You can learn a lot of stuff while waiting for indictments from Robert Mueller…. (More)

A “t”, not a “d”

For example, the phrase “waiting on tender hooks” is wrong. I asked the BPI Goldfish and she explained it:

The phrase “waiting on tenterhooks” alludes to stretching fabric so it wouldn’t shrink as it dried. It originated in England, where fields outside wool or linen mills would have wooden frames embedded with metal hooks. After the fabric was washed or dyed, it was stretched on the frames and left to dry in the sun. The process was called “tenting,” the fields were “tenter fields,” and the hooks were “tenter hooks,” which in time was shortened to a single word: “tenterhooks.” As every fish knows, there’s no such thing as a “tender hook.”

I guess that’s why fish have schools.

I asked if she knew who would be arrested in the Mueller investigation this week, but she just swam into a hollow under her plastic rocks. So I’m still waiting … on tenterhooks.

In the meantime….

“I am asking the power authority to cancel the Whitefish contract immediately”

The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, asked the island’s power utility to cancel their contract awarded to a sketchy Montana firm:

Puerto Rico’s electric company moved Sunday to cancel a $300 million contract with a small Montana firm for repairs to the territory’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid, saying controversy surrounding the agreement was distracting from the effort to restore power.

The contract with Whitefish Energy – a firm that had just two employees the day the storm hit – had drawn blistering criticism from members of Congress for days. And on Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has a large role in determining government reimbursements, said it had “significant concerns” about how the contract was secured.

Among the many issues:

  • The contract was awarded without competitive bidding.
  • Whitefish Energy has only two permanent employees.
  • CEO Andrew Techmanski is a friend of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Zinke’s son had a summer job at Whitefish.
  • The other manager listed on Whitefish’s files is Techmanski’s wife Amanda, who works as a nurse-practitioner. With her on the firm’s “management team,” Whitefish was listed as an “economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business.”
  • Whitefish is paying firms $462/hour for foremen and $320/hour for linemen, including “Whitefish’s costs, administrative expenses and profits.” By contrast, the Army Corps of Engineers is paying firms $230 for foremen and $195 for linemen to do the same work.
  • A contract clause forbade Puerto Rican or U.S. authorities from auditing the company’s performance or costs.

Then there’s this:

Thirty-nine days after Hurricane Maria hit the territory, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said that he is requesting assistance from Florida and New York under “mutual aid” arrangements that utilities traditionally activate during emergencies. The territory had not previously done so and had not responded to offers of assistance.

I don’t know much about Puerto Rican politics, but I hope the voters keep that 39-day delay in mind at the next election….

“Courts being used as an instrument … in collecting what is often questionable debt”

Like father-in-law, like son-in-law:

The Maryland attorney general is investigating one of the Kushner family’s real estate businesses after media reports surfaced earlier this year about allegedly abusive debt collection practices and poor conditions at several of its properties.

Kushner Companies said it is cooperating with Attorney General Brian Frosh, Maryland’s top legal officer.

“We have been working with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to provide information in response to its request,” Kushner Companies told CNN through a spokesperson. “We are in compliance with all state and local laws.”

Kushner’s debt collection practices include requests for “body attachment,” the arrest of tenants or former-tenants who don’t appear in court to challenge or pay their alleged debts:

Industry professionals say such arrests, called body attachments, can be the only way to get tenants to pay the money they owe. Kushner Cos. officials say the New York-based firm employs the tactic as a last resort, and follows industry standards and state law.

But critics say it amounts to jailing people for being poor – and can interfere with their livelihoods, making it more difficult to pay the money they allegedly owe. Moreover, at least some tenants who have been targeted say they did not receive proper notice of the court appearances they were accused of missing.

One such example:

Priscilla Moreno, a Baltimore County school bus driver who works part time in video production, narrowly avoided arrest last year. She and her three children were living in Whispering Woods, a Middle River community of 524 apartments, when she received a federal voucher that she thought would help improve her housing. She decided to move out.

Then the Kushner affiliate JK2 Westminster hit her with a $7,100 judgment in 2015. She says it did not credit her security deposit and included charges she disputes.

“They were charging me for things that were carpet cleaning,” said Moreno, 44. “Normal wear and tear.”

A Maryland judge approved a body attachment request, and Moreno avoided jail only by declaring bankruptcy. As for complying with state laws, well:

[State senator William Smith] introduced legislation in the General Assembly this year to limit body attachments. Frosh wrote in support of the bill.

“The Office of the Attorney General has long expressed concern about the courts being used as an instrument to assist debt collectors in collecting what is often questionable debt,” Frosh wrote to the Judicial Proceedings Committee in March.

But with little support among committee members, Smith withdrew the measure. He said state Sen. H. Wayne Norman Jr., an attorney who represents landlords, was his “biggest opponent on the bill.”

“It’s a big part of his practice,” Smith said. “It was clear [the bill] was not going to get out of committee.”

So Kushner says he follows state laws … as written by lawyers who work for people like Kushner.

“They will soon learn they have bitten off more than they can chew”

From the Rich White Male Snowflakes file:

Roger Stone is in full-on cartoon-villain mode since being banned by Twitter on Saturday night, vowing to sue the company and characterizing their dispute as a battle for free speech itself.

“I’ll be baaaaaak,” the sometimes adviser to President Donald Trump wrote in a text message to New York [magazine]. “They will soon learn they have bitten off more than they can chew.”

He wouldn’t disclose when he plans to sue, saying only that it’ll be “when I am ready to.” But he added, “I am advised I have a very strong legal case. Twitter wants to avoid being regulated like a utility. No one has been willing to file the antitrust case. I am.” (While most antitrust cases are brought by the government, private parties can bring them too, under certain circumstances. Whether Stone would have the standing to do so is a separate question, of course.)

More important, he said, “I also know a little bit about generating publicity.”

Twitter banned Stone after his vile, unhinged tantrum upon learning that Mueller had secured his first indictments Friday night. Stone raged at CNN’s Don Lemon and the New York Times’ Charles Blow:

During his Twitter rant, Stone called CNN anchor Don Lemon “dumber than dog shit,” “a dull witted arrogant partyboi,” and an “ignorant lying covksucker.” He said Lemon “must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished.” He also labeled New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow a “fast talking arrogant fake news piece of shit.”

Lemon and Blow – both black men, just sayin’ – said things that Stone doesn’t like, so they “must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished.” But Stone must be allowed to spew venom that violates Twitter’s terms of service, because “free speech!”

Yeah … not so much.

“Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Oh, the God-King has a new conspiracy theory:

Let me get this straight. The God-King thinks Robert Mueller’s indictments are an attempt to distract voters from a ‘tax reform’ plan that only 28% of voters like. The only way the God-King’s conspiracy theory would make sense were if he thought Mueller were trying to help Republicans pass that massive giveaway to rich people.

“Told to surrender to federal authorities Monday morning”

And the New York Times is breaking the story as I write:

Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates were told to surrender to federal authorities Monday morning, the first charges in a special counsel investigation, according to a person involved in the case.

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Mr. Gates, a business associate of Mr. Manafort, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office.

As expected, the charges probably involve financial crimes and perhaps money-laundering for Russian oligarchs:

Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by the New York Times show.

Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

Buzzfeed’s Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier report that the FBI are focused on specific wire transfers:

The FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, includes a keen focus on a series of suspicious wire transfers in which offshore companies linked to Manafort moved more than $3 million all over the globe between 2012 and 2013.

Much of the money came into the United States.

These transactions – which have not been previously reported – drew the attention of federal law enforcement officials as far back as 2012, when they began to examine wire transfers to determine if Manafort hid money from tax authorities or helped the Ukrainian regime close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder some of the millions it plundered through corrupt dealings.

But the investigation won’t stop there, as Wired’s Garrett Graff explains:

The charges due Monday in Mueller’s investigation are almost assuredly only a first step in what could be an very long and extensive grand jury investigation.

Only rarely does the FBI end up charging a single individual; it’s simply not worth the time and resources of the federal government to go after individuals in cases outside of rare instances, like say, terrorism. Institutionally, the FBI’s modus operandi and DNA is to target and dismantle entire whole criminal organizations – that’s why federal cases usually take so long: The agency starts at the bottom or periphery of an organization and works inward, layer by layer, until it’s in a position to build a rock-solid case against the person at the top.

That clicking sound is the first two dominoes tipping over. Or the cloth tearing off those tenterhooks….

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Image Credits — Sad Goldfish Pixabay; Text & Composition: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)

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Good day and good nuts