How Google and Facebook Collect Data about You and the Internet

Google and Facebook are probably the most widely used websites on the Internet. Around 70% of Internet users globally use Google as their default search engine, while Facebook already has 1.5 billion users. These two Internet giants collect enormous amounts of data every day, from many different sources. And it would be naïve on our part to think that they only make use of the data we deliberately provide them with. In reality, both Google and Facebook have their own user tracking and data collection systems that go beyond our public profiles.

Google’s Data Collection Tools

Google has penetrated every sphere of people’s online activity. Just a few services that are the most wide-spread:

  • Gmail – contains all the information about your contacts and the content of your letters. It is one of the most used email services, along with Yahoo and Hotmail.
  • Google Docs – contains tons of information about businesses and personal projects
  • Google search engine collects data from your search enquiries. It also knows, which search results you click on and how much time you spend on the search result web page.
  • Youtube – Google integration allows it to know which videos you watch and for how long, knowing a lot about your preferences.
  • Twitter – owned by Google, Twitter provides it with tons of user information

There are tons of other Google services, like Google Analytics, Google Finance, Google Apps, just to name a few. Have you ever thought about why all these services should be for free? The answer lies in the fact that the more services are free and of good quality, the more people across the globe will use them. And using a service means providing it with data. This way, Google possesses enormous layers of user data from every corner of the world.

How does it put it to use? In our digital era, information is power. First of all, Google makes a lot of money on advertising. In order for it to be effective, Google uses your search and other information to show you the ads that are most likely to work. The more Google knows about you, the more effective the advertising will be. Secondly, such data arrays allow Google to know about emerging market trends earlier than anybody else, with immense opportunities for competitive advantage. Thanks to this information, they can react to change much faster, and again, make more profit.

What Facebook Knows About You

With all the advantages global information can give you it would be unwise to think Facebook does not take advantage of the colossal amount of information it has access to.

Here are a few tools Facebook uses to track your activity:

  • Facebook cookies allow it to track your browser information, meaning everything you read here on the Internet, even when you left the Facebook page, but did not log out.
  • Facebook Connect is a plug-in that many websites use. It allows you to log in or register on that third-party website using your Facebook login and password. While this really undermines your account security, this also allows Facebook to track your third-party website activities.
  • Instagram is a great tool to track location, hobbies, activities and people involved.

Facebook tracks and makes use of all of your activity inside Facebook itself. Have you ever wondered how your news feed on Facebook works the way it does? Why the news from people you have been chatting with or whose pages you’ve been browsing are displayed first, while some people’s news are not displayed at all? And why you only see ads for your local products even though you have never indicated your place of residence in your Facebook profile?

Unfortunately, Facebook makes use of all the data about your activity on the website: who you chat with in private messages, what you write about and whose pages you prefer. Moreover, it also keeps track of how much time you spend on a certain post you are reading, and how much time it takes you to view news on certain topics. Just as in the case of Google, this information is used for profit-making purposes. The more Facebook knows about people of your age and interests, the more effective advertising could be. The power of Facebook in knowing all about us is virtually unlimited.

So, what can we do with this information? To be completely honest, nothing. We are at that point in time when quitting Facebook or Google would cut us off millions of opportunities, including staying in touch with our relatives, shopping for food or finding a job. Google and Facebook own the Earth, and there is not much you can do about it.

The only precaution could be to keep private things really private. Keep your accounts free of your private pictures or data you don’t want anybody to know about, and store commercial information about your business on some hardware in your closet. In a data-driven world like ours, it is impossible to avoid being part of the data collection pool, but it is after all a natural thing for the modern era.

Bate and Switch: On the Fascists of the Left

The Merrian Webster dictionary defines ‘Bate and Switch’ as :

“the ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain favor (such as political support) then thwarting expectations with something less desirable”

Bate and Switch has been practiced on Liberals and Liberalism by the left primarily composed of fascist organizations like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, SJP plus many other similar groups who claim to be anti-fascist but are in fact the largest group of Left Wing Fascists in America. They have infiltrated our education, media and political system as Liberals which they are not.

Fascists like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin all claimed to be reformers and Liberals until they took power. This led to one of histories greatest Bate and Switch disasters. It is interesting to note in each instance Jews and Zionists were always singled out by these fascists. 

The Black Students Union with the support of the African Black Coalition and other Left wing groups have forced forced the UC (university) administration to establish and pay for an on campus ‘Safe Place for Blacks’ calling it a Black Resource Center. They are requesting $547,000 for this Center. For Liberals who supported  desegregation legislation this appalling. It is a form of apartheid to keep whites out and it is coming from left wing groups who are anything but liberal but are wearing the cloak of liberalism. Unwittingly  they are supported by the so called liberal university elites, media and Democrats.

Most Liberals and supporters of the Democrat Party do not realize their organization has been infiltrated by these fascist elements. These so called Left wing anti fascists believe America and Israel are white supremacist nations and must be punished. The growth of these groups is astounding. Unless true Liberals speak out the growth of these groups will continue to grow like a cancer on our society.

Please read this article by Melanie Phillips.

Fascists of the Left

So-called “progressive” Jews think that the major threat to the Jews and humanity in general comes from a few thousand neo-Nazis and white supremacists, while all who organise against them are by definition on the same side as the Jewish people, anti-racism and civilised values.

Really?

As William Jacobson reports here, the antifa are joining up with Israel-haters to defame Zionists as Nazis and Israel as a “white supremacist” country. This despite the fact that some three quarters of Israeli citizens are not of Caucasian origin; more than half of Israeli Jews are not of Caucasian origin either since their families fled to Israel from Arab countries where Jews had lived for thousands of years but from where they were ethnically cleansed after 1948.

According to the SJP, “There is no room for fascists, white supremacists, or Zionists at UIUC.”

The antifa and SJC are thus helping further incite bigotry, intimidation and thuggery against Jewish students on campus.

Antifa+Students for Justice for Palestine = antifascistneo-fascist alliance.

Florida based black rapper ‘lynches’ little white boy in music video

Fox News Entertainment’s Diana Falzone in a column titled “Outrage as well-known rapper ‘lynches’ small white child in music video” reports:

Rapper XXXTentacion is under fire after releasing a disturbing music video featuring a Caucasian boy being lynched on a stage as an African-American boy looks on.

The video “Look At Me!” debuted on Tuesday and features imagery depicting police brutality, violent protests, and the 19-year-old Florida-based rapper placing a white child’s head in a noose on stage in front of a crowded theater and then hoisting him up into the air.

The child’s feet are shown dangling and twitching and then they suddenly stop. [Emphasis added]

Read more.

Watch this gruesome rap video, which  has been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube (WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES):

 

XXXTentacion

Rap-Up.com reports:

The controversial video follows criticism that XXX has received over domestic violence allegations. Last week, Pitchfork released a detailed report of the alleged victim’s 142-page testimony transcript. According to the reported victim, XXXTentacion “head-butted her, punched her, stomped on her,” “tackled her,” and beat her with hangers. Once the alleged victim was pregnant with their child, she says that he “strangled her until she almost passed out” after “elbowing, head-butting, and punching her.”

XXXTentacion responded to the allegations and reports with a variety of short videos on social media. “Everybody that called me a domestic abuser, I’m finna domestically abuse ya’ll little sisters’ pussy from the back,” he said. In another clip, he laughed after claiming that he wants to “start supporting the feminist movement.”

“They gonna be talking about me all day tomorrow when I drop this fuckin’ video,” he said. “Ni**as is gonna be fuckin’ mad because you can’t ig-fuckin’-nore me. You’re not gonna ignore me. It’s not possible! Impossible!” [Emphasis added]

Read more.

Another angry black man lynching a white boy and promoting the killing of police. Nice.

Notice that the video is titled “Look at Me!” American evangelical Christian, author, the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Rick Warren wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Have blacks in America lost all humility along with their humanity?

The Wall & DACA: ‘I Refuse To Talk About Legalizing Anybody Until Border is Secure’

Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01) joined Tucker Carlson on his Fox News program and talked about the recent news regarding DACA and President Trump’s dinner with Democratic leaders. He also weighed in on the need to secure the border before talking about granting legalization to anyone.

He noted,

“When I’ve spent so many nights there on the border, the border patrol makes clear— and I’ve seen it with my own eyes –when somebody in Washington says, ‘let’s talk about legalizing anybody’ then there is a surge. And, as you know, we’ve been having a surge in the last few years. And, Democrats like to talk about it –because they think those are more democratic voters coming in the gate. “We have got to secure the border, and I refuse to talk about legalizing anybody until that border is secure. We have got to have a wall and we’ve got to secure it. And once that is done, we’ll talk about that.”

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The End of DACA Could Give Congress a New Start

For both Democrats and Republicans, it is a chance to pass a bill that Americans by a wide margin would welcome.

When President Trump last week started a six-month countdown clock to end his predecessor’s executive order protecting immigrants who were brought illegally to America when they were children, the denunciations came fastfurious, and fevered.

Angry outrage has become the standard reaction to almost everything Trump says and does, often with reason. But on the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, that fury is misplaced. Trump has created an opening that should gladden conservatives and liberals alike – one that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should exploit.

How DACA Happened

For years, legislators have allowed presidents to push the limits of executive power, bypassing Congress on issues ranging from warrantless wiretaps to health care subsidies. Lawmakers, constantly battling each other, have failed to defend what should be their exclusive power to make the nation’s laws. Unexpectedly, Trump has just handed them a chance to reclaim lost ground.

Barack Obama’s DACA policy was a classic example of achieving an excellent end through terrible means. It offered to protect 1 million or so young people from deportation and allow them to work legally, so long as they stayed out of trouble, finished school, and registered with the government. More than three-fourths of eligible immigrants signed up for DACA status, and by all accounts, they have been a productive and law-abiding cohort. Some have been downright heroic.

The problem with DACA is that it was imposed unilaterally by Obama in 2012. He claimed he had to take “action to change the law” by executive order because Congress had failed to pass a bill (the proposed DREAM Act) that would do so legislatively. At first he insisted that DACA was only a “temporary stopgap measure.” But as hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” signed up, DACA became institutionalized.

Two years later, Obama tried to expand it, sheltering not only Dreamers from deportation, but their parents – a population numbering more than 4 million. When a group of states sued to block the expansion, federal courts backed them up. Obama’s action was “manifestly contrary” to existing immigration law, ruled the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and presidents cannot make immigration law by fiat.

But DACA itself remained in force, and there is no question that the policy is popular. An overwhelming 76 percent of voters, say DACA enrollees should be allowed to stay legally in the United States; only 15 percent want them deported. Majorities of Democrats (84 percent), independents (74 percent), and Republicans (69 percent) believe Dreamers should able to remain in America as permanent legal residents. Even among self-identified Trump voters, two-thirds think Dreamers should stay.

Trump himself has repeatedly expressed unwillingness to hurt Dreamers. “I have a love for these people,” he said on Tuesday. “Hopefully, now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”

That’s exactly what Congress should do.

Legalizing DACA

Even granting Trump’s habit of saying “X” on Monday and “not-X” on Thursday, it seems plain that a clean bill giving Dreamers legal status is one he would relish signing – if only to tout it as an achievement only he could have engineered. “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do),” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”

No one should miss the significance of Trump’s surprising deference to Congress. Trump used to say he would end DACA the way Obama created it: unilaterally. In his campaign kickoff speech in the Trump Tower lobby two years ago, he vowed that if elected he would “immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration.”

But he didn’t. He hesitated for months on DACA – and when he finally moved it was because of a looming legal threat: A group of state attorneys general were about to challenge DACA in court. If Trump wanted DACA killed without having to pull the trigger himself, he could have invited that lawsuit and ordered the Justice Department not to oppose it.

Instead, he is urging Congress to take the lead and “legalize DACA.” To put it differently, Trump is urging the legislative branch to reclaim its proper constitutional authority – to take back a measure of power that Obama usurped.

In modern times, presidents of both parties have routinely overstepped their bounds. Obama arguably went further down that path than any previous president. “Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power,” The New York Times observed last year, “Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.” It took a while for Obama to get over those “misgivings” – after all, he had sharply criticized George W. Bush’s reliance on unilateral orders. But once he did, he pursued executive power without apology.

Improbably, Trump has now handed Congress a perfect vehicle to undo an act of presidential overreach and enhance its own authority. For Republicans, this is an opportunity to roll back one of Obama’s most blatant acts of “pen-and-phone” aggrandizement. For Democrats, it is a way to deter Trump from engaging in overreach of his own – from, say, ordering a wall to be built along the Mexican border on the grounds that Congress hasn’t acted. For both, it is a chance to pass a bill that Americans by a wide margin would welcome.

Trump should be cheered, not cursed, for handing off DACA to Congress. For years, lawmakers of both parties have fumed as presidents have gotten away with wielding power unilaterally. Now Capitol Hill has a chance to do something about it, and with White House encouragement. Blow this opportunity, and they may never get another.

Reprinted from Jeff Jacoby.

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby has been a columnist for The Boston Globe since 1994. He has degrees from George Washington University and from Boston University Law School. Before entering journalism, he (briefly) practiced law at the prominent firm of Baker & Hostetler, worked on several political campaigns in Massachusetts, and was an assistant to Dr. John Silber, the president of Boston University. In 1999, Jeff became the first recipient of the Breindel Prize, a major award for excellence in opinion journalism. In 2014, he was included in the “Forward 50,” a list of the most influential American Jews.

There’s a Reason Americans are Amazing in Disasters

The United States continues to prove why it is simply the best nation in the world by virtually every measurement.

The latest example is the extraordinary resilience of Americans in Texas and Florida after devastating hurricanes within weeks of each other. After the Houston region’s long deluge and record flooding from Hurricane Harvey, that area’s rebound is underway and history suggests it will be stronger than ever.

We are long-term Floridians, but have never seen a hurricane that caused damage essentially through the entire state. From Miami up the Atlantic Ocean to Jacksonville and Tallahassee down the Gulf of Mexico to Naples and the Keys and all points in between, the state was crushed by Hurricane Irma’s direct hit and long path up the peninsula.

Hurricane Irma hits Naples, Florida on September 11, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A few jaw-dropping numbers:

  • Peak wind gusts: 142 mph in Naples, 120 mph on Marco Island, 111 mph on Big Pine Key, 99 mph at Miami International Airport, 94 mph at Key West and 92 mph up at Cape Canaveral. That shows the breadth of the wind damage. But storm surge from Miami to Jacksonville turned downtown Jax eerily similar to Houston.
  • The 15 million Floridians who lost power from the hurricane is three out of every four residents of the nation’s third largest state, plus another million in Georgia and South Carolina. That is more than twice the previous record. The Irma number is the equivalent of the fifth largest state in the Union losing 100 percent of power. Yet by the third day after the storm, the number was under 3 million.
  • Initial damage estimates are more than $100 billion, but that will undoubtedly rise.
  • With all this destruction, there are 19 dead so far in Florida. (Five more in Georgia and South Carolina.) That total may yet rise as Florida’s heat and humidity remain in summer mode and can be lethal, particularly for elderly people.

When we consider the size and scope of this monstrous hurricane — 16 million without power in three states, and wind speeds more than 100 mph over vast swaths, the broad range of surge inundation and the amount of destruction and damage — there are 19 dead. Every death is a tragic loss, but that is an almost miraculously low number.

Granted, Florida has had more experience than any state with deadly hurricanes. But the planning and preparation by state and local governments — one of the few times you will hear us giving props to government, but it is due in this case — really has minimized the loss of life. But so has American helping American — before, during and after.

Virtually all power is expected to be restored within 10 days of most of the state losing it. That also is astonishing. That goes to preparation, but also the support of surrounding states’ power companies. Florida sent large crews to Houston as did other states and now states are sending large numbers to Florida. More than 20,000 Florida Power & Light trucks alone are working to restore power, not including the other utilities in the state.

So…why is America so good at dealing with disasters?

Is there another nation in the world that could be hit with back-to-back record natural catastrophes and sustain such minimal loss of life and have the two separate regions back on their feet so rapidly?

I doubt it.

In fact, when other nations endure natural disasters, the United States is often one of the first on the scene and frequently offers the most help — more often than not through private charities, which are already handling the lion’s share of the need in Texas and Florida.

It’s important to understand why this is the case. It’s not a result of geography or stealing from others or dumb luck.

There’s a foundation in place undergirding this ability that exists at the base of no other country in the history of the world: The United States is a country built on an idea — not geography, not ethnicity, not through conquering other nations — but an idea.

And the idea is this: There is a supreme God and all people are created equal in His eyes and all are meant to be free. The rights of each man and woman are from God and are protected through the longest-standing Constitution in the world by limiting the scope of distant rulers in government. This is fundamental.

So religion, specifically Christianity and the rightly called Judeo-Christian ethic, are at the core and upon which is built the foundational rights of every citizen and a hardened vault of protection of those rights. Government’s existence is to protect those individual rights, including property and the exercise of capitalism in free markets. The wealth created by this system of individual liberty and reasonably unfettered capitalism is the primary reason we can afford the preparations and responses to such natural disasters.

From that foundational idea is the amazingly successful Republic that is still plowing forward. Let’s not forget our origins and foundations, or one day we will be unable to secure such safety in natural disasters — let alone man-made ones.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act. For those interested, we rejoice that the Florida writers for The Revolutionary Act all survived Hurricane Irma with minimal damage.

VIDEO: Why Self-Esteem is Self-Defeating

Kids nowadays are taught to have high self-esteem. They are told that they should feel good about themselves because they’re unique, which makes them special. This, though, is exactly the wrong advice. Why? Because telling kids to have high self-esteem is telling them to think highly of themselves for doing…nothing.

In this week’s video, Matt Walsh, writer for TheBlaze and author of “The Unholy Trinity,” explains why self-esteem is self-defeating. Watch the video here.

Join now to get alerts every time Dennis is live for one of his weekly Fireside Chats. It’s free — just click here.

EDITORS NOTE: American evangelical Christian, author, the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Rick Warren wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Decorated Combat Commander’s Career destroyed due to ‘political correctness’, case goes to Supreme Court

ANN ARBOR, MI—On Monday, September 11, 2017, the Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to correct the injustice done to Lieutenant Colonel (“LTC”) Christopher Downey after the United States Army violated its own regulations, effectively ending his stellar career.

In a footnote, the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the Army applied the incorrect burden of proof to LTC Downey’s case, contrary to its own regulations.  However, it shrugged off this fundamental error. LTC Downey’s petition to the Supreme Court points out that the error was so manifest and so serious that nearly every other appellate court in the land would have required the Army’s final review board to rehear his case.

TMLC attorney, Jay Combs, the principle author of the Petition to the Supreme Court, commented: “The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw away the exceptional career of Lieutenant Colonel Downey in a footnote.  The issue that the Fourth Circuit so cavalierly disposed of in a footnote was so serious that nearly every other circuit in the United States, on this issue alone, would have reversed the entire Army Board process without the need to even address any of the other issues in the case.  Most circuits recognize that the rule of law is dealt a crippling blow if an agency does not have to follow its own regulations.”

Combs was assisted by attorney Erin Kuenzig, who had handled the District Court and Fourth Circuit arguments.

LTC Downey’s troubles began in 2012 when he made the “politically incorrect” effort to prevent two lesbian female officers under his command from violating Army regulations regarding public displays of affection. The two officers, a Captain and a Lieutenant, were in uniform at a formal military ball and were on the dance floor engaged in prolonged French kissing, publicly taking off each other’s uniform jackets, and other intimate and salacious conduct.  Once he became aware of the situation, LTC Downey took immediate action to stop the inappropriate behavior.  He also attempted to prevent other soldiers from photographing and videotaping the officers’ inappropriate conduct, which he believed would embarrass the unit as well as the offending officers. In the process of lowering the camera of an enlisted soldier, the camera accidentally made contact with the soldier’s nose. As a result, despite the recommendations of LTC Downey’s immediate superior, General Mark Milley ordered an investigation and a subsequent Article 15 hearing where he acted as the presiding officer on charges of assault consummated by battery and violation of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Article 15 proceeding, which lasted approximately 5 hours, was more concerned about offending homosexual advocacy groups than the guilt or innocence of LTC Downey. General Milley found LTC Downey guilty of the charge of assault consummated by battery. LTC Downey was issued reprimands for both violations, relieved of command, issued a negative Officer Evaluation Report, and removed from the attendance list of the National War College.

A formal board hearing was convened to review the same matters to decide whether LTC Downey should be retained in the Army. The formal board, unlike General Milley in the Article 15 proceedings, conducted an exhaustive adversarial hearing in which the Army was represented by an attorney and LTC Downey was also represented by counsel.  The hearing board listened to the testimony of multiple witnesses, reviewed evidence, and listened to the arguments of government and defense attorneys. Afterwards, the formal board unanimously determined the allegations against LTC Downey were not supported by even a preponderance of the evidence.

Despite the unanimous decision of the formal board of officers, the prior contrary findings of the Article 15 hearing remained a part of LTC Downey’s official record, destroying the further progression of his stellar career and tarnishing his good name.

Downey was well on his way to becoming a high-ranking officer in the Army, as evidenced by the glowing remarks from his commanding officers. In early April of 2012, Downey received a prestigious award recognizing him and the unit that he commanded as the best aviation battalion in the United States Army. He has been awarded 3 Bronze Stars and 7 Air Medals, one with a “V” device for valor in combat. The Air Medal with “V” device was awarded for valor he displayed on May 25, 2011, in “complete disregard for his own safety while initiating multiple engagements against an enemy with superior fields of fire over friendly forces.  His actions were decisive in saving the lives of soldiers on the ground.”

His performance reviews uniformly painted a picture of one of the Army’s most skilled and accomplished combat aviators.

Former Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, wrote of Downey:

“As former SecArmy I had the honor of working with strong officers daily, Chris Downey stands out among them. A clearly superior performance by a leader with phenomenal potential.”

White House Military Office Operations Director, Marcy Steinke-Fike:

“He is clearly in the top 1% of the handpicked officers of the White House Military Office Operations Directorate and in all of the Lieutenant Colonel’s I have known in my 20 years of military service. Chris planned the most sensitive and complex missions in support of the President, Vice President, First Lady and other White House delegations. Absolutely unlimited potential – a future General Officer!”

Commanding General John F. Campbell:

“Lieutenant Colonel Chris Downey’s performance in combat has been spectacular, he is my best aviation task force commander among the top three out of 70+ commanders that I senior rate. Strong General Officer potential.”  

The Administrative Board Applied the Wrong Burden Of Proof

In order to remedy the injustice caused by the erroneous Article 15, LTC Downey appealed to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (“ABCMR”). Unfortunately for LTC Downey, the ABCMR applied the wrong burden of proof to his case. The Board is governed by 32 C.F.R. § 581.3(e)(2) which provides: “Burden of proof. The ABCMR begins its consideration of each case with the presumption of administrative regularity. The applicant has the burden of proving an error or injustice by a preponderance of the evidence.” (emphasis added). Rather than holding LTC Downey to the correct burden of proof, the Board held him to the much more difficult burden of proving an error or injustice by clear and convincing evidence.  Finding that LTC Downey had not met this illegitimately high standard, the Board denied him relief.

Richard Thompson, President and chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commenting on what happened to LTC Downey, stated: “There is no question in my mind that Lieutenant Colonel Downey was a victim of the military’s efforts to appease homosexual advocacy groups. As a result of political correctness gone amuck, America lost an outstanding combat commander who had given his country over 24 years of loyal service.”

Click here to read the Petition

How a Fraudulent Guardianship/Conservatorship Commences and Continues

This column examines conditions in Florida but the same problems exist in many states.

Step One: Eminent danger —The initial court petition

The professional guardian [or conservator], with the assistance of her attorneys, commences the embezzlement process by filing an emergency petition in the probate courts to become the “emergency” “temporary” guardian.

Florida guardianship statutes (Chapter 744), like many states, require that there be an “eminent danger” in order for the petitioner to become the “emergency temporary guardian.”

The guardian oftentimes fabricates the “eminent danger” by stating that there is a neighbor or relative or stranger who is taking advantage of the elderly person. In some cases, this may be a somewhat true statement, albeit an exaggerated claim. In most cases, upon further investigation, there has been no “eminent danger”whatsoever.

Step One takes away all of the victim’s civil rights and therefore gives the guardian and her attorneys full control over the victim and his or her assets.

Step Two: The examining committee

Once the professional guardian has taken control of the victim on a temporary basis (the emergency temporary guardianship order expires in 60 days [in Florida]) an examining committee of three medical “professionals” steps in to verify the allegation of mental incapacity. Oftentimes, the victim is administered a cocktail of psychotropic drugs to enhance the claims that he or she is incompetent.

“Ward” Elizabeth Faye Arnold, for instance, stated, “They put me on drugs that made me feel very drunk. I couldn’t even remember my name. Now that they have all my money, they don’t medicate me that way anymore.” One of the three medical professionals must be a psychiatrist and the victim is generally always found to be mentally incapacitated. The guardian usually has her own set of medical professionals that she utilizes on a regular basis. For instance, one professional guardian is married to a medical doctor and therefore has an entire fleet of medical professional associates available to her.

Back in the courtroom, soon after the three medical professionals file their reports, there is a capacity hearing. The victim seldom is permitted to attend this hearing. The judge quickly scans the medical examinations that “verify” that the victim is “mentally and/or physically incapacitated.” The judge then signs an order that gives the professional guardian full and permanent legal authority over the victim’s person and property.

Step Three: The “feast” begins

Property is sold for below market value and the deeds switch and switch several times. (kick backs are suspected). Bank accounts, annuities, stocks, and Certificates of Deposit are liquidated into one big guardianship account.

Out of this large bank account, the guardian is expected to pay all the victim’s, but bills oftentimes go unpaid.

How the victim’s money is spent

1. Attorney’s fees and guardianship fees for “services rendered to ‘Benefit’ the ‘Ward.”

A large part of the victim’s money is spent on attorney’s fees and guardian’s fees. As long as there is ample money in the victim’s guardianship account, the guardian and her attorney cohorts will file motion upon motion after motion to the courts, such as:

  • A motion to sell the ward’s furniture.
  • A motion to liquidate stocks and Certificates of Deposit.
  • A motion to transfer the ward to a different nursing home.
  • A motion to sell the ward’s homesteaded house.
  • A motion to open up a safety deposit box.

Each motion can cost the “ward” in excess of $2,000 because the motion must be written, researched, filed, and then a hearing is scheduled. Oftentimes, the motions cost more than what is being petitioned for.

2. Puffing the monthly budget

The guardian frequently doubles the monthly expenses then keeps the remainder.

3. Selling the “Ward’s” personal belongings for below market value then pocketing the difference

The guardian underestimates the amount of the sale of personal items, such as jewelry, paintings, and antiques, for the purpose of the court record inventories, then is free to keep the difference. There is little and often no court oversight.

4. Bills are simply not paid

Often times, the bills of the “ward” are not even paid. When the “ward” dies, the guardian simply places an ad in an obscure newspaper, if there is money left for an estate to be probated.Assuming creditors do not see the ad and file a claim against the estate within 30 days, their claims are forever barred and so the guardian was able to fool creditors and abscond with the money and not have to pay any of the bills. If she is caught, she simply pays the bills of the creditors who caught her. This frequently includes Medicaid.

5. Accounting is not accurate

The guardian can claim a much lower amount of liquid assets than what the victim is actually worth and then pocket the rest.

  • Julie Sweeten–$400,000.00 estate with an alleged $80,000.00 remaining when Sweeten died. More than $300,000.00 was spent in three years.
  • Louise A. Falvo started off with approximately $800,000.00. Two months into the guardianship, her guardian filed an accounting with the court stating that Falvo was worth only $672,000.00. Shortly thereafter, a bank statement from Bank of America stated that Falvo now had $449,000 after all accounts had been liquidated. So, approximately $200,000 turned up missing.

6. Fake wills

In this scenario, the guardian claimed that Julie Sweeten desired to leave her estate to her bank. A forged will was entered into the record. Wachovia Bank trustee was then given $80,000 from the uncontested, probated estate.

Step Four: The mysterious deaths

Once the funds have been spent, the “ward” oftentimes suddenly dies.

The “ward” dies when there is still plenty of money — if a huge probate battle can commence, thereby further enriching the attorneys and guardian.

Examples:

  • Carlisle Bosworth died soon after his $250,000 had been spent.
  • James Deaton — $5 million, three years in probate — $3 million in attorney’s fees with a pittance finally paid out to his family members.
  • Louise A. Falvo — suspected morphine sulfate overdose as cause of death; huge probate battle to enrich attorneys ensued even though her bank accounts were all Pay On Death/In Trust For (POD/ITF) to her daughter, so probate should have been completely unnecessary.

NASGA, National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, has adopted a three part theme to succinctly describe the legally sanctioned exploitative guardianship process:

Isolate, Medicate, Take the Estate.”

Predatory guardians: How courts are allowing professional guardians/conservators to rob your assets

Examples:

  • Marie Long was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke and came under the “protection” of a professional guardian. Three short years later, she is penniless and subsisting off of a meager social security pension and Medicaid.
  • Louise A. Falvo, 91, had accumulated nearly one million dollars when she was placed under a guardianship that was commenced with a forgery of her daughter’s signature by a probate attorney. Within three months, Louise A. Falvo was dead. Two and a half years later, the guardianship remains open. The guardian and her attorneys have, to date, been awarded by the judge more than $350,000.00 of Falvo’s estate — “to benefit the ‘ward'” — who is deceased.
  • Corretta Brown was placed under guardianship when the Department of Children and Families discovered that her home was uninhabitable. Today, Brown is deceased, her assets have disappeared (more than $100,000), and all of her debts — totaling more than $75,000 in nursing home costs, remain unpaid. The professional guardian, it was discovered, was not licensed and has since fled the state of Florida with Brown’s assets.
  • Marie Sandusky signed a power of attorney to guarantee that her beloved daughter, and not her rejected son, would manage her financial affairs and health care directives. Today, Sandusky has a court-appointed guardian who has spent more than $300,000 of Sandusky’s money in attorney’s fees. The reason? Sandusky’s rebuked son hired an attorney and together they made false allegations against Sandusky’s beloved daughter. As the “wheels of justice” move forward, Sandusky’s money is legally used to fund the frivolous feud.
  • Debra Duffield, 58, has been under the control of a professional guardian for the last four years. She was only 54-years old when an involuntary guardianship was petitioned against her by a professional guardian who gleefully discovered (tipped off by a social worker) Duffield’s substantive worth when Duffield was hospitalized for anorexia and a broken hip. During the last four years, the vast majority of her assets have been converted to attorney and guardian fees. Duffield, who was diagnosed as merely bipolar, had allegedly been financially exploited by a friend — hence, the rationale for the guardianship. She is confined to a nursing home without rehabilitation. She sits in a bed, smelling of urine and fecal matter, watching television. The guardian and her attorney regularly and steadfastly bill her account for merely “reading her file” or checking on the latest whereabouts of her former girlfriend. Soon, Duffield, who once owned a fabulous house complete with expensive antiques, valuable imported rugs and fine paintings, will be penniless.

When you hear the word “professional guardian,” what do you think? Do you think of someone who protects the elderly? Assists them with their daily needs? Guarantees they are protected from financial exploitation and physical neglect?

Think again.

The pristine image of professional court-appointed guardians who allegedly protect the elderly is being challenged. Grass root organizations, such as the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (N.A.S.G.A.) and Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform (A.N.G.E.R.) are claiming that professional guardians, their attorneys — and even judges — need to be watched.

May 25, 2010. Latifa Ring of Elder Abuse Victims Advocates addressed the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security stating, “… exploitation in guardianships is rampant. It is largely kept out of the public eye under the guise of ‘protection.'”

“Family members are portrayed as “Osama Bin Laden” or the devil incarnate,” David Newman said, a guardian reform advocate.

These “unproven and often false allegations” commence a flurry of legal activity that can only be likened to Charles Dickinson’s Bleakhouse. While family members are forced to spend thousands of dollars defending themselves against the false accusations, these same accusers — oftentimes, the professional guardians– handsomely profit from the legal havoc they create.

The guardians need to be watched

Take, for example, the recently widely publicized case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull, a gay couple who had cogently cohabitated together for more than 20 years, rendering mutual durable powers of attorney, wills, and other legal declarations upon one another. When Scull, 89, unexpectedly fell onto a stone patio, paramedics were called and the local sheriff department hastily alleged that Greene had intentionally shoved Scull to the ground. Yet, despite the fact that all charges were subsequently dropped, the public guardianship office for Sonoma County used the already disproved physical abuse allegation to commence an involuntary guardianship against Scull. Scull was removed to a nursing home, isolated him from Greene, and the couple’s jointly owned property which included valuable paintings, expensive Persian rugs, antiques, silverware, jewelry, and real estate — was sold for far less than appraised value — at least according to the court records. It was later discovered that the items had been sold for far more by the public guardianship office.

These types of guardianship irregularities have sparked a guardianship task force Special Committee on Aging, which reported, “…guardianship…has the potential of harming older adults rather than protecting them…The…continuing reports of the failure of courts…to prevent [financial] exploitation of incapacitated adults by their guardians have long been of concern to this Committee.”

Greene sued the public guardianship office who settled with him for approximately $600,000.00 just days before trial. Amy Todd-Gher, Greene’s attorney, stated:

“This victory sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity…and that those who mistreat elders must be held accountable. [But] Even as we celebrate this victory…we are deeply troubled that the Sonoma [County] continues to refuse to take responsibility for their egregious misconduct…We urge every citizen…to demand more oversight of the Public Guardian’s office. They need to be watched.”

An alarmingly common practice

Is elder financial exploitation by professional guardians and their attorneys a commonplace occurrence? According to John Caravella, a former detective and office manager for Seniors vs. Crime, a special project of the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Gainesville, Florida, the answer is “Yes.”

Caravella became simultaneously intrigued and disturbed by the court-sanctioned practices of professional guardians on their “wards” (the legal term dubbed to those who have lost all of their civil rights under court-mandated guardianship) when one of his neighbors mysteriously disappeared shortly after receiving an inheritance of more than a quarter of a million dollars. The neighbor, referred to as “Adelle” in Caravella’s book, Marked for Destruction, had been falsely induced by a stock broker, whom she had consulted about her fledgling inheritance money, to sign papers that authorized a professional guardian and her attorney to manage Adele’s finances — if she should become mentally incapacitated. Within a few weeks, the guardian and her attorney petitioned the court alleging that Adele was not competent to manage her own affairs. The court authorized that she be stripped of all of her civil rights and placed in a nursing home. Soon thereafter, Adele’s recently acquired $250,000+ was quickly consumed by the attorney and guardian for “professional services” fees. And Adele soon passed away.

How it all begins

Kevin Gallagher had a trusted, longstanding pact with his beloved parents: When the time was “right,” he would make arrangements for their safe return to Maine where they would reside in assisted living. That “right time” came unexpectedly one day after Sunday services when Robert and Elsa Gallagher became slightly disoriented in traffic when they happen chanced upon orange cones in a road detour. Kevin and Lisa, delighted to hear that their parents were ready to journey home, began making all of the necessary arrangements. Kevin even phoned his estranged Orlando-based sister, Lori, and asked if she would simply “telephone” Mom and Dad during the interim. The sister, however, consulted the Yellow Pages and telephoned a company, Geriatric Care Management, that specializes in elder care.

The sheriffs arrive

Within 48 hours a professional guardian, and owner of the elder care company, arrived at the Gallagher’s doorstep with a court order and two deputy sheriffs. She had hastily petitioned to become the couple’s “emergency temporary guardian” after learning of their substantive assets. Upon her arrival, the couple were forcefully removed from their home and placed in separate nursing home facilities. Mrs. Gallagher, hysterical, secretly phoned her daughter-in-law, her speech slurred, crying for help. She had been forcibly administered psychotropic drugs. Three medical professionals quickly examined her while under the influence of the narcotics, and declared both she and her husband simultaneously 100% mentally incapacitated. The temporary guardian was then quickly appointed the permanent, plenary guardian.

The guardians first move was to encumber all of the couple’s assets.

The legal contest commences

Instead of making arrangements for their safe return home, Kevin Gallagher suddenly found himself furiously searching for Florida attorneys. Meanwhile, the guardian’s legal counsel quickly filed papers to block Kevin’s attempts at removing his parents from Florida to Maine. A hotly contested guardianship soon commenced with attorneys from both sides legally authorized to generously pay themselves from the Gallaghers’ assets.

“The story is always the same,” states Newman, a guardianship reform advocate. “A family member fights the guardianship; then the family member later ‘wins’ the contest — when all the assets have been spent in attorneys’ fees.”

Three years passed. Kevin found himself switching attorneys four times in an attempt to get the legal nightmare to stop

Then, suddenly, it did stop. Kevin was declared the winner of the contest.

All of the assets had been spent.

“They then placed my parents on a airplane with a single suitcase with a broken zipper,” Kevin stated. “Inside the suitcase were tattered clothes that had the names of other people in Magic Marker inside the clothes. Everything they had owned — even their clothes — had been sold or trashed by the guardian.”

Both Elsa and Robert died shortly after returning to Maine.

Family feud — or — an open invitation for fraud?

Corrine Branson, 82, had been happily living in Miami Beach with the daily assistance of a CNA when her grandson secretly petitioned the court to become his grandmother’s guardian. When Branson learned that she was to be moved into a nursing home, she quickly phoned her beloved daughter, aunt to the grandson, who had been granted a springing power of attorney many years before. Bonnie Reiter, with little knowledge of guardianships or guardianship law, quickly hired an attorney who suggested that a “professional guardian” be appointed during the interim legal contest.

It turned out that the guardian he suggested works with him on a regular basis. Reiter fired her attorney, hired another, and then moved for a court hearing which her mother planned to attend.

“Two weeks prior to the hearing, my mother ended up mysteriously dead,” Reiter stated.

The guardianship remained open after Branson’s death with Reiter, alone, having spent $130,000.00 in attorneys’ fees.

“They took more than $800,000 of my mother’s money in attorneys’ fees. The guardianship, in which my mother had never even been declared mentally incapacitated, lasted less than three months. This is a racketeering scheme that needs to be investigated. The F.B.I. should step in.”

Different names, same story

  • An Orange County court auditor discovered $50,000.00 missing three days before the ward died. The judge ordered an “Order to Show Cause.” Prior to the hearing, the guardian and her attorney simply brought back the missing money and placed it back with the court. The judge dropped the scheduled hearing.
  • Court records show that the guardian received $12,000 a month to pay the nursing home bills for Carlisle Bosworth. However, the skilled nursing home facility where he was placed charges only $6,000 a month. No investigation has ever been conducted regarding what happened to the extra $6,000 per month. Bosworth died shortly after all of his money had been spent.
  • Marion Copley was placed on Medicaid — even though her guardian sold her home for more than $250,000.
  • In another case a professional guardian petitioned the court to become an elderly woman’s guardian when she discovered the woman had no living relatives. She told the judge that the woman, who was still living independently in her home, had “bats flying all over the inside of the house.” The allegation resulted in a guardianship and the victim was removed from her home. Neighbors later stated that they had never seen “bats flying all over the house.”
  • In yet another case a professional guardian obtained a guardianship over Christian Van Beekum stating that neighbors had exploited him. A quick search of the property records showed that the neighbors who had allegedly exploited Van Beekum had actually sold their home and moved to another state six years prior.
  • James Deaton had owned an extensive coin collection, an expensive baseball card collection, and his deceased mother’s diamond rings and pearl necklaces, according to relatives. None of these items were ever listed on the guardian’s inventory report.
  • The Denver Post has several times( 2010, 2011 ) published investigative reports exposing the problems with the probate court there.
  • In July 2012 World News posted a video by Lisa Flurie and story about what has been done to her brother Mark in Florida probate courts. Links to many other stories of guardianship/conservatorship fraud are available there as well.

Law enforcement agents, social workers, and judges have been trained to maintain a watchful eye over exploitative family members. Yet no one seems to be guarding the guardians. Family members have complained to local law enforcement, the state attorneys’ office, and even the F.B.I.without any significant action being taken.

The problems grow worse with time as the courts become ever more dysfunctional.

Can a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore?

Earlier this month, during a judicial confirmation hearing for 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Barrett, who is a Catholic law professor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned whether Barrett could be a Christian and a judge at the same time:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that—you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

What caused Barrett to draw such a charge?

Feinstein appeared to be questioning Barrett based on a scholarly article she wrote exploring what a Catholic judge should do when the law required something that went against their faith.

What did Barrett say in the article? Based on Feinstein’s question, one would think she brought down the theological cudgel and sided with faith over the law.

Hardly so. Barrett actually wrote that the judge should recuse him or herself in such cases, as “[j]udges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

Let us assume that Feinstein actually read the article. Instead of questioning her over such sentiments, Feinstein should be happy that Barrett would bind her public service by moral principles. Does she want judges who are not so bound?

Perhaps Feinstein should direct her own question toward herself. What is her own dogma? Her own beliefs obviously cause her “concern” that someone of serious Christian faith would hold a position of public service.

The point is that everyone has private beliefs that guide the way they live their lives. The only question is what those beliefs are.

As the writer David Foster Wallace noted during a commencement speech to Kenyon College graduates many years ago, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

So, what does Feinstein worship? What personal beliefs guide her? It sounds like she believes in a public square scrubbed clean of Christians. If so, what gives her the right to impose that “dogma” on Barrett and others?

Feinstein should be happy that Barrett has a moral code by which she will act ethically. Why would anyone want a judge who lacks such a code?

The more people believe there is a higher power watching their actions and requiring them to do the right thing (such as telling the truth and refusing a bribe), the less likely they are to act unethically—a crucial quality for judges and other public servants.

Later in the same hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,—not to be outdone—jumped in with his own inquisition into her religious beliefs and asked Barrett: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of anti-religious grilling resurface in our modern political era.

When Russell Vought was nominated for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget earlier this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thought it appropriate to quiz him about a blog post he wrote defending the Christian view of salvation in the context of a private theological debate.

As I wrote at the time, Sanders’ views­—refusing to approve of a nominee for nothing but his private religious beliefs—were the ones that were bigoted, not the other way around.

Durbin should realize his intolerance is showing in this case.

Regardless, this whole episode exposes a flaw in thinking about the connection between one’s core beliefs and the law. Everyone has beliefs that guide their lives. The only question is what they are.

As a society, we should want people in positions of public trust who have principles guiding them to act ethically and serve the public well. No American should ever be forced to choose between their faith and public service.

If Feinstein and Durbin realized that, they would vote to confirm Barrett immediately.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Travis Weber

Travis Weber is the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, where he focuses on all manner of legal and policy issues pertaining to religious freedom. Twitter: .

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.
Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.
Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.
Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.
The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.
Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.
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RELATED ARTICLE: Report: Religious Freedom At Risk In America

EDITORS NOTE: Several leading Democrats have explicitly raised concerns about the religious views of judicial nominees (Photo: iStock Photos). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Trump Continues to Remake the Federal Judiciary

President Donald Trump submitted another slate of judicial nominees to the Senate Thursday, naming candidates to the powerful federal appeals courts based in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California.

The White House announced that Trump has named Gregory Katsas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the nation’s second most powerful judicial panel, and Ryan Bounds to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the West Coast appeals court and primary antagonist of the early days of the Trump presidency.

dcnf-logo

Katsas’ nomination was widely expected. He currently serves as deputy White House counsel and has played a major role in the administration’s early judicial nominations.

Before entering government service, he practiced in the Washington offices of Jones Day, a white-shoe practice intimately connected to Trump from the earliest days of the campaign. Katsas is a seasoned appellate practitioner and clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Clarence Thomas after graduating Harvard Law School.

Leonard Leo, the White House’s judicial selection guru, lavished praise on the nominee.

“I have known Greg Katsas for nearly 30 years and he is among the most honest, fair, humble, and intelligent people I have ever met,” he said in a statement. “He understands the awesome responsibility associated with wearing a judicial robe and I have no doubt that he will always place the search for truth, fairness, and justice first.”

Bounds is a federal prosecutor with a glittering resume, which made him an earlier front-runner for the 9th Circuit seat vacated by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, the conservative stalwart for whom he clerked after graduating Yale Law School.

Bounds is a veteran of the Bush administration where he served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, the unit charged with coordinated judicial nominations and advising the attorney general on policy initiatives. Above the Law’s David Lat characterized Bounds as a strong contender for a 9th Circuit appointment given his West Coast roots and D.C. ties.

The nomination is Trump’s first to the 9th Circuit, the country’s largest appellate court, which has continually stymied administration priorities. There are currently four vacancies on the court.

Other nominees the president named include Judge Lisa Branch of the Georgia Court of Appeals for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and 13 nominees for district courts in Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgia, and the District of Columbia.

Kevin Daley

Kevin Daley is a legal affairs reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @kevindaleydc.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

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EDITORS NOTE: Among judicial nominees submitted to the Senate Thursday is President Donald Trump’s first nominee for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the country’s largest appellate court, which has continually stymied administration priorities (Photo: Douliery Olivier/Sipa USA /Newscom). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

VIDEO: Farmers Banned From Farmers Market Over Religious Beliefs Get Their Day in Court

The case of a Michigan city that banned family farmers from selling their goods at a local farmers market due to their religious beliefs about marriage headed to court Wednesday, where lawyers from both sides argued before a federal district judge.

Lawyers for Steve and Bridget Tennes, owners of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan, asked the court to grant the Tennes family a preliminary injunction, a temporary order that would allow them to sell their produce at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market while the case proceeds.

“Since June 1, we’ve already missed three and a half months of being able to attend East Lansing Farmer’s Market, where we’ve served everyone for the last seven years,” Steve Tennes told The Daily Signal by phone after the hearing.

“Now we only have about six weeks left of the market to be able to sell, and the … East Lansing Farmer’s Market was the largest farmers market [where] our family sold organic apples and cider.”

In May, the Tenneses filed a federal lawsuit against East Lansing after the city banned them from selling produce at its farmers market because they said on Facebook that they don’t host same-sex weddings on their farm.

“Due to our religious beliefs, we do not participate in the celebration of a same-sex union,” they wrote in part on Facebook in August 2016.

The city responded by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Both motions were heard for an hour Wednesday before Judge Paul Maloney.

Maloney did not issue an oral decision, but is likely to issue a written order in coming weeks.

Country Mill Farms is located 22 miles from East Lansing in the neighboring town of Charlotte. The Tenneses, who never received a discrimination complaint, say selling their apples and other goods at the city’s farmers market was an important source of income.

The Tenneses are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit that also represents Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker whose case is going to the Supreme Court after he declined to create wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

John Bursch, a Michigan lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of that state’s ban on same-sex marriage in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, recently joined Alliance Defending Freedom in defending the Tenneses.

East Lansing officials argue that the Tenneses’ policy violates the city’s anti-discrimination law.

The Daily Signal sough comment from city officials but did not receive a response by publication time. In an interview with the Lansing State Journal, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said businesses need to “act in a certain way” to sell their goods on city property.

“It has nothing to do with free speech,” Meadows said. “They can say whatever they want, but their corporation needs to act in a certain way to qualify to sell products at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market on publicly owned land.”

Lawyers on both sides vowed to appeal if necessary. Because only a few weeks remain for the Tenneses to sell produce, they are hoping for a swift decision.

“We think the law is fully behind us, that the city has reached beyond its borders to specifically punish one farmer because of his beliefs,” said Kate Anderson, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the Tenneses’ case.

“No one should have to censor their views to participate in a market and no one should have their economic freedom threatened just because of what they believe,” Anderson said. “We’re hopeful the judge will rule quickly on that basis.”

This article was updated to correct the month the Tenneses filed their lawsuit.

Kelsey Harkness

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kelsey. Twitter: @kelseyjharkness

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Steve and Bridget Tennes own a 120-acre farm in Charlotte, Michigan, where they raise their five children (Photo: The Daily Signal). Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

So what would motivate Chechens to kill gay men?

Just now I was scrolling around to see what the reaction is among members of the refugee industry about the Kennedy decision at the Supreme Court yesterday.

So I stopped by Amnesty International and see that, of course, they are not thrilled, here.

(But, as I have told you innumerable times, the Supremes went too far in the first place and much of what people are having anxiety attacks over will be moot in a few weeks.)

But, then I noticed this action item and was interested to see their involvement in saving gay men in Chechnya from kidnapping and death (that is good), but I noticed one important item not mentioned in their action item for supporters.

Amnesty to their supporters: Tell those bad Russians what you think…..

Screenshot (830)

Screenshot (831)

So tell me, what have they failed to mention?

95% of Chechnya is Muslim. Islam directs the killing of gay men.

As the demographic makeup of a country becomes more Islamic, they become emboldened.

Maybe if Amnesty was more honest about the source of the prejudice they could save more people instead of making it sound like the bad ol’ [rightwing] Russians (who have little control over Chechnya!) are to blame.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Reporters just too lazy to get their facts when bashing Trump is the goal!

White House could announce refugee ceiling for FY18 this week

Is the Heritage Foundation selling you out on UN/US Refugee Admissions Policy?

RELATED VIDEO: LGBT survivors of torture in Chechnya speak out

Trump DHS Offers Immigrants Hurricane Harvey Amnesty

Keeping with an Obama-era tradition of offering illegal immigrants reprieve, the Trump administration is providing those in the Houston area with hurricane amnesty in the aftermath of Harvey. Judicial Watch reported extensively on the special Obama amnesties, which were granted for inclement weather, a virus, natural disasters and tainted water in a U.S. city. One of Obama’s final special amnesty programs was issued last year for victims of Hurricane Matthew, the powerful storm that slammed the southeastern United States, killing dozens and causing severe flooding.

Prior to that, Obama took advantage of Hurricane Sandy to waive immigration laws, including for violators of student visas like most of the 9/11 hijackers that carried out the worst terrorist attack on American soil. The official announcement, issued by USCIS, stated that the government “understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to maintain a lawful immigration status.” Among the benefits of that hurricane amnesty was “expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing economic hardship.” Hurricanes in other countries have also benefitted illegal aliens in the U.S. who happen to be nationals of the affected regions, even though they don’t live there.

Other natural disasters abroad also resulted in special reprieves for illegal aliens in the United States during the Obama years. A special earthquake amnesty was implemented for Ecuadorean nationals living in the U.S. illegally and the word spread like wildfire in Spanish media reports published throughout Latin America. Officially this is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian measure designed to temporarily shield illegal immigrants from deportation during emergencies. In a Spanish announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it was helping Ecuadoreans in the U.S. by granting them work permits and waving visa fees of candidates show that their financial situation was hurt by the earthquake a continent away.

The Obama administration also granted Ebola amnesty for illegal aliens from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, earthquake amnesty for Haitians, hurricane amnesty for Hondurans and Nicaraguans and “ongoing armed conflict” amnesty for nationals of Yemen, an Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. In 2016, the administration also rewarded illegal aliens in the Southern and Midwestern United States “severe weather” amnesty due to the flooding that battered the region and forced rivers from Texas to Illinois to surge out of control. An absurd water amnesty was also rewarded last year to illegal aliens in Michigan. That reprieve was implemented after pro-immigrant Spanish media outlets demanded that The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refrain from enforcing immigration laws in areas of Flint affected by a crisis in which the areas water got contaminated with lead from decaying old pipes.

Apparently, the Trump administration has no intention of ending the madness. A few weeks ago U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency charged with overseeing lawful immigration to the United States, announced its Hurricane Harvey amnesty to help “people affected by unforeseen circumstances, including disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.” The language is taken right out of agency press releases issued for similar causes under Obama. Under the Hurricane Harvey plan, the agency will change a nonimmigrant status or extend a nonimmigrant stay for individuals currently in the U.S. “Failure to apply for the extension or change before expiration of your authorized period of admission may be excused if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control,” according to a USCIS announcement. Other perks include a “re-parole” of individuals previously granted parole, expedited processing of parole requests, expedited adjudication of employment authorization and a variety of other benefits not usually extended to those who have violated American laws. A note at the bottom of the USCIS announcement reads; “when making a request, please explain how the impact of Hurricane Harvey created a need for the requested relief.” It will be interesting to see how the agency confirms the storm’s impact before granting the reprieve.

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Top 25 most dangerous Congressional ‘Republicans in Name Only’

The D.J. Trump Network has decided to publish a list of the 25 dangerous RINOs in Congress. We have called many of these Senators and Representatives Charlie Crist republicans.

In my column New Democrat Party: The Red-Green-Rainbow Troika we took a look at the Democratic Party and how former President Obama has fundamentally changed it by forming political alliances, creating a Troika. The members of the Red-Green-Rainbow Troika are certainly strange bedfellows but politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Now let’s look at the Republican Party.

Who has fundamentally changed it, why and is it for the better or worse? Who are members of the New Republican Party Troika (NRPT)? These are questions that may help voters understand what happened during the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Just like the Democratic Party, the GOP is make up of a Troika. The Republican Troika consists of three major factions:

  1. Conservative Republicans (a.k.a. the reds). These are the Grand Old Party elite (GOPe). They joined the party after the Goldwater years and have gained in power and prestige due to their unwavering party loyalty. They normally vote the Republican ticket.
  2. Republicans In Name Only (a.k.a. the purples or RINOs). These are individuals who joined the Republican party solely to win a political seat or appointment. A perfect example is former Florida Governor, former Republican and now Democrat Representative Charlie Crist. The purples do not hold conservative values, rather they change as quickly as does the weather in the Sunshine State. The RINOs will not necessarily vote for Republican policies (e.g. repeal of Obamacare). Some have joined movements to undermine President Trump and other presidents dating back to the days of Barry Goldwater.
  3. Constitutional Conservatives (a.k.a. the TEA Party). They embrace the parchment upon which the Constitution and Bill of Rights are written and signed by the Founding Fathers. This group includes Libertarians.

What differentiates these three factions is their commitment to “conservative values”, which are defined differently by each faction.

Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater and presidential candidate in his book “The Conscience of a Conservative” wrote:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

This statement, to many Republicans, defines Conservative values at every level of government. The idea of limited government as envisioned by the Founders and enshrined in the Constitution. States rights are paramount and trump efforts to impose government laws and regulations upon the population.

Here is the D.J. Trump Network list.

MEMBER STATE

1

Paul Ryan

Representative from WI

18 years in DC

2

John McCain

Senator from AZ

30 years in DC

3

Lisa Murkowski

Senator from AK

14 years in DC

4

Lindsey Graham

Senator from SC

14 years in DC

5

Thad Cochran

Senator from MS

38 years in DC

6

Mitch McConnell

Senator from KY

32 years in DC

7

Orrin Hatch

Senator from UT

40 years in DC

8

Kevin McCarthy

Representative from CA

10 years in DC

9

Lamar Alexander

Senator from TN

14 years in DC

10

Bob Corker

Senator from TN

10 years in DC

11

Susan Collins

Senator from ME

20 years in DC

12

Tom Cole

Representative from OK

14 years in DC

13

Jeff Flake

Senator from AZ

4 years in DC

14

John Cornyn

Senator from TX

14 years in DC

15

Peter King

Representative from NY

24 years in DC

16

Mike Simpson

Representative from ID

18 years in DC

17

Harold Rogers

Representative from KY

36 years in DC

18

Don Young

Representative from AK

43 years in DC

19

Rob Portman

Senator from OH

6 years in DC

20

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Representative from WA

12 years in DC

21

Johnny Isakson

Senator from GA

12 years in DC

22

Richard Burr

Senator from NC

12 years in DC

23

Charlie Dent

Representative from PA

12 years in DC

24

Susan Brooks

Representative from IN

4 years in DC

25

Shelley Capito

Senator from WV

16 y

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