Judicial Watch tabulates final Obama vacation tab at almost $100 million

Judicial Watch tabulates final Obama vacation tab at almost $100 million


Obama’s travels and tabulations
Documents produced by the Secret Service and the Air Force in response to Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by Judicial Watch pushed to nearly $100 million the total expenditure of taxpayer funds for family-related travel during President Obama’s eight years in office. JW said the latest batch of documents revealed costs of $2.5 million to fly the family to Honolulu for last year’s Christmas vacation.

OSC report: DOJ refused to hire qualified veterans
A report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concludes that two Department of Justice officials attempted to influence veterans to withdraw their applications for employment in DOJ’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. The job announcement was removed when the veterans refused to withdraw their applications, and the postings reappeared with requirements that disqualified the veterans.

Task force collects 21 gang members in Los Angeles
A three-year investigation led a task force of federal, state and local police to arrest 21 members and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha transnational narco-gang in Los Angeles, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said. Their arrests bring to 44 the number of Los Angeles area MS-13 gang members, including 12 senior gang leaders, who are facing racketeering and murder charges, BATF said.

U.S. slaps duties on steel bar from Turkey and Japan
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of steel reinforcement bar (rebar) from Japan and Turkey. DOC found that rebar from both countries were being sold at less-than-fair-value prices, and that rebar from Turkey was subsidized by the Turkish government. Rebar from Japan increased from 23,335 metric tons in 2013 to 242,336 metric tons in 2015; and Turkey rebar imports increased from 650,049 metric tons in 2013 to 1,474,457 metric tons in 2015, DOC said.

Sex trafficker gets a trip to the border
Valentin Mendiola-Castaneda, 35, a Mexican national, got a ride to the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As Mendiola-Castaneda stepped out of the van and walked across the border, Mexican law enforcement officials were waiting to arrest him on sex trafficking charges. ICE said it was the 11th time that Mendiola-Castaneda was repatriated to Mexico after illegally entering the U.S.

“Maximum longevity” means lawsuit for eatery chain
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit that accuses Ruby Tuesday Inc. of unlawful age discrimination when it refused to hire a qualified job applicant because the company wanted to hire someone who could “maximize longevity.” That, the EEOC said, was a euphemistic way of saying the applicant was too old to be general manager of the restaurant chain’s outlet in Boca Raton, Fla., and, more to the point, a violation of the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

U.S. thirst for booze puts millions at risk
Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimate that nearly 32 million American adults consume dangerously high levels of alcohol. A 2013 survey found that 39% of males and 27% of females reported binge drinking on at least one occasion during the previous 12 months. Binge drinking can produce blood alcohol levels greater than 0.08%, which is the legal limit for driving.

Graduates get a $5.6 billion sendoff
A National Retail Federation survey predicts that this year’s crop of college graduates will harvest a $5.6 billion bounty of gifts and greeting cards. It’s the highest estimate since the NRF began the annual survey 11 years ago, and exceeds last year’s $5.48 billion estimate. Cash will again be the most popular graduation gift, followed by greeting cards, gift cards, apparel and electronics.

“Dark money” influence is exaggerated
A report from the Center for Competitive Politics, a think tank that generally opposes regulation of election-related spending, portrays the expenditure of so-called “dark money” as a minor element of political spending activity in the 2016 congressional and presidential elections. CCP estimated that $6.26 billion was spent on political campaigns during the 2015-16 election cycle, and that $184 million—or 2.9% of the total—was spent by non-profit organizations which do not have to disclose their donors.

Political affiliation: Counting the churn
In eerily near-equal portions, 11% of Republican and 10% of Democrat party loyalists decided to switch their allegiance over a 15-month period that encompassed the 2016 presidential campaign, the Pew Research Center said. Large majorities—78% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats—remained faithful to their parties throughout the survey period. The PRC survey also found that 9% of Democrats and 9% of Republicans left their parties but returned to the fold at some point during the 15-month period that ended last March.

Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Wednesday, May 17

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