Disney is granting 125,000 employees a one-time $1,000 cash bonus, and will make a new $50 million investment into higher education for full time and part time employees who have been with the media giant since before January 1 of this year.
“We are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country and making higher education more accessible with the launch of this new program,” CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.
The employees can thank the recent GOP tax reform for the cash infusion – as Disney joins a giant list of other corporations citing the tax bill for similar bonuses, including; Boeing, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Comcast, Bank of America and Walmart.
Elligable employees will receive their bonus in two parts; one in March and the other in September, with executive level employees exempt from what would surely be pocket change.
The company’s $50 million education initiaive will be available to nearly 88,000 hourly US employees.
“Participants can pursue qualifying higher education or vocational training, including courses unrelated to their current responsibilities at Disney,” the company said in a statement.
The two initiatives will cost the company $175 million in the current fiscal year out of its $8.9 billion annual net revenue.
Disney also plans to fork over $52.4 billion in stock for much of Twenty-First Century Fox’s movie studios, as well as networks Nat Geo, Hulu and FX, and Asian pay-TV operator Star TV.
FBI Director Chris Wray will be replacing his chief of staff over the next few weeks – one week after he testified before House committees in their ongoing probes into the bureau’s conduct while investigating Hillary Clinton’s email case, several sources told CNN on Tuesday.
James Rybicki – who also served as James Comey’s chief of staff, will be replaced by white-collar lawyer, Zachary Harmon, according to the sources.
“Jim Rybicki notified me last month that he will be leaving the FBI to accept an opportunity in the corporate sector,” said Director Wray, adding “While this is an exciting move for the whole Rybicki family, Jim will be dearly missed by the FBI family — and by me personally. His many years of dedication to the Bureau and (Justice Department), his level-headed judgment and earnest professionalism, and his steady good cheer have been an asset to us all and have contributed greatly to the safety and security of our nation.”
Congressional investigators questioned Rybicki over how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation last week, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), however the closed-door questions were likely designed to avoid overlapping with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.
Congressional Republicans had sought Rybicki’s testimony for months on the hope that he can provide key information supportive of President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, while Democrats have called the GOP investigation an effort to undermine the ongoing Mueller probe.
Last fall, Senate Republicans released a partial transcript of an interview with two FBI officials – one of whom Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Graham (R-SC) believe to be Rybicki. During the interview, investigators were told that Comey decided in early May 2016 to draft his exoneration of Hillary Clinton.
Rybicki, as it turns out, was involved at some level in the crafting of Hillary Clinton’s exoneration – which downgraded Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information and use of a private server from the legally consequential phrase “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” – not a legal term of art.
And as ZeroHedge noted in December, the edits to former FBI Director James Comey’s original draft went far beyond what was previously known, as detailed in a letter from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray, which revealed specific edits made by senior FBI agents to Comey’s draft after Deputy Director Andrew McCabe exchanged drafts of Comey’s statement with senior FBI officials, including Peter Strzok, Strzok’s direct supervisor E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an unnamed employee from the Office of General Counsel (identified by Newsweek as DOJ Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson) – in what would ultimately decriminalize Clinton’s conduct, allowing them to recommend against prosecuting then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and was removed from the Mueller probe after an internal investigation found a trove of anti-Trump text messages between Strzok and his mistress, Lisa Page while they were both investigating Hillary Clinton’s email case.
Last year, the Justice Department sought to block Rybicki from appearing before Congress – defying requests from Senate Judiciary heads Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who were willing to keep the testimony to matters outside the scope of Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
The DOJ refused, “consistent with the Department’s long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters” – pointing to the “confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters,” as well as the ongoing Mueller investigation.
Rybicki was also involved in the aftermath of the infamous June 27, 2016 “tarmac” meeting in Phoenix between Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch – which happened six days before James Comey’s exoneration statement. After the press was tipped off to the clandestine meetup, the FBI engaged in a furious scramble to figure out who leaked word of their sitdown.
Lynch had previously said the meeting was ‘unscheduled’ – described it as an ‘ambush,’ and said that she ‘wouldn’t do it again.’
And in emails obtained by the ACLJ, we learned that Jim Rybicki was involved in the FBI’s damage control efforts.
On July 1, 2016 – just days before our FOIA request – a DOJ email chain under the subject line, “FBI just called,” indicates that the “FBI . . . is looking for guidance” in responding to media inquiries about news reports that the FBI had prevented the press from taking pictures of the Clinton Lynch meeting. The discussion then went off email to several phone calls (of which we are not able to obtain records). An hour later, Carolyn Pokomy of the Office of the Attorney General stated, “I will let Rybicki know.” Jim Rybicki was the Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to FBI Director Jim Comey. The information that was to be provided to Rybicki is redacted.
And with that, a swamp creature who would have been central to the FBI’s “secret society” assembled to undermine Donald Trump appears to have been sent down the drain into the salt mines of corporate employment. Poor guy!
I’ll always remember where I was during the 2-day government shutdown of 2018…
McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) said that pledge was enough for his caucus to accept a three-week government funding bill, which is now set to pass at noon. –The Hill
Then, the news hit of a stopgap deal:
SENATE DEAL REACHED TO END U.S. GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: SCHUMER
SCHUMER SAYS HAS COME TO AN ARRANGEMENT WITH REPUBLICAN LEADER MCCONNELL ON FUNDING BILL
SCHUMER SAYS THERE’S A `REAL PATHWAY’ FOR DACA BILL IN SENATE
SCHUMER SAYS WILL CONTINUE NEGOTIATING IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION FOR ‘DREAMERS’
That said, if lawmakers aren’t able to get an immigration bill as part of that larger agreement by Feb. 8, the Senate would then take up a separate bill and “the process will be neutral and fair to all sides,” Schumer added.
So – we may be back to square one in a few weeks unless Trump caves on DACA, which is unlikely.
Stocks, of course, have gone full Harambe to the upside – leaving Friday short sellers holding their dicks:
Meanwhile, the Dollar is spiking on the news along with the 10Y yield:
“It’s official: Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington – even worse than Trump,” said Murshed Zaheed, political director at CREDO, a progressive advocacy group, quoted by The Hill.
“Any plan to protect Dreamers that relies on the word of serial liars like [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.], [House Speaker] Paul Ryan [R-Wisc.] or Donald Trump is doomed to fail,” Zaheed added.
As described earlier, Schumer and McConnell brokered a deal to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government until Feb. 8 in exchange nothing but a vague promise for a compromise from Senate Republican leadership to hold a vote on DACA-replacement legislation by that date.
Activists were infuriated at the deal, as it includes no guarantees that a bill will pass — nor does it tie an immigration bill to a must-pass measure to give Democrats leverage. The agreement also includes no guarantees that a potential Senate agreement on DACA could see a vote in the House.
“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats — led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats — is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “These weak Democrats hurt the party brand for everyone and make it harder to elect Democrats everywhere in 2018.”
Finding himself in the same position that the GOP was in in 2013, Schumer faced pressure to reach a deal from members of his caucus worried that the shutdown would hurt the party. Five Democrats had voted in favor of a House bill to keep the government open for a month.
Prior to Monday’s vote, a slew of progressive activists held a call pushing Democrats to demand a DACA deal in exchange for reopening the government.
“We’ve seen a number of promises from McConnell to his party members on [the Affordable Care Act] and the Dream Act,” said Greisa Martinez, advocacy and policy director at United We Dream. “Promises are not results, promises are not protections,” she added, referencing unfulfilled commitments on immigration and healthcare made by McConnell to Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), in exchange for their votes on tax reform.
Naturally, Democratic Senators with 2020 presidential aspirations also came out against the agreement.
“The Majority Leader’s comments last night fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word. I will do everything in my power to continue to protect Dreamers from deportation.”
Sens. Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand – some of the most vocal members of the Trump “resistance” – all voted against closing debate on the agreement.
A building in the Greek city of Thessaloniki occupied by Antifa activists was set on fire by a group of people alleged to be right-wing nationalists amid a massive rally in the Greek port city over neighboring Macedonia’s official name.
According to the local fire department, the fire began shortly after 3PM, requiring six fire trucks and at least 15 firefighters, while the Antifa group Libertatia said “a group of 60-70 fascists attacked our occupation with Molotov and flares, causing its arson… …These attacks will not stop us in the struggle against state, capital, and fascism.”
After approximately three hours the flames were extinguished. No casualties reported, however the structure was destroyed.
The long-standing dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia began when Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 – which outraged Greeks who felt that their neighbor’s name is a usurpation of their heritage and conveys territorial claims.
Amazon is opening their new “convenience store” in downtown Seattle on Monday, known as Amazon Go – featuring no cashiers, no registers and a state-of-the-art surveillance system which literally tracks every single item in the store – sensing when shoppers place an item into their cart and charging their online Amzon account.
Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket.
The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store. Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix. –NYT
The 1,800-square foot mini-market will feature items usually found in convenience stores – soda, snacks, condiments, etc. as well as items usually found at Whole Foods – a recent Amazon acquisition.
The checkout process is described as “shoplifting,” considering that the store automatically charges customers using the “Amazon Go” app. Meanwhile, actual shoplifting is reportedly difficult:
I tried to trick the store’s camera system by wrapping a shopping bag around a $4.35 four-pack of vanilla soda while it was still on a shelf, tucking it under my arm and walking out of the store. Amazon charged me for it.
Nobody knows what Amazon plans to do with their new “smart store” technology – with some speculating that they may even sell their system to other retailers – however it’s sure to cut into the 3.4 million retail cashiers in America – almost 6% of total U.S. employment.
President Trump and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sat down at the White House this afternoon do discuss the looming government shutdown and DACA, with Schumer confirming to reporters that while “some progress” had been made, but a deal had yet to be reached as “disagreements on several issues remain.”
“We had a long and detailed meeting,” Schumer said in a statement. “We discussed all of the major outstanding issues, we made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”
While DACA expires March 5th, the shutdown is imminent. As of now, it looks like the federal government expects the shutdown to happen – though Mulvaney said their version of the shutdown would be more “moderate” than the previous shutdown, which happened during the Obama years – and which Mulvaney said was “weaponized” due to the fact that virtually all federal employees didn’t show up for work.
‘What they’re simply trying to do is hold the government hostage, our military, kids health, over something completely unrelated.’ –Paul Ryan
While Mulvaney and Short were answering questions from the media, President Trump chimed in on twitter, chiding Democrats for opposing the bill. Trump blasted California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tweeting a quote from her in the Washington Examiner: “Shutting down the government is a very serious thing…People die, accidents happen. I don’t know how I would vote right now on a CR, OK?”
“Shutting down the government is a very serious thing. People die, accidents happen. I don’t know how I would vote right now on a CR, OK?” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif)https://t.co/7xP3CBnv5j
Hoyer on Trump/Schumer mtg: We have to know what the president will sign. Hopefully Mr Schumer will find out what the president will sign. I believe as Sanchez said, the votes are there in the house and sen if they bring this up.
Earlier in the day, Rep. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he expected a vote to be held “after lunch,” while Mark Meadows, leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said that a proposal for a five-day short-term fix has been rejected by the House.
Unlike the last shutdown in 2013, federal parks will be open, Mulvaney said. But all federal employees will be working for nothing (that is, until their back pay is approved by Congress). The military, TSA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also go to work, but they will not be paid.
All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. tonight after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
These sources say the report is “explosive,” stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates. –Sara Carter
A source close to the matter tells Fox Newsthat “the memo details the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work for the FBI and Justice, including the controversy over unmasking and FISA surveillance.” An educated guess by anyone who’s been paying attention for the last year leads to the obvious conclusion that the report reveals extensive abuse of power and highly illegal collusion between the Obama administration, the FBI, the DOJ and the Clinton Campaign against Donald Trump and his team during and after the 2016 presidential election.
Lawmakers who have seen the memo are calling for its immediate release, while the phrases “explosive,” “shocking,” “troubling,” and “alarming” have all been used in all sincerity. One congressman even likened the report’s details to KGB activity in Russia. “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News. “It’s troubling. It is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., offered the motion on Thursday to make the Republican majority-authored report available to the members.
“The document shows a troubling course of conduct and we need to make the document available, so the public can see it,” said a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the document. “Once the public sees it, we can hold the people involved accountable in a number of ways.”
The government official said that after reading the document “some of these people should no longer be in the government.” –Sara Carter
Immediately #ReleaseTheMemo#FISAMemo & ALL relevant material sourced in it. Every American needs to know the truth! We wouldn't be revealing any sources & methods that we shouldn't; only feds' reliance on bad sources & methods.
The classified report compiled by House Intelligence is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation.
While the report is classified as Top Secret, I believe the select committee should, pursuant to House rules, vote to make the report publicly available as soon as possible. This is a matter of national significance and the American people deserve the truth.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) echoed Sara Carter’s sentiment that people might lose their job if the memo is released:
“I believe the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he said, referencing DOJ officials Rod Rosenstein and Bruce Ohr.
The dossier was used in part as evidence for a warrant to surveil members of the Trump campaign,according to a story published this month. Former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier in 2016, was hired by embattled research firm Fusion GPS. The firm’s founder is Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has already testified before Congress in relation to the dossier. In October, The Washington Post revealed for the first time that it was the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC that financed Fusion GPS.
Congressional members are hopeful that the classified information will be declassified and released to the public.
“We probably will get this stuff released by the end of the month,” stated a congressional member, who asked not to be named. –Sara Carter
Releasing the memo to the public would require a committee vote, a source told Fox, adding that if approved, it could be released as long as there are no objections from the White House within five days.
Reactions from the citizenry have been on point:
Obama's FBI colluded with the Clinton campaign to destroy a Presidential candidate – and then an elected POTUS & his family. It's the greatest scandal in American history & the public need to know the truth. https://t.co/PYafr0AqLq
All of this is good to know. And it's perfectly understandable that the members of the House committee are outraged. But if the end results is not a series of indictments and prosecutions for flagrant criminal sedition, the Obama/Hillary corruption will be enshrined as law.
Amazon announced on Thursday that it had reviewed precisely 238 proposals from Canada, Mexico and the United States to set up their second headquarters – and has whittled it down to the following 20 cities (none of which are in Mexico, as if.):
Los Angeles, CA
Montgomery County, MD
New York City, NY
Northern Virginia, VA
The winning city will enjoy whatever a $5 billion and 50,000 projected jobs working for the richest man IN HISTORYbrings to a metropolitan community.
Amazon expects to make a decision this year, as it will be evaluating each city based on the criteria in it’s Request for Proposal (RFP):
In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community. Amazon expects to make a decision in 2018.
“”Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation,” said Amazon Public Policy spokeswoman Holly Sullivan.
Amazon said that in addition to direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoign operation of HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.
Locals have become increasingly alarmed by the rapid spread of unregulated squatters and their belongings and their waste.
As a cyclist who uses the trail to ride to the beach often, over this last year it has gotten substantially worse. It is unsafe and unsanitary with loose dogs everywhere and human fecal matter scattered on the trail.
The area is disgusting and reeks of trash and feces.
He reports that the bike trail, once popular with outdoors enthusiasts and families which runs for miles to beaches along the Pacific Ocean, has become unsafe as miscreants plot assaults and robberies on passing riders, even laying tripwires across the path. –Dan Lyman
And as Zerohedge pointed out last March, California’s Democrats aren’t just failing the poor people that have been relegated to tent cities (see “Americans Fleeing Expensive, Over-Taxed Metro Areas In Pursuit Of Affordability“). In fact, people of all income brackets are fleeing the state in droves. Not surprisingly, these domestic migrants are flocking to areas with a lower cost of living, lower/no state income taxes, less regulations and higher job growth (aka “Red” states).
Ironically, the dark areas on the map above seem to match perfectly with the dark areas on this map which indicate those with the highest state income tax rates.
A former CIA officer suspected of helping China identify the US spy agency’s informants was arrested at JFK International Airport on Monday on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information, according to the Department of Justice.
“Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka “Zhen Cheng Li”, 53 – a U.S. Citizen currently living in Hong Kong, began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, where he would spend the next 13 years with a Top Secret clearance and signing “numerous non-disclosure agreements,” according to a DOJ press release.
Mr. Lee was at the center of a massive hunt for a mole within the CIA, after the agency noticed its Chinese informants were rapidly turning up dead, which the New York Times labeled a “systematic dismantling of the C.I.A.’s spy network in China starting in 2010.”
The arrest of the former agent, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China. Mr. Lee was at the center of a mole hunt in which some intelligence officials believed that he had betrayed the United States but others thought that the Chinese government had hacked the C.I.A.’s covert communications used to talk to foreign sources of information. –NYT
According to court documents, Lee and his family left Hong Kong in 2012 to return to the United States and live in Northern Virginia. While traveling, FBI agents conducted court-authorized surveillence of Lee’s room and luggage – discovering that Lee was in unauthorized posession of materials related to national defense. “Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities,” the NYT reported.
Lee appeared in an New York courtroom Tuesday afternoon where he was ordered held without bail. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Lee, 53, served in the U.S. Army from 1982 through 1986 and worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007 according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent.
The FBI agent wrote that Lee and his family left Hong Kong in August 2012 to travel to northern Virginia. Along the way, they stayed in hotels where the FBI found the books.
The small books were discovered inside Lee’s luggage, sealed in a small clear plastic travel pack.
The handwritten information inside ranged in terms of classification, but the agent said at least one page contained top secret information, “the disclosure of which could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.” –Reuters
The FBI agent’s affidavit also noted that classified cables written by Lee while he was a case officer describing his interactions with CIA informants corroborated what was found in the two books.
Lee was interviewed five times by the FBI according to Reuters, never disclosing that he had the books. He also met with former CIA colleagues around that time without returning the classified materials, said the Justice Department.