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First Lady's Beijing hotel deemed 'prohibitive' for Biden


Silk pillows: The Obamas are staying in the Jinmao Presidential Suite in the Westin Hotel near Beijing.
The White House has been tight-lipped about the cost of First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to China, but based on the choice for lodging, it could be considerable. Mrs. Obama and her entourage, which numbers seventy according to the Washington Times (including her two daughters and her mother), booked the Westin Chaoyang Hotel close to the U.S. embassy in Beijing for their first stop. According to USA Today, the presidential suite at the hotel is listed as $8,400 per night.

But when Vice President Joe Biden visited China in December 2013, he and his team stayed at the St. Regis Hotel after the contracting officer responsible for booking rooms determined that the Westin Chaoyang hotel "price was prohibitive when compared with St. Regis." This is according to the justification and approval documents just released on a government contracting website:

The following other hotels were reviewed but were not adequate because of the following:
Grand Hyatt Beijing - cannot meet security requirements for travel into and out of the building.
Westin Chaoyang - price was prohibitive when compared with St. Regis - otherwise met requirements.
Dollar Gold

Obama most expensive President in history

© Breitbart
President Barack Obama has spent more time traveling abroad than other U.S. president in history at this point in their presidencies, according to a forthcoming study from the National Taxpayer Union Foundation (NTUF) provided exclusively to Breitbart News ahead of its public release.

"The most internationally well-traveled President, through five years, is also flying the most expensive-to-operate Air Force One to date," NTUF wrote.

After five years in the White House, Obama has taken 31 trips for a total of 119 days abroad. At that point in George W. Bush's presidency, Bush had taken 28 trips for 116 days, while Bill Clinton had taken 27 trips for 113 days. Ronald Reagan, after five years, had taken 14 trips for 73 days while Richard Nixon had taken 12 trips for 60 days after five years in the White House and Lyndon Johnson took 10 trips for 34 days at the half-decade mark. Dwight Eisenhower took 8 trips for 31 days after five years in the White House.
Eye 1

The story the Washington Post won't print: covert operations

nsa spying
© Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto/Corbis
The data can also be used to study patterns of behaviour to reveal personal information
In the world of spying and social engineering, the punch line you see coming isn't always the real one. It's just a setup for something else.

In many of my articles over the past 13 years, I've been explaining how this works in various covert theaters of operation.

Here's another one.

To set the stage, read these three quotes from a March 18 Washington Post story, "NSA surveillance program reaches 'into the past' to retrieve and replay phone calls":

"The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording '100 percent' of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place."

"The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for 'retrospective retrieval,' and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere."
"At the request of US officials, the Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned."
Dollars

California state senator accused of wire fraud

FBI Agents
© AP Photo/San Jose Mercury News, John Green
Agents from the FBI and the IRS carry boxes from a home in San Mateo, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. FBI Agent Greg Wuthrich said the raid was part of an investigation involving the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee early Wednesday morning.
San Francisco - A California state senator who was lauded for his efforts to make government more transparent and authored gun control legislation was arrested Wednesday, accused of conspiracy to deal firearms and wire fraud.

The allegations against State Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint against him and 25 other people. The affidavit was unsealed on Wednesday, as Yee was scheduled to appear in court.

Yee performed "official acts" in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid, according to court documents.

Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover agent in exchange for his making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract under consideration with the agency.

Also named in the affidavit is Raymond Chow. Chow, who is also known as "Shrimp Boy," was the former leader of a Chinese criminal organization with ties to Hong Kong.

Chow is accused of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

He and Yee were arrested earlier in the day during a series of raids by the FBI in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
MIB

Domestic spying: Naval Criminal Investigative Service LinX database tracks civilians

© Shutterstock
A parking ticket, traffic citation or involvement in a minor fender-bender are enough to get a person's name and other personal information logged into a massive, obscure federal database run by the U.S. military.

The Law Enforcement Information Exchange, or LinX, has already amassed 506.3 million law enforcement records ranging from criminal histories and arrest reports to field information cards filled out by cops on the beat even when no crime has occurred.

"That may be where you are starting to cross the line on mass collection of information on innocent people just because you can."

LinX is a national information-sharing hub for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. It is run by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, raising concerns among some military law experts that putting such detailed data about ordinary citizens in the hands of military officials crosses the line that generally prohibits the armed forces from conducting civilian law enforcement operations.
USA

Pouring salt into the wound: the TSA calls for armed guards at airport checkpoints

TSA
© AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
The TSA recommended Wednesday that airports post armed law enforcement officers at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours
The Transportation Security Administration recommended Wednesday that airports post armed law enforcement officers at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours.

The recommendation was one of 14 determined after a nationwide review of security at airports prompted by a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last fall.

The 25-page report to Congress was obtained by The Associated Press. Congress will now consider the recommendations.

The AP has reported that the two armed officers at the LAX terminal had left for breaks and were out of the terminal. Airport police decided months earlier to have officers roam terminals instead of staffing checkpoints such as the one approached by a gunman.

The Transportation Security Administration conducted its own review of security at nearly 450 airports nationwide after the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX killed TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez - the agency's first line of duty death.

Paul Ciancia opened fire with an assault rifle in an attack targeting the TSA, authorities said. Two officers and a passenger were wounded. The Pennsville, N.J.-native has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.

Dozens of groups including law enforcement, airline and airport operators have met multiple times since the Nov. 1 shooting to discuss suggestions to improve airport security.
Camera

Beijing hotel workers 'fed up' with Obama entourage - first lady's mother is 'barking at the staff'


Delightful: Ordinary Chinese have described Mrs. Obama as a wonderful visitor, but her mother (at C) is allegedly causing hotel staff headaches.
  • Michelle Obama, her daughters and her mother Marian Robinson are staying in a sumptuous presidential suite at a Beijing Westin hotel
  • Mrs. Robinson has been 'barking at the staff since she arrived,' a hotel staffer said, adding that 'we can't wait for this to be over'
  • Secret Service agents are monopolizing elevators and booting high-paying guests from their rooms to occupy a block of space near the first lady
  • Both front and back doors of the hotel are blocked off, with Chinese and U.S. security agents screening everyone who enters
  • Ordinary Chinese describe Mrs. Obama and her family as kind and gracious, but hotel staff are 'fed up'
Michelle Obama and three of her family members are staying in a $8,350-per-night Beijing presidential suite, but despite a 24-hour butler and other perks that come with the lodging, her entourage has inconvenienced 'pretty much everyone' and made the hotel staff 'fed up,' a well-placed hotel staffer has told MailOnline.

The sumptuous pad at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel - its website calls the room 'an oasis of comfort - is a 3,400-square-foot masterpiece including a private steam room, 'corner sofas with silk pillows,' and in-room dining for six.

But the Obamas' stay has already affected staff and guests at the hotel, with the Westin front-desk veteran alleging that Mrs. Obama's mother Marian Robinson has been 'barking at the staff since she arrived.'
Crusader

Vatican Chief Justice: U.S. promotes "promotes anti-life and anti-family policies" - hostile toward Christian civilization

© Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke walks on St Peter’s square after a cardinals’ meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican.
The Vatican's chief justice feels that President Barack Obama's policies have been hostile toward Christians.

In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine - and transcribed by Life Site News - Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama "promotes anti-life and anti-family policies."

"It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies," Burke told the magazine.

The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to "restrict" religion.

"Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions," Burke said.

Comment:
Germans intercept condom-packaged cocaine headed to the Vatican


Eye 1

War propaganda with a side of fear mongering: Could the U.S. face a cruise missile threat from the Gulf of Mexico?

© BlackAgendaReport
The United States is puzzling over how to block cruise missiles that theoretically could be launched from the Gulf of Mexico, even after throwing some of its most advanced technologies at the problem.

Russia and Iran have been cited as possible threats that might, at some point, lurk in the waters just off U.S. shores.

A 2013 military exercise pitted systems such as Patriot interceptors, Aegis warships and combat aircraft against potential cruise-missile or short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Gulf. But the drill highlighted a particular vulnerability to cruise missiles lobbed from that region, U.S. Northern Command head Gen. Charles Jacoby indicated in congressional testimony last week.

He said the Pentagon has "some significant challenges" in countering these missiles, but is exploring "some opportunities to use existing systems more effectively to do that." Many detailed results of the Oct. 11 drill conducted near Key West, Fla., remain classified, Jacoby said.
2 + 2 = 4

Russian stocks: Morgan Stanley says buy; White House's Jay Carney says sell

© AP
There's a few Golden Rules that most Wall Street traders intuitively know never to cross: "Don't fight the Fed," "Cut your losses short and let your profits run," "Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel," and the one coined just last week: "Don't bet against the folks with a military budget larger than the next ten biggest spenders combined."

Of course, traders have egos and can sometimes forget the basics. The London Whale traders at JPMorgan elected not to cut their losses short and let them run to $6.2 billion, which led to press ink by the barrel, multiple Congressional hearings, indictments of traders, a $920 million settlement by JPMorgan and the trials have yet to start.

Now, once again, it seems that common sense has escaped the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street. Last Tuesday, Jay Carney, the Press Secretary of the Commander in Chief of the United States, told an assembly of reporters that he would not recommend investing in Russian equities right now, unless they were going to short them. Exactly one week later, Morgan Stanley, which boasts of "$1.7 trillion in client assets, nearly 17,000 Financial Advisors and 740 locations," reinstated its "Buy" rating on Russian equities.

Carney was responding to a question from a reporter about the fact that the Russian stock market had seen a bounce over the past few days. Carney responded:
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