Gun Ownership Among Blacks In America Is Soaring…

 

This is a good thing.

Via The Hill:

Black people are buying guns at a high record rate, partially due to fear and anxiety, according to The Guardian.

Black people owning guns have gone up 58.2 percent, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — and gun groups like the “Not F**king Around Coalition (NFAC)” consist of armed social justice advocates who demand justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, visibly strapped with handguns.

The Guardian also noted that gun-ownership amongst Black people spiked both when President Trump lost his reelection campaign and when Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger who died after he was inspecting an empty house, was gunned down.

 

Keep reading…

New Very Clever Scam

 

Scammers – Package Delivery

  

This is very clever.  I would probably fall for it, if not warned.  Give this wide distribution.  This scam is very clever.  Just when you thought you’d heard it all.  Be very careful out there!  Beware of people bearing gifts!

The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called: “Express Couriers,” (The name could be any courier company).  He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package for me that required a signature.

The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in approximately an hour. Sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. I was very surprised, since there was no special occasion or holiday, and I, certainly, didn’t expect anything like it. Intrigued, I inquired as to who the sender was.

The courier replied, “I don’t know, I’m only delivering the package.”

Apparently, a greeting card was being sent separately. (The card has never arrived!)  There was also a consignment note with the gift.

He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery/ verification charge,” providing proof that he actually had delivered the package to an adult (of legal drinking age), and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash.  He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction.

He added, “Couriers don’t carry cash to avoid loss or being, likely, targets for robbery.”

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled out his credit card, and the “delivery man,” asked him to swipe the card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad.  Frank, my husband, was asked to enter his PIN number and a receipt was printed out.  He was given a copy of the transaction.

The guy said everything was in order, and wished us good day, and left.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines.

Apparently, the “mobile credit card machine,” which the deliveryman carried, now, had all the info necessary to create a “dummy” card with all our card details including the PIN number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we, immediately, notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed.

We, also, personally, went to the police, where it was confirmed that it is, definitely, a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package,” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package.  Also, never accept anything if you do not, personally, know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!

PLEASE, pass this on, it may just prevent someone else from being swindled.

THIS IS A MUST READ AND… PLEASE LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW, TOO!

 

 

Florida Governor Clashes With “60 Minutes” Over COVID Vaccine Rollout

 

PICTURE ABOVE WAS POSTED BY PAPA MIKE AND NOT BY THE SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE……PapaMike

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution partnership with Publix grocery stores weeks after the company gave $100,000 to his PAC, CBS’ “60 Minutes” reported Sunday, citing campaign finance records. DeSantis and Publix deny any wrongdoing.

 

Why it matters: DeSantis has been criticized for directing vaccines toward wealthy communities, with some who benefitted from the vaccine pop-ups also donating to the governor’s political action committee, per Axios’ Tampa Bay reporter Ben Montgomery.

Driving the news: The “60 Minutes” program highlighted reports of “vaccine favoritism,” with Florida’s poorer communities being left behind in the rollout — highlighting Belle Glade in Palm Beach County, where there’s no Publix in the community.

  • State Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy told the show “you have lots of folks who don’t have cars” in the community and that it’s a round trip of over two hours with 34 stops to the nearest Politix 25 miles away.
  • “Before, I could call the public health director. She would answer my calls. But now if I want to get my constituents information about how to get this vaccine I have to call a lobbyist from Publix? That makes no sense,” Hardy added. “They’re not accountable to the public.” 
  • “60 Minutes” aired footage of CBS’ Sharyn Alfonsi confronting DeSantis at a press conference south of Orlando last month over the donation report, which DeSantis called “wrong.”

Zoom in: Alfonsi narrated that Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said DeSantis “never met with her about the Publix deal.”

  • It cut back to her exchange with DeSantis, with Alfonsi saying: “The criticism here is that is pay for play, governor.”
  • DeSantis called the claim “a fake narrative,” adding that he met with local officials to discuss options.

“We can do more drive-thru sites, we can give more to hospitals. We can do the Publix. And they said, ‘We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.”

— DeSantisFor the record: The donation is the latest in controversial political spending by associates and beneficiaries of Publix.

  • Heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli donated about $300,000 to fund the rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot, Axios Tampa Bay’s Montgomery and Selene San Felice report.
  • The popular grocery chain employs 225,000 people and did $38.1 billion in retail sales in 2019, per Montgomery and San Felice, the reporters note.

What they’re saying: Publix said in a statement to CBS, “The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions” made to DeSantis and “our willingness to join other pharmacies” supporting Florida’s vaccine rollout is “absolutely false and offensive.”

A screenshot from “60 Minutes” of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: CBS

 

  • “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic,” the statement added.
  • Representatives for DeSantis, Publix and CBS did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the nearest Politix to Belle Glade is 25 miles away, not the entire Palm Beach County.

Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates and the Birth of GOP Paranoia

 

By JOHN BOEHNER 

How America’s center-right party started to lose its mind, as told by the man who tried to keep it sane.

How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations

Online donors were guided into weekly recurring contributions. Demands for refunds spiked. Complaints to banks and credit card companies soared. But the money helped keep Donald Trump’s struggling campaign afloat.

Credit…

How Refunds to Trump Donors Soared in 2020

 

Stacy Blatt was in hospice care last September listening to Rush Limbaugh’s dire warnings about how badly Donald J. Trump’s campaign needed money when he went online and chipped in everything he could: $500.

It was a big sum for a 63-year-old battling cancer and living in Kansas City on less than $1,000 per month. But that single contribution — federal records show it was his first ever — quickly multiplied. Another $500 was withdrawn the next day, then $500 the next week and every week through mid-October, without his knowledge — until Mr. Blatt’s bank account had been depleted and frozen. When his utility and rent payments bounced, he called his brother, Russell, for help.

What the Blatts soon discovered was $3,000 in withdrawals by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days. They called their bank and said they thought they were victims of fraud.

“It felt,” Russell said, “like it was a scam.”

But what the Blatts believed was duplicity was actually an intentional scheme to boost revenues by the Trump campaign and the for-profit company that processed its online donations, WinRed. Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.

Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.

As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.

The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.

“Bandits!” said Victor Amelino, a 78-year-old Californian, who made a $990 online donation to Mr. Trump in early September via WinRed. It recurred seven more times — adding up to almost $8,000. “I’m retired. I can’t afford to pay all that damn money.”

The sheer magnitude of the money involved is staggering for politics. In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. All campaigns make refunds for various reasons, including to people who give more than the legal limit. But the sum the Trump operation refunded dwarfed that of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign and his equivalent Democratic committees, which made 37,000 online refunds totaling $5.6 million in that time.

The recurring donations swelled Mr. Trump’s treasury in September and October, just as his finances were deteriorating. He was then able to use tens of millions of dollars he raised after the election, under the guise of fighting his unfounded fraud claims, to help cover the refunds he owed.

In effect, the money that Mr. Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race.

Marketers have long used ruses like prechecked boxes to steer American consumers into unwanted purchases, like magazine subscriptions. But consumer advocates said deploying the practice on voters in the heat of a presidential campaign — at such volume and with withdrawals every week — had much more serious ramifications.

“It’s unfair, it’s unethical and it’s inappropriate,” said Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

Harry Brignull, a user-experience designer in London who coined the term “dark patterns” for manipulative digital marketing practices, said the Trump team’s techniques were a classic of the “deceptive design” genre.

“It should be in textbooks of what you shouldn’t do,” he said.

Political strategists, digital operatives and campaign finance experts said they could not recall ever seeing refunds at such a scale. Mr. Trump, the R.N.C. and their shared accounts refunded far more money to online donors in the last election cycle than every federal Democratic candidate and committee in the country combined.

Over all, the Trump operation refunded 10.7 percent of the money it raised on WinRed in 2020; the Biden operation’s refund rate on ActBlue, the parallel Democratic online donation-processing platform, was 2.2 percent, federal records show.

Several bank representatives who fielded fraud claims directly from consumers estimated that WinRed cases, at their peak, represented as much as 1 to 3 percent of their workload. An executive for one of the nation’s larger credit-card issuers confirmed that WinRed at its height accounted for a similar percentage of its formal disputes.

That figure may seem small at first glance, but financial experts said it was a shockingly large percentage, considering that political donations represent a tiny fraction of the overall United States economy.

In its investigation, The Times reviewed filings with the Federal Election Commission from the Trump and Biden campaigns and their shared accounts with political parties, as well as the donation-processing sites ActBlue and WinRed, compiling a database of refunds issued by day. The Times also interviewed two dozen Trump donors who made recurring donations, as well as campaign officials, campaign finance experts and consumer advocates. Nearly a dozen bank and credit card officials from the nation’s leading financial institutions spoke for this article on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

A clear pattern emerged. Donors typically said they intended to give once or twice and only later discovered on their bank statements and credit card bills that they were donating over and over again. Some, like Mr. Blatt, who died of cancer in February, sought an injunction from their banks and credit cards. Others pursued refunds directly from WinRed, which typically granted them to avoid more costly formal disputes.

WinRed said that every donor receives at least one follow-up email about pending repeat donations in advance and that the company makes it “exceptionally easy,” with 24-hour customer service, for people to request their money back. “WinRed wants donors to be happy, and puts a premium on customer support,” said Gerrit Lansing, WinRed’s president. “Donors are the lifeblood of G.O.P. campaigns.” He noted that Democrats and ActBlue had also used recurring programs.

Jason Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, downplayed the rash of fraud complaints and the $122.7 million in total refunds issued by the Trump operation. He said internal records showed that 0.87 percent of its WinRed transactions had been subject to formal credit card disputes. “The fact we had a dispute rate of less than 1 percent of total donations despite raising more grass-roots money than any campaign in history is remarkable,” he said.

CONTINUE READING HERE 

 

Shane Goldmacher is a national political reporter and was previously the chief political correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times, he worked at Politico, where he covered national Republican politics and the 2016 presidential campaign. @ShaneGoldmacher

God And Man Collide In Bill Hwang’s Dueling Lives On Wall Street

 

By Katherine Burton, Hema Parmar and Sridhar Natarajan 

(Bloomberg) — With the sun rising outside their conference room in Midtown Manhattan, the visitors to a secretive investment empire bent their heads in prayerful meditation.

It was another Friday morning, 7 o’clock, and a familiar scene was unfolding again inside Archegos Capital Management, an obscure family office that would go on to shake the financial world.

In the days before the pandemic, 20 or 30 people would squeeze together around the long table and, over coffee and Danishes, listen to recordings of the Bible, according to people who were there.

First might come the Old Testament, perhaps Isaiah or Lamentations. Then came the New, the Gospels, which called out to the listeners drawn from a path known more for its earthly greed than its godly faith: Wall Street.

Hitting the play button and then receding into the background was the host, Bill Hwang, the mysterious billionaire trader now at the center of one of the biggest Wall Street fiascos of all time.

The story thus far — of a mind-boggling fortune made in stealth and then wiped out very publicly in a blink — has sent shock waves through some of the world’s mightiest banks. Estimates of the potential size of his position before it imploded have spiraled toward $100 billion. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the disaster, which has set teeth on edge in trading rooms across the globe.

But those accounts tell only part of the story. Interviews with people from inside Hwang’s circle, Wall Street players close to him and documents associated with his multimillion-dollar charitable foundation fill in missing puzzle pieces — ones that haven’t been reported previously.

The picture that emerges is unlike anything Wall Street might suspect.

There are, in a sense, not one but two Bill Hwangs.

Christian Capitalist

One of them walks for hours through New York’s Central Park listening to recordings of the Bible and embraces a new, 21st-century vision of an age-old ideal: that of a modern Christian capitalist, a financial speculator for Christ, who seeks to make money in God’s name and then use it to further the faith. A generous benefactor to a range of unglamorous, mostly conservative Christian causes, this Hwang eschews the trappings of extravagant wealth, rides the bus, flies commercial and lives in what is, by billionaire standards, humble surroundings in suburban New Jersey.

Then there’s the other Bill Hwang: a former acolyte of hedge fund legend Julian Robertson with a thirst for risk and a stomach for volatile markets — a daring trader who once lost a fortune betting against German automaker Volkswagen AG while running a hedge fund that was supposedly focused on Asian stocks.

CONTINUE READING HERE 

Gaetz is Said to Have Boasted of His ‘Access to Women’ Provided by Friend Charged in Sex-Trafficking Case

WASHINGTON – Rep. Matt Gaetz repeatedly boasted to people involved in Florida politics about women he met through a county tax collector who has since been charged by federal authorities with sex trafficking of a minor, according to two people who heard his comments directly.

They said the Republican congressman, first elected in 2016, also showed them videos on his phone of naked or topless women on multiple occasions, including at parties with Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County. The women appeared to be adults, and could be seen dancing, hanging out by a pool and, in one case, using a hula hoop without clothing, the people said.

“Matt was never shy about talking about his relationship to Joel and the access to women that Joel provided him,” said one of these people who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. “What these videos implied was that there was something of a sexual nature going on with everyone.”

The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz, whose loyalty to former president Donald Trump and frequent cable news appearances has endeared him to many conservatives, paid for sex with a number of women in violation of federal sex-trafficking laws, a person familiar with the matter said. The investigation began while Trump was in office and proceeded with the approval of his attorney general.

Gaetz has not been charged with a crime. Such cases can be complicated, and potential crimes involving the solicitation of sex are typically investigated by state authorities.

Federal law enforcement officials suspect that Greenberg procured a number of women for Gaetz and are exploring whether they sometimes shared sexual partners, including at least one girl who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged encounter, a person familiar with the matter said.