Tag: federal

Federal government says it will not pay fines for Portland courthouse fence

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not pay the multi-million dollar fines it owes to two Portland bureaus for erecting an iron fence around the federal courthouse in the city.

a man standing next to a suitcase

© Provided by Washington Examiner

In letters to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services obtained by Pamplin Media, Federal Protective Service Assistant Director David A. Hess claimed the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause absolves the agency from city fines.


Load Error

“The Federal Government is absolutely immune from fines or penalties issued by local governments unless there is a clear waiver of sovereign immunity by Congress,” Hess wrote. “There has been no such waiver here.”

The PBOT originally fined the federal government for blocking city bike lanes with the security fence it set up around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse during this summer’s protests.

At a rate of $500 every 15 minutes, or $48,000 a day, fines imposed by the PBOT amount to well over $3 million.

The BES issued another $20,000 fine for federal authorities on September 10 out of concern that tear gas residue from the courthouse washed down city storm drains by federal agents could be contaminating the city water supply.

BES was provided with 90 pages of safety data sheets from the Federal Protective Service for the various crowd control weapons used by the federal officers during this summer’s protests against police brutality around the courthouse.

Federal agents left the streets of Portland by the end of July while Oregon state police officers have intermittently taken over guard duty at the courthouse while protests continue.

The PBOT is overseen by Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Control of BES was transferred to Commissioner Amanda Fritz by Mayor Ted Wheeler last month.

Tags: States, News, Portland

Original Author: Tim Gruver, The Center Square

Original Location: Federal government says it will not pay fines for Portland courthouse fence

Continue Reading

Source Article

Continue reading

Federal Government Support Lift Asset Markets In September

The purpose of this article is to examine the USA sectoral flows for September 2020 and assess the likely impact on markets as we advance.

Source: FRED, CBO and author’s calculations based thereon

The table above shows the financial balance of financial flows from the USA national accounts since April this year when the Federal Government response to the COVID crisis started.

The flow to the private domestic sector (where the asset markets are) was over fifty percent lower than last month but still positive at over $79B.

Asset markets can be expected to keep climbing as the injection of more money is factored into their prices.

The chart below from the CBO shows the deficit spending path.

The chart above shows the big difference in deficit spending year over year. The CBO summarising the result for September as follows:

The table below shows that the overall Federal expenditures were large in September with a 19% increase from last month and a return to levels seen in May and June of this year. Higher overall spending lifts asset prices, and markets can rise even in the face of a pandemic and its associated unemployment and lower consumption and production levels.

The politicians may be arguing about more stimulus at the moment; however, the last stimulus package’s spending is still happening at crisis levels.

The table above, taken from the Daily Treasury statement, shows that the Federal government has a bank balance of over $1.6T available to spend. There is no shortage of cash on hand, and it is still going out at a strong level.

Very few tax dollars funded this bank balance. The bank balance came mostly from bond sales. Federal taxes to fund the government are obsolete.

The chart above is taken from this article from ANG traders of the Away from the Herd market service.

ANG Traders has very cleverly produced a chart that removes the treasury churn’s noise from the Daily Treasury Statements. This is the redemption and then the sale of bonds on a grand scale that tends to mask the actual real spending into or out of the economy. Once the churn has been removed, the chart shows only the real spending and whether the Federal government is adding money to the economy or taking it out.

The good news is that at present, the bias is towards a net add to financial assets.

Looking forward, the chart below shows the expected likely path of asset markets into the end of the calendar year.

The chart comes from Mr. Robert P. Balan of Predictive Analytic Models and this recent article

1. Stock markets continue upwards even more, so equities could be bought after the seasonal dip in October if we get one.

2. Bond yields rise, and bond prices fall, and so bonds could be shorted.

3. Gold falls and so could be shorted.

As predicted in my last article of this type last month, the above trades are playing out right now.


Continue reading

Federal government allowing permits for seismic blasting in Atlantic Ocean to expire

All manner of marine life, from plankton to the largest of whales, will be spared from months of nonstop thunderous seismic blasts that could kill or harm them because the oil and gas explorers and the federal government are allowing their permits to expire on Nov. 30 — and it would take at least a year for them to obtain new ones — should they wish to, environmentalists say.

“If you had told me two years ago 2020 would begin and end without any seismic air gun testing I would have been elated; that’s why I’m elated now,” Steve Mashuda, the Seattle-based managing attorney for oceans at Earthjustice, said by telephone.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit is one of several environmental nonprofits that in December 2018 sued in a South Carolina federal court to stop the tests — twice as loud as a jet engine — sought from New Jersey’s Cape May to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Though New York and New England were not included, the blasts are so powerful they travel thousands of miles. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and a number of other East Coast local, state and federal officials opposed them — the first step in the Trump administration’s initial plan to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas firms.

“Our position has not changed,” a Cuomo spokesman, Jordan Levine, said by email.

Late last month, President Donald Trump said Virginia and North Carolina will be part of the 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida he announced earlier that month.

In their lawsuit, the environmentalists said the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by permitting the five seismic testing firms to “to harm or harass” marine life.

While the lawsuit ground on, public support for drilling off the Eastern Seaboard waned or reversed, as local and state officials were convinced oil spills and scenery-wrecking rigs could threaten critical tourism and fishing industries.

The past few years of increasingly powerful storms have pushed coastal communities toward viewing rising seas as a grave danger burning fossil fuels will only worsen. Declining oil prices — down as by almost two-thirds by some measures from highs hit earlier this decade — also have sliced drillers’ interest.

Though wind turbines kill a half-million birds every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates, because both the turbines and birds rely on the strong winds along migration routes, turbine developers do not need seismic tests to moor the turbines to the sea bed.

The seismic tests that were sought, which are used to find oil and gas deposits under the sea floor, were particularly hazardous because the firms were focused in some of the same areas, which greatly

Continue reading

Federal court orders change to mail-in voting while Missouri’s high court affirms law | Law and order

The attorney general’s office told the court that suspending the notarization requirement after thousands of people already have requested ballots could be confusing and grant one group of voters a privilege that others did not have.

The case before the state Supreme Court is an appeal of a decision last month by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem, who ruled against the plaintiffs. Beetem wrote that the evidence showed that election authorities provided “a safe voting experience” during the August primary and “will continue to do so in the upcoming general election.”

Supreme Court Judge Paul Wilson concurred with the majority. In a separate decision, he said the Legislature could have removed the notarization requirement, but didn’t.

“(T)his Court’s role is to construe the law that was passed, not to lament the laws that were not passed,” Wilson wrote.

Absentee voting began Sept. 22. An estimated 364,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far, compared to the 305,000 requested in 2016.

The decision came as a second case in Cole County went to trial Tuesday in Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s courtroom. The lawsuit, filed by the Washington, D.C.-based American Women advocacy organization, also seeks to ensure that ballots are counted even if mail service delays cause them to be delivered after the polls close.

Source Article

Continue reading

NYC should replace 9/11 funds erroneously taken by federal government, Mnuchin tells de Blasio

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has a message for ailing 9/11 New York City firefighters whose funding his agency has withheld: We’re not giving your money back — go ask NYC.

For years, the U.S. Treasury Department has withheld nearly $4 million from the Fire Department of New York’s World Trade Center Health Program to satisfy still-unexplained debts that other, unrelated city agencies have with the federal government.

Mnuchin sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday saying that the city should make up the shortfall. And if the city doesn’t pay up, Mnuchin threatened to take other federal health care funding meant for New York, and give that to the Fire Department instead.

“We agree it is unfair to burden FDNY with delinquent debts of other NYC government entities. The City government should directly reimburse FDNY,” Mnuchin wrote.

And if de Blasio refuses, Mnuchin said the Treasury, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “will facilitate offsets against future federal payments owed to NYC, which would permit the release of funds to FDNY as such substitute offsets are made.”

“Treasury needs to stop double-talking and pay up,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s spokesman Angelo Roefaro. “This is their fault and they need to fix it, now. Enough already.”

The junior U.S. senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, agreed.

“The administration has withheld almost $4 million from the FDNY and now wants NYC to cover for it. It’s completely unacceptable — the administration needs to end this deception and release the funding New Yorkers need.”

The Treasury secretary’s hardball offer is an unexpected turn in a convoluted tale.

According to federal law, when a federal agency can’t collect a debt, it refers the debt to the Treasury Department and something called the Treasury Offset Program, which then skims it off future federal payments to the debtor.

The treatment program’s money got vacuumed up in that because it is under the same tax ID as the rest of the city government.

But the law, written in part by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in 1994, has a loophole that says Mnuchin can exempt offsets if they would harm a program that Congress wants to be funded, such as the 9/11 treatment program.

Hailing from Long Island, Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., first began asking about the missing cash early this year, and made it formal with a pointed letter back in June when Treasury failed to find a solution.

Asked about Mnuchin’s hardline stance Friday, Maloney again pointed back to the law she helped write.

“It is absurd that Secretary Mnuchin hasn’t yet taken action to rectify the problem,” Maloney said. “The Debt Collection Improvement Act (PL 104-134), which I worked on with then Oversight Committee Chair Steven Horn, clearly gives the secretary and his department the ability and discretion to make sure that this program is made whole. He needs to stop playing games with these heroes’ lives.”

FDNY Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Prezant,

Continue reading

Perdue’s Trump advocacy broke law, federal watchdog says

From staff and news services
Published 12:41 p.m. CT Oct. 9, 2020 | Updated 12:43 p.m. CT Oct. 9, 2020


At a stop in Radcliffe, US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced he is designating 18 counties as primary natural disaster areas making them eligible for loans.

Des Moines Register

A federal watchdog agency has concluded that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the law in advocating for the reelection of President Donald Trump during an August official visit to North Carolina.

The news came as Perdue was visiting Mason City and Ankeny on Thursday to make an announcement on new grants to promote the use of ethanol — a key issue for farmers in Iowa, a hotly contested state in the presidential race.

The Office of Special Counsel called on Perdue to reimburse the government for costs associated with his participation in the North Carolina event.

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge called Perdue’s visits “election-eve stunts” designed to gain favor in rural states.

“Secretary Perdue should absolutely pay back the taxpayers, but he should also just plain know better,” said Judge, who co-founded Focus on Rural America, a nonprofit group of Democrats that has been critical of Trump.

Perdue during Thursday’s trip announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture would provide retailers in 14 states, including Iowa, $22 million in grants to upgrade fuel pumps so consumers would have improved access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel — major Iowa agricultural products. As part of his trip, he visited a Casey’s gas station and convenience store in Ankeny, as well as an ethanol production facility in Mason City.

Buy Photo

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks on Stolee farms after touring the facilities conservation efforts with Republican Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020 in Radcliffe. Perdue announced that he is designating 18 counties as primary natural disaster areas enabling farm operators to apply for assistance from the Farm Service Agency. Farmers will have eight months to apply for the emergency loans. (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

The Hatch Act prevents federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are on the job. The Trump White House has been dismissive of alleged violations of the act by other administration figures and the president himself.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Politico in late August that “nobody outside of the Beltway really cares” about Hatch Act concerns that were raised during the GOP nominating convention, when figures including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made political speeches and Trump used the White House for his acceptance speech. The White House also declined to act on the Office of Special Counsel’s calls last year to fire then-senior presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway for being a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act. Conway has since left the White House.

The Office of Special Counsel said it is permissible for Perdue to refer to the president’s actions and how the administration

Continue reading

Illinois governor says federal government should help bars and restaurants

Bars and restaurants throughout Illinois continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-imposed restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of the virus.

J.B. Pritzker wearing a suit and tie standing in a parking lot

© Provided by Washington Examiner

The onset of colder weather is also looming, making it difficult for most businesses to serve patrons outdoors.

During a virtual void-19 briefing on Wednesday as he continues to be in isolation, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that bars and restaurants are a hotbed for the coronavirus.

“They are the ones that have been most impacted because the medical advice has been that we have to limit the capacity there more than in other places in order to limit the spread of the virus,” Pritzker said.

In an update last month, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 9 percent of outbreaks were attributed to bars and restaurants.

As Pritzker touted passing the 6 million mark for statewide COVID-19 tests, the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. Region 4, which is the Metro East area, and Region 1, which includes Rockford and Dixon, are still under additional restrictions because of high positivity rates. Only outdoor dining and curbside pickup are allowed at bars and restaurants in those regions.

Pritzker says Region 9, north of Chicago, and Region 5, in southern Illinois, are both seeing increased positivity rates. The governor said only one region has turned things around.

“Region 3, home to Springfield and Quincy, is the sole region to flip from an increasing positivity rate to a relatively stable rate in the same time period,” said Pritzker.

On Wednesday, IDPH announced 2,630 new coronavirus cases with 42 additional deaths. Statewide, IDPH has reported a total of 307,641 cases of COVID-19, including 8,878 deaths since the pandemic began.

Tags: States, News, Restaurants, Illinois

Original Author: Kevin Bessler, The Center Square

Original Location: Illinois governor says federal government should help bars and restaurants

Continue Reading

Source Article

Continue reading

Unions bet federal government ‘will bail out New York with massive amounts’ of cash

A third round of delayed pay increases for roughly 80,000 government workers has raised questions about how the state will close its estimated $14 billion budget gap absent further federal relief and without raising taxes.

Pay raises scheduled for April, July, and September will be delayed another 90 days, after which the state will reassess whether they can be implemented, Freeman Klopott of the Division of the Budget told the Times Union in a statement.

COVID-19-related lockdowns have added to steep losses in tax collections and state revenues.

“The governor’s action is the bare minimum,” Ken Girardin, a fellow and director of strategic initiatives at the Empire Center, told The Center Square by email. “The unions have generally bet that the federal government will bail out New York with massive amounts of unrestricted cash.”

The state has not renewed service contracts and instituted a hiring freeze. But it has not been enough to curb the deficit.

“The raises are increasing the deficits faced by the state and its local governments and school districts,” Girardin said. “That increases the likelihood of service cuts and tax increases.”

A legislative proposal to reduce the deficit with retirement buyouts for state and other public sector employees has not progressed, the Times Union reported.

Mass employee layoffs have so far been avoided but may be on the table with no federal bailout.

There are other options to address the deficit, Girardin said.

“The governor and the legislature should work together to enact a statutory pay freeze that will stand up in court and provide savings for both state agencies and municipalities. What’s happening right now is even less than a half-measure because state taxpayers could remain on the hook to pay the raises.”

The Civil Service Employees Association noted in a news release that it has filed a class-action grievance with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations challenging the delays. According to the Times Union, the raise deferments have not applied to the governor and other high-ranking state officials.

(function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Source Article

Continue reading

Fusion energy needs smart federal government regulation

Creating new sources of sustainable, reliable and zero-carbon energy is a critical national security question and may prove to be an existential threat to humanity. Investors are rushing to fund clean-tech startups that promise to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Perhaps the most transformative of those new, clean energy technologies is fusion energy. 

Leveraging almost 100 years of scientific research, fusion is now approaching commercial viability. Although it sounds like science fiction, scientists have been able to create fusion in the lab for decades, but it has always used more energy than it creates. Today, many businesses, universities and even nations around the globe are racing to demonstrate an energy-positive sustained fusion reaction. Some of our members in the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) hope to demonstrate fusion above the break-even point within the next few years. 

For decades, nuclear power plants have played a critical role in providing carbon-free, always-available baseload electricity for the power grid. The nuclear fission reactions that provide energy in these plants involve splitting heavy atomic nuclei, producing power along with dangerous, long-lived, radioactive waste. Nuclear reactors also face the risk, although small, of catastrophic meltdowns. 

Fusion is entirely different. Instead of splitting atoms, a fusion reaction occurs when two light atomic nuclei collide and fuse, releasing immense energy. Fusion power plants will produce clean energy safely with an inexhaustible fuel supply found in seawater, without any long-lived dangerous waste or risks of meltdown. And yet, if nothing is done, fusion power plants could be regulated under the same strictures applied to nuclear fission.

So far, fusion entrepreneurs and their investors have invested more than $1.5 billion in private fusion energy start-ups. One thing slowing investment is the lack of regulatory guidance that will enable a rapid adoption of fusion energy. Time is running out for the United States to develop a regulatory framework as other countries continue investing in fusion research and private fusion enterprises emerge around the world.

The federal government has shown some signs of support for fusion energy development, both to fund research and commercialization and to develop reasonable regulatory approaches to the technology. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has funded fusion science research for decades, recently established a program to allow private fusion companies to leverage the unparalleled expertise at the nation’s national laboratories. And the U.S. House recently approved a milestone-based cost-share program for private fusion modeled on the government funding program that was critical to supporting the commercial space industry.

Perhaps more importantly, the government must take concrete steps to demonstrate regulatory certainty for the future fusion industry. 

First, regulators must adopt an approach that explicitly and permanently removes fusion energy from the regulatory paradigm applied to nuclear fission power plants. Fusion facilities simply do not have the same risk profile that fission reactors have. In the event of abnormal operations at a fusion power plant, the effects would be confined to the plant site with no negative impact on the public

Continue reading

Florida official says state and federal law enforcement found no ‘malicious activity’ in voter site outage: reports

Investigators looking into Florida’s voter registration website crash Monday reportedly found “no evidence of interference or malicious activity” in connection with the fiasco, which prompted officials to extend the registration deadline to Tuesday evening.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee said Monday that the Online Voter Registration system went out “for about 15 minutes” due to an influx of web traffic. It was supposed to be the last day of voter registrations, with a midnight deadline.

But on Tuesday, after meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lee’s office said the deadline would be extended until 7 p.m. for both online and in-person voter registration.


Voters could also turn in their registration to the offices of their local county elections supervisors, tax collectors, and transportation offices or through the mail postmarked by Oct. 6.

In a statement, Lee said the outage stemmed from “unprecedented volume and traffic” to the site.

“During the last few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Lee said. “We will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”


In a follow-up statement Tuesday evening, she said investigators had not turned up evidence that that was the case.


Florida has a total population of just below 21.5 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate for 2019. According to the Florida Division of Elections, there were more than 14 million active registered voters in the state as of Aug. 31.

Source Article

Continue reading