News

Texas Governor Slams Austin City Council for Defunding Police

Abbott vows that the “Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott voiced his disdain towards the Austin City Council’s decision to strip $150 million from the capital city’s police department, Breitbart reports. 

“Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety,” Abbott said in a written statement. “Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness.”

The Austin City Council voted unanimously to cut its police department budget by $150 million on Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported. 

“This moment has been born out of a lot of hurt in the community,” Austin City Councilman Greg Casar said during the council’s Thursday meeting. “We know we have a long way to go.”

Casar crafted the three-tiered plan to cut the police department budget by about one-third of its total $434 million budget. His plan calls to immediately slash around $20 million.  The funds will be reallocated to abortion and food access programs.

The plan also calls for $80 million to be diverted over time to move divisions from the police department to civilian functions including forensics, support services, and victims’ services. Another $50 million will go to a “Reimagine Safety Fund” to create alternative forms of public safety, according to Breitbart

The council’s proposal also would eliminate 150 vacant officer positions.

Late last month, Austin City Councilman Jimmy Flannigan made headlines by calling for the “expedited demolition” of the Austin police headquarters building, Breitbart Texas reported.

“We should expedite the demolition of the APD Headquarters by directing the city manager to move all remaining APD staff out of the existing headquarters building and into other underutilized city facilities,” Flannigan wrote in his plan posted on AustinCouncilForum.org.

Mackenzie Kelly, Flannigan’s opponent in an upcoming city council election, said of the proposed demolition in an interview with The Hayride political blog: “Nothing is more symbolic of recent efforts to de-fund the police than this scheme to demolish Austin Police Headquarters . . . If anyone for even a second thinks that these proposals are designed to save money or increase accountability, remember that Jimmy Flannigan is now proposing swinging a wrecking ball at the very heart of law and order in our city.”

In a Facebook post, Kelly called Flannigan’s proposal “reckless and completely unthinkable.”

In his statement, Governor Abbott vowed that the “Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city.”

News

Appeals Court Rules That Only Men Can Be Drafted

The lawsuit by the National Coalition for Men alleged that maintaining the draft for only one sex is discrimination, and thus unconstitutional. 

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday struck down a lower court’s ruling and declared that it is constitutional for only men to register for the draft, as reported by The Hill.

A federal court in 2019 attempted to strike down the U.S. Supreme Court’s original ruling in 1981 that women could be excluded from registering with the Selective Service System since combat jobs at the time were made exclusively for men.

In overturning the lower court’s ruling, the Fifth Circuit’s three-judge panel reasoned they did not have the authority to overrule a Supreme Court ruling due to its superiority over all other judicial institutions in the nation. 

The court did acknowledge, however, that “the factual underpinning of the controlling Supreme Court decision has changed,” as women are now able to apply for combat positions in the armed services.

The legal battle over the draft began with a lawsuit from the National Coalition for Men, which argued that maintaining the draft for only one of the two sexes is discrimination, and thus unconstitutional. 

Although the draft ended in 1973 and has shown no signs of ever being revived, all men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 are still required to register with the Selective Service. If they do not, then they risk penalties such as the denial of federal financial aid for attending college.

News

Trump Administration Secures Historic Peace Agreement Between Israel and UAE

President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that a historic peace agreement had been reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, scoring another major foreign policy victory for the Trump Administration, as reported by the New York Times.

The deal will include “full normalization of relations” between Israel and the predominantly Muslim Emirates, and will include greater cooperation between the two nations on such matters as tourism, energy, security, technology, investment, and other areas. Immediate reconciliations will take place soon on more everyday matters such as direct flights between the two countries, as well as the opening of embassies and the appointment of trade ambassadors. In exchange, Israel agreed to suspend its latest efforts at the annexation of the West Bank region.

President Trump made the announcement from the Oval Office, in a three-way teleconference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The deal would be the first successful peace agreement between Israel and an Arab nation in almost 30 years and makes the UAE only the third such nation to normalize relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

President Trump described the deal as “a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East. Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead.” 

There were already early reports following the agreement that several other countries, such as Oman and Bahrain, may follow the Emirates’ lead and pursue similar peace agreements with Israel.

News

Climate Change Barely Registers Among Americans List of Top Concerns, Gallup Poll Shows

Just 1 percent of American’s surveyed identified the combined category of “Climate change/Environment/Pollution,” as “the most important problem facing this country today?” in a Gallup poll conducted in July.

Coronavirus the Top Concern

The Wuhan Coronavirus remained the top concern among the 1,007 adults polled by Gallup between July 1 and July 23, with 30 percent of those surveyed identifying it as “the most important problem facing the country today.” “Government/Poor Leadership,” came in a distant second among the list of concerns with 23 percent of respondents saying it is the top problem facing the nation.

All economic problems combined were identified by nine percent of those polled as the most important problem facing the country, with four percent saying the “Economy in general” is the top problem and two percent saying “Unemployment/Jobs,” is the top concern for the United States.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as protests and Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots continue to plague parts of the county, “Race Relations/Racism” ranked among adults polled as the third most important problem facing the country, with 16 percent of respondents listing it as such. This represents a significant increase in concern about race relations since April, at which time only 1 percent those polled said it was America’s top problem.

Climate Ties for Last

As noted in a Breitbart News article discussing the Gallup poll, despite the leadership of the Democratic party regularly referring to climate change as the most dangerous threat facing the United States and the world, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying, “There’s no more consequential challenge that we must meet in the next decade than the onrushing climate crisis,” when presenting his “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice,” only 1 percent of those polled identified all environmental issues combined, including climate change, as the most important problem facing the country.

The poll shows respondents ranked “Crime/Violence” at 5 percent, the “Judicial System/Courts/Laws” at 3 percent, and “Ethics/Morals/Religious/Family Decline,” “Lack of respect for each other,” “The media,” and “Healthcare,” each listed by 2 percent of respondents, as being the most important problem facing the country, ahead of environmental problems in general and climate change in particular.

This article was originally posted at Heartland Daily News and is reprinted with permission.

News

New Unemployment Claims Drop Below 1 Million

Dow Jones had forecast 1.1. million new unemployment filings for the week.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to 963,000 last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

The number for the week that ended on August 8 is the lowest since governments began imposing COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March. It marks the first time the weekly total has been less than a million since then.

Dow Jones had forecast 1.1. million new unemployment filings for the week.

The 963,000 number was 19.14 percent below the previous week’s total. The four-week average was 1.2 million, a reduction of about 7 percent from the previous week’s moving average.

The number remains above the highest pre-coronavirus total of 695,000 in 1982.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 10.6 percent for the week ending August 1, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate,” the Department of Labor reports.

The unadjusted unemployment data showed a decrease of 15.8 percent from the previous week, according to the Department of Labor.

“Seeing initial claims dip below 1 million is a positive sign that layoffs are easing, but we’re far from celebrating a steady recovery,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Fox News. “Tens of millions of people are still collecting unemployment benefits at a level far above the worst points of the Great Recession. We’ve not yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel for millions of workers.”

With the numbers nonetheless indicating a continuing recovery, the jobs report could reduce the urgency for House Democrats and Senate Republicans to reach agreement on another stimulus bill, the New York Times reports: “Efforts to reach an agreement on another pandemic stimulus package could get even tougher after weekly new jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March and the federal budget deficit continued to hit record highs, reaching $2.8 trillion in July—two major elements that could shift the negotiating landscape.”

Leaders of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives are pushing for a $2 trillion in new funding. The Trump administration wants to allocate about $1 trillion, and some GOP senators do not want any additional funding. Negotiations have been intermittent thus far.

The unemployment improvement may strengthen the Republicans’ argument, the Times reports, “with some lawmakers and White House officials saying the economy is beginning to recover and doesn’t need that level of support, and others saying that the United States cannot afford to keep piling on debt.”

As a result, “Those positions could further harden given that weekly jobless claims, which had been above one million for months, fell below that number last week, with 963,000 people filing first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs,” the Times reports. “On Thursday, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi doubled down on the Democrats’ position, saying that they would not agree to a stimulus package unless it provided at least $2 trillion of additional aid.”

The better-than-expected unemployment data kept the S&P 500 near its all-time high, CNBC reports:

“The S&P 500 was up 0.2%, briefly crossing its record closing high of 3,386.15 and sitting 0.2% below its intraday record of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by 42 points, or 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rising 0.9%.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued its strong August performance as it too heads back toward its record high.

Further improvement in the S&P number would mark a record recovery, CNBC quotes Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research, as saying.

“Reaching an all-time high would mark the fastest reversal from a 30% drop on record,” Clissold said.

This article was originally posted at Heartland Daily News and is reprinted with permission.

News

Taiwan’s President Celebrates ‘Stronger Than Ever’ Relations with the United States

Tsai Ing-Wen’s remarks were made by video to an event with the Hudson Institute.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen spoke virtually to an event at a U.S. think tank, where she acknowledged the strength of the current relationship between the United States and Taiwan, Breitbart reports.

“As effective as our military is,” Tsai said, “we cannot stand alone without support from the community of like-minded democracies. I am proud that the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. has never been closer.” She continued, saying that “we share a high degree of mutual trust and a common strategic picture of how we can work together to protect and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Her remarks were made by video to an event with the Hudson Institute, a think tank with a focus on national security and foreign relations. The comments are indicative of just one of the ways the United States is attempting to balance out China’s dominance in the region, as the Communist nation considers the small nation of Taiwan to be part of China.

Taiwan’s ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, acknowledged the “recent trends of a more belligerent and aggressive” China in recent months.

Although China has come under intense global scrutiny due to its mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, that hasn’t stopped the government there from conducting military drills in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region, moves that are increasingly seen as defiant flexing of their military might.

Prior to the pandemic, China was facing global condemnation for its harsh crackdowns on peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; although the use of military force to suppress these protesters has continued, the shifting media focus to the coronavirus has all but eliminated that story from international headlines.

Tsai noted that China was even taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis, pointing out that “when the rest of the world has been distracted in responding to one of the most significant crises in recent history, we’re seeing a growing effort to pose ever more challenging threats to free and democratic societies. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hong Kong.”

News

Poll Shows Strong Support for Immigration Restrictions Due to Coronavirus

The USA Today survey found 81 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats, and 62 percent of independents all support President Trump’s efforts to restrict immigration. 

Despite the mainstream media’s narratives, there is broad popular support for President Donald Trump’s efforts to heavily restrict immigration in response to the coronavirus, according to a poll by USA Today.

The poll, conducted with Public Agenda and Ipsos, showed that four-fifths of Republicans (81 percent), just under half of Democrats (49 percent), and nearly two-thirds of independents (62 percent) all support President Trump’s strict cutting of most immigration—legal and illegal—into the United States.

James Hollifield, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, compared the surprisingly high bipartisan agreement to a similar national consensus in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “When you have these moments of national crisis, people suspend some of their skepticism about closing the borders. They’re willing to do that,” Hollifield said.

Among President Trump’s biggest immigration moves during the pandemic have been an expediting of the construction of the border wall, and several executive orders canceling guest worker visas, including H-1B visas, for the remainder of the year in order to ensure that newly-reopened jobs go to Americans first. Even before the pandemic began, President Trump had also made historic cuts to the federal refugee program, bringing the maximum amount of possible refugees allowed into the country down to its lowest levels in history on an annual basis.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the Trump Administration’s efforts to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA, which is widely unpopular, attempted to give broad amnesty to illegal aliens based solely on how young they were when they first entered. President Trump responded to the ruling by saying that he would find another way to cancel the program. He already successfully eliminated DACA’s partner program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), and nearly 300 miles of the wall, his signature domestic policy achievement, has been built during his term in office. 

News

National Retail Chains, Restaurants Flee New York

“It will be years before retail has even a chance of returning to New York City in its pre-COVID form,” one popular retailer said.

The New York Times reports that national retailers and restaurant chains such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Le Pain Quotidien, and Subway are permanently closing locations in New York City in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a “mass exodus” of residents and businesses.

Business leaders warn that the city is facing a crisis of “historic proportions,” according to the Times.

Related: Trump on De Blasio: “Horrible” for New York City

Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, which owns the popular Bryant Park Grill & Cafe, told the New York Times he would never open another restaurant in the city. “There’s no reason to do business in New York,” Weinstein said.

With tourists staying clear of the city and surrounding office towers mostly empty, the restaurant has been forced to close its 1,000-seat dining room and move service to the patio. As a result, Weinstein says the restaurant brings in only about $12,000 a day—an 85 percent drop in revenue.

The Times story highlights worrying signs that national brands are beginning to abandon the Big Apple and may never return. Chain restaurants including restaurants like Le Pain Quotidian, Subway, and Chipotle have seen big losses. Shake Shack reported a 40 percent decrease in revenue in the second quarter. Le Pain Quotidien has permanently closed several of its 27 stores in the city. Subway and retailers J.C Penney and Kate Spade have also closed their branches permanently.

The flagship Victoria’s Secret store at Herald Square in Manhattan has been closed for months and has not paid its $937,000 monthly rent in the meantime. “It will be years before retail has even a chance of returning to New York City in its pre-COVID form,” the retailer’s parent company recently told its landlord.

“In the prime real estate areas, all the stores rely on having half international tourists and half local tourists or those from the local neighborhoods,” said Thiago Hueb, a founder of a jewelry company whose product is sold in stores around the country. He had already decided to close his store on Madison Avenue before the pandemic struck because of high rents.

Hueb told the Times he has no interest in returning to the city.

“The avenue is no longer what it used to be,” he said.

News

Trump on De Blasio:
‘Horrible‘ for New York City

The president blamed the mayor for rising crime, especially a sharp increase in homicides, following months of civil unrest and high unemployment.

President Trump on Tuesday slammed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for doing a “horrible” job responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Post reports.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the president said New York City was “going bad” with several self-styled progressive candidates—including some supported by the Democratic Socialists of America— unseating incumbents in the recent Democratic primary elections. 

“The people that are winning these races for the Democrats—Eliot Engel, he was staple many, many years . . . from a very nice part of the world that’s going bad on us: New York,” Trump said, referring to the 16-term Democratic congressman’s surprise primary loss to Jamaal Bowman, a former school principal.

Engel’s reelection bid was damaged after being caught on a hot mic saying if not for his election, he wouldn’t care about speaking at a Bronx event focusing on this summer’s civil unrest in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the Post reported. 

Trump blamed De Blasio for rising crime in New York City, especially a sharp increase in homicides, following months of civil unrest, high unemployment, and the threat of a massive wave of evictions following the coronavirus economic shutdown

“I left [New York City], it was four years ago; it was a wonderful place,” Trump told Hannity. “You could see signs of badness but it was a wonderful place.”

“What’s happening in New York is so horrible for our country. What they’ve done—what Mayor de Blasio has done to that city in a short period of time is horrible,” the president added.

Trump during his interview attacked Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as mail-in voting. 

The president cited the mail-in ballot-counting problems of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who last week was finally declared the winner of her close primary race. 

“You’ll never know who won the election, just like in New York. They had an election with Carolyn Maloney, a third-rate congresswoman that I’ve known for a long time . . . well, she won, but they have no idea where the ballots are . . . her opponent is having a fit.”

Maloney’s opponent, Suraj Patel, claims more than 12,000 mail-in votes were disqualified over problems with the ballots, such as lack of postcards. “Our election was [rife] with systemic voter disenfranchisement,” Patel said in a statement.

News

Ilhan Omar Defeats Democratic Primary Challenger

The “squad” member from Minnesota will face Republican nominee Lacy Johnson in the general election.

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) managed to fend off a well-funded primary challenger in Minnesota’s primary elections Tuesday night, The Hill reports.

In the 5th Congressional District, Omar—who is one of the first Muslims elected to Congress and who has a history of racist statements against whites and Jews—was challenged by Antone Melton-Meaux. Although Melton-Meaux raised more than $3 million to Omar’s $470,000, Omar decisively won the primary with 57 percent of the vote, to Melton-Meaux’s 39 percent.

Omar, like her fellow members of “the squad” of socialist and progressive congresswomen, has been criticized for being too far-left and for her numerous controversial statements, particularly with regards to Israel. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), both of whom are card-carrying members of the Democratic Socialists of America, also faced primary challengers this year but ultimately emerged victorious.

During the campaign, Melton-Meaux had attacked Omar for her poor attendance record in Congress and missing numerous key votes, claiming that she was much more focused on her national profile than on issues that help her district.

Omar has also faced a number of scandals during her first two years in office, including allegations that she engaged in immigration fraud by marrying her brother and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from her campaign treasury to a campaign consulting firm owned by her new husband.

Omar and her allies, particularly Ocasio-Cortez, falsely accused Melton-Meaux of “being propped up by Republican super PACs and GOP megadonors.”

Omar will face Republican nominee Lacy Johnson in the general election, although the district—which includes the riot-torn city of Minneapolis—is widely expected to stay blue.

News

McConnell Says It’s Time to Restart Coronavirus Talks

Democrats and Republicans are split over $1 trillion in state and local government aid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed Democrats and the White House to restart coronavirus relief talks over aid stalled again late last week as millions scramble to cover bills, The Hill reports.

McConnell told Fox News on Tuesday it was “time for everybody to get back to the table,” though he gave no indication he would reach out to Democratic leaders himself.

“The stalemate needs to be ended. It doesn’t make any difference who says let’s get together again, but we ought to get together again,” McConnell said, adding negotiations were currently at an “impasse.”

“There hasn’t been a meeting of any consequences between the two parties since last Friday,” McConnell said. “That’s too long, and it’s time to sit down and get a deal done.”

Negotiations collapsed on Friday and showed no sign of an agreement after nearly two weeks of closed-door talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

White House officials recommended that President Trump move ahead without Congress to try to address unemployment benefits, eviction rules, and student loan relief.

McConnell was not in the room for the days of talks, however. Meadows and Mnuchin briefed the GOP leader regularly about the closed-door negotiations.

Congressional Democrats and the White House negotiators haven’t spoken since Friday. Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday that she had not heard from Mnuchin or Meadows.

“Our differences are vast,” she said.

Asked if we should expect any updates this week, Pelosi added: “I hope so, we’ll see.”

Mnuchin and Meadows briefed Senate Republicans on Tuesday morning and gave GOP senators no indication as to when they would resume talks.

Schumer and Pelosi reportedly offered to cut $1 trillion from their $3.4 trillion top-line figure if the administration agreed to add $1 trillion to its package. That would have put them in the range of a final agreement between $2 trillion and $2.4 trillion, The Hill reported.

Mnuchin called the figure a “nonstarter.”

According to The Hill, McConnell on Tuesday called for Democrats to drop their demand for $1 trillion in additional aid for state and local governments.

“Take that off the table and let’s get this assistance directly to the people who need it,” McConnell said.

News

Far-Left Groups Preparing Judicial Picks for Biden If He Wins the White House

The lists are being arranged by roughly half-a-dozen organizations, including progressive group Building the Bench.

Radical far-left groups are already building up their own lists of potential federal court picks, including for the U.S. Supreme Court, for Joe Biden to choose from in the event he is elected president, the Daily Caller reports.

The lists are being arranged by roughly half-a-dozen organizations, including progressive group Building the Bench.

A spokeswoman for Building the Bench said that “I would be lying . . . if I said there aren’t people we would prefer to see on the bench, because the courts are significant to our ability to advance the constitutional rights and protections we are committed to advancing.” Other groups involved in the effort include the Human Rights Campaign and Demand Justice.

The effort is in response to the historic number of federal judges confirmed over the course of President Trump’s first term, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Over 200 federal judges were nominated and confirmed by President Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate, including 53 appeals court judges and 146 district court judges.

President Trump has also named two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The Senate had only recently confirmed the 53rd appeals court judge, Cory Wilson of the 5th Circuit, thus officially filling up every single appeals court vacancy left from the Obama Administration.

Leftist groups have made it their mission to focus not on a judge’s knowledge of the Constitution, but instead on simply appointing as many women and minorities as possible, often complaining that many of Trump’s nominees were white and mostly male.

The Left staged its most strident opposition to the president’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, by hiring multiple left-wing activists to accuse him of sexual misconduct; all of the allegations were ultimately debunked, and Kavanaugh was confirmed by a narrow Senate majority.

Biden, who named U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate on Tuesday, has pledged to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court if he is elected.

News

Cook County Prosecutor Drops More Felony Cases Than Her Predecessor

Kim Foxx, whose reelection campaign this year was supported by left-wing billionaire George Soros, became notorious for dropping all charges against hate-crime hoaxster Jussie Smollett.

Kim Foxx, the controversial state attorney for Cook County, Illinois, has dropped more cases involving felonies—including murder—than her predecessor did, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Foxx, whose jurisdiction includes the crime-ridden city of Chicago, saw her office drop 30 percent of its cases against felony defendants in her first three years, which was an increase of 10 percent from the final three years of her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, who dropped only about 19 percent of all such cases. This amounted to just over 25,000 criminals who saw their felony charges dropped with Foxx in office, up from 18,000 under Alvarez.

Foxx attempted to defend her office’s conduct in an interview, claiming that “this administration has been clear that our focus would be on violent crime, and making sure that our resources and attention would go to addressing violent crime.”

However, a significant amount of those dropped felony cases did indeed involve violent crime; of the felony cases that were dropped, 8.1 percent involved homicides, while 9.5 percent of the dropped cases were for felony sex crimes, and 8.1 percent of aggravated battery cases were also dropped.

Foxx, whose reelection campaign this year was supported by left-wing billionaire George Soros, became notorious for dropping all charges against disgraced former TV actor Jussie Smollett, who staged a hoax hate crime against himself in January 2019 by hiring two Nigerian men to attack him. Smollett claimed he was attacked by white men wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats, suggesting his attackers were supporters of President Donald Trump.

The hoax was quickly exposed, and although Smollett was initially charged with multiple felonies, Foxx’s office dropped all 16 counts. A Cook County judge ultimately appointed a special prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, to investigate the matter independently of Foxx’s office. Webb’s investigation soon returned a grand jury indictment on charges that were virtually identical to the ones that Foxx dropped.

News

Seattle City Council Approves Plan to Defund Police

The plan will cut the force by 100 officers and slash salaries. Police Chief Carmen Best resigned hours after the vote.

The Seattle City Council on Monday approved proposals to cut up to 100 officers from the police department through layoffs and attrition. The council also voted to cut the salary of Seattle police chief Carmen Best, who announced her resignation a few hours later. 

Cutting the police department’s budget has been the stated goal of Black Lives Matter protesters, who have marched and rioted in Seattle following the death in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan opposed the proposal. 

Amendments unanimously passed by the council would cut less than $4 million of the department’s $400 million annual budget this year. Only one council member, Kshama Sawant, voted against the plan, saying it did not go far enough, Breitbart reports. 

Seattle has about 1,400 police officers and the reductions fall far short of the 50 percent cut to the department that many Black Lives Matter protesters wanted. Several council members on Monday said the changes were a starting point in a long process to reimagine policing and public safety.

Other programs affected by the council’s vote include mounted patrol, school resource officers, harbor patrol, and the navigation team, which works with the homeless. 

“While we can’t do everything in this summer rebalancing package, we have set the path forward for tremendous work in front of us as a council and as a city,” Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda said.

Previously Mayor Durkan and Best had urged the council to slow down its discussions about police budgets, saying the issue could be taken up with the 2021 city budget. They also argued any layoffs would disproportionately target newer officers, often hired from minority communities, and would inevitably lead to lawsuits.

Durkan has already proposed about $20 million in “savings” from the police budget this year, largely due to reduced city tax revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the mayor sketched out a plan to reduce the police budget by about $75 million next year by transferring parking enforcement officers, the 911 call center, and other areas out of the department.

According to Breitbart, as U.S. attorney in Seattle, Durkan pushed a Justice Department investigation that found officers too quick to use force, leading to a 2012 consent decree with the federal government. An independent review found that the resulting reforms led to a decline in the police use of force. But critics have said the department’s use of tear gas other less-than-lethal weapons during recent anti-police demonstrations show not enough progress has been made.

News • Uncategorized

Trump Beating Biden In North Carolina Per New CAG/Rasmussen Poll

 

Trump is beating Biden in a new poll conducted by Rasmussen/Pulse Opinion for the Center for American Greatness on August 6th and 7th. The poll of 750 likely voters shows the president besting Biden by a single point when “leaners” are included. This poll is one data point suggesting that the recent Trump rebound has some legs, especially in battleground states.

The poll contains some other interesting data. For instance, when asked who they think will win the election, regardless of their personal preference, Trump beats Biden by 6 points (47-41). Also worth noting is that Trump beats Biden by 4 points in the favorability rating (48-44) with 54% of North Carolinians holding an unfavorable opinion of Joe Biden. Trump’s job approval rating stands at 51%.

The poll has +/-4% margin of error. The top lines are here and the crosstabs are here.

 

News

With COVID Relief Talks Stalled, States and Businesses Step Up

Across the United States, dozens of businesses—many of them shuttered by lockdown orders—have created funds to support their workers in recent weeks, as negotiations between Senate Republicans and House Democrats have stalled over a new trillion-dollar coronavirus relief bill, The Hill reports.

A controversial $600-a-week unemployment benefit expired at the end of July as negotiators in Congress and at the White House failed to agree on a new benefit. President Trump over the weekend signed an executive order extending a $400-a-week benefit, with the federal government providing $300 if the states agree to cover the rest.

In the meantime, businesses and states are offering unemployed workers benefits of their own.

Self Esteem Brands, a Minneapolis-based fitness company that owns Anytime Fitness, The Bar Method and Waxing the City, unveiled a $1 million relief fund will provide a one-time $500 grant to thousands of franchise employees and corporate stuff. The grants are funded primarily through personal gifts from company co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen, along with $2,000 in donations from corporate employees and a donation from SEB investor Roark Capital Group.

“This year has been incredibly challenging for our members, employees, franchise owners and their staff and our communities,” SEB CEO Runyon said in a release announcing the $1 million fund. The fund “is a way that we can help them navigate this uncertainty as our franchise owners, clubs and studios work to adapt to a new normal in the fitness and wellness industry.”

The University of Oregon announced a new employee relief fund with $50,000 last week. More than half of the funds have already been distributed. The fund was created by donor gift funds and supported by voluntary charitable donations from employees and donors.

States Tackle Housing Worries

The Hill also reports that more than half of American households have lost income or jobs since the pandemic began, citing the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. “Black and Hispanic families, those without a college degree and younger people are disproportionately likely to say they have lost employment or wages,” the newspaper noted.

About 1-in-10 Americans who either pay rent or a mortgage either missed their payment or had a payment deferred in July, the Census Bureau survey said. “About 15 percent said they had no confidence or only slight confidence in their ability to pay next month’s mortgage or rent, as eviction moratoria are set to expire in many states,” according to The Hill.

With benefits sunsetting and moratoria expiring, states are trying the bridge the gap. California legislators, for example, are debating a package that would entirely replace the expired federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit.

“If that benefit is working in the short term, I don’t know why we’re stopping it, because the last thing we need is thousands of people evicted onto the streets,” Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Phil Ting, a Bay Area Democrat, told a local television station last week.

Pennsylvania last month unveiled a $50 million grant program to employers that would provide hazard pay bonuses to front-line workers who are at greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) announced a similar program last week. The $28 million fund would supplement the salaries of healthcare and public safety workers.

Louisiana doled out one-time payments of $250 to frontline workers earning less than $50,000 a year, The Hill reported.

In Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) launched a program offering financial assistance to agricultural workers who must self-quarantine due to the coronavirus. The Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund provides up to two weeks of financial assistance to agricultural workers ages 18 and older, regardless of their immigration status.

There are few signs that the Democrat-controlled House, which has passed a $3 trillion bill, and the Republican-controlled Senate, which has introduced but not passed a $1 trillion package, will agree to terms with the White House anytime soon.

“We understand where we are and where they are,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Thursday. “I think there’s a lot of issues we are close to a compromise position on, but I think there’s a handful of very big issues that we are still very far apart.”

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Crucial Vote on Iran Looms at U.N.

Top U.S. envoy to Iran resigns, to be replaced by former NeverTrump and neoconservative diplomat Elliott Abrams.

The United Nations is preparing to vote on a resolution that would extend an arms embargo against the Islamic dictatorship of Iran, which is seen as a major test of President Donald Trump’s hardline policy on the rogue state, The Hill newspaper reports.

The vote comes as a top State Department official prepares to exit the administration and a once-vocal critic of President Trump prepares to assume a higher profile.  

The proposed resolution marks the latest tough action taken against Iran by the United States under President Trump, who famously withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, back in 2018. 

President Trump had been a frequent critic of the deal, which was the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy. The deal eased restrictions on the Islamic nation and made it easier for the oil-rich Iranians to pursue the development of nuclear weapons.

But other member-states of the United Nations have remained more sympathetic to the regime and continue to support the idea of the Iran deal, even as the deal itself has all but collapsed following the U.S. withdrawal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his case for the resolution, and reminded others that the United States would ultimately ensure some sort of arms embargo against Iran. 

“The proposal we put forward is entirely reasonable,” Pompeo told reporters last week. “One way or another, we will do the right thing,” he added. “We will ensure that the arms embargo is extended.” 

In the event the resolution fails, Pompeo suggested the United States could impose a “snapback” of all sanctions that the Obama Administration levied on Iran prior to the conclusion of the deal.

State Department official Brian Hook, who had been traveling to various allied countries to convince them to vote in favor of the resolution but was increasingly seen as ineffective, resigned from the department on Thursday. Hook was named as Pompeo’s special representative to Iran in 2018. Previously, he was a top advisor to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Hook has been replaced by veteran diplomat and neoconservative Elliott Abrams, who had been serving as special envoy to Venezuela. Abrams was a member of the Reagan Administration during the Iran-Contra affair and an outspoken opponent of President Trump prior to joining the administration in 2019.

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Leaked Audio: Michael Flynn Won’t ‘Be Around Long’

Cambridge professor and FBI informer Stefan Halper may have known Trump’s national security advisor was being set up.

Stefan Halper, the Cambridge professor and FBI informant who is one of the key players in the Russian collusion hoax, said in a secretly recorded meeting in early 2017 that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn would not “be around long” following the inauguration of Donald Trump, the Daily Caller reports.

Wikicommons

The conversation reportedly took place on January 10, 2017, between Halper and Steven Schrage, a former staffer with the George W. Bush administration. 

Just 10 days before President Trump’s inauguration, Schrage recorded their conversation. Schrage released the audio Sunday.

On the recording, Halper can be heard saying that “you have to consider very carefully if you feel it’s appropriate for you to work for Flynn,” who was the incoming national security advisor. Halper added: “I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long. That’s just my guess.”

Just two days after the conversation took place, the Washington Post obtained leaked information about Flynn’s conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which ultimately started the rumors about Flynn’s alleged—and ultimately unproven—involvement with the Russian government that led to his dismissal from the Trump White House and his ongoing legal troubles.

Schrage, who published a long essay over the weekend at journalist Matt Taibbi’s website, was a doctoral candidate under Halper in 2017. Schrage remarked how unusual it was for an academic like Halper to know Flynn’s position was somehow in jeopardy. 

“Halper would not have independently known Flynn, Trump’s most trusted security advisor, was about to go down,” Schrage wrote. 

Schrage also revealed he has met with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the Russian collusion conspiracy against President Trump.

Halper played a large role in the plot to set up numerous Trump campaign associates and administration officials to portray them as Russian operatives. Among them were Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who both had conversations with Halper in which he attempted to coax them into admitting ties to the Russian government, accusations that both men denied and were ultimately cleared of.

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Pelosi: Trump’s Executive Actions Are ‘Illusions’

The president signed four executive orders over the weekend after negotiations for a new trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill broke down.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said President Trump’s executive orders directed toward coronavirus relief are “illusions,” not lasting solutions, The Hill reports.

“What the president did is unconstitutional slop,” Pelosi told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” In particular, she said, the president’s orders to distribute more funds to unemployed Americans or renters at risk of eviction “are illusions.”

Trump signed four executive orders over the weekend after negotiations for a new trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill broke down.

Pelosi defended Democratic leaders’ efforts in the negotiations, saying they had offered compromises and slamming Republicans for their reluctance to agree on a $2 trillion bill.

“What the president does doesn’t even accomplish anything he sets out to do in the categories he did, but we said to [Republicans], we’ll come down a trillion [dollars], you come up a trillion [dollars], and we’ll be able to have an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” she said.

Pelosi also discussed reports from the intelligence community about the threats of interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election from Russia, claiming Russia and China are “not equal,” and repeating a 2016 talking point that Moscow’s efforts to boost President Donald Trump’s reelection bid poses a serious risk.

“[China] is not really getting involved in the presidential election,” she said. “I take second place to no one on my criticism of China, but for them to give some equivalence is not telling the whole story.”

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Schumer Threatens to Litigate a Trump Executive Order to Extend Coronavirus Relief

After more than 3 hours of talks Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) failed to make an agreement about an economic package to help victims of the coronavirus shut down. On Monday, President Trump threatened to act on his own if no bipartisan deal could be reached and could move as soon as Friday or Saturday to sign executive orders to forestall evictions, suspend payroll tax collection and provide unemployment aid and student loan relief.

During a press conference, Chuck Schumer stated that if President Trump issues the executive orders on the economy, the order “will leave most people out, will not cover the broad expanse of what’s needed, will be litigated in court, and be awkward and difficult to implement,” Breitbart reports.

Schumer said, “I would say, right now, the president only has two choices: The first is to negotiate with Democrats. He knows Republicans can’t pass a bill, and you probably can’t even a majority of Republican senators to vote for any bill, let alone the House. So, the — one choice, the best choice, is to continue negotiating with us and realize he has to meet a compromise in the middle. It can’t be all his way or 95 or 90 percent his way. The second choice is to try these executive orders, which will leave most people out, will not cover the broad expanse of what’s needed, will be litigated in court, and be awkward and difficult to implement. It’s not a good choice at all.”