GOP picking up steam in California as Activists Look at Secession – Really? A Look At News Daily  (April 21-27/Day 92-98) Week 14

By Michael Hernandez

 

April 21 (Saturday): Day 92

Gays target Vice President Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has launched a large national campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, targeting his Christian views on marriage and sexuality, abortion, and religious liberty.

Pence is now LGBT Inc.’s biggest bogeyman, whose principled Christian opposition to much of what HRC stands for will be used to scare self-identifying gays, lesbians, transgenders, and others into filling HRC’s coffers.  Similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), HRC relies on scaremongering as a marketing tool in order to keep its organization going. That sort of modus operandi can sometimes produce disastrous consequences by inciting physical violence. In 2012, a young gay man, inspired by SPLC’s “Hate List,” opened fire with a 9mm pistol in the Family Research Council’s lobby, wounding a building manager.  

The twenty-page glossy report demonizing the Vice President as an extremist on LGBT and abortion issues sports the same type of grainy, incendiary cover photo as similar past HRC reports, which gratuitously incite fear in order to fundraise. A short companion video employs similar visual tactics, accompanied by urgent, ominous-sounding background music.  Much of what the HRC-produced report identifies as Pence’s “dangerous extremist” views are unremarkably normal for Christians and conservatives across the country.

According to HRC, Pence’s greatest offenses have been his support of the immutable definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, his efforts to fight the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and standing up for religious liberty while governor of Indiana by signing the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

HRC casts blame on Pence for lobbying Congress to ban the U.S. military from paying for “gender reassignment surgery” as vice president. Additionally, HRC suspects that Pence was behind President Trump’s “transgender military ban.” HRC also cites Pence’s pro-life, anti-abortion views as being part of his “nefarious agenda.” Pence has been a leader in national efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, he famously predicted that abortion will end in America “in our time.  Mike Pence has made a career out of attacking the rights and equal dignity of LGBTQ people, women and other marginalized communities. Now as vice president, he poses one of the greatest threats to equality in the history of our movement,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. “With the world distracted by Donald Trump’s scandal-ridden White House, Mike Pence’s nefarious agenda has been allowed to fly under the radar for too long. He has become not only the most powerful vice president in American history, but also the least scrutinized.

“No more,” added Griffin.  “With this comprehensive new report, HRC is exposing the extent of Pence’s extremism, the threat he poses to equality, and all that we’re doing to combat his hateful agenda.  With his ready access to the levers of national power, no vice president in history has wielded more influence – and with less scrutiny – than Mike Pence,” asserts an HRC statement. “His deliberate benign anonymity, coupled with the nation’s growing alarm at the shocking skulduggery of Trump and his cronies, has largely given Pence an undeserved free ride in the court of public opinion.”

The Human Rights Campaign has an annual income of over $66 million and its total assets reported for 2017 were over $40 million. The group enjoys the endorsement of a number of left-wing celebrities.  According to the HRC website, its Washington headquarters “provides an ample workspace for HRC’s staff of more than 150. It also houses the stunning Equality Center, a meeting and event space available for rent, and the HRC Media Center, a state-of-the-art multimedia production facility.”

Silicon Valley freshman Congressman drafting Internet Bill of Rights

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has tapped freshman Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) of Silicon Valley to draft an “Internet Bill of Rights.” Khanna reportedly said he felt compelled to start the project after realizing that many of his colleagues in Congress are unaware of basic Internet concepts.

“The (Mark Zuckerberg) hearing showed there was a knowledge gap in Congress,” Khanna told SiliconValley.com. “There are some who didn’t know what cookies were and some who didn’t know how Facebook made its money. I think this is a time for leadership.”

As SiliconValley.com notes, Khanna has repeatedly spoken about the need for an Internet Bill of Rights to outline clearly what rights Americans have on the Internet, including their rights to “access their own private data, delete their data off the internet, and to have universal access to a neutral internet, among others.”

(The term “neutral Internet” refers to the policy of Net Neutrality, favored by the left and recently repealed by the Federal Communications Commission.)

Khanna told SiliconValley.com he hopes tech leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Zuckerberg will help him draft the Internet Bill of Rights saying, “Technology is still the most popular industry in this country. This bill will help reclaim the public’s trust.” During the testimony, Zuckerberg told Congress that Facebook will roll out strict European Union General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) that will be required in the EU beginning May 25 saying, “I think the GDPR, in general, is going to be a very positive step for the internet.”

However, Khanna told SiliconValley.com, “GDPR is too vague and is a moving goalpost,” in an effort to push for his own Internet Bill of Rights, a draft for which there is no set date. “European users will have to click through more things to get internet access. Let’s wait to see how GDPR works in Europe.”

Drug Trafficking Venezuelan Vice President “calling the shots”

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been linked to Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah and designated as a drug trafficking “kingpin” by the United States, “is calling the shots” as the top leader in the chaos-ridden socialist country an expert—Joseph Humire (who specializes on Iran and Hezbollah activities in Latin America) told Breitbart News Daily.

Humire, who serves as the executive director for the Center for a Secure Free Society (CFS) think tank, proclaimed, “Venezuelan observers all know that the Vice President Tareck El Aissami runs the country. I mean [President Nicolás] Maduro is on TV and Maduro is, you know, the public face. He is the one who is pretty much targeted by the Venezuelan opposition, but he is not the one who is calling the shots in Venezuela. If you looked at the beginning of 2017 when he was announced the vice president,” he continued, “there were executive decrees that were passed in Venezuela that pretty much gave him all the presidential powers in the country.”

Maduro, the successor to the late, rabidly anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, did grant “unprecedented powers” to his then-newly appointed vice president, Fox News reported in January 2017.

Humire pointed out that, through his work as Venezuela’s minister of interior and justice from 2008 to 2012, Aissami rendered the South American country a state-sponsor of “cover and concealment of Middle Eastern operatives” by establishing an immigration system that allows Hezbollah militants to travel with official Venezuelan identities.

As minister of the interior, the president charged Aissami with designing “an immigration scheme with Cuba, with Iran, and other countries in the Middle East” to be able to funnel drugs, individuals, and money “back and forth to the Middle East,” the expert said. He added, “He was able to create identities for individuals from Lebanon, from Syria, from Iraq, and other places in the Middle East — largely places where Hezbollah operates — and he was able to give them a presence in Venezuela when in many cases these individuals never even visited Venezuela.”

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures, the U.S. granted asylum to 1,112 alleged Venezuelans between 2014 and 2016. During that period, DHS apprehended 650 Venezuelans trying to sneak into the United States.

“It’s a very similar concern that we had with Syria in the sense that we just don’t have the capability in the country or with our regional allies to vet and verify the identity of these [Venezuelan] individuals because it’s a very sophisticated scheme,” Humire said.

 

April 22 (Sunday): Day 93

U.S. lawmakers:  North Korea halting nuclear tests is “publicity stunt”

Lawmakers across the aisle Sunday described North Korea’s announcement that it would halt nuclear tests and missile launches as essentially a publicity stunt. House Foreign Affairs Committee Vice Chairman Francis Rooney, R-Fla., weighed in on Fox News’ “America’s News HQ”, saying there’s no sign the dictator Kim Jong Un has changed his spots at all  “This guy has been negotiating through three consecutive presidents,” he said about the Korean leader. “He’s launched ballistic missiles. I don’t think Iran has done that.” Rooney added that until there is demonstrable evidence that can be verified, “We better be very skeptical.”

North Korea said Friday it would suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches ahead of summits with the U.S. and South Korea. Kim also said a nuclear test site would be closed and “dismantled” now that the country has learned how to make nuclear weapons and mount warheads on ballistic rockets. However, the rogue nation stopped short of saying it had any intention of abandoning its nuclear arsenal, with Kim making clear that nukes remained a “treasured sword.”

 “Look, this is a great public relations effort by Kim Jong Un. And I think people recognize that,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added on ABC News’ “This Week” that it’s unrealistic to think that “somebody’s going to go in and charm” Kim out of keeping his nuclear weapons. “Is it realistic that he’s just willy-nilly going to do that? Absolutely not,” Corker said. “But, you know, progress can be made, freezing the program, who knows what he’s — what his ambitions are as it relates to South Korea.”

Corker:  Senate Democrats blocking appointment of Secretary of State

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker on Sunday dismissed criticism about Republicans “ramming” Mike Pompeo’s nomination as secretary of state through the chamber, saying Senate Democrats have blocked the “highly qualified” Pompeo from getting the post just to appease their anti-Trump base.    “I don’t think allowing people to vote is called ramming,” Corker, R-Tenn., said in response to the criticism on CNN. “This is a person who is highly qualified. He was first in his class at West Point, did The Harvard Law Review … knows more about what is happening in the world probably than anybody in America because of his post at CIA.”

Pompeo earlier this month appeared before the committee for a confirmation hearing and could face a vote as early as Monday from the panel’s 21 members who would recommmend, or not, that he get a final Senate floor vote and the State Department post.

“Under ordinary times, he would be confirmed overwhelmingly,”  Corker said. “We just live in a very partisan environment. My friends on the Democratic side … their base abhors this president so much … that we are in an era where somebody like this, who is qualified, unfortunately, is likely to be voted out without recommendation or with a negative recommendation.”

Corker, who has said he would not seek reelection this year, acknowledged that Pompeo getting a final vote without being recommended for one by the committee is rare but not unprecedented.   “That’s not ramming through,” he said. “That’s happened before. And to allow senators to vote on this nominee on the floor is the right thing to happen.”

French President Macron to visit President Trump in Washington

French President Emmanuel Macron insisted Sunday that he has a solid relationship with President Trump, ahead of his Washington visit this week, but also appeared to caution the president about his aggressive stances on Iran, climate change and international trade, in an exclusive “Fox News Sunday” interview.

“You cannot make a trade war with your allies,” Macron said in the interview conducted on Friday in France. “It’s too complicated. If you make war against everybody, you make trade war against China, trade war against Europe, war in Syria, war against Iran — come on — it doesn’t work. You need allies.”

Macron spoke ahead of his visit this week to the United States that includes a dinner Monday with wife Brigitte, Trump and first lady Melania Trump at Mount Vernon, the home of America’s first president, George Washington, on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia.

The trip will mark the first time that Trump has hosted an official state visit since taking office last year and will include a state dinner Tuesday night at the White House and Macron making a joint address to Congress on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old Macron said Sunday that he has a “very special relationship” with Trump, suggesting they’re political “mavericks” mutually committed to fighting terrorism and reducing the influence of rogue nations and dictators. However, he suggested that Trump stay in the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, in which economic sanctions are lifted on Iran in exchange for leaders winding down their nuclear program, ahead of a May 12 sanctions deadline.

“I’m not satisfied with the situation with Iran” but don’t leave the deal without a “better option,” said Macron, adding that the issue would be discussed this week. He also expressed optimism that Trump in the coming days will exempt European countries from the international tariffs he intends to impose on aluminum and steel.  “You don’t make trade war with your allies,” he repeated. “Let’s see what he will decide on May 1. I just say, where are your priorities?”    

Macron, a former investment banker elected last year on a centrist, anti-establishment platform, also attempted to settle a controversy about whether he indeed persuaded Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria — after the two countries and the United Kingdom recently participated in a U.S.-led missile strike on chemical weapons facilities in Syria connected to regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The French president suggested the U.S. at least maintain a diplomatic presence in Syria, considering a regime change would “fuel the new terrorists” and create a vacuum in which  the “Iranian regime” would thrive. “It’s not automatically U.S. forces, but that’s U.S. diplomacy and that’s your presence,” Macron told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “We will have to build a new Syria after war. And that’s why I think the U.S. role is very important to play.”

Macron also said he’ll ask Congress for its support in efforts to stamp out terrorism and reign in rouge nations. He described the U.S. as “one of the last resorts” for peace and multilateralism. And he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the 2016 Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the White House race has “no impact” on Trump’s credibility and his effectiveness on the world stage.

French President Emmanuel Macron brought a tree with him on his visit to the United States, and the two leaders planted it together in the White House South Lawn. The tree is an oak from Belleau Woods, a historic World War One battleground where American Marines fought against the German advance into France. The 4.5 foot tree was taken from an area near the bulldog fountain, a historic landmark for Marines.

After Macron’s arrival, he went with Trump and their wives to the South Lawn and shoveled dirt around the tree that was planted in the ground. President Trump and the first lady will host the Macrons for a dinner on Monday evening at Mount Vernon — George Washington’s historic home. The first couples traveled aboard the presidential Marine One helicopter to the historic site.

Emmanuel Macron is promising to promote climate action as France’s president (Pic: Le Web/Flickr)

Tennessee shooting leaves four dead

A white male dressed in a green jacket and nothing else allegedly opened fire and killed three patrons at an Antioch, Tennessee, Waffle House on Sunday morning. The shooting occurred around 3:25 a.m.

Waffle House has a gun-free policy.  The chain prohibits firearms in possession of anyone but law enforcement. This means they ban the guns licensed concealed permit holders would otherwise carry for self-defense while in the restaurant.

News Channel 5 reports that the suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking allegedly pulled up to the restaurant in a pick-up truck, sat in his vehicle a few minutes then emerged with a rifle and opened fire. After shooting at patrons outside the store he went inside and shot at others.

The shooting ended when a 29-year-old Waffle House patron allegedly wrestled the rifle away from Reinking. Witnesses described Reinking as “nude,” and said he was “wearing only a green jacket and got away on foot after the patron took him down.”

Waffle House’s gun-free policy is so stringent that they fired a waitress who used a gun to try to foil robbery at one of the restaurants in late December 2016. On October 12, 2015, a concealed-carry permit holder responded to a robbery in progress at a Charleston, South  Carolina, Waffle House by fatally wounding the suspect. Two days later Live5News published a statement in which Waffle House re-affirmed their gun-free policy:

“We are very fortunate that no associate or customer were harmed in this tragic incident. It is Waffle House, Inc., policy not to allow firearms with the exception of law enforcement officers, including security guards. It is our understanding that the customer involved was an off duty security guard who was carrying his firearm and the incident occurred outside the restaurant.”

UCSB students do not know about presidents sending troops to border

Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) had some strong opinions about President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy troops to the U.S.-Mexico border but seemed shocked when they learned former President Barack Obama did the same thing.

Trump issued a proclamation this month calling on Defense Secretary James Mattis to “request use of National Guard personnel to assist” with the Department of Homeland Security Department’s existing efforts to secure the border.  A video from Campus Reform found that students did not think presidents should have the authority to send the National Guard or any form of military to the country’s borders.

“I’m not a huge fan of the military to begin with … I think it would be a complete waste of money,” one student said, while another student called the military action at the border “uncalled for.” Another student rhetorically asked, “Where do you draw the line on who can be here or not?” The interviewer instantly replied with the obvious answer: “At a border.” “I don’t think it’s good to send militarized troops to people who are coming in unarmed,” another student quipped.

But when Campus Reform told the students Obama did the same thing, the students seemed surprised. “Yeah, that’s kind of surprising,” one student said. “When President Obama did it, I felt that there was different coverage as to what the intentions were,” another student said, backtracking from her earlier statement.

Trump and Obama were not the only presidents to deploy troops to the U.S. southern border. Former President George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the border — 2,000 more than Trump’s proposal.

 

April 23 (Monday):  Day 94

FBI raid on Trump’s personal attorney causes concern

While Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told President Trump he is not the target of the investigation into Michael Cohen, the FBI raid on Trump’s personal attorney has spurred mounting speculation about what presidential communications, if any, the feds might have picked up. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York says Cohen has been under investigation for months, and they were behind the raid. But the move has so rattled Trump’s allies that Republican Rep. Jim Jordan on Monday plans to send a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking whether he was consulted.  “We’re not talking about just any lawyer, it’s the lawyer for the president of the United States,” he told “Fox & Friends.” 

Cohen is being investigated by a grand jury probe for his personal and business dealings, which includes a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

A source familiar with the investigation told Fox News that Rosenstein recently told Trump he is not a target of the Cohen investigation. Trump had previously been told he is not a target of  Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, either. But Rosenstein made the claim without the benefit of knowing what is in the trove of documents seized from Cohen’s residence and office. Some questioned Rosenstein’s decision to make such a statement.  “If I was [Sessions], I would fire Rosenstein on the spot,” one legal source close to the White House told Fox News.

On Thursday, in addition to hiring former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the legal team hired Marty Raskin and Jane Raskin — a husband-and-wife team of criminal lawyers. The Atlantic described the move as sending a message that “Trump is moving toward getting serious about a very serious investigation.”

On Friday, The New York Times reported more nervousness from the Trump team, reporting that Trump’s advisers are resigned to the possibility that Cohen could cooperate with federal officials about activity that could relate to Trump. But Trump on Saturday, while not denying there is anything Cohen could reveal, asserted in an angry tweet (in which he blasted the Times for its reporting) that Cohen would never “flip.”

Waffle House hero identified; raises money for victims

Twenty-nine-year-old James Shaw Jr. has been identified as the “hero” who wrestled a rifle away from alleged Waffle House gunman Travis Reinking. Reinking allegedely opened fire in an Antioch, Tennessee, Waffle House Sunday at 3:25 a.m. while wearing nothing but a green jacket. A number of people were injured in the attack and four persons were killed. The attack ended when Shaw Jr. took away the rifle Reinking was allegedly using in the attack.

Daily Mail reports that Shaw Jr. “was grazed by a bullet and treated for a minor gunshot wound on his elbow.” He also “severely burned” his hands when grabbing the hot barrel of the rifle. Shaw Jr. was treated at the hospital and released. When described as a “hero” Shaw Jr. demurred, saying he was just looking for a means of escape. He told the Tennessean, “I don’t really know when everyone said that (of being a hero), it feels selfish. I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

Shaw Jr. said he timed his efforts on Reinking’s need to reload, watching for the moment when he could pounce. He said, “When he came in, I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill. I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.” He added, “I grabbed the gun and kept it down. He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.” Shaw Jr. said he went home after the incident and went to church with his family.

Shaw Jr. has now raised more than $45,000 for the victims’ families. James Shaw Jr., 29, raised $45,668 as of Monday evening from more than 1,200 donors on GoFundMe for the victims in less than 24 hours, surpassing the original fundraising goal of $15,000.

“Please take the time to donate as all of the proceeds will be given to the families,” the page reads. “Thank you again for your generosity and blessings!”

Shaw a gunshot wound on his elbow and burns on his hand from grabbing the rifle from the gunman who opened fire on patrons at the restaurant Sunday morning, killing four people and injuring at least three more.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person, and I think anybody could have did what I did if they are just pushed into that kind of cage,” Shaw told reporters at a press conference. “You have to either react or you’re going to fold, and I chose to react because I didn’t see any other way of living, and that’s all I wanted to do. I just wanted to live.”

Although Shaw does not consider himself to be a hero, many donors on the page praised him for his actions during the shooting. “Thank you for your bravery, Mr. Shaw,” one donor wrote. “You are the future of our country. Please take care of yourself to heal from your traumatic experience, and God bless you.” Even the White House commented on Shaw’s bravery, highlighting his “heroic actions” during Monday’s press briefing.

Police captured shooting suspect Travis Reinking, 29, Monday afternoon in a wooded area behind his home following a manhunt lasting for more than 24 hours.

UC Merced faculty, students give Chancellor ultimatum on conservatives

University of California-Merced faculty and students have accused Campus Republicans and other conservatives of a “campaign of harassment and intimidation” including such crimes as hanging MAGA posters, saying “white lives matter, too,” carrying signs reading “Only 2 Genders,” and making “anti-Marxist arguments.”

Faculty and students of the University of California-Merced have written up a list of these and other infractions of political correctness and issued an ultimatum demanding that the school’s chancellor hold a press conference by April 30th, 2018 “to acknowledge the discrimination of UCM students and workers based on their race, gender, sexuality, nationality/immigration status, dis/ability, age, and etc. and allocate resources needed for the students and workers with the input of all cultural organizations.

“If a press conference and formal meeting with students and workers regarding the allocation of such resources is not held by April 30th, 2018, major news outlets will be informed to raise awareness of the Chancellor’s negligence of students’ rights,” the ultimatum warns.

The seven-page document, posted online by the College Fix, purports to offer a “Timeline of White Supremacy” documenting “the fascist deterioration of the campus climate. We call on all our communities and comrades to stand with us and help us fight the fascism developing on our campus, roll back the fascism developing in the larger Central Valley, and crush the fascism developing everywhere else,” the text reads.

According to the faculty and students behind the text, supporters of the Trump administration are, by definition, “fascists,” “white supremacists,” and members of the “alt-right,” terms chosen to incite terror and repugnance. Any criticism of Islam, support for secure national borders, opposition to “Black Lives Matter,” defense of Second Amendment rights, resistance to abortion on demand, repudiation of Marxism, or challenging of the LGBT agenda immediately qualifies a person as a racist.

Survey:  Americans do not support limitations on internet freedom

The Pew Research center has released the results of a new poll that shows Americans of both parties do not support limitations on internet freedoms in order to fight so-called “false info” on social media.

A majority (58 percent) of Americans agreed with the statement that “freedom of information should be protected,” even if means “false info can be published.” This included a majority (57 percent) of Democrats. Only 39 percent said that the U.S. government should “take steps to reduce false info online, even if it limits freedom of info.”

Participants were more supportive (56 percent) of tech companies doing so — largely thanks to 60 percent of Democrats supporting tech companies’ crackdowns. A majority of Republican participants also opposed tech companies limiting freedom of information. Opposition to censorship of social media by both the government and tech companies was particularly strong among younger generations. 66 percent of the 18-29 demographic opposed the government restricting freedom of information to fight “false info,” and 56 percent of the same demographic opposed tech companies doing so.

This compared to an even split among the 65-plus generation on government censorship. The 65-plus demo also supported tech companies limiting freedom of information by 64 percent, as did the 50-64 age demographic. There was also a gender gap — 10 percent more men than women said the government should not restrict freedom of information to fight “false info,” although a slim majority (53 percent) of women agreed.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a session next week on the subject of social media censorship. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), one of the leading voices on the issue, will give evidence. So will Diamond & Silk, the pro-Trump internet duo whose censorship by Facebook became national news during the Zuckerberg hearings last week. Representatives from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google, Facebook, and Twitter have also been invited.

 

April 24 (Tuesday):  Day 95

Ten killed in Toronto  by white rental truck

Ten have been killed and more than a dozen more injured after a white rental truck mounted the pavement in central Toronto, Canada, and “deliberately” mowed down pedestrians.

 Pakistan Christian woman murdered for refusing to marry Muslim man

A Christian woman in Pakistan was murdered in an acid attack after refusing to marry a Muslim man. According to Pakistan Today, 25-year-old Asma Yaqoob from the city of Sialkot had been working as a beautician in the city of Sialkot when she met Rizwan Gujjar through her 23-year-old brother Nabeel Yaqoob.

Rizwan quickly fell in love with Asma and began pressuring her to convert to Islam before asking her to marry him. After she rejected his advances, he planned a revenge attack. Her father, Yaqoob Masih, claimed in his First Information Report filed with Sialkot’s Civil Lines Police that Rizwan had ambushed Asma by knocking on the door. “On April 17, my son Maqsood and I went to Zaman’s house around to meet Asma and to inquire after the health of Zaman’s mother,” Mashi said. “We were sitting in a room when there was a knock on the front gate. Asma went out to see who had come when after some time we heard her screaming in pain.

“Zaman, Maqsood and I rushed outside to see what had happened and saw the accused Rizwan Gujjar fleeing from the scene while Asma was engulfed in flames,” he continued, adding that she “suffered 80 per cent burn injuries on her face and body.”

Asma was taken to Mayo Hospital, Lahore with 90 percent burns, but later succumbed to her injuries.

California activists who support secession may gather signatures

Activists who want California to secede from the nation may begin collecting signatures on a petition to put the question before voters in 2020, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

The third “Calexit” proposal hopes to succeed — and secede — where two previous attempts failed, according to the Associated Press.  The latest version of the so-called Calexit initiative would ask voters about secession in 2020. If it passes, a second election would be held a year later asking voters to affirm the decision.

The initiative is proposed by Marcus Ruiz Evans and Louis Marinelli of a group called Yes California, which proposed California independence initiatives in 2015 and 2017. A rival group proposed a Calexit initiative last year but did not turn in the required signatures.

Proponents have until Oct. 17 to gather 585,000 valid signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot.

 

April 25 (Wednesday):  Day 96

California Republicans gather signatures for repealing gas tax

California Republicans say they have gathered more than enough signatures to put a proposal to repeal last year’s controversial gas tax on the November ballot — the latest sign that there is still life in the Golden State’s GOP.

The Los Angeles Times reports:  “Republican activists said Tuesday that they have collected at least 830,000 signatures for an initiative to repeal recent increases in California’s gas tax and vehicle fees, more than enough to qualify the measure for the November ballot.  The activists need 585,407 signatures of registered voters to qualify the ballot measure.

“Because signatures are still being processed and counted by the campaign, backers hope to have 900,000 by the time they begin turning them in to the counties on Friday,” according to Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member and organizer of the drive.

The effort to repeal the regressive 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax that passed in 2017 — which was accompanied by a hike in vehicle registration fees — has been galvanizing Republican activists, especially in Southern California.

Already, they have mustered a vote to recall freshman State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who provided a deciding vote for the gas tax (as did other legislators, including Republicans).

In addition, grass-roots opposition to the state’s “sanctuary” laws has sparked a revolt across Orange and San Diego Counties, with several local governments — including the counties themselves — voting recently to oppose the laws and to support the federal lawsuit that is challenging them.

Republicans hope the energy of that effort will mobilize voters to counter the energy that Democrats are bringing to the polls through their so-called “Resistance” to President Donald Trump.

Last week, President Trump himself hailed the California “Revolution” against “sanctuary state” laws and policies.

 

California legislators exempt themselves; workers cannot join unions

Columnist Dan Walters of Calmatters.org notes Wednesday that the California State Legislature has once again exempted itself from a rule that it imposes on everyone else — this time, allowing its workers to join unions.

Walters writes:  “The Legislature’s dominant Democrats have bent over backwards to help unions organize workers in private and public employment, from those who work in the state’s agricultural fields to those who build electric cars for Tesla. And a substantial number of those legislators are former union members and organizers themselves. However, the Legislature’s own employees are forbidden to join unions. They are “at will” workers who can be fired by their bosses at a moment’s notice and for any reason with no recourse.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a San Diego Democrat and a former union official herself, proposed to close that loophole but ran into obvious reluctance from her colleagues and legislative leaders. Privately, Gonzalez Fletcher says, she runs into assertions that the Legislature is unique and that having unions would inhibit its functions.

In effect, therefore, legislators have the same objections to unionization that other employers often express when the Legislature passes laws to facilitate organizing their workers.

The legislature has come in for criticism in recent months due to the high number of complaints about sexual harassment that have emerged in the wake of the “#metoo” movement. One of the female leaders of that movement, California State Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), has herself been accused of sexual misconduct.

The legislature has also suffered several corruption scandals in recent years, while Democrats have been slow to remove members of their own party even after they were convicted of crimes.

 

April 26 (Thursday):  Day 97

Both Republican candidates for California governor pass Villaraigosa

Two Republicans, businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), have now passed former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the race for California governor, according to a new poll.

Cox has 18 percent of likely voters and Allen has 16 percent, according to the University of California Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Poll, as reported by the Fresno Bee. Villaraigosa is a distant fourth, at just 9 percent. All trail Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is at 30 percent.

But Villaraigosa’s fall is stunning. He had 17 percent of likely voters in December, according to the poll. But support for the Republicans is now surging.

Under the rules of California’s “top two” or “jungle” primary, the top finishers in the June 5 primary will advance to the general election in November, regardless of party. Most media coverage has presumed that the race would be a two-Democrat fight between Newsom and Villaraigosa. However, if Cox or Allen defeats Villaraigosa, then the race would resemble a traditional two-party fight — potentially drawing more Republican voters to the polls.

That, in turn, could also affect national politics. Low turnout by Republicans could ensure that Democrats flip several congressional seats in California, in districts represented by Republicans where Hillary Clinton won in 2016. However, if Republicans have candidates to vote for on the statewide ballot, they may turn out in stronger numbers — which could help the party save enough congressional seats to keep control of the U.S. House. 

Travis Allen

California GOP candidate for Senator now in second place

A new poll conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies has shown an unknown Republican, James Bradley, in a statistical tie for second place with State Sen. Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) in the race for U.S. Senate.  De Léon has the support of 11 percent of likely voters in the poll, just ahead of Bradley with 10 percent — well within the poll’s 3.5% margin of error among 1,738 respondents.

Both candidates are well behind incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has 28 percent of the vote. However, media coverage of the race has assumed that De Léon, the former President pro Tem of the State Senate and one of the most prominent Latino politicians in the state, would finish second. Last week, left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer endorsed De Léon, whose candidate has energized the left wing of California’s Democratic Party.

Berkeley IGS Poll director Mark DiCamillo explained to the Fresno Bee — which first reported the poll results — that the reason Bradley did so well in the poll was that most other polls have simply presumed the race was a two-way contest between Feinstein and Bradley. “The Berkeley IGS poll has gone from phone interviews to online this go-round,” the Bee notes, which allowed the poll to offer respondents a list of all 32 candidates (including 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans).

Reached by telephone Wednesday evening, Bradley said he was inspired by President Donald Trump to switch his party affiliation from independent to Republican. A U.S. Coast Guard veteran running on an “America First” platform, Bradley said that he wants to unite America and resolve the country’s growing political divisions. He lamented that despite California’s economic success, it has the highest poverty rate in the nation. Thus far, Bradley has been almost entirely ignored by the media, mainstream and conservative. His sole interview was with a liberal outlet, NorCal News Now.

In his platform, Bradley says he is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-sanctuary state, and wants to repeal Obamacare.

If Bradley finishes ahead of De Léon, he would qualify for the November ballot under the rules of California’s “jungle primary.”

Judge rules against Trump supporter in New York City bar

A Manhattan judge ruled Wednesday that kicking a Trump supporter out of a bar does not violate the law — because the law does not protect against political discrimination.

Greg Piatek of Philadelphia claims he was refused service and eventually removed from a New York City bar in January 2017 for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, in a lawsuit against the establishment. “Anyone who supports Trump – or believes in what you believe – is not welcome here! And you need to leave right now because we won’t serve you!” Piatek claims the staff of The Happiest Hour told him. Piatek claimed the incident “offended his sense of being an American,” The New York Post reported.

The lawyer representing The Happiest Hour, Elizabeth Conway, argued that he was not discriminated against because only religious, not political, beliefs are protected under state and city discrimination law. “Supporting Trump is not a religion,” Conway argued.

Piatek’s attorney, Paul Liggieri, responded in court, “The purpose of the hat is that he wore it because he was visiting the 9/11 Memorial.  He was paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11. The Make America Great Again hat was part of his spiritual belief,” Liggieri claimed. “Rather than remove his hat, instead he held true to his spiritual belief and was forced from the bar,” Liggieri told Justice David Cohen, the Post reported.

The judge pressed Liggieri on the spiritual nature of his client’s belief, saying the bar staff would not be aware of Piatek’s specific religious philosophies.  “How many members are in this spiritual program that your client is engaged in?” the judge asked. “Your honor, we don’t allege the amount of individuals,” Liggieri said. “So, it’s a creed of one?” the judge asked. “Yes, your honor,” Liggieri replied, the Post reported.

The judge eventually made a ruling on the matter, saying the incident amounted to nothing more than a “petty slight,” the Post said. “Plaintiff does not state any faith-based principle to which the hat relates,” Judge Cohen said. “Here the claim that plaintiff was not served and eventually escorted out of the bar because of his perceived support for President Trump is not outrageous conduct.”

Piatek was suing for unspecified emotional damage and will review with Liggieri to determine whether or not to appeal the verdict.

The Happiest Hour denied that Piatek had been removed in the first place, stating Piatek “was sufficiently pleased with his service at the bar [and] that he added” a $36 tip onto the $186 tab, according to The New York Post. The bar owners suggest Piatek’s lawsuit was a “publicity stunt.”

District judge rules in favor of conservative student groups lawsuit

 A U.S. District Judge ruled this week that conservative student groups will be able to proceed with their First Amendment lawsuit against UC Berkeley. According to a report from SFGate, U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney of Oakland decided on Wednesday that UC Berkeley’s recent speech restrictions were motivated by security concerns rather than partisan bias. Despite this, Chesney said that conservative student groups at UC Berkeley will be permitted to proceed with their lawsuit, which claims that the university violated their First Amendment rights by placing unusual restrictions and astronomical security fees on visits by guest speakers.

The Berkeley College Republicans have hosted a number of high-profile conservative guests such as David Horowitz and Ann Coulter. Coulter canceled her appearance after the university required the group to host the event during class hours and far from the center of campus. The student groups allege that UC Berkeley adopted an unwritten “high-profile speaker” policy that allowed administrators to subjectively determine restrictions for conservative guest speaker events.

The group’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, claims that she is satisfied with the judge’s ruling. “It means the case will go forward,” she said.

Much has been written about the issue of a heckler’s veto at UC Berkeley. A heckler’s veto refers to when the government suppresses speech due to a fear of a potential violence from protesters. Public universities across the country are currently forced to convince their students that restrictions placed on partisan political events are not the result of preemptive intimidation by potential protesters.

Breitbart News has written extensively about the concept of “security fee censorship.” A direct descendant of the “heckler’s veto,” security fee censorship refers to the notion that universities can get away with shutting down partisan political events by charging extremely high security fees that student groups can’t afford.

 

April 27 (Friday):  Day 98

U.S. Senate votes to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state in a bipartisan 57-42 vote. In a departure from what has historically been a rubber stamp vote, the majority of Democrats voted against Pompeo.

Only half a dozen Democrats voted to confirm Pompeo, primarily from red states that overwhelmingly went for Trump in 2018 and who are facing tough reelection fights. Those Democrats included: Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Claire McCaskill (MO), and Bill Nelson (FL). Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats, also voted in favor of Pompeo.

A number of senior Democratic leaders had come out against Pompeo, threatening his confirmation early on. With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) initially in opposition and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recovering from brain cancer treatment, Republicans needed at least one Democratic vote.

However, Paul reversed his opposition, after having several conversations with President Trump and Pompeo, about his concerns over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After the vote, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate majority whip, blasted Democrats who voted against Pompeo and for delaying the confirmation of a number of Trump appointees. “The man has what it takes for the job. That’s why the no votes from our Democratic colleagues rang hollow,” he said. He said Democrats were attempting to “lash out at President Trump,” which he called “disappointing” and a “sad break from tradition. It’s a sorry continuation of the hyper-partisanship they’ve been engaging in,” he added, noting that one year ago, 14 Democrats and one Independent had voted to confirm Pompeo as CIA director.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has said he opposed Pompeo’s nomination based on his gay marriage views, despite his 2008 endorsement of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who had the same views. Corker also opposed confirming Richard Grenell, who will be the Trump administration’s highest openly gay official as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

U.S. Senate confirms new ambassador to Germany

The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell, former Mitt Romney campaign spokesman and communications director for John Bolton when he served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., as U.S. ambassador to Germany Thursday. The Senate voted 56 to 42 to confirm shortly after 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) crossed party lines Thursday morning, ensuring Grenell’s confirmation would not need a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), all facing reelection in “red” states, also joined a unanimous Republican caucus in supporting Grenell.

Other Democratic caucusing senators like Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Angus King (I-ME), who had voted to confirm Mike Pompeo as secretary of state earlier in the day, refused to support Grenell.

President Donald Trump nominated Grenell to be the highest American diplomatic representative in Europe’s largest economy in September, but as with many of Trump’s top picks, Grenell’s confirmation process was caught up with delays and controversy. As recently as Monday, Senate Democrats were reportedly holding up Grenell’s vote, prompting a frustrated mention by the president in a tweet:  “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!”

The latest delays followed months of Democratic agitation about Grenell’s alleged “misogyny,” apparently over now-deleted tweets in which he wrote things like that MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow “needs to take a breath and put on a necklace” and that “Hillary is starting to look like Madeleine Albright.”

“I cannot in good faith support a nominee who has a lengthy track record of tweets attacking both prominent Democratic and prominent Republican women,” Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-OR) said last month on the Senate floor.

The Senate’s vote Thursday made Grenell the first openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany and the most senior openly gay executive official in American history, bringing to a close a months-long campaign on his behalf by both conservatives and gay Republican activists.  In the U.S. order of precedence, ambassadors rank significantly higher than other posts previously held by openly gay men, including President Barack Obama’s Army Secretary Eric Fanning. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama appointed a number of openly gay ambassadors – none, however, to as prominent postings as Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy.

The unity of voices of the Right behind him in 2018 stands in stark contrast to six years ago, when he was forced to resign from then-presumptive GOP presidential nominee Romney’s campaign after a public furor over his homosexuality and unrepudiated support for same-sex marriage. His former boss, Bolton, now Trump’s National Security Advisor, came to his defense at the time, telling radio host Aaron Klein:  “I think it’s a loss to the campaign. I think it’s a loss for him. And it’s too bad that we live in the kind of environment where it’s hard to make purely professional judgements about people and have them participate in the campaign on that basis. The impression that some people are trying to give that somehow the Romney campaign bowed to pressure from social conservatives, or that reflects a bias against gays and lesbians is just absolutely wrong. But using a personal situation like this for those kinds of political purposes is I think an unfortunate aspect of contemporary American politics.”

With Grenell’s confirmation, eight of the ambassadorships to the 10 largest economies in the world are filled by Trump appointees. Peter Michael McKinley, the career diplomat appointed ambassador to Brazil by President Obama, remains in his post. Admiral Henry Harris is expected to get Trump’s nomination for ambassador to South Korea soon.

PragerU to continue battle against Google censorship on YouTube

PragerU has released a statement on its plans to further battle Google’s censorship of its content. In a statement published on its website, PragerU announced that it has filed an appeal of its lawsuit against Google over alleged censorship of their content on Google-owned video streaming website YouTube.

PragerU, which was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager and produces short, graphics-based videos relating to conservatism, has recently claimed that “Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”

PragerU’s statement details its plans to challenge Google and YouTube further: “On Monday, the law firm of Browne George Ross LLP, attorneys for PragerU, officially filed an appeal of its lawsuit against Google Inc. and its subsidiary YouTube, LLC. with the Ninth Circuit Court,” reads the statement. “With the filing, PragerU appeals a March 28, 2018 Federal Court ruling by Judge Lucy H. Koh and is instead taking its case directly to the Ninth Circuit Court.”

PragerU CEO Marissa Streit speaking to Breitbart News stated:  “There’s been a lot of outrage in our culture and while I’m the last person to advocate for even more hysteria, this is one issue that should unite all Americans, on either side of the political spectrum, in our collective outrage over internet censorship. We cannot allow companies like Google/YouTube to operate as authoritarian tyrants who control the flow of information in a time in history we call the information age. If we do, the information age will become a dark age, and what we currently understand as freedom of speech will become distorted and twisted until it isn’t really free speech at all. We risk losing this uniquely American heritage, which is really the foundation of our democracy.

Streit added in PragerU’s statement:  “From the beginning of this process, we’ve been prepared to pursue our lawsuit against Google/YouTube as far, and for as long as it takes to secure every Americans’ right to freedom of speech and expression online. Unfortunately, case law related to internet issues of various kinds, including freedom of speech, is woefully inadequate or completely non-existent. It is incumbent upon organizations like PragerU and other concerned groups and citizens all across the country, to challenge big tech in the court of law in order to establish the legal precedents necessary to protect this sacred right for generations of Americans to come. The time is now for the courts to address this glaring hole in case law and to hold big tech accountable for trying to tell us what is acceptable to think, say, or watch. We are increasingly optimistic about the merits of our lawsuit and we look forward to arguing our case before the Ninth Circuit court of appeals.”

The full statement from the PragerU website additionally says: “PragerU v. Google/YouTube, has placed the educational media organization at the center of a heated national debate about freedom of speech online, and carries with it profound implications for both the future of the First Amendment and more generally, political debate in America. Many of PragerU’s videos remain restricted in schools, libraries and homes, disproportionately blocking them from the very audience it hopes to reach, namely young people, who account for more than 60 percent of PragerU’s 1.28 billion online views to date.”

PragerU has also created a petition to call on YouTube to stop censoring conservatives on its platform. The petition has garnered almost 500,000 signatures. PragerU stated: “Nearly a half million grassroots supporters have added their names to PragerU’s online petition and thousands more have donated in support of the organization’s legal fund.”


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:  [email protected].

Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.


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