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Arizona arizona senate Election 2020 Election audit Intelwars Maricopa county ballots Voting Machines

Arizona judge orders Maricopa County to turn over ballots to state Senate

A judge in Maricopa County, Arizona, ordered county election officials on Friday to answer a subpoena from the state Senate to turn over ballots from the November election and provide access to its voting machines for audit.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason said that the Senate subpoenas were “legal and enforceable” in a ruling resolving a dispute between the Arizona Senate and county officials over how to interpret state law.

According to the Arizona Republic, the county had claimed it was illegal for the Senate to subpoena the ballots and contended that multiple audits of the election which had already been competed were sufficient. The Senate argued that there are still lingering questions about the validity of the ballots and the integrity of the machines and wants to commission its own audit of the election.

The dispute arose over two state laws, one defining the Senate’s subpoena powers and another law that orders county election officials to seal the ballots for two years after an election.

From Arizona Republic:

First, state law gives the Legislature sweeping authority to issue subpoenas and conduct investigations. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office weighed in on this, saying that legislative bodies or committee chairs can issue summonses either to inform future legislation or to “investigate whether a particular governmental entity properly discharged its functions.”

But state law also requires that, after results are certified, ballots be kept “in a secure facility managed by the county treasurer, who shall keep it unopened and unaltered for twenty-four months for elections for a federal office.”

That portion of the law also states that a court order could unseal the ballots.

Essentially, the county said that only a court order could request the ballots and contested the Senate’s ability to subpoena. In his ruling, Thomason sided with the Senate and said the law “does not immunize the ballots from being subpoenaed, let alone from being subpoenaed by the legislature, acting in its Constitutional role to ensure the ‘purity’ of elections.”

“This statute simply does not create a privilege, justifying non-disclosure,” he concluded after a hearing Thursday.

Last December, Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann issued two subpoenas to the Maricopa County election board.

The first subpoena calls for an audit of scanned ballots to collect an electronic ballot image cast for all mail-in ballots counted in the November 2020 general election. The second subpoena calls for a full forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment, the software for that equipment, and the election management system used in the 2020 general election, the Washington Examiner reported.

The county has already conducted multiple audits of the election, including logic and accuracy tests for the machines and a hand count of a statistically significant number of ballots. The audits found that the machines counted votes accurately.

Most recently, an independent audit of the election published its findings Tuesday. The audit found that the voting machines produced accurate numbers.

“The combination of these findings, along with the pre and post Logic and Accuracy Tests performed by the Arizona Secretary of State, the post-election hand count performed by the political parties, and the many security protocols implemented by the Elections Department confirm that Maricopa County Elections Department’s configuration and setup of the tabulation equipment and election management system provided an accurate counting of ballots and reporting of election results,” the auditors said in a statement.

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House passes the Equality Act, sweeping anti-discrimination legislation that threatens religious liberty

The House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly passed the Equality Act, sweeping legislation that would expand U.S. anti-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual preference or self-proclaimed gender identity. Supporters say the bill will establish basic legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans nationwide that will establish equal justice and fairness for all Americans. Opponents warn that the language of the bill would make mainstream traditional beliefs about marriage, biological facts about sex differences, and religious convictions on these issues punishable under the law.

The Equality Act passed on a nearly party-line vote, 224 to 206, with every Democrat and three Republicans voting in favor of the bill. A previous version of the bill passed the Democrat-controlled House in 2019 but did not advance in the Senate. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws to add explicit language including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal law.

“In most states, L.G.B.T.Q. people can be discriminated against because of who they are, or who they love,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the bill’s sponsor in the House, who is gay, said, according to the New York Times. “It is past time for that to change.”

The bill is a priority for President Joe Biden, who promised to champion the legislation during the first 100 days of his presidency. This version that passed the House Thursday is not expected to win enough support in the Senate to pass and be signed into law by President Biden unless Democrats take the drastic measure of eliminating the filibuster to bypass Republican opposition and pass the bill with a simple majority.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the only Senate Republican who expressed support for the 2019 bill, but she told the Washington Blade on Feb. 23 that she does not support the current version because it lacks certain revisions she requested. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has also expressed opposition to the bill, citing the need for “strong religious liberty protections.”

While the bill is supported by constituencies including civil rights groups, pro-LGBT organizations, and multiple corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Congress, it faces opposition from religious groups and conservative activists who agree that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination, but think the Equality Act goes too far by actively discriminating against traditional beliefs on marriage, human sexuality, and the differences between men and women.

What’s in the bill?

The Equality Act is broad in scope and according to the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBT activist organization, would add anti-discrimination provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity to areas of federal law including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.

Last June, the landmark Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin also includes protections for lesbian, gay, and transgender Americans. The logic of the court was that if a man who married his same-sex partner were fired from his job for doing so, but a woman who married a man were not fired, the homosexual man was discriminated against on the basis of his sex. Likewise, if a woman who identifies as transgender and presents as a man were fired for how she dressed, but biological men at the same place of employment were not fired for how they dressed, then that transgender individual was discriminated against based on sex.

While the court’s ruling was expansive and fundamentally transformed labor law, LGBT activists contend that the court’s ruling did not go far enough and say the Equality Act is needed to codify the court’s decision not only in employment law, but in other areas as well. President Biden signed an executive order to that effect, directing federal agencies to apply Bostock to all areas of law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. But progressives fear that a future conservative presidential administration would simply reverse Biden’s executive order, so they want LGBT people protected by explicit statute.

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and other laws to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. It would expand the scope of federal civil rights law to make public spaces and services like a “store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services” places that could be liable to a discrimination claim.

Additionally, the Equality Act would override the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that affords exemptions in anti-discrimination law to religious people and organizations who argue such laws infringe on their religious liberty. For example, a Christian charity accused of discriminating against a transgender person in a hiring decision might claim protections under RFRA, citing religious beliefs on the nature of human sexuality, males and females, and their proper roles in a godly marriage.

The Equality Act would specifically prevent an entity from using RFRA to challenge its anti-discrimination provisions or defend itself in a claim made under the law.

Controversies

Advocates for the Equality Act say the bill is needed to extend popular protections from discriminations enjoyed by most Americans to LGBT people.

“Just as [a business] would not be able to turn away somebody for any other prohibited reason in the law, they would not be able to do that for LGBTQ people either. And we think that’s a really important principle to maintain,” Ian Thompson, senior legislative representative at the ACLU told NPR.

But critics counter that the way the bill is written would proactively discriminate against views that do not conform to the federal government’s definition of human sexuality and gender identity. The also say that because an individual’s conception of gender identity and sexual orientation are said to be fluid, lawful protections for those classes of people would necessarily be vague, unclear, and even contradictory.

“Rather than finding common-sense, narrowly tailored ways to shield LGBT-identifying Americans from truly unjust discrimination, the bill would act as a sword — to persecute those who don’t embrace newfangled gender ideologies,” Ryan T. Anderson, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Post opposing the bill. Anderson is the author of “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” a book that evaluates the current science on transgender issues and the proposed public policy responses. He has written extensively on sexual orientation and gender identity laws and opposes the Equality Act on grounds it would be harmful to women.

“It would vitiate a sex binary that is quite literally written into our genetic code and is fundamental to many of our laws, not least laws protecting the equality, safety and privacy of women,” Anderson argued.

He pointed to legislative text that states, for example: “An individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”

While public spaces can have separate rooms for men and women, the definition of who is a man and who is a woman is in flux. A male who identifies as a woman must be granted permission to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, or dressing rooms, or else the entity that hosts that public space, be it a business or even a church, may be liable to a discrimination lawsuit.

As explained by the Heritage Foundation, “Employers, medical professionals, educators, and religious organizations” would be forced “to allow men into women’s shelters, pay for or perform sex-change operations, and engage in speech that violates their consciences. Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies would be forced to violate their belief that every child deserves a mother and a father.” The Equality Act labels belief in traditional marriage as a “sex stereotype,” statutorily stigmatizing the convictions of hundreds of millions of Americans including Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.

Anderson also noted that the Equality Act treats refusal to perform an abortion as “pregnancy” discrimination, and because the RFRA is overridden, Christian doctors and nurses with pro-life convictions would be forced to perform abortion procedures or risk being sued without any claim to First Amendment protections as a defense.

Other medical and legal experts have raised concerns over women’s athletics and parental rights. At a virtual event hosted by the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R-Mo.), a former teacher and track coach, said that if the Equality Act becomes law “we won’t have women’s sports that are fair,” referring to recent controversies over boys who identify as transgender and competing against and defeating girls in school sports.

Hartzler also warned that passage of the Equality Act could lead some parents to lose custody of their children if a child identifies as transgender but parents do not consent to “gender-affirming” treatments, which can include cross-sex hormone prescriptions or even mutilating breast or genital surgeries.

Hartzler was one of several speakers at the Heritage event, which included doctors, lawyers, and policy experts who spoke out against the Equality Act.

These points were fiercely debated in the House of Representatives before the Equality Act was passed, with Democrats accusing Republicans of making “ridiculous” claims to hide their supposed bigotry against gay and transgender Americans.

As reported by the Christian Post:

During the 90-minute House debate over the bill on Thursday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., claimed the Equality Act posed no threat to religious freedom and that such concerns being raised by Republicans were “ridiculous.”

Maloney then accused the bill’s opponents of using religious freedom as a ruse to conceal their “pro-discrimination against gay people.”

In response to Maloney’s accusations, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, declared: “Here it is, on page 25. It says specifically, ‘The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 shall not provide a legal basis for a claim’ [against a religious discrimination charge].

“The founders said in the first right, in the First Amendment to the Constitution, you can practice your religion as you see fit. But right here in their bill today, the Democrats say ‘No you can’t,'” Jordan asserted.

The Equality Act now heads to the U.S. Senate, where Democrats would need Republican support to overcome a filibuster. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, has signaled support for changing the Senate rules to end the legislative filibuster and pass the bill, but Democrats would need a majority of senators to vote to do so, and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are opposed to the idea.

With no Republican senator expressing support for the Equality Act, the bill will not advance for the time being.

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Julia Roberts will present Dr. Anthony Fauci with amfAR award for courage

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top health expert on the coronavirus, will receive an award presented by actress Julia Roberts for “courage” in the fight against AIDS.

Roberts, known for hit roles in “Pretty Woman” and “Erin Brockovich,” will present Fauci with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research’s Award of Courage, during a virtual “A Gala for Our Time” event on March 4,
People magazine reported Thursday. The video presentation of the award was pre-recorded and excerpts from the video were published by People.

“”There’s no one more deserving. You’ve been tireless and true for all of us and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Roberts reportedly tells Fauci.

“Thank you so much Julia, those are such very kind words, I really do appreciate them. Coming from you, that really means a lot to me,” Fauci says before thanking the “unsung heroes” of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Actress Glenn Close will also be honored with an award presented by Bette Midler.

“Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, where he oversees an extensive research portfolio focused on infectious and immune-mediated diseases,” amfAR
states on its website. “As the long-time chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, Dr. Fauci has made many seminal contributions in basic and clinical research and is one of the world’s most cited biomedical scientists. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.”

A Gala for Our Time will be amfAR’s first virtual fundraising gala for the amfAR Fund to Fight COVID-19, which supports efforts to develop effective treatments for the coronavirus. The virtual event will be
free for those who wish to register to view it and will feature numerous celebrity appearances and performances by Kelly Clarkson, Ava Max and Rita Ora.

According to People magazine, amfAR presents its award of Courage to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to important social and humanitarian causes, particularly to amfAR and the global HIV/AIDS response.

Roberts has previously called Fauci her “personal hero.”

At the #PassTheMic campaign last May, during which celebrities, health experts, and policy makers spoke about the need for a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roberts spoke to Fauci, referring to him as “maybe the coolest man on the planet right now.”

“Oh, this is such a thrill,” Roberts told Fauci. “This is a thrill for me because there are very few experts of anything in the world and you truly have emerged as a personal hero for me. Just to have this little corner of your time for us is such a joy.”

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Department of Health and Human Services genital mutilation Intelwars Rachel levine Rachel levine confirmation Rand Paul Sex change surgery Transgender hormone therapy Transgenderism us senate

Rand Paul likens child sex-change procedures to ‘genital mutilation’ while grilling Biden’s transgender HHS nominee

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday pressed President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of health on whether the government should override a parent’s consent to allow a gender-dysphoric child to begin taking hormones or pursue sex-change surgery.

Paul asked Dr. Rachel Levine, who identifies as a transgender woman, whether minors are capable of making life-altering decisions to undergo irreversible medical procedures that permanently change their bodies. In his question, Paul compared sex-change operations for minors to genital mutilation.

“Genital mutilation has been nearly universally condemned. … Genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because, as the WHO notes, it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children,” Paul said.

“Most genital mutilation is not typically performed by force, but as WHO notes, by social convention. Social norm. The social pressure to conform. To do what others do and have been doing as well as the need to be accepted socially and the fear of being rejected by the community,” he continued.

“American culture is now normalizing the idea that minors can be given hormones to prevent their biological development of their secondary sexual characteristics. Dr. Levine, you have supported both allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia. Like surgical mutilation, hormonal interruption of puberty can permanently alter and prevent secondary sexual characteristics. The American College of Pediatricians reports that 80-95% of prepubertal children with gender dysphoria will experience resolution by late adolescence if not exposed to medical intervention and social affirmation,” he continued.

“Dr. Levine, do you believe minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?” Paul asked.

Levine replied, “Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed and if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I’ll look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine.”

Unsatisfied, Paul accused Levine of evading his question.

“Do you support the government intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia? You have said that you’re willing to accelerate the protocols for street kids. I’m alarmed that poor kids with no parents, who are homeless and distraught — you would just go through this and allow that to happen to a minor,” he said.

Paul shared the story of Keira Bell, a 23-year-old U.K. woman who is
taking legal action against the NHS, claiming that she should have been challenged by medical staff on her decision as a teenager to undergo a sex-change operation to appear male. She now regrets that decision.

“What I am alarmed at is that you’re not willing to say absolutely minors shouldn’t be making decisions to amputate their breasts or to amputate their genitalia,” Paul told Levine.

Levine responded that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field and if confirmed to the position of assistant secretary of health, I would certainly be pleased to come to your office and talk with you and your staff about the standards of care and the complexity of this field.”

Paul again accused Levine of refusing to answer his question.

“You’re willing to let a minor take things that prevent their puberty, and you think they get that back? You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard, do you think she’s going to go back to looking like a woman when she stops the testosterone? You have permanently changed them,” Paul said.

He continued: “Infertility is another problem. None of these drugs have been approved for this, they’re all being used off-label. I find it ironic that the left that went nuts over hydroxychloroquine being used possibly for COVID are not alarmed that these hormones are being used off-label. There’s no long-term studies. We don’t know what happens to them. We do know that there are dozens and dozens of people who’ve been through this who regret that this happened. And a permanent change happened to them. And if you’ve ever been around children, 14-year-olds can’t make this decision.”

“In the gender dysphoria clinic in England, 10% of the kids are between the ages of 3 and 10. We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a 3-year-old about changing their sex!” Paul exclaimed.


Dr. Paul Questions Rachel Levine During Confirmation Hearing – February 25, 2021

www.youtube.com

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Sasse humiliates Biden HHS nominee for ‘bullying’ nuns over contraception mandate

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Wednesday grilled California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s radical nominee for secretary of health and human services, demanding to know why he sued the federal government to “bully” nuns.

Acting on behalf of the state of California, Becerra in 2017 sued the federal government to reinstate an Obamacare mandate requiring insurance providers to make contraceptives available. The mandate was previously challenged by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nonprofit organization run by Catholic nuns that serves the elderly poor, which argued that providing contraceptives violated the group’s religious beliefs. President Donald Trump in 2017 signed an executive order providing regulatory relief for the Catholic nuns, which instigated the lawsuit from Becerra.

During Becerra’s confirmation hearing for HHS in the U.S. Senate, Sasse accused him of “bullying” the nuns.

“Mr. Becerra, you said a while ago that you had never sued the nuns — which is a pretty interesting way of reframing your bullying. You had actually sued the Government, who had given an exemption to the nuns. Can you explain to us what the Little Sisters of the Poor were doing wrong?” Sasse asked.

“So, Senator, as I tried to explain, my actions were against the federal government,” Becerra deflected. “The Little Sisters of the Poor, we never alleged that the Little Sisters of the Poor did anything. Our problem was that the federal government was not abiding by the law as we saw it, and what we did is we took action against the federal government so California could administer its program to make sure that the Affordable Care Act continued.”

Sasse said Becerra had given a “nonsense” answer, demanding to know what the nuns were doing that made it difficult for California to administer the Affordable Care Act.

Becerra again denied that his lawsuit was in any way related to the nuns, insisting that he had taken action against the federal government, but Sasse wasn’t having it.

“What did the federal government do? It was about the nuns. It’s nonsense, like what you’re saying isn’t true,” the senator said. “You say you didn’t sue the nuns. You sued the federal government that was keeping you from making sure that the nuns had to buy contraceptive insurance. Were the nuns going to get pregnant?”

“The federal government took actions to change the way we would have administrated the programs that we had under the Affordable Care Act. Our actions related to how providers are providing services to the people of California. When the federal government took action that we thought was unlawful, we took action to protect the people of California,” Becerra responded.

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Critical Race Theory Critical race theory ban Critical race theory in classrooms Intelwars Oklahoma legislature Oklahoma schools Shane jett

Oklahoma Republican’s bill would ban critical race theory from being taught in school

An Oklahoma state lawmaker is seeking to ban teaching “divisive concepts” from critical race theory in state schools, pushing a for a law that would permit teachers to be fired for doing so.

State Sen. Shane Jett (R) is the author of Senate Bill 803, legislation that would explicitly prohibit the teaching of critical race theory and its components in the state of Oklahoma. In an interview with TheBlaze Wednesday, Jett said that while proponents of critical race theory promise to improve race relations, what’s being taught in schools actually creates a racial divide.

“It’s teaching divisive concepts and ideology to young people,” Jett told TheBlaze. “It is Marxist in origin and it’s designed to cause children to, instead of looking at what makes us unique and special and American, it causes them to pit themselves against each other based on the color of their skin.”

Jett’s bill prohibits Oklahoma public schools and public charter schools, starting from kindergarten to high school, from “teaching, instructing or training” any student to believe in “divisive concepts.”

Divisive concepts as defined in the legislation would, for example, promote the idea that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.” Schools would not be allowed to teach that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” or that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.”

Other “divisive concepts” include the idea that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,” or that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.”

“The fundamental equality that is part of the American ideal is what we’re trying to underscore here,” Jett said.

Opponents of the bill accuse Jett of wanting to silence conversations about race in public schools.

“It was racially insensitive I thought. It was not a well-written bill; it seems like it said we don’t care and we are going to say these things,” Democratic state Sen. George Young said in an interview with KFOR.

“You are going to penalize teachers that teach the truth,” he charged.

Shannon Fleck, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, told KFOR that “race is an active issue” for people of color in Oklahoma.

“It’s offensive to all people in Oklahoma that conversations about racism are so divisive that they shouldn’t be happening. That’s the opposite of how to solve problems in our country and in our state,” she said.

Jett, a Cherokee American, strongly objected to critics who say his bill would punish teachers for discussing racial issues in schools.

“My wife is from Brazil, a third of her family down in Brazil would be considered people of color, and racism isn’t something that we tolerate,” Jett said. “I’m a Cherokee Indian. My mom is Cherokee, my dad is Irish. And so we talk about things that happen in the past honestly, engaged, hard-hitting. How do we fix it? How do we make sure it doesn’t happen in the future?”

But critical race theory, in Jett’s view, teaches some American children that they are oppressed and that their classmates with a different skin color are the oppressors.

“Instead of teaching equality and harmony and celebrating our progress in American history, this experiment in freedom, they are instead telling children to forget that. The very foundation of the American government is flawed, is racist. And if you’re white, you are by definition a racist and you don’t even know it. And if you’re a person of color, then you are oppressed and you’ve been victimized. And it’s by the other side of the classroom who are white, they have done it and their ancestors,” Jett said.

“They are literally teaching animosity,” he continued, characterizing the tenets of critical race theory as child abuse. “The bill basically says you can no longer do this. You cannot abuse public school kids at taxpayers’ expense and try to get them to distrust each other, distrust American history and then completely rewrite our history.”

By introducing his bill, Jett said he wants to have a dialogue and honest debate about race in America “in the context of truth and not in the context of a Marxist ideology that completely ignores the tremendous progress that this society has made.”

Critical Race Theory

Jett’s legislation is a direct repudiation of popular concepts in academia collectively known as critical race theory. CRT is a worldview that claims most laws and systems in America were historically rooted in the racist oppression of black people and other marginalized groups. It began as a legal movement in the 1970s in response to perceptions that progress made by the civil rights movement was insufficient. Among its influences are Marxism, post-modernism, radical feminism, and other schools of leftist political and cultural thought.

As defined by University of Alabama law professor Richard Delgado and his wife Jean Stefancic in their book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” CRT is “a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.”

“Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law,” they wrote.

According to this worldview, racism in the United States is structural. America’s laws, institutions, and cultural representations are viewed to work together in ways that perpetuate racial inequity, or the unequal distribution of society’s benefits or burdens based on skin color. “White privilege” is the historical and contemporary advantage supposedly shared by people with a fair skin color, their access to society’s benefits and shielding from society’s burdens. American national values like individualism, individual responsibility, meritocracy, fairness, or equal treatment are said to ignore the realities of structural racism tell a lie that anyone in this country can make whatever they want of themselves, regardless of what they look like or where they come from.

This worldview has found widespread acceptance in academia and became mainstream in American politics and news media following racial unrest nationwide after the death of George Floyd in police custody and subsequent violent protests by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project,” which sought to reframe American history “understanding 1619,” the year the first African slaves were brought to America, “as our true founding,” is one example of critical race theory’s widespread influence.

Another recent example is the controversy involving Coca-Cola, in which an employee claimed racial sensitivity training used a course called “Confronting Racism” that taught employees “to be less white.” The training stated that “To be less white is to:” “be less oppressive,” “be less arrogant,” “be less certain,” “be less defensive,” “be less ignorant,” “be more humble,” “listen,” “believe,” “break with apathy,” and to “break with white solidarity.”

Aspects and assumptions of “whiteness,” as explained by a publication from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture that went viral on social media, include ideas like “self-reliance,” “the nuclear family,” emphasis on the scientific method, “the primacy of Western (Greek, Roman) and Judeo-Christian tradition,” the Protestant work ethic, “Christianity,” “rigid time schedules,” and more.

This is all derivative of critical race theory.

Believers, proponents, and defenders of CRT argue the worldview helps identify areas where racial inequities exist and give policy makers and educators the tools to correct longstanding injustices.

“It’s an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it,” scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw told Time last September. Crenshaw is one of the founding scholars of critical race theory.

But principles of CRT have been applied to make claims of structural oppression of other groups based on sexuality, gender, class, and disability.

“What critical race theory has done is lift up the racial gaze of America,” said John Powell, the director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the UC Berkeley. “It doesn’t stay within law, it basically says ‘look critically at any text or perspective and try to understand different perspectives that are sometimes drowned out.'”

Teaching CRT in schools

Critical race theory is not only taught at the university level. A survey taken after George Floyd’s death found that 81% of U.S. teachers support Black Lives Matter, with public schools in response seeking ways to “revamp” their history curriculums to focus on racial equity. Several U.S. schools had adopted curricula that uses the New York Times’ 1619 Project to teach American history with a focus on the legacy of slavery.

The public school system in Buffalo, New York, for example, has adopted a “woke” curriculum that involves showing kindergarteners a dramatized video of dead black children speaking to them from the grave about the dangers of being killed by “racist police and state-sanctioned violence.”

The mainstream promotion of critical race theory among the progressive left has inspired pushback from conservatives like Jett and other critics who say the theory distorts American history and promotes racist thinking. Former President Donald Trump denounced CRT as a “Marxist doctrine” that teaches that “America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression.” In an executive order, Trump banned the use of critical race theory as a part of diversity training in the federal government. President Joe Biden has since reversed Trump’s policy.

Jett’s bill would not ban discussions of racism, or significant historic events like the institution of slavery or the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, the single worst incident of racial violence in America. Instead, he hopes that school discussions on racial issues will occur as an honest dialogue about how people were wronged in the past, the progress America has made to correct those wrongs, and how America can continue to repudiate racism in the future instead of a blanket worldview that claims racism is inherent in white people.

“We are making tremendous progress,” Jett told TheBlaze. “I can see it in my military unit. I served 11 years as a Navy intelligence officer in the United States Navy. We were the complete spectrum of the rainbow, but guess what? We weren’t looking at the color of our skin. What we were looking at is making sure our warfighters overseas had the material that they needed, the information they needed so they could get home to their families, American families.”

He observed that the prevalence of discussions about critical race theory in America is itself evidence that America has made racial progress and that people are willing to have this debate.

“We are looking to have an honest conversation. We’re looking to make this a more perfect union, right? But what they promise and what they deliver are completely two different things. They say we’re gonna have a great discussion, we’re going to improve. But then when you start drilling down to what they’re actually teaching, they’re ignoring or even whitewashing, dare I say, our history and then telling us that we are fundamentally racist for being the color that we were born and that people of color are victims of those who are white.”

Senate Bill 803 has been assigned to the Education Committee in the state Senate, and while the bill has been endorsed by state House Speaker Charles McCall (R), Jett indicated that some Republican leaders on the committee were hesitant to advance his legislation.

“There’s a reluctance to take a stand on this because we get called a racist for wanting to have an honest dialogue,” Jett said. “I felt like someone needed to do something, and so I did.”

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Former Cuomo aide comes forward with explosive details of #MeToo allegations

A former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who previously accused him of sexual harassment has come forward with details of the harassment she allegedly experienced.

Lindsey Boylan, formerly the deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser in the Cuomo administration from March 2015 to October 2018, accused Gov. Cuomo of sexual harassment and bullying in a written post published on Medium Wednesday.

“Today I am telling my story,” Boylan said in a tweet sharing the post. “I never planned to share the details of my experience working in the Cuomo administration, but I am doing so now in the hopes that it may make it easier for others to speak their own truth.”

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences,” Boylan wrote in her explosive post.

The allegations of impropriety include Cuomo asking his aides to play strip poker with him; closed-door meetings between the governor and Boylan, a married woman, in which Cuomo allegedly made references to President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky; Valentine’s Day deliveries of roses to Boylan and other female staffers; inappropriate physical touching; and a nonconsensual kiss on the lips.

Boylan first went public with accusations that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed her last December, but declined to give further details at the time. In her Medium post, she explained that the decision to share “a small part of the truth I had hidden for so long in shame” was spontaneous, made after another unnamed former Cuomo staffer shared her story of the governor’s workplace harassment on Dec. 12.

“Seeing his name floated as a potential candidate for U.S. Attorney General — the highest law enforcement official in the land — set me off,” Boylan wrote.

“In a few tweets, I told the world what a few close friends, family members and my therapist had known for years: Andrew Cuomo abused his power as Governor to sexually harass me, just as he had done with so many other women.”

After Boylan came forward with her allegations, the New York Post reported a statement from a Cuomo spokeswoman that categorically denied the accusations, saying, “There is simply no truth to these claims.”

TheBlaze reached out to Gov. Cuomo’s office for comment on the new details of Boylan’s accusations but did not receive a reply before publication.

In her post, Boylan recounts that after she joined the state government in 2015 as vice president at Empire State Development, she was promoted to chief of staff at the state economic development agency. After her promotion, she says that a friend “who served as an executive with an influential civic engagement organization” warned her to “be careful around the governor.”

Boylan said that Cuomo began paying special attention to her and that she was later informed by her boss that the governor had a “crush” on her.

She shared a copy of a Dec. 14, 2016, email from Stephanie Benton, the director of the governor’s offices, in which Benton told Boylan that the governor thought she looked like Lisa Shields, “his rumored former girlfriend.” Benton also said that the governor thought the two “could be sisters” but that Boylan would be “the better looking sister.”

“I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” Boylan wrote.

She also accused the governor’s staff of “keeping tabs on my whereabouts,” sharing screenshots of an email from one of the governor’s senior staff members, Jill DesRosiers, asking her supervisor Howard Zemsky if she would be attending an event where the governor would be.

Boylan says that she began to “fear” Governor Cuomo in December 2016 when the governor requested that she meet him alone in his office.

“As he showed me around, I tried to maintain my distance. He paused at one point and smirked as he showed off a cigar box. He told me that President Clinton had given it to him while he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The two-decade old reference to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not lost on me,” Boylan wrote.

Following this, she claims Cuomo’s “inappropriate gestures became more frequent.” He would send roses to female staffers on Valentine’s Day and “arranged to have one delivered to me, the only one on my floor.” He also sent her a signed photograph that “appeared in my closed-door office while I was out.”

“These were not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him,” Boylan wrote.

She also said his “pervasive harassment” extended to other women, including making “unflattering comments” about their weight, ridiculing their romantic relationships and significant others, and claiming that the reasons men get women are “money and power.”

“I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself ‘it’s only words.’ But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking,” Boylan alleges.

Following this incident, Boylan says that her relationship with the rest of Cuomo’s staff deteriorated because she began “speaking up for myself.”

“I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it,” she wrote. She resigned from the Cuomo administration on Sep. 26, 2018.

“There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for being a victim for so long, for trying to ignore behavior that I knew was wrong. The Governor exploited my weaknesses, my desire to do good work and to be respected. I was made to believe this was the world I needed to survive in,” Boylan wrote.

She says that since she came forward with her accusations against Cuomo, two other women reached out to her with their own experiences of harassment by Cuomo.

“Telling my truth isn’t about seeking revenge. I was proud to work in the Cuomo Administration. For so long I had looked up to the Governor. But his abusive behavior needs to stop.”

Boylan is not the first associate of Gov. Cuomo to accuse him of bullying and harassment. New York State Democratic lawmaker Assemblyman Ron Kim alleges that Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him for criticisms of the nursing home scandal in New York. More than three dozen legislators, political consultants, former state and city officials, and New York political veterans recently spoke to the New York Times about Cuomo’s “bullying” behavior, the “toxic and controlling” work environment in his office, and his penchant for governing by “fear.”

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Judge indefinitely ?blocks Biden deportation ban

President Joe Biden’s plan to impose a 100-day ban on deportations of illegal immigrants was interrupted again Tuesday after a district judge extended an injunction against the ban indefinitely.

In response to a lawsuit from the state of Texas, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton blocked enforcement of the Biden administration’s Jan. 20 executive memorandum banning most deportations, Fox News reports.

Previously, Judge Tipton enacted a two-week restraining order against Biden’s deportation moratorium after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued in court to stop the ban. The state of Texas argues Biden’s executive action “violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas” and the Department of Homeland Security. On Feb. 9, Tipton extended his injunction against the ban for two more weeks before extending it again yesterday.

Biden’s deportation ban was among his first acts as president, fulfilling a campaign promise to reverse President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Biden ordered Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to cease deporting some illegal immigrants for a period of 100 days. Biden’s order instructed these agencies within the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a “review and reset” of the the previous administration’s policies.

There were some exceptions to the deportation ban. Illegal aliens found by ICE to have engaged in terrorism or espionage against the United States or who threaten national security may still be deported. Aliens who were not present in the U.S. before Nov. 1, 2020, individuals who waived their right to remain in the U.S., and others as determined by the director of ICE are exempt from the deportation moratorium.

Paxton sued to stop Biden’s order immediately after it was enacted, claiming it violated the Constitution and a contractual agreement between Texas and the Trump administration that requires the Department of Homeland Security to give Texas 180 days’ notice of any proposed policy changes that would reduce immigration enforcement or pause deportations.

In granting a preliminary injunction against Biden’s moratorium, Tipton sided with Texas’ argument.

“This preliminary injunction is granted on a nationwide basis and prohibits enforcement and implementation of the [100-day pause] in every place Defendants have jurisdiction to enforce and implement the January 20 Memorandum,” he wrote in a 105-page ruling.

“The core failure of DHS lies not in the brevity of the January 20 Memorandum or the corresponding administrative record, but instead in its omission of a rational explanation grounded in the facts reviewed and the factors considered,” Tipton wrote. “This failure is fatal, as this defect essentially makes DHS’s determination to institute a 100-day pause on deportations an arbitrary and capricious choice.”

The ruling does not cancel the entirety of Biden’s executive action. The DHS is still required to conduct a review of its immigration enforcement policies and guidelines and report to the president.

Last week, ICE announced interim guidelines for immigration enforcement and deportations, shifting prioritization of law enforcement and deportations to threats to national security, border security, and public safety. This is a softening of enforcement policy from the Trump administration, which sought to enforce immigration law against every alien present in the U.S. illegally.

“By focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security, and public safety, our agency will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson. “Like every law enforcement agency at the local, state and federal level, we must prioritize our efforts to achieve the greatest security and safety impact. Further, by implementing a system for obtaining prior approval before pursuing certain cases, and through regular reporting of civil immigration enforcement actions, we will better coordinate our efforts, achieve consistency in our operations, and inform the development of the Secretary’s new enforcement guidelines. We look forward to working closely with the Secretary throughout this process.”

These interim guidelines will be in effect until Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas issues new enforcement guidelines for the department.

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Republicans slam Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill

As President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package advances through Congress, Republicans are slamming the bill, accusing Democrats of stuffing it with wasteful pork and other progressive priorities not related to the coronavirus.

“The partisan bill Democrats are preparing is stuffed with non-COVID-related liberal goals and more band-aid policies as if the country were going to stay shut down another year,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Monday. “We need 2021 to be different than 2020. Congress should focus on smart policies to help that happen.”

House Democrats introduced their 591-page bill coronavirus bill last Friday, which contains $1,400 stimulus checks and various other pandemic-related relief measures including expanded unemployment benefits and business loans. But Republicans say other provisions of the bill are problematic and have nothing to do with economic relief.

For instance, included in the bill is a federal minimum wage increase to $15 by 2025 that would fulfill a campaign promise from President Biden but is not directly tied to coronavirus relief. Other provisions include payouts to “socially disadvantaged” farmers, hundreds of millions of dollars for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment of the Humanities, $10 million to preserve Native American languages, a $15 billion bailout for the airline industry, and a host of other spending that was criticized by Republicans.

“The bill has over $1 trillion in bailouts, pork, and unrelated policy changes,” Senate Republicans charge in a video advertisement released Tuesday.

“Don’t let Dems tell you the ‘American Rescue Plan’ is a coronavirus relief bill,” the ad states.

While President Biden’s rhetoric supports bipartisanship, Democrats will advance the relief package in the Senate using a parliamentary procedure called budget reconciliation to avoid a filibuster and pass the bill without GOP support. They cite polls that show popular support for a coronavirus relief package and warn that Republicans are opposing their constituents by criticizing the bill. A Quinnipiac poll found that 68% of U.S. adults support Biden’s proposal while 24% are opposed.

“The vast majority of the American people like what they see in this package. And that should be an indication, or should be noted by members of Congress as they consider whether they’re going to vote for it or not,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week.

Those polls haven’t stopped Republican lawmakers from speaking out about their opposition to the $1.9 trillion legislation.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell accused Democrats of “steamrolling ahead with a massive spending plan on a completely partisan basis.”

McConnell called the package “a combination of miscellaneous non-COVID-related liberal wishlist items.”

Other Republicans share McConnell’s thinking. On Tuesday morning Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox News that Democrats want to use the coronavirus pandemic as “an excuse to fulfill a lot of longstanding liberal priorities.”

In a statement Friday, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said, “House Democrats’ $2 trillion socialist boondoggle puts partisan politics first and fails to address the most pressing needs facing Americans, like getting kids back in the classroom and reopening small businesses.”

Even Republicans from outside Washington are weighing in. South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem criticized provisions of the bill that would provide funding to states and local governments facing budget shortfalls that existed before the pandemic and were exacerbated by lockdown policies that shut down local economies.

“It’s a very, very unfair bill. It bails out those states that shut down their economies. It rewards them for making people stay in their homes and for taking away a business’ right to be open and to take care of their customers and employees,” Noem said Tuesday. “It’s incredibly detrimental to our state because we made the right decisions, we trusted people.”

As for Democrats, they are confident that the Republican opposition to the stimulus bill will ultimately backfire. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Washington Post last week that Biden’s relief plan will lead to economic recovery and an end to the pandemic.

“”I think the president’s plan will work, and the Republicans should get behind it. And they will wish they had,” Maloney said.

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Reporter confronts Jen Psaki on Biden admin reopening ‘cages’ shut down under Trump

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday was confronted by a reporter on the Biden administration’s apparent hypocrisy for reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas closed by the previous administration.

President Joe Biden’s administration reopened the temporary Influx Care Facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to care for children, mostly teenagers age 13-17, who arrive at the border unaccompanied by a parent. The facility is capable of holding roughly 700 children with coronavirus safety measures implemented.

The site has been inactive since July 2019, when it was closed by President Donald Trump’s administration after fierce criticism by Democrats that this facility and others like it treated migrant children inhumanely.

During Tuesday’s press briefing, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Psaki why the Biden administration was reopening the facility.

Psaki said the policy of the Biden administration is “not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at the border.” She said Customs and Border Patrol transfers migrant children to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. She explained that COVID-19 protocols have reduced the capacity at existing facilities to hold migrant children, so this facility was reopened to accommodate the overflow.

“To ensure the health and safety of these kids, HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these children can be provided with the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors,” Psaki said.

According to the Associated Press, HHS operates several long-term facilities to process unaccompanied minor aliens apprehended by Border Patrol. Almost all of the nearly 7,100 beds at these facilities are reportedly full, requiring the administration to reopen temporary housing for these migrants.

Following up, Doocy reminded Psaki that in summer 2019, when the prior administration operated this facility, then-candidate Biden accused President Trump of keeping kids in cages and Kamala Harris said the Trump administration was keeping “babies in cages” and committing a “human rights abuse.”

“How is this any different?” Doocy asked.

“We very much feel that way,” Psaki replied, speaking of the accusations thrown at the Trump administration. “Let me be clear here, one, there’s a pandemic going on. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID safe, are you?” she fired back at Doocy.

“I’m suggesting that Kamala Harris said that putting people in this facility was ‘a human rights abuse committed by the United States government’ and Joe Biden said, ‘Under Trump there have been horrifying scenes at the border of kids being kept in cages.’ Now it’s not under Trump, it’s under Biden,” Doocy fired back.

“This is not kids being kept in cages,” Psaki asserted. “This is a facility that was opened that’s going to follow the same standards as other HHS facilities. It is not a replication, certainly not, that was never our intention of replicating the immigration policies of the past administration. But we are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane. That is not what we are going to do here as an administration.”

Continuing, she said that once the migrant children receive medical care they will be transferred to their families or sponsors.

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Dr. Fauci says vaccinated people can’t dine indoors or go to the movies

President Joe Biden’s top health adviser and coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday that even people who receive a coronavirus vaccine won’t be able to go out to eat or go to the movies because of “the safety of society.”

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at a White House press briefing via teleconference with the administration’s COVID-19 response team during which a reporter asked about the messaging around vaccines.

“There’s a lot of conversation about how you need to keep doing the same things even after you get vaccinated — you know, like wearing a mask, not seeing your family, things like that. Do you think that’s preventing people from being more enthusiastic about getting vaccines? And may we see that change in the future?” Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian asked.

Fauci answered that there are several things even vaccinated people will not be able to do as long as there is a high rate of coronavirus in the U.S.

This week, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000. According to NBC News, more than 28,206,600 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Though the average number of daily new cases is in decline, Facui warned that “the burden of virus in society will be very high, which it is right now.”

“So there are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society: for example, indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate,” Fauci said.

“That’s because of the safety of society. You, yourself, what you can do when you are together with another person, we are looking at that, and we’re going to try and find out very quickly what recommendations could be made about what people can do,” he added.

Fauci explained that health experts do not know whether a vaccinated person, though he may be protected from symptoms of disease, could still carry the coronavirus in the back of their nasal cavity at a contagious level. That is why he and other health experts recommend that vaccinated people continue to wear masks, to prevent potential spread of the virus to others.

He said that researchers hope to find that the virus level is “quite low and you’re not transmitting it,” but clarified “we don’t know that know. And for that reason, we want to make sure that people continue to wear masks despite the fact that they’re vaccinated.”

Fauci has come under fire from critics for sending “mixed messages” about COVID-19, masks, vaccines, and when the country can return to normal.

As Fox News recounted, previously Fauci said that about 70% of Americans need to be vaccinated before the U.S. can reach herd immunity to the virus, before adjusting that number to 80%. He claimed that he revised the number after taking into account public opinion surveys.

“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75%,” Fauci told the New York Times. “Then, when newer surveys said 60% or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”

“We have to have some humility here,” he added. “We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90%. But, I’m not going to say 90%.”

Last August, Fauci said that Americans could begin to return to normal when as few as 50% to 60% of people were vaccinated. But in November, he told CNN that public health measures should remain in place because there’s no way of knowing how effective the vaccines are, even if they report an effectiveness of 90%-95% in studies. Then just last Sunday on CNN, Fauci said Americans should continue wearing masks in public into 2022.

In that same interview, Fauci would not tell CNN’s Dana Bash if grandparents who have received the vaccine will be able to spend time with their grandchildren.

“You know I’m not going to make a recommendations except to say, these are things that we really do everyday, Dana,” he said.

“We look at that, we look at the data, we look at what’s evolving about how many people are getting vaccinated and there will be recommendations coming out, I don’t want to make a recommendation now on public TV.”

This messaging stands in stark contrast to other countries, like Israel, where the people are being told that getting the vaccine means you can return to normal life immediately.

As The Guardian reported:

Israel is preparing itself to be split in half from next week, with the government creating a new privileged tier in society: the vaccinated.

Nearly 50% of the population who have chosen to be inoculated against Covid will be provided with a “green pass” a week after their second shot, as will those with presumed immunity after contracting the disease.

From Sunday, the pass will grant access to gyms, hotels, swimming pools, concerts, and places of worship. Restaurants and bars will be included from early March.

For the rest, including children under 16 who are not eligible for coronavirus shots, many of the activities shut down during the year-long crisis will remain off-limits, although some will be available if they provide a negative coronavirus test.

Meanwhile in the U.S., top health experts tell a different story. Following Fauci’s comments, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky added that the benefit of receiving both doses of the coronavirus vaccine is that “there is no longer a need to quarantine after you’ve been exposed.”

She promised that additional guidance regarding what vaccinated people can and cannot do would be forthcoming.

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Simpsons recasts black character Dr. Hibbert because his voice actor was white

The wokening of “The Simpsons” continues, as another white voice actor will step down from his role voicing a minority character.

Harry Shearer, who has voiced the character of Dr. Hibbert since the long-running cartoon’s second season in 1990, will step away from his role and be replaced by a black voice actor, the Wrap reported Monday.

“Last night’s episode ‘DiaryQueen’ featured Harry Shearer as the voice of Dr. Hibbert for the last time,” 20th Television, the studio that produces “The Simpsons,” said in a statement. “Next Sunday’s episode ‘Wad Goals’ will have Kevin Michael Richardson voicing Dr. Hibbert — and from there on out he will voice the character.”

The recasting decision follows an announcement from “The Simpsons” last June that the show would no longer have white actors voice its characters with different skin colors. The decision was made after Black Lives Matter protests and Antifa riots erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. At the time, “Family Guy” voice actor Mike Henry announced he would no longer voice the black character Cleveland Brown on the show.

Shearer will continue to voice other roles on the show, such as Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner, but Richardson will take over as Hibbert.

Shearer did not provide a comment to the Wrap but previously he has criticized the show for indulging the idea that a white voice actor cannot portray a character with a different skin color.

“I have a very simple belief about acting,” he told Times Radio last August. “The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not.”

Dr. Hibbert is not the first minority Simpsons character to be recast because of racial issues.

Last January, actor Hank Azaria stepped away from his longtime role as convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a character that appears to be of Indian descent. The character was eventually written off the show entirely because of a documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu, which depicted Apu as a problematic stereotype that has had a detrimental impact on how Indian and Southeast Asian actors are treated in Hollywood.

“My eyes have been opened,” Azaria said of the documentary and the criticism surrounding it. “I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it [is].”

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Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen now have a podcast

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen have a new podcast.

On Monday, Spotify announced the launch of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a podcast hosted by the former president and the critically acclaimed and wildly popular rock star. The duo will talk about political issues like race and the future of the country and personal things like fatherhood and marriage.

“President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen first met back in 2008. Though the two have very different backgrounds and careers, they formed a deep friendship,” Spotify said in a statement. “Starting today, listeners can eavesdrop on their personal, intimate conversations in a new podcast.”

“The longtime friends discuss their hometowns and role models, explore modern manhood, and confront the painfully divided state of the country today—and offer a vision of how we can all move forward together,” Spotify added.

The new podcast series features eight episodes and is the second podcast to launch through Spotify’s partnership with former President Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground. Spotify’s first podcast with Higher Ground, “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” launched in 2019 and became the top-ranked podcast on the audio streaming service. According to NBC News, Spotify has spent more than $500 million to acquire podcast companies and expand its non-music content with exclusive deals with celebrities and popular figures.

The first episode of “Renegades,” now streaming, deals with the current political situation in the United States and race in America. The introduction is narrated by President Obama before the conversation with Springsteen begins, in which they talk about their respective upbringings.

“How did we get here? How could we find our way back to a more unifying American story?” Obama asks.

He continues: “That topic came to dominate so many of my conversations last year—with Michelle, with my daughters and with friends. And one of the friends just happened to be Mr. Bruce Springsteen. On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”

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NYU ‘anti-racist’ survey asks students to identify as one or more of at least 30 genders

New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development asked students to identify as one of at least 30 genders in a survey to “help build a more affirming environment.”

The survey was created by Steinhard’s Office of Equity, Belonging, and Community Action and sent to students in February in order to “inform the School’s policies, promote anti-racist practice, and help build a more affirming School environment for all,” according to an email obtained by TheBlaze.

“This survey was designed by my office to understand everyone’s experiences and sense of belonging at the school,” said Director of Equity Initiatives Maria Ramirez in a Feb. 3 Facebook video. “The survey is completely confidential, and we’ll be using the data to inform our equity work in hopes of making Steinhardt a better place for everyone, especially our more vulnerable peers.”

Screenshots from the survey depicting a question asking students “with which gender(s) do you identify?” was first shared by David Reaboi on Twitter and later obtained by TheBlaze. The question has at least 30 responses ranging from “agender” to “polygender” and asks students to “select all that apply.”

Other questions ask students to rate how they feel about statements like, “Senior leadership shows a visible commitment to fair racial/social representation,” with responses ranging from “Strongly Do Not Believe” to “Strongly Believe” or “Unsure/Do Not Know.” Students were asked if within the last three or six months they’ve “heard/witnessed an NYU Steinhardt community member use a slur, epithet, or other disparaging statement” and how often.

Students were also asked to identify which “equity issues” are predominant in the NYU Steinhardt community, including hunger/food insecurity, mental health, racial bias/racism, childcare and parental leave, privilege, ability bias, economic disadvantage, religious intolerance, cliques/favoritism, linguistic discrimination, and homophobia.

The survey has a note on pronouns, clarifying that “When we say ‘I, me, my’ we refer to you and all of the identities you hold such as your gender identity/expression, race/ethnicity, skin color, sexuality, citizenship status, education level, age, and position on campus.”

“The Office of Equity, Belonging, and Community Action designed the survey in response to your requests for greater community transparency and collective goal setting, and with the purpose of understanding our community’s experiences and assessing our members’ sense of belonging,” the survey states at the beginning.

“All responses will be kept strictly confidential. We will use responses to inform our School’s equity agenda, shift policy and promote anti-racist practice, and help build a warmer and more affirming School environment for everyone, especially for more vulnerable community members.”

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Amazon deplatforms book on transgenderism by conservative author without explanation

Amazon’s web store has
removed a best-selling book by a conservative author on the science and politics of transgenderism without notifying the author or giving him a reason why the book was deplatformed.

Ethics & Public Policy Center President Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., on Sunday discovered that his book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” had been removed from Amazon’s online store.

The book, which was an Amazon and Washington Post best-seller, surveys the debate on gender dysphoria, sex reassignment surgeries, and anti-discrimination law and considers biology, psychology, and philosophy to address what the public policy response should be for individuals who struggle to accept their bodies.

Anderson told TheBlaze that Amazon did not provide him with notice or an explanation for why his book was made unavailable to purchase. He only found out after people attempting to buy the book told him the listings on Amazon were taken down. Customers cannot purchase a used copy, the Kindle edition, or even the Audible version of Anderson’s book.

When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was released exactly three years ago (Feb 20, 2018 to be precise). It was attacked twice on the New York Times op-ed page. The Washington Post ran a hit piece on it that they then had to entirely rewrite to fix all their errors. It was obvious the critics hadn’t read the book,” Anderson said. “People who have actually read my book discovered that it was a thoughtful and accessible presentation of the state of the scientific, medical, philosophical and legal debates. Yes, it advances an argument from a certain viewpoint. No, it didn’t get any facts wrong, and it didn’t engage in any name-calling.”

He noted that his book received widespread praise from various medical and psychology academics and professionals.

“It was praised by a who’s who of experts: the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a longtime psychology professor at NYU, a professor of medical ethics at Columbia Medical School, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah, a distinguished professor at Harvard Law School, an eminent legal philosopher at Oxford, and a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton,” said Anderson.

“None of that matters. It’s not about how you say it, it’s not about how rigorously you argue it, it’s not about how charitably you present it. It’s about whether you dissent from a new orthodoxy. Three years after publication, in the very same week that the House of Representatives is going to ram through a radical transgender bill amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Amazon erases my book opposing gender ideology from their cyber shelves. Make no mistake, both Big Government and Big Tech can undermine human dignity and liberty, human flourishing and the common good.”

Anderson said that his publisher had contacted Amazon but had not yet received an explanation for why the book was deplatformed.

TheBlaze also reached out to Amazon, but comment for this article was not made available prior to publication.

Amazon was widely criticized by conservatives on social media for deplatforming the book.

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Cyrus vance Donald Trump Intelwars Manhattan district attorney office Supreme Court Trump financial records Trump tax returns

Supreme Court orders Trump to turn over tax records to NY prosecutors

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered former President Donald Trump to have his accountants release his financial records to prosecutors in New York, ending a prolonged legal battle in which Trump sought to shield his tax documents from investigators.

Trump’s lawyers, on Oct. 7, requested that the high court block a lower court decision ordering Mazars USA, the accounting firm employed by the former president, to answer a subpoena from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance’s office and turn over Trump’s tax documents. The Supreme Court’s order, which was unsigned and issued without comment, rejected that request.

Trump’s tax returns will be turned over under grand jury secrecy rules and will not be released publicly.

Vance, a Democrat, sought eight years of Trump’s financial records as part of an inquiry into allegations that Trump made hush-money payments to two women who say they had affairs with him before he became president. Court filings reported by the New York Times last December suggested Trump is also under investigation for potential tax fraud.

Vance issued a three-word statement in response to the court’s order: “The work continues.”

The decision marks the end of a lengthy legal battle in which Trump sought to keep his tax records confidential. Trump was the only recent U.S. president to refuse to release his tax returns to the public. He repeatedly asserted that he was under “audit” by the Internal Revenue Service and has long promised to release his financial records once the audit was complete.

In August 2019, Vance issued a subpoena for Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump claimed that as the sitting president, he was immune to state criminal investigations, but the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision rejected that argument and knocked the case back to lower courts.

Trump’s lawyers then argued that the subpoena was politically motivated and amounted to harassment of the president, calling it a “fishing expedition” and demanding that the subpoena request be rejected. But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan denied Trump’s request.

“We hold that none of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,'” the appeals court said.

In a separate court filing, House Democrats sought to obtain Trump’s tax records, but the Supreme Court last July refused to grant their request and sent the case back to the lower courts for review. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last August that if Joe Biden won the 2020 election, “the world will see what the president has been hiding all of this time.”

Neither President Joe Biden or his newly confirmed Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen have yet indicated whether they will release Trump’s taxes publicly.

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Biden administration Intelwars Joe Manchin Neera tanden Neera tanden confirmation office of management and budget President joe biden

Joe Manchin will oppose Biden’s OMB nominee Neera Tanden, dimming her chances

President Joe Biden’s controversial nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget faces a significant stumbling block to confirmation by the U.S. Senate after a moderate Democrat declared he would not vote for her.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Friday declared that he would not support Neera Tanden’s confirmation to lead OMB, citing disparaging comments Tanden made on social media about his colleagues in the Senate as a reason for concern she would be a divisive partisan figure.

“I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others. I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Manchin said in a statement.

“For this reason, I cannot support her nomination,” he continued. “As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics. At a time of grave crisis, it is more important than ever that we chart a new bipartisan course that helps address the many serious challenges facing our nation.”

Tanden is the president of the progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress. As OMB nominee, President Biden selected her to fill one of the most powerful positions in the White House, responsible for producing the president’s budget and overseeing agency programs, policies, and procedures to determine if they comply with the president’s policies and priorities.

Manchin’s opposition to Tanden leaves her confirmation to OMB in serious doubt. It is highly unlikely any Republican will vote to confirm her because of comments she’s made on social media attacking various Republican members of the Senate.

Her prior comments became a point of contention during her confirmation hearing when Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) confronted her about them.

“”You wrote that [Sen.] Susan Collins (R-Maine) is ‘the worst,’ that [Sen.] Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is a ‘fraud,’ that ‘vampires have more heart’ than [Sen.] Ted Cruz (R-Texas). You called [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell (R-Ky.) ‘Moscow Mitch,’ and ‘Voldemort,’ and on and on,” Portman reminded her.

Tanden was also grilled by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who accused her of making “vicious attacks” against progressives.

“Your attacks were not just made against Republicans. There were vicious attacks made against progressives. People who I have worked with, me personally,” Sanders said.

Even so, Sanders is expected to vote to confirm Tanden. But Manchin’s opposition leaves her confirmation in doubt.

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Alexandria ocasio-cortez Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Pandemic Cuomo nursing home deaths Intelwars New York New york politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for ‘full investigation’ of Gov. Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home scandal

Squad leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has joined a growing chorus of New York lawmakers calling for a full investigation into how Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) mishandled the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes.

On Wednesday, the Albany Times Union reported that the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York have opened an investigation into the Cuomo administration’s coronavirus task force and the crisis in New York nursing homes.

“I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor’s remarks warrant a full investigation.”

The Cuomo administration has faced scathing public criticism from New York lawmakers ever since a top Cuomo aide privately admitted last week that the state government withheld data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from the legislature out of fear President Donald Trump would wield Cuomo’s failure as a political weapon.

On the same day, the Associated Press published a bombshell report revealing that thousands more coronavirus patients were sent to nursing homes than Cuomo previously admitted.

During a news conference Monday in Albany, Cuomo blamed nursing home staff for spreading the virus and repeated his insistence that his policy of sending coronavirus patients to nursing homes was not responsible for the wave of nursing home deaths.

The governor is also under fire for privately threatening a Democratic state lawmaker who publicly criticized him, telling him “you will be destroyed.” That lawmaker, Assemblyman Ron Kim, went public with Cuomo’s threat and inspired a renewed wave of criticism of the governor.

“We are deeply disturbed by the Governor’s attacks on our colleague — a fellow Democrat — Assemblymember Kim,” said 12 Democratic lawmakers in a joint statement condemning Cuomo’s actions. They also announced support for legislation sponsored by Kim to strip Cuomo of his pandemic-related emergency powers.

“As a co-equal branch of government, the Legislature is well within its rights to seek oversight of executive action. In fact, we have a duty to seek that oversight,” the lawmakers wrote in their statement.

“It is our job to represent our constituents and seek answers to the tragedies that took place in nursing homes around the State. We have no interest in name calling — we aim to restore the proper balance of power between the Legislature and Executive” branches of state government.

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Ballot drop boxes Election integrity Election law Florida Intelwars Mail-in voting Ron DeSantis Voting reform

DeSantis proposes election integrity measures: Ban universal mail-in voting; ban ballot harvesting

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday announced a series of new proposals to strengthen election integrity in Florida, touting the state’s previous successes and committing to transparency and security in elections moving forward.

Speaking at a press conference in West Palm Beach with state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, DeSantis criticized ballot drop boxes, universal mail-in voting, and the practice of ballot harvesting, proposing new laws to ban or reform those election practices.

“Florida had the most transparent and efficient election anywhere in the country,” DeSantis said of Florida’s performance in the 2020 election. “Other states took days, weeks, and even months to count their votes. And yet Florida, by midnight on election night, we had 99% reporting and 11 million votes counted, tabulated, and put out to the public.

“It can be done and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.”

“Last November, Florida held the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country,” DeSantis said in a statement announcing his proposals. “While we should celebrate this feat, we should not rest on our laurels. Today, we are taking action to ensure that Florida remains a leader on key issues regarding our electoral process, such as ballot integrity, public access to election information, transparency of election reporting and more. By strengthening these election integrity protections, we will ensure that our elections remain secure and transparent, and that Florida’s electoral process remains a blueprint for other states to follow.”

Here are DeSantis’ proposals as summarized by his press office:

Ballot Integrity

  • Address the use of ballot drop boxes.
  • Address ballot harvesting so that no person may possess ballots other than their own and their immediate family’s.
  • No mass mailing of vote-by-mail ballots—only voters who request a ballot should receive a ballot.
  • Vote-by-mail requests must be made each election year.
  • Vote-by-mail ballot signatures must match the most recent signature on file.

Transparency in the Elections Process

  • Political parties and candidates cannot be shut out from observing the signature matching process.
  • Supervisors of Elections must post over-vote ballots to be considered by the canvassing board on their website before the canvassing board meets.
  • Prohibits counties from receiving grants from private third-party organizations for “get out the vote” initiatives.

Transparency in Elections Reporting

  • Requires real-time reporting of voter turnout data at the precinct level.
  • Supervisors of Elections must report how many ballots have been requested, how many have been received, and how many are left to be counted.
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Biden amnesty bill Bob Menendez Illegal Immigration Intelwars Us citizenship act Us citizenship act of 2021 us senate

Democrats introduce the ultimate amnesty bill to give citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens

House and Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and provide them with a path to U.S. citizenship. The bill, which contains a wish list of immigration priorities long campaigned for by the radical left, is unlikely to pass in the U.S. Senate, a fact the White House recognizes.

The 353-page bill, promised and supported by President Joe Biden, would create an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, including so-called Dreamers and other classes of people from other countries currently living in the United States in violation of federal law.

The bill would also increase the number of legal immigrants, provide foreign aid to South and Central American countries, make it easier for refugees to claim asylum, change all instances of the word “alien” in federal law to “noncitizen,” increase spending on border infrastructure to process migrants, assign Social Security numbers and provide health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act to illegal aliens granted “lawful prospective immigrant” status, and much more.

“We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform that leaves no one behind, not our Dreamers and [Temporary Protective Status] holders, not our farm workers and meat packers, not our essential workers and not our parents, friends and neighbors,” bill sponsor Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters Thursday.

Notably, the bill contains no provisions to increase border security or tighten immigration law enforcement, policies Republicans demand of any immigration compromise legislation. Democrats are forthright about their unwillingness to compromise.

“We have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country,” Menendez said.

“We know the path forward will demand negotiations with others. But we’re not going to make concessions out of the gate,” he also said. “We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make.”

This legislation is seen as a statement of progressive principle, not a reform that has any chance of becoming law with the Senate tied 50-50. To overcome a filibuster, Democrats would need to muster support from three-fifths of the Senate, swaying at least 10 Republicans to their side, a task viewed as insurmountable.

“This bill was not designed to get to 60,” a source told Politico. “There’s no pathway to 60.”

The primary purpose of the bill is to provide amnesty to illegal aliens and make them full U.S. citizens. Aliens who qualify must have been physically present in the U.S. on or before Jan. 1, 2021, unless granted a waiver from the secretary of Homeland Security for humanitarian purposes.

Those who qualify to receive lawful prospective immigrant status would be allowed to obtain a work permit and may travel outside of the United States with the ability to reenter at will if they show documentation of their lawful status. After a period of five years they may apply for a green card, provided they pass a background check and pay all related taxes or fees. DACA recipients, migrants with Temporary Protected Status, and farmworkers will receive expedited preference to obtain green cards without waiting five years.

A lawful prospective immigrant who holds a green card for three years may then apply for U.S. citizenship if they pass additional background checks.

Several provisions of the bill are a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. The bill would severely curtail a president’s power to suspend or restrict a certain class of aliens from entering the United States for national security reasons, requiring the president to only be able to do so on the recommendation of the secretaries of state and Homeland Security and after notifying Congress with full report. Additionally, the bill creates a right for affected aliens to sue to block such an order.

Other policies would dramatically increase the number of aliens allowed to use family-based immigration provisions, make visas more widely available, and repeal restrictions that prevent aliens unlawfully present in the U.S. from reentering the country for a period of three to 10 years.

In terms of foreign aid, the bill would spend $4 billion over four years to encourage economic development and strengthen law enforcement and anti-corruption efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This policy is meant to improve conditions in those countries so people living there do not flee to the United States. It would also establish refugee processing centers in those countries to screen migrants applying for refugee status before they arrive at the U.S. and, if they are approved, help relocate them here.

The bill contains no provisions to increase border security favored by Republicans. There is no additional funding for the construction of a border wall. Instead, it would spend more on new technology to identify narcotics and contraband and authorize the secretary of Homeland Security to “develop and implement a strategy to manage and secure the southern border of the United States by deploying smart technology.”

Several Republicans have declared the Democrats’ bill dead on arrival, slamming it as a “nonstarter.”

To overcome expected Republican opposition, President Biden has floated attempting to pass amnesty legislation “piecemeal,” focusing on aspects of Democrats’ immigration priorities that are either most likely to get Republican support or could be passed under the budget reconciliation process to dodge a filibuster.

As the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian summarized for National Review:

The “piecemeal” amnesties would not be small. The pieces of the larger bill that Democrats are likely to push separately include the Dream Act (for illegal immigrants who came as minors), the Promise Act (for illegal immigrants granted “Temporary” Protected Status), and the Agricultural Workers Adjustment Act (“adjustment” meaning amnesty). Based on CBO and other estimates, these three “piecemeal” measures could amnesty some 3.5 million people, maybe more. That’s more than the 2.7 million amnestied by the notorious 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was supposed to solve the illegal immigration problem but whose broken promises instead have poisoned the debate.

Immigration activists are demanding that the Democratic majority in the Senate invoke the nuclear option and eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the comprehensive bill. But Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have separately said they would not support an effort to kill the filibuster, which would squash any real chance of the Biden immigration bill becoming law.

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Education savings accounts Hope scholarship Intelwars school choice School freedom West Virginia West virginia house of delegates

As the nation’s fight over reopening schools wages on, West Virginia Legislature advances major school choice bills

School freedom is advancing in the state of West Virginia this week as major legislation to expand school choice passed through the lower house of the state Legislature.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill to expand the number of charter schools that could be approved in the state in a three-year period from three to 10. The bill passed 66-32, with all Democratic delegates opposing the legislation. On Thursday, legislation creating education savings accounts was approved by the House of Delegates in a 60-29 vote.

These education savings accounts, known as the “Hope Scholarship,” would permit parents to use their tax dollars for education expenses like private school tuition, home tutoring, testing aids, and other permitted education expenses. Republicans approved an amendment to the legislation that would make nearly every school-age child eligible for an education savings account by 2026, opening the program to a maximum 22,000 students at a cost of $101 million.

“We’re a diverse state. We have different geographic regions that have different needs,” Delegate Joe Ellington, a Republican and the charter school bill’s chief sponsor, told the Associated Press. “This just gives opportunity. If people don’t want to take advantage of that opportunity, they don’t have to. So it’s strictly voluntary.”

Charter schools were legalized during a special session of the West Virginia Legislature in 2019, after intense statewide protests by teachers unions opposing the bill. This year, however, school choice advanced speedily with the support of Republican supermajorities in the legislature.

Under current law, county school boards may authorize applications to create a charter school. So far there are no charter schools in West Virginia and only one application to create a charter school has been submitted to the school boards in Monongalia and Preston counties. That application was rejected, and there is a lawsuit against the state Department of Education over the decision.

The charter school expansion bill would create the West Virginia Professional Charter School Board to review and authorize charter school applications in addition to the county boards. It would also allow each of Virginia’s 55 counties to approve the creation of a fully online virtual charter school, which would be allowed to enroll up to 10% of public school students.

Democrats opposing charter school expansion and the creation of education savings accounts say permitting parents to use their tax dollars to send their kids to private or religious schools will detract from state funding for public schools. They also raised concerns about the cost of the legislation after Republicans expanded the education savings accounts bill.

“The price tag just went right through the roof,” Delegate Larry Rowe (D) said of the Hope Scholarship’s $101 million price tag. “It is an unbelievable amount of money to be voting here in a simple amendment on the floor for the first time to be completely changing the nature of this program.”

Last month West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed an executive order to begin reopening public and private schools that had closed down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers unions sued to block schools from reopening, but Kanawha County Circuit Judge Carrie Webster ruled against the unions and refused to block reopening plans from the state board of education.

Under the reopening plan, pre-K, elementary and middle schools will be open for in-person instruction in all West Virginia counties for four or five days per week. Alternatively, school districts can opt for a hybrid reopening plan that permits schools to open at least two days per week until all their teachers are fully vaccinated. High schools may also reopen in all counties except those designated as high risk for COVID-19 spread by the Department of Health and Human Resources County Alert System.

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2022 midterm elections Florida Intelwars Ivanka Trump Marco Rubio Republican senate primary us senate

Report: Ivanka Trump rules out challenging Marco Rubio for US Senate

Amid speculation that one or more members of former President Donald Trump’s family will launch primary challenges against incumbent Republicans in the upcoming 2022 midterm election year, at least one Trump has reportedly ruled out doing so.

The New York Times reported that Ivanka Trump will not run against Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in the 2022 Florida GOP Senate primary. Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and their family moved to Florida permanently after her father’s presidential term ended. Since the move, rumors have swirled that Ivanka Trump would seek statewide office, possibly challenging Rubio for Senate.

A spokesman for Rubio told the Times that Ivanka is supporting the senator for re-election in 2022.

“Marco did speak with Ivanka a few weeks ago,” the spokesman said. “Ivanka offered her support for Marco’s re-election. They had a great talk.”

Also, the Times reported that an anonymous source close to Trump said running for Senate was not a plan she ever seriously considered. The source said that Rubio’s office had asked her to refrain from publicly announcing she would not run for Senate until April, when they hoped she would join them for an event.

The Rubio spokesman told the Times that their office had a discussion with Ivanka Trump about holding an event to call attention to Rubio’s efforts to expand the child tax credit, a policy he and Trump developed together.

In a statement, Ivanka Trump called Rubio a “good personal friend and I know he will continue to drive meaningful progress on issues we both care deeply about.”

There are also rumors that Ivanka’s sister-in-law, Lara Trump, is mulling a bid for U.S. Senate in her home state of North Carolina. The New York Times previously reported that Lara, who is married to former President Trump’s son Eric, was considering running for the seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Several Republicans spoke favorably of a prospective bid by Lara Trump. Former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said she “would be formidable,” noting her ability to fundraise and her talent as a messenger.

However, the Times now reports that “people briefed on the discussions” said Lara Trump, like Ivanka, is unlikely to run for office.

So far, no members of former President Trump’s family have made any public announcement declaring their intention to run for office.

As for the former president, who was acquitted on impeachment charges of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Donald Trump told Newsmax host Greg Kelly on Wednesday that he will not yet say if he will be a candidate for president in 2024.

“Well, we have tremendous support. I won’t say yet, but we have tremendous support,” Trump said. “I’m looking at poll numbers that are through the roof. … I’m the only guy that gets impeached and my numbers go up.”

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Celebrity Country music Dolly Parton Dolly parton statue Entertainment Intelwars Tennessee

Dolly Parton politely tells Tennessee Legislature to cancel plans for a statue in her honor

Country music star, native Tennessean, and American icon Dolly Parton kindly asked the Tennessee Legislature on Thursday to postpone an effort to erect a statue in her honor at the state capitol.

In a written statement, Parton said she was honored and humbled by the gesture, but thinks the timing is inappropriate.

“I want to thank the Tennessee Legislature for their consideration of a bill to erect a statue of me on the Capitol grounds. I am honored and humbled by their intention but I have asked the leaders of the state Legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration,” Parton said.

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time,” she explained. “I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.

“In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud.”

Born and raised in the Smoky Mountains, Parton is the favorite daughter of the Volunteer State. She’s written more than 25 songs that reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, including the 1973 hit song “My Tennessee Mountain Home” about growing up in rural Tennessee. She began writing music at 8 years old, using her talent to rise out of poverty to superstardom.

Parton is one of the most-honored female country music artists of all time, earning 10 Grammy Awards, 50 Grammy nominations, three American Music Awards, seven Academy of Country music awards, the Living Legend Medal from the U.S. Library of Congress, the National Medal of Arts, introduction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and more.

Her philanthropic work includes supporting literacy through the Dollywood Foundation, fundraising for the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDS-related charities, fighting to preserve the bald eagle by supporting the American Eagle Foundation’s sanctuary, and donating $1 million to help fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

In January, Tennessee state Rep. John Mark Windle sponsored a bill to build a statue of Parton in the state Capitol “to recognize her for all she has contributed to this state.” The proposed statue would face the Ryman Auditorium, a historic music venue where Parton has performed several times throughout her career. The statue would be paid for by the “Dolly Parton fund,” which would be made up of gifts, grants, and other donations, CNN reported last January.

The statue is not the first honor Parton has politely declined. The Trump administration offered to grant Parton the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice, but she turned the president down both times, citing her husband’s illness and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” she told NBC’s “Today.”

She also said that the Biden administration has reached out to her about the award, but said, “now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.”

“But I don’t work for those awards,” she said. “It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”

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Charity Good News Intelwars King of kings church Medical Debt midwest Omaha nebraska Rip medical debt

Omaha church partners with nonprofit and cancels $7.2 million of medical debt for strangers

A Nebraska church is serving its community and helping those in need by helping to eliminate millions of dollars in medical expenses for people overwhelmed by debt.

King of Kings Church in Omaha has partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit organization, to buy up medical debt and then forgive it.

“They are just doing a terrific ministry,” King of Kings Church lead pastor Greg Griffith told WOWT-TV.

RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014 by former debt collections executives Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. Their organization uses donations to purchase medical debt from hospitals and doctors practices before it is sold to collections firms and then forgives that debt, freeing people in need from the enormous burden of their medical expenses.

When debt is sold to collections, it is sold at a discount, for a fraction of the total value of the debt. This allows RIP Medical Debt to purchase the rights to collect medical debt cheaply and then cancel that debt. There’s no need to raise millions of dollars to cancel millions of dollars of debt. For every $100 donation, RIP Medical Debt says they can forgive $10,000 of medical debt.

When Pastor Griffith learned that churches have partnered with RIP Medical Debt to forgive debts across the country, he wanted his King of Kings Church to be a part of that effort. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented churches nationwide from meeting and serving their communities in the way they are used to, but Griffith said RIP Medical Debt gave his church an ability to make a difference in people’s lives in a way that was relevant to the times.

“Health care is an issue. Medical debt is an issue and people are going to the hospital totally unexpectedly because of this global pandemic and so we felt this would be a great way to say, ‘Let us help you,'” he said.

King of Kings Church made a $35,000 donation that RIP Medical Debt turned around to buy up the medical debt of 2,700 people, eliminating $7.2 million worth of debt in Nebraska, Iowa, and part of Arizona.

Pastor Griffith hopes other churches take advantage of the opportunity provided by RIP Medical Debt and similar organizations to serve people in need across the United States.

“We could cancel all medical debt, even student loan debt,” he said. “I hope and pray other churches take a look at this model and consider it.”

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