Two Activists Who Filmed Undercover Videos of Planned Parenthood Charged With 15 Felonies

The two antiabortion activists who mounted a hidden-camera investigation against Planned Parenthood officials have been charged with 15 felony counts of violating the privacy of health-care providers by recording confidential information without their consent.

In announcing the charges against David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the duo used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet medical officials and covertly record the private discussions they initiated.

“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”

The criminal complaint alleges that on 14 occasions, between October 2013 and July 2015, Daleiden and Merritt filmed people without permission in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. The activists face a felony count for each person covertly recorded, and an additional felony charge for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. (Read more from “Two Activists Who Filmed Undercover Videos of Planned Parenthood Charged With 15 Felonies” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Teens Abusing Opioids Are Getting Their Painkillers Legally

A majority of teens abusing opiate based painkillers began their addictions through legally prescribed medication from a doctor, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers gathered data from 1976 through 2015 and found a correlation between painkiller abuse and previous prescriptions. Roughly eight percent of teens are currently abusing opioid medication, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan. The majority of those abusing the pills were found to have previously been prescribed opioids by a doctor, reports Live Science.

Hospitals are experiencing steep increases in the number of teens and children admitted for opioid poisoning and experts blame over-prescribed pain medications. The number of prescription pills saturating the U.S. market quadrupled since 2000, sparking the opioid epidemic and predisposing young individuals to severe addiction. Hospitalizations for opioid poisoning are up 176 percent among people ages 15 to 19 years old.

“Health professionals who prescribe opioid medications to adolescents can play an important role in reducing prescription opioid misuse,” Sean McCabe, study author and research professor at the University of Michigan, told Live Science. “We consider any rate of non-medical use of prescription opioids alarming, based on the known adverse consequences associated with this behavior.”

The majority of new heroin addicts begin with a dependence on prescription painkillers, before transitioning after building high tolerances that make the pills too expensive. Heroin use among U.S. teens more than doubled over the past 10 years. Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration say four out of five heroin addicts started with painkillers. (Read more from “Teens Abusing Opioids Are Getting Their Painkillers Legally” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

How Trump’s Executive Orders Line up With Past Presidents

President Donald Trump is moving rapidly to fulfill campaign promises early. With little activity from Congress so far, Trump has used executive actions to achieve what he pledged to do.

Trump is on track to begin his fourth week in the White House having issued 12 executive orders. While questions have surfaced over Trump’s use of executive power, recent history demonstrates that Trump’s actions are in line with past presidents.

By the end of his third week in office in 2009, President Barack Obama had issued 14 executive orders.

Trump and Obama each issued five executive orders in the first week in office. Prior to Trump, Obama was the first modern-day president since John F. Kennedy to issue more than two in the first week.

Traditionally, a president’s early orders aim either to make good immediately on campaign commitments or rescind the previous administration’s policies. Trump has done both.

On Trump’s first day, he signed an order to begin dismantling Obamacare. Obama, on his third day in the White House, signed an executive order on closing the detention center for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. In the face of congressional opposition, it has yet to close.

In addition to his 12 executive orders, Trump issued 12 presidential memorandums and two proclamations—totaling 26 executive actions.

An executive order is one of three basic types of written instructions a president can employ to achieve a desired outcome through the executive branch of government. The total number of executive orders issued by American presidents is over 15,000, according to data collected by the American Presidency Project.

President George Washington issued a total of eight executive orders, according to the data, while John Adams, James Madison, and James Monroe were the only presidents to issue just one.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt holds the record with 3,721—five of which were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1935. More recently, President Bill Clinton issued 364 and President George W. Bush issued 291 during their two terms.

Trump’s actions are consistent with presidents of the modern era. In his first year as president, Obama issued 39 executive orders, Bush issued 54, and Clinton issued 57.

Trump’s 12 executive orders address rolling back Wall Street regulations, reducing government regulations, placing ethics restrictions on administration officials, implementing a temporary ban on travel from seven terrorism-prone nations, enforcing border security, cutting federal funds to sanctuary cities, expediting environmental reviews, and reducing the burden of Obamacare.

His latest orders focus on “making America safe again,” which includes implementing a task force on “crime reduction and public safety,” preventing violence against law enforcement officers, and enforcing federal law to stop international trafficking of “humans, drugs, or other substances, wildlife, and weapons.”

Trump’s executive actions drew controversy, especially his order temporarily suspending immigration or travel from seven terrorism-prone countries. A federal judge in Seattle paused enforcement of the order Tuesday, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld that ruling Thursday.

Over his two terms, Obama issued 276 executive orders, some of which conservatives criticized and even went to court over. Some of the most contested ones addressed illegal immigrants, health care, gun control, cybersecurity, the environment, education, and gender identity.

In his second term, Obama touted his executive power, saying: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

Many Trump supporters looked forward to seeing him fulfill his campaign commitment to reversing some of Obama’s executive actions, with Republican controlling the White House as well as both chambers of Congress. (For more from the author of “How Trump’s Executive Orders Line up With Past Presidents” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Retired IRS Special Agent: Here’s How to Get Mexico to Pay for the Wall

The Washington Post published an article Friday reporting that American taxpayers will have to pay for the promised wall between Mexico and the southern U.S. border, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s earlier claims that Mexico would be forced to fund the project.

There is still a way that Mexico could pay for the wall, however.

How Illegal Immigrants Receive Hefty Tax Returns

Congress, through the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), allows illegal immigrants working in the United States to claim their relatives living in Mexico and Canada, or illegally in the Unitesd States, as dependents on their tax return, thus reducing their tax liability. Amending the IRC to allow only U.S. Citizens (USC’s) or legal residents to be claimed as dependents would likely generate billions of dollars in additional tax revenue which could then be earmarked for a border fence between Mexico and the United States.

Here’s how the system current works. An illegal immigrant living in the United States can file a Form W-7 through an “Accepting Agent” (usually a return preparer) with the IRS to get an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). He then can get ITIN’s for his relatives living in Mexico or illegally in the United States.

When he files his Form 1040, he slaps his ITIN on the front of the return and attaches his Form W-2 showing his wages. The Form W-2 usually shows the social security number that he has purchased, stolen, or borrowed because he was ineligible to work in the Unites States. He then loads up his return with the ITIN’s of his dependents either living illegally in the United States or residing in Mexico. These dependents don’t have to be the taxpayer’s children. They can be his parents, uncles, and distant relatives such as nieces and nephews. The taxpayer’s 2016 taxable income is reduced by $4,050 for each dependent.

Crazy True Story

Here’s a true example. IRS special agents raided a one-person tax preparation business in a small Wisconsin town in 2014. Over the course of seven years, the owner filed 10,437 applications for ITIN’s on behalf of her clients. From the 2011 through 2014 filing season, her clients racked up over $34 million in refunds from the 9,489 returns she filed with the IRS. Her clients received an average refund of $3,509 even though 69 percent of the listed an ITIN holder as the primary taxpayer and about 75 percent of the claimed dependents had ITIN’s.

Translated into English, this means that 69 percent of her taxpayers were illegal immigrants working in the United States who got an annual check for about $3,600 from Uncle Sam after claiming other illegals (or relatives in either Mexico or Canada) as dependents. During an undercover operation, this return preparer counseled her client (the conversation was conducted in Spanish) to find children in Mexico to claim so he could get a tax refund instead of owing money to the IRS.

IRS Mismanagement

Now, matters are getting worse. Illegal immigrants who want to claim bogus dependents operate on the honor system because Congress decimated the IRS’s enforcement budget. This move was made in response, I believe, to former IRS director Lois Lerner’s pleading of the 5th, lost IRS emails, crashed IRS hard drives, a few million dollars spent on a Disney Land boondoggle for IRS management, and videos showing high ranking IRS executives practicing a line dance or parodying a Star Trek episode. (Note that they mix the bridge of the original Star Trek with the Next Generation uniforms. Atrocious.)

The IRS does not publish statistics on the tax revenue lost by allowing illegal immigrants to claim other illegal immigrants, or people residing in Mexico, as dependents. However, the example provided above shows that just one return preparer can cost the Treasury $34 million in a few short years. What we do know is that the IRS estimates that the Tax Gap (the amount of tax revenue that should be collected but isn’t) stands at $468 billion per year.

If President-Elect Trump wants Mexico to pay for the wall, I suggest he sign a revision of the Tax Code which eliminates the dependency exemption for persons residing in Mexico and illegal immigrants from Mexico residing in the Unites States. Doing so would both fulfill a campaign promise and reduce the Tax Gap.

By the way, the return preparer in my example was never indicted, though hope springs eternal. (For more from the author of “Retired IRS Special Agent: Here’s How to Get Mexico to Pay for the Wall” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Missouri Gun Owners Won Constitutional Carry. It’s Time to Take This Show NATIONAL

Constitutional carry is officially legal in the state of Missouri, as a new law permitting legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms has gone into effect with the start of the new year.

The bill that was enacted into law, Senate Bill 656, allows individuals to carry hidden weapons anywhere they can carry weapons openly. Missouri joins 10 other states that allow concealed carry.

The bill’s sponsor, former Missouri Representative Eric Burlison, said that an American’s Second Amendment right to carry a firearm applies both in and outside of your pocket. “The same right you have to carry on the outside of your jacket or pocket, we want to extend that right to be able to carry on the inside of your jacket or pocket,” said Burlison, according to KY3.

Additionally, the new law creates a “stand your ground” right, which allows people to remain in any place they have a legal right to be in and defend themselves with their firearm if there is danger present. It also extends the “castle doctrine”— the right of a homeowner to use deadly force if confronted with a threat in their home — to invited guests, such as a babysitter.

The bill became law after a contentious legislative battle in 2016, in which state senate Republicans used an arcane parliamentary procedure to overturn Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto. The state’s Republican majority has previously used the tactic, known as “calling the previous question,” to overcome Democratic filibusters and force votes on bills.

If only congressional Republicans had that same resolve in advancing their agenda under President Obama. However, there is a great opportunity to defend the Second Amendment under the administration of President-elect Trump.

“The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans,” reads President-elect Trump’s official policy position on the right to bear arms. “The Constitution doesn’t create that right — it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.”

The president-elect’s strong vocal support for the Second Amendment can be translated into national policy with the passage of national concealed carry reciprocity. Such a law would permit a Missouri resident who can legally carry a firearm in his state to carry his weapon legally in any state in the country.

Trump is in favor of such legislation, declaring: “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”

With Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, will national concealed carry reciprocity become law?

Time will tell. And conservatives will exert pressure on Republicans in Congress to advance a conservative agenda. (For more from the author of “Missouri Gun Owners Won Constitutional Carry. It’s Time to Take This Show NATIONAL” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Think Amazon Echo, Other Home Smart Devices Won’t Disclose Private Conversations? Police Armed With Search Warrants Have Different Plans

Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot are in millions of homes now, with holiday sales more than quadrupling from 2015. Always listening for its wake word, the breakthrough smart speakers boast seven microphones waiting to take and record your commands.

Now, Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation.

First reported by The Information, investigators filed search warrants to Amazon (see below), requesting any recordings between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James A. Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub.

While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device. While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.

Amazon stores all the voice recordings on its servers, in the hopes of using the data to improve its voice assistant services. While you can delete your personal voice data, there’s still no way to prevent any recordings from being saved on a server. (Read more from “Think Amazon Echo, Other Home Smart Devices Won’t Disclose Private Conversations? Police Armed With Search Warrants Have Different Plans” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

15,479 Syrian Refugees Have Been Admitted This Year – 98.8% Are Muslims

In its last full month in office, the Obama administration has admitted 1,307 more Syrian refugees – pushing the 2016 calendar year total to 15,479, a 606.1 percent increase from the numbers resettled in the U.S. in 2015.

Of the 15,479 Syrian refugees admitted by the end of Thursday:

–15,302 (98.8 percent) are Muslims – 15,134 Sunnis, 29 Shi’a, and 139 other Muslims

–125 (0.8 percent) are Christians – 32 Catholics, 32 Orthodox, five Protestants, four Jehovah’s Witnesses, and 52 refugees described only as “Christian” in State Department Refugee Processing Center data

–43(0.27 percent) are Yazidis

(Read more from “15,479 Syrian Refugees Have Been Admitted This Year – 98.8% Are Muslims” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

An Arizona Waitress Receives a Christmas Gift From God

From Phoenix comes a story of good will this Christmas season. It’s a story about a woman with child who had an encounter with God in the most unusual of places.

Sarah is about to give birth and her fiance is recovering from knee surgery — so money is tight. And Sarah has been putting in as many hours as possible before she goes on maternity leave . . .

Sarah was clearing a table when she noticed the customer had given her a $900 tip on a $61.30 check!

he diners had written a note on the receipt:

“This is God’s money – He gave it to us so we could give it to you.” (Read more from “An Arizona Waitress Receives a Christmas Gift From God” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Trump’s Pick for EPA Has a History of Fighting the Agency

President-elect Donald Trump reportedly has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt is known for waging legal battles against the EPA over its climate change agenda, suggesting that Trump could intend to make good on his promise to “get rid of [the agency] in almost every form.”

Pruitt, a Republican, led the charge in the states’ fight against what he considers an overreach by the EPA on issues including the Clean Power Plan, which aims to combat global warming; the Waters of the United States rule, which aims to protect wetlands and waterways; and the Renewable Fuel Standard, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He has publicly expressed skepticism about climate change science, and supports the notion that the debate is “far from settled.”
The possibility of undoing a series of rules and regulations established under the Obama administration immediately caused alarm among green groups on the left.

“The mission of the EPA and its administrator requires an absolute commitment to safeguard public health and protect our air, land, water, and planet,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If confirmed, Pruitt seems destined for the environmental hall of shame.”

“Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” added Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “He is a climate science denier who, as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections.”

Karl Rove, a former senior adviser under the George W. Bush administration, came to Pruitt’s defense, congratulating Trump “on another superb pick.”

“About time for sensible regulator again at such powerful agency,” Rove tweeted.

Pruitt has been criticized for having cozy relationships with energy companies. In 2014, The New York Times reported a letter he sent to the EPA was written “almost entirely” by Devon Energy, a natural gas and petroleum producer.

But in the face of criticism, Pruitt responded: “It should come as no surprise that I am working diligently with Oklahoma energy companies, the people of Oklahoma, and the majority of attorneys general to fight the unlawful overreach of the EPA and other federal agencies.”

Pruitt, who serves in one of the biggest oil and natural gas states in the country, has also been active in defending companies who express skepticism about climate change science.

In March, a group of state attorneys general formed a coalition to “criminally investigate energy companies for disputing the science behind global warming.”

Pruitt, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, came to the defense of the companies. In a statement, they voiced strong opposition to a coalition they said is an attempt to “use the law to silence voices with which we disagree.”

“Reasonable minds can disagree about the science behind global warming, and disagree they do,” Pruitt and Strange said in a statement. “This scientific and political debate is healthy, and it should be encouraged. It should not be silenced with threats of criminal prosecution by those who believe that their position is the only correct one and that all dissenting voices must therefore be intimidated and coerced into silence.”

Pruitt was elected as attorney general in Oklahoma in 2010, and before that served as a conservative in the Oklahoma state Senate.

In addition to prosecuting the EPA, Pruitt has challenged the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom guidance. (For more from the author of “Trump’s Pick for EPA Has a History of Fighting the Agency” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Obama Administration Not Finished yet With Executive Actions, Regulations

On Monday, President Barack Obama issued his fifth executive order since the Nov. 8 election. In this case, it was to create a National Invasive Species Council to compile a report by 2020 on how to prevent such species from affecting climate change, food safety, and even military readiness.

Citing national security concerns, Obama issued another order on Friday blocking Chinese firm Fujian Grand Chip from buying Aixtron, a German company operating in California that produces crystalline layers used as semiconductors in U.S. weapons systems.

Executive orders aren’t the only means for Obama to act without Congress before he leaves office on Jan. 20.

A new policy on highly skilled immigrants, restrictions on for-profit colleges, and energy efficiency standards are among the matters that the administration wants that don’t require congressional authorization that the Obama administration is moving aggressively in the post-election to complete before Obama exits on Jan. 20.

Executive actions and administrative regulations were planned and considered before the election and not a result of Republican Donald Trump’s victory, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a White House press briefing, noting executive actions and regulations take “a lot of preparation.”

“I’m not going to rule out additional executive actions that the administration may take between now and January 20—after all, the president of the United States is the president of the United States until Jan. 20,” Earnest told The Daily Signal, adding:

But what I can rule out are any sort of hastily added executive actions that weren’t previously considered that would just be tacked on at the end. But are there some actions that have been in the pipeline for quite some time that could be announced between now and Jan. 20? That possibility certainly exists, but I don’t have anything to preview at this point.

Politico reported the list of Obama administration actions before leaving office includes:

A U.S. citizenship and immigration policy to make it easier for employers to sponsor highly skilled immigrants;

An Education Department policy to provide debt relief to students at for-profit colleges;

The Transportation Department is moving to ban cellphone calls on commercial flights;

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration could limit exposure to beryllium, a metal used in electronics and aerospace industries believed to pose lung cancer risks; and

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to change how doctors and hospitals get paid for administering drugs under Medicare Part B.

The fact that Trump could overturn much executive or administrative actions doesn’t appear to have caused pause, as the Federal Register has grown by 9,000 pages since Nov. 8, said Ryan Young, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, seemed eager for more action in a memo to staff sent to employees after the Nov. 8 election, which was obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“As I’ve mentioned to you before, we’re running—not walking—through the finish line of President Obama’s presidency,” McCarthy wrote. “Thank you for taking that run with me. I’m looking forward to all the progress that still lies ahead.”

Whether the regulations or executive actions are hasty shouldn’t really be the key question, said James Gattuso, a senior research fellow who studies regulatory issues for The Heritage Foundation.

“As far as I’m concerned, if it takes a long time to adopt rules or actions, or if they fly through the process, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bad rule,” Gattuso told The Daily Signal.

Regulations, he said, can be more tedious to overturn than executive orders or executive actions. However, the 1996 Congressional Review Act could be used to roll back many of those regulations, Gattuso said.

The law allows Congress, with the president’s signature, to scrap regulations it opposes, bypassing previous legal procedures in place, while forbidding bureaucrats from imposing rules that are substantially the same.

“No president is willing to sign a bill overturning their own regulation, but they are willing to overturn their predecessor’s regulations,” Gattuso said. “This is a once in a decade chance, really a once in several decades’’ opportunity, to roll back regulations.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and 21 House committee chairmen warned against a rush for regulations in a letter to agency heads, pledging to used the Congressional Review Act if need be. The Nov. 15 letter from House Republicans said:

As you are aware, such action often involves the exercise of substantial policymaking discretion and could have far-reaching impacts on the American people and the economy. Considering these potential consequences, we write to caution you against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the administration’s last days.

By refraining from acting with undue haste, you will ensure that agency staff may fully assess the costs and benefits of rules, making it less likely that unintended consequences will harm consumers and businesses.

Moreover, such forbearance is necessary to afford the recently elected administration and Congress the opportunity to review and give direction concerning pending rulemakings.

Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions—and, if appropriate, overturns them—pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.

On Nov. 8, the Federal Register contained 78,300 pages, and as of Dec. 2, it had increased to 87,297 pages, Young said. Further, since Election Day, there were 144 new proposed regulations from federal agencies, and 243 regulations that were finalized.

“We could see a midnight rush the likes of which we haven’t seen before,” Young, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Signal. (For more from the author of “Obama Administration Not Finished yet With Executive Actions, Regulations” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.