As the Democrats take the House, Trump fires Sessions

The 2018 midterms didn’t quite have the blue wave that the Democrats hoped for, but they were able to secure The House of Representatives for themselves, which brings an assurance of some level of checks and balances back to our governing system. Notably, Beto O’Rourke fought a very close battle against his incumbent in Texas, Ted Cruz. Although he lost to Cruz eventually by about 1,000 votes, he’s certainly garnered himself a lot of attention. We’ll be watching Beto’s career with great interest.


Following the elections, Trump turned up his rhetoric against someone he used to talk very fondly about, Jeff Sessions.

For those that don’t know, Jeff Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in the White House during his campaign, and because of this, Mr. Sessions recused himself from the investigation, instead putting forward Rosenstein. Although originally this was done to ensure a fair and impartial investigation, as the investigation has gone forward, Trump has become increasingly and public ally critical of Mr. Sessions.

Now Mr. Trump has gone so far as to request Mr. Sessions’ resignation, putting forth an acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who has shown himself to be publically opposed to the investigation. It’s feared that Whitaker will shut down or seriously hinder the investigation now that he is essentially in control of its fate.

Many in opposition are planning protests of this action in larger cities across the nation. These protests are scheduled to take place, especially near Capitols across the nation, on November 8th. People hope a swift show of strong opposition from the public to Trump asking for Session’s resignation will protect the integrity of the investigation.

It remains to be seen what the investigation will bring forth next.

Federal Appeals Court upholds SB54

Last Tuesday a Federal Appeals Court, specifically the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld the controversial election law, which allows candidates to circumvent the party’s caucuses, gathering signatures from local citizens to have their name placed on the primary ballot.


The Utah GOP was staunchly opposed to SB54, surely seeing it as a loss of power and control in their own elections. They went so far as suing the state over the law, causing a deep divide within the party between candidates that see it as a threat and candidates that might use it to ensure their own spot on the ballot.


The legal proceedings have accrued immense legal fees, but that doesn’t seem to be a stumbling block for the opposition to the bill. Entrata CEO Dave Bateman stated that he was willing to pay for the legal costs going forward stating “If it has to go to the Supreme Court, I will pay every penny of that, if I have to.”


This seems to bode well for the Utah Democratic party, as the opposition to SB54 indicates dissent within the Republican party, and may split the vote amongst Republican candidates when elections come.

Net Neutrality Repealed

The FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality rules last Thursday. As discussed in the previous article here on, this opens the door for internet providers to charge for access or full-speed access to sites of their choosing. It also allows them to shape the internet consumers see in other ways, such as limiting access to competitor’s websites, and it isn’t out of their purview to block access to sites entirely.


It’s unlikely that consumers will see the full ramifications of these changes in rules for some time. The telecom companies are surely smart enough to realize that the backlash from enacting rules that are harmful to consumers right away would lead to an even larger backlash and could see the Net Neutrality rules coming back. So it is likely nothing will change for now.


Some Democrats have hinted at bringing back some of the Net Neutrality rules through some kind of congressional rule, but it is yet to be seen what this would entail.


Some public interest groups have vowed to file lawsuits once the rules become official in January, basing their arguments around some public comments in support of the repeal clearly being fraudulent. There is an entire site devoted to this phenomenon,, which lets you search for your name to see if a fraudulent comment in support of the repeal was submitted in your name. There are tens of thousands of cases of this happening, with most of the comments using the exact same wording.



Net Neutrality Repeal

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, announced last month that the agency would vote to undo its 2015 net neutrality rules, which prevent companies like Verizon and Comcast from blocking or slowing down websites or creating internet “fast lanes.”


There have been many attempted attacks on Americans’ freedom online, going back as far as SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and they have all received an immense amount of backlash from the public, resulting in none of these bills being passed. In 2015 Net Neutrality seemed to have been cemented for Americans when the internet was reclassified as a tool closer to a public utility, of which every American has a right to. Since then it has looked as though we, as Americans, had won the battle for our freedom online. But all of that changed last month.


Ajit Pai’s new plan would remove the restrictions on how broadband companies can handle web traffic, as well as put the FTC in charge of policing web providers.


Essentially, if Ajit Pai’s plan goes through, companies will be able to control what sites you access. In theory, a company could pay off web providers to blackball competing companies’ websites. It would be possible to reduce the exposure people have to candidates running for office by blacklisting their websites, or the websites of important events occurring throughout the country by reducing access to news organizations’ sites, to push whatever narrative those in power deem appropriate. Obviously, these are worst case scenario ideas, but the point still stands.


This repeal also opens the doors to service providers charging users for access to certain websites, or categories of websites. Want to access your favorite social media sites? That could mean paying an extra $10 on your bill each month. Video steaming sites like Netflix? Bandwidth is expensive, that’ll be an extra $20. Internet access providers could also extort the companies that provide these online services. For example, Comcast could charge Netflix fees to provide customers access to their website.


Broadband providers have, of course, promised not to abuse the power the Net Neutrality repeal would grant them: “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic,” Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head of regulatory affairs, wrote in a blog post this week.


“Many critics don’t seem to understand that we are moving from heavy-handed regulation to light-touch regulation, not a completely hands-off approach,” Pai said in a speech on Tuesday. “We aren’t giving anybody a free pass. We are simply shifting from one-size-fits-all pre-emptive regulation to targeted enforcement based on actual market failure or anticompetitive conduct.”


Ajit Pai has received threatening voicemails in the backlash resulting from his plan. People have threatened that they know his family, listing them by name, and an image depicting his children walking home from school has circulated on Twitter. Pai has latched on to these extreme cases as a defense for his plan, stating that people opposed to it are insane, deranged, fringe activists.


Although there is obvious public disapproval of the Net Neutrality repeal, congress appears unfazed. Sen Susan Collins is the only Republican lawmaker in opposition to the repeal. Congressional Democrats are forming an effort to persuade the FCC to cancel the repeal vote by circulating a letter and collecting signatures urging Pai not to hold the vote. Since the Republicans hold a majority in Congress, the measure will likely pass if it is brought to vote.


The internet has been aflame recently, with many sites coming out in opposition to the repeal. Virtually every post on Reddit’s front page was related to the repeal following Ajit Pai’s announcement, with other heavy-hitters like Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon coming out in opposition of the repeal.


Only time will tell what the true ramifications of America losing Net Neutrality are, or whether or not it is even repealed at all. as an organization is certainly opposed to the repeal. It is not that far-fetched to think that without Net Neutrality, sites like ours could face suppression if they attracted the wrong kind of attention from people or organizations that benefit from a relationship with telecom companies.


Here at we are attempting to ensure that you, as voters have a voice and that your voice is heard by law makers. The loss of Net Neutrality could mean the stifling of your voice, or an inability to find information important to the way you vote. If you’re getting flashbacks to 1984, you’re not being paranoid. Don’t be fooled, these telecom companies are not struggling financially, not even close. Repealing Net Neutrality doesn’t benefit the consumer in any way, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It will only ensure that telecom companies and the powerful people and companies that do business with them have more control over the flow of information online, allowing them to charge more for the information that they do let flow.


You might be asking what you can do to try and prevent the loss of Net Neutrality. At at this point it is important to contact your senators and express your opinion. That might be a fruitless effort, though, here in UT, though, as both Hatch and Lee have been quite clear about their support of the repeal.


They sold Utahns, and this nation to the telecom lobby for the prices of $106,750 and $60,913, respectively, information pulled from public donor databases.


It’s not too late to have your voice heard. Make your friends and family aware of what’s unfolding online, urge them to reach out to their representatives. Alert the people you care about that their freedom is under fire, though the enemy isn’t foreign in this case, it is the telecom companies and the law makers they have paid off.



Trump visits Utah, reduces Bears Ears Monument

Trump visited Utah on Monday to announce a reduction of both the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments.


Bears Ears National Monument will be sliced from nearly 1.35 million acres into an 86,447-acre Indian Creek unit and a 142,337-acre Shash Jaa unit.


Grand Staircase-Escalante will be cut back from nearly 1.9 million acres to three units — the 211,983-acre Grand Staircase, the 551,117-acre Kaiparowits and the 243,241-acre Escalante Canyons.


These are the largest reductions in protected land in the history of The United States. Trump argued that the monuments have led to “harmful and unnecessary restrictions” and that they were a result of Federal overreach, negatively impacting the local economy, hunting, and ranching. It didn’t take long for conservation groups to react, multiple lawsuits were filed just hours after the President’s announcement. The conservation groups, led by San Francisco-based Earthjustice — including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club, were apparently well aware of this announcement ahead of time due to various leaks from government officials in the White House. They’re of the opinion that the President lacks the authority to perform these actions under the Antiquities Act.


Trump is quoted as saying that “public lands will once again be for public use.”


“They’ve threatened your very way of life. They’ve threatened your hearts,” he said, promising the state’s national treasures would be protected by listening to the local communities that “know the land the best and that (cherish) the land the most.”


Trump was accompanied by senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Both are apparently very happy with the President’s decision, based on various posts the Senators have made on their public Facebook profiles. Mike Lee has posted videos lampooning the Antiquities Act, pointing to it as an abuse of power. The Act was intended to allow the President to set aside certain valuable public natural areas as park and conservation land. It also allows the President to reserve or accept private lands for that purpose. The aim is to protect all historic and prehistoric sites on United States federal lands and to prohibit excavation or destruction of these antiquities. With this act, this can be done much more quickly than going through the Congressional process of creating a National Park.


Mike Lee is quoted as saying “President Trump did the people of Utah a great favor today by rolling back harmful land use restrictions in southern Utah. The president has done his part and now it is time for Congress to act to protect the people of Utah from federal overreach in the future. That is why I will be introducing legislation later this week that would give Utah similar protections from Antiquities Act abuse that the states of Wyoming and Alaska currently enjoy.”


Trump also toured the LDS churche’s Welfare Square and sat down with top church leaders in a meeting arranged by Senator Hatch. Trump reportedly praised the Church’s efforts in helping the needy around the world.


Although Trump was met with many supportive citizens at his speech, there were various protests throughout the valley, particularly in front of the Capitol, where thousands of protestors gathered and yelled at the President as he drove by along his motorcade route. There was also a confrontation between protestors and police in riot gear near 100 South and State street.


There will surely be more lawsuits in the coming weeks, and Trump has said new legislation will need to be passed to prevent the reduction being reversed by presidential candidates in the future.

Bump fire stalks, their roll in the Vegas shooting, and legislation related to them

The recent October 1st shootings in Vegas on a crowd of concert goers were performed with the assistance of a bump-fire stock. This stock allows the rifle to travel freely along the rod of the stock as it recoils, and in its return action the trigger is depressed again, causing it to fire and repeat the cycle, essentially turning a semi-auto rifle into an automatic weapon.

It didn’t take long for bills to be proposed to Congress banning this type of stock, as its existence is obviously to subvert the automatic weapons ban. It seems obvious that this should be something that is banned, especially in light of it being used to take so many lives in Vegas.

The NRA has mounted an opposition to the bills in congress banning the stocks, arguing instead for more strict regulations on the stocks. What these regulations would entail is still to be determined.

This would certainly lead to some interesting regulations, as it would essentially be allowing modifications to a rifle that enable automatic fire, while still having automatic weapons be illegal in general. The creative wording necessary for the changes proposed by the ATF and NRA are yet to be seen.

The White House has let the Jones Act Waiver Expire


The White House refuses to continue to waive the Jones Act, which would greatly benefit the people of Puerto Rico. If you’re unfamiliar with the Jones Act, it bars foreign-flagged vessels from entering two US ports consecutively. So, for example, a ship registered in Liberia can dock in San Juan, or in Miami, but not Miami and then San Juan.


Importantly, they also can’t deliver aid to multiple ports within Puerto Rico, nor deliver aid to Puerto Rico after having completed an unrelated docking elsewhere in the US. So, for example, if a ship from Asia docks in the Port of Houston to deliver cars or clothes or something manufactured abroad, they might well be passing right by Puerto Rico on their way back around the Horn of Africa, and they might well be mostly empty just dead-heading back to Asia. Sounds like a great chance to load it up with supplies and drop off in PR before carrying on, right? Not under the Jones Act. Or if a foreign ship is headed to Miami to drop off unrelated goods and also wants to carry relief/aid supplies to Puerto Rico on the same trip, no dice. Only one or the other is allowed.


Foreign vessels can provide aid, but the Jones Act makes it more difficult to do so.


The president has shown his cards, so-to-speak, on this issue, revealing that it is pressure from importers that benefit from the Jones act that has caused the U.S. not to provide the same waiver it did for Florida.


This is amidst a growing need for supplies in Puerto Rico after the wake of recent hurricanes. A video posted on twitter of some kind-hearted veterans who are attempting to help in Puerto Rico paints a pretty grim picture:


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