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Friday, July 28, 2017
The US Attorney overseeing the Imran Awan investigation is Steve Wasserman, the brother of Debbie Wasserman Schultz - who hired Awan.
If this isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.
Read about who Imran Awan is by clicking HERE
If this isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.
Read about who Imran Awan is by clicking HERE
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Following the critical report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) reintroduced a commonsense bill to improve accountability at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). S. 1643, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act, will bar the IRS Commissioner from rehiring employees who separated from the agency due to substantiated conduct or performance issues. The report, The Internal Revenue Service Continues to Rehire Former Employees With Conduct and Performance Issues, found that hundreds of former IRS employees with documented issues were rehired by the agency in an 18-month span. This is the second TIGTA report finding a widespread practice of rehiring previously fired IRS employees, and is the result of a request from Sen. Burr in 2016 following testimony by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that the agency had put an end to this practice.
“The rampant abuse at the IRS has continued and thrived for far too long,” said Senator Burr. “Whether it is the rehiring of previously terminated employees or continuing to give bonuses to poorly performing executives who can’t be fired – the delinquency at the IRS must end. It’s exactly actions like this that erode the public’s trust in their government. The American people are sick and tired of Washington at its worst. We have Americans paying the salaries of IRS workers who have repeatedly cheated the very government they took an oath to serve, and a Commissioner who won’t fire bad actors. The time to put a stop to these atrocious practices is now.”
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- New legislation introduced by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) would protect local television markets across the country from corporate consolidation by permanently ending the so-called “UHF discount,” an obsolete FCC loophole that the Trump Administration wants to revive to benefit right-wing media conglomerates. If the UHF discount is allowed to go into effect, a series of pending corporate mergers, including one with the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, would dramatically reduce competition among local TV stations across the country.
“Our democracy depends on a diverse media that can address local needs and serve the public interest,” said Rep. Price.“The FCC’s decision to reinstate the technically obsolete UHF discount is a thinly veiled attempt to fast track mega mergers at the expense of Americans who want reliable and trustworthy news from their local broadcasters. The issue of continued corporate media consolidation isn’t a problem for just Democrats or just Republicans – it’s a problem for anyone who wishes to receive news and other programming from a local broadcaster that isn’t captive to a political or corporate agenda.”
“Preventing monopolies in local media and turning back the tide of corporate consolidation has never been more vital than it is today,” said Rep. Huffman.“In Eureka, California alone, the FCC’s recent decision to reinstate the discredited and antiquated UHF discount means that a single right-wing media owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, will control a majority of the news that my constituents in Eureka see on television, no matter which news broadcast they choose to watch. This is not the Soviet Union: Americans deserve a meaningful choice in their local news, and our Local and Independent Television Protection Act would ensure that every American has access to a variety of local news sources that report on the local – and national – issues they care most about.”
"Local television remains an important source of local news. It's especially important for people of color, Spanish speakers, elderly populations, low-income individuals, and others less likely to have cable TV and affordable internet access. Yet we're not getting the diversity of competing viewpoints and local content that we need from broadcasters because of runaway consolidation, aided and abetted by loopholes like the UHF Discount,”said Free Press Action Fund Deputy Director and Senior Counsel, Jessica J. González. “That discount is a relic of a bygone era, from a time when UHF signals were too weak to reach everyone. With today's technology, these signals are actually stronger than other broadcast channels. Yet the current FCC, despite its supposed focus on getting rid of obsolete technical rules, revived this one to pave the way for mega-mergers proposed by conglomerates like Sinclair. We thank Reps. Huffman and Price for introducing this bill to close that loophole."
As John Oliver recently pointed out, the Sinclair Broadcast Group has “must-run” segments and slanted polls that it requires all of their stations to run.
On April 20, 2017, President Trump’s Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai called a vote to reinstate the UHF discount, which allows television station owners to significantly increase their national reach. Federal law establishes a national television ownership cap to prevent any single company from owning television stations that collectively reach more than 39% of the country, a competition requirement to ensure the continuation of the diverse and local news sources essential to a robust democracy. The UHF discount, by contrast, makes this cap meaningless, letting media companies “discount” UHF stations (channels 14-83) by half when calculating whether the company is subject to the national television ownership cap. With the UHF discountreinstated, a single company can buy enough local TV stations to reach up to 78% of Americans, dramatically increasing their national scope, public influence, and control of household news content.
One day after the FCC’s reinstatement of the UHF discount, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that it had entered an agreement to purchase Bonten Media Group for $240 million, expanding its reach in Northern California and elsewhere across the nation. With this purchase, Sinclair will own four of the seven commercial television stations in the Eureka, CA, community. The Trump administration’s reinstatement of the UHF discount is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a lawsuit was filed by several public interest groups.
Specifically, the Local and Independent Television Protection Act:
· Requires the FCC to act within 90 days to permanently end the UHF discount; and
· Grandfathers any stations owned prior to September 26, 2013, which is commensurate with the FCC’s previous efforts to end the UHF discount.
The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Jackie Speier (D-CA).
The legislation is supported by: Free Press Action Fund, Public Knowledge, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Common Cause, and Consumers Union.
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) is reintroducing his bipartisan Fruit and Vegetable Access for Children Act, a bill that will give our children greater access to healthy fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias.
The bill, which has the support of four Democratic and four Republican original cosponsors, will allow schools to have the option to use the money from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) to purchase additional forms of fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, canned, pureed, and dried—expanding the number of nutritious food options for schoolchildren.
Congressman Poliquin released the following statement:
“Our children should have greater access and more nutritious choices when it comes to the foods they eat at their school cafeterias,” said Congressman Poliquin. “As a parent, I believe it’s very important for our kids to have the opportunity to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, such as Maine wild blueberries, all school year round. I’m proud to join with my Democratic and Republican colleagues in pushing this bipartisan legislation forward.”
Said Nancy McBrady, Executive Director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, “Maine frozen wild blueberries are an example of an extremely healthy and delicious fruit that is frozen at peak ripeness that locks in its nutritional benefits and can be used all year round. The more options schools—and our children—have for consuming healthy and affordable fruits and vegetables, the better. The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine is happy to support Congressman Poliquin's bill.”
According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there is overwhelming nutritional consensus that Americans should increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. In its various forms, fruit and vegetables are nutritionally similar. The FFVP, whose goal is to educate children on the foods they eat, ensures school children in low-income areas across the country receive nutritious snacks while learning about the many benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. By including these forms of fruit and vegetables, we ensure they have a comprehensive education.
Congressman Poliquin’s bipartisan bill would allow schools to maximize the value of program dollars. This bill ensures that schools have the options they need to continue to encourage a healthy diet throughout the school year. It gives schools flexibility in the use of their FFVP funds for the well-being of both our children and our schools.
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) filed H.R. 3415, the bi-partisan Megan Rondini Act, requiring hospitals to have a SAFE – Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner –available 24 hours a day/7 days a week, OR to have a plan in place to get that victim to another nearby hospital with a SAFE. The law honors young Texan Megan Rondini who committed suicide after being raped, failed by law enforcement, the University of Alabama, and the hospital.
Megan Rondini was enrolled at the University of Alabama when she was raped by a man from the richest family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After escaping her attacker, Megan went directly to the hospital for a rape kit, and contacted the police. The Hospital did not have a SAFE, a nurse or doctor trained in forensic procedure, on staff. The DNA from her rape kit was never properly examined, and its current whereabouts are publically unknown. She was dismissed, ignored, blamed, and forgotten. Feeling like she had nowhere to turn, Megan later took her own life.
“Rape is a crime that destroys the very soul of a victim,” said Congressman Ted Poe. Often times, it is a fate worse than death. A victim must relive their attack over and over again. I filed the Megan Rondini Act to ensure victims of crime have access to assistance and the ability to pursue justice. Hospitals across the country must have a SAFE on staff 24/7 or have a plan in place to get the victim to a nearby hospital that can provide forensic services. The failures that drove Megan to commit suicide must not be allowed to continue in our society. Victims must be given a voice and the ability to have evidence collected and tested to bring them justice. This legislation helps give them both.”
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after the White House, Senate and House Republicans released a detail-free joint statement on taxes:
“More than six months into the Trump Administration, and Republicans still have no real details for tax reform. Today’s threadbare joint statement shows Republicans continuing to flounder instead of inviting bipartisan progress on real tax reform for hard-working Americans.
“Republicans latest statement is light on details, but their goals have been clear all along: hand massive tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthiest, paid for on the backs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the middle class. Republicans will ransack the education and health care of hard-working Americans to fund deficit-busting tax breaks for billionaires.
“Democrats believe we need real tax reform that creates jobs for hard-working Americans and fuels economic growth, while ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share and ending tax breaks for big corporations hiding profits offshore. We will continue to oppose Republicans’ ceaseless trickle-down agenda.”
Washington, D.C. - July 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The House of Representatives voted to fund critical national defense programs through H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018. This appropriations package, also known as a “minibus,” included the Department of Defense, Military Construction – Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Energy and Water Development, and Legislative Branch funding bills.
“I remain committed to providing our armed forces with the tools and resources they need to complete their critical missions and protect the security of our nation. We cannot expect our nation’s military to defend against ever evolving threats without the ability to train, maintain equipment, and invest in new technologies. The only way to accomplish these goals is to modernize and reform the way our military operates. Today’s national security package tackles the readiness crisis of our military head on, while honoring the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their families,” stated Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM, 2nd).
Rep. Pearce continued to state, “National security also lies within energy advancement and development. New Mexico plays a vital role in the research, development, production, and disposal of nuclear resources that are fundamental to our nation’s security strategy. With strong funding to support these operations, New Mexico will continue to be a national leader in protecting the United States.
The funding package included a non-debatable provision that provides $1.6 billion to fund the construction of a physical barrier along the southern border. Rep. Pearce voted against this procedural motion earlier today.
“Today’s legislation was not perfect. The construction of a physical wall on the southern border will never be the solution. The only way to secure the border is through the use of modern technology and a comprehensive strategy for patrolling the border. I will continue to educate and work with my colleagues to make critical border security decisions that our nation needs, however, this bill does too much for those that protect our freedoms on a daily basis to vote against.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) voted Thursday for the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3219), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives to enhance America’s safety through the construction of a border wall with Mexico. The bill fulfills the recent demand of a Ratcliffe-led coalition of lawmakers for the House not to begin its district work period until following through on President Trump’s request for border wall funding.
“I’m pleased my colleagues stepped up to the plate and joined me in meeting President Trump’s request to prioritize our national security through the construction of a border wall with Mexico,” Ratcliffe said.
“There’s no denying that inaction is simply no longer an option. The legislation we’ve just passed is long overdue, and I applaud it as a huge step forward in securing our borders once and for all.”
H.R. 3219 also contains $584.2 billion in funding to restore adequate military readiness and enhance homeland security, as well as $88.8 billion in funding for veterans’ benefits and programs, and for military housing and bases in the U.S. and around the world.