“Nancy Pelosi’s husband buys more than $2M in Tesla stock amid admin’s green energy push”

“SOROS Dark Money Behind PUSH for Ketanji Brown Jackson!!!”

“Suppression of Hunter Biden emails ‘all about getting rid of Donald Trump”


His voice is choppy because his vocal cords are vaccine injured

“”THEY ALREADY FAILED US” – Watch Emotional Ted Cruz, RIP APART Nancy Pelosi and President Biden”

This nurse became a whistleblower to get the truth out about what happens to covid patients at a New York hospital 1:10 minute video

They have a GoFundMe to bail out the peaceful protesters!

A typical night in Portland

BLM Leader Tells White Families To ‘Give Up The Home You Own’ To Black Family and ‘Downsize’


Steven Ahle

BLM leader says to achieve racial peace, whites must give Blacks everything they own.

This story was originally highlighted a few years back, but it bears repeating , considering what we are seeing play out on cities streets over the past couple of months. It provides a little historical context to what we are witnessing.

Louisville-based Black Lives Matter leader Chanelle Helm, who admits she is not friends with any white people, outlined what she expects white people to do to make race relations in America.

Like all of the ideas coming out of the BLM movement, this too will go into file 13 right next to my work desk.

Now fast forward and pay close attention to the mass looting on the Magnificent Mile of high end stores, which the rioters now say was rightfully theirs and not the businesses’ to begin with or reparations, if you will. You own your own home? Give it to a Black family.

If you own rental property, allow a Black family in and don’t charge them rent. Name a Black person in your will.

I can attest to the fact that I have never owned a single slave in my whole life and no one can claim I did or that I owe reparations for slavery.

Dem0crats don’t owe BLM a thing. After all, they have allowed 93% of Blacks to live on their plantation rent free since the 1960’s.

Helm has produced a list of 10 demands that all involve white people giving Blacks whatever they own.  Helm, like most of the BLM leadership is a Marxist.

Marxism is a failed concept every time it is tried. But still,people cling to it’s tenets, claiming that Marxism has never truly been tried. In Marxism you only have two classes of people, the poor and the elite that rule them.

Here are the 10 demands:

1. White people, if you don’t have any descendants, will your property to a black or brown family. Preferably one that lives in generational poverty.

2. White people, if you’re inheriting property you intend to sell upon acceptance, give it to a black or brown family. You’re bound to make that money in some other white privileged way.

3. If you are a developer or realty owner of multi-family housing, build a sustainable complex in a black or brown blighted neighborhood and let black and brown people live in it for free.

4. White people, if you can afford to downsize, give up the home you own to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty.

5. White people, if any of the people you intend to leave your property to are racists assholes, change the will, and will your property to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty.

6. White people, re-budget your monthly so you can donate to black funds for land purchasing.

7. White people, especially white women (because this is yaw specialty — Nosey Jenny and Meddling Kathy), get a racist fired. Yaw know what the fuck they be saying. You are complicit when you ignore them. Get your boss fired cause they racist too.

8. Backing up No. 7, this should be easy but all those sheetless Klan, Nazi’s and Other lil’ dick-white men will all be returning to work. Get they ass fired. Call the police even: they look suspicious.

9. OK, backing up No. 8, if any white person at your work, or as you enter in spaces and you overhear a white person praising the actions from yesterday, first, get a pic. Get their name and more info. Hell, find out where they work — Get Them Fired. But certainly address them, and, if you need to, you got hands: use them.

10. Commit to two things: Fighting white supremacy where and how you can (this doesn’t mean taking up knitting, unless you’re making scarves for black and brown kids in need), and funding black and brown people and their work.



Helicopter in Trump’s Detail Hit With Gunfire Over Virginia – DJHJ Media


By Kari Donovan

The FBI is investigating an incident involving an Air Force helicopter assigned to President Donald Trump’s support detail that was hit by a bullet, over Virginia, that was shot from the ground.

McClatchy News reported:

“An Air Force helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing at a Virginia airport Monday after someone shot at it, injuring a member of the crew, local and military officials told McClatchy.

The UH-1N Huey helicopter is assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Joint Base Andrews and had been on a routine training flight, the base said in a statement.”

The FBI “dispatched Special Agents and its Evidence Response Team to the Manassas Airport after receiving reports that a helicopter was shot at from the ground nearby,” the FBI’s Washington Field Office said in a statement.

Officials at Manassas Regional Airport said they received a call at about 12:20 p.m. alerting them that “a military helicopter was inbound and that paramedics were on the way,” said airport operations officer Richard Allabaugh.

The helicopter was about 10 miles northwest of the airport, near Middleburg, and was flying about 1,000 feet above the ground when it was hit, according to officials.

One crew member in the helicopter was injured but has since been treated and released from the hospital, according to authorities. The initial findings of the investigation show that the helicopter was struck by a bullet, causing some damage to the aircraft, though it landed safely, the Air Force said.

The squadron transports senior military and civilian leaders, along with high-ranking dignitaries, and also performs emergency medical evacuations.

There is no word on the motive or the shooter at this time.

Find Out More >

This story is developing.


Alexandria Crime: Ibrahim E. Bouaichi released, kills accuser | fox43.com

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/65-a4ccf061-200a-4e7d-9344-f4484ece906b/amp#amp=1 crime

Ibrahm E. Bouiachi was indicted on rape charges last year. After being released due to the pandemic, police say he shot and killed his accuser. Author: Associated Press Published: 7:54 AM EDT August 8, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Police in Virginia say that a rape suspect released from jail in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic went on to kill the woman who had accused him.

The Washington Post reports that Ibrahm E. Bouaichi was tracked down by authorities on Wednesday. But he shot himself and was in grave condition on Thursday. null

Bouaichi was indicted last year on charges that included rape, strangulation and abduction. He was jailed without bond in Alexandria.

The woman testified against him in Alexandria District Court in December.
When the pandemic hit, Bouaichi’s lawyers argued that he should be freed awaiting trial because the virus endangered both inmates and their attorneys. He was released on $25,000 bond over the objections of a prosecutor.

Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins released Bouaichi on the condition that he only leave his Maryland home to meet with his lawyers or pretrial services officials.

Alexandria police say that Bouaichi, 33, fatally shot the woman in late July. 

Authorities said that federal marshals and Alexandria police spotted and pursued Bouaichi in Prince George’s County on Wednesday. He crashed his vehicle and apparently shot himself, authorities said.

Judge Dawkins retired in June. He did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment. Judges are often prohibited from commenting on pending cases.

Bouaichi’s attorneys, Manuel Leiva and Frank Salvato said in a statement that they were “certainly saddened by the tragedy both families have suffered here.” 

The lawyers said they “were looking forward to trial. Unfortunately, the pandemic continued the trial date by several months and we didn’t get the chance to put forth our case.”

Police said the woman was a native of Venezuela and did not have family in this country. The Washington Post reported that very little information about her was available. The Associated Press does not identify persons who may have been sexually assaulted.

RELATED: Anne Arundel County officer charged for allegedly stealing firearms from dead person’s home https://1de7a502c5af8c0af3ca870255dd2487.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

RELATED: 11 MS-13 gang members arrested for sex trafficking, assaulting a minor


Portland Man Charged with Assaulting Deputy U.S. Marshal with Explosive Device During Courthouse Protest


PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that Isaiah Jason Maza, Jr., 18, of Portland, has been charged by criminal complaint with assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon and willfully damaging government property during protests at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of July 22, 2020, a group of individuals gathered in an exterior entryway of the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Several members of the group, including Maza, began removing plywood attached to the front of the building to protect its damaged glass façade. After the group successfully removed the plywood sheeting, Maza made multiple attempts to kick in the window, struck it with a metal object, and repeatedly pounded on it with what appeared to be a hammer.

Shortly thereafter, a number of people successfully removed the entire wooden structure protecting the courthouse entryway and an unknown individual broke one of the windows. After this breach, Maza walked toward the building carrying a cylindrical object. Maza then appeared to light a fuse connected to the object and place it inside the broken window. A short time later, the object exploded in close proximity to law enforcement officers exiting the building through the broken window. A deputy U.S. Marshal sustained injuries to both his legs as a result of the blast.

On July 31, 2020, deputy U.S. Marshals spotted Maza less than one block from the courthouse. Maza ran from the deputy marshals who pursued him several blocks by foot before catching and arresting him.

Maza made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

Assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Willfully damaging government property is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case is being jointly investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


CA apartment building locked down under mandatory quarantine of all residents, with MANDATORY COVID-19 testing

DHS Secretary Sets the Record Straight on Fake News – Nearly 40 Feds Doxed

Man caught on camera rubbing blood on Miami Beach businesses

 Surveillance video obtained by local 10 news shows a men who appeared to have a cut on his arm or hand overnight in Miami Beach. He is seeing walking up to the front of a business on Alton Road and rubbing his blood on the glass window before moving on to the next storefront.

The silence is chilling!!!

“54 US scientists lose jobs over secret ties to foreign countries”

Office for Victims of Crime Awards Nearly $2 Million to Respond to Elder Fraud


The Department of Justice announced that the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has awarded nearly $2 million for law enforcement training and technical assistance to improve the identification of elder fraud victims and connect victims to available resources. The department makes this announcement as communities around the world commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

“America’s seniors lose billions of dollars every year to fraud and financial scams, in many cases watching helplessly as their entire life savings disappear before their eyes,” said Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “We are fully committed to helping our law enforcement partners better recognize and combat these reprehensible crimes, bring the perpetrators to justice and begin to repair the damage and restore victims.”

The National White Collar Crime Center will receive $1,940,738 to work with the International Association of Chiefs of Police to identify current training, tools and practices being used to address elder fraud. The project will specifically study current resources available and responses to elder fraud in a rural and an urban jurisdiction in two of the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force districts and will develop and deliver trainings for law enforcement to improve the response to elder fraud tailored to the particular needs of different types of jurisdictions. The trainings will be tested, evaluated, and revised as needed and then made available to rural and urban law enforcement agencies nationwide. The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force brings together the resources and expertise of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for six federal districts, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other law enforcement personnel.

To further combat elder fraud and prevent harm to vulnerable victims, on March 3, 2020, the Justice Department launched the National Elder Fraud Hotline, managed by the OVC, providing services to all adults ages 60 and older who may be victims of financial fraud. Case managers on the hotline assess the needs of the callers and provide information to help them report fraud or may connect them directly with the appropriate agency. Since its inception, the National Elder Abuse Hotline has received more than 1,724 calls.

“Financial fraud is the most common form of abuse suffered by seniors in our country, affecting about one in 10 older Americans,” said OVC Director Jessica Hart. “I am confident that our investment in this effort, and our collaboration with these organizations, will lead to better identification of the victims of these deplorable crimes and greater justice for those victims.”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting the abuse and neglect of older persons in communities around the world.

For more information on how OVC responds to the right and needs of older victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/mdt.

The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.


Project Veritas INFILTRATES ANTIFA: “Practice things like an eye gouge…injure someone’s eyes”

North Carolina Jails Free Hundreds of Illegal Immigrant Criminals Wanted by Feds – Judicial Watch

September 10, 2019 | Judicial Watch

Weeks after Judicial Watch reported that the sheriff of North Carolina’s biggest county released numerous violent illegal immigrant criminals from custody, new federal stats reveal that the problem is statewide. Nearly 500 offenders with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers have been discharged into communities throughout the Tar Heel State this fiscal year, which doesn’t end until next month so the number is likely to grow. A Charlotte news outlet obtained the latest figures from ICE, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the article a senior DHS source condemns North Carolina law enforcement officials, reminding them that they are obstructing federal law and endangering the American public.

So far 489 illegal aliens with ICE detainers have been discharged from North Carolina jails in the last ten months, including those charged with serious crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, arson and sex offenses. The new data does not break down which county jail the perpetrators were released from, but we know from previous disclosures that Mecklenburg County, the state’s largest, is notorious for protecting illegal aliens from the feds. In fact, when the current sheriff, Garry McFadden got elected in 2018, he immediately ended a program known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally. The program enhances the safety and security of communities by creating partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove aliens who are amenable to removal from the United States. It is a mutually beneficial agreement, ICE says, that identifies, arrests and serves warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born criminals. The program has identified and removed from the U.S. gang members, sex offenders and murderers and has reduced the number of criminal offenders that are released back into communities. “Federal, state and local officers working together provide a tremendous benefit to public safety through increased law enforcement communication and overall community policing effectiveness,” according to ICE.

But Mecklenburg County proudly offers illegal aliens sanctuary and evidently that includes violent offenders. ICE recently disclosed that McFadden’s agency has freed more than 20 serious criminals, including rapists, child molesters, kidnappers, burglars, and those charged with gun-related and drug crimes. Most of the illegal immigrants are from Central America and Mexico, but a few are from India, Afghanistan, Liberia and Sri Lanka. Among them is Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, a previously deported Honduran charged with rape and child sex offenses. Thankfully, ICE arrested him last month during a targeted enforcement operation because Mecklenburg County law enforcement officials released him from custody despite his violent history. The federal agency accused Mecklenburg County of releasing a serious public safety threat onto the streets of Charlotte where he was free to potentially harm others for nearly two months until his capture by ICE. “The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s decision to restrict cooperation with ICE serves as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that Mecklenburg County is a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe today than last year due these policies,” the agency’s regional director said in a statement.

Incredibly, a growing number of local municipalities offer illegal immigrants sanctuary and refuse to cooperate with federal authorities, even when it involves dangerous criminals. Just a few months ago Judicial Watch reported that various California law enforcement agencies released 16 illegal immigrants with criminal records during a three-month period. Some were arrested and released multiple times by the same local law enforcement agency after committing felonies. In all of the cases, ICE issued detainers but local police ignored the federal agency to protect the illegal alien from deportation, instead freeing the perpetrator back into the community. Offenders include Mexican, Honduran and Salvadoran nationals charged with murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, spousal abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of illegal drugs and other serious crimes. One 23-year-old Honduran man was booked and released in San Francisco ten times in less than a year for crimes ranging from burglary, vehicle theft and driving without a license. In each of the arrests, ICE issued a detainer but the San Francisco Police Department disregarded it and let the man go.


“Jeffrey Epstein dies of apparent suicide a day after release of court documents”

Petition · Jacob Wohl: Remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee · Change.org

Jacob Wohl started this petition to Jacob Wohl

Rep. Ilhan Omar was flagged during the campaign for having a proclivity towards making antisemitic remarks, while refusing to condemn terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Upon being elected to the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi placed Rep. Omar on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is critical in steering America’s foreign policy. Since taking office, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s antisemitism has continued, and even escalated.

She blamed Jewish Money for America’s pro-Israeli foreign policy and invoked “Benjamin’s Baby” as an antisemitic trope aimed at Jared Kushner.

Enough is enough! It’s time for Rep. Ilhan Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

© 2019, Change.org, PBCCertified B Corporation

Deep State Cover-up of Missing $21 Trillion Deeply Disturbing – Dr. Mark Skidmore

7,000 Insects, Spiders And Lizards Stolen From Philadelphia Museum

7,000 Insects, Spiders And Lizards Stolen From Philadelphia Museum
3-4 minutes

The same week that a fire swept through the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, destroying millions of priceless artifacts, the news broke that about 4,900 miles away in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion had also lost about 90 percent of its collection.

But it wasn’t because of a fire, and it wasn’t historical treasures that are gone from this museum. Thieves stole 7,000 live arachnids, insects and lizards. It could be the largest live insect heist in history, according to the museum’s CEO, Dr. John Cambridge. He, as well as police, believe it was an inside job by current or former employees.

Footage from security cameras shows three people leaving the museum on Aug. 22 with containers that were presumably filled with the arthropods, which are estimated to be worth about $40,000. The thieves also stole the logs used to keep track of the insects. Staff uniforms had been “stabbed into the wall with knives,” the Associated Press reports.

Continue reading here….


Misconduct report against · U.S. House of Representatives: Impeach Judge Gloria M. Navarro ·

District Court 17-cv-02739-GMN

We the People of the United States petition the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Judge Gloria M. Navarro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada for committing treason and collaborating in the insurrection against the Constitutional authority of the federal government pursuant to Article I Section 8 Clause 15, Article 3 Section 3 and Article 2 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, 18 U.S.C. § 2831 and 18 U.S. § Code 2383.

Whereas Judge Navarro, at the direction of the FBI, BLM, and other federal agencies, is unlawfully detaining (Amendment VIII of the Bill of Rights & 18 U.S.C. § 3142), and has been for over nine months, prominent activists within the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom political movement for exercising their First Amendment protected rights—protesting against federal government overreach [the fact it had sold 9,000 acres of public land bordering Bundy Ranch and other people who own grazing rights to the division to a Communist Chinese energy firm represented by Rory Reid (Harry Reid’s son), EMM, for $4.5 million, $34.1 million less than its value, and began rounding up the Bundy’s cattle and holding them in inhumane conditions … at least 60 purportedly suffering death or missing]—and, in order to suppress C4CF ‘s education of the People, they have been charged by the FBI for violating 18 U.S.C. § 371 – Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States; 18 U.S.C. § 372 – Conspiracy to Impede and Injure a Federal Officer; 18 U.S.C. § lll(a)(l) and (b) – Assault on a Federal Officer; 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(l)(B) – Threatening a Federal Law Enforcement Officer; 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) – Use and Carry of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence; 18 U.S.C. § 1503 – Obstruction of the Due Administration of Justice; 18 U.S.C. § 1951 – Interference with Interstate Commerce by Extortion; 18 U.S.C. § 1952 – Interstate Travel in Aid of Extortion; 18 U.S.C. § 2 – Aiding and Abetting. Among the political prisoners are Cliven, Ammon, Ryan and Mel Bundy, Peter Santilli (a journalist), Ryan Payne, Blaine Cooper, Eric Parker and Jerry DeLumus—all of whom provide C4CF with necessary influence.

Whereas the discovery comprises substantial evidence proving the innocence of the defendants but is being concealed from the public at the order of Judge Navarro (in violation of Amendment VI of the Bill of Rights and Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure). These prisoners have also been subjected to mistreatment by the FBI, U.S. Marshall Service and employees of the correctional facilities.

Whereas Judge Navarro is consciously proceeding with falsified charges filed by the FBI against C4CF and refusing to grant motions to dismiss after learning that Sheriff Douglas Gillespie and many other local, state and federal officials ordered the BLM to return the cattle to the Bundy’s and withdraw from the land, and being presented with relevant laws [Article I Section 8 Clause 17 & Article IV Section 3 Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Nevada Revised Statute 568.225] were presented to her by the defense.

Whereas, after being ordered by Sheriff Gillespie to stand down, Special Agent Dan P. Love of the BLM continued to impede on the rights and jurisdiction of the People of Clark County and all People of Nevada unabated; Committing acts of aggression that should be considered attempts to seriously injure or even kill peaceful protesters, including tazing several individuals and using blunt force (some already challenged by physical disabilities)—an apparent result of its militarization. Sheriff Gillespie stated that “anyone who had been in policing would question their tactics.”

Whereas Judge Navarro is participating in a cover up of the suppression by the FBI (by way of COINTELPRO tactics) of the right to the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, peaceful assembly, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances. One of the main functions of government is to enforce contracts, and in this case not only is the government failing to enforce a contract but it is also the contractor, and have abridged their obligations in addition to preventing the contractee(s) [Cliven Bundy—We the People] from discharging our duties enumerated in Article I Section 8 Clause 15 & 16 of the U.S. Constitution & 10 U.S.C. § 311 and pursuant to Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Whereas Judge Navarro has proven herself unfit to be an impartial Federal Judge; Consistent to the extreme bias expressed by her assistance given to the federal government and its usurpation of power and by covering up the inhumane treatment of political activists who are being unlawfully detained for exercising their rights protected by the First Amendment to enforce the rule of law—to establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, guarantee a Republican Form of Government, and secure the right to life, liberty and property, as ordained by the Creator in the U.S. Constitution.

Here is the form that needs to mail to Washington, DC

Click to access Complaint%20form.pdf

Breaking! 3 Arrests Made After Raid Of Illegal Slaughterhouse In Palm Beach County, Florida! – World Animal News

By Karen Lane –
August 3, 2018

Photo by Palm Beach Post – From Left: Chico Allen Cabrera, Ricardo Cabrera, and Roberto Llorente
Horrific details have emerged following the arrest of 3 men after an investigation of a suspected illegal slaughterhouse in Loxahatchee Groves, Florida.
Animal Recovery Mission investigators conducted the six-month undercover operation called Operation Groves.
According to ARM’s Facebook page, “The property was discovered while investigators were conducting an investigation in a nearby area and on February 8, 2018, ARM immediately launched an investigation. The undercover investigation revealed Operation Groves was running an illegal slaughterhouse where numerous animals were being tortured and slaughtered for human consumption violating the state animal cruelty and slaughter laws. The unsafe meat was also illegally distributed into Broward County, Miami Dade County, and Palm Beach County’s food chain.”
The video footage that was captured was enough to give you nightmares. The footage included goats being tortured by slashing their legs and throat while completely conscious and metal hooks being inserted into their bodies while hanging upside down. All this while the animals are attempting to breath.
The details continue with other animals including chickens and pigs that were also cut and tortured while suffering a slow and painful death in filthy butchering areas.
Thankfully, ARM was able to discover this horror of a slaughterhouse before anymore animals suffered under the hands of these heartless people.
Richard Couto, the leader of ARM, noted that the meat may have also been used for rituals like black magic; calling it “a very, extremely violent illegal slaughterhouse.”
After the raid, Palm Beach Animal Control came on site to remove all animals including cows, pigs, pigeons, chickens.
The three men that were arrested were Ricardo Cabrera, 57, Chico Allen Cabrera, 29, and Roberto Llorente, 65. Their charges include Felony Cruelty to Animals, Conspiracy to Commit Felony Cruelty to Animals, Kill Animals Inhumane Methods, Conspiracy to Commit Killing Animals Inhumane Methods and Cruelty to Animals.
According to Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Ted S. Booras ordered Richardo Cabrera on Friday to be held in lieu of $139,000 bail on the 40 charges, six of them felonies, during a bond hearing. The other two men are also being held in lieu of bail.
The judge also made it clear that the defendants could not pay their bail with the money they received from their alleged crimes at the slaughterhouse. Prosecutors stated that the investigators seized $120,000.00 during their raid.
WAN applauds ARM and their team for uncovering this terrible place and we are thankful that the rest of the animals will no longer suffer.

© Copyright 2018 – WorldAnimalNews.com

Amazon.com, tax dodgers

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from the USA says about itself:

You Won’t Believe How Much Taxes Amazon Paid Last Year

3 March 2018

Guess how much Amazon paid in taxes? Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, the hosts of The Young Turks, have the answer. Get money out of politics: here.

Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, with a personal net worth of $108 billion. In 2017, Bezos’ company, the internet retail giant Amazon, reportedly took in $5.6 billion in U.S. profits.

So, how much did Amazon pay in income tax on that bounty? Hang on, we’re getting some news…what? What’s this? Amazon effectively paid zero dollars in federal income taxes in 2017? Oh.

Amazon is projecting a $789 million windfall from the Republicans’ tax bill, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which may have factored into its reason…

View original post 149 more words

Paying at the Pump | Grist


Texas’ environmental agency targets small business owners for minor record-keeping violations, while letting corporate polluters off easy.

By Naveena Sadasivam on Feb 21, 2018

This story was originally published by The Texas Observer and is reproduced here as part of a collaboration.

One day in April 2015, Nasser Farahnakian watched helplessly as the streets around his gas station in Corpus Christi flooded. That spring had seen a succession of severe thunderstorms in South Texas, smashing rainfall records and causing widespread flooding across this city of 300,000. As the waters rose around Farahnakian’s business, hundreds of gallons poured through a manhole into three underground storage tanks that hold gasoline and diesel. Underground, the grimy floodwaters mixed with the valuable fuel, rendering it unsellable. In late April, Farahnakian called a contractor to pump the water out of the tanks — the first of five times he would have to do so over the next month. Eventually the rains subsided and he figured the $8,000 expense was just part of being a gas station owner.

Four months later, an inspector with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) showed up for a scheduled inspection and asked to see an inventory of fuel, a routine request. The inspector pointed out that the records didn’t account for 800 gallons of fuel. Did it leak into the ground? Farahnakian tried explaining that the figures in the inventory records didn’t add up because the tanks had flooded and he’d hired a company to clean them out. He says he even showed the inspector the receipts from the contractor.



Watch the Grist mini-documentary on Texas regulators targeting gas-station owners.

It didn’t work. Farahnakian was shocked when he received a letter from TCEQ informing him that he was facing $59,000 in fines for recordkeeping violations — about two years’ worth of profits from gas sales at his store. Farahnakian was outraged. He’d done everything right. He hadn’t sold fuel mixed with water and had immediately cleaned the tanks. Automatic sensors in the tanks didn’t indicate a leak.

“We did everything to fix it,” Farahnakian said. “But the paper, the inventory, did not match.”

At age 26, Farahnakian had left Isfahan, the third-largest city in Iran, to get a Western education. It was 1976 and the country was on the verge of a political revolution. When he landed in Houston, he didn’t speak a lick of English and didn’t know anyone in the country. Farahnakian enrolled in language classes, secured a spot at a community college in Beeville and picked up odd jobs. He waited tables and washed dishes at a Mexican restaurant, making minimum wage, $2.30 an hour. At night, he drove a taxi, making $1 or $2 a trip.

When he was close to finishing his engineering degree, Farahnakian quit school. He found work at a bottling company, a job he hated, but one that allowed him to save money to fulfill his dream of owning his own business.

In 1988, after more than a decade in the country, Farahnakian was able to open a convenience store in Corpus Christi. As his business took off, he opened another store, then bought rental property and began leasing it out.

Eventually, in 2005, Farahnakian purchased land off Highway 44 and built his current gas station. The place has the comforting fluorescent glow of a familiar American institution. A sign outside reads “SUNRISE FOODS BEER ICE HOT DELI.” Inside, the store is conspicuously clean. The deli counter advertises breakfast tacos and “Chicken By The Pieces.”


As modest as it is, the store has helped make Farahnakian prosperous. “I never gonna go back working for somebody in my whole life,” he said. “If they give me million dollars, I don’t want to have a boss no more.”
Nasser Farahnakian, a gas station owner who was fined $59,000 by TCEQ for recordkeeping violations, at his convenience store in Corpus Christi. Tamir Kalifa/Texas Observer

Sunrise Foods is located just down the road from the airport, and the nearest competitor is about 6 miles away. Along with rental income from other properties, Farahnakian and his wife are more than comfortable and now live in a posh part of Corpus Christi, in a 4,900-square-foot home made cozy with Persian rugs. “I’ve been working hard all my life and now I enjoy,” he said.

Still, the $59,000 fine stung. He could afford to pay it, but what about a less well-off gas station operator? “We’ve got volume, it’s OK,” he said. “But for a smaller gas station it’s kind of very rough. More [of] their profit goes toward TCEQ, which is very unfair.”

Unlike many other gas station owners, Farahnakian fought back. He hired a local attorney to contest the fines, and the case landed before a judge at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), an agency that holds trial-like proceedings for legal disputes. After eight months of wrangling, during which Farahnakian provided documentation that he’d cleaned up the tanks, TCEQ agreed to settle for $27,000. Farahnakian took the deal. He says he had already spent $15,000 in lawyer fees and a year of his time dealing with TCEQ. Still, he’s upset at what he sees as the mismatch between the infraction and the size of the fine.

“Why we have to pay $27,000 for one violation?” he asked. “Which world is like that? Which country is like that? And there is no leak.”


In April 2015, just as Farahnakian’s woes were about to begin, a Citgo refinery a few miles away was malfunctioning. Citgo personnel had discovered that a stack at the plant was emitting more hydrogen cyanide than its air permit allowed. For two months, as Citgo later reported to TCEQ, the plant released more than 50,000 pounds of hydrogen cyanide into the air. Exposure to the chemical at high levels can be toxic to human health. Two and a half years later, TCEQ is still deciding whether to punish the company at all, and is even considering a request from Citgo to simply amend its air permit to retroactively bless the pollution.

Citgo owns and operates two large refineries in Corpus Christi. Sitting at the edge of Nueces Bay, the 890-acre expanses of steel, towering stacks and massive storage tanks are feats of engineering. Every hour, they together churn through more than 6,500 barrels of crude oil, spitting out, among other products, gasoline that Farahnakian has purchased for his gas station. According to state data, they’re also some of the biggest polluters in Texas. Combined, the two refineries emit more than 3,800 tons of hazardous pollutants a year, spewing carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds — exposure to many of which has been correlated with lung and breast cancer — as well as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which worsen respiratory illnesses in the young and elderly and contribute to haze in the region.

From 2012 to 2017, the plants released more pollution than allowed by their permits 66 times, including the April incident, according to public data. TCEQ fined the company in only four cases and initially issued just $82,400 in fines. In three of those cases, however, Citgo unleashed its legal department on TCEQ. In all four cases, TCEQ reduced fines because of “good faith” efforts and timely payments. Eventually, Citgo paid just $42,500 — a little more than a dollar per pound of pollution — for all four cases.

Farahnakian makes a few thousand dollars a month from selling sodas, beer and gas at his store; Citgo has annual revenues reportedly north of $40 billion. Farahnakian is a first-generation immigrant who isn’t fluent in English and is unfamiliar with the state’s regulatory system; Citgo has significant political and financial capital that it can use to fight TCEQ. Farahnakian was punished for recordkeeping violations and there is no evidence of gas leaking out of his tanks; Citgo admitted to pumping 50,000 pounds of hydrogen cyanide into the air. Yet Farahnakian’s penalty for a recordkeeping error was about the same as Citgo’s fine for releasing toxic air pollutants over five years.


A Texas-themed welcome sign is painted on the side of a tank at one of Citgo’s Corpus Christi refineries. Tamir Kalifa/Texas Observer

Farahnakian isn’t an exception. He’s one of hundreds of Texas gas station owners, often first-generation immigrants, who have been fined for missing or incorrect paperwork, even as big corporations receive lesser punishment for releasing dangerous pollutants. The Observer analyzed more than 300,000 rows of data related to TCEQ’s enforcement activity from 2009 to 2017 in an effort to assess the priorities of the nation’s fourth-largest environmental agency. The analysis found that TCEQ collected $24 million from tank operators, the vast majority of whom are gas station owners. That’s only slightly lower than the $30 million it collected from the thousands of industrial facilities — refineries, petrochemical plants, cement batch plants — across the state that violated their air permits.

The Observer’s analysis also found that the agency devotes considerable resources to policing gas stations. Cases against underground storage tank owners make up about 40 percent of TCEQ’s total enforcement workload, and 85 percent of the 4,200 cases against gas stations simply involved poor recordkeeping. In contrast, industrial polluters self-reported 500 million pounds of pollutants from 2011 to 2017. Yet TCEQ failed to levy fines against such violators 97 percent of the time during the same period, according to a 2017 report from two environmental groups critical of TCEQ. And when it did, the state came down much harder on small business owners: The Observer found that the average penalty for petroleum tank owners, $1,250, was double that of industrial air polluters, $580.

The disparity between TCEQ’s treatment of mom-and-pop operations versus large corporations is no accident. The regulatory apparatus seems built to favor those with money and power. The agency rarely punishes big polluters, often because they invoke a legal loophole that allows pollution associated with plant startup, shutdown or malfunctions. Even in the event of a fine, companies typically lawyer up, negotiating big reductions in penalties. As a result, environmental advocates and small business owners say there’s a fundamental unfairness at work with the way TCEQ treats its “customers,” as it refers to businesses it regulates.

“Fines should be tailored to their impact on the business,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of the nonprofit Environment Texas, which has criticized TCEQ for failing to hold air polluters accountable. “The fines should also reflect the seriousness of the violation. Whenever the public is being exposed to potentially harmful pollutants, penalties should be at their absolute highest. On both counts, TCEQ fails miserably.”

Andrea Morrow, a spokesperson for TCEQ, provided the agency’s own analysis, which is mostly similar to the Observer’s findings. For example, TCEQ found that petroleum tank users made up 33 percent of the agency’s caseload, while the Observer calculated 40 percent. Morrow also took issue with the characterization of certain violations and defended the practice of using records to identify potential environmental hazards. She also said that leaking petroleum tanks pose health and environmental risks as well as “the potential for fire and explosion.”

“[R]ecordkeeping violations may not be simple ‘paperwork’ violations,” she said. “In many cases, the records required may be the only way a potential release can be identified and addressed before significant environmental harm is done.” She disputed the Observer’s finding that 85 percent of violations were related to recordkeeping and argued that those violations were misinterpreted. She also claimed that paperwork-related cases account for less than 1 percent of all violations cited in commission orders.

Morrow said the agency has been holding workshops to educate gas station owners about the regulatory requirements, adding that enforcement is “merely one tool” it uses to protect the environment. Still, she said “the sheer size” of the gas station industry “combined with high employee and ownership turnover … makes it difficult to reach everyone.”

Farahnakian, who has agreed to pay the $27,000 fine in 36 monthly payments of $750, is upset that TCEQ is making it more difficult to operate in an industry that is already challenging for small businesses.

“[TCEQ] try to get you out of this business,” he said. “Anybody can miss something, or water can get in the tanks. … But they get hard on us, not for them. For the foreigner, for the individual owner.”

The retail gasoline and convenience store business is one of slim margins, high turnover and uncertainty. Day-to-day fluctuations in gas prices, ever-changing regulations and high overhead costs all make it difficult to stay afloat in the industry. There’s even the apparently common problem of inattentive people driving off with the gas nozzle still stuck in the vehicle — a screwup that can cost the owner thousands of dollars. According to the Small Business Administration, about 48 percent of Texas’ small businesses are minority-owned. Though the agency doesn’t have demographic data by industry, experts told the Observer that a significant percentage of the 20,000 or so gas stations in Texas are owned and operated by immigrants, predominantly from Asia and the Middle East.

Scott Fisher, the senior vice president of policy and public affairs with the Texas Food and Fuel Association, an industry group that represents gas stations and convenience stores, said that in the 1970s and 1980s, the gas station business was likely attractive to immigrants because of the low barrier to entry. Loans were easy to secure and the down payments were typically smaller than what’s required today. Regulations were simple and easy to navigate; inspections were few.

“It looked like a pretty good way to get established and take care of your family,” Fisher said.

In the 1980s, however, it became increasingly clear that leaking petroleum tanks posed a major threat to groundwater, and pressure mounted on Congress to crack down. At the time, the EPA estimated that one-quarter of the approximately 2 million tanks in the country were leaking. Of particular concern was MTBE, a powerful octane booster and carcinogen that renders groundwater undrinkable even when present in tiny quantities.

Congress gave the EPA jurisdiction over underground tanks in 1984 and ordered the agency to step up its policing. But in the late 1990s, the EPA still had a major problem on its hands.

In 1998, researchers at the Department of Energy found traces of gasoline chemicals in groundwater at more than 13,000 California sites, and in 2001 and 2005, the Government Accountability Office published scathing reports on the lack of funding for cleanups. “Most states and EPA do not physically inspect all underground storage tanks frequently enough or have access to the most effective enforcement tools to ensure compliance with federal requirements,” the 2001 report noted.

In 2005, under mounting pressure from activists and lawmakers, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, an omnibus energy bill that increased funding to states for tank cleanups. Among the key provisions: States receiving federal assistance would have to conduct inspections of gas stations every three years.

Taking the federal money now meant putting gas station owners under much closer scrutiny. Unlike most states, Texas officials rebuffed the federal government, according to an EPA spokesperson. (Morrow said that TCEQ wasn’t aware of additional funding being declined.)
Tamir Kalifa/Texas Observer

But in 2009, as part of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, TCEQ was offered a windfall — $10.8 million over two years if it would conduct routine inspections. The agency farmed most of the work out to the University of Texas at Arlington through a $2.5 million contract. The effect was immediate and drastic. In 2009, the year before the contract went into effect, TCEQ conducted about 5,700 inspections and issued $3.5 million in fines. Four years later, in 2013, the number of inspections more than doubled to about 13,200, and fines increased to almost $5 million.

The increase in inspections “was the single biggest change from that law,” said Cliff Rothenstein, who headed EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks during the George W. Bush administration. Prior to the Energy Policy Act, most of the money was provided to clean up leaking tanks, he said, but after the law passed states received millions for inspections.

There’s little doubt that the program has succeeded in reducing pollution. In Texas, the number of documented spills and leaks from petroleum storage tanks has decreased from 354 per year in 2006 to 285 in 2016. “It’s a big achievement,” Rothenstein said.

Many gas station owners told the Observer they don’t object to fines in the event of a leak. They also conceded that the regulatory crackdown has prompted them to be more attentive to the records, and some have hired compliance firms to keep their books in order. But they also noted that TCEQ has discretion when it comes to how harshly it punishes polluters. They questioned why TCEQ doesn’t show the same zeal for deterrence when it comes to some of the biggest polluters in the state, often the very petrochemical companies — Citgo, Valero, Shell, Exxon —from which they must purchase gas.

Only 7 percent of the tanks inspected from 2009 to 2017 had a documented spill or leak at some point in their history. In fact, in TCEQ’s data, the Observer was able to identify only six cases where an inspector found evidence of contamination. In the vast majority of cases, TCEQ became aware of a leaking tank when an owner reported it to the agency.

The most common citation is for failing to maintain accurate inventories. Gas stations and other businesses with fueling stations, such as hospitals and car washes, are expected to maintain more than 40 sets of records at any given time. Some, like the gas inventories, need to be updated every day. Others have to be renewed monthly or yearly. In Farahnakian’s case, there was a discrepancy of 800 gallons of fuel, the result of the five times he had to have the tanks pumped dry. Official TCEQ forms provide a space for indicating when gasoline is delivered or sold, but not for when fuel is removed from the tank during a cleaning. Two inspectors told the Observer that they view “missing” gas as an indication that it might have leaked out of the tanks.

Under Texas regulations, Farahnakian was supposed to report the issue to TCEQ and hire a company to investigate the source of the errors. He says he didn’t do either because he didn’t know they were requirements. As a result, his initial fine grew under what is known in regulatory circles as “cascading violations.”

TCEQ dinged him $9,016 for not maintaining records for an automatic leak sensor in one of the tanks, $4,508 for failing to report the inventory discrepancy and $45,082 for not hiring an investigator to look into the discrepancy. It added up to $58,606. If TCEQ had penalized him for just the first violation, Farahnakian would have had to pay only the $9,016.

Farahnakian points out that he had installed probes in the tank to alert him if there were a leak.

“We find out, we have monitoring there,” Farahnakian said. “We press it and it says no leaks. … They don’t care about this. All they need is fine. Big fine.”

Morrow did not respond to questions about the violations at Farahnakian’s gas station. Instead, she said that the agency’s executive director “considers all available evidence when determining the violations, penalty and corrective actions to include in an enforcement action.”

For mom-and-pop gas station owners, the fines can take a financial and emotional toll.

In 2015, a TCEQ inspector found that Jamal Jafari, a Palestinian American who owns a gas station in Fort Worth, hadn’t conducted a corrosion test and had left required leak detectors unplugged. Though the inspector didn’t find any signs of a leak or a spill, Jafari was still smacked with a $6,500 fine. It took such a toll on his finances that he says he would shut down the pumps if it wouldn’t affect sales in the convenience store.

Jafari’s family fled Palestine in 1976 when he was 6 years old; the family lived in a Jordanian refugee camp during his school years. His five sisters, brother and parents all slept in a 10-by-10-foot shack, he recalled. After high school, Jafari secured a visa to come to the United States. He took English classes in Chicago and enrolled at Harold Washington College. Later he moved to Texas to take classes to become a pilot. But he couldn’t afford the schooling and quit to take a job at a gas station.

Over the next five years, Jafari saved enough money to open his own gas station in Fort Worth. Jafari, who is Muslim, thinks immigrants like him are unfairly penalized, in part because they’re less likely to put up a fight.

“We [have] this feeling, they target us,” Jafari said. “‘We fine them, they cannot go to lawyer, some of them they don’t speak English and they scared.’ … I came to this country and I don’t know all the rules, just like [when an] American goes to my country, he don’t know all the rules.”

Jafari says he sells only about 30,000 gallons of gas a month at a profit of 5 cents a gallon — about $1,500 a month. After debit card fees, he typically makes less than a dollar per fill-up. Like most gas station owners, Jafari counts on customers coming into the store for other goods.

“I hope he buy soda pop, a cigarette, a bag of chips [and] I’ll make the difference,” Jafari said. “But the gas, nobody makes money on gas. They keep it just to keep the customer happy.”

TCEQ allowed Jafari to go on a payment plan — $540 a month for 12 months — but he struggled to scrounge together the funds. Sometimes he would skip a month or two and pay a lump sum once he’d saved up enough. He says he and his family — his wife and 10 children — had to cut back on groceries and skimp wherever they could.

“It put me in a hole,” he said. “It’s hardship on me, my family and everything.”

On a warm fall morning in South Texas, Gary is rushing from one gas station to the next in a white pickup truck with TCEQ’s blue-and-green logo on the side. One of more than 450 investigators employed by the agency, Gary expects to inspect three gas stations within an hour and a half this morning. He’s just wrapped up the third store — an HEB, where he spent 20 minutes — and is pulling into a Stripes he’d inspected earlier in the morning.

(I’ve changed Gary’s name because he fears he could lose his job by speaking to the media.)

Gary says he had an easy time with the inspections that morning because they were all corporate-owned gas stations. Employees from Stripes and HEB were present to answer any questions, and they had already emailed Gary the records he needed to review.


“The corporate ones are the easy ones to write up, because they give us the documents and we can type it up as quickly as possible,” he said. “The mom-and-pops … it takes us a little bit longer to get everything.”

On any given day, Gary may be investigating a tire fire in the morning and responding to complaints from neighbors living next to a scrap metal plant in the afternoon. Because there are so many gas stations to inspect, TCEQ wants inspectors to fly through them, Gary says. He says he’s expected to take just five hours from start to finish, though he sometimes needs at least seven to do the job right. (Morrow disputed this timeframe, saying that investigators take 15 hours on average.)

TCEQ requires its inspectors to have reports approved within 60 days of the inspection, a deadline that Gary says inspectors often rush to meet. While he takes the time to help small business owners find records that satisfy the rules, other inspectors may not have the patience, he says.

“When [politicians] say you’re overburdening [businesses] with regulation, what they’re really saying is you’re overburdening the big corporate people,” said Gary. “You’re not really thinking of the mom-and-pops.”

Another hurdle for some small business owners is that many speak English as a second language. Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, entities that receive federal funding are expected to provide equal access to services, regardless of race, color and national origin. Courts have generally interpreted the law to include providing language assistance to people whose primary language is not English.

TCEQ appears to have taken some steps to provide language assistance. Morrow, the TCEQ spokesperson, said that whenever agency staff run into communication barriers, they “rely on available internal or external resources,” including staff who “are fluent in a variety of languages,” Spanish speakers in the agency’s small business program, and the EnviroMentor program, where environmental professionals volunteer their time to assist small businesses.

Still, it’s unclear how often those services are used. Based on interviews with nine gas station owners and two inspectors, many gas station owners don’t know that the agency provides translation services. Take, for instance, Joginder Singh. He quit school after eighth grade in Hathur, a small farming community in rural Punjab, India, and as a young adult worked at a Nestle milk collection center. He was “struggling, struggling” to make money, he recalled, and told his father, “Don’t worry… one day I’m going to the other country.”
Joginder Singh at his gas station in Floresvllle. Tamir Kalifa/Texas Observer

In 1998, at age 35, Singh got a visa to the United States and flew to Syracuse, New York. There he found work as a gas station attendant, but Singh didn’t speak a word of English, and his boss fired him, telling him he couldn’t employ someone who wasn’t able to communicate with customers. Eventually, Singh picked up a little bit of the language, moved to Fresno, California, and later came to Texas with his cousin in the hopes of owning and running gas stations with him.

One cold December morning, Singh walks me to a small, cramped office at the back of his gas station in Floresville, a small town southeast of San Antonio. He opens a gray filing cabinet filled with files marked “TCEQ #1” and “TCEQ #2.”

In 2016, a routine inspection landed Singh in trouble. A contractor with UT-Arlington inspected his gas station and found that Singh hadn’t tested the pipes leading from the underground tanks to the pumps. The inspector told him to get the leak test done in the next week. Singh followed the instructions and the test came back clean, but he was still slapped with a $5,800 fine. When Singh told a TCEQ staffer over the phone that he wanted to contest the case, he says he was threatened.

“He said, ‘If you go before the judge, judge from TCEQ, he no listen to you, he listen to me,’” Singh recalled. Discouraged, Singh didn’t bother to appeal. (Morrow did not respond to a request to comment on Singh’s allegation.)

Singh says no one ever bothered to inform him that he had a right to a translator at no cost. With a Hindi or Punjabi translator, he might’ve had a clearer understanding of the violations and how best to defend himself.

“They need to ask first time, ‘Hey Mr. Singh, hey Mr. Kumar, hey Mr. Benjamin, hey Mr. Lopez, you need interpreter?’” Singh said. “If they give me the translator between lawyer, any judge, whatever, I can more fighting myself. I can more fighting there.”

The contract between TCEQ and UT-Arlington spells out that the university must comply with the Civil Rights Act: “As a recipient of EPA financial assistance, you are required … to provide meaningful access to [Limited English Proficiency] individuals.” The university also “has an affirmative obligation” to “ensure that its actions do not involve discriminatory treatment.”

Marianne Engelman Lado, an environmental law professor at Yale University, said that the legal argument for translating the violation notices and enforcement documents is “pretty strong.” According to Engelman Lado, the EPA has determined in response to a Clinton-era executive order that agencies need to translate certain “vital” documents to the respondent’s primary language. TCEQ’s enforcement letters and orders fit that definition, she said.

In Singh’s case, despite the fact that he primarily speaks Punjabi and Hindi, TCEQ sent letters in English notifying him that he was in violation of state laws and owed the state money.

“I come from India and I don’t have education,” said Singh. “How I can read everything?”

In New York, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies offer medical information in 16 different languages, using translation software.

“Technology has become easier and easier and access to translation has become easier and easier,” Engelman Lado said. “So an organization or an agency with resources, they should be able to at least give out notice and then provide these vital documents in people’s languages.”

Morrow did not respond to specific questions about which documents TCEQ translates, but said broadly, “As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must follow Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

The system offers luxuries to large companies that are simply not available to Jafari, Singh and Farahnakian. First, TCEQ very rarely fines companies for violating their air pollution permits. For example, from 2005 to 2013, the agency declined to pursue fines in 152 cases against Exxon, or 63 percent of the company’s self-reported emissions events. In total the agency issued just $1.4 million in fines to Exxon, little more than mildly wagging its finger at the multinational behemoth.

But the extent to which the system is rigged in favor of Exxon came to light during a lawsuit that environmental groups filed against the company. Texas law allows air polluters to avoid penalties if the emissions occurred during plant startup or shutdown or because of a malfunction. However, during the trial, an Exxon official testified that the company reflexively uses that justification no matter the circumstances. The trial also showed that even when TCEQ fined Exxon, it allowed the company to dictate the terms. A top agency official testified that Exxon was allowed to write the first draft of a 2012 enforcement order and had significant input into the final version.

In 2017, the federal judge ruled against Exxon, finding that the company gained nearly $14.3 million in economic benefits by delaying projects that would’ve reduced emissions. Exxon was ordered to pay almost $20 million.

The Exxon judgment was a rare win. Refineries, petrochemical plants and other polluters under TCEQ’s purview still routinely claim that all excess emissions are related to startup, shutdown or malfunctions. Usually, the strategy works. In Citgo’s case, for instance, the company appealed three of the four times it exceeded its permit from 2012 to 2017. In all three cases, the company claimed the emissions were legal, successfully reduced the fine, and avoided admitting to any wrongdoing.
An oil refinery in Corpus Christi owned by Citgo. Tamir Kalifa/Texas Observer

In one 2012 incident, the Citgo West plant in Corpus Christi released more than 25,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide and more than 400 pounds of a slew of other chemicals, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen oxides. The emissions went on for more than a day, but the company failed to report them within 24 hours as required. TCEQ fined Citgo $50,500. But the company then simply claimed it was an authorized emission and appealed the case to SOAH. Ultimately, TCEQ settled with Citgo for $13,100.

“These guys have millions of dollars, literally, to spend on lawyers and lobbyists and will put up a fight, and, on the other hand, we know a gas station owner doesn’t have those resources,” said Metzger with Environment Texas. “Even if he or she wanted to go to SOAH or the courts, they likely don’t have the money or the time or the expertise to be able to mount any kind of real defense.”

Indeed, very few tank cases get appealed. From 2009 to 2017, only about 250 of the 4,200 underground storage tank cases — fewer than 6 percent — were appealed to SOAH, according to the Observer analysis. Jafari, the Fort Worth gas station owner, explained his decision not to appeal this way:

“If I request a hearing, I gotta go to Austin, I gotta hire a lawyer,” he said. “I’m taking a chance, maybe I win, maybe I lose. [If I lose], I have to pay the lawyer. So, excuse my language, we just say shut up and pay it and get it over with.”

What would a fairer system look like? Adrian Shelley, the executive director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen Texas, said that deciding how to prioritize industries is “a deep question in public health and environmental enforcement.” The Observer’s analysis raised a “social justice question” and showed that TCEQ’s priorities were “skewed,” he said.

“If they’re going after small business owners that don’t have a lobby to support their interests in the state, that’s unjust,” he said.

Metzger said TCEQ behaves like a schoolyard bully, picking on those who are least able to fight back. “TCEQ largely lets major corporations off the hook while disproportionately going after the smaller operators,” he said. “It’s not fair and it’s not very protective of public health for them to be going after the little guys and look the other way when the big polluters break the law.”

For Farahnakian and other gas station owners, the issue comes down to one of equity. The punishment should fit the crime.

“For big refinery, [a few thousand] is nothing,” he said. “It’s penny in the pocket. Why it’s like that? They should pay big fine and we should pay a small fine, compared to the money volume or business volume.”

Farahnakian is now semi-retired. Glaucoma has affected his eyesight and he walks haltingly. His daughter, Roya, takes care of the day-to-day operations at the gas station. “It’s her business now,” he beams.

Having been burned once, he’s more careful now about recordkeeping. He has hired a compliance company to keep track of the daily inventory records. While he doesn’t regret getting into the gas station business, he says the large fines have deterred him from opening another gas station, and he wouldn’t recommend that Roya open one, either.

“I told myself I’m not going to open no more gas station,” he said. “If they’re going to be hard on us like this, why you want to open a station? All this paper, all this records, all this things for what?”

Paying at the Pump


A Beacon in the Smog®

© 1999-2018 Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Grist is powered by WordPress.com VIP.

Petition · Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Demand Justice Department investigate Rosie O’Donnell for attempting to bribe GOP Senators · Change.org

On Wednesday, December 20th, actress Rosie O’Donald offer $2 million to any Republican senator willing to derail the historic tax plan that was to be voted on later in the day. 18 US Code s201 criminalizes the attemptd bribery of federal official by whoever “directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to the public to any public official…with intent to influence any official Act.”