The Wall, Boycotts, Let’s Not Ask If You’re a Citizen — What A Week: Look At News Daily  (March 24-30/Day 64-70) Week 10

By Michael Hernandez

 

March 24 (Saturday): Day 64

President Trump:  ‘We’ll make $1.6 billion go far for the wall’

President Donald Trump signaled disappointment that the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill only provided $1.6 billion for border fencing, but said that it helped “start” the wall. “Not happy with 1.6 billion, but it does start the wall and we’ll make that $1.6 billion go very far,” Trump said.

The Omnibus bill only provides narrow funding for border fencing on specific parts of the border.  From the text of the bill: $1,571,000,000 shall be available only as follows:

(1) $251,000,000 for approximately 14 miles of secondary fencing, all of which provides for cross-barrier visual situational awareness, along the south-west border in the San Diego Sector;

(2) $445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;

(3) $196,000,000 for primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;

(4) $445,000,000 for replacement of existing primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border.

The Omnibus spending bill includes a special clause ordering that the funds be used to underwrite “currently deployed steel bollard designs” on the border, not replicas of the new wall prototypes constructed in San Diego. The word “wall” does not appear anywhere in the bill to describe border security.

President Trump said that “a strong border system, including a wall,” would help defend the country’s borders. “We’re going to be starting work literally on Monday on not only some new wall — not enough, but we’re working on that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences,” he said. “There are some areas that you have to see through, you have to be able to see through the other side in order to see what’s coming.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen praised the new funding, calling it a “downpayment on the border wall system.” She added, however, that it was “unfortunate” that Congress restricted DHS officials in the legislation on border security. “They’ve told us how to build the wall, where to build the wall,” Nielsen said. “And we will continue to work with them to make sure that the wall is where we need it, how we need it as the president described, and to make sure that it serves the American people and the security of this nation.”

U.S. Ambassador slams UN Human Rights Council anti-Israel resolutions

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed the UN Human Rights Council on Friday after it approved five new anti-Israel resolutions, saying the council was “foolish and unworthy of its name.” At the same time, Israel blasted the UN agency for being a “sham” run by “bloodthirsty dictatorships.

Haley noted that while the UNHRC adopted five resolutions against Israel, only one was passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria respectively.

“Every March, the council sets aside only two sessions to debate human rights violations and abuses in all countries and another entire session just to debate a single country, Israel,” Haley said in a statement.

“When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,” Haley continued. “It is time for the countries who know better to demand changes.”

“Many countries agree that the council’s agenda is grossly biased against Israel, but too few are willing to fight it,” she noted. “When that happens, as it did today, the council fails to fulfill its duty to uphold human rights around the world.”

“The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council,” Haley concluded. “Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also slammed the council on Friday, tweeting, “The anti-Israel bias must stop.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon took to Twitter to blast the council as “a sham, a mockery of the noble purposes it pretends to represent.  It is an exclusively anti #Israel platform, manipulated by bloodthirsty dictatorships hiding their own massive human rights violations by attacking Israel,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “More resolutions detached from reality by the circus of the absurd known as the Human Rights Council.” He called on the body to change its name to “The Council for Resolutions Against the Only Democracy in the Middle East.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a tweet that Israel “has no business being in the UN’s Human Rights Council.” He said its “presence there gives legitimacy to … anti-Semitic resolutions, and the farce must end.”

The anti-Israel resolutions passed with 27 votes in favor, four against and 15 countries abstaining.

BuzzFeed News reveals organizers of March of Our Lives

A march Saturday in Washington D.C. first announced by students who attend the Florida high school where 17 people were shot and killed by a man with a history of mental health issues last month has morphed into a worldwide anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment, anti-Trump protest directed, promoted, and funded by left-wing adults and adult-led organizations.

The Florida teens spotlighted by the media leading up to the march say it is about youth and its “gun control” message, but documents show that adults are responsible for much of the D.C. event and so-called “sibling” marches, including putting into place the logistics necessary to pull it off.

The March for Our Lives Action Fund, for example, was registered with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs on Feb. 21, 2018 as a Delaware-based organization with a business address in Encino, California. The agent for the fund is listed as CT Corporation System, a D.C.-based firm that handles compliance issues. Jeri Rhodes is listed as the executing officer for the filing.

Rhodes is the Associate Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is a Quaker lobbying group with the goal to “advance peace and justice.” Rhodes’ LinkedIn profile states that she once worked for Greenpeace.

BuzzFeed News spoke with some of the “major players” behind the march which include include: Everytown, Giffords, Move On, and Women’s March LA. Giffords, an organization started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that fights gun violence, is working with Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to plan the main march on Washington — as well as sister rallies across the country.

BuzzFeed News reported, “MoveOn said it will encourage its millions of members to follow and promote the March for Our Lives movement on social media and attend the rally” and would help with security and other logistics. A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said it is “teaching and hosting trainings” for teens “to keep momentum going so they don’t get burned out,” BuzzFeed News reported.

The National Park Service permit reveals “persons in charge” of the D.C. event, including Deena Katz, the co-executive producer of Dancing with the Stars who helped organized the Los Angeles Women’s March. Other “persons in charge” are Matt Hall, Ann Marie Hoffman, Paul Sorenson, and James Day.

March for Our Lives also started a GoFundMe page that has raised $3.3 million.

NBA Miami Heat player Dewayne Wade donated $200,000 to the march and urged others to do the same on Twitter earlier this month.

There are also a number of celebrities that are taking part in the march, and some are performing. The March for our Lives website notes that Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Common, Vic Mensa, Andra Day, and Miley Cyrus are scheduled for the event.  Celebrities like George Clooney and Steven Spielberg pledged $500,000 to Saturday’s gun control march.

Nonetheless, the Florida students who are credited with organizing the march insist it is teens, not adults, who are in charge, while admitting adults are involved. Cameron Kasky, 17, acknowledged that the anti-Trump group Indivisible is helping and said that their assistance is necessary because of the role race allegedly plays in school shootings.

The March for Our Lives Twitter account also features a video with students stating the anti-gun talking points used by left-wing groups regularly, including blaming the National Rifle Association for school shootings.  “We see these lawmakers representing the NRA, and not their constituents. We see our “leaders” making excuses and refusing to act. On Saturday, they’ll see US.”

The protest has banned speakers who support the Second Amendment — including student survivors like Kyle Kashuv and relatives of victims like Hunter Pollack.

The March for Our Lives website states that 840 marches are planned in the U.S. and around the world.

 

March 25 (Sunday): Day 65

Pope Francis says that Jesus angered the “elites of his day”

Pope Francis

In his Palm Sunday homily, Pope Francis said that Jesus was warmly welcomed by those who felt “left behind” by society, while inciting anger among the elites of his day. All those who felt “left behind and overlooked” were moved to cry out in songs of “spontaneous joy” when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the pope said during his morning Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, while for the reigning religious establishment he was “a source of anger and irritation.”

For Christians, Palm Sunday commemorates the day that Christ triumphantly entered Jerusalem on a donkey, marking the beginning of Holy Week. “The liturgy invites us to share in the joy and celebration of the people who cry out in praise of their Lord; a joy that will fade and leaves a bitter and sorrowful taste by the end of the account of the Passion,” Francis said in his homily.

We can imagine that amid the outcry as Jesus enters the city, “we hear the voice of the forgiven son, the healed leper, or the bleating of the lost sheep. Then too, the song of the publican and the unclean man; the cry of those living on the edges of the city,” he said. On the other hand, we also see clearly throughout the Gospel account that the joy Jesus awakens is, for some, “a source of anger and irritation,” Francis said.

“All this joy and praise is a source of unease, scandal and upset for those who consider themselves righteous and ‘faithful’ to the law and its ritual precepts,” he added. “How hard it is for the comfortable and the self-righteous to understand the joy and the celebration of God’s mercy!” he said. “How hard it is for those who trust only in themselves, and look down on others, to share in this joy.”

Francis said that Jesus was a victim of a protest that was not grass-roots in origin, but the result of a campaign of slander by the establishment who wanted to see him dead. The fierce cry of those who shout out for Jesus to be crucified “is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness,” he said. “It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others.”

This campaign involved “‘spinning’ facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a ‘criminal,’” Francis said. “It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenceless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: ‘Crucify him, crucify him.’”

Yet despite this vicious campaign against Christ and his gospel, we “have been saved by his cross, and no one can repress the joy of the Gospel,” he said, and “no one, in any situation whatsoever, is far from the Father’s merciful gaze.”

LA City Council votes for “emergency” homeless plan

The Los Angeles City Council voted last week to develop an “emergency” plan that could operate trailer and tent encampments to house 34,000-homeless — similar to the plan developed by Orange County.

The Los Angeles City Council on March 23 declared a homeless crisis by requesting the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority implement an Emergency Response to Homelessness Plan that would provide an alternative to encampments for 100 percent of the Los Angeles homeless population by December 31, 2018.

The Los Angeles Housing Authority recently reported that of the 34,189 homeless identified in the 2017 federally mandated count, 25,237 or 76 percent, were unsheltered and living on sidewalks, cars, tents, or mobile homes. The report was released 16 months after homeless advocates convinced city voters they could permanently solve homeless by passing Measure HHH ballot initiative, which raised property taxes by $9.64 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to fund a $1.2 billion bond.

Los Angeles County convinced voters in March 2017 to pass Measure H to provide $350 million per year worth of homeless mental health and addiction services through a ¼ percent increased sales tax up to 10 percent in a number of L.A. County cities.

LA City Council members also recently voted to build 222 units of permanent supportive homeless housing in each of the 15 LA City Council districts by 2020. The first 122 of the 3,330 approved homeless units broke ground in East Hollywood in November. But the federal 2017 City of Los Angeles homeless count found the population had spiked by 5,698, or about 20 percent, since 2016.

That means despite raising $1.2 billion in taxes, the net number of homeless after the new construction has already increased by 2,368.  Last month, the city council voted unanimously to start housing 60 homeless people in trailers on a city-owned downtown lot. But despite the city paying $2 million for trailers equipped with bathrooms and showers, and funding allocating another $1 million a year to operate the downtown trailer park, CBS News reported that local restaurant owners say transients already hurt their business, and the trailers will make the situation worse.

 

March 26 (Monday): Day 66

Sheriffs send letter to Congress demanding tighter border security

Hundreds of sheriffs sent a letter to members of Congress demanding tighter border security and immigration reform. Without it, the safety and security of Americans and law enforcement is at risk, the 380 sheriffs from 40 states argued.

“Without border security and immigration reform, more Americans will continue to be victims of crime. Now is the time to act,” said the letter, which was spearheaded by Sheriff Thomas Hodgson from Bristol County, Massachusetts.

“We’re calling on Congress to take action now, on the security issues at the border and against sanctuary policies in our states, cities and towns. These sanctuary policies directly undermine and limit cooperation and collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement, making it harder for America’s sheriffs to protect our citizens and legal residents,” Hodgson said.

His call was supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, whose executive and CEO Jonathan Thompson explained the letter was signed by these sheriffs “because Congress cannot continue to weaken our efforts to make our communities as safe as possible.”

Legislation seeks to reinstate California Higher Education body

The legislation, titled “AB 1936: Office of Higher Education Performance and Accountability (OHEPA),” would create an eight-member board that would hold open public meetings to advise the governor and legislature on goals for higher education, and to measure the overall effectiveness of California state spending on higher education. The Senate already passed a similar bill, titled SB 42, and both Democrats and Republicans voted unanimously for the bill in the Assembly Education Committee.

Previously, The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) served as the state’s independent agency to provide input on higher education policy planning, research, and analysis for 38 years, until it was eliminated by Brown just five months after returning as governor in January 2011.

Brown claimed that it was redundant since the University of California, California State University, and California Community College System each provide similar research. But only CPEC provided a statewide overview of the effectiveness of educational spending.

According to an analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), the state’s higher education system is failing to keep up with the economy’s changing needs. PPIC predicts that California will be short 1.1 million bachelor-degreed workers by 2030.  PPIC agrees that part of the coming skills shortfall is due to falling state support that has resulted in spiking tuition costs, limiting student enrollment over the last two decades.

The share of working-age adults ages 18 to 64 with bachelor’s degrees increased from 22 percent in 1990, to 25 percent in 2000, and to 29 percent in 2015. PPIC predicts that 33 percent of California’s working-age adults will have bachelor’s degrees by 2030, but 38.4 percent of California jobs will require a bachelor’s or advanced graduate degree.

PPIC blames ineffective coordination as the bigger culprit that “could curtail economic growth, limit economic mobility, and increase inequality.” Such loss of competitiveness could also cause a “less productive economy, lower incomes and tax revenue, and greater dependence on the social safety net.”

The study highlights that one of the reason that UC inflation-adjusted tuition and fees have almost tripled from about $5,000 in 2002-03 to about $15,000 in 2017-18, is the UC system blocks the Cal State system from granting PhDs, and the Cal State system blocks the Community Colleges system from granting bachelor’s degrees.

If AB 1936 passed, the Office of Higher Education Performance and Accountability could require the state funding decisions for the UC, Cal State, and Community College systems be tied to the growth in the number of college graduates.

 

March 27 (Tuesday): Day 67

2020 Census will ask residents if they are American citizens

In a historic moment for President Trump’s administration, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross has announced that a question asking United States residents if they are American citizens will be placed on the 2020 Census.

Ross made the announcement late on Monday evening, writing in a statement:  “After a thorough review of the legal, program, and policy considerations, as well as numerous discussions with Census Bureau leadership, Members of Congress, and interested stakeholders, Secretary Ross has determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data.”

Since 1950, the citizenship question has not been asked on the full Census, leaving the nation without an exact estimate of how many citizens are in the country and how many noncitizens and illegal aliens are in the country.

March 28 (Wednesday): Day 68

President Trump tweets support for 2nd Amendment

“THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!” tweeted President Trump.

Mr. Trump’s declaration in an early morning tweet came after days of silence on the subject, despite student-organized marches around the country over the weekend calling for more gun control.

On Tuesday, the retired Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday,” Mr. Stevens wrote. “These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.”

Repealing the Second Amendment would have to be approved by Congress, and there are no signs that such a move is underway.

 “It is unequivocally not the Democratic caucus’ position to repeal the Second Amendment,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said in a statement to The New York Times on Wednesday. “The president has to tweet this because he and the Republicans are reeling.”

Mr. Schumer, of New York, said the student marches are having an impact on the traditional argument about gun safety. The choice, he said, is not between gun rights and no gun rights.

“Reasonable proposals that adhere to the Second Amendment but improve gun safety such as universal background checks, protective orders and a debate on the assault weapons ban are the way of the future,” Mr. Schumer said.

Mr. Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010. He wrote a major dissent about the Second Amendment in one of the court’s hardest-fought decisions. Mr. Stevens argued that the amendment does not protect an individual’s right to own firearms. “That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power,” Mr. Stevens wrote on Tuesday, referring to the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobbying group. “Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

“We can uphold Second Amendment rights while preventing senseless gun violence,” Mrs. Clinton tweeted in May 2016.

Mr. Trump had the support of the N.R.A. early in his campaign for president and has said he is “the biggest fan of the Second Amendment.” After the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month, Mr. Trump proposed stricter controls on access to guns, particularly raising the age to purchase an assault weapon to 21 from 18. After a meeting with the N.R.A., Mr. Trump no longer advocated for an age increase. Instead, the White House — with the support of the N.R.A. — says appropriately trained teachers should be armed to respond to future mass shootings. “Gun free zones are proven targets of killers,” Mr. Trump tweeted on March 1.

President supports Orange County going against “sanctuary” laws

President Donald Trump offered support Wednesday to the Orange County leaders and activists who are rebelling against the State of California’s “sanctuary state” laws and siding with the federal government against them.

Trump tweeted the morning after the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to condemn the state’s “sanctuary state” laws, and to join the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit that seeks to overturn those laws on the basis of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The president said:  “The revolt has been sweeping Orange County ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared in the state earlier this month as his department filed its lawsuit in a federal district court in Sacramento.

The federal government is challenging three laws: the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (HB 450), the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103), and the California Values Act (SB 54).

Last week, the city council of Los Alamitos voted to defy the “sanctuary state” laws and to join the federal government’s lawsuit. Other cities and government bodies in Orange County are considering following suit. (Over a dozen Republican-led states have also joined the lawsuit on the federal government’s side.)

This week, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department decided to post information about the release dates of all inmates in its jails, including illegal aliens, so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be able to pick up those slated for deportation. ICE Acting Director Tom Homan praised the department in a statement on Tuesday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan praised Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens for her decision earlier this week to make the release dates of inmates in county jails public.

The move defies California’s “sanctuary state” laws, which are aimed at preventing state and local jails from sharing information about illegal aliens with ICE. By sharing information about all inmates with the public, Hutchens found a way to evade the state’s policy and assist federal authorities in their efforts to enforce federal immigration law.

Ousted Vets Secretary rips President Trump

Ousted Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin is ripping the “toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive” environment of Washington after being canned by President Trump this week.  “As many of you know, I am a physician, not a politician,” Shulkin wrote in a blistering New York Times op-ed published after his firing. “I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values.”

On Wednesday, the president announced plans to replace Shulkin with Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician.

Shulkin suggested his ouster could be related to those who want to privatize the VA – something he opposes.

 

March 29 (Thursday): Day 69

Anti-gun student activist targets Fox News show

Rachael Ray’s pet food brand Nutrish is removing its ads from Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show. Just hours after Florida school shooting survivor and anti-gun activist David Hogg asked followers to pressure advertisers to sever ties with Ingraham’s show, the pet food brand tweeted that it was leaving the show. “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program,” the company tweeted.”

Ingraham’s show, the Ingraham Angle, airs on Fox News at 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Jeb Bush attacks President Trump’s family

Jeb Bush attacked President Donald Trump’s family by saying that after he (Jeb) lost the 2016 South Carolina GOP primary, he returned home to children who “actually love me, ” reports the Yale Daily News.

Overall, Jeb’s talk was critical of the effect Trump has had on the Republican Party, how the president has shifted the Party away from Bush’s view of what conservatism should be. Bush called Trump a “Republican in basically name only” and said  “If there was ever need for a Bill Buckley-like approach, to transforming conservatism in this country, it is right now. Maybe not a 19th-century or a 20th-century version of conservatism but certainly a 21st-century version of that. And sadly the fracturing of the conservative movement could not come at a worse time.”

Using their Twitter accounts, both Eric and Don Jr. shot back at Jeb. Referencing one of the many humiliations Jeb experienced on his hapless presidential campaign (“Please clap.”), Eric wrote, “@JebBush I actually love my father very much. #PleaseClap.” Don Jr., who revels in defending his father, blasted the former Florida governor. “Jeb! I love everything about my father. I love that he’s a fighter, I love that he has guts, I love that he’s President (all those things you’re not),” he wrote.  “Also love that he learned enough about politics in a few weeks to dismantle you piece by piece despite it being your life’s work.”

Sacramento homeowner will not sell home to a Trump supporter

A homeowner in Sacramento, California, who has put her family home on the local real estate market is refusing to sell it to anyone who supports President Donald Trump.

Experts disagree over whether her approach is illegal. Some say that her stance, while obnoxious, may not be illegal because political preference is not one of the categories protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Local CBS News affiliate CBS 13 reports: “I told her [the realtor] that I didn’t want her to sell it to a Trump supporter,” said the woman.

She wants a sale contingent upon how someone votes, but is that legal? Attorney Allen Sawyer doesn’t believe so. “That’s an unlawful contractual term that infringes the freedom of association and first amendment rights,” said Sawyer. But that doesn’t prevent a seller from discussing this kind of request during a sale.

“We can ask somebody how they voted, but they don’t have to tell us,” said realtor Elizabeth Weintraub.

According to the Fair Housing Act, political party affiliation doesn’t fall into one of the seven protected classes. They include race, religion, color, disability. National origin, sex and familial status.

The home seller’s stance would exclude 2 out of every 5 prospective buyers, according to voting data. (Read the rest of the CBS 13 report here.)

Earlier this month, the Washingtonian reported that conservatives in the nation’s capital city were finding it difficult to find dates because liberals excluded them when browsing online dating profiles. “In a city as overwhelmingly Democratic as DC, the combination of lingering anger over Hillary Clinton‘s loss and President Trump‘s existence makes it tricky for conservatives to date across party lines.”

 

March 30 (Friday): Day 70

Investors ask corporations to cut ties with NRA

Investors operating under the auspices of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) are asking banks, gun makers, and gun retailers to cut ties with the NRA.

The ICCR statement urging a break with the NRA was signed by investors “representing a total of $634 billion in assets.” The statement calls on gun makers to “stop the sale, production, design or conversion of military style semi-automatic assault weapons and associated accessories and components, including high capacity magazines, for use by civilians.” It also calls for gun makers to support the institution of background checks for ammunition sales.

ICCR calls gun retailers to “limit gun and ammunition sales to purchasers 21 and over (Walmart, Kroger and Dick’s Sporting Goods have already adopted this policy),” and to stop the sale of toy guns.

It calls for banks to quit doing business with gun makers and/or retailers who do not adhere to ICCR’s requests and also asks banks to “cease the financing or underwriting of gun shows and/or NRA-sponsored events.” ICCR asks “all companies” to “end commercial relationships and promotional ties with the NRA.”

Meanwhile, February donations to the NRA tripled after the organization came under attack by the gun control lobby. The Washington Free Beacon reported that the NRA PAC received $779,063 in donations in February versus $247,985 in January.

Sacramento Kings form alliance with Black Lives Matter after shooting

The Sacramento Kings have formed an alliance with Black Lives Matter. The same group which has disrupted two of the last three Kings games at Golden 1 Center, while protesting the police shooting of Stephon Clark.

According to the Sacramento Bee:  “Among other things, the Kings announced late Wednesday they will set up an education fund for Clark’s two young children, co-sponsor a forum in south Sacramento Friday night and work with the fledgling Build. Black. Coalition ‘to support the education of young people and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development efforts’ in a multi-year effort.”

Activists have blocked off the Kings’ arena for two of the team’s past three home games in protest of the Sacramento Police Department’s March 18 shooting of Clark, who was armed with what police thought was a gun but was later determined to be a cellphone.

The protests thrust Sacramento’s Black Lives Matter group back into the spotlight and prompted the formation of Build. Black. Coalition, which operates under the slogan ‘this is a movement, not a moment.’

According to Build. Black. Spokeswoman Darcy Totten, “This tragic death really humanized something that’s been felt deeply in this community for a long time, something that’s been brewing. Our goal is to fundamentally transform the conditions that led to the death of Stephon Clark, because those conditions are systemic.”

The Sacramento Bee reports, “The announcement represents a potential breakthrough after days of tension that have disrupted a City Council meeting, blocked traffic throughout downtown Sacramento and set the city on edge. Police plan to beef up security for the Kings’ 7 p.m. game against the Indiana Pacers Thursday, knowing protesters will be shouting outside District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office mere blocks away and could migrate to Downtown Commons. The Kings met with Mayor Darrell Steinberg, law enforcement and community leaders Wednesday to figure out how to get fans past the protesters.”

Steinberg hailed the union between the Kings and BLM in a statement released on Thursday, “I love that the Kings have joined the Build.Black coalition and are stepping up to provide an education fund for Stephon Clark’s children in addition to commuting to new investments in Sacramento’s African-American youth.”

Black Lives Matter also applauded the arrangement:  “Having successfully used protests to form an alliance with a pro sports team, there’s a strong likelihood BLM will repeat that formula in the future.”

Attorney General will not name a second special counsel

Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed in a letter to lawmakers Thursday that he had declined to name a second special counsel to investigate allegations of surveillance abuse within the Department of Justice (DOJ), despite pressure from the Republican Party for him to do so.

In his letter to GOP committee chairmen Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Bob Goodlatte (Va.) and Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Sessions said the appointment of a special counsel only occurs under “the most ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ “

“To justify such an appointment, the Attorney General would need to conclude that ‘the public interest would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for the matter from the Department of Justice,’ ” Sessions wrote.  He said he had named a federal prosecutor in Utah, John Huber, to lead the investigation into Republicans’ allegations that the FBI and DOJ abused a surveillance program against a former Trump campaign aide.

“The additional matters raised in your March 6, 2018, letter fall within the scope of his existing mandate, and I am confident that Mr. Huber’s review will include a full, complete, and objective evaluation of these matters in a manner that is consistent with the law and the facts,” Sessions wrote.

Sessions said that upon completion of the investigation he would receive a recommendation from Huber about whether the allegations merit the need for another special counsel.

The letter comes amid mounting pressure from GOP lawmakers for Sessions to appoint a second counsel as Robert Mueller continues his own investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sessions earlier this month said he had tapped a former official “with many years in the Department of Justice” to look into the need for another special counsel, as calls grew from the likes of Grassley, Gowdy and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to look into the alleged surveillance abuses within the department.

In his letter, Sessions also noted that he had directed the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to open a probe into the allegations, an investigation that was formally announced on Wednesday. Trump has also been dismissive of the decision to put the department’s watchdog in charge of the case.

The multiple investigations center on allegations from Republicans that the FBI and DOJ abused the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), which were the subject of a controversial memo authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). 

The GOP lawmakers allege that investigators used information from the “Steele dossier,” a controversial file of opposition research compiled by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele, in order to obtain a politically motivated warrant for former Trump adviser Carter Page.

Huber has also been looking at whether the FBI should have more thoroughly probed Hillary Clinton’s ties to Uranium One, a Russian nuclear energy agency. Former President Obama appointed Huber to his position in 2015.

Sacramento student plans national student walkout for pro-life on April 11

A Sacramento, California, high school junior’s plan for a national student walkout on April 11 is inspired by his pro-life values and his strong conviction that all students have First Amendment rights to stand for their principles Breitbart News reports.

Brandon Gillespie–a student at Rocklin High School–said he met with his principal last Friday to discuss his plan for a pro-life student walkout to protest abortion. “I asked him for the exact same accommodations that were given to the students who held the previous walkout on March 14, and he was not able to give me a direct answer on whether or not I was able to have this pro-life walkout,” Gillespie said. “He told me he has to go talk to certain administrators and people in the school district before he can give me a direct answer. So, he told me he will be getting back to me on April 2.”

Gillespie notes, however, that while currently he cannot be certain his school will allow the pro-life walkout, he does know the walkout is already slated to occur in schools throughout the country as a result of his social media campaign. “Initially I just started through social media, using the hashtag #Life,” he explained. “And the word has just spread – just through social media pretty much, through different media outlets and stuff, and just me going and doing interviews with people. People have been reaching out to me and saying, ‘I love your cause,’ and ‘I love what you’re doing,’ and ‘I’m going to do this at my school.’” Gillespie said his hope is to engage as many people as possible in the pro-life movement.

Students participating in the pro-life walkout on April 11 will walk out of their schools at 10:00 a.m. in all time zones for 17 minutes – as did students who participated in the gun control walkout on March 14.

Asked if he is primarily organizing the walkout because he is pro-life or because he is challenging a potential double standard in public schools that allowed a student walkout during instructional time over promotion of a progressive issue such as gun control, Gillespie responded, “It’s a little bit of both. So, yes, I’m very pro-life – I’m against abortion,” he continued. “So, that’s the biggest thing. But, also, I really want to test and see if there is a double standard at schools because the previous walkout on March 14 was school-sanctioned and it was for gun control. So, I wanted to test the schools and see if they would allow a more conservative topic. That’s why I’m doing this; but, yes, I am also very pro-life.”

Gillespie said his history teacher, Julianne Benzel, was the main inspiration for his idea to launch the pro-life walkout. “She’s the one who motivated me to do this because she questioned the school about whether it would give the same courtesy to a group of students that wanted to protest something else, for example, abortion,” he explained. “So, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m testing to see if the school district will give the same courtesy. She’s really who inspired me to do this.”

Benzel was placed on paid leave last week for questioning whether students against abortion would be permitted to walk out of class in the same way thousands of students walked out of class during instruction time on March 14 to promote gun control. Complaints were made against Benzel by some parents and students who said her questions to her students were “anti-abortion,” resulting in the teacher being placed on leave.

“[If schools] are going to allow one group of students to get up during class and walk out to protest one issue, would they still give the same courtesy to another group of students who wanted to get up and walk out to protest?” she asked, according to Fox News Insider. “And I used the example of abortion.”

Gillespie, who plans to enter the military after he completes high school, said he totally understands the criticism that no students should be permitted to engage in walkouts for political causes during instructional time.

“But another big part of this is for students’ rights. I don’t think students understand that they still have their First Amendment rights – even when they are in school. Just because they’re in school, doesn’t mean their rights are taken away. I want students to know across the country they still have the right to stand up for what they believe in, even if it’s conflicting with what the school district believes.”

Connecticut-based constitutional and education attorney Deborah Stevenson told Breitbart News the constitutional principles of equal protection under the law may apply in the case of the pro-life walkout. “If one group was allowed to have a school walkout to advocate for school safety through gun control, then other groups may have a right to have a walkout to advocate for pro-life causes, under the premise of equal protection principles,” she said. “This might be particularly true when both of the groups here are advocating for the protection of the lives of individuals.”

Stevenson notes, however, that the use of taxpayer funds, under existing law, in many states, “may preclude the kind of partisan political advocacy seen most recently by use of these walkouts. However, if one side of an argument is allowed to effectuate that kind of demonstration, then it would appear to be fair to allow those who have an opposing point of view to do the same,” she added. “It would be wise, then, for all who seek to advocate using school district funds or services to determine their liability under the law before proceeding.”

Though Gillespie said he believes, in general, students should not be out protesting for political causes during instructional time, he cannot dismiss the fact that schools allowed the gun control walkout. “Because schools sanctioned this first walkout, and that was taking place during class time, then they have to allow more,” he asserted. “So, until they come to a point at which they say, ‘Okay, this is enough. No more protests during school time.’”

Asked if conservative students have a tougher time in public schools, Gillespie said living in California is definitely a challenge for him as a more conservative student. “I do believe it is harder for conservative students to speak their minds and say what they really think because most teachers are very left-leaning politically,” he explained.

Students for Life of America (SFLA) – the nation’s largest organization of pro-life youth – is serving as a resource for the Pro-Life Walkout. SFLA media specialist Kristi Hamrick said students can obtain information about their legal rights at ProLifeWalkout.org, where students and schools can also sign up to participate in the walkout on April 11. “We recognize that there’s pushback,” Hamrick said. “We do have attorneys working with us. What was good for one cause is good for the other. So, in particular, if students are concerned about the legal issues associated with participating in the walkout, we’re going to help them with that.”

The pro-life walkout is “student-initiated and student-driven,” Hamrick added.

 

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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