Australian ferry and defense shipbuilder Austal is cooperating with an Australian probe into market disclosures it made in 2015 regarding cost overruns on LCS-6, the Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson. Austal builds one of the U.S. Navy's two LCS variants, the aluminum-hulled Independence-class ships.
In a filing released through the Australian Stock Exchange on Thursday, Austal confirmed that it is "assisting an investigation by ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) into market announcements . . . with respect to earnings from its Littoral Combat Ship program." Its American division, Austal USA, confirmed Friday that it is also cooperating with the U.S. Navy in an unspecified investigation. Local media reported that officials from the Department of Defense, the NCIS and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service were spotted at the Austal USA yard in Mobile, Alabama.
A report at usni.orgprovides additional details about the possible focus of the investigation and the U.S. agencies involved:
Federal agents visited Littoral Combat Ship manufacturer Austal USA in its Mobile, Ala., shipyard as part of an unspecified investigation involving the U.S. Navy, according to local media.
“Department of Defense, NCIS and [the Defense Criminal Investigative Service] have been seen on site,” according to NBC 15 in Mobile, Ala. “Investigators are expected to be on site for several hours.” In a brief Thursday statement, Austal said the company was cooperating with authorities but gave no additional details as to the nature of the inquiry.
“Austal USA is working with the U.S. Navy on an open investigation,” reads the statement. “We are unable to provide additional details due to the nature of the investigation. We are continuing business as usual, executing our existing and recently awarded contracts.”
Here is more from usni.org about Austal's operations in south Alabama and the company's unstable financial picture:
The Mobile shipyard employs 4,000 workers and builds the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport and Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship for the Navy. Austal USA is the American branch of Australian aluminum shipbuilder Austal. Earlier Thursday, Australian media reported Austal was under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over market updates related to losses around the Independence-class LCS. The Australian authorities are said to be focusing on statements issued by Austal regarding the blow out, or sudden increase in costs, associated with finishing USS Jackson (LCS-6)
On December 10, 2015, Austal announced it was experiencing “schedule and margin pressure on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 6.”
Jackson was a challenging ship in two respects. First, it was the first ship Austal USA had built as the prime contractor, whereas USS Independence (LCS-2) and USS Coronado (LCS-4) were built at the Austal yard with General Dynamics serving as the prime contractor on the project. Second, Jackson was the first LCS to be built under a block buy contract from the Navy. Austal implemented a new manufacturing process for the block buy ships meant to reduce cost and schedule down the line through serial production, but Jackson being the first serial production ship still meant there were lessons to be learned and procedural kinks to be worked out.
Austal's finances have been shaky since 2015-16, according to usni.org:
Austal officials conceded in the Dec. 2015 statement that their ability to boost LCS earnings through these new production processes did not live up to expectations. Savings on the LCS-8 and LCS-10 production were also more limited than anticipated, Austal officials said in the Dec. 2015 statement.
“Austal’s ability to apply lessons learnt and productivity enhancements from LCS 6 to vessels in advanced construction, namely LCS 8 and LCS 10, has been more limited than anticipated,” the statement said.
“The LCS program is maturing more slowly than we had expected, however we are working hard to manage the risks and expect an improvement across the program after delivery of LCS 10,” Andrew Bellamy, who then served as Austal’s chief executive, said in the December 2015 release. “Austal has a strong balance sheet and is generating good cash flow, which is enabling further investment in the business during the 2016 financial year to best position the Company to win additional contracts and service work to build our order book, revenue, and earnings into the future.” However, according to Austal’s Fiscal Year 2016 annual report, the company reported a loss of A$84.2 million, compared to a profit of A$53.2 million in 2015.
Could this develop into a full-blown scandal, with Bob Riley at the center of it? It's too early to tell, but Riley (often in conjunction with one or both of his oily children -- Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell) has been tied to corruption for years. So far, the Rileys have managed to mostly dodge accountability. But if they are found to be involved in an international financial scam, involving misuse of U.S. defense funds . . . that tune could change.
Either way, Alabamians should be keeping a close eye on this story. Riley and his successor as governor, Robert Bentley, dumped millions of taxpayer dollars into Austal USA. Right now, it looks like that could have been a bad bet -- with everyday Alabamians being left holding the bag.
Original post: https://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2019/01/former-alabama-gov-bob-riley-is.html#links (To be continued)
The memory of a beloved pet inspires one couple's fight against injustice.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Carol Shuler X-ray No. 1
My wife, Carol, is recovering nicely from the broken left shoulder she sustained from a fainting spell at the Social Security Administration Building in Springfield, MO. In fact, her doctor stated on her most recent visit ( 1/9/19 ) that her range of motion in the joint is good enough that she does not need to continue with formal physical therapy. She will continue with at-home exercises, and her diligence with those probably helps explain her solid recovery.
Fortunately, we were covered by Medicaid to repair the thug-cops' handiwork. But the forced move, and one other move due to unhealthy living conditions at our residence, caused paperwork to not reach us in the mail -- and our Medicaid coverage lapsed. Social workers at Burrell Behavioral Health helped us get on Medicaid, but they have been unwilling or unable to help us with much of anything -- especially since we learned they were responsible for the bogus 911 call that caused cops to appear at our home in SWAT gear. Bottom line: We've been without health insurance for about 30 months.
Carol Shuler X-ray No. 3
Let's get back to the good news by examining the healing process revealed in recent X-rays of Carol's shoulder. X-ray No. 1 (top), taken the day of the break on 10/23/18, shows hardware in Carol's elbow was not effected by the second injury. You almost have to be a radiologist to see it, but the shoulder area includes a number of fracture lines. The injury was not nearly as obvious or severe as the elbow injury
X-ray No. 2 (left, above), taken on 11/17/18, shows fracture lines in the shoulder that are faint to the untrained eye.
X-ray No. 3 (right), dated 11/28/18, still shows faint fracture lines, but it also shows a white area on the outer shoulder, which is a sign of healing and new-bone development.
X-rays No. 4 and 5 (below), dated 1/9/18. are the most recent we have and show more signs of healing and new-bone development. Carol's doctor said she almost certainly will experience ongoing stiffness in the shoulder, so it never will be "good as new." But we are grateful for a solid recovery.
(Note: Legal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks. If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)
Who is the notorious Trump ally, known as "The High Priest of Political Hijinks," who appears to be involved with the dozens of nasty missives we've received -- most of which I've deleted or sent to spam because they are so utterly devoid of taste, rational thought, meaningful discourse (or all three)? We are talking about Roger Stone, who has been involved with every Republican campaign or administration since Nixon and perhaps now is best known as a regular guest on Alex Jones' conspiracy-filled InfoWars show.
Wouldn't a veteran political thug of Stone's stature have better things to do than fool around with our little Birmingham blog? A rational person might think so. But then again, Sessions was set to become Trump's AG, and Pryor (at the time) was consider a strong candidate to be a Trump nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. And we had been writing a series of highly unflattering posts on both. (See here, and here.)
What specifics point to Stone, or his surrogates, targeting Legal Schnauzer? Here you go:
Would Stone, or someone close to him, actually have time to mess around with our little blog? After all, this is the guy credited with orchestrating "The Brooks Brothers Riot," which helped give us eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. Stone even has ties to Watergate; some surely would say Stone is too much of a heavyweight to mess with Legal Schnauzer. But there is evidence to suggest it is true. How do we know?
Quite a few of the argumentative and ugly e-mails came from someone who has gone by the name "Sarah." I tried engaging "Sarah" a few times in rational back-and-forth, but that proved to be an exercise in futility. So I started deleting or sending most of her comments to spam. Such e-mails generally have an identifier attached, such as "Anonymous" or "Sarah," if the person chooses to use a first name -- which might or might not be her actual name.
I've received so many such e-mails in recent weeks -- maybe more than 200 -- that I occasionally scroll through the spam folder just to keep a rough track of how many have arrived. During one recent scroll, I noticed that at least one spam e-mail had more than a one-word identifier; it had two words -- "Sarah Jameson."
Sarah Jameson? Who in the heck is that? Well, she has a Facebook page that is pretty much a shrine to Roger Stone -- and it doesn't appear to have changed much since we first encountered it more than two years ago. Here are our thoughts upon finding the Jameson Facebook page in January 2017:
That was enough to make me go "hmmm." A Google search produced the Facebook page for a Sarah Jameson, who apparently lives in Plantation, Florida. That is in Broward County, close to Stone's home in Oakland Park. What does the "Sarah Jameson" Facebook page reveal? It's devoted almost entirely to videos and memes of Donald Trump and Roger Stone -- mostly Stone, also known as "The dapper don of dirty deeds."
There is a video of Stone hawking his books. Here is Stone touting the choice of Steve Bannon as Trump's chief strategist. There is Stone being touted as a "genius" in an interview after Trump's "victory." "Sarah Jameson" sure seems to dig Roger Stone. In fact, she apparently has no time for anything else. She only has 18 Facebook friends, and I know squirrels in the forest who have bigger followings than that.
I'm still not sure what to make of Sarah Jameson and her fascination with Roger Stone. Here is a link to her Twitter account, which seems to consist mostly of more flagellation of Roger Stone. From our earlier post:
The Facebook page makes me wonder if "Sarah Jameson" is even real. Did someone pick clip art of an anonymous young blonde woman and use it to create a fake page, one that actually is run by Roger Stone or one of his surrogates?
My best guess is that Stone is concerned about our unflattering reports (both completed posts and those that are coming) about Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor and is trying to harass me into inaction or avoidance. I would suggest that Stone come up with something better than that, because his current track is not going to work.
I don't think it's so odd that Trump and his surrogates would focus on Alabama. Sessions, one of his closest advisers during the campaign, is from Alabama. One of Trump's likely high-court nominees is from Alabama. And one of Trump's top campaign stops was in Mobile, Alabama.
As a progressive blogger from Alabama, who has been unlawfully jailed for my reporting on GOP corruption, perhaps I am a thorn -- maybe small, maybe big -- in their side. And so, Roger Stone has been assigned, or taken it upon himself, to mess with me.
Federal agents were “seen carting hard drives and other evidence from Mr. Stone’s apartment in Harlem, and his recording studio in South Florida was also raided.” The F.B.I., in other words, was executing search warrants, not just arrest warrants. Even the timing and manner of Mr. Stone’s arrest — at the absolute earliest moment allowed under federal rules of criminal procedure without persuading a judge to authorize an exceptional nighttime raid — suggests a concern with preventing destruction of evidence: Otherwise it would make little sense to send a dozen agents to arrest a man in his 60s before sunrise.
What if a review of Stone's electronic devices provided clues about attacks on Legal Schnauzer? What if it provided clues about the identify of Sarah Jameson? We suspect Mueller's team will have bigger issues on their plates than those, but we will have our ears in the "upright and locked position" in case tidbits that hit close to home rise to the surface.
The issue of jailing journalists hits close to home, and I've written extensively on the topic. Since Barr did a poor job of explaining U.S. law on the matter -- in fact, he seemed flummoxed by the question from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) -- I decided, in the interest of clarity, to help him out. (And yes, it's scary that an incoming chief law officer in the United States knows so little about a profound constitutional issue that he needs my help.) From a report at Yahoo News:
During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, attorney general nominee William Barr was asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whether his Justice Department would “jail journalists for doing their jobs.”
Barr, President Trump’s pick for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, said he could envision a situation where a news organization or individual journalist could be held in contempt of court. “I think that, uh, you know I know there are guidelines in place,” Barr said after a seven-second pause. “And I can conceive of situations where, uh, you know, as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag or something like that, knows that they’re putting out stuff that will hurt the country. There might — there could be a situation where somebody could be held in contempt.”
Barr is correct that contempt of court often is an issue that leads to the incarceration of a journalist. A judge might order a reporter to produce documents related to a criminal matter, or to avoid publishing an article that could affect national security -- and if the reporter refuses, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. Do I agree with that? No. Is it the law of the land? Yes.
And it is not just a matter of "guidelines." It is based on a U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling -- Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972) -- in a case that is getting close to 50 years old. Here is how we explained it -- and compared jailings related to criminal matters and my incarceration on a 100-percent civil matter -- in a March 2015 post:
The sixth journalist is me, and my freedom was taken away for five months based on . . . nothing. No U.S. law supports it. In fact, a long line of U.S. Supreme Court and state high-court cases specifically state that a preliminary injunction in a defamation case is an unlawful prior restraint under the First Amendment--and yet, I spent five months in the Shelby County, Alabama, jail after Republican political figure Rob Riley and lobbyist Liberty Duke sought my arrest because I allegedly had violated a preliminary injunction in their defamation case, a civil matter that involved no criminal allegations of any kind.
Never mind that the material in question was not found to be defamatory at trial. That's because, under specially appointed judge Claud Neilson, there was no trial--only a hearing, with no discovery, no cross-examination, almost no evidence, no jury . . . well, you get the idea. It was, in fact, a joke--as I stated to the court that day.
The other five U.S. journalists to be arrested in this millennium, whether I like it or not, were lawfully arrested under Branzburg:
What separates my case from the other five that involve incarceration of journalists? Numerous differences come to mind, but the main one is this: Branzburg was the primary governing law in the other cases, and while I don't agree with the finding in Branzburg, it means that the other incarcerations probably were legal. Mine clearly was not legal, and even knowledgeable legal analysts who differ with me politically, agree on that.
The key issue in the other five cases involved efforts by journalists to protect confidential sources in criminal matters. Here is the core finding from Branzburg:
The First Amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation, and therefore the Amendment does not afford him a constitutional testimonial privilege for an agreement he makes to conceal facts relevant to a grand jury's investigation of a crime or to conceal the criminal conduct of his source or evidence thereof.
Bottom line: If a U.S. reporter fails to appear and answer questions, per a court order in a criminal investigation, he can lawfully wind up behind bars. I suspect many Americans have no idea the First Amendment can become so squishy under certain circumstances --and William Barr did a poor job of explaining it.
The lawful incarceration of an American journalist almost always involves criminal investigation -- and the reporter's effort to protect a confidential source. My unlawful incarceration, on the other hand, involved a prior restraint -- and except for matters of national security -- those almost always fall outside the law. That Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and Liberty Duke did not appreciate my accurate reporting (it's never been proven false or defamatory, as a matter of law) hardly is a matter of national security.
Although the prohibition against prior restraints is by no means absolute, the gagging of publication has been considered acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 716, 51 S.Ct. 625, 631, 75 L.Ed. 1357 (1931). Even where questions of allegedly urgent national security, see New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 91 S.Ct. 2140, 29 L.Ed.2d 822 (1971), or competing constitutional interests, Nebraska Press Assn., 427 U.S., at 559, 96 S.Ct., at 2802, are concerned, we have imposed this “most extraordinary remed[y]” only where the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be mitigated by less intrusive measures. Id., at 562, 96 S.Ct., at 2804.
William Barr probably was interested mainly in obtaining a fancy title and more or less phoned it in for his confirmation hearing. He certainly did a poor job of educating the public. Hopefully, we have helped fill in some gaps.