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Will The Supreme Court Get Involved in an Electoral College Issue From 2016?

Westlake Legal Group electoral-college-300x221 Will The Supreme Court Get Involved in an Electoral College Issue From 2016? washington state washington D.C. Supreme Court SCOTUS Politics News Morning Briefing Impeachment of President Trump impeachment Government Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post faithless electors elections donald trump democrats Constitution Conservatives Congress Colorado Campaigns Bill Clinton Allow Media Exception Academia 2019

The year 2016 was a doozy of an election on the national level. Donald Trump surprised a lot of people ( including myself) when he won the Presidency and made Hillary a two-time loser in POTUS runs. The reason why Trump was able to pull off this feat was because of two simple words.

Electoral College.

I have written here at Red State before about this…READ  Yuck: Colorado Decides To Bypass The Electoral College With National Popular Vote and the reason why it needs to be preserved.

Now a new challenge is possibly facing a showdown in the United States Supreme Court and it could radically alter how we have done elections in this country for over 240 years.

According to…CNN

Three presidential electors in Washington state who voted for Colin Powell in 2016 rather than Hillary Clinton and were fined under state law, are asking the US Supreme Court to take up their appeal and decide whether a state can bind an elector to vote for the state’s popular vote winner.

“The original text of the Constitution,” their lawyers argued in court papers filed Monday afternoon, “secures to electors the freedom to vote as they choose.”

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal of the so-called “faithless electors,” it could thrust the justices into yet another high-passion political fight in the heat of the 2020 presidential election. It comes as some predict that the volatile political atmosphere and disputes over redistricting could further emphasize the role of the Electoral College in the upcoming election.

The states have always run federal elections. However, with this new wrinkle, the states would pick people who then do not have to abide by the state’s very own rules if the faithless electors are ruled constitutional on a federal level.

The 10th amendment to the United States Consitution declares that…

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Even though people have argued that the 12th amendment was passed to deal with some complications in the process of federal elections it does not specifically say how states were to deal with the rules for selecting electors. That, at least in my mind would mean that the states get to pick the process.

However, can you imagine a scenario where 10 or 12 states have a different processes to pick and allow electors to do what they want? That would be an epic mess.

I am fascinated about this whole process and will keep an eye on what SCOTUS decides to do. I don’t think they have much choice to take it up and we will see soon enough.

Check out my other posts here on Red State and my podcast Bourbon On The Rocks plus like Bourbon On The Rocks on Facebook and follow me on the twitters at IRISHDUKE2 

The post Will The Supreme Court Get Involved in an Electoral College Issue From 2016? appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group electoral-college-300x221 Will The Supreme Court Get Involved in an Electoral College Issue From 2016? washington state washington D.C. Supreme Court SCOTUS Politics News Morning Briefing Impeachment of President Trump impeachment Government Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post faithless electors elections donald trump democrats Constitution Conservatives Congress Colorado Campaigns Bill Clinton Allow Media Exception Academia 2019   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tainted Pork, Ill Consumers and an Investigation Thwarted

It was 7 a.m. on Independence Day when a doctor told Rose and Roger Porter Jr. that their daughter could die within hours. For nearly a week, Mikayla, 10, had suffered intensifying bouts of fever, diarrhea and stabbing stomach pains.

That morning, the Porters rushed her to a clinic where a doctor called for a helicopter to airlift her to a major medical center.

The gravity of the girl’s illness was remarkable given its commonplace source. She had gotten food poisoning at a pig roast from meat her parents had bought at a local butcher in McKenna, Wash., and spit-roasted, as recommended, for 13 hours.

Mikayla was one of nearly 200 people reported ill in the summer of 2015 in Washington State from tainted pork — victims of the fastest-growing salmonella variant in the United States, a strain that is particularly dangerous because it is resistant to antibiotics.

What followed was an exhaustive detective hunt by public health authorities that was crippled by weak, loophole-ridden laws and regulations — and ultimately blocked by farm owners who would not let investigators onto their property and by their politically powerful allies in the pork industry.

The surge in drug-resistant infections is one of the word’s most ominous health threats, and public health authorities say one of the biggest causes is farmers who dose millions of pigs, cows and chickens with antibiotics to keep them healthy — sometimes in crowded conditions before slaughter.

[Read our other stories in our series on drug resistance, Deadly Germs, Lost Cures.)

Overuse of the drugs has allowed germs to develop defenses to survive. Drug-resistant infections in animals are spreading to people, jeopardizing the effectiveness of drugs that have provided quick cures for a vast range of ailments and helped lengthen human lives over much of the past century.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_150066924_7b741ef4-f2aa-4f89-8ac1-a82d76562d61-articleLarge Tainted Pork, Ill Consumers and an Investigation Thwarted your-feed-science your-feed-health washington state United States Politics and Government Salmonella (Bacteria) pork Pigs National Pork Producers Council Montana Livestock Food Contamination and Poisoning Factory Farming Drug Resistance (Microbial) Antibiotics Agriculture Department Agriculture and Farming

Much of the pork in a 2015 salmonella outbreak was traced to a Washington State slaughterhouse called Kapowsin Meats. Investigators inspecting the slaughterhouse were told to look at the farms that had supplied the pigs.

But public health investigators at times have been unable to obtain even the most basic information about practices on farms. Livestock industry executives sit on federal Agriculture Department advisory committees, pour money into political campaigns and have had a seat at the table in drafting regulations for the industry, helping to ensure that access to farms is generally at the owners’ discretion.

Dr. Parthapratim Basu, a former chief veterinarian of the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said the pork industry regularly thwarted access to information on antibiotic use.

“When it comes to power, no one dares to stand up to the pork industry,” he said, “not even the U.S. government.”

[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]

A reconstruction of the Washington outbreak provides a rare look into how these forces play out. The New York Times reviewed government documents, medical records and emails of scientists and public health officials, as well as conducted interviews with victims, investigators, industry executives and others involved.

Those industry officials argued in documents and interviews that farmers needed protection against regulators and scientists who could unfairly harm their business by blaming it for a food-poisoning outbreak when the science was complex and salmonella endemic in livestock. The tension mirrors a broader distrust in agriculture and other business about the intention of federal regulators and other government overseers.

“Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘I’m from the government, I’m here to help you’ — and you know they’re going to screw you?” said David J. Hofer, the secretary-treasurer of the Midway Hutterite Colony, a religious community that runs a hog farm in Conrad, Mont. Mr. Hofer said he was one of the farmers who objected to the farm inspections during the outbreak.

“They might have public health in mind, but they don’t care if in the process they break you.”

In the end, Mikayla Porter survived, but the threat of the infection that nearly killed her continues — not least because investigators still lack access to essential data.

“We can see resistance is really increasing,” said Dr. Robert V. Tauxe, director of the division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

There are 2,500 different types of salmonella. The one that infected Mikayla is called 4,5,12:i-minus. It first showed up in the late 1980s in Portugal, and then in Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, Switzerland and Italy. In the United States, infections it causes have risen 35 percent over the past decade, while the overall rate of salmonella infections has stayed constant.

The strain typically resists four major antibiotics: ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole and tetracycline.

“We can see resistance is really increasing,” said Dr. Robert V. Tauxe, director of the division of food-borne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This particularly virulent strain of salmonella is just one of a growing number of drug-resistant germs that put farm families, and meat eaters generally, at risk.

A study in Iowa found that workers on pig farms were six times more likely to carry multidrug-resistant staph infections, notably MRSA. A study in North Carolina found that children of pig workers were twice as likely to carry MRSA than children whose parents didn’t work in a swine operation.

Those germs can also wind up on pork sold to consumers. An analysis of government data by the Environmental Working Group, a research organization, found that 71 percent of pork chops at supermarkets in the United States carried resistant bacteria, second only to ground turkey, at 79 percent.

Like many outbreaks of resistant infections, the salmonella variant that sickened Mikayla is usually so widely dispersed that the C.D.C. has had a hard time tracking it.

But in the Washington outbreak, the infection was new to the region, and tests revealed the bug had the same genetic profile in patients, creating ideal conditions for scientific detective work.

“This was our real opportunity,” said Allison Brown, a C.D.C. epidemiologist. “Everything lined up.”

Stealing Lauri
A pig kidnapping highlights the concerns over antibiotics in livestock.

Aug 4, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_138154251_794a5572-1581-4ac7-8a36-b829956faa3d-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Tainted Pork, Ill Consumers and an Investigation Thwarted your-feed-science your-feed-health washington state United States Politics and Government Salmonella (Bacteria) pork Pigs National Pork Producers Council Montana Livestock Food Contamination and Poisoning Factory Farming Drug Resistance (Microbial) Antibiotics Agriculture Department Agriculture and Farming

The Porter family had invited friends and neighbors to the pig roast to celebrate a major life change: In three days, they would be moving to Costa Rica.

But the day after the roast, Mikayla felt sick, and by 4:30 a.m. the following morning, she had diarrhea so severe that her parents took her to the emergency room.

There, a doctor said she had a stomach bug, assuring them it would pass and approving her to travel. Her parents also felt sick, but not as seriously, and they flew to Costa Rica as planned.

After arriving, Mikayla got much worse, excreting mucus and blood. She lay in agony on the couch, the family dogs sitting beside her protectively.

A doctor at BeachSide Clinic near Tamarindo, the town where the family had rented a house, prescribed the antibiotic azithromycin, medical records show. It did not work.

The family returned to the clinic the next day. That is when Dr. Andrea Messeguer told Mikayla’s parents their daughter could die, and helped arrange the airlift to Hospital CIMA in the capital, San José.

Mikayla recovering in a hospital in Costa Rica.CreditThe Porter family

There, doctors determined that Mikayla had a systemic infection. She received intravenous hydration and antibiotics.

Tests came back from the national lab showing the drug-resistant salmonella strain.

Back in Washington, many others were also getting sick.

On July 19, Nicholas Guzley Jr., a police officer, ate pork at a restaurant in Seattle, and at 2 a.m. threw up in the shower. The medical ordeal that followed was so excruciating — vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, a fever of 103.9 degrees, dehydration and multiple hospital visits — that he said it was worse than a near-death experience in 2003 when he had been hit by a truck.

“If you stack up all the pain from all the injuries, this blew it away,” he said.

On July 23, the head of Washington’s Department of Health sent out an alert, warning that 56 people had fallen ill and publicizing an investigation into the outbreak by the state’s health and agriculture agencies, coordinating with the C.D.C. The Washington State epidemiologist, Dr. Scott Lindquist, took the lead.

On July 27, a restaurant had its permit suspended for food safety violations, including failure to keep its food hot enough. Multiple restaurants were identified as possible sources of tainted pork, along with several pig roasts.

Dr. Lindquist and his team discovered that many of the infected roast pigs had come from a slaughterhouse called Kapowsin Meats. Tests of 11 samples taken from slaughter tables, knives, hacksaws, transport trucks and other spots showed that eight were positive for the resistant strain.

At Kapowsin, the state investigators spoke to the federal official responsible for inspecting the slaughterhouse, who suggested that they look for the farms where the tainted pork had come from.

Records obtained by the state showed that many of the pigs supplied to Kapowsin originated on industrial farms in neighboring Montana.

On Aug. 13, state records noted that the investigative team — including the C.D.C. and the federal Agriculture Department — was in touch with officials in Montana to discuss gaining access to the farms.

Determining where the outbreak originated would have allowed the team to trace other possibly infected pork, recall it and advise the owners on how to change their practices.

But such investigations are extremely sensitive because the publicity can be bad for business, and because the law protects farmers in such situations. Over all, the government has little authority to collect data on farms.

“We have people in the slaughterhouses every day, all day long,” said Paul Kieker, the acting food safety administrator at the Agriculture Department. “We don’t have a lot of jurisdiction on farms.”


Westlake Legal Group dt_thumb_00000-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Tainted Pork, Ill Consumers and an Investigation Thwarted your-feed-science your-feed-health washington state United States Politics and Government Salmonella (Bacteria) pork Pigs National Pork Producers Council Montana Livestock Food Contamination and Poisoning Factory Farming Drug Resistance (Microbial) Antibiotics Agriculture Department Agriculture and Farming

Bacteria are rebelling. They’re turning the tide against antibiotics by outsmarting our wonder drugs. This video explores the surprising reasons.

The Food and Drug Administration is charged with collecting antibiotic use data. But farms are not required to provide it, and only do so voluntarily.

As a result, the federal government has no information about the antibiotics used on a particular farm and no way to document the role of the drugs in accelerating resistance.

“I haven’t been on a farm for years,” said Tara Smith, a professor at Kent State University and an expert on the connection between resistance and livestock. “They’ve closed their doors to research and sampling.”

Dr. Lindquist, the epidemiologist leading the investigation of the Washington outbreak, pleaded with Montana’s health agency to help him gain access to the farms that had supplied the Kapowsin slaughterhouse.

In a memo to state officials, he told them that such infections were increasing rapidly and that “on-farm investigations will help us better understand the ecology of salmonella” and “prevent future human illnesses.”

Days later, he received a phone call from Dr. Liz Wagstrom, the chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, a group that lobbies on behalf of the livestock industry. Its campaign donations to congressional candidates have more than doubled in the past decade, to $2 million in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Dr. Wagstrom sought to find out what Dr. Lindquist had learned in his investigation and what he was saying to the media, he said, recalling the conversation. He said she was worried the pig farms might be unfairly tarnished, arguing that salmonella was common on farms, so an investigation wouldn’t prove anything, even if the infection was detected.

In an interview, Dr. Wagstrom said she was concerned that farm visit wouldn’t yield valuable information. “What would you learn that could positively impact public health?”

The industry soon became more involved. Officials from the National Pork Board joined regular crisis conference calls during the investigation, along with numerous state and federal health and agriculture officials.

The board is a group of pork industry executives whose members are elected by the industry and then appointed by the secretary of agriculture, cementing a tight bond between business and government.

Dr. Lindquist initially welcomed the executives’ presence, given their expertise, though he did not know who had initially invited them.

Dr. Scott Lindquist, the Washington epidemiologist who led the investigation of the tainted pork.CreditWiqan Ang for The New York Times

That same year, F.D.A. guidelines went into effect that were supposed to enable the tracking of antibiotics on farms. They required farms to obtain prescriptions from veterinarians to dispense antibiotics, and only to animals sick or at risk of illness. The guidelines said that farms must stop using antibiotics as “growth promoters.”

But the rules have loopholes, which were highlighted a year earlier when officials from the F.D.A., C.D.C., the Agriculture Department and the Pew Charitable Trusts met at the University of Tennessee. The group heard from Thomas Van Boeckel, an expert in statistical modeling and antibiotic resistance who was then at Princeton.

Dr. Van Boeckel told the group that he could build maps showing changing levels of antibiotic use on farms and compare them with changing levels of resistance.

To do so, he said, he needed data sets by region or, better yet, by farm.

“I was told there was a single data point per year, literally,” he said.

That data point: Around 33 million pounds of medically important antibiotics, a 26 percent increase from 2009, were sold in the United States for farm use. The figure, collected from sales data by the F.D.A., was the sum total of the information they were able to provide him.

Dr. Van Boeckel told the group that without more specific information, he couldn’t do any real measurement.

“They said: Yeah, that’s going to be challenging.”

A page from the Washington Agriculture Department’s report, which included images of Kapowsin Meats.

As the end of August neared, Mikayla Porter had stabilized, but in Washington State, the salmonella caseload continued to grow.

On Aug. 26, Kapowsin agreed to cease operations, in cooperation with the state. The next day, there was a recall of 523,380 pounds of its pork products.

At the same time, the Montana Pork Producers Council wrote to the Washington health agency, saying it was “clear that there is little to no value in conducting on-farm investigations,” and that investigators should focus on slaughterhouses.

Anne Miller, the council’s executive director, said she did not appreciate that the researchers were coming at a time of crisis. “The trick to getting good information is get research before you get to that situation,” she said. “Why hadn’t this been done prior?”

She spoke to pork producers in the state, and some expressed concern about being unfairly blamed for the outbreak, worried that government officials seeking information on their farms could unfairly tarnish their image and business.

Mr. Hofer, of the farm in Conrad, said in a phone interview that he objected strongly to the investigation.

“I was animated about that,” he said. “Let’s say they found something — it probably would have screwed up some other markets we had.”

Mr. Hofer said his farm provided pigs to Kapowsin but did not know if the sales had overlapped with the outbreak. He said it was clear to him that the slaughterhouse was to blame. “There was salmonella all over that plant.”

On Aug. 28, the National Pork Producers Council sent Washington State a follow-up letter concurring with Ms. Miller.

“I know that you do not want any inadvertent negative consequences to farms as a result of this proposed on-farm sampling,” Dr. Wagstrom wrote in the letter.

Ms. Miller and others in the industry said farms could provide voluntary information on antibiotic use, but they have taken a hard line on government access because of fears that individual farms would be singled out for a complex problem with multiple causes.

The position stuns some scientists.

“So let’s not do anything to give anyone a bad reputation, including any bad behavior?” asked Dr. James Johnson, a professor at the University in Minnesota and an expert in resistant infections. “The people who stand to benefit from having everyone remain ignorant are the ones who protest the loudest.”

Mikayla with her mother, Rose Porter, and one of their chickens in Rainier, Wash.CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

That September, Dr. Lindquist still hoped his team would get the go-ahead to take samples from the five farms thought to have been possible sources for the outbreak, but it never came.

“I don’t know even to this day why this got stymied,” he said.

He said he did not know that Ms. Miller, the head of the Montana Pork Council, had contacted the farms and been told they would not permit a visit from researchers.

The farms officially declined, through her, to comment for this story.

By Sept. 22, the case load had hit 178 known infections, with 29 people hospitalized, but the outbreak was petering out. The investigation ended, Dr. Lindquist said, “with a whimper.”

“During the outbreak, I heard from restaurants, patients, the slaughterhouse, the U.S.D.A., F.D.A., the Department of Agriculture in Washington and Montana, the health department in Montana and the health department in Washington State,” Dr. Lindquist said. “I did not hear from the farms.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

So the Molotov Man was Antifa (and a “hero” to some)

Westlake Legal Group VanSpronsen So the Molotov Man was Antifa (and a “hero” to some) Willem Van Spronsen washington state The Blog police shooting molotov Immigration and Customs Enforcement attack antifa

This is my shocked face.

What were the odds? The maniac who tried to burn down and blow up an ICE detention center in Tacoma yesterday (and wound up being “iced” by the police) was an Antifa member. And we’re not talking about someone vaguely “connected” to the movement. Willem Van Spronsen proudly proclaimed himself to be Antifa. Also, this was not his first run-in with the law at that same detention center. (Seattle Times)

A protest outside the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma last year drew headlines when a 68-year-old man wrapped his arms around a police officer’s throat and shoulders in an apparent attempt to free another protester.

When police got the man into handcuffs, they found a collapsible baton and knife in his pocket, leading to criminal charges.

Early Saturday morning, that man, Willem Van Spronsen of Vashon Island, returned to the Northwest Detention Center, the holding facility for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this time armed with a rifle and incendiary devices, according to Tacoma police.

Police said Van Spronsen tossed lit objects at vehicles and buildings, causing one car fire, and unsuccessfully tried to ignite a propane tank.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a number of left-wing nutjobs were immediately singing Van Spronsen’s praises, identifying him as a “hero.” The Daily Caller has a list, but here’s one account that definitely seemed impressed.

And, like nearly all politically driven maniacs, Van Spronson had a manifesto, of course. It’s pretty long and incoherent, but here’s a photo of it.

The media is still treating this as almost a local news story, and we’re not seeing much of anything in the way of “deep analysis” of the attack. But if they did show any such interest, particularly as to how Van Spronsen was “radicalized,” you don’t need to look much further than the manifesto. He refers to ICE detention centers as “concentration camps.” In fact, he uses that phrase nearly a half dozen times. This is straight out of the playbook of AOC’s crew and several of the 2020 candidates as well.

So where are all the warnings about “incendiary language” and incitement leading to violence? Or does that only apply if someone is deemed “right wing” these days? Nevermind… I think I just answered my own question.

The post So the Molotov Man was Antifa (and a “hero” to some) appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group VanSpronsen-300x159 So the Molotov Man was Antifa (and a “hero” to some) Willem Van Spronsen washington state The Blog police shooting molotov Immigration and Customs Enforcement attack antifa   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

ICE Used Facial Recognition to Mine State Driver’s License Databases

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-facialrecognition3-facebookJumbo ICE Used Facial Recognition to Mine State Driver’s License Databases washington state Vermont utah United States Politics and Government Immigration and Emigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US) Illegal Immigration Drivers Licenses department of motor vehicles

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have mined state driver’s license databases using facial recognition technology, analyzing millions of motorists’ photos without their knowledge.

In at least three states that offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, ICE officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, according to newly released documents. At least two of those states, Utah and Vermont, complied, searching their photos for matches, those records show.

In the third state, Washington, agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, though it was unclear whether the state carried out the searches. In Vermont, agents only had to file a paper request that was later approved by Department of Motor Vehicles employees.

The documents, obtained through public records requests by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and first reported on by The Washington Post, mark the first known instance of ICE using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens.

Privacy experts like Harrison Rudolph, an associate at the center, which released the documents to The New York Times, said the records painted a new picture of a practice that should be shut down.

“This is a scandal,” Mr. Rudolph said. “States have never passed laws authorizing ICE to dive into driver’s license databases using facial recognition to look for folks.”

He continued: “These states have never told undocumented people that when they apply for a driver’s license they are also turning over their face to ICE. That is a huge bait and switch.”

The use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement is far from new or rare. Over two dozen states allow law enforcement officials to request such searches against their databases of driver’s licenses, a practice that has drawn criticism from lawmakers and advocates who say that running facial recognition searches against millions of photos of unwitting, law-abiding citizens is a major privacy violation.

The F.B.I., for example, has tapped state law enforcement’s troves of photos — primarily those for driver’s licenses and visa applications — for nearly a decade, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The bureau has run over 390,000 searches through databases that collectively hold over 640 million photos, F.B.I. officials said.

The Georgetown researchers’ documents covered 2014 to 2017, and it was not immediately clear if those states still comply with the ICE requests. Representatives for the states’ motor vehicles departments could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday night.

Matt Bourke, an ICE spokesman, said the agency would not comment on “investigative techniques, tactics or tools” because of “law-enforcement sensitivities.”

But he added: “During the course of an investigation, ICE has the ability to collaborate with external local, federal and international agencies to obtain information that may assist in case completion and subsequent prosecution. This is an established procedure that is consistent with other law enforcement agencies.”

The researchers sent public records requests to each state, searching for documents related to law enforcement’s relationship with state motor vehicles departments. They received varying degrees of responsiveness but discovered the ICE requests in Utah, Washington and Vermont, which have come under fire before for sharing driver’s license information with the agency.

The Seattle Times reported last year that Washington State’s Department of Licensing turned over undocumented immigrants’ driver’s license applications to ICE officials, a practice its governor, Jay Inslee, pledged to stop. And a lawsuit in Vermont filed by an activist group cited documents obtained under public records law that showed that the state Department of Motor Vehicles forwarded names, photos, car registrations and other information on migrant workers to ICE, Vermont Public Radio reported this year.

The relationship between Washington’s Department of Licensing and ICE officials may prove to be particularly interesting to privacy experts because of a law the State Legislature passed in 2012 stipulating that the department could use a facial recognition matching system for driver’s licenses only when authorized by a court order, something ICE did not provide.

Facial recognition technology has faced criticism from experts who point to studies that show that recognition algorithms are more likely to misidentify people of color — and in particular, women of color. At least 25 prominent artificial-intelligence researchers, including experts at Google, Facebook and Microsoft, signed a letter in April calling on Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies because it is biased against women and racial minorities.

The use of the technology has also come under fire from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The House Homeland Security Committee, led by Representative Bennie G. Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, will hold a hearing on Wednesday grilling Department of Homeland Security officials about their use of facial recognition. The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, has pledged to investigate the use of the rapidly expanding technology in the public and private sectors.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly, without any, really, safeguards, whether we are talking about commercial use or government use,” Mr. Cummings said at a hearing on the issue last month. “There are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties, and our right to privacy.”

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In Push for Trade Deal, Trump Administration Shelves Sanctions Over China’s Crackdown on Uighurs

WASHINGTON — The United States and China are racing to clinch a historic economic treaty as early as next week that could drastically reshape relations between the world’s two largest economies. But as negotiations reach their final stages, the sensitive subject of human rights has been left conspicuously off the table.

China has faced growing condemnation from human rights groups in recent months for its detention of up to one million ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps in the country’s northwest region of Xinjiang.

But the Trump administration has studiously avoided rattling China by not raising the topic during the trade talks, viewing it as an impediment to securing what President Trump has said could be “the biggest deal ever made.”

Administration officials have declined to use any of the economic leverage the White House amassed through tariffs placed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to compel China to change its policies toward Uighurs. It has also backed away from imposing economic sanctions on Chinese officials believed to be involved in the repression of Muslims in the northwest.

In the fall, the United States was on the verge of imposing sanctions on top Chinese individuals and companies but pulled back after some administration officials said doing so would jeopardize trade talks with Beijing, according to three American officials.

Outrage over China’s repressive practices has grown among officials not working on trade. On Friday, Randall G. Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said at a news conference that the Pentagon had significant concerns about the “mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps,” which he said could have up to three million people.

The discussion on sanctions had gone through the interagency process, and officials at the State Department and at the National Security Council had voiced their support for the action. The sanctions languished at the Treasury Department, however, as some senior administration officials believed that they should shelve them during the trade talks. The sanctions would have been imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the executive branch to use economic and travel penalties to punish foreign officials for human rights violations.

A Treasury spokesman said that the department does not telegraph sanctions or comment on prospective actions.

In November, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, warned in an interview with Reuters that Beijing would retaliate “in proportion” if Washington went ahead with sanctions over human rights abuses. He said Beijing’s policy was to “re-educate” a group it considers terrorists.

After Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China talked over a steak dinner in December at a Group of 20 meeting in Argentina, the administration decided to shelve the proposed sanctions, according to the American officials. The two leaders had set a deadline of March 1 to reach a broad trade agreement, and American officials decided the sanctions could wait until after that deadline. But trade negotiators failed to reach a deal by that date, and talks are still continuing.

China has cracked down on ethnic minorities like the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking group of mostly Sunni Muslims, who form the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang. For decades, many Uighurs have resented Communist Party rule, saying Chinese officials suppress their culture and religion and practice widespread discrimination.

Officials in Beijing say they fear terrorist ideas have taken root among the Uighurs and point to outbursts of violence in recent years, particularly a deadly riot in the capital of Xinjiang in 2009. A vast internment program began soon after, largely under the orders of Chen Quanguo, who became party chief of Xinjiang in August 2016, after a stint in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Of the majority-Muslim nations, only Turkey has strongly denounced the recent mass detentions and surveillance in Xinjiang, though Ankara maintains strong economic ties to Beijing.

“Beijing hasn’t significantly changed its policies in Xinjiang,” said Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch. “So it’s still appropriate the United States go ahead with the sanctions.”

As a last-ditch effort, activists are now pushing American officials to insert the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang into the trade talks, which may wrap up next week in Washington, or to impose sanctions to pressure China to end persecution in the region.

On Friday, a group of about a dozen demonstrators, many of whom are Uighurs living in the United States, gathered in Washington outside of a conference focused on sanctions policy to pressure Treasury Department officials to take action against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act.

“I strongly believe that the human rights abuses the Chinese government is doing against the Uighurs should be part of the trade talks,” said Rushan Abbas, an organizer of the demonstration whose sister and aunt were detained in Xinjiang in September. “They are facing indoctrination, brainwashing and elimination of their values as Muslims.”

The Trump administration has been focused on leveling the economic playing field with China, using tariffs to pressure Beijing to lower its trade barriers and to give American companies more access to its market. Touchy subjects like human rights have been placed on the back burner in hopes of striking a deal that would benefit the United States economy.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154339446_25810036-b5fc-4946-86f3-ddba1a9a6e3e-articleLarge In Push for Trade Deal, Trump Administration Shelves Sanctions Over China’s Crackdown on Uighurs washington state United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy United States Uighurs (Chinese Ethnic Group) Surveillance of Citizens by Government Muslims and Islam Law and Legislation International Trade and World Market Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China Beijing (China)

Demonstrators in Washington outside a conference focused on sanctions policy pressure Treasury Department officials to take action against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang abuses.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Ms. Richardson said that the two topics are linked and that the American government should impose restrictions on American companies doing business with Chinese firms known to be supporting detention centers, or providing technology used in the vast electronic surveillance system that has become commonplace across Xinjiang, which is one-sixth of China’s territory.

“There’s room for scrutiny of Chinese companies that are engaged in one way or another in repression in Xinjiang,” she said. “Markets around the world need to take a hard look.”

Cracking down on those involved in or enabling the repression of ethnic Uighurs is an issue that enjoys rare bipartisan support. Since 2018, Democratic and Republican members of Congress have pushed the White House and agencies to impose sanctions and limit trade with Chinese companies involved in Xinjiang.

Lawmakers are now frustrated at the inaction. Last month, 43 senators and representatives sent a bipartisan letter demanding tough measures to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In March, the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a similar letter to Mr. Pompeo that also highlighted new information on American businesspeople doing work in Xinjiang. The most notable was Erik Prince, the wealthy supporter of Mr. Trump whose Hong Kong-listed company, Frontier Services Group, has significant Chinese investment and is building a security training center in Xinjiang. Mr. Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary.

Legislators have introduced bills in the House and Senate that, if passed into law, would compel the Trump administration to impose sanctions and scrutinize commerce related to Xinjiang. Committee members are reviewing the bills and could move them out to the wider bodies this month or next.

Failure to address the situation in Xinjiang in a historic formal trade deal between the two countries could prompt vocal criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

“Words alone are not enough,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said in a statement. “It is time for the Trump administration to impose targeted sanctions against Chinese officials, including Chen Quanguo, who are involved in the government’s repressive policies.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California and a longtime critic of China’s human rights record, urged the Trump administration to include the treatment of the Uighurs in the trade negotiations.

“The administration must demonstrate the moral courage to use its economic leverage to not only guarantee fair trade for American products in Chinese markets, but also to advance human rights in China,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.

Through the trade negotiations, the United States is trying to force China to curb subsidies of its state-controlled enterprises, to respect American intellectual property when engaging in joint ventures, to ease nontariff barriers to international commerce and to ramp up purchases of American products, like soybeans and liquid natural gas.

From the American perspective, many of these economic issues are linked to national security, but the United States has steered clear of the third-rail matter of human rights.

“For China, mixing human rights in the trade talks is unthinkable,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who advises the Trump administration. “There were supposed to be four dialogue mechanisms that were set up after the first summit between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi at Mar-a-Lago, and the Chinese adroitly maneuvered to make sure human rights were not part of the dialogues.”

Mr. Pillsbury notes that in the 1990s, trade and human rights were more closely intertwined. In 1993, Ms. Pelosi led efforts to make China meet human rights conditions in exchange for trade benefits. However, after intense lobbying by Chinese officials, and the threat of lost sales of American products such as Boeing aircraft, the Clinton administration began to back off its concerns about the treatment of Chinese dissidents.

Since then, as China has become an even more integral part of the global commerce system, the issues of trade and human rights have been increasingly compartmentalized. While Mr. Pompeo has been critical of China over the re-education camps in Xinjiang, which he said this week were “reminiscent of the 1930s,” Mr. Trump has been silent on the matter.

“The U.S. is really missing the opportunity to be a leader, to take a minimum symbolic action against a country that is incarcerating millions of people for ethnic reprogramming,” said James A. Millward, a professor at Georgetown University and an expert on the Xinjiang region.

For Uighurs living in the United States, protesting comes with risks as their outspokenness can lead to harsh retribution for their relatives in China.

Tahir Imin was studying abroad in 2017 when the crackdown reached his family after he spoke out about the conditions in Xinjiang. Since then, his brother and mother have been imprisoned and his family business has been confiscated. On Friday, Mr. Imin, 38, held a sign criticizing the Chinese government and pleaded with the United States government to help.

“We have just bad news,” he said, “sad news, every day.”

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Jay Inslee, Running as a Climate Candidate, Wants Coal Gone in 10 Years

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Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has centered his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on a single issue, climate change. On Friday, he unveiled his first major climate policy proposal, calling for all coal-fired power plants to be closed in a decade.

Mr. Inslee, who has also made climate change his signature issue as governor, issued a plan that aims to eliminate planet-warming emissions from power plants, vehicles and buildings over 10 years. Under the plan:

• The country’s power plants would have to be “carbon-neutral” by 2030, meaning any carbon emissions would have to be offset through other efforts, though the plan does not specify how. By 2035, all power production would need to be emissions-free, through renewable energy.

• New passenger cars, medium-duty trucks and buses would have to be emissions-free by 2030 — in other words, new vehicles would have to be electric.

• New commercial and residential buildings would be required to meet a “Zero-Carbon Building Standard” by 2030, improving efficiency and eschewing natural gas heating and appliances, for example.

Mr. Inslee’s campaign said its proposal, the “100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan,” aims to put the United States on track to cut its planet-warming pollution 50 percent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2045 — roughly in line with two of the goals the United Nations’ climate panel has said the world needs to reach.

“This is a special moment, this is a special mission, and we are in a special nation that has never, never fallen back from a challenge,” Mr. Inslee said at a news conference Friday morning at a bus depot in Los Angeles. “My plan is a big, bold, ambitious plan because this is a big, bold and ambitious nation, and we are up to the job.”

[We asked the 2020 Democrats about climate change. Here are their ideas.]

Mr. Inslee is familiar with the divide between the policies that climate experts say are needed and those that, practically speaking, can pass legislatively. Though his campaign boasts about having passed a clean energy bill in Washington, which he plans to sign into law next week, Mr. Inslee failed to get the state legislature to vote on a carbon tax last year, and the state’s voters have twice rejected similar proposals.

Those defeats may help explain why two prongs of Mr. Inslee’s plan focus on setting standards for new cars and buildings rather than forcing change or early retirement on things that already exist.

Mr. Inslee’s plan does not chart a forgiving path for coal, however: It calls for retiring what it labels as the “increasingly uneconomical U.S. coal fleet” by 2030. The suggestion puts him in direct contrast with President Trump, who has strenuously promoted coal by seeking to lift an Obama-era moratorium on coal mining on public lands and relax pollution regulations on coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Inslee’s plan for eliminating coal, campaign aides said, would rely on reviving some of former President Barack Obama’s restrictions on power plants and enacting new regulations. Similarly, they said, setting 100 percent clean energy standards in the vehicle and building sectors would be done through executive orders.

But they acknowledged that a fully clean electricity standard would need the support of Congress, an unlikely prospect so long as Republicans retain control of at least one chamber.

Mr. Inslee’s eight-page plan also promises investment in renewable energy, more energy-efficient buildings and other advances, but does not come with a price tag. It frames expenses in terms of the “cost of inaction,” noting that climate change will cost the American economy billions of dollars in coming years.

Much like the Green New Deal, a sweeping climate proposal put forth by some Democrats in Congress, Mr. Inslee’s plan emphasizes the potential for millions of new jobs and pledges support for workers and communities affected by an energy transition.

But Mandy Gunasekara, a former policy adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration, called Mr. Inslee’s proposal “unrealistic” and criticized the plan to retire the American coal fleet.

“I’m not sure what Inslee’s plan would actually achieve other than bankrupting the economy and putting hardworking coal miners out of work,” she said.

Mr. Inslee delivered his climate proposal four days after another contender for the Democratic nomination, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, released a $5 trillion plan to combat climate change. Other candidates have outlined policies with climate elements, like Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to prohibit new leases for fossil-fuel drilling on public lands.

The governor has said he wants to make climate change a top issue in the campaign, but he is lagging well behind his leading rivals in recent polls.

According to the E.P.A., the three sectors addressed in Mr. Inslee’s plan represent nearly 70 percent of United States emissions. Emissions from industry account for another 22 percent.

Jesse Jenkins, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, said the beginnings of Mr. Inslee’s plan were good but he noted it did not yet address some key areas.

“What the plan leaves out is industry, where emissions primarily come from chemicals and refiners, cement and steel,” Mr. Jenkins said. He added that the plan currently lacked targets for emissions from existing buildings as well as long-distance transportation like rail and airlines.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Inslee’s team said he would announce additional policies in the coming weeks that would build out other aspects of his plan to fight climate change. They include strategies to slash climate pollution from the transportation sector and from existing buildings, and ways to support clean manufacturing and sustainable agriculture.

“The specifics matter,” said Jigar Shah, a solar power entrepreneur and author. He noted that a number of the elements of Mr. Inslee’s plan come from the governor’s experiences in Washington State. Mr. Inslee’s call to retire the nation’s coal fleet by 2030, for example, draws from his negotiations with his state’s utilities to start a ban on coal power in 2025.

“The vast majority of politicians don’t have primary knowledge about what’s possible,” Mr. Shah said. He praised Mr. Inslee’s targets, which he said drew from real-world experience and were “not just random dates.”

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Washington state attempts to raise age limit for gun purchases

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As you may recall from earlier this year after Walmart changed their firearm sales policy to include a minimum age of 21, a 20-year-old man from Oregon sued the retailer for age discrimination. He wasn’t the only one, with similar suits cropping up in Illinois and elsewhere. These are complicated cases that are still playing out, but the playing field may be getting a bit wider. Washington State has now decided to imitate Walmart and raise the statewide minimum age for gun purchases to 21.

Washington on Tuesday joined a handful of other states that ban anyone under 21 from buying a semi-automatic assault rifle after voters passed a sweeping firearms measure in November that has drawn a court challenge from gun-rights advocates.

The ballot initiative seeks to curb gun violence by toughening background checks for people buying assault rifles, increasing the age limit to buy those firearms and requiring the safe storage of all guns. Only the age-limit portion of the measure goes into effect on Jan. 1; the rest becomes law on July 1.

Kristen Ellingboe, a spokeswoman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said the initiative was one of the most comprehensive gun-violence prevention measures to pass in the United States. It specifically targeted “semi-automatic assault rifles” in response to mass shootings across the country, she said.

At first glance, you’d think that Washington’s law would be in the clear because the case from Oregon was based on public accommodation laws rather than any Second Amendment considerations. As I discussed in the linked article from May, Oregon has a law prohibiting companies from discriminating on the basis of age. Washington State is not on the list of states with such laws in place. (See this article from Doug Mataconis for more on that subject.)

But today’s story is different. This isn’t a company refusing to provide service. It’s the state government attempting to limit the ability of legal adults. So does that make it a Second Amendment issue dooming Washington to failure? I’m afraid not. Federal law sets the minimum age to purchase a handgun at 21 and 18 for a long rifle. But that’s only a floor, not a ceiling. The states can raise the minimum age to 21 if they wish.

So at the end of the day, there may well be a lawsuit brought against Washington State for this change, but I wouldn’t give it much of a chance at succeeding. Hawaii and Illinois have already had such laws for a while now and Florida recently jumped into that battle. The Supreme Court has thus far refused to hear a case on this specific subject, but there’s a lot of established law backing up the states on this.

The post Washington state attempts to raise age limit for gun purchases appeared first on Hot Air.

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