Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Judge Rejects NRA Bankruptcy Filing

A Judge, on Tuesday, Dismissed the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Bankruptcy Case, Ruling that the Organization Cannot use the Bankruptcy Code to Relocate from New York, where it faces a Lawsuit, to Texas, a more Gun-Friendly State.

“The question the Court is faced with is whether the existential threat facing the NRA is the type of threat that the Bankruptcy Code is meant to protect against. The Court believes it is not,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Harlin Hale, wrote in the Decision. “...the Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme,” Hale added.

With this Decision, the Gun Rights Advocacy Group will remain Incorporated in New York.

The Organization filed for Bankruptcy in January 2021 and Planned to Reincorporate in Texas. The Plan, it said at the time, “involves utilizing the protection of the bankruptcy court.”

The NRA said it was leaving “what it believes is a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York.”

The NRA’s Legal Action followed an August 2020 Lawsuit from New York Attorney General, Letitia James (D), which called for Dissolving the Organization.

The Lawsuit alleged that the Group Violated State Law Governing Nonprofit Organizations, which Contributed to a Loss of more than $64 Million over Three years.

Earlier this month, James’s Office had argued in Court that the NRA declared Bankruptcy specifically to Avoid Oversight, calling for the Case to be Dismissed.

James praised the Ruling in a Tweet on Tuesday, writing, “No one is above the law.”

The NRA, she wrote, "does not get to dictate if and where it will answer for its actions, and our case will continue in New York court."

The Court Dismissed the case without Prejudice, meaning the NRA can try to File for Bankruptcy again in the Future.

Hale wrote, however, that the Court would “immediately take up some of its concerns about disclosure, transparency, secrecy, conflicts of interest of officers and litigation counsel, and the unusual involvement of litigation counsel in the affairs of the NRA.”

Hale added that these Circumstances could Lead to the Appointment of a Trustee “out of concern that the NRA could not fulfill the fiduciary duty” as Required by the Bankruptcy Code.

The Trustee when then Oversee the Organization's Affairs.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Administration Approves Nation’s First Major Offshore Wind Farm

The Biden Administration, on Tuesday, announced its Final Approval of the Nation’s First Commercial-Scale Offshore Wind Farm, a Major Step toward President Biden’s Goal of Expanding Renewable Energy production across the U.S.

The Vineyard Wind Project calls for, up to 84 Turbines, to be Installed in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 Nautical Miles off the Coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Together, they could Generate about 800 Megawatts of Electricity, enough to Power about 400,000 Homes.

The Administration estimates that the Project will create about 3,600 Jobs.

The Idea of a Wind Farm off the Massachusetts Coast, was Conceived Two Decades ago, but ran into Repeated Setbacks, Delays, and well-funded Opposition from Waterfront Property Owners, before the Trump Administration moved to Cancel the Project’s Permitting Process.

The Biden Administration Jump-Started Progress on Vineyard Wind in March 2021, as part of its Larger push to tackle Climate Change.

“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States,” Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, said Tuesday. “The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation. Today is one of many actions we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.”

The Administration has Pledged to Build 30,000 Megawatts of Offshore Wind in the U.S. by 2030. It’s a Target the White House contended would spark $12 Billion in Capital Investments Annually, supporting 77,000 Direct and Indirect Jobs by the End of the Decade.

The $2.8 Billion Project is a Joint Venture of the Energy Firms Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

“It’s a big deal on its face. It’s the first of its kind,” said Frank Callahan, President the Massachusetts Building Trades Council. He Praised the Administration and said, “I think it’s an important message that these jobs will be good union jobs with good wages and benefits.” Callahan and other Labor Leaders have sought to ensure that the Project will be Built and Maintained by Union Workers.

The Biden Administration said that it intended to Fast-Track Permits for Projects off the Atlantic Coast and that it would offer $3 Billion in Federal Loan Guarantees for Offshore Wind Projects and Invest in Upgrades to Ports across the U.S. to Support Wind Turbine Construction.

Vineyard Wind is broadly viewed as a Test of the Biden Administration’s ability to Speed-Up permitting Offshore Wind Projects while Nnavigating concerns from some Labor Groups as well as Commercial Fishermen and others.

“It’s a big deal, and not just for Vineyard Wind. This is the icebreaker, it’s the first one, it’s charting the course,” Rafael McDonald, an Electricity and Renewable Analyst at IHS Markit, said after the Biden Administration released its Initial Environmental Review in March. “There’s all this pent-up demand from state mandates, and Vineyard Wind is the bellwether.”

Electricity Generated by the Vineyard Wind Turbines will travel via Cables buried Six feet below the Ocean Floor to Cape Cod, where they would Connect to a Substation and Feed into the New England Grid.

Construction would begin later this year, the Project’s Developers say it could be operational by 2023.

In addition to Vineyard Wind, a Dozen other Offshore Wind Projects along the East Coast are under Federal Review. The Interior Department has estimated that by the End of the Decade Developers of Offshore Wind Projects could Install at least 2,000 Turbines from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

The Effort fuses the Administration’s Goal of Cutting Planet-Warming Greenhouse Gas Emissions with its Promise that Renewable Energy will Create New Economic Opportunities.

Biden has Pledged to Cut U.S. Emissions roughly in Half by 2035. If Biden’s Offshore Wind Targets are met, it will accomplish a Chunk of that Goal by Avoiding 78 Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Emissions, the Administration said.

Many Republicans are Skeptical of Biden’s Job Creation Claims and say the President’s Plans, particularly his Suspension of New Oil and Gas Leases on Federal Lands and Waters, are already Hurting Union Workers in Fossil Fuel Industries.

Offshore Wind, which is Booming in Europe, is a Nascent Industry in the U.S. Only Two Wind Farms currently Operate, off the Coasts of Virginia and Rhode Island. Together, they Produce 42 Megawatts of Electricity.

But several Atlantic Coast States, including: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, have Committed to Buying more than 25,000 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Power by 2035, according to the American Clean Power Association.

Still, some Coastal Communities have Decried Wind Farms as Eyesores, and some Environmentalists are worried about the Impact on Marine Life. Fishing Groups, meanwhile, are concerned that their Boats and Trawlers will be Forced to steer Clear of the hulking Turbines, the Largest of which now have Rotor Diameters the Length of two Football Fields. That could Limit the Amount of Seafood they can Catch, potentially Depriving Coastal Fishing Communities of Millions of Dollars in Revenue.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Picks Rahm Emanuel for U.S. Ambassador to Japan

President Biden has chosen Rahm Emanuel, former Mayor of Chicago and Chief of Staff to President Obama, as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

There had been speculation that Emanuel would become Envoy to China, but that Job is expected to go to former Top U.S. Diplomat, Nick Burns.

Ambassador to Japan is One of Washington's most important Diplomatic Postings, and Tokyo one of its most Important Allies, highlighted when Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, was the First Foreign Leader Biden Received at the White House.

At that Meeting, the U.S. and Japan vowed to stand together against an assertive China, with a Joint Statement calling for "candid conversations" and raising Concerns over Beijing's growing Maritime moves, its clampdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and growing Tension over Taiwan.

Emanuel's Appointment would continue a Tradition of Sending High-Profile Political Operators to Tokyo.

The Role was also held by Caroline Kennedy, John F Kennedy's Daughter, who served during Obama's Second Term.

Emanuel, the Son of an Israeli Immigrant, is known as a High-Energy, fierce Democratic Partisan.

He came to National Notice as an Enforcer in the Clinton White House, where he held several Roles, ramming home the Administration's Agenda.

He was credited with Masterminding the 2006 Democratic Election Triumph, which saw the Party grab Control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans, and returned to the White House as Chief-of-Staff to President Obama.

He then Served Two-Terms as Mayor of Chicago, before surprising the Political Establishment by declining to Run for a Third, just as an Incendiary Police Shooting Trial was about to begin.

He has a Reputation for Abrasiveness and the occasional piece of Profanity-laced Rhetoric, attributed to his Training in the bearpit of Chicago Politics.

Mireya Solis, a Japan Expert at the Brookings Institution, said while Tokyo would Value his Relationship with Biden, there was some "trepidation" over his Reputation for Bluntness.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over AZ Republican Party Election

A Judge in Arizona Dismissed a Lawsuit requesting the Court Intervene in Proceedings over an Arizona Republican Party Election.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge, Michael Kemp, Ruled it was Not the Court's Place to get Involved in an Internal Party Dispute.

Two State Republicans filed a Lawsuit in March after Kelli Ward, the Party's Chairwoman, Won Reelection to the Post, that month, by a margin of 42 Votes.

"Whether or not any chicanery took place in the voting process on January 23, this Court finds that it does not have judicial authority to intervene in an inter-party dispute that is guided by rules and procedures agreed upon by an independent political party," Kemp wrote.

The Two Plaintiffs, William Beard and Sandra Dowling, argued that the Party should hold a Redo Vote due to what they saw as the "significant number of irregularities and general chaos" surrounding the Original Election. The State Party was Opposed to the idea.

Beard and Dowling requested that the Court require the Party to explain its reason for Not holding a Redo and attempted to have the Court provide an Injunction, to keep the Party from Blocking a Meeting among Republican state Committee Members, to Vote on whether to hold a New Election. They claimed that more than 350 Republican State Committee Members had Signed a Petition to Hold the Special Meeting.

In a March statement, Ward Claimed that an Unspecified Number of those Members had Contacted the Party, "claiming that their names are being used without permission by those who lost their elections in January and that any signature from them is fraudulent."

"Superior Courts in Arizona are mindful and supportive of transparency and fair play," Kemp said, adding, "This court also [finds] that judicial intervention would be inappropriate given the available remedies outlined above and the public interest in the independence of political parties from judicial oversight."

"The lawsuit was a distraction, and we’re happy to see it dismissed," Jack Wilenchik, the Attorney representing the State Party.

Beard and Dowling filed Two separate Lawsuits, with an earlier one seeking a Review of the Ballots and Election Records from the January Contest.

Wilenchik said that the Second Lawsuit, the one that asked for an Injunction, was the one that was Dismissed by Kemp. The Attorney argued that the First Lawsuit "is moot because we already allowed them to inspect the ballots (and had offered that even before they sued)."

Kemp also argued that the First Lawsuit would be Subject to Dismissal for the same reason as the Second.

"They don’t seem to be held to account," Tim La Sota, the Attorney for the Activists, sad. "They seem to be able to say, no matter how many signatures were produced, you didn’t have enough and it doesn’t seem there is anything to be done about it."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NJ Landlord Sues to End Lease with Private Prison Company

New Jersey Landlord Sues to End Lease with Private Prison Company that holds Immigrants at the Property, at the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC). The Crowded, Windowless Warehouse is Lesed to Private Prison Company, CoreCivic.

The Landlord, Portview Properties, alleging the Private Prison Profiteer has Failed to Protect Immigrants detained at the EDC, amid the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic.

CoreCivic, which holds a Federal Contract to Detain up to 145 People for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has Failed to Meet basic Safety Standards, resulting in more than 50 Cases of COVID-19. During one Nine-day Period last month, a Dozen detained People tested Positive.

“The Company alleges that CoreCivic failed to meet the basic safety, health care, sanitation and hygiene needs of all those detained. Furthermore, the company does not permit individuals to maintain social distancing, and that detainees sleep in dorms with 40 beds or cots in one room, clustered closely together, and must share a restroom.” the Lawsuit states.

"Defendant’s failure to implement these required measures represents not only a threat to the health, safety, and wellbeing of those individuals detained within the EDC, but also, a breach of the ICE Contract and, The physical threat to these individuals, which has been exacerbated by Defendant’s inaction, has become even more dire in light of the spread of new variants of the virus causing COVID-19." therefore, its lease agreement with Plaintiff should be cancelled”, the lawsuit states.

The Allegations against CoreCivic are in no way shocking. Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the First Detained Person to die from the Virus while in ICE Custody, had been Detained at a California Facility operated by CoreCivic. EDC itself made Headlines in the First days of the Pandemic, when a Staffer went into Self-Quarantine after Testing Positive for the Virus. The Marshall Project, reported at the time, that it was “the first case confirmed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of an employee contracting the virus.”

In 1995, Detainees attempted to take over the Facility, making same Allegations that continue Today: Inedible Food, Lack of Fresh Air, Bugs, Filth, and Crowded Sleeping Quarters.

“Given the grave concerns expressed by those individuals who have experienced first-hand the dangerous conditions within the EDC, Plaintiff demanded assurances from Defendant that it is operating the EDC in accordance with its contractual obligation to adhere to and implement federal COVD-19 safety guidelines, regulations, and requirements,” as stated in the Lawsuit.

In response, Defendant offered only a statement that it is in Compliance with its Obligations under the ICE Contract.

When Members of Congress, last year, questioned Private Prison Executives, including some from CoreCivic, about Allegations of Abuse against Detainees, the Executives Feigned Ignorance about what was going on inside their Facilities. In reality, People at CoreCivic Facilities have been Pepper-Sprayed on at least on Four occasions, for Protesting Dangerous Conditions amid the pPndemic.

Should Portview succeed in its Lawsuit, its Contract with CoreCivic would be Terminated more than a year early.

The Company had expressed interest in Renewing its Lease until 2027. This Highlights the ongoing need for the Biden Administration to take Steps to Cancel ICE’s Contracts Altogether.

Edafe Okporo, a Public Health and Gay Rights Activist, who was Detained at Elizabeth after fleeing Nigeria in 2016, said he wished the Detention Center could be turned into Housing for Asylum Seekers.

“The news of a potential possibility of closing the center came with a relief that no one would have to go through the horrible system as I did,” Okporo said. “It's coming late, but slow progress is better than no progress.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Monday, May 10, 2021

NASA Agreed to Let Axiom Space Fly First Private Astronauts to Space Station in 2022

NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX, announced on Monday, that NASA Agreed to Launch that Spaceflight, called Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1), as early as January 2022.

Axiom has Purchased Seats for Four People aboard One of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Spaceships, which have now flown Three Astronaut Crews to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA.

The Ax1 Crew Members:

- Commander Michael López-Alegría - Axiom Vice President and Former NASA Astronaut

- Mission Pilot Larry Connor - Real-Estate Investor

- Mission Specialist Mark Pathy - Canadian investor

- Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe - Former Israeli Fighter Pilot

For the Mission, the Private Astronauts will spend Eight days on ISS.

The Crew Dragon Spaceship is set to Launch atop a Falcon 9 Rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Then Crew Dragon would Fly the Axiom Crew to the ISS.

If all goes according to Plan, they will become the First Private Astronauts to set foot on the Orbiting Laboratory.

Each of the Four Men has Paid roughly $55 Million to Fly on the Crew Dragon.

NASA is still Reviewing the Group, and they will need to Undergo Medical Reviews before the Agency approves them.

"The first private crew to visit the International Space Station is a watershed moment in humanity's expansion off the planet and we are glad to partner with NASA in making it happen," Axiom President and CEO, Michael Suffredini said in NASA's Press Release.

"A thriving commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit begins with expanding access to serious, nontraditional users and that is exactly the aim of our private astronaut missions."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NV First Primary Bill Places State in Conflict with NH Law

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access news for this post.

A Bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature setting up an Early Presidential Primary has now been Amended to Directly take on New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Status.

When introduced, in February 2021, by Nevada Assembly Speaker, James Frierson (D-79th District), with the Support of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, the Bill's Language was at Odds with the Message of its Sponsor. The Bill confusingly talked about holding the First Primary in the West, not the Nation, in late January of Presidential Election years.

When it was reported that this apparently Incongruity between the stated Intent of the Bill and the language of the Bill, a Nevada source close to the Legislative Process said the Bill would be Amended to place Nevada First in the Nation. On April 8th, a Committee of the Nevada Assembly Voted to amend the Bill to say: “… (A) presidential preference primary election must be held for all major political parties on the first Tuesday in February of each presidential election year.”

The Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee then Recommended that the Full Assembly pass the Bill. The Committee Vote was 7-4, strictly along Party Lines. All Seven Yes Votes were cast by Democrats, and the Four Members of the Republican Minority voted No.

Nevada Republican National Committeeman, Jim DeGraffenreid, reminded the Committee at a Public Hearing that the Bill could Violate Republican National Committe (RNC) Rule that allows: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, to hold their Caucuses or Primaries up to a Month before March 1st, but Not sooner. But he noted that it would definitely Violate the more Specific Rrule of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which says that Nevada Cannot hold Nominating Contest Primary Earlier than 10 days before the First Tuesday in March.

Nevada GOP Chair, Michael McDonald, submitted written Testimony Opposing the Bill, stating, “First in the West is a title we have been proud to wear, and we believe it should continue. Nevada is a battle born -- and battleground -- state. Trying to play chicken with primary dates is not a battle we will win.”

Nevada would also Change its Presidential Nominating Election from a Caucus to a Primary. That Change was also Debated along Partisan Lines, with Republicans noting that instead of Party-Funded Caucuses, there would instead be a Taxpayer-Funded Primary, which would cost an estimated $5 Million. This could also have Independents ask to be allowed to Vote in a Party Presidential Election.

New Hampshire State Law requires the Secretary of State to Schedule the Leadoff Primary Seven Days ahead of Any “similar election.” If Nevada’s Bill becomes Law, as it is expected to do, Secretary, Bill Gardner, would be Required to Schedule the New Hampshire Primary a week ahead of Nevada’s Primary, which would place New Hampshire in Violation of the Rules of both National Political Parties.

The Granite State would be subject to Sanctions from the DNC and possibly, although less likely, the RNC, if Gardner jumped the Primary into late January. The State Parties’ National Convention Delegations could be stripped of a Percentage of their Members. But that’s occurred in the Past, 2008 and 2012, and it did Not affect the amount of Nationwide and Worldwide Attention New Hampshire drew.

Party Rules can be Changed, however, and that’s what Nevada Assembly Speaker, Frierson, is counting on to clear the way for his State to hold its Primary the First Tuesday in February.

“To be crystal clear, the purpose of this bill is to set Nevada up to be the first presidential nominating state in the nation, not just in the West,” he said during the April Hearing. Unlike New Hampshire, in which the Law allows Gardner to Set the Date at his Discretion to stay Seven Days ahead of other States, the Nevada Bill has a Set Date for its New Primary.

When a Republican Lawmaker asked Frierson what he Plans to do, when New Hampshire Schedules its Primary ahead of Nevada, he said: “We are certainly not able to have a moving scale the way some states do and so our job is to make our case – not just to the RNC and the DNC but also to those other states that we are a better reflection” of the Diversity of the Nation.

The DNC Rules Committee will, as always, will be a Major Player in the makeup of the 2024 Calendar, but the Committee is Not expected to be named until Late Summer and is Not expected to Issue its Recommended Calendar to the Full DNC until next year, with a Final DNC Decision to come at its August 2022 Meeting.

Frierson made his Case based on the familiar Diversity Issue. “Our diverse population better represents that of the rest of the country, yet our state is small enough for more of our voices to be heard by those vying for the highest elected office in the land,” said Frierson. “Our voices are diverse and better reflect the rest of the country than the current nominating structure,” he said. “It's time for Nevada to take its rightful place, not just first in the West, but first in the nation,” he said.

He indicated that he also hopes to Neuter New Hampshire’s Primary by convincing Candidates to Campaign in Nevada, rather than the Granite State. “And I also think that what is important is that we make our case to candidates,” he said. “I think that it would behoove candidates to pitch their positions and make their case before a state’s population that reflects largely what the country looks like.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau 2019 Estimates, Nevada was 74% White, 29% Hispanic or Latino, and 10% Black or African American.

New Hampshire, according to the Census Bureau, is 93% White, 4% Hispanic or Latino, and 1.8% Black of African American.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker