Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cities to President Trump: Save DACA, Focus on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Source: National League of Cities


Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Following reports that President Donald J. Trump may end the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, National League of Cities (NLC) President Matt Zone, councilman from Cleveland, issued the following statement:

“America’s cities and towns are a cultural mosaic of multiple nationalities and backgrounds, an outcome of our nation’s proud history of welcoming immigrants. That’s why we urge President Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program has provided nearly 800,000 hardworking young immigrants with the opportunity to contribute to our economy and build their lives here without the constant threat of deportation.

“If DACA is terminated, not only would the U.S. GDP potentially decrease by $460 million — countless families would be torn apart and lives upended. Instead, the president should focus on comprehensive immigration reform that includes stronger border enforcement and a pathway to citizenship.”

In 2016, NLC’s membership adopted Resolution #17 to the National Municipal Policy, calling for comprehensive immigration reform and voicing support for legislation like the Dream Act that can “facilitate state efforts to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students and provide certain students with a path to U.S. citizenship.”

Three International Space Station Crewmates Safely Return to Earth

Source: NASA

Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who set multiple U.S. space records during her mission aboard the International Space Station, along with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, safely landed on Earth at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

While living and working aboard the world’s only orbiting laboratory, Whitson and Fischer contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, welcomed several cargo spacecraft delivering tons of supplies and research experiments, and conducted a combined six spacewalks to perform maintenance and upgrades to the station.

Among their scientific exploits, Whitson and Fischer supported research into the physical changes to astronaut’s eyes caused by prolonged exposure to a microgravity environment. They also conducted a new lung tissue study that explored how stem cells work in the unique microgravity environment of the space station, which may pave the way for future stem cell research in space.

Additional research included an antibody investigation that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment, and the study of plant physiology and growth in space using an advanced plant habitat. NASA also attached the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation (ISS CREAM) on the outside of the space station in August, which is now observing cosmic rays coming from across the galaxy.

The crew members received a total of seven cargo deliveries during their mission. A Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle launched to the space station in December 2016 delivering new lithium-ion batteries that were installed using a combination of robotics and spacewalks. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the station in April on the company's seventh commercial resupply mission. Three SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completed commercial resupply missions to the station in February, June and August. And, Russian ISS Progress cargo spacecraft docked to the station in February and June.

Whitson’s return marks the completion of a 288-day mission that began last November and spanned 122.2 million miles and 4,623 orbits of the Earth – her third long-duration mission on the station. During her latest mission, Whitson performed four spacewalks, bringing her career total to 10. With a total of 665 days in space, Whitson holds the U.S. record and places eighth on the all-time space endurance list.

Fischer, who launched in April, completed 136 days in space, during which he conducted the first and second spacewalks of his career. Yurchikhin, who launched with Fischer, now has a total of 673 days in space, putting him seventh place on the all-time endurance list.

Expedition 53 continues operating the station, with Randy Bresnik of NASA in command, and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) serving as flight engineers. The three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos. Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to launch Sept. 12 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Sues Justice Department for Records About Top FBI Official Ties to Top Clinton Ally

Source: Judicial Watch (dba Shopping)

Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Judicial Watch announced that it today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of Jeffrey A. Danik, a retired FBI supervisory special agent, against the U.S. Department of Justice for records concerning FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (Jeffrey A. Danik v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01792)). Danik worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for almost 30 years.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia in support of Danik’s October 25, 2016, and February 28, 2017, FOIA requests for records about McCabe’s “conflicts of interest” regarding his wife’s (Dr. Jill McCabe’s) political campaign, and McCabe’s reporting to the FBI of any job interviews or offers. Specifically, the two FOIA requests seek:

Text messages and emails of McCabe containing “Dr. Jill McCabe,” “Jill,” “Common Good VA,” “Terry McAuliffe,” “Clinton,” “Virginia Democratic Party,” “Democrat,” “Conflict,” “Senate,” “Virginia Senate,” “Until I return,” “Paris,” “France,” “Campaign,” “Run,” “Political,” “Wife,” “Donation,” “OGC,” Email,” or “New York Times.”

In 2015, a political action committee run by McAuliffe, a close friend and political supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, donated nearly $500,000 to Jill McCabe, wife of McCabe, who was then running for the Virginia State Senate. Also, the Virginia Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe had significant influence, donated an additional $207,788 to the Jill McCabe campaign. In July 2015, Andrew McCabe was in charge of the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office, which provided personnel resources to the Clinton email probe.

“I am saddened by how the FBI’s reputation has been tarnished by the poor judgement and ethics of its leadership,” stated Mr. Danik. “I know I’m not the only retired (or serving) FBI special agent who is concerned about Mr. McCabe’s conflicts of interest on the Clinton email matter. The agency seems to be illegally hiding records about this scandal, which is why I’m heading to court with Judicial Watch.”

“We’re honored to help Mr. Danik hold accountable the FBI—the agency he served for decades,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We believe Mr. McCabe’s text messages and emails will be particularly enlightening to the public seeking answers about the Clinton email debacle.”

In July 2017, Judicial Watch filed three FOIA lawsuits seeking communications between the FBI and McCabe concerning “ethical issues” involving his wife’s political campaign; McCabe’s communications with McAuliffe; and McCabe’s travel vouchers.


Source: Joni and Friends

Birthday in a Box

Long Beach, CA - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Freedom to Pray, a nonprofit organization advocating for the participation in prayer groups through free prayer calls, is encouraging individuals of all faiths to unite on Sunday, Sept. 3, for the National Day of Prayer for Hurricane Harvey victims as declared by President Trump.

“The widespread devastation experienced by the people of Texas won’t be solved in days or weeks or months. This recovery will be long and arduous,” said David Butts, president of Harvest Prayer Ministries and chairman of the National Day of Prayer Board of Directors. “The one thing we can all do in times of crisis is pray. As God’s children, we have the right to freely bring the urgent needs of Hurricane Harvey survivors before Him. Let us unite this Sunday, America. Let us lay aside our differences and lift up the people of Texas in prayer.”

Freedom to Pray is calling its supporters, churches and congregations to come together in prayer for the Hurricane Harvey victims and their families this Sunday. The National Day of Prayer for Hurricane Harvey Victims, as declared by President Trump, follows other historic presidential prayer declarations dating back to President Lincoln. Most recently, President George W. Bush proclaimed Friday September 14, 2001, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001.

Freedom to Pray asks individuals to join us as we pray for:

  • Flood waters to recede;
  • Individuals mourning the loss of loved ones;
  • Those suffering from extreme physical loss of property;
  • The volunteers and brave first responders working around the clock to ensure individuals are safe; and
  • The unity of this community and our nation as we support – through financial gifts, volunteerism and prayer – the victims of Harvey.

  • “Prayer has the ability to help us persevere and see love through a lens of devastation,” said Butts. “We have seen the power of prayer and know, most of all, it can bring healing to all the people suffering in the wake of Harvey.”

    Freedom to Pray
    is a nonprofit advocating on behalf of individuals who are being forced to end their participation in prayer groups through free conference lines due to T-Mobile’s $0.01 per minute fee, as explained here. For additional information, visit

    Federal Judge Denies Chicago Motion In SAF-Backed Gun Shop Case

    Source: Illinois State Rifle Association

    Bellevue, WA - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A federal court judge in Illinois has denied a City of Chicago motion for summary judgment and refused to dismiss a case challenging a ban of firearms sales within city limits that is backed by the Second Amendment Foundation.

    It is the latest in a string of court battles between Chicago and SAF, causing SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb to observe, “We’ve already beat Chicago three times, in the McDonald case before the Supreme Court, and both Ezell 1 and Ezell 2 before the federal court of appeals. I’m reminded of the folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary that asked, ‘When will they ever learn’?”

    The case involves a proposed gun shop called Second Amendment Arms (SAA), owned by R. Joseph Franzese, who submitted an application for a business license in July 2010. The city contends that the application was for an address in an area not zoned for commercial use, but Franzese argues that he was not advised about the zoning and that it had been advertised as commercial property. Besides, he contended that the city’s prohibition on gun sales “would have blocked (their) efforts no matter where (they) chose.”

    “The City of Chicago under Rahm Emanuel is trying to be too clever by half,” Gottlieb said. “We would have thought by now that they would have ceased this pattern of spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on stubborn litigation, but the city seems determined to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance with the Second Amendment.

    U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., set Sept. 28 as the next date to discuss damages for the plaintiff in this case, which is known as Second Amendment Arms v. City of Chicago.

    “Since losing its gun ban fight in the Supreme Court’s 2010 McDonald ruling,” Gottlieb noted, “Chicago has been digging its heels in deeper and deeper, throwing every kind of legal roadblock it could in an effort to delay what seems inevitable. The city has got to follow the law and the constitution, and as long as they keep fighting, we’ll keep suing.

    “That’s what winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time is all about,” he concluded.

    The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation's oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

    Foxx Praises Exit of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Student Loan Servicing

    Source: Committee on Education and the Workforce

    whole house water filtration system

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued the following statement praising the Department of Education’s decision to end its Memorandum of Understanding with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding the oversight of student loan servicing:

    “Congress bestowed the powers to oversee student loans and student loan servicing solely to the Department of Education, and it was a mistake for the Obama administration to have the Department of Education let the CFPB abuse its privilege on these matters. The Department of Education has made it clear that its partnership with the CFPB is doing more harm than good when it comes to how it can best serve students and borrowers.

    “Specifically, the department has shown that a partnership with the CFPB was complicating and undermining its efforts to act in the best interest of borrowers and students. I am pleased that the department is taking its authority back from the CFPB, and remains committed to serving borrowers and students first.”

    Click here to read the full letter from the Department of Education

    Police Have Collected Data on Millions of Law-Abiding Drivers Via License Readers

    Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

    San Francisco, CA - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU won a decision by the California Supreme Court that the license plate data of millions of law-abiding drivers, collected indiscriminately by police across the state, are not “investigative records” that law enforcement can keep secret.

    California’s highest court ruled that the collection of license plate data isn’t targeted at any particular crime, so the records couldn’t be considered part of a police investigation.

    “This is a big win for transparency in California,” attorney Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the ACLU of Southern California, which joined EFF in a lawsuit over the records. “The Supreme Court recognized that California’s sweeping public records exemption for police investigations doesn’t cover mass collection of data by police, like the automated scanning of license plates in this case. The Court also recognized that mere speculation by police on the harms that might result from releasing information can’t defeat the public’s strong interest in understanding how police surveillance impacts privacy."

    The ruling sets a precedent that mass, indiscriminate data collection by the police can’t be withheld just because the information may contain some criminal data. This is important because police are increasingly using technology tools to surveil and collect data on citizens, whether it’s via body cameras, facial recognition cameras, or license plate readers.

    The panel sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether the data can be made public in a redacted or anonymized form so drivers’ privacy is protected.

    “The court recognized the huge privacy implications of this data collection,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “Location data like this, that’s collected on innocent drivers, reveals sensitive information about where they have been and when, whether that’s their home, their doctor’s office, or their house of worship.”

    Automated License Plate Readers or ALPRs are high-speed cameras mounted on light poles and police cars that continuously scan the plates of every passing car. They collect not only the license plate number but also the time, date, and location of each plate scanned, along with a photograph of the vehicle and sometimes its occupants. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) collect, on average, three million plate scans every week and have amassed a database of half a billion records.

    EFF filed public records requests for a week’s worth of ALPR data from the agencies and, along with American Civil Liberties Union-SoCal, sued after both agencies refused to release the records.

    EFF and ACLU SoCal asked the state supreme court to overturn a lower court ruling in the case that said all license plate data—collected indiscriminately and without suspicion that the vehicle or driver was involved in a crime—could be withheld from disclosure as “records of law enforcement investigations.”

    EFF and the ACLU SoCal argued the ruling was tantamount to saying all drivers in Los Angeles are under criminal investigation at all times. The ruling would also have set a dangerous precedent, allowing law enforcement agencies to withhold from the public all kinds of information gathered on innocent Californians merely by claiming it was collected for investigative purposes.

    EFF and ACLU SoCal will continue fighting for transparency and privacy as the trial court considers how to provide public access to the records so this highly intrusive data collection can be scrutinized and better understood.

    Washington Think Tanks Live In Fear Of Google's Ire

    Source: Consumer Watchdog

    Santa Monica, CA - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- News that the New America Foundation shut down its Open Markets unit after the group expressed support of European antitrust enforcement action against Internet giant Google shows how Washington think tanks live in fear of incurring Google’s ire and losing their funding, Consumer Watchdog said.

    The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group warned that staunch opposition to bipartisan Congressional efforts to AMEND a key internet law that would allow rogue websites like to be held accountable for aiding sex trafficking may be motivated by a fear of losing Google money.

    In an email to Barry Lynn, head of Open MarkeTs, New America’s President Anne-Marie Slaughter expressed concern that Google’s views wouldn’t be represented in a conference he was organizing.

    “We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,” Ms. Slaughter wrote, according to the New York Times, “just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.”

    New America has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999, the Times noted.

    The Times reported that Slaughter later told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America.

    In 2009 a Google lobbyist in Washington DC, Bob Boorstin, tried to get the Rose Foundation to stop funding Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. Rose rebuffed the effort and gave Consumer Watchdog another grant.

    Click here to view the email exchange between Google’s Boorstin and Rose Foundation’s Tim Little.

    Consumer Watchdog noted that virtually all groups opposing amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act get Google money.

    The current interpretation of CDA Section 230 enables rogue websites like, which facilitates sex trafficking, to use the law as a shield. This interpretation, pushed by the tech industry, keeps child sex trafficking alive and allows websites like Backpage to avoid accountability to victims and their families.

    Consumer Watchdog said the bipartisan Senate bill, S. 1693 the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) with 27 co-sponsors and Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-MO) H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 with 111 co-sponsors, would amend the law and let Backpage be held accountable.

    In May Consumer Watchdog, DeliverFund, Faith and Freedom Coalition, The Rebecca Project for Justice, Trafficking in America Taskforce and Nacole S., a sex-trafficking victim’s mother, released a comprehensive report detailing Backpage’s wrongful activities and how Google has spent millions to fund efforts to thwart any changes in Section 230. As detailed in the report, major recipients of Google’s money are two nonprofit organizations, The Center for Digital Democracy (CDT) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As documented in the report, CDT and EFF have frequently jumped to aid Backpage as it faced various legal challenges.

    Google, CDT, EFF and other tech industry representatives may claim to be protecting free speech and Internet freedom, but their activities have done little more than protect a notorious sex-trafficking hub from being held accountable by its victims, Consumer Watchdog said. Backpage’s abuses and the fight by its victims to hold it accountable are the subject of a new documentary film, "I Am Jane Doe". It is now available on Netflix or can be downloaded from Google Play, iTunes or Amazon.

    “Internet freedom must not come at the expense of children who are sex trafficked,” said John M. Simpson, Con sumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director. “Just as the First Amendment does not allow you to shout fire in a crowded movie house, or to assist hit men and drug dealers in their criminal activity, CDA Section 230 must not be allowed to protect an exploitative business that is built on child sex trafficking.”


    Source: Concerned Veterans for America (CVA)

    Santa Fe, NM - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver will hold a hearing on her revised, unconstitutional anti-free speech measure in Santa Fe. The hearing will give citizens the opportunity to share their opinions about the measure.

    Secretary Oliver recently announced revisions to her formerly-proposed measure forcing citizens who support causes to list their names and personal information publicly – leaving them open to harassment and intimidation. This effort represents a massive overreach by Secretary Oliver, who does not have the authority to implement such drastic changes to New Mexico’s laws.

    Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:

    “Secretary Oliver is circumventing the legislative process to push forward a measure that would inhibit the First Amendment rights of citizens. It’s important that New Mexicans are given the opportunity to voice opposition to this deeply flawed and unconstitutional measure. We’ve seen an overwhelming response to Oliver’s rule from New Mexicans who have serious concerns about the impact it would have on their right to free expression. This measure will limit open debate in New Mexico and we encourage citizens of the state to stand up for their rights today.”

    After Secretary Oliver released her revised measure, CVA launched a digital tool that allows New Mexicans to submit comments to her office.

    In July, CVA joined a coalition of 29 individuals representing 14 different organizations that submitted a letter to the Secretary asking her to end her attack on free speech in New Mexico. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was among the signers urging the Secretary to abandon her measure.

    Earlier this year, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed S.B. 96, a similar anti-free speech measure that passed the legislature in April. CVA led a coalition of 11 different organizations and sent a letter to Governor Martinez asking her to reject S.B. 96. The group also launched a targeted digital campaign, including a tool which allowed New Mexico constituents to contact Governor Martinez directly via email, Facebook, Twitter, and phone to warn her about the dangers of S.B. 96.

    Last year, CVA launched “Defend the First,” a project focused on protecting the free exchange of information and ideas at the state and federal level.


    Source: Citizens for Community Values

    Columbus, OH - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio Christian advocacy group that defends free speech and religious freedom, participated in a press conference held by Ohio State Representatives Wesley Goodman & Andrew Brenner today announcing their intention to introduce the Campus Free Speech Act. The proposal will protect the free speech rights of students on public universities throughout Ohio.

    According to research conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which maintains an exhaustive list of incidents of free speech violations on campus, “freedom of speech is under continuous threat at many of America’s campuses, pushed aside in favor of politics, comfort, or simply a desire to avoid controversy.”

    “Colleges and universities are supposed to be the marketplace for ideas,” said Aaron Baer, President of Citizens for Community Values. “Unfortunately, throughout the country, many students and student organizations are not given the opportunity to participate in open and honest discussion. The Campus Free Speech Act ensures all university speech codes respect the first amendment rights of Ohio students.”

    According to FIRE’s ratings, 11 universities in Ohio have speech codes that restrict protected expression or, by virtue of their vague wording, could too easily be used to restrict protected expression. One university has codes that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech.

    The Campus Free Speech Act restates and codifies a student’s right to “engage in free expression.” It guarantees to members of the campus community, “clear, content neutral rules for conduct of expression.” The bill requires public universities to adopt and promulgate a policy saying, “it is not the proper role of a state institution of higher education to shield individuals from expression.”

    The Campus Free Speech act also codifies current Constitutional free speech law by limiting the university’s authority to segregate expression from certain places and audiences. It specifically states that “Offense or irritation taken to the content of speech shall not be considered an actionable harm under any circumstances.”

    Citizens Against Government Waste Statement on Tax Reform Kickoff

    Source: Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz issued the following statement echoing President Trump’s kickoff speech on the urgent need for comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates and eliminates loopholes:

    “President Trump’s tax plan will reduce taxes, create jobs, simplify the tax code, and put more money back into the taxpayers’ pockets. There is a simple choice on tax reform: Either the taxpayers’ hard-earned money will continue to be sent to Washington and enter a maze of bureaucratic inefficiency and ineptitude, or the tax code can be fixed and rates can be lowered. The American people will then make their own decisions about how to spend and invest their own money.

    “The President’s plan would reduce both the individual and business tax rates, which will be particularly helpful to the middle class and small businesses. The U.S. cannot remain competitive with other nations with a tax rate that is 16.4 percentage points higher than the world average. His plan is intended to result in economic growth of at least 3 percent and create millions of new jobs. It deserves prompt consideration by Congress so that Americans can get immediate relief from burdensome taxes and a complex tax code as soon as possible, and fill out their tax returns in the future on a short form that should be no longer than one page.”


  • Taxpayers spend 8.9 billion hours annually complying with the tax code.
  • Tax code compliance costs the economy $234.4 billion per year.
  • The tax code is 10 million words and is more than six times as long as it was in 1955.
  • 94 percent of taxpayers paid someone else or used software to prepare their tax forms.
  • The instructions alone for the typical 1040 tax form used by most Americans has grown from just two pages in 1935, to 241 pages today.
    Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
  • Pizza Delivered to Harvey Victims

    Source: Christian and Missions Alliance

    Ever had pizza delivered to you via a boat? Yesterday Rob Searing and another volunteer from the Southwestern District delivered more than 25 pizzas to an apartment complex. The buildings were not flooded but inaccessible by car.

    Little Caesars donated the pizzas with the stipulation that they were for the kids who couldn’t go outside and play. The restaurant manager wanted them to have something fun, so he sent the pizzas with the understanding that the adults were only allowed to eat what the kids couldn’t finish.

    In addition to delivering pizzas, Rob and the other volunteer picked up five guys from the same apartment complex to help them find food, groceries, and baby necessities for their families.

    “We actually Facetimed their children while we motored down the flooded road—much to the amusement of all aboard,” says Rob.

    How to Volunteer
    Teams or individuals interested in volunteering in the Houston area for three to five days may contact Charles Smith at Let him know your skills (including cleaning). Volunteers must be able to work in heat (around 90 degrees and 70-percent humidity) and wear task-appropriate attire.

    Earlier teams will be involved in debris removal, sprayer cleaning, and disinfecting. Later teams will likely be involved in construction and remodeling.

    Raise More than a Quarter Trillion Dollars of Tax Revenue by Ending Tax Subsidies for Unauthorized Employment of Illegal Aliens

    Source: Center for Immigration Studies

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Aliens enter the United States without authorization for many reasons, but for most of them the goal is to secure employment at much higher wages than are available in their native countries. While breaking the law provides very significant economic benefits to these illegal workers and to the businesses that hire them, it comes at a cost to American workers. According to Harvard economist George Borjas, recent empirical research indicates that American workers suffer a reduction of $99 billion to $118 billion in annual wages because of illegal immigration.1

    The economic rewards of unauthorized employment of aliens are not limited to the higher wages of the illegal workers and the lower labor costs of their employers. Unauthorized alien workers and their employers also enjoy multi-billion dollar tax deductions and tax credits that were enacted into law for the benefit of law-abiding workers and businesses.

    When Congress returns from summer recess on September 5, it is expected to focus attention on a major reform of the federal income tax system, including a combination of lower rates and other tax incentives to families and to businesses. The largest challenge facing tax reformers is finding sufficient additional revenue to pay for the tax cuts and tax incentives they promised to the people who elected them. In fairness to the American families and businesses to whom these tax cuts have been promised, and in particular to the American families whose household incomes have been diminished by illegal immigration, Congress should consider eliminating unwarranted tax breaks to unauthorized alien workers and their employers.

    Each of the following reforms — one that eliminates a tax subsidy for employers of unauthorized aliens and the other that eliminates a tax subsidy for the unauthorized workers — comes with an estimate of the additional revenues that would be raised by the reform. Together they could raise $296 billion over 10 years — more than a quarter-trillion dollars.

    1. No Deduction for Wages Paid to Illegal Aliens. Section 162(e) of the Internal Revenue Code denies a deduction for "illegal payments". Even though it is illegal to employ unauthorized alien workers, the IRS has ruled that section 162(e) does not apply to the wages paid to those aliens, even if the employer knowingly broke the law.2 On January 3, 2017, Rep. Steve King and eight other members of Congress introduced H.R. 176, the New Illegal Deduction Elimination Act, Section 2 of which would amend section 162(e) to clarify that no deduction is allowed for wages paid to unauthorized alien workers. H.R. 176 provides employers a "safe harbor", allowing a deduction to employers that used the Department of Homeland Security's free, online E-Verify system to confirm the employee's eligibility to work.

    The amount of wages paid to unauthorized alien workers cannot be known with certainty. One of the most extensive studies of unauthorized immigrants in the United States was conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center in 2009.3 According to that study, there were approximately 8.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force,4 a figure that Pew more recently estimated had fallen to 8.0 million.5 Pew estimated the median household income of unauthorized worker families to be approximately $36,000 and that there were approximately 1.75 workers per household, implying median per-worker earnings of $20,571.6 Multiplying Pew's estimated number of unauthorized alien workers by the earnings-per-worker estimate yields an estimated total of wages paid to unauthorized alien workers of approximately $165 billion.

    Many unauthorized workers are employed in the "underground economy", i.e., by households and other employers that are not reporting or paying payroll taxes and presumably are not deducting the wages. A 2013 report by the Social Security Administration estimated that, of approximately seven million alien workers in various irregular work statuses in 2010, approximately 3.1 million (44 percent) had Social Security numbers (mostly false or fraudulently secured), while approximately 3.9 million (56 percent) were working in the "underground economy"7 On the assumption that employers reported payroll taxes and claimed wage expense deductions only for the 44 percent of unauthorized workers who could produce an SSN, and that most employers deducted wages at or near the corporate tax rate of 35 percent, we estimate that disallowing a deduction for wages paid to unauthorized alien workers would increase federal tax revenues by approximately $25.4 billion per year (35 percent x 44 percent x $165 billion), or $254 billion over 10 years.

    2. Deny Refundable Tax Credits to Illegal Aliens. Section 24(a) of the Internal Revenue Code allows a $1,000 per-child tax credit for taxpayer's whose earnings fall below a specified threshold. The Child Tax Credit is refundable to the extent it exceeds the taxpayer's tax liability, in which case it is referred to as the Additional Child Tax Credit or ACTC. A 2011 report by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration explained that aliens authorized to work in the United States are required to obtain a Social Security number (SSN).8 For aliens who need to file U.S. federal tax returns for other reasons, such as to claim refunds of withholding tax on dividends, the IRS issues Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs). Unfortunately, according to the inspector general, the IRS had been permitting aliens to claim ACTCs on returns that reported an ITIN rather than a Social Security number.

    The payment of ACTCs to illegal aliens is arguably a direct violation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 ("PRWOA"), which expressly provides that an illegal alien "is not eligible for any Federal public benefit." The IRS has applied the PRWOA rule to prohibit payments of Earned Income Tax Credits to ITIN filers, but based on a questionable interpretation of the law has allowed ITIN filers refunds of ACTCs.9

    According to the Inspector General, "[b]ased on claims made in Processing Year 2010, disallowance of the ACTC to filers without a valid SSN would reduce Federal outlays by approximately $8.4 billion over 2 years," i.e., $4.2 billion per year. Although the inspector general's figures are based on 2010 fiscal data, Treasury Department tax expenditure estimates indicate that the total child tax credit expenditure was virtually unchanged between 201010 and 2017.11 Accordingly, based on the inspector general's report, we estimate that limiting the Child Tax Credit to taxpayers with Social Security numbers would increase federal tax revenues by approximately $4.2 billion per year, or $42 billion over 10 years.


    Source: National Immigration Forum

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- As discussions at the White House continue on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Republican leaders in Congress are urging President Trump today to keep the program in place.

    “I don’t think he should do that. I believe this is something Congress has to fix,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) today, in answer to a question on whether President Trump should end DACA.

    “I’ve urged the president not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “Like the president, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress.”

    “Over the coming months, I’ll be working closely with my colleagues in Congress and with the administration to pass meaningful immigration reform that will secure our borders, provide a workable path forward for the Dreamer population, and ensure that employers have access to the high-skilled workers they need so succeed in our technology-driven economy,” Hatch continued.

    Meanwhile, more than 350 business leaders and entrepreneurs from across the country signed onto a letter urging the president to preserve DACA and calling on Congress to pass permanent legislation for Dreamers.

    “We applaud Republican leaders for speaking out to protect DACA recipients,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Their support is indicative of widespread support across the country for a permanent solution to address the situation of our nation’s Dreamers.”

    Jewish Woman Fired for Observing Passover

    Source: Beckett

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- An Orthodox Jewish woman who was fired from her job at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for observing Passover is asking the nation’s highest court to hear her case. Last month, in Abeles v. Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, Susan Abeles appealed to the Supreme Court to hold her former employer accountable for unjustly firing her from her job of 26 years for observing the first two and last two days of Passover. A ruling from the high court could protect the right of all religious federal employees to live their faith without fear of losing their jobs.

    Susan Abeles was a statistician at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the government agency that operates both Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, for 26 years. She observed Passover every year without incident until 2013, when she was punished and forced to retire despite following leave protocol. Today, Becket and Jews for Religious Liberty, an association of Jewish lawyers and rabbis, filed a friend–of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to hear Ms. Abeles’ case, arguing that the lower court decision “will inhibit Jewish religious exercise within the federal workplace and could easily result in a de facto government hiring ban on Orthodox Jews.”

    “Talk about chutzpah,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket, a non-profit religious liberty law firm. “The Airports Authority says it was okay to fire Ms. Abeles for observing Passover because it hasn’t said anything openly anti-Semitic. If that becomes the rule, then federal agencies will have a license to terminate all of their religious employees, as long as they are careful to hide their tracks. Even Pharaoh honestly admitted that he was discriminating against Jews.”

    Jewish religious law prohibits work during the first two and last two days of Passover. Millions of Orthodox Jews like Ms. Abeles have observed this important holiday for thousands of years. Despite following the MWAA’s leave policy for decades, Ms. Abeles was accused of not following protocol and forced into retirement in 2013. She sued the MWAA, which claims it is exempt from both the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Virginia religious freedom laws, giving it free rein to avoid all anti-discrimination laws. In July 2017 Ms. Abeles, asked the Supreme Court to hear her case.

    “The Airports Authority claiming to be above the law adds insult to injury,” said Rassbach. “The Supreme Court should take this case to ensure that people of all faiths can observe their deeply held beliefs in the federal workplace without facing discrimination or being forced out of their jobs.”

    Ms. Abeles is represented by Nathan Lewin of Lewin & Lewin.

    AmeriCorps and Senior Corps Respond to Hurricane Harvey

    Source: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has deployed nearly 450 AmeriCorps members, including FEMA Corps, from across the nation to support recovery efforts in Texas. AmeriCorps members are working with the American Red Cross, supporting shelter and mass care operations, as well as providing assistance to FEMA’s logistics and disaster survivor assistance teams.

    AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams from Texas Conservation Corps and Washington Conservation Corps, in coordination with FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management, are organizing the volunteer and donations management process and operations, a critical need based on demand. In addition, local Senior Corps projects across the state have started to mobilize volunteers to support shelters and manage donations.

    CNCS is also calling upon the more than one million AmeriCorps alumni – many of whom have previously responded to disasters –and national network of Senior Corps volunteers to step up to fill the urgent need for trained and skilled volunteers.

    Following a disaster, national service acts as a force multiplier, providing key resources and significantly expanding the capacity of existing organizations on the ground. Through all its programs and initiatives, CNCS helps communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from disasters.

    In times of disaster, AmeriCorps teams have provided critical support after countless disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, last year’s Louisiana flooding, Hurricane Sandy, tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Moore, Okla., the explosion in West, Texas, and the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill.

    Those wanting to learn how they help and to sign up to receive updates should visit

    Wells Fargo May Have Lied to Congress, Say 33 Groups led by AFR and Public Citizen

    Source: Americans for Financial Reform

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congress must hold additional hearings to investigate whether Wells Fargo deliberately misled federal lawmakers during an active investigation, said 33 groups led by Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform in a letter (PDF) sent today to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. The groups suggest that Wells Fargo executives, including former CEO John Stumpf, may have knowingly and deliberately withheld information related to fraudulent insurance sales practices during congressional hearings held in September 2016.

    According to the bank’s own timeline, Wells Fargo learned in July 2016 that more than 800,000 customers had been charged for auto insurance they did not need, and the bank says it ended the activity around the same time that Stumpf testified before the two banking committees about Wells Fargo’s fraudulent accounts scandal. Yet Stumpf’s testimony made no mention of this misconduct, even when he was asked directly whether fraudulent activity might exist in other business lines. The bank later reiterated his denial in written responses to questions from members of Congress.

    Withholding relevant information from a congressional inquiry is a criminal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison. The letter calls on the two committees to hold further hearings to investigate Wells Fargo’s newly disclosed abuses and whether the bank lied to Congress.

    “Wells Fargo had several opportunities to disclose its fraudulent insurance practices to Congress and chose not to – including in response to direct questions by Members on the two separate occasions,” the letter to the committees reads. “The information on additional abuses that has become public since the earlier hearings makes a strong case for further investigation and additional hearings by your Committees. It also suggests that the bank may have misled your Committees in previous testimony and withheld relevant information in responses to members’ questions for the record.”

    “Wells Fargo has long forced defrauded consumers into arbitration to hide its misconduct from public view, but lying to Congress would cross a new line,” said Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform. “Having just admitted to nearly twice as many fake accounts as previously reported, Wells Fargo has a lot to answer for.”

    “Wells Fargo used forced arbitration clauses and class-action bans to hide abuses and prevent its customers from securing justice or even realizing that problems the bank causes them are widespread,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “It now appears that they have also tried to hide the breadth of problems inside the bank, even in the face of direct questions from members of Congress. Leaders of the relevant committees should be demanding answers and further hearings to get them.”

    “Wells Fargo has spent tens of millions on campaign contributions and lobbying Congress,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “If the House and Senate banking committees refuse to investigate Wells Fargo after these latest revelations, it will be a clear indication that Congress is siding with big banks instead of their victims.”

    Read the letter (PDF).

    APA Extends Sympathy to the Victims of Gulf Coast Flooding, Offers Resources to Cope with Aftermath

    Source: American Psychiatric Association

    Arlington, VA - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The American Psychiatric Association (APA) extends its sympathy to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which is causing extensive flooding in metro Houston and is soon to make its way through Louisiana.

    “We offer our sympathy to the people affected by Hurricane Harvey and, in some cases, those experiencing painful memories of previous hurricanes,” said APA President Anita Everett, M.D. “We don’t know the full extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey since it is still active. We do know the recovery process will be a long one, and we must be mindful that people who have been affected either directly or indirectly by this disaster may experience a number of reactions in the aftermath, including fear, anxiety and sadness. We implore anyone experiencing prolonged mental health symptoms to seek professional treatment. Treatment is available and it works.”

    For more information on coping with disasters as well as how to talk to children about disasters, visit the APA web site by clicking here.

    The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the country founded in 1844. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

    American Life League President Statement on Abortion Funding for Harvey Survivors

    Source: American Life League

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- American Life League president Judie Brown issued the following statement concerning the pro-abortion Lilith Fund establishing an abortion fund for Hurricane Harvey survivors:

    The very idea that the pro-death LILITH FUND would raise money to kill babies during everyone's hour of need in Houston and elsewhere is beyond belief. How callous and disgusting can any pro-abortion charity (excuse the word) get? We should be doing all we can to help everyone suffering from this tragedy created by Hurricane Harvey, not adding to the death and destruction. God help us when the best response some can give is to suggest that killing babies is a charitable thing to do.

    ALL recommends that, instead of funding abortion in disaster areas, people consider donating to the Houston Coalition for Life which sustained damage in the storm, to LifeHouse which is raising funds to help expectant mothers affected by the storm, or to Missions of Hope which is directly providing equipment desperately needed to dry out flooded homes.

    Manufacturing Sees Big August Jobs Gains

    Source: Alliance for American Manufacturing

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The manufacturing sector gained 36,000 jobs in August, according to the latest employment data from the Labor Department. These factory jobs gains, led by automotive and appliance sales, come amid a strong second quarter of economic expansion.

    Said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul:

    "Did the robot revolution take the month off?

    "Adding 36,000 new factory jobs in August is good news for American workers. For the first time in a long time, manufacturing punched above its weight in the job market, accounting for 23 percent of total job growth. There’s great potential for continued manufacturing job growth – but only if we get the policy right.

    "How can we keep up the momentum? Pass an infrastructure bill with strong Buy America preferences to put more people back to work. The administration must also invest in training the workers of the future, move forward with rebalancing trade, and hold China accountable."

    Work Requirements Restored for TANF

    Source: Administration for Children and Families

    Washington, D.C. - September 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The restoration of work participation requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was announced today with an information memorandum to states. Issued by the Office of Family Assistance at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, the new policy rescinds a 2012 Obama administration information memorandum encouraging states to apply for exemptions from the longstanding work participation standards for welfare cash assistance programs.

    “Reemphasizing the work requirements in the welfare program means once again promoting gainful employment and economic independence as goals for every family,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Steven Wagner. “The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare.”

    An information memorandum issued to state and territorial agencies today rescinds an information memorandum from July 12, 2012 inviting states to pursue waivers from the requirement for a state to ensure “parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities.” Only one state, Ohio, applied for such a waiver, in October 2015 (and again in May 2017). The state was informed today that its application from nearly two years ago, which inexplicably sat idle under the previous administration, has been denied.

    “Our agency is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work,” said Office of Family Assistance Director Clarence Carter. “We cannot achieve the goal of self-sufficiency if meaningful work participation is divorced from welfare cash assistance.”

    View the new information memorandum to state welfare offices.

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program

    Sacramento Paying Gangs to Stay Peaceful

    Source: Fox 40

    After a violent weekend of suspected gang-related shootings, Tuesday the Sacramento City Council took action to reduce the bloodshed.

    It approved a controversial program called Advance Peace, which offers cash stipends to gang members who remain peaceful.