John McAfee Arrested In Spain And Charged With Tax Evasion And Promoting Initial Coin Offerings

A little over a year after former tech guru (and one-time presidential candidate) John McAfee was arrested in the Dominican Republican (aboard a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear), and two months after a “fake arrest” for wearing a thong mask

… on Monday the eccentric millionaire was arrested – this time for real – in Spain, where he is awaiting extradition to the US after he was charged with tax evasion by federal prosecutors who allege McAfee hid cryptocurrency, a yacht, and real estate as part of a conspiracy to evade taxes, which he forgot to pay from 2014 to 2018.

At the same time the SEC also charged the former programmer for promoting investments in initial coin offerings (ICOs) to his Twitter followers without disclosing that he was paid to do so. McAfee’s bodyguard, Jimmy Watson, Jr., was also charged for his role in the alleged scheme.

McAfee’s last tweet is from September 12, in which he explained why he is not voting for anyone: “Why would I choose one person over another to control me? Slave masters are the same. We are numbers rather than people, irrespective of the master.”

Some more details as disclosed by the DOJ late on Monday:

An indictment was unsealed today charging John David McAfee with tax evasion and willful failure to file tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee.

The June 15, 2020 indictment was unsealed following McAfee’s arrest in Spain where he is pending extradition.

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Trump’s Education Funding Reform Proposal Released: Decentralization, Technical Education, School Choice

President Donald Trump has proposed an overhaul of federal education funding that would, in the administration’s view, deliver on his promises of returning decision-making power to states and districts, expanding school choice, and giving students more pathways to careers.

Trump’s take on education has been that Washington has usurped too much power over the classroom and needs to step back.

As the executive, however, he has limited room for doing so, as many of the federal regulations, such as requirements for standardized testing, academic standards, and intervention in struggling schools, are mandated by law.

Moreover, the federal government only pays about 7 percent of public education expenses.

Trump’s 2021 education budget proposal promises greater flexibility for states and localities on how to use the federal money. It would roll almost 30 federal K–12 programs into one block grant allocated to states largely based on numbers of low-income students. This should simplify the grant process for the states and, in the future, allow the Department of Education to reduce staffing, the administration said (pdf).

“States will be free to focus on people, not paperwork. Results, not regulations,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a Feb. 10 release.

The block grant would total less than $20 billion, a reduction of nearly $4.7 billion from the total appropriated this year to all the programs it would replace.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, criticized the funding cut in a Feb. 10 release, calling the block grant “inadequate.”

“President Trump’s budget proposal seeks to pay for the cost of his reckless tax cuts by raiding important investments that would improve the lives of people across the country,” he said in the release.

Scholarship Tax Credits

Trump’s proposal includes Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS), a program proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would give up to $5 billion in federal tax credits dollar-for-dollar to taxpayers who donate to organizations that grant elementary and middle-school scholarships in their state.

Trump has been a fan of the school choice movement, which supports alternatives to standard public schools, such as charter schools, vouchers for private schools, and homeschooling. The administration expects EFS to attract $5 billion in donations that would help more than a million students “find their education fit.”

Each state would design its own rules for what the scholarships could pay for, including career and technical education, special education services, or private school tuition.

Some states already run similar programs, as Trump highlighted in his Feb. 4 State of the Union address.

“For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools,” he said. “To rescue these students, 18 states have created school choice in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list.”

Trump urged Congress to pass Cruz’s legislation, which has languished at the Senate’s Finance Committee since February 2019.

Spokesman for committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said “no committee action is scheduled” on Cruz’s bill.

“Chairman Grassley is looking for more member support before determining next steps,” the spokesman, Taylor Foy, told The Epoch Times via email.

The bill currently has 14 cosponsors, all Republicans.

It’s not likely the bill will pass the Democrat-controlled House. Teachers unions, a major political power block for the Democrats, oppose school choice. The National Education Association, the largest teachers union, has argued that tax credit vouchers harm public schools because the fewer children go to public schools, the less money the schools receive from the government.

“Districts cannot reduce their fixed costs—maintenance, utilities, debt service, transportation, etc.—in proportion to the number of students who leave,” it stated in a policy brief (pdf), noting that “school districts must make do with less” in such situations, or the schools may close down.

Career and Technical Education

While several previous administrations have mostly focused on increasing the share of Americans heading to college, Trump has put more emphasis on expanding vocational education, such as job training, apprenticeships, and career and technical education (CTE).

He proposes boosting federal CTE funding by $900 million to a total of around $2.1 billion. If approved, it would be the largest increase since at least 1980.

CTE usually offers high school classes focused on knowledge and skills from a particular industry.

About a quarter of high schoolers earned at least two CTE credits in one field of study in the school year 2017–2018, according to the Education Department.

Based on data from previous years, such students have a lower chance than their peers of getting a bachelor’s degree or higher within eight years of graduation, but on the other hand, they have a higher high school graduation rate as well as higher earnings and a chance of earning at least an undergraduate certificate within eight years.

The most common CTE fields are health care, arts, agriculture, business, science and technology, and information technology.

An increased CTE funding should help narrow the gap between the more than 6 million available jobs and the number of people qualified to fill them, easing shortages in the relatively tight labor market. The results, however, depend on how well the CTE programs connect with skill requirements of employers.

Source: The Epoch Times

USPS Buries $8.8 Billion Loss at End of Fiscal Year Report

A troubled government agency notorious for its monstrous financial problems is trying to bury shocking multi-billion-dollar losses at the bottom of a fiscal year report that deceivingly highlights an operating revenue increase. Issued this month by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the report prominently features operating revenue increases of hundreds of millions of dollars while incidentally pointing out towards the end a ghastly net loss of $8.8 billion in fiscal year 2019. It constitutes more than double the agency’s loss of $3.9 billion the previous year. The USPS attributes the failure to discount rate changes and workers’ compensation expenses.

Even for a scandal-plagued agency notorious for its egregious spending sprees, the hit to American taxpayers is substantial. Management attributes some of the year’s losses to a $5.4 billion increase in operating expenses driven largely by a spike in workers’ compensation obligations. Compensation and benefits expenses alone increased by $994 million due to contractual wage increases, the USPS reveals, and retirement benefits increased by $320 million “due largely to the higher amortization costs of unfunded benefits.” The agency figures also include a $323 million boost in transportation costs caused by “fuel prices and highway contract rates.” According to the USPS’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, Joseph Corbett, the agency “continued to make progress in the fiscal year in containing expenses that are under management’s control.”

The report indicates that the USPS’s lingering problems can be solved with legislative and regulatory reforms along with continued aggressive management and innovation. Keep in mind that the standards are quite low for this bloated government agency. The USPS has long been a bastion of mismanagement and frivolous spending that has fleeced American taxpayers out of billions in the last few years alone. Typical quarterly reports in recent years include losses of at least $1.5 billion despite operating revenue increases like the one in 2019. One federal audit slammed the USPS for blowing the opportunity to save nearly $22 million had it bothered to maintain its fleet of vehicles more efficiently. A few years before that the USPS blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional sports tickets, booze and fancy meals while it claimed to be crippled by an $8.3 billion deficit. The items were purchased by USPS managers and employees with special charge cards issued to U.S. government agencies.

The USPS’s top executives have also been found to receive illegally high salary and compensation packages that should outrage American taxpayers. A USPS Inspector General report disclosed that at least three USPS officers made more than the legal compensation limit for their respective work category in recent years. At the time two former USPS officials were set to collect huge “deferred executive retention bonuses”—former Postmaster General John Potter $786,301 and former Chief Information Officer Ross Philo $642,999—while the agency was billions in the red.

Just last year Judicial Watch reported on yet another costly USPS blunder—copyright infringement— that cost taxpayers a hefty sum. A federal court ordered the postal agency to pay an artist millions of dollars for knowingly featuring his modified replica of the Statue of Liberty on a stamp rather than the original on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. It wasn’t a mistake, but rather typical USPS carelessness. The copy was created by a sculptor named Robert Davidson for a Las Vegas casino. The artist reportedly softened the famous American icon’s face in the casino version by using a picture of his mother-in-law. When the USPS launched the forever stamp in 2011, it was obvious to many that it illustrated the modified artist’s version and not the original statue, which was a gift of friendship from France to the United States and is considered a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The artist sued for copyright infringement and after years of costly litigation, the USPS was ordered to pay $3.5 million for royalties he would have made had he negotiated a license with the agency.

Source: Judicial Watch

Lebanese Protest in the Streets: Thousands Demand ‘Fall of the Regime’ in Beirut

(Breitbart) In the largest protests Lebanon has experienced since the 2005 Cedar Revolution, hundreds of thousands of citizens flooded central Beirut as well as locations throughout the country demanding immediate government economic reform.

The massive protest movement seems to cross sectarian divides, targeting parties across the political spectrum. Instead of party banners, protesters reportedly largely donned the country’s national flag instead.

In a rare act of open defiance, protesters even rallied against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which is known to violently clamp down on dissent and has a stranglehold on the current Cabinet.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday (4th day of protests) agreed to a package of economic reforms after first giving his government partners a 72-hour deadline on Friday to come to terms with a reform package while hinting that he could resign if a deadlock on the issue continued. Hariri has accused rivals of blocking budgetary measures that could pave the way for much needed international financial aid.

(Aljazeera) Protesters in Lebanon blocked roads with burning tires and marched in Beirut both on Thursday and Friday in demonstrations targeting the government over the country’s economic crisis. In Lebanon’s biggest protest in years, thousands gathered outside the government headquarters in central Beirut on Thursday evening, forcing the cabinet to backtrack on plans to raise a new tax on WhatsApp voice calls.

Tear gas was fired as some demonstrators and police clashed in the early hours of Friday morning. The unrest led Prime Minister Saad Hariri to cancel a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss the 2020 draft budget. Lebanese media has said he would instead make a speech on the protests.

Fires lit on the street in central Beirut were smouldering on Friday morning. Pavements were scattered with the glass of several smashed shop-fronts and billboards had been torn down. Two foreign workers choked to death after a fire spread to a building near the protests in Beirut, the National News Agency (NNA) said.

Protesters blocked roads in the north, the south and the Bekaa Valley, among other areas on Friday, the NNA reported. Schools were closed on the instructions of the government.

“We are one people united against the state. We want it to fall,” said a protester in the town of Jeita, some 20km (12.4 miles) from Beirut. “Revolution, revolution!” they chanted.

In Beirut, several thousands of people marched near the government’s Serail headquarters chanting “the people want the downfall of the regime”.

This was the second wave of nationwide protests this month.

In a country fractured along sectarian lines, the unusually wide geographic reach of these protests has been seen as a sign of deepening anger with politicians who have jointly led Lebanon into crisis.

The government, which includes nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, is struggling to implement long-delayed reforms that are seen as more vital than ever to begin resolving the crisis.

The Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar described it as “a tax intifada”, or uprising, across Lebanon. Another daily, al-Akhbar, declared it “the WhatsApp revolution” that had shaken Prime Minister Hariri’s unity government.

Seeking ways to boost revenues, a government minister on Thursday announced plans to raise a new fee of 20 cents a day for calls via voice over internet protocol (VoIP), used by applications including Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

“It was the last straw,” 41-year-old Rami told Al Jazeera, as men threw wood ripped from a nearby construction site onto a bonfire in the middle of the capital’s main thoroughfare.

“The people were already at the edge barely holding on. The WhatsApp issue broke whatever they were still holding on to. Thank God, the people have awoken,” Rami said.

As the protests spread, Minister of Telecommunications Mohamed Choucair phoned into Lebanese broadcasters on Thursday evening to say the proposed levy had been revoked.

Shattered by war between 1975 and 1990, Lebanon has one of the world’s highest debt burdens as a share of its economy.

Economic growth has been hit by regional conflict and instability. Unemployment among those aged under 35 runs at 37 percent.

The kind of steps needed to fix the national finances have long proven elusive. Sectarian politicians, many of them civil war veterans, have long used state resources for their own political benefit and are reluctant to cede prerogatives.

The crisis has been compounded by a slowdown in capital flows to Lebanon, which has long depended on remittances from its diaspora to meet financing needs, including the state’s deficit.

The financial crunch has added to the impetus for reform but the government’s steps have yet to convince foreign donors who have offered billions in financial assistance conditional on changes.

The strains have emerged recently in the real economy where importers have been unable to secure dollars at the pegged exchange rate.

Court Rules Ohio Can Defund Planned Parenthood: The State ‘Has No Obligation to Pay for a Woman’s Abortion’

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, 11–6, to allow Ohio to end taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions. Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit wrote Ohio’s law to defund the abortion vendor does “not violate a woman’s right to obtain an abortion,” that the […]