Look what photos Obama’s TSA is posting online


The Transportation Security Administration is getting an earful from angry Americans after the agency’s spokeswoman tweeted a photo of the contents of a traveler’s suitcase – $75,000 in cash – for all the world to see on Tuesday.

“If you had $75,000, is this how you’d transport it? Just asking! TSA @ RIC spotted this traveler’s preferred method,” tweeted Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokeswoman at headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

The public reaction was fierce and included some of the following comments:

  • So … taxpayers are paying you to tweet photos of their luggage?TSA_Lisa_Farbstein
  • What other perfectly legal possessions should air travelers worry TSA might photograph and post to social media?
  • Fantastic. Give someone a chance to rob said traveler.
  • Gee, it’s a total mystery why so many people distrust TSA and think you overstep boundaries.
  • Thanks for the pic. Thieves at the next airport appreciate the info.
  • Were you asked to publicly post this person’s private property to social media or did you decide to post on your own?
  • Did you receive this passenger’s permission to photograph their belongings and tweet it out? This is grotesque.
  • That’s awesome. Next will you post public pics of someone’s meds? You should be fired.
  • Is this what y’all do on the clock? Post pics of travelers’ personal belongings on twitter?
  • Now that the public knows the exact design, color and size of this bag and also its contents, how is this traveler safer?
  • So the TSA is just outright fu–ing with people and bragging about it.
  • What other photos get taken of the property of people who violate no rule or law? How long are the photos preserved?
  • Shame on you. What a disgrace.
  • And you wonder why nobody trusts you people.
  • Wow. Way to breach privacy. No wonder no one respects TSA.
  • Were they planning on using that to bring down a plane? Why are you showing people’s personal belongings? Oh yeah, you suck.
  • What the hell is wrong with you? Besides being a government busybody. None of your damn business & none of social medias’!

One Twitter user asked Farbstein about the government approved way to transport legally earned cash so it wouldn’t be seized by TSA.

Farbstein responded, “TSA didn’t seize/confiscate/take it. It alarmed the x-ray machine as an unknown and we spotted it. It’s just a curiosity.”

The photo was taken at the Richmond, Virginia, airport. Farbstein confirmed that the contents were “not on the prohibited items list.”


After the Washington Free Beacon published a story on the incident, Farbstein emailed the following statement to the paper:

“TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at airport checkpoints. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips. TSA turned this bag over to law enforcement, which is investigating.”

It wasn’t clear whether the passenger was traveling domestically or internationally. TSA guidelines state, “For international flights, you must report the transport of $10,000.00 USD or more to the U.S. Customs Service.”

A 2013 TSA press release says Farbstein is “part of an external media team that works to place positive stories in the media with a focus on the agency’s counterterrorism mission.”

The release quotes Farbstein:

“What I do matters because when I explain what we do and that we know the majority of travelers present no threat, reporters often are surprised at how advanced TSA is and they are absolutely amazed to hear about the good catches our Officers make every day across the country.”

A 2009 TSA blog post addressed the issue of passengers carrying large sums of cash in their luggage:

Sometimes a TSA officer may ask a passenger who is carrying a large sum of cash to account for the money. You have asked why such a question is posed and whether a passenger is required to answer.

In reacting to potential security problems or signs of criminal activity, TSA officers are trained to ask questions and assess passenger reactions, including whether a passenger appears to be cooperative and forthcoming in responding.

TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips.

When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.

The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities.

According to the Washington Post, Richmond airport spokesman Troy Bell said the traveler’s cash was seized by a federal agency.

“I don’t believe the person was issued a summons or a citation,” he said. “The traveler was allowed to continue on his way.”


Fox News anchor stands up for ‘gay’ marriage

(MEDIAITE) — Over the weekend, Fox News anchor Julie Banderas gave a pretty passionate defense of gay marriage in response to a viewer question about why the American people shouldn’t be able to vote on it.

Banderas said, “I’m a married woman. I have… a ring on my finger. I never asked anyone to vote on whether or not I had the right to do this.”

She brought up her gay sister, who was the maid of honor at her wedding, and how she’d like to return the favor someday, and said that a gay friend of hers at Fox News walked her mother down the aisle at her own wedding.


Huge 2016 field means no GOP front-runner

(TNS) — Running for president is not quite what it used to be.

Candidates once had to rely on the support of party leaders, who assessed their electability; on a broad fundraising base to sustain them until victory brought in fresh cash; and on a handful of national news outlets to spread the word of their candidacy.

No more.

Major changes in the political system — especially campaign finance laws that allow rich people to write unlimited checks to certain political action committees — have drastically lowered the barriers to entry, as has the proliferation of social media.

“If you’ve got a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a millionaire to fund your ‘super PAC,’ why not?” said Jim Dyke, a veteran Republican strategist working for presidential hopeful Jeb Bush in South Carolina.

The result is more than a dozen declared Republican candidates — with others soon to follow — giving the party its largest pick of presidential contenders in memory and a roster of uncommon depth and experience.

What the party lacks is a clear leader in the 2016 field — or anyone, for that matter, who can plausibly claim a meaningful advantage — producing what is arguably the most wide-open Republican race in more than 50 years.

“You have people who lead in polls,” said Craig Robinson, a GOP analyst in Iowa, the state due to cast the first presidential ballots in just about six months, “but no front-runner.”

Indeed, an aggregate of surveys taken nationally as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, the second state to vote, shows no candidate gaining the support of even a quarter of Republicans interviewed.

With the field likely to include at least four sitting governors, plus the ex-governors of three big states — Florida, New York and Texas — and four U.S. senators, the party hardly lacks for skilled and politically proven candidates.

The faithful will inevitably rally around the eventual Republican nominee, uniting behind the shared goal of defeating the Democrats in November 2016 and winning back the White House after an eight-year absence.

But until then, the supersized White House field points not just to the ease of entry but to myriad fault lines within the party: between its establishment and insurgent wings, between social and economic conservatives, between its growing political base in the conservative South and shrinking toehold in the more moderate Northeast.

“We have polarization in the Republican Party,” said Stuart Spencer, a GOP strategist with more than half a century of campaign experience. “Just as we do in the nation.”

It is not unusual for a party out of power to look inward and debate what, if any, changes are needed to find its way back to success. (Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential contests and haven’t won a sizable electoral college majority since 1988.)

In 1992, after a string of Democratic losses, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won the White House running as “a new kind of Democrat” who was less beholden to the party’s long-standing liberal orthodoxy. He declined to spare a death row inmate from execution, hoping to show his toughness on crime, and vowed to drastically overhaul the federal welfare system, which he did in his second term as president.

No GOP candidates have gone as far as Clinton in taking on their own party. But several have nudged fellow Republicans in different ways: ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by urging the party to soften its tone on immigration; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by advocating a less assertive military policy; Ohio Gov. John Kasich by embracing the expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, which is loathed by many Republicans.

While those three and others seek to broaden the party and its appeal, some rivals, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have suggested Republicans hold true to their long-standing positions and do a better job of turning out supporters who, they suggest, have been dispirited by too-quick-to-compromise nominees like John McCain and Mitt Romney.

“What Jeb Bush is saying is that we need to hide our conservative ideals,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday in launching his presidential bid. “But the truth is if we go down that road again, we will lose again.”

Bush, with his universal name recognition and ready-made national network of political and financial supporters, was once considered a strong favorite for the nomination. But his less-than-stellar performance as a candidate and resistance among Republicans toward the notion of another Bush in the White House — following his father and older brother — have pushed him back among the rest of the pack.

That, in turn, has encouraged others to jump into the Republican race, among them Kasich, who is expected to formally declare his candidacy by the end of summer.

“I thought Jeb was just going to suck all the air out of the room,” Ohio’s governor told a group of New Hampshire business leaders earlier this month. “And it just hasn’t happened.”

–Mark Z. Barabak
Los Angeles Times


(c)2015 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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D’oh! Ted Cruz ‘auditions’ for ‘The Simpsons’



The presidential contest for 2016 is suddenly a bit more animated, as Republican candidate Ted Cruz is now starring in a video “auditioning” to be the voice of several characters on “The Simpsons.”

“With [voice actor] Harry Shearer retiring, I’m auditioning for any part I can get in ‘The Simpsons,’” the Texas senator declares at the outset of the video produced by BuzzFeed.

“Smithers, release the hounds! Exxxxxcellent,” Cruz says as he does his best impression of Homer Simpson’s boss, Mr. Burns.

Watch the video of Ted Cruz’s audition:

Cruz also impersonates Christian neighbor Ned Flanders, and voices both Lisa and Homer Simpson in a discussion about eating meat.

“I have been told many times I have a face for radio, and I have a face for animation,” the Texas senator jokingly concluded.

BuzzFeed notes: “Even if Ted Cruz doesn’t win the White House in 2016, he may have a future playing your favorite Springfield residents.”


Obama’s political wins not likely to include gun control

Following major political victories via Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, President Barack Obama is seeing rising approval ratings and experiencing a confidence boost.

The president told reporters Tuesday that he intends to continue doubling down on his policy initiatives, including calls for increased gun control reinvigorated by the recent shooting tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The list is long,” he said during a press conference alongside Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. “We are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make as long as I have the privilege of holding this office.”

In a statement Sunday, the president urged supporters to lobby Congress along with state and local lawmakers for stricter gun control laws.

“We’ve had to come together as a nation too many times to mourn after horrific acts of gun violence,” Obama said in a statement. “And right now, it’s not good enough simply to show sympathy.”

Mass shootings, Obama claimed, have become commonplace in the U.S. because of lawmaker inaction.

“[T]heir refusal to act won’t stop progress,” Obama said. “Because of organizers like you, states like Washington and Oregon have introduced successful restrictions on gun purchases, like common-sense background checks.”

Despite the president’s confidence boost and call to action, public support for increased gun control measures from Congress and the White House is very low.

According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s gun control policies compared to 42 percent who approve of his initiatives.

And with numbers like those, even gun control proponents acknowledge that Capitol Hill calls for Obama-approved gun control won’t soon muster the votes to move beyond rhetoric.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) last week said they are currently exploring options to revive failed attempts to expand background checks for U.S. gun purchases. Toomey, however, was quick to point out that gun control supporters should manage their expectations.

“Honestly, I don’t want to build up any false expectations. I’m not aware that we have the votes to do what Sen. Manchin and I attempted,” he said, speaking of a previous effort to expand background checks.

“Is it possible that some portion of that, some subset of what we focused on is possible? Honestly, probably not likely.”

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Democrats: Charleston shooter proof that white supremacists, anti-government groups pose significant national threat

A group of Senate Democrats are pushing for a congressional inquiry into whether the threat of white supremacist domestic terror is on the rise in the wake of the killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.

The lawmakers, all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, claim that alleged shooter Dylan Roof’s racially charged ramblings ahead of the incident make it apparent that he was acting at behest of domestic hate groups.

“If this same act had been perpetrated by someone claiming a desire to harm Americans in the service of Islamist principles, it would immediately be labeled an act of terror,” the senators, led by ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said in a written petition for hearings. “A violent act motivated by a racist desire to intimidate a civilian population falls squarely within the definition of domestic terrorism.”

The letter, addressed to Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), was signed by Leahy along with Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Chris Coons of Delaware and Al Franken of Minnesota.

“In the past, mass violence in our country has been explained away as an act of insanity to be treated as a mental health issue. What we saw in South Carolina is about hate, and it is about evil,” the Democrats said.

The lawmakers’ request comes after the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which has long claimed that right-wing domestic terror poses a larger threat to the U.S. than Islamic jihad, similarly asked Congress to hold hearings on the matter.

“There’s a growing recognition that the resources the federal government devotes to combating terrorism may be too skewed toward jihadism, even as deadly attacks by non-Muslim extremists are becoming increasingly common,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “Congress should hold hearings to determine how the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are working to respond to this threat.”

SPLC included in its call for congressional action findings from a recent report from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, which names anti-government groups as a bigger threat to U.S. law enforcement that radicalized Muslims.

According to the report, a survey of 382 law enforcement agencies showed that “74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations.”

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Chelsea Clinton gets $65,000 for 10-minute speech

(WASHINGTONPOST) — When the University of Missouri at Kansas City was looking for a celebrity speaker to headline its gala luncheon marking the opening of a women’s hall of fame, one of the names that came to mind was Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But when the former secretary of state’s representatives quoted a fee of $275,000, officials at the public university balked. “Yikes!” one e-mailed another.

So the school booked the next best option: her daughter, Chelsea.

The university paid $65,000 for Chelsea Clinton’s brief appearance Feb. 24, 2014, a demonstration of the celebrity appeal and marketability that the former and possibly second-time first daughter employs on behalf of her mother’s presidential campaign and family’s global charitable empire.


NYC mayor doesn’t want you smoking in your own home

It’s already illegal to smoke in New York’s public spaces, as well as in restaurants and open-air outdoor venues.

But now New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is putting together a de facto smoking ban that, if successful, will encourage landlords to serve as stand-ins for the nanny police. It’s a “soft” ban that aims to use the private sector to bereave smokers of their vice sticks in the ultimate place of privacy and refuge: the home.

De Blasio — evidently a firm believer in the statist maxim that “the process is the punishment” — is promoting a new initiative that aims to “pressure landlords and developers to prohibit smoking in their apartment complexes,” according to the New York Post.

Like all smoking bans, this one has the people’s health in mind. The de Blasio administration is paying four health advocacy groups to promote the initiative to landlords of multi-housing units, because, as a health department spokesman told the Post, “Everyone benefits from smoke-free housing.”

If the initiative is successful, the city will stand behind landlords who include smoking bans in their lease agreements.

The anti-smoking push is a legacy of a larger “sustainability” initiative crafted during the administration of Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio’s predecessor.

But, the Post reports, de Blasio “intends to go further” in carrying out the “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City” initiative by accelerating the timeline.

New Yorkers, smoke ’em if — and while — you got ’em.

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