Leah Barkoukis reports: After suffering 17 months of brutal captivity in North Korea, Otto Warmbier died Monday, having spent more than a year in a coma before his release last week.
After news of his death, Twitter users were quick to resurface articles from liberal sites Salon, Huffington Post, and Bustle in 2016 mocking the college student for getting what he deserved.
Warmbier was accused of stealing a propaganda poster from the hotel he was staying at in North Korea and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
This Huffington Post blog sure aged well. pic.twitter.com/8DSZ1uL6qe
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) June 19, 2017
Everyone in frame is smiling and laughing in the North Korean cold. Otto Warmbier, like the other tourists, launches a snowball, captured in slow motion on what appears to be a camera phone.
It’s the kind of innocent fun you expect to be captured on a tour group holiday. Otto turns to his right, mouth wide open, laughing.
“This is the Otto I know and love. This is my brother,” wrote Austin Warmbier, who released the video, which was shot during a three-night North Korea tour at the end of 2015.
Two months later, Otto would again appear on video, but in very different circumstances.
Head bowed and clutching a prepared “confession”, the 21-year-old student walked out in front of North Korean TV cameras to speak, explaining why he had been arrested at the end of that tour, when everyone else had been allowed to leave.
He wore a cream-coloured jacket and tie. Before speaking, he got up an offered a low bow.
Otto thanked the North Korean government for the “opportunity to apologise for my crime, to beg for forgiveness and to beg for any assistance to save my life”.
He said he tried to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel as a “trophy” for a US church with the “connivance of the US administration” in order to “harm the work ethic and motivation of the Korean people”.
Later, he would break down in tears: “I have made the single worst decision of my life, but I am only human.”
Otto is now back in the US after 15 months of captivity in North Korea. But he is in a coma, cannot understand language and has severe brain damage.
In the year-and-a-half since he threw that snowball, the life of a young man full of promise has been permanently altered.
Much remains unknown about how Otto’s health deteriorated. Doctors at Cincinnati Medical Center say they have seen no sign he was physically abused but they and his family also don’t buy North Korea’s story that he contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.
But how did a brilliant student from an Ohio suburb with hopes of becoming an investment banker end up imprisoned in a pariah state? And why was he released in a coma?
The Warmbiers hail from a small suburb called Wyoming in Cincinnati, Ohio, where father Fred owns a small company.
Otto attended the best high school in the state, and was prom and homecoming king. Read the rest of this entry »
The owner of Vinnie’s Pizzeria, Sean Berthiaume, must have been channeling Xzbit earlier this week when he thought to himself, “Yo Dawg, I heard you liked pizza, so I put your pizza in a box made from pizza.” But lo and behold here is the world’s first ever entirely edible pizza box that really works as more of a pizza sandwich than a functional box.
This isn’t Sean’s first brush with pizza glory…(read more)
[VIDEO] ‘The Wizard of Oz’: Ohio State University Marching Band Sept. 27, 2014 Halftime Show vs. Michigan Marching Band Nov. 2010 Halftime ShowPosted: October 2, 2014
Ohio State’s marching band performs during the Sept. 27 Buckeyes game versus Cincinnati. Theme: The Wizard of Oz
The Michigan Marching Band performs:
“The Wizard of Oz”
Michigan v. Illinois Game
h/t Guy Benson, Hot Air
“There is an issue as to whether or not there is a ‑‑ that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6‑month retention schedule.”
— IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane said in transcribed congressional testimony that more IRS officials experienced computer crashes, bringing the total number of crash victims to “less than 20,” and also said that the agency does not know if the lost emails are stillbacked up somewhere.
“So some of those backup tapes may still exist?”
“I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.”
M.K.Ham writes: May 2013: Outrage at the information he has just learned, only from reporters, vague and lofty promises to right this wrong and hold people accountable, lest the very fabric of this nation be sullied.
“This is pretty straight forward. If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in that kind of practice and intentionally harmed conservative groups, that is outrageous,” Obama said. “That’s outrageous, and there’s no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable.”
“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Independent, or a Republican,” Obama said. “At some point there is going to be a Republican administration. Either way, you don’t want the IRS ever being perceived as anything less than neutral. This is something I think people are properly concerned about.”
“If you got the IRS acting as anything other than a nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous, that is contrary to our traditions, and people have got to be held accountable and it has got to be fixed.”
July 2013: Curt dismissal, slight sadness that this scandal formerly known as an outrageous threat to our nation’s integrity which he would not tolerate, is now distracting from serious issues, like all the tax money he wants to spend.
For most of this year, we’ve seen an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals and we keep on shifting our way — shifting our attention away from what we should be focused on, which is how do we strengthen the middle class and grow the economy for everybody?
December 2013: Sarcasm and disbelief that ideological allies would dare find something wrong with the conduct formerly known as concerning whether you’re a “Democrat, Independent, or a Republican.”
It may be the most incriminating evidence yet.
Last week, while the world’s eyes were fixed upon the Obama administration’s fumbled response to the Syria crisis, new documents emerged in the allegedly “phony” IRS scandal.
These documents – emails from Lois Lerner, then Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS – were short, but highly damaging to the IRS’s persistent (and pernicious) spin. Read the rest of this entry »
With an assist from Elijah Cummings, the media is now casting the IRS targeting of conservative groups as a Cincinnati-originated brainchild of a self-described conservative Republican, John Shafer, who, well, let’s let McClatchy tell the tale:
Shafer described himself as a conservative Republican and explained how applications that met criteria that the IRS has since called inappropriate were selectively screened. The criteria included buzzwords such as constitution, Bill of Rights and other tea party themes referring to the Founding Fathers. These words caused applications to be pulled aside and sent to what’s called Group 7822. He did not say how the criteria were developed or by whom.
He said the tea party cases were called “emerging issues” by agency officials, apparently because they had received media attention.
“Each case is again reviewed and the determination is made on the facts and circumstances within that case,” he said. Asked what caused an emerging issue, “I 100 percent do not know, OK?” he answered. “What I would do is go into the electronic system and I would transfer these cases to Group 7822.
So there you have it. Nothing to see here. Move along. A Republican started the whole thing, inoccently referring applications to “Group 7822,” and the rest is history.
Yet this story dramatically understates the extent of targeting. Rather than serving as “patient zero” of the scandal, Mr. Shafer was but a cog in a much larger machine of partisan and unlawful targeting. As I’ve said before, at the ACLJ we represented 27 tea-party groups initially embroiled in this scandal, we filed suit against the IRS on behalf of 25 (full disclosure: I’m a lawyer on the suit), and we’ll shortly be amending the complaint to add more than a dozen additional plaintiffs. During the last 18 months, we’ve dealt with Group 7822, but we’ve also dealth with eleven other IRS groups (including groups in California) and a Washington division: Group 7821, Group 7823, Group 7824, Group 7827, Group 7828, Group 7829, Group 7830, Group 7838, EOG-7887, EOG 7888, and the Tax Exempt and Government Entitites Division in Washington, D.C.
This list encompasses only our orginal clients. We expect other IRS groups to be implicated as requests for help continue to pour in.
Every time the administration or its Democratic allies in Congress have tried to minimize or explain away the scandal, at the ACLJ we’ve released documentary evidence decisively refuting their factual assertions. Every time. And it’s documentary evidence the IRS provided us in the course of more than a year of communications.
In other words, they knew we had contradictory evidence, yet spun anyway — hoping the media would buy their story.
The IRS abuse is severe, it has always been widespread, and — crucially — it is ongoing. Even as Represenatitive Cummings not long ago declared “the case is solved” and Jay Carney claimed that all misconduct had stopped more than a year ago, many of our clients still don’t have their tax exemptions. Some even received intrusive additional inquiries as recently as last month.
It strains credulity to believe that a gang of low-level employees initiated and sustained a multi-group, multi-state campaign of targeting that lasted — for some conservative applicants — through two full election cycles. The case is not “solved.” To paraphrase John Paul Jones, we have not yet begun to investigate.
Since the IRS targeting scandal began, top IRS brass has maintained that this very politically convenient suppression of conservative non-profit groups’ applications was the work of a few low-level employees in the Cincinnati IRS office. But those provincial IRS employees have offered a very different story under questioning from the House Oversight committee staff.
House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., posted partial transcripts today from two of the interviews, in which all names are redacted. Although the Cincinnati employees’ denials should be taken with a grain of salt (like all the other IRS officials’ denials), these two interviews both point the finger back at the IRS in Washington — which is consistent with other accounts that both the conservative and mainstream press has unearthed.
One of the low-level employees said that the Washington office was “basically throwing us underneath the bus” for an operation they had ordered and directed. And an employee described as being more senior said that he viewed the entire project as unfair and was so worried about being blamed for it later that he actually applied for another job in the summer of 2010. “I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over,” the more senior employee said.
This should make for some good hearings in the near future.
Follow the link for a partial transcript released by the committee:
The Internal Revenue Service is in the process of locking down all computer data across the agency, a sign that investigations into the scandal-plagued agency may be taking a broader sweep than initially anticipated.
Agency employees last Thursday received an e-mail alerting them, “This is a late breaking top priority and things could change in the future,” according to an IRS employee who asked not to be named.
Employees were directed not to “wipe, re-image or otherwise destroy any hard drives” on any machine currently in use or in stock. During this time, the IRS will not discard any laptop and desktop computers that are replaced, and it is “working on securing a location” where they will be kept, according to the e-mail.
National Review Online previously reported that data on computer hard drives in the Tax Exempt and Government Entity division in Cincinnati was being preserved and uploaded to a restriccted server where investigators can access it.
Four government probes are currently investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups; they are being led by the House Oversight Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the IRS itself.
via The Corner
Reports: IRS Spared Liberal Groups as Tea Party Languished, More Conservative Orgs Targeted Than First ThoughtPosted: May 18, 2013
Remember what we were told when this explosive story first broke less than a week ago? The IRS official in charge of tax exemptions for organizations said the improper methods employed within her division were executed by “low level workers” in Cincinnati who weren’t motivated by “political bias,” and impacted roughly 75 organizations? Wrong, wrong and wrong:
“Low Level” – Officials within the highest echelons of the agency were aware of the inappropriate targeting, including the last two commissioners — at least one of whom appears to have misled Congress on this very question. Now Politicoreports that Lerner herself sent at least one of the probing letters to an Ohio-based conservative group.
The director of the Internal Revenue Service division under fire for singling out conservative groups sent a 2012 letter under her name to one such group, POLITICO has learned. The March 2012 letter was sent to the Ohio-based American Patriots Against Government Excess (American PAGE) under the name of Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Division…at the time of the letter, the group was in the midst of the application process for tax-exempt nonprofit status — a process that would stretch for nearly three years and involve queries for detailed information on its social media activity, its organizational set-up, bylaws, membership and interactions with political officials. The letter threatened to close American PAGE’s case file unless additional information was received within 60 days.
These burdensome requests were apparently designed to bury the victimized groups in paperwork. Carol reported last night that some 58 percent of these applicants were asked for unnecessary information and data, according to the Inspector General’s review. Some inquiries asked for screenshots of organizations’ Facebook posts and even lists of what books (!) its members were reading.
“No Political Bias” – This claim was laughable on its face from the start, in light of the agency’s surreal criteria for added scrutiny and the “red flag” words and phrases that triggered investigations. Now add to the mix this scoop from USA Today:
In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked. That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months. In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows. As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.
Lerner also reportedly fast-tracked an approval for a foundation operated by President Obama’s half brother, taking the extraordinary step of granting it retroactive tax-free status.
“Seventy-five organizations effected” – That number almost immediately swelled to 300. Now it’s closer to 500…
More >> Via Guy Benson