GAO: IRS Had 4,487 Guns; 5,062,006 Rounds of Ammunition

The Internal Revenue Service had in its weapons inventory 4,487 guns and 5,062,006 rounds of ammunition as of late 2017, according to a report published this month by the Government Accountability Office.

Included in this arsenal, according to the GAO, were 15 “fully automatic firearms” and 56,000 rounds of ammunition for those fully automatic firearms.

The same report–“Federal Law Enforcement: Purchases and Inventory Controls of Firearms, Ammuntion, and Tactical Equipment“–says that the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services had 194 fully automatic firearms and 386,952 rounds of ammunition for those fully automatic firearms.

“The term ‘fully automatic’ used in this report,” says a footnote in the report, “encompasses a range of firearms classified as machine guns, including submachine guns, three round burst guns, and guns with a selector switch that can enable continuous fire.”

[Above is Table 4 from the GAO report.]

The guns in the IRS inventory also included 3,302 pistols, 623 shotguns, 543 rifles, and 4 revolvers.

The ammunition stockpiled by the IRS—in addition to the 56,000 rounds for its fully automatic firearms–included 3,156,046 pistol and revolver rounds, 368,592 shotgun rounds and 1,481,368 rifle rounds.

The IRS’s firearms and ammunition are used primarily by its Criminal Investigation (CI) unit, which is manned by 2,148 federal law enforcement officers. But some of it is also used by the IRS’s Police Officer Section, which includes only 9 federal law enforcement officers.

“IRS’ Criminal Investigation serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in compliance with the law,” the GAO explained in the report it published this month.

“IRS’ Police Officer Section,” said the report, “provides protection for the people, property and processes of its Enterprise Computing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which houses 10 of IRS’ 19 critical tax processing functions.”

The GAO looked at how 20 federal agencies spent money on firearms and ammunition for the federal law enforcement officers (FLEOs) under their authority, whether they accurately reported those firearms and ammunition purchases, and how agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS, practiced “inventory control” for their guns and ammunition.

“Federal law enforcement agencies purchase firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment, such as riot shields, to support their missions,” the GAO said in summarizing its report. “GAO was asked to review these purchases for federal law enforcement agencies, and inventory controls at HHS, EPA and IRS specifically.”

The report listed five members of Congress as the requesters: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R.-S.C.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R.- Mo.) and Rep, Richard Hudson (R.-N.C.)

“The 20 federal law enforcement agencies in GAO’s review reported spending at least $38.8 million on firearms, $325.9 million on ammunition, and $1.14 billion on tactical equipment—at least $1.5 billion in total—from fiscal years 2010 through 2017, based on data agencies provided to GAO,” said the report.

The report explained that the agencies in question purchase ammunition for use by federal law enforcement officers for both training and operations.

“At these federal agencies, FLEOs are authorized to carry firearms,, and are required to train in their use and pass certain firearms qualification standards,” says the report. “To help ensure officers maintain the firearms proficiency of their firearms-carrying workforce, these agencies purchase ammunition for training, qualifications, and operations.”

The report said that one of the questions the GAO examined was: “What types and quantities of firearms, ammunition, and selected tactical equipment do HHS, EPA and IRS have documented to be in their inventory systems, as of November 2017?”

The original report that the GAO produced on this included some information considered too “sensitive” by HHS, IRS and TSA to be released. So, the report was modified for review by the public.

Specifically, among other things, the report removed some information about “the number and some firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment in NIH’s and IRS’s inventory.”

“This report is the public version of a sensitive report that we issued in October 2018,” said GAO. “HHS, IRS and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) deemed some of the information in our October report to be sensitive, which must be protected from public disclosure.

“Therefore,” said GAO, “this report omits sensitive information about the number of FLEOs at TSA, an illustration of how HHS’s National Institutes of Health Police secures its firearms, and the number and some firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment in NIH’s and IRS’s inventory.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/gao-irs-had-4487-guns-5062006-rounds-ammunition

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More retailers are banning cash

More and more businesses like the Drybar chain of blow-dry salons don’t want your money — the paper kind at least, The Wall Street Journal’s Katherine Bindley reports.

The big picture: Chain restaurants Sweetgreen and Dig Inn have stopped accepting cash at nearly all of their locations, as have a Starbucks in Seattle and some pubs in the U.K. Massachusetts is currently the only state that requires retailers to take cash, but the inconvenient and sometimes awkward frustrations caused by cash bans have prompted lawmakers in New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia and D.C. to consider taking up similar legislation.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.axios.com/retailers-ban-paper-cash-sweetgreen-dig-inn-starbucks-a94172f1-db08-466c-9647-c4b63f9b9b29.html

Europe’s Right Wing Woos a New Audience: Jewish Voters

Emanuel Bernhard Krauskopf’s trips to his synagogue in the German capital have become an awkward affair.

The reason: Mr. Krauskopf and about 30 others recently founded a Jewish chapter of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, an anti-immigrant party that is the largest opposition group in parliament—one whose members include people accused of anti-Semitism, right-wing extremists and others on the political fringe.

“I’m 69 and tired of being polite,” said Mr. Krauskopf, a retired engineer and entrepreneur. “I support a party that calls a spade a spade and really stands up for the Jews.”

Across Europe, anti-immigration parties with ties to far-right movements have stepped up efforts to recruit supporters in the continent’s small Jewish community, often drawing on perceptions in that community about anti-Semitism among Muslims.

Such concerns are widespread. A recent European Union survey found that 41% of Jews in Germany who had experienced anti-Semitic harassment blamed Muslim extremists, while 20% saw the perpetrators as having right-wing political views and 16% saw them as having left-wing views.

Muslim leaders in Germany say they work to counter anti-Semitism in their communities. “Our imams are trained and aware of the issue and they work together with schools and other religious communities to combat anti-Semitism,” said Mohamad Hajjaj, chairman of the Berlin chapter of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. He added, “The Middle East conflict is used to spread animosity against the Jews.”

The Swedish parliament includes Jewish legislators who belong to the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo-Nazism that it has since renounced. Austria’s parliament includes Jewish lawmakers who are members of the Freedom Party, which was founded by former members of Adolf Hitler’s SS.

The party of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician and strident critic of Islam, has a Jewish legislator. And in France, which has Europe’s largest Jewish community, the pollster IFOP estimated that 10% of Jewish voters supported the National Front—whose founder once called the gas chambers a “detail of World War II history”—in the 2017 presidential election. The party has since been renamed National Rally.

To be sure, Jews in Europe have traditionally supported mainstream parties, and many Jewish leaders in Europe have condemned efforts to draw their followers to right-wing parties.

Marine Le Pen, the current National Rally leader, recently reached out to Jewish leaders to offer her support and assure them she wouldn’t tolerate anti-Semitism in her party, according to Shimon Samuels, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris, who attended the meeting.

During the 2017 election campaign, Ms. Le Pen faced criticism after claiming the French state wasn’t responsible for the 1942 roundup of Jews to be sent to Nazi concentration camps.

Nearly 60,000 French Jews have left France in the past decade, many blaming frequent assaults against Jews—including high-profile murders and terrorist attacks—by Islamist extremists, Mr. Samuels said.

Safety concerns have also prompted Jews elsewhere in Europe to emigrate or consider doing so in recent years. The Jewish population in Europe is estimated to be more than one million people, a fraction of the Muslim population.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-right-wing-woos-a-new-audience-jewish-voters-11546257601

China Pushes for Primacy in Space

China is poised to realize an ambitious mission to the far side of the moon, the most immediate of many planned milestones in its effort to challenge America’s half-century-long supremacy in space.

In a first for any country, the Chang’e-4 probe is set to touch down on the “dark side” of the moon on or around Jan. 3, according to state media, and dispatch a rover in a vast crater to explore the moon’s interior. While impressive in itself, the mission is a step toward bolder objectives: China plans to operate a manned lunar base by 2030 and lead the world into a new age of space exploration.

For its part, the U.S. is reviving its manned space program after letting it languish in favor of unmanned exploration. A space-policy directive signed in December 2017 by President Trump outlined plans for manned missions to the moon and Mars and started preparations for a new space force to counter the Chinese military’s development of space weapons. These moves came after experts testified at a House Subcommittee on Space hearing in 2016 entitled “Are we losing the space race to China?” that the U.S. risked being eclipsed in the field. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget, set at $21.5 billion in 2019, is still nearly double that of its Chinese counterpart.

Already rivals on Earth, the U.S. and China are now the main contenders in a race to determine “who will be in a position to obtain the vast resources in space, secure the routes of trade and write the rules of space commerce,” said Namrata Goswami, an expert on China’s space program at Auburn University Futures Lab in Alabama.

China, she added, “is best placed to win,” thanks to a methodical program that has mapped out clearly defined objectives decades into the future.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-pushes-for-primacy-in-space-11546171206

Putin tells Trump that Moscow is open for dialogue

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in a New Year letter on Sunday that Moscow was ready for dialogue on a “wide-ranging agenda”, the Kremlin said following a series of failed attempts to hold a new summit.

At the end of November, Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions about Russian forces opening fire on Ukrainian navy boats and then seizing them.

Trump and Putin also failed to hold a full-fledged meeting in Paris on the sidelines of the centenary commemoration of the Armistice. The two leaders held their one and only summit in Helsinki in July.

“Vladimir Putin stressed that the (Russia – United States) relations are the most important factor for providing strategic stability and international security,” a Kremlin statement said.

“He confirmed that Russia is open for dialogue with the USA on the most wide-ranging agenda.”

Moscow has said one of the key issues it wanted to discuss with the United States is Washington’s plans to withdraw from a Cold War era nuclear arms pact.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying that now it was up to the United States whether to hold a new meeting in 2019.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-dialogue/putin-in-new-year-letter-to-trump-says-moscow-is-open-for-dialogue-idUSKCN1OT07W

Fake-porn videos are being weaponised to harass and humiliate women

The video showed the woman in a pink off-the-shoulder top, sitting on a bed, smiling a convincing smile.

It was her face. But it had been seamlessly grafted, without her knowledge or consent, onto someone else’s body: a young pornography actress, just beginning to disrobe for the start of a graphic sex scene. A crowd of unknown users had been passing it around online.

She felt nauseous and mortified: What if her co-workers saw it? Her family, her friends? Would it change how they thought of her? Would they believe it was a fake?

“I feel violated – this icky kind of violation,” said the woman, who is in her 40s and spoke on the condition of anonymity because she worried that the video could hurt her marriage or career. “It’s this weird feeling, like you want to tear everything off the internet. But you know you can’t.”

READ MORE:
* Reddit bans ‘deepfakes,’ pornography using the faces of celebrities
* Christchurch porn creator accused of harassment
* Speaking out about sexual violence on social media may not challenge gendered power relations

Airbrushing and Photoshop long ago opened photos to easy manipulation. Now, videos are becoming just as vulnerable to fakes that look deceptively real.

Supercharged by powerful and widely available artificial-intelligence software developed by Google, these lifelike “deepfake” videos have quickly multiplied across the internet, blurring the line between truth and lie.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/109671510/fakeporn-videos-are-being-weaponised-to-harass-and-humiliate-women

Paiutes sell most expensive pot product to date at Las Vegas dispensary

A marijuana specialty product sold for a record price of $11,000 Friday night at a mega-dispensary on tribal land near downtown Las Vegas.

Brandon Hawkins, 36, flew in from Los Angeles on Friday morning to purchase the pot-stuffed, hemp- and 24-karat gold leaf-coated Leira Cannagar — a 24-gram marijuana flower-stuffed blunt — in the early evening hours at Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace. Buying for a business partner who requested anonymity, Hawkins held six large stacks of rubber band-held $20 bills to make the record purchase just after 5 p.m. Friday.

“I’ve always been a proponent of the industry and I’m happy that it has come this far,” he said.

Hawkins, who owns The Hudson restaurant in West Hollywood and lived in Las Vegas for a decade before moving to L.A. in 2012, connected with Las Vegas grower Virtue to arrange the purchase three months ago.

The Los Angeles buyers were inspired by a $10,000 cannagar, sold in Seattle in June, and wanted something similar to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Ranson Shepherd, co-founder of Virtue, and Hawkins knew each other through their previous employment in the Las Vegas nightlife industry, they said.

Shepherd contacted Ariel Payopay, whose Washington state-based producer Leira made the Seattle cannagar, and the two developed a partnership to launch Leira’s cannagars in Las Vegas. In addition to Nuwu, the company plans to market smaller versions of their cannagars for public sale at The Apothecarium, ShowGrow, The Grove and Nevada Made dispensaries.

On Friday, Hawkins walked out to the center of the dispensary shopping area and handed Nuwu budtender Joe Delarosa the cash stacks at one of Nuwu’s 13 points of sale. Delarosa turned around, grabbed the box with the Leira cannagar, stuffed with Virtue’s Pure Haze, sativa-dominant hybrid flower. He shook Hawkins’ hand, and the purchase was official.

Meanwhile, business at the dispensary went on as usual as Hawkins thanked the staff and casually left the facility without delay. None of the 20 customers shopping during the early evening hours on Friday seemed to take notice of the $11,000 weed cigar’s sale.

Benny Tso, tribal council member and former chairman of the Las Vegas Paiutes, said Friday’s purchase serves to “complement the store and complement the industry.” As marijuana consumption lounges move closer to opening in Las Vegas, Tso predicted exotic cannagars like the product sold Friday will become a regular commodity for VIP clients at the lounges.

“This is what marijuana table service will look like in Las Vegas,” he said.

But unlike Seattle’s product, the cannagar in Las Vegas was not infused with cannabis rosin due to differences in Nevada state law. The $11,000 cannagar sold Friday was essentially a massive version of popular dispensary pre-rolls, wrapped in hemp and gold instead of tobacco paper.

The tribe was also gifted a smaller, 14-gram cannagar wrapped only in hemp as a token of thanks from Virtue and Leira.

“They’re pushing the boundaries on the industry and creating economic impact,” Shepherd said of the Paiutes. “These are all minorities coming forth to change the stigma of the industry.”

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://m.lasvegassun.com/news/2018/dec/29/paiutes-sell-most-expensive-pot-product-to-date-at/

Elizabeth Warren makes big move toward 2020 presidential run

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday took the first major step toward launching a widely anticipated campaign for the presidency, hoping her reputation as a populist fighter can help her navigate a Democratic field that could include nearly two dozen candidates.

“No matter what our differences, most of us want the same thing,” the 69-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said in a video that highlights her family’s history in Oklahoma. “To be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules and take care of the people we love. That’s what I’m fighting for and that’s why today I’m launching an exploratory committee for president.”

Warren burst onto the national scene a decade ago during the financial crisis with calls for greater consumer protections. She quickly became one of the party’s more prominent liberals even as she sometimes fought with Obama administration officials over their response to the market turmoil.

Now, as a likely presidential contender, she is making an appeal to the party’s base. Her video notes the economic challenges facing people of color along with images of a women’s march and Warren’s participation at an LGBT event.

In an email to supporters, Warren said she’d more formally announce a campaign plan early in 2019.

Warren is the most prominent Democrat yet to make a move toward a presidential bid and has long been a favorite target of President Donald Trump.

In mid-December, former Obama housing chief Julian Castro also announced a presidential exploratory committee, which legally allows potential candidates to begin raising money. Outgoing Maryland Rep. John Delaney is the only Democrat so far to have formally announced a presidential campaign.

But that’s likely to change quickly in the new year as other leading Democrats take steps toward White House runs.

Warren enters a Democratic field that’s shaping up as the most crowded in decades, with many of her Senate colleagues openly weighing their own campaigns, as well as governors, mayors and other prominent citizens. One of her most significant competitors could be Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who is eyeing another presidential run harnessing the same populist rhetoric.

She must also move past a widely panned October release of a DNA test meant to bolster her claim to Native American heritage. The move was intended to rebut Trump’s taunts of Warren as “Pocahontas.” Instead, her use of a genetic test to prove ethnicity spurred controversy that seemed to blunt any argument she sought to make. There was no direct mention of it in the video released Monday.

Warren has the benefit of higher name recognition than many others in the Democratic mix for 2020, thanks to her years as a prominent critic of Wall Street who originally conceived of what became the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She now faces an arduous battle to raise money and capture Democratic primary voters’ attention before Iowa casts its first vote in more than a year. She has an advantage in the $12.5 million left over from her 2018 re-election campaign that she could use for a presidential run.

Warren’s campaign is likely to revolve around the same theme she’s woven into speeches and policy proposals in recent years: battling special interests, paying mind to the nexus between racial and economic inequities.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” Warren said in the video. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”

___

Associated Press writers Juana Summers in Washington and Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed to this report.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.apnews.com/c9f36d36633c43d0bee74859a010850a

US ‘slowing things down’ on troop withdrawal from Syria

The US troop withdrawal from Syria needs a “pause” in order to protect the Kurds, the potential interests of Israel, and to prevent Iran from scoring a big win in Syria, a top GOP senator has said.

The withdrawal of the US military from the country is currently in a “pause situation,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- SC) told reporters on Monday after having lunch with President Trump at the White House.

“We talked about Syria. He told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria,” said Graham, who is an outspoken critic of Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.

“I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way.”

Earlier this month, Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US contingent – believed to be some 2,000-strong – from Syria, yet again claiming victory over the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in the country. Graham believes the group was not actually defeated and the president promised to destroy it again.

“He promised to destroy ISIS. He’s going to keep that promise. We’re not there yet,” said the senator.

Apart from that, Trump is “worried”about the “potential dangers to Israel,”and will work with Ankara to ensure that “we don’t have a war between the Turks and our allies the Kurds,” Graham revealed.

“We still have some differences but I will tell you that the president is thinking long and hard about Syria – how to withdraw our forces but at the same time achieve our national security interests, which are to make sure ISIS is destroyed, they never come back. That our allies – the Kurds – are protected and that Iran doesn’t become the big winner of our leaving,”she said.

Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw from Syria has drawn bipartisan ire, as well as triggering a warmongering meltdown in the media. Graham himself has demanded hearings on the Syria move, as well as on Trump’s decision to scale down the US military presence in Afghanistan.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/us-slowing-things-down-on-troop-withdrawal-from-syria-top-senator/

Germany’s Merkel Calls For ‘Management of Migration’ in Globalist New Year’s Address

Chancellor Angela Merkel has closed a difficult year in German politics which has seen political embarrassment at the polls and her own departure from the top job announced but deferred, with an address to the nation pushing key globalist themes.

Speaking in her annual New Year’s Eve address recorded on Sunday, the architect of Europe’s migrant crisis made oblique swipes at nationalism and called for more cooperation “across borders” to tackle what she identified as the key challenges of 2019, among them terrorism and global warming.

Inevitably German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments on mass migration gathered much attention in the domestic press, with Deutsche Welle reporting her having identified “governance and order of migration” as an issue to be addressed. Dr Merkel said: “We will only master the challenges of our time if we stick together and work together with others across borders.”

Her comments were clear references to the UN Migrant pact and the difficult relationship between globalist Germany and Presdient Trump’s America first policies. The UN compact, conceived in the wake of the migrant crisis Angela Merkel helped create and was subsequently revealed to have been launched with much assistance and encouragement from the German government.

The compact, which has now been adopted by the UN and most member states would have the impact of making the open-borders policies pursued by the Merkel government the status-quo the world over, with the likely impact of reducing migratory pressures on Germany itself by shifting human traffic to other nations.

The implications of the compact were realised after the text of the agreement had been reached in 2017, with President Donald Trump leading the United States out of the UN plan for migration. Emboldened by that action, several other states including Australia, Israel, Austria, and Hungary also withdrew.

The timing of Merkel’s remarks are significant. New Year’s Eve celebrations became perhaps indelibly associated with the migrant crisis Dr Merkel unleashed upon Europe in 2015, when mass sexual assaults took place in a number of German cities, most notably Cologne.

Read more.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/germanys-merkel-calls-for-management-of-migration-in-globalist-new-years-address/