Friday, August 11, 2017

ABOR: No plan to raise Dreamer tuition

Flagstaff: Arizona Daily Sun

Saying they're comfortable with their decision, members of the Board of Regents told Attorney General Mark Brnovich Thursday they have no plans to hike tuition for dreamers — at least not until the Supreme Court orders them to do it.

In a letter to Michael Bailey, Brnovich's chief deputy, regents President Eileen Klein urged him not to pursue legal action against the board over the policy to allow those in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pay in-state tuition if they meet other residency requirements.

She acknowledged that the Court of Appeals ruled just last month that an identical policy by the Maricopa County Community College District governing board is illegal. In that lawsuit brought by the attorney general's office, the judges said that policy violates both state and federal law.


Alaska governor, senators respond to Korean missile threat

Fairbanks News Miner

Tension between the U.S. and North Korea after bold statements from leaders of both nations has raised concern among Alaska’s top civilian officials.

Gov. Bill Walker said he was “concerned” about a missile potentially hitting the state.

Given Alaska’s strategic location as the second-closest state to North Korea, behind Hawaii, these recent developments underscore the need to expand military presence in the state, Walker said.

“No one’s hiding under the desk that I know of at this point,” Walker said in an interview for Politico’s “Off Message” podcast that was released Tuesday. “But we do have to make sure we have the technology and awareness of what could happen.”

Alaska is in the trajectory zone from North Korea, Walker said.


Strange: I'm frustrated with Washington

Florence Times Daily

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange said Washington is a frustrating place, and the behavior of some of his colleagues only makes matters worse.

Strange, a Republican, is only a few months into the job, and faces challenges to hold onto the position in Tuesday's primary election.

He spoke Thursday during a lunch meeting of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, where one of his rivals, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, spoke the day before.

"I'm just as frustrated as I can be," he said. "We've spun our wheels and accomplished nothing."

Strange, who was endorsed this week by President Donald Trump via Twitter, said the only hope of addressing health care and the Affordable Care Act is for Republicans and Democrats to come together and hash out their differences.


Sens. Franken, Wyden Lead Push to Stop Trump Administration From Ending Protections for Nursing Home Residents

Washington, D.C. - August 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Sens. Al Franken and Ron Wyden are leading a major effort to push the Trump Administration's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to abandon a proposal to scrap protections that prevent nursing homes and long-term care facilities from locking residents into forced arbitration agreements.

"Forced arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements stack the deck against residents and their families who face a wide range of potential harms, including physical abuse and neglect, sexual assault, and even wrongful death at the hands of those working in and managing long-term care facilities," the Senators wrote in a letter Monday to CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "These clauses prevent many of our country's most vulnerable individuals from seeking justice in a court of law, and instead funnel all types of legal claims, no matter how egregious, into a privatized dispute resolution system that is often biased toward the nursing home."

The Senators, joined on the letter by 29 of their colleagues, went on to write, "Therefore, we strongly urge CMS to fully protect many of our nation's most vulnerable individuals by withdrawing this proposal and sustaining and fully enforcing the existing restrictions on pre-dispute arbitration clauses in long-term care facility contracts."

You can read the full letter by clicking HERE

Senators to Treasury: Crack Down on Corporate Inversions

Washington, D.C. - August 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined with Senate Democrats to call on the Treasury Department to strengthen efforts to prevent corporate inversions, which occur when companies move overseas on paper in order to avoid paying taxes in the United States. It is estimated that inversions cost the federal government more than $100 billion in lost tax revenue each year.

“These schemes are deeply unfair to American taxpayers who fund the programs and protections that many of these corporations use to grow and thrive as they make significant profits,” the senators wrote. “In return, these corporations choose to desert their tax responsibility here at home, further eroding the U.S. tax base.”

In Pursuit of Justice: Do Away with Planned Parenthood Gag Order!

Washington, D.C. - August 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- David Daleiden and The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has petitioned the Supreme Court to appeal the unconstitutional gag order issued by Judge William Orrick III – an Obama-appointed judge with numerous explicit ties to Planned Parenthood – against the publication of undercover footage of top-level Planned Parenthood leaders. Daleiden explained his appeal by claiming there is information being suppressed that is of significant public interest and concern.

David Daleiden and his team contend the gag order restricts their First Amendment rights and was ordered at “the behest” of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation. The appeal was made weeks after Daleiden and his team was ordered to pay a $137,000 fine and held him in contempt in court. Rep. Trent Franks reacted with the following statement:

“I pray the Supreme Court can bring transparency to this extremely dark and troubling affair in California. The attempt by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation to bury the truth contained in now infamous videos is offensive to every American sensibility. I am thankful David Daleiden has the opportunity to gain a national profile and plead for an end to his persecution before the highest court in the land.

“We should commend people like David Daleiden for his heroism in telling the truth, and we should throw those who murder helpless children and sell their body parts in jail. Not the other way around.”

The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Calls for Immediate Action to Address Opioid Epidemic

Washington, D.C. - August 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, led by Representatives Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) is calling on Congress and the Administration to take immediate, meaningful action to address the opioid epidemic. The Task Force is committed to working in a bipartisan way and with the Administration to advance solutions to this national crisis. The recently released report by the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis details specific recommendations for fighting the opioid crisis in the United States. Many of the proposals included in the report mirror the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force’s agenda, which includes:

  • Immediately addressing the IMD exclusion
  • Enhancing medical education for prescribers and providers
  • Encouraging the wide-spread use and accessibility of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  • Enhancing Narcan availability
  • Prioritizing funding to DHS’s Customs and Border Protection to improve drug detection technology
  • Ensuring federal health care systems share data with Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).
  • Making it easier to share addiction-specific medical information with healthcare providers.
  • Additionally, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force supports the Commission’s recommendation of declaring a National Public Health
  • Emergency and enforcement of mental health parity laws. The Task Force is committed to working together across party lines and with the Administration to move these efforts forward.

  • “In my home state of New Jersey, 2,000 people died from overdoses in 2016, surpassing car accidents, shootings and suicides combined,” said Congressman MacArthur. “It’s clear this epidemic is hurting so many lives. Throughout the year, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force has been working together to find commonsense solutions to this crisis and I’m thankful to see much of our agenda aligns with the Administration’s proposals. This report is an aggressive step and I would encourage my colleagues on each side of the aisle to continue to focus on helping those struggling with addiction, specifically in curbing the supply of drugs coming into our country. ”

    “It’s time for real action from the Administration on the opioid epidemic,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve been encouraged by my colleagues on the Bipartisan Heroin Task force and their willingness to come together and work toward real solutions to this crisis. Earlier this year, our Task Force announced legislative proposals, some of which were outlined in President Trump’s own Opioid Commission findings. We need a comprehensive approach that expands access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services if we’re going to stem the growth of this epidemic. Law enforcement officials agree that we can’t simply arrest our way out of this crisis. I urge the Administration to listen to our Task Force and work with Congress to pass our bipartisan agenda and make a real difference for people in New Hampshire and across the country.”

    “There are few issues more pressing in our own neighborhoods than the devastation caused by the growing epidemic of opioid and drug abuse,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. While community groups, local government and law enforcement have undertaken the Herculean challenge of addressing this issue from all its sides, it is clear there is a crucial role for Congress to play in supporting and expanding these efforts.”

    “The disease of addiction is a national emergency and every delay means more loved ones will die,” said Congressman Norcross. “The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force has been offering commonsense legislative solutions to deal with this national emergency and the Administration’s own Commission is now suggesting many of the same solutions. There’s no time to wait to put these policies in place.”

    Frustrated with White House, McCain unveils Afghan strategy

    Englewood:Sun Herald

    In a rebuke of President Donald Trump, Republican Sen. John McCain declared Thursday that “America is adrift in Afghanistan” as he promoted a war strategy that would expand the U.S. counterterrorism effort and provide greater support to Afghan security forces.

    McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. needs to put strict conditions on continued assistance to Afghanistan, and require the Kabul government to demonstrate “measurable progress” in curbing corruption, strengthening the rule of law and improving financial transparency.

    “Nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened,” said McCain, a leading voice in Congress on national security matters. “The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander in chief.”

    McCain said bluntly, “We are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide.”

    The Arizona lawmaker said he’ll seek a vote on his “strategy for success” in Afghanistan when the Senate returns in September and takes up the annual defense policy bill.


    In new threat, Trump demands NKorea ‘get their act together’

    Eureka Times-Standard

    Issuing a new threat to North Korea, President Donald Trump demanded that North Korea “get their act together” or face extraordinary trouble. He said his previous warning of “fire and fury” if Pyongyang threatened the U.S. again might have been too soft.

    “Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said on Thursday.

    Trump, speaking to reporters from the New Jersey golf resort where he’s vacationing, said North Korea had been “getting away with a tragedy that can’t be allowed.” Still, he declined to say whether the U.S. was considering a pre-emptive military strike, arguing that his administration never discusses such deliberations publicly.


    Feinstein Statement on North Korea

    Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued the following statement in response to reports that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its intercontinental ballistic missiles:

    “Isolating the North Koreans has not halted their pursuit of nuclear weapons. And President Trump is not helping the situation with his bombastic comments. There is no question that North Korea is seeking to add a nuclear warhead to an ICBM capable of reaching the United States.

    “What this tells me is that our policy of isolating North Korea has not worked. The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions. Hopefully, Secretary Tillerson is already discussing the possibility of reopening talks with our Asian partners during his current trip. In my view, diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”

    EFF Urges Supreme Court to Take On Unconstitutional NSA Surveillance, Reverse Dangerous Ruling That Allows Massive Government Spying Program

    Washington, D.C. - August 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the Supreme Court to review and overturn an unprecedented ruling allowing the government to intercept, collect, and store—without a warrant—millions of Americans’ electronic communications, including emails, texts, phone calls, and online chats.

    This warrantless surveillance is conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The law is exceedingly broad—Section 702 allows the government to conduct surveillance of any foreigner abroad­—and the law fails to protect the constitutional rights of Americans whose texts or emails are “incidentally” collected when communicating with those people.

    This warrantless surveillance of Americans is unconstitutional and should be struck down.

    Yet the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ruling in U.S. v. Mohamud, decided that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to Americans whose communications were intercepted incidentally and searched without a warrant. The case centered on Mohammed Mohamud, an American citizen who in 2012 was charged with plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon. After he had already been convicted, Mohamud was told for the first time that information used in his prosecution was obtained using Section 702. Further disclosures clarified that the government used the surveillance program known as PRISM, which gives U.S. intelligence agencies access to communications in the possession of Internet service providers such as Google, Yahoo, or Facebook, to obtain the emails at issue in the case. Mohamud sought to suppress evidence gathered through the warrantless spying, arguing that Section 702 was unconstitutional.

    In a dangerous and unprecedented ruling, the Ninth Circuit upheld the warrantless search and seizure of Mohamud’s emails. EFF, the Center for Democracy & Technology, and New America’s Open Technology Institute filed a petition today asking the Supreme Court to review that decision.

    “The ruling provides an end-run around the Fourth Amendment, converting sweeping warrantless surveillance directed at foreigners into a tool for spying on Americans,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mark Rumold. “Section 702 is unlike any surveillance law in our country’s history, it is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court should take this case to put a stop to this surveillance.”

    Section 702, which is set to expire in December unless Congress reauthorizes it, provides the government with broad authority to collect, retain, and search Americans’ international communications, even if they don’t contain any foreign intelligence or evidence of a crime.

    “We urge the Supreme Court to review this case and Section 702, which subjects Americans to warrantless surveillance on an unknown scale,” said EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker. “We have long advocated for reining in NSA mass surveillance, and the ‘incidental’ collection of Americans’ private communications under Section 702 should be held unconstitutional once and for all.”

    For the petition: Click Here

    For more on Section 702: Click Here

    For more on NSA spying: Click Here