01/11/21

Apple Bans 39,000 Apps After Demands By The CCP

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

And counting… including the newly launched conservative open free speech social media site Parler.

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Apple removed 39,000 game apps on its China store Thursday, the biggest removal ever in a single day, as it set year-end as deadline for all game publishers to obtain a license.

The takedowns come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.

Including the 39,000 games, Apple removed more than 46,000 apps in total from its store on Thursday. Games affected by the sweep included Ubisoft title Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20, according to research firm Qimai.

Qimai also said only 74 of the top 1,500 paid games on Apple store survived the purge.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple initially gave game publishers an end-of-June deadline to submit a government-issued licence number enabling users to make in-app purchases in the world’s biggest games market.

Apple later extended the deadline to Dec. 31. Cases still pending.

China’s Android app stores have long complied with regulations on licenses. It is not clear why Apple is enforcing them more strictly this year.

Analysts said the move was no surprise as Apple continues to close loopholes to fall in line with China’s content regulators, and would not directly affect Apple’s bottom line as much as previous removals.

“However, this major pivot to only accepting paid games that have a game license, coupled with China’s extremely low number of foreign game licenses approved this year, will probably lead more game developers to switch to an ad-supported model for their Chinese versions,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for AppInChina, a firm that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.

In December, shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) were down a bit after the company removed thousands of paid game apps from its China App Store.

Meanwhile, Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock rose after the company reportedly plans a price increase for its ESPN+ streaming service.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that tech giant Apple planned to remove thousands of game apps from its App Store in China due to government pressure. Apple reportedly warned Chinese developers earlier this month that paid gaming apps were at risk of removal.

China requires paid video games to be licensed before being released, a policy that has been in effect for the past four years. However, app developers have been able to get around that rule on Apple’s platform. Apple began closing the loophole this year, the Journal reports.

On Thursday, Apple followed through by removing 39,000 game apps from its China App Store, according to Reuters. These include popular titles like Assassin’s Creed Identity and NBA 2K20. Just 74 of the top 1,500 paid game apps on the China App Store are still available, according to research firm Qimai.

The license requirement applies to paid games and games with in-app purchases, so the move by Apple could push more developers to opt for an ad-supported model. Apple takes a cut from the sales of apps and in-app content, so such a shift would hurt Apple’s sales in China. source

*** Expect more stock price decline given the recent anti-trust cases in the legal pipeline against Apple and other big tech corporations. Apple and Google both take a cut of the revenue of the apps on their respective stores.

The factory in China where Apple products, specifically iPhones, undergo final assembly has approximately 230,000 workers. In the US, there are only 83 cities that have the same population as this factory’s number of employees. Meaning the number of possible workers in the US is not enough to cover Apple’s needs.

In China, an estimated quarter of their workforce lives in company-owned dormitories. These barracks are located on factory property. Many people are living and working at the factory. Such jobs are in high demand in China, and they can hire many people overnight. These examples prove that the measure, speed, and efficiency of Chinese manufacturing surpass anything the US is presently capable of. (read slave labor)

'Made in China 2025': is Beijing's plan for hi-tech ...

Apple is a willing partner in the China 2025 plan. You will then understand the China policy of President Trump and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Continue reading…you need to understand the past implications and those when Biden takes office.

When the US and ultimately the rest of the Western world began to engage China, resulting in China finally being allowed into the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s, no one really expected the outcomes we see today.

There is no simple disengagement path, given the scope of economic and legal entanglements. This isn’t a “trade” we can simply walk away from.

But it is also one that, if allowed to continue in its current form, could lead to a loss of personal freedom for Western civilization. It really is that much of an existential question.

Doing nothing isn’t an especially good option because, like it or not, the world is becoming something quite different than we expected just a few years ago—not just technologically, but geopolitically and socially.

China and the West

Let’s begin with how we got here.

My generation came of age during the Cold War. China was a huge, impoverished odd duck in those years. In the late 1970s, China began slowly opening to the West. Change unfolded gradually but by the 1990s, serious people wanted to bring China into the modern world, and China wanted to join it.

Understand that China’s total GDP in 1980 was under $90 billion in current dollars. Today, it is over $12 trillion. The world has never seen such enormous economic growth in such a short time.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union collapsed and the internet was born. The US, as sole superpower, saw opportunities everywhere. American businesses shifted production to lower-cost countries. Thus came the incredible extension of globalization.

We in the Western world thought (somewhat arrogantly, in hindsight) everyone else wanted to be like us. It made sense. Our ideas, freedom, and technology had won both World War II and the Cold War that followed it. Obviously, our ways were best.

But that wasn’t obvious to people elsewhere, most notably China. Leaders in Beijing may have admired our accomplishments, but not enough to abandon Communism.

They merely adapted and rebranded it. We perceived a bigger change than there actually was. Today’s Chinese communists are nowhere near Mao’s kind of communism. Xi calls it “Socialism with a Chinese character.” It appears to be a dynamic capitalistic market, but is also a totalitarian, top-down structure with rigid rules and social restrictions.

So here we are, our economy now hardwired with an autocratic regime that has no interest in becoming like us.

China’s Hundred-Year Marathon

In The Hundred-Year Marathon, Michael Pillsbury marshals a lot of evidence showing the Chinese government has a detailed strategy to overtake the US as the world’s dominant power.

They want to do this by 2049, the centennial of China’s Communist revolution.

The strategy has been well documented in Chinese literature, published and sanctioned by organizations of the People’s Liberation Army, for well over 50 years.

And just as we have hawks and moderates on China within the US, there are hawks and moderates within China about how to engage the West. Unfortunately, the hawks are ascendant, embodied most clearly in Xi Jinping.

Xi’s vision of the Chinese Communist Party controlling the state and eventually influencing and even controlling the rest of the world is clear. These are not merely words for the consumption of the masses. They are instructions to party members.

Grand dreams of world domination are part and parcel of communist ideologies, going all the way back to Karl Marx. For the Chinese, this blends with the country’s own long history.

It isn’t always clear to Western minds whether they actually believe the rhetoric or simply use it to keep the peasantry in line. Pillsbury says Xi Jinping really sees this as China’s destiny, and himself as the leader who will deliver it.

To that end, according to Pillsbury, the Chinese manipulated Western politicians and business leaders into thinking China was evolving toward democracy and capitalism. In fact, the intent was to acquire our capital, technology, and other resources for use in China’s own modernization.

It worked, too.

Over the last 20–30 years, we have equipped the Chinese with almost everything they need to match us, technologically and otherwise. Hundreds of billions of Western dollars have been spent developing China and its state-owned businesses.

Sometimes this happened voluntarily, as companies gave away trade secrets in the (often futile) hope it would let them access China’s huge market. Other times it was outright theft. In either case, this was no accident but part of a long-term plan.

Pillsbury (who, by the way, advises the White House including the president himself) thinks the clash is intensifying because President Trump’s China skepticism is disrupting the Chinese plan. They see his talk of restoring America’s greatness as an affront to their own dreams.

In any case, we have reached a crossroads. What do we do about China now?

Targeted Response

In crafting a response, the first step is to define the problem correctly and specifically. We hear a lot about China cheating on trade deals and taking jobs from Americans. That’s not entirely wrong, but it’s also not the main challenge.

I believe in free trade. I think David Ricardo was right about comparative advantage: Every nation is better off if all specialize in whatever they do best.

However, free trade doesn’t mean nations need to arm their potential adversaries. Nowadays, military superiority is less about factories and shipyards than high-tech weapons and cyberwarfare. Much of our “peaceful” technology is easily weaponized.

This means our response has to be narrowly targeted at specific companies and products. Broad-based tariffs are the opposite of what we should be doing. Ditto for capital controls.

They are blunt instruments that may feel good to swing, but they hurt the wrong people and may not accomplish what we want.

We should not be using the blunt tool of tariffs to fight a trade deficit that is actually necessary. The Chinese are not paying our tariffs; US consumers are.

Importing t-shirts and sneakers from China doesn’t threaten our national security. Let that kind of trade continue unmolested and work instead on protecting our advantages in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous drones, and so on.

The Trump administration appears to (finally) be getting this. They are clearly seeking ways to pull back the various tariffs and ramping up other efforts.

01/9/21

Beware: Patriot Act 2.0 Coming

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

But there already is a domestic terrorism law… meanwhile it was not applied to BLM or ANTIFA as those protests still go on… .just a few arrests have been made while people and small businesses were not only terrorized but hundreds or maybe thousands lost their businesses. It is okay, however, as VP -Elect Kamala Harris is good with that and supported it all.

Just one day ago –> it is terrorism but they call it unlawful assembly.

Portland rioters smash courthouse window, damage businesses before police declare unlawful assembly

Portland police arrived on the scene and told the crowd it had declared an unlawful assembly.Portland rioters smash courthouse window, damage businesses before police  declare unlawful assembly | Fox News

So why the new proposed legislation? Hardly balanced application of the law and that is good with the new administration and progressive members of Congress.

The Patriot Act 2.0 coming your way.

Note:

March 11, 2020
Press Release

Legislation introduced by Schneider would empower federal law enforcement to better monitor and stop domestic extremist violence

Today, legislation introduced by Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) to address the threat of domestic terrorism passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 24-2. The Committee’s markup and bipartisan vote reports H.R. 5602, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020, out of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The rising tide of domestic terror across our country, particularly from violent far-right extremists and white supremacist organizations, demands a response from Congress,” said Schneider. “It is not enough to just condemn hate, we need to equip law enforcement with the tools needed to identify threats and prevent violent acts of domestic terrorism. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act improves coordination between our federal agencies and makes sure they are focused on the most serious domestic threats. I thank Chairman Nadler and Chairwoman Bass for their leadership on this issue and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this legislation in markup. I look forward to building support for a vote by the full House as soon as possible.”

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020 would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2019, domestic extremists killed at least 42 people in the United States in 17 separate incidents. This number makes 2019 the sixth deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings. Last year, a Trump Administration Department of Justice official wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “white supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. Regrettably, over the past 25 years, law enforcement, at both the Federal and State levels, has been slow to respond.”

H.R. 5602 would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, H.R. 5602 requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats..

H.R. 5602 also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, H.R. 5602 directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020  has been endorsed by the following organizations: Anti-Defamation League, Arab American Institute, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, Human Rights Campaign, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Sikh Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and Unidos. .

The legislation has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House. A Senate companion bill is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

01/9/21

Reichstag Fire and the Rise to Total Power

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

On March 23, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, the partner piece of legislation to the February 28 Decree for the Protection of People and State. The Enabling Act assigned all legislative power to Hitler and his ministers, thus securing their ability to control the political apparatus. When President Hindenburg died in August 1934, Hitler wrote a new law that combined the offices of president and chancellor. It was sanctioned by a national plebiscite.Reichstag fire

Ex-Nazi testimony sparks fresh mystery over 1933 Reichstag fire | News | DW  | 27.07.2019

When the German parliamentary building went up in flames, Hitler harnessed the incident to seize power

Smithsonian: It was the canary in the political coal mine—a flashpoint event when Adolf Hitler played upon public and political fears to consolidate power, setting the stage for the rise of Nazi Germany. Since then, it’s become a powerful political metaphor. Whenever citizens and politicians feel threatened by executive overreach, the “Reichstag Fire” is referenced as a cautionary tale

Germany’s first experiment with liberal democracy was born of the 1919 Weimar Constitution, established after the conclusion of World War I. It called for a president elected by direct ballot, who would appoint a chancellor to introduce legislation to members of the Reichstag (who were also elected by popular vote). The president retained the power to dismiss his cabinet and the chancellor, dissolve an ineffective Reichstag, and, in cases of national emergency, invoke something known as Article 48, which gave the president dictatorial powers and the right to intervene directly in the governance of Germany’s 19 territorial states.

Following a stint in jail for his failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Hitler poured his energy into attaining power through legal channels. He rose to the head of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis), and by 1928 the group’s membership exceeded 100,000. The Nazis denounced the Weimar Republic and the “November criminals,” politicians had signed the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty forced Germany to accept responsibility for World War I, pay huge remunerations, transfer territory to their neighbors and limit the size of the military.

Despite its considerable growth, the Nazi party won only 2.6 percent of the vote in the 1928 election. But then the Great Depression hit, sending the U.S. and Europe into an economic tailspin and shooting the number of unemployed up to 6 million people in Germany (around 30 percent of the population). The sudden slump caused massive social upheaval, which the Nazis exploited to gain further political traction. By 1930, the Nazis won 18.3 percent of the Reichstag vote and became the second largest party after the Social Democrats, while the Communist party also grew to ten percent of the vote.

The economic unrest of the early 1930s meant that no single political party had a majority in the Reichstag, so fragile coalitions held the nation together. Faced with political chaos, President Paul von Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag again and again. Frequent elections followed.

The Nazis aligned with other right-leaning factions and gradually worked their way up to 33 percent of the vote—but were unable to reach a full majority. In January 1933, Hindenburg reluctantly appointed Hitler as chancellor on the advice of Franz von Papen, a disgruntled former chancellor who believed the conservative bourgeois parties should ally with the Nazis to keep the Communists out of power. March 5 was set as the date for another series of Reichstag elections in hopes that one party might finally achieve the majority.

Meanwhile, the Nazis seized even more power, infiltrating the police and empowering ordinary party members as law enforcement officers. On February 22, Hitler used his powers as chancellor to enroll 50,000 Nazi SA men (also known as stormtroopers) as auxiliary police. Two days later, Hermann Göring, Minister of the Interior and one of Hitler’s closest compatriots, ordered a raid on Communist headquarters. Following the raid, the Nazis announced (falsely) that they’d found evidence of seditious material. They claimed the Communists were planning to attack public buildings.

On the night of February 27, around 9:00, pedestrians near the Reichstag heard the sound of breaking glass. Soon after, flames erupted from the building. It took fire engines hours to quell the fire, which destroyed the debating chamber and the Reichstag’s gilded cupola, ultimately causing over $1 million in damage. Police arrested an unemployed Dutch construction worker named Marinus van der Lubbe on the scene. The young man was found outside the building with firelighters in his possession and was panting and sweaty.

“This is a God-given signal,” Hitler told von Papen when they arrived on the scene. “If this fire, as I believe, is the work of the Communists, then we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist.”

A few hours later, on February 28, Hindenburg invoked Article 48 and the cabinet drew up the “Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State.” The act abolished freedom of speech, assembly, privacy and the press; legalized phone tapping and interception of correspondence; and suspended the autonomy of federated states, like Bavaria. That night around 4,000 people were arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the SA. Although the Communist party had won 17 percent of the Reichstag elections in November 1932, and the German people elected 81 Communist deputies in the March 5 elections, many were detained indefinitely after the fire. Their empty seats left the Nazis largely free to do as they wished.

Later that year, a sensational criminal trial got under way. The accused included van der Lubbe, Ernst Torgler (leader of the Communist Party in the Reichstag) and three Bulgarian Communists.

As the trial in Germany proceeded, a different kind of trial captured the public discourse. Willi Münzenberg, a German Communist, allied himself with other Communists to undertake an independent investigation of the fire. The combined research resulted in the publication of The Brown Book on the Reichstag Fire and Hitler Terror. It included early accounts of Nazi brutality, as well as an argument that van der Lubbe was a pawn of the Nazis. Hitler’s party members were the real criminals, the book argued, and they orchestrated the fire to consolidate political power. The book became a bestseller, translated into 24 languages and sold around Europe and the U.S.

01/7/21

Was Lack of Security at the DC Rally on Purpose?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Anyone remember when Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser put out a declaration prior to the January 6th rally about what attendees can do and cannot do? Remember when there was a call for 340 National Guard?

Why was there no plan to install a security perimeter around the Capitol building and other government buildings given the congressional work underway? Was it a set up given the prior intelligence gathered by DHS, the Mayor’s office, the United States Secret Service, and the Capitol Police along with Metro Police? Heck, even Facebook blocked the Stop the Steal group.

Trump rally DC: Clashes at Washington protest lead to stabbings, nearly 30 arrests - ABC11 Raleigh-Durham

This was purposeful and a gamble to ridicule Trump supporters and to minimize the challenges to the election results. It worked. It is being called a historic invasion and insurrection.
Yes… it worked.

.Trump supporters gather in DC for 'stop the steal' rally Video - ABC News

It was an open secret… but there are more facts to be known.

The invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was stoked in plain sight. For weeks, the far-right supporters of President Donald Trump railed on social media that the election had been stolen. They openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress met to certify the result.

“We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th,” leaders of the Stop the Steal movement wrote on Dec. 23. They called their Wednesday demonstration the Wild Protest, a name taken from a tweet by Trump that encouraged his supporters to take their grievances to the streets of Washington. “Will be wild,” the president tweeted.

Ali Alexander, the founder of the movement, encouraged people to bring tents and sleeping bags and avoid wearing masks for the event. “If D.C. escalates… so do we,” Alexander wrote on Parler last week — one of the scores of social media posts welcoming violence that were reviewed by ProPublica in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s attack on the capitol.

Thousands of people heeded that call.

For reasons that remain unclear Wednesday night, the law enforcement authorities charged with protecting the nation’s entire legislative branch — nearly all of the 535 members of Congress gathered in a joint session, along with Vice President Mike Pence — were ill-prepared to contain the forces massed against them.

On Wednesday afternoon, a thin line of U.S. Capitol Police, with only a few riot shields between them and a knot of angry protesters, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with rioters on the steps of the West Front. They struggled with a flimsy set of barricades as a mob in helmets and bulletproof vests pushed its way toward the Capitol entrance. Videos showed officers stepping aside, and sometimes taking selfies as if to usher Trump’s supporters into the building they were supposed to guard.

A former Capitol policeman well-versed in his agency’s procedures was mystified by the scene he watched unfold on live television. Larry Schaefer, a 34-year Capitol Police veteran who retired in December 2019, said his former colleagues were experienced in dealing with aggressive crowds.

“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment demonstration that just popped up,” Schaefer said. “We have a planned, known demonstration that has a propensity for violence in the past and threats to carry weapons — why would you not prepare yourself as we have done in the past?”

A spokesperson for the Capitol Police did not respond to a request for comment.

In recent years, federal law enforcement agencies have stepped up their focus on far-right groups, resulting in a spate of arrests. In October, the FBI arrested a group of Michigan extremists and charged them with plotting to kidnap the state’s governor. On Monday, Washington police arrested Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys, on charges of burning a Black Lives Matter banner.

Conversations on right-wing platforms are monitored closely by federal intelligence. In September, a draft report by the Department of Homeland Security surfaced, identifying white supremacists as the biggest threat to national security.

The warnings of Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol were everywhere — perhaps not entirely specific about the planned time and exact location of an assault on the Capitol, but enough to clue in law enforcement about the potential for civil unrest.

On Dec. 12, a poster on the website MyMilitia.com urged violence if senators made official the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

“If this does not change, then I advocate, Revolution and adherence to the rules of war,” wrote someone identifying themselves as I3DI. “I say, take the hill or die trying.”

Wrote another person: “It’s already apparent that literally millions of Americans are on the verge of activating their Second Amendment duty to defeat tyranny and save the republic.”

The easily overpowered police force guarding the Capitol on Wednesday posed a stark contrast to the tactics deployed by local police during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Then, the city felt besieged by law enforcement.

More from Frontline:

On June 1, following a few days of mostly peaceful protests, the National Guard, the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a nonviolent crowd in Lafayette Square outside the White House to allow Trump to pose with a Bible in front of a nearby church.

“We need to dominate the battlespace,” then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on a call with dozens of governors, asking them to send their National Guard forces to the capital.

On June 2 — the day of the primary election in Washington — law enforcement officers appeared on every corner, heavily armed in fatigues and body armor. Humvees blocked intersections. Buses full of troops deployed into military columns and marshaled in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a raw show of force. Police kettled protesters in alleys. Choppers thudded overhead for days and sank low enough over protesters to generate gale-force winds.

Such dominance was nowhere in evidence Wednesday, despite a near-lockdown of the downtown area on Tuesday night. Trump supporters drove to the Capitol and parked in spaces normally reserved for congressional staff. Some vehicles stopped on the lawns near the Tidal Basin.

The contrast shook Washington’s attorney general, Karl Racine, who seemed to be almost in disbelief on CNN Wednesday evening.

“There was zero intelligence that the Black Lives Matter protesters were going to ‘storm the capitol,’” he remembered, after ticking down the many police forces present in June. “Juxtapose that with what we saw today, with hate groups, militia and other groups that have no respect for the rule of law go into the capitol. … That dichotomy is shocking.”

The question of how law enforcement and the national security establishment failed so spectacularly will likely be the subject of intense focus in coming days.

David Carter, director of the Intelligence Program at Michigan State University, said that sometimes, the best intelligence in the world doesn’t translate into adequate preparedness. Perhaps the security officials responsible for protecting the Capitol simply could not envision that a crowd of Americans would charge through a police line and shatter the glass windows that stood as the only physical barrier to entering the building.

“I go back to the 9/11 commission report,” Carter said. “It was a failure of imagination. They didn’t imagine something like this. Would you imagine people were going to break into the Capitol and go into the chambers? That failure of imagination sometimes makes us drop the ball.”

01/3/21

Is Anyone Taking a Long Look at Gab Sterling, Voting Implementation Mgr for Georgia?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

His job was/is to supervise Georgia’s (new) voting system.

Gabriel Sterling in Georgia gives Trump a Joe McCarthy moment - Los Angeles  Times

So, here are some tips (facts) to consider.

Remember that consent decree where signatures and voter registrations were not to be verified? It is said that this agreement was between Stacey Abrams and Brad Raffensperger. Actually, those two are the conspirators but on the decree itself, neither of them signed the agreement. In fact, the agreement has the inferred signatures of Bruce V. Spiva of Perkins Coie (the law firm that Hillary Clinton and the DNC hired that later hired Fusion GPS) and Vincent R. Russo of Robbins Ross Alloy Belinfante Littlefield, LLC (Office of the Georgia Attorney General, /Counsel for State Defendants).

Vincent Russo:

Vincent has been appointed as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia and regularly represents Georgia officials in voting rights and election litigation. He has also been tapped to represent the Governor and the Secretary of State of Georgia in matters before the Committee on Oversight and Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, including inquiries by the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Prior to joining the Firm, Vincent was the General Counsel for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, where he served as the chief legal counsel in the administrations of Brian Kemp and Karen Handel.

Vincent’s practice regularly involves issues at the intersection of law, politics, and public policy. He also has significant experience advising federal and state campaign committees, PACs, and other political organizations, including representing clients in investigations by the Federal Election Commission and the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission. Vincent served as legal counsel to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s campaign committee in 2018. He is the General Counsel for the Georgia Republican Party and has represented the National Republican Congressional Committee in recent election cycles.

Josh Belinfante:

Outside of litigation, Josh has significant experience in campaign finance and election law matters. He represents entities governed by federal and state campaign finance laws, including campaigns and political action committees.  He also has specific experience drafting laws governing Certificate of Need, gaming, the Georgia Lottery, restrictive covenants and non-compete agreements, and eminent domain.

Seems to have the hallmarks of a good ole boy network.

During Sterling’s time on the City Council, the city came under investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office for possible violations in the way it ran an election. In 2016, the council approved the city running its own special election — rather than hiring the county to do it as usual — to fill a council vacancy. The election for the District 3 seat was held the same day as a county primary election, but at a separate polling place that was not within the district.

That confusing situation led to the state investigation about a possible polling place notice violation. But more than four years later, the case remains unheard by the State Election Board for unexplained reasons, a situation a local legislator once called “insane.” The case has dragged on so long that since it began, Sterling has left office, made the Fulton commission run, and joined the office that began the investigation.

Well, not actually all good ole boys, as we have Jordan Fuchs, Deputy Secretary of State.

Fuchs was quoted in a Politico story in 2019 that reported a variety of groups were concerned that “Raffensperger and his staff are pushing ahead with a $150 million plan to switch the state to new voting machines (Dominion Voting Systems) that an array of experts warn would be susceptible to hacking.” That story says that Fuchs “scolded the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks, which also opposes the machines,” by telling them, among other things, that they did not “fully comprehend the climate of our state, the demands of our communities, or the objectives of this office.”

Another press release reported that Raffensperger had appointed Fuchs to “serve on the Board of Directors for the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). Fuchs will serve as Georgia’s national representative within the organization’s governing body,” the release said.

“Our office has led the charge to reform Georgia’s elections with common-sense solutions that prioritize efficiency and promote integrity – and our immediate action to join ERIC was a major victory for all of Georgia’s voters,” said Fuchs. “I am honored to represent our state at the national level as we continue to aggressively pursue solutions that ensure a better experience at the polls for our voters and election officials alike.”

What is ERIC? “ERIC is a multistate partnership that uses a sophisticated and secure data-matching tool to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state voter registration systems. Through ERIC, states share voter registration information to improve the integrity of voter lists,” the release says. “The national non-profit uses cross-state data matches to flag voters who may have registered in multiple states, moved out of state, or passed away – alerting election officials so that they can update voter rolls accordingly, consistent with federal and state law.”

ERIC is a multistate partnership that uses a sophisticated and secure data-matching tool to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state voter registration systems. Through ERIC, states share voter registration information to improve the integrity of voter lists. The national non-profit uses cross-state data matches to flag voters who may have registered in multiple states, moved out of state, or passed away – alerting election officials so that they can update voter rolls accordingly, consistent with federal and state law. Exactly, how is that working out?)

“I have no doubt that Deputy Secretary Fuchs will continue to advance the best interest of our state and work with national stakeholders and industry leaders to make elections more secure, accurate, and accessible for every Georgia voter,” said Secretary Raffensperger.

Fuchs has been appointed as an ERIC board member for the 2019-2020 term and will continue to carry out her regular duties as Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State for the duration.

A 2019 article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that “the Georgia secretary of state’s office acknowledged…that a vendor had improperly redacted a purchasing document detailing security features of the state’s new $107 million voting system.” Fuchs is quoted in that article as saying, “Our new voting system, including new Poll Pads, is our most secure system to date.” The article notes that “the iPads will be provided by a company called KnowInk, which is working with Dominion Voting Systems to install the new voting technology statewide.” More here.

The consent decree is here. 

Now here is where it gets more interesting. The man who oversees Georgia’s voting system, Gabriel Sterling, negotiated a $200,000 per year contract for himself last year, quit his state government job, and has worked as an independent contractor ever since. Under the arrangement, Sterling’s pay increased from his $114,000 government salary since November 2019, when he took on the role of project manager for the purchase and rollout of the state’s new voting equipment. State election officials say as a contractor, the government didn’t have to pay benefits, such as health insurance.

Sterling, a lifelong Republican, even drew praise from Democrats for his comments, and he received flowers and handwritten notes from voters across the country.

But his independent status prompted questions from state legislators and critics who have asked why oversight of the state’s voting machines is being managed outside Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s payroll.

Just a month before the November general election, there was a panel discussion, hosted by Gab Sterling on Georgia voting rights and elections. Really? Yes and imagine the panel roster…..Vasu Abhiraman, an ACLU of Georgia policy counsel; Josh Belinfante, an attorney specializing in election law at the Robbins Law Firm; and Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for Georgia Secretary of State and a former member of the Sandy Springs City Council. The discussion, called “Fair Voting: Make It Count,” as part of its “Live Learn Lead” series.

Oh, did you know that Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger formed an election task force? Yup, the task force met weekly until the end of the year to “further the discussion on the election this Fall and to address the challenges in election administration.” Called, the Safe, Secure, and Accessible Elections task force had bipartisanship and included figures such as Amb. Andrew Young, Georgia state NAACP President Rev. James Woodall, and Carter Center CEO Paige Alexander. And, other members of the task force included Republican former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, ACLU of Georgia counsel Vasu Abhiraman, Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark, Georgia Tech professor Angelos Keromytis, MIT professor Charles Stewart, Center for Election and Innovation Research Founder and Executive Director David Becker, Jake Evans, the chairman of the Georgia chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association, Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk, DeKalb County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Erica Hamilton, Cobb County Director of Elections and Registration Janine Eveler, Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron, Monica Childers of VotingWorks, as well as Sec. Raffensperger and Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.

“Our teams are keeping Georgia voters the focal point of all of our elections,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “I am grateful that these leaders, from various professional and ideological backgrounds, are coming together to help meet that goal; not just for this election, or the next, but for elections in years to come. Improving the integrity of our elections and increasing voter confidence in their outcomes is vital.”

Thoughts?

01/3/21

Where are the FBI Reports for the 2020 Election Monitoring?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

 

As a collection of Republican members of the House and the Senate are formally challenging the electors from the 2020 results, investigations continue by a wide and deep group of legal professionals for many states. The challenges are not just about the presidential results but certainly deal with all down-ballot candidates and measures.

Some audits are complete while others are underway.

Consider all the varieties of voter, ballot, and reporting fraud. In fact, while the state of Georgia is the most contested so far, should there even be a run-off Senate race in the first place?

Meanwhile, no one is challenging the FBI on their assignments and work during the 2020 election cycle. The question is… where are those reports?

Election Crimes

Election crimes threaten the legitimacy of elections and undermine public confidence in our democracy. Election crimes fall into four broad categories:

  • Ballot fraud
  • Campaign finance violations
  • Patronage offenses
  • Civil rights violations, such as voter suppression or voter intimidation

While individual states and localities have the constitutional authority and responsibility to manage elections and have their own election laws, an election crime becomes a federal crime when one or more of the following occurs:

  • A ballot includes one or more federal candidates
  • Election or polling place officials abuse their office
  • The conduct involves false voter registration
  • The crime is motivated by hostility toward minority protected classes
  • The activity violates federal campaign finance law

Examples of federal election crimes include, but are not limited to:

  • Giving false information when registering to vote
  • Voting more than once
  • Changing ballot markings or otherwise tampering with ballots
  • Compensating voters
  • Threatening voters with physical or financial harm
  • Intentionally lying about the time, manner, or place of an election to prevent qualified voters from voting
  • Political fundraising by federal employees
  • Campaign contributions above legal limits
  • Conduit contributions
  • Contributions from foreign or other prohibited sources
  • Use of campaign funds for personal or unauthorized purposes

Distinguishing between legal and criminal conduct is critical for ensuring the integrity of U.S. elections. The following activities are not federal election crimes; however, states have their own election laws. If you are concerned about a possible violation of a state or local election law, contact your local law enforcement.

  • Giving voters rides to the polls or time off to vote
  • Offering voters a stamp to mail a ballot
  • Making false claims about oneself or another candidate
  • Forging or faking nominating petitions
  • Campaigning too close to polling places

The FBI plays an important role in preventing violations of your constitutional rights, including your right to vote. Report any instances of potential election crimes to your local FBI field office as soon as possible.

According to the FBI website:

Election Crimes and Security

Fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, and the FBI is committed to protecting the rights of all Americans to vote.

The U.S. government only works when legal votes are counted and when campaigns follow the law. When the legitimacy of elections is corrupted, our democracy is threatened.

While individual states run elections, the FBI plays an important role in protecting federal interests and preventing violations of your constitutional rights.

An election crime is generally a federal crime if:

    • The ballot includes one or more federal candidates
    • An election or polling place official abuses their office
    • The conduct involves false voter registration
    • The crime intentionally targets minority protected classes
    • The activity violates federal campaign finance law

Protect Your Vote

      • Know when, where, and how you will vote.
      • Seek out election information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
      • Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
      • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voting and elections.
      • Research individuals and entities to whom you are making political donations.

Voter Suppression

Intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting is voter suppression—and it is a federal crime.

There are many reputable places you can find your polling location and registration information, including eac.gov and usa.gov/how-to-vote. However, not all publicly available voting information is accurate, and some is deliberately designed to deceive you to keep you from voting.

Bad actors use various methods to spread disinformation about voting, such as social media platforms, texting, or peer-to-peer messaging applications on smartphones. They may provide misleading information about the time, manner, or place of voting. This can include inaccurate election dates or false claims about voting qualifications or methods, such as false information suggesting that one may vote by text, which is not allowed in any jurisdiction.

      • For general elections, Election Day is always the first Tuesday after November 1.
      • While there are some exceptions for military overseas using absentee ballots by email or fax, you cannot vote online or by text on Election Day.

Always consider the source of voting information. Ask yourself, “Can I trust this information?” Look for official notices from election offices and verify the information you found is accurate.

Help defend the right to vote by reporting any suspected instances of voter suppression—especially those received through a private communication channel like texting—to your local FBI field office or at tips.fbi.gov.

Stock image depicting a person placing a ballot into a ballot box with an American flag background

Report Election Crime

If you suspect a federal election offense, contact the election crimes coordinator at your local FBI office, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

12/31/20

VP Biden Briefed on Burisma and Zlochevsky in 2015

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

JTN: Vice President Joe Biden’s office was warned in 2015 that the Obama State Department believed the Ukrainian gas oligarch whose firm hired Hunter Biden was corrupt and that some of the evidence supporting that conclusion had been gathered by the U.S. Justice Department, newly released diplomatic memos show.

Then-U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev alerted Biden’s top advisers to the concerns about Burisma Holdings founder Mykola Zlochevsky shortly before the vice president visited with Ukrainian officials in December 2015.

“I assume all have the DoJ background on Zlochevsky,” Pyatt wrote in an email to top Biden advisers in the White House. “The short unclas version (in non lawyer language) is that US and UK were cooperating on a case to seize his corrupt assets overseas (which had passed through the US).”

Pyatt added that the asset forfeiture case “fell apart” when individuals in the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office “acted to thwart the UK case.”

The memos were released last week by Senate committees investigating Hunter Biden’s global business dealings.

By the time Pyatt had written the email, one of his deputies in the Kiev embassy, George Kent, had already alerted the FBI that State officials believed Ukrainian prosecutors had been paid a $7 million bribe to thwart the asset forfeiture case. Kent recounted his efforts in an email to a fellow ambassador a year later.

A year later, Pyatt’s successor as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, wrote her superiors in Washington that the American embassy believed Burisma had paid another bribe in the form of cheap gas to get Ukrainian prosecutors to drop remaining cases against the gas firm.

Zlochevski photo.jpg

In 2014, Britain’s Prime Minister and the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder know more than they are telling with regard to Ukraine, Biden and Burisma.

Theresa May and US attorney general Eric Holder (left) at the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery in 2014.

Theresa May and US attorney general Eric Holder (left) at the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery in 2014. Photograph: Getty Images

Per the Congressional Record:

On April 16, 2014, Vice President Biden met with his son's business 
partner, Devon Archer, at the White House. That is kind of a big deal--
anybody meeting with the Vice President at the White House. Hunter 
Biden's business partner got to do that.
  Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine. The media 
described him as the public face of the administration's handling of 
Ukraine. The next day, April 22, Archer joined the board of Burisma.
  Again, Burisma is this company that is owned by what George Kent from 
the State Department called an ``odious oligarch,'' Mykola Zlochevsky. 
It is hard to say Ukrainian names
Six days later, after Archer joined the board, British officials 
seized $23 million from the London bank accounts of Burisma's owner, 
Mykola Zlochevsky. Fifteen days later, on May 13, Hunter Biden joined 
the board of Burisma. And over the course of the next, approximately, 4 
to 5 years, Hunter and his firms were paid more than $3 million for his 
and Archer's board participation.
  Again, Ukraine had just gone through a revolution. Their leadership 
was desperate for U.S. support. We all have to believe that Mr. 
Zlochevsky, an odious oligarch, would have made those Ukrainian 
officials well aware of the fact that the son of the Vice President of 
the United States, the public face of the administration's handling of 
Ukraine, was sitting on his board.
  So what kind of signal did that send to Ukrainians who were trying to 
stand up and were being pressured by U.S. officials to rid their 
country of corruption? It basically said: If you want U.S. support, 
don't touch Burisma
  The fact is, when all was said and done, Burisma and Mykola 
Zlochevsky were never held to account. The investigation, the 
prosecution of him was ceased. It never occurred.
  In terms of Russian disinformation, these false charges, these wild 
claims against me and Senator Grassley--I was way ahead of the curve 
when it came to Russian disinformation. Back in 2015, as chairman of 
the European Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I 
held three hearings focusing on what Russia does to destabilize the 
politics in countries--an attempted coup in Montenegro and other places 
in Eastern Europe. So I am well aware of what Russia is doing--well 
aware. I don't condone it. I condemn it. I am not having any part of 
pushing it
``Hi Andrii! I'm doing ok. Yes, definitely got some rest 
     over the weekend. How about you?'' Zentos wrote April 4, 2016 
     to Telizhenko from her official White House email account. 
     ``Survive the visit ok? Also, should we still plan for coffee 
     this week? Maybe Wednesday or Friday? Hope all is well! 
     Liz.''
       A month earlier, a planned beer outing with Zentos got 
     changed. ``Would you be up for doing coffee instead of beer 
     though? I'm realizing that if I drink beer at 3 p.m., I will 
     probably fall asleep while attempting to work afterward,'' 
     Zentos wrote.
       Zentos and Telizhenko also discussed the sensitive case of 
     Burisma and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, in a July 2016 
     email exchange with the subject line ``Re: Z,'' the shorthand 
     Telizhenko used to refer to the Burisma founder. Their email 
     exchange did not mention Hunter Biden's role in the company 
     but showed the Obama White House had interest in the business 
     dealings of Hunter Biden's boss.
       ``Hi Liz, Yes, It would be great to meet, tomorrow whatever 
     works best for you 12:30pm or 6pm--I am ready,'' Telizhenko 
     wrote the NSC staffer, adding a smiley face. Zentos 
     eventually replied when he suggested a restaurant: ``Ooh, 
     that would be wonderful--thanks so much!''
       Attached to Telizhenko's email was an org chart showing the 
     structure of some foreign companies that had been connected 
     at one point to Zlochevsky's business empire.
       The memos show Zentos first befriended Telizhenko when she 
     worked at the U.S. embassy as far back as 2014.
       The memos show that officials at the Obama Justice 
     Department, the NSC, and the State Department enlisted 
     Telizhenko for similarly sensitive diplomatic matters dating 
     to 2013 including:
       Arranging for senior members of the Ukraine Prosecutor 
     General's Office to travel to Washington in January 2016 to 
     meet with NSC, State, DOJ and FBI officials to discuss 
     ongoing corruption cases. At the time, the Ukraine 
     prosecutors had an escalating corruption probe of Burisma, 
     where Hunter Biden served on the board. Within weeks of the 
     Washington meeting, Vice President Joe Biden had pressured 
     Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko to fire the lead 
     prosecutor, Viktor Shakin.
       Securing a meeting in February 2015 at the U.S. embassy in 
     Kiev with a deputy Ukrainian prosecutor whom U.S. officials 
     wanted to confront about a bribe allegedly paid by Burisma.
       Facilitating a draft statement in November 2013 from 
     members of the Ukrainian parliament to President Obama 
     denouncing then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom 
     the Obama administration would help oust from power a few 
     weeks later.
       ``We, people of Ukraine, appeal to you with request to 
     support Ukrainian people in their standing for freedom, 
     justice and democracy,'' the November 2013 draft statement 
     from Telizhenko to the U.S. embassy in Kiev read. ``The 
     President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych proved that he is not 
     the guarantor of constitutional rights and freedoms of 
     citizens, freedom of choice and right for free expression.''
       The draft statement was fielded by a military attache at 
     the U.S. embassy who urged Telizhenko to get it to the 
     embassy's political section for consideration. ``The 
     ambassador has not shared with me what the position of the US 
     government would be on such a statement, other than his 
     message yesterday morning,'' the attache wrote. ``. . . I'm 
     sure once you pass this statement to Ambassador Pyatt's 
     political section, they will render a timely response.''
       Photos taken by U.S. and Ukrainian government photographers 
     show Telizhenko facilitated meetings between 2014 and 2016 
     with key lawmakers in Washington, including Democrat Reps. 
     Engel and Marcy Kaptur and then-GOP Sen. Bob Corker, as well 
     as other U.S. agencies.
       And the emails show U.S. embassy officials in Kiev 
     routinely sought advice and insights from Telizhenko about 
     happenings inside the Ukrainian government. ``Andriy, we have 
     heard that there may be a briefing today. Do you know the 
     specifics?'' embassy political officer Stephen Page asked in 
     a January 2014 email.

12/30/20

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Suing Their Boss, DA Gascón

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer – Officers of the Court: any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the judicial system, including judges, the attorneys who appear in court, bailiffs, clerks, and other personnel. As officers of the court lawyers have an absolute ethical duty to tell judges the truth, including avoiding dishonesty or evasion about reasons the attorney or his/her client is not appearing, the location of documents, and other matters related to the conduct of the courts.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón Resigns | KQED

DA George Gascon is and was supported by BLM. More than $19 million has been pumped into the contentious Los Angeles County district attorney race, with donors lining up on opposing sides of a stark ideological divide between incumbent Jackie Lacey and challenger George Gascón.

Spending in the race intensified a few weeks before Election Day when New York billionaire George Soros and Bay Area philanthropist Patty Quillin combined to put millions of dollars behind Gascón. Quillin’s husband, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, has also helped Gascón maintain a commanding fundraising lead over Lacey, who has support from law enforcement unions up and down the state.

In the weeks before the general election, donations from Gascón’s supporters – including $3.4 million from the criminal justice reform group Color Of Change – helped the challenger take a large fundraising lead.

LATimes: The union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys on Wednesday sued Dist. Atty. George Gascón, alleging that the dramatic changes he has brought to the nation’s largest prosecutorial office have defied state law and forced rank-and-file prosecutors to violate their oaths of office.

The lawsuit is the most public expression yet of the pushback Gascón has fielded from within his own office since being sworn in Dec. 7. It focuses on his so-called special directives that ordered his deputies to forgo sentencing enhancements.

The union, which represents about 800 prosecutors, is seeking a court order that would compel Gascón to rescind the directives and declare them “invalid and illegal,” as well as a temporary restraining order that would bar Gascón and his administration from enforcing the directives.

Gascón’s policies have “placed line prosecutors in an ethical dilemma — follow the law, their oath, and their ethical obligations, or follow their superior’s orders,” wrote the union’s lawyer, Eric M. George.A spokesman for Gascón had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

On his first day in office, Gascón announced his deputies would no longer seek enhancements that — if proved — lengthen defendants’ prison sentences under certain circumstances, such as if they committed a crime to a gang’s benefit or if they had a criminal history.

Initially, the prohibition extended to enhancements for hate crimes, sex trafficking, financial crimes and elder and child abuse, but Gascón has since modified his directives to allow such enhancements. His deputies are still barred from seeking enhancements for prior strikes, committing a crime that benefits a gang, using a firearm and any special circumstance allegation that would send a defendant to prison for life without parole.

The union argues that prosecutors should pursue or forgo sentencing enhancements using “case-by-case discretion,” basing their decisions on the circumstances of a crime and a defendant, not “rubber stamp blanket prosecutorial policies barring the wholesale enforcement of criminal laws.”

The union asserts that Gascón’s prohibition on enhancements for prior strikes violates the state’s three strikes law, which, in the union’s view, requires prosecutors to seek longer sentences for defendants with previous convictions. Gascón “enjoys wide — but not limitless — discretion,” George wrote; he may believe such enhancements do not protect public safety, but he has no authority to circumvent lawmakers and legislate “by fiat,” the lawsuit says.

Gascón has said he was elected with a mandate to overhaul an outdated, heavy-handed approach to law and order that hasn’t proved effective in protecting the public. He promised during the campaign to no longer charge gang enhancements, which have come under scrutiny after several Los Angeles Police Department officers were charged over the summer with falsifying records that misrepresented people they had stopped as gang members and associates.

In a statement released by Stanford’s Three Strikes Project, the program’s director, Michael Romano, and two other law professors said the California Supreme Court has held that district attorneys have “complete authority” to enforce state laws within their jurisdiction.

Romano, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Berkeley Law School, and David Mills, a professor at Stanford Law School, said in the statement that Gascón’s policies will make Los Angeles safer and reduce “epidemic” levels of incarceration. The union’s lawsuit, they added, “is more reflective of their longstanding opposition to reform and the will of millions of Angelenos than it is the legality of DA Gascón’s directives.”

The union also contends that Gascón, a local executive branch official, is encroaching on the authority of the courts in ordering his deputies to move to withdraw enhancement allegations. If a judge refuses those motions — as several have in recent weeks — line prosecutors have been instructed to file new charging documents without the enhancements. In doing so, the union argues, the district attorney’s office is making an end-run around the courts’ authority.

This scenario played out in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Monday. A deputy district attorney, reading from a script, said he was seeking to dismiss enhancement allegations in a murder case against a defendant for belonging to a gang and using a firearm. When the judge denied the motion, the prosecutor said he would file new charges without the enhancements.

“I’m not going to accept an amended information,” Judge Mark S. Arnold said. “Legally, there’s no justification. There’s no defect.”

12/30/20

Have You Met the Freedom Force?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Several newly-elected Republican House members, including New York’s Nicole Malliotakis, have banded together to create a group they’ve dubbed the “Freedom Force” — to oppose “The Squad” of progressive Democratic congresswomen.“This group will give a contrast to the hard left,” Utah Rep.-elect and former NFL player Burgess Owens said. Owens pledged that the new GOP band, made up of women and people of color, will work to protect small business owners. At least eight incoming Republican lawmakers are in the group, including Reps.-elect Malliotakis; Michelle Steel of California; Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma; Victoria Spartz of Indiana; and Carlos Gimenez, Maria Elvira Salazar, and Byron Donalds of Florida.

“We have different cultures, backgrounds, colors. But what we have in common is that we have a love for our country… and we’re going to make sure we stay free,” Owens said of the coalition.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Malliotakis mentioned “a natural alliance” was occurring between members of the freshman class.

“I think what you’re going to see is a group of individuals who are going to serve as a counterbalance to the values of the socialist squad,” Malliotakis said.

“We don’t believe we should be dismantling the economy. We don’t believe we should be destroying free-market principles. We don’t believe in the Green New Deal. We don’t believe in packing the courts.” More here.

GOP 'Freedom Force' Vows to Fight Socialism, Counter 'The Squad' in House

In part from WSJ: A quarter-century apart in age, Nicole Malliotakis, and Michelle Steel are classmates. They’re both freshmen, Republicans who’ve won election to the House of Representatives for the first time. Each ousted an incumbent Democrat in a resolutely blue state—New York and California, respectively—where Joe Biden romped home in November. And each woman has a scathing view of the politics of the other’s state as well as of her own. They’re ready to scorn Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom. As for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ms. Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman from New York City, practically combusts at the mention of his name.

“I think our leaderships are competing with each other to be the most radical. They keep getting bad ideas from each other,” says Ms. Malliotakis, 40, who will represent New York’s 11th Congressional District, comprised of the borough of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.

“The leadership is trying to make these states into Third World countries,” Ms. Steel, 65, responds. She is a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, a local legislative body, and representative-elect from California’s 48th District, a beachy slice of the county. In Washington for a freshman orientation, including a lottery for office space, the two talk to me by Zoom from their hotel rooms near the Capitol.

Both are robust proponents of low taxes and limited government. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Ms. Malliotakis says: “The government should provide an environment for that—and then get out of the way.” Ms. Steel—who was born in South Korea and came to the U.S. at 19—confesses to drawing her earliest political beliefs from her mother’s experience as a clothing-store owner in Los Angeles. “I saw that my mom was harassed—really harassed—by a tax agency, the State Board of Equalization,” she says. “And you know what? I decided that the Republican Party’s ideology is much better for small-business owners. They need less regulation and smaller taxes.” Her first foray into elective politics was a successful run for the Board of Equalization in 2007.

Both say the Democratic Party made a special effort to hobble Republican candidates who were women or minorities. “Speaking with some of the other new members of the House,” Ms. Malliotakis says, “I think Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats really, really went after us. They didn’t want the Republicans to have representation.” They wanted, she says, “to monopolize women and minorities.” Ms. Steel recounts that her opponent insinuated—“because I have an accent”—that she was “a communist agent related to China.” Suppressing a giggle, she notes that her parents fled communist North Korea to the south during the Korean War. “I don’t even speak Chinese,” she adds. “I speak Japanese and Korean.”

Ms. Malliotakis’s mother also fled communism—Cuba in 1959, when she was 16. After a brief spell in Spain, she came to the U.S., where she met and married a man who ran a Greek restaurant in Manhattan. This imprint of her mother’s flight is part of the reason she is a “passionate opponent” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow outer-borough New Yorker and self-described socialist. In opposition to “the Squad”—the nom de guerre of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s far-left cohort—Ms. Malliotakis started her own small group of congressional freshmen, the “Freedom Force.”

‘There’s four of us,” she says, “who on the first day bonded very quickly because we shared very similar circumstances.” She names the others: Carlos Gimenez, Cuban-born, and Maria Salazar, the daughter of Cuban-refugee parents, both from Florida; and Victoria Spartz from Indiana, born in Ukraine, who came to the U.S. at 22. “I guess you could say,” Ms. Malliotakis says, “that we’re the founding members.” But she’s certain that “others within the freshman class who are supportive of freedoms and liberties” will join them.

Ms. Steel adds promptly that she’s “going to work with them.” The Squad, Ms. Steel says, “including AOC, are totally out of line. I want to conserve what we have in this country for future generations. I have a grandson who is 15 months old.”

Ms. Malliotakis concurs. “For me, socialism is personal. We’re going to fight back vehemently when we see policies being proposed that will fundamentally change our nation.” She adds that Mrs. Pelosi faces a choice: “Is she going to work with us in a bipartisan way, to accomplish things? Or will she empower the socialist Squad and kowtow to them?”

12/25/20

$900 Billion is an Outrage, Voters, Where are you?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

This almost 6000-page bill is an outrage and exactly where is every American on this? Members of Congress got less than 5 hours to read the bill and staffers as well as media scoured it for the ridiculous highlights as noted below.

It is not a complete list but here is a sampling.

Congress seals agreement on $900 billion COVID relief bill | KOKH

Beyond the pale:

  • the establishment of two new Smithsonian museums
  • $2 billion for Space Force
  • A “three-martini lunch” tax deduction for business meals.
  • $35 billion for clean energy research and development
  • We have: coronavirus relief bill released Monday includes $250 million in investment aid for the Palestinians and for encouraging Israeli-Palestinian dialogue in a provision titled the “Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020.”The act would create the “People-to-People Partnership for Peace Fund,” run by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to “provide funding for projects to help build the foundation for peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians and for a sustainable two-state solution.”

$169,739,000 to Vietnam, including $19 million to remediate dioxins (page 1476).

Unspecified funds to “continue support for not-for-profit institutions of higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan that are accessible to both women and men in a coeducational environment” (page 1477).

$198,323,000 to Bangladesh, including $23.5 million to support Burmese refugees and $23.3 million for “democracy programs” (page 1485).

$130,265,000 to Nepal for “development and democracy programs” (page 1485).

Pakistan: $15 million for “democracy programs” and $10 million for “gender programs” (page 1486).

Sri Lanka: Up to $15 million “for the refurbishing of a high endurance cutter,” which is a type of patrol boat (page 1489).

$505,925,000 to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to “address key factors that contribute to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States” (pages 1490-1491).

$461,375,000 to Colombia for programs related to counternarcotics and human rights (pages 1494-1496).

$74.8 million to the “Caribbean Basin Security Initiative” (page 1498).

$33 million “for democracy programs for Venezuela” (page 1498).

Unspecified amount to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago “for assistance for communities in countries supporting or otherwise impacted by refugees from Venezuela” (page 1499).

$132,025,000 “for assistance for Georgia” (page 1499).

$453 million “for assistance for Ukraine” (page 1500). source

Spending bill: Massive omnibus would touch many lives

Unemployment insurance ($120 billion). Revives supplemental federal pandemic unemployment benefits but at $300 per week — through March 14 — instead of the $600 per week benefit that expired in July. Extends special pandemic benefits for “gig” workers and extends the maximum period for state-paid jobless benefits to 50 weeks.

Direct payments ($166 billion). Provides $600 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and couples making $150,000 per year — with payments phased out for higher incomes —- with $600 additional payments per dependent child.

Paycheck Protection Program ($284 billion). Revives the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to qualified businesses. Especially hard-hit businesses that received PPP grants would be eligible for a second round. Ensures that PPP subsidies are not taxed.

Vaccines, testing, health providers ($69 billion). Delivers more than $30 billion for procurement of vaccines and treatments, distribution funds for states, and a strategic stockpile. Adds $22 billion for testing, tracing, and mitigation, $9 billion for health care providers, and $4.5 billion for mental health.

Schools and universities ($82 billion). Delivers $54 billion to public K-12 schools affected by the pandemic and $23 billion for colleges and universities; $4 billion would be awarded to a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; nearly $1 billion for Native American schools.

Rental assistance. ($25 billion) Provides money for a first-ever federal rental assistance program; funds to be distributed by state and local governments to help people who have fallen behind on their rent and may be facing eviction.

Food/farm aid ($26 billion) Increases stamp benefits by 15% for six months and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels, and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) in aid to farmers and ranchers.

Child Care ($10 billion). Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.

Postal Service ($10 billion). Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation.

Tax extenders: Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise taxes of craft brewers and distillers. Renewable energy sources would see tax breaks extended, as would motorsport facilities, and people making charitable contributions. Business meals would be 100% deductible through 2022.

Water projects: Includes an almost 400-page water resources bill that targets $10 billion for 46 Army Corps of Engineers flood control, environmental, and coastal protection projects. source

Unemployment benefits: Two expiring CARES Act programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which made benefits available to the self-employed and gig economy workers, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provided additional weeks of benefits, were extended for 11 weeks, averting a fiscal crisis for millions of Americans.

That timeline will set another key deadline to stop the programs from expiring in early March. In addition, Congress will add $300 to all weekly unemployment benefits, half the amount that supplemented benefits from April through July. Workers who rely on multiple jobs and have lost income will also be eligible for a weekly $100 boost as well.

Support for small businesses: The popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided distressed small businesses with forgivable loans to keep them afloat and leave employees on the books, was re-upped with $284 billion in funds.

Businesses that already received a PPP loan will be eligible to get a second one under the new terms. Some of the PPP funds will be set aside for the smallest businesses and community-based lenders.

The deal provides $9 billion in emergency Treasury capital investments for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions, financial institutions that largely cater to minorities, as well as an additional $3 billion for CDFIs through a Treasury fund. It also provides $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans grants for smaller businesses.

Housing assistance: The bill extends the eviction moratorium that is set to expire at the end of the year through the end of January.

The legislation includes $25 billion for rental assistance to families facing eviction. It’s the same amount proposed by a compromise $908 billion relief proposal introduced by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in early December. Eligible renters would be able to receive assistance with rent and utility payments, and bills that have accumulated since the start of the pandemic, by applying with entities that state and local grantees chose to administer the program.

Additionally, the bill includes an enhancement of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to increase the supply for affordable housing construction.

Education: The bill includes several provisions relating to elementary, secondary, and higher education. It would provide $82 billion of funds for schools and colleges to help them reopen classrooms and prevent virus transmission.

It also includes an expansion of Pell Grants. A summary from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the expansion would allow 500,000 people to become new recipients of the grants and 1.5 million students to get the maximum benefit.

Testing: The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing, and $20 billion in extra federal relief for health care providers.

Nutrition Assistance: The deal directs $13 billion to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), and to child nutrition benefits, the same amount set by the Problem Solvers Caucus earlier this month to pay for a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits.

The SNAP language does not expand eligibility for the program and requires the secretary of Agriculture to provide reports on participation rates and unspent funding balances.

Transportation: Negotiators provided $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for another round of support for airlines, airline employees and contractors, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for highways, $2 billion for intercity buses, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.  source

Entertainment Venues

The bill has $15 billion for independent movie theaters, live entertainment venues, and cultural institutions.