Welcome to FreedomWorks Foundation’s nineteenth regulatory review of 2019! Our Regulatory Action Center proudly updates you with our favorite tidbits from the swamp. We want to smash barriers between bureaucracy and the American people by delivering regulatory news straight to FreedomWorks activists. Check back in two weeks for the next edition.
1) Video of the Week: Unsurprisingly, the United States is not the first country to experience ballooning budgets and astronomical deficits. In the mid-1990’s, Canada’s debt grew to as high as 70% of GDP, similar to our current debt situation. In this weeks video, John Stossell sits down with Canadian economist David Henderson to discuss how Canada managed to tackle their debt problem by cutting government spending and reducing waste.
2) Why Is the CDC Still Fostering Potentially Deadly Confusion About Vaping and Lung Disease?: “Media outlets, following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to blame recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers on "vaping" and "e-cigarettes" in general, falsely implying a link to legal nicotine products. This misinformation is fostering public confusion that may lead to more disease and death, both from smoking and from the black-market products that have been implicated in the lung disease cases.” https://reason.com/2019/09/24/why-is-the-cdc-still-fostering-potentially-deadly-confusion-about-vaping-and-lung-disease/
3) FBI using Facebook ads to gather Russian intelligence: report: “The FBI is reportedly using Facebook ads to gather intelligence on Russia, specifically targeting those who may be or know Russian spies. The FBI is running ads in the Washington, D.C., area, CNN reported on Wednesday, that direct to the FBI field office's website that describes its counterintelligence team and encourages visitors to meet "in person." https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/fbi/464069-fbi-using-facebook-ads-to-gather-russian-intelligence-report
4) Federal Court Upholds FCC Decision to Roll Back Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules: “Today, by a 2-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided largely with the FCC, upholding the primary regulatory rollback as a valid exercise of its authority. In the nearly 200 page opinion, which is heavy on technical detail, the court wrote that while the challengers raised "numerous objections" aiming to show that the FCC's reclassification is "unreasonable," the judges found them "unconvincing." https://reason.com/2019/10/01/federal-court-upholds-fcc-decision-to-roll-back-obama-era-net-neutrality-rules/
5) Trump to issue executive order ‘protecting’ Americans from ‘Medicare for All’ campaign proposals pushed by Democrats: “The executive order, which he is scheduled to discuss at a speech in Florida later Thursday, is intended to bolster Medicare Advantage, private Medicare insurance for seniors that currently covers 22 million people, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters. The plan would also offer more affordable plan options, increase use of telehealth services and bring payments in Medicare fee-for-service program in line with payments for Medicare Advantage, officials said.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/03/trump-to-issue-executive-order-protecting-americans-from-medicare-for-all.html
6) Treasury to create tool to help people redeem billions in unclaimed savings bonds: “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Wednesday said that the Treasury Department will create an online tool to help people redeem billions of dollars in savings bonds. About $26 billion in matured savings bonds are in the U.S. Treasury and have yet to be redeemed. Using the department's forthcoming tool, people will be able to verify against Treasury Department records if they have any savings bonds dated after 1974 that can be redeemed, Kennedy's office said in a news release.” https://thehill.com/policy/finance/464057-senator-treasury-will-create-tool-to-help-people-redeem-billions-of-dollars-in
7) Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown: “The Trump administration is under fire from conservative groups and some GOP lawmakers, who are pushing back over its planned crackdown on e-cigarette flavors. They say the administration is overreaching, and the flavor ban will harm small businesses, a violation of core Republican free market principles.” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/464470-trump-takes-heat-from-right-over-vaping-crackdown
|Cache||Stan Brantley at First Baptist Oviedo in Oviedo, Florida brings us this bunch of twisted metal memorializing the fall of the Twin Towers. (originally posted October 2011) They wanted to simulate the look of the Word Trade Center towers collapsed on their stage. They knew using real I-beams wasn’t an option, so they used styrofoam […]|
The Tampa two-story Gary Sheffield has owned since 2002 is listed at $1.9 million.
|Cache||WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Deandre Somerville spent 10 days in a Florida jail after he overslept and didn’t show up for jury duty, but the judge now says he won’t have a criminal record. Judge John Kastrenakes found the 21-year-old from West Palm Beach in contempt of court last month after he missed the civil trial and didn’t call the court to explain what happened. Kastrenakes vacated the contempt finding and rescinded the sentence of probation in an order […]|
Alice Cullen in the film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novels.Greene was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the daughter of Michele (née Tatum), who works in insurance, and Joe Greene, a U.S. Marine who now owns his own concrete business. She grew up in Middleburg and Jacksonville, and went to University Christian School before transferring to Wolfson High School when she was in tenth grade. She moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of 17 to pursue an acting career. Greene has an older brother named Joe, who still resides in Jacksonville with their parents.
Greene is good friends with her Twilight co-stars, particularly Kellan Lutz and Jackson Rathbone whom she knew before filming of the series began. Greene has stated the she grew up watching football and is a Florida Gators fan. She was also seen attending a Green Bay Packers game against the New York Giants with Jonas and Jessica Szohr at Lambeau Field in 2010. In 2009, nude self portraits of Greene were leaked onto the internet. Her attorneys threatened to sue various websites that published the pictures.
(Bloomberg) -- One of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders in Congress rebuked the president’s decision to step aside from Kurdish allies in Syria while Turkey’s military advances, saying it would result in the re-emergence of ISIS.“ISIS is not defeated, my friend. The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated,” Senator Lindsey Graham told “Fox and Friends” in a phone call Monday. “The Caliphate is destroyed, but there’s thousands of fighters” still there.Graham said he would sponsor a resolution urging Trump to reconsider the decision he called “shortsighted and irresponsible.” Graham said he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will also introduce a resolution to impose sanctions on Turkey if it invades Syria.The sharp criticism from Graham, a South Carolina Republican who usually is one of Trump’s fiercest defenders in the Senate, signals the president’s plan could meet resistance on Capitol Hill. Other Republican lawmakers were joining in expressing misgivings on Monday, echoing the admonishment that prompted Trump to reverse course on a similar pullout announced last year.Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said on Twitter that “the Trump administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York, tweeted that the move “betrays Kurds, strengthens ISIS and endangers American homeland.”And Trump’s former United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, emphasized the risks of the U.S. abandoning allies in the Mideast. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she said on Twitter. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”Even before the pushback, Trump was defending his decision Monday, insisting on Twitter that the U.S. can’t afford to be stuck in “ridiculous endless wars.” The U.S. was only supposed to be in Syria for 30 days but stayed and “got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight,” Trump tweeted, insisting he’d held off this fight for almost three years.Trump’s move represents a significant shift in U.S. policy that raises questions about the fate of tens of thousands of Islamic State detainees and casts further doubt on the reliability of the U.S. as an ally in the region.Trump said Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to “figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood.”’The White House said Turkey would take responsibility for any Islamic State fighters captured in the area over the past two years. It gave no details and it wasn’t immediately clear what, if any, plan the NATO allies had agreed to handle the detainees or how they would be transferred to Turkish custody.But the assurance represents a potential win for Trump, who has insisted that the U.S. would bear no responsibility for any Islamic State detainees, as he gears up for the 2020 election.Close U.S. AllyThe Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been a close U.S. ally in the fight to defeat Islamic State. But Turkey considers Syria’s Kurdish militants a threat to its national security, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his forces are ready to begin a military operation against them in northeastern Syria.The U.S. in 2015 provided air support for Kurdish militias to retake the critical town of Kobani from Islamic State and has since used Kurdish fighters as ground troops in the campaign to clear Syria of the group.Trump’s approach to Syria has previously caused friction with administration officials. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, resigned last December after Trump said the U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan -- a decision Trump later reversed.Graham, who has not shied from criticizing other Trump moves on foreign policy, said that fatigue with the fight is not a reason to abandon it. Leaving the U.S. wartime Kurdish allies will only make it harder to find allies in the future, he warned.“If we abandon them, good luck getting anybody to help America in the future with radical Islam, al Qaeda and ISIS,” Graham said. “You may be tired of fighting radical Islam, but they’re not tired of fighting you.”Graham called Trump’s decision “impulsive” and said the ensuing chaos in the region will only help U.S. foes. “Iran is licking their chops,” he said. “And if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life.”An adviser to the Syrian Democratic Forces said that Trump’s move will strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia.“The Kurds told me this morning they were going to fight,” Moti Kahana, an adviser to the Kurdish-led forces, said by telephone from New Jersey. “They have two options. They can partner with Iran and Assad in order to prevent Turkish intervention into Syria or face a fight against Turkey in the northern border area and with Iran” in the southeast.Even if the Kurds don’t fight, Kahana said, “they will shift their alliance from the Americans” to Russia, Assad and Iran.Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that the U.S. is “an irrelevant occupioer in Syria” and it’s “futile to seek its permission or relyl on it for security.”(Updates with comment from adviser to Syrian Kurds, Iran’s Zarif in final paragraphs.)\--With assistance from Steven T. Dennis.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Glen Carey in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth Wasserman, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Los patinetes eléctricos se han convertido en el gran boom de la movilidad urbana. Su precio asequible, su facilidad de uso y sobre todo la accesibilidad que han sabido aprovechar las empresas de patinetes compartidos han disparado la presencia de estos Vehículos de Movilidad Personal.
Si bien hay usuarios que no hacen un uso correcto de los patinetes eléctricos, hay ciudadanos que tampoco se comportan bien hacia esta nueva solución de movilidad. El ejemplo más claro es el de un hombre que ha sido detenido tras sabotear más de 100 patinetes eléctricos.
Vandalismo gratuito antes del amanecer
Los hechos han ocurrido en Fort Lauderdale, provincia perteneciente a Florida (Estados Unidos), donde un hombre de 59 años ha sido pillado justo en el momento que se dedicaba a cortar los frenos de varios patinetes eléctricos de alquiler estacionados en la calle.
La policía de la localidad inició una investigación a raíz de un creciente movimiento de vandalismo contra los patinetes eléctricos de alquiler, hasta que pudieron acceder a las imágenes de la cámara de seguridad, suficientes para identificar al autor armado con unos alicates, tijeras y guantes.
Pero Randall Thomas Williams, que así se llama el entrañable señor, no ha sido detenido exclusivamente por los hechos recogidos en la grabación. A este hombre se le han imputado más de 140 sabotajes, todos bajo el mismo modus y realizándolos en las inmediaciones de su domicilio antes del amanecer de una forma totalmente premeditada.
En el momento de la detención, Randall Thomas no justificó su maquiavélico y peligroso plan contra la seguridad de los usuarios de patinetes eléctricos, aunque no se ha atribuido ningún accidente según informaciones del cuerpo de policía. Simplemente se limitó a asegurar que "no quería cavar su propia tumba".
En Motorpasión Moto | Patinetes eléctricos: cómo y dónde aparcarlos de manera legal
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|Cache||A Florida man who has never been arrested was slapped with a 10-day jail sentence for missing jury duty,, prompting many online to speak out against the presiding judge. Deandre Somerville, 21, overslept and missed his August appointment which led to his arrest in court. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John Kastrenak saw fit to […]|
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Il marchio 120% Lino fa rotta sugli Stati Uniti e consolida la collaborazione con Neiman Marcus, department store di lusso con cui ha aperto nove punti vendita nel primo semestre 2019.
Da febbraio a giugno di quest’anno, l'etichetta ha coperto 5 Stati, dall’Arizona al Texas passando per Florida, Georgia e California, inserendo nei department store Neiman Marcus dei punti vendita nelle città di Scottsdale, Newport Beach, San Diego, Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Dallas e Plano.
Alla luce delle performance commerciali registrate dal marchio fin dai primi mesi, 120% Lino ha concordato con Neiman Marcus negli Usa tre nuove aperture nel febbraio del prossimo anno che riguarderanno le città di Orlando e Tampa in Florida e Northbrook in Illinois, spiega il management del marchio in una nota.
“Siamo molto orgogliosi di queste nuove e importanti aperture che confermano la vocazione internazionale del nostro marchio. Con Neiman Marcus si conferma la nostra espansione nel mercato americano già al centro di un importante piano retail che entro il 2022, prevede l’apertura di 21 punti vendita diretti negli Usa con un focus nell’area della Sunbelt", ha sottolineato Mauro Grange, amministratore delegato di 120% Lino.
Foto: 120% Lino, dall'ufficio stampa
John Blanchette: Gonzaga needs Killian Tillie to be whole as desperately as Tillie needs Tillie to be wholeCache
Token investigation – meaning nothing past the first page of a Google search return – indicates that the unluckiest people in history include Melanie Martinez, who has lost five homes to hurricanes, and Violet Jessop, who served as a nurse and stewardess on the Olympic, the Titanic and the Britannic.
Though surviving the sinking of all three suggests her life came out a draw.
And then there’s a fellow named Erik Norrie, who has been struck by lightning, bitten by a rattlesnake and attacked by sharks and monkeys.
Does that make him the Killian Tillie of real life?
Another Kraziness in the Kennel arrived Saturday with the usual line of people snaking back to the soccer field waiting to get in for Gonzaga’s annual basketball reveal, the usual goggle-eyed recruits taking in the volume and animation of the Kennel Club and the usual one-week-of-practice raggedness.
And, alas, the usual update: another surgery for Killian Tillie.
Man, doesn’t somebody owe him a break already?
Or, conversely, did he just get one?
The odd child or senior citizen among the 6,000-plus squeezed into McCarthey Athletic Center who wasn’t logged on to social media may have been confused when the video intros of the 2019-20 Zags were made and Tillie was conspicuously omitted.
Or maybe they simply surmised the obvious: hurt again.
And, yes, that is technically the case. On Thursday, the 6-foot-10 senior and presumptive drive train of these Bulldogs underwent surgery on his right knee, and a brief statement from the school said “his status will be evaluated weekly.”
With the season opener still a month away, that doesn’t sound too grim – and, indeed, coach Mark Few took not just a hopeful but a delighted tone to try to drown out the grinding noise from all the community hand-wringing.
“It was more of a proactive exercise that we did, just to kind of clean some things out,” Few insisted, “and proactively take a step that I think will really help him in the long run.
“It seemed like we had a little window here to do something and we went for it, and I think it’ll be a really good move for him as we venture down the road. It wasn’t like a real injury or anything – just what can we do to help this thing long term?”
This is hardly misplaced optimism – though it would probably go down more easily if the subject didn’t happen to be Tillie.
So pitiable has his injury history been that the Zag fan base’s project this season is to will him to good health.
There was a sprained ankle and a broken finger that cost him six games in his freshman year if 2017. The hip-pointer that sidelined him in the 2018 NCAA loss to Florida State. And the stress fracture and plantar fascia tear that limited his 2019 season to just 15 games with limited effectiveness off the bench.
Even after he declared for the NBA draft last spring, another ankle sprain in his first team workout blew up any pro plans and helped convince him to return.
Among Few-era Zags, only Josh Heytvelt missed as much time his first three seasons due to medical issues.
So even if this isn’t five-alarm injury surgery, it’s probably difficult for the invested Zagphile to embrace reassurance.
“He’s always had a little discomfort with that knee over the years,” Few explained. “We looked at it and said, ‘How can we do this so that we’re not dealing with it week to week, or month to month – or he’s not dealing with it next year?’
“Hopefully, it’ll be a good thing as he moves forward, not only with us but down the line. There was no restructuring or anything like that.”
Beyond all the hometown empathy for Tillie to enjoy an uninterrupted senior year, there are – naturally – somewhat less noble sentiments being aired, too. These Zags are wildly short on experienced hands – at least those who’ve spent time in the program. Junior Corey Kispert has started and played significant minutes, of course. But sophomore Filip Petrusev only had a notable role last year when Tillie was out, and guard Joel Ayayi is making the jump from garbage time to rotation player.
And that’s it.
The Zags need Tillie to be whole as desperately as Tillie needs Tillie to be whole.
“There’s no time for me or any of the other older guys to take a back seat during a game,” Kispert said. “We have to bring it every night – sick, hurt, injured, banged up. You just have to bring it. It’s going to be on us to lead the team forward.”
So, then, some “proactive” surgery for their best player in hopes of getting him to game night.
Because no one’s yet performed a luck transplant.
|Cache||Build Your Success: First Year Florida Peer Leader Program
First Year Florida will be hosting information sessions on October 10th for interested Peer Leader applicants. First Year Florida is a course designed to aid students in a successful transition to the University of Florida by connecting students to campus, promoting engagement within and outside the classroom, [...]|
|Cache||Going from one kid to two isn't exactly easy, but Florida Georgia Line member Tyler Hubbard says he and wife Hayley are doing pretty well six weeks into their life as a family of four.
After watching that great video earlier today of the 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible at Cars and Coffee, we hit the youtube channel of Speed Phenom and sure enough, he was at the West Coast Reveal of the 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible.
The West Coast Reveal was an invite-only affair that coincided with the official reveal happening on the East Coast of Florida at the Kennedy Space Center.
Florida had 62 newly reported cases of hepatitis A last week, bringing the total number of cases for the year to 2,738 as of Saturday, a state Department of Health report shows. Pasco, Pinellas and Volusia counties continued to lead the state with 397, 369 and 244 cases, respectively.
The post 62 More Hepatatis A Cases in Florida, for Total of 2,738 appeared first on FlaglerLive.
DeSantis Seeks to Raise Minimum Salary for Florida Teachers to $47,500, or $7,000 Higher Than in FlaglerCache
The Florida Education Association statewide teachers union issued a news release saying it was “encouraged to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis make clear that teacher pay matters to his administration.” But it also raised questions about how the plan would be funded and what it would do to help retain longstanding teachers.
The post DeSantis Seeks to Raise Minimum Salary for Florida Teachers to $47,500, or $7,000 Higher Than in Flagler appeared first on FlaglerLive.
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KYIV, Ukraine – As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.
Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.
Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.
But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.
It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.
But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president’s personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
On Friday, according to the news site Axios, Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it had been Perry who had prompted the phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” regarding Biden. Axios cited a source saying Trump said Perry had asked Trump to make the call to discuss “something about an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant.”
While it’s unclear whether Trump’s remark Friday referred specifically to the behind-the-scenes maneuvers this spring involving the multibillion-dollar state gas company, The Associated Press has interviewed four people with direct knowledge of the attempts to influence Naftogaz, and their accounts show Perry playing a key role in the effort. Three of the four spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The fourth is an American businessman with close ties to the Ukrainian energy sector.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Energy Department said Perry, a former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate, was not advancing anyone’s personal interests. She said his conversations with Ukrainian officials about Naftogaz were part of his efforts to reform the country’s energy sector and create an environment in which Western companies can do business.
Perry was asked about the AP’s reporting on Monday while in Lithuania, where he was meeting with officials from Ukraine and other eastern European countries to discuss energy security and cooperation. He said any suggestion that he tried to force a management change at Naftogaz was a “totally dreamed up story.”
“We get asked for our recommendations about people who are experts in areas, various areas,” Perry said. “Folks who have expertise in particular areas. Obviously having been the governor of the state of Texas, I know a lot of people in the energy industry.”
The Trump and Giuliani allies driving the attempt to change the senior management at Naftogaz, however, appear to have had inside knowledge of the U.S. government’s plans in Ukraine. For example, they told people that Trump would replace the U.S. ambassador there months before she was actually recalled to Washington, according to three of the individuals interviewed by the AP. One of the individuals said he was so concerned by the whole affair that he reported it to a U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine months ago.
Ukraine, a resource-rich nation that sits on the geographic and symbolic border between Russia and the West, has long been plagued by corruption and government dysfunction, making it a magnet for foreign profiteers.
At the center of the Naftogaz plan, according to three individuals familiar with the details, were three such businessmen: two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and an oil magnate from Boca Raton, Florida, named Harry Sargeant III.
Parnas and Fruman have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to Republicans, including $325,000 to a Trump-allied political action committee in 2018. This helped the relatively unknown entrepreneurs gain access to top levels of the Republican Party – including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago.
The two have also faced lawsuits from disgruntled investors over unpaid debts. During the same period they were pursuing the Naftogaz deal, the two were coordinating with Giuliani to set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials and push for an investigation of the Bidens.
Sargeant, his wife and corporate entities tied to the family have donated at least $1.2 million to Republican campaigns and PACs over the last 20 years, including $100,000 in June to the Trump Victory Fund, according to federal and state campaign finance records. He has also served as finance chair of the Florida state GOP, and gave nearly $14,000 to Giuliani’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev.
Going back to the Obama administration, the U.S. Energy Department and the State Department have long supported efforts to import American natural gas into Ukraine to reduce the country’s dependence on Russia.
The three approached Favorov with the idea while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas. Parnas and Fruman told him they had flown in from Florida on a private jet to recruit him to be their partner in a new venture to export up to 100 tanker shipments a year of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine, where Naftogaz is the largest distributor, according to two people briefed on the details.
Sargeant told Favorov that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president’s full support, according to the two people who said Favorov recounted the discussion to them.
These conversations were recounted to AP by Dale W. Perry, an American who is a former business partner of Favorov. He told AP in an interview that Favorov described the meeting to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown. Perry, who is no relation to the energy secretary, is the managing partner of Energy Resources of Ukraine, which currently has business agreements to import natural gas and electricity to Ukraine.
A second person who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed to the AP that Favorov had recounted details of the Houston meeting to him.
According to Dale Perry and the other person, Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests.
Dale Perry told the AP he was so concerned about the efforts to change the management at Naftogaz and to get rid of Yovanovitch that he reported what he had heard to Suriya Jayanti, a State Department foreign service officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv who focuses on the energy industry.
He also wrote a detailed memo about Favorov’s account, dated April 12, which was shared with another current State Department official. Perry recently provided a copy of the April memo to AP.
Jayanti declined to provide comment. Favorov also declined to comment.
On March 24, Giuliani and Parnas gathered at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Healy E. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign adviser who once served as deputy communications director for Giuliani’s presidential campaign and as a communications official during the George W. Bush administration.
She is now listed as the CEO of 45 Energy Group, a Houston-based energy company whose website describes it as a “government relations, public affairs and business development practice group.” The company’s name is an apparent nod to Trump, the 45th president.
This was a couple of weeks after the Houston meeting with Favorov, the Naftogaz executive. Giuliani, Parnas and Baumgardner were there to make a business pitch involving gas deals in the former Soviet bloc to a potential investor.
This time, according to Giuliani, the deals that were discussed involved Uzbekistan, not Ukraine.
“I have not pursued a deal in the Ukraine. I don’t know about a deal in the Ukraine. I would not do a deal in the Ukraine now, obviously,” said Giuliani, reached while attending a playoff baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. “There is absolutely no proof that I did it, because I didn’t do it.”
During this meeting, Parnas again repeated that Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, would soon be replaced, according to a person with direct knowledge of the gathering. She was removed two months later.
Giuliani, who serves as Trump’s personal lawyer and has no official role in government, acknowledged Friday that he was among those pushing the president to replace the ambassador, a career diplomat with a history of fighting corruption.
“The ambassador to Ukraine was replaced,” he said. “I did play a role in that.”
But Giuliani refused to discuss the details of his business dealings, or whether he helped his associates in their push to forge gas sales contracts with the Ukrainian company. He did describe Sergeant as a friend and referred to Parnas and Fruman as his clients in a tweet in May.
As part of their impeachment inquiry, House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents and communications related to dozens of people, including Favorov, Parnas, Fruman and Baumgardner’s 45 Energy Group.
Baumgardner issued a written statement, saying: “While I won’t comment on business discussions, I will say this: this political assault on private business by the Democrats in Congress is complete harassment and an invasion of privacy that should scare the hell out of every American business owner.”
Baumgardner later denied that she had any business dealings in Ukraine but refused to say whether the replacement of Ambassador Yovanovitch was discussed.
Sargeant did not respond to a voice message left at a number listed for him at an address in Boca Raton.
John Dowd, a former Trump attorney who now represents Parnas and Fruman, said it was actually the Naftogaz executives who approached his clients about making a deal. Dowd says the group then approached Rick Perry to get the Energy Department on board.
“The people from the company solicited my clients because Igor is in the gas business, and they asked them, and they flew to Washington and they solicited,” Dowd said. “They sat down and talked about it. And then it was presented to Secretary Perry to see if they could get it together.
“It wasn’t a shakedown; it was an attempt to do legitimate business that didn’t work out.”
THE ENERGY SECRETARY
In May, Rick Perry traveled to Kyiv to serve as the senior U.S. government representative at the inauguration of the county’s new president.
In a private meeting with Zelenskiy, Perry pressed the Ukrainian president to fire members of the Naftogaz advisory board. Attendees left the meeting with the impression that Perry wanted to replace the American representative, Amos Hochstein, a former diplomat and energy representative who served in the Obama administration, with someone “reputable in Republican circles,” according to someone who was in the room.
Perry’s push for Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to change its supervisory board was first reported by Politico.
A second meeting during the trip, at a Kyiv hotel, included Ukrainian officials and energy sector people. There, Perry made clear that the Trump administration wanted to see the entire Naftogaz supervisory board replaced, according to a person who attended both meetings. Perry again referenced the list of advisers that he had given Zelenskiy, and it was widely interpreted that he wanted Michael Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-American businessman from Texas, to join the newly formed board, the person said. Also on the list was Robert Bensh, another Texan who frequently works in Ukraine, the Energy Department confirmed.
Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were also in the room, according to photographs reviewed by AP. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he was floored by the American requests because the person had always viewed the U.S. government “as having a higher ethical standard.”
The Naftogaz supervisory board is supposed to be selected by the Ukrainian president’s Cabinet in consultation with international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union. It must be approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet. Ukrainian officials perceived Perry’s push to swap out the board as circumventing that established process, according to the person in the room.
U.S. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry had consistently called for the modernization of Ukraine’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business there. She said Perry delivered that same message in the May meeting with Zelenskiy.
“What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company,” Hynes said Saturday. “That is fiction being pushed by those who are disingenuously seeking to advance a nefarious narrative that does not exist.”
Hynes said the Ukrainian government had requested U.S. recommendations to advise the country on energy matters, and Perry provided those recommendations. She confirmed Bleyzer was on the list.
Bleyzer, whose company is based in Houston, did not respond on Saturday to a voicemail seeking comment. Bensh also did not respond to a phone message.
Perry has close ties to the Texas oil and gas industry. He appointed Bleyzer to a two-year term on a state technologies fund board in 2009. The following year, records show Bleyzer donated $20,000 to Perry’s reelection campaign.
Zelenskiy’s office declined to comment on Saturday.
In an interview Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Perry said that “as God as my witness” he never discussed Biden or his son in meetings with Ukrainian or U.S. officials, including Trump or Giuliani. He did confirm he had had a conversation with Giuliani by phone, but a spokeswoman for the energy secretary declined to say when that call was or whether the two had discussed Naftogaz.
In Lithuania on Monday, Perry said he could not recall whether Bleyzer’s name was on the list provided to Zelenskiy. But Perry confirmed he had known Bleyzer for years and called him “a really brilliant, capable businessman.”
“I would recommend him for a host of different things in Kyiv because he knows the country,” Perry said of Bleyzer. “He’s from there. So, why not? I mean I would be stunned if someone said that would you eliminate Michael Bleyzer from a recommendation of people you ought to talk to about how to do business in the country, whether they’re knowledgeable. It’d be remarkable if I didn’t say, `Talk to Michael.“’
175000Sun, 06 Oct 2019 17:28:00 +0200
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