Thursday, March 21, 2019

Whatever happened to the U.S. Attorney investigations into the Deep State and the Clinton Foundation?

by: Americans for Limited Government

Fairfax, VA - March 21, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging Attorney General William Barr to follow through on the investigation of FBI misconduct during the 2016 presidential campaign, during the transition and during the Trump administration:

“Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the U.S. Attorney of Little Rock, Arkansas to investigate various corruption charges against the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. Attorney of Salt Lake City to investigate the malfeasance within the Justice Department related to the attempt to undo the results of the 2016 presidential election.

“It has been almost a full year since it was learned that the investigation into potential Justice Department misdeeds was being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Huber, and it is time that new Attorney General William Barr follow through on the investigation and prosecute any wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law. One of the reasons that the investigation was housed in Salt Lake City was to take it out of the glare of the D.C. media and allow a thorough job to be done. However, it would be a disservice to the nation if the current AG did not aggressively push this investigation with those responsible for abusing their authority brought to justice.

“One simple example is the abuse of the Christopher Steele dossier paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign as the basis for obtaining FISA court warrants against Trump campaign, transition and political appointees, when Steele himself testified under oath that he used unverified Internet rumors in the report. At the same time former FBI Director James Comey was testifying to Congress that the Steele dossier was ‘salacious and unverified,’ Comey was signing documents using that same report to obtain warrants. Either he was lying to the FISA Court or he was lying to Congress, either way perjury was committed, and the former FBI Director should be subjected to the full weight of the law as a result.

“The United States is a nation of laws, and the revelation that the Obama Administration’s Justice Department sought to tip the scales toward their own partisan ends should chill every American regardless of partisan affiliation. If those responsible are not prosecuted, then it will be clear to future Administrations that there is no personal downside to election tampering and abuse of power and this current dark moment of abuse by our intelligence agencies will be viewed as an acceptable risk in the quest for power. This can never be allowed again, and it is time for the new Attorney General to begin bringing light onto the initial finding of the investigations in Little Rock and Salt Lake City.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Donald Trump's Executive Order on Free Speech

by: American Federation of Teachers

Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after President Trump signed an executive order on free speech on college and university campuses:

“President Trump’s concept of free speech is speech that he agrees with, which is, in fact, the antithesis of what the First Amendment seeks to protect. He has repeatedly indicated his interest in ‘shutting down’ journalists and media outlets that criticize him, and he uses hateful and many times inciteful words on a daily and public basis. With a track record like this, there is no reason to believe that the speech he wants to ‘protect’ on college campuses won’t both suppress speech and enable incitement. If the framers of the Constitution were alive today, they would tell President Trump: ‘No, no, no, sir. You can’t use executive orders to suppress the speech of those with whom you disagree.’

“As educators, we are staunch supporters of a free exchange of ideas, the free expression that is crucial to intellectual discourse, and the responsibility that all speech must be coupled with an ability to reject that which will incite hatred or violence. Free and unfettered speech is supposed to be exactly that—free and unfettered—not subject to executive branch policing and interference.

“This order also sets a dangerous precedent that makes public activities at our nation’s colleges and universities susceptible to punitive action if they don’t meet a predetermined, purposefully ambiguous benchmark set by a White House with a very obvious political agenda. When schools are committed to civilized discussion and debate, we should be investing in more research to defend those democratic ideals, not denying them resources.”

EEOC Union Condemns Drastic $23.7M Budget Cut to Civil Rights Enforcement in #MeToo Era

by: American Federation for Government Employees

Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- President Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 would slash the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s historically low budget by $23.7 million, which will make it harder for workers facing discrimination to get the help they need, the union representing EEOC workers said today.

“The EEOC enforces federal laws barring workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment, and cutting our budget frustrates those efforts,” said Gabrielle Martin, president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 216, the National Council of EEOC Locals. “Victims of workplace discrimination will feel the punch of this cut when they can’t get an appointment or an investigation of their complaint.”

The administration is proposing to slash EEOC’s current budget from $379.5 million to $355.8 million in fiscal 2020, even while the agency is facing rising workloads. EEOC had a backlog of 49,608 cases in fiscal year 2018, and cases continued to pile up while EEOC was closed during the 35-day shutdown. It takes workers months to get an appointment with EEOC and over an hour to reach a live person by telephone. EEOC’s workload this year included 200,000 inquiries, 76,418 charges, 40,000 interviews, and 105,600 calls.

Sexual harassment claims were up 13.6 percent in 2018. While Congress modestly increased EEOC’s budget in response to the #MeToo movement, the agency still has not been able to keep up with demand. Last year, the EEOC’s workforce dropped below 2,000 employees for the first time since before 1980. The president’s budget plan would slash another 180 positions, including mediators, judges, intake representatives, and 50 investigators. The agency’s budget justification concedes there will be a “steady rise in pending inventory” as “there will be no replacement of staff.”

“In a time of rising awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, it sends the entirely wrong message to cut funding and staff at the agency that handles those complaints,” Martin said.

One consequence of the massive workload and short staffing is a push by EEOC to swiftly close cases by tagging them as “C charges” under the agency’s triage system.

“Ravaging the budget will make matters worse,” Martin warns. “The vast majority of workers who come to EEOC for help receive a dismissal with a ‘right to sue’ letter and are left to find help on their own. Likewise, federal employees with discrimination complaints are affected by EEOC pressing a shrinking unit of administrative judges to hit unattainably high quotas by closing cases through summary judgement or without discovery.”

Martin called upon Congress, civil rights groups, and concerned citizens to take action. “Contact your lawmakers to save EEOC from drastic cuts. Email the EEOC to request a budget in line with its workload. Tweet #StopEEOCbudgetcut. The #MeToo era is not the time to slash EEOC’s budget.”

AAM Letter to Congress: Support Legislation to Keep Federal Funds from Enriching Chinese SOEs

by: Alliance for American Manufacturing

Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The Alliance for American Manufacturing is urging members of Congress to support the bipartisan Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). This vital legislation would ban Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds from being used to award a contract or subcontract to a Chinese state-owned, controlled or subsidized enterprise (SOE).

In a letter submitted today, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul wrote:

"America's tax dollars should not be used to support Chinese state-owned firms seeking to undermine market competition."

Letter reads as follows:

Dear Senators and Representatives:

On behalf of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a partnership between the United Steelworkers (USW) and leading U.S. manufacturing companies, I am writing to express our support for the Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act. This legislation would ban Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds from being used to award a contract or subcontract to a Chinese state-owned, controlled, or subsidized enterprise.

Backed by deep government support and Beijing's "Made in China 2025" initiative, China's electric bus and rail state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are rapidly altering the U.S. competitive landscape for rolling stock manufacturing. This is having a profoundly negative impact on established, private-sector U.S. firms and jeopardizing supply chains that employ tens of thousands of American workers.

China Railroad Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) – a Chinese SOE – has drastically altered the competitive landscape for domestic railcar manufacturing. Since 2014, CRRC has secured major metro transit car contracts in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago with impossibly low bids. In Boston, CRRC's bid was hundreds of millions of dollars below the next lowest bidder. In Philadelphia, another bidder was quoted as saying, "I cannot grasp how they are able to do it at that cost." There should be no doubting CRRC's strategy to establish itself in the U.S. market and to eliminate legitimate competition through any means necessary, even if it means losing substantial sums of money along the way. With deals in DC, Atlanta, and Miami within CRRC's sights, it is vital for U.S. national security, innovation, and jobs that we stop subsidizing the destruction of our domestic rolling stock manufacturing base with federal dollars.

The electric bus industry is also in Beijing's sights. BYD, or Build Your Dreams, assembles electric buses in the United States and is both influenced and subsidized by the Chinese government. BYD has been plagued by quality issues and a recent OIG investigation by the City of Albuquerque suggests that "the majority, if not all, parts were manufactured in China and shipped to the United States" – including the bus frame, chassis, walls, drive train, axels, motor, lights, seating and seat belts, and more. BYD not only aggressively undermines healthy market competition in the electric bus procurement market, it threatens to displace supply chains here in the United States with imported parts and components shipped in from China.

It is vital that the United States act to prevent the destruction of the U.S. competitive landscape for rolling stock manufacturing before it is too late. America's tax dollars should not be used to support Chinese state-owned firms seeking to undermine market competition. Please support the bipartisan Cornyn-Baldwin-Crapo-Brown Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act.


Scott N. Paul


Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Trump issues executive order supporting free speech at universities

by: Alliance Defending Freedom

Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, regarding President Donald Trump’s executive order Thursday that requires public universities to respect the constitutionally protected free speech rights of students in order to continue receiving federal research funds:

“The administration is right to recognize the threats to freedom of speech on public university campuses and the need to do something about preserving the marketplace of ideas. In the course of winning more than 400 legal victories since 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom has continued to encounter massive free speech and other First Amendment violations, unconstitutional policies, and many repeat offenders. We appreciate the administration’s understanding of this problem as well as actions it has taken to help, including the briefs that the Department of Justice has filed in support of ADF clients who have stood up for their freedoms in the face of having those freedoms jeopardized. Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s voters and civic leaders. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges and universities exemplify the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

Three ADF Center for Academic Freedom clients—Ellie Wittman, Bernadette Tasy, and Isaac Edikauskas—are scheduled to be present on stage with President Trump for the announcement of the executive order.

MADD, Rep. Hammoud Call for .05 BAC Law, Ignition Interlocks for All Offenders

by: Alcohol Justice

Lansing, MI - March 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today joined Michigan Representative Abdullah Hammoud and traffic safety partners in calling for a state law that lowers the threshold for impaired driving in Michigan to .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). MADD also strongly supports Representative Hammoud’s legislation that would require ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers, which would make Michigan the 34th state with an alloffender ignition interlock law.

Today’s announcement marks the first time MADD has advocated for lowering a state’s BAC law.

“Today, we are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” said MADD National President Helen Witty, whose 16-year-old daughterHelen Marie was killed by a drunk and marijuana-impaired driver while rollerblading on a bike path. “Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100 percent preventable crash. We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.”

Representative Hammoud has filed legislation that would set Michigan’s impairment level at .05 BAC. If passed, Michigan would become the second state to lower the legal threshold for drunk driving.

“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” said Representative Hammoud. “As a former public health professional, I am motivated by facts and statistics, and as a legislator I know our current policies in place to prevent drunk driving are not working, which is why we must do more. The loss of the Abbas family, a beautiful family of five, due to a drunk driver, has further motivated a community of
advocates to step up and propose real solutions backed up by the scientific community. These critical proposals will do more to prevent drinking and driving, and ultimately save lives.”

In December, Utah became the first state in the nation with a .05 BAC law. In addition to Michigan, proposals in Oregon, New York and California are being considered this year. MADD is not seeking a national .05 BAC standard at this time, but will support .05 BAC legislation as it is proposed state by state.