trump, who has argued that Stone was treated unfairly, declined to answer directly when asked in a Fox News Channel interview on Thursday whether he would issue him a pardon.

Stone was one of several Trump associates who were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

He was convicted of lying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Will Dunham

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Attorney General Barr forms panel on ‘anti-government extremism’

The Barr Chamber – No Star Chamber (secret court in England to imprison those with did not accept absolute obedience to the Crown or Church) but a Barr Chamber to persecute whomever Barr does not like!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General William Barr on Friday ordered the establishment of a task force to counter what he called “anti-government extremists” committing violence as protests against police brutality convulse the United States.

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FILE PHOTO – U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable discussion on “America’s seniors” hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors released by the Department of Justice, Barr said alleged extremists had “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” including attacking police officers, damaging property and threatening innocent people.

Protests have spread nationwide over George Floyd’s death in police custody last month and the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of police.

Although largely peaceful, some demonstrators have turned violent, which President Donald Trump and his allies have blamed on left-wing extremists among the protesters.

Barr said the extremists “profess a variety of ideologies.”

“Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr said.

Barr named the militant anti-government movement known as the “boogaloo,” as well as the left-wing Antifa as among those posing “continuing threats of lawlessness”.

Antifa is an amorphous movement whose adherents use confrontational tactics to oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist.

“Boogaloo” members believe the United States will enter into a second civil war, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. While the ideology itself is not white supremacist, some white supremacist groups have embraced it, the Anti-Defamation League has found.

Federal prosecutors filed charges early this month against three alleged members of the movement accused of plotting to cause violence and destruction at a Las Vegas protest.

The new task force would be headed by two U.S. attorneys, from Texas and New Jersey, Barr said.

It would include members from different law enforcement agencies, but would “particularly draw on the capabilities of the FBI,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mike Pence Says Holding Rallies Amid a Deadly Pandemic Is Just Demonstrating Freedom of Speech, Baby!

So untrue and devious. If you are found to have an STD or TB after a visit to a clinic or your doctor, they are legally bound to report that to local health department, which is then bound to contact you about getting mandated treatment and contacts. Covid-19 can kill people within days, It has nothing to do with freedom of speech – it has everything to do with saving lives! iewlq40lndkhyzilb8mk.jpg

After a spike in covid-19 cases throughout the South and Southwestern United States, the White House Coronavirus Task Force assembled for its first press briefing in two months. Predictably, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided a litany of grave but…

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Trump Suggests Navy Chose Wisconsin Firm to Help Him

“I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract. The other is your location in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth.”

In another portion of the speech devoted to praising himself, Trump also claimed that he had personally intervened in the design of the new Navy frigate. “The ships that they were building, they looked terrible. I changed designs. I looked at it. I said, ‘That’s a terrible looking ship. Let’s make it beautiful. It’ll cost you the same, and maybe less,’” the president told workers at the shipyard.

Source: Trump Suggests Navy Chose Wisconsin Firm to Help Him

Barr’s intervention in Cohen case intensifies rule-of-law crisis

“I think Barr’s conduct has made it clear that he is not acting as the attorney general for the people of the United States, but as a private attorney to protect the interests of the president. What can be done about William Barr? I really think the only thing that can be done is impeachment. And I think that this Republican Senate has shown it doesn’t really have any appetite for that.”

The assessment seems more than fair given the circumstances, though as the controversies surrounding the attorney general grow more acute, and as the rule-of-law emergency becomes more painfully obvious, the discussion about Barr’s political fate is growing louder.

Source: Barr’s intervention in Cohen case intensifies rule-of-law crisis