Ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Ariz., on May 6, 2021. (Matt York/Pool/AP Photo) Regional News
At least one of three counties targeted for a forensic investigation of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election has said it will not allow access to its voting machines.
Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano, chair of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, sent letters to election officials in three Pennsylvania counties, Philadelphia, York, and Tioga, requesting access to voting machines and information to be used as evidence in a forensic analysis of the 2020 election.
Tioga County Commissioners decided not to provide access after receiving a directive from the Pennsylvania Department of State ordering county boards of elections not to provide any access to third parties seeking to examine the systems or system components.
It further warned that if counties do allow access, the voting equipment will be considered no longer secure or reliable to use in future elections. The department would decertify the expensive election equipment and counties would have to buy new voting machines on their own.
“We’ve been given the directive that we cannot give access or they will decertify our machines,” Tioga County Solicitor Christopher Gabriel told the Epoch Times. “The state did two audits after the election. Nothing of significance was found.”
York and Philadelphia counties have not made their intentions public yet; each county has until July 31 to respond in writing to the request for access.
“The Intergovernmental Operations Committee has not received a formal written response indicating refusal to comply from any of the three counties who received letters from the committee,” Mastriano said Thursday in a written response to the Epoch Times. “We intend to move forward with our plan to investigate these counties.”
“We do have grave concerns that the Wolf Administration is continuing to weaponize the State Department just like they did in 2020. In this case, the department is being used to intimidate county officials and obstruct a Senate-led forensic investigation of the 2020 and 2021 elections,” Mastriano said. “This threat, disguised as a directive to all counties in Pennsylvania, is an attack on the autonomy of local officials and the General Assembly’s power to review, investigate, and legislate in matters within its legislative authority, which includes Pennsylvania’s election system. The Legislature has clear authority—both statutorily and constitutionally—to provide oversight and issue subpoenas.”
Mastriano again questioned the authority of the Department of State to enforce such directive through the acting secretary, Veronica Degraffenreid, who has yet to go before the Senate to be officially confirmed.
Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a tweet that the effort is not a real audit, but a pet project of one man.
“If this state senator goes forward and issues a legal subpoena, that would be litigated,” Shapiro said in a media interview. “I’m confident we would win the litigation, protect the will of the people and protect the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, who at the end of the day, would not only suffer privacy loss, but millions of dollars in cost.”
A county board of commissioners in North Carolina is pushing back against tech giant Google after YouTube, owned by Google, deleted one of the board’s videos for allegedly violating YouTubes terms and conditions regarding medical misinformation.
After its June 16 meeting, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners video upload on YouTube was taken down, prompting commissioners to call an emergency meeting on Friday, June 18.
During the emergency meeting, the board directed staff to seek out other platforms on which the board’s meetings can be posted, as well as to find alternatives to Google products.
Henderson County’s budget includes about $400,000 for Google Chromebooks for the county’s public school system.
Though the Chromebooks have already been budgeted for fiscal year 2021, Lapsley said an equivalent to the Chromebooks that aren’t manufactured by Google will be considered for fiscal year 2022.
“We aren’t going to buy Google products whenever we have a choice,” Board of Commissioner Chairman William Lapsley told The Epoch Times.
In the public comment period of the June 16 meeting, several people had asked that the commissioners not use local taxpayers’ money to assist in North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s vaccine incentives, which includes four $1 million cash drawings, $25 cash cards, and signage such as billboards.
These incentives are not funded by state or local governments, but from the U.S. Treasury Department’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed in March.
Citizens who speak in the public comment period are allotted three minutes and can talk about any subject, according to Lapsley, “as long as they keep it civil.”
It’s not, however, a dialogue with the commissioners, Lapsley said.
“It’s just an opportunity for anybody to tell the commissioners what’s on their mind,” Lapsley said.
For several years, county staff has uploaded the meetings to YouTube, where it would stay for 90 days.
“We posted the video as we normally do, and within about two hours we got an email from YouTube telling us that the video has been taken down because of misinformation,” Lapsley said.
Lapsley said staff appealed in the process provided by YouTube within an hour, however, YouTube said the video will remain pulled and will not return.
According to a spokesperson for YouTube: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we established clear policies to prevent the spread of misinformation that could lead to real-world harm. While we welcome open debate and discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines on our platform, we don’t allow content that includes claims the vaccines have killed thousands of people, and as such we removed a video from the Henderson County Board of Commissioners’ channel.”
Though none of the 12 people who spoke in the meeting made the direct claim that vaccines have killed thousands of people, each one of them spoke against the vaccine programs “targeting massive groups of people” based on what they said were “suppressed facts.”
One of the speakers in the meeting addressed Big Tech censorship as one of the causes of misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines.
Lapsley later added that the board recognizes the right of a privately owned company such as YouTube to review and control the material on their platforms.
“However, we feel that by posting our local government video in the past, they were providing a ‘public space’ for their customers to exercise their individual right to free speech,” Lapsley said. “Obviously, they are now censoring the free speech of our county citizens by their action of taking down the county video of a public meeting—this presents a dangerous precedent that this branch of local government will not support. The board has directed county staff to identify any and all purchases of Google (parent company of YouTube) related products and to seek other vendors for similar equipment and/or services.”
YouTube’s most recent highly publicized video deletion was one uploaded by the American Conservative Union (ACU), a nonprofit educational foundation that examines conservative-based solutions to American issues.
The video, which was an episode of “America UnCanceled,” featured former President Donald Trump announcing his plan to file a lawsuit against Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
According to the ACU, YouTube alleged the video contained “medical misinformation” regarding COVID-19, however, the ACU said YouTube didn’t cite examples.
In a statement on its website, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said it’s “yet another example of Big Tech censoring content with which they disagree in order to promote the political positions they favor.”
Though Google is a private company, the platform, along with Facebook and Twitter, is protected from liability for its content under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which allows for the platforms to remove posts that violate their terms and conditions.
Because YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter partake in public discourse regarding government actions, it’s been argued that, though they are private companies, they must adhere to the First Amendment addressing free speech.
According to Henderson County Attorney Russell Burrell, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners are required by law to take public comment at its two meetings each month.
“The statute states that the board has no control over what the public talks about,” Burrell told The Epoch Times. “If people want to come in and talk about how they chose the name of their child, I don’t think the commissioners can stop them. It’s their three minutes.”
However, the content of the public comment period—what Burrell called “the business of the people”—was not what YouTube wanted on its platform, Burrell said, so it removed the entire meeting, “including the parts of the meeting that had nothing to do with vaccines.”
“This was not something that was pleasing to the commissioners, and I know they were upset about it, so they decided not to use YouTube as a repository for those videos in the future,” Burrell said.
As far as recourse under the First Amendment, Burrell stated that the language of the law expresses that Congress can’t pass legislation prohibiting free speech, while the Fourteenth Amendment applies this rule to state government.
“However, there’s no amendment that applies this to Google,” Burrell said, unless, he added, a court were to decide Google to be a monopoly. “Then the Federal government could, if it chose to do so, regulate Google as a monopoly,” Burrell said.
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners’ next meeting is on July 21.
The livestream for the June 16 meeting can be found here.
On July 8, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to news of a Chinese genomics company that is harvesting genetic data from around the world, in what could be connected to a Chinese Communist Party eugenics or bioweapons program. “Everything that their government does is connected to the military,” Pompeo said on a podcast. “And everything that comes under the face of their private sector is connected to that government and that military.”
The following day, a German health ministry spokesperson said that the country was taking seriously the news of gene harvesting by a Chinese company, which markets prenatal testing in Germany and other European countries. The spokesperson said that Germany would raise the issue with the European Commission.
Geneticists Wang Jian and Wang Jun founded the Chinese company, now called BGI and based in Shenzhen, in 1999 as a state-backed enterprise that was originally called Beijing Genomics Institute. BGI was founded to develop the Human Genome Project. Wang Jian served as a research fellow in the United States for six years starting in 1988. BGI is partially owned by the Chinese regime, and said in its latest annual report, according to Reuters, that it “has been working hard to promote Chinese technology, Chinese experience, and Chinese standards to ‘go global.’”
While Reuters reported that the BGI test is not marketed in the United States, the popular genetic testing company 23andMe is part-owned by Chinese entities, and there are concerns about whether 23andMe data are being shared, leaked, or hacked by the Chinese regime. In 2020, attempts by a prenatal genetic testing company to establish itself near a military base in San Diego were blocked by the U.S. government.
The U.S. government warned Nevada officials in 2020 not to use a donation of 250,000 BGI coronavirus test kits, facilitated by Peng Xiao, the CEO of G42, who sought to establish a coronavirus testing lab in Nevada. U.S. officials expressed concern about patient privacy, and Nevada turned down the offer. Nevertheless, a similar attempt by BGI to market its coronavirus tests in the United States directly to state, county, and city officials, was in part successful, and resulted in testing centers in California and Kansas.
BGI has prominent academic supporters in the United States, including Harvard geneticist George Church, who since 2007 has served on the company’s scientific advisory board, according to the Washington Post. BGI established an institute in 2017 named the George Church Institute of Regenesis, with a dozen BGI staff in China, that collaborates with Church’s Harvard lab.
The Post summarized Church as saying that the Institute attempts to “synthesize organisms made from human-made DNA, among other projects.” According to the Post, “Church also has a business relationship with BGI: Consumers who want their genomes decoded can send saliva samples to a company he co-founded, Nebula Genomics, which sends them to BGI labs in Hong Kong for sequencing.” Professors who mix their research and business with China, may be incentivized to share more data with the totalitarian country than they otherwise would.
The University of California at Davis also collaborates with BGI.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) forced a sale of China’s stake in a health-tech company, PatientsLikeMe, in 2019. China’s stake was held by iCarbonX, founded by BGI’s Wang Jun. Approximately 700,000 people have trusted PatientsLikeMe with their health data.
CFIUS was established in 1975 by President Gerald Ford and expanded under President Donald Trump.
A BGI subsidiary called Forensic Genomics International sold Chinese police the DNA collection and analysis supplies used since 2017 on millions of males in China, including children. The men and boys, who had no serious criminal background, could not reasonably have given free consent to the procedures.
BGI and G42, a United Arab Emirates company, started a coronavirus testing lab in 2020 in Abu Dhabi, and BGI established similar labs in Angola, Australia, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sweden, and Togo, according to the Associated Press and Washington Post. Saudi Arabia established six BGI testing labs with 500 Chinese specialists after a call between King Salman and Xi Jinping.
American, British, Japanese, and European values support a policy that strives to keep science open and globally accessible. But these policies are being exploited by the Chinese regime, which can now access genetic data on Western and allied populations, while not offering reciprocity. Such sharing of genetic data by democracies with China is irresponsible given the Chinese regime’s well-documented acts of genocide against the Uyghurs, as well as widespread data theft globally. The failure of U.S. and allied governments to ban China harvesting of women’s genetic data, despite a warning by the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) against BGI and other such China collections, is irresponsible and a dereliction of their most basic governmental duty to protect citizens.
Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He’s a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”
The White House’s effort that involves people going door-to-door to try to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates does not rely on a database, the Biden administration’s press secretary said Thursday.
“The federal government does not have a database of who has been vaccinated. That is not our role,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington. “We don’t maintain a database along those lines. And we have no plans to.”
White House officials, as well as President Joe Biden, said Tuesday that a key focus in the coming weeks was knocking on doors to deliver information about COVID-19 vaccines to Americans.
“We need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door—literally knocking on doors—to get help to the remaining people,” or those who have not received a vaccine, Biden said in remarks from the White House.
The plan triggered staunch pushback from Republicans, with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich warning the administration against using medical records to ascertain which Americans have not gotten a jab.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson added on Thursday that he informed the state’s health department “to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!”
Psaki told reporters in Washington that the effort will utilize data on where vaccination rates are lagging and that the messengers are not government employees.
“These are grassroots voices across the country. They are not members of the government. They are not federal government employees. They are volunteers. They are clergy. They are trusted voices, and communities who are playing this role in door knocking,” she said. “So in our view, this is is a way to engage and empower local activists, trusted members of the community.”
“The best people to talk about vaccinations with those who have questions are local trusted messengers. Doctors, faith leaders, community leaders. As part of our efforts, trusted messengers may go door to door,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients said in a separate, virtual briefing.
The comments came on the same day a top administration official, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, argued on television that the federal government has the right to know who has been vaccinated and who has not.
The door-to-door knocking actually started way back in April, White House officials are saying. A network called the Community Corps was launched then by the Department of Health and Human Services. The announcement did not detail volunteers going to door-to-door, but said the corps would be provided with public health information and resources so they could “help get friends, family, and followers vaccinated.”
A volunteer listing told prospective applicants that they would get “fact sheets on vaccine safety, tips on how to talk with friends and family about the importance of vaccination, and hints for planning and attending community events.”
A smattering of local news stories later detailed how some volunteers were knocking on doors to promote vaccination. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told volunteers on a phone call last month that he’d heard from students who were knocking on doors, CNN reported. And the Biden administration said in a fact sheet in early June that the administration would mobilize people to make calls and texts to those in areas with low vaccination rates, as well as going door to door to try to get Americans to visit nearby clinics to get a jab.
Still, the remarks this week, especially Biden’s, set off a firestorm after appearing to some to be a new program.
“President Biden wants to send people to knock on your door to bully you into taking an ‘optional’ vaccine. Anyone who wants a vaccine is able to get one. Leave everyone else alone! Americans don’t need the federal government telling them how to live,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) wrote on Twitter.
“The Biden Administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated. What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?” added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Approximately 47 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, with another 7.5 percent getting at least one dose as of July 7, according to federal data. The two most widely used vaccines in the United States require two doses.
Experts differ on what percentage of the population needs protection to reach herd immunity, especially given the variants that keep emerging. Some point to a growing body of evidence showing those who have had COVID-19 and recovered enjoy a level of immunity similar to that provided by a vaccine.
Door knockers will merely present people with details on vaccines but will not try to compel them to get a shot, White House officials have said.
“I will say the thing that is a bit frustrating to us is that when people are critical of these tactics, it’s really a disservice to the country and to the doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, and others who are working to get people vaccinated,” Psaki said. “This is about saving lives and ending this pandemic.”
A screen outside a shopping mall shows news coverage of Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivering a speech during a Communist Party of China and World Political Parties summit, in Beijing on July 7, 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images) Chinese Regime
In his speech to party leaders from over 100 developing countries on July 6, Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed that his regime would “manage and shape mankind’s common future,” and people in the world should share the same fate as Chinese citizens.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) insists on making the Chinese people and the people of all countries to have the same destiny,” Xi said. “[The CCP] is progressing the development and prosperity of all countries [in the world].”
In fact, the CCP regime is a dictatorship, so sharing the same fate as Chinese people would be a disaster for the free world.
China was ranked 129 in its freedom index 2020 by Washington-based CATO institute. Chinese people don’t have free speech, can’t freely access the Internet, aren’t allowed free belief, are monitored by the surveillance system, and controlled by the social credit system.
To protect their lives and property, Chinese people are trying their best to escape China. In the past decades, they form one of largest immigration groups in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and European countries.
Xi gave a 22-minute address at the CCP and World Political Parties Summit video conference on July 6, in which he repeated the CCP’s ambition—to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
“We [the parties] should take the responsibility of guiding the direction [of human development]. [We should] manage and shape mankind’s common future,” Xi said. “We should take high responsibility for [directing] human’s future and fate.”
He emphasized the leading role of the CCP because he believes that the “CCP stands on the right side of history,” but didn’t mention any of the innumerable crimes the CCP committed in China over the past 100 years.
“As a major country and a major party, the CCP will fulfill its responsibilities of enhancing human well-being,” Xi said. “The CCP will actively promote the improvement of global governance, and contribute to the global society of facing the common challenges.”
To whitewash the CCP’s dictatorship, Xi changed the definition of democracy in his July 6 speech by claiming: “Whether a country is democratic or not, should be judged by the people in the country.” On July 1, Xi claimed that he could represent all of the 1.4 billion people in China.
Xi gave his address by reading from a draft. During the live broadcast, he re-read some sentences at approximately 20 minutes into his speech. One of his staff quickly told him that he had read the wrong page.
After saying, “I have already read this [page]?” Xi jumped to the right paragraph.
“Xi is falsifying the definition of universal values, and trying to kidnap 1.4 billion Chinese people to support his dictatorship to rule the world,” Tang Jingyuan, U.S.-based China affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times on July 7. “Now is the critical moment for the international community to say no to the CCP and stop its ambition.”
Tang said that a large number of people can’t separate the CCP from China and the Chinese people, while the CCP claims to represent both.
“Chinese people love peace, but the CCP doesn’t. Chinese people don’t wish to control the world, but the CCP does,” Tang said. “Xi’s speech clearly delivered his opinion that the CCP wants to lead the world in the near future and control the world in the end.”
“The international community needs to recognize the CCP’s evil and understand clearly that the CCP can’t represent China nor Chinese people. Only then, [will] they [the free world] know how to protect themselves from the CCP’s lies and threats.”
The Chinese regime claimed that leaders from over 500 parties participated in the summit. It listed some names. They are?
– Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the party African National Congress in South Africa
– Nursultan Nazarbayev, chairman of Nur Otan in Kazakhstan
– Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of United Russia in Russia
– Alberto Fernández, president of Justicialist Party in Argentina
– Nguy?n Phú Tr?ng, general secretary of Communist Party of Vietnam in Vietnam
– Miguel Díaz-Canel, first secretary of Communist Party of Cuba in Cuba
– Rodrigo Duterte, chairperson of PDP–Laban in the Philippines
– Hun Sen, president of Cambodian People’s Party in Cambodia
– Emmerson Mnangagwa, first secretary of ZANU–PF in Zimbabwe
– Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of Fatah in Palestine
– Aleksandar Vu?i?, president of Serbian Progressive Party in Serbia
– Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Movement for Justice in Pakistan
– Filipe Nyusi, leader of Partido Frelimo in Mozambique
– Hage Geingob, leader of SWAPO party in Namibia
– Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congolese Party of Labour in Congo
– Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of People’s Liberation Front in Sri Lanka
– Evo Morales, leader of Movement for Socialism in Bolivia
– Saadeddine Othmani, general secretary of Justice and Development Party in Morocco
– Salva Kiir Mayardit, chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in South Sudan
– José Luis Centella, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain in Spain
GALVESTON, Texas—A group of sheriffs and active Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have filed suit against the Biden administration for its “unlawful and unconstitutional” requirements regarding the arrest and deportation of illegal aliens.
The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to a Feb. 18 memorandum that they say “commands ICE officers to violate the specific terms of federal immigration law.”
“The relief we are seeking is that the court order ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to simply follow the law,” lead attorney Kris Kobach said after filing the suit at the Galveston federal courthouse on July 1. “To follow the specific laws … that require them to detain and deport certain illegal aliens.”
The lawsuit (pdf) alleges that “many extremely dangerous illegal aliens who would have been detained prior to the February 18 Memorandum are now not being detained—against the wishes of the ICE officers seeking to detain them, and in violation of federal statutes requiring their detention and/or removal.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued interim guidelines on Feb. 18 for handling the arrest, detainment, and deportation of illegal immigrants.
DHS directed ICE officers to focus on only three priority groups of illegal immigrants, including national security threats, such as known or suspected terrorists; those who crossed the border illegally after Nov. 1, 2020; and public safety threats who are convicted of aggravated felonies or gang members.
Part of ICE’s job is to track down and remove the 672,000 fugitives who have been ordered removed by a federal immigration judge but are still in the United States.
But the new DHS directive says that ICE agents must first get clearance from supervisors if they encounter illegal immigrants who aren’t convicted criminals during operations.
The decision of whether to arrest the individual needs to take into account whether the person might be suffering from a serious physical or mental illness, a DHS official said at the time.
“We want [ICE] to think about ties to the community, whether the individual has family here in the United States, U.S. citizen family members, and other considerations,” the official said.
Upon the rollout of the new guidelines, a DHS official said that ICE arrests weren’t expected to drop under the new guidelines.
However, ICE reported a record low 2,962 deportations in April, in comparison to an average of 8,634 illegal immigrant deportations per month during fiscal year 2020.
ICE officers have been “rarely granted preapproval for enforcement actions against non-priority aliens,” according to the lawsuit.
“The time-consuming paperwork and the low probability of preapproval being granted have caused many ICE officers not to even attempt seeking preapproval,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit outlines several cases provided via affidavit by ICE officers who were forced to release illegal alien criminals into the community.
In one case, ICE officers sought approval to arrest a twice-deported illegal alien who had been convicted of sexual battery against a child. ICE management denied the request, according to the lawsuit.
In another case, local police initiated the arrest of a twice-deported illegal alien for selling heroin.
“The alien attempted to evade arrest by ramming the police car with his vehicle, nearly hitting an officer who was standing outside the police car,” the lawsuit states.
“The alien was eventually arrested and found to have a quarter of a pound of heroin in his possession, as well as a female and a baby in the back seat of his vehicle.”
ICE officers requested approval to place a detainer on the illegal alien, in order to gain custody once he was released from local custody. ICE management denied the request, according to the lawsuit.
A third case involved an illegal alien arrested by local authorities for the rape of a child. ICE officers sought approval to place a detainer on the illegal alien, in order to detain him upon release from local custody. ICE management denied the request, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that ICE officers are being forced to choose between following the Feb. 18 memorandum and following federal laws.
“Plaintiffs fear that they will be disciplined or will lose their jobs if they follow the law,” the lawsuit states.
The Texas sheriffs joining the lawsuit include Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe, Edwards County Sheriff J.W. Guthrie, and McMullen County Sheriff Emmett Shelton. More counties are expected to join the lawsuit in the coming weeks.
The sheriffs allege in the lawsuit that they’re “no longer able to present illegal aliens arrested for criminal activities to ICE for removal and expect them to be removed.”
“The detention costs, crime response costs, crime investigation costs, and related costs experienced by the Plaintiff sheriffs and counties have consequently increased dramatically,” the lawsuit reads.
“Since all this began six to eight months ago … we’ve seen a drastic increase in human smuggling and what we call foot traffic—those that are walking through the ranches,” Sheriff Brad Coe of Kinney County said outside the federal courthouse in Galveston on July 1. Kinney County shares 16 miles of international border with Mexico.
“As far as jail space, it’s putting a huge dent in my budget. At one time I had up to 18 people in the neighboring county jail. And they were charging me $65 a day per person.”
Kinney County has 14 jail spaces available. Currently, Coe has 18 inmates, which includes six housed in a neighboring jail. Ten of the 18 are charged with human smuggling.
Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said during a May 13 congressional hearing that the agency’s relationship with the state and local community is “vital in us being able to carry out our important mission.”
“Without their support, it’s very difficult for us to be efficient and effective. So when local jurisdictions do not cooperate, whether that’s in terms of not honoring our detainers, or not letting us in there at their facilities, then it puts ICE in a situation where we actually have to go out into the communities to find individuals that in this case would meet our priority,” she said.
The group is suing President Joe Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Acting Director of ICE Tae Johnson, and Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Troy Miller.
Representatives from the White House, DHS, and ICE didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
In fiscal year 2020, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations removed almost 186,000 individuals, of whom 92 percent had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, according to ICE’s end-of-year report.
The new guidelines place priority on those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony, not those with pending charges.
ICE detention facility capacity has been decreased from 52,000 to 15,000 illegal aliens.
DEL RIO, Texas—Alison Anderson and her husband, a Border Patrol agent, moved from a remote ranch near Big Bend, Texas, after one too many armed encounters with illegal aliens on their property.
Anderson grew increasingly concerned about her ability to protect her young daughters as groups of men would approach the house while her husband was at work. On multiple occasions, she was left to fend off illegal immigrants with her firearm, as the closest help was an hour away.
The family moved to Del Rio at the beginning of 2020, and at first she breathed a sigh of relief.
“We wanted a safe upbringing for our kids,” Anderson told The Epoch Times on June 25. “I want them to be able to play outside and not have to worry about a group of 15 people or 24 or 40 cutting through. Or someone snatching my kids.”
But since January, the masses of illegal aliens traversing through her neighborhood has had Anderson more worried than ever. Border agents caught a convicted rapist several weeks ago on the edge of her property.
“Having three little girls and having convicted sexual predators in and or around your property is terrifying,” she said. Her girls are aged 5, 3, and 1.
“It’s terrifying, because I feel like I can’t let my guard down for one second. And that is why we left the ranch—because I couldn’t let my guard down for one second. I had little people depending on me, and I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like all the feelings that come with it—the stress, the anxiety, the constant worry.”
Once a relatively quiet region for illegal border crossings, the Del Rio Sector is now the second busiest, after the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas.
“We’ve seen a tremendous increase. So far this fiscal year, today, we’ve caught 144,000 people in the Del Rio sector,” Sector Chief Austin Skero said on June 24.
Agents in the sector have also had a 1,400 percent increase in arrests of illegal aliens with sex-related criminal convictions so far this fiscal year, compared to the same period last year, Skero said. A large number of the detainees had convictions for crimes involving a minor.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t read a paper or a report from my agents that talks about criminal aliens, sexual offenders that they’ve apprehended out there,” newly appointed Acting Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said at an event in Del Rio on June 24.
As the crow flies, Anderson’s house is four miles from the international border, and the people she encounters are trying to avoid capture. The property lines up next to a road that has become a pickup spot for smugglers to load their vehicles and make a run to a large city, often San Antonio.
Anderson said she’s in the process of installing a camera system, and she and her husband plan to build a fence around the house—both things they wouldn’t normally consider.
Many of her neighbors are elderly and terrified, she said. “I have one neighbor that said she won’t even go out of her house if her husband isn’t home.
“It’s unacceptable to not uphold and enforce the immigration laws that Congress put in place to keep U.S. citizens safe.”
Dogs Make the Difference
Rancher John Sewell said his three Blue Lacy dogs have likely helped change the outcome in his favor during several encounters with illegal aliens, including when a group of five men approached him and said they wanted a ride in his truck.
“I said, ‘No, y’all just need to keep walking,’” Sewell said. “My car was in the opposite direction to where they should have been walking, but they started walking to my car. Well, of course, when the dogs smelled them, it was just a fiasco.”
The dogs rounded up the group, but when the illegal aliens started looking for something to pick up in defense, Sewell said he pulled his gun out and told them to get going.
“Finally, they got 50 feet or 70 feet away; I called the dogs back, and they went on,” he said.
Sewell’s ranch is in Uvalde County, about 55 miles from the international border. It’s also six miles from a Border Patrol highway checkpoint, which means illegal immigrants use his ranch to skirt the checkpoint by foot before being picked up again on the other side.
“In 25 years, I’ve never personally carried a gun. In the last five months, I carry one every single day. That ought to tell you all you need to know.”
He’s getting a camera installed at his main headquarters, and his wife doesn’t answer the door without a gun in her hand.
“Usually before, if someone came to the house, they were in dire straits—really dehydrated or lost or whatever. Now … they want you to give them a ride,” Sewell said.
Several months ago, as nine men ran straight toward him, Sewell grabbed his rifle and released his dogs, while yelling at them to stop. The dogs headed the men off, and they jumped a fence and ran off.
“If I hadn’t had the dogs, I don’t know what would have happened. I felt like I was going to have to shoot,” he said. “I’m just at my wit’s end. I can’t sustain having to worry about the two out of 10, or two out of 100 bad guys that happen upon me.”
Sewell estimates Border Patrol is catching about one-third of the illegal aliens that are crossing. Last week, he personally saw 45 people, and his ranch is 27 square miles of remote pasture.
It’s also a hunting ranch, and he’s concerned about what will happen when the season opens on Oct. 2 and hundreds of people with high-powered rifles are in the area.
“If it’s anywhere close to this, there’s going to be multiple confrontations every single day,” he said.
He attributes the dramatic increase in illegal traffic to the Biden administration’s policies and doesn’t see help coming from Washington.
“It’s not our position to send them more money to keep their people in their own country. It’s our position to protect our borders,” he said. “We live in a republic, the last I checked. And that means that our government is supposed to protect us from all of the things like this. But that is not happening.”
Vice President Kamala Harris has said she is focusing on the “root causes” of illegal immigration and aims to send more aid to Central American countries.
Archie McFadin lives near Uvalde, adjacent to where Border Patrol stops and inspects the trains traveling from the U.S.–Mexico border to San Antonio. As a train slows down to stop, often a stream of illegal aliens will jump off and run onto his property to avoid Border Patrol.
“They were down here this morning, a helicopter landed out here in the field and [Border Patrol] picked up some,” McFadin said on June 30.
McFadin said “everything changed” in January after President Joe Biden took office and revoked several key border security measures.
McFadin now gets illegal immigrants running around his property at least five days a week. His dog has stopped anyone from entering the immediate area by the house, but the day The Epoch Times visited, McFadin was having a home alarm system installed.
“We never even locked our vehicles,” he said. “Now we live like we’re in prison, and our government is protecting them, not us.”
This year, Border Patrol has seen a 911 percent increase in the number of illegal aliens on the trains in Uvalde compared to last year.
“The increase in the number of illegal immigrants that are going through Uvalde on trains has become a serious problem for Border Patrol, local law enforcement, and our community, as most of these individuals have criminal records or gang affiliation and wouldn’t be allowed in our country,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told The Epoch Times on June 23.
McFadin’s ranch hand now spends up to five hours a day checking and fixing fences on his other property that didn’t have a problem last year.
“Some of them are small holes where they try to slip through at night to catch a ride out here on Highway 55. Some of them are bigger holes,” he said. “To me, that’s just uncalled for.
“I wouldn’t even care if they came through here if they just wouldn’t tear up everything we’ve worked all of our lives for.”
McFadin replaced a wire fence around a ranch house on his property in February after it had been broken into and ransacked several times. The house now has a tall, steel welded fence with razor wire on top. No one has broken in since then, he said.
He won’t let his grandkids swim in the pool without an adult present and a firearm handy. His daughter and son-in-law don’t go fishing at the pond anymore.
Last week, four illegal aliens came up on his wife and one of his daughters as they were driving through a gate on the ranch. They called Border Patrol, but the four weren’t captured.
He said he’s never been scared of illegal immigrants in the past, but now he’s “very, very cautious” because they’re so aggressive.
“I honestly don’t know what to do. There’s nothing we can do. Vote, three and a half years from now. That’s the only thing I know of that I hope we can do,” McFadin said.
“How do we leave? How do we leave our horses? How do we leave our dogs? How do we leave this place? Even if we wanted to sell it, no one would buy it right now because we’re on the railroad track.”
Health officials in Santa Clara County, California, announced a drop in the county’s COVID-19 death toll after it refined its data-reporting systems.
After using a new approach to review COVID-19-related fatalities, county officials said the death toll from the virus dropped 22 percent from 2,201 to 1,696 deaths.
Authorities told a CBS affiliate station that it came up with narrower criteria for deaths attributable to COVID-19, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, otherwise known as the coronavirus. Officials had previously counted COVID-19 deaths by including people who died while infected with the virus, even if it didn’t actually contribute to their cause of death.
For example, according to the San Jose Spotlight citing local officials, someone who died in a car crash but had COVID-19 at the time would be counted as a “COVID-19 death.”
“We are constantly trying to get the best information to county residents as soon as we have it,” a Santa Clara County spokesperson told San Jose Spotlight. “In the height of the pandemic in January, we were unfortunately hearing about multiple deaths every day and couldn’t wait the several weeks for the death certificate to notify the public of our community members who were dying.”
Dr. Sarah Rudman, the county’s assistant public health officer, appeared to defend the original counting method during an interview with the San Jose Mercury News.
The process, Rudman said, was being carried out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and said it “was the right decision at the time.” She didn’t elaborate as to why.
“Now we’re able to do that deep review of the death certificates to make those detailed assessments,” she said.
A similar scenario unfolded last month in nearby Alameda County when officials revised (pdf) the death total from the virus—with fatalities dropping 1,634 to 1,223, or around 25 percent, once the data was updated.
“It is important to go back and do this accounting to see if COVID was actually the cause of death,” said University of California San Francisco Prof. of Medicine and Infectious Disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi, according to CBS San Francisco. “I think that transparent communication is an upside, I mean, in the sense that it’s true that if we did this across the nation, it would bring our death rate lower. A downside of that, could be that people will say, ‘Well, it wasn’t as serious as you said.’”
Gandhi told the news outlet that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may ask all counties in the United States to revise their death reporting methods, adding that the nation could see a drop in its overall COVID-19 death told.
Santa Clara County is located in California’s Bay Area.
Michigan’s attorney general, with assistance from police officers, will investigate people who claimed election fraud happened during the 2020 contest.
A spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told The Epoch Times in an email on Friday that the Democrat will probe people who allegedly made false claims, with help from Michigan State Police.
The spokeswoman said Nessel decided to launch the probes on a request from Republicans in the Michigan Senate.
A Republican-controlled Senate panel last month issued a report saying it “found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”
A portion of the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee report focused on Antrim County, where the county clerk falsely reported on the morning after Election Night that Democrat Joe Biden had beat former President Donald Trump by thousands of votes. The senators said their review backed the position of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Antrim County officials, which is that the false reporting was due to human error and was ultimately rectified.
The committee recommended that Nessel “consider investigating those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”
“The Committee finds those promoting Antrim County as the prime evidence of a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election place all other statements and actions they make in a position of zero credibility,” it said.
Benson said her office looked forward to partnering with Nessel “on this critical investigation into the real fraud that took place in 2020: efforts to deceive Michigan citizens about their vote with misleading, false statements about the accuracy & integrity of our elections.”
Attorney Matthew DePerno and his client, William Bailey, have raised money for a case brought against the county that alleged Dominion Voting Systems machines used in the county “were shown to miscount votes” cast for Trump, counting them for Biden. The case was dismissed in mid-May.
Dominion has denied the allegations, including details in a forensic report from a firm hired by DePerno that alleged Dominion’s machines and software were “purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”
“There were no software ‘glitches’ that ‘switched’ votes in Antrim County or anywhere else,” Dominion responded at the time. “The errors identified in Antrim County were isolated human errors not involving Dominion.”
DePerno told The Epoch Times in an email on Friday: “Dana Nessel is a lawless Marxist. She is trying to stop our investigation into election fraud. She is also opposing counsel in the case Bailey v Antrim County and Jocelyn Benson. She is now using the power of the police state and her to actively investigate opposing counsel. This is unethical, unconstitutional, and criminal (see MCL 750.505). Dana Nessel must resign immediately for her unethical conduct.”
Patrick Colbeck, a former Michigan senator, has a website where he hosts content he says back his election fraud claims. Users must pay a monthly fee to see some of the content.
Colbeck recently started a petition to censure McBroom and the other Republican senators who signed onto the report and denounced what he described as legislators’ “attempt to marginalize those exposing election fraud.”
In a lengthy post on his site, Colbeck said the panel’s report “consistently repeats the flawed assertion that the integrity of the election can be demonstrated simply by running ballots through the tabulator.”
“The Committee appears to be operating under an extremely unique definition of ‘election fraud’ that dismissed any evidence of fraud if it did not add up to the 154,188 votes promoted as the margin of victory for Joe Biden. This failure of reasoning dismisses the cumulative effect of breaches in the chain of custody and violations of existing statute,” he said.
As Independence Day approaches, California’s gas prices have hit a record-high since 2014.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average gas price on July 1 is $3.123 per gallon but California’s average price for regular gas was $4.284, which was $1.535 higher than in Mississippi. The Golden state’s average price of a gallon of premium gas was $4.595.
Carol Chiang lives in Orange County. She works in Los Angeles County and drives nearly 100 miles every day to work. She said that the rising gas prices have added more stress to her life.
California had an automatic gas tax hike on July 1 that means drivers now have to pay 51.1 cents per gallon in state taxes—the highest gas tax in the country.
This tax originates from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. It demands a progressive rise in tax for gas and was estimated to generate for the government $5.2 billion annually in additional revenue. The government said the money would be invested in transportation projects, but critics say that California’s infrastructure and transports did not improve from the investment.
The national average gas price have begun to rise again—to 2.5 cents more per gallon from last week—according to data from GasBuddy.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a statement, “As we approach July 4, it appears the only way forward is for gas prices to continue to rise as Americans’ insatiable demand for gasoline continues to act as a catalyst.”
AAA forecasts a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans will travel during the holidays. “Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014.” AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement.
AAA expects the rise in crude oil prices to continue after the holiday and may eventually stop near the end of summer.