Senators Leahy and Cruz Demand Answers from Apple CEO Tim Cook on Chinese Censorship

Last week, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook about his firm’s removal of VPN apps from the China app store in July. VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks, which when accessed through apps, allow Internet users in China to bypass government censorship.

NLPC raised this issue on September 19 when we asked the Newseum to rescind its 2017 “Free Expression Award “ that it made to Cook in April. The Senators’ letter also seizes on the Award and quotes Cook from that evening when he declared, “At Apple, we are just not allowing others to speak up, we are doing so ourselves.” The letter asks Cook to “Please provide copies of any statements that Apple has issued either promoting freedom of speech in China or condemning China’s censorship and surveillance mechanisms…”

The rest of the letter is equally pointed, and includes nine other … Read More ➡

Climate Change Warrior Jeffrey Immelt Revealed as Fraud; Ex-General Electric CEO Was Energy Hog

Jeff Immelt/PHOTO: jdlasica via Creative Commons

Now that former CEO Jeffrey Immelt is fully out of the General Electric picture as both CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors, his replacement, John L. Flannery, is working to cut the costs many said would be among his first priorities.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday revealed (paywall) some of the excess under Immelt, the most sensational being that he sometimes had an empty corporate jet follow the one he was flying in, in case there were delays or mechanical problems. A GE spokewoman justified the practice by telling the newspaper that the “two planes were used on limited occasions for business-critical or security purposes.”

Whether or not the double-jet travel (what was Immelt going to do if his plane had problems – parachute to the other one?) was justified can be left to the judgment of the reader and … Read More ➡

Bad News For Bob Menendez

From the Associated Press yesterday:

In a big defeat for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the judge at his corruption trial Monday refused to throw out any of the charges against him in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowing the definition of bribery.

The decision by U.S. District Judge William Walls was a major victory for federal prosecutors, who had warned that dismissing the charges would torpedo nearly all other bribery cases and open the door wide to graft.

Walls rejected defense lawyers’ arguments that the allegations against Menendez didn’t meet the new definition of bribery contained in the 2016 Supreme Court ruling that reversed the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Menendez and his co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen, are on trial for bribery. Among other allegations, the prosecution says that Menendez pressured U.S. officials to get the Dominican Republic government to honor a long-dormant port security deal … Read More ➡

Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Forced Public-Employee Unionism

Mark Janus is standing up to AFSCME.

The resolve of unions to coerce support from unwilling employees shouldn’t be underestimated. Neither should the resistance of such employees. On September 28, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case challenging the authority of public-sector unions to impose representation-related dues (“agency fees”) upon non-member workers. If successful, the plaintiffs, a State of Illinois child support specialist and two other public employees, will have overturned the basis for 40 years of union-driven bargaining that has pushed many state and local governments to the brink of insolvency. The Court was deadlocked in a similar case last year.

Union Corruption Update has visited this issue several times, most recently in late-March 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court at the time had announced that it was unable to break a 4-4 tie in Friedrichs v. Read More ➡

Where Are Republicans on House IT Scandal?

The two months that have passed since the August 17 indictment of Imran Awan and his wife Hina Alvi, former technology staffers for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), have yielded little except more mystery.

The mainstream media has largely ignored the story. Most of what we know has been reported by Luke Rosiak in the Daily Caller. The revelations have become a staple of conservative media, providing fuel for a social media brushfire. In apparent response, an informal hearing was held on October 10 by a handful of members of the Freedom Caucus. The lead witness was Rosiak who complained of an “extraordinary level of silence from official channels” about the scandal.

You would think that House Republican leaders would give the Awan mess a much bigger stage. This GOP disinterest is the biggest mystery of all. The media and Democrats in Congress created a frenzy over vague accusations … Read More ➡

Censorship of Conservatives Out of Control at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

By now the complaints are voluminous and widely known, but it’s become clear that popular social media Web sites YouTube (a Google subsidiary), Twitter and Facebook do not intend to end censorship of conservatives’ messaging and content on their platforms.

The highest profile example from this week is Twitter’s block of an ad by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, who announced her campaign to run for the Senate seat currently held by retiring Bob Corker. The nearly 3-minute video highlighted Blackburn’s conservative credentials, including the claim that she’s “100 percent pro-life.”

“I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God,” Blackburn says in the video advertisement.

That factual statement was too much for Twitter’s censors, who according to Blackburn, told her the reference to fetal tissue was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a … Read More ➡

Menendez Trial Focuses on ‘Threats,’ Senate Hearing

Last week’s testimony in the trial of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) about a port security deal in the Dominican Republic may provide the basis for a bribery conviction. A State Department official, Todd Robinson, described how Menendez threatened to hold a Senate hearing if the Department did not pressure the Dominican government to honor a long-dormant contract with Menendez’ largest donor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

Last year, the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the grounds on which a public official can be prosecuted for bribery. The public official’s actions must include an “official act” in exchange for some consideration. It cannot simply be setting up a meeting, making a phone call, or other actions generally thought to be “constituent services.” Calling a meeting of a Senate subcommittee on Melgen’s behalf, however, would classify as an “official act.”

In May of 2012, Menendez set up a meeting with State Department officials, … Read More ➡

NFL Anthem Imbroglio Fault of Roger Goodell, Owners

In an opinion article published by the Daily Caller on September 11, 2014, I argued that the National Football League (NFL) had to get rid of Commissioner Roger Goodell for using the League to promote his own political views and allowing activists like Al Sharpton to drive his agenda. I wrote:

If the NFL is truly “America’s Game,” it should not involve itself in divisive social issues. Everyone should feel welcome to attend a game or watch on TV…

I do not know to what extent Goodell consults with the owners before going out and making his political statements. I suspect that at times he does not…

On Sunday afternoons (and now Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights, I guess) we should take a time out from politics. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives should be able to sit down together and watch football. In this way, the NFL provides

Read More ➡

NFL Sponsors Punt on Anthem Controversy Despite Fan Outrage

Roger Goodell/PHOTO: WEBN-TV via Creative Commons

Following in the footsteps of cowardice exhibited by the NFL’s owners, coaches, and media partners, the league’s corporate sponsors remained mostly mute following the offensive display by players who disrespected the symbols of American freedom by kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner.

Friday night’s remarks in Huntsville, Ala. by President Trump, who called upon team owners to “fire” the “SOB” players who refused to stand during the anthem, was met with a firestorm of resistance. Depending on the team, the league-wide response by more than 200 of its players was for some players – and sometimes entire squads – to stay in locker rooms, sit on benches, interlock arms in unity or otherwise go missing during the flag-honoring ceremonies of games.

Besides showing condemnation towards Trump and his remarks in every way imaginable, the media has gone into its typical “what do you think” … Read More ➡

Dominican Port Deal Could Be Most Damaging Part of Case Against Sen. Robert Menendez

The trial of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez began earlier this month, but NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm says the media is so far missing the most important part of the case.

The New Jersey Democrat is facing six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of falsifying congressional travel disclosures, and one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery.

The charges stem from Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and a major donor to Menendez’s re-election campaign. According to the testimony of Melgen’s former pilot, Menendez took at least 16 separate trips on the private jet between 2008 and 2010, which prosecutors claim constituted bribes to the senator.

The indictment also alleges that, in exchange for these favors, the senator helped Dr. Melgen’s two mistresses gain visas to the United States. Menendez’s lawyers claim that the women obtained the visas on merit.

Menendez has … Read More ➡