Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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A Message to Protesters Seeking Equality, Justice and the Preservation of Freedom:

From the "I have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

"But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

Donovan to City: Staten Island Will Take Columbus Statue If You Don’t Want It

Charlie Daniels recently tweeted that he didn't know what Columbus had to do with the Confederacy, but after Charlottesville, someone vandalized the statue.

By House Representative Daniel Donovan (R-NY, 11th)

Staten Island, NY - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Amid calls to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today asked Mayor de Blasio to resolve the matter by donating the statue to the National Parks Service, which controls Great Kills Park on Staten Island.

Donovan said, “Christopher Columbus is a permanent fixture of our national history. Rarely can we trace the wheels of progress over 500 years back to the actions of a single person. If a radical group bent on sanitizing history doesn’t want the statue at Columbus Circle anymore, Staten Island will gladly accept it.”

Donovan represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the U.S. House of Representatives. Approximately one-third of Staten Island residents are of Italian descent, among the largest concentrations in the country, and South Brooklyn also has a high density of Italian-Americans.

Donovan continued, “Columbus is a symbol of Italian-American culture. He discovered our land, and generations of Italian-Americans helped build New York. I will fight tooth and nail to see to it that his statue remains a fixture in our city.”

Donovan and his office spoke with senior Department of Interior officials on Thursday afternoon about the matter.

Self-Driving Vehicles

by House Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th)

Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) has joined the 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Summit in Detroit to discuss the future of mobility and automated vehicle legislation she is working to advance through the House of Representatives. In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to approve the SELF DRIVE Act which supports the development and deployment of automated vehicles.

“Driverless technology is going to be developed whether we like it or not, and the question before us is whether the United States is going to be the international leader in this area,” said Dingell. “It is critical that we have a strong, flexible regulatory framework for automated vehicles that protects consumers and puts safety first, but also keeps up with the pace of rapidly changing technology. Here in Michigan we’ve been working long and hard to launch the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, and know that enacting federal legislation like the SELF DRIVE Act is imperative to reshaping American innovation for generations to come and ensuring the U.S. remains at the forefront of advanced vehicle technology.”

Dingell was joined by Allison Drutchas, Autonomous Vehicles Counsel at General Motors, for a conversation about how the SELF DRIVE Act addresses automated vehicle testing and regulation, as well as cybersecurity, data privacy and security.

The SELF DRIVE Act clarifies the federal and state roles for regulating highly automated vehicles (HAVs) to encourage the testing, development and deployment of HAVs in the United States. It includes language from five bills introduced by Dingell that:

  • Create a Federal Advisory Committee within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with subcommittees to examine: mobility access for the disabled community, mobility access for senior citizens and populations underserved by public transportation, and cybersecurity.
  • Establish new exemptions for motor vehicle safety standards to make easier the development or field evaluation of highly automated vehicles

  • The legislation includes important safety provisions, including requiring the submission of safety assessment certifications by manufacturers of HAVs and requiring NHTSA to initiate a rulemaking to develop new HAV standards. The legislation also requires manufacturers to develop a written cybersecurity plan that includes vulnerability detection and response practices and a process for controlling access to automated driving systems.

    Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA)

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A year after the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) became law, companies are availing themselves of the ability to protect their formulas, processes and other trade secrets in the federal courts. Introduced in the House by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the DTSA guards the trade secrets of U.S. companies—valued at roughly $5 trillion—which are often the target of economic espionage at the hands of foreign interests, including China.

    According to the National Law Review and other publications, companies are turning to the DTSA for redress when competing firms or foreign governments steal their intellectual property.

    “Last year, Republicans were able to produce the 114th Congress’ most significant piece of legislation protecting intellectual property rights, the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Innovation fuels our economy, and we can’t allow bad actors at home or abroad to appropriate the trade secrets of hardworking Americans.

    “The Defend Trade Secrets Act is already protecting intellectual property rights against those who would undermine our economy, and I know that conservatives will continue to lead in this policy space,” said Collins.

    The law created a uniform standard for the misappropriation of trade secrets and provides plaintiffs with a way to work across state and national boundaries through civil federal courts. The first verdict in a DTSA case, Dalmatia Import Group, Inc. v. FoodMatch, Inc. et al., awarded $500,000 in damages based on stolen trade secrets, and the number of DTSA cases is growing.

    Congressman Cohen Introduces Amendments to Prohibit Federal Spending at Trump-Owned Hotels, Resorts, and other Trump-owned Businesses

    Does it matter where Trump spends his leisure time? I seem to recall that Obama spent a LOT of time on the golf course. Are you saying he spent less money there? I wonder if he went to the Trump golf course...

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Steve Cohen, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, has introduced a series of 16 appropriations amendments to prohibit federal spending at Trump-owned hotels, resorts and other Trump-owned businesses. The amendments were offered to an upcoming appropriations package that is scheduled to be considered on the House floor in September.

    “Congress should not allow the President to use his office to profit himself and his family,” said Congressman Cohen. “The President’s refusal to divest from his privately owned businesses creates a conflict of interest when steering federal spending to his resorts and other businesses.”

    According to press reports, President Trump spent 40 of his 181 full days in office – approximately 22 percent of his days in office -- at a Trump-branded golf course. It has also been reported that the Secret Service has spent $73,000 on golf cart rentals at Trump properties.

    “The President’s refusal to divest also continues to raise serious questions about his compliance with the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which is a vital protection against foreign governments’ corrupting influence.” said Congressman Cohen.

    The Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits the President from accepting payments and other benefits from foreign governments without seeking and receiving Congressional authorization.

    “The American people should have total confidence that the President is serving their interest, not his own financial enrichment. President Trump’s refusal to disclose information to Congress or seek Congress’s authorization for accepting profits from foreign governments stemming from his sprawling foreign financial interests is a brazen violation of the Constitution and a danger to our democracy.”

    Specifically, Congressman Cohen offered 2 amendments to each of 8 upcoming appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2018: Interior & Environment; Agriculture and Rural Development; Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Half of his amendments prohibit federal funds from being spent at Trump hotels and resorts. The other half of his amendments prohibit federal funds from being spent at Trump-owned businesses identified in his financial disclosures. A link to the text of these amendments will be posted when it becomes available.

    Congressman Cohen offered similar amendments to an appropriations package that passed the House in July, however the Republican majority blocked them from being considered on the House floor.

    Congressman Cohen is helping lead a lawsuit filed by nearly 200 Members of Congress against President Trump for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause.

    Last week, Congressman Cohen announced he is drafting articles of impeachment for, among other things, potential violations of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.

    National Parks

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump change the borders of “a handful” of National Monuments. The Secretary did not publicly specify which monuments he is recommending be changed, but the recommendation comes after a White House ordered review of 27 National Monuments.

    Below are statements and information from the newsmakers about this subject. (Please keep checking back to this page for updates!:

    House Representative Judy Chu (D-CA, 27th):

    “At the behest of oil companies eager to drill in protected lands, Donald Trump ordered a review of 27 of America’s most beloved national monuments. Now, after visiting just eight of them, Secretary Zinke is ignoring the outpouring of public support from 2.7 million Americans and recommending that an undetermined number be altered. The public deserves to see the complete list of recommendations that were sent to the White House. That he is not recommending any of the monuments be eliminated – as was intended at the start of the review – is an acknowledgement that these monuments all comport with the Antiquities Act. And so he is seeking to change them to cater to corporate interests instead.

    “We invited Secretary Zinke to visit the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to actually hear from the communities that support it. But instead, Zinke and Trump are choosing to listen to corporations and Washington lobbyists. Because of the utter lack of transparency, we do not know if the San Gabriels – which are supported by 80% of Angelenos – are among those to be altered.”