Walkouts, Lawsuits, DNC Sues, Californians Push back on Sanctuary State and More |Look At News Daily  (April 14-20/Day 85-91) Week 13

By Michael Hernandez

 

April 14 (Saturday): Day 85

Billionaire wants California divided into three states

Billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper believes that to better represent its citizens, California should be divided.

Draper has been pitching the “Cal 3” plan for years, but 2018 has given it the sort of traction it needs to get onto the November ballot. He has gathered almost twice the required number of signatures for its inclusion — roughly 600,000 as opposed to the minimum 365,880 he had struggled to amass in 2014 and 2016.

The three states would be configured as follows: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito counties would make up the central Californian state; Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, and Mono counties would form the southern one; finally, the 40 remaining counties would be lumped into a single northern California state.

“I think that these three new states are going to empower people to realize what’s possible in government,” Draper said in an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight. He believes that these divisions will enable a more accurate representation of the diverse populations congregated along the Pacific.

Further, to his mind, the division may enable California to solve some of its most pressing issues; namely, education. “The education system is just about the worst in all 50 states, and it’s the biggest state,” Draper said. “So it really does need sort of a revamp and a restart. And I think this is a good start to doing that.”

USC combats “racism, sexism, and xenophobia”

The University of Southern California has installed a provocative exhibit titled “Dismantle Whiteness and Misogyny on Campus” in an apparent effort to combat “racism, sexism and xenophobia.”

The Annenberg Institute for Diversity and Empowerment (IDEA) commissioned the project, and worked together with the feminist artist collective “When Women Disrupt” and students from the class “Women: Designing Media for Social Change” to produce the controversial mural, which depicts large drawings of four women of color along with the title of the exhibit blazoned above the doorway.

The exhibit has been installed at an entrance to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism building, according to the ever-vigilant student journalists at The College Fix.

IDEA says that it seeks to generate “conversation about the institutionalized and everyday systems of power and representation that reinforce racism, patriarchy, and inequity.”

The Institute’s faculty co-director Alison Trope said that the installation “is intended to spark dialogue” and there is “no expectation that everyone agree with the statement offered by the artists.”  USC has no parallel exhibit suggesting that “blackness” be dismantled as a way of “sparking dialogue.”

In praise of the exhibit, Trope said that the work has already prompted “many generative conversations” with participation by “those who align with the sentiments and those who do not.”

The website for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers a brief lexicon of the keywords needed to appreciate the exhibit in all its depth.  “The whiteness that needs dismantling is not just a person’s color but everything that goes with it, from their “unmarked and unnamed place of advantage, privilege or domination” that comes from being white, to “a lens through which white people tend to see themselves and others,” or even “an organizing principle that shapes institutions, policies, and social relations.”

Patriarchy, on the other hand, is a “political-social system in which males hold a disproportionately large share of power.” Such a system “insists males are inherently superior and endowed with the right to dominate and rule” while maintaining male dominance “through various forms of physical and psychological violence,” the website states. Most damning of all, “everyone is implicated” in Patriarchy, the site declares.

 

April 15 (Sunday): Day 86

President Trump:  FBI director is “slippery” character

President Donald Trump continued his criticism of former FBI Director James Comey, describing as a “slippery” character. “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” he wrote on Twitter.

Trump accused him of positioning himself to get a job with Hillary Clinton if she won the presidency. “Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!”

 

April 16 (Monday):  Day 87

Nancy Pelosi:  Trump “above the law” in Syria strikes

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters in San Francisco on Sunday that President Donald Trump had behaved as if he were “above the law” in ordering precision strikes on Friday targeting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons infrastructure.

Trump ordered the strikes after a reported chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against civilians in the town of Douma on April 7. U.S. intelligence confirmed the attack, officials said.

Pelosi has long been one of the foremost opponents of military action against the Assad regime. In 2007, shortly after becoming Speaker of the House, she traveled to Syria to meet with Assad personally.

Pelosi and several of her fellow Democrats traveled to Syria in a protest against any potential military action against Assad, and to highlight diplomacy as an alternative. Other prominent Democrats who traveled to meet with Assad included former President Jimmy Carter and former Democratic presidential nominee — and later Secretary of State — Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

As Secretary of State, Kerry would broker an agreement with Russia that supposedly guaranteed the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. That agreement, seen at the time as an alternative to military action, was quickly violated by the Syrian regime.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Pelosi said that Trump was abusing a 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force against terrorists to target Syria. She said that Trump could not act against Syria without specific approval from Congress.

“We must have that debate, Congress must act, and the president cannot feel that he has free rein in that regard. … What was the mission, and what did he accomplish? The point is, we want to know what happened there.”

Pelosi is currently favored to become the next Speaker of the House, according to polls that show the Democrats winning the lower chamber in the 2018 midterm elections.

HBO show attacks Christians

The latest episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” launches a full-fledged attack on Christians as “the source of the majority of the world’s problems,” and admits that being open about your Christian faith is the worst thing one can do in the Tech World.

Sunday’s episode, “Tech Evangelist,” sees web developer DD left furious after being outed by series regular Richard as “very gay and also a Christian,” while making a proposal to fellow tech leaders. An admission of faith in Christ, we learn, is absolutely unacceptable in Silicon Valley.

“You can be openly polyamorous and people here will call you brave,” Jared tells his colleague Richard. “You can put microdoses of LSD in your cereal and people will call you a pioneer. But the one thing you cannot be is a Christian.

“I find their theology to be illegitimate, and it’s clear that they are the source of the majority of the world’s problems,” adds Gilfoyle.

“The episode brings light to the pervasive left-wing, anti-Christian culture running across the tech industry and parts of Hollywood where Christian teachings are shunned in favor of progressive values on issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and the nuclear family.”

Breitbart:  What Facebook doesn’t want you to know?

Breitbart News reports on facts about Facebook that the company would rather you didn’t know:

1) Facebook can’t define “hate speech” 

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) threw Zuckerberg a number of curveballs on the issue of “hate speech,” leaving the Facebook CEO unable to give a clear response. Asked to define the term, Zuckerberg could only respond: “Senator, I think that this is a really hard question and I think its one of the reasons why we struggle with it.” The best he could offer Sen. Sasse was that Facebook won’t define pro-life views as hate speech. “Small reassurance,” said Breitbart News.

2) “Enforcement errors” only seem to happen to conservatives

Through both days of congressional hearings, Zuckerberg was peppered with questions about the censorship of conservatives on Facebook. At one point, Zuckerberg tried to claim that it’s not just conservatives who are the subject of what he termed “enforcement errors” on Facebook. In response, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) pointed out that he didn’t see the issue of censorship being raised by “liberal organizations, liberal candidates, or liberal policy statements.” The point was clear: if liberals are censored on Facebook as much as conservatives are, where are the complaints?

3) Even if you’ve never had a Facebook account, they still have your data

Mark Zuckerberg tried to present lawmakers with the impression that his company had stopped taking data without users’ consent. But Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) wouldn’t let him get away with it, drawing attention to the fact that Facebook collects data on users that aren’t even on the platform. Castor asked Zuckerberg two yes-or-no questions that he was forced to admit to: that Facebook collects data on non-Facebook users on every website that has a “like” or “share” button. Rep. Castor also drew attention to Facebook’s harvesting of medical data on non-users, another point Zuckerberg was forced to concede. At the end of the questioning, Rep. Castor mused that “it’s practically impossible to remain untracked in America today.”

4) Facebook keeps your data until … ???

One of Zuckerberg’s major slip-ups according to Breitbart News was when he was asked how long Facebook retains data after a user has deleted his or her account. Questioned on the issue by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), all Zuckerberg could say was that Facebook tries “to move as quickly as possible.” He promised to follow up with more precise information.

5) Facebook is responsible for its content 

Zuckerberg’s lack of legal acumen according to Breitbart News was exposed during the hearing, as he told lawmakers on a number of occasions that he believes Facebook is “responsible” for content posted on its platform. This carries Facebook away from the status of being a neutral public forum, and towards that of being a publisher, legally liable for all content posted on the platform stated Breitbart. With over 2 billion users, Facebook would be existentially threatened by such a shift. But if the social network continues to act as a publisher, making decisions for example on what counts as “quality news,” that may be where the company ends up said the news network.

 

April 17 (Tuesday):  Day 88

State Assemblyman pushing for tax on firearms to pay for school security

Just months after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill barring K-12 teachers from being armed for self-defense, Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-9) is pushing a tax on firearms to pay for school security.  His bill, AB 2497, would also tax ammunition to help fund security at schools.

The text of AB 2497 proposes that there be a tax “for the privilege of selling a firearm at retail” beginning January 1, 2019. The monies accrued from that tax would be used to fund school security. In the same way, a tax would be imposed “for the privilege of selling ammunition at retail.” Those monies would also go toward school security.

On October 15, 2017, Gov. Brown signed legislation guaranteeing teachers would not be able to shoot back if attacked. That legislation, AB 424, was sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). McCarty defended his push to disarm teachers by saying, “A safe learning environment is essential for our children to be successful in the classroom. That’s not possible if a school district allows armed civilians to roam California school campuses.”

At the time, Kern High School District, Kingsburg Joint Union High School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Anderson Union High School District, and Palo Cedro’s North Cow Creek School District had chosen to allow certain teachers with concealed carry licenses to carry. McCarty did not cite a single incident in which one of those teachers acted inappropriately with their firearm nor could he point to a time when a student gained access to the teacher’s firearm.

Assemblyman Cooper now wants to tax firearm and ammunition purchases to fund security for schools.

UC Merced explores killing funding for College Republicans—“hate group”

The student government at the University of California, Merced, is trying to kill funding for the school’s College Republicans chapter.

Students at the University of California, Merced, are dealing with a pushback from the school’s student government over their recent request to use student funding to attend the California College Republicans state convention. A statement published by members of the UC Merced student government included an apology for their decision to fund the group’s recent trip to the conference.

“In addition to our inaction as a branch of the Associated Students of UC Merced, the Inter Club Council has recently made the decision to fund the College Republicans to attend a conference. A conference that will enable their organization to network with individuals that share their harmful views. Ultimately, bringing back hateful sentiments to our UC Merced community,” the statement reads.  The statement also explained that the student senate is considering withholding funding from student organizations that engage in “hate speech” on campus. “Members of the senate believe that we should not tolerate or support any individual or organization that perpetuates hate speech on our campus,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile, the California College Republicans condemned the UC Merced student senate and defended the students, citing their ability to exercise their First Amendment rights on a college campus.  “The California College Republicans view any attempt to defund CRUCM as an explicitly biased attack against conservative values and ideas. The freedom to voice these ideas under our First Amendment rights is a principle we are determined to fight for on behalf of all Americans. It is an abuse of the office and institution for administrators and student governments to shame students for being conservative. Any repercussive actions by UC Merced student government or campus administration is an assault on First Amendment rights, and we unequivocally support CRUCM in their battle against campus bias for maintaining funding for their organization.”

The student senate at UC Merced also announced that they exploring a policy option that would allow them to deny student funds to any partisan political group on campus.

New AP history textbook attacks President Trump and his supporters

A new Advanced Placement honors American history textbook has not been distributed to students yet; but it’s already stirring controversy for being anti-Trump and suggesting his supporters are angry xenophobes.

Tarra Snyder, a student at Rosemount High School in Minnesota, who saw a copy of the book sent to her school, told Fox News she was “appalled” after seeing how “blatantly biased” the newest edition of “By the People: A History of the United States” was toward Trump and his voters. She said it also glossed over all issues then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced during her campaign.  

“There are specific parts where it goes off the rails from a historical textbook toward an op-ed,” Snyder said.  She told “Fox & Friends” she’s just raising a red flag and bringing attention to what was inside the textbook. “It was really, really surprising to me,” she said. “I really believe that learning should be objective and that students can make their own decisions based on what they’re able to learn in a classroom, and if the facts are skewed then students aren’t able to make well-rounded decisions on what they believe.”

The textbook – published by British-owned, Pearson Education, and authored by New York University professor James Fraser – is currently being pitched to public high schools in an effort to get them to buy the latest edition.

Pearson spokesman, Scott Overland, told Fox News the textbook was “developed by an expert author and underwent rigorous peer review to ensure academic integrity.” He added that it was “designed to convey college-level information to high school students” and “aims to promote debate and critical thinking by presenting multiple sides” of the 2016 election.

Overland added that they welcome feedback for their texts and are willing to meet with concerned parents and teachers “as a part of our longstanding commitment and track record of providing unbiased and accurate materials.”

Alex Clark, co-host of The Joe and Alex Show on WNOW in Indianapolis, Ind. tweeted the book was the latest example of “an effort going on in public school to indoctrinate kids with an anti-conservative agenda.”

The final section of the book, titled “The Angry Election of 2016,” is highly critical of Trump. “Most thought that Trump was too extreme a candidate to win the nomination, but his extremism, his anti-establishment rhetoric, and, some said, his not-very-hidden racism connected with a significant number of primary voters,” Fraser wrote.

Trump voters are described as “mostly older, often rural or suburban, and overwhelmingly white” while the book uses the viewpoint of Clinton voters to describe Trump’s supporters as fearful, backwards, sexist people who supported a mentally ill candidate. “Clinton’s supporters feared that the election had been determined by people who were afraid of a rapidly developing ethnic diversity of the country, discomfort with their candidate’s gender, and nostalgia for an earlier time in the nation’s history,” the textbook says. “They also worried about the mental stability of the president-elect and the anger that he and his supporters brought to the nation.”

The book also bashes police for its handling of the Ferguson riots. In a section titled “Black Lives Matter,” Fraser wrote that after the shooting of Michael Brown, Brown’s “parents were kept away at gunpoint.” He paints a negative view of police while glossing over violent tactics carried out by some rioters, critics say. “The nearly all-white police force was seen as an occupying army in the mostly African American town…the police increased the tensions, defacing memorials set up for Brown and using rubber bullets on demonstrators,” he wrote.

According to his bio, Fraser wrote the book to “help make U.S. History courses more lively, with a focus on the agency of everyday Americans or many different communities, times, and places.”

CIA Director travels to North Korea to meet with North Korea dictator

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, secretly traveled to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un

Pompeo made the trip for high-level talks to discuss the planned bilateral meeting with Trump later this year. The news was first reported by the Washington Post. Trump announced on March 13 his decision to fire Rex Tillerson and replace him with Pompeo, but the CIA director is still waiting for a confirmation vote from the Senate. Tillerson left the State Department on March 22.

During his confirmation hearings on Thursday, Pompeo told U.S. Senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he was “optimistic” that the government could set Trump up for success.

The president hinted that “direct talks at very high levels” had already taken place with North Korea, while hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Trump appeared eager to conclude a successful negotiation with North Korea, although he cautioned that the meeting could be canceled at any time. “There’s a great chance to solve a world problem,” He told reporters. “This is not a problem for the United States. This is not a problem for Japan or any other country. This is a problem for the world.”

 

 

Turkish court rules that American Pastor Andrew Brunson return to jail

At the conclusion of the first day of American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s trial in Turkey– a day filled with video testimony of secret prosecution witnesses whose voices and appearances were disguised – the Turkish judge refused to release Pastor Andrew and ordered he be returned to the notoriously overcrowded and grim prison, where he was originally imprisoned.  The judge also ordered that the trial not resume until May 7th.  The trial was attended by both a U.S. Senator and an American Ambassador.

The American Center for Law and Justice claims “the delay and return to a much worse prison is an escalation of his case. Pastor Andrew is on trial because of his Christian faith.” The 62-page indictment accuses him of the supposed “crime” of  “Christianization,” calling it an act of terror. If convicted, he faces a 35-year prison sentence – which for the 50-year-old pastor is essentially a life sentence.

“Today’s ruling sends him back to a prison he had been in months ago – a prison that is severely overcrowded with almost two dozen inmates packed into a small cell.”

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow stated:  “Instead of being returned to the prison where he had been held most recently, the judge ordered Pastor Andrew to be taken back to an overcrowded and extremely grim prison where he was held initially.  As you can imagine, the news is devastating to Pastor Andrew and his family.

“At the American Center for Law and Justice – we are stepping up our aggressive campaign to secure the freedom of Pastor Andrew.  Between now and the next court date of May 7th – we have an important opportunity – to turn up the pressure on the Turkish government.

“The next three weeks are critical for Pastor Andrew and his family.  Stand with the ACLJ as we work on the international front as well as at the highest levels of our government to keep Pastor Andrew’s case in the headlines.  We are grateful for everyone who has stood with us during the legal battle.  But these next three weeks are VERY CRITICAL. We have to turn up the pressure – work even harder to secure the release of Pastor Andrew.

“We are aggressively fighting for his freedom. We must increase the diplomatic pressure on Turkey to release this innocent U.S. citizen. The fact that Senator Tillis – Pastor Andrew’s home state Senator – and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were present at today’s trial is an important step.

“Turkey must understand that as a NATO ally it cannot be allowed to continue wrongfully imprisoning an innocent U.S. citizen. We are aggressively working in Congress, with the State Department and the White House, and at the U.N. to fight for Pastor Andrew’s freedom. He needs your voice now more than ever.”

(Editor’s Note:  To sign an American Center for Law and Justice petition demanding Turkey release its American hostage, please go to:   https://aclj.org/persecuted-church/save-pastor-andrew-from-a-turkish-prison.  Currently, the petition has more than 530,000 signatures.)

 Wheaton College meeting become anti-Trump affair

A two-day gathering at Wheaton College involved a group of faith leaders and was billed as a discussion of the evangelical movement in light of Trump’s presidency. But it became more than that according to two sources with intimate knowledge of the meeting who say the first day turned into a lot of “one-sided venting” against President Trump and the majority of evangelicals who voted for him.

“After that first day, a few people felt so uncomfortable with the rhetoric against Trump they left, forgoing the last day of the conference. It’s important to note that no members of President Trump’s faith advisory group were present or ever officially invited.  Rather, this group of evangelicals consisted of many who hold more moderate or progressive views on certain public policy issues.”

In total, the meeting included about 50 faith leaders and scholars and was spearheaded by Doug Birdsall, Rev. Dr. Gabriel A. Salguero and Jenny Yang. Salguero was appointed as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has spoken at the Democrat National Committee Convention in the past. Other attendees included Timothy Keller, A.R. Bernard, Mark Labberton and Ed Stetzer. 

Former First Lady passes away in Houston, Texas at age 92

Former First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of America’s 41st president and mother of its 43rd, passed away on Tuesday evening in Houston, Texas, with her husband of 73 years holding her hand.

The Bush family matriarch’s iconic life spanned nearly a century and afforded her a front row seat to the seminal moments of American political history over multiple administrations, from Nixon to Trump.

From her then-fiancé George H.W. Bush’s service as a Navy pilot in World War II, to her husband’s presidency during the fall of Soviet Union, and her son George W. Bush’s presidency during the 9/11 terror attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Barbara Bush’s life encompassed America’s greatest tragedies and triumphs in a century-long ascent as a super power.

Bush, who was born Barbara Pierce, remains one of the most universally admired women to hold the title of First Lady.

In one infamous incident in 1992, Mrs. Bush filled in for her husband after he collapsed suddenly during a state dinner being given in his honor in Japan. After President Bush was rushed to the hospital, First Lady Barbara Bush remained behind to continue the evening’s toasts and speeches.

A statement announcing her passing read:  “A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away April 17, 2018 at the age of 92. She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H. W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grandchildren; and her brother, Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.”

President Donld Trump issued a statement honoring former First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of President George H.W. Bush, joining leaders around the world in remembering her life after she passed away on Tuesday. “She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well,” the statement read, offering president and First Lady Melania Trump’s thoughts and prayers for the Bush family.  Trump praised Bush for as an “advocate of the American family” and noted her effort to raise awareness of the importance of literacy.

Melania Trump issued a separate statement praising Bush for her “strength.”   “Throughout her life, she put family and country above all else,” she said. “Her dedicated service to the American people was matched only by her compassion and love of family.”

 

April 18 (Wednesday):  Day 89

Fresno State professor:  Barbara Bush “racist…who raised a war criminal”

Fresno State University professor Randa Jarrar tweeted on Tuesday that former First Lady Barbara Bush “was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.”

Jarrar, whose tweets are protected, teaches in the English department at Fresno State, and taunted her critics by boasting: “I will never be fired.”

According to the Fresno Bee, Jarrar described herself on Twitter as “an Arab-American and a Muslim-American woman” and added that “she is a tenured professor and makes $100,000 a year.”  In her faculty bio at Fresno State, she is pictured posing with a kaffiyeh, a scarf often used to express solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israel. She reportedly tweeted Tuesday: “If you’d like to know what it’s like to be an Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout online expressing an opinion, look at the racists going crazy in my mentions right now.”

Last year, an adjunct professor at Fresno State was placed on leave after tweeting that “Trump must hang.”

According to her bio, Jarrar grew up in Kuwait and moved to the U.S. after the Gulf War. In that war, Mrs. Bush’s husband, President George H. W. Bush, launched a massive military operation to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro expressed “deep concerns” on Tuesday over a series of pejorative tweets issued by Professor Randa Jarrar in reaction to former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death.

“On behalf of Fresno State, I extend my deepest condolences to the Bush family on the loss of our former First Lady Barbara Bush,” Castro wrote in a public statement. “We share the deep concerns expressed by others over the personal comments made today by Professor Randa Jarrar, a professor in the English Department at Fresno State.”

In his statement, Castro added, “Professor Jarrar’s expressed personal views and commentary are obviously contrary to the core values of our university, which include respect and empathy for individuals with divergent points of view, and a sincere commitment to mutual understanding and progress.”

According to the Fresno Bee, Jarrar encouraged her critics to tag Castro in tweets, and wrote, “What I love about being an American professor is my right to free speech, and what I love about Fresno State is that I always feel protected and at home here. GO BULLDOGS!”

Jarrar reportedly taunted her critics by writing that she is a is a tenured professor and makes $100,000 a year and said, “I will never be fired.”  Jarrar’s Twitter account says she is “Currently on leave from Fresno State.” Fresno State said that Professor Jarrar has “requested a leave” for the spring semester and will not be teaching classes.

Republican congressman seeks to terminate Citibank federal contract

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) is pushing to end Citibank’s federal contract after the finance giant adopted new gun policies that do not respect the Second Amendment.

Citibank currently enjoys a $700 billion contract with the General Services Administration (GSA), and Rokita is seeking to have that contract terminated. Rokita sent a letter to GSA administrator Emily W. Murphy, in which he pointed to Citibank’s new policy mandating that financial customers in the firearms sector refuse to sell “high capacity” magazines and bump stocks, and also refuse to sell long guns to any one under 21, although federal law allows sales to customers age 18 and up.

Citibank’s policy also requires customers in the firearms industry to go beyond federal requirements on background checks and refuse sales to anyone whose background check goes three days without conclusively proving the would-be buyer is barred from firearm possession.

Rokita described these policies as “a flagrant attempt to undermine our fundamental rights by caving to radicals not endorsed by our federal government.” He told Administrator Murphy, “Our federal government should instead do business with companies that respect all of our constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.”  He called on GSA to “take all necessary steps to review and terminate its contract with Citibank,” unless the finance giant reverses policy.

Rep. Rokita emphasized that Citibank has proven to be “a huge critic of the NRA and the Second Amendment itself.” He praised the 15 co-signatories who joined him in calling for Citibank’s federal contract to be terminated.

The 15 Reps. who signed Rokita’s letter are Rick Allen (R-GA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) Steve Russell (R-OK), Steve King (R-IA), Tom Marino (R-PA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Ron Estes (R-KS).

Rokita said he wants to be sure Citibank “is not making money off taxpayers when they have so little regard for the God-given right taxpayers have, and that includes, certainly, the Second Amendment.

GOP lawmakers make criminal referrals for Obama officials

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday sent a slew of criminal referrals to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a number of Obama administration officials and senior FBI employees for violations of the law in connection to the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations.

Specifically, they sent criminal referrals to Sessions for: former FBI Director James Comey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, for separate violations.

The criminal referrals, first reported by investigative journalist Sara Carter, were made by Rep. Ron Desantis (R-FL), a senior member of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees who is leaving the House to run for Florida governor, and ten other colleagues.

Signatories included: GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Dave Brat (VA), Jeff Duncan (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Paul A. Gosar (AZ), Andy Harris (MD), Jody Hice (GA), Todd Rokita (IN), Claudia Tenney (NY), and Ted Yoho (FL).

“Because we believe that those in positions of high authority should be treated the same as every other American, we want to be sure that the potential violations of law outlined below are vetted appropriately,” said the letter.

They said Comey potentially broke the law when he chose not to seek charges against Clinton, for leaking classified memos of his conversations to President Trump to his friend Daniel Richman to give to the press, and for lying to lawmakers.

They said Clinton potentially broke the law when disguising payments to Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Trump dossier, despite mandatory disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.

Lynch, they said, potentially broke the law when she threatened a former FBI informant, William Douglas Campbell, who had tried to come forward in 2016 with information related to the Uranium One deal that was approved in 2010.

McCabe potentially broke the law when he lied to investigators four times when questioned about a leak that he had arranged, they said.

Strzok and Page potentially violated the law by interfering in the investigation of Clinton’s private email server, they said. The letter cites a Wall Street Journal report that said their text messages to one another revealed FBI officials tried to eliminate evidence that Clinton had compromised high-level communications with then-President Obama.  “The report provides the following alarming specifics, among others: ‘Mr. Strzok texts Ms. Page to tell her that, in fact, senior officials had decided to water down the reference to President Obama to ‘another senior government official,” the criminal referral said.

Finally, the lawmakers referred all Justice Department and FBI personnel, including Comey, McCabe, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, for potentially breaking the law by using unverified and/or false information to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. 

Carter also reported that other recent documents obtained by congressional investigators suggest possible coordination by the Obama White House, the CIA, and the FBI in investigating the Trump campaign.  “According to those documents, the senior Obama officials used unsubstantiated evidence to launch allegations in the media that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election,” Carter reported.

CIA Director John Brennan had briefed Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in August 2016, prompting Reid to send a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey asking him to investigate allegations of collusion. Reid then reportedly stayed in close touch with Comey.

Trump:  “Pastor Andrew being persecuted in Turkey for no reason”

President Trump took to Twitter directly calling on Turkey and asking that “Pastor Andrew” “be allowed to come home,” stating that he is “being persecuted in Turkey for no reason.

“Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!”

 

April 19 (Thursday):  Day 90

Rohrabacher:  California changing on illegal immigration issue

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)  speaking Wednesday on Breitbart News Tonight said that the Republican Party’s Never Trump faction opposes measures to combat illegal immigration.

Rohrabacher said, “I hate to tell you this, but we have the Never Trumpers, and they have a lot of influence on our party, and then we have people who always were opposing anyone who was trying to fight against illegal immigration. These people actually supported amnesty within the Republican Party because you have the country club set who wants cheap labor. … Several people in the Republican Party — the Never Trumpers — bear some of this blame themselves.”

However, Rohrabacher assessed a political shift within California over the issue of illegal immigration. He said, “I believe there’s a mobilization going on because we’ve finally broken through the liberal media, the ones who just want to say we’re against immigrants rather than the illegal immigrants. There’s going to be a shift in California politics, right now, because of this issue.”

Rohrabacher highlighted the killing of Kate Steinle in 2015 by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times — and the subsequent acquittal of her killer on charges including murder — as a flashpoint in what he described a changing tide of popular opinion among Californians regarding illegal immigration.

Rohrabacher said of the acquittal of Steinle’s killer by a San Francisco jury, “The injustice of that, the stupidity of that, has finally captured the attention of well-meaning Democrats who’d gone along with this far-left liberal clique that runs their party.”

Rohrabacher added, “It’s clear to everybody that it’s bringing down our quality of life in California. The education levels are just going right through the floor. Our neighborhoods aren’t safe. The healthcare that our people use, you go into an emergency room and you have to wait hours because there are bunch of people who don’t speak English. It’s dawning on people that this is really bad. But the fact that we’re not even allowing the criminals to be deported on top of all of that. I think we’ve reached the tipping point. It’s going our way now and I think it will continue to go our way.”

California legislators threaten free speech with AB-2943

Focus on the Family host Jim Daly was on Frank Sontag’s 3-5 p.m. program on KKLA (99.5 FM)—a Southern California Christian radio station— to warn of the threat to free speech of proposed legislation, AB-2943, making its way through the California legislature.

The proposed legislation seeks to modify the state’s law related to unlawful business practices. The current version of the statute is not that much different from most states’ Unlawful Trade Practice Acts. It prohibits a seller from making misrepresentations about goods offered for sale. For example, a seller could not claim that a certain toothbrush is endorsed by the American Dental Association when that is not the case.

AB-2943 seeks to insert provisions prohibiting “Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” Under the proposed statute, “’Sexual orientation change efforts’ means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” The statute also contains lengthy findings that change therapy is a bad thing and can hurt people.

Under state case law, “the language used in a statute or constitutional provision should be given its ordinary meaning, and ‘[i]f the language is clear and unambiguous there is no need for construction, nor is it necessary to resort to indicia of the intent of the Legislature (in the case of a statute).” People v. Valencia, 3 Cal. 5th 347, 357, 397 P.3d 936, 944 (2017), reh’g denied (Aug. 30, 2017)

Under the plain meaning rule as described in Valencia, this statute would prohibit a book store from selling a book in which a Christian author urges people to repent of sexual immorality, which he identifies as including homosexuality, and to take their strength in the sacrificial love of Christ. Such a position is orthodox Christian teaching. (See e.g., Romans 1:24-26) But it also advocating an effort “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex”—an activity that would be prohibited by AB-2943.

Southwest Airlines pilot who safely landed plane is hailed as a hero

The Southwest Airlines pilot who safely landed an airplane Tuesday after the engine exploded is being hailed a hero. 

Flight 1380 was headed from New York City to Dallas when it was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of the engines blew shortly after take off. The explosion also blew out a window which killed one passenger who was seated next to the wing of the plane.

Pilot Tammie Jo Shults was able to land the plane safely nearly 30 minutes later, saving the lives of the other 143 passengers onboard.  Southwest Airlines has not officially released the name of the flight crew but passengers have identified Shults as the pilot across social media, praising her for her heroic act. According to The Navy Times, Shults was a 10-year veteran to the airline. Before that she was one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy for F-18 fighter jets.

Shults, a Christian, was also a graduate from MidAmerica Nazarene University, a Christian institute in Kansas. The school’s Director of Alumni Relations Kevin Garber told the Kansas City Star that Shults gave a speech last spring on campus, encouraging women to “crack through in male-dominated fields. She had tenacity to do something that excelled beyond the norm of what women were allowed or expected to do,” Garber said. “She pushed the limits and became what she strived for.”

In an old blog post for fighter pilots at F16.com, Shults said that sitting in the captain’s chair gave her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”

Her brother-in-law, Gary Shults said, “She’s a formidable woman, as sharp as a tack. My brother says she’s the best pilot he knows. She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people.” Many are also saying she had “nerves of steel” and are astounded at her ability to keep her cool amid crisis.

In the audio recording between Shults and the control tower, Shults can be heard calmly explaining what went wrong.  Shults’ mother-in-law also described her as a devout Christian, telling the Washington Post that it was her faith that contributed to her calm state.  “I know God was with her, and I know she was talking to God,” Virginia Shults said. Passengers across social media continue to sing her praises, and are thanking God for his hand in the emergency.

The exact cause of the engine explosion is still under investigation. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board released a statement saying they are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  “This should not happen and we want to find out why it happened so we make sure the preventative measures are put in place,” said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB Chairman.

Southwest passengers share their flight stories

“I grabbed my wife’s hand and I started praying: ‘Dear Jesus, send some angels. Just save us from this,'” Timothy Bourman, a pastor from Woodside, N.Y., told The New York Times. “I thought we were goners.” Meanwhile, the only thing his wife Amanda could think of were their three daughters age 2, 4, and 6.  The thoughts that were going through my head of course were about my daughters, just wanting to see them again and give them a big hug so they wouldn’t grow up without parents,” she said. After connecting her phone to the plane’s Wi-Fi, Amanda texted Pastor Bourman’s father to tell him what happened and to relay what she thought would be their last words to their children. 
“Pray. Plane blew an engine. We are going to try to land. Tell the girls we love them and that Jesus is with them always,” she said. 

The blown engine destroyed one of the plane’s windows, killing one passenger. Across from that window was Sheri Sears, who said a quick desperate prayer.  “If this is your will, God, please let me go quickly. Don’t let me suffer,” she said. 

The plane shook and rattled while the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, fought to land it safely. “That lady, I applaud her,”  Alfred Tumlinson, of Corpus Christi, Texas told the NYT.  “I’m going to send her a Christmas card, I’m going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

Rudy Giuliani joining President Trump’s personal legal team

Rudy Giuliani is joining President Donald Trump’s personal legal team, Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow announced Thursday.

Giuliani said he wants to make clear that his role on the legal team will be “limited.” Giuliani announced his focus will be on interfacing with special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia probe and to help bring everything to a conclusion, saying it “needs a little push.”

Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including any potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.

Giuliani was careful to praise Trump’s current legal team, but he said that sometimes it helps to bring on a fresh perspective. Giuliani also noted that he has known Mueller for a long time. They worked together in the Justice Department as well as when Mueller was FBI director and Giuliani was New York’s mayor. Giuliani said he is going to get a list from Mueller of what is needed to “comply” with the rest of the investigation as soon as he can, and depending on what is on the list, that compliance might go quickly, even as soon as “a couple of weeks.”

Giuliani pushed back on the idea that Trump ever had any intention of firing Mueller. He said the President never gave him any indication he was considering such a move because he knows it would be “counterproductive.” Dismissing Mueller would mean the investigation would take longer, Giuliani said, adding that “Bob is the best we can do” and saying he is fair.

Giuliani’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig, announced Thursday that he would be taking leave. “Mr. Giuliani is taking a leave of absence, effective today, for an unspecified period of time to handle matters unrelated to the law firm or its clients,” said a statement from Richard A. Rosenbaum, the firm’s executive chairman.

Giuliani was a prominent supporter of Trump’s presidential bid, and according to two sources, Giuliani was at the President’s resort in Mar-a-Lago this week. One source said Trump and Giuliani had a 30-minute interaction while they were there.

“I am announcing today that former New York City Mayor and United States attorney for the Southern District of New York Rudy Giuliani is joining the President’s personal legal team,” Sekulow said in a statement, adding that Trump said Giuliani is “great” and has been his friend “for a long time.”

 

April 20 (Friday):  Day 91

National School Walkout takes place; promoted by anti-Trump groups

The teenagers who survived a school shooting in February at a Florida high school that killed 17 people have been the focus of national media attention, including some making the list of Time magazine’s annual World’s 100 Most Influential People.

And the Parkland, Florida teens are promoting the second National School Walkout taking place across the country on Friday. But the anti-gun, anti-Trump walkout is the brainchild of Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore in Connecticut.  “It is not conservative or liberal,” Murdock, 16, said in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). “It is just about making sure our children don’t get harmed in school and we don’t live in a community and in a country that has institutionalized fear.”  “I think we’re all sick of it,” Murdock said. “That’s why we’re doing this.  We have grown up waiting for change. Now this generation will work for it and demand it. A role we should have never had to take.”

On the day of the Florida school attack by a former student with a long history of mental health issues and run-ins with law enforcement, Murdock posted a petition on change.org asking people to join her and students at her school on March 14 for a 17-minute school walkout to honor the 17 victims. It has over 250,000 signatures.  But just like the March 24 March for Our Lives event planned by the Parkland teens, the walkout to remember lost friends has been taken over by liberal, adult-led, anti-gun, anti-Trump groups like Indivisible, linked to on the National School Walkout website and cited in NPR’s report.  “These student organizers have gotten help from a national nonprofit called Indivisible, a group that says it aims to ‘fuel’ young people to ‘resist the Trump agenda,’” NPR reported.

Murdock’s views have evolved since she started the petition. “She wants people to know that she’s imagining this day to be very different than the March For Our Lives or the 17 minutes of silence on March 14 in honor of the victims in Parkland, Fla.,” NPR reported. “This walkout will last from 10 a.m. through the end of the day.” “People ask me, like, ‘Why? Why all day?’” Murdock says. “That’s because ‘this is a topic that deserves more than 17 minutes.”

The now day-long walkout will include more political activities, including “a call to action” to register voters and writing to elected representatives pressing for gun control. We are getting ready, are you?”

The latest walkout was planned for the April 20, 1999 anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado where 15 people died, including the two students who perpetrated the attack.

But as Breitbart News reported, Jason E. Glass, superintendent of Jeffco public schools, asked students in his school district to make the anniversary about honoring victims instead of a day of protest:   “Given our own shared experiences, the events in Parkland, Florida certainly struck close to our heart. We are quickly approaching April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy. Though we offer our heartfelt support to Florida, on this date, most of us thoughtfully reflect on our own history. In Jeffco, we have marked this time of year with positive acts – Columbine High School students participate in a day of service, doing volunteer work for a variety of community organizations and the entire district supports Day Without Hate, with events that promote inclusion and acceptance.

“While the folks in Florida encouraged a demonstration of unified, national support through student walkouts, I request our schools and students consider honoring the memory of Columbine by following the lead of the Columbine community, which believes firmly in the motto, “A Time to Remember, a Time to Hope.” Coming together, giving back, and having a collective positive impact on our community has been a Jeffco tradition, and I hope we continue that tradition. My hope is if our students and staff feel the need to recognize the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy during the school day, it will be with acts of kindness and service in honor of the memory of those we have lost.”

According to the walkout website, some 2,500 walkouts across the country have registered.  The mission on the walkout website states:  “The National School Walkout is the launch of a forward-looking youth movement that has a strategy, a plan for action, and isn’t going away.  We have a three-part goal:  1) Hold elected officials accountable  2) Promote solutions to gun violence  3) Demystify and engage students in the political system.”

Teen gun control advocates to write book released by Random House

Gun control advocate David Hogg and his sister, Lauren, have inked a book deal with Random House with a release date of June 5. The book will center on the gun control movement birthed by the Parkland, Florida attack.

Entertainment Weekly reports that David and Lauren “have been leaders in the gun control movement that took shape among students, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.” The siblings’ book “will explore their efforts taking on some of the most powerful forces in Washington and beyond, and will detail their commitment to new legislation aiming to prevent future tragedies.”

David released a statement regarding the book deal, saying, “In times of struggle and tragedy, we can come together in love and compassion for each other. We can see each other not as political symbols, but as human beings. And then, of course, there will be times when we simply must fight for what is right.” Lauren said, “It’s amazing to see that so much love can come from so much loss. But from our loss, our generation will create positive change.”

David recently urged advertisers to boycott Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, securing an initial loss of some advertisers but eventually turning a 20 percent increase in her viewership. He is now urging  a boycott of some of the biggest, most profitable mutual fund companies because those companies’ funds have stock in gun manufacturers. David specifically targeted Blackrock and Vanguard Group.  He is  trying to get the hashtags #BoycottBlackrock and #BoycottVanguard to trend.

DNC sues Russia, Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks

The Democratic National Committee is suing the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks for allegedly disrupting the 2016 campaign, in what appears to be a desperate attempt to keep a collusion narrative going ahead of November mid-term elections.

The multi-million dollar lawsuit comes just one week after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly told President Trump he is not the target of either the special counsel’s Russian meddling and collusion probe, or the target of the investigation into his personal attorney Michael D. Cohen.

According to the Washington Post, who first reported the DNC’s lawsuit, it does not name Trump as a defendant, but alleges that various Russian contacts with the campaign amounted to collusion — a theory pushed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for months.

In addition, former FBI Director James Comey’s new book — which was highly anticipated in light of allegations of obstruction of justice — has not yielded the smoking gun Trump critics had hoped for. “I have one perspective on the behavior I saw, which while disturbing and violating basic norms of ethical leadership, may fall short of being illegal,” Comey wrote in his book.

However, the DNC could be hoping that the lawsuit will invigorate the Russian collusion theory, helping to raise funds ahead of the election. Democrats for months have been soliciting donations based off of the Mueller probe.

The DNC is alleging, in a complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan, that top Trump campaign officials “conspired” with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump, but hacking the email servers of the Democratic National Committee and disseminating them, according to the Post.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement: “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign.  This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

The DNC argues that the cyberattack undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and death threats.

The Post noted that suing Russia presents legal challenges, since other nations have immunity from most U.S. lawsuits. The suit reportedly seeks an acknowledgment from the defendants that they conspired to infiltrate Democrats’ computers, steal information, and disseminate it to influence the 2016 election — essentially, the Democrats’ core collusion claims.

The lawsuit is targeting president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos.

130 Hollywood stars seek to take down the NRA

Hollywood gun control proponents, including Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, and Jimmy Kimmel are helping launch an initiative to take down the NRA. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the initiative is being called the “No Rifle Association initiative.” The hashtag will be #NoRA. The organization penned a letter to NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre on Friday, signed by more than 130 Hollywood stars.

“We’re going to shine a bright light on what you and your organization do to America. We’re going to make sure the whole world sees your bloody hands. We’re coming for your money. We’re coming for your puppets. And we’re going to win,” the letter said. “We’re coming for your money. We’re coming for your puppets. And we’re going to win.”

Other celebrities signing onto support the initiative include Ashley Judd, W. Kamau Bell, Don Cheadle, Minnie Driver, Jon Favreau, Nathan Fillion, Jordan Horowitz, Julianne Moore, Michael Moore, Patton Oswalt, Annabella Sciorra, Jill Soloway, Amber Tamblyn and Constance Wu. Parkland student gun control activists David Hogg and Cameron Kasky have signed onto the initiative as well.

Supporters of the initiative made clear they plan to “counteract the influence of NRA money in the political system.”

 

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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