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Federal Judge Allows Trump’s Commission to Collect Voter Data

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By LeNora Millen     07-24-17

A federal judge on Monday allowed President Trump’s “Commission on Election Integrity” move forward with collecting voter data from 50 states, despite many of the states refusing to release the requested information.

The District, ruling the White House advisory panel is exempt from federal privacy review requirements whatever additional risk it might pose to Americans’ information.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s described the ruling on Monday, regarding legal issues as “highly technical.”  The ruling rejected a privacy group’s challenge to the collection effort and its demand that the commission reveals how the data will be used.  The Judge’s decision will face more challenges—states not included in the lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and aren’t compelled to comply

President Donald Trump gives a speech at the inaugural Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity: White House July 19, 2017

The ruling forestalled a public setback for Trump who has repeatedly claimed widespread fraud cost him the popular vote in November. The integrity commission’s request for the voting information of about more than 150 million registered voters remains controversial, with many state leaders from both parties voicing objections about its potential to reveal personal information, suppress voter participation and encroach on states’ oversight of voting laws.

The letter dated June 28 and signed by Kobach, asks for registered voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, partial social security numbers, political party, a decade’s worth of voter history, information on felony convictions, and whether they have registered in more than one state.

The letter was followed by a separate document from the US Justice Department, which asked states to reveal how they maintain their voter rolls. The commission said all voter data submitted by the states would be made public.

On July 10, the White House officials discussed scrapping initial plans to use a Pentagon-operated website to accept the data, but would instead use a different method. Those changes appeared crucial in a 35-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of Washington said.

“The mere increased risk of disclosure stemming from the collection and eventual anonymized disclosure of already publicly available voter roll information is insufficient” to block the data request, she wrote.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, ruled against the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a watchdog group that sought to block the commission’s data request because the panel had not conducted a full privacy impact statement as required by a 2002 federal law for new government electronic data collection systems.

She concluded that while EPIC had the right to sue under the law for a privacy review, the commission was a presidential advisory panel, not a federal agency subject to the privacy law.

“Neither the Commission or the Director of White House Information Technology — who is currently charged with collecting voter roll information on behalf of the Commission — are ‘agencies’” of the federal government subject to the court’s review in this matter, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

“To the extent, the factual circumstances change, however — for example, if the powers of the Commission expand beyond those of a purely advisory body — this determination may need to be revisited.”

Kollar-Kotelly wrote the only added risk to privacy were if the White House computer systems are more vulnerable to security threats than those of the states, or that its de-identification process would be inadequate.

President and Executive Director Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy center was expected to issue a statement shortly.

A spokesman for the voter information commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The commission is led by Vice President Pence, with Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R- KS) as vice chairman.

At least 44 states have indicated they won’t provide all their voter data, with some saying they would provide nothing and others providing what information they could under state laws.

The vice president’s office has said 20 states have agreed to share at least some data and 16 more are reviewing the request.

President Trump has said that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in November, although critics say the claim is unsubstantiated and is a pretext for federal laws to suppress voter participation, including by racial minority groups and poor people.

Trump has championed the commission’s work as a way to “strengthen up voting procedures” by identifying “vulnerabilities that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting.” Conservative board members have advocated stricter federal election laws, alleging that a liberal bias in U.S. enforcement has benefited liberals.

In court filings, Rotenberg called the privacy implications of creating “a secret database stored in the White House” of hundreds of millions of voter records from across the country “staggering” and lacking legal authorization.

The court order was not a final ruling on the commission’s work, with other groups filing lawsuits and one appealing to a higher federal court to block its action under open records and meeting laws.

Monday’s ruling removed one legal obstacle even as the commission faces other political head winds. The commission had asked states to hold off submitting the comprehensive voter data the panel had requested pending the court decision.

EPIC said the proposal would increase privacy risks to every registered voter, “including in particular military families whose home addresses would be revealed,” people whose partial Social Security numbers are used as passwords for commercial services and people with felony convictions.

Trump formed the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” in May after repeatedly suggesting that millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Studies and state officials of both parties have found no evidence of widespread voting fraud.

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Lifestyle

Freedom Is A Choice! “I am grabbing God’s coattail and letting Him lead”

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Freedom has a deeper meaning for those like Omar Howard. Just a little over a decade ago he was released, seemingly free from the restraints of prison. Yet, walking out of the doors he had no clue he would be entering into the harsh prison of life that follows those like him who have a record. That record makes it hard for them to have the basic level of freedom that most of us who have never been down that road take for granted. Howard is like multiple men and women who are released from jail with a plan to change but have to fight the “system”. Howard describes his “beginning” as working endless opportunities just to make ends meet and being told “no” repeatedly. It would have been easy for Howard to just go back to the life of crime. Why wouldn’t he? Why didn’t he? His response, “You have to make a conscious decision to change every day. Life is about choices, every choice leads to a destination and you have to believe God is in control”. This thought process and his tenacity led him to his current place and receiving his pardon January 2018, just a month after celebrating his ten year release.

Howard was 15 when he dropped out of school and started down a path to destruction. Hard robbery was the crime that would ultimately change his life and leave him with no choice but to accept a plea deal that resulted in an 18 year sentence from a “hit” that left a man being killed. Howard maintains his innocence in the murder and has apologized to the family for the part that he played. Although he doesn’t blame his childhood for his choices, he does state that it’s important that parent’s play an essential part in the lives of the children that you bring into this world. “Parental intimacy is important, create structure for your kids and let them know how much you love them. Fathers, be a part of your children’s lives or they will embrace their counterparts for support. Be transparent and talk to your kids about real issues.”

When asked, What would you say to your younger self? Howard responds, “Establish a relationship with God. Embrace the process, strive harder and KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A PURPOSE.” The same thoughts he now shares with the youth that are involved with his foundation “Freedom is a Choice, Inc., a mentoring program for at-risk teens. It is evident that Howard is a changed man, as a Chaplain at the Atlanta Transitional Center in midtown, he speaks hope to those who are where he once was. He is a featured speaker in the documentary “Released” When Does the Sentence End?” and most recently shared his story on Iyanla Vanzat’s “Fix My Life” show. He is a man of action and on a mission to keep as many young men from walking in his shoes by exposing them to better. He is a sought after motivational speaker and hopes to extend his program to have one of the largest faith-based youth centers very soon. It is nothing short of amazing, but his ability to serve and give makes him a blessing.

Read more about The Omar Howard Story. 

 

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Lifestyle

Is This Life?

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Media headlines are displaying disaster all over the world with no resolve. From children being killed in innocent shootouts because of the flaws in gun laws to sexual abuse cases on the rise. Our government has gone haywire and currently dominating the spotlight while, deadly diseases and mental illnesses are being minimized. Is this life? Is this what life is becoming? Every morning we wake up to the sound of breaking news and headlines that make us cringe. Positive stories and encouraging words have become harder to find. When asking others, “How do you deal with the negative energy every day?” Some reply, “I don’t. I don’t watch the news, or I don’t listen to it.” My reply is usually this, “It isn’t just on the news. It’s walking or sitting right beside you and sometimes it’s even in your household. There are people suffering every day because of the things we don’t do, don’t want to see, or simply don’t want to get involved in.” We have been conditioned to not get in anyone else’s business unless it affects us personally. Look around you, open your eyes. It’s now affecting us all and we must do something. This is a call for action. It’s time we all unselfishly take part in rebuilding our communities. Make it your business to do something intentional every day in an effort to make a change in your community and begin to push everyone including yourself out of the comfort of just accepting what is. We are losing innocent lives every day to drug abuse, domestic violence, hunger, contaminated water and the list of disasters that are happening right under our nose increase, every second, every minute and every hour of every day.

You may be wondering what you can do to promote positive change in your community, here is a start:

  • Volunteer at shelters-Everyone has something they can provide-share your expertise. Help by donating your goods and knowledge.
  • Volunteer at schools-Teachers need more mentors and positive role models. We all have a story, share your experience and give a child a blueprint to a better life.
  • Spend quality time with your kids and your family- We get so caught up in life that we forget to nourish what we have already been blessed with. Take time to water the seeds you planted.
  • Contact your political partners and work with them on change for your community. What do you see in your area that would be an easy fix to reduce crime or poverty. Make a plan and Expose it!

There are so many things that we can do to change the direction of this world but WE must work together for the good and it doesn’t matter what religion, race or sex you are-we all have something in common. We want the best for our families.
Post and share your thoughts on what you can do to expose and improve your community. Hashtag#exposuremagazine #isthislife

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Cubs Sign Pitcher Yu Darvish to $126 Million Deal in Preparation for Next Title Run

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Making one of the biggest splashes this off-season, the Chicago Cubs have added pitcher Yu-Darvish, formerly of the Los Angeles to their talented, but imperfect roster.

The deal for Darvish standing at $126 million also comes with an opt out clause along with performance clauses to increase the value of the deal. The Cubs had been in talks with Darvish for a good portion of the last season, but now apparently was the best time for both parties.

Despite the unceremonious ending to last season in the NLCS, the Cubs have been in a better place these past several seasons than they have been in a long while. The signing of Darvish to say the least is a very good insurance policy to sustain this run.

With names like Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, Darvish will complete the rotation for one of the most talented group of pitchers in baseball. However this move seems to nudge Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta who is currently a free agent to the door. Arrieta had an up and down season with flashes of greatness, but ultimately didn’t make the best case to remain with the ball club.

Wild Card Game - Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta

Darvish brings a 2.4 ERA against National League Central opponents as well as his all-time MLB leading 11 strikeouts per nine innings ratio to the Cubs which makes this the pickup many other teams are coveting right now. The Cubs begin spring training in a week and can begin integrating Darvish then in preparation for the upcoming season.

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