Study: Vaccine passports may soon be obsolete

By Casey Harper | The Center Square 1 hr ago

(The Center Square) – States around the country are discussing controversial, mandatory vaccine passports, but a new study suggests the entire debate could be over soon.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute released a new report stating that the U.S. is on the verge of herd immunity, making government-mandated vaccine passports obsolete even as lawmakers in states like New York and California have been eager to put them in place.

The study comes from Joel Zinberg, author and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He argues that herd immunity is on the horizon because of rising vaccinations, which would remove the need for widespread vaccine passports even as states consider mandating them.

“Given the number of people vaccinated, the pace of vaccinations, the now-ample supply of vaccine doses, and the number of people who have natural immunity because they had COVID-19 and are now recovered, we may soon reach herd immunity – roughly 70-75 percent of the population,” the study reads. “That would allow resumption of normal activities without continued, general precautions, thereby obviating the need for passports.”

Zinberg also cautioned against government-mandated vaccine passports, arguing that the private sector should lead the way.

The Biden administration has said no to a federal vaccine passport and invited private companies and nonprofits to decide how best to handle the issue. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last month that the administration wants to “encourage an open marketplace with a variety of private sector companies and nonprofit coalitions developing solutions.”

Vaccine passports could find use with airlines or operators of sporting events, but federal mandates do not seem likely.

“This is welcome news, since a government mandate raises the specter of government-administered identity cards and medical records with all the attendant concerns about individual privacy,” the study reads. “In addition, private entities are better situated than the government to determine when and where passports might be useful and are better equipped to create passport solutions and applications.”

Critics of the government-based passports argue that state governments should take notice and allow the private sector to lead the way. The governors of Texas and Florida have recently announced bans on vaccine passports.

“We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do,” Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said recently during a briefing at the White House.

CEI reports the private sector is already hard at work in that regard.

“At least 17 private vaccine credential initiatives are already underway,” the study reads. “Some, like the Vaccination Credential Initiative, involve over 200 companies and non-profit organizations, including such heavyweights as Microsoft, Oracle, and the Mayo Clinic.”

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has topped 30 million, but Zinberg points out that the true number of cases could be as much as eight times higher. That means 200 million people, roughly two thirds of the population, could have antibodies.

Roughly 40 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 have received the vaccine, and that number increases in the over 65 age group.

“There is no federal statutory, regulatory or constitutional barrier to private entities requiring proof of immunity as long as it is done in a non-discriminatory way that accommodates medical contraindications to vaccination and genuine religious beliefs,” the study reads. “Yet nothing bars states from regulating passports.”

Critics argue vaccine passports violate privacy rights and set a bad precedent by creating a litmus test for basic activities, and that the list of passport requirements could grow over time.

“No vaccine passport,” tweeted former libertarian Congressman Justin Amash. “It doesn’t get much more dystopian than being required to show your ‘health papers’ wherever you go.”

CEI’s latest study, though, suggests the debate may resolve itself if herd immunity can be achieved. The only catch to this optimistic outlook is if new variants to COVID-19 are not stopped by the vaccine.

“It is possible that COVID-19, like influenza, will become a disease that recurs annually as the responsible virus mutates,” the study reads. “Thus far, the vaccines have been effective against the known 3 SARS-CoV-2 variants, so COVID-19 may die out. If it recurs in subsequent years, new vaccines will have to be developed and the need for vaccine passports will have to be reassessed.”

As police brutality protests erupt again, Florida Senate set to debate ‘anti-riot’ bill

By John Haughey | The Center Square contributor 1 hr ago

(The Center Square) – With protests erupting in a Minneapolis suburb after a Black man was shot dead by police and the nationally-televised trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd resuming Monday nearby, the Florida Senate this week could send a controversial “anti-riot” bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After a contentious eight-hour debate Friday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved House Bill 1, the proposed Combating Public Disorder Act, in an 11-9 vote, sending it to the Senate floor.

HB 1, filed by Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin, R-Miami, was adopted by the House March 26 in a 76-39 vote and fast-tracked by Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, who assigned it just one chamber committee review.

Omitted from the usual committee circuit for law enforcement-related proposals was the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the only panel chaired by a Democrat, Sen. Jason Pizzo, of Miami.

Pizzo, a former state prosecutor, also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He got his chance Friday to lambaste the proposal, holding court for much of the hearing – which featured 65 speakers against and 0 for in favor – with questions proponents often could not answer while, nevertheless, rejecting a slate of amendments.

HB 1 is “nothing more” than “a bullet point in a 2022 or 2024 campaign mailer” for Republicans, Pizzo told Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, who sponsored HB 1’s Senate companion.

Pizzo argued HB 1 is too broad, makes arrests subjective and violates the “textualism” conservatives espouse in interpreting laws as written, not by “legislative intent.”

“You have much greater faith in legislative intent versus textualism,” Pizzo said. “I have a greater concern the courts will see the text of the bill and not what we discussed here today.”

Burgess said the bill’s “legislative intent” will stand up in court.

“I don’t fault you for not knowing the nuances of criminal law and their application,” Pizzo scoffed. “But I do fault the premise that you don’t understand and appreciate what this means in application for Black and brown teenagers.”

“This is going to lead to a misapplication of the law – and we know Black and brown people will suffer disproportionately because we have seen it,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson, R-St. Petersburg.

Democrats won a concession last week when Simpson agreed the bill’s racial impact needs to be studied, but the panel rejected an amendment requiring such a study proposed by Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach.

Instead of being incorporated into the bill, Simpson will direct the Legislature’s research office to conduct the study, his office announced.

Last summer, as police brutality protests erupted nationwide after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, DeSantis called for a crackdown even though there was little violence in Florida.

The ‘Combating Public Disorder Act’ would enhance penalties for crimes committed during a protest, not allow people arrested during demonstrations be released from jail before a court appearance, create “mob intimidation” felonies and force municipalities to justify proposed reductions in law enforcement budgets.

Under HB 1, it would be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to destroy a memorial, plaque, flag, painting, structure that commemorates historical people or events.

HB 1 has drawn rebuke nationwide, including by 71 university law school professors who called it the most “draconian” of GOP bills to “criminalize dissent” being filed in legislatures nationwide

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who’s spearheaded the state’s stop-and-start criminal justice reform effort for years, was the lone Republican to vote “no,” saying HB 1 is about politics, not public safety.

“This bill continues to dive right into the current political climate,” Brandes said. “That’s where I hope the Senate wouldn’t be.”

U.S. Supreme Court overturns California’s restrictions on in-home religious activities

By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square Apr 10, 2021

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Friday that California’s COVID-19 restrictions on in-home religious gatherings, limiting worship to families from a maximum of three households, could not continue.

In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s limits on people exercising their First Amendment rights to freely practice religion at home.

In its written order, the court noted that it was the fifth time it has “rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time,” the court said.

Before the state of California can limit religious gatherings more strictly than other secular activities, it must prove they are a greater risk, the court said.

“Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too,” majority justices wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberal members in dissenting, but he did not sign an opposing opinion submitted by Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

In the dissenting opinion, Kagan noted that the state also restricts secular at-home gatherings to three households.

“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households,” Kagan wrote. “If the state also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the state does exactly that.”

Biden and the American Stockholm Syndrome

by S.E. Miller

According to an article written by Kimberly Holland for Healthline, the Stockholm Syndrome “Is a psychological connection victims develop with their captors or abusers. The victims come to sympathize with their captors. Instead of having feelings of fear, terror or disdain they develop positive feelings toward their captors.”

Holland goes on to state “Victims may also begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes with their captors. Even resenting anyone who may help them try to escape the dangerous situation.”

But how can this be? Apparently, “People who are kidnapped or taken hostage often feel threatened by their captor but they are highly reliant on them for survival. If the kidnapper or abuser shows them some kindness they may begin to feel positive feelings toward their captors for this compassion.” 

In light of the above, is there any wonder why many American’s remain silent under oppressive government overreach.

Do they have strong feelings of compassion for government officials because they showed acts of kindness (stimulus checks/SBA loans). 

Will our feelings for the government prevent us from speaking out if we see crimes against humanity?

We are experiencing a humanitarian crisis at the nations border. Current government leaders are limiting access to immigration facilities. These facilities are housing minors in cramped squalid pods. However, the Biden Administration is preparing to move them to various places including toxic contamination centers

Where are the peaceful protests?

Why aren’t reporters speaking out? Are they Stockholm victims too?

Holland also noted Stockholm victims often defend their abusers. 

Instead of defending other victims they attack them. 

When people speak out against government lockdowns, COVID-19 infections vs  death rate, or aborted fetus’ being in vaccines, they are labeled in an effort to cause shame and silence. 

Why?

Apparently, shame is a tool, if used correctly will cause opponents to submit to the shamer.

Peter Stearns says, in an article for The Conversation, “Shaming isn’t merely about making people feel bad. Shame can serve as a cautionary tale for others. Shame is inherently  public and social. The point of shame is to hold the individual to the group’s standard; it is how we create and uphold social norms.It’s OK to shame people for holding indoor weddings or skipping the vaccine line.

As the government attempts to establish new norms, shame may be employed to silence dissenters.

He goes on to say “We’re going to have to hold up norms like distancing and masking, even as states open up and we’re all exhausted. Shame can help see us through here. In a way, it’s the duty of each of us to look at our communities and do a little scolding.”

Despise, Resist and Overcome the Power Shame

Will the fear of shame force us to comply with government overreach and abuse of power.

Perhaps we should follow Jesus’ example. He despised shame and endured the cross, because He had His eyes on the end result. Overcoming His enemies!  

Here’s the text: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who fore the joy that was set before endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God ( Hebrews 12:2).

As we take a stand against government overreach we cannot let fear and shame cause us to bow to tyranny. 

I like the way Representative GK Butterfield put it, when Republicans called out Democrats for seeking to overturn election results in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. Butterfield said, “we are not concerned about optics.”

Friends, we cannot let “optics” shame us into compliance. https://dailycaller.com/2021/03/18/democrats-nancy-pelosi-rita-hart-mariannette-miller

Refuse to be a Stockholm Syndrome. Don’t let the government’s kindness (stimulus checks/SBA loans) take away your voice. Speak out if you see crimes being committed against humanity.

There are various ways to speak out:

Share your knowledge or opinion with friends and family members, start a conversation. But be careful, if they are hostile or belligerent its best to pray for them. 

Share your knowledge or opinion with a blog or podcast. Share your voice and views with others.

Share how you feel with officials by writing letters or emails. Be polite but share your truth, your story, hopes and fears. Sign petitions as change often comes when we unite.

Speak to God about it (pray). This is the best option of all. Because God can change the hearts of our leaders (Proverbs 21:1).

Speak with your wallet. Do not financially support or shop with businesses that openly and willfully oppose your values. This is something you can do silently without fanfare, but can make difference. 

(The Center Square) – The Biden administration took heavy criticism Friday after announcing the administration would be formally considering adding more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The White House said a new executive order will create a presidential commission composed of experts to study current practices of the Supreme Court, most notably the “membership and size” of the court itself.

The commission will hold public meetings and present a report on its findings within 180 days. According to the White House, its stated purpose is to provide “an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform.”

That raised eyebrows, though, as a thinly veiled exploration of expanding the size of the court after many Democrats called for the court’s expansion last year.

What is also called “packing the court” became a contentious issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Liberal Democrats have called on Biden for months to add justices to the court, which has a majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents. Biden often avoided questions about the issue on the campaign trail, but did say he is “not a fan” of adding justices.

Former President Donald Trump appointed three justices during his term, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority on the court. Those victories for the former president prompted Democrats, particularly the more liberal wing of the party, to push for appointing more supposedly left-leaning justices once a Democrat was in the White House.

“Expand the court,” U.S. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, said just days before the November elections. “Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do. And for a long time they’ve been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion.”

Democrats could outright expand the court and add justices, but another tactic may involve putting term limits on justices with the hopes of replacing them with Democratic nominees.

Republicans were quick to criticize Biden’s commission, pointing to an overreach of executive authority.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, responded to the announcement immediately on Twitter, saying Democrats want to “close your schools, open your border, take your guns, raise your taxes, cancel your culture, pack your court,” hitting several lines of attack against the Biden administration.

“Why study something we already know? Democrats want to pack the Supreme Court,” he added.

The Republican leadership of the House Judiciary Committee, where Jordan serves as the ranking member, echoed that sentiment, saying in response, “President Biden promised he’d govern as a ‘moderate.’ He lied.”

Congress has the authority to change the size of the Supreme Court, but the highest court in the land has remained at nine justices since 1869, over 150 years.

The president’s new commission will be led by two co-chairs. The first is White House Counsel and Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodriguez, who currently serves as former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. The other co-chair is Bob Bauer, Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law.

“The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices,” the White House said in a statement. “In addition to legal and other scholars, the Commissioners include former federal judges and practitioners who have appeared before the Court, as well as advocates for the reform of democratic institutions and of the administration of justice. The expertise represented on the Commission includes constitutional law, history and political science.”

Michigan lawmaker aims to ban ‘vaccine passports’

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square8 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – One Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports” in a package expected to be introduced Wednesday.

The governors of Florida, Texas, Utah, and Idaho have passed legislation or executive orders prohibiting the use of vaccine passports, while a Minnesota bill aims to do the same.

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, announced a plan to prohibit a possible vaccine passport plan that would provide proof whether someone is vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Vaccine passports are a terrible idea that will only get us access to one ominous place: A totalitarian state where privacy is lost and personal freedoms are a thing of the past,” LaFave said in a statement. “Misguided politicians who support these new forms of identification are stripping away people’s core civil liberties, and we all must come together to stop this abhorrent idea in Michigan.”

LaFave said some people can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine for health reasons, and it’s unfair to mandate the vaccine.

“I want to be clear: I support vaccines in general and encourage people over the age of 16 who are concerned about getting COVID-19 to take one of the three vaccines currently available,” LaFave said. “But the government should never try to intimidate and bully people into getting a vaccine. It’s their body, and it should be their choice.”

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin told The Center Square they’re focusing on “vaccinating as many Michiganders as possible, while also working to increase COVID testing as cases increase,” Sutfin wrote in an email. Michiganders have received 5 million COVID-19 vaccines thus far.

New York currently has a vaccine passport program that will allow customers of venues to show digital proof of vaccination or negative test results. The governors of Hawaii and Illinois have also voiced support for vaccine passports.

“I will soon introduce legislation to make it unlawful for Governor Whitmer to implement a vaccine passport program,” LaFave said. “As a conservative, it will always be my belief that government should play a limited role in our lives, and I will always do what I can do ensure my constituents are protected from a vast government overreach.”

Ducey signs gun sanctuary bill into law in Arizona

By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square Apr 7, 2021

(The Center Square) – Arizona is now a Second Amendment sanctuary state. 

In signing House Bill 2111, Gov. Doug Ducey made Arizona the fifth state to enact a law saying local police may not help the federal government enforce any federal edict that runs afoul of the state’s constitutional protection to bear arms.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City.

“Arizona stands with law abiding gun owners,” Biasiucci told The Center Square on Wednesday. “The Second Amendment guarantees vital liberties, just like the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and the Fourth Amendment prevents unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Biasiucci said the bill sends the message to “zealous gun-grabbers in Washington” that his state won’t allow them to disarm law-abiding citizens.

Specifically, the law says “this state and all political subdivisions of this state are prohibited from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate with any act, treaty, order, rule, or regulation of the United States Government that is inconsistent with any law of this state regarding the regulation of firearms.” 

Alaska, Idaho, Kansas and Wyoming have enacted similar language into law during President Barack Obama’s administration. Hundreds of other local jurisdictions, including Maricopa County, have passed similar resolutions. 

Supporters of the measures believe they protect federal overreach and activist local government officials from overextending their legal duties while mirroring laws from other states to stop cooperation from federal immigration agents attempting to deport undocumented residents. 

Opponents call gun sanctuary laws “pointless,” saying federal law supersedes local laws and ordinances that could become the targets of expensive lawsuits. 

Everytown for Gun Safety petitioned Ducey to veto the bill, saying it would “encourage extremists to defy federal gun laws.”

Ducey signed the bill Tuesday, days before President Joe Biden reportedly will sign executive orders regarding firearms regulations. 

The president has been under pressure from congressional Democrats to ban “AK-47 style concealable weapons” under the National Firearms Act. 

“The concealability and ability to use ammunition capable of penetrating body armor make these firearms especially dangerous on our streets and for law enforcement personnel,” they wrote. “We thank you for your commitment to preventing gun violence and urge you to immediately promulgate regulations to cover these concealable assault firearms under the National Firearms Act.”

Kansas senator proposes legislation to limit placement of wind turbines

Kimberly James | The Center Square contributor 15 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – Kansas state Sen. Mike Thompson is proposing legislation that would limit the placement of wind turbines in rural areas.

Thompson, chairman of the State Senate Utilities Committee, fears that improper placement could cause property values to fall and impose on rural residents’ quality of life.

“The legislation in Kansas (SB 279) would prohibit construction of a wind turbine facility until the developer enters into a facility agreement with the landowner,” Ed Cross, president of Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, told The Center Square. “It also establishes minimum setbacks for wind turbines and requires the board of county commissioners in each county to approve an application for construction of the facility.”

Opponents of the bill say that its implementation takes choices away from property owners.

“The bill prevents property owners from making their own decisions regarding the best and most economic use of their property and usurps the role of local elected officials to evaluate restrictions and conditions on development proposals that are appropriate given the unique characteristics of the project and the county in which it is located,” Alan Claus Anderson, vice-chair, Polsinelli Energy Practice Group, said in his testimony before the Senate Committee on Utilities.

According to El Paso Inc., opponents also fear that it will stunt job growth as wind energy has created 22,000 jobs in the state over the last 20 years. The Energy Information Administration says that wind farms were the state’s largest source of electricity in 2019.

“Because intermittent wind can always go near zero, as we saw in mid-February, it doesn’t replace the cost of reliable power plants – it adds to the cost of reliable power plants,” Cross said. “This is why the more wind grids are used, the higher the electricity prices. The focus on wind has come above all at the expense of reliable energy sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear, which has the resiliency advantage of being able to store large quantities of fuel on-site.”

Cross said Kansas has the highest retail electric rates in the Midwest. Kansas consumers spent $775 million more on electricity last year than 10 years ago.

Poll: Majority of Michigan voters favor ballot proposal to restrict governor’s emergency powers

By Bruce Walker | The Center Square Apr 7, 2021

(The Center Square) – A poll released Tuesday by Michigan Rising Action (MRA), a Lansing-based organization dedicated to advancing conservative principles, asserts Michigan strongly supports a ballot proposal to limit the use of gubernatorial emergency powers.

MRA commissioned the poll from Marketing Resource Group, which conducted research between March 15-18, and skews +4 Democrat.

A majority of the 610 likely voters polled within each age group supported restricting the governor’s unilateral use of emergency powers.

Of those polled, 63% favored limiting the governor’s emergency powers; 31.1% opposed limits; and 5.9% said they didn’t know or were undecided. According to the poll, the governor’s orders and shutdowns were highly unpopular with 77% of the 18-34 year old demographic, which MRA said is more likely to vote Democrat. Only 19.8% of the same demographic said they were opposed to limiting the governor’s emergency authority.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s exercise of emergency powers was limited by the Michigan Supreme Court last fall, but she subsequently continued to instate COVID-19 restrictions through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s clear that a strong majority of Michiganders support limiting Gov. Whitmer’s use of emergency powers that ordered some of the strictest shutdowns and led to record unemployment,” MRA Executive Director Tori Sachs said in a statement.

“As Michigan becomes the nation’s COVID-19 epicenter, it’s worth noting that Whitmer has been focused on the political science and polling data,” Sachs continued. “Whitmer claimed credit for the slowing of cases but refuses to take responsibility for the new outbreak or the economic destruction left in the wake of her strict shutdowns.” 

Despite Whitmer and her administration implementing some of the strictest shutdowns in the country, Michigan’s positivity rates and hospitalizations continue to surge to near-record numbers.

New cases and hospitalizations are reaching near-record numbers in the state.

On Tuesday, a reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business tweeted the following Michigan hospitals were at 100% capacity: Ascension St. Joseph, Tawas City; Beaumont, Wayne: McLaren, Port Huron; and McLaren-Oakland; Pontiac. Hospitals reporting 99% capacity are St. Joseph Mercy, Ypsilanti; Bronson Methodist, Kalamazoo; Henry Ford Macomb, Clinton Twp.; and Hurley Medical Center, Flint.

McLaren Hospital, Flint, and Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, both reported 97% occupancy rates. Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, reported 173 COVID-19 cases, or 79% occupancy.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Michigan has recorded 786,000 COVID-19 cases and 17,332 deaths.

Indiana legislature passes bill to protect monuments, religious statues, withholds funds from cities that allow their destruction

By Margaret Menge | The Center Square contributor 15 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – The Indiana General Assembly passed a bill today allowing the state to withhold money from cities that fail to protect monuments and memorials from vandalism and destruction.

The bill, authored by Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, lays out a new state policy, with the Indiana State Police instructed to investigate and prosecute people who damage, destroy or otherwise vandalize “a private or government monument, memorial, statue or other commemorative property” including the state capitol building.

The bill also instructs State Police to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of any person who “damages, defaces, or destroys religious property” and says funding for cities and counties “may be withheld” if it is found that they have failed to protect monuments, memorials and statues from vandalism and destruction.

“This summer we all watched with disdain and grief attacks that were made around the country on historic monuments, memorials and statues by rioters and angry mobs – in many cases where the leaders of those communities instructed law enforcement to stand down – and in essence, let it happen,” said Koch in introducing the bill in February in a committee hearing. “This bill is brought to address that situation going forward.”

His bill, SB 187, passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 36-10, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats against.

Vandals defaced and damaged up to 80% of the war monuments and memorials in Indianapolis the weekend of May 29-31 of 2020 during two nights of the worst rioting and destruction in the city’s history.

The majestic Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center of the city in the middle of Monument Circle was defaced on almost every side with spray paint, including “Black Lives Matter” scrawled in red paint and “ACAB” in black.

Indianapolis is home to more war memorials than any other city, with the exception of Washington, D.C.

J. Stewart Goodwin, the executive director of Indiana War Memorials, said the majority of the damage to the monuments and memorials was done with spray paint, but some also was done with tools, by people trying to deface memorials by carving into the limestone.

Goodwin says in 16 years on the job, he’s never seen anything like it, calling the vandalism “very disrespectful” and disheartening to all of the veterans who’ve served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

What happened in Indianapolis that weekend at the end of May began at the Indiana War Memorial Plaza with a peaceful protest on the evening of May 29 and proceeded south to Monument Circle.

Within a few hours, the protest had turned into a riot, with “active measures” deployed against police by protesters who arrived with weapons and shields. By 9 p.m., protesters were seen encircling police officers, jumping on police cars and hurling bricks at officers. Throughout the night, hundreds of people rampaged through the center of the city, breaking windows, setting fires, looting numerous business and firing at officers.

Police officers who were on the scene that weekend have said they were told to move away from the protesters, and then were told to stay away from them, and to stay in their cars.

SB 187 would punish municipalities for issuing similar orders if it resulted in monuments, memorials and religious statues being vandalized.

Goodwin says no estimate was ever done of the damage, as multiple individuals helped to clean them and the cleaning was done in different ways, using different methods.

In a committee hearing, a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police testified in support of the bill saying, “Understanding it’s just a policy bill, we think it’s important to have this policy in our law.”

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council also testified in support of the bill, and although it was initially opposed, the Indiana Public Defender’s Council withdrew its opposition to the bill.

But the bill was still met with Democratic opposition on the Senate floor this week, with Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, complaining that it focuses on protecting property, and not people.

Don’t Let Go When a Loved One is in A State of Addiction

by Jennifer Rubino Champion  

For some time now, I have been angry, yes angry at someone I love because they have retreated backwards into their drug addiction. I have watched them as they physically morph back into the thin, unhealthy person they were before. They drop off the radar and never appear at church; they never again enter a door where goodness and mercy reign. They forgo the grace offered by a loving God and instead pour all they have (i.e. money, time, energy, and life) into the thing that drags them down. They live day to day high on all the things Satan provides for them never stopping to think these same things are robbing them from the joy and peace our Lord, Jesus Christ provides. 

 I prayed to the Lord for this person and He sent me to a book in the bible that seems strange for this trouble, Song of Songs and Chapter 3, Verses 1-4. They are beautiful verses of scripture about a dream this young woman had but as I read it over and over, it became clear what the Lord was trying to tell me, “Don’t Let Go.” All night long on my bed, I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him.  I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.  The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. “Have you seen the one my heart loves?” Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.

It is so hard on the people that love an addict. Part of us want to let go of them and let them just live their life as they please, making poor decisions and endangering themselves and possibly others because we have tried so hard to get them to change or we have seen them fail time after time. We feel hopeless.  Then, there is that other part of us that wants to do everything in our power to ensure they survive. This message today was clear; we should not let go because when we love someone, we will do all we can to ensure their safety even at a cost to our own personal comfort. This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He put himself aside and died for us, this pitiful sinful lot that we are and then came back again to say, “It’s not over.” I’m not saying we should be a doormat, an enabler or become so codependent that we offer no help to the person struggling in their addiction. We just can’t let go of the fact that God is there and he is at work. We have to trust him that he knows the outcome.

Don’t let go of HOPE. We have to love the ones we love to Jesus. He is our only source of hope.  

Jennifer Rubino Champion is actively involved in prison and jail ministry in Central and West Alabama. She and her husband Patrick have five children and a fur baby, Maggie. She is an author and artist and you can visit her website at www.jenniferchampion.com

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Indiana legislator pushes for ban on vaccine passports, says they pave the way for ‘atrocities’

By Margaret Menge | The Center Square contributor 15 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – A state representative warned his colleagues this week that vaccine passports, if not quickly outlawed in Indiana, will be used to divide and segregate people and create serious economic disparities.

“We refuse to be subject to conditions like those in Communist China where health apps monitor, track and restrict the free movement of citizens,” Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, said on the floor of the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday.

Jacob called vaccine passports, which some airlines are already saying they’ll require for people to be able to fly, “not just a slippery slope” but said they are also “paving the way for civil atrocities.”

Jacob introduced amendments to stop immunity passports to two Senate bills now going through the House. The first was ruled “out of order” and so didn’t get a vote.

The second is attached to a bill that addresses a number of fixes to Indiana’s criminal code. The bill, SB 197, will be heard on the House floor Thursday afternoon, and Jacob’s immunity passport amendment is expected to be debated and voted on.

The Jacob amendment says the following: “An individual may not require a member of the public to provide documentation regarding an individual’s vaccination status; require a member of the public to provide documentation of an invasive test; or restrict participation in an event occurring in or use of a public area of the premises of the state, local government, or business based on an individual’s vaccination status or whether the individual has had an invasive test.”

The amendment also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or intentionally violate this part of the law, coercing someone to release this health information.

In addressing fellow legislators this week, Jacob referenced World War II and the Nazis in Germany who forced all Jews to sew a yellow Star of David on their coats, saying immunity passports would divide and segregate people in the same way and would pave the way for crimes against humanity.

“We cannot allow history to repeat itself,” he said.

The Washington Post reported March 28 that the Biden administration is working with private companies to develop credentials — commonly known as “vaccine passports” – and that they would be available through smart phone apps that would display a scannable code, similar to those used as online boarding passes to board a flight.

The credentials on the phone app would be used to admit people to stores, concerts and sporting events and allow them to board planes, trains and buses.

There are now 17 different vaccine passports in the works, the Post reported, and they are “rapidly moving forward” in development.

New York State is the first state to launch its own vaccine passport, called the Excelsior Pass – which allows New Yorkers to prove they’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine or a COVID test. Madison Square Garden, a major concert venue, has already begun requiring the app for entry, the New York Post reported.

But other states are going the other way.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, issued an executive order April 2 prohibiting government agencies and private companies from requiring proof that someone has been vaccinated.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed suit, issuing a similar executive order Tuesday banning vaccine passports.

In Wisconsin, several Republicans in the state legislature are backing a bill to ban immunity passports, and there are similar efforts underway in Montana and Arizona.

It was too late to introduce a new bill in the Indiana General Assembly, so Jacob has taken the only action available to legislators in drafting his amendment and trying to attach it to one of the Senate bills that is now going through the House.

The amendments to SB 197, including the vaccine passport amendment, are expected to be voted on by the full House on Thursday afternoon.

A call to Speaker Todd Huston’s office asking whether or not he supports prohibiting vaccine passports in Indiana was not immediately returned.

A call to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office asking whether or not the governor supports prohibiting vaccine passports in Indiana was also not immediately returned.

Judge denies Pritzker motion to dismiss challenge to COVID-19 orders

By Greg Bishop | The Center Square 14 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s motion to dismiss a challenge from Geneva restaurant FoxFire to the governor’s executive orders has been denied.

For more than a year, Pritzker has had executive orders leveling blanket restrictions and closures on restaurants across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. FoxFire challenged the orders in October.

A hearing on whether to dismiss the case, a motion made by the governor, was heard last month.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow denied Pritzker’s motion Wednesday.

“[T]he governor cannot rely on emergency powers indefinitely,” Grischow wrote. “The U.S. Constitution recognized the importance of dispersing governmental power in order to protect individual liberty and avoid tyranny.”

FoxFire attorney Greg Earl said that was “another great line,” and they’re pleased the case is advancing.

“I thought she made a really good contrast in her opinion when she said it’s not her job to consider the governor’s discretion of particular measures but it’s her job to ensure those measures comport with the constitution,” Earl said.

Attorneys for Pritzker had argued last month the next election is when policy differences should be meted out. Grischow disagreed.

“This court can inquire as to whether the means utilized in the execution of a power granted are forbidden by the constitution,” Grischow wrote.

Earl also said Grischow “eviscerated” other arguments from the governor.

“The most notable one that we have to wait until the next election, I thought she had a good line in here that the court’s job is to ensure that the governor does not circumvent the constitutional confines of his authority and that’s what we’re asking her to do, and I thought she hit the nail on the head there,” Earl said.

FoxFire amended its complaint before last month’s hearing, claiming the state’s mitigations measures in October “and their progeny are arbitrary and unreasonable.”

“Fox Fire alleges that restricting indoor dining at Fox Fire and other Kane County restaurants is both arbitrary and unreasonable and that they have a right to insist defendants issue orders and regulations which are neither arbitrary nor unreasonable,” Grischow wrote.

She said the Pritzker administration has to defend the challenge of the orders as “arbitrary and capricious.”

“Fox Fire bears a heavy burden to establish that defendants’ actions were clearly arbitrary and capricious,” she wrote. “Nonetheless, Count V of the amended complaint contains enough information to reasonably inform the defendants of the nature of [the] claims they are called upon to defend.”

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow’s order denying Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s motion to dismiss a case brought by Geneva restaurant FoxFire.

http://Click to Review Judges Order

Counselor’s Corner: When People Violate Your Boundaries

by stephanie reck  

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

We have all had people in our lives that have violated our boundaries, whether it’s a family member who expects you do whatever they want, a neighbor who believes they are the only one’s living on your street, or a friend who just drops in without giving you notice. 

Reflect: Has anyone crossed your personal boundaries with you? How did it make you feel? Violated, angry, or powerless.

Personal boundaries are important and here are 4 major reason why:

  1. Protects you from being manipulated.
  2. Protects you from being used.
  3. Protects you from being violated.
  4. Separates who you are and what you think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others.

Emotional boundaries protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems or taking comments personally.

Having healthy emotional boundaries you are able to do the following:

  1. Say no to tasks you don’t want to do or have time to do.
  2. Protect your time-don’t overcommit.
  3. Ask for space because we all need time.

Traits that people have who do not respect your boundaries:

  1. Lie regularly.
  2. Take advantage of your kindness.
  3. Manipulate to get what they want.
  4. Don’t consider your feelings, are inconsiderate and selfish.
  5. Feel entitled to do and behave as they please.
  6. Can be narcissistic.
  7. Socially immature or awkward. 

Traits of people who respect your boundaries:

  1. There is a mutual respect. Both parties are considerate and thoughtful.
  2. Physical and emotional boundaries are respected.
  3. Open and honest communication without defensiveness, withdrawal, or pouting.

Unfortunately, you can’t force people to respect your personal boundaries, unless something they are doing is against the law. You do however more control than you think. 

Boundaries need to be clear and consistent with those that don’t respect you. Such people look for holes in your boundaries, and will try and try to cause a breach in your boundaries-STAY CLEAR AND CONSISTENT, what you will and will not tolerate. Follow through with consequences when the violator breaks a boundary with you. If you don’t force consequences, rest assured the violator will continue their behavior. 

Narcissistic people intentionally will violate boundaries to hurt you, get a reaction out of you, and to exert control. If you confront a narcissistic violator, they will come across prideful, unaware of your feelings, and may even laugh at your request for them to stop a certain action or behavior. Narcissistic people are looking to argue with you, and enjoy when you become upset by one of their tactics. 

If you have gotten frustrated or even angry at the repeated violators in your life, cut yourself some slack; it is difficult to deal with those who clearly don’t respect you or care about your feelings. 

What can you do when others violate your boundaries:

  1. Know your limits (physical, emotional and social). Set firm and clear consequences when those boundaries are violated. 
  2. If you are getting angry, frustrated and/or exhausted dealing with someone, step back from the relationship/situation until you can regain your peace and composure. 
  3. Recognize you do have needs, and that you should voice those needs to If they don’t listen or care, that is not your problem (if you are dealing with a narcissistic person, they will not care to change their behaviors and very likely will continue).
  4. Contact authorities if the violation against you is illegal.
  5. Have a 3rd party meditate if you are not getting through to your violator. 
  6. Maintain a healthy distance from those who repeatedly violate you with no course correction for their actions, or who are indifferent to your needs (if the person you need to distance yourself from lives in close proximity to you or is a family member, you will need to distance yourself emotionally until there is mutual respect). Emotional distance means keeping your heart guarded, choosing to respond verses react when they violate you in some way, and maintaining your inner peace by the strength of the Holy Spirit. 
  7. Ask God for His assistance in dealing with those who repeatedly harm you in some manner. Our God is just and He is our help in time of need. 
  8. Keep your cool, when your boundary is violated. Walk away, breath, and pray. When you respond in anger your judgment gets clouded. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the authority to bind the enemy. Use your authority and bind the spirits that are causing you trouble. 

Setting boundaries is healthy, and having good boundaries means clearly what is OK and not OK and letting others know it. If you don’t set boundaries, you allow people to get away with behaviors that are not OK, and you in the end will end-up stressed, anxious, frustrated and angry. 

Let’s Discuss:

What about you, have others violated your boundaries? How did you respond and how would you like to respond now after reading this article? 

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
www.stephaniereck.com
Hopeandencouragement4women@gmail.com
Hope Ministry, @2021
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Additional self-serve options now available for Michigan Secretary of State offices, kiosks

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square 21 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – One positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for Michiganders is they shouldn’t have to wait hours standing in line to make a minor change at the Secretary of State’s office. 

Michiganders can renew their standard and enhanced driver’s licenses and state identification cards online and at self-service stations.

“We have launched a new, service-driven era of operations that provides customers many more ways to conveniently conduct their business with us,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement. “This is a major step forward as we continue to improve our service for all Michiganders.”

New online services include:

  • Renew or replace an enhanced driver’s license or state ID if no new photo is required
  • View the mailing status of the requested driver’s license or state ID
  • Pre-apply for an original driver’s license
  • Request and obtain a driving record
  • Pay reinstatement fees and invoices

New transactions offered at self-service stations include:

  • Renew a standard or enhanced driver’s license or state ID if no new photo is required
  • Request a replacement and print out a temporary license or ID
  • Add a motorcycle endorsement to an eligible driver’s license
  • Sign up on the state’s organ donor registry

Between March 16 and the end of the month, thousands of residents who would have previously needed an office visit took advantage of the new conveniences.

More than 6,000 people renewed or replaced their driver’s license or ID at a self-service station, and Michiganders completed online more than 5,300 enhanced driver’s license or ID transactions.

The department has 146 self-service stations, with more coming statewide, including select Meijer and Kroger grocery stores. Transactions on the machines are offered in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Vietnamese. All accept credit cards, and some accept cash.

The upgraded technology combines tens of millions of driver and vehicle records into one integrated customer record system and ends reliance on a 1960s-era legacy system. The new system was launched with support from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and FAST Enterprises.

Other improvements include:

  • An electronic lien and title program, making lien and title information available online for lienholders instead of a paper certificate of title if their financial institution participates in the program.
  • The graduated driver licensing process has been simplified to reduce customer visits to branch offices. Student drivers are now issued a photo license hard card for a GDL Level 1 license instead of a paper license. They don’t need to return to the branch office for their Level 2 or Level 3 licenses, and their operator’s license will be mailed to them upon turning 18.

For transactions requiring a branch office visit, the department offers appointments that can be booked up to six months in advance. Next-day appointments are released at 8 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday that customers can book for the next weekday.

Texas joins growing list of states to ban ‘vaccine passports’

Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor 15 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – Texas is the latest U.S. state to ban “vaccine passport” requirements.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday prohibiting state and local governments and agencies from implementing such requirement. The order prohibits the state from refusing service to individuals based on their vaccination status, as well as any organization receiving public funds from requiring consumers to provide documentation of vaccine status in order to receive any service or enter any place, according to the order.

Abbott also released a one-minute PSA video stating that Texas will surpass more than 13 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week “to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, reduce hospitalizations and reduce fatalities.

“Every day, Texans are returning to normal life,” he said. “But, as I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced. Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health – and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”

To date, 18 states have initiated legislation or issued executive orders banning or severely restricting the use of vaccine passports and prohibiting discrimination based on vaccine status. They include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Elected officials in Illinois and Hawaii have expressed support for the passport. New York and Nevada have already launched digital vaccine passport systems.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was among the first to publicly oppose the idea several weeks ago. He told reporters, “Under no circumstances will the state ask you to show proof of vaccination. People are able to make decisions for themselves.”

On March 12, the Biden administration announced it would be issuing guidance to the private sector to implement a vaccine passport system in response to a request from the airline industry. White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that “solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the development of such a program “will be driven by the private sector.”

However, after backlash from DeSantis, the ACLU and the general public, the White House appears to have changed its position.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the federal government “is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.

“There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

She added that the administration “wants to protect Americans’ privacy and doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly.”

The first vaccine passport of its kind was launched in New York by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Called the “Excelsior Pass,” it works through an app enabling users to prove their vaccination status or COVID-19 test result in order to gain entry to events and businesses.

“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” a news release from the governor’s office states.

“Each pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany have already begun using the app, Cuomo’s office said, with the Excelsior Pass expanding to “smaller arts, entertainment and event venues,” on April 2. The app reportedly uses blockchain technology and encryption to prevent users’ health information from being hacked.

While Texas and Florida coronavirus rates have declined and their states have fully reopened, New York’s has not. DeSantis says vaccine passports are a “totally unnecessary” violation of individuals’ rights and restriction of movement.

Take No Offence

by Chris Gambrell  

In today’s world, we seem to offend people rather easily. We’ve possibly offended or hurt someone’s feelings, whether it was intentional or not; sadly, people sometimes say and do things that are careless, blunt, insensitive or even mean-spirited. While we can’t control the intentions or behavior of others, we can determine how we will act. We can choose not be offended.

One familiar example from Scripture of an offense is the eating of food that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul says, “But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.

However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do. But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:69)

Some Christians believe certain things should never be said while others believe they can say them. For example, what would happen if I was with a person who believed we should never say the word retarded, and I used it? I would have defiled that person’s conscience. In other words, I would have offended that person by being an obstruction. Based on Scripture, we need to be wary of becoming an obstruction to others (Luke 17:14). Still, some go further on to say we should never offend our weaker brother.

Another way to offend is by getting non-believers mad, not only at us, but at Christianity. For example, imagine driving and accidentally cutting a non-believer off in traffic. The person cut off would probably get mad. Additionally, if the car had an Ichthys emblem (Jesus fish), or a Christian bumper sticker, the person might also get mad at Christianity. As Christians, we need to strive to have the utmost integrity in all areas, including driving (Titus 2:7).

In both cases, the offense was not deliberate, but unfortunately, someone was still offended. Some people use these or similar examples to support the idea that we should be careful never to offend anyone; we should keep these biblical examples in mind to avoid offending people.

How do we as Christians not become offended at the numerous things that bombard us from a non-believing world as well as our fellow Christians? Chances are you have been offended by something someone said, or perhaps did. You aren’t invited to a party you know that everyone else is going; your friends, or other church members, become quiet when you come around; people just oddly stare at you when you are talking to them; you work hard within the church only for all the credit going to the pastor’s children. It can be difficult to overlook some of these annoyances, however, we must.

The Bible warns us not to be oversensitive: “Do not take to heart everything people sayyou may hear your servant curse you. For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.” (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22).

In 1 Corinthians 13:5, we’re told that a very important aspect of love is to not be easily provoked, or stirred to anger. Those who are Christian and understand His Word will not allow small annoyances to drive a wedge between others and themselves. They know how easy it is to cause others offense. Proverbs 11:12 says, “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.”

These verses are not telling us we should never confront another person about a serious problem. There are times when we do need to go to our brother, as commanded in Matthew 18:15-17. Facing others should not be something we are doing on a regular basis. You don’t want to be infamous as one who is always offended, always ready to tell others off and put them in their place. No one wants to spend time around someone like that.

Some people aren’t confrontational, but may get just as offended. Rather than fight with the offender, they bottle up what the person said or did, suppressing negative emotions. That’s no good; these kinds of feelings can grow and aggravate, and turn someone into an angry, bitter, unhappy person. It can also lead to animosity. The fact of the matter is offenses are going to come our way. When they do, it’s okay to admit that it hurts. We don’t have to get upset about it. We can choose not to be offended. Colossians 3:13 says that we should “Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

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Brandtjen expects new legislation to deal with election non-profit loopholes

Benjamin Yount / The Center Square contributor Mar 31, 2021

(The Center Square) – Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, said Wisconsin will likely need several new laws to prevent outside nonprofits from exploiting loopholes in the state’s laws.

“What we heard from the Wisconsin Elections Commission was that we don’t really have any laws to deal with oversight, or even question who they are bringing-in because they’re non-profits,” Brandtjen said after her latest election hearing.

Wednesday’s hearing was the latest in a series conducted after the November 2020 election to determine whether local election managers followed the state’s laws.

Brandtjen said it is clear that election nonprofits, specifically the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life, exploited Wisconsin’s lack of election regulation in certain communities.

“These outside groups came in with $6.5 million to only five communities, Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine. With strings attached,” Brandtjen explained.

The group’s contracts, Brandtjen said, included claw-back provisions that left local election managers confused as to just how far nonprofit managers could go in counting votes, handling ballots, and working with the election office.

“This is something that I would hope the governor and both Republicans and Democrats want to deal with. That we have non-profits come in … and try and do something to get out the vote,” Brandtjen said. “I think there will be multiple pieces of legislation. I think there are opportunities to bring more transparency.”

Brandtjen said she will continue with her hearings at the Capitol until she has answers to all of her questions.

Los Angeles Unified School District sued over mandatory vaccine, digital tracking policy

Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor Mar 23, 2021

(The Center Square) – California Educators for Medical Freedom, with assistance from the Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF), has sued the Los Angeles Unified School District over its mandatory vaccine policy and digital tracking system. Both violate federal law and basic human rights, the plaintiffs argue.

The second-largest school district in the U.S. is mandating that its employees be vaccinated as a condition of employment. The lawsuit claims the mandate is not only unconstitutional, but it is unethical and violates the most fundamental human rights laws.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported 1,191,923 positive coronavirus-related cases, accounting for 11 percent of the population, since last March. Among them are 21,345 COVID-related deaths and 1,661 current hospitalizations. Of the county’s 9.9 million residents, those who have died from or with the coronavirus account for 0.2 percent of the population; those who are currently hospitalized, 0.01 percent.

The COVID-19 vaccines were made possible through a federal Emergency Use Authorization initially issued under the direction of former President Donald Trump and renewed under President Joe Biden. No COVID-19 vaccines have been licensed or approved by FDA. Through emergency use authorization, medical products like vaccines are referred to as “investigational.” Prior to receiving the shot, recipients are required to be informed that the drug is experimental and be given “the option to accept or refuse administration of the product.”

Unlike traditional vaccines that inject part of a virus into the body to force the body to create an antibody, the Pfizer and Moderna shots inject genetic technology to alter the body’s approach to creating an antibody. The shots are not vaccines according to the CDC’s definition of a vaccine, numerous doctors have pointed out, including Dr. Steven Hotze, in Houston, who has sued Gov. Greg Abbott over several emergency orders related to the coronavirus. The injections being pushed out by public officials and healthcare providers are new, genetic engineering technology, which have never been introduced to the public and involve injecting a genetic sequence, a messenger RNA (mRNA), into the body. The mRNA prompts the body to manufacture a spike protein believed to be on the surface of Sars-CoV-2 that is supposed to cause the body to create an antibody response.

None of the pharmaceutical companies that have manufactured the drugs have provided any evidence of their short, medium, or long-term effects over any period of time, critics, including the HFDF, argue. It is also unknown how long the body’s response to creating antibodies will continue, where the spike proteins will migrate, how long they will continue to be produced, or which organs they would impact, the HFDF points out.

“Since implementation of the Nuremberg Code, free nations have recognized that forced medical experimentation of any kind is both inhumane and unethical,” the HFDF states in a news release. The internationally recognized human right against medical experimentation was ratified by the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and is protected by U.S. federal code. In 2005, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to require free and informed consent for participation in medical research-oriented drug therapies.

“There can be no doubt these treaties and regulations reaffirm the basic human right to bodily autonomy and the right to voluntary informed consent,” the plaintiffs argue.

“By choosing to mandate experimental Covid-19 vaccines, LAUSD is forcing employees to choose between providing for their families and being the victim of human experimentation. Forced vaccination is not only unethical, it violates the tenets fundamental to a free society and must stop,” the HFDF argues. “There is no pandemic exception to the law or the Constitution.”

Their complaint states that the FDA can only authorize emergency use medicines through federal code, 21 U.S.C. § Section 360bbb-3, which requires informed consent and the right to refuse receiving the experimental drug. Also, emergency use authorization is not permanent. The current injections can only be administered legally for the duration of the emergency authorization.

The FDA published several fact sheets related to COVID-19 vaccines including instructions to providers, Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, both of which require informed consent and the option to refuse administration of the drug.

According to the complaint, LAUSD employees began receiving communication last month from Superintendent Austin Beutner and others instructing them to make appointments to get vaccinated.

On March 4, employees received guidance from LAUSD, saying, “The Moderna vaccine is currently being administered by Los Angeles Unified nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals to Los Angeles Unified employees. You will schedule your appointment […]. You will provide proof of vaccination via the DailyPass for time reporting purposes.”

The LAUSD also launched Daily Pass, an app “designed to coordinate health checks, COVID tests and vaccinations for a safe reopening of schools.”

“Sort of like the golden ticket in ‘Willy Wonka,’ everyone with this pass can easily get into a school building,” Beutner said during his weekly update on Feb. 22.

The technology, which was developed with support from Microsoft, generates a QR code for each student and staff member allowing them entry to a specific LAUSD location for one day only, as long as the individual receives a negative test result for COVID, shows no symptoms and has a temperature under 100 degrees.

“Since last June, our teams have been collaborating closely with Los Angeles Unified to support running schools remotely,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows product and education, Eran Meggido, told Fox Business.

Once an individual arrives on campus, their QR code is scanned by a LAUSD site leader who also takes the individual’s temperature.

The Daily Pass will be used to register and schedule appointments, track vaccines in stock, perform check-in and data capture at time of appointment, sort high-risk individuals, offer waitlists to low-risk individuals and dashboards to view data, among other features.

LAUSD is the first school district to announce it is requiring every student and employee to have a Daily Pass in order to receive education in a taxpayer-funded public school system. All LAUSD employees and students 13 years and older, their family members, using computers and mobile devices, will be required to use it.

Anonymized data will be shared with public health officials, research and health care collaborators – Stanford University, UCLA, The Johns Hopkins University, Anthem Blue Cross, and Healthnet and Cedars Sinai.

In December 2020, Children’s Health Defense published “Vaccine Mandates: An Erosion of Civil Rights?” which surveys the history of vaccine mandates in the U.S. and provides information to help Americans understand their constitutional rights.

Pennsylvania House bill takes aim at private election grants

By Christen Smith | The Center Square 14 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – In 2020, the Center for Tech and Civic Life granted $15 million to a few select counties in Pennsylvania to assist in election administration amid the pandemic.

But for some lawmakers, the nonprofit – flush from a $250 million donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – crosses an ethical line.

“I first learned of this practice during budget hearings and am appalled by the act,” said Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Struzzi, one of three co-sponsors on a forthcoming measure that would ban private election grants. “Sadly, this activity is permitted thanks to a loophole in current law but is now being addressed through our legislation that will seal this gap shut for good.”

Thirteen counties across Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia received the private grants last year after challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic forced local officials to burn through their annual budgets long before the Nov. 3 election. 

In an interview with APM Reports, Chester County’s acting Director of Voting Services Bill Turner described the $2.5 million grant his office received as “a lifesaver” that he used to fund 14 drop boxes, body cameras and extra poll workers. 

“Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without it,” he said. 

CTCL donated $350 million to more than 2,500 jurisdictions across the country for election administration after the federal government set aside just $400 million for the cause – far short of the $4 billion some analysts said was necessary.

The organization said any election department could apply, and grants ranged from $5,000 to $19 million.

But Struzzi said that CTCL’s actions may violate the 14th amendment because “all eligible voters must be given equal access to their right to vote.” Awarding grants to some counties, and not all, he said, was unfair.

“This is an affront to taxpayers and an assault on election integrity and must be stopped,” he said. 

The bill would require private donors to send money directly to the Department of State, where officials would distribute the funds evenly across the counties. It would also ensure the department’s advertising and promotion budget for voting services would be invested equally. Reps. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, and Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland, joined Struzzi in sponsoring the proposal.

It is deeply disturbing to me, and to many people I represent, that outside organizations were permitted to ‘invest’ in our elections in this way,” Owlett said. “As we work to restore the people’s faith in our election processes, eliminating this type of grant funding from outsiders should be a top priority.”

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