Amazon Worker Strike in California Inspires Another Minnesota Worker Strike

Hey, I am just reporting the news. Don’t assume I am in any way feeling bad for Amazon!   See my previous posts on Somali workers protesting in Minnesota.

The Awood Center helped organize the walkout.

From The Verge:

Amazon workers in Minnesota walk out in protest over part-time work

A day after The Verge reported on Sacramento Amazon workers protesting Amazon’s strict time-off rules, more than 60 Amazon workers in similar roles in an Eagan, Minnesota, warehouse walked off the job. During the two-and-a-half-hour protest, workers demanded the lifting of the 30-hour-per-week cap, a more respectful work environment, and a less strenuous workload.

The Sacramento and Eagan employees work in Amazon delivery stations, which are smaller warehouses that sort packages for delivery routes. Delivery stations are staffed almost entirely by part-time employees who receive no medical insurance and can be fired for taking more than 20 hours off without pay per quarter.

“We are not allowed to work more than 30 hours per week, even though there’s more work,” said a worker in a video of the walkout posted by Workday Minnesota. Amazon would be required to offer employees who work more than 30 hours a week medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The worker went on to say that they must lift heavy boxes and take time off without pay if they get injured. “We have no value here, they treat us like we are not human.”  [Golly! Was Obamacare just a way to let the big guys like Amazon avoid paying medical insurance?—ed]

Nimo Omar, an organizer with the Awood Center, a nonprofit focused on East African workers that has been active in organizing Minnesota Amazon employees, attended last night’s walkout. Omar said the workers demanded a more respectful work environment and complained of heavy workloads and close monitoring, including managers knocking on the door if they spent more than several minutes in the bathroom. Like the Sacramento workers, they also felt Amazon’s unpaid time-off policy was inflexible and demanded the option to work more than 30 hours a week.

The Eagan delivery center and nearby fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, have emerged as hotbeds of worker activism within Amazon’s distribution system. Many of the workers are Muslim immigrants from Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa, and in the summer of 2018, they began protesting that the pace of work and time-off system made it difficult to observe Ramadan. Amazon met with the organizers, but workers say the company didn’t address their concerns. They staged a strike during Prime Day this year over the increasing pace of work and other issues.

[….]

Before the Eagan workers walked out, the Awood Center posted a message to Facebook saying workers in Minnesota were dealing with the same issues as those in Sacramento.

Shortly after 9PM, more than 60 workers walked off the job. According to the Awood Center, the employees agreed to return to work two and a half hours later when the manager on site agreed to talk to his boss about their demands.

The Awood Center said in a Facebook post that all truck deliveries for the night were canceled due to the backlog created by the walkout.

Will Amazon eventually cave to demands? We will be watching!

Just so you know, most Somalis in the US today are here through the US Refugee Admissions Program and federally-funded refugee resettlement contractors like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service placed them in Minnesota

.I’m so glad to have RRW back!  Here is a post I wrote in 2011 explaining how Minneapolis became Little Mogadishu.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Companies Push Liberal Social Agenda At Supreme Court

  • A sprawling alliance of big businesses is pushing the Supreme Court to rule for gay rights and DACA recipients in a pair of landmark cases. 
  • The cases ask whether President Donald Trump’s attempts to terminate DACA are lawful, and whether federal civil rights laws cover LGBT employees. 
  • Supporters of the effort include Amazon and Facebook.

A coalition of brandname Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, and tech giants have intervened in a pair of marquee Supreme Court cases, urging the justices to rule for liberal social positions.

The businesses filed amicus (or “friend of the court”) briefs asking the justices to declare that President Donald Trump’s bid to rescind the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful, and that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT workers.

Signatories to the briefs include Amazon, Best Buy, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Google, and Hilton. Those businesses collectively employ millions of workers and comprise trillions in revenue, according to the briefs.

Amicus briefs serve two functions — developing legal arguments not addressed by the parties to a case, and providing facts that help the justices better understand the environment around particular issues.

That the high court has adopted a pro-corporate bent since Chief Justice John Roberts’s confirmation is something like an article of faith on the left. Those critics point to evidence that the justices take the position endorsed by business lobbies like the Chamber of Commerce about 70% of the time. The DACA and gay rights filings represent a slight shift in usual amicus activity, in that business groups are filing in support of liberal outcomes. How businesses’ recent alignment with progressive social positions might factor in to those critiques is an open question.

Ending DACA will hurt GDP, businesses warn 

Some 143 businesses submitted an amicus brief warning the justices that rescinding DACA will hurt GDP, exacerbate a gap in the labor market, and diminish consumption.

“Eliminating DACA will inflict serious harm on U.S. companies, all workers, and the American economy as a whole,” the brief reads. “Companies will lose valued employees. Workers will lose employers and co-workers. Our national GDP will lose up to $460.3 billion, and tax revenues will be reduced by approximately $90 billion, over the next decade.”

Among other economic benefits, the brief explained that DACA recipients can help fill a growing gap in the labor market. Job creation is outpacing the supply of workers, the brief noted, creating a shortfall for DACA recipients to fill. A 2017 study found that many top Fortune 500 companies, including signatories to the brief, employ DACA recipients.

“At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA recipients — including IBM, Walmart, Apple, General Motors, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, and Wells Fargo, among others — as do many others, including Uber and Lyft,” the brief stated.

Rescinding DACA could also hurt consumption, thereby slowing economic growth. A grant of deferred action lets beneficiaries obtain employment or move into secure positions, thereby increasing their spending power. A September study pegged the purchasing power of DACA households at $24.1 billion.

The Chamber of Commerce joined the big business DACA brief.

The DACA case is similar to last term’s litigation over the Trump administration’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form. As in that dispute, lower courts have said Trump’s explanations for terminating DACA are inadequate. Unlike the census case, however, no party disputes the president’s fundamental authority to end the program.

The Court will hear arguments in the case, Department of Homeland Security v. University of California No. 18-587, on Nov. 12.

Protections for gay workers are good for the bottom line

About 20 states and dozens of municipalities have adopted laws barring workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Title VII, the federal civil rights in employment law, does not explicitly name sexual orientation (gays and lesbians) or gender identity (trans people) among its protected characteristics. A group of 206 businesses argued in an amicus brief that the absence of a single, federal regime leaves a patchwork of inconsistent laws that confuse gay employees and undermine efforts to cultivate a diverse workforce.

“By confirming that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII, this Court would remove an artificial barrier that restricts the free flow of resources, ideas and capital,” the brief read.

The businesses claim a diverse workforce enhances their ability to connect with consumers. The buying power of LGBT people in particular has surpassed $900 billion, the brief noted.

Robust civil rights laws are similarly essential for attracting and retaining top talent, the employers argued. LGBT people are less likely to take positions in areas without gay-friendly workplace non-discrimination laws, or could leave workplaces perceived as exclusive. Departure of LGBT employees costs companies about $9,000 per employee, or about $8.9 billion per year in aggregate, according to a pair of studies.

“In a survey of the top 50 companies in the Fortune 500 and the top 50 federal government contractors, for example, the overwhelming majority of the top-performing, most innovative companies connect policies prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination with a better bottom line,” the brief read.

The Trump administration is supporting the employers.

The justices heard arguments in the cases — Bostock v. Clayton County No. 17-1618 and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Stephens No. 18-107 — on Tuesday. Trump’s two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, appeared to hold the balance of power.

COLUMN BY:

Kevin Daley

Supreme Court correspondent

Supreme Court correspondent, usually filing from the Palm. News, jiggery-pokery: @KevinDaleyDC

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved. 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 of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Trump Rids Major U.S. Container Port of Chinese Communist Control

Under a long-term deal sealed by the Obama administration, a Chinese Communist company was set to control the second-busiest container port in the United States. In an unreported Trump administration victory, the Communists are out after a drawn-out national security review forced a unit of China-based COSCO Shipping Holdings Co. (Orient Overseas Container Line—OOCL) to sell the cherished container terminal business, which handles among the largest freight of imports into the U.S.

It all started with a 40-year container terminal lease between the Port of Long Beach in southern California and Hong Kong. The Obama administration proudly signed the agreement in 2012 giving China control of America’s second-largest container port behind the nearby Port of Los Angeles. One of the Trump administration’s first big moves was to get the Communists out of the Port of Long Beach. After a national security review and federal intervention, the Long Beach terminal business, which handles millions of containers annually, is finally being sold to an Australian company called Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. That essentially kills China’s decades-long contract with the Obama administration.

The deal never should have been signed in the first place considering the facility’s size, significance and the national security issues associated with a hostile foreign government controlling it. The southern California port is the premier U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade, according to its website, and handles trade valued at more than $194 billion annually. It is one of the few ports that can accommodate the world’s largest vessels and serves 140 shipping lines with connections to 217 seaports around the world. The facility encompasses 3,200 acres with 31 miles of waterfront, 10 piers, 62 berths and 68 post-Panamax gantry cranes. In 2018, the Long Beach port handled more than 8 million container units, achieving the busiest year in its history.

Removing Chinese Communists from this essential port is a tremendous feat and a huge victory for U.S. national security. You’d never know it because the media, consumed with the impeachment debacle, has ignored this important achievement. The only coverage of the finalized transfer is found in Long Beach’s local newspaper, which published a brief article omitting important background information on the Trump administration’s work to take back the terminal from the Communists. The story makes it seem like a regular business transaction in which “a Chinese state-owned company, reached a deal to sell the terminal, one of the busiest in the port, for $1.78 billion.” The piece also quotes the Port of Long Beach’s deputy executive director saying that the transaction process was intricate and involved one of “our most valuable port assets.” Buried at the bottom of the article is a sentence mentioning that the U.S. government, which regulates mergers for antitrust and security reasons, stepped in and required COSCO to sell its rights to the container terminal.

In the last few years China has bought cargo ports throughout the world, including in Latin America, the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Chinese-owned ports are located in Greece, Italy, Spain and other European locations. In sub-Saharan Africa there are dozens of existing or planned port projects funded or operated by China, according to a study that highlights the threat the Chinese investments present to U.S. influence in the region. One troubling analysis points out that “COSCO’s commercial expansion has created leverage for Beijing — leverage that has already resulted in countries that host COSCO ports adopting China’s position on key international issues.”

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Artificial Intelligence: Will It Replace Small and Large Businesses?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is truly shaping the future of the business world. In 2017, 61% of businesses started using the technology. AI-based apps have emerged, from machine learning to natural language processing, and predictive analytics.

With such an immense capability and power, will AI replace human intelligence in business operations?

Artificial Intelligence: A Solution for Big or Small Businesses

Artificial Intelligence involves the creation of machines or software programs capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. From digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa to the super-helpful navigation tools like Waze, AI has totally made a huge impact on the daily lives of consumers.

AI may appear like a costly investment for businesses but many of those who have implemented this technology has seen amazing results. Whether you’re running a small enterprise or a large organization, you can incorporate AI in a myriad of ways.

Data Insights

Target marketing is the way to attract more clients and increase a business’ revenue. But in order for this strategy to work, companies should learn how to obtain and analyze data to understand the market and customer behavior. AI has an enormous role in predictive analysis – a strategy that incorporates a variety of statistical techniques, from data mining to historical facts, and predictive modeling to forecast events.

Cost Reduction

Marketing can be an expensive undertaking, especially for small businesses. Without enough funds, it can be challenging to implement a full-blown approach to advertising. Since AI-based systems optimize marketing strategies, they greatly help bring down marketing costs. Through predictive analysis, businesses can strategically allocate funds on marketing campaigns that will give them the highest return.

Customer Service

The use of chatbots has incredibly improved customer experience. This AI-based application enables businesses to provide real-time responses to customer queries and minimizes agent transfers. A chatbot involves automated routing categorizes issues accurately and instantaneously. Moreover, it promotes quick resolution for customer problems and helps reduce costs due to lesser overhead.

Nonetheless, virtual assistant applications will not replace human intervention. Chatbots are helpful for answering simple questions like the shipping status, order cancellations, or bookings so that human agents can focus on more complex problems.

Improved Business Function

Many businesses today leverage AI to improve business functions and profitability. From streamlining production or manufacturing to scaling marketing and customer service – the possibilities are endless. AI applications can also be used for essential things like data security, vendor relations, inventory management, and so much more. Meanwhile, automation tools greatly reduce costs and labor, and improved efficiency in many companies. We’ve also seen how advanced robots work alongside humans in many settings.

Will AI Replace Human Intervention in Small and Large Businesses?

No, not at all. However, AI has changed and will continue to change the way companies do business. The human brain is still much more powerful and will take charge of designing algorithms, creating software systems, and building IT infrastructure. However, AI will serve an important role particularly in processing and analyzing troves of data in split seconds. AI-based systems can present meaningful data insights that humans can use to make crucial business decisions.

Additionally, AI-based applications will not replace human intervention in customer support, particularly in resolving complex issues (as discussed earlier). Rather, they will serve as a helpful extension of customer service.

Can AI be Used by Small Businesses?

Many entrepreneurs think that AI is an expensive technology that only large corporations can afford. Well, the truth is that even small businesses can take advantage of it. They don’t have to break the bank to implement AI-based systems in their organizations. Through cash advance online or, business financing even small businesses can integrate machine learning and AI into their operations. The key is to leverage existing platforms and ready-made solutions.

Conclusion

Technology has gone a long way in helping businesses reach their goals. The advent of artificial intelligence has delivered profound benefits to companies across all industries. From streamlining operations to improving customer service and marketing efficiency, AI serves as a powerful tool for increasing profitability.

However, it shouldn’t be treated as an alternative to human resources, rather, a helpful extension of the human brain. When used responsibly, AI can dramatically transform any business – big or small.

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What You Need to Know About the Transgender Case at the Supreme Court

This interview, which is lightly edited, originally aired on “Problematic Women.”

Lauren Evans: Welcome back. Virginia and I are in the studio today with religious liberty superstar Emilie Kao. Emilie is an attorney and director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation and has spent the past 14 years fighting for religious liberty. Welcome to the show, Emilie.

Emilie Kao: Thank you, Lauren.

Evans: There’s a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court where a man who identifies as a woman is alleging sex discrimination after being fired from their job at a funeral home. Can you tell us more about this case, Emilie?

Kao: Yes. The Harris Funeral Homes case originated when a male employee of a funeral home wanted to start presenting as a woman. He wanted to start dressing as a woman, and the funeral home has a sex-specific dress code, which is legal.

The funeral home owner, Thomas Rost, was very concerned, not only about his employees, his female employees, who might have to share bathrooms with the male employee, but also about the effect on the people whom the funeral homes serve. Because these are people who are grieving at a time when they’re very focused on their emotional loss, and it could be very distracting and even disturbing for them to see a man dressed as a woman.

So when the employee refused to comply with the dress code according to his sex, they decided to part ways with him and offered him a severance package.

What happened next was that the employee and the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, got involved and sued the funeral home. And the case has percolated up through the courts. They lost in the lower court and now it’s gotten to the Supreme Court.

Virginia Allen: Emilie, I want to ask you just to provide a definition for sexual discrimination.

Kao: The correct way to understand discrimination on the basis of sex—it is when one person is treated more disfavorably than a person of the other category.

So if you have a person who is male who is treated worse than a person who’s female because of their sex, that is sex discrimination. If you have a female who is treated worse than a male, that is sex discrimination.

Sex discrimination is not merely when you treat two people differently because we treat males and females differently all the time. That’s why we have some of the other sex-segregated spaces and events that we’ve talked about before. That’s why we have sex-segregated bathrooms. We have sex-segregated sports. Because the courts and the American people have realized men and women are different, and so there’s nothing discriminatory about having sex segregation in appropriate ways, sex-segregated spaces, sex-segregated events that involve a person’s physical capacity.

But what the people in the Harris Funeral Homes case are arguing on behalf of the employee who is identifying as transgender is that he was treated more poorly because of his status as a person who identifies as transgender.

He’s a male who wants to dress as a female. He’s a male who wants to use female restrooms. But that is not sex discrimination because the funeral home would have treated somebody of the opposite sex the same way if they manifested in the same way that this employee is.

So if you were a female employee of that funeral home and you wanted to identify as a male and use the male restroom and wear the male clothing that’s required by the dress code and be referred to as a male, the treatment would be the same of that female employee. So that’s why this case does not actually qualify for the sex discrimination category.

Evans: What was crazy to me about this case is that no laws were technically broken, correct?

Kao: Well, the claim of the EEOC and the employee is that the funeral home owner has violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The whole theory of the transgender-identifying employee is that sex actually means gender identity, which there’s nothing in the text that says gender identity. But they have a theory that sex should mean gender identity.

So they’re essentially saying that the EEOC can redefine sex, and they now want the Supreme Court to redefine sex. And the Supreme Court should stay in its own lane, which is to interpret the law, not make the law, which is Congress’ duty.

Allen: So, Emilie, this case is going to come before the Supreme Court on Oct. 8, where it will decide, hopefully, whether federal civil rights law that bars job discrimination on the basis of sex protects transgender people. What do you think we can expect?

Kao: I think you can expect from the funeral home side that they will say Congress should stick with the original public meaning of what the word sex meant in 1964. And that is it established a way of interpreting the law that the court should refer to the original public meeting, which means, what did a regular person in the general public understand sex to mean, not what did a particular member of Congress think?

I think everyone pretty much agrees that in 1964, the word sex meant biological sex, male or female, not a person’s subjective self-perception of their gender, which is what gender identity means.

So I think that there will be a lot of discussion about the procedural part, which is, what is the correct role of the Congress versus what is the correct role of the courts?

As your listeners may know, the Congress has actually been trying to amend the Civil Rights Act recently through the Equality Act to add the classes of sexual orientation and gender identity. So the fact that the Equality Act is being introduced in Congress sort of begs the question, “Well, if sex already meant gender identity, why would you have to add it through this legislation?”

We also know that through the decades, Congress has actually dealt with the question of gender identity. Sometimes they have added it to legislation like the Violence Against Women Act, but sometimes they have declined, they have projected the addition of the term gender identity. So the historical record’s pretty clear. Congress knows that gender identity and sex are two different things.

Allen: So if SCOTUS rules that gender identity does not apply to federal civil rights law, will that create a roadblock for Congress to move forward with the passage of the Equality Act?

Kao: I think it will clarify what the current understanding of the Civil Rights Act should be, and I think it will make it more difficult for the EEOC to continue to politicize these cases. But I don’t think it will make it more difficult in a procedural sense for Congress to try and pass something like the Equality Act.

However, I do think it could make the public support for something like the Equality Act change. Because I think one of the interesting things about this case is that it will bring to the forefront some of the issues that we’ve talked about, how gender identity essentially erases women as a coherent category in the law.

We’ve seen the manifestation of this in several cases like the homeless shelter in Alaska. They were sued because they would not allow a man into a space that was reserved for women who’d been battered, and abused, and trafficked. The whole theory behind the male plaintiff’s case was that he was being discriminated against on the basis of gender identity.

So we see from that case that when you introduce the idea of gender identity, it erases the protections in the law for women, for their safety, and privacy. And there are a number of other cases with women’s sports and with, unfortunately, a girl in a public school in Georgia being sexually assaulted after the school adopted a transgender bathroom policy.

Allen: Emilie, I’m glad that you brought up the Alaska case about the homeless shelter. I want to get into that for a moment. Let me just give a little bit of background to our listeners if they’re not familiar.

The Hope Center is a Christian nonprofit women’s homeless shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. Right now, we have some great news that we just received this week that they are now free to continue serving homeless women without the threat of looming legal action or even being shut down.

The reason why that threat arose to them was in January 2018, a drunk and injured man dressed in a pink nightgown tried to gain access to the Hope Center. During the day, the center does serve men and women by providing them with meals, laundry, and shower services, job skills training, and clothing. But in order to provide a safe space for homeless women, the shelter at night does only house women.

So when this intoxicated, biological man identifying as a woman came knocking on the center’s door after hours, the Hope Center sent the individual to the hospital to get the care he needed. They even paid for the taxi. But then the Hope Center faced a complaint from the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission claiming that the center had discriminated against this individual because of his gender identity. This appeared to be an attempt to attack the center’s Christian beliefs.

At that point, the Christian nonprofit legal defense firm Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in to help and they filed a lawsuit in federal court on the center’s behalf. In August, that court issued an order that temporarily stopped the city from misplaying this law against the Hope Center.

So, Emilie, I want to ask you, how big of a win is this, and do you think this is actually the end of this case or will there be maybe an appeal?

Kao: I think it’s a very big win, not only for the Hope Center but for similarly situated women’s shelters and other spaces for women around the country. I think it’s a great precedent. My understanding is that there was a settlement. So if there was a settlement, I don’t expect that this will be relitigated.

Evans: One thing that I’ve learned since this case has come out is that Anchorage actually has a higher than normal population of women who have been sex trafficked because it’s kind of a middle point between Russia and the United States. So … these women, they need a safe space.

How unique is this case, and are faith-based women’s homeless shelters under attack pretty much everywhere?

Kao: Unfortunately, this is not a totally unique case because we’ve also seen a case in California called Poverello House, I believe it is a secular women’s shelter, where the women were forced to shower with a man who was apparently making, they allege, lewd comments toward them in the showers.

It was actually the women in that case who sued because they did not want to be housed with a man and have to share intimate facilities with a man.

So I think that, unfortunately, wherever we see these laws that have sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to the other protected categories, there is the possibility that women’s safety and privacy will be compromised in spaces that used to be for their protection.

Evans: The name of the act is the Equality Act, and it puts, I think, our listeners and people who believe in religious liberty in a hard place when somebody is like, “Man, why aren’t you for equality?”

So what is kind of misunderstood about this case, and what are some talking points that our listeners can use when put in this hard place of wanting to love all people but wanting to protect women?

Kao: I think the term equality has been misused. I think that one basic thing you can say is that all people have dignity and deserve to be treated with respect. All people have equal status, but not all ideas have equal status. And we don’t have to agree on all ideas.

What the Equality Act would do is basically adopt a government orthodoxy on sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, those two categories are distinct from many of the other categories that are protected in the Civil Rights Act. So if you think of race and sex, those are both biological and immutable traits. Gender identity is a person’s subjective perception of their own sex, which people have the freedom to believe that, but people also should have the freedom to disagree with that, to say, “Well, I think you actually are either a male or a female,” and they don’t believe in gender fluidity.

Then, the category of sexual orientation, again, that also involves a person’s behavior or their conduct, which we are free to have different opinions about behavior and conduct. That is not an immutable characteristic. So, unfortunately, what the Equality Act would do is it would lead to a government orthodoxy, and that will lead to the punishment of dissenters.

Some of those dissenters will be people who have religious convictions. Some of those dissenters will be people with moral convictions. And some of those dissenters, as we’ve seen from the women who oppose the Equality Act, their objections are based on science and based on concerns for women’s safety, and privacy, and equality.

So, unfortunately, the Equality Act would establish a nationwide orthodoxy and punish disagreement.

Allen: Emilie, with cases like the Hope Center case, do you see this as the left weaponizing anti-discrimination law and then using that to attack faith-based organizations?

Kao: I think that the treatment of people of faith over the past few years by the left, especially by organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and actually some members of Congress, has been incredibly intolerant.

You look at some of the rhetoric, the way that they describe people like Jack Phillips, the baker from Colorado. In Colorado, some of the government officials compared him to a Nazi and a slave owner. When you look at the targeting of organizations, businesses like his, with boycotts and picketing and not only that but death threats, harassing phone calls.

That’s, unfortunately, not an isolated incident. We’ve seen that with many of the wedding vendor cases, many of the cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity. There’s been verbal harassment, and economic threats, boycotts, and also sometimes threats of physical violence.

So, unfortunately, I think our culture is at a point right now that the left’s intolerance of religious beliefs about sexuality, and marriage, and even sex differences is increasing. So the use of these laws to punish people for disagreement, I think, is part of an overall picture of increasing intolerance toward people who simply hold the view that marriage is between a man and a woman and that there are two sexes, male and female.

Evans: Emilie, we talk a lot on the show about the Equality Act and these transgender issues, but at the end of the day, we’re blessed in the United States to have the First Amendment that protects our right to religious liberty. A lot of people in the world don’t have that First Amendment protection, and you [look at] a lot of issues talking about international religious freedom. And I know President Trump made a speech … at the U.N. about international religious freedom.

Can you give our listeners kind of an update about what’s going on around the world with these religious freedom issues?

Kao: President Trump gave a landmark speech and elevated religious freedom at the U.N. General Assembly to a level that it’s never been elevated before, which is very critical because the U.N. tends to downplay the importance of religious freedom even though over 80% of the world’s population lives under serious restrictions of religious freedom. So it really put the U.N. on notice and many of the countries that are the worst violators of religious freedom on notice.

I thought a particularly interesting part of the event that he held was to spotlight the survivors of religious persecution, and some people who were there had family members who are still in prison in places like China and Iran.

So I think that the Trump administration has added at the U.N. General Assembly to the work that it’s been doing for the past few years with the International Religious Freedom Ministerial Summit that Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback have hosted.

They’ve done a great job on building multilateral cooperation. Their summits have brought together government leaders from over 100 countries, and it has fostered more cooperation in places like the Middle East, and Asia, and Europe to combat religious freedom violations.

Allen: Emilie, I want to take just a moment to let you share a little bit about an event that’s happening at The Heritage Foundation next week. Earlier in the show, Lauren and I took some time to talk about the epidemic of child abuse through child pornography. And there is an event that you’re hosting next week at Heritage that addresses this crisis. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?

Kao: Thanks, Virginia. Yes, we are very concerned about this growing epidemic of children being sexualized by adults through culture, and education, and health care. Sometimes, this is actually as a result of government-led initiatives, which means that it is actually the use of taxpayer money.

So we will be looking at issues like pornography and trafficking, also the introduction of comprehensive sexuality education in public schools, the introduction of sexual orientation, gender identity curriculum, the transgender policies, and private facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms, and the increasing politicization of health care for children with gender dysphoria that’s leading to harmful treatments of testosterone and surgeries on children. So we will be bringing together thought leaders from around the country to discuss these issues with one another.

Hopefully, this will be a great way for parents to learn about what they can do. We’ll be introducing the national parent resource guide on the transgender trend, which is a very helpful tool for parents, gives them practical steps that they can take if a transgender policy is being introduced in their school district, ways that they can talk to their school, and it tells them what their rights are.

So we’re really looking forward to bringing together all of these experts from around the country to find solutions to this growing epidemic.

Allen: When is the event taking place, and how can people register?

Kao: The event is Wednesday, Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. They can watch online, and they can register on the Heritage website. We will have three panels on culture, education, and health care, in that order.

>>> On Wednesday, Oct. 9, The Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance will co-host a Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization to examine these issues in-depth. The summit also will debut the National Parents Resource Guide on the Transgender Trend. RSVP for the event or watch the livestream here.

We really encourage all parents to tune in at some point to this summit because it will give them an overview of how children are being targeted for sexualization, will give them practical tools to fight back, and it will introduce them to some of the federal and state policies that can help solve some of these problems.

Evans: If you are a podcast person, all Heritage events are turned into podcasts. You can listen to it. It’s almost immediate, usually takes an hour or two for us to get it uploaded. Also, a lot of the participants in the panel will be doing interviews with The Daily Signal, which will run throughout the week and probably into next week.

Allen: Thank you so much, Emilie, for joining us. We really appreciate your time and you sharing your expertise with us.

Kao: Thank you.

COLUMN BY

Lauren Evans

Lauren Evans is the multimedia producer for The Daily Signal and The Heritage Foundation. Send an email to Lauren. Twitter: @laurenelizevans.

Virginia Allen

Virginia Allen is a contributor to The Daily Signal. Send an email to Virginia. Twitter: @Virginia_Allen5.

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A Note for our Readers:

In the wake of every tragic mass shooting or high-profile incident involving gun violence, we hear the same narrative: To stop these horrible atrocities from happening, we must crack down on gun laws.

But is the answer really to create more laws around gun control, or is this just an opportunity to limit your Constitutional right to bear arms?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you better understand the 8 Stubborn Facts on Gun Violence in America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All right reserved.

How much does your ISP spend on lobbying?

Internet service providers in the United States have spent more than $1.2 billion on lobbying since 1998, and 2018 was the biggest year so far with a total spend of more than $80 million.

Comparitech researchers compiled and analyzed 51 ISPs’ lobbying expenses from the US Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act database, which dates back to 1998.

Here are the highlights of our analysis:

  • 2018 was the biggest year yet for ISP lobbying at $80 million.
  • Top spenders include AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, which have amassed lobbying expenses of $341 million, $265 million, and $200 million, respectively since 1998.
  • Since 2011, yearly spending on lobbying across all ISPs hasn’t strayed below $72 million.
  • The largest amount spent by any provider in any year was AT&T in 1999, at almost $23 million. AT&T’s acquisition of Ameritech Corp accounted for much of this, and the merger eventually led to the creation of America’s largest telecom company.
  • Total spend from 2016 to 2019 is set to exceed lobbying expenses between 2012 and 2015, which totaled $295 million.
  • Lobbying in favor of mergers and acquisitions accounted for many of the biggest expenses for individual ISPs in a single year.
  • $1.2 billion has been spent by ISPs on lobbying since 1998.

CLICK HERE FOR ISP Spending on Lobbying, by year.

Top 25 ISP Lobbying Spenders in 2018

ISP 2018 Lobbying Expenses
AT&T $15,820,000.00
Comcast $15,072,000.00
Verizon $10,489,000.00
Charter Communications $9,390,000.00
Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA – 2007) $8,105,000.00
Cox Enterprises $3,450,000.00
CenturyLink $3,360,000.00
Sprint Corporation $3,130,000.00
América Móvil $2,270,000.00
DISH Network $2,060,000.00
Ligado Networks $1,710,000.00
Viasat, Inc. $890,000.00
Frontier Communications $526,583.00
Granite Telecommunications $510,000.00
U.S. Cellular $500,000.00
Altice USA $400,000.00
Puerto Rico Telephone Company $360,000.00
General Communication, Inc (GCI) $320,000.00
Iridium Communications $210,000.00
Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico $200,000.00
ATN International $180,000.00
C Spire $120,000.00
Telephone and Data Systems, Inc (TDS) $110,477.00
Mediacom Communications $90,000.00
Level 3 Communications (Now CenturyLink) $85,000.00

What is ISP lobbying?

Lobbying expenses include any money used to influence local, state, or federal legislators and regulators. According to the IRS, that includes expenses incurred to participate or intervene in any political campaign for or against a candidate for public office. Attempts to influence the public about elections, legislative matters, and referendums also count as lobbying.

Much ado has been made about big telecom’s influence on politics, particularly when it comes to prominent issues like broadband privacy and net neutrality. Many politicians and their organizations receive campaign donations from telecoms. A separate study of contributions made in the last election cycle shows that despite big telecom giving to both sides of the aisle in the past, those contributions now almost always go to Republican candidates.

In exchange, telecoms have the ear of lawmakers and regulators at the local, state, and national levels. They lobby against smaller competitors. They lobby against online privacy laws in towns and states. They lobby the FCC for less industry regulation. They lobby financial regulators to push through mega mergers. And lobby groups even go to court for ISPs, in some cases suing states that try to enforce their own net neutrality rules.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Telecom Services spent $1.6 billion on lobbying since 1998. That includes companies other than the 51 in our list, hence the larger number. It’s the 12th biggest industry in America when it comes to lobbying expenses.

Top 5 ISP Lobbying Spenders

The ISPs that spent the most on lobbying since 1998 are all household names:

  1. AT&T = $341,167,168
  2. Verizon = $264,973,043
  3. Comcast = $200,199,323
  4. Sprint Corporation = $80,759,621
  5. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA since 2007) = $69,617,598

Top 5 ISP Lobbying Spenders in 2018

These ISPs spent the most on lobbying last year:

  1. AT&T = $15.8 million
  2. Comcast = $15.1 million
  3. Verizon = $10.5 million
  4. Charter Communications = $9.4 million
  5. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA) = $8.1 million

Top 5 ISP Lobbying Expenses in One Year

ISPs lobby the government for multiple reasons, but the big ticket items usually involve mergers and acquisitions.

  1. AT&T in 1999 = $22,960,000 (acquisition of Ameritech Corp)
  2. AT&T in 2006 = $22,405,497 (acquisition of BellSouth)
  3. Verizon in 1998 = $21,260,000 (trying to get approval from the FCC to offer long-distance services)
  4. AT&T in 2011 = $20,230,000 (attempted merger with T-Mobile)
  5. Comcast in 2011 = $19,260,000 (acquisition of NBC Universal)

Notes and limitations

Cable One, Rise Broadband, and Stealth Communications haven’t been included as no lobbying expenses were found.

Smaller organizations that submitted lobbying expenses, but were below the threshold, haven’t been included as the specific figures are not available.

Any reports submitted that are below the threshold and don’t have specific figures have been omitted. These are denoted in our data by “$0.00” to indicate the fact that there were lobbying expenses in this year by the company but we don’t have the exact figures.

ISPs and their subsidiaries

These are the ISPs and their subsidiaries included in our analysis:

Adak Eagle Enterprises LLC

Adak Telephone Utilities

Altice USA

Altice USA, Inc, Altice USA (CABLEVISION), Altice Group, Cablevision Systems Corporation (S.A)

América Móvil

Tracfone Wireless

American Broadband & Telecommunications

No subsidiaries.

AT&T

AT&T, Inc, BellSouth Corp, SBC Communications, Ameritech Corp, Southwestern Bell, Excite@Home, AT&T Broadband

NOT other subsidiaries that don’t relate to internet services.

ATN International

No subsidiaries.

Avantel S.A.

No subsidiaries.

Bluewater Wireless

No subsidiaries.

C Spire

Cellular South

CenturyLink

CenturyTel Service Group, Qwest Communications, Embarq Corp, CenturyTel, Inc.

Charter Communications

No subsidiaries.

Chickasaw Telephone

No subsidiaries.

Cincinnati Bell

No subsidiaries.

Comcast

Comcast Cable Communications

Some subsidiaries (i.e. NBCUniversal Media) not included as not relevant to ISPs.

Consolidated Communications

FairPoint Communications

Cordova Telephone Cooperative

No subsidiaries.

Cox Enterprises

Cox Communications/California

Cricket Wireless (Subsidiary of Leap Wireless)

2007 – 2012 for subsidiary Cricket Wireless, 1999 – 2006 for Leap Wireless

Cricket Wireless is a subsidiary of AT&T but not included in AT&T figures.

Deutsche Telekom / T-Mobile USA

From 2007 Deutsche Telekom has operated as T-Mobile USA. However, was also lobbying as its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, prior to this (back to 2000).

DISH Network

Echostar Communications.

Some subsidiaries not included (i.e. Echostar Satellite as it’s for TV/movies/music)

Farmers Telephone Cooperative

No subsidiaries.

Frontier Communications

Electric Lightwave

Known as Citizens Utilities until 2000 and Citizens Communications from 2000 to 2008.

General Communication, Inc (GCI)

No subsidiaries.

Gila River Telecommunications

No subsidiaries.

Granite Telecommunications

No subsidiaries.

HughesNet

Hughes Network Systems – subsidiary of Echostar Corp.

Some other subsidiaries not included as not relevant to ISPs.

Iridium Communications

Subsidiary, Aireon LLC, is related to air transport so omitted.

Level 3 Communications

Acquired by CenturyLink in 2017, completing in 2018.

WilTel Communications

Ligado Networks

Part of Harbinger Capital Partners. Previous name LightSquared, Inc.

Mediacom Communications

No subsidiaries.

Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc.

No subsidiaries.

Nex-Tech

No subsidiaries.

NineStar Connect

No subsidiaries.

Pixius Communications

No subsidiaries.

RCN Corp

Bought by TPG Capital which may explain why no figures from 2010 onwards.

Silver Star Communications

No subsidiaries.

Smithville Communications

No subsidiaries.

Sprint Corporation

No subsidiaries.

Suddenlink Communications

Bought by Altice USA in 2016, hence no data from this date.

TDS

Inc. Parent – Telephone & Data Systems, Inc. (2008 and prior)

Totah Communications

No subsidiaries.

U.S. Cellular

Part of the above company but has separate lobbying expenses.

Verizon

Verizon Wireless, Verizon Business, GTE Corp, Bell Atlantic

ViaSat, Inc.

Up to and including 2010, the industry the company was lobbying was Defense Electronics so not included.

Windstream Communications

No subsidiaries.

WorldNet Telecommunications

No subsidiaries.

RELATED ARTICLE: Companies Push Liberal Social Agenda At Supreme Court

EDITORS NOTE: This Comparitech column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: What is the future of Artificial Intelligence? Will AI become your personal oracle?

National Association of REALTORS held a conference in Seattle. One of the speakers talked about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will inevitably impact everyone. According to the National Association of REALTORS:

Watch Offrs.com Founder, Rich Swier, present on Predicting What Every Home Owner Will Do Next (Starting with Listing Their Home) at iOi Summit 2019 in Seattle, WA. Since 2012, offrs.com has been a leader in Big Data and Predictive Analytics for real estate agents and brokerages nationwide.

Offrs.com serves thousands of real estate professionals from major national franchise brands and large independent real estate brokerages across the U.S.

Will AI become your personal oracle?

Watch:

To learn more about Offrs.com click here.

RELATED ARTICLE: Google – creator of covert ‘god-like’ AI tool

How are Banks Harming Small Businesses?

As much as 78 percent of small businesses report positive corporate profitability, rating their happiness level to 8, on average (from a scale of 1-10). The past couple of years seem like the ‘golden’ years for small businesses, thanks to the increasing consumer demand, innovation, and technology – great possibilities and opportunities are present in the business sector.

But while big brands thrive, many small businesses suffer. Why?

Apparently, too much regulation by governments is interfering with the free market, which greatly affect the health of small businesses.

Rigid policies and regulations make sourcing capital difficult.

If you tried your luck of borrowing money from your bank and got turned down, you’re not alone. Only one in five business loans are approved by traditional banks.

Why? Banking policies say so. Let’s talk about Basel III as an example. This law is a set of banking regulations that place stricter standards on the quantity and quality of capital that banks must hold.

What does this mean for small businesses? Many experts believe that Basel III reduces credit availability for small enterprises. This means that bank loans will get more expensive and thus, far more difficult for many businesses to obtain.

Banks’ supreme power over loan contracts.

Take a look at any bank loan contract and you will know – banks hate young entrepreneurs. What most small business owners think is that as long as they are keeping up with their payments, they won’t be in trouble.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The standard business loan contract gives banks an inordinate level of power over the borrower, without the latter knowing about it. For example, banks have the power to call in a loan and demand for payments in an unrealistic time frame. They may also perform a new valuation of assets securing the loan. And if the value has gotten down, the borrower faces potentially unmanageable loan costs.

Federal regulations hurt small businesses.

Small businesses are the heart of America’s economy. 45% of the U.S. gross domestic product is driven by small enterprises. But despite their prevalence, federal regulations and their infrastructure have a disproportionate impact on the free enterprise in America, especially on small businesses. Such regulations alone are estimated to cost small businesses as much as $1.9 trillion a year in direct costs, productivity loss, and higher prices.

The federal tax code, for example, adds additional burden to small businesses more than the amount of money they have to pay. It’s not just business taxes they have to deal with. Payroll taxes are a hassle as well. One-third of small businesses spend 80 hours per year on federal taxes and nearly half spend $5,000 on accountants and tax practitioners.

Another law – the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare), brought so many data collection and reporting requirements from small businesses. To comply with the new law, employers need to invest so much time, people, and in some cases, complex IT infrastructure – something that small organizations cannot afford.

Outdated banking technology hinders growth.

While the rest of the world is keeping up with the latest technology, banks don’t. That’s despite having the money and resources to do so. You won’t believe it but most of them still use the technology from the 1970s, a sad reality that causes a greater burden to small businesses.

For instance, it’s far easier and faster for companies to pay their suppliers in person than send a request for a bank wire transfer. If entrepreneurs need to get an update about their loans, they have to call the bank (worse, go there personally). There’s lack of transparency as to how much of the repayment has been deducted from the actual loan and how much went to the interest.

Another issue with banks concerns accepting international payments. More and more small businesses are entering the global market. Unfortunately, bank limitations are always challenging. It’s funny how consumers can easily track their $5 payment but small businesses could not trace their $10,000 supplier payment.

Bottom-line

Banking laws and government regulations are hurting small businesses in so many ways because of rigid policies and practices, lack of transparency, and the use of outdated technology. Because banks take full control over contracts (from loans to other financial services), entrepreneurs are often left in the dark. Additionally, many federal regulations, such as the federal tax code, cost small enterprises due to its complexities.

Will the situation ever change? Not until the government make their policies fair and less rigid for small businesses.

Trump Jilts Google in Copyright Dispute at Supreme Court

The Trump administration has urged the Supreme Court to stay out of a long-running copyright dispute between Google and Oracle Corp., dealing a considerable blow to Google’s efforts to avoid an $8 billion damages award.

At issue in the dispute, billed as the copyright fight of the decade, are software interfaces called API declarations, which are shorthand commands that facilitate prewritten, complex computer functions. Google used a trove of Oracle-owned Java API declarations when building its Android smartphone operating system.

dailycallerlogo

“[Google] copied 11,500 lines of computer code verbatim, as well as the complex structure and organization inherent in that code, in order to help its competing commercial product,” the Trump administration’s legal brief reads. “The record demonstrates, moreover, that [Google’s] unauthorized copying harmed the market for [Oracle’s] Java platform.”

Sun Microsystems originally developed the contested API declarations. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010. Shortly thereafter, Oracle sued Google in federal court for patent and copyright infringement, saying Google impermissibly copied the API declarations. Years of litigation followed.

Now before the Supreme Court, Google questions whether APIs are copyrightable in the first place. The federal Copyright Act provides that protection does not extend to “methods of operation.” In Google’s view, APIs are a method of operation because they help developers access prewritten, complex functions.

“The Java API declarations simply tell developers how to access the prewritten methods to perform tasks carried out by the implementing code,” Google’s petition reads. “In that respect, the declarations are analogous to a set of rules developers are trained to follow when writing programs in the Java language. If the rules were changed, the prewritten methods would not work. For that reason, the declarations are necessarily part of the method of operating the libraries of prewritten code.”

The Trump administration disagreed, saying APIs do not count as a method of operation simply because they perform a function.

“Although there is a sense in which all computer code could be described as a method of operating a computer, the Copyright Act as a whole makes clear that computer programs can be protected by copyright, refuting any suggestion that the functional character of computer code suffices to bring it within [the Copyright Act],” the government’s brief reads.

The Supreme Court gives the federal government’s views great credence when, as here, the justices ask for its guidance about whether to take a case.

However, Google contends the federal appeals courts are split as to whether copyright protections reach software interfaces like APIs. The Supreme Court justices are much more likely to take a case featuring a question of law over which multiple courts disagree.

Google prevailed at the case’s first trial in 2012. A jury deadlocked over Oracle’s claims, prompting the judge to sign with Google. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court for patent appeals, reversed that decision and ordered a new trial in 2014.

Google appealed the Federal Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court, but the justices turned the request down in 2015.

A second trial followed in 2016. A jury sided with Google, finding fair use protected its reliance on the API declarations. The Federal Circuit overturned that verdict, ruling Google had not engaged in fair use. It returned the case to a lower court for a trial on damages.

That decision is now pending before the Supreme Court. On April 29, the justices asked the Trump administration to weigh in on the petition.

The case is No. 18-956 Google v. Oracle America.

COLUMN BY

Kevin Daley

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

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. 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 of our original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

No, Mattel: Kids Don’t Want Your Gender-Neutral Dolls

Fox Business Network reported some news last week that may surprise business strategists as well as kids and parents alike: Toymaker Mattel has announced a new line of gender-neutral dolls.

The company cites new “research” finding that kids “don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.”

So, for $30, children will now be able to outfit dolls with long or short hair, clothing that includes pants, skirts, or both—whatever the kids decide. The dolls are also available in six skin tones.

“Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” explained the company’s senior vice president, Kim Culmone.

“This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them. We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”

It’s hard to know what to find more shocking: that Mattel has created a “gender-neutral doll,” or that the market—primarily made up of kids—is supposedly demanding one.

Somehow, it’s difficult to believe that young kids who don’t yet know the meaning of “gender neutral” would be demanding a gender-neutral doll.

A much more likely possibility is that Mattel is caving to progressive political forces that want “gender-neutral dolls.” In that respect, the new line of dolls tells us more about the politics of the present moment than the desires of kids.

Some might push back and say, “Calm down, they’re just dolls. Dolls aren’t meant to imitate real life.” And that’s true, to an extent.

Many toys are unrealistic—consider Batman, Spider-Man, Paw Patrol figures, and others. But the companies that manufacture those toys don’t pretend they are mimicking reality. They aren’t. They’re based on fiction and intended to ignite imaginative play, an important part of a healthy childhood.

But dress-up dolls are much more realistic than action figures, and they have often been used to promote gender stereotypes—for better or for worse.

With these gender-neutral dolls, Mattel is deconstructing the notion of sex in the minds of young children and teaching them an ideology that says there is no relationship between biological sex and reality.

This same radical gender ideology has proved disastrous when taken to its ultimate conclusion: pushing young people down the path of sex-reassignment with life-altering drugs and harmful surgeries

This ideology claims that since gender is simply a social construct with no basis in biological reality, it can therefore be fluid—hence the term “gender fluid.” However, a study published in 2017 in the Infant and Child Development journal suggests there is a biological basis for human behavior.

The study observed 1,600 boys and girls at play and found that when offered a variety of toys to choose from, under various conditions, boys and girls consistently preferred toys typed to their own sex, indicating biology’s persistent role in behavior.

Of course, kids shouldn’t be forced to conform to rigid sex stereotypes that dictate, for instance, that girls can’t play with trucks and boys shouldn’t play with dolls.

But it is a huge mistake to treat our sexed bodies as secondary to a subjective self-perception of gender. That is misleading at best, and damaging at worst.

The truth is that there are only two sexes, and toy companies should not mislead children to believe otherwise.

Gender dysphoria is a real condition, but the transgender community’s recommendations for medical treatment have been shown to be not only ineffective at resolving a person’s underlying distress, but actually harmful—especially to children.

Studies show this isn’t a safe process. Brand new data from the Food and Drug Administration shows that over 6,000 adults have died from the effects of a drug that is being used to block puberty in children who struggle to feel comfortable with their sexed bodies.

Progressive gender ideology isn’t helping Americans; it’s hurting them. It is not only nonsensical, but irresponsible for Mattel to create a line of gender-neutral dolls aimed at indoctrinating kids with this harmful ideology.

COMMENTARY BY

Nicole Russell is a contributor to The Daily Signal. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, National Review, Politico, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, and Parents Magazine. Twitter: .

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A Note for our Readers:

In the wake of every tragic mass shooting or high-profile incident involving gun violence, we hear the same narrative: To stop these horrible atrocities from happening, we must crack down on gun laws.

But is the answer really to create more laws around gun control, or is this just an opportunity to limit your Constitutional right to bear arms?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you better understand the 8 Stubborn Facts on Gun Violence in America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!
GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Conservatives prefer WalMart and NASCAR. Why are they partnering with CAP?

The Center for American Progress is one of the nation’s most influential liberal think tanks. It supports abortion until birth, wants to reduce gun ownership, and has fully endorsed the high-tax, open-borders, and LGBT agendas of the Left.

So why are WalMart (1.3 – liberal) and NASCAR (2.7 – lean liberal) betraying their conservative customers by joining hands with CAP’s liberal agenda?

Taking your guns by force

Last week, 31 U.S. Senators backed a bill to restrict your gun rights. The Keep Americans Safe Act bans high-capacity firearm magazines, authorizes firearm buyback programs, and authorizes certain federal agencies to destroy high-capacity magazines, among other provisions.

CAP backed the bill, along with a number of left-wing gun control groups like Everytown and March for Our Lives. Buyback programs are especially problematic because they would force citizens to give up their arms and their right to self-defense – potentially at the point of a government gun.

Slippery slopes

A logical 2ndVote American would say that it’s time to take a stand for the Second Amendment. However, NASCAR is banning advertisements with certain kinds of weapon images. WalMart just banned open carry in their stores and further limited what they will sell. These are private-sector decisions which are able to be made in a free market – and 2ndVote Americans can reply in kind.

But will these corporations know when to stop kowtowing to the Left? Nearly 150 corporate leaders signed a letter pushing for “red flag” and other anti-gun laws which are bound to be abused by governments. Since WalMart already funds the Left through its corporate donations, we know they are only a short distance from formally standing behind these atrocious violations of your human rights to self-defense and defense of loved ones.

Corporations must stick to business

2ndVote’s GunCam shows the fact that guns don’t kill people. They are simply tools, like cars or airplanes. Nobody – except for The New York Times – thinks they have agency. People have agency. America’s laws are already strict enough; corporations should stick to business. Citizens and elected officials must ensure that law-abiding, mentally sound people have the ability to be legally armed for self-defense, the defense of loved ones, and defending the helpless.

We urge you to contact NASCAR and WalMart to tell them to stop butting into our business instead of sticking to their own. They should not be buying into CAP’s agenda – their only agenda should be providing their services and products to customers.

EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Saudi Oil Field Crisis

The conflict in the Middle East, among Shiites and Sunnis goes back to the time of prophet Muhammad himself.

When prophet Muhammad died, the infighting started in earnest among the various factions. Each demanding Bay’a (pledge of allegiance) with another clan. People jockeyed for power and did their Muslim-best to destroy their competition. Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law was elbowed out of the way by the more powerful disciples of the prophet and had to wait his turn to head the already fractured and feuding Ummah. Several of the faithful resented the fact that Ali was not allowed to take over the leadership. Some felt victimized by Umar and his powerful conspirators and hated Ali for not standing and fighting like a man. Some real stand-and-fight Muslims decided that Ali should be punished and he was knifed to death on his way to the mosque

The death of Ali was the real stirring of the hornet’s nest, so to speak. All kinds of power struggle, infighting and bloodletting started among the followers of the religion of peace. To cut to the chase, the conflict in the Middle East has been ongoing and has not been settled. Most likely, it will never be settled.

To fully comprehend the scope of this new development in the Middle East and point fingers as to who is responsible for the Saudi oil field attacks, we need to understand their involvement and invasion against the Shiite Houthi insurgency in Yemen. In March 2015 when a Saudi Arabia-led alliance of ten mostly Arab states launched an operation of air strikes against the Houthis, this clash began. Saudi Arabia, considers the Houthis rebels as an Iranian proxy, therefore, they are doing everything within their power to counter the Islamic Republic’s influence.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), titled, Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention has shed some light on a very convoluted issue. This report offers information and data about the continuing dilemma in Yamen.

According to this report:

“Overall, after five years of military operations against the Yemeni government and Saudi-led coalition, it would appear that the Houthis are better equipped with sophisticated weaponry than in previous conflicts against its rivals. According to one observer, “We have witnessed a massive increase in capability on the side of the Houthis in recent years, particularly relating to ballistic missiles and drone technology…. The current capability is far more advanced than anything the Yemeni armed forces had before the civil war.” In July 2019, the Houthis publicly displayed cruise missiles and UAVs in their arsenal and, according to one analysis, the Houthis are “revealing capabilities that Iran has been developing secretly for years.”

In May 2019, the Houthi faction declared they would target both the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable facilities. Because the Houthis are supported by the Islamic regime in Iran, all the fingers are pointed at the Iranian regime.

According to Thomas Juneau of International Affairs:

“The Houthis, however, are not Iranian proxies; Tehran’s influence in Yemen is marginal. The civil war in Yemen is driven first and foremost by local and political factors, and is neither an international proxy war nor a sectarian confrontation. It is primarily a domestic conflict, driven by local grievances and local competition for power and resources.”

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a leading state sponsor of terrorism worldwide. There is no doubt that the Islamic regime supports and finances many proxies in the region. There is also no question that the Iranian people have been experiencing Islamic justice by being arrested, raped, maimed and murdered for the crimes they have never committed. The wanton Islamic Republic of Iran has been at a murder and mayhem path for decades encouraged by an appeasing world.

Just a few reminders: The murderous villains took the life of several thousand Americans during the Iraq conflict without being punished for it. More recently they downed an American drone in the international air space without even getting a slap on their long blood-stained wrist. Then, they started piracy in the Persian Gulf. Nothing happened.

That said, yet, there are some diehard (MEK) Mujahidin Khalgh supporters who are pushing the US to go to war with Iran on behalf of the Saudis. Saudi Arabia started a war in Yemen that they cannot win. The Islamic Republic is facing serious setbacks with sanctions. It is just a matter of time for the regime to fall. The situation inside Iran is dire indeed.

Saudi Arabia is not our friend. In fact, they are America’s greatest nightmare. They are involved in all aspects of American life in the US and “Estimates are that the Saudis fund up to 80% of American mosques.” Let that sink in.

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The Environmental Costs of Renewable Energy Are Staggering

“If the world isn’t careful, renewable energy could become as destructive as fossil fuels,” warns a recent article from Foreign Policy.


“The Limits of Clean Energy” is the title of an article by Jason Hickel in Foreign Policy, with the sub-title “If the world isn’t careful, renewable energy could become as destructive as fossil fuels.” Here’s the opening:

The conversation about climate change has been blazing ahead in recent months. Propelled by the school climate strikes and social movements like Extinction Rebellion, a number of governments have declared a climate emergency, and progressive political parties are making plans—at last—for a rapid transition to clean energy under the banner of the Green New Deal.

This is a welcome shift, and we need more of it.

But a new problem is beginning to emerge that warrants our attention. Some proponents of the Green New Deal seem to believe that it will pave the way to a utopia of “green growth.” Once we trade dirty fossil fuels for clean energy, there’s no reason we can’t keep expanding the economy forever.

This narrative may seem reasonable enough at first glance, but there are good reasons to think twice about it. One of them has to do with clean energy itself. The phrase “clean energy” normally conjures up happy, innocent images of warm sunshine and fresh wind. But while sunshine and wind is obviously clean, the infrastructure we need to capture it is not. Far from it. The transition to renewables is going to require a dramatic increase in the extraction of metals and rare-earth minerals, with real ecological and social costs.

In 2017, the World Bank released a little-noticed report that offered the first comprehensive look at this question. It models the increase in material extraction that would be required to build enough solar and wind utilities to produce an annual output of about 7 terawatts of electricity by 2050. That’s enough to power roughly half of the global economy. By doubling the World Bank figures, we can estimate what it will take to get all the way to zero emissions—and the results are staggering: 34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million tons of aluminum, and no less than 4.8 billion tons of iron.

MP: As we learned from Thomas Sowell, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.” See video below.

This article was reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

COLUMN BY

Mark J. Perry

Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

California-based ‘Church’ Ministry Indicted by Feds in Forced Labor Case

Here is the news about the disgusting abuse in the name of God.

From the AP story at the Hartford Current:

Leaders of California ministry charged with forced labor

(My first question when I saw the news was, what are the names of the leaders? Other than the leader of the scam, the others aren’t named in most of the US news stories.  But, as is so often the case the UK Daily Mail has them with pictures!—ed)

A dozen leaders of a California-based ministry were arrested Tuesday on charges that they used homeless people as forced labor, holding them in locked group homes and forcing them to panhandle up to nine hours a day, six days a week, U.S. prosecutors said.

The former pastor of Imperial Valley Ministries, Victor Gonzalez, and the others were arrested in San Diego, El Centro near the Southern California border with Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. They face charges of conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude and benefits fraud.

The El Centro-based ministry has about 30 affiliate church throughout the United States and Mexico and runs five group homes in Southern California, authorities said.

Dozens of victims, many of them homeless and some as young as 17, were lured to the group homes by the promise of food and shelter until they were able to return home.

Instead, the ministry that billed itself as rehabilitating drug addicts kept them inside deadbolted group homes, took their personal belongings and identification documents and refused to return them, stole their food stamp and welfare benefits and in some cases threatened to take away their children if they left, according to a grand jury indictment filed Aug. 23 and unsealed Tuesday.

“The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with promises of a warm bed and meals,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said at a news conference. “These victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, their identification, their freedom and their dignity.”

“Windows were nailed shut at some group home locations, leading a desperate 17-year-old victim to break a window, escape, and run to a neighboring property to call police,” said a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

More here.  And, see the indictment here.

Who are they?

Now check out the UK Daily Mail story, here, where we learn the names of the ‘new Americans’ ripping off extremely vulnerable homeless people.

Former IVM Pastor Victor Gonzalez, 40, of Brownsville, Texas was among those arrested in the probe along with Jose Demara Flores, aka Joe Flores, 52, Mercedes ‘Mercy Diaz’, 37, and Susan Christine Leyva, 39.

El Centro, California church leaders Arnoldo Bugarin, 47, Jose Gaytan, 47, Sonia Murillo, 51, Sergio Partida, 32, Ana Karen Robles-Ortiz, aka Karen Partida, 29, and Azucena Torres, aka Susana Bugarin, 43, were also booked.

San Diego leaders Jose ‘Chito’ Morales, 47, was arrested in San Diego.

So much for the entrepreneurial spirit of ‘new Americans.’

The Indictment is here.  If anyone finds some juicy bits that weren’t mentioned by the media, let me know.  For example, did money leave the country?

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EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.