President Biden’s White House releases a photograph purporting to show the president monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. However, the photo was actually taken back in March.Continue reading
President Trump issues executive order on “Preventing Online Censorship”
On Thursday, President Trump delivered on a long overdue promise to get a grip on the censorship of tech oligarchs on major platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. After months of promising to “monitor the situation” it seems that Twitter’s expedition into directly censoring the president’s tweets has triggered a response. So, on behalf of America, thank you for screwing up so badly, Jack Dorsey.
The entirety of the order may be read here, but a more digestible breakdown of the main points may be read below. In brief, the president is utilizing the full force of the executive branch and all tools at his disposal to combat the stifling threat of censorship on social media platforms. He’s ordered the Attorney General, Secretary of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and all other government department and agencies to take action.
Where a so-called platform (defined below) oversteps its authority to remove harmful content without liability, he’s seeking out methods to strip them of their Section 230 immunity. Where government agencies are spending taxpayer dollars on such platforms, he’s demanding that an assessment be made as to whether they should continue marketing their programs and thereby funding the tech oligarchs in the process. He’s even dispatching the Attorney General to determine if any state laws can be used to combat the censorship occurring on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter recently crossed a very bold line by adding fact checking disclaimers to the president’s tweets about mail-in voting. As a result, President Trump promised to take action. And today, he followed through.
The executive order is the best first step that Americans could hope for
“This practice [of online censorship] is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.”
The order begins by outlining the Trump Administration’s philosophy on free speech as a necessity for involvement in the republic and the dangerous influence of the consolidation of internet traffic to a select few number of sites. “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression,” it reads, “we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access on the internet.”
Arguing that the platforms are the modern equivalent to the “public square,” Trump’s order states the platforms have deceptively gone beyond their published Terms of Service agreements in a “manner that clearly reflects political bias.”
As currently interpreted by courts, Section 230 treats #BigTech companies as passive distributors even when they substantially transform third-party content, like @Twitter did to @realDonaldTrump. They get to act like publishers, but without the accountability. That’s a problem!— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 28, 2020
Meanwhile, it continues, despite creating “groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home,” these platforms are often caught doing the bidding of foreign governments, such as the Communist Party in China. Just recently, YouTube was caught censoring any criticism of the Communist Party’s internet propaganda arm, deleting tens of thousands of comments and videos that criticized the regime, as District Herald reported.
Without referring to a specific American business by name, the order clearly refers to Alphabet (Google and YouTube’s parent company), when it references a tech company that “also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military.”
So what sort of policy does the Executive Order actually initiate? Read on!
It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet.
Trump’s order argues that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have violated their immunity from liability under Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides immunity from liability to online platforms that do not engage in editorializing or content creation of their own. The theory is simple: if you set up a website and allow people to come and post their own viewpoints, any illegal content posted by them—such as threats or pornography depicting minors—can’t be used to hold them criminally liable.
The rule was issued to allow these platforms to remove harmful content without themselves being deemed a publisher and was issued to address “early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a ‘publisher’ of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation.”
“but in reality [social media platforms] use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”“
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In reality, however, social media sites have used this limited immunity from liability to shield themselves while taking deceptive action to remove political speech they find unfavorable. These so-called platforms are, in effect, “far from acting in “good faith” to remove objectionable content,” and instead have been stifling viewpoints with which they disagree.
Trump Argues That Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram should lose their limited liability shield due to deceptive bad behavior:
“When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.”
The Executive Order on censorship commands the Attorney General and Secretary of Commerce to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission
“In addition, within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations.”
“Determine the circumstances under which a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider’s responsibility for its own editorial decisions”
“[Define] the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not ‘taken in good faith’.”
Trump’s order also declares an intention to cease spending money for advertising on these platforms
The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency’s Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms. Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars. Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.
It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech.
Mobilizing the Federal Trade Commission to see if social media sites have been misrepresenting themselves to their users and hurting the bottom line of other American businesses in the process
“The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code. Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.”
He is authorizing the Attorney General to review and assist in the enforcement of applicable state laws that prohibit platforms from engaging in unfair practices
“The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.”
It orders the Attorney General to develop proposals for Federal legislation that will deter further acts of online censorship
“The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.”
He really was monitoring the situation, here’s a breakdown of deceptive practices the order is looking into:
(i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;
(ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;
(iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;
(iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media
organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and
(v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.
President Trump declared his intention to veto the FISA Bill if it passes the House tonight.
In a big win for privacy-conscious Americans, President Trump has signaled his intention to veto the FISA bill currently up for a vote in the lower chamber. Earlier, to the universal disdain of almost all political ideologies, the Senate pushed through the now-infamous Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act section of the equally disdained PATRIOT Act.
A brief rundown on what we’re talking about:
Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. government engages in mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ and foreigners’ phone calls, text messages, emails, and other electronic communications. Information collected under the law without a warrant can be used to prosecute and imprison people, even for crimes that have nothing to do with national security. Given our nation’s history of abusing its surveillance authorities, and the secrecy surrounding the program, we should be concerned that Section 702 is and will be used to disproportionately target disfavored groups, whether minority communities, political activists, or even journalists.
Previously, the Senate pushed through the bill without altering language that allowed the FBI to monitor the internet usage of Americans without first getting a warrant—an invasion of privacy that many feel is also a violation of the 4th Amendment.
On 13 May, the Senate rejected an amendment to the bill which would have required law enforcement to seek a warrant when they wished to monitor the web browsing, electronic communications, and search history of Americans. In a 59-37 vote, the measure fell just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass. Among the Senators who struck down the amendment that would have insulated the privacy rights of their constituents were Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va).
Now, with the bill headed to the House floor, the President has sent out an explosive warning to the lower chamber: he will not sign it.
“If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it,” the president tweeted. “Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!”
If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The House previously reauthorized the PATRIOT Act provisions, sending the bill to the Senate for their input. Upon revisions from the Senate, the bill was returned to the House for further review. The House has begun considering proposals that would alter the language to protect the privacy rights of Americans. This would send the bill back to the Senate if successful.
FISA’s roots trace back to the 1970s during the Watergate-era during which an unfortunate and traitorous ruling by the Supreme Court decided that the privacy rights of Americans didn’t apply when information they transmitted was stored by a third party. Today, that third party often means an internet service provider.
This is a developing story and this article will be updated as more information comes to light.
At a White House event today the president announced that he has been prescribed hydroxychloroquine and also a Z-pack regimen
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug typically used to treat malaria, has been continuously promoted by the president as a potential treatment for those suffering from symptoms of COVID-19. While the president has tested negative for disease, he announced on Monday that he is taking both the anti-malaria drug and azithromycin (commonly referred to as a Z-pack) as a precautionary measure.
Here's Trump: pic.twitter.com/8KK1rWeyze— Brett MacDonald (@TweetBrettMac) May 18, 2020
“I have been taking it for about a weekend—for about a week and a half,’ he said. ‘Every day. I take a pill every day. At some point I’ll stop.”
The president was not recommended the drug but specifically sought it out and received approval from the White House physician:
“I asked him what do you think,” Trump said. “He said, ‘Well if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.'”
The president also said that many healthcare workers are taking it as well: “You’d be surprised at how many people are taken and especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers many, many are taking it,” he said.
Recognizing that some patients prescribed the medication have suffered side effects, Trump said this:
“Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it. So far I seem to be okay.”
The White House physician prescribed him the medication.
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto was absolutely shocked when he heard the news:
Cavuto reacts: pic.twitter.com/CHSPDbFxhx— Brett MacDonald (@TweetBrettMac) May 18, 2020
Fact Check Us:
We’d love to hear your reaction. Comment below and share your thoughts on the president’s decision.
Democrat lawmakers have been trying to push through a deceptive spending proposal marketed as a new relief bill that responds to the ongoing pandemic. The problem is that the bill also creates a blanket amnesty for almost every illegal alien and the businesses that have been employing them. House Democrats are expected to vote on the bill today.
Taking to Twitter, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to the “unserious” proposal:
.@SpeakerPelosi‘s bill – an unserious proposal written to appease her base – is overflowing with spending unrelated to the coronavirus➡️— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) May 13, 2020
❌Bans sharing information about lower-cost health insurance choices such as association health plans or short-term limited duration plans
Among other inclusions in the proposal is the redesign of the original $1,200 stimulus payments—originally only available to American families—so that illegal immigrants and foreign nationals can receive them so long as they have a Tax Identification Number.
Related to this, the proposal comes with an intrusive restriction on state-run elections and bans voter ID requirements.
If that wasn’t enough, Democrats are also asking for federal funding for marijuana businesses which were not authorized to take out loans in the last relief package.
The bill, which Democrats will likely vote on today, will not be taken up by the Senate, effectively leaving it DOA. Speaker Pelosi claims that she is willing to negotiate, but her Republican counterparts are understandably skeptical about whether the two sides can find any middle ground after Democrats have started off on such a unserious position.
Jennifer Santos, the Pentagon’s lead on handling the implementation of the Defense Production Act, has been fired.
Santos, who has been working as deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy since June 2019, told her staff Thursday morning that she had been fired from the position in a call that sources described as a tearful goodbye.
In her capacity as deputy assistant, Santos was responsible for utilizing the Defense Production Act to work with the defense and manufacturing industries in order to maximize the domestic production of masks and other protective equipment in order to help respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In March, President Trump began issuing memorandums authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to compel American businesses to produce equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, and testing supplies in order to help combat the spread of the virus.
Managing these Defense Production Act directives fell under the purview of Jennifer Santos.
Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Mike Andrews confirmed that Santos has been moved to a new position in the Navy and that her replacement will be Scott Baum who is currently serving as the Department of Defense’s principal director of industrial policy.
According to sources who spoke with POLITICO, Santos “faced challenges leveraging the Defense Production Act” and that the shake up at the Pentagon was an attempt to find someone with a more suitable background related to the act.
“The department’s commitment to closely partnering with the defense industry remains unwavering, and we will continue to identify and mitigate impacts from the COVID-19 national emergency to ensure readiness and modernization,” Andrews said.
The House Democrats fulfilled a party-wide 2018 campaign promise on Monday afternoon by formally voting to send two Articles of Impeachment of President Trump to the Senate, setting forth just the third Presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history. As the dust settles from the initial monumental report, a major unanswered question has appeared for the Democrat party: What’s the plan after this?
With a Republican-dominated Senate and a need for 67 votes to remove Trump from office in the most partisan time in Congressional history, the goal of an official unseating of the President appears to be dead before it even arrives at the table. Knowing this, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to withhold the articles from the Senate until she can guarantee the Senate and its Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will conduct what she considers to be a “fair trial”.
So what exactly is the intent of the Democrats? Do they have a strategy at all? Did they not think they’d ever get this far? Surely they knew they had the votes in the House to push through impeachment, but also were aware that it’s a losing battle once the articles reach the Senate. Their best outcome at this point seems to be something along the lines of the Senate’s impeachment trial being dragged out long enough that it becomes something that the Democrat Presidential candidate can use as campaign fodder against Trump’s reelection, and possibly some campaign speeches—a chance to whine about Congress’ divisiveness as the nation heads into another contentious election cycle. That’s really the only benefit to making such a futile effort.
The most glaring, and to some, unfortunate, truth for Pelosi and the Democrats is that the battle they are fighting is rapidly losing the interest of the public. Media polls have shown a growing disinterest by the American public in the impeachment proceedings. And, at this point, the only people who have kept up with or even still care about the impeachment process are radicalized voters on either side whose minds are already made up. In a time where the pool of centrists is narrower than ever, this strategy doesn’t seem like one that appeals to those stray voters.
To her credit, Nancy Pelosi has been in the American political game long enough that most know better than to accuse her of being politically clueless, and it is well documented that the Democrat Party’s overall strategy is to outwit their opposition with shrewd tactics instead of viable or even appealing policy. This could well be their crowning achievement in that respect, though their path to success is unclear. Regardless, it seems safe to assume that the impeachment saga has only just begun and there will be plenty to watch out for as Congress does all it can to erode its nearly single digit approval rating
While much of the nation was focused on the ongoing impeachment charade, Congress pushed through an omnibus spending bill that will grant amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for thousands of illegal aliens. The president intends to sign that bill, but its unclear if he’s even aware of what is inside it.
The bill, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, is an omnibus spending bill manipulatively named to prevent conservative voters from understanding the full breadth of what is included. Taken at face value, by its title alone, the bill would appear to strictly deal with funding our military budget. Unfortunately, that’s not the full picture.
Tucked inside the bill, in a passage included by Democrat senators Tina Smith of Minnesota and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, is an amnesty package which provides Liberians who have been in the country illegally since 2014 eligibility to apply for green cards and citizenship. More troubling is the fact that Senator Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho, seems to have played a role in slipping this pathway to citizenship into the bill.
Last week, Trump took to Twitter to proclaim that he would sign the “defense funding” bill, but the White House has remained silent about their views on the amnesty provision. It’s unclear whether the president is aware of the pathway to citizenship for Liberian illegals, or if he simply is willing sign this bill regardless.
In the early 1990s, thousands of Liberian “visitors” found themselves in a bit of a predicament: their homeland was in the midst of a civil war. Legally, all of these people subject to deportation and had overstayed visas that forbid them from working.
Many of these visitors arrived in a dishonest fashion, knowing full well they were skirting the refugee and asylum process, admitting to looking for work while their papers had them listed as taking a vacation.
In the interest of responding fairly to those struggling with a humanitarian crisis, the Immigration Act of 1990 created a special designation now known as “Temporary Protected Status”.
While both the civil war and Ebola crisis have since ended in Liberia, thousands of Liberians remain in the United States. President Trump has pushed for their removal on numerous occasions and he has repeatedly relented and extended their protection status.
Once he signs this bill, they’ll be living here permanently. Are you tired of winning yet?
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