Hidden Clause in Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill Could Potentially Threaten Americans’ Financial Privacy

A cryptocurrency tax reporting requirement tucked inside the $1 trillion infrastructure bill threatens Americans’ financial privacy and constitutional rights, Rep. Warren Davidson warned.

An amendment to section 6050I of the U.S. tax code, buried deep inside the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act currently pending in the House, would impose new surveillance and reporting requirements on individuals trading cryptocurrencies.

The requirements would subject certain individuals transacting in “any digital asset” to a provision in the U.S. tax code requiring businesses that receive more than $10,000 in a single transaction to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of the person from whom the funds were received.

“This is just another example of Democrats trying to pry away financial privacy from Americans in a completely unrelated piece of legislation,” the Ohio Republican, a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and proponent of legislation favored by the cryptocurrency industry, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Several cryptocurrency advocates drew attention to the requirement Friday, with a report by Abraham Sutherland of the cryptocurrency advocacy organization Proof of Stake Alliance first publicizing the reporting mandate.

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Sutherland said the amendment would be a “disaster if it becomes law,” arguing the tax code provision does not cleanly accommodate the unique nature of cryptocurrencies.

Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Coin Center, argued in a Friday article that the requirement would infringe on American citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights by requiring individuals to collect and report their counterparty’s sensitive information to the government without it obtaining the necessary warrant.

Does the Democrats’ bill go too far?

“If this provision becomes law, it will be ripe for a constitutional challenge and Coin Center is prepared to take on that challenge,” Valkenburgh wrote.

“The law’s relative clarity and limited applicability in the case of old-fashioned cash does not translate to digital assets,” Sutherland tweeted. “Compliance can be impossible.”

Traditionally, the federal government can collect financial information provided to banks without a warrant under the “third-party doctrine,” which exempts information voluntarily given to third parties, such as banks, from Fourth Amendment protections.

Related:

Sen. Joe Manchin Reportedly Calls for a ‘Strategic Pause’ Through End of the Year on One of the Democrats’ Biggest Policy Agendas

However, many cryptocurrency transactions do not use a third party, instead storing financial information in a distributed ledger.

“Like other reporting provisions, this reporting requirement makes Americans’ personal data more vulnerable to breaches in cybersecurity and continues to abuse the third-party doctrine,” Davidson told the DCNF.

“Democrats need to learn that Americans want government to stay out of their financial affairs and stop using lazy requirements to circumvent the constitutional right to privacy.”

The reporting requirement is the second cryptocurrency provision in the infrastructure bill to attract controversy, with the Senate approving a last-minute amendment backed by the Treasury Department to the bill in August that expanded who has to report personal information to the Internal Revenue Service.

Davidson voiced his opposition to that amendment as well, declaring the provision a means of stifling the cryptocurrency industry and expanding the Treasury Department’s ability to surveil financial transactions.

Content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of the DCNF’s original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A version of this article appeared on the Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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Fauci Gets Outrageous Honor from Mayo Clinic, Even After Potentially Lying to Congress

Perhaps now wasn’t the time to be conferring an honorary degree upon Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Sure, there are likely some on the left who are wondering why their sainted hero hasn’t been made an actual saint by the Vatican yet. (“Whaddya mean — you have to be dead?”)

However, out on the rest of the political spectrum, those who were paying attention were likely curious why an honorary doctorate was bestowed Saturday on the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.

The honor came only days after new documents indicated Fauci may have lied to Congress when he said his institute had never paid for so-called “gain-of-function” research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The documents were first reported by The Intercept, a left-of-center outlet, on Sept. 6. In the 900 pages detailing the work of EcoHealth Alliance, a biomedical nonprofit that received federal grants for its research into bat coronaviruses at the Chinese laboratory, it emerged that the risks of the research were apparent and — most importantly — some of the work involved essentially creating variants of viruses from existing samples, not just researching them.

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Of the $3.1 million provided to EcoHealth Alliance in federal grants, $599,000 was given to the health organization to work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology for experiments with bat coronaviruses that could potentially infect humans, including work that would alter the viruses to make them more potent.

Lab animals were used, Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright told The Intercept, but they were lab animals as stand-ins for humans.

“The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell,” Ebright wrote to the outlet.

In a separate series of Twitter posts, Ebright wrote that the newly released documents “confirm the grants supported the construction — in Wuhan — of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells.”

Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic started with a laboratory leak?

“The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses — one not been previously disclosed publicly — was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was *demonstrated* to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity,” he added.

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As the Daily Caller noted, Fauci had previously told Congress in May that both the National Institute of Health and NIAID “categorically has not funded gain-of-function research to be conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

That may be true only on a technicality: “The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed,” The Intercept reported.

However, Fauci’s testimony is key. Given that a bat coronavirus is the closest relative and most likely origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, “gain-of-function” research that changed the virus to be more pathogenic to humans would make the lab-leak theory of the pandemic’s origins that much more probable. The fact that the experiments were conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab — not at a level 4 lab, which receives the strictest measures — only increases suspicions.

To Fauci critics, like Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Fauci was simply lying to Congress. And he wants Fauci to pay the consequences.

“It’s a felony punishable by five years in jail,” Paul told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a Sept. 7 interview, according to the Washington Examiner. “We’ve referred it to the Department of Justice. I don’t think Biden’s Department of Justice will do anything with it, but yes, it is very dangerous to have public officials, who we need to have trust in, coming and lying to us.”

“I have already asked the DOJ to review Fauci’s testimony for lying to Congress,” Paul wrote in a Twitter post published the same day.

And yet, on Saturday, the Mayo Clinic’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Fauci, turning over a virtual stage to the liberal-media celebrity to wax ecstatic about the virtues of capital-S Science.

“We have learned collectively to be open-minded and humble enough to re-examine and even change our recommendations, our guidelines, our policies, depending on the evolving data,” Fauci told graduates of the school, according to Alpha News Minnesota, a regional conservative publication that covered the virtual speech given to the Rochester, Minnesota, medical institution.

“Importantly, in the context of your career choice as scientists, where public health measures have in part failed in the response to COVID-19, it is science that has been our savior,” he added.

“For the speed and efficacy with which highly efficacious vaccines were developed and their potential for saving millions of lives were due to an extraordinary, multidisciplinary effort involving basic preclinical and clinical science that had been underway, out of the spotlight and under the radar screen, for decades before the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fauci said.

That may all be true, but that also wasn’t the time to be offering a paean to almighty science just when it’s coming out that “gain-of-function” research could indeed be responsible for the coronavirus pandemic — and that there are serious questions as to whether Fauci was telling the truth or lying to Congress regarding funding for that kind of research from the NIH and NIAID.

In other words, it was no time for the Mayo Clinic to be giving an honorary degree to Anthony Fauci.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).

Birthplace

Morristown, New Jersey

Education

Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture





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Vaccine mandates ‘potentially harmful, damaging act,’ physician says

It’s official: Joe Biden has announced that his Administration will be forcing COVID vaccinations on nearly 1/3rd of American citizens, blatantly disregarding the personal objections of millions of people and moving America ever closer towards a medical dictatorship.

We cannot stand for this unprecedented overreach, and we will not submit to Biden’s tyrannical public coercion efforts.

Please SIGN this urgent petition informing the President that you will NOT comply with these unconstitutional vaccine mandate orders issued by the Biden Administration, and that elected officials should act in their capacity to block these intrusive demands.

On Thursday, September 9th, Joe Biden announced the latest round of federal orders meant to further coerce large swaths of the public into getting the COVID vaccine — many against their will.

While the legal standing of these measures is, at best, dubious, the Biden Administration appears more ready than ever to gut our individual rights and practically erase medical autonomy in our country.

This latest escalation in overreach was announced via a televised speech in which Biden outlined a new “six-point plan” that includes far more than just six avenues to achieve mass medical compliance.

Among the most egregious new federal mandates are the following:

  • A requirement that all private businesses employing more than 100 people mandate their workers get the Covid-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing (to be implemented by way of a new Department of Labor rule)
  • A requirement that all federal employees and federal contractors get the COVID vaccine
  • A requirement that all healthcare workers in facilities that receive reimbursement from Medicare and/or Medicaid (an estimated 17 million) get the Covid-19 vaccine without an alternative testing option
  • A requirement that all Head Start teachers get the COVID vaccine
  • A federal effort to lobby states to implement vaccine mandates for all school employees, and require regular testing of all students and school staff
  • A federal effort to lobby entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing in order to grant entry to the public
  • A continuation of mask mandates on all federal properties and during interstate travel (i.e. planes, trains, buses)

All in all, these new vaccine mandates, which will go into effect within the coming weeks, will affect an estimated 100 million American workers — 2/3rds of the entire workforce!

And, according to an administration official, violations of these unconstitutional requirements could result in fines of up to $14,000.

While this is clearly a political ploy on the part of the Joe Biden and his team of power-hungry Washington insiders to shift the focus from their disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the American public knows better: After nearly a year and a half’s worth of arbitrary, ever-changing, and unconstitutional government mandates in response to the COVID outbreak, it was always a given that the Biden Administration would ramp things up even further when it behooved them.

And now, it would seem that time has officially come.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden uttered in his remarks, confirming his administration’s blatant dismissal of all Americans’ right(s) to accept or decline the experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

This is a stunning reversal from Biden’s declaration last December that “I don’t think [the vaccine] should be mandatory, I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory.”

In fact, Biden even confirmed his intention to flout states’ rights in the process, warning that “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.”

These are not the words of an “empathetic” leader; these are the words of an aspiring dictator. And, for the time being, the only way to stop Joe Biden’s tyranny is through mass noncompliance.

As we’ve said from the beginning, science, basic logic, and common sense should dictate policy regarding COVID and the Delta variant.

But Joe Biden and the federal government have long abandoned those principles throughout this crisis, culminating into this disturbing yet inevitable flurry of intrusive vaccine mandates that use people’s jobs, individual autonomy, and livelihood as leverage.

This assault on our individual rights, private businesses, and American workers cannot be tolerated, and the easiest way to combat these unlawful orders is to just say NO.

Please SIGN and SHARE this most important petition letting Joe Biden know that you will NOT comply with the unconstitutional medical demands being made by this administration, and that action should be taken to block any intrusive action against working Americans and private employers.

Thank you!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

‘Biden announces vaccine requirements for private businesses, impacting tens of millions of Americans’: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-biden-announces-vaccine-requirements-for-private-businesses-impacting-tens-of-millions-of-workers/



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Arizona judges reconsider Scottdale’s potentially unconstitutional move

A panel of judges is deliberating whether Scottsdale violated the “Gift Clause” in Arizona’s constitution.

The Arizona Court of Appeals Division One heard arguments for and against a challenge to the city of Scottsdale passing over a higher bid from Swim Neptune to grant the Scottsdale Aquatic Club rights to use city pools.

Swim Neptune, a for-profit club that operates in Phoenix with swimmers age 5 through high school, alleges the city violated the Arizona Constitution and said the club should be made whole. Arguing its case is the Scottsdale-based nonprofit Goldwater Institute.

At issue is whether the city improperly awarded a contract to the Scottsdale Aquatic Club for a lower amount than what Neptune Swimming Foundation offered. This came about after the city rescinded a request for proposals where Neptune appeared to have cast the winning bid.

A lower court sided with the city, saying the procurement process was different from what’s described in the Gift Clause.

Goldwater Senior Attorney Jon Riches said the city is subsidizing one private entity using taxpayer resources.

“You have $438,000 versus $153,000,” Riches said, comparing the higher bid from Neptune compared with what was offered by the Scottsdale Aquatic Club.

Riches argued that, should the courts endorse this type of contract discretion, this type of partial behavior would become widespread.

“If the city of Scottsdale can do this with public resources here in this case with swimming pools, it can do it with any public resource anywhere throughout the … state,” he said.

Scottsdale attorney Eric Anderson argued that, if anything, the city made a mistake and an “abuse of discretion” in canceling the request for bids and didn’t violate the constitution.

“When the acting procurement officer looked at this, he discovered there was an error in the process,” he said, explaining that a former procurement officer should have handed the matter off to a committee to be scored in a way that would have weighted the bids in Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s favor.

Judge Jennifer Perkins questioned Anderson, saying the entire process “looks hinky” and appears to have benefitted a favored customer.

“The Gift Clause seeks to avoid using government resources to benefit or give special advantage to private interests,” she said. “Isn’t Neptune saying this cancelation of the RFP worked to give a special advantage to a private interest and that is why the city canceled the RFP? If they hadn’t canceled the RFP, the winning bidder would have been the non-preferred entity.”

Anderson insisted the reason for the view of impropriety was a mistake in the procurement weighting.

The three-judge panel will deliberate the appeal and issue a ruling at a later date.





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‘Potentially Dicey Days’: ABC Shocked By Biden Cratering in the Polls

The deadly incompetence in Afghanistan, the summer of skyrocketing prices, and sluggish job growth all stemming from massive spending that’s driven up inflation had woke up Americans to the liberal media’s lies about President Biden being a world-class leader. With pollsters now showing Biden as a largely unpopular president, ABC was suddenly shocked during Sunday’s Good Morning America as they finally gave their polling some daylight and analysis.

ABC couldn’t even be honest about when the poll came out. According to co-anchor Dan Harris, the ABC News/Washington Post poll was “released overnight.” But in reality, the poll was released on September 3, Friday.

But, of course, ABC would lie about when their poll of released because this may have been the first time their viewers had really heard about it. As NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock reported on Friday, that morning’s GMA only gave the findings 30 seconds. The Sunday segment was just over two minutes (2:05).

So, Harris wasn’t off to a good start when he fretted: “among independents, Joe Biden is down 7 points on his handling of COVID and 9 points on his handling of the economy.” He then brought on ABC political director Rick Klein to explain “why” he chose to focus on those bad numbers. And Klein was shocked:

 

 

Biden’s approval ratings. And it’s that middle of the country, independents. So much of the key to his support in the past that appear to have turned on President Biden, not just on Afghanistan, but on issues like the economy, on COVID, even his legislative agenda. That’s been the secret to Biden’s success.

And now to look at his approval rating just barely above water on COVID in particular that is a striking change from where he was earlier in his presidency.

“That core competency that he’s been able to rely on appears to be gone,” he warned. “And a lot of people thought Afghanistan, of course, the botched end of the war, that’s a piece of it but it has spilled over into so many other parts of American life. There’s a lot of pessimism out there. And pessimism in particular about President Biden’s handling of these big issues.”

Instead of wondering how Americans could trust the President to run country anymore, Harris’s chief concern was how Biden could get his agenda passed. “So, with his poll numbers down, how does that impact his ability to get things done, in particular with Congress,” he asked Klein.

Klein tried to let him down easy by reminding him that “Biden has governed has been the idea that he’s got the middle with him, that he’s got independents, that he’s got the country, a kind of pragmatic center on board.” But since pushing his agenda had “been predicated on the idea of a relatively popular president doing relatively popular things,” the “political calculus” changed since he’s now under water.

“With Congress coming back after Labor Day, they have a huge amount of things they need to get done (…) And that is what Biden is going to be up against,” he lamented. “He’ll face significant headwinds from inside his own party, from independents in trying to navigate these things with less public support than he’s had in the past.”

ABC’s lies about their poll and fretting for Biden’s agenda were made possible because of lucrative sponsorships from Allegra and Liberty Mutual, which got a special shout out when they went to commercial.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

ABC’s Good Morning America
September 5, 2021
8:17:37 a.m. Eastern

DAN HARRIS: The crisis in Afghanistan has driven down President Biden’s approval ratings. But it is not the only factor. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released overnight, among independents, Joe Biden is down 7 points on his handling of COVID and 9 points on his handling of the economy. And that’s just since July. So, let’s bring in ABC News political director Rick Klein. Rick, good morning. You wanted to highlight those numbers in particular. Why?

RICK KLEIN: Dan, it’s truly striking because as rough as this summer was for the country you see this toll in President Biden’s approval ratings. And it’s that middle of the country, independents. So much of the key to his support in the past that appear to have turned on President Biden, not just on Afghanistan, but on issues like the economy, on COVID, even his legislative agenda. That’s been the secret to Biden’s success.

And now to look at his approval rating just barely above water on COVID in particular that is a striking change from where he was earlier in his presidency. That core competency that he’s been able to rely on appears to be gone. And a lot of people thought Afghanistan, of course, the botched end of the war, that’s a piece of it but it has spilled over into so many other parts of American life. There’s a lot of pessimism out there. And pessimism in particular about President Biden’s handling of these big issues.

HARRIS: So, with his poll numbers down, how does that impact his ability to get things done, in particular with Congress?

KLEIN: Yeah. That’s just it, Dan, is that much of the key to how Biden has governed has been the idea that he’s got the middle with him, that he’s got independents, that he’s got the country, a kind of pragmatic center on board. And this month is going to be critical for so many parts of his agenda.

With Congress coming back after Labor Day, they have a huge amount of things they need to get done. It’s been predicated on the idea of a relatively popular president doing relatively popular things. So, when that changes, it changes the political calculus.

And that is what Biden is going to be up against. He’ll face significant headwinds from inside his own party, from independents in trying to navigate these things with less public support than he’s had in the past.

HARRIS: Potentially dicey days for President Joe Biden. Rick Klein, appreciate your analysis on a Sunday morning.



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A Gauguin in the Tate Britain’s Collection Could Potentially Be Fake

A work supposedly made by Gauguin has now been called into question. Vukan Vujović / Facebook

After a French art historian began to raise concerns a year ago about the painting’s authorship, Tahitians, an unfinished canvas in the collection of the Tate Britain, has been downgraded from an authorized work by the painter Paul Gauguin to a fake. The new determination was reinforced by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute’s decision to leave Tahitians out of its recent catalogue of Gauguin’s work; however, since 1917, the Tate Britain has believed that the painting was authentic. According to The Art Newspaper, the fact that Tahitians was left out of the official catalogue was discovered by Fabrice Fourmanoir, a researcher who focuses on Gauguin’s works.

“It is a stereotypical colonial Tahiti scene, whereas Gauguin was looking for more primitive compositions,” Fourmanoir said. The poses, dresses and even the European accordion held by the woman show Tahitians ‘corrupted’ by European customs.” In contrast, the Tate’s official stance is still that Tahitians is an authentic Gauguin, but they’re now going to keep the painting “under review.”

“The work was included by the Wildenstein Institute in their Gauguin catalogue raisonné in 1964 and Tate was not contacted prior to the publication of the latest edition,” a spokesperson for the Tate said in a statement. “We recognize there has been ongoing research into Gauguin’s work in recent years, so we will keep the work under review and retain an open mind about any research that might help cast familiar works in a new light.”

In 2020, research indicated that a wood sculpture called Head with Horns that had been attributed to Paul Gauguin was not, in fact, produced by the artist. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles had acquired the work from the Wildenstein gallery 2002. “While we no longer attribute this work of art to Paul Gauguin, it was clearly an important object, known to him through photographs, that played a role in his artistic practice,” the Getty said in a statement. “The sculpture is the subject of ongoing research, which will be published in 2021 and 2022.”

A Gauguin in the Tate Britain’s Collection Could Potentially Be a Fake



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Biden Declares Emergency as ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Hurricane Ida Barrels Toward Louisiana

Mandatory evacuations are now being carried out in Louisiana on Friday as Hurricane Ida is projected to make landfall on Sunday evening along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

President Joe Biden on Friday declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and directed the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts there.

According to a 2 p.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Ida is currently a Category 1 hurricane and is slated to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana on Sunday at around 8 p.m. local time. Hurricane watches are in effect for most of the Louisiana coastline and all of Mississippi’s coastline, the NHC said.

The agency further predicted there will be “steady to rapid strengthening” when Ida moves over the warm southeastern and central Gulf waters over the weekend. The storm is predicted to become a major hurricane, meaning a Category 3 storm or greater, when it approaches the Gulf Coast.

Significant storm surge of between 7 and 11 feet could inundate an area between Morgan City, Louisiana, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, according to the NHC’s forecast. Ida’s wind speeds could reach 140 mph before making landfall in the Mississippi River Delta on Sunday, said the agency in a forecast discussion.

Hurricane Ida, a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds, is forecast to hit Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday. (NHC)

“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Louisiana. Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday in portions of the Hurricane Warning area along the Louisiana coast, including metropolitan New Orleans, with potentially catastrophic wind damage possible where the core of Ida moves onshore. Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the warning area,” said the NHC’s forecast discussion, posted at around 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

In a social media post, the Plaquemines Parish Government called on all residents to start personal preparations to evacuate starting at 3 p.m. ET on Friday for the entire East Bank and the West Bank from Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery to Venice.

“In addition, a Voluntary Evacuation from the community of Oakville to Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery,” the office wrote.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and warned residents to make preparations.

“This type of threat contains additional problems because the window to prepare is so short,” the governor said, saying that residents should leave by Saturday night.

A voluntary evacuation order was issued for Lafourche Parish, Lousiana, and a recommended evacuation order was issued for nearby Port Fourchon, according to Houma Today.

Hurricane Ida is also forecast to produce between 8 and 12 inches of rainfall, with 20 inches in isolated areas in southeastern Lousiana, coastal Alabama, and coastal Mississippi through Monday morning, which will likely produce river flooding and flash flooding in the area, said the NHC.

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish as a Category 3 storm, becoming one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history. Former President George W. Bush at the time received significant blowback for how he handled the post-disaster response.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Senior Reporter

Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.



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Facebook Could Be Forced To Undo Potentially Illegal $400 Million Deal

Facebook may have to sell off its newly-acquired GIF platform, undoing a deal worth $400 million, U.K. regulators said Thursday.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a U.K. market regulator, released preliminary findings Thursday saying Facebook’s acquisition of GIF platform Giphy raises competition concerns, and indicating that the tech giant may be forced to sell the platform.

“Following an in-depth investigation, the CMA has provisionally found that Facebook’s takeover of Giphy will negatively impact competition between social media platforms,” the regulator said in a statement announcing the findings.

Giphy is a library of short video clips known as “GIFs” that generates revenue through allowing companies to distribute branded content on its platform. Social media companies, such as TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat, use Giphy to distribute GIFs on their platforms.

Facebook acquired the company in a $400 million deal in 2020.

The regulator said the merger could enable Facebook to deny other platforms access to GIFs, and suggested Giphy may have emerged as a competitor to Facebook in digital advertising markets if it had not been acquired.

“Giphy’s takeover could see Facebook withdrawing GIFs from competing platforms or requiring more user data in order to access them. It also removes a potential challenger to Facebook in the £5.5 billion display advertising market,” CMA investigator Stuart McIntosh said in the statement.

The CMA will hear arguments from Facebook before it makes its final decision Oct. 6, but said if its “competition concerns are ultimately confirmed, it could require Facebook to unwind the deal and sell off Giphy in its entirety.”

The regulator cited Facebook’s 50% share in the display advertising market as justification for its findings, also noting that Facebook and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp account for 70% of the time U.K. residents spend on social media.

Facebook disputed the report, arguing its acquisition of Giphy was in the best interests of people around the world. (RELATED: How Can Antitrust Lawsuits Against Big Tech Succeed?)

“We disagree with the CMA’s preliminary findings, which we do not believe to be supported by the evidence,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We will continue to work with the CMA to address the misconception that the deal harms competition.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently suing Facebook over its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, among other alleged antitrust violations. The tech giant also faces scrutiny from U.K. and European Union regulators over its alleged anticompetitive data policies.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.





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Alarm Bells Go Off as Apple Announces Mandatory Software to Scan Users’ Phones, Send Any Potentially Incriminating Evidence to Outsiders

Tech giant Apple is facing a torrent of criticism after announcing plans to install software on its new iPhones and iPads that will scan for child pornography and then report offenders to law enforcement.

Security analysts say the move opens up a dangerous gateway to facilitate corporate abuse and government overreach to violate people’s civil liberties, including their privacy rights.

“We want to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM),” Apple announced on its website on Thursday.

The new features will be rolled out later this year in iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Apple desktop computers.

In addition to giving parents more oversight of their children’s electronic devices, Apple will be able to analyze image attachments to determine if a photo is sexually explicit.

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“This will enable Apple to report these instances to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” the company said. “Siri and Search will also intervene when users try to search for CSAM-related topics.”

While Apple claimed that its new software won’t scan users’ private photos and messages, many security experts were alarmed at the potential for abuse — even though the goal, catching pedophiles, is commendable.

Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, told the Financial Times that it is “an absolutely appalling idea, because it is going to lead to distributed bulk surveillance of … our phones and laptops.”

While the new software is designed to catch child sex abuse, it could easily be adapted to spy on private citizens for other purposes.

Matthew Green, a computer science professor at the Johns Hopkins University who specializes in privacy-preserving cryptographic protocols, said Apple’s new enhancement “is a really bad idea.”

“These tools will allow Apple to scan your iPhone photos for photos that match a specific perceptual hash, and report them to Apple servers if too many appear,” he tweeted.

Green warned that this technology could eventually “be a key ingredient in adding surveillance to encrypted messaging systems.”

He pointed out that “the ability to add scanning systems like this to E2E [end-to-end] messaging systems has been a major ‘ask’ by law enforcement the world over.”

Related:

Cartoon Pregnant ‘Men’ Could Appear on Kids’ Phones in Future Update as Consortium Announces New Emojis

The implication is that authoritarian dictatorships such as those in communist China and Iran could abuse this technology to further oppress private citizens and political dissenters.

Alec Muffett, a security researcher who previously worked at Facebook, said Apple’s latest foray into violating user privacy is a “tectonic” shift toward a “huge and regressive step for individual privacy.”

“Apple are walking back privacy to enable ‘1984,’” Muffett told the Financial Times.

Are you concerned about potential abuse of this technology?

Tech policy adviser Heather Burns said she’s concerned about Apple giving parents “God-mode surveillance and technical controls” over their children’s iPhones and iPads, “when it’s parents who are just as likely to be the perpetrators and abusers.”

She said she is familiar with many a drug-addicted, abusive parent “who batters her child senseless during regular hours” and then puts on an Oscar-worthy performance that fools teachers and social workers.

As it is, tech giants such as Twitter and Facebook have unfettered, unilateral power to suspend or ban users on the basis of random algorithms and arbitrary claims that someone has violated their terms of service.

Given the cozy relationship and apparent collusion between the social media giants and the Biden administration, it’s logical to wonder if Apple technology could be weaponized to target conservatives.

This is something that iPhone users should carefully consider before upgrading their expensive smartphones for the umpteenth time. History has shown time and time again that once you give away your rights, it’s extremely difficult to take them back.

Want proof? Look at the staggering array of personal liberties Americans ceded to the government amid the coronavirus fearmongering.

Is it any wonder that authoritarian bureaucrats don’t want to give up an ounce of their newfound power?





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IRS paid out over $100M in improper, potentially fraudulent COVID relief business tax credits

This week’s award goes to the IRS for paying out over $100 million in improper and potentially fraudulent payments in business tax credits under COVID-19 relief legislation, according to a report by the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Three new employer tax credits were available to businesses after President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act into law. Businesses impacted by the pandemic could file for the sick leave credit, the family leave credit and the employee retention credit.

“In response to the enactment of legislation,” the IG reported, “the IRS initiated an educational campaign to promote the availability of the various credits to employers; developed Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19; and developed processes and procedures to enable employers to request an advance payment of the employer tax credit even though the Tax Processing Centers were closed.”

The IRS allowed employers to submit their forms electronically since centers were closed, and IRS employees manually reviewed and processed the returns.

The IG’s review of tax year 2020 COVID-19 employer tax credits through October 1 “identified a total of 317 potentially fraudulent employer tax credits for approximately $94.2 million.”

The watchdog also found the IRS paid out nearly $10 million to government entities that were ineligible under the relief legislation. A total of 533 entities were improperly paid.

The IG “identified 113 government entities that filed a Tax Year 2020 Form 941 as of September 23, 2020, that, per the FFCRA and CARES Act, are not eligible for the employer tax credits,” according to the report. “These entities received erroneous employer tax credits totaling $2 million.”

The IRS found hundreds more government entities received credits after Oct 1.

“As of December 17, 2020, the IRS identified an additional 420 government entities that received $7.2 million in erroneous employer tax credits and are working to reverse the credits,” the IG reported. “As a result, the IRS has implemented processes and procedures to continue to identify erroneous employer tax credit claims associated with government entities.”

The IG also found the agency processed returns more than once and also processed employer tax credits above the allowable amount under the two pandemic relief laws.



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