Texas libertarians say Ron Paul defrauded them of $20K

Catch me if you can!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A libertarian organization that paid for plane tickets and other expenses for Rep. Ron Paul says after an audit that the Texas Republican defrauded the group for about $20,000. The group is pushing Paul for repayment and exploring legal remedies.

The Liberty Committee, a nonprofit headed by former Paul aide David James, said in an April 16 letter that about two-thirds of the 63 airline tickets the group reimbursed Paul for were also paid for by taxpayers.

“In short, this practice of double or duplicate billing enriched you while draining funds intended for legitimate projects,” the letter read.

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said James, who worked for Paul for 18 years and says he still supports the lawmaker’s political message, is “pursuing a personal grudge” against the Texas Republican. Benton said Paul will be “happy” to review the allegations…

As reported by Roll Call in February, Paul was paid twice on several occasions for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled, according to public records and Paul’s credit card statements.

Handwritten notations on credit card statements indicate Paul billed the Liberty Committee, his campaign, his political action committee and another nonprofit, the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, for plane tickets and other expenses for which he also billed taxpayers.

In all, Roll Call found 26 flights from 1998 to 2005 for which several layers of documentation show double payments.

But the Liberty Committee audit revealed a new set of flights that it said were reimbursed twice, bringing the total number of such instances to 52.

I guess one of the qualities that differentiates the Libertarian Right from the Libertarian Left is that you’re allowed to steal. Or is it just Texas Republican ethics?

Amazing 121-megapixel shot of Earth – time lapse video

Need something to put things into perspective on a Monday morning? Our suggestion: The largest single-shot photo of Earth ever taken.

Eclipsing NASA’s updated “Blue Marble” shot, which is a composite of many satellite images, thesr images are single-shots taken from 22,369 miles away by Russian weather satellite Elektro-L No.1.

The colors on the 121-megapixel photo are quite different from the ones on NASA’s photos of Earth. To capture the image, the satellite combines visible and infrared wavelengths of light. Infrared light is used to see plants, which is why the parts of the Earth that would normally be green are seen as rusty brown.

Too bad NASA isn’t up for anything like this anymore.

DUI felon pardoned by Hayley Barbour facing charges of repeat DUI – as a hit and run killer!

One of the men controversially pardoned earlier this year by Mississippi’s outgoing governor could land back behind bars after being charged with driving drunk and causing an accident that killed an 18-year-old girl.

A Pontotoc County, Mississippi, grand jury has charged Harry Bostick with drunken driving leading to a death, felony drunken driving and fleeing the scene of an accident where a death occurred, according to the indictment filed on Thursday and obtained Monday by CNN. The accident happened in October.

If convicted, Bostick could be sentenced to at least 30 years in prison…

The former Internal Revenue Service investigator was one of nearly 200 convicted criminals, including four murderers, who Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned shortly before leaving office earlier this year. The pardons elicited an uproar, with Attorney General Jim Hood leading a charge to overturn them. But after legal challenges, they were upheld…

Mississippi judges know who butters their political bread.

When he received the pardon in January, the convicted DUI felon still sat in an Oxford, Mississippi, jail cell, awaiting formal charges for the arrest tied to that case.

Barbour had said that he wasn’t aware of Bostick’s October 2011 DUI arrest when he chose to pardon him. But e-mails obtained by CNN show that the governor’s office did, in fact, know about it.

Barbour’s office was even urged by a lawyer in the firm that represented Bostick not to issue the pardon, according to the e-mails.

The good ol’ boy network produces the kind of results you expect. A sleazy governor releases a prisoner who reoffends and kills an innocent girl. Anyone think good ol’ Hayley Barbour will accept any responsibility for that?

Extraordinary rendition victim takes his case to European court

The case of Khalid el-Masri, 48, will be heard before a panel of 17 judges in Strasbourg, the first time it has been considered in open court more than eight years after he was arrested in error by Macedonian border guards, handed over to the CIA and flown to a detention centre in Afghanistan known as the “salt pit”.

The case sparked an outcry after Mr Masri was dumped on an Albanian mountain road in May 2004, and was instrumental in lifting the veil on the CIA’s black operations teams that moved al-Qa’eda suspects around the world in the early years of the “war on terror”…

“One of the most powerful pieces of evidence in the case is that a former senior minister of the Macedonian government has provided testimony that is in the file, essentially confirming Mr el-Masri’s account,” said James Goldston, a lawyer from the US-based Open Society Justice Initiative, who is representing the appellant.

“It confirms that Macedonia did detain him, that they did so at the request of the CIA, that el-Masri was held for a time, after which this senior minister said to the US government ‘you’re going to have to come get him, or we’ll have to let him go’ and that the CIA then brought a plane and took him away.”

Lawyers for Mr Masri say he has never received an apology, compensation or an explanation from the US government. An attempt to sue the CIA in the US courts was rejected in 2006 under “states secrets” laws that allow cases to be thrown out if they risk revealing classified information.

The closest that the US has come to admitting involvement in the case came in 2005, when the German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had accepted that an “error” had been made in Mr Masri’s case…

His claims about abduction were corroborated by hair analysis which showed he had been in Afghanistan, as well as flight records which showed that planes known to be used by the CIA had flown to Skopje on the day Mr Masri said he was “rendered”.

In his account, he was stripped, beaten, blindfolded and, after being given an enema, chained into the aircraft which flew via Baghdad to Afghanistan where he was held by the CIA.

Although not tortured, Mr El-Masri was interrogated for days on end, losing several stones in weight after going on a hunger strike in which he demanded to see a representative of the German government.

After CIA checks showed his passport was genuine, he was released, and dumped on a mountain road in Albania, the court will hear during the hearing.

Not in my name. My government committed crimes in my name, in the defense of Americans, in defense of the United States of America.

The cowardice of government officials who refuse to take responsibility for their crimes defames our history, our liberty, as much as any war crime. Mr. Masri deserves his day in an American court. He deserves apologies from the cooperative bureaucrats who committed these crimes in the name of the American people.

Pirates of Silicon Valley!

If you float it, they will come.

That’s the lesson of Blueseed, a brave new utopia for startups that will be anchored in international waters, 12 miles off the coast of the San Francisco peninsula — aka Silicon Valley — sometime in the second half of 2013…

Blueseed is funded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. Famous for his libertarian views, Thiel is eager to create more havens for startups that are free from all government regulation — indeed, from all laws…

As laughable as it may sound to some, startups are flocking to fulfill Thiel’s vision. Blueseed has released the details of a survey on its website, which shows 133 international startups willing and eager to get on board. A plurality are from the US, but there’s also a lot of interest from India, Australia, Canada, Europe and practically every other area of the world:

What’s the draw? Well, partly, it’s the fact that no U.S. passport or visa would be required to live and work on board the vessel…

Mostly, according to Blueseed’s survey, it’s the proximity to Silicon Valley, less than half an hour away by helicopter or somewhat more by shuttle boat and bus. But we wonder if the startup founders have been also tempted by the Googleplex-like array of amenities promised: high-speed wifi across the ship, 24-hour cafes, a full-service gym, concierge, medical services – and a post office.

What a crock! I mean – pirate radio works and pirate venture capital could work – if no one becomes accessible by landing onshore to go shopping for the latest in gamer gear. Landing without passports, without clearing TSA or TCE. Har!

This clownshow will be busted as soon as the IRS gets irked enough to pay attention to their helicopter and shuttle fleet.

Leave it to a conservative Libertarian nutball to think he’s above paying taxes.