My latest from WND. -- S.P.
Supporters of Barack Obama tout his dedication to the responsibilities of the presidency by noting that he had taken 96 days of vacation at the point in his term that President George W. Bush had taken a reported 335.
But they admit that 51 of Bush’s trips were to his Texas ranch, while records show that Obama’s destinations have ranged from exotic European and African locales to pricey digs to Hawaii, where he’s sometimes traveled separately from his family, effectively doubling transportation costs for taxpayers.
The records released are partial, meaning no firm travel-expense total can be assembled. But individual cases are revealing.
Continued at WND.com...
My latest from Patriot Update -- S.P.
While the breadth of NSA’s communications-intercept program only recently came to light, a review of federal records and news reports shows that mainstream media largely ignored or overlooked a massive surveillance-system buildup that started to accelerate in 2006.
Indeed, hundreds of millions of dollars since have been poured into the very facility in Hawaii from which Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who exposed the PRISM spying program, had removed classified documents while working as a government contractor.
Read more at PatriotUpdate.com...
EDITOR'S NOTE FROM U.S. TRADE & AID MONITOR: As alluded to in the Patriot Update article, The Peacock Report -- the Monitor's predecessor site -- in 2006 broke the original story on the NSA infrastructure-modernization plan (See: “NSA Seeks to Pour Hundreds of Millions Into Surveillance Infrastructure").
Even a full year after that breaking story, when some media finally began reporting on the project, The Peacock Report raised the question of why so-called news organizations were soft-pedaling the global surveillance issue (See: “Media Miss NSA Angle on Navy ‘Telecom’ Project in Hawaii”).
Over a month ago U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor broke the story on U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's pricey trip to Paris, during which time taxpayers shelled out $585,000 and $322,000, respectively, for hotel rooms, limos, and other vehicles. VPOTUS Biden and his staff spent those taxpayer funds during his one-day Parisian journey to meet French President Francois Hollande.
CNN this past week reported on the trip -- using the same documents that the Monitor had discovered via painstaking database research -- and tooted its own horn on international TV as if that were its own discovery.
CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer talked about this "amazing, amazing discovery" (of theirs) and how shocked they were to have found these rare documents. Blitzer asked CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar about her unparalleled reporting skills in uncovering this rarity, and they both speculated that the government perhaps did not mean to upload the documents to the federal database.
From the broadcast:
“We’re getting an extremely, extremely rare glimpse at how much it costs when Vice President Joe Biden goes traveling,” Blitzer proclaimed. “Brianna we’ve covered a lot of presidential and vice presidential trips, but this is pretty amazing.”
“It kind of makes you wonder if this information was put out accidentally,” Keilar later says. “I did a search myself of the past 365 days where obviously the president and vice president have gone on other foreign trips and I could find no contracts in addition for any of those visits.”
Couldn't find any contracts, eh?
I went back into FedBizOpps to see if the White House or State Department has sanitized the site of any traces of such documents (similar to what was done to the controversial USAID/Kenya Strategic Communications Plan 2012-2013 I had reported on).
I figured that maybe she may have missed, for example, the documents I previously found specific to President Obama's and Biden's million-dollar stay in Colombia (the scandalous one when Secret Service agents were caught hanging out with hookers). In that instance I was smarter about my research, and had uploaded those contracting documents to the Monitor website rather than linking from my page to the government site (which I had done, not so coincidentally, to prevent other media from stealing my story!)
A quick search today of FedBizOpps reveals that Keilar was less than forthcoming about her supposed "research." The Colombia documents are indeed still publicly available. Here they are:
I would link to additional, existing procurement data, but I have other more productive things to do instead -- such as performing some good old-fashioned reporting without ripping off some professional blogger-journalist and claiming it's my own work. -- Steve Peacock
Gauging how the Arab world consumes -- or fails to digest -- U.S. government broadcast news is about to cost $110,000 for such an assessment. The Broadcasting Board of Governors recently awarded a contract to the Syracuse, N.Y.-based Strategic Information and Communications Group LLC to carry out the survey, which also will entail an evaluation of overall news viewing, including that of non-U.S. media.
As U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor reported earlier this year, BBG wants to learn whether brand identity drives Middle Easterner choices of news sources; Phase Two will attempt to determine whether BBG's “I am the news. I am Alhurra” promotional campaign was successful. (See: Data on Desires of Middle Eastern TV-News Viewers Sought).
Source document: Contract award #BBG50-P-12-0700.
The response in cyberspace to the article "Obama to Exclude U.S. Companies from $300 Million Palestinian Project" truly has been phenomenal, as the piece helped generate over 1,000 page views at U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor in under 48 hours. Though responses have varied, the article clearly has grabbed the attention of taxpayers who have expressed sheer exasperation over having their money squandered overseas.
More than half of the page views reported via Google Analytics stemmed from that specific article, which likewise drove traffic to related coverage such as "USAID Contracts Start Flowing in $750 Million Palestinian Infrastructure Project" as well as "$58 Million USAID Contract to Help Steer Tourists Out of Israel and into West Bank, Gaza" and "Obama Launching Appeal to Palestinians -- Media Blitz to Promote U.S. Role in 'Building' Future State."
Unrelated to those articles -- but equally critical toward the current spike in Monitor statistics -- are the pieces COVER-UP! Contracting System Sanitized of Kenya Documents and "Kenya Sees Spike in Obama Administration-Funded Projects" (the latter of which has been followed up with "Obama's Spending Grows 'Exponentially' in Kenya").
Many thanks to WND for posting on its website a summary of and link to the most recent Monitor article, which likewise has gotten numerous referrals from TheDailySheeple.com, FreeRepublic.com, and ReaganCoalition.com, among others.
As always, continued gratitude goes out to Cryptome, which continues to store links to various Monitor articles in its archives, thereby regularly helping to bring critical attention to some of the federal government's activities that otherwise would remain obscured from public view.
Though roughly one mile from the beach, instead I gladly choose to goad my fellow Americans from the comfort of my computer desk to consider what Independence Day truly is about. Don't get me wrong; I'll be in the backyard later cooking up some burgers, too, but please, right now, I urge you to consider whether you are satisfied with the state of affairs of our nation.
What are you going to do to make it better?
Nothing? It's out of your hands? Beyond your control?
Or in the pit of your gut have you discovered something whispering: take action in some way -- at some point soon -- to help preserve what's left of our liberty and to possibly restore what's been lost.
If the answer is no, or if you shrug your shoulders and say What can I possibly do that could make a difference? then all I can say is that I'm glad George Washington and the Founding Fathers didn't do that, or we'd be in a significantly worse predicament than that which we now find ourselves.
Bigger government is not the answer. Indeed, a more intrusive government that spends our money with reckless abandon all around the globe is part of the problem -- as is our tendency to spend inordinate amounts of time pursuing today's pleasures and planning tomorrow's luxuries.
What am I doing? rightfully you may respond. Well, I investigate -- reading, searching, questioning, connecting the dots when possible. We all have something we can contribute. Investigative reporting is what I do best, so that's what I do to help my country. Shining light on what is hidden in the dark. That's what I intend to continue to do here at U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor and at other news outlets such as WND and The Revered Review that frequently buy my articles.
Don't just light that grill, people. There's work to be done. Sure, enjoy the barbecue. I know I will (and don't get me started on the homemade potato salad that Jen just created -- incredible stuff!) But when we're done with the festivities, let's plan on getting down to the business of figuring out what else we can do to make our country better, without making our government bigger and menacingly stronger.
Happy Independence Day.
-- Steve Peacock, July 4, 2012
The latest article I sold to WND -- "Obama's spending grows 'exponentially' – in Kenya!" -- already is making serious waves in cyberspace. Though posted late last night, already it has gotten 2,300 Facebook "likes," 232 tweets, and 34 "InShares" via LinkedIn. Likewise, 316 comments have been posted in response to the article -- and it is not even 10:30 a.m. yet.
To those Obama devotees out there who almost certainly will reject this piece, please keep in mind that the article is factually based. In USAID's own words, the Kenya program has grown "exponentially" as the headline indicates.
U.S. taxpayers soon will pay for hotel rooms, flights, and even the TV production costs of foreign journalists covering the Department of State. The purported goal of the endeavor is to communicate and promote U.S. policies and "American values."
The new project comes at a time when State separately is attempting to buy, produce, and disseminate its own media broadcasts, establishing a paid 24/7 "news" service with contractor assistance (see Obama Assembling de facto Propaganda Ministry; U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor, May 6, 2012).
The department through the new foreign media initiative will hire a contractor to provide "logistical, administrative and financial services" to journalists "selected" to travel to the U.S. on two-week "TV Co-ops, " according to a Request for Proposals (Solicitation #SAQMMA12R0228) that the Monitor located via routine database research.
Foreign journalists working with Foreign Press Centers (FPCs) within State's Bureau of Public Affairs (PA) around the globe likewise will benefit from this project, for which the government will award an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to a single vendor.
According to the RFP, the FPCs:
organize foreign and domestic Reporting Tours for foreign media. These tours, with durations ranging from two to ten days, allow journalists to explore a key news story of theme in-depth. Each tour generates multiple news reports.
Television Co-operatives (TV CO-OPS) are collaborations between overseas posts, OBS and foreign television stations that result in powerful prime-time television magazines and documentary productions. With State Department funding, TV CO-OPS communicate U.S. policies and promote American values to millions of viewers worldwide through the eyes of foreign journalists and their cameras.
State warned potential contractors via the RFP that they are bound by perpetual silence regarding their partnership with the government:
The Contractor and its employees shall exercise the utmost discretion in regard to all matters relating to their duties and functions. They shall not communicate to any person any information known to them by reason of their performance of services under this contract which has not been made public, except in the necessary performance of their duties or upon written authorization of the Contracting Officer. All documents and records (including photographs) generated during the performance of work under this contract shall be for the sole use of and become the exclusive property of the U.S. Government. Furthermore, no article, book, pamphlet, recording, broadcast, speech, television appearance, film or photograph concerning any aspect of work performed under this contract shall be published or disseminated through any media without the prior written authorization of the Contracting Officer. These obligations do not cease upon the expiration or termination of this contract.
State initially will award a one-year contract, but could offer as many as four additional one-year options. It did not disclose the estimated cost of the project.
FOR RELATED COVERAGE, PLEASE VISIT THE MONITOR'S STATE DEPT. PAGE.
Radio and television broadcasts of baseball games beamed into Cuba has become the latest brainchild of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose Radio/TV Marti programs will make the cherished American sport available to Cuban citizens for free.
The anticipated sole-source contract that BBG intends to award to Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., comes on the heels of a congressional report questioning the usefulness of such investments of U.S. taxpayer funds into Cuba-targeted programming. Similarly, it also should be noted that, late last year, Radio/TV Marti journalist Manuel Vazquez Portal resigned in protest of the station's alleged over-reliance on entertainment rather than news.
The BBG Special Notice, which U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located during a routine search of the FedBizOpps contracting database, said yesterday that the agency formally will procure the MLB license within the next 15 days.
It did not reveal the estimated cost of the endeavor.
***UPDATE (3 p.m. EST): Thanks to a major media news source who contacted U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor seeking additional information about this post (and whose identity will not be revealed for the time being), the Monitor would like to clarify that -- according to that source -- MLB already allows BBG to re-broadcast a limited number of free baseball games, including the World Series, to Cuba. Upon release of further details about the anticipated new broadcasting license the Monitor will offer a follow-up post specifying the scope of the "new" arrangement.
Source document: Solicitation #BBGCON021612-MC