All posts by Tom Jones


Michelle Obama, her daughters and her mother plan a week-long solo visit to China this month that includes meetings with China’s first lady and high school and university students – and that will likely cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars.
President Obama and his family have come under heavy scrutiny for the unprecedented high travel costs during his time in office – and a week-long trip to China for four members of the First Family, members of the Secret Service and other members of the White House staff will likely cost several millions of dollars.
The president’s pricey travels have become so controversial that Judicial Watch was forced to sue the Secret Service and Defense Department to get them to turn over records on the amount of taxpayer money used to fly the First Family all over the world – in many cases for vacations or fundraisers – over the last two years of his administration.

What the records show was startling.
According to Judicial Watch, it cost more than $11 million for the president and his wife to travel to Africa to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December of last year. According to the New York Daily News, the Obamas were only in Africa for ‘less than 13 hours.’
But that trip was nothing compared to a 2013 visit the Obamas made to the Dark Continent, which reportedly cost tax payer more than $100 million.
On the 2013 trip, some of the reported expenditures include the stationing of a Navy aircraft carrier off the coast of Africa equipped with a fully staffed medical trauma center, military cargo planes to fly a fleet of 56 support vehicles to transport the Obamas – complete with 14 limousines and three trucks carrying bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas were to stay – and fighter jets that flew in shifts to provide coverage over the president’s airspace for the entire trip.
In June, the first lady went to Ireland for a two-day trip. The cost to taxpayers: $5 million.
Michelle Obama reportedly stayed at a $3,300-per-night hotel in Dublin, and needed to book 30 rooms at the posh Shelbourne Hotel for her staff and security detail.
Expensive: Travel expenses for the First Family have cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the last two years alone
Expensive: Travel expenses for the First Family have cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the last two years alone
For two vacations the Obamas took in 2013 – one to Hawaii and one to Martha’s Vineyard – records show that it cost taxpayers a whopping $7,396,531 in flight expenses alone. That figure also includes travel expenses for the president’s trip to California to file the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
During an August trip to California, during which Obama attended a party held by Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg and again appeared on the Tonight Show, taxpayers paid more than $2 million in travel expenses for the president and his security detail.
The president will not be joining his family on what will be the first lady’s first visit to the Asian economic powerhouse.
In an announcement Monday on the White House blog, the first lady says a China visit is important because it is the most populous country in the world, with more than 1.3 billion people, and is an important world actor.
Mrs. Obama will travel from March 19-26, spending several days in the capital of Beijing before stops in the central city of Xian and the southwestern city of Chengdu, the White House said. Her schedule includes a meeting with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Taxpayers footed the more than $2 million bill so Obama could appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Mrs. Obama missed meeting China’s first lady last June when the newly installed Xi, accompanied by his wife, traveled to Southern California for a summit with President Barack Obama. The presidential-level meetings were around the time of Sasha Obama’s 12th birthday, and the White House said Mrs. Obama stayed in Washington with family.
She wrote a letter to Peng Liyuan welcoming her to the U.S. and expressing hope that they would meet soon in China, the White House said.
In China, Mrs. Obama will focus on the power and importance of education, including in her own life, during visits to a high school and a university in Beijing, and a high school in Chengdu.
She recently began an effort to encourage America’s young people, including some of the most economically disadvantaged, to pursue a college education. On past trips outside the U.S., she also has made the same point to students from the host country. Mrs. Obama grew up in a poor Chicago family, but earned degrees from two of America’s best universities.
Africa: It cost taxpayers $11 million when the Obamas went to Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. They were there for 13 hours
Africa: It cost taxpayers $11 million when the Obamas went to Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. They were there for 13 hours
In China, she will be accompanied by daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson, who lives at the White House. President Obama will not be on the trip; he is scheduled to depart the U.S. later that week for stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia.
Mrs. Obama is encouraging American students to follow her trip on social media and the White House website, where she will post a daily travel blog. In preparation for the trip, she scheduled a visit Tuesday to a Washington charter elementary school with a Chinese-immersion, international baccalaureate program.
In her blog post, the first lady said countries today are no longer isolated and face many of the same challenges, whether it is to provide students with a good education, combat hunger, poverty and disease or address threats like climate change.
‘These issues affect every last one of us, so it’s critically important that young people like you learn about what’s going on not just here in America, but around the world,’ Mrs. Obama said. ‘Because when it comes to the challenges we face, soon, all of you will be leading the way.’
‘That’s why everywhere I go, whether it’s here in the U.S. or abroad, I meet with young people to hear about your challenges, hopes and dreams — and that’s what I’ll be doing in China as well,’ she said. ‘I’ll be focusing on the power and importance of education, both in my own life and in the lives of young people in both of our countries.’
History: First families going back to Richard Nixon have visited China on diplomatic trips, including the family of Bill Clinton, seen here
History: First families going back to Richard Nixon have visited China on diplomatic trips, including the family of Bill Clinton, seen here
Among recent first ladies, Laura Bush traveled to China with President George W. Bush, and Beijing was the place where Hillary Rodham Clinton made her now famous declaration at a United Nations women’s conference in 1995 that ‘women’s rights are human rights.’
Mrs. Obama’s trip will be a highly visible endeavor, but the fact that she’s taking the rest of her family suggests ‘she’s not going in search of a crusade of one sort or another,’ said Jonathan D. Pollack, a senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. ‘The clear intent here is not to touch any particular hot buttons.’
Mrs. Obama’s previous solo travels outside the U.S. as first lady were to Mexico in 2010, and Botswana and South Africa in 2011.

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Michelle Obama plans pricey trip to China on the taxpayer’s dime | Mail Online.


WASHINGTON — President Obama dissed Russia as a “regional power” on Tuesday and said his bigger worry is a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.

Obama’s comment came at a press conference in the Netherlands, where he was asked if 2012 challenger Mitt Romney was right that Russia is the United States’ No. 1 political foe, in light of its absorption of Crimea.

“Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the No. 1 national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” the president said.

Obama called Russia a “regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness,” while speaking with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after a nuclear security summit in The Hague.

The president claimed the Russian seizure of Crimea is “not a done deal” — but then added he had “no expectation that they will be dislodged by force.”

Obama called for the international community to require Russia to pay costs for its action, both to deter any further incursions and to punish its behavior, indicating the policy could be effective.

“History has a funny way in moving in twists and turns and not just in a straight line,” he said.

He said there would always be “bad things” going on in the world, and noted that the US hadn’t gone to war with Russia. He said Russia had a legal right to build up forces on its own territory, although he has discouraged escalation and called for talks with Ukraine.

“We’re not recognizing what has happened in Crimea,” he said.

via Obama’s top fear is Manhattan getting nuked | New York Post.


Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday, saying he has some “real disagreements” with the man now occupying his former desk at City Hall.

As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, de Blasio has been in office about 85 days – two weeks shy of the 100-day mark. But that is enough time for Giuliani to make a judgment – and to take the gloves off and unload on the current mayor.

“I know the economy of the city is going in the wrong direction,” Giuliani said. “People are talking about moving out of the city because they’re afraid of high taxes.”

It was a bald reference from the two-term former mayor, a Republican, to the Democrat de Blasio’s oft-stated desire to raise taxes on the rich to pay for universal pre-kindergarten.

Legislative leaders in Albany will not approve the new tax, but it is just one of several issues where the two part company – or as Giuliani described it, have “some real disagreements.”

Until this week, Giuliani refused to criticize de Blasio. But now, the two have apparently parted ways on the economy, charter schools, and the mayor’s desire to ban horse carriages.

Giuliani confessed that he himself thought about a ban on horse carriages in 1994 when he began his tenure as mayor, but quickly changed his mind after meeting the drivers.

“I feel kind of emotional about that, because I got to know the people. I was probably inclined to want to do it, and I went and visited the stables; met the people,” Giuliani said. “These are mostly hard-working legal immigrants. They rely on horse to feed their children. They take very good care of that horse.”

Giuliani said it would be a crime to put the horses out to pasture, because they like to work.

“They’ve got to find work for the horses, because the horses become depressed,” Giuliani said. “I hope the mayor changes his mind about it.”

A de Blasio spokesman issued a statement about Giuliani’s comments.

“We’re proud of the agenda we’ve set on public safety, education and income inequality,” the statement said. “Those are priorities that will benefit everyone, Rudy Giuliani included.”

Giuliani did agree with de Blasio on some issues, among them the choice to re-hire his old police commissioner.

“I’ve also seen in the new mayor a tendency to correct things. I thought he made a good choice in Bill Bratton,” Giuliani said. “He got himself into a lot of trouble over charter schools; he seems to be correct himself.”

Kramer asked Giuliani if he ever considered running for the job again. He said he is not, but is instead thinking about running a horse operation.

via Giuliani Slams de Blasio, Says He Has ‘Real Disagreements’ « CBS New York.


A huge explosion rocked two East Harlem buildings Wednesday morning, causing them to collapse.

Police said two women are confirmed dead and at least 16 others were injured.

At least 12 people are still unaccounted for and the death toll could rise, law enforcement sources said.

The two buildings affected are a piano shop with apartments above and a building that houses a church, both located at 116th Street and Park Avenue.

The MTA has stopped Metro-North trains from entering and leaving Grand Central Terminal.

via 2 dead, dozen missing after explosion collapses 2 NYC buildings | New York Post.


A 44-year-old fetus was found by doctors inside of an elderly 84-year-old Brazilian woman who had checked herself into the hospital on Feb. 7 in the central Brazil state of Tocantins. The woman complained of “intense stomach pains,” which were later found to be caused by an unborn child which had developed outside of her womb.

Fox News reported today that doctors initially thought the woman had gastrointestinal concerns, but after taking an MRI, discovered the 84-year-old had suffered from lithopedion, also known as a “stone baby,” a condition in which a fetus dies during an abdominal pregnancy and calcifies because it is too large to be reabsorbed by the body.

The woman says she became pregnant more than four decades ago, but because of intense pain during her first trimester visited a “HEALER” for assistance. He gave her some sort of homeopathic concoction, which the woman thought resulted in her baby being aborted.

The woman was transferred to Porto Nacional Hospital near Palmas for more tests. A gynecologist at the hospital said tests on the decades-old fetus revealed “the face, the bones of the arms, of the legs, the ribs, and the spine.”

Despite the death of the fetus, Dr. Saraiva Kratka from Porto Nacional said the woman is refusing to have the dead fetus removed, for reasons yet unclear. Dr. Kratka said she was hoping to change the woman’s mind in order to prevent further health complications from developing in the future.

via 44-year-old fetus: Dead ‘stone baby’ fetus found in 84 year old Brazilian woman – Long Island Top News |

Dalai Lama Live Interview: HuffPost Live’s Willow Bay Sits Down With The Tibetan Spiritual Leader

Posted: 02/25/2014 4:38 pm EST

The Dalai Lama joins HuffPost Live Wednesday for an interview with Willow Bay, which will be simultaneously livestreamed on all of the Huffington Post’s international editions. The Tibetan spiritual leader is conducting a series of public events in California and along the way will visit HuffPost Live’s Los Angeles studio. Watch the interview live at 11:45am to hear the Dalai Lama weigh in on a wide range of subjects, including mindfulness, spirituality, and the need to rethink how we define success.

via Dalai Lama Live Interview: HuffPost Live’s Willow Bay Sits Down With The Tibetan Spiritual Leader.


(Southern California Weather – Southern California is about to have one of the strongest dynamical storms in many years, with all the ingredients there for a severe weather event, including the possibility of tornado dynamics.  Dynamics like this have not been seen in Southern California since March 1983, when numerous tornado reports across the Basins hit.  The tornado environment is increasing.

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A healthy upper level jet flow will move over the area on Friday.  This will produce heavy rainfall dynamics across the region.  However with this upper jet in the area, instability will also be on the increase.  Since the sun angle is becoming higher in the sky … warmer low levels will work with the mid-levels to produce higher than normal instability.  This instability on Friday coupled with a Southwest upper level jet, and southerly low level jet of 30-35kts will bring rotation to thunderstorms across the Southern California area.  Most of the dynamics are for some inland areas, but the closer to the basin and coastal zones you are … the more likely for severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes.

In March 1983 a number of tornadoes hit Southern California, bringing a localize tornado outbreak with the highest rating of EF2 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In addition the the thunderstorms, a large area of flooding where most areas will get well over an inch of rain, south and west of the mountains .. .will be likely.

SCWXA will issue the correct Flood/Winter/Wind etc watches overnight tonight or tomorrow so if on the alert system you will receive it.



Ousted PIERS Morgan Shoots Off One Final Warning to the NRA

His CNN show is ending, but Piers Morgan warned the National Rifle Association on Monday that he’s “not done” with them.

I wouldn’t get too excited @NRA – I’m not done with you yet. #GunControlNow

about 11 hours ago via webReplyRetweetFavorite


Piers Morgan

“I wouldn’t get too excited @NRA – I’m not done with you yet,” Morgan tweeted.

CNN confirmed that “Piers Morgan Live” is going off the air after suffering perennially low ratings, though has not said when the final show will air. The New York Times reported it will end “probably in March.”

Piers Morgan of the CNN show “Piers Morgan Live” arrives at the CNN Worldwide All-Star Party, on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP/Invision/Chris Pizzello)

During his tenure on the program, Morgan has made himself a clear opponent of the NRA.

After reports of the show’s cancellation surfaced Sunday, the NRA tweeted the news from its official Twitter account, presumably prompting the tweet back from Morgan.

The NRA did not respond to Morgan’s warning.

Morgan is reportedly in talks with CNN to stay on in some capacity, though it’s unclear what that would be.

via Ousted Piers Morgan Shoots Off One Final Warning to the NRA |

Creation of a Sand Mandala 19 February 2014 – 23 February 2014 11:00am – 6:00pm

Monks from the Drigung (Drikung) Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism will construct a sand mandala over the course of five days, in conjunction with the opening of the Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery exhibition. The mandala sand painting is a sacred cosmogram representing the world in perfect harmony, and may be employed for focusing attention, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation. To create the mandala, the monks will draw a formal pattern on the base, using traditional iconography that includes intricate geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols. The monks then place millions of grains of brightly colored sand to form the mandala, which represents the world in its divine form.

With support from Trace Foundation.

via Creation of a Sand Mandala | New York | Asia Society.

725 Park Avenue, at East 70th Street, New York, NY

Missing children RESCUED from Super Bowl sex trade in FBI sting | Fox News

Sixteen children as young as 13, and some of whom had been reported missing by their families, were rescued from the sex trade in a law enforcement sting operation that targeted alleged pimps who brought the victims to New Jersey for Super Bowl weekend, FBI officials said.

More than 45 pimps and their associates were arrested in the operation conducted by law enforcement, the FBI announced Tuesday. Some admitted traveling to New Jersey from other states for the purpose of forcing women and children to have sex with Super Bowl tourists for money, according to federal investigators.

“High-profile special events . . . have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises.”

– Ron Hosko, FBI

“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises,” Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, said in a statement. “The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars.”

The victims rescued during the sting operation range in age from 13 to 17 years old, the FBI said. Some of the minors include children previously reported missing by their families; others are foreign nationals. 

The FBI worked with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies over a six-month period leading up the Super Bowl. The operation is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to combat child prostitution. 

Authorities had made contact with more than 20 hotels in the New York City area on how to identify victims of sex trafficking, Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes of Homeland Security in New York told last week. 

Hayes described human trafficking as an ongoing problem that law enforcement continually strives to eradicate and said many of the victims are foreign nationals, who are often from countries “where law enforcement isn’t trusted.”

via Missing children rescued from Super Bowl sex trade in FBI sting | Fox News.


A gunman who opened fire at a New Jersey mall Monday night later holed up in a back room and shot himself in the head, authorities say.

No one else was injured in the mall shooting.

Richard Shoop’s body was found at 3:20 a.m. Tuesday in an obscure part of Westfield Garden State Plaza mall, hours after he fired at least six bullets without striking anyone in the massive shopping center.

He acted alone, authorities say.

Mall shooter found dead Gunfire at New Jersey mall, shooter dead Witness: Really didn’t know what to do

“We know that his intent was either suicide or to do something that would cause police to shoot him, which we call ‘suicide by cop,'” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told CNN’s “New Day.”

“He had more than enough opportunity to be able to shoot other people,” including a group adjacent to him, but he didn’t, Molinelli said. “Instead, he shot randomly at different locations.”

Shots hit the ceiling, an escalator, an elevator and a storefront, the prosecutor said.

The reasons for the shooting remain unclear. Shoop used narcotic drugs and sold drugs as well, Molinelli said.

Upper West Side Violence: Man Shot In Chest At Amsterdam And West 88th

A man was apparently chased into an Upper West Side street where he was shot earlier this morning. According to NBC New York, the police are now looking into it after “a man walked into a Manhattan hospital with a gunshot wound to his chest.”

A deli worker told WABC 7 he heard three shots and surveillance footage shows the confrontation, with the victim being followed into Amsterdam Avenue near 88th Street.

via Upper West Side Violence: Man Shot In Chest At Amsterdam And West 88th: Gothamist.


The world knows Valeria Lukyanova as the girl who turned herself into a real-life Barbie doll. Controversy has surrounded her every move since her computer-perfect visage went viral last year.

However, what most of the world doesn’t know is that Valeria is not a real girl at all, but a time-traveling spiritual guru whose purpose is to save the world from the clutches of superficiality and negative energy.

Valeria, a.k.a. Space Barbie, gives us exclusive access to her world to show us how physical perfection truly is the best medium through which to deliver life-changing philosophy to the human race.

via Space Barbie | VICE Australia / NZ.