Tuesday, January 22, 2019

BREAKING: Federal Lawsuit Filed Challenging Trump Bump-Stock Ban; Injunction Sought

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- On Friday, attorneys for an owner of a “bump-stock” device and three constitutional rights advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s new confiscatory ban on firearm parts, additionally challenging Matthew Whitaker’s legal authority to serve as Acting Attorney General and issue rules without being nominated to the role and confirmed by the Senate or by operation of law. A copy of the court filings can be viewed at www.bumpstockcase.com.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the Trump Administration from implementing and enforcing the new regulation. The lawsuit, captioned as Guedes, et al. v. BATFE, et al., is backed by Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF), also institutional plaintiffs in the case.

“Bump-stocks” were legal under federal law and prior determinations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives until the agency issued a new final rulemaking today. Under the new rule, owners of the devices have just 90 days to surrender or destroy their property, after which they could face federal ‘machinegun’ charges that carry up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each violation.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut of Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. Prince and Kraut previously filed a nearly 1,000-page formal opposition to the proposed regulation, which included a video exhibit showing the actual operation of a “bump-stock” device on an AR-15 type firearm. That opposition and its 35 exhibits can be viewed at www.bit.ly/fpc-bumpstock-reg-opposition.

“The ATF has misled the public about bump-stock devices,” Prince said. “Worse, they are actively attempting to make felons out of people who relied on their legal opinions to lawfully acquire and possess devices the government unilaterally, unconstitutionally, and improperly decided to reclassify as ‘machineguns’. We are optimistic that the court will act swiftly to protect the rights and property of Americans who own these devices, and once the matter has been fully briefed and considered by the court, that the regulation will be struck down permanently.”

In a January statement, Firearms Policy Coalition said that the federal “DOJ and BATFE clearly lack the statutory authority to re-define the targeted devices as ‘machineguns.’” Following that, in February, FPC also commented that as they “opposed the lawless manner in which President Obama often ruled by ‘pen-and-a-phone’ executive fiat,” they objected to and would fight “President Trump’s outrageous lawlessness here.”

“In its rulemaking, the Trump Administration is attempting to abuse the system, ignore the statutes passed by the Congress, and thumb its nose at the Constitution without regard to the liberty and property rights of Americans. That is unacceptable and dangerous,” explained Adam Kraut, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “It is beyond comprehension that the government would seek establish a precedent that it can arbitrarily redefine terms and subject thousands of people to serious criminal liability and the loss of property.”

To support this lawsuit and for more information click HERE

SCOTUS Hits Pause Button on Activist Judges Taking Military Policy Out of the President's Hands

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will allow the Trump administration’s transgender military policy to go into effect while litigation continues.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Marine veteran, released the following statement:

“It’s refreshing to see the U.S. Supreme Court rein in lower court judges who are bent on telling the commander-in-chief how to run the military. Those charged with the difficult and complex work of keeping our nation safe cannot do their job with rogue judges injecting their personal opinions into every social issues case which reaches their courts. With different judges issuing these different opinions all over the country, our nation will quickly become paralyzed. There is a reason the Constitution so clearly explains that the president is the final authority on military policy. The Constitution grants judges no power to divert military resources away from preparing to fight wars and into social engineering.

“There are literally hundreds of conditions or physical limitations disqualifying people from military service. Does that make the military exclusionary? Yes. But the Pentagon isn't in the business of equality. It's in the business of fighting and winning wars. Either the military's priority is protecting America -- or it's helping people on the path to self-actualization. It can't do both.

“The U.S. Supreme Court is right to leave the responsibility for keeping our military strong and country safe where it belongs: with our commander-in-chief,” concluded Perkins.

Smithsonian survey finds 61 percent of U.S. servicemembers oppose opening military to individuals who identify as transgender

The unemployment rate fell in most states in 2018

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The State and Regional Employment report for December, released on this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showed continued job gains in 44 states and the District of Columbia, with six states experiencing job losses. Additionally, in 38 states and the District of Columbia the unemployment rate either declined or held steady.

“In 2018, the unemployment rate fell in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and the economy added 220,000 jobs every month on average,” said Economic Analyst Jessica Schieder. “This is good news, but 2019 could potentially bring tighter Fed policy and slower government spending. With any boost from the tax cuts behind us, these factors could rein in growth even as workers are still continuing to rejoin the labor market.”

From September to December, 48 states and the District of Columbia added jobs, with South Carolina (1.7 percent), Nevada (1.4 percent), South Dakota (1.1 percent), Wyoming (1.0 percent), and Alabama (0.9 percent) having the highest percent change in job growth. Over the last three months, the number of jobs fell in two states, Alaska (-0.3 percent) and Maine (-0.2 percent).

From July to October, unemployment rates fell in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Delaware (-0.3 percentage points), Maryland (-0.3 percentage points), Massachusetts (-0.3 percentage points), and Oklahoma (-0.3 percentage points) saw the largest declines in unemployment rates. The unemployment rate increased in 12 states. The largest increases in unemployment rates occurred in Colorado (0.4 percentage points), Hawaii (0.3 percentage points), and Oregon (0.3 percentage points).

Consumer Action joins coalition pushing back at drug patent abuse

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Americans pay up to 65 percent more for drugs than citizens in other Western countries. One of the reasons is "patent abuse" by drug companies aiming to extend their monopolies as patents are due to expire on brand-name, profit-center drugs. In fact, 75 percent of all pharmaceutical patents between 2005 and 2015 were issued on old, previously patented medicines, not new drugs.

Consumer Action has joined the Coalition Against Patent Abuse (CAPA), a new effort by healthcare providers, consumer groups, patient advocacy organizations, free market advocates, employers and others to fight abuses of the patent system that can extend government-granted monopolies that illegitimately keep drug prices high for years, or even decades.

"Consumer Action strongly agrees with our colleagues in the new coalition that regulators and Congress must work to efficiently eliminate patents sought by drug companies for protectionsim, not innovation," said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for the San Francisco-based non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization. "CAPA will work to highlight the issue and put pressure on those with the power to stop the abuses."

Legal shenanigans by brand-name drug companies keep medicine prices high for patients, taxpayers and payers of healthcare. They also stifle innovation and medical advancements. CAPA will focus primarily on untoward efforts to maintain government-granted monopolies through abuses of the patent system by drug manufacturers. These tactics by certain brand-name drug companies prevent patients from affordably accessing the life-saving medicines they need, and drain resources to pay for healthcare.

Center for Immigration Studies Files a Civil RICO Lawsuit Against the President of Southern Poverty Law Center

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The Center for Immigration Studies has filed a civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of Montgomery, Ala. The case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and seeks damages and an injunction prohibiting Cohen and his colleague, Heidi Beirich, who heads the group's "hate group" project, from repeating the false claim that the Center is a hate group.

Read the Complaint.

Overview of the SPLC's "Hate Groups" List.

View Mark Krikorian's Interview with Tucker Carleson on the SPLC Lawsuit.

The case is brought pursuant to the federal RICO statute because Cohen and Beirich have been carrying out their scheme to destroy CIS through the SPLC "enterprise" for two years and will not stop without judicial intervention. "CIS does not hate immigrants or anyone else" said CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian. "Our purpose is to make the case for a pro-immigrant policy of lower immigration – fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. SPLC attacks us simply because it disagrees with these policy views. SPLC and its leaders have every right to oppose our work on immigration, but they do not have the right to label us a hate group and suggest we are racists. The Center for Immigration Studies is fighting back against the SPLC smear campaign and its attempt to stifle debate through intimidation and name-calling."

The complaint makes clear that SPLC knows CIS does not meet its own definition of a "hate group," which SPLC describes as an organization whose "official statements or principles... attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." (Complaint, ¶14, quoting from SPLC’s website) CIS has not attacked or maligned immigrants. Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that being an immigrant is not an immutable characteristic because it is the result of a personal choice. (Plyler v. Doe, 487 U.S. 202, 220 (1982).) CIS regularly opposes higher levels of immigration for sound public policy reasons, not because of any animus toward immigrants as human beings. CIS hopes this lawsuit will cause Mr. Cohen and Ms. Beirich to turn their attention to actual cases of racial animus.


Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the Kentucky Catholic students and what actually happened:

There were three parties to the dustup that occurred on January 18.

Catholic students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who had participated in the March for Life, assembled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial waiting for buses to take them home. In the same vicinity were Native Americans; they had come for the Indigenous Peoples Rally. Black Israelites, who believe that black Americans are God’s chosen people (they claim to be the real descendants of the Hebrews), were also there.

Initial news reports blamed the students. One of the students, Nick Sandmann, was shown smirking at a Native American man, Nathan Phillips—who was standing very close to the student beating a drum—and it quickly became a social media sensation. Much was made of the Donald Trump hat that Sandmann and other students wore, “Make America Great Again.” The students were shown in a short video laughing and chanting. They were accused of mocking the 64-year-old Phillips.

The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School issued a joint statement apologizing for what happened and pledged to investigate the matter; they said sanctions would be forthcoming, possibly expulsion.

Politicians, pundits, and bloggers went wild. A second video emerged, one that was much longer, and it shows that the black Israelites were the real thugs. Moreover, interviews given by Phillips show him to be a liar.

Here is a selection of news reports on the second video that was published on January 21.

The following was taken from abc.net.au/news.

“The Black Israelites had a spot on the steps where they quoted from the Bible and yelled abuse, some of it racist.

“‘You got all these dirty-ass crackers behind you with a red Make America Great Again hat on,’ one of the Black Israelites said in the video of the event filmed by another of their members.

“Later, the man told another person: ‘I bet you’re a dumb-ass Puerto Rican.’

“He also abused African Americans nearby.

“As the abuse continued, the school students surrounded the Black Israelites and started to sing songs, dance and cheer each other on, drowning them out.

“At one point in the video one of the black men told the students around him, ‘You got on the back of the court system ‘In God we trust’, on the back of the dollar bill it says ‘In God we trust’, but you give faggots rights.'”

The news story also said “Footage does not show students seeking out Mr. Phillips, or ‘attacking’ him,” thus corroborating the statement by Sandmann that was released to the press. It was Phillips who approached the students.

The following was taken from CNN Wire.

“In the new video, another group taunts the students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky with disparaging and vulgar language. The group of black men, who identify as members of the Hebrew Israelites, also shout racist slurs at participants of the Indigenous Peoples Rally and other passersby.

“The men [black Israelites] repeatedly use the n-word to refer to the black teens in the group, prompting cries from the group. The men ask the students if the water they’re drinking ‘tastes like incest’ and call the students ‘young Klansmen.’

“The teens listen for a few minutes longer, accusing the men of being racist and booing when the main speaker uses the word ‘faggots’ when talking about equal rights.

“Then, the students get a signal from off camera to leave. They cheer and wave, chanting ‘let’s go home’ as they run off.

“The video continues for another 20 minutes as the men turn their focus to a prayer circle that formed while they were talking to the students. The lead speaker shouts denunciations of the Catholic church, calling its members ‘child molesters’ and quotes scripture.”

The following is from the New York Times.

Speaking of the first video, the paper notes that the students were widely criticized. “But on Sunday, Mr. Phillips clarified that it was he who had approached the crowd and that he had intervened because racial tensions—primarily between the white students and the black men—were ‘coming to a boiling point.’

“In his statement, Mr. Sandmann said he did not antagonize or try to block Mr. Phillips. ‘I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gesture or other aggressive moves,’ he said.

“I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation,” he said. ‘I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me—to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.'”

The following is from the Washington Post:

“The Israelites and students exchanged taunts, videos show. The Native Americans and Hebrew Israelites say some students shouted, ‘Build the wall!’ although that chant is not heard on the widely circulated videos, and the Cincinnati Enquirer quoted a student at the center of the confrontation who said he did not hear anyone say it.

“At one point, the Hebrew Israelites began arguing with Native American activists, telling them the word ‘Indian’ means ‘savage,’ according to the video.”

Regarding Phillips, the Native American told the Washington Post that he sought to act as an intermediary between the white students and the black provocateurs. But peacemakers don’t taunt, and that is what he did: he taunted Sandmann by beating his drum in his face. More important, he told the Detroit News that the white boys provoked the black men, which is (a) not true and (b) does not square with what he told the Post.

The critics of the students have a lot of explaining to do. I will address them in a separate statement.

For more information, see also: Outcry after Kentucky students in Maga hats mock Native American veteran

Statement on a Texas Federal Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

Source: Catholic Health Association

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- “The Catholic Health Association is very disappointed in the recent Texas federal district court decision on the Affordable Care Act. We profoundly disagree with it from a legal perspective. It is un-American and immoral to be aggressively seeking to take health insurance from the over 20 million people who have finally received coverage through the ACA. This decision would also take away health security provisions from all insured Americans by eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions, the ability for children under 26 to remain on their parents’ policies and co-pays for preventive health care, all of which have made a positive difference in the lives of many Americans. Efforts to undermine or overturn the ACA by elected officials who have a responsibility to act on behalf of their constituents is reckless, irresponsible and poses a major threat to the health of the American people.

CHA joined with several other organizations that represent hospitals and health systems in submitting an Amicus brief to the court in this lawsuit. We will continue to voice our opinion and concerns as the lawsuit is appealed and pledge to work with members of Congress to ensure that the many benefits of the Affordable Care Act remain in place. We all have a responsibility to promote quality health care for all Americans.”

Congresswoman Liz Cheney Statement on the Missile Defense Review

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Liz Cheney released the following statement regarding the release of the Missile Defense Review:

“I applaud President Trump and the Department of Defense for their commitment to defending our nation from the threat of missile attack. The Missile Defense Review released this week provides a clear strategy to counter missile threats from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea. It also reassures our allies and partners throughout the world that we stand ready to help them deter and defend against aggression from revisionist powers like Russia and China.

“The Missile Defense Review (MDR) puts us back on a path towards developing and fielding new and emerging capabilities to counter the advancements made by our adversaries over the past decade. Investments called for by the MDR in space-based sensors and boost-phase intercept are the type of forward-looking capabilities that are critically necessary if we want to stay ahead of our adversaries and defend against new and emerging threats like hypersonic weapons. Additionally, the MDR reinforces the need for a strong nuclear deterrence, as defined in the Nuclear Posture Review, to defend against the advanced intercontinental missile capabilities from Russia and China. The ongoing efforts by Russia and China to increase their nuclear capabilities makes the modernization of our nuclear triad more important than ever.

“I commend President Trump for his commitment to strengthening our missile defense posture to ‘ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime, anyplace.’ It is now incumbent on Congress to provide the resources necessary to execute the critical plans, programs and policies laid out in the Missile Defense Review.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Statement on Federal Employee Health Care Coverage During the Government Shutdown

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Senior Vice President of Government Programs William A. Breskin issued the following statement today on federal employees’ health care coverage during the government shutdown.

“Health care coverage for members of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® (FEP®) remains in place and active during the government shutdown. The BCBS Federal Employee Program continues to process claims and reimburse doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. Eligible FEP members can also contact their local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company if they have a Qualifying Life Event, such as the birth of a baby, that allows them to change their coverage or add eligible individuals to their policy.

We remain committed to the health and wellbeing of our members and want them to know that they will continue to have full access to their health care coverage during this time.”

Congressman Brady Fights For The Unborn

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- On Friday, Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08) released the following statement reiterating his commitment to pro-life causes and legislation:

“Today, thousands will gather in our nation’s capital and come together in a March for Life, taking a passionate stand and supporting the sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn. As we move into the minority, it is more important than ever to safeguard the significant work we have done to protect life. My wife Cathy and I are parents only because of two women who chose life, and we know first-hand how impactful and important it can be. I remain committed to fighting for important pro-life and pro-family legislation in the 116th Congress.”

Shawn Carney, resident of TX-08 and President and CEO of 40 Days For Life, stated:

“As a husband and father of two adopted children, Congressman Brady has joined over 800,000 volunteers who have united across America and in 50 countries to peacefully pray for an end to abortion during a 40 Days for Life campaign. Our pro-life convictions should be reflected in pro-life bills that protect the most vulnerable Americans and defund the nation’s largest abortion operation, Planned Parenthood. Despite 46 years of legalized abortion there has never been more hope or momentum in the pro-life movement. A movement that gets younger by the day.”

In the 116th Congress, Representative Brady has supported multiple pieces of pro-life legislation, including;

· The Life at Conception Act, sponsored by Rep. Alex Mooney (WV-02), which provides equal protection for the lives of born and preborn persons.

· The Defund Planned Parenthood Act, sponsored by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), which prohibits funding Planned Parenthood for one year, reallocating the savings to community health centers.

· The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), which prohibits performing an abortion on an unborn baby who is 20 week or older.

· The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-02), which prohibits sex-selected abortions, aborting a child on the basis of the child’s gender.

· The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04), which makes it a crime to knowingly transport a minor across a state line, circumventing parental consent and state notification requirements, in order to obtain an abortion

Bergman Co-Sponsors Pay Our Coast Guard Act

Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Jack Bergman has announced his support of a bipartisan bill to pay U.S. Coast Guard members during the partial government shutdown. H.R. 367, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019, would provide all pay and benefits for members of the Coast Guard as well as the roughly 50,000 Coast Guard military retirees who will not receive a paycheck on February 1st if the shutdown continues. Congressman Bergman issued the following release:

"Michigan's First District is home to Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie and Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. From Ice-breaking to life-saving search and rescue efforts, the men and women of the Coast Guard continue their work despite Congress' failure to appropriate money to pay them. I appreciate my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who recognize this, and have come together among many disagreements to ensure our Coast Guardsmen and women receive the pay they've earned," said Bergman.

The Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019 includes:

  • Pay and allowances for active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard;
  • Pay and allowances for civilian employees of the Coast Guard;
  • Pay and allowances for contractors of the Coast Guard;
  • The payment of death gratuities with respect to members of the Coast Guard;
  • The payment or reimbursement of authorized funeral travel;
  • The temporary continuation of a basic allowance of housing for dependents of members of the Coast Guard dying on active duty; and
  • Coast Guard retired pay and benefits.

  • Rep. Bergman also co-sponsored legislation which would prohibit Members of Congress from receiving pay in the event of a government shutdown, saying "If Congress fails to do its job resulting in a shutdown, then we should forfeit our pay as well. American citizens sent us to Washington to solve problems, not cause them. If we can't do that, we don’t deserve to get paid.”

    Beatty, Wagner Team Up to Tackle Human Trafficking

    Washington, D.C. - January 22, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH, 3rd) and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO, 2nd) recently authored two bipartisan pieces of legislation to combat the scourge of human trafficking: the Human Trafficking Accountability Act, H.R. 509, and the Trafficking Victims Housing Act, H.R. 508. Introduced on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11, 2019), the bills aim to improve prosecution of alleged traffickers, as well as establish a means of measuring the availability of housing and related services for victims experiencing homelessness.

    Human trafficking is a scourge on our nation and our world. It is estimated that over 40 million people are the victims of human trafficking—the vast majority of them being women and girls,” Beatty said. “That is why we as a nation must continue working together to provide justice and greater support for victims and their families. We have made significant progress, but our work continues.”

    Sex trafficking is a vicious crime that will flourish until we increase prosecutions and elevate risk for traffickers. Human trafficking is too common and prosecutions of pimps and buyers too infrequent in our country.” Wagner continued, “The Human Trafficking Accountability Act will help prosecute more traffickers and hold accountable the criminals who exploit women and children.”

    If passed, the Human Trafficking Accountability Act would require at least one Assistant U.S. Attorney in each judicial district to serve as a Human Trafficking Justice Coordinator (HTJC), who would be responsible for ensuring increased exploration of all potential cases of human trafficking, and direct the Attorney General to designate a career Deputy Assistant Attorney General as Human Trafficking Coordinator (HTC) at the Department of Justice, who would be responsible for coordinating the HTJCs across the country. These positions would: (1) prosecute cases of forced labor, international sex trafficking and similar acts of force, fraud or coercion as well as ensure restitution for victims; (2) collaborate with various federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, and victims services providers to build partnerships to better identify and prosecute human trafficking cases with a victim-centered approach; and (3) improve outreach and awareness of human trafficking. The Human Trafficking Accountability Act has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

    The Trafficking Victims Housing Act, if enacted, would direct the Interagency Council on Homelessness, in coordination with the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, and other federal entities to complete a study assessing the availability and accessibility of housing and related services for victims of trafficking, or those at risk of being trafficked, who are experiencing homelessness. This bill is awaiting further consideration in the House Committee on Financial Services.

    Of note, in Beatty’s three previous Congressional terms, she helped spearhead two anti-human trafficking bills that were later signed into law: the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) (P.L. 114-22) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) (P.L. 115-164).