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Biden Administration Initiates Presidential Transition Planning

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The Biden administration has commenced preparations for a potential presidential transition following the November general election, emphasizing continuity of government irrespective of the election outcome.

Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, issued memos to executive departments and agencies instructing them to designate a transition planning point person by May 3. This directive marks the initial procedural step in congressional-mandated readiness for presidential transitions.

Next week, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, who led Biden’s 2020 transition effort, will convene the inaugural meeting of the White House Transition Coordinating Council. This council comprises senior White House policy, national security, and management officials, as mandated by the Presidential Transition Act.

The act aims to provide federal support for major party candidates to prepare for governance, ensuring that they can swiftly implement policy actions upon assuming office. The significance of candidate preparedness for federal governance heightened after the Sept. 11 attacks, leading to multiple updates to the act that enhance resources for candidates and mandate incumbents to intensify transition planning.

Young’s recent correspondence closely resembles the letter sent four years ago by Russell Vought, the Trump administration’s acting director, to initiate the transition process. However, the 2020 transition faced disruptions when former President Donald Trump delayed conceding his defeat to Biden. It wasn’t until Nov. 23, two weeks after the election was called, that Trump’s General Services Administration acknowledged Biden as the “apparent winner,” a pivotal step to initiate the transition.

Under the law, presidential candidates and the General Services Administration must finalize a memorandum of understanding by Sept. 1, which governs federal office space provision and access to sensitive documents. Transition teams have already commenced vetting potential appointees and initiating the security clearance process for likely appointees who will assume roles on Inauguration Day.

Additionally, in February, Biden established a task force to address classified information mishandling during presidential transitions, in response to a Justice Department special counsel’s report that was critical of him and his aides for similar issues when leaving the vice presidency in 2016.

SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Biden Administration Blasted by GOP Rep for leaving American Hostage in Nigeria

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Tigran Gambaryan, a former US federal agent and American citizen, has been held hostage in Nigeria for over 80 days now, sparking significant concern and outrage. Gambaryan, who now serves as an executive at Binance—the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange—was in Nigeria for a business meeting by invitation of the Nigerian government when he was unexpectedly arrested by Nigerian officials, and is now being held hostage. Officials are demanding that Binance pay a ransom of $150 million, and has already been transfered to a notorious prison, known for housing some of the country’s most dangerous criminals, increasing the need for urgency on behalf of the White House.

“Tigran’s case is a gut-wrenching example of how easily the Biden Administration gets pushed around on the international stage. Here we have an American and former federal law enforcement officer being unjustly held by Nigeria (supposedly an ally), used as a pawn in an economic dispute with a private company, and the Administration seems to be sitting idly by and not doing anything to help bring him home to Georgia. Let’s be clear, President Trump does not let anyone bully America, especially a country that gets a substantial amount of foreign aid from the US taxpayer, and President Biden should follow suit.”

— Congressman Rich McCormick of GA-6, and is Tigran’s representative in Congress.

The statement made directly to Leading Report from the Congressman’s office.

Despite the alarming nature of Gambaryan’s detention and the potential risks to his safety, the Biden administration has yet to act on the situation, acknowledging the issue at hand, but refusing action to date. This silence has been met with growing frustration from Gambaryan’s family, friends, and colleagues, who are calling for a more proactive response from the US government.

A State Department spokesperson has responded, alleging they are monitoring the situation, but have yet to make an attempt to help Mr. Gambaryan.

The situation remains dire, and the urgency for intervention increases with each passing day. Gambaryan’s family has released a video he recorded just before his phone was confiscated by Nigerian authorities, highlighting his concern for his safety and pleading for immediate assistance. This poignant appeal underscores the critical need for action and has intensified calls for the Biden administration to break its silence and take decisive measures to secure Gambaryan’s freedom.

Despite Nigeria ranking #6 for the most U.S. foreign aid, its government has still detained an American citizen, Tigran Gambaryan, a former federal agent and current Binance executive, demanding a ransom for his release. This incident underscores a troubling disconnect, as significant financial aid appears to have little influence on ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens abroad. The Biden administration’s lack of response to Gambaryan’s detention has sparked outrage and concern, raising questions about the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid and the administration’s commitment to protecting its citizens in hostile environments. The silence from the White House only intensifies the urgency for action, as Gambaryan’s fate hangs in the balance.

While the Nigerian foreign minister is in the US promoting the close relationship between the two countries, questions arise about whether the Biden administration will take any action, such as detaining the minister, to secure Tigran Gambaryan’s release.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe had the Nigerian Foreign Minister on for an interview, and somehow one of the biggest conflicts related to the relationship between the U.S. and Nigeria was not even brought up, with no mention of Tigran.

As the international community watches closely, the pressure mounts on the US government to address this crisis and demonstrate its dedication to safeguarding its citizens, regardless of where they are in the world.

SOURCES: THE HILL, LEADING REPORT

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Biden Admin is Using Fraudulent Climate Dataset in Push For Green Agenda, According to Government Watchdog

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A government watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Biden administration over its use of a dataset frequently used to push its climate agenda.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed the complaint with the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) “Billions Project” dataset, which purports to keep track of natural [and climate] disasters that have caused at least $1 billion in damages going back to 1980. The billion-dollar disasters (BDD) data — cited frequently by the Biden administration to insinuate that climate change is intensifying and justify sweeping green policies — is based on opaque data derived from questionable accounting practices, PPT alleges in the complaint.

“American families and businesses continue to struggle with persistently high inflation, which many attribute in large part to the energy policies and government spending of the current administration. The idea that blatant violations of scientific integrity could be underlying the rationale for these policies should concern every American,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. The Biden Administration came into office pledging that its decision making would be grounded in the highest-quality science, but all too often has failed to live up to those promises.”

The complaint was filed with the Commerce Department, as NOAA operates under its auspices, Chamberlain told the DCNF.

PPT’s complaint alleges that NOAA does not adequately disclose its sources and methods for compiling the BDD dataset, adds and removes BDD events from the dataset without providing its rationale for doing so and produces cost estimates that are sometimes significantly different than those generated by more conventional accounting procedures.

While NOAA states that it develops its BDD data from more than a dozen sources, the agency does not disclose those sources for specific events or show how it calculates loss estimates from those sources, PPT’s complaint alleges.

The complaint further alleges that NOAA’s accounting methods are opaque and “produce suspect results.”

For example, when Hurricane Id alia took aim at Florida in 2023, NOAA initially projected that the storm would cause about $2.5 billion worth of damages before insured losses ultimately came in at about $310 million, according to PPT’s complaint, which cites the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

 for that figure. Nevertheless, NOAA subsequently marked up its estimate for how much damage the storm caused to $3.5 billion, a discrepancy for which NOAA provided no explanation, PPT alleges in its complaint.

NOAA researchers have disclosed in the past that the agency considers factors such as functions pertaining to livestock feeding costs — in addition to more conventional types of damages — in their cost calculations.

Further, the complaint alleges that BDD events are quietly added and removed from the dataset without explanation, citing Roger Pielke Jr., a former academic who believes climate change to be a real threat but opposes politicized science. In a forthcoming paper analyzing the merits of BDD statistics, Pielke compared the dataset in late 2022 to the dataset in the middle of 2023 and found that ten new BDD events were added to the list and 3 were subtracted without explanation.

Apart from the issues with methodology alleged by PPT in its complaint, the use of BDD events as a proxy for climate change’s intensity is inherently misleading because economic data does not reflect changes in meteorological conditions, as Pielke has previously explained to the DCNF.

For example, increasing concentrations of assets, especially in coastal areas, can confound the usefulness of BDD events as an indicator for the intensity of climate change, as Energy and Environment Legal Institute Senior Policy Fellow Steve Milloy has previously explained to the DCNF. Hypothetically, the same exact hurricane could hit the same exact place, decades apart, with vastly different damage totals; this would be the case because there are simply more assets sitting in the way of the storm, not because the storm was any more violent due to worsening climate change.

NOAA has acknowledged this limitation of the dataset in prior communications with the DCNF.

Additionally, NOAA will add disasters to the list retrospectively because it adjusts for inflation, meaning that a hurricane that caused $800 million in damages in 1980 dollars would be added to the list because the damages exceed $1 billion when adjusted for inflation, for example.

The Biden administration has frequently cited the BDD dataset to substantiate its massive climate agenda.

For example, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk cited the dataset in written testimony submitted to lawmakers in February explaining the White House’s decision to pause new approvals for liquefied natural gas export terminals.

The BDD statistics are also referenced Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), the Biden administration’s landmark climate report that is intended to provide the most sound scientific basis for lawmakers and officials to craft climate policy.

NOAA asserted that the increasing frequency of BDD events is a sign of intensifying climate change in a January press release and blog post summarizing 2023, and then defended the use of the dataset in subsequent communications with the DCNF.

“Sensational climate claims made without proper scientific basis and spread by government officials threaten the public’s trust in its scientific officials and undermines the government’s mission of stewarding the environment,” PPT’s complaint states. “It also poses the danger of policymakers basing consequential government policy on unscientific claims unsupported by evidence.”

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U.S. Military Has Started Recalling Retirees Due to Recruiting Crisis

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The U.S. Army Publishing Directorate released the ALARACT 017/2024, titled, “Utilization of the Army Retiree Recall Program.”

The document cites Executive Order 13223 from the Bush administration in 2001.

A retiree recall is a “retired Soldier who is ordered to active duty (AD) from the Retired Reserve or the retired list under 10 USC 688/688a, 12301(a), or 12301(d). Per AR 601-10, Recalled retiree Soldiers must be aligned to a valid vacant AC requirement that matches the grade and skill of the retiree before he or she may be recalled to AD,” according to the document. “The retiree population will be utilized as a last resort to fill Active Component vacant requirements.”

The ALARACT 017/2024 comes as the U.S. military is experiencing a recruitment crisis.

The U.S. Army recently announced that it is cutting thousands of positions. Authorized troop levels will now be an estimated 470,000 by fiscal year 2029, down 24,000 from its 494,000 soldiers.

“While making these investments and adding formations, the Army must also reduce force structure to protect readiness in light of decreased end strength. The Army is currently significantly over-structured, meaning there are not enough soldiers to fill out existing units and organizations. Army leaders seek to have at least 470,000 soldiers in the Active Component by FY29, which is nearly 20,000 above the current end strength but a reduction of about 24,000 authorizations compared to currently planned force structure,” the report

 states.

It added that the Army is “undertaking a similarly important transformation of its recruiting enterprise so that it can man units sufficiently, continue to bring the right types and amounts of new talent into the Army, and rebuild its overall end strength.” Noting the ongoing recruitment failure within the U.S. military, the document noted, “The Army must solve its recruiting challenges to successfully transform for the future.”

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