Bring a friend over the border! Both of you can sell your blood.

❝ Every week, thousands of Mexicans cross the border into the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood plasma to profit-making pharmaceutical companies that lure them with Facebook ads and colorful flyers promising hefty cash rewards.

❝ The donors, including some who say the payments are their only income, may take home up to $400 a month if they donate twice a week and earn various incentives, including “buddy bonuses” for recruiting friends or family. Unlike other nations that limit or forbid paid plasma donations at a high frequency out of concern for donor health and quality control, the U.S. allows companies to pay donors and has comparatively loose standards for monitoring their health.

❝ The U.S. is the largest supplier of blood plasma in a $21 billion global market…The border clinics are the most productive, according to internal…documents obtained by ARD [German TV]. While most U.S. centers receive around 1,000 paid donations a week, centers at the border count more than 2,300. The documents show that border centers also rank highest in donor frequency; they top of list of centers with customers who donate 75 times or more per year.

But, then, you would expect a leech like Trump to be aiding bloodsuckers profiting from poor migrants.

Geek Squad techs get a $500 spiff from the FBI for snooping through customer’s computers

❝ FBI agents and prosecutors usually strut inside Santa Ana’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, knowing they’ve focused the wrath of the criminal-justice system on a particular criminal. But an unusual child-pornography-possession case has placed officials on the defensive for nearly 26 months. Questions linger about law-enforcement honesty, unconstitutional searches, underhanded use of informants and twisted logic…

Rettenmaier is a prominent Orange County physician and surgeon who had no idea that a Nov. 1, 2011, trip to a Mission Viejo Best Buy would jeopardize his freedom and eventually raise concerns about, at a minimum, FBI competency or, at worst, corruption. Unable to boot his HP Pavilion desktop computer, he sought the assistance of the store’s Geek Squad. At the time, nobody knew the company’s repair technicians routinely searched customers’ devices for files that could earn them $500 windfalls as FBI informants…

❝ According to court records, Geek Squad technician John “Trey” Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentally located on Rettenmaier’s computer an image of “a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck.” Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant, who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the “Jenny” shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.

❝ Setting aside the issue of whether the search of Rettenmaier’s computer constituted an illegal search by private individuals acting as government agents, the FBI undertook a series of dishonest measures in hopes of building a case…James D. Riddet, Rettenmaier’s attorney…says agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records.

❝ To convict someone of child-pornography charges, the government must prove the suspect knowingly possessed the image. But in Rettenmaier’s case, the alleged “Jenny” image was found on unallocated “trash” space, meaning it could only be retrieved by “carving” with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it’s arguable a computer’s owner wouldn’t know of its existence…Worse for the FBI, a federal appellate court unequivocally declared in February 2011…that pictures found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it is impossible to determine when, why or who downloaded them…

❝ The case is presently so tenuous that Riddet, who has 47 years of court experience, suggests that federal officials sloppily pushed for an unnecessary arrest…But the biggest issue remains whether Geek Squad technicians acted as secret law-enforcement agents and, thus, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against warrantless government searches. Riddet claims records show “FBI and Best Buy made sure that during the period from 2007 to the present, there was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant.” He also said, “The FBI appears to be able to access data at [Best Buy’s main repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky] whenever they want.” Calling the relationship between the agency and the Geek Squad relevant to pretrial motions, Judge Cormac Carney approved Riddet’s request to question agents under oath.

The FBI can be trusted to obey the law, constitutional rights and respect the privacy of American citizens – about as much as the average armed burglar. Since I’ve been down this road before — and won — I’d suggest that any concerned citizens who’ve been taking their computers in to Best Buy for Geek Squad service Google around to stay in touch with possible class action suits resulting from information revealed in this case.

It stinks on ice.

Boeing gets $2 Billion in bonuses for failed missile defense system

❝ From 2002 through early last year, the Pentagon conducted 11 flight tests of the nation’s homeland missile defense system. The interceptors failed to destroy their targets in six of the 11 tests — a record that has prompted independent experts to conclude the system cannot be relied on to foil a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran. Yet, as The LA Times reports, over that same time span, Boeing, the Pentagon’s prime contractor, collected nearly $2 billion in performance bonuses for a job well done…

❝ An LA Times investigation by David Willman also found that the criteria for the yearly bonuses were changed at some point to de-emphasize the importance of test results that demonstrate the system’s ability to intercept and destroy incoming warheads.

Early on, Boeing’s contract specified that bonuses would be based primarily on “hit to kill success” in flight tests. In later years, the words “hit to kill” were removed in favor of more generally phrased benchmarks, contract documents show.

❝ L.David Montague, co-chair of a National Academy of Sciences panel that documented shortcomings with GMD, called the $2 billion in bonuses “mind-boggling,” given the system’s performance…

The cumulative total of bonuses paid to Boeing has not been made public before. The Times obtained details about the payments through a lawsuit it filed against the Defense Department under the Freedom of Information Act…

❝ By relying on bonuses, Montague said, the missile agency has effectively told Boeing: “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’ll decide it together and then you’ve got to work toward maximizing your fee by concentrating on those areas.”

Um, where can I get a job like that?

Ruling class takes care of their own and no one else. For example —


Illustration from BIDNESSETC.COM

Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP, earned nearly $20 million last year – at a time when the company ran up the biggest losses in its financial history and axed thousands of jobs.

The $19.6 million remuneration bonanza was condemned by the High Pay Centre as another example of a company losing “contact with reality” when it came to handing out fortunes to top executives.

The 20% year-on-year increase in salary, shares and pension payments was revealed in the oil group’s annual report.

Plunging crude prices and continuing liabilities emanating from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2011 led BP to report a record 2015 deficit of $6.5 billion.

The company said Dudley deserved his increase in total remuneration because he and his fellow directors had performed strongly at a difficult time…

Does anyone think the 7,000 workers who lost their jobs are off on holiday on the Riviera? They’re going on the dole. Making do until another job comes available in this stellar global economy managed from one disaster to another by pointy-heads on Wall Street and the City of London.

Who will continue to take care of their own.

Monsanto fined for phony accounting – Corporate executives return their bonuses!

roundup
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

When Monsanto agreed to pay regulators $80 million Tuesday for accounting missteps, the giant agribusiness’s chief executive also chipped in: He voluntarily agreed to return his bonus for the years the problems allegedly occurred.

Hugh Grant, who has served as Monsanto’s CEO for more than a decade, will return more $3,165,852 in cash bonuses and stock awards to the company. Carl Casale, the company’s former chief financial officer, will give back $728,843. It is the first time in memory that senior executives voluntarily agreed to return their bonuses in such a case…

Monsanto was accused of booking millions of revenue after launching a rebate program for one of its popular herbicide products, Roundup, but not properly accounting for the cost of the promotion. By 2009, according to the SEC, Monsanto’s Roundup was losing ground to cheaper competitors. It began to offer retailers or distributors rebates in order to encourage them to carry the herbicide despite its higher prices. The program helped boost sales, but when reporting its profits to shareholders, Monsanto did not reflect the cost of the effort, the SEC says.

❝“As a result of the improper accounting, Monsanto met consensus earnings-per-share analyst estimates for fiscal year 2009,” according to the SEC filing on the case.

“This type of conduct … is the latest page from a well-worn playbook of accounting misstatements,” SEC Chair Mary Jo White said in a statement…

Grant, 57, should be able to recoup his losses quickly. Monsanto increased his base pay 6.5 percent last year to $1.6 million. He also received a $1.9 million bonus and is eligible for nearly $10 million in “long-term incentives.”

Same as it ever was.

An internal whistleblower could collect up to $24 million of the $80 million penalty imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against agribusiness giant Monsanto…

The SEC said Tuesday that the St. Louis-based company agreed to pay the $80 million penalty and retain an independent compliance consultant to settle charges that it violated accounting rules and misstated company earnings pertaining to its flagship herbicide product Roundup…

The case came to the SEC’s attention as a result of a whistleblower complaint, according to Stuart D. Meissner, whose…firm Meissner Associates represented the unidentified whistleblower. He noted that the SEC’s whistleblower program allows a whistleblower to collect between 10 to 30 percent of the penalty.

The kind of motivation that scares the crap out of corporate giants like Monsanto.

Operator of failing nuclear dump gets $1.9 million bonus — and $54 million fine! UPDATED


Visitors to Carlsbad, New Mexico, in proper summer attire

The contractor that operates the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico received a $1.9 million bonus just five days after an underground truck fire closed the facility.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Nuclear Waste Partnership the funds based on an “excellent” job performance in maintaining the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

Some observers say last February’s fire and the radiation leak that followed nine days later show the contractor failed at its job.

Initial probes by federal regulators into both incidents identified a host of management and safety shortcomings.

The Department of Energy says it is not considering revising or terminating its contract with Nuclear Waste Partnership.

The company has a contract to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant through 2017.

Consistency is the leading mental illness in our government. Time in office, time on the job is considered praiseworthy and a sign of qualification by the Senators and Congress-critters that dole out taxpayer dollars like so many blue ribbons at a hog-calling contest. Quality of work is meaningless.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Project was run badly enough that the chief executive at the site was fired as a result of the equipment fire and, separately, the radiation leak.

There are nations with an honorable civil service, competent, dedicated bureaucrats. The United States just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

Thanks, Mike

UPDATE: $54 milliion fine from the state of New Mexico for crap safety.

Thanks, Mike, again

Australian companies hiring workers over 50 to get bonuses

Australian bosses who employ people aged over 50 for three months or more will receive a £650 bonus under a government scheme to combat age discrimination.

The bonus, to apply nationally from July 1, was adopted after an inquiry found that older workers in Australia have lower absentee rates and stay in jobs longer – but employers are reluctant to hire them…

The chair of the inquiry into older workers, Everald Compton, said seniors faced “massive discrimination” and were frequently treated as “over the hill” and unemployable. “Australia is only going to prosper if we recognise the best attributes of mature-aged Australians,” he said. “We are wasting good experienced talent by not harnessing them in every way we can.”

Though Australia’s economy was this week rated the strongest in the developed world by the International Monetary Fund – and unemployment is stable at about 5 per cent – the country has unusually low levels of old-age workers. The inquiry said the cost of failing to draw on skills and experience of older workers was more than £7 billion a year.

Government on Oz obviously feels that bribery trumps honesty. Perish the thought they should make any sort of discrimination just plain illegal.

Actually, having been unpleasantly surprised by age discrimination here in the GOUSA – and absolutely realizing how difficult it may be to prosecute and prove – maybe we should adopt bribery here? It certainly wouldn’t contradict our political culture.

Bonuses awarded to states insuring more children


Alabama Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson and Gov. Bob Riley
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The Obama administration plans to announce Monday that it will make $206 million in bonus Medicaid payments to 15 states — with more than a fourth of the total going to Alabama — for signing up children who are eligible for public health insurance but had previously failed to enroll.

The payments, which were established when Congress and President Obama reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2009, are aimed at one of the most persistent frustrations in government health care: the inability to enroll an estimated 4.7 million children who would be eligible for subsidized coverage if their families could be found and alerted. Two of every three uninsured children are thought to meet the income criteria for government insurance programs.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, has called the matter “a moral obligation” and has challenged health care providers, state and local governments and community groups to seek out eligible children…

The bonus grants are distributed according to a formula. To qualify, states must have adopted at least five of eight measures aimed at streamlining enrollment for children in public insurance programs and have recorded Medicaid caseload increases that could not be attributed solely to a worsening economy. Thirty-two states did not even apply for the grants. Three of the 18 that did apply did not qualify for payments…

In times of economic distress, the pressure on states, which must balance their budgets, is to reduce costs in the revenue-draining programs. One traditional method for doing so has been to make enrollment cumbersome and to devote minimal resources to marketing.

RTFA for details about the states receiving the awards.

Then, of course there the sort of beancounters who would rather children remain uninsured for predictable reasons: they’re from non-white families, they live in districts known to vote for opposition parties, you know the drill. You’ll probably hear some of their speeches in Congress, next month.

Faulty software tells Brits they’re owed tax refunds

HM Revenue & Customs was at the centre of fresh controversy after it emerged that its computer system was telling people they were owed five-figure tax refunds.

The error was uncovered by chartered accountants Blick Rothenberg which noticed a note on the self-assessment account of one of its clients stating that a refund was due. The group then checked the accounts of all of its clients and found that in every case HMRC was saying it owed them sums of between a few pounds and £24,000.

Frank Nash, tax partner at Blick Rothenberg, said: “HMRC’s online system for self-assessment was down a couple of days ago. It was resurrected and when we went on to it to look at our clients’ statements of account to tell them what their current tax situation was, we noticed that everybody was due a repayment.”

He said that it was not an isolated incident, as the group had spoken to other tax firms, and all of their clients were told that they were due a refund too. He added that the firm knew it was an error as they knew what their clients were due to pay, and they were not owed refunds…

He also said the error might mean that people who were genuinely owed money by HMRC could have to wait for longer before they received their refund. The situation is also likely to cause confusion among self-assessment taxpayers who do not have an accountant…

The problem came to light as it was disclosed that HMRC more than tripled the pay of a key architect of its controversial new PAYE system to stop him walking out at a crucial moment.

A package worth £600,000 a year pro rata was agreed to keep Deepak Singh as acting chief information officer (CIO) for an extra three months after he failed to land the post permanently.

To further sweeten the deal keeping him on for the three months, the government paid £19,200 to help him find a new job after the temporary cover had finished.

Har!

KBR does crap contracting in Iraq. Pentagon forks over bonuses!


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The U.S. Army paid “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses” to KBR, its biggest contractor in Iraq, even after it concluded the firm’s electrical work had put U.S. soldiers at risk.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee plans to hold a hearing today to examine KBR’s operations in Iraq, and question why the Army rewarded the Houston-based company.

The panel says KBR has been linked to at least two, and as many as five, electrocution deaths of U.S. soldiers and contractors in Iraq due to “shoddy work.”

Investigators believe hundreds of other soldiers may have received electrical shocks, the source added. The Army is investigating…

During the Bush administration, some critics claimed Cheney’s deferred compensation from the company represented a conflict of interest and questioned Halliburton’s winning of lucrative government contracts in Iraq.

Don’t you love how polite everyone is to these creeps?

Cheney’s Oil Patch buddies get endless no-bid contracts for the war he and Bush started. They do shoddy work. They are caught time and again ripping off taxpayer’s dollars. Our soldiers’ lives are further endangered by their lousy work. And what’s the response from the Pentagon?

They pay ’em bonuses.