Comedian Norm Macdonald Passes Away – RedState

Norm Macdonald, the deadpan acerbic comedian who came to fame during his stint on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, passed away today after a lengthy bout with cancer. Macdonald was 61.

Macdonald’s style, as showcased when he performed the Weekend Update skit on Saturday Night Live from 1994 to 1998, was predominantly based on letting the audience in on the joke, a knowing wink at how it did — or at least should — understand the often subtle referential humor at which he excelled.

Macdonald was that rarity in Hollywood in general and comedy in particular: an unapologetic conservative. He also understood that comedy was just that — comedy — and thus was never reluctant to skewer those on either side of the political spectrum without reservation. Macdonald was a youthful old school comedian, the kind who held firm to their own convictions yet would seldom if ever show their hand when performing. Instead, it was the comedy itself that mattered and was all that mattered.

Macdonald was unafraid to stir the pot when need be. In 2018, he aroused the ire of the then-#MeToo worshipping media when he stated in an interview:

“The model used to be: admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition and then we give you a second chance. Now it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished,” Macdonald told the trade publication, later adding: “I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it.”

Earlier in his career, Macdonald was fired from Saturday Night Live despite his popularity on the show, reason being his continuously going after O.J. Simpson much to the ire of NBC executive and longtime Simpson friend Don Ohlmeyer.

Macdonald’s longtime friend and business partner Lori Jo Hoekstra commented in a statement through his management firm:

“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Macdonald’s passing has brought on universal lamenting from fellow performers and both sides of the political spectrum.

Rest in Peace, Norm. And thank you.





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Deal to subsidize nuclear power, close coal plants passes Illinois House

An energy deal to prop up two nuclear power plants that Exelon said it would close also requires coal-fired power plants to shutter by 2045.

The deal passed the House late Thursday and goes to the Senate next. The Senate is set to return to Springfield on Monday, Senate President Don Harmon said in a statement.

“The shared goal among the Senate, House and Governor Pritzker has been to position Illinois as a national leader on reliable, renewable and affordable energy policies,” Harmon said. “This proposal accomplishes that shared goal. I commend the work the House has done to build on the progress the Senate had made.”

The measure in a House amendment to Senate Bill 2408 passed late during Thursday’s special session in the House. It includes hundreds of millions of dollars in ratepayer subsidies for Nuclear power.

Terry McGoldrick with IBEW Local 15 said passage is imperative for keeping the Byron nuclear plant open.

“The plan is right now if we don’t get something done they will take the fuel out of Unit 1 on the 13th and start removing fuel on Unit 2 on the 16th,” McGoldrick said. “Those are real dates.”

The Dresden nuclear plant is also slated for closure later this year. Exelon says the plants are suffering revenue losses.

But the measure also closes coal-fired power plants like Prairie Generation in southern Illinois and City Water Light and Power in Springfield with requirements to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2035.

CWLP Chief Engineer Doug Brown told WMAY the utility already invests in carbon reductions and having to do more down the road with a hard close date isn’t viable.

The measure was amended to remove a $20 million annual fund for CWLP and Prairie State in southern Illinois for such carbon reductions.

“It is enormous costs for the capital on those things to install on those units by 2035 only to be shut down by 2045,” Brown said. “That’s also just basically a waste of money, of taxpayer dollars, to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a technology that’s not even going to last basically ten years.”

Another element of the sweeping bill includes jobs programs in the renewable energy sector, something supported by Dulce Ortiz with the group Clean Power Lake County.

“It’s time to move to a new clean energy economy in Illinois that will address the historic inequities of pollution, create jobs in communities that need them the most,” Ortiz said.

Residential consumers will pay more than $4 extra on average per month for electricity under the bill, according to estimates.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said the measure will bring about the largest utility rate increase for not just residential, but also for major energy users like manufacturers. He said that could cause employers to leave the state.

“I think we need a more balanced approach, one not exclusively driven by ideology, to figure out the best path forward,” Denzler said.

Denzler also said unresolved are the reliability issues the measure raises, something he and others worry would bring about brownouts or require the purchase of coal powered electricity from neighboring states.

There are also imminent domain issues raised in the bill allowing a transmission line to go across southern Illinois, impacting farm property owners.

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said the nuclear component could have been addressed separately while other issues continue to be worked on. He said the bill “just runs right over the top of” downstate districts.

Another element would give rebates for those purchasing electric vehicles with the goal of 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030. It’s unclear if that would include electric motorcycles.

The Senate passed a different version in Senate Bill 18 last week. If SB2408 passes the Senate, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s ready to sign the bill.

“I would like to thank Speaker [Emanuel “Chris”] Welch and Leader [Marcus] Evans for their collaborative leadership in reaching a compromise amendment that puts consumers and climate first, while protecting and creating jobs,” Pritzker said before the measure passed. “I look forward to this amendment advancing … and making its way to my desk where I will sign this historic agreement into law.”





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Students as young as 12 would have to be fully vaccinated by January to go on campus at America’s second-largest school district — if proposal passes

Los Angeles public school students as young as 12 years of age would have to be fully vaccinated by January to go on campus if a school board proposal passes Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The paper said the proposal is expected to be adopted since most board members have indicated their support — and would “catapult the L.A. Unified School District into the forefront of school systems nationwide with the most sweeping and aggressive safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What are the details?

The Times said the proposal from the second-largest school district in America would first affect athletes — and that those who are 12 or older would be required to receive a first vaccine dose no later than Oct. 3 and a second dose no later than Oct. 31.

After that, all students 12 and older would have to receive a first dose no later than Nov. 21 and a second dose no later than Dec. 19, the paper said.

More from the Times:

Students return to class on Jan. 11. By Jan 10, proof of vaccination would have to be “uploaded and approved in LAUSD’s Daily Pass program except for those students with qualified and approved exemptions and conditional admissions,” the proposal says.

The Daily Pass allows a student onto campus and, up to now, has tracked weekly coronavirus test results. Parents and students also use the pass to self-report whether a student has symptoms.

Vaccine exemptions could be obtained for documented medical reasons.

“The percentage of children hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 has been disproportionately rising, indicating that children are at a greater risk from contracting the Delta variant due to high transmission rates with possibility of long-term symptoms from COVID-19,” the resolution states, according to the paper.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late August gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 16 and older; those 12 and older have been able to receive the Pfizer shot under a federal emergency use authorization since the spring. The Times said full FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older is “widely expected in the coming weeks.”

Anything else?

Dr. Anthony Fauci in late August said he supported COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of attending school, calling it a “good idea.”

In July, the L.A. school district said it was requiring all students and employees returning for in-person learning to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles late last month said that while students away from the classroom during the pandemic “may not have learned all their times tables,” they nevertheless “know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”





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Bars based on vaccine status? Montrealers share their opinions on vax passes

For the first evening of the introduction of the vaccine passport in Quebec, it was essential to ask people about this social issue.

I wanted to know how people in Montreal felt with this segregation in society, and if they were in agreement with this measure imposed by the Premier Francois Legault’s government.

I even took my questions a little further. I asked if it would be better to create bars that were only accessible to the vaccinated and others only for the unvaccinated.

The responses were quite diverse and very colorful. I invite you to watch the full report.





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VIDEO: Utility workers turn their backs on Biden as presidential motorcade passes in wake of Hurricane Ida catastrophe

A video showing utility workers turning their backs on President Joe Biden as his motorcade passed them on a Louisiana road in the wake of Hurricane Ida has gone viral — and the workers’ act of defiance has earned them more than a few kudos.

What are the details?

It isn’t clear exactly where and when the cellphone video was recorded, but a New Orleans ambulance passed by after the Biden motorcade, so the back-turn presumably took place somewhere in the vicinity of the Crescent City.

Biden on Friday also delivered remarks in LaPlace, Louisiana — which is about 32 miles northwest of New Orleans — on his administration’s response to Hurricane Ida.

As the motorcade approached, a couple of utility workers watched facing forward —

Image source: YouTube screenshot

— but as Biden & Co. drew closer, the pair turned their backs on the president, along with about five other utility workers:

Image source: YouTube screenshot

“No respect,” the individual recording the video said after he and his co-workers were done turning the backs on Biden.

Here’s the clip:


Shoutout to these utility workers in Louisiana who turned their back on Joe Biden

youtu.be

‘God bless you all!’

Praise for the utility workers poured in all over social media. Here’s a sampling from the “top comments” underneath the YouTube clip:

  • “No one likes these people. Biden is incompetent. Harris is MIA. Their underlings are running things,” one commenter wrote. “Ask Democrats a simple question: ‘Is America safer and better off than we were 1 YEAR ago?’ Not 4 years ago. 1 year. It’s taken less than 9 months for this administration to screw things up worse than anyone could have imagined.”
  • “I’m surprised there was no hearse in the procession,” another commenter quipped. “After all, he’s a walking cadaver.”
  • “Middle fingers would have enhanced it even more,” another commenter said.
  • “You guys (and gals) ROCK!” another commenter exclaimed. “This administration is filled with cretins.”
  • “Thank you for helping! God bless you all!” another commenter wrote. “We stand with you turning our backs on Biden and his gang!”
  • “This is what happens when you let a magic box decide. You get a crash dummy for a president,” another commenter offered.

(H/T: Western Journal)





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Greg Abbott passes Texas election integrity law

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a voter integrity bill into law Tuesday, the same law that Democrats fled the state from in a bid to block the bill.

Abbott said the bill makes “it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure it is harder than ever for people to cheat at the ballot box.”

“Election integrity is now law in Texas,” Abbott said before signing the bill.

The bill forbids drive-through and round-the-clock voting, and adds an ID requirement for mail-in and absentee ballots.

“Those who do want to vote-by-mail must now provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number when they’re applying for a mail-in ballot and when they send it back in,” the Daily Mail explained. It also mandates that polling locations in areas with more than 55,000 residents offer at least 12 hours of early voting.

The bill also allows poll watchers to be more aggressive in monitoring the voting process. Watchers are now no longer forced to sit in place and are allowed to keep track of activity across the location. Anyone who assists a voter with filling out a ballot will also now have to sign an affidavit indicating they did so in accordance with the voter’s wishes and not their own.

According to the Daily Mail, the bill also requires the Texas Secretary of State to maintain consistently updated voter rolls.

The Daily Wire reports:

Democratic legislators in Texas tried to forestall passage of the bill by leaving the state, traveling on chartered private planes to Washington, D.C., where they planned to agitate for the For the People Act, a federal voting rights bill that critics claim would amount to a federal “takeover” of a state-level election process. Once in Washington, D.C., however, some of the Texas Democratic legislators fell ill with COVID-19, triggering a small outbreak among Democratic Congressional and White House staffers.

Despite protests, the Texas legislature was able to return to session, pass the bill, and send it to Abbott’s desk. The most significant change to the bill was voter ID requirements, which now state that voters must provide a driver’s license or social security number that matches the one in their state voter record.

“The governor’s signature ends months of legislative clashes and standoffs during which Democrats — propelled by concerns that the legislation raises new barriers for marginalized voters — forced Republicans into two extra legislative sessions,” the Texas Tribune noted. “SB 1 is set to take effect three months after the special legislative session, in time for the 2022 primary elections.”





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New Hanover County, N.C., Board Passes Mask Mandate Against Public Outcry

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As politically motivated fear of COVID spreads faster than the virus itself, mask mandates are popping up all over the country. And it is not just major metropolises seeing the heavy hand of government literally muzzling citizens. Wilmington, North Carolina — a coastal city tucked in-between the Atlantic and the Cape Fear River, with a population of just over 120,000 — now has a mask mandate with penalties that include misdemeanor charges and closure of businesses.

The original order was put in place by the Health Board, which is an unelected body appointed by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners (Wilmington is in New Hanover County). It included language about incarceration in mental health hospitals. That language is not specifically present in the version of the order that was put in place after the required 10 days of public comment and an official public meeting of the commissioners. It appears that after hearing from the public, the commissioners decided to amend several parts of the mask mandate — but still passed it against much public criticism.

The public meeting has been described by media and others as “fractious,” “tense,” and “heated.” The vast majority of those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting were against the mandate. Many others were removed from the meeting either for refusing to wear a mask to the meeting or for being disruptive.

As MSN reported:

Following a fractious public hearing Tuesday morning, the New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board voted unanimously to mandate face coverings be worn in all indoor public places within New Hanover County.

And:

Prior to the meeting, 1,687 comments were submitted by the public about the mandate. More were made during a 45-minute comment period during the meeting. Several anti-mask protesters were escorted out of the meeting by New Hanover County sheriff’s deputies for being disruptive and for not wearing masks.

Many who opposed the mandate were not allowed to attend the meeting, since masking was a prerequisite to enter the building. Though the mandate itself allows certain “exceptions,” the board specifically disallowed those “exceptions” for the public meeting, causing many to accuse the board of violating the very rule that was being voted on. Several in the crowd outside also accused the board of violating the rules for public meetings by requiring masks to gain entry.

Some wore a mask just long enough to get into the meeting, then promptly removed it. Many of them were escorted out by New Hanover County deputies. “They can’t kick us all out,” said one man as he was told to leave. “I say we all take our masks off right now.”

Many of those who spoke in the meeting accused the board of putting on a dog and pony show, since it was obvious they had already made up their minds how they would vote. That the majority of those who spoke or commented online and via phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and letters were against the rule appears to have been irrelevant to the board. The rule was approved by a unanimous vote.

All that remains is for the board to try to enforce it.

Many residents of New Hanover County and Wilmington are divided over the issue. The lockdowns, masks, and other heavy-handed requirements last year caused many businesses in Wilmington to close for good. Some of those were small businesses that had been around for decades. This most recent round of COVID hysteria threatens to do even more damage to the economy and liberty of Wilmingtonians — and a concerted resistance is forming.

Local NBC affiliate WECT reported on the “mixed reaction” to the mandate. That report — published online during the period in between the proposal and the final vote — cited both people in favor of the mandate and against it. Derek Sellers told WECT that he will abide by the mandate, but sees it as a violation of the rights of individuals. “That does concern me because if you can mandate that, what other mandates can come down the pipe? So it’s kind of a slippery slope,” Sellers said. “We’re a free country. This country — here, you’re supposed to be allowed to do whatever you want to do, make your own decisions, your own choices as an adult. Live your life like you want to live it.”

Another New Hanover County resident addressed the bait-and-switch tactic of officials telling people that widespread vaccination would mean a return to “normal.” He said, “It’s quite unfortunate because a lot of us got vaccinated due to the reason of like, ‘hey, let’s get the masks off.’” But with more than half of Wilmingtonians vaccinated, here they are again, putting the masks back on.

But that may not be the end of the story. Because many Wilmingtonians are refusing to go along. And many businesses — with the memory of last year still fresh in their minds — are not enforcing the requirement to wear masks. And the softened language of the order — which was done to give it a veneer of acceptability — may help along that resistance. After listing 12 “exceptions” — including “any medical condition or disability” that may involve “trouble breathing”; finding that wearing a mask “is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle”; or “participating in worship, religious, spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights” — the order states, “Anyone who declines to wear a face covering for these reasons should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition.”

So, while the order proscribes penalties for giving “false statements” to “an education compliance officer” (no, that doesn’t sound Orwellian at all), the phrase “should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition” could easily be interpreted to mean that one could simply state that they are exempt based on one or more of the 12 exceptions, but that they decline to discuss it any further. No statement is not a false statement.

And that is the position many Wilmingtonians are taking. While mask usage is up since the passage of the mandate, it is still common to see Wilmingtonians go about with exposed faces. And it is common for businesses to let that happen without acting as the enforcement arm of the County.



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Texas Legislature passes bail reform

The Texas Legislature has passed a second priority legislative item of Gov. Greg Abbott’s – bail reform, which the governor says he will sign into law.

Both the House and Senate passed SB6 last week.

Filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, bail reform was proposed in response to a wave of crime sweeping through Texas, resulting in part, she argues, from several judges continuing to release repeat offenders into the community who commit more crimes.

“As a former prosecutor and criminal district court judge, it is absolutely appalling to see the release of habitual and violent offenders on small, and sometimes multiple, bonds,” Huffman said when she announced bail reform proposals earlier this year.

After the bill’s passage, she said the bill was a “game-changer.”

“We have all seen the horrible consequences of current bail practices throughout Texas,” she said, which she hopes will be mitigated after the law goes into effect. She said she plans to monitor the bill’s implementation “to ensure that the process is working as intended and is efficient for the judicial system.”

Her hometown of Houston, the state’s largest city, has been particularly hit hard by increased crime with the homicide rate increasing by 91% since 2019.

Just days before the bill passed, two men, both out on felony bond release, were arrested and charged with the murder of New Orleans police detective Everett Briscoe. Briscoe and another patron eating outside at The Grotto restaurant in a heavily trafficked area in downtown Houston died from gunshot wounds.

“The bail system in Harris County is a disaster and making our citizens unsafe,” Doug Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said in a statement with Hoffman when she announced reform measures.

Houston Crime Stoppers, which helped get HB6 passed, said over 5,000 people signed a petition in support of the bill. The group helped law enforcement locate and arrest 31 suspects and solve 64 cases this summer, it reports.

The House passed HB6 by a vote of 85-40 with 22 absent. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month and approved House changes on Tuesday by a vote of 26-5.

The key reform measure limits judges from releasing defendants on personal recognizance bonds who are charged with committing felonies, including multiple violent crimes. It also creates a new public database that provides details about each defendant’s case and bail conditions, as well as identifying the judge or magistrate who set the bail. The Public Safety Report System will be developed by the Office of Court Administration and be made available to all counties free of charge.

The goal is to increase transparency and accountability from judges, Huffman said, enabling the public to access information about who is being released from jail and by which judges.

The new law also requires any state official setting bail to complete a form certifying that all relevant factors were considered when assessing the defendant’s risk to the community. The form must be electronically signed by the bail-setter and be made publicly available. It’s the first statewide data collection for a bail system in Texas.

The new law also requires charitable bail organizations to report each defendant they bond out of jail, many of which are not located in Texas. Many charitable bail donations “come from out-of-state individuals who have no stake in our state or in our communities,” Huffman said.

The bill garnered bipartisan support, “much to the dismay of a small number of detractors that have continuously mischaracterized the bill to fit a misguided narrative,” Huffman said, adding that the law, once implemented, “will help Texans from all walks of life be more safe in their communities moving forward.”

Last month, the ACLU of Texas sent a letter to all 254 counties in Texas informing them that following the law “might land them in court.” SB6 “conflict[s] with our constitutional right to pretrial liberty and the presumption of innocence,” it said in a statement.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the legislation will “reform our broken bail system in Texas and keep our communities safe. Public safety is at risk because of our current bail system that recklessly allows dangerous criminals back onto our streets, which is why I made bail reform an emergency item during the 87th Legislative Session.”

The law is named after State Trooper Damon Allen, who was murdered in 2017 after a local magistrate released a violent criminal into the community.

Allen’s “killer was out on a $15,000 bond despite having previously been convicted of a charge arising from assaulting a public servant, and having been arrested on charges of evading arrest and aggravated assault on a public servant,” Abbott said.

SB6 “will help prevent senseless murders like this in the future,” Abbott said, adding that he “looked forward to signing the Damon Allen Act into law and ensuring that our communities remain safe and secure.”

Once signed, the bill goes into effect 90 days after the last day of the special legislative session, which is Sept. 5.



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Australia Passes Massive Surveillance Bill: Data on Personal Computers May Be Fully Accessed/Modified by the Government

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Australia is taking its fight against cybercrime and online terrorism — or anything it deems terrorism and “serious Commonwealth offence” — to the next level. Last week, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) was granted almost absolute surveillance powers over the population, including hacking computer devices of suspects, collecting or deleting private data, and taking over social-media accounts — merely on the basis of suspicion, without a person having been accused of any wrongdoing.

The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2021 grants the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) three new powers for dealing with online crime. According to the Guardian:

  • Data disruption warrants enable the AFP and the ACIC to disrupt data by modifying, adding, copying or deleting in order to frustrate the commission of serious offences online
  • Network activity warrants allow agencies to collect intelligence on serious criminal activity being conducted by criminal networks; and
  • Account takeover warrants let the AFP and the ACIC take control of a person’s online account and can be combined with other warrants to gather evidence to further a criminal investigation

The paper further explains that data disruption warrants may be sought if authorities believe there are relevant offense(s) that involve data held in a computer and disruption of such data is “likely to substantially assist in frustrating the commission” of the offense(s).

Network activity warrants will demand “reasonable grounds” for suspecting a person or a group are engaging in or facilitating criminal activity, and obtaining data from their computers would “substantially assist” in preventing, detecting or frustrating a crime.

Finally, an account takeover warrant will be issued when there are reasonable grounds that it is necessary to gather evidence of a relevant offense(s).

Further, Australian companies, systems administrators, and any entities deemed helpful in assisting the law enforcement in hacking the devices of the “suspects,” collecting their data, modifying or deleting the content they create online, changing account credentials, and whatever else is necessary, must comply and assist the police. Refusing to do so could land one in jail for up to 10 years, per the new law.

The first two types of warrants can be issued by an eligible judge or a nominated member of the administrative appeals tribunal (AAT), while account takeover warrants must come from a magistrate (a local court).

Last August, when the bill was introduced, former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton specified that police would only use this new law to investigate and prevent such crimes as drug trafficking, terrorism, and child exploitation “on the dark web.” Dutton said the powers that would be granted to the law enforcement under the bill would apply “to those people [who commit the specified crimes] and those people only.”

Similarly, current Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews stated that the new legislation gives more authority to the law-enforcement agencies in the country in identifying cybercriminal activities online and “keeps Australians safe.” “Under our changes, the AFP will have more tools to pursue organized crime gangs to keep drugs off our street and out of our community, and those who commit the most heinous crimes against children,” Andrews stated.

In reality, the pool of punishable offenses has been extended endlessly. The bill’s explanatory memorandum states serious commonwealth offenses “include, but are not limited to, money laundering, threats to national security, dealings in child abuse material, importation of prohibited imports and violence.” Some local media expressed concern that the wording of the law enables the police to investigate any offense that is punishable by imprisonment of at least three years.

The Human Rights Law Centre, an Australian human-rights group, has criticized the bill for its “insufficient safeguards” that could lead to government abuses of people’s privacy. Kieran Pender, a senior lawyer at the organization, said that the Centre advocated for restrictive provisions to be included in the bill, and that the parliamentary committee that produced the bill has agreed to adopt them. Nonetheless, the final version did not include many of the discussed safeguards, while the rest were only partially adopted. Kender warned:

Every increase in state surveillance has a democratic cost. Overbroad surveillance powers impact the privacy of all Australians and have a chilling effect on journalists and whistleblowers. Given the powers are unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive, they should have been narrowed to what is strictly necessary and subject to robust safeguard.

Kender accused the government of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of dropping the recommendations and “rushing these laws through Parliament in less than 24 hours.”

The news comes as Australia is rapidly turning into a dystopian police state that curbs the civil liberties of the population by imposing draconian COVID lockdown rules. The country’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, with a total population of over 12 million people, are stuck in lockdown mode that is being constantly extended. The only way to get out of it, the officials say, is to vaccinate at least 70 percent of people against COVID. Meanwhile, both states took a heavy-handed approach in addressing COVID transmission, looking to prevent every single case at any price. Generally, the population is not allowed to leave their homes, with few exceptions officially dubbed “reasonable excuses.” Facemasks are to be worn in most indoor and outdoor public settings. To make sure the residents obey the rules and don’t protest, NSW has deployed the military and expanded police presence. Reportedly, Queensland, Australia, is now building a COVID quarantine facility, which some are referring to as a “COVID concentration camp.” 

Not surprisingly, such an atmosphere breeds “terrorists” that grow “sick and tired” of senseless anti-freedom rules that achieve little other than impairing people’s freedoms.





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Texas Legislature Passes Election Reform Bill

Texas State Capitol in Austin. (SusanRisdon/Getty Images)

The GOP-dominated Texas legislature voted Tuesday to pass its elections-reform bill after the state’s Democrats protested and obstructed the measure for weeks, going so far as to walk out of a special session to prevent it from advancing.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Republican governor Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign the bill after lobbying for it for many months.

While state Democrats have attacked the bill as a voter-suppression measure, state Republicans have insisted it will promote transparency, security, and integrity in Texas elections.

Its provisions include rolling back drive-through and 24-hour voting, requiring voters to authenticate their identity on absentee ballots, banning public officials from sending unsolicited mail-in ballots, cracking down on paid “ballot harvesting,” and mandating that all voting systems have a paper trail on or before 2026, among others. Livestream video must also be captured at ballot-counting locations in large Texas counties per the legislation.

To block a final vote on the bill, 57 Texas Democratic legislators fled the state to deny state Republicans quorum, or the minimum number of members that must be in attendance to conduct legislative proceedings. They traveled to Washington, D.C., where they attempted to rally support for federal elections legislation.

In their absence, Texas Republicans voted to send law enforcement to track down the deserters. In early August, Texas House speaker Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants for the majority of the absentees to compel them to return to the state to participate in a vote on the elections bill. Despite Democratic resistance, Abbott vowed to pursue all possible avenues to enact the legislation.

After the Democrats’ departure, the governor vetoed funding for the state legislature, its staffers, and legislative agencies, arguing that these monies should not be provided to those “who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”

After the Democrats secured a temporary restraining order from a state district judge prohibiting their arrest, detainment, or confinement for two weeks, Abbott and Phelan appealed the issue to the Texas Supreme Court which overturned the arrest freeze, reversing the lower court’s ruling.

Abbot’s signature, which will enact the bill into law, will mark the end of an onerous political battle between the state’s competing parties, which fundamentally disagree about whether enhanced elections oversight and requirements are adding necessary accountability or disenfranchising voters.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.





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