AOC, Chuck Schumer, and other Top NYS Democrats Demand Gov. Cuomo Resign Amid Growing Claims of Sexual Harassment

The Democrats who could take Cuomo's place - POLITICO

Earlier today, a seventh woman came forward accusing New York State governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. As more stories come out, many prominent Democratic officials are now calling for Cuomo to resign.

With claims ranging from unrequested sexual conversations and comments to inappropriate touching both in and out of the office, seven female former staff members and associates of the third term governor are now telling the world he crossed the line with them, creating a hostile work environment for women.

Cuomo, who apologized for “acting in a way that make people feel uncomfortable,” adding that it was unintentional and apologized during press briefing earlier this month, denies ever touching anyone inappropriately.

“Women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear: there is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period,” he told reporters.

Earlier today, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Cuomo to resign in disgrace, tweeting “after two accounts of sexual assault, four accounts of harassment, the Attorney General’s investigation finding the Governor’s admin hid nursing home data from the legislature & public, we agree with the 55+ members of the New York State legislature that the Governor must resign.”

She called the the allegations “consistent,” “highly detailed,” and “credible.” The freshman Congresswoman also said Cuomo’s coverup of thousands of Nursing Home deaths from COVID-19 after the governor’s deadly order forcing long term care facilities to admit COVID positive patients between March and May of last year.

New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand released a joint statement saying the governor “has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York.”

“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign,” the two senators said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman and NY Representative Jerry Nadler said “Gov. Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Gov. Cuomo must resign.”

118 New York State Senators and Assemblymen are calling for Cuomo to resign, more than half of which are fellow Democrats.

Despite calls from within his own party to step aside, Gov. Cuomo remains firm in his position to not resign, telling reporters that New York needs a strong leader to get the next budget completed.

Switzerland Narrowly Votes to Ban the Burqa, Niqab in National Referendum, and Why You should be Worried

Switzerland votes in favour of 'burqa ban' | The Independent

In a narrowly decided referendum, the people of Switzerland voted late last week to ban face coverings in public places. And yes, this includes religious garbs, such as the Islamic burka and niqab.

The referendum, supported by 51.2% of Swiss voters, was, according to critics, largely targeted towards Muslim religious attire, which range from covering the woman’s hair (hijab) to engulfing the entire body in a thick clothe, with the only opening being a small mesh eye slit.

According to NPR, the coverings are exceedingly rare among Swiss Muslims. “Niqabs and burqas, worn by almost no one even among the country’s Muslim population, will be banned outside of religious institutions. The new law doesn’t apply to facial coverings for health reasons,” NPR wrote.

Switzerland is not the first Western county to enact a facial coverings ban. Bans have been put in place as early as 2011. The small nation “will join several European countries that have implemented a ban on facial coverings, including France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.”

“The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as ‘Stop extremism,’” the BBC reported. The ban was first proposed in 2017, and the referendum does not directly cite Islam, and was also aimed at preventing protestors and rioter from covering their faces during demonstrations that turn violent.

According to the BBC, only and estimated 30 Swiss Muslims actually choose to wear Niqabs. There are no reported consistent Burqa wearers.

In 2009, the Swiss People’s Party successfully pushed through a similar referendum banning the construction of minarets – Islamic towers used to play ‘calls to prayer.’

The referendum includes an exemption for medical face coverings, like N95 or surgical masks amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic Middle Eastern nations and some extreme communities will mandate women completely cover their faces, along with other draconian restrictions on women’s rights, with refusal punishable by severe legal consequences. In the West, full facial veils are typically enforced by local cultural and religious norms held by recent migrants. To many, the Niqab and Burqa are symbols of female suppression of a bygone era.

If you’re an American 1st amendment absolutist, that is you believe in the right to freely practice your religion and freely expression yourself, bans on facial coverings should be concerning. Even from a 4th amendment perspective, this referendum opens the door to potentially concerning practices.

Deciding which garbs are acceptable and which are not is a cultural decision, not a government mandate. After greenlighting restrictions on one religious practice, Pandora’s box is ripped wide open as further restrictions on the time and manor of religious expression becomes subject to a tyrannous 51% majority.

Beginning by banning a rare practice, there is potential for more mainstream religious traditions to fall head first onto the chopping block as societies gravitate towards secularism. A 51% vote to restrict new church construction would carry the same credence as a ban on minarets.

Though proponents of the referendum call it religiously neutral, not directly targeted towards any group of people, rather it was written so police could swiftly identify rioters who historically dawn masks and other facial coverings to avoid detection.

Again, there’s an inherent right to privacy all people share, and that includes the right to be secure in anonymity.

Years ago, the totalitarian Chinese government perfected and rolled out facial recognition and camera tracking technology to establish a social credit system used to open and close privileges to citizens based on said actions. It was also used by CCP operatives to track and crackdown on Hong Kong freedom protestors last year.

When the balance between freedom and security is in question, always air on the side of freedom and privacy; the future intent of the government is murky for anyone to wager their liberty on it. Now more than ever, in the age of Cancel Culture, openly expressing innocuous views can carry disproportionate social and economic consequences that were once blown off as impossible.

Canadian House of Commons Votes to Move 2022 Winter Olympics out of China; Cites ‘Genocidal’ Actions against Uyghurs

PM Trudeau reveals roster of parliamentarians to aid ministers | CTV News

Last week, the Canadian House of Commons, equivalent to the American House of Representatives, voted unanimously 266-0 to declare China’s treatment of their Uyghur population “genocidal.”

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leader of the nation’s Liberal Party, and his cabinet members abstained from the vote, both the majority and opposition parties voiced overwhelming support for the non-binding motion. A single member of of Trudeau’s cabinet, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, attending the vote, declaring before the House of Commons he abstained “on behalf of the government of Canada.”

Opposition leader and Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said the vote sends a “clear and unequivocal signal that we will stand up for human rights and the dignity of human rights, even if it means sacrificing some economic opportunity.”

The vote also has potential ramifications for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics set to take place in Beijing. According to the BBC, “lawmakers also voted to pass an amendment asking Canada to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing ‘if the Chinese government continues this genocide.'”

China has been accused of forcefully detaining over 1 million Muslim Uyghurs across over 85 detention centers. The CCP has long denied their existence until recently when satellite images confirmed their continued existence and expansion. China claims they’re merely “re-education camps” used to combat extremism, and voluntary vocational centers, but Uyghurs who’ve both spent time in the facilities and who know of people who have tell another story. Uyghurs have accused China of using interned people for forced labor, beating, sexually assaulting, and sometimes killing them for their religious beliefs. Chinese officials have also banned the use of religious attire, and forced the Muslim minority to consume alcohol, a practice prohibited by their religion. China has a long history of oppressing their own people, and publicly lying about it.

The Netherlands also joined Canada in passing a motion disavowing China’s genocidal actions, on Friday. “A genocide on the Uyghur minority is occurring in China,” the motion read, making them the first European nation to levy such an accusation.

China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, blasted the move by Canada. “We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to facts. There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all,” he said.

“Facts have proven that there has never been genocide in Xinjiang. This is a pure lie concocted by anti-China forces, a ridiculous farce to smear China. Some Canadian politicians’ blatant politicization of sport violates the spirit of the Olympic Movement and harms the interests of their athletes,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told Chinese state owned media.

Though its passage does not carry any direct action, its passage signifies Canada as only the second nation behind the United States to call-out China’s acts of genocide against its Uyghur minority in the province of Xinjiang. Former President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the first declaration in mid-January during the administrations final day.

Democratic Congressmen Send Letter to Cable Networks, Try to Cancel Fox News, NewsMax, OANN

Capitol riot: Democrats ask TV providers about role in spreading  misinformation

Two California Democratic Congressmen sent letters to a dozen cable news broadcaster earlier this week claiming traditionally right-leaning news networks peddle “misinformation,” and demanded to know what actions the providers intended to take to mitigate their spread.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congressman Jerry McNerney sent two-page letters to the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Roku, Amazon, Comcast, Charter Communications, Dish, Cox Communications, Altice USA, Alphabet (Google), and Hulu with overt pressuring overtones, suggesting they take punitive actions against networks who have shared what they dubbed “misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies” around the ongoing pandemic, and 2020 election.

“Our country’s public discourse is plagued by misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies,” the dually signed letter reads. “These phenomena undergird the radicalization of seditious individuals who committed acts of insurrection on January 6th, and it contributes to a growing distrust of public health measures necessary to crush the pandemic.” The House Members then frame this under a request for each company to send more information on steps they’re taking to regulate speech.

“Not all TV news sources are the same,” they wrote. “Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm.” They go on to blame the three networking in question – Fox News, NewsMax, One America News Network (OANN) – for the January 6th violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. These networks have “led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit
seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse.”

Experts have noted that the right-wing media ecosystem is “much more susceptible…to disinformation, lies, and half-truths.” Right-wing media outlets, like Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Fox News all aired misinformation about the November 2020 elections. For example, both Newsmax and OANN “ran incendiary reports” of false information following the elections and continue to support “an angry and dangerous subculture [that] will continue to operate semi-openly.” As a violent mob was breaching the doors of the Capitol, Newsmax’s coverage called the scene a “sort of a romantic idea.” Fox News, meanwhile, has spent years spewing misinformation about American politics.

These same networks also have been key vectors of spreading misinformation related to the pandemic. A media watchdog found over 250 cases of COVID-19 misinformation on Fox News in just one five-day period, and economists demonstrated that Fox News had a demonstrable impact on non-compliance with public health guidelines. One online platform suspended and demonetized OANN’s channel online because it was spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Newsmax has amplified allegations that members of the Chinese Communist Party helped to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the course of the year, nonpolitical health officials have yo-yoed between all possible stances on COVID questions. Dr. Fauci famously went on record as both being anti-mask and pro-mask, stated vaccinations will lead to normalcy to asking vaccinated people to remain masked and socially distant after both doses, and has given multiple answers on whether to reopen schools and end lockdowns. Medical experts aren’t even giving a unified message on COVID. Most information is still subjective based on an ever changing set of available data.

More than half of the “misinformation” claims in the letter cited by Media Matter in, a left wing WatchGuard group used by Eshoo and McNerney were either ‘politicization’ of the pandemic or “emphasizing economics.” Both are heavily subjective standards.

Making an open call for stations to limit these network’s reach, the House members said, “to our knowledge, the cable, satellite, and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets.” They go on to claim the 12 targeted broadcasters played “a major role in the spread of dangerous misinformation that enabled the insurrection of January 6th and hinders our public health response to the current pandemic.”

What moral or ethical principles (including those related to journalistic integrity, violence, medical information, and public health) do you apply in deciding which channels to carry or when to take adverse actions against a channel?

Do you require, through contracts or otherwise, that the channels you carry abide by any content guidelines? If so, please provide a copy of the guidelines.

How many of your subscribers tuned in to Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV for each of the four weeks preceding the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol? Please specify the number of subscribers that tuned in to each channel.

What steps did you take prior to, on, and following the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans? Please describe each step that you took and when it was taken.

Have you taken any adverse actions against a channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, for using your platform to disseminate disinformation related directly or indirectly to the November 3, 2020 elections, the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, orCOVID-19 misinformation? If yes, please describe each action, when it was taken, and the parties involved.

Have you ever taken any actions against a channel for using your platform to disseminate any disinformation? If yes, please describe each action and when it was taken.

Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why?

The Congressmen asked for broadcasters to disclose the “moral or ethic principles” used to gauge whether to air a network, implying the mere presence of these channels directly cause views to commit acts of evil.

The also asked whether the broadcasters police the speech on each channel, nudging AT&T, Comcast, and others to act more as publishers rather than the traditional non-endorsing platform cable providers are expected to be. They want to know what actions the broadcasters took after November 6th “to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans,” and what actions they’ve “taken any adverse actions against a channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, for using your platform to disseminate disinformation.”

After framing Fox, NewsMax, and OANN as the root cause of misinformation and the tragic violence of January 6th, they ask whether the broadcasters will continue to air these channels for viewers after the network’s contracts expire.

Fox fired back at the California Congressmen, saying “as the most-watched cable news channel throughout 2020, FOX News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth reporting, breaking news coverage, and clear opinion. For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent.”

Newsmax also responded to letter, adding, “the House Democrats’ attack on free speech and basic First Amendment rights should send chills down the spines of all Americans. Newsmax reported fairly and accurately on allegations and claims made by both sides during the recent election contest. We did not see that same balanced coverage when CNN and MSNBC pushed for years the Russian collusion hoax, airing numerous claims and interviews with Democrat leaders that turned out to be patently false.”

Cuomo Berated a New York State Democratic Assemblyman after he Condemned the Governor’s Nursing Home Policy

Cuomo said 'he can destroy me': NY assemblyman alleges governor threatened  him over nursing homes scandal - CNNPolitics

One New York State Assemblyman is openly claiming New York Governor Andrew Cuomo verbally threatened him for criticizing his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic’s early days.

According to Assemblyman Ron Kim, a long-time progressive democrat and chairman of the state’s Aging Committee, Cuomo berated Kim over the phone late at night last week for not politically supporting his pandemic response regarding nursing homes.

“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim told CNN. “we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”

“Who do you think you are,” Cuomo asked Kim when he refused to back the Democratic governor.

Cuomo’s demand for loyalty comes as his aide Melissa DeRosa admitted earlier this month that the administration knowingly withheld the true COVID death toll among nursing home residents. Up until recently, the state only reported deaths occurring within nursing homes as ‘nursing home deaths’ whereas most, if not all states, classified the death of any long term care patient from COVID, regardless of whether they died in a nursing home or hospital, as a nursing home death.

This new, more in line way of reporting data caused the proportion of nursing home deaths to spike almost threefold, though it did not change the total New York death tally.

Cuomo’s administration was allegedly hiding the true data from federal investigators, a move some are calling an abuse of power.

In March, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to readmit recovering COVID patients who had not yet fully recovered or who had not yet tested negative for the virus, a move linked to up to 1,000 excess deaths in nursing homes, or 1 in 6 nursing home COVID deaths between late March and early May. The policy was rescinded in May after it became public.

Kim, among other Democrats, are calling to remove Cuomo’s emergency powers given at the start of the pandemic. Republicans in the state legislature are eyeing impeachment.

“He laid out how he was going to come out to the public and tell everyone how bad of a human being I am. And they would ruin my career. I mean, the way that he presented himself… It left my wife in tears for 2 hours,” Kim said in a Fox New interview.

Cuomo threatened to destroy his career if Kim “did not issue a statement that he can use to cover up for his top aide.”

“I believe his top aide had accidentally told the truth of the cover-up that they purposely hid life and death information from the Department of Justice in fear that the information could be weaponized against them. Now there is a web of lies and excuses why they couldn’t provide information. But sooner or later, the truth will come out. And that’s what’s happening now,” he added.

“I have told the administration, including in the private meeting, there are a number of policies that you got wrong for the last 10 months,” Kim said. “You need to own up to your mistakes, issue a public apology, create a victims compensation fund for the families who lost loved ones, repeal that stupid legal immunity that gave the worst nursing homes a get out of jail free card and a number of different policies that we should be working on to fix what you did. But they’re not interested. They’re not interested in fixing them.”

Kim’s statement during a Fox News Interview

The governor’s office had reached out to Kim several times following the first harassing call, but Kim has refused to respond.

Biden, Pelosi Call for More Gun Control on the Anniversary of the Parkland Shooting; dub it ‘Common Sense’

Image result for biden gun control

In a pair of statements tailored to tug at Americans heart strings, the President and Speaker of the House call for unprecedently strict gun control measures on the anniversary of the Parkland school shooting.

On Valentines Day, three years ago, 14 students and 3 teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were senselessly murdered during a shooting spree by a former student. While America mourned, some Democratic politicians capitalized on the opportunity to push a new wave of gun control measures. Even though their efforts did not result in any change to federal law, a new majority in the House, Senate, and control of the White House revamped their drive.

The then-Presidential candidate made it apparent on the campaign trial that he and his administration would make gun control a priority in his administration.

“For three years now,” Biden’s February 14th statement read, “the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They’ve missed out on the experience of sending their children off to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they’ve had to bury pieces of their soul deep within the Earth. Like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be okay.”

Biden went on to list common areas which have tragically had deadly rampages tied to their setting, implying nowhere is safe. “All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. And in this season of so much loss, last year’s historic increase in homicides across America, including the gun violence disproportionately devastating Black and Brown individuals in our cities, has added to the number of empty seats at our kitchen tables.” 

Violent crime and murder has spiked in 2020, despite most Americans being locked in their homes for the majority of the year. But these upticks in gun crimes are not happening in rural and suburban areas where gun laws are lax, they’re primarily occurring in major metropolitans where legal guns are few and far between, and the immense systemic hurdles are put in place preventing law abiding citizens from exercising their rights.

Over these three years, the Parkland families have taught all of us something profound. Time and again, they have showed us how we can turn our grief into purpose – to march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and durable movement for change.

The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will.

This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.

White House statement on the 3rd anniversary of the Parkland Shooting

The President went on to use this national tragedy to push a radical change in American gun policy, rather, what he deems “commonsense gun law reforms.” Biden calls for Congress to institute mandatory background checks on all gun purchases, ban the undefined “assault weapon” & high-capacity magazines, and revoke liability protection from gun manufacturers.

Currently, all cartridge firing firearm transfers from a federal dealer requires a background check. Some states enacted a similar rule for transfers of used firearms between two private parties, while some states leave that area unregulated. In order to enforce universal background checks, the government would need to compile a complete and absolute catalog of every gun owner and their firearms if the ATF wants any hope of tracking who’s buying and who’s selling guns absent an FFL middleman. Many conservatives fear that would lead to easier future gun confiscations and an encroachment on privacy.

Legally purchased firearms are rarely used in crimes. Universal background checks would do little to stop criminals from using weapons to commit acts of violence if they’re all bought illegally. Only 7% prisoners who used a gun in the crime they were convicted of bought it from a retail source. 25% either received it as a gift from a family member or friends. Depending on the state, that is also illegal. More than half either stole the firearm or bought it on the black market.

Biden uses a lobbyist coined term not used by the firearm industry – assault weapons – to classify a large segment semi-automatic sporting arms with assorted and largely aesthetic features that add little to no lethality to the firearm. Examples include the AR-15 and other variants. Features like a pistol grip, threaded barrels, or a collapsible buttstocks are all under fire. The location of the firearm’s grip adds no functionality to a firearm’s potential danger. Threaded barrels allow users to add safety accessories such as compensators or suppressors – which bring noise levels down from a deafening 165 decibels to a manageable 132 decibels, though still louder than a chainsaw. An adjustable buttstock merely allows shooters of all sizes to comfortably and safely use the firearm. The only two components responsible for a guns lethality is its barrel and caliber.

Biden’s proposal is a misguided attack on a class of weapons that are by all available data almost never used in homicides. According to FBI data, of the 13,900 murders in 2019, only 364 were confirmed to be by rifle – any rifle, not just assault weapons. That’s less than 3% of yearly murders. Handguns made up almost 6,400 of those deaths, or nearly half. A similar trend is seen during mass shootings. Rifles, of any kind, were only used 28% of the time. While rifles are used in mass shootings at a rate of 10x more frequently, they still represent a small minority of incidents.

It’s also worth noting school shootings between 1992 and 2016 are on the decline. Incidents where at least one person was killed in a school by a firearm has dropped from 15-35 per year during the 90’s to less than 10 after 2005. Most years that number hovered around 5. Most years do not have a single incident with more than 4 fatalities – the FBI definition of a mass shooting – and incidents with at least two fatalities are also rare. The rate of children dying in a school shooting is also down to less than 1 in 10 million per year.

‘High capacity’ magazines is an arbitrary classification as standard magazine capacity varies from firearm to firearm and from era to era.

The firearm industry shares a privilege felt by literally every other manufacturing sector where they are not liable for injuries derived from product misuse. As long as a gun company does not market their product for criminal activity, they are not liable if their firearm is used in a crime. Ford is not liable if their vehicle is used during a drunk driving collision. Apple is not liable if a hacker used a MacBook. Those are not the intended uses of their products, just as firearm manufacturers do not intend for their product to be used in a mass shooting.

Unfortunately, Remington filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after family members of the Sandy Hook shooting sued the company because a maniac used their product in a way they never condoned. Even though firearm manufactures must sell through an FFL, a judge ruled they can be sued using a standard never applied to any other industry.

Speaker Pelosi, in a much shorter statement, shared in Biden’s call for Congress to pass “life-saving” background check enhancers. She adds, “Democrats join the American people to renew our commitment to our unfinished work to ensure that no family or community is forced to endure the pain of gun violence.”

This move echoes a draconian bill introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) earlier this year. H.R. 127 outlines a way for Democrats to accomplish what Biden called for and more. On top of the national ban on modern sporting rifles and universal background checks, the bill would establish a national publicly searchable registry of all gun owners and their firearms. Employers, neighbors, or strangers could look up anyone in their life and see which firearms they own. It would also require a federally issued firearms license and mandatory $800 per year firearm insurance, all of which would act as a ‘poll tax’ equivalent barrier to entry for gun owners. Violators would be subject to up to 25 years in prison and $150,000 in fines.

 

DeSantis, Rubio Fire Back at Biden Admin. Suggestion of Florida Travel Restrictions as UK Coronavirus Variant Spreads throughout State

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The Biden administration allegedly floated placing travel restrictions on Florida as new, more contagious Coronavirus variant began spreading rapidly.

One unnamed federal official familiar with the issue told the Miami Herald that the administration fears a resurgence of cases if highly contagious variants from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa are allowed to take root. The continued spread of new mutations, despite a drop in total case numbers, “have lent urgency to a review of potential travel restrictions within the United States, one federal official said.”

Based on serological surveys, “Florida leads the nation with the most cases of the infectious U.K. COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7.,” Axios reported. The CDC’s limited sampling found 343 cases of the UK variant in the Sunshine State. California comes in second with 156 confirmed cases. Over a third of all cases of this variant are found in Florida.

Restrictions, the official said, would target any state with a large share of overly infectious variants, not just Florida. “There are active conversations about what could help mitigate spread here, but we have to follow the data and what’s going to work. We did this with South Africa, we did this with Brazil, because we got clear guidance,” one White House official told the Herald.

“But we’re having conversations about anything that would help mitigate spread,” the official added, referring to potential restriction on Americans traveling to and from Florida.

The official clarified there are no imminent plans to announce a new intrastate travel restriction and the Biden administration is working with state and local governments on further mitigation tactics relating to ‘stay at home’ orders, but reaffirmed “all options are on the table.”

Governor Ron DeSantis, whose state is performing better than average when measuring a per capita deaths from COVID-19, called talks to limit travel by Americans an “attack” on Florida. “Any attempt to restrict or lock down Florida by the federal government would be an attack on our state, done purely for political purposes. If anyone tries to harm Floridians or target us, we will respond very swiftly.”

Senator Marco Rubio [R-FL] shared DeSantis’ sentiment calling the move “unreal” and clearly “unconstitutional.” In a letter to President Joe Biden, Rubio said a Florida travel restriction “would be an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science. Instead, it would only serve to inflict severe and devastating economic pain on an already damaged economy.”

Florida has famously been the target of media ire for their handling of the Coronavirus, notably because of their lax approach to state-mandated lockdowns and draconian mask requirements as seen in states like New York. Florida experienced 1,335 deaths per million residents, ranking 27th among all 50 states, while Cuomo’s New York ranks 2nd with 2,362 deaths per million residents. Both cases and deaths in Florida are on a decline.

COVID related hospitalizations are at their lowest level since late November. Daily deaths are approaching six-week lows.

Trump’s Legal Team Releases a Detailed Defense of the Former President against the Impending Impeachment Trial

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Former President Donald Trump’s legal team released a 14-page legal defense against the Articles of Impeachment levied against their client.

Democrats, on January 13th, along with 10 Republicans formally impeached outgoing President on the grounds that his actions directly led to supporters storming the U.S. Capitol as Congress met to certify the 2020 election. They assert “President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials,” instigating his supporters and sowing mistrust in institutions. Additionally, they claim charged language used by Trump during a January 6th rally, such as “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide” and “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore” incited the crowd into attacking Congress, leading to the murder of a Capitol Hill police officer and four other deaths.

Democrats also cite Trump’s January 2nd call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump asked the official to “find” enough votes to put him over the line of victory.

In an 8-part defense against the single charge of inciting an insurrection on January 6th, Trump’s attorneys hope to prove both Trump’s rhetoric leading up to the deadly siege on Capitol Hill and in the months following the November election was protected speech, and that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a President who already left office.

  1. Proponents of impeachment are gunning for removal from office and disqualification of holding any future office, essentially shutting Trump out of a 2024 run. Trump’s attorneys assert because Trump is, as of January 20th, a former President, the Senate can no longer remove him from office – the only remedy for impeachment listed in the Constitution. Without a legal remedy or punishment available, there is no reason to hold a trial. The brief adds, “since removal from office… is a condition precedent which must occur before, and jointly with, “disqualification” to hold future office,” the latter cannot apply with Trump out of office.
  2. The Trump team denies the President engaged in any act of insurrection and thus the claim he’d be ineligible to hold future office under the 14th Amendment is a “moot” point.
  3. They deny Trump ever acted in violation of his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.
  4. The impeachment argued Trump’s statements criticizing the election, often calling it “stolen” and “rigged” is well within his 1st Amendment rights and falls under Constitutionally protected speech. Americans, regardless of office held, are free to express their opinions, even if they’re wrong, and there is no legal restriction on being so, as long as it’s held with a genuine belief. 45th’s counsel have taken that stance. There is no verifiable evidence of voter fraud on a scale large enough to sway any state election. However, that’s not what Trump’s lawyers assert. “Under the convenient guise of COVID-19 pandemic ‘safeguards,'” his lawyers said, “state election laws and procedures were changed by local politicians or judges without the necessary approvals from state legislatures.”
  5. In point 5, Trump’s lawyers reiterate the then-President was merely stating his opinion that the election was rife with fraud during the January 6th rally proceeding the loosely related attack on Capitol Hill.
  6. They deny actions undertaken by rioters met the legal definition ‘seditious acts,’ while acknowledging the evilness of that day. Referencing other cited quotes, Trump’s lawyers say the President was ‘clearly’ telling his supporters to “fight like hell” for election security, not to physically attack the capitol or interfere with vote counting procedures. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Trump said towards the tail end of his speech. In the context of general political rhetoric, Trump’s comments were no more inciteful than his Democratic and Republican colleagues. His team also asserts that electoral objections are a normal part of the congressional counting process, citing Democrats objections in 2017 and Republican objections last month.
  7. In point 7, Trump’s team steps back four days to a now infamous call between the President and Georgia’s Secretary of State. Trump, during the secretly recorded hour long conversation, asked Secretary Raffensperger to “find” enough ballots for him to win the state. They admit everything on the call was accurate and without missing context. “It is denied the word “find” was inappropriate in context,” they continue, “as the president was expressing his opinion that if the evidence was carefully examined one would ‘find that you have many that aren’t even signed and you have many that are forgeries.'” Again, being wrong is not criminal, and according to Trump’s defense team, “find” was in reference to reexamining state evidence and sorting out legal votes. They also deny Trump threatened any Georgia official.
  8. Finally, Democrats claim Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.” Trump’s lawyers deny the claim, and deny its relevance to impeachment.

In addition to the 8 outlined points, Trump’s legal team argues the House did not act within due process as they “rushed” through impeachment without holding a single hearing.

Attorneys Bruce Castor and David Scheon, representing the 45th President, are not his first set of legal counsel. His original defense team quit mere days ago after an internal battle over whether to approach this case by attacking the impeachment’s constitutionality or whether to argue Trump’s claims of voter fraud were not factually incorrect. Trump, obviously, wanted the latter while his team insisted on the former, leading to a last minute shake up.

Trump’s second impeachment trial in the Senate is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9th.

Biden Team is Requesting Questions from Journalists ahead of Briefings; Press Core told to ‘Push Back’

8 Things to Know About Jen Psaki, Biden's Press Secretary | Vogue

Members of Biden’s communications team have solicited several members of the White House press pool for questions they intend to ask during that days’ press briefings.

Reporters at the Daily Beast learned several members of the White House Correspondence Association (WHCA) brought up these concerns during an off-the-record internal Zoom call last Friday.

“According to three sources with knowledge of the matter, as well as written communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, the new president’s communications staff have already on occasion probed reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when called upon during briefings.”

Journalists were understandably “pissed” with such requests as providing material ahead of a press conference would give Psaki unearned purview of what will be asked and gives her the opportunity to prepare statements for each briefing. WHCA members on Friday’s call feared such activity would hint towards the “perception” of “coordination” between the administration and the media, lending more credence to assumed left wing bias in the establishment media.

Reporters were told not to comply with such demands or to ignore any communication around such topics. “Leaders at the meeting advised print reporters to push back against requests by the White House press team to learn of questions in advance, or simply to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries,” the Daily Beast continued.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said. “That’s not really a free press at all.”

“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” another knowledgeable source said.

‘Let me circle back to that’ has become Psaki’s unofficial catchphrase after many viewers online noticed she sometimes comes unprepared for questions.

The White House has not denied soliciting questions ahead of pressers from members of the WHCA. Rather, they claim it’s all done in an effort to foster a better relationship between the communications team and the media. They hope to avoid situations where Psaki has to “circle back,” so viewers and readers can get relevant information promptly.

“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a White House spokesperson told the Daily Beast. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”

According to some insiders, these off the record and impromptu meetings between media members and White House communications officials, or gaggle sessions, were common practice during previous administrations. Reporters and communications staffers would discuss general topics ahead of major press briefings, but White House officials usually restrained themselves from asking for specific questions.

The most apparent issue with the Press Secretary knowing questions ahead of time is selection bias. If Psaki doesn’t like a questions, she might not call on them.

NY Attorney General Accuses Cuomo of Covering up 4,000 COVID Deaths from Nursing Homes; Cuomo’s Response: ‘Who Cares?’

Republican leaders call for resignations of Cuomo, Zucker after nursing  home report | WRGB

After months of being lauded by the media for his response to New York’s coronavirus outbreak, a new report by the state’s Attorney General claims that not only did NY Governor Andrew Cuomo cover up the number of nursing home deaths, but his policies may have directly resulted in the state’s unnecessarily high death count.

Earlier this week, NYS Attorney General Letitia James released a detailed report detailing how the state undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by nearly 50%.

According to the New York Times, James “reported on Thursday morning that Mr. Cuomo’s administration had undercounted coronavirus-related deaths of state nursing home residents by the thousands.”

Up until now, New York State only included nursing home resident deaths occurring inside nursing homes as ‘nursing home deaths.’ Residents who contracted COVID-19 inside a nursing home, but sadly died in a hospital or anywhere offsite were not counted.

“Health Department officials made public new data that added more than 3,800 deaths to their tally,” the NY Times added, “representing nursing home residents who had died in hospitals and had not previously been counted by the state as nursing home deaths.”

The Associated Press detailed Cuomo’s secrecy around nursing home deaths back in August, acknowledging this led “to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.” The numbers being reported seemed too fishy and too low to be complete.

Total nursing home deaths were believed to be just shy of 9,000 statewide. Following the publishing of James’ report, NY Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released a revised death count. NY Department of Health now estimates 12,743 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 as of January 19th, representing 30% of state deaths.

State directives may have been a contributing factor to this high death toll. “A New York state mandate [required] nursing homes to accept those recovering from COVID-19, even if they still might be contagious,” NBC reported back in April. On March 25th, Cuomo’s health department required nursing homes to admit recently recovered COVID patients, possibly exposing still contagious individuals to the most vulnerable population.

As of May, 2020, 6,300 recovering COVID patients were sent back into nursing homes. Cuomo’s directive was reversed in early May after widespread outcry. The Governor lied on multiple occasions about the nature of this directive, enough for even CNN to fact check his statements.

Few regular network news viewers would tell you they haven’t seen Cuomo’s daily Coronavirus briefings and PowerPoints broadcasted from Albany. The governor’s daily presentations were so popular among media pundits and left wing viewers that Cuomo actually won an Emmy for them.

While the media gawked at the supposedly “facts first” messaging, New York was ravished. By early April, 1,000 New Yorkers were dying each day from Coronavirus related complications. No other state, even at their worst, has come close to that number. California’s worst day saw no more than 750 deaths; Texas maxed out below 500. Florida, a state criticized by every major outlet for allegedly botching their response, never surpassed 300 COVID-19 deaths a day.

On a per capita basis, New York, which experienced a cumulative 2,238 deaths per million residence is the second worst state, behind only New Jersey with 2,416 deaths per million residents. Florida, the media’s punching bag, is ranked 26th with 1,227 deaths per million residents. Every death is tragic, even one is too many, but it’s clear some states handled their response better than others.

When confronted Friday about AG James’ new report during his Emmy winning daily briefings, Cuomo gave a dismissive and unsympathetic response, telling journalists “who cares” about getting the number of nursing home deaths correct.

“If you look at New York state, we have a lower percentage of deaths in nursing homes than other states,” Cuomo said after reporters brought up the report.

“A third of all deaths in this nation are from nursing homes. New York state, we’re only about 28 percent — only — but we’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes.”

“But who cares — 33 [percent], 29 [percent] — died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”

His uncaring response led many on social media to share their stories of loved ones who died in NY nursing homes.