Supervisor Candidates Share Plans to Manage County’s Infrastructure and Transportation 

With the special election for a vacant Orange County Board of Supervisors (BOS) seat approaching, March 9, The Epoch Times reached out to each candidate and asked about their infrastructure and transportation goals. More than $1 billion is spent every year on the county’s infrastructure improvement projects and public transit. The BOS oversees the public works department, and supervisors sit on the Orange County Transport ation Authority (OCTA) board. Each candidate was asked: What, if any, major changes would you like to see with Orange County’s road infrastructure and public transit? Candidate and Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley did not respond to interview requests. John Moorlach John Moorlach, a former District 2 Supervisor, said “any major projects or improvements can be accomplished, [but] the funding sources must be in place.” “I believe the county and OCTA have done a good job of focusing on lanes, versus trains. The Measure M sales tax has been allocated in a responsible manner,” Moorlach told The Epoch Times. …

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Biden to Hold First Press Conference by End of Month: White House

President Joe Biden will hold his first press briefing as president by the end of March, the White House said Friday. Pressed on why Biden has not held a press conference yet, in contrast to most other modern presidents since President Ronald Reagan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said he does answer questions several times a week. “He took questions actually twice yesterday, which is an opportunity for people covering the White House to ask him about whatever news is happening on any given day. We look forward to holding a full press conference in the coming weeks before the end of the month, and we are working on setting a final date for that. As soon as we do, we will let you know,” she told reporters in Washington. “This president came in during a historic crisis, two historic crises, a pandemic like the country had not seen …

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WSJ Editors Respond to Trump’s Claim They’re Pushing Globalist Agenda and Fading Into Irrelevance

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board on Thursday wrote that former President Donald Trump “is unhappy with us for recognizing reality” as they responded to criticism from Trump, who accused the editors of backing globalist agendas and said their relevance was withering. Following a critical Wall Street Journal piece that pinned the blame for Republican losses in the Georgia Senate runoffs on Trump and essentially called on the GOP to abandon the former president, Trump gave the editors a tongue lashing. “The Wall Street Journal editorial page continues, knowingly, to fight for globalist policies such as bad trade deals, open borders, and endless wars that favor other countries and sell out our great American workers, and they fight for RINOS that have so badly hurt the Republican Party,” Trump said in a statement, referring to the acronym for “Republicans in Name Only,” a pejorative used for Republican elected officials who …

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Announces Bill Prohibiting Social Media Censorship

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced on Friday that he plans to sign a bill into law that would prohibit social media companies from censoring Texans’ viewpoints online, adding that censorship is “not going to be tolerated in Texas.”

“We see that the First Amendment is under assault by these social media companies, and that is not going to be tolerated in Texas,” said Governor Abbott at a press conference on Friday alongside State Senator Bryan Hughes (R).

“There is a dangerous movement spreading across the country trying to try to silence conservative ideas, religious beliefs,” the governor added. “We saw that first arise on college campuses.”

In 2019, Governor Abbott signed into law the “Campus Free Speech” law, ensuring that students’ First Amendment rights would be protected on college campuses.

“But now,” Abbott continued, “these social media tech companies are using their tools to silence conservative speech on their platforms.”

The governor added that senator Hughes’ Senate Bill 12 will protect Texans “from being wrongfully censored on social media, making sure that their voices are going to be heard and canceled or silenced.”

Abbott went on to note that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter “have evolved into the modern-day public square.”

“These are the areas that used to be the courthouse square where people would come and talk,” said Abbott. “Now, people are going to Facebook and Twitter to talk about their political ideas, and what Facebook and Twitter are doing — they are controlling the flow of information, and sometimes denying the flow of information.”

“Texas is taking a stand against big tech political censorship. We are not going to allow it in the Lone Star state,” Governor Abbott affirmed.

The governor explained that Senator Hughes’ legislation will prohibit social media companies from censoring Texans based upon their viewpoints.

“It would also allow any Texan who has been canceled or censored or de-platformed to be able to file a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other companies, and make sure they are able to get back on,” said Abbott.

“The United States of America was built on freedom of speech and healthy public debate,” the governor added. “Big tech’s efforts to silence conservative viewpoints is un-American, un-Texan, and it is unacceptable. And pretty soon, it’s going to be against the law in the state of Texas.”

Senator Hughes also expressed his concerns regarding Americans being “locked out social media for not conforming to a narrow worldview” approved by the political left, and explained why it should be illegal for social media companies to behave in this manner.

“We don’t allow your phone company to cut you off because they don’t like your politics, your cable company can’t cut you off because of your religion,” said Hughes. “These social media companies are common carriers. They have chosen to enter into that business, and they cannot discriminate against people in a violation of the First Amendment.”

Governor Abbott says that he looks forward to signing the bill into law.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler @alana, and on Instagram.

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Vladimir Putin Lumps Anti-Govt Protesters with Child Sex Traffickers in Bizarre Speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against anti-government protesters in a speech Thursday comparing them to child sex traffickers and suicide cultists because they supposedly use the Internet to exploit young people.

Putin was addressing We Are Togetherone of several nationwide volunteer groups launched in the spring of 2020 which aimed to help Russians struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions.

“I would like to congratulate you on a whole year of your joint work in this wonderful, noble, and highly appreciated field of supporting those who badly need a helping hand. It is especially gratifying that someone has been doing this during the most difficult time in recent years, one of the most challenging periods of our time, during the pandemic,” Putin told volunteers.

After reviewing the achievements of the group and expressing appreciation for its individual and corporate sponsors – “as many as 10,000 companies and five million people,” according to Putin – the Russian president regaled the crowd with political musings. In a bizarre shift in tone, Putin hammered the importance of controlling the Internet and forcing it to comply with “the moral laws of our society.”

Putin identified the great moral menaces of the Internet as child pornography, child prostitution, drug abuse, suicide bullies, and people who hold “unauthorized rallies” to harass him for such acts as using chemical weapons to murder political opponents:

Unfortunately, we have to deal with more than just calls to take part in unauthorized rallies. We are all adults here, and we are aware of it, why not face it? What can be found in cyberspace is child pornography, child prostitution, and the promotion and distribution of drugs among children and adolescents. They are encouraged to take to the streets and brawl with the police, and then hide behind children thus putting them on the spot.

What does it mean? It means using children as an object, it means using children as a tool for achieving someone’s selfish objectives, and it is always a source for using children to earn profit. Strange as it is, including by urging a minor to commit suicide. And there they find a way to profit off it too. It is amazing. I see that my colleague opened his eyes in surprise and made an understandable gesture with his hands. These were exactly my feelings when I learnt about it.

And when the police catch up to these monsters, can you imagine, they turn into totally different people. They surf the internet, pretending to be tough like Rambo, and urge a girl or a boy to jump off a roof – and they concoct a whole story to entice him or her to do it. But as soon as the police arrive, they literally crap their pants. Such bastards sitting there, you know. Like an insect no one feels sorry about crushing. They urge girls and boys to commit suicide. And in doing all this they also earn money by posting ads and doing other things.

“When we are talking about children, of course to some they are an object for exploitation, to some they are a tool for achieving selfish goals, to some they are a source of earning money and making profit, but to us they are an absolute treasure. That is the truth,” Putin concluded.

Putin’s regime is deeply worried about the growing number of young people participating in “unauthorized” demonstrations. Russian Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said Friday his office has “received data about participation of 1,422 minors in illegal rallies.”

Bastrykin’s idea for fighting the “crisis” involved increasing “educational programs aimed at providing knowledge and skills that would shield children from manipulation techniques in the future,” in addition to limiting their free time so they cannot participate in protests.

“I have reiterated Marx’s idea many times: in order to keep a teenager from partaking in such actions, they should not have a single minute of spare time,” Bastrykin said.

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Graham: Trump Is 'Dominant Force' in GOP — It's Up to Americans if His Movement Continues

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said former President Donald Trump was still the “dominant force in the Republican Party” in a preview clip from an interview that will air Sunday on HBO’s “Axios.”

Reporter Jonathan Swan said, “Trump flags crashed into the Capitol, five people died. You said yourself he tied to get Pence to do something illegal and unconstitutional. I just don’t get how after all of that, you go down to Mar-a-Lago, and you are best pals with him again.”

Graham said, “Well, because he is a dominant force in the Republican Party.”

Swan said, “I mean five people died. I mean, it was pretty bad.”

The South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator said, “People had heart attacks who engaged in it, yeah. So but do I think he is legally responsible? No.”

Swan said, “No, I’m not talking legally, I mean morally.”

Graham said, “It’s up to American people if they want the Trump movement to continue.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Democrats Cut Unemployment Benefits Enhancement in Covid Bill

Democrats have agreed to extend enhanced unemployment insurance through September with a smaller boost to benefits, according to multiple media reports.

The legislation would put the enhancement at $300 per week, down from $400 in the version passed by the House, but would extend the enhancement through September from the earlier draft’s August end date.

The deal also makes $10,200 of unemployment benefits exempt from taxes, providing relief to families who might have faced an unexpected tax bill.

White House chief of staff Ronald Klain applauded the changes on Friday.

Some Democratic Senators have worried that providing too much enhancement could prompt out-of-work Americans to avoid returning to work because they receive more from unemployment insurance than they would in wages.

There is still some chance that this deal will not hold. Republicans have proposed an amendment that would reduce the enhancement to $300 without extending it into September. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is reportedly undecided about which version of the reduction to support.

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Report — Joe Biden Meets with Union Leaders: 'I'm All for Natural Gas'

President Joe Biden personally promised union labor leaders his support for natural gas despite canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit his first day in office, Mark McManus of United Association General told E&E News in a story published Thursday.

The meeting’s agenda included the coronavirus relief package and infrastructure plans, according to McManus, one of the nine union leaders who met Biden in the Oval Office on February 17.

“I brought up natural gas specifically to him, we spoke about pipelines … and he says, ‘I’m all for natural gas,’” McManus told E&E News.

Natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels.

Publicly, Biden has pushed an agenda promising 100 percent clean energy by 2035.

Republicans and union bosses united to condemn Biden’s executive order canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Before the Oval Office meeting in February, President Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO, one of the U.S.’s most prominent labor unions, said he wished Biden “hadn’t done that on the first day.”

Another executive order temporarily halted new oil and gas leases on federal land while the White House conducted a “rigorous review” of all existing fossil fuel leases and permitting practices.

In an effort to maintain support from the labor unions, the Biden administration is keeping close ties with unions directly affected by the energy orders. Biden’s Cabinet is hosting behind the scenes meetings with United Association, a pipefitter’s union that relies on work from fossil fuels that can not be replicated with renewable energy.

McManus said, according to the report, “the administration had arranged calls between his union and Biden’s nominees to lead the Energy, Labor and Transportation departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency,” noting that “some nominees had prioritized calling the pipefitters before senators.”

But labor leaders asserted they were not consulted in the decision to shut down the Keystone Pipeline.

McManus said he feared Biden’s Keystone order would be symbolic of hostility to pipelines, but in the February meeting, Biden assured union leaders his administration would assess pipelines on a case-by-case basis.

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Cotton on Biden Pentagon Nominee Colin Kahl: 'I Don't Think His Temperament Is Suited' to Serve

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Friday sounded off on Under Secretary of Defense for Policy nominee Colin Kahl and his rhetoric on social media. Kahl, whose Senate confirmation was held the day before, has since apologized for his tweets.

Cotton questioned the “temperament” of Kahl getting “swept up in the moment” while reading the news in the middle of the night. He told Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” if that is his reaction while reading the news, he does not think his “temperament is suited to be an official.”

“Look, I think it’s appropriate to apologize. He didn’t need to apologize to me. I don’t think he needs to many other senators, who are used to very tough criticism. This is not about mean tweets. This is about temperament,” Cotton emphasized. “He said in that answer also yesterday … that he got kind of swept up in the moment, in the heat of the moment. Most of these social media posts were happening in the middle of the night when he was presumably sitting at home reading the news. If that’s his reaction under such conditions, just sitting at home reading the news, what is he going to be like in the Pentagon when Iran hijacks another American boat or China shoots down American aircraft? Again, I don’t think his temperament is suited to be the number three official in our Department of Defense.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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Exclusive — Paul Ryan Plots Fundraiser for Liz Cheney: ‘Royalty in the Swamp’

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan will hold a fundraiser for embattled House GOP Conference chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) at the end of March, an invitation obtained by Breitbart News shows.

The fundraiser, a “virtual event,” is slated for Thursday, March 25 at 11 a.m. eastern. The invitation asks donors to give “suggested contributions” of $2,900 to “attend,” or $5,800 to be a “co-host” of the Ryan-Cheney event.

Another interesting detail from the fundraising invitation is that the “Liz Cheney for Wyoming” campaign address to which donors are asked to make checks payable to is in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC. The fact that Cheney’s campaign is headquartered in the nation’s capital rather than in the state she purports to represent is something her primary challengers will almost surely use against her.

The news is significant because Cheney is facing multiple primary challenges after she voted to impeach now former President Donald Trump. Trump called her and her fellow Republican impeachment conspirators out in his speech this past weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), naming all 17 House and Senate Republicans who voted to impeach or convict him and saying they need to be removed from office.

Ryan, the former Speaker under whose watch Republicans lost a historic majority back in the 2018 midterm elections, announced earlier that year before the midterms he was not running for reelection and would be retiring. Ryan’s speakership was marred by a lack of successes and failures to do any big picture accomplishments except for things like the Trump tax cuts that the then-president carried through. He left office with a historically abysmal approval rating, down at just 12 percent according to one poll, demonstrating his ineffectiveness and failure in the job.

A Trump ally, when asked about the decision by Ryan to try to ride in to Cheney’s rescue by hosting this fundraiser, told Breitbart News that it is unsurprising two failed establishment politicians would hitch their wagons together.

“Asking a Beltway insider like Paul Ryan to headline a fundraiser for your campaign is something only a candidate with a 13% approval rating like Liz Cheney would do,” the Trump ally told Breitbart News.

A different GOP source, a consultant who works on campaigns including a number of House GOP candidates, added that this Cheney rescue plot by Ryan and his cohorts in the lobbying world of Washington is unsurprising. This official added that any donors who appear at this fundraiser should be “ashamed of themselves” and are working against the interests of the Republican Party’s push to retake the House majority in 2022.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the face of the pro-amnesty, pro-war swamp is trying to rescue Cheney,” the GOP official told Breitbart News. “While Liz Cheney may be royalty in the swamp, she has done more to divide the Republican Party and hinder our chances of taking back the majority than any political figure in the country. Any so-called ‘Republican’ donor who gives money to support her divisive efforts should be ashamed of themselves and are directly working against efforts to build a winning and unified coalition to retake the House in 2022.”

While Ryan rode out of office in early 2019 with no achievements to his name and abysmal approval ratings after overseeing one of the biggest losses for the GOP in the 2018 midterms, his successor now House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has taken a wildly different approach to the leadership position. McCarthy, along with Trump, helped the GOP win back a net 15 seats in the 2020 congressional elections—defying all the odds and so-called experts. As such, McCarthy enjoys record-high approval ratings among the GOP base—and is the highest rated GOP congressional leader in a generation in polling.

As such, it’s not all bad news for the GOP and its base. With party leaders such as McCarthy and most of the rest of his team in the House leadership—from Whip Steve Scalise to National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chairman Tom Emmer to Republican Study Committee chairman Jim Banks—embracing Trump’s positive populist policy vision, the GOP expects a bright future in the 2022 midterm elections. As Breitbart News has reported, McCarthy and these other leaders are already making moves to get the Republican Party reorganized after the 2020 elections and focused. McCarthy has made it a point to work with Trump—even traveling to Mar-a-Lago to meet the former president to discuss 2022 and 2024 races.

Ryan, meanwhile, has been—like Cheney and the nine other sitting House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—antagonistic his whole career towards Trump. Back in 2017, Breitbart News published audio of a call during the 2016 presidential campaign in which Ryan lambasted Trump. “I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future,” Ryan said in that call.

He has followed through on that promise to consistently and repeatedly attack and undermine Trump. Ryan, upon leaving Congress, joined the board of Fox News—a move for which Trump criticized Ryan and Fox News. Fox News took serious shots at Trump during the 2020 campaign including at the first presidential debate which Chris Wallace moderated.

In addition to Ryan’s consistent undermining of Trump, Cheney has likewise been a thorn in Trump’s side for some time. After her impeachment vote, the House GOP Conference convened to discuss removing her as conference chair over not just her anti-Trump move but the fact she did not inform the conference of her decision ahead of time—thereby hurting House GOP Conference members. While she survived that push to oust her, Cheney’s repeated use of her position to engage in a personal crusade has isolated her from Republican rank-and-file members. For instance, when GOP leaders gave her another chance to be a leader instead of using her position to crusade against Trump, Cheney at a House GOP leadership press conference instead decided to use her position to force her personal anti-Trump agenda forward and attack Trump ahead of his CPAC speech. McCarthy, in contrast, defended Trump speaking at CPAC.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now facing challenges from state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and a newly announced candidate state Rep. Chuck Gray. Polling in the race shows Cheney in serious trouble, and likely headed for an eventual loss. Republicans across the party have repeatedly attacked her by name, and ripped her aggressively in interviews and speeches at CPAC. Her standing in the party is diminishing quickly, much like Ryan’s did after a year plus as Speaker during Trump’s presidency.

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