02/12/20

Anti-fascism, A Worthy Cause

By: Tabitha Korol and Kevin O’Neil

We can all fight for a cause, but “The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

They began as idealists, working to save the French-Jewish army Captain Alfred Dreyfus who’d been falsely accused of conspiring with the Prussian army.  The Dreyfus Affair of the mid-1890s and early 1900s was the impulsion for people to unite in support of the rights of the individual before a military authority that was rightly seen to be draconian and dismissive.  A worthy cause, yet the case divided France into the anti-Dreyfusards, fascist, Jew-hating ultranationalists, and the “Dreyfusards,” the anti-fascists who formed associations and humanitarian consensus to gain his exoneration.                               

Today’s anti-fascists, “Antifa,” miss the point if they see themselves as successors to the Dreyfusards.  The latter was inspired by the love of the individual, a positive inspiration, whereas Antifa is motivated by negative hatred for the establishment and the abuse of the individual who happens to disagree with them.

Defining the term fascism has proven notoriously difficult.  There were German anti-fascists in the early 1900s who joined the Jewish working class to fight for dignity and better wages, and Italian anti-fascists who fought against Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party and Hitler’s growing influence.  There were also Spanish anti-fascists both before and during Spain’s civil war, with writers Orwell and Hemingway among their ranks.

But there are sufficient differences between the various fascist regimes that make it virtually impossible to identify commonality.  However, most leading scholars agree that all fascists support the violent revolutionary overthrow of the state’s entire government to be replaced with a totalitarian system that diminishes the value of the individual to a mere component of the whole.  Any difference of opinion is seen as fair game to be silenced.

Antifa is a burgeoning collection of discontented militant-leftist groups who, convinced that white supremacism was responsible for chattel slavery and the Holocaust, are allied in their attempt to overthrow “white” western government by any means available, including violence.

British political theorist Roger Griffin, the author of “The Nature of Fascism,” wrote, “Fascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is … palingenetic,”  which means that a “rebirth” would follow the demolition of the existing political order.  By this scholarly definition, Antifa’s own methods and goals fulfill the criteria – not of anti-fascism – but of Fascism!

After interviewing 61 current members in 17 countries, Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” asserts that militant antifascism is a “reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat that persisted” after World War II and into recent years. They argue that every fascist or white-supremacist group has the potential of being the start of Mussolini’s original hundred or Hitler’s first fifty-four members of the German Workers’ Party.  Hence, they believe they have a righteous obligation to stop what they regard as fascist “violence, incivility, discrimination, and speeches that stimulate further white supremacy, oppression, and genocide.”

And fascism, real fascism, must be opposed.  Edmund Burke’s statement was never more apposite, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

In “The View from My Window:  The Ethics of Using Violence to Fight Fascism,” Elie Wiesel recalled familiar riots while he was watching one play out below his fifth-floor window in Berkeley.  It brought to mind the millions of people who fought fascism throughout Europe and he suitably wondered at what point resistance to fascism may be justifiable.

A very sobering question!  And whatever the “point” is at which action is justified, one thing is certain: we must be able to define fascism and be convinced that the group we oppose is truly fascistic.

Not only had Wiesel witnessed real fascism at work, but had suffered from it, and lost both parents and a sister to the Nazis.  He recalled the brave month-long resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto when the Nazis came to liquidate it, April 19, 1943.   Move than fifty-six thousand Jews were killed, very few escaping.  This is the face of real fascism.

America is not Warsaw; neither is it remotely similar.  We are not ruled by authoritarian power, and our laws are not for the subjugation of the individual but for his/her protection.  Antifa must ask themselves if they are even capable of actually recognizing true Fascism.

Columnist Mark Thiessen wrote in The Washington Times (6.30.17) that Antifa was the “moral equivalent of neo-Nazis.”  The statement may or may not be prescient, but it will not be the first time in history that a movement that began as an ideological liberator abandoned reason and descended into violence and incoherent rage.  In the famous words of Goya, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”

If Antifa truly aspires to be worthy successors to the anti-fascist groups of history, they must urgently learn the meaning and methods of fascism and be prepared to come to some very disturbing conclusions.

02/12/20

Addressing Contrary Strangers

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

We’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone; but…

There are some folks who enjoy being insulted, going out of their way to extend or prolong a conversation that should have ended before it ever started. These folks are often found on social media forums such as Facebook or Twitter. I’d have included conversations on elevators; but that in and of itself violates a Cardinal Rule of remaining silent while the doors are closed.

The problem, at least as it has presented itself, arises when you read something which runs contrary to your opinion, an opinion based on a lifetime of experiences, feelings, prejudices with an occasional fact thrown in just for fun. These types of contrary comments beg for a snide reply and, (pausing to inhale) they most often are found in comment threads belonging to someone listed as one of your ‘Friends’.

Of course, (I read somewhere that you’re not supposed to start a sentence with Of course, but I like to live dangerously), where was I… there are others who’ve specialized, even made careers out of insulting others. “ Don Rickles earned the nicknames “The Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth” for his poking fun at people of all ethnicities and all walks of life.”

But what about the common everyday Smart-Alec who doesn’t make a living insulting their friends, strangers or people who didn’t check with their mothers prior to commenting in an open social media forum? What’s the average Joe/Jane supposed to do when he/she enters a conversation only to find the other individual is never going to ‘get it’, what then?

This is a modern-day challenge. In the past you’d simply shake your head and leave; but in our day of omnipresent communication abilities, there really isn’t a way to exit without appearing cowardly or uninformed. All those years of schooling, indoctrination, and prejudice can’t be ignored or wasted; no, you have to get your Two Cents in.

Of all the folks I know and consider associations, some reaching close enough to be classified as Friend, I try to weed out those who ‘will never get it’. This saves time and energy; but it limits the number of times I’ll have to apologize to the Lord for yet another human frailty, another sinful act on my part…remembering that we’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone.

I really do try to be open-minded, giving others the opportunity to admit that they are mistaken and could use a healthy dose of my insight. Those who are unable to benefit from my exhaustive library of information; well, it’s their loss and good riddance to bad baggage. Some people have never learned to enjoy sarcasm, considering everything to be on the level.

The Onion and BabalonBee take great pride in killing off these weaklings, often leaving their entrails scattered across the internet as a warning to others. Their message, have fun laughing at the ridiculous because most of the time it can’t compare or compete with what’s really happening.

All of what I’ve written to this point, this nonsense, is a set-up, a way to introduce my latest slam-dunk reply to someone who just won’t let a comment thread die. I have no idea who the individual is and don’t figure on inviting them over for lunch to find out other areas of life on which we don’t see eye to eye.

After a prolonged exchange, (that’s when you never actually exchange ideas or convince anyone of anything), their final ‘insult’ to my intelligence was, “You watch Fox News too much”. I’m sure that must be important to some folks; but is it really an insult?

I sent the following, “I get my most important information from an Ouija Board, but since most of this data comes from dead people I must assume they are Democrats.”

Do you think this individual will request being my Friend any time soon?

02/12/20

GovTrack Data on 2020 Candidates in the Senate

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

As we go through these primary states, do voters really do the work to determine the backgrounds of the candidates? Likely not, so below is a little cheat sheet that voters must consider for some of these candidates during their time in the Senate. It is a voter’s duty to know.

Who are Democrat's top choices for 2020 presidential ...

Last May, we published an article highlighting differences between the 2020 democratic candidates based on their legislative records in 2017 and 2018. We also published several articles highlighting some of the key legislation that candidates have introduced more recently to give an understanding of their current policy concerns. As we finally reach the 2020 democratic primaries, it’s a good time to revisit what GovTrack data can tell us about the remaining viable candidates who are currently serving in or have served in the US Senate.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has secured his position as the most progressive candidate by championing significant reform for popular issues. He has introduced a bill in this session of Congress for almost all of his major talking points, such as his Medicare for All ActRaise the Wage Act and College for All Act. The titles of these bills are more or less self-explanatory, which is fitting of Sanders’ style. Sanders introduces relatively few bills compared to other Senators, but the ones he does introduce tend to propose sweeping changes.

While Sanders’ legislative focus tends to be on health and the economy, he’s also touched on other key progressive issues. He introduced two environmental bills: the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would set energy efficiency standards for all public housing among other things, and the Prevent Future American Sickness Act, which in a break from Sanders’ loftier policy goals would designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances. He also introduced the No War Against Iran Act in response to increased tensions earlier this year.

Only two of the 27 bills Sanders introduced this session were supported by a Republican, and he’s only signed on to 19 Republican bills.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has a clear focus on financial and economic policy. She introduced several bills to regulate large corporations, like her Accountable Capitalism Act, which would set responsibilities for United States corporations and enforce them with a new federal office, or her Ending Too Big to Jail Act intended to crack down on financial crime.

While not all of the bills she introduces are specific to that focus, most of them are presented from a financial perspective. For example, two of the major educational reforms Warren proposes, the Student Loan Debt Relief Act and the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, are centered around the affordability of preschool and higher education. Affordability is a key issue to Warren, appearing in the titles of two of her recent bills, the Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act and the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which show off her approach to environmental and health policy respectively.

Warren and Sanders have both built their campaigns on progressive reforms meant to relieve stress for low-income Americans. However, looking at the legislative records we can find some contrast. While Sanders rarely ever trades cosponsorship with Republicans, Warren is much more likely to have a Republican or two sign on to her bills. In the previous session of Congress over half the bills Warren introduced had a Republican cosponsor and in this session, almost a third were the same. She also has cosponsored 98 Republican bills this session.

Amy Klobuchar

One legislative issue stands out for Amy Klobuchar more so than for the other candidates: campaigns and elections. She has introduced 15 bills such as her Stopping Harmful Interference for a Lasting Democracy Act, which would require Federal campaigns report any foreign assistance offered or given, her Redistricting Reform Act, intended to combat partisan gerrymandering, and her Same Day Registration Act, which would allow voter registration on the same day of an election.

But with 81 bills introduced in this session, Klobuchar has covered a wide range of topics. She has introduced environmental bills such as the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act, which would provide grants and technology assistance to rural electric cooperatives, and finance bills such as the Monopolization Deterrence Act, which would allow monetary penalties against corporations that engage in monopolization offenses.

Klobuchar introduced more bills than the other senators running for President. She tends to focus less on lofty goals like Sanders’ Medicare for All or Warren’s Universal Child Care, opting to legislate for smaller policy adjustments rather than large scale reform. She also is much more likely to get Republican cosponsors. 51 of the 81 bills she introduced this session had at least one Republican cosponsor.

Joe Biden

Although Joe Biden didn’t introduce any bills in this session of Congress, we can look into his record from his last years as a senator. From 2007 to 2009 Biden focused on criminal justice and sentencing reform. He introduced bills such as the Bail Bond Fairness Act which would have required that bail bonds only be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear in court, the Justice Integrity Act, which would have created a program to prevent racial bias in law enforcement and to improve public confidence in the police, and the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act, which would have eliminated mandatory minimums for possession of crack or powder cocaine, among other things. He took an interest in preventing drug abuse through bills like the Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act and Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act.

Biden also had bills on clean energy and college affordability. His College Affordability and Creating Chances for Educational Success for Students Act would have assisted college students with tax credits and Pell grants, and his International Clean Development Technology Fund Act would have appropriated $2 billion for developing and implementing technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globally.

65 of the 89 bills Biden introduced in his last session of Congress had Republican cosponsors. Biden signed on to 71 bills introduced by Republicans.

02/11/20

Huawei Snooping via Backdoor on US Telecom Network

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

For ten years…

U.S. officials say Huawei Technologies Co. can covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world through “back doors” designed for use by law enforcement, as Washington tries to persuade allies to exclude the Chinese company from their networks.

Chinese tech giant Huawei can reportedly access the networks it helped build that are being used by mobile phones around the world. It’s been using backdoors intended for law enforcement for over a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing US officials. The details were disclosed to the UK and Germany at the end of 2019 after the US had noticed access since 2009 across 4G equipment, according to the report.

The backdoors were inserted for law enforcement use into carrier equipment like base stations, antennas, and switching gear, the Journal said, with US officials reportedly alleging they were designed to be accessible by Huawei.

“We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world,” Robert O’Brien, national security adviser, reportedly said.

The White House and Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but the tech giant rejected the claims according to the Journal.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved Huawei for 5G last month with some conditions: The British restrictions are to exclude Huawei from building core parts of the UK’s 5G networks, have Huawei’s market share capped at 35% and exclude Huawei from sensitive geographic locations. The European Union allowed higher-risk vendors for 5G with similar restrictions at the end of January.

Huawei’s 5G approval there came despite the US urging the UK to ban the Chinese telecommunications giant.

Huawei was blacklisted in May when it was added to the United States’ “entity list” (PDF). In addition, US President Donald Trump at the same time signed an executive order essentially banning the company in light of national security concerns that Huawei had close ties with the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied that charge.

*** Huawei faces further investigation into Chinese 'spying ...

Huawei disputed the latest allegations, as it has done in the past, saying it “has never and will never do anything that would compromise or endanger the security of networks and data of its clients.” Huawei also said that the United States made its latest accusations “without providing any kind of concrete evidence.”

“No Huawei employee is allowed to access the network without an explicit approval from the network operator,” a Huawei official said, according to the Journal.

The US government has been moving to reduce the amount of Huawei and ZTE equipment in telecom networks. The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously in November to ban Huawei and ZTE gear in projects paid for by the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF). FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said at the time that Huawei and ZTE “have close ties to China’s Communist government and military apparatus” and “are subject to Chinese laws broadly obligating them to cooperate with any request from the country’s intelligence services and to keep those requests secret.”

The ban is expected to hit small carriers the hardest, as Huawei has appealed to small network operators by selling low-cost gear. By contrast, big telcos like AT&T “have long steered clear of Huawei,” a March 2018 Wall Street Journal report said.

02/11/20

Meet the Billion Dollar Boondoggle Act

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

It would be ironic if the report itself came in $1 billion over budget and five years behind schedule.

(Really? Behind schedule and over budget and it has to be $1 billion? Your thoughts?) It is a start however introduced by 2 Republicans, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI8) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).

What is a billion dollars? | Sam Diacont

Context

A number of taxpayer-funded projects are taking significantly longer or costing significantly more than originally projected. Prominent examples include everything from the current 2020 Census to NASA space missions, plutonium cleanup sites to New York City subway construction.

What the bill does

The Billion Dollar Boondoggle Act would require an annual public report detailing all federal projects that are running at least $1 billion over budget or at least five years behind schedule.

(That would likely include President Trump’s proposed border wall, for which U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week increased its original cost estimate up to $11 billion.)

The report would be compiled by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It would feature such components as both the original and current estimated costs of the projects, and supposed explanations justifying the increased expenses or late arrivals.

The Senate version was introduced last February 26 as bill number S. 565, by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). The House version was introduced a month later last March 27 as bill number H.R. 1917, by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI8).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the legislation allows for better management of misused and mishandled money allocated funded by American taxpayers.

“There are far too many taxpayer-funded projects that are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule,” Sen. Ernst said in a press release. The bill “will require the disclosure of the cost and timeline of these federal projects, bringing overdue accountability and transparency to the process, which will allow us to identify problems before they become a bottomless pit of taxpayer dollars.”

“Mismanagement of multibillion-dollar government projects should not be treated like business as usual,” Rep. Gallagher said in a separate press release. “It’s our job in Congress to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, and this bill provides much-needed transparency of large-scale projects so we can get to the bottom of a problem before it becomes a bottomless pit of money.”

GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition.

Odds of passage

The Senate version has attracted five cosponsors: four Republicans and one Democrat. It passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on November 6th and now goes for a potential vote by the full chamber.

The House version has attracted 12 cosponsors: eight Republicans and four Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in either the House Budget or Oversight and Reform Committee.

02/11/20

The Italian Years of Lead: Could the Secret “Strategy of Tension” Foreshadow America’s Future?

By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile there are some in the United States who believe we are headed toward another Civil War, there is perhaps another, more recent parallel worth exploring – the so-called “Italian Years of Lead.”

The short version is that in the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Italy was a hotbed of assassination, shoot-outs, and bombings between various factions of the far-left, the far-right and the Italian government – with American, British and Soviet intelligence agencies often pulling the strings.

While the death toll was a lot lower than it could have been, it’s a fascinating and oft-overlooked area of history. When all was said and done, the Italian political landscape had been radically changed. Thousands of leftists were forced to flee the nation, but ultimately, shocked by the violence, Italian politics moderated.

Did we mention that a Masonic Lodge came very close to overthrowing the government? Strap yourself in. You’re about to take a bumpy ride down an obscure historic lane, where “truth being stranger than fiction” is most certainly true (and well documented).

Background of the Italian Years of Lead

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureBefore diving into the Italian Years of Lead, it’s important to understand the political climate of Italy after the Second World War. The Communist Party was always a strong force in post-war Italian politics. In the first election after the war’s end, in 1946, the Communist Party received 18.9 percent of the vote. Going into the second election at the end of the war, the Communist Party was poised for even greater success, buoyed by their alliance with the Socialist Party – an almost exact replay of what happened in Czechoslovakia. In both cases, the Communist Party had entered into an alliance with naive Socialists, whom they quickly outfoxed, dominating the electoral combination of nominal equals.

Meanwhile, in Czechoslovakia, a Communist coup d’etat was engineered by a section of the government dominated by Communist elected officials. The CIA stepped in, putting their thumb on the scale in an attempt to prevent the Communists from succeeding in Italy as well. This was one of the first battles in the burgeoning Cold War. All told, the CIA funneled somewhere between $10 and $20 million to defeat the Communists (between $106 and $212 million in 2019 dollars). In contrast, the Soviets spent between $8 and $10 million every month to ensure a Communist victory in the elections.

In an incredibly tense and vitriolic campaign, the Christian Democrats eventually bested the Communists, getting 48 percent of the vote to the Communist Party’s 31. The anti-Communist Socialist grouping netted the balance of the remainder, with small parties picking up the rest, as is common in Italy. The Christian Democrats formed a broad tent coalition, despite having an electoral mandate that did not require it, bringing in Liberals, Republicans and Social Democrats.

However, this did not end the involvement of the CIA in Italy, nor the strength of the Communist Party. The CIA spent an average of $5 million annually in Italy, both to prop up center-right governments and to weaken the influence of the trade unions, who traditionally supported the Communist Party. From 1948 until the first Italian election after the fall of Communism in 1992, the Communist Party polled between 22 and 33 percent in Italian elections, a fact that always filled the CIA with dread.

It is worth briefly mentioning that the successor to the National / Republican Fascist Party, the Italian Social Movement, never polled higher than 9 percent.

The CIA was also a key player in Italy through Gladio, the stay-behind organization it backed in Italy to fight a guerilla insurgency against a potential Communist takeover of the country. The extent of Gladio’s direct involvement in the Years of Lead is a hotly debated topic among historians.

The Hot Autumn of 1969 and 1970

Throughout the 1960s, Italy became increasingly industrialized and modernized, which led to discontent among both the left and the right. These forces were very briefly united in a series of protests in Italy in 1968. However, the similarities between the far-left and far-right were too tenuous, and the establishment parties were largely skeptical of the counter-cultural orientation of the young radicals.

These protests set the stage for what is known in Italy as the “Hot Autumn.” This was a series of wildcat strikes throughout Italy in its industrial sectors, largely in response to layoffs due to increased efficiencies in industrial production. It was the basis of a growing Communist Party, and one that was shifting even further to the left in response to networks of activists known as “autonomists.”

The Italian Years of Lead were in some part a reaction of the far-right to this ascendant Communist movement. However, as stated above, international intelligence agencies were deeply involved and the truth of how the whole thing started moving is incredibly complex.

The Years of Lead Claim Their First Victim: The Death of Antonio Annarumma

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureThe initial movement in the Years of Lead was simply a continuation of the Hot Autumn. A group of autonomist students and workers occupied a FIAT factory in Milan. During a related protest in November 1969, Milan police officer Antonio Annarumma was killed by an iron tube. The leftist protesters claimed that this was an accident, however, the courts found differently.

This was followed by the first, but certainly not the last, bombing in the Italian Years of Lead. On December 12, 1969, a bomb went off in the National Agrarian Bank’s headquarters in Piazza Fontana, some 200 meters from the Duomo. The bomb claimed the lives of 17 people, with another 88 wounded.

At first, the press and the police blamed the attack on anarchists. Police arrested prominent anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli, who died under suspicious circumstances when he fell from the fourth-story window of the police building while in custody. The three police officers in charge were later investigated but cleared of any wrongdoing. Police commissioner Luigi Calabresi was later assassinated by autonomist paramilitary group Lotta Continua as revenge for the death of Pinelli.

Another anarchist, Pietro Valpreda, was arrested and held without charge for three years after a cab driver identified him as his “suspicious passenger.” He was later exonerated.

Approximately three years after the bombing, the police finally switched their focus from investigating anarchist operatives to looking into the far-right, neo-fascist grouping Ordine Nuovo (New Order). On March 3, 1972, Italian police arrested Franco Freda, Giovanni Ventura and Ordine Nuovo founder Pino Rauti, who consistently described himself as a non-fascist and a leftist throughout his lengthy political career on the far-right in Italy. The first two were eventually convicted for two separate bombings in 1987, and sentenced to 16 years.

The Masonic P2 Lodge – which we will go into in greater detail later – played a key role in running interference for the accused through their member General Gianandelio Maletti, the head of the Servizio Informazioni Difesa, the Italian state security services.

Curiously, the initial reaction of the police was not far off from what Ordine Nuovo had intended. The bombings were meant not just to create a sense of overall terror, but to implicate the Communist movement in Italy.

The Left Strikes Back: The Formation of the Red Brigades

In reaction to Ordine Nuovo and inspired by Latin American guerilla movements, as well as similar movements on the continent, the Brigate Rosse was formed in 1970. As was the case with many far-left groups in Italy and Germany at the time, they saw the post-war government as a mere continuation of the previous fascist regime, now backed by NATO.

They grew out of a series of strikes against the Sit-Siemens corporation. The bulk of their initial leadership was young and had been expelled from the Italian Communist Party’s youth movement for their extremism. Their first action was a simple one: They set ablaze the car of Sit-Siemens corporate leader, Giuseppe Leoni. No one was hurt.

The Red Brigades and Ordine Nuovo each committed a number of actions throughout the Italian Years of Lead, and will pop up a number of times throughout this article. A failed fascist coup would soon increase the tensions in Italy.

The Failed Fascist Coup d’etat: Golpe Borghese

The failed fascist coup of 1970 probably had very little chance of success. Still, it became a watchword on the Italian left. Hundreds of members of the Neo-Nazi group National Vanguard plotted to overthrow the government with 187 allies from the Italian Forestry Service, of all places.

The plan was to seize the offices of RAI, the state Italian broadcaster. This is what the Forestry Service members were in charge of. Vanguard militants planned to assassinate the President of Italy, Giuseppe Saragat, as well as Italian police chief Angelo Vicari while seizing the Quirinale, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense. The Vanguard would then have a large cache of weapons at the ready. High-ranking military officials including Air Force General Giuseppe Casero were involved, as was the Sicilian mafia. The plotters believed they would be supported by NATO forces in the Mediterranean, however, support for the coup was marginal within the CIA and other intelligence services, which saw the status quo as the best policy in the region.

A couple of people entered the Ministry of the Interior, but the coup otherwise went nowhere, as it was called off at the last minute. All 46 plotters were eventually acquitted because the coup was such a massive failure.

The Years of Lead Ramp Up: After the Coup

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the coup was somewhat comical in its ineffectiveness, it was like throwing gas on the fire of the Years of Lead. Armored car driver Alessandro Floris was assassinated by the October 22 Group. The arrest of his assassin, Mario Rossi, led to the dismantling of the group by Italian police, who quickly stumbled onto the cache of weapons and propaganda the group was hoarding. This group was considered a precursor of the Red Brigades who, in April 1974, kidnapped a judge in an attempt to free October 22 Group prisoners.

Police officer Luigi Calabresi was the next victim, assassinated on May 17, 1972. Police first suspected Lotta Continua, then shifted their focus to neofascist militants. Three members of Lotta Continua were eventually convicted 16 years after his death.

Next was the May 31, 1972 bombing in Peteano, which claimed the lives of three carabinieri. This was initially blamed on Lotta Continua as well, however, it was later found out to be the work of neofascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra. Much like the earlier neofascist bombing, this was a false flag, with the intention of making the Italian state act in a more authoritarian manner. The Italian state security services helped Vinciguerra escape Italy to the safe harbor of Francisco Franco’s Spain. Further investigation found that Nuovo Ordo had worked closely with the Italian state security services to help execute the bombing.

On April 16, 1973, two members of Potere Operaio attacked the house of Italian Social Movement member Mario Mattei with a flammable device. He escaped unscathed, while his two sons, aged 8 and 22, burned to death. Their charred bodies were found embracing one another after the fire was over. It is worth noting that the Italian Social Movement, a small, but a mainstream party in Italy, played no part in the Italian Years of Lead, whose right-wing actors were cut from a far more radical bent than the Social Movement’s parliamentarians.

One month later, the police headquarters in Milan was bombed by anarchist Gianfranco Bertoli. The attack killed four and wounded 75. In May of 1974, the Piazza Della Loggia in Brescia was bombed by Ordine Nuovo. Eight people died and 102 were injured. One month later, two members of the Italian Social Movement were murdered in Padua, murder initially ascribed (like the burning of Mario Mattei’s home) to infighting within the Italian right. The Red Brigades later claimed the murders – their first. Previously, the organization had only participated in bank robberies, kidnappings, and bombings. A second fascist coup was planned for July 1974 but never executed. On August 4, 1974, Nuovo Ordine bombed the Italicus Express train, killing 12 and injuring 48. While Nuovo Ordine claimed responsibility, no perpetrators were ever brought to justice.

For those having trouble keeping track, the right-wing terrorist groups mostly bombed things in an attempt to get the government to crack down, while the left-wing terrorist groups specialized in kidnappings and targeted assassinations.

Some Red Brigade leaders were arrested in 1974, but the organization continued – as did the violence. Indeed, the violence began to be somewhat accepted as part of life in Italy at the time. The far-left sympathizers generally claimed that the violence attributed to the far-left was, in fact, false flag operations on the part of the far-right.

The murders, bombings, and kidnappings are too numerous to go into detail starting around 1975. This was the year that left-wing groups killed MSI militant Mikis Mantakas during a riot and MSI militant Sergio Ramelli was beaten to death by members of Avanguardia Operaia (a successor group to Lotta Continua) with wrenches. Left-wing student activist Alberto Brasili was stabbed to death by neo-fascists and carabinieri Giovanni D’Alfonso was murdered by the Red Brigades.

Things only intensified in 1976. Left-wing group Prima Linea assassinated MSI lawyer Enrico Pedenovi. Neo-fascist Pierluigi Concutelli assassinated Judge Vittorio Occorsio. In 1976, there were several more murders, almost all of them perpetrated by left-wing terrorist groups, including the murder of Carlo Casalegno, deputy director of the liberal newspaper La Stampa. In 1978, there were no fewer than 12 murders by left-wing groups, most of them by the Red Brigades, including a security chief for FIAT motors, three police officers, three judges, a university professor, and a notary.

Things had reached a fever pitch and it seemed that Italy would never return to a peaceful normal.

Italy Turns a Corner: Kidnapping of Aldo Moro

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureItaly finally turned a corner when the Red Brigades went a step too far: They kidnapped Italian former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who at the time was the president of the mainstream center-right party in Italy, the Christian Democrats.

The former Prime Minister’s car was ambushed by members of the Red Brigades on March 16, 1978. The assailants fired 91 shots at his five bodyguards, all of whom were killed in the attack. Prima Linea militant Mario Ferrandi said that at the time, he knew that everything was going to change – the Red Brigades had finally bitten off more than they could chew.

The actual motive of the attack is not entirely clear, but it was probably to disrupt negotiations between Christian Democracy and the Communist Party of Italy. The latter was finally being brought into government, albeit in indirect roles, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Moro wrote 86 letters during the 55 days he was held in captivity, including to figures such as Pope Paul VI, but also to his family. Some were sent and delivered, others were discovered later.

Conclusive evidence demonstrates that Moro was not tortured. He was, however, put on a “trial” by a “people’s court” of Red Brigades, with predictable results. The Red Brigades wanted to trade him for terrorists imprisoned and eventually requested only one.

Moro’s body was found on the day of his murder, May 9, 1978. The P2 Lodge has been implicated in Moro’s kidnapping.

The response of the Italian government – and indeed, the Italian public – to the kidnapping and murder of a former Prime Minister was sweeping and had consequences far beyond a simple winding down of the Italian Years of Lead.

First and foremost, the Historic Compromise brokered between the Christian Democracy and the Italian Communist Party was over. It had been unpopular with Italy’s European allies. But the kidnapping of a man considered the natural next president of the republic killed it stone dead. The intention was for Italy’s two major parties to rule in a grand coalition. The Historic Compromise officially ended in November 1980.

The president, Giovanni Leone, resigned less than a month after the kidnapping. The government’s response was largely seen as a failure. The Communist Party declined in influence, while the Christian Democracy remained steady until the early 90s when it began to be supplanted by the more popular Lega Nord, now known simply as the Lega.

It is worth noting that, much as the MSI was at odds with the far-right terrorist groups, so too were the far-left terrorist groups largely opposed by the Communist Party and outright despised by trade unionists.

Oddly, despite a massive government clampdown, 1979 was the bloodiest year of the Years of Lead, with 659 attacks, including 11 assassinations. Among the victims that year were four policemen, a Lieutenant Colonel of the carabinieri, a trade unionist, a bartender, and investigative journalist, a judge, and a university student. All of these were committed by leftist terrorist groups. Additionally, the Red Brigades shot five teachers and five students in the legs that year.

1980 topped 1979 in terms of assassinations with a total of 17. The victims that year included five policemen, a carabinieri general, a petrochemical manager, a cook, four judges, a security guard, and a journalist. Prima Linea even turned on one of its own that year, killing William Vaccher on suspicion of treason to the group. All but one of these were committed by left-wing groups.

The Biggest Attack: The Bologna Massacre

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the Italian left had been pushing big numbers with assassination, a new group on the far-right, the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, formed by dissident members of the Italian Social Movement explicitly with the purpose of committing counter-attacks against the left, was planning something big – the Bologna Massacre. This bombing of the Bologna Centrale train station killed 85 and wounded more than 200. While the group denied involvement, several of its members were sentenced to prison for the bombing.

Christian Democratic Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga’s statement on the attack cuts to the heart of the difference between the left- and right-wing actions during the Years of Lead:

“Unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, right-wing terrorism prefers acts such as massacres because acts of extreme violence promote panic and impulsive reactions.”

In short, the strategy of the left was more akin to a Third World guerilla insurrection, while the right hoped to provoke the state into clamping down on the left through false flags and other large-scale acts of terrorism.

Two members of the NAR were convicted, Francesca Mambro and Giuseppe Valerio “Giusva” Fioravanti, the latter a former Italian child actor. The pair later married and had a daughter. Both admit to having committed terrorist acts but maintain their innocence with regard to the Bologna Massacre.

The Years of Lead Wind Down

Left-wing violence in Italy related to the Years of Lead continued as far as 1988. However, after the Bologna Massacre, things had died down considerably. 1981 saw three kidnappings resulting in two murders. The third, the kidnapping of American General James L. Dozier, then deputy-chief of NATO’s Southern European forces, was freed by an anti-terrorist squad.

In 1982, the Red Brigades attacked a military convoy, killing a corporal and two police officers. The assailants were never apprehended. Later that year, two guards were killed by Red Brigades during a bank robbery.

1983 was completely quiet, and thus might be a good place to mark the end of the Years of Lead proper. However, in 1984, American diplomat and Director General of the international peacekeeping force, Multinational Force and Observers, Leamon Hunt, was killed by the Red Brigades. In 1985, the Red Brigades killed an economist and a policeman. In 1986, they assassinated the Mayor of Florence. Italian Air Force General Licio Giorgieri was assassinated by the Brigades in 1987. In 1988, the Red Brigades committed their final assassination, that of Senator Roberto Ruffilli.

On October 23rd of that year, the Red Brigades declared that their war against the state was over.

In 1985, French President Francois Mitterand declared that he would not extradite convicted terrorists back to Italy. Instead, he aimed to integrate them into French society. Brazil and Nicaragua have likewise provided safe haven for left-wing terrorists of the Italian Years of Lead, most notably Alessio Casimirri, one of Moro’s kidnappers who owns a restaurant in Nicaragua.

Epilogue: The P2 Affair and the Strategy of Tension

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the players were mostly firmly identifiable either as being on the left or on the right, one group played both sides: The shadowy Masonic Lodge in exile Propaganda Due, also known as the P2 Lodge.

While the very mention of Freemasonry generally has people reaching for their tinfoil hats, the P2 Lodge’s involvement in the Years of Lead – and other clandestine machinations within the Italian State – are very well documented, primarily through obstruction and obfuscation of the resulting investigations.

The P2 Lodge and the extent of its influence were discovered in March 1981, when police found a list of 962 alleged members, including future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel. The ensuing scandal forced the resignation of the Italian government at the time.

In July 1982, the ultimate aims of the Lodge were discovered, two documents entitled “Memorandum sulla situazione Italiana” and “Piano di rinascita democratica.” These documents identified the Italian Communist Party and the trade unions as the biggest threats, proposing a grand alliance between the Christian Democrats and the Communists as the way forward. It also outlined a means to control the media and political parties through extensive bribery.

A government report commissioned by the successors of the Communist Party, the Left Democrats, as well as Swiss historian Daniele Ganser, have claimed that the Years of Lead were in large part the result of a “strategy of tension” by NATO, the CIA, Gladio and their allies (including the P2 Lodge). This is where actors, generally in the government, create or allow a state of hostility for the purpose of making political capital out of it.

It is entirely possible that the Years of Lead occurred due to a purposeful lack of action on the part of the Italian government, which saw the chaos as an opportunity for greater power.

The American Years of Lead?

America is a long way from its own Years of Lead. What’s more, one of the principal ingredients – material support from powerful foreign governments – seems to be lacking. However, as the American political landscape becomes both increasingly radicalized and polarized, with extremist groups on the left and right growing in numbers, militancy and desperation, it’s not too hard to imagine that they might start shooting at one another in the very near future.

That won’t kick off a civil war, but it will make life in America considerably more tense and unpleasant.

02/10/20

DOJ to Sanction/Sue Sanctuary Counties/States

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

State of New Jersey lawsuit

Kings County, Washington lawsuit

FNC: Charging that so-called “sanctuary” cities that protect illegal immigrants are jeopardizing domestic security, Attorney General Bill Barr announced a slew of additional sanctions that he called a “significant escalation” against left-wing local and state governments that obstruct the “lawful functioning of our nation’s immigration system.”

Barr announces sweeping new sanctions, 'significant ...

Speaking at the National Sheriff’s Association 2020 Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., Barr said the Justice Department would immediately file multiple lawsuits against sanctuary jurisdictions for unconstitutionally interfering with federal immigration enforcement, and implement unprecedented national reviews of left-wing sanctuary governments and prosecutors.

“The department is filing a complaint against the State of New Jersey seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against its laws that forbid state and local law enforcement from sharing vital information about criminal aliens with DHS,” Barr said.

That was a reference to New Jersey Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, which the DOJ says illegally bars officials from sharing the immigration status and release dates of individuals in custody. It also requires New Jersey law enforcement to “promptly notify a detained individual, in writing and in a language the individual can understand” if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) files an immigration detainer request for the individual.

“We are filing a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against King County, Washington, for the policy … that forbids DHS from deporting aliens from the United States using King County International Airport,” Barr continued.

That lawsuit targets King County Executive Order PFC-7-1-EO, which the DOJ said has dramatically increased operating costs for ICE as detainees have had to be transported to Yakima, Washington. The executive order unconstitutionally conflicts with the federal Airline Deregulation Act, which “prohibits localities such as King County from enacting or enforcing laws or regulations that relate to prices, routes, or services of air carriers,” the DOJ said.

“Further, we are reviewing the practices, policies, and laws of other jurisdictions across the country.  This includes assessing whether jurisdictions are complying with our criminal laws, in particular the criminal statute that prohibits the harboring or shielding of aliens in the United States,” Barr added, noting that the DOJ would support DHS with “federal subpoenas to access information about criminal aliens in the custody of uncooperative jurisdictions.”

And, Barr said, “we are meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct.  In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens.”

Prosecutors in New York and California have changed their policies so that prosecutors explicitly consider so-called “collateral consequences,” including deportation, before pursuing certain charges.

Sanctuary cities, Barr said, are defined as those with policies that allow “criminal aliens to escape” federal law enforcement — and some jurisdictions are becoming “more aggressive” in undermining immigration authorities, with some local politicians develop “schemes” to circumvent immigration officials.

In 2018, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf blew the whistle on an imminent raid by federal immigration authorities, tweeting out a warning to illegal immigrants in advance and helping them hide.

“The express purpose of these policies is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for crimes,” Barr said, noting that the Constitution empowers the federal government to enforce immigration laws, even as it entrusted the police power to the states. “This is neither lawful nor sensible.”

“In November, ICE filed a detainer for an alien who was arrested for assaulting his own father,” Barr said. “The local police in New York City that had the alien in custody ignored the detainer.  So the alien was released onto the streets, and last month, he allegedly raped and killed 92-year-old Maria Fuertes, affectionately known as ‘abuelita,’ a fixture of her Queens neighborhood.”

Additionally, In October 2017, DHS “identified a convicted criminal alien with four prior removals at a city jail in Washington State,” Barr continued. “DHS filed a detainer.  Subsequently, the alien fought with jail staff and was taken to a local medical center for treatment.  But after receiving treatment, local officials released the alien in violation of the detainer.  In January 2018, the alien was arrested and booked for murdering and dismembering his cousin.”

READ BARR’S FULL REMARKS HERE

“The Founding Fathers carefully divided responsibility and power between the federal government and the state governments,” Barr said. The ‘Supremacy Clause’ in Article VI of the Constitution provides that the ‘Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof… shall be the supreme law of the land.’”

He added: “This Clause is a vital part of our constitutional order.  Enforcing a country’s immigration laws is an essential function of the national government.  And no national government can enforce those laws properly if state and local governments are getting in the way.  While federal law does not require that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ actively assist with federal immigration enforcement, it does prohibit them from interfering with our enforcement efforts.”

Barr emphasized that there is no way to determine how many “criminal aliens” are in the U.S., in part because of “local policies,” although recent estimates under the Obama administration put the number as high as 2 million.

“Assuming that estimate was accurate, the numbers are likely even higher today despite the Trump Administration’s consistent and concerted efforts to find and deport this criminal population,” Barr said.

It is the “rule of law that is fundamental to ensuring both freedom and security,” Barr asserted, saying law enforcement officers are increasingly under fire in “heinous” attacks that “come against the backdrop of cynicism and disrespect for law enforcement.”

Barr touted the DOJ’s lawsuit against California and other states over their sanctuary policies. The suit over California involves the law prohibiting the federal government from conducting operations in its own affiliated private immigration facilities and detention centers.

The law, Barr said, was a “blatant attempt by the State to prohibit DHS from detaining aliens, and to interfere with the ability of the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service to manage federal detainees and prisoners.”

“The department sued the State of California to enjoin numerous state laws that attempted to frustrate federal immigration enforcement,” Barr said. “We prevailed on several of our claims in the lower courts, and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant our request to review the remaining issues and side with us against California’s obstructionist policies.”

He concluded, “Today is a significant escalation in the federal government’s efforts to confront the resistance of ‘sanctuary cities.’  But by no means do the efforts outlined above signify the culmination of our fight to ensure the rule of law, to defend the Constitution, and to keep Americans safe.  We will consider taking action against any jurisdiction that, or any politician who, unlawfully obstructs the federal enforcement of immigration law.”

Barr’s new sanctions come as the Trump administration has already announced other initiatives targeting illegal immigration in the wake of the president’s State of the Union address last week.

Last week, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf exclusively told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that DHS was immediately suspending enrollment in Global Entry and several other Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for all New York state residents — a dramatic move in response to the liberal state’s recently enacted sanctuary “Green Light Law.”

Barr slammed the law in his speech Monday, calling it “unlawful.”

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations Todd Owen later told Fox News that up to 800,000 New Yorkers could be affected by the rule change within the next five years. Owen said people with pending Global Entry applications would be refunded, and that those with active applications would not be affected until their renewal date.

Illegal immigrants rushed to New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) in large numbers after the “Green Light Law,” which allowed them to obtain driver’s licenses or learner’s permits regardless of their immigration status, took effect last December. The law also permitted applicants to use foreign documents, including passports, to be submitted in order to obtain licenses.

In a letter to top New York state officials obtained exclusively by Fox News, Wolf noted that the New York law prohibited DMV agencies across the state from sharing criminal records with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE.

“In New York alone, last year ICE arrested 149 child predators, identified or rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrested 230 gang members, and seized 6,487 pounds of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and opioids,” Wolf wrote to New York officials. “In the vast majority of these cases, ICE relied on New York DMV records to fulfill its mission.”

The “Green Light Law,” Wolf went on, “compromises CBP’s ability to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements.”

“This Act and the corresponding lack of security cooperation from the New York DMV requires DHS to take immediate action to ensure DHS’ s efforts to protect the Homeland are not compromised,” he said.

02/10/20

4 Members of the Chinese Military Hacked Equifax

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

(AP) — Four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, the Justice Department said Monday, blaming Beijing for one of the largest hacks in history to target consumer data.

The 2017 breach affected more than 145 million people, with the hackers successfully stealing names, addresses, Social Security and driver’s license numbers and other personal information stored in the company’s databases.

4 Chinese military members charged in Equifax case

The four — members of the People’s Liberation Army, an arm of the Chinese military — are also accused of stealing the company’s trade secrets, including database designs, law enforcement officials said.

The accused hackers exploited a software vulnerability to gain access to Equifax’s computers, obtaining log-in credentials that they used to navigate databases and review records. The indictment also details efforts the hackers took to cover their tracks, including wiping log files on a daily basis and routing traffic through dozens of servers in nearly 20 countries.

“The scale of the theft was staggering,” Attorney General William Barr said Monday. “This theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans, and imposed substantial costs and burdens on them as they have had to take measures to protect against identity theft.”

Equifax, headquartered in Atlanta, maintains a massive repository of consumer information that it sells to businesses looking to verify identities or assess creditworthiness. All told, the indictment says, the company holds information on hundreds of millions of Americans in the U.S. and abroad.

The case is the latest Justice Department accusation against Chinese hackers suspected of breaching networks of American corporations. It comes as the Trump administration has warned against what it sees as the growing political and economic influence of China, and efforts by Beijing to collect data on Americans and steal scientific research and innovation.

The administration has also been pressing allies not to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to be part of their 5G wireless networks due to concerns that the equipment could be used to collect data and for surveillance.

The accused hackers are based in China and none is in custody. But U.S. officials nonetheless view criminal charges like the ones brought in this case as a powerful deterrent to foreign hackers and a warning to other countries that American law enforcement has the capability to pinpoint individual culprits behind hacks.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday.

The case resembles a 2014 indictment from the Obama administration Justice Department that accused five members of the PLA of hacking into major American corporations to steal their trade secrets. U.S. authorities also suspect China in the massive 2015 breach of the Office of Personnel Management and of intrusions into the Marriott hotel chain and Anthem health insurance company.

“This kind of attack on American industry is of a piece with other Chinese illegal acquisitions of sensitive personal data,” Barr said of Monday’s announcement, adding that “for years we have witnessed China’s voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans.”

The criminal charges — which include conspiracy to commit computer fraud and conspiracy to commit economic espionage — were filed in federal court in Atlanta.

Equifax last year reached a $700 million settlement over the data breach, with the bulk of the funds intended for consumers affected by it.

Equifax didn’t notice the intruders targeting its databases for more than six weeks. Hackers exploited a known security vulnerability that Equifax hadn’t fixed.

Once inside the network, officials said, the hackers spent weeks conducting reconnaissance. They stole login credentials and ultimately downloaded and extracted data from Equifax to computers outside the United States.

The indictment says the hackers obtained names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for about 145 million American victims, along with credit card numbers and other personal information for about 200,000.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, a server hosting Equifax’s online dispute portal was running software with a known weak spot. The hackers jumped through the opening to reach databases containing consumers’ personal information.

Equifax officials told GAO the company made many mistakes, including having an outdated list of computer systems administrators. When the company circulated a notice to install a patch for the software vulnerability, the employees responsible for installing the patch never got it.

Equifax’s $700 million settlement with the U.S. government gives affected consumers free credit-monitoring and identity-restoration services, plus money for their time or reimbursement for certain services. However, because so many people made claims, officials said some consumers would get far less than the eligible amounts because of caps in the settlement pool.

02/10/20

The Pro Act, Really Nancy?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

BIG LABOR PAYOFF? For sure… protect, organize and negotiate…  blah, blah, blah.

UAW’s website/Steeleworkers/AFLCIO and more promoting the passage and it did in the House….

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at it again and Democratic presidential hopefuls former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren are all with her.

Last week, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a bill designed solely to empower the Democrats’ Big Labor allies. While the bill has little chance of becoming law with Republicans in control of the Senate, the deceptively named Protecting the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”) is a dire warning of what Democrats would do should they ever return to power.

Voters should pay close attention to its provisions. Despite severely negative economic consequences, Democrats would eviscerate both the rights of employers to oppose unionization and of workers to decline union membership through the PRO Act – effectively turning the right to unionize into compulsory unionization.
There is no doubt that the PRO Act represents Democratic Party orthodoxy. It passed the House in a 224-194 vote (mostly along party lines). The Bill’s Senate version has 40 co-sponsors, none of whom are Republicans.

Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill. Joe Biden’s website states that, as president, he would “sign the PRO Act into law.” Pete Buttigieg’s website states that he “strongly supports” the PRO Act.

While couched as workers’ rights legislation, the PRO Act is a tacit acknowledgment that the Democrats’ Big Labor allies have a serious problem: workers just aren’t very interested in what the unions have to offer. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) began reporting the data in 1983, union membership stood at 20.1 percent of US employees. That percentage has steadily declined ever since and, in 2019, dropped to 10.3 percent.

Dwindling union membership means declining revenue and political influence. So, the Democrats, who depend on union endorsements and union dues to support their political campaigns, are advocating policies that essentially eliminate the option of going non-union.

Perhaps most tellingly, the PRO Act would eliminate Right-to-Work laws nationwide, an important means for workers to hold their unions accountable and a critical protection for workers who do not want to financially support a political organization with which they disagree. As a result, the PRO Act would force workers in the 27 states that currently have right to work laws into unions, compelling them to pay union dues, despite their desire to remain independent.
The bill would also eliminate the right to a secret ballot in union elections, forcing workers to vote in front of union organizers and colleagues via “card check,” a system that both sides of the aisle have condemned. It would also infringe on workers’ rights to privacy, requiring employers to hand over employees’ personal information, including home addresses, emails, phone numbers, and work shifts, to union organizers, needlessly exposing those employees to harassment and intimidation.
One of the bill’s worst provisions would broaden the “joint employer” standard to include potentially any business that contracts with another, including franchisees, suppliers, vendors, or subcontractors. Joint employers are equally liable for each other’s employment violations, and this increased risk will force big companies to stop franchising or contracting with smaller companies to avoid expanded liability.

The Obama administration tried to force through the same standard, but its efforts met bipartisan opposition in Congress, and the Trump administration rightfully abandoned the effort.

Nonetheless, unions and their paid-for politicians are trying to force through the standard to give unions access to larger and supposedly “joint” workforces rather than requiring them to organize these smaller independent businesses one by one.

Similar to California’s AB5 legislation, which is set to wreak economic havoc in California’s economy, the PRO Act would steal American’s right to work independently by making it nearly impossible for workers to qualify as independent contractors – workers without a traditional employer. These workers are critical for the “sharing economy,” an industry composed of app-based technology companies like Uber and Lyft that connect independent workers with consumers.

This new economy is flourishing because it fills a gap in currently available services. Rather than supporting this new industry that provides additional income and flexibility to workers who choose to participate, Democrats want to stop it in its tracks. Why? Because – and only because — unions can’t organize independent workers.

The center-right American Action Forum’s economic analysis of the PRO Act’s potential impact on the economy is reason alone to abandon it. AAF found that the PRO Act’s joint employer provision could annually lead to $33.3 billion in lost output for the franchise business sector alone. The bill’s independent contractor provision is expected to add up to $12.1 billion in annual costs for employers and implicate 8.5 percent of GDP. And these are the costs of only two of the bill’s dozen provisions.

Despite the negative economic consequences, should Democrats return to power in the upcoming election, their socialist goal of compulsory unionization would soon supplant the rights of employers to oppose unions and of workers to reject them.

As the PRO Act demonstrates, Democrats will readily eviscerate those rights and slow our economy if doing so can but grow Big Labor’s coffers and political influence.

The upcoming election is increasingly a choice between economic freedom and prosperity or government compulsion and stagnation.

02/10/20

Another Assassination in France by Russia?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Throat slit and dozens of stab wounds. This happened a week ago… great job media. No suspects yet? No worries, French investigators say this may be politically motivated… really?

Imran Aliev is dead. Caucasian Knot | Imran Aliev's acquaintances report ...

The murder of an unidentified man at the Hôtel Coq Hardi near Lille train station was first reported on 30 January by La Voix du Nord, a local newspaper. According to the paper, the body of the man was found in his room by the cleaning staff after he failed to check out of his room. The body bore multiple stab wounds to the neck by a knife, the suspected murder weapon. It was also found in the room.

Faits Divers : Toute l'actualité des faits divers sur Le ...

Chechens living in exile who have fought or spoken out against Kadyrov – the ruthless Chechen leader appointed by Vladimir Putin – have often been targeted for assassination. Last year, a former Chechen rebel commander was shot twice in the head in a targeted killing in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten. The suspected assassin is Russian.

Imran Aliev, who settled in Belgium after leaving Chechnya, was described as an eccentric and divisive figure who often published YouTube videos critical of the Chechen government under the pseudonym Mansur Stariy, or Old Mansur. He had also sparked conflicts by targeting natives of Ingushetia and Dagestan, regions that neighbour Chechnya, in profanity-laced tirades that had earned threats on his life.

Those who knew Aliev expressed surprise that he had been targeted because he was seen as a marginal figure suffering from debilitating health issues.

“He was murdered especially cruelly,” wrote Musa Taipov, a Chechen opposition journalist based in Strasbourg who said he was in regular contact with Aliev. In a Facebook post, Taipov described Aliev as a “difficult but honest” acquaintance who was managing a difficult illness with painkillers and would sometimes issue “not entirely proper declarations.”

“Some people, they offended. For others, they were ‘funny’,” Taipov wrote. He sometimes urged Aliev to delete the YouTube videos, Taipov said, and “most of the time he agreed.”

Police have not publicly identified any suspects in the case. A lawyer who knew Aliev told the Caucasian Knot website that the blogger had received a visitor from Chechnya several days before his death. The man had asked for Aliev’s help with a health condition and the two traveled from Belgium to Lille together, where Aliev was last seen alive. The man then disappeared. Minkail Malizaev, a Chechen blogger who left Grozny under pressure and now lives in Germany, also claimed in an online post that the man visiting Aliev had also sought a meeting with him.

Thousands of refugees and emigres from Chechnya live in Europe. Many fled the two wars that devastated the region from the 1990s, while others escaped the brutal crackdown against dissent under Kadyrov, who has headed the region since 2007 and runs it as a near-fiefdom. Aliev had political asylum in Belgium, the lawyer said.

‘We can find you anywhere’: the Chechen death squads stalking Europe

The trail of assassinations of prominent Chechens in Europe and the Middle East stretches back more than a decade, and includes former rebel commanders and government critics. Increasingly, the attacks have targeted people who posed no real political danger to Kadyrov, but merely took to Instagram or YouTube accounts to voice their dissatisfaction with Chechnya’s leaders in Grozny.

“I have no doubt that [Aliev] was on a list of people who have been sentenced to death,” said Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a video blogger living in Europe who has received threats from allies of Kadyrov for his criticism on YouTube of Chechnya’s government.

Abdurakhmanov claimed that before Aliev’s murder, he had received information that a hitman from Chechnya had been dispatched to western Europe, and shared the details of the man’s itinerary with German police. Abdurakhmanov said he initially believed that the hitman was targeting him. He declined to reveal the source of that information. More here from The Guardian.