Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

USC Equity ‘Mavens’ Promote Spending on Expensive Mass Transit and Housing that Benefit the Rich

White racism is alive and well in Los Angeles.  In fact, racists like the Hollywood set, the rich downtown attorneys, the Mayor of the City, are all promoting racist policies claiming to help black people—instead it is killing off the black population in the former City of the Angels.  Thanks to high taxes, very bad schools, zoning policies to promote gentrification, black are pushed out of the city in favor of rich white people.  Think Democrats love people  color?  Look at the results of their policy.

“Even though the destruction of single family homes devastates Los Angeles’ People of Color more than it does for Whites (USC Equity Report p. 67), the City is renewing its Gentrification in Boyle Heights and South LA with the promise that they will warehouse the displaced coloreds in high rise public housing.

And even though the cost of mass transit exerts an extreme hardship on the poor, the powerful have conned us into spending far more than $200 billion on mass transit. They falsely proclaim that it benefits the poor, but the facts show that only one type of transportation truly benefit the poor: owning a car. If city officials wanted to improve the employment opportunities for poor people, they would subsidize auto ownership. Cars allow people to reach schools and jobs within a reasonable amount of time. Even USC Equity Mavens admit that “18 percent of Black households and 11 percent of Latino households do not have access to a car.” (Equity Report p. 67.) “

What have the African-Americans done in response to the racist policies?  They are leaving:

“Since 2000, LA has grown by 3.1 percent, or more than 360,000 people, while the Black population has declined by 11.4 percent, or nearly 106,000 people. (Oct 16, 2016 The New Feudalism by O’Toole) Mexicans are also leaving and being replaced by people from Central America. (No, Mexico is not part of Central America.) Two major policies have made life untenable for the poor: (1) Housing costs and (2) Increased mass transit. “

White Democrats are showing their true colors—racist policies’ forcing blacks to leave the community.

eric garcetti

USC Equity ‘Mavens’ Promote Spending on Expensive Mass Transit and Housing that Benefit the Rich

Richard Lee Abrams, City Watch LA,  12/11/17  http://citywatchla.com/index.php/los-angeles-for-rss/14522-usc-equity-mavens-promote-spending-on-expensive-mass-transit-and-housing-that-benefit-the-rich?utm_source=General+CityWatch+List&utm_campaign=77752cb95c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4bfa422f51-77752cb95c-230103033

CORRUPTION WATCH-All educated people have heard Lord Acton’s quote from 1887, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” One interesting aspect of Lord Acton’s statement is that it took thousands of years for someone to concisely state what everyone knew. It’s the lesson behind Sodom and Gomorrah where the judges were named Liar, Deceiver, and Perverter of the law. Socrates’, Plato’s and Aristotle’s discussions on how to bring together wisdom and power yielded no solution. As the Arab political philosopher al-Farabi noted in his parable of the pious ascetic, the corruption power brings taints even the righteous. (The ascetic had to lie by acts of deception to save his life.)

The Declaration of Independence addressed the power issue by proclaiming that all persons have certain inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which was a great step forward from England’s James I who based his government on the Divine Right of Kings. After the U.S. Constitution made the “securing of the blessings of liberty” as a primary basis for the government, de Tocqueville warned us in 1832 in Democracy in America, that most people prefer to be slaves under Equality than to withstand the rigors of Freedom.

Why Is Corruption Bad?

Corruption ignores Quality of Life. When power is concentrated in the hands of a few councilmembers who operate according to a criminal vote trading system, devoted to making a handful of patrons vastly more wealthy, there is no room to worry about the Quality of Life of Angelenos.

Corruption always diverts society’s wealth to the powerful. All members of society contribute to the creation of wealth, but when a few billionaires control the government, 90% of the productivity is diverted to the top 1%. The proper name for this type of Progressivism is “thievery.”

But Once Again, What’s So Bad about Corruption?

LA’s media powerhouses tell us, “Prince Eric and his Lords and Ladies are surely wiser and better informed than the ignorant serfs and peons. Thus, the decisions they make must be in everyone’s best interests.” But what do the facts tells us?

USC Equity Mavens’ recent report fretted over the plight of LA’s Coloreds, los hombrecitos de color, the people of color. WOW! People of color! I guess if one lives long enough, everything come back into vogue. After all, Judge Roy Moore singled out slavery as an idealized time in American history to which he wishes we could revert. But I digress.

According to the USC Equity Mavens, starting in 1980, Los Angeles became a colored city where “people of color” became the majority. The reason to call out the USC Equity report for its racist approach is that its policies exemplify how unconstrained power has led to corruption which has made “los hombrecitos de color” increasingly poor while transferring more wealth to the unproductive leeches at the top of the corruption pyramid.

Quality of Life Plays No Role in Land Use Decisions

When one is familiar with the land use decisions made by the City of Los Angeles over the prior decades, one finds that Quality of Life is not a factor. Rather, Developer Profits set the agenda.

One problem with allowing a cadre of corrupt officials to set the policies is that they are extremely myopic. Filled with the hubris of power, they believe that anything they decide must be correct. If the goal of Angelenos were to be the most park-poor large city in the nation, then the City Council is doing well. If it’s increasing Los Angeles’ traffic congestion from serious to the worst in the entire world, then they win the gold medal. If making People of Color increasingly poor is their goal, then the councilmembers are champions.

The significant difference between feudal times and today is that present-day serfs and peons have geographic mobility. Although Los Angeles became People of Color in 1980, recently, Blacks have been leaving. Since 2000, LA has grown by 3.1 percent, or more than 360,000 people, while the Black population has declined by 11.4 percent, or nearly 106,000 people. (Oct 16, 2016 The New Feudalism by O’Toole) Mexicans are also leaving and being replaced by people from Central America. (No, Mexico is not part of Central America.) Two major policies have made life untenable for the poor: (1) Housing costs and (2) Increased mass transit.

Even though the destruction of single family homes devastates Los Angeles’ People of Color more than it does for Whites (USC Equity Report p. 67), the City is renewing its Gentrification in Boyle Heights and South LA with the promise that they will warehouse the displaced coloreds in high rise public housing.

And even though the cost of mass transit exerts an extreme hardship on the poor, the powerful have conned us into spending far more than $200 billion on mass transit. They falsely proclaim that it benefits the poor, but the facts show that only one type of transportation truly benefit the poor: owning a car. If city officials wanted to improve the employment opportunities for poor people, they would subsidize auto ownership. Cars allow people to reach schools and jobs within a reasonable amount of time. Even USC Equity Mavens admit that “18 percent of Black households and 11 percent of Latino households do not have access to a car.” (Equity Report p. 67.)

If that $200 billion were allotted at $15,000 per family, it would provide a car for 13.33 million families.  At 2.3 people per family, 36.67 million Angelenos would benefit!

Nonetheless, the Equity Mavens, with their powerful backers in the housing and mass transit industries, propose more mass public housing and more mass public transit and less car ownership.   These housing and transportation policies have already given us a GINI Coefficient of 0.50, making LA the worst large city. There is a reason that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Power Corrupts, but Corruption Destroys 

The criminal enterprise at City Hall is making LA into a Third World country as evidenced by our increasingly atrocious GINI Coefficient. The USC Equity Mavens are still pushing the charade, “I’m here from the government to help you.” The sole bright light is that the “peoples of color” are likewise realizing that the time to leave LA has arrived.

 

OCDA OBTAINS $7.8 MILLION SETTLEMENT AND ADMISSION OF LIABILITY IN LAWSUIT AGAINST TWO COMPANIES WHO UNLAWFULLY SOLD FETAL TISSUE AND CELLS FOR PROFIT

Planned Parenthood has admitted to breaking the law and selling body parts of babies it legally kills.  At least in Orange County the District Attorney takes law breakers seriously.  In this case, the firm that broke the law has been fined, assets given away and not allowed to operate in Orange County or the State of California again.  This is what happens when you have a serious DA—Tony Rackauckas.

“As part of the settlement, DV Biologics, LLC, and DaVinci Biosciences, LLC, must permanently close and cease all business operations in the State of California within 60 and 120 days, respectively, pay a settlement amount of $7,785,000 through the donation of assets and biological materials to a non-profit academic and scientific teaching institution affiliated with a major U.S. medical school, and pay $195,000 in civil penalties. The settlement was filed today in the Orange County Superior Court.”

Can this case be used to close down Planned Parenthood?  I would hope the DA’s in the counties where PP has broken the law will close this crime enterprise.  What do you think?

A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York August 31, 2015. Picture taken August 31, 2015. To match Insight USA-PLANNEDPARENTHOOD/   REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  - RTX1RKFV

OCDA OBTAINS $7.8 MILLION SETTLEMENT AND ADMISSION OF LIABILITY IN LAWSUIT AGAINST TWO COMPANIES WHO UNLAWFULLY SOLD FETAL TISSUE AND CELLS FOR PROFIT

Orange County District Attorney,  12/8/17  

*Both companies ordered to cease business in California

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas obtained a $7.8 million settlement and an admission of liability in a civil lawsuit against two sister companies for their role in the unlawful sale of fetal tissue and stem cells for profit. As part of the settlement, DV Biologics, LLC, and DaVinci Biosciences, LLC, must permanently close and cease all business operations in the State of California within 60 and 120 days, respectively, pay a settlement amount of $7,785,000 through the donation of assets and biological materials to a non-profit academic and scientific teaching institution affiliated with a major U.S. medical school, and pay $195,000 in civil penalties. The settlement was filed today in the Orange County Superior Court.

“This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration. These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the State of California,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas.

Background

DaVinci Biosciences was incorporated in Delaware in November 2007, and DV Biologics was incorporated in March 2009, with their principal place of business in Orange County, including Costa Mesa and in June 2015, in Yorba Linda. DaVinci Biosciences was jointly owned and operated by the same individuals who also owned and operated DV Biologics. The two companies shared office space, management, and employees. The California Franchise Tax Board forfeited DaVinci Biosciences, and DV Biologics’ powers, rights, and privileges in July 2015 and November 2014, respectively, and both companies continued to operate illegally until December 2016.

In September 2015, the OCDA opened an investigation into DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics after a complaint was submitted by the Center for Medical Progress regarding the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue by both companies.

Based on the evidence uncovered in its investigation, the OCDA filed a Complaint for Violations for unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices in the Superior Court of the State of California in Orange County on Oct. 12, 2016.

Defendants’ Unlawful and Unfair Business Practices

  • In early 2009, DaVinci Biosciences expanded its business to include a revenue-driven unit by selling products derived from the cells and tissues they were already collecting, processing, storing and using for research purposes. A few months later, DV Biologics launched its first marketing campaign to start producing sales.
  • The defendants hired an outside marketing consultant to develop marketing materials, including a catalog posted on the company’s website in January 2010, and sent them to various sales leads. The two companies advertised prices in a range as low as $40 a vial for the “total RNA” cells from several fetal tissue sources to as high as $1,100 a vial for specific cells derived from fetal brain tissue. They priced the products in a middle range from $300 to $375 a vial for fetal lung derived products, $300 to $450 a vial for fetal kidney derived products, $500 to $700 a vial for fetal heart derived products, and  $250 to $700 a vial for fetal liver derived products.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, the defendants nearly tripled sales revenues. The defendants unlawfully sold fetal-derived products to pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions around the world through a network of distributors.  By the end of 2011, the defendants unlawfully sold fetal-derived tissues and cells worldwide to countries including Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
  • By 2012, the defendants had over 500 products in inventory “with some 13,900 units available,” for sale – an inventory the defendants “valued at much greater than $4.4 million dollars.”
  • The companies also regularly offered “sales” pricing promotions, including, for example, a “25% off” summer sale and “25% off” fall promotion in 2013.  Sales staff was given wide flexibility in using discounts in order to close a sale, because they all knew they still ended up “on top.”
  • In both 2013 and 2014, the companies grossed in excess of $400,000 in revenue, which was double the gross revenue earned in 2012. From August 2012 to October 2015, the defendants unlawfully sold approximately 500 fetal tissue “products” for valuable consideration and reached over $550,000 in gross revenues.
  • In July 2014, the companies discussed the pricing of prenatal renal fibroblasts via email, explaining they were currently selling the “product” for $350/vial, and suggesting they raise the price to $375 per vial, stating, “1000% gross does not seem unreasonable based on infrastructure and lack of competition.”  In that email exchange, they further stated, “If the market can handle a higher price then we will go with [that] since we will be giving discounts to the distributors.” After this discussion, the 2015 list price for prenatal renal fibroblasts was set at $450 per vial.

The Law Regarding Sales of Fetal Tissue and Cells

Under California law:

  • žHSC §125320  (a) A person may not knowingly, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell embryonic or cadaveric fetal tissue for research purposes pursuant to this chapter, (b) For purposes of this section, “valuable consideration” does not include reasonable payment for the removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage, transplantation, or implantation of a part.
  • žBusiness and Professions Code § 17200 – unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices.

Under Federal law:

  • ž42 USC § 289g-2(a) Purchase of tissue: it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.

The term “valuable consideration” does not include reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.

  • ž42 USC § 289g-1(g) “Human fetal tissue” defined: for purposes of this section, the term “human fetal tissue” means tissue or cells obtained from a dead human embryo or fetus after a spontaneous or induced abortion, or after a stillbirth.

Legislative History and Case Law:

Legislative history and case law recognizes that “stem cell research, including the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research, raises significant ethical and policy concerns, and, while not unique, the ethical and policy considerations associated with stem cell research must be carefully considered.”  (Stats 2002, ch. 789 [S.B. No. 253] sec. 1 (g)-(h).)

There is a “societal belief” based thereon that “rejects commercialization of human organs and tissues and tolerates only an altruistic system of voluntary donation.”  (Id.)  Thus, any such “commerce is generally seen as revolting.”  (Flynn v. Holder (9th Cir. 2012) 684 F.3d 852, 861 [quoting Congressional legislative history regarding organ donations and noting the widely held belief that: “Human Organs should not be treated like fenders in an auto junkyard”; “Human body parts should not be viewed as commodities”].)  “People tend to have an instinctive revulsion at denial of bodily integrity, particularly removal of flesh from a human being for use by another and most particularly ‘commodification’ of such conduct, which is the sale of one’s bodily tissues.”  (Id.)

The OCDA Bureau of Investigations investigated this case.

Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby, Consumer Protection Unit.

 

UC Irvine: Anti-Christian, Anti- Jewish, Anti-Christmas—PRO Palestinian/Terrorist

UC Irvine is known as the West Coast HQ of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Hate Jews and Israel movement.  Jews on campus know they are targeted by the pro-terrorist students and Administration.  Now Christians are beginning to be targeted, with Christmas used as the excuse.

“UCI’s guidelines appear to contain some inherent inconsistencies. For example, the university encourages stakeholders to “be inclusive and sensitive to the cultural and religious practices and celebrations of their employees, students and constituents.” A few sentences later, however, the guidelines say that units should “focus on celebrating a special occasion, instead of a specific holiday.”

In the guidelines, UCI also provides two resources for ferreting out cultural and religious celebration dates. The resources include an interfaith calendar and the “official Kwanzaa website.”

To add to the Christmas confusion, the guidelines also offer the following advice: “Ensure that office celebrations are not indirectly celebrating religious holidays.” What constitutes “indirect” celebration, exactly?”

This year it is the UC Irvine Administration that is leading the effort to wipe out Christmas and Christians on campus.  Fell like your tax dollars are well spent?

merry-christmas

Anti-Christmas Curmudgeons in California

Faculty, students, staff and others on one college campus are told to dodge any direct references to the religious holiday

by Michele Blood, Lifezette,  12/11/17

Ho, ho, ho! Merry … Winter?

Guidelines issued by the University of California, Irvine’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity say that holiday celebrations are best avoided. Instead, the office is urging the college’s departments and administrators to hold “year-end celebrations.”

Celebrating seasonal themes such as fall, winter, or spring are acceptable by this group — but those that celebrate “religious holidays” (even indirectly) are a definite thumbs down.

Christmas falls squarely into the “religious holiday” category. So if you’re a faculty member, a student, a patient, or a staff member on UCI’s campus or medical center, you’re out of luck for Christmas-specific holiday cheer this year.

UCI’s guidelines appear to contain some inherent inconsistencies. For example, the university encourages stakeholders to “be inclusive and sensitive to the cultural and religious practices and celebrations of their employees, students and constituents.” A few sentences later, however, the guidelines say that units should “focus on celebrating a special occasion, instead of a specific holiday.”

In the guidelines, UCI also provides two resources for ferreting out cultural and religious celebration dates. The resources include an interfaith calendar and the “official Kwanzaa website.”

To add to the Christmas confusion, the guidelines also offer the following advice: “Ensure that office celebrations are not indirectly celebrating religious holidays.” What constitutes “indirect” celebration, exactly?

Let’s be blunt. Which is it, UCI? Campus departments are supposed to guess which of the dates listed on your resources are acceptable to directly celebrate — and which are not acceptable?

To add to the Christmas confusion, the guidelines also offer the following advice: “Ensure that office celebrations are not indirectly celebrating religious holidays.” What constitutes “indirect” celebration, exactly?

A Christmas tree with an inappropriate ratio of Christmas to non-Christmas ornaments? A tray of party hors d’oeuvres shaped suspiciously like a Star of David? A dorm lounge festooned with colorful streamers that look just a little too Diwali for comfort?

At least one faith-based organization, Acts 2 Fellowship, held an “End of Year” gathering on campus. The campus Christian fellowship and ministry’s event took place Friday night in UC Irvine’s Pacific Ballroom (Student Center). Per their Instagram posts, the festivities were a smashing success and included a Christmas tree, Christmas presents, a colorful banner that read “Merry Christmas” — and unspecified “shenanigans.”

Shockingly, there were no reports of students suffering irrevocable harm during this wanton act of Christmas cheer.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s ‘Inclusive’ Jobs Boom

Barack Obama was the first black American President.  Donald Trump is the first American President that created JOBS for black and Hispanic Americans.  Obama was a black president who made clear his distrust and dislike for white people–in—including his white mother and his white grandmother that brought him up.  His hate of police, which created the explosive murder rate in Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore—police on trial instead of the criminals.

The good news for people of color is that unlike Obama, Trump does not see color—he sees Americans in need.  His ending of Obama regulations that caused high unemployment, killing of jobs and forcing jobs to go overseas, shows his support of Americans instead of a Socialist ideology that has racism as its basis.

“Meanwhile, groups that have lagged in recent years also show major improvements. For instance, the jobless rate for African Americans dropped from 8% to 7.3%, while for Hispanics it fell from 5.7% to 4.7%. For Asians it stayed at an ultralow 3%.

Among adult men 20 years and over, unemployment has plunged from 4.3% last year to just 3.7% now. Likewise, adult female unemployment declined from 4.2% to 3.7%.

Only one group is doing notably worse: Teenagers. Those aged 16 to 19 have seen their jobless rate rise from 15.2% to 15.9% in the past year. It’s no fluke: Hefty minimum wage hikes around the country have slashed youth employment.

Once again, Socialist Democrat policies on wages are harming Americans—in this case minimum wage increases forcing teens to go unemployed.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Trump’s ‘Inclusive’ Jobs Boom

Investors Business Daily,  12/11/17

Jobs: With 228,000 jobs created in November, joblessness at a 17-year low of 4.1% and wages rising, it can no longer really be doubted: Donald Trump’s relentless focus on tax cuts, deregulation and draining the swamp is great for job growth.

Even some normally critical media now admit the economy’s underlying shift: “The American job market is the strongest it’s been in a decade, and arguably the strongest since 2000,” wrote The New York Times on Friday.

The Times is right. And the change is noteworthy, especially when viewed year-over-year.

Even though the workforce expanded by just under 1.1 million workers in the past 12 months, the number of people employed is up 1.87 million. That’s why the unemployment rate continues to drop.

But the most interesting part of the jobs report, which goes almost unnoticed by the media, is that it’s not just a few groups seeing more jobs and opportunity — it’s broad-based, with minorities, women, men and even those with low incomes, showing the best gains.

For instance, every education group — ranging from those with no high school diploma, to those with a bachelor’s degree or higher — saw significant declines in unemployment in November 2017 from November 2016. And the biggest drops were for those with the least education, not the most.

Meanwhile, groups that have lagged in recent years also show major improvements. For instance, the jobless rate for African Americans dropped from 8% to 7.3%, while for Hispanics it fell from 5.7% to 4.7%. For Asians it stayed at an ultralow 3%.

Among adult men 20 years and over, unemployment has plunged from 4.3% last year to just 3.7% now. Likewise, adult female unemployment declined from 4.2% to 3.7%.

Only one group is doing notably worse: Teenagers. Those aged 16 to 19 have seen their jobless rate rise from 15.2% to 15.9% in the past year. It’s no fluke: Hefty minimum wage hikes around the country have slashed youth employment.

Even manufacturing, long a laggard in our economy, has rebounded smartly. The economy added 189,000 jobs in the last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes. At the same time, federal government employment is down by 3,000, CNSNews.com reports.

As for wages, average earnings rose five cents an hour, or 2.5%, from last year. But economists Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust add that number to the change in total hours worked to get what they call “total earnings.”  Those are up “a sturdy 4.8% from a year ago,” they said, and “wages are rising faster in the lower income ranges than in the higher ones.”

Trump’s many political foes in the media and inside the Beltway have painted him as a clueless friend of the elite and an enemy of working people. As this jobs report clearly shows, that’s just plain wrong. And with Trump’s big tax cuts on the way, job growth isn’t likely to end soon — more good news for all Americans.

 

How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over the Web–End of Privacy?

Privacy?  Not in 2017.  You can even track the opening of your email by those you send messages to.  Why do this?  I know of an individual that when you send him notices, he claims he never got them—hence elections are held up, extra money is spent and recriminations are made—with that person claiming to others in the group that he is being “abused”.  Using the email tracking apps you can prove he got the message and when he opened it.  The apps expose liars!

“There are some 269 billion emails sent and received daily. That’s roughly 35 emails for every person on the planet, every day. Over 40 percent of those emails are tracked, according to a study published last June by OMC, an “email intelligence” company that also builds anti-tracking tools.

The tech is pretty simple. Tracking clients embed a line of code in the body of an email—usually in a 1×1 pixel image, so tiny it’s invisible, but also in elements like hyperlinks and custom fonts. When a recipient opens the email, the tracking client recognizes that pixel has been downloaded, as well as where and on what device. Newsletter services, marketers, and advertisers have used the technique for years, to collect data about their open rates; major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter followed suit in their ongoing quest to profile and predict our behavior online.”

While folks like retail stores and sellers of products n the Internet have used the trackers, now individuals are using the apps to track personal email.  What do you think about this practice—would you use it?

Hillary email cartoon

How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over the Web

Brian Merchant, Wired,  12/11/17

“I just came across this email,” began the message, a long overdue reply. But I knew the sender was lying. He’d opened my email nearly six months ago. On a Mac. In Palo Alto. At night.

I knew this because I was running the email tracking service Streak, which notified me as soon as my message had been opened. It told me where, when, and on what kind of device it was read. With Streak enabled, I felt like an inside trader whenever I glanced at my inbox, privy to details that gave me maybe a little too much information. And I certainly wasn’t alone.

There are some 269 billion emails sent and received daily. That’s roughly 35 emails for every person on the planet, every day. Over 40 percent of those emails are tracked, according to a study published last June by OMC, an “email intelligence” company that also builds anti-tracking tools.

The tech is pretty simple. Tracking clients embed a line of code in the body of an email—usually in a 1×1 pixel image, so tiny it’s invisible, but also in elements like hyperlinks and custom fonts. When a recipient opens the email, the tracking client recognizes that pixel has been downloaded, as well as where and on what device. Newsletter services, marketers, and advertisers have used the technique for years, to collect data about their open rates; major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter followed suit in their ongoing quest to profile and predict our behavior online.

But lately, a surprising—and growing—number of tracked emails are being sent not from corporations, but acquaintances. “We have been in touch with users that were tracked by their spouses, business partners, competitors,” says Florian Seroussi, the founder of OMC. “It’s the wild, wild west out there.”

According to OMC’s data, a full 19 percent of all “conversational” email is now tracked. That’s one in five of the emails you get from your friends. And you probably never noticed.

“Surprisingly, while there is a vast literature on web tracking, email tracking has seen little research,” noted an October 2017 paper published by three Princeton computer scientists. All of this means that billions of emails are sent every day to millions of people who have never consented in any way to be tracked, but are being tracked nonetheless. And Seroussi believes that some, at least, are in serious danger as a result.

As recently as the mid-2000s, email tracking was almost entirely unknown to the mainstream public. Then in 2006, an early tracking service called ReadNotify made waves when a lawsuit revealed that HP had used the product to trace the origins of a scandalous email that had leaked to the press. The intrusiveness (and simplicity) of the tactic came as something of a shock, even though newsletter services, salespeople, and marketers had long used email tracking to gather data.

Seroussi says that Gmail was the ice breaker here—he points back to the days when sponsored links first started showing up in our inboxes, based on tracked data. At the time it seemed invasive, even unsettling. “Now,” he says, “it’s common knowledge and everyone’s fine with it.” Gmail’s foray was the signal flare; when advertisers and salespeople realized they too could send targeted ads based on tracked data, with little lasting pushback, the practice grew more pervasive.

“I do not know of a single established sales team in [the online sales industry] that does not use some form of email open tracking,” says John-Henry Scherck, a content marketing pro and the principal consultant at Growth Plays. “I think it will be a matter of time before either everyone uses them,” Scherck says, “or major email providers block them entirely.”

That’s partly to do with spam. “Competent spammers will track any activity on your email because they tend to buy entire lists of addresses and will actively try to rule out spam traps or unused emails,” says Andrei Afloarei, a spam researcher with Bitdefender. “If you click on any link in one of their messages they will know your address is being used and might actually cause them to send more spam your way.”

But marketing and online sales—even spammers—are no longer responsible for the bulk of the tracking. “Now, it’s the major tech companies,” Seroussi says. “Amazon has been using them a lot, Facebook has been using them. Facebook is the number one tracker besides MailChimp.” When Facebook sends you an email notifying you about new activity on your account, “it opens an app in background, and now Facebook knows where you are, the device you’re using, the last picture you’ve taken—they get everything.”

Both Amazon and Facebook “deeplink all of the clickable links within the email to trigger actions on their app running on your device,” Seroussi says. “Depending on permissions set by the user, Facebook will have access to almost everything from Camera Roll, location, and many other logs that are hidden. But even if a user has disabled location permission on his device, email tracking will bypass this restriction and still provide Facebook with the user’s location.”

I stumbled upon the world of email tracking last year, while working on a book about the iPhone and the notoriously secretive company that produces it. I’d reached out to Apple to request some interviews, and the PR team had initially seemed polite and receptive. We exchanged a few emails. Then they went radio silent. Months went by, and my unanswered emails piled up. I started to wonder if anyone was reading them at all.

That’s when, inspired by another journalist who’d been stonewalled by Apple, I installed the email tracker Streak. It was free, and took about 30 seconds. Then, I sent another email to my press contact. A notification popped up on my screen: My email had been opened almost immediately, inside Cupertino, on an iPhone. Then it was opened again, on an iMac, and again, and again. My messages were not only being read, but widely disseminated. It was maddening, watching the grey little notification box—“Someone just viewed ‘Regarding book interviews’—pop up over and over and over, without a reply.

So I decided to go straight to the top. If Apple’s PR team was reading my emails, maybe Tim Cook would, too.

I wrote Cook a lengthy email detailing the reasons he should join me for an interview. When I didn’t hear back, I drafted a brief follow-up, enabled Streak, hit send. Hours later, I got the notification: My email had been read. Yet one glaring detail looked off. According to Streak, the email had been read on a Windows Desktop computer.

Maybe it was a fluke. But after a few weeks, I sent another follow up, and the email was read again. On a Windows machine.

That seemed crazy, so I emailed Streak to ask about the accuracy of its service, disclosing that I was a journalist. In the confusing email exchange with Andrew from Support that followed, I was told that Streak is “very accurate,” as it can let you know what time zone or state your lead is in—but only if you’re a salesperson. Andrew stressed that “if you’re a reporter and wanted to track someone’s whereabouts, [it’s] not at all accurate.” It quickly became clear that Andrew had the unenviable task of threading a razor thin needle: maintaining that Streak both supplied very precise data but was also a friendly and non-intrusive product. After all, Streak users want the most accurate information possible, but the public might chafe if it knew just how accurate that data was—and considered what it could be used for besides honing sales pitches. This is the paradox that threatens to pop the email tracking bubble as it grows into ubiquity. No wonder Andrew got Orwellian: “Accuracy is entirely subjective,” he insisted, at one point.

Andrew did, however, unequivocally say that if Streak listed the kind of device used—as opposed to listing unknown—then that info was also “very accurate.” Even if pertained to the CEO of Apple.

If Tim Cook is a closet Windows user (who knows! Maybe his Compaq days never fully rubbed off) or even if he outsources his email correspondence to a firm that does, then it’s a fine example of the sort of private data email tracking can dredge up even on our most powerful public figures.

“Look, everybody opens emails, even if they don’t respond to them,” Seroussi says. “If you can learn where a celebrity is—or anyone—just by emailing them, it’s a security threat.” It could be used as a tool for stalkers, harassers, even thieves who might be sending you spam emails just to see if you’re home.

“During the 2016 election, we sent a tracked email out to the US senators, and the people running for the presidency,” Seroussi says. “We wanted to know, were they doing anything about tracking? Obviously, the answer was no. We typically got the location of their devices, the IP addresses; you could pinpoint almost exactly where they were, which hotels they were staying at.”

This is what worries Bitdefender’s Afloarei about malicious spammers who use trackers, too. “As for the dangers of being tracked in spam, one must keep in mind the kind of people that do the tracking, and the fact that they can find out your IP address and therefore your location or workplace,” he says. Just by watching you open your email, Afloarei says spammers can learn your schedule (“based on the time you check your email”), your itinerary (based on how you check mail at home, on the bus, or so on), and personal preferences (based on where they harvested the email; say, a sports forum, or a music fansite).

Because so many people can be looked up on social media based on email addresses, or their jobs and locations, Afloarei says it’s “pretty easy” to correlate all the data and track someone down in person. “Granted, most spammers are only interested in getting your credit card or simply getting you infected and part of their botnet, but the truly devious ones can deduct so much information besides all that.”

“I always wonder when a big story is going to come out and say that people broke into a house because they used email trackers to know the victims were out of town.” – Florian Seroussi, founder of OMC

There’s one more reason to be wary: Email tracking is evolving. Research from October looked at emails from newsletter and mailing list services from the 14,000 most popular websites on the web, and found that 85 percent contained trackers—and 30 percent leak your email addresses to outside corporations, without your consent.

So, if you sign up for a newsletter, even from a trusted source, there’s a one in three chance that the email that newsletter service sends you will be loaded with a tracking image hosted on an outside server, that contains your email address in its code and can then share your email address with a “large network of third parties.” Your email address, in other words, is apt to be shared with tracking companies, marketing firms, and data brokers like Axiom, if you as much as open an email with a tracker, or click on a link inside.

“You can have tens of parties receive your email address,” says Steven Englehart, one of the computer scientists behind the study. “Your email hash is really your identity, right? If you go to a store, make a purchase or sign up for something—everything we do today is associated with your email.” Data brokers have long stockpiled information on consumers through web tracking: browsing habits, personal bios, and location data. But adding an email address into the mix, Englehart says, is even more reason for alarm.

“This kind of tracking creates a big dataset. If a dataset leaks with email hashes, then it’d be trivial for anyone to go see that person’s data, and people would have no idea that data even existed,” he says. “You can compare it to the Experian data leak, which exposed people’s social security numbers, and could cause fraud. In my mind, this leak would be even worse. Because it’s not just financial fraud, but intimate details of people’s lives.”

Given the risks, perhaps what’s most striking about the rise of ubiquitous email tracking is how relatively quietly it’s happened—even in a moment marked by increased awareness of security issues.

“It’s shifted. It’s more and more used in conversational threads. In business emails. This is what scares us the most,” Seroussi says. “One out of six people that emails you is sending a tracker, and it’s real life”—not marketing, not spammers. “It could be your friend, your wife, your boss, this number is really mind boggling—you give up a lot of privacy just opening emails.”

After the Great Tim Cook Email Tracking Incident, I left Streak on. I’d found, grudgingly, that it was useful; it was sometimes more efficient to know when sources had read my email and when I might need to nudge them again. But because I was using the same Gmail account for personal and professional use, I ended up tracking friends and family, too. That’s when I saw how starkly tracking violates the lightly-coded social norms of email etiquette. I watched close friends read an email and not respond for days. I saw right through every white lie about email (about not receiving it, or it getting stuck in the spam folder). Sure, it’s occasionally nice; you can get a rough sense of how many people read the latest update to the weekend plans on a thread, and you can feel confident that your brother isn’t blowing you off, he’s just really bad at reading email. But it mostly serves to add yet another unnecessary layer of expectation onto our already notification-addled lives, another social metric to fret over, and another box to click on feverishly whenever it arrives. Not to mention a tinge of surreptitious digital voyeurism.

“Most consumers don’t understand just how much information they are giving up.” — marketing consultant John-Henry Scherck

Clearly, this is a situation that the tracking outfits want to avoid. They’ve kept mostly to the shadows, harvesting useful sales data and email open rate info without causing too many ripples; the last thing they want is for their products to be deemed invasive or spyware. This, however, puts them in a deeply awkward position: In order to stand out amongst a burgeoning field of email tracking services, they need to tout their accuracy and ease of use—while somehow giving the public the impression the data they’re soaking up isn’t a threat.

As the number of easy-to-use, free tracking products proliferates—some email clients are beginning to simply ship with tracking features, as Airmail did in 2016—we’re going to have to contend with a digital social landscape where there’s an insurgent mix of trackers and trackees. And, increasingly—anti-trackers.

If you don’t want people to know your precise whereabouts whenever you glance at a specially priced offer for a cruise featuring your favorite 90s alt rock bands; if you’d rather Facebook not harvest your device data every time a former high school classmate inveighs against Trump in a comment on one of your vacation pics; if you’re the CEO of one of the top technology companies in the world and you’d rather not be associated with using a rival’s product—you have options.

A host of anti-tracking services have sprung up to combat the rising tide of inbox tracers—from Ugly Mail, to PixelBlock, to Senders. Ugly Mail notifies you when an email is carrying a tracking pixel, and PixelBlock prevents it from opening. Senders makes use of a similar product formerly known as Trackbuster, as part of service that displays info (Twitter, LinkedIn account, etc) about the sender of the email you’re reading. Using these services, I spotted more than a few acquaintances and even some contacts I consider friends using tracking in their correspondence.

But even those methods aren’t foolproof. Tracking methods are always evolving and improving, and finding ways around the current crop of track-blockers. “It’s a fight we’re having over the last couple of years,” Seroussi says. “They can’t counter all the methods that we know—so they get around the block by setting up new infrastructures. It’s a chase, they’re doing a job.”

To prevent third-parties from leaking your email, meanwhile, Princeton’s Englehart says “the only surefire solution right now is to block images by default.” That is, turn on image-blocking in your email client, so you can’t receive any images at all.

OMC has found dozens of novel methods that newfangled trackers are using to get your email open info. “We found 70 different ways where they use tracking,” Seroussi says, “Sometimes it’s a color, sometimes it’s a font, sometimes it’s a pixel, and sometimes it’s a link.” It’s an arms race, and one side has an immense advantage.

When Seroussi debuted Trackbuster in 2014, he was expecting a few hundred downloads. Within hours, he’d had 12,000. People who knew about email tracking—often trackers themselves, ironically—were eager for a way to quash it. Still, other trackers are furious with what the track-blockers are doing. “We receive death threats,” he says, more agitated than angered. It’s the wild west, after all. “They’ve been trying to destroy us for two years.”

Scherck, the marketing consultant, thinks that Google could up and kill email tracking altogether. “I do think public opinion could turn on email tracking, especially if Gmail started alerting users to tracking by default inside of Gmail with pop ups, or some native version of Ugly Email,” he says. “Just look at how consumers have turned on Facebook for their advertising. People absolutely hated that Uber was buying data on who was using Lyft from Unroll.me.” It would only take a strong enough nudge. “Most consumers don’t understand just how much information they are giving up,” he says.

If Google and the other big tech firms won’t budge, though, Seroussi believes the problem is serious enough to warrant government intervention. “If the big companies don’t want to do something about it, there should be a law defining certain kinds of tracking,” he says. And if nothing is done at all, Seroussi thinks it’s only a matter of time before email tracking is used for malign purposes, potentially in a very public way. “I always wonder when a big story is going to come out and say that people broke into a house because they used email trackers to know the victims were out of town,” he says. “It’s probably already happened.”

As for me, I was tired of all the tracking. After a couple months of ambiguous insights, I didn’t want to know who was opening my emails and not replying anymore. I didn’t want to wait, strung-out-like, for a notification to ring in a response from a crucial source. I didn’t want to feel like I was breaking the rules of whatever slipshod digital social compact we’ve got; my semi-spying days were done. I deleted Streak, and left Senders running—and kept a screenshot of Tim Cook’s Windows on my desktop as a souvenir.

Stalled Bill To Help California Schools Fight Fake News To Be Revived

Democrats in Sacramento are upset that TV ads sometimes look like real news—but have no problem with CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Washington Post and other media on a daily basis provide biased and totally Fake News.  Which is the real problem?  As always the Democrats are trying to create a phony issue to hide the real one—modern America media is as honest as Pravda in Moscow.

“His legislation was aimed at helping K-12 students better evaluate the accuracy of digital information. It would have required the state to create new curriculum, though Dodd emphasized it would give schools the flexibility to craft courses as they see fit.

“It’s really about distinguishing advertisements from news stories. The basis of my bill was that Stanford study that found 82 percent of middle school students struggle to discern the difference,” Dodd told Capital Public Radio.

While some schools already promote online media literacy, Dodd said his proposal would ensure all schools can boost students’ “digital citizenship.”

Forget the ads—address the real Fake News—the Brian Ross, CNN Acosta, lyin Brian Williams and the rest of the Fake News cast—teach the kids to question the corruption of the media—who cares about TV ads?

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Stalled Bill To Help California Schools Fight Fake News To Be Revived

Chris Nichols, Capitol Public Radio,  12/11/17

Three bills aimed at fighting fake news stalled in the California Legislature this past year. At least one could resurface in the year ahead.

Democratic State Sen. Bill Dodd said he plans to revive his bill, SB 135, in January or introduce a similar one.

His legislation was aimed at helping K-12 students better evaluate the accuracy of digital information. It would have required the state to create new curriculum, though Dodd emphasized it would give schools the flexibility to craft courses as they see fit.

“It’s really about distinguishing advertisements from news stories. The basis of my bill was that Stanford study that found 82 percent of middle school students struggle to discern the difference,” Dodd told Capital Public Radio.

While some schools already promote online media literacy, Dodd said his proposal would ensure all schools can boost students’ “digital citizenship.”

“We’re certainly in the middle of the age of social media where social networks can spread fake news and misleading information at lightning speed,” Dodd added.

The lawmaker’s bill passed the Senate in May but was held up in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The legislation responded to the phenomenon of fake news or made-up articles that exploded during the 2016 election.

Tessa Jolls, president of the Malibu-based Center for Media Literacy, said California should follow the lead Washington state and Connecticut where similar legislation has been adopted.

“We really want people to become excellent risk managers when they use information in media,” Jolls said. “That applies to both representing yourself to other people and also being able to discern how others are representing themselves or products or issues to you as a citizen, as a consumer.”

 

High Court Sides With Feds/Trump on Discovery for DACA Challenge

Another win for the Trump Administration and the safety of the American public.  An effort by Pres. Trump to end a program that takes deportation off the table for young immigrants has been accepted, on a temporary basis, by the Supreme Court—by a 5-4 vote.  How did this happen?  Barack Obama, after Congress refused to give amnesty to illegal aliens, Obama by Executive Order gave 800,000 illegal aliens amnesty.

“The U.S. government drew the underlying court challenge in California several months ago when it announced an end date of March 5, 2018, for the program

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Adopted in 2012 by the Obama administration, DACA offered certain legal protections to roughly 800,000 young immigrants who might otherwise be at risk of deportation.

In their bid to keep the program in place, California and other entities have said that the White House’s rollback announcement offered none of the policy justifications required by the Administrative Procedure Act.

Not mentioned is that Obama gave amnesty based on NO law—in fact after Congress said NO.  the law breaker, protecting law breakers is Barack Obama.

Protesters chant during a May Day demonstration outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco on Monday. Thousands are expected to take to the streets across the United States to participate in May Day demonstrations.

High Court Sides With Feds on Discovery for DACA Challenge

BARBARA LEONARD, Courthousenews,  12/11/17

 

WASHINGTON (CN) – Fighting to terminate a program that takes deportation off the table for qualifying young immigrants, the Trump administration won a Supreme Court stay Friday of a California challenge.

Party lines divided the Supreme Court on the case, with the court’s Democratic justices writing in dissent that the government has “not come close to” meeting its burden.

“The court today abandons its practice of nonintervention in this kind of discovery-related dispute,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in dissent. “In addition to disrupting the progress of this litigation, I fear that the court’s decision to intervene here means we will be asked to address run-of-the-mill discovery disputes in many other matters, certainly when the government is involved and potentially when it is not involved. In my view, the court should maintain its usual policy of abstaining from disputes like this one.”

The U.S. government drew the underlying court challenge in California several months ago when it announced an end date of March 5, 2018, for the program

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Adopted in 2012 by the Obama administration, DACA offered certain legal protections to roughly 800,000 young immigrants who might otherwise be at risk of deportation.

In their bid to keep the program in place, California and other entities have said that the White House’s rollback announcement offered none of the policy justifications required by the Administrative Procedure Act.

Though the merits of the case are still unresolved, U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued several preliminary victories for the challengers this fall, directing the Trump administration to produce various Justice Department documents and communications that may have informed the Sept. 5 rollback decision.

The United States went to the Supreme Court on Dec. 1, petitioning for a writ of mandamus and a stay pending the grant of such extraordinary relief.

Though the order granting the stay Friday offers no insight to the court’s logic, Breyer’s 10-page dissent was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Breyer balked at the government’s contention “that review of its decision terminating DACA must be based exclusively on the documents that the government itself unilaterally selected for submission to the District Court.”

“I am not aware of any precedent supporting the government’s position,” the justice added.

The government has claimed that federal agencies have unilateral discretion to decide what documents they submit to the reviewing court. Breyer said “judicial review cannot function” in such a scheme.

“Effective review depends upon the administrative record containing all relevant materials presented to the agency, including not only materials supportive of the government’s decision but also materials contrary to the government’s decision,” he added. “A court deprived of a full administrative record could not consider, for example, whether the decision was based on the consideration of irrelevant factors, whether it considered the relevant factors, whether the decision was ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law,’ or whether the decision was unlawful for some other reason.”

Breyer noted that courts have shot down similar arguments by the government going back decades.

“The documents that the District Court ordered the government to provide are documents that were considered by the decisionmaker [Homeland Security chief Elaine Duke] or those advising her and that were ‘already in existence’ at the time of the relevant agency decision,” he wrote. “At least facially, these documents do not seem to involve ‘inquiry into the mental processes’ of the decisionmaker at all.”

Breyer questioned the government’s reliance on several cases, including the 2004 case Cheney v. United States District Court for D.C.

“Cheney concerned only requests for documents from the White House itself,” he wrote. “Such documents seem to form at most only a small portion of the documents that the District Court ordered the government to add to the administrative record, so Cheney cannot justify the broad relief from any obligation to complete the administrative record that the government seeks. And, moreover, the government has failed to argue with any specificity about the burden that the requirement to include White House documents in particular in the administrative record will impose, so it is impossible for this court to perform the sort of balancing analysis that we said was necessary in Cheney.”

As for the government’s claims to privilege, Breyer found these arguments unavailing.

“The closest the government comes is with repeated references to a single document out of the 35 that the District Court found not privileged and ordered it to produce,” he wrote. “The government describes it as a memorandum from the White House counsel’s office to the president. But even as to this one document, the government offers no legal or factual support for its claim of privilege aside from its bare description. The District Court reviewed that document, and the other 34, and concluded that they were not privileged. We have not seen these documents, and we consequently have no basis to question the District Court’s conclusion.”

Breyer said Alsup is being reasonable in offering to review in camera any documents the government believes are privileged.

Another of the government’s arguments that missed the mark for Breyer involves   burden. “The government complains that it must review 21,000 documents as potentially part of the administrative record,” he wrote. “But the underlying agency action here is important, and that is by no means an unusually large number of documents; administrative records often contain hundreds of thousands of documents. And, moreover, the government’s argument about burden is based almost entirely on how quickly it must comply with the District Court’s order.”

Breyer noted that the government could have requested more time from the District Court or to seek mandamus relief from the Ninth Circuit.

“The government has done neither,” he added.

As for the government’s claims of agency discretion, Breyer said this “goes to the merits of the respondents’ underlying lawsuit, which have not yet been addressed by the District Court and are not now before this Court, rather than to the proper contents of the administrative record assuming that the agency decision is subject to review.”

“The District Court on September 21 offered the government the opportunity to file an early motion to dismiss and thus obtain a decision on its threshold objections before the preparation of the administrative record,” Breyer continued. “The government rejected that offer, preferring instead to defer the issue to summary judgment motions. I see no reason to grant a writ of mandamus to relieve the government of the consequences of that decision. “

 

Dem Rep. Bobby Rush Sued for $1 Million to Collect Unpaid Loan for Church He Founded

In 2000 Bobby Rush won a seat in Congress from Chicago—who did he defeat in the primary?  Barack Obama.  But, in the 1960’s he was the founder of the Illinois branch of the Black Panthers—the Antifa/Black Lives matter vile and violent organization of the day.  The Black Panthers were known for killings, drug deals and extorting businesses.  So it is no surprise his use of Congress to finance his corruption.

“Rush later requested a $100,000 earmark for his group that was ultimately approved and tacked onto an appropriations bill in 2008 in the amount of $305,500. Beloved Community Family Services received sub-grants totaling $196,470 between 2012 and 2014, according to records.

Kacy Rush, Rep. Rush’s daughter, is listed as a member of the center on its most recently available tax forms from 2015 and as a director on its website.

The center has been awarded $17 million in taxpayer-funded government grants since 2008, with $2,625,269 in grants going to the center just this year, records show.

Rush has also come under fire for his failure to pay taxes on his associated entities.”

This is really a political operation, financed with tax dollars—another reason to cut taxes—and cut back on corrupt financing of radical organizations.  Thought you should know that old fashioned corruption is alive and well in D.C.

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Dem Rep. Bobby Rush Sued for $1 Million to Collect Unpaid Loan for Church He Founded

Wellness center connected to church has received $17 million in gov’t grants

 

BY: Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon,  12/11/17
Democratic representative Bobby Rush is being sued for $1 million after failing to make payments on a loan he received for a church he founded in his home district in Illinois.

A wellness center linked to the church has also collected more than $2.6 million in taxpayer-funded government grants in 2017 and more than $17 million in grants since 2008, according to records.

Rush founded the Beloved Community Christian Church, a nondenominational Christian church, in Chicago in 2002 with the intent of helping disadvantaged people in his community.

“I founded a church in Englewood, one of Chicago’s poorest and most fragile neighborhoods, and named it Beloved Community Christian Church,” Rush wrote in a 2011 op-ed. “The church, once the site of a Black Panther breakfast program for children, now stands in tribute to Dr. King’s vision of the power of community. A social service center, a health center and an after school robotics program are also part of the church’s mission to care for people.”

Rush initially paid $800,000 for the site of his church with the help of a $550,000 loan from New City Bank. At the time, Rush founded Rebirth of Englewood, a community development organization, with the intent of building a technology center, affordable housing, and various other programs to help the community—much of which never happened, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Now, the loan Rush secured has gone delinquent, and the creditor is seeking to recoup the money through the Cook County court system. A $1.1 million judgment was issued against Rush for $542,000 in unpaid principal, $441,000 in interest, and nearly $50,000 in attorney fees.

Rep. Rush’s church was forced to move from its original location in 2014 after its stained-glass windows were shattered by severe weather and left open to the elements. As a result, the creditors have chosen to seek the money owed on the promissory note rather than foreclosing on the vacant unit, which has been hard to sell.

Rush has also steered hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign funds to the church.

Just two years after the church had opened its doors, the congressman began sending donations from Citizens for Rush, his federal campaign committee, to the church. Rush has since sent $200,000 from his campaign’s funds to the church.

Rush founded Beloved Community Family Services, a nonprofit network, in 2004 with a mission of providing “compassionate services to promote cultural, economic and social well-being.”

Rush later requested a $100,000 earmark for his group that was ultimately approved and tacked onto an appropriations bill in 2008 in the amount of $305,500. Beloved Community Family Services received sub-grants totaling $196,470 between 2012 and 2014, according to records.

The Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, the social services arm of Rush’s church, is a not-for-profit federally qualified health center that provides “comprehensive, accessible, timely, and affordable primary health care, preventive education, and social service programs available to the Greater Englewood and surrounding communities.”

Kacy Rush, Rep. Rush’s daughter, is listed as a member of the center on its most recently available tax forms from 2015 and as a director on its website.

The center has been awarded $17 million in taxpayer-funded government grants since 2008, with $2,625,269 in grants going to the center just this year, records show.

Rush has also come under fire for his failure to pay taxes on his associated entities.

The Better Government Association, an Illinois-based government watchdog organization, found in 2013 that Rush and two nonprofits that he had founded failed to pay federal, state, and local taxes in a timely manner, with some of the actions dating back a decade.

Rep. Rush’s office did not return a request for comment by press time.

 

Goodbye, California: Tax changes to prompt exodus of wealthy Californians

Jerry Brown can claim to be the most successful Governor in California history.  His goal, declared in 1975, “smaller is better” has won.  Thanks to highest gas, income and sales taxes in the nation, plus the worst roads, crumbling government education, collapsing pension systems and the highest cost of housing, the rich are leaving this dysfunctional State.

Homebuyers Will Leave High-Tax States like California

If state and local tax (SALT) deductions are eliminated in high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, some people will leave these states for places where they can get more home for less money. In a survey of 900 homebuyers, a third of respondents said that they would consider moving to another state if they could no longer deduct state and local taxes.

Redfin migration data on its website users’ search activity reveals that people are looking to leave expensive coastal cities for more affordable mid-tier cities like Sacramento, Phoenix and Atlanta. The trend has already started, and tax reform, if passed, will just intensify it.”

The rich can work in California—from Texas.  By doing so they get a 13% pay raise—without paying any income taxes.  We are in the era of disruption due to new technology—which is also making it easier for the rich to live in quality States.

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Goodbye, California: Tax changes to prompt exodus of wealthy Californians

Central Valley Business Times,  12/11/17

 

 
 

•  No SALT and it’s off to Texas or someplace, says Redfin

•  “The nationwide inventory shortage is likely to continue to hinder sales and increase prices”
Next year’s housing market is expected to be shaped by continued demand for homeownership, low inventory — and tax changes by Congress, according to a report Monday from online real estate company Redfin (NASDAQ: RDFN) of Seattle.

Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson expects the 2018 housing market to be the fastest on record, with 30 percent of homes that sell next year going under contract within two weeks, up from 25 percent in 2017.

Redfin’s other predictions for the 2018 housing market include:

• Homebuyers Will Leave High-Tax States like California

If state and local tax (SALT) deductions are eliminated in high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, some people will leave these states for places where they can get more home for less money. In a survey of 900 homebuyers, a third of respondents said that they would consider moving to another state if they could no longer deduct state and local taxes.

Redfin migration data on its website users’ search activity reveals that people are looking to leave expensive coastal cities for more affordable mid-tier cities like Sacramento, Phoenix and Atlanta. The trend has already started, and tax reform, if passed, will just intensify it.

• Fewer Homeowners Will Sell Due to New Residency Requirements in Tax Reform Bills

Under current law, single homeowners can exclude $250,000 of sale proceeds from capital gains taxes as long as they’ve lived in the home for two out of the previous five years. Couples can exclude up to $500,000. However, a new tax-reform proposal increases the number of years to five of the previous eight years in order to deduct gains. This change will incentivize some homeowners to stay in their homes longer, Redfin predicts.

• Wealthier Millennials Will Popularize “Urban Suburbs”

Certain high-income millennials are driving the formation of a new kind of neighborhood — the “urban suburb,” says Redfin.

“We’re not talking about the Baby Boomer McMansions with huge yards, where you have to drive a couple of miles for a cup of coffee,” says Redfin Kansas City agent Wayne Gray. “We’re talking about neighborhoods outside the city, but still relatively densely populated, with walkable amenities and bikeable commutes.”

• Homes will Sell Faster than Ever, Up to 30% Within Two Weeks

The 2017 housing market was fast, with 25 percent of homes selling in two weeks or less during the peak of the buying season, and nearly 1 in five homes (19 percent) off-market in less than a week. “We expect 2018 to be even faster,” says Redfin.

• Mortgage Payments Will Increase at the Highest Rate in a Decade

A combination of rising home prices and increasing interest rates is likely to push monthly mortgage payments up even further next year.

• No Price Bubbles — Even in the Hottest Markets

Redfin analysts do not expect a bubble anywhere in 2018 for two main reasons:

1. Buyers and sellers remain on the same page when it comes to price, with a sale-to-list ratio at 100 percent or above in the most expensive West Coast markets this year.

2. In West Coast metros where prices have now surpassed their 2006 peak, homebuyer debt has declined.

• The ‘Golden Girls’ and ‘Friends’ Return

Roommates accounted for or 6.6 percent of all households (8,330,000 households total) in 2017, according to Census data. Redfin analysts believe the trend of more people living with roommates will accelerate in 2018 due to the lack of affordability combined with new startups aimed at solving the problem.

“Inventory is expected to be the major factor shaping the 2018 housing market, but that’s nothing new,” says Ms. Richardson. “For the third year in a row, the nationwide inventory shortage is likely to continue to hinder sales and increase prices. We expect small increases in inventory at the high-end of the market by year-end. Starter-home inventory has not increased meaningfully since 2011, and we don’t expect it to increase at all next year. Exacerbating the problem is high rents and vacation home rental platforms that make it both easy and lucrative to own more than one home.”

 

 

California Courts Sexual Predators Becoming Exposed

Hollywood predators are being exposed.  Washington and Sacramento sexual predators are being shamed out of office.  A few days ago the California Political News and Views noted that college professors are being exposed and fired.  The media is being decimated—the New Yorker just fired its main political reported for sexual harassment. O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and others have been exposed and made into “non person” like they used to do in the USSR.

Last week a San Diego Federal judge, Kozinski, was accused of making inappropriate actions and now we have a California Appellate Judge forced to retire.  In years past we have the Evangelical ministers outed as predators and the Catholic Church has been exposed as a hotbed of sexual predators.  Every American institution is in the process of being turned inside out with charges.  Chaos, game changers and disruptors of the traditional systems is the order of the day.

Conrad Rushing, who was appointed to the court in 2002 by Gov. Gray Davis, was the subject of a scathing report by the state Judicial Council, which found that he treated women as inferiors and made bigoted comments about Portuguese-Americans and other ethnic groups.

The report alleges that Rushing looked at porn in his chambers and engaged in other sexual behaviors at work. He made overly personal remarks about women’s looks, the Merc reports, and even commented about the length of a female lawyer’s legs.”

court gavel

Report: Appellate Judge Retires Following Harassment Probe

By Jennifer Wadsworth, Sanjoseinside,  12/7/17

The presiding justice of the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose stepped down this week amid allegations that he sexually harassed and discriminated against women, according to the Mercury News.

Conrad Rushing, who was appointed to the court in 2002 by Gov. Gray Davis, was the subject of a scathing report by the state Judicial Council, which found that he treated women as inferiors and made bigoted comments about Portuguese-Americans and other ethnic groups.

The report alleges that Rushing looked at porn in his chambers and engaged in other sexual behaviors at work. He made overly personal remarks about women’s looks, the Merc reports, and even commented about the length of a female lawyer’s legs.

According to the council’s findings, Rushing allowed male attorneys employed by the court to telecommute and gave them more complex cases, while he ordered female counterparts to do personal favors for him, such as preparing his home for fumigation.

Rushing has no record of public discipline, but a 1998 profile of the judge in The Recorder noted that he had been named in a complaint about gender bias by a female attorney. The story mentioned no further details, however.

The Judicial Council apparently issued its report on the judge this past spring. Rushing announced his retirement on Oct. 31, just weeks into the #MeToo movement that made stories of sexual harassment suddenly more newsworthy and consequential.

The Sixth District is headquartered in San Jose and spans Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. It decides cases by randomly chosen three-judge panels, which rule on some 900 appeals a year.