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Tag Archives: federal
Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:41 am
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By: Elias J. Atienza
Young Americans for Liberty, a political organization with roots in the Ron Paul liberty movement, has 900 chapters nationwide established on college campuses.
Appearing on Fox Businesss Varney and Co. YAL president Cliff Maloney Jr. announced that the organizationhad 900 chapters along with updates on YALs nationwide Fight for Free Speech campaign on college campuses.
Maloney Jr. discussed free speech zones and unconstitutional speech codes which he claimed the left is using to shut down libertarian and conservative ideas. For example, several YAL members were arrested for handing out pocket constitutions on a college campus in Michigan.
YAL has its roots in both conservatism and libertarianism, with platform positions like reducing the federal debt, protecting constitutional rights such as the 4th Amendment, and promoting a realistic foreign policy.
Disclaimer: I am a member of Young Americans for Liberty and a leader in my colleges chapter.
4th amendmentCliff Maloney Jr.Fight for Free Speech campaignfree speechliberty movementron paulyoung americans for liberty
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Posted: at 4:39 am
Ohanaeze President, John Nwodo has frowned at what he described as oppression to pro-Biafran supporters.
He said the Federal Government treats supporters of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with disdain.
Nwodo stated in Port Harcourt yesterday during a tour, that if the MASSOB and IPOB members were treated like the Niger Delta Avengers and the Boko Haram in the North East, the agitations would be tamed.
He said, Our people feel marginalized, they feel ill-treated. In this country the most sensitive position pertains to the national security, but there is already a vote of no confidence that the Ibos cannot be trusted with the security of the nation. No Igbo man heads the Nigerians police, no Igbo man heads the military, no Igbo man heads the Federal Road Safety Corps, no Igbo man head the Department of State Service and others. We are not the Minister of Defense despite the zoning policy of the federal government.
I dont know why the Federal Government does not want to give people fiscal freedom. We are calling for true federalism.
I know of the Niger Delta Avengers who are angry as the MASSOB and IPOB and are destroying oil facilities. I dont know any of them that have been arrested. What has the IPOB done to be treated differently?
The fact that we have not joined them means that they have not received our cheers because we still believe that the FG can still handle the situation. I call on the Federal Government to have a rethink on how they handle the issues of IPOB and MASSOB. If they treat them as they have treated others they will have a rethink.
3 hours ago World
4 hours ago Nigeria
4 hours ago Nigeria
Malaysia: Hundreds of thousands expected to join mass rally calling for greater Syariah laws – Asian Correspondent
Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:45 am
(File photo), an officer canes a woman who violated strict Syariah laws forbidding contact between unmarried men and women Banda Aceh. Pic: AP
HUNDREDS of thousands of protesters are expected to throng the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this afternoon in what could be the countrys largest call to strengthen the Syariah justice system, as the Muslim-majority nation reaches a major cross roads over its secular laws.
Amid a backdrop of rising Islamic sentiments and fractured race-relations, the countrys pious northeastern state of Kelantan is closer to realising its decades-long pursuit of enforcing strict Islamic Syariah laws for criminal offences, threatening to worsen religious ties in a polarized multiracial nation.
Next month, lawmakers will debate a controversial bill, known as Hadis Bill, to amend Act 355 of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, proposing harsher punishments to replace current sentences that have long been implemented under the civil system.
Traditionally, Malaysias Syariah courts focused on family and marital affairs, and handed out minor fines amounting to several thousands of ringgit and relatively light prison sentences for moral offences, which are hardly enforced.
SEE ALSO:Islamisation of Malaysia: Hudud to rear head again next week
The religious courts are restricted to imposing punishments of up to three years jail; RM5,000 fine or whipping of no more than six strokes also referred to in the country as the 3-5-6 penalties for offences against Islam.
However, if passed, the bill is tipped to grant punitive powers to the Syariah courts and allow its judges to impose up to a hundred lashes, hundred thousand ringgit fines (US$21,000) and 30-year jail sentences on Muslims convicted of the same moral offences and other victimless crimes. Save for the death penalty, the amendments will be enshrined under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
Among others, examples of punishable crimes under the proposed amendments include pre-marital sex, alcohol consumption, failure to attend Friday prayers or fast during Ramadhan. If implemented, the new laws threatened to throw modern Malaysia back into a medieval plot-setting where punishments were carried out in public, in full view of an onlooking crowd, similar to what is done in the self-autonomous region of Aceh, Indonesia.
Spearheading the Islamic law reforms is the hard-line Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and its president Abdul Hadi Awang, an influential Islamist political movement headed by ulamas and religious clerics that fell out with the countrys opposition bloc over the disputed Hudud aspect of Islamic jurisprudence, which lies at the core of the issue.
Umno delegates gather in front a portrait of party president and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during the opening ceremony their annual general meeting. Pic: AP.
The United Malays National Organisation or Umno, the ruling party led by Prime Minister Najib Razak who is faced with a massive corruption scandal and declining favour among voters, is seen to be banking in on the reforms.
In its bid to shore up political support, Umno, which has ruled the country for more than half a century via the rural Malay voter bank, has shown keenness in backing the demands of the hardline Islamists as Najib mulls calling for snap polls as early as the second half of the year.
Showing their solidarity for PAS flagship cause, Umno top brass and grassroots members are expected to join the much-talked-about rally in Padang Merbok, a landmark field in the capital that could fit up to 50,000 people.
Nasrudin Hassan, a senior PAS politician and director of the Himpunan RU355 (Act 355 Rally), said at least 200,000 people, from different political backgrounds will attend the protest.
He said the mass rally, which will be one of the biggest rallies to ever be held in the country, has received approval from police and will see 21 speakers talk between 2pm and 11pm on Saturday. The organisers will deploy at least 2,500 volunteers to ensure order and security while the authorities corderned off the area to traffic.
Even though Padang Merbok can only handle between 40,000 to 50,000 people, the police and city hall officials will cooperate by holding roadblocks in the surrounding area to allow us to accommodate the crowd, he said, as quoted by Utusan Malaysia.
We are also encouraging the rally-goers to bring their own prayer mats and mineral water bottles. We also remind bus drivers to come early to avoid congestion.
Race-relations, biased implementation and economic impact While the proposed laws apply only to Muslims, critics argue that they could extend to others while a sizable number of law experts have labeled the bill unconstitutional and open to abuse.
Malaysias 30 million populace is Muslim-majority, but nearly 40 percent profess other faiths such as Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism.
Past debates on the bill have also triggered much controversy and created major fissures on both political fronts.
It has led to divisions in the multiracial ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) pact with protests from Umnos non-Muslim allies for its support of the bill as well as in the opposition, whose parties split with PAS in 2015 over disagreements regarding hudud.
Malaysias Muslim conservatives, however, insist that such laws are mandatory, not just for religious adherents but for all of Malaysia.
Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the president of the Peoples Justice Party (PKR), said the opposition party was concerned with the motion due to its ambiguity on the matter regarding the scope of punishments.
Since the proposals involve criminal laws that conflict with Islamic laws, the proposed punishments have to be absolutely certain. Whatever amendments that deal with punishments must be precise in their meaning.
Any proposed amendments need to be absolutely aligned with Islamic laws. We also need to consider whether the amendments fit into the framework of the Federal Constitution, she said in the partys official stance on the matter.
She added PKRs position is predicated on the condition that any debate on the RUU355 motion and its amendments to existing laws is to acquire further explanation and guarantee from the Prime Minister, and to ensure that the amendments must comply and fulfill Islamic principles of justice and fairness, and do not contradict the text and the spirit of the Federal Constitution.
SEE ALSO:Why Malaysias non-Muslims shouldnt worry about the proposed hudud bill
In a Facebook posting, lawyer and activist, Nik Elin Nik Rashid, said the country would be treading on dangerous ground where the courts can mete out harsh punishments for trivial issues that normally concern women.
It can get more dangerous if fatwas issued are allowed to become laws. Because its an offence to not follow a fatwa, she said.
Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, a former Secretary-General of Malaysias Finance Ministry and adviser to the G25 group of prominent Malays, urged the prime minister not to support the bill, saying the proposed laws will carry deep ramifications for the economy.
If you support the bill, investors in and outside the country will see this as a political game (used) by you to evade your responsibilities and what is urgent to restore the countrys economy, he told the prime minister in a statement which was forwarded to the Asian Correspondent by a G25 member.
RUU355 will divide people and raise concerns over the future of this multi-ethnic state. When people are not sure about the future of Malaysia, our economy will lose its strength and the people will become victims due to a leadership that infuses politics and religion.
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State to appeal denial of federal disaster aid for Ascension, St. James tornado victims – The Advocate
Posted: at 4:32 am
The state plans to appeal the decision to exclude Ascension and St. James parishes from a federal disaster declaration that left residents there ineligible to receive federal assistance for their losses during the Feb. 7 tornadoes.
“We’re in the process of trying to appeal that,” said Mike Steele, communications director for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The state has 30 days to file the appeal, Steele said Friday.
“Our people will be reaching out to the parishes for more information,” he said.
President Donald Trump on Feb. 11 approved a disaster declaration for individual assistance for Orleans and Livingston parishes. The declaration allows residents in those parishes who suffered losses to apply for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The state on Friday also resubmitted its request for a disaster declaration for another form of federal assistance, public assistance, for Orleans, Livingston, Ascension, St. James and Jefferson parishes, Steele said.
Public assistance provides reimbursement to state and local governments for a portion of the cost of such work as debris removal, repairing damaged buildings and roads following a disaster.
The state has not yet received word on its initial request for public assistance, Steele said.
The state, however, resubmitted its request for public assistance “to stress the importance of getting the declaration on that,” he said.
President Donald Trump on Saturday approved a federal disaster declaration for Orleans and L
A large twister with estimated wind speeds of about 140 mph that injured 33 people in New Orleans East and damaged some 300 properties was one of six tornadoes that touched down Feb. 7 in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas.
In Livingston Parish, two people were seriously injured when a tornado struck their home in Killian. Elsewhere in the parish, homes were damaged in Watson where four people were injured.
In Ascension Parish, a tornado touched down southwest of Donaldsonville, then traveled northeast across the city with most of its destruction centered along St. Patrick Street, near the city’s historic district. One injury was reported in the downtown area while three injuries were reported elsewhere in the parish.
CF Industries received some damage and a veterinarian clinic near the plant was badly damaged.
In St. James Parish, some 25 to 30 homes were damaged, some severely. Two injuries were reported there.
Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan said he was disappointed when he learned that Ascension Parish had not been included in the federal disaster declaration for individual assistance.
“It was devastating,” Sullivan said of hearing the news. “You have people who have lost their homes or have homes that were heavily damaged.”
In order for residents to receive assistance, a household must be within a presidentially declared disaster area.
Ascension and St. James parish officials did not seem optimistic Friday that federal individual or public assistance would be forthcoming.
Criteria to receive a disaster declaration for the individual assistance program are subjective, according to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
A declaration request must show that an effective response to a disaster is beyond the capacity of the state and local government and that a significant number, historically more than 75, uninsured primary homes received major damage or were destroyed, according to GOHSEP literature.
To receive a presidential declaration for public assistance, a parish must meet a threshold in damage of $3.57 per resident.
Sullivan said that by using the 2010 census count for Ascension Parish of approximately 107,000 people, he calculated the required dollar amount of damage needed for the parish to be eligible for public assistance would be approximately $387,000.
St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said Friday that his parish would need about $80,000 in damage to be eligible for public assistance.
The parish government has spent approximately $20,000 on work after the tornado doing such jobs as removing debris and trimming trees, Roussel said.
In Ascension Parish, Rick Webre, director of the parish’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the parish has spent $30,000 in cleanup so far.
“I’m not confident that Ascension Parish will achieve the individual assistance or public assistance threshold,” he said.
Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.
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Constitutionality of leaked executive order on religious freedom called into question – Deseret News
Posted: at 4:07 am
WASHINGTON The former U.S. religious freedom ambassador told a congressional subcommittee that leaked language of a proposed presidential executive order on religious liberty could cause constitutional problems.
I think it raises very serious equal protection issues, said Rabbi David Saperstein, who recently ended his tenure at the U.S. State Department.
According to The Nation, a leaked draft of a proposed executive order titled Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom shows that on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, gender identity and premarital sex, the Trump administration would allow exemptions for people with religious objections that are so broad it would legalize discrimination.
The language in that document says, Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience.
Answering a question from Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., at a hearing Thursday, Saperstein said he was concerned the order could give government contractors discretion to refuse services based on their religious beliefs.
I think it raises significant constitutional problems, Saperstein told members of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
Nadler, who along with Saperstein has been instrumental in the passage of religious liberty legislation, said laws such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are designed to shield people from government imposition of religious beliefs.
However, it should not be used as a sword to enable you to impose your religious belief on someone else, said the congressman, who raised examples of interracial or same-sex couples being refused at a restaurant by proprietors with religious objections.
Kim Colby, director of the Christian Legal Societys Center for Law and Religious Freedom, said after the hearing that Nadlers examples are misguided because civil rights laws regarding restaurant discrimination were set more than 50 years ago.
An executive order cant change a law that Congress has passed, said Colby, who also testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. So a lot of those hypotheticals just cant happen.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to President Trump urging him to sign the draft executive order, calling it a positive step toward allowing all Americans to be able to practice their faith without severe penalties from the federal government.
Posted: at 3:57 am
A Maryland Democrat has invited President Trump to tour the National Security Agency to become better acquainted with its mission and workers, after Trump questioned the intelligence community’s loyalty to the American people amid a series of leaks.
In a letter to Trump, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger wrote Thursday he thinks it’s “critical” for the president to witness the work of the “dedicated men and women do every day to protect our soldiers on the battlefield, as well as everyday Americans” who work at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., which is in Ruppersberger’s district.
Responding to intelligence agency leaks that led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on Monday, Trump criticized the integrity of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and the NSA, calling them “un-American” and suggesting that “they act just like Russia.”
“I am confident this will give you a new understanding and appreciation of the essential services provided by our intelligence workers,” Ruppersberger wrote. “As commander in chief, it is imperative you avail yourself the opportunity to experience the mission of the NSA up close and personally.”
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The president is also reportedly looking to hire billionaire investor Stephen Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, to lead an investigation into the leaks, according to a report.
Ruppersberger said he found these reports “alarming.”
“Today’s report that you plan to assign a friend with almost no national security experience to review our intelligence agencies is simply the colloquial straw that broke the camel’s back,” Ruppersberger wrote. “If you follow through with this effort, I fear it will greatly damage our intelligence community’s required independence and stifle the exchange of sensitive information that may conflict with your policy positions.”
Some are are discussing ways in which the president might be quickly removed from office.
02/17/17 7:15 PM
Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:21 am
The future of federal IT belongs to CIOs who can build flexible, nimble organizations able to maximize the advantage of existing technologies like cloud services and automated machine intelligence while laying the groundwork for a range of emerging technologies on the horizon.
Thats according to a new report on government technology trends for 2017 published Wednesday by Deloitte. Researchers identified eight technologies they believe have an opportunity to disrupt and change the way the federal government leverages information, data and software over the next two years.
Some are a continuation of existing trends that are already established, like IT consolidation and greater reliance on cloud-based software and services. Others, like artificial intelligence, mixed reality and nanotechnology veer more into the outer edges of what is currently possible today, but may have far more relevance a few years down the line.
Scott Buchholtz, director of systems integration at Deloitte, said he is optimistic that the changing federal landscape will provide both the necessary space and incentive for CIOs to start thinking beyond their old legacy architectures.
I believe that some of the changing demographics in the marketplace, some of the restrictions on budgets that were likely to see and some of the convergence going on are likely to make government more open to automation and the role of technologythat a lot of our commercial clients have been using for years, said Buchholtz.
That includes tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, along with virtual and augmented reality. Buccholtz said these still-nascent technologies have the potential for broad application in federal IT, but need more trailblazers willing to create successful and relevant test cases.
Last year, the Obama administration encouraged agencies to create their own high-risk, high-reward research on AI, remarking, the walls between humans and AI systems are slowly beginning to erode. Last October, the General Services Administration launched new digital communities to provide agency guidance on how to incorporate AI and mixed reality.
According to Deniece Peterson, director of federal market analysis at Deltek (disclosure: the author previously worked at Deltek), this has set the stage for IT managers to start laying the groundwork for some these technologies in 2017 and begin pilot and test programs to build a case for broader adoption down the line.
When it comes to dollars, a lot of this is stuff thats popping up in R&D [budgets] so when they want to expand it, they have an example to point to, Peterson said.
Breaking down the silos between IT and the agencies they serve is another trend that is expected to accelerate over the next two years. Building on past consolidation efforts, IT unbounded is Deloittes term for the process federal CIOs are using to change their operations in order to better match the nimble, adaptable nature of their private sector counterparts.
These efforts might get a boost in the form of a new president who hails from the private sector and has often spoke of making government work more like a business.
I believe that the new administration is placing a very different focus than has traditionally been the case on technology and management of technology, Buchholtz said. Were still in the early days, so it remains to be seen, but there are many indications that theres going to be a much higher expectation for outcomes and results, particularly in the technology space.
Peterson said a Trump administration may have the will to change the way federal IT works, but bureaucratic red tape and the long-term nature of the budget, appropriations and contracting cycles perpetually leave agencies dealing with yesterdays technology solutions.
Absent passage of legislative reform such as the Modernizing Government Technology Act, that process is likely to continue hampering efforts to make the federal government more nimble.
If the Trump administrations intent could meet with Congress passing [IT modernization reform], it will be a step in the right direction, said Peterson.
Rounding out Deloittes other trends are a greater reliance on inevitable architecture like cloud-based services and automated technologies that have been steadily gaining traction over the past few years, along with a list of exponential technologies like quantum computing, nanotechnology and biotechnology. These are the tools that Deloitte thinks will form the foundations of the modern IT architecture. To get there, Buchholtz said IT managers will need the freedom to think outside the box and discard the risk-adverse mindset that currently dominates federal decision making.
I think its important to realize that we collectively as a country have created an environment where failed experiments are punished disproportionately to success, Buchholtz said. We need to figure out how to better enable those with vision to fail small and fail quickly, but also get up, keep going and learn [the necessary] lessons.
About the Author
Derek B. Johnson is a freelance writer.
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Posted: at 12:59 am
A pro-family organization is encouraging conservative Christians to join its online effort to ask President Donald Trump to defend religious liberty.
A draft memo that outlined a proposed executive order leaked from the White House in early February, ending up in the hands not of religious organizations but homosexual rights groups.
The existence of the memo was first reported by left-wing news website The Nation.
If the content of the memo is true, says a spokesman for homosexual lobby group Human Rights Campaign, the Trump-led White House is poised to “wildly expand anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all facets of government.”
“Discrimination” is common left-wing parlance, along with words such as “hate” and “bigotry,” for holding traditional views about marriage and sexuality.
What this memo accomplishes, says American Family Association spokesman Walker Wildmon, is prevent the federal government from “encroaching on the First Amendment rights of Americans of faith, and really it would keep the government from coercing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs.”
The fate of the memo in coming weeks is unknown, so Wildmon and AFA are asking Christian conservatives to sign their names to an online petition urging President Trump to sign the executive order. The petition has approximately 109,000 signatures.
Writing at The Daily Signal, researcher Ryan Anderson says the memo suggests protecting federal employees from punishment if they hold traditional views about marriage, citing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Such an executive order would conflict with the pro-homosexual propaganda of the Obama administration, which pushed such “progressive” views within the Department of Justice, the Pentagon, and other agencies.
Beyond the federal government, Ryan writes, the memo suggestsprotecting the nonprofit status of religious organizations that express views about political issues, marriage and sexuality, and abortion.
In all, Ryan writes, there are 10 suggestions outlined in the memo, many of them rolling back Obama-era executive orders that were applauded at the time by homosexual activists and abortion rights groups.
“The executive order is good, lawful public policy,” Ryan suggests in his commentary. “And it makes good on several promisesthen-candidate Trump made to his supporters.”
Wildmon says the petition is one way tell President Trump that “amongst the people who elected him, voted him into office, this executive order and things like it are very popular.”
American Family Association is the parent organization of American Family News, which includes news website OneNewsNow.
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AFA: Help us urge Trump to protect First Amendment – OneNewsNow
Posted: at 8:46 pm
Harvard and MIT Scientists Win Gene-Editing Patent Fight
New York Times
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