Sen. Mitt Romney received a JFK Profile in Courage Award for going against the GOP and voting to convict Donald Trump

mitt romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Russell Building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

  • The JFK Library Foundation gave Sen. Mitt Romney the JFK Profile in Courage Award Friday.
  • Romney received the award for voting to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial.
  • The Republican senator was the first person to vote to convict a member of their own party.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was named the 2021 recipient of the Profile in Courage Award on Friday for going against his party and voting to convict former President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial last year.

The award, which is given by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, was created by the late president’s family to honor public figures who risk their careers or lives to act upon their conscience in favor of the national interest despite popular opinion or pressure.

Romney was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting Trump in January 2020 after the president was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The foundation released a statement announcing Romney as the recipient, praising “his consistent and courageous defense of democracy.”

“As the first Senator to have ever voted to convict a President of his own party, Senator Romney’s courageous stand was historic,” a statement said. “During a time of grave threat to U.S. democratic institutions, Mitt Romney has been a consistent but often solitary Republican voice in defense of democracy and the rule of law.”

At the time, Romney described his conviction vote as “the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life.” He received widespread condemnation from his Republican colleagues and from the president himself.

In 2019, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also received the Profile in Courage Award “for putting the national interest above her party’s interest to expand access to health care for all.”

The foundation said that as a result of her working to pass the Affordable Care Act, she became the target of GOP political attacks and lost her first tenure as House Speaker in 2010. But, it said, she persisted, and “led Democrats in electing the most diverse Congress in U.S. history.”

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush have also received the award.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How JFK customs searches 1 million packages a day for illegal items

Following is a transcription of the video.

Narrator: About 1 million packages arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport every day. And just like travelers have to go through customs, so do international packages. The US Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, is tasked with screening all of them. They’re looking for anything that isn’t legally allowed in the US; certain foods, animals, drugs, and counterfeit goods.

JFK is one of nine international mail facilities in the US. It’s essentially the country’s biggest mail room, dealing with roughly 60% of all international packages entering the country.

First, the packages are taken off arriving passenger or cargo planes and transported to the US Postal Service’s mail room on site. They’re sorted and then taken to the CBP mail facility next door for inspection. CBP uses a three-tiered strategy to efficiently search each of these packages; intelligence gathering, nonintrusive inspection, and hand inspection. We followed two units searching for drugs and counterfeit items.

Before a package ever lands in the US, CBP gathers intelligence on the sender, the container, and the aircraft. They’ll check with law-enforcement partners like Homeland Security, the DEA, and the FBI to see if there’s anything of interest. This is how CBP narrows down a million packages to ones that will get flagged for further inspection.

Once a suspicious package is pulled, it goes to the CBP inspection area. This is where human CBP officers get a little help. Here, a four-legged officer, like Alex, will search hundreds of packages in 20-minute runs. These dogs are trained to sniff out seven different drugs.

Michael Lake: The drugs that they are trained for are hash, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, as well as fentanyl.

Narrator: If Alex finds something, he’ll notify his handler by sitting or lying down. If he’s right, he gets his chew toy.

Lake: This is the game that they work for. All right, it’s good play. Here’s a good boy, good boy.

Narrator: And if Alex or one of his furry friends comes in contact with a drug, officers have the antidote Narcan on hand. Nearby, CBP officers are using another nonintrusive search tool: X-rays.

Nathanial Needham: When I first started this, I would literally open up everything ’cause I couldn’t tell what the image was. But eventually, after you do thousands of parcels, opening them up and comparing them to image, now you start getting good. You can identify, oh, that’s this, oh, that’s this. We can let that go because of this.

Narrator: If they see something on an X-ray monitor that looks suspicious, officers will isolate the package.

Needham: Can we pull that one, actually?

Narrator: Isolated packages go through an intrusive search. Officers will cut them open to hand-search for drugs or counterfeit goods.

Needham: I always got taught, basically, expect a package to be something that’s going to your mom, so that if it is good, it’s coming back to your mom the same way that it’s supposed to be.

This is common. It’s, like, from back home. It’s pills, certain kind of vitamins, and they get them from their little pharmacy. I’m pretty sure that this right here is actually a steroid.

Producer: Is that allowed?

Needham: No. The worst part is you don’t know what’s in these capsules.

Narrator: If the officer finds drugs, the package is sent to Murielle.

Murielle Lodvil: That’s 4,000-plus pills here.

Narrator: But if he finds a counterfeit good, it’s sent to Steve. We’ll start with Murielle.

Lodvil: The strangest areas that we find drugs concealed are radio speakers or even car bumpers. For some reason, they love to place cocaine in car bumpers. It’s crazy, where we even find drugs in Play-Dohs. Also books, children books. In between the lining of the pages, you’ll find drugs there.

Narrator: Murielle tests the drugs with a spectrometer called a Gemini. Using lasers, the machine can pierce through packaging and tell what drug is inside.

Lodvil: Right now, I’m gonna test this particular package. It’s telling me that it’s ketamine. It’s used for horse tranquilizer and also painkillers.

Narrator: Murielle will label the drugs based on where they fall among the DEA’s drug schedules, Schedule V being a drug with the lowest potential for abuse or dependence, like Robitussin, and Schedule I being a drug with the highest potential for abuse, like ecstasy.

Lodvil: We have the GBL coming from the Netherlands, and someone in New York is receiving it. Steroid, a Schedule III, coming from Hong Kong. Then we have the carisoprodol coming from India. And then we have the tramadol coming from Singapore.

Narrator: Any scheduled drugs will be seized.

Lodvil: There is no day that we come to work that we don’t find anything. Every day is a sense of importance because of the fact that we taking out those particular drugs from the street.

Narrator: The narcotics unit had over 7,600 seizures in 2018, including 246 pounds of cocaine and over 360 pounds of ecstasy.

Now, back to Steve. He’s the one that gets all the counterfeit goods. That’s anything that infringes on a company’s intellectual property rights, or IPR. Think fake Air Jordans, Gucci purses, or Rolex watches. Companies like Louis Vuitton and Gucci train Steve on the telltale signs for spotting a fake. While most of the tips are kept top secret to protect the brand, there are a few things that Steve could share with us.

Steve Nethersole: The first, when it comes in, is the country of origin. These high-end manufacturers here, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, they’re coming from France, Italy, Spain. The watch is coming from Switzerland. When it’s coming from China, bing, that’s your No. 1 red flag. Then you look at the dilapidated boxes, so that’s two red flags there. A third thing is commingling. The high-end manufacturers never commingle their products, like, in other words, a Gucci inside a Fendi or a Louis Vuitton. These people will stuff watches, a wallet, inside a handbag. And so, they’ll never commingle their products. They are so precise.

Some of the things I could say, like, some of the manufacturers, they don’t put any of this in it, the filler, inside it. They would never do that. We’ll look at the smell. Sometimes it smells like petroleum. It’s not real leather. We look at the stitching. We look at the symmetry of the logos by the manufacturer, the zippers. This one here is a Coach bag with a Michael Kors zipper. This coat has “Burbelly” on the buttons instead of Burberry, so these are the comical things that we find when you look at it up close, and you could pick it right out.

Narrator: Counterfeit goods make up an estimated trillion-dollar industry that’s even been linked to terrorist groups around the world. In 2018, CBP had over 1,800 IPR seizures. And if all those counterfeit goods had gone on to sell at their suggested retail price, they’d total an estimated $54 million. So, where do all these seized goods end up anyway?

Well, most of the narcotics and counterfeit goods will be sent to a top-secret incinerator to be destroyed. Some of the drugs will go under further testing, while some of the counterfeit goods may be donated if the offended company allows it. But, in some cases, if the illegal goods are part of a greater investigation, CBP officers will actually put that package back in the mail. Then, they’ll track it all the way to the person it was sent to. This is known as a “controlled shipment.”

Lodvil: I’m the one who opened that package, and now I’m involved in this controlled delivery. Now I get to finish the story. All right, now we go out. We knocked on your door, you open. Hello, we noticed that you’ve ordered, you know, this particular package. It’s MDMA. What’s the story behind it? So then, we listen.

Narrator: But whether they’re up against fake Guccis or dangerous amounts of fentanyl, CBP stands guard at the country’s busiest mail facility.

Lake: This is where it comes. You don’t see it all the time coming across the border in trucks and big bundles, like the TV will have you see. This is where it’s all coming from, and it hits the street and it destroys lives. So, in our way, if we can stop it here, it’s one less tragic story, probably, that we’re gonna have to hear about.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that Biden ‘has not spent a moment thinking about the color scheme of Air Force One’

Air Force One
Air Force One.

  • Jen Psaki said that President Biden has not spent time thinking about the color scheme of Air Force One.
  • Newer VC-25B planes will replace the current VC-25A planes that operate as Air Force One.
  • The current light blue color scheme was designed by John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that President Joe Biden has not spent time thinking about the color scheme of Air Force One.

The color scheme of the VC-25B, which will replace the current VC-25A planes that operate as Air Force One, had been a pet project of former President Donald Trump, who wanted to change the light blue color scheme with a red, white, and blue scheme.

 

“We are certainly aware of the White House military unit’s proposal that has been submitted to them about reconsidering the color scheme of Air Force One,” Psaki said during a press briefing. “I can confirm for you here that the President has not spent a moment thinking about the color scheme of Air Force One or anything in the house or any article of anything.”

Read more: The ultimate guide to Biden’s White House staff

She added: “No one is going to submit a decision memo to him on that particular topic, but certainly we’re aware of the proposal, and as there are any updates, we’re happy to provide them to you.”

Last February, the Air Force asked for $800.9 million for the current fiscal year to remove the old planes for the new VC-25B planes.

The current color scheme was designed by President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Read the original article on Business Insider