Saturday, May 30, 2020

Investigations into Improper PPP Funding for Planned Parenthood Urged by Lawmakers

Pierre, SD - May 30, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) joined a number of his colleagues in two different letters urging full investigations into improper Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding for Planned Parenthood. The first letter, led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), was sent to Attorney General Bill Barr to urge the Department of Justice to investigate whether dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country applied for and received PPP loans despite knowing they were ineligible to apply.

A second letter, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), was sent to Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), urging her to conduct a full investigation into how 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates applied for and improperly received a total of $80 million in loans from the PPP.

Under the statutory text of the CARES Act, organizations like these affiliates were expressly prohibited from receiving PPP funds. Additionally, the Small Business Administration confirmed last month that its standing affiliation rules apply to the new PPP, which excludes organizations like Planned Parenthood that employ its type of governance and affiliation structure and exceed the cap on total employees.

Excerpt of the letter to the DOJ: “The Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act was designed by Congress to help struggling small businesses and nonprofit organizations by giving them access to low-cost loans for expenses like keeping their employees on payroll during this pandemic. It was not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. The funds in the program are not unlimited, and were depleted once already because of high demand. Planned Parenthood fraudulently taking tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help keep those small businesses and nonprofit organizations afloat cannot stand and must be addressed,” wrote the senators.

Excerpt of the letter to the SBA: “It has come to our attention that affiliates of Planned Parenthood improperly applied for, and received loans, through the program. While we appreciate the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) efforts to promptly cancel those loans, the circumstances under which they were made merit further investigation of possible wrongdoing,” the senators wrote. “These circumstances require a full investigation in order to determine whether there was wrongdoing, and we urge that any such misconduct be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We urge that the SBA promptly open an investigation into how these loans were made in clear violation of the applicable affiliation rules and if Planned Parenthood, relevant lenders, or staff at the SBA knowingly violated the law, and that appropriate legal action be taken if so.”

Two COVID-19 Cases Filed Against People’s Republic of China (PRC)

New York, NY - May 05, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- During this time of uncertainty, as the coronavirus continues to upend lives and businesses, the need for the rational and consistent application of the Rule of Law has never been more urgent. Legal Language Services’ (LLS) senior consultant, Tom McLean, Esq. and LLS’s president, Victor Hertz, reviewed two recently-filed lawsuits related to the pandemic, brought against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These suits are representative of several similar cases, including those brought by the Missouri and Mississippi Attorneys General.

The Two Cases

Both suits against the PRC were brought under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and, according to McLean, “appear to suffer from weak causation, scapegoating China for the pandemic.” Similar cases, such as the complaint brought by Liang Xuguang against the US Federal Government (among others), have also been filed in the PRC. LLS’s blog post – Panic, Pandemic, and the Rule of Law – examines the causation, decisions and validity of these two lawsuits.

Case 1, Alters v People’s Republic of China, is a class action asserting that the PRC acted in its own best interest to maintain its "Superpower status" and negligently failed to contain the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan. [1]

Case 2, Buzz Photos v People’s Republic of China, is an attempt by a business to recover damages arising from COVID-19-related lost sales and layoffs. [2]

Do These Cases Deserve Their Day in Court?

LLS believes everyone deserves their day in court. “Perhaps the attorneys who filed these cases know more than they let on in their complaints. If so, these cases have merit and should be heard even if President Xi and the PRC government disagree,” said McLean. He adds, “If these cases are weak and have been filed for publicity, rather than a true hope of recovering money, then they do a disservice to the United States and its judicial system. If the US judicial system works as it should, then the litigants in these cases will not prevail.”

Hertz points out that “similar litigation was filed after the 9/11 attacks, seeking damages from Saudi Arabia. Those cases were dismissed by the Supreme Court.” [3]

"It is essential that the legal profession uphold the Rule of Law when society is stressed and people feel at risk,” Hertz reiterates. “Ultimately, good litigation will produce good precedents and these cases against China will rise or fall on their own merits.”

[1] 1:20-cv-21108 (SD FLA 2020)
[2] 3:20-cv-00656 (ND TX 2020)
[3] Supreme Court decision No. 08-640 in the matter of Federal Insurance Co., et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, et al.

About Legal Language Services

Since 1983, Legal Language Services has helped US law firms, sole practitioners and governments communicate across linguistic and political boundaries. LLS is the premier source of legal translation in the United States. They also provide the interpreting backbone for 911 calls. Having been through fires, floods, hurricanes, recessions, stock market crashes and the aftermath of 9/11, they have the experience and the expertise to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, LLS offers:

· Secure HIPAA-compliant 24/7 telephonic interpreting service in more than 200 languages and dialects.

· Interpreting services are available on demand via a secure HIPAA-compliant video-remote platform, available in twenty languages, including American Sign Language (ASL).

· Verbatim transcription, legal services and a broad spectrum of international litigation services, including expert consulting on international service of process, legal discovery services and evidence-taking abroad.

For more information about Legal Language Services, please visit their website by clicking HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2020

In Honor of Memorial Day, Tunnel To Towers to Provide Three Gold Star Families with Mortgage-Free Homes

Staten Island, NY - May 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- This Memorial Day, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named after a fallen 9/11 FDNY firefighter, announced it will be providing mortgage-free homes to three Gold Star families - the families of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matthew J. West, U.S. Army Specialist Christopher Michael Harris, and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William S. Jackson II.

SSG West, 36, was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 30, 2010, when his vehicle was hit by an IED. He joined the Army in June of 2004, and was on his third deployment at the time of his death.

SSG West left behind his wife, Carolyn, and their three children, Tyler, Joseph, and Annaliese.

“Not only will the Gold Star Family Home Program allow me to give them [the children] a home, but it will also help me to secure their education and future with less stress, and allow us to continue to make more happy family memories,” said Carolyn West.

SPC Harris, 25, was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 2, 2017. He was just one month into his first deployment when a vehicle packed with explosives detonated near his convoy, taking his life.

SPC Harris left behind his pregnant wife, Britt, who was expecting their first child. She welcomed their daughter, Christian Michelle, in March 2018.

“She’s my whole world,” Britt said of Christian Michelle. “The Gold Star Family Home Program will allow me to set aside a proper savings account for my daughter.”

SSG Jackson, known to his friends and family as Jack, was killed on Veterans Day 2006 when an IED detonated near his vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq. The 29-year-old first served in the U.S. Marines for four years, from 1998-2002, before joining the Army.

SSG Jackson is survived by his wife, Katie, and their four children, Zachariah, Levi, Samuel, and Hannah. All four children were younger than six when their father was killed.

“Since Jack’s death, we have felt like we have been in survival mode in many ways. Receiving a home would take the edge off of the feeling of shouldering a heavy burden alone. It would bring such a sense of relief,” Katie said.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s Gold Star Family Home Program honors the legacy of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country by providing the surviving spouses and young children with mortgage-free homes.

“SSG West, SPC Harris, and SSG Jackson put their lives on the line in service of our country, and tragically, they did not make it home to their families. This Memorial Day, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation wants the West, Harris, and Jackson families to know that their sacrifices are remembered. We hope the knowledge that they will never have to make another mortgage payment again will provide Carolyn, Britt, Katie, and their children with some peace of mind as they continue to grieve,” said Foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller.

You can help Tunnel to Towers provide mortgage-free homes to Gold Star families by donating $11 per month at

Not Registered to Vote? Steven Odzer Shares Why It’s Time to Register to Vote

Henderson, NV - May 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- With election season upon us, Steven Odzer wants to encourage young Americans and anyone else who hasn’t registered to vote to do so. Research from the last election shows that the young vote accounts for about half of the voting population. Steven Odzer points out that young Americans don’t realize how much influence they have on the future of their country. In a few short years, millennials will overpower baby boomers as a population, which is why it’s so important they get out and vote. The young vote declined 2% from 52% in the 2008 election, and young voters still made up half of the voters in 2016.

Steven Odzer is very much involved in the political aspects of his community. “I am very involved with Republican Party and Republican Jewish Committee,” says Steven Odzer. Steven Odzer is aware of the importance of the young vote, which is why he supports the Republican party and the RJC. It’s essential also to get young Americans to vote and find their voice so that they can make a difference at the local and national level.

On November 12, 2019, Steven Odzer attended an event at the Economic Club where President Donald Trump gave a speech. “I’m a strong supporter of the Republican Party and the RJC, so it was an honor to attend the event,” he said. It is during events like those that inspire Steven Odzer to keep supporting the Republican party.

According to Steven, Odzer is vital to talk to them about the importance of voting from an early age. The young population needs to understand that since they make up over half of the voting population, candidates count on the vote of Millennials. Aside from being a large group, young voters are also a diverse group. Candidates will focus on the young majority when campaigning this election season due to their diversity. Young voters come from different backgrounds, which also help diversify the vote.

Steven Odzer mentions young Americans should be more interested in voting because they were the ones who got hit the hardest during the recession of 2008. Millennials took a hit in the job market, student loans, and even healthcare. By voting, young Americans can support the leaders that best represent their financial interests.

Steven Odzer has made a name for himself in the distribution industry. Steven Odzer has served as CEO of many successful companies. Currently, YBT Industries of Henderson, NV. Steven Odzer, also dedicates a lot of time helping out the community. He supports causes such as both Jewish and non-Jewish causes, the AHRC, and Bris Avrohom.

Lt. Col. Allen West Recovering in Waco From Motorcycle Accident

Garland, TX - May 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On his drive back from the “Free Texas Rally” in Austin, TX, Lt. Col. Allen West was involved in an accident when a car cut in front of him. He is recovering, in stable condition, and has his family with him.
Local law enforcement reported that “an unidentified vehicle changed lanes when unsafe in front of two motorcyclists. The motorcyclist attempted to brake, and the rear motorcyclist crashed into the front motorcyclist. Both motorcyclists were transported to Baylor Scott and White in Waco to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.”

Allen West is currently dealing with a concussion, several fractured bones, and multiple lacerations. Though these injuries are serious, Lt. Col. West stated, “I am alive by the grace of God.”

He plans to continue to be a proponent for freedom and the state of Texas, and will resume his normal calendar of activities as given clearance by his medical team.

LTC West thanks the public for their well-wishes and outpouring of support, and continued prayers on his behalf are appreciated.

Learn more about Allen West, his campaign, and how to keep Texas Red by clicking HERE

Senate passes Kennedy and Van Hollen’s bill to kick deceitful Chinese companies off U.S. exchanges

Washington, D.C. - May 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On Wednesday, the Senate passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act by unanimous consent. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the legislation to protect American investors and their retirement savings from foreign companies that have been operating on U.S. stock exchanges while flouting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight.

“The SEC works hard to protect American investors from being swindled by American companies. It’s asinine that we’re giving Chinese companies the opportunity to exploit hardworking Americans—people who put their retirement and college savings in our exchanges—because we don’t insist on examining their books. There are plenty of markets all over the world open to cheaters, but America can’t afford to be one of them. China is on a glidepath to dominance and is cheating at every turn. I hope my colleagues in the House will immediately send this bill to the president’s desk so we can protect Americans and their savings,” said Kennedy.

“As we continue to experience the economic fallout and volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to protect main street investors is all the more important. For too long, Chinese companies have disregarded U.S. reporting standards, misleading our investors. Publicly listed companies should all be held to the same standards, and this bill makes commonsense changes to level the playing field and give investors the transparency they need to make informed decisions. I’m proud that we were able to pass it today with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I urge our House colleagues to act quickly,” said Van Hollen.

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act prohibits securities of a company from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges if the company has failed to comply with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) audits for three years in a row.

The bill would also require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government, including China’s communist government.

Many Americans invest in U.S. stock exchanges as part of their retirement savings, and dishonest companies operating on the exchanges put Americans at risk. This legislation protects the interest of hardworking American investors by ensuring that foreign companies traded in America are subject to the same independent audit requirements that apply to American companies.

Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have cosponsored the bill.


Congress established the PCAOB to inspect audits of public companies, ensuring the information companies provide to the public is accurate, independent and trustworthy.

Currently, China’s communist government refuses to allow the PCAOB to inspect audits of companies registered in China and Hong Kong. Such companies represent a keen risk to American investors as nearly 11 percent of all securities class action lawsuits in 2011 were brought against Chinese-owned companies accused of misrepresenting themselves in financial documents.

According to the SEC, 224 U.S.-listed companies are located in countries where there are obstacles to PCAOB inspections. These companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $1.8 trillion.

In the last 10 years, the number of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges has increased significantly, as those firms take advantage of the capital available in America.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Today's News for the Week Prior and Up to May 22, 2020

Historic LGBTQ Victory: U.S. House Passes Equality Act
Source: National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
May 17, 2020, 2020
Now that it’s been successfully passed in the House, we will turn our attention to building grassroots support and momentum to advance the Senate version of the Equality Act that is led by Senators Jeff Merkley, Susan Collins, Tammy Baldwin, and Cory Booker.

Farm and Environmental Organizations Rebuke New USDA Regulatory Review
Source: National Family Farm Coalition
May 18, 2020, 2020
“USDA’s release of its new GE regulatory framework has dealt a devastating blow to the security of farmers’ livelihoods, the health of their farms and communities, and their ability to build the biodiverse, climate-resilient, and economically robust farming systems that we so urgently need. We’ve already seen how GE seeds engineered to resist herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba, are driving widespread pesticide drift that is damaging crops, destroying farm businesses and wreaking havoc across the country. By abdicating the last of its responsibility to protect the public good in favor of corporate profit, USDA is encouraging a flood of new, untested genetically engineered organisms into our rural landscapes, putting farmers, ecosystems and our food supply at risk.”

NIH-funded study to investigate pregnancy outcomes resulting from COVID-19 pandemic
Source: National Institutes of Health
May 19, 2020, 2020
The National Institutes of Health has launched a multipronged study to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during and after pregnancy. Researchers will analyze the medical records of up to 21,000 women to evaluate whether changes to healthcare delivery that were implemented as a result of the pandemic have led to higher rates of pregnancy-related complications and cesarean delivery. They also seek to establish the risk of pregnant women with COVID-19 infection transmitting the virus to their fetus. Newborns will be monitored and assessed until they are discharged from the hospital.

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With Millions Of Jobs At Stake, State And Local Government Associations Call On Congress To Approve Aid
Source: National Governor’s Association
May 20, 2020, 2020
With millions of jobs and the economic recovery at stake, the seven leading organizations representing state, territorial and local governments called on Congress to approve an aid package that would sustain vital services to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New rules from OCC: Banks can now get CRA credit for funding digital inclusion
Source: National Digital Inclusion Alliance
May 20, 2020, 2020
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal agency that oversees national banks and savings associations, has just added support for community digital inclusion programs to its official list of “qualified activities” that could help a regulated bank meet its obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

HHS clarifies that pharmacists are authorized to administer COVID-19 testing despite state law
Source: National Community Pharmacists Association
May 20, 2020, 2020
On May 19, HHS' Office of General Counsel released an advisory opinion clarifying that pharmacists are authorized to order and administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests in states where they are not be authorized to do so.

The HEAL Act Expands Access to Health Care Regardless of Immigration Status
Source: National Immigration Law Center
May 20, 2020, 2020
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act to expand immigrants’ access to crucial and comprehensive health care, with support from more than 250 organizations. This year marks the bill’s first-ever introduction in the Senate, and it comes at a time when it is abundantly clear that health coverage and care are critical for every person, family, and community.

More Than 170 Businesses and Community Organizations Call on Congressional Leaders to Provide Direct Federal Aid to America’s Cities, Towns, and Villages
Source: National League of Cities
May 20, 2020, 2020
More than 170 businesses, associations, and community organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders in the House and Senate today urging them to provide direct federal assistance to America’s cities, towns, and villages in the next congressional recovery bill. The coalition is coming together following the bipartisan decision to shut down the nation’s economy due to COVID-19, which has strained the budgets of cities of all shapes and sizes, urban and rural, and of all political stripes.


Majority of Small Businesses Have Received PPP Loan Funding, Fewer have Received an EIDL Loan
Source: National Federation of Independent Business
May 21, 2020, 2020
“Small businesses continue to face many challenges in operating their business in these difficult times,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Congress and the Administration have the authority to further lighten the burden for many of their immediate concerns, especially in offering more flexibility for PPP loans.”

Amid Pandemic, Migrants Face Impossible Choices
Source: National Immigration Forum
May 21, 2020, 2020
A new Trump administration policy is reportedly forcing migrant parents to choose between family separation and indefinite detention in crowded facilities, adding to a growing list of troubling immigration policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Los Angeles County Ends PACE Program Marred by Fraud, Abuse, and Unaffordable Loans
Source: National Consumer Law Center
May 22, 2020, 2020
Effective May 13, 2020, Los Angeles County has discontinued new financing under its Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan program, concluding the County could not be certain the program can “provide sufficient protection for all consumers.”

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Trump Secures Electric Power System

Washington, D.C. - May 1, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- In an effort to better protect the electric grid from attacks from foreign adversaries, President Trump has signed an Executive Order, "Securing the United States Bulk Power System," banning the purchase and installation of some equipment for power plants and the transmission system, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In response, Jim Cunningham, executive director of Protect Our Power, issued the following statement:

"This Executive Order is an important first step -- one that Protect Our Power supports -- to address dangerous cyber-related vulnerabilities in the electric sector supply chain. The order highlights a looming threat that Protect Our Power and other security experts have identified for some time now.

"In November 2018, Protect Our Power and security firm Ridge Global issued a report that assessed our nation's increasing dependence on foreign suppliers. More recently, in conjunction with Ridge Global, we released a report in late February that examined cybersecurity risks in the power industry's supply chain and called for a collaborative effort among buyers, sellers and regulators to build an acceptable supply chain protocol to assure the integrity of the industry's supply chain. We continue to work on this project and today's action highlights the importance of that effort.

"And only weeks ago, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission issued a report with recommendations aimed at better securing our nation's critical infrastructure, including the electric grid which is vital to the ability of so many other critical sectors to continue functioning. The commission's report specifically stated the United States 'can limit market access to untrusted or high-risk vendors where the risk of supply chain compromise is unacceptable.'

"The president's Executive Order appropriately empowers the Energy Secretary to act with input from the new Task Force established in the order. This should allow for needed coordination between our intelligence agencies and Homeland Security to implement timely and informed actions. This also highlights the pressing need to establish in-depth protocols to guide the actions of buyers, sellers and regulators to assure the cyber integrity of our nation's electric sector supply chain.

"While we should be sensitive not to dramatically increase costs to consumers, we absolutely must work more urgently and comprehensively to better secure the supply chain and protect Americans from the consequences of a high-impact cyberattack."