Monday, March 4, 2019

CAIR Calls on FBI to Take Seriously Threat to 'Assassinate' Minn. Rep. Ilhan Omar

by: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Washington, D.C. - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged the FBI to take seriously an alleged public threat to assassinate Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

FBI officials say they are looking into the threat "Assassinate Ilhan Omar" scrawled on a bathroom stall in Minnesota and posted on social media. The FBI is in the "initial stages" of looking into the alleged threat but appears not to have opened a case file on the incident. CAIR will continue to monitor the case.

SEE: FBI Looking Into Graffiti Death Threat Against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar

Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, have faced constant rhetorical attacks since seeking public office.

SEE: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Show Muslim Women Don't Need Saving

"The unrelenting rhetorical attacks on Representative Omar have the potential to result in violence and threats of violence, as in this incident," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to take this apparent threat seriously, thereby sending the message that threats or violence targeting elected officials will not be tolerated."

He added that CAIR recently called on West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and the state and National Republican Party to repudiate an anti-Muslim display with an image of Omar in the rotunda of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The display featured a meme with two photos, the top one showing planes crashing into the Twin Towers on September 11, with the text "'Never Forget' - You Said. . .", and the bottom one showing a photo of U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), with the text "I Am the Proof – You Have Forgotten." While the discussion over the display was taking place, Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman allegedly called all Muslims "terrorists."

SEE: CAIR Calls on W. Va. Governor, State and National GOP to Repudiate Anti-Muslim Display in State Legislature

Awad noted that during that same week, two government officials across the country engaged in anti-Muslim bigotry.

An Idaho state legislator brought an anti-Islam pastor to the statehouse to give a presentation in which he portrayed all Muslims as radicals and a Pennsylvania school board president and Republican state representative apologized for a string of anti-Muslim Facebook posts.

CAIR-Pennsylvania Calls for Resignation of Local School Board Official Over Anti-Muslim Posts

Rep. Heather Scott Brings Anti-Islam Pastor to Statehouse

Just today, CAIR called on the GOP to drop notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Chris Gaubatz as a speaker at an event in Texas.

SEE: CAIR-DFW Calls on Texas GOP to Disinvite Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist John Guandolo

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

Three-Fourths of Aborted Baby Left Inside Woman for 2 Months After Botched Abortion at Planned Parenthood

Three-Fourths of Aborted Baby Left Inside Woman for 2 Months After Botched Abortion at Planned Parenthood
by: Operation Rescue
March 4, 2019
When a 21-year old Amanda Davis reported to the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 4, 2016, for a routine elective first trimester surgical abortion, she likely expected to receive a “safe” and easy abortion from the largest abortion business in the country.

What she got instead was a two-month long nightmare of debilitating pain and bleeding while her calls to Planned Parenthood for help were ignored and never returned, according to a lawsuit she filed against Planned Parenthood on January 14, 2019.


NY Assembly Passes Legislation Requiring Safe Storage of Guns

by: New York Assembly

New York, NY - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the Assembly passed legislation which will expand current requirements that guns are kept in safe storage repositories, especially in households with children (A.2686A, Paulin).

"Today's bill is another important step in preventing gun violence," Speaker Heastie said. "Earlier this year we passed a package of legislation that addressed some of the root causes of gun violence. I am proud of our continued work with our Senate colleagues to ensure New York has the strongest and safest possible gun laws, and help keep our kids safe in our homes and in our communities."

"Today's legislation is the next logical step in keeping our children and families safe from gun violence," Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol said. "The Assembly Majority is dedicated to keeping weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them - whether that's dangerous criminals or kids who are playing around the house and come upon them."

"Despite all our progress, it is still simply too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands," said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. "Preventing children from obtaining access to firearms by requiring safe storage will enable us to prevent accidents, suicides, and school incidents that put our children in harm's way. It is an important step that will keep our families safe without impinging on the rights of law-abiding citizens."

Under current law, safe storage of guns is only required if a person living in the household is federally prohibited from owning a gun, but not if there are children in the house. Today's legislation would require that, in households with children and individuals prohibited from possessing a gun by federal or state law, all guns are safely stored when not in possession of the gun owner. In homes with children, failure to safely store guns would be a class A misdemeanor. Individuals would also be required to safely store their guns when children are present in their homes, even if the children do not reside there. The bill would also require licensing officers to provide notice about safe storage of firearms. In addition, people, firms or businesses who sell firearms, rifles or shutguns would be required to conspicuously post notification of safe storage laws where guns are displayed or transferred to the buyer.

A 2017 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that between 2012 and 2014, on average nearly 1,300 children die and 5,790 are treated for gunshot wounds each year. Of these, 53 percent were homicides, 38 percent were suicides and six percent were unintentional deaths. Preventing children from obtaining firearms by requiring safe storage would help prevent child accidents and suicides.

Oksana Naumkin, whose 12 year old son Nicholas was unintentionally shot and killed by a friend who was playing with an unlocked and loaded gun, said, "I am grateful that the New York State legislature finally passed Child Access Prevention legislation and would like to thank all of the wonderful people whose passion and determination prevailed. It took a village but we did it, and we are finally moving in the right direction with regard to sensible gun laws! My son Nicholas loved Charlie Chaplin, the รข€˜Honeymooners' and the Beatles. He was quite an actor and an artist, loved computer animation and wanted to study journalism. Nicholas was a kind soul and befriended new kids on the bus and at school and stood up to bullies. His future was supposed to be very bright and it was senselessly taken from him and all of us. A grief such as this never leaves you; you learn to live with it! As we continue to struggle every day for the past eight years, we have fought hard alongside New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to make New York safer for our children. I am glad that we are now able to honor Nicholas's memory as he would never have had it any other way. We look forward to seeing Governor Cuomo sign this life-saving bill, so that no other family has to live with the pain my family will live with for the rest of our lives."

Rebecca Fischer, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence executive director, said, "Today, New York State has again made it a priority to protect our communities by passing this sensible gun violence prevention legislation. For over twenty years, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has been fighting for a child access prevention law in New York State to prevent unintentional shootings, teen suicides, school shootings, and gun thefts. After Nicholas's death, the Naumkin family came to us with both sorrow and hope that together we could strengthen our laws to protect children living in homes with guns. We are grateful to now have New York lawmakers who have the courage to pass this common sense bill that will prevent tragedies and protect all children and communities across New York."

NFIB Files Amicus Brief in Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, Urging Supreme Court to Protect Small Businesses’ Ability to Resolve Title VII Discrimination Claims Outside of Court

by: National Federation of Independent Business

Fort Bend, TX - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- NFIB filed an amicus brief in the case of Fort Bend County, Texas, v. Davis today, arguing that the United States Supreme Court should preserve the right of employers and employees to work through discrimination claims first outside of costly litigation.

“Small business owners work hard to ensure that they are compliant with employment laws,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Because of their good faith efforts, businesses would much prefer to resolve problems without costly court battles. Moreover, Congress also expressed preference for reconciliation of Title VII discrimination claims through the administrative process. Allowing employees to go directly to court would undermine the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s mandate to resolve these costly claims quickly and outside of the court system.”

Fort Bend County, Texas, v. Davis concerns whether an employee’s failure to exhaust Title VII administrative remedies by first raising a discrimination claim with the EEOC is a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in a federal court. In our brief, NFIB argues that, “One of the bedrock policies underlying Title VII is that the favored means of resolving employment discrimination issues is not through litigation, but through voluntary compliance and cooperation.”

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

MHA Statement on House Resolution 1112

by: Mental Health America

Washington, D.C. - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- “Mental Health America is deeply disappointed that in HR 1112, language is included that perpetuates historic, unfair and unfounded assumptions and prejudices about people experiencing or living with a mental health condition. It is built upon the widely held, but erroneous, belief that equates mental illness with violence.

“Studies confirm that less than 4% of violent crime, of any type, is committed by persons with a diagnosed mental illness. The greatest indicator of violence is past violence, not a mental illness diagnosis. Millions of people have mental illnesses and never have a violent thought or idea. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are more likely be victims of violence.

“This is why what may be a well-intentioned move away from the antiquated term “mental defective,” to “adjudicated with mental illness, severe developmental disability, or severe emotional instability” stills fall far short, and remains blatantly discriminatory in its substance and implications.

“Experiencing an episode that affects one’s mental health, living with a mental illness, experiencing emotional disturbance, or having developmental disability is not something to which a person is or should be adjudicated by the judicial system, nor should it or does it automatically imply dangerousness.

“MHA is working closely with its allies to see that legislative language regarding prohibitions or restrictions regarding firearms reflects the fact that there are times when a person may be and should be deemed to be ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm due to their mental status, it is not solely because they experience or have experienced a mental condition.”

LIUNA signs letter supporting permanent protections for recipients of TPS and DACA

LIUNA signs letter supporting permanent protections for recipients of TPS and DACA
March 4, 2019
Read the letters to Congress signed by LIUNA and 30+ unions asking them to provide permanent protections for TPS and DACA holders.


House Judiciary Committee Unveils Investigation into Threats Against the Rule of Law

House Judiciary Committee Unveils Investigation into Threats Against the Rule of Law
by: Judiciary Committee
March 4, 2019
Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) unveiled an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into the alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration. As a first step, the Committee has served document requests to 81 agencies, entities, and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation.


House Chairmen Request Documents and Interviews on President Trump’s Communications with Putin

This again? Seriously?

by: House Committee on Intelligence

Washington, D.C. - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Today, the Chairmen of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to request documents from and interviews with personnel of the White House, Executive Office of the President, and Department of State related to communications between President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation.

Their requests follow up on a February 21, 2019 letter to the White House in which the Chairmen requested answers to five questions relating to the records maintained surrounding President Trump’s communications with Vladimir Putin. The White House failed to provide a response by the due date.

In today’s letters, the Chairmen announced that they are examining a number of issues surrounding these communications, including the substance of any communications during in-person encounters and phone calls, the existence and contents of any documents related to the communications, what the effects of the communications have been on the nation’s foreign policy, whether the President or anyone acting on his behalf have sought to conceal those communications, and whether the President or anyone acting on his behalf have failed to create records or mishandled those records in violation of federal law.

Chairmen Adam Schiff, Elliot Engel and Elijah Cummings wrote:

According to media reports, President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people. The President reportedly seized notes pertaining to at least one meeting held with President Putin and directed at least one American interpreter not to discuss the substance of communications with President Putin with other federal officials.

On February 21, 2019, we wrote a joint letter to the White House requesting basic information about whether the President in fact destroyed records relating to his conversations with President Putin—in violation of the Presidential Records Act—or if he did not, where those records are currently located. The White House failed to provide any response to our inquiry. As a result, we are now expanding our investigation.

These allegations, if true, raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections. In addition, such allegations, if true, undermine the proper functioning of government, most notably the Department’s access to critical information germane to its diplomatic mission and its ability to develop and execute foreign policy that advances our national interests. Finally, these allegations present serious concerns that materials pertaining to specific communications may have been manipulated or withheld from the official record in direct contravention of federal laws, which expressly require that Presidents and other administration officials preserve such materials.

Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the Department and the White House to determine, among other things, the impact of those communications on U.S. foreign policy, whether federal officials, including President Trump, have acted in the national interest, and whether the applicable laws, regulations, and agency procedures with respect to diplomatic communications with President Putin and other foreign leaders have been complied with and remain sufficient.

“New overtime salary threshold ignores the economic realities middle-class workers are facing”

by: Mark Takano (D-CA, 41st)

Washington, D.C. - March 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA, 41st) released the following statement following reports that the U.S. Department of Labor plans to raise the overtime pay threshold to $35,000 from $24,000 through new rule making

“The Department of Labor’s new overtime salary threshold ignores the economic realities middle-class workers are facing across the country. The $35,000 overtime pay threshold is woefully inadequate compared to the Obama-era regulations that would have increased the threshold to nearly $50,000 a year.

“The fact that there hasn’t been a meaningful update to overtime rules in more than four decades presents the Trump Administration with an opportunity to implement significant reforms to how workers are compensated for overtime hours. Unfortunately, this new proposed threshold falls drastically short of what is needed to bring overtime compensation up to date for our current economy.

“It’s clear that President Trump and his Administration are not doing enough to change the rules that have long been rigged against American workers. Therefore, it is up to Congress to step up and take bold steps on behalf of middle-class families – that includes expanding overtime pay for millions of Americans. In the coming days, I plan on introducing the Restoring Overtime Pay Act to codify into law a meaningful overtime pay threshold that is responsive to the current needs of workers.”