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Florida Lawmaker Declares 16 Year Olds Are ‘Not Children’ But ‘Youth Workers’ Amid Labor Shortage

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In late August Hurricane Idalia, the strongest tropical storm to hit northern Florida since 1896, killed four people and caused up to $20 billion in damage. In September, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-immigrant law that has been called “draconian,” clean-up and rebuilding has been hard. Migrant workers have been fleeing north, to Georgia and other states, terrified of being arrested.

Nationwide, Republicans have been attacking President Joe Biden for what they call the “border crisis,” an influx of undocumented immigrants that not only started before the Biden administration, but was worsened by President Donald Trump according to former top national security, border security, and customs officials. House and Senate Republicans are now demanding any funds to help Ukraine and Israel be tied to funds to “fix” the border.

At the state level, Republicans including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, have been shipping undocumented immigrants out of their states to points north, to spots like New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts’s Martha’s Vineyard, and even the official residence of the Vice President, the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

Last year on Christmas Eve, in 18 degree weather, “busloads of migrants were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC,” according to CNN. Many were “asylum seekers from Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru and Colombia,” not used to sub-freezing temperatures. Some were dressed only in tee shirts.

READ MORE: Highly-Classified Intel on Putin and Russia Went Missing in Trump’s Final White House Days

“Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities,” the White House said in a statement.

There are no accurate figures for how many migrants have been shipped from Republican-run states like Texas and Florida, but they number at least in the tens of thousands. In October, Axios reported Gov. Abbott had shipped over 50,000 migrants to points north, including Chicago, NYC, L.A., D.C., and Philadelphia – all run by Democrats. Gov. DeSantis has a $12 million budget to send migrants out of his state, and is believed to have spent $615,000 to fly about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. He “has vowed to use ‘every penny’ of the $12 million allocated to his administration for migrant transports,” CNN reported.

And now, as unemployment under President Biden continues to remain extremely low – below 4% for nearly a full two years – “the longest such streak since the late 1960s,” and as the COVID-related inflation has plummeted from 9% one year ago to 3.1%, as gas prices continue to drop, media outlets and think tanks are pivoting to reporting on the worker, staffing, and labor shortage.

“We hear every day from our member companies—of every size and industry, across nearly every state—they’re facing unprecedented challenges trying to find enough workers to fill open jobs,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported late last month. “Right now, the latest data shows that we have 9.5 million job openings in the U.S., but only 6.5 million unemployed workers.”

The labor shortage is caused in part by a long-term declining U.S. birth rate and decline in immigrants allowed to work in the U.S. Experts say without immigration, the U.S. population will start to decline.

“The U.S. labor force will shrink, and America risks stagnation and declining living standards without immigrants, according to new research,” Forbes reported in August. “Immigrants can boost the U.S. working-age population and offset America’s falling birthrate and the retirement of Baby Boomers. U.S. elected officials must decide whether to change immigration laws and policies to bolster America’s labor force and prevent decline.”

READ MORE: Florida Bill Puts Decision of Students Advancing to Fourth Grade in Hands of Their Parents

As a result, Republicans across the country have been working to reduce or remove child labor protections to help fill the lack of able-bodied workers.

“While federal agencies are ramping up enforcement of child labor protections in response to increasing violations, industry groups are working to roll back child labor protections via state legislation,” the Economic Policy Institute reported in May. “Already in 2023, seven bills to weaken child labor protections have been introduced in six Midwestern states (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota) and in Arkansas, where a bill repealing restrictions on work for 14- and 15-year-olds has now been signed into law. One bill introduced in Minnesota would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work on construction sites. Ten states have introduced, considered, or passed legislation rolling back protections for young workers in just the past two years.”

And now, Florida.

Contributing to Florida’s labor shortage are Governor DeSantis’ policies during the COVID pandemic. Florida had the 18th-highest per capita COVID death rate in the U.S. 92,520 people reportedly died, ranking the state third in total COVID deaths.

But also, DeSantis’ immigration laws are scaring workers into fleeing the state.

Now, one Florida Republican lawmaker sees a solution: children. And she has a bill to put them to work more.

“The Republican-backed bill, fed to Rep. Linda Chaney by the right-wing Foundation for Government Accountability — a think tank that wrote the bill — would gut the state’s current restrictions on child labor for older teens, which were originally established to prevent work from interfering with a child’s health, safety and education,” Orlando Weekly reports. “Backed by industry groups representing restaurant and hotel owners, the proposed bill would get rid of state guidelines on when 16- and 17-year-olds can work and would limit local governments’ ability to enact stronger regulations in their communities. The bill, for instance, would make it legal for employers to put older teens to work on overnight shifts, even if they have school the next day.”

State Rep. Linda Chaney on Wednesday explained her legislation to weaken Florida’s child labor protections.

“This bill is not about children,” the Republican lawmaker told her colleagues. “This bill is about 16- and 17-year-olds. These are youth workers that are driving automobiles. They are not children.”

Rep. Chaney went on to explain that under her bill, a child could legally work the overnight shift, perhaps midnight to 6 AM, at a gas station or 7-Eleven, for example, on a school night, and could do so without parental consent.

READ MORE: ‘Thoughts and Prayers’: Moms Group Releases ‘Devastating’ Ad on Sandy Hook Anniversary

She said, “it is up to the individual and their parent how they choose to work and again, there’s no mandate in this bill of when or where they work, they may choose to work 35 hours. There is also school choice,” she said, of Florida’s massive school voucher program. “There’s a lot of differences of children in youth schedules now. So they may not be going to school during typical school hours. So for them to choose, they have the right now to choose what best fits their individual situation.”

When asked if the child has to “get parental consent to take that job if they’re 16 or 17?” Chaney answered, “No.”

Chaney “said she filed the legislation in part to provide more labor for Florida’s tourism industry,” Florida-based reporter Jason Garcia wrote at Seeking Rents. “Being in a tourist area of Florida and knowing the needs of the hospitality industry…I felt this was a common-sense bill.”

Watch the videos of Chaney’s remarks above or at this link.

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Trump’s Scheme for Absolute Immunity From State Prosecutions Forever: Report

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Having successfully obtained delays in his federal trials and his state trial in Georgia, possibly until after the November election, Donald Trump is now seeking an “insurance policy” to protect him from any future state prosecutions if he again becomes president.

The indicted ex-president who turns 78 next month “seems convinced that if he wins another four years in the White House, state prosecutors will still be waiting for him on the other side of his term — ready to put him on trial, or even in prison, just as they are now,” Rolling Stone reports.

“To avoid such risks, the former and perhaps future president of the United States wants Congress to create a very specific insurance policy that would help keep him out of prison forever, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump vaguely alluded to this idea last week outside his New York criminal hush money trial, when he said he has urged Republican lawmakers to pass ‘laws to stop things like this.'”

Trump “has pressured” Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do so, describing it as imperative that he signs such a bill into law, if he again ascends to the Oval Office.”

READ MORE: Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

Rolling Stone also notes, “Trump appears fixated on the idea of passing a law to give former American presidents the option of moving state or local prosecutions into a federal court instead, the two sources add.”

Trump “has hinted at a legislative push to limit his exposure to such criminal charges. In an improvised press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, Trump said he’s been telling the Republican lawmakers who want to attend his trial and show solidarity to focus on legislation instead.”

“We have a lot of ’em. They want to come. I say, ‘Just stay back and pass lots of laws to stop things like this.’”

In 1973, while still President but under the cloud of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”

If Trump is elected in November, he can have his Attorney General drop any federal prosecutions he is currently facing. That may call into question, for some legal experts, the actions of the far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who have delayed ruling on his immunity claim, and U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On May 7, Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case, against Donald Trump.

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf this week blasted the judge:

“Judge Cannon is not, as commentators and cartoonists would have it, just working on behalf of Trump. She is actively working on behalf of the enemies of the US who have and would benefit from the national security breaches she is effectively defending and making more likely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) earlier this month declared, “The courts are deliberately delaying justice — and effectively denying it.”

This coming week Americans may get a verdict in the New York criminal case against the ex-president. If it comes, it may be “guilty” or “not guilty,” but it could also be a hung jury, forcing another trial which also would not likely come before the election.

If Trump is elected in November, and can get his “insurance policy” legislation passed, he could possibly avoid all criminal trials for the rest of his life.

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‘Will You Accept the Results?’: Cruz’s Election Denialism Shut Down in ‘Brutal’ Interview

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) promoted Donald Trump’s false election denialism and was challenged by a CNN anchor in an interview being praised by several media watchers.

During the Wednesday interview Cruz suggested to host Kaitlan Collins that Democrats or Hillary Clinton criticizing election results was equivalent to Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” campaign, which included over 60 legal challenges and countless false allegations of massive fraud. He also insisted there was a “peaceful transfer of power” after the 2020 presidential election despite the violent and deadly January 6 insurrection for which more than 1200 people have been criminally charged and for which the ex-president is facing several indictments. In the end, Collins appeared to cut the interview short.

“Will you certify the election results?” in the November election, Collins asked the Texas Republican on Wednesday, noting he was the first in the Senate to say he would not certify the 2020 election results. “Do you plan to object or will you accept the results regardless of who wins the election?”

“So Kaitlan,” Cruz replied, “I gotta say, I think that’s actually a ridiculous question.”

“It’s a yes or no question,” Collins replied.

“No it’s not that let me explain why it’s a ridiculous question,” Cruz alleged combatively. “It’s not a question – have you ever asked Democrat that?”

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

“Of course,” Collins replied.

“What Democrat?” Cruz demanded to know.

After a short back-and-forth, Collins said, “I know, I know, I’ve been on this road many, many times, but no Democrat – you can not compare the two situations. We have talked about that, we’ve seen the audio of that when they protested,” Collins said,  appearing to refer to Hillary Clinton having called the 2016 presidential election “stolen,” which she did three years after the election, in 2019.

“Have you ever had a sitting president who refused to facilitate the peaceful transition of power refused to acknowledge that his successor won the presidency?” Collins asked Cruz.

“So, A, we did have a peaceful transfer of power. I was there on January 20. I was there on the swearing in,” Cruz insisted, ignoring the January 6 insurrection.

“Barely,” Collins replied..

Cruz continued to refer to individual “objections” Democrats have made about results of elections – not formal, legal objections (except Al Gore in 2000) but comments or remarks, or individual objections to one state elections – not organized campaigns.

So you’re asking, ‘Will you promise no matter what to agree an election is illegitimate regardless of what happens?’ and that would be an absurd thing to claim,” Cruz said.

Again, after some back-and forth, Collins said, “This isn’t a game. There was no widespread voter fraud.”

“It is a game,” Cruz responded. “You only ask Republicans that.”

It November of 2022, the right-wing Cato Institute published an opinion piece titled, “Yes, Democrats Have Called Some Elections Illegitimate. GOP Election Denialism Is Far Worse,” and added: “It’s not even close.”

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

Collins later pointed out that it is only Republicans who have “tried to block the transition of power. You have to acknowledge that.”

“So my question for you again: free and fair election. Will you accept the results regardless of who wins?” Collins again asked.

“Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result, but I’m not going to ignore fraud regardless of what happens.”

“Was there fraud in 202o?” Collins pressed.

“Of course there was fraud,” Cruz insisted.

“No, that wasn’t and you still objected,” Collins pointed out.

“Oh, you know, for a fact there was zero voter fraud really? What’s your basis for that? Show me your evidence,” Cruz demanded, inserting “zero” when Collins meant fraud “that would have changed the outcome,” as she noted later.

Commenting on the interview, writer Charlotte Clymer, a former press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign said, “This is brilliant.”

“I seriously cannot remember the last time any journalist on cable news confronted the bad faith of a MAGA politician this insistently,” Clymer remarked. “For five minutes (!), Kaitlin Collins pressed Ted Cruz and demanded a good faith answer.”

Democratic strategist and former DNC official Adam Parkhomenko commented, “this is just brutal.” He added Cruz was “being humiliated.”

Calling it, “Well done,” journalist Ahmed Baba wrote: “Kaitlan Collins interjecting with fact-checks multiple times and ending the interview after Ted Cruz refused to engage in the facts and continued to spread his propaganda.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

 

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‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

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Revelations over the past week that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew flags associated with the January 6 insurrection and the far-right Christian nationalist movement at not one but two of his homes have drawn tremendous outrage, and heightened demands that Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) hold hearings on the jurist, and pass legislation to reform the Court.

Chairman Durbin, first elected to Congress in 1982, has focused his attention on ensuring President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees are confirmed. Wednesday morning he celebrated confirming 200 judges nominated by President Biden to the federal bench.

But critics, including legal experts, say the Chairman has done little to reform the Supreme Court or hold the judicial branch to account.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

Durbin did not hold any hearings over Justice Clarence Thomas’s numerous alleged ethical violations. Some legal experts say he has not only violated the people’s trust and judicial ethics rules, but federal law.

And now, critics say, Chairman Durbin is not responding sufficiently to the Justice Alito scandal.

The Chairman did release a statement on Wednesday after the New York Times bombshell of a second Alito flag, calling for the Justice to “recuse himself immediately from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection.”

Critics say that’s not enough, recusal is also not enough, and a statement from Durbin doesn’t rise to the level of Alito’s actions.

Professor of law, election law expert, and Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project Rick Hasen Wednesday did not hold back.

“WTF Justice Alito?” he wrote. “I was uncertain if revelation of first flag merited J Alito’s recusal in the first case, but I now believe he must recuse in the Trump immunity and related cases. His impartiality could be reasonably questioned;no blaming it on spouse.”

Historian and professor Heather Cox Richardson, responding to Hasen, wrote: “Recuse? He needs to resign.”

Justice Alito’s flags indicate support for the January 6, 2021 insurrection, suggests University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe, a professor of law and top constitutional scholar who wrote a major textbook on the U.S. Constitution.

In an interview Wednesday he also suggested Justice Alito’s actions come close to treason.

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Professor Tribe alleged Justice Alito may have committed impeachable offenses, including “giving aid and comfort to an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States, which is close to treason,” he said in his Wednesday interview on the MeidasTouch Network. He also called for a “serious investigation” by the U.S. Senate into Alito, who “has been contemptuous for quite a while.”

But Tribe also aimed his criticism at the Judiciary Chairman.

“This isn’t just about the insurrection-abetting Sam Alito, it’s about the AWOL Senator Durbin. He has no excuse for not holding hearings about Alito now.”

On Tuesday, even before the second Alito flag was discovered, Tribe demanded action.

I’m sorry, Senator Durbin, you’re MIA on this. You have a solemn responsibility to conduct oversight here. This is deadly serious! Key Senate Democrat doesn’t plan to probe Justice Alito over upside-down flag. Excuse me, why the heck not??”

Earlier, on Saturday, Professor Tribe had already been pushing for Durbin to act.

Talk is cheap. Chairman Dick Durbin needs to do more than call on Alito to recuse himself from the insurrection cases. Durbin needs to step up and use the subpoena power to demand Alito’s appearance and explanation before the Senate Judiciary Committee!”

On Monday, NBC News’ Sahil Kapur had reported, “Durbin has NO plans to hold a hearing on Justice Alito. ‘I don’t think there’s much to be gained with a hearing at this point… He should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his admin.’ And if Alito won’t? Durbin says no recourse but impeachment—and they aren’t there.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

Attorney Dan Coffin, who writes about constitutional issues, disagreeing with Durbin’s claim, says there must be an investigation.

“An impeachment hearing should be preceded by an investigative hearing to establish the facts regarding the flag incident, as well as other matters currently known or as developed in an investigative hearing. The public needs to know the facts. Alito likely would refuse to appear, even with a subpoena, and the public needs to know that,” he said. “There should also be an investigative hearing regarding Thomas & his wife.”

Progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann also blasted Durbin.

“Dick Durbin needs to haul Alito and Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee to get to the bottom of their collision with Trump’s attempt to overthrow American democracy. Will he find the courage?”

Adam Cohen, Lawyers for Good Government Vice Chair, Board of Directors on Thursday also took aim at Durbin.

“Dick Durbin is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair,” he began. “He needs to investigate Supreme Court Justices Alito and Thomas-NOW.”

“Chief Justice Roberts must testify about the MAGA takeover of the Court-and what he’ll do to stop it,” Cohen insisted, warning: “Americans are losing their rights … This CANNOT continue.”

See the social media posts above or at this link.

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