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    Author: Taryn O'Neill

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    Taryn O'Neill

    Follow Taryn on Twitter at @tarynonthenews

    While making the rounds on her book tour, Hillary Clinton recently sat down with Vox's Ezra Klein to discuss her failed presidential bid, President Trump, and the challenges currently faced by the Democrat minority. Among those challenges, Clinton warned, is a "radical change" being pursued by forces on the right:
    "There's a big move for change coming from the right that I think would be disastrous for our country. They want radical, 'pull 'em up by the roots' change. They want to have a constitutional convention to rewrite our constitution, to make it friendlier to business, to inject religious and ideological elements. So talk about radical change! They are pursuing it, they are funding it, and they are electing people that are either true believers or are willing vehicles for it."

    On Thursday, May 4, 2017, the Texas legislature passed a resolution calling for a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution (SJR2), having a total of 72 co-authors, was passed 217 to 213 as nearly 250 supporters watched from the Gallery. The resolution comes after the Senate passed its own version on February 28, making the Lone Star State the 11th state to call for a convention as outlined in Article V of the Constitution. As Legal Insurrection has explained, Article V details two procedures for amending the U.S. Constitution. The first and most familiar way requires that congress write and propose an amendment that is subsequently sent to the 50 states for ratification. The second process for proposing and passing amendments, however, requires that two-thirds of the state legislatures submit applications for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. 

    State legislators from across the country will meet in for a simulated Article V convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The gathering, hosted by Citizens for Self-Governance, will take place next month in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and will be the first-ever test run of an actual Article V convention. As explained earlier, Article V details two processes for amending the U.S. Constitution. The first requires congress write and propose an amendment that is then sent to the states for a ratification vote. The second process requires two-thirds of the state legislatures submit applications for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments. The applications must specify an amendment subject matter or matters. Should two-thirds of the states submit applications pertaining to the same subject matter, an Article V convention of the states is called.

    Last week, Louisiana passed a resolution calling for a Convention of States as described in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution passed on May 25 with a vote of 62-36, making Louisiana the eighth state to call for a meeting of the states for the purpose of proposing constitutional amendments addressing abuses by the U.S. Federal Government. Other states that have called a Convention of States for the same purposes are Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Increased national interest in a Convention of States (COS) is due largely to the government's failure to operate as the Framers envisioned. Having accrued a national debt of over $19 trillion and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 105%, the government's size and scope has grown far beyond anything the Founders could have imagined. Meanwhile, the states, having created the Federal Government, find themselves acting at the mercy of Washington's limitless regulations and outstretched tentacles, lest they lose federal sacred funding.

    The nation's payday and auto title lenders are now the latest target of the Obama administration in an effort to transform the relationship between private lending companies, their borrowers, and the government. For the very first time, high-interest lending companies will face regulations set forth by the federal government. Credit of this type typically involves an immediate, short-term loan of a few hundred dollars that comes with a high interest rates and lending fees. When costs are combined, the annual interest rate of these loans often calculate to around 300%. Until now, regulation of this $39 billion industry had been left up to the states. This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency conceived by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, announced the beginnings of a regulatory framework intended to protect the roughly 12 million low-income households borrowing from these often described "predatory" lenders. Rules proposed by the CFPB will require lenders to assess the borrower's ability to pay back the loan before an exchange of money takes place. Payday lenders fear this step will make it more difficult to roll over loans, a frequent practice of high-interest lenders that usually results in the hiking of the lender's borrowing fees.

    As we've seen for months, the burning question thrown at Republican candidates around the nation has been, "Will you support Donald Trump if he's the nominee?" Democrats and media alike have worked to tie republican candidates to the newly declared presumptive GOP presidential nominee, who is arguably the most despised political candidate in modern U.S. history. Unfortunately, 24 GOP Senate seats are up for election in November, many of which the Democrats see as ripe for the plucking. Due in part to the Tea Party effect in 2010, the Democrats are only defending 10 seats. Even worse, as the Huffington Post points out, is the fact that 6 of the Republican senators are in states that President Obama won twice. The Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee has wasted little time, launching its "Party of Trump" campaign back in March. The effort seeks to scorn vulnerable Senate Republicans with their prior remarks, including those promising that they would support the Republican presidential nominee, whoever he or she turns out to be.

    In what some might be the next standoff over religious liberty, a high school near Madison, Wisconsin is at odds with an off-campus student lunch group over the right to hold free, Jesus-themed lunches. Fox News explains:
    [Middleton] high school allows students to eat lunch off-campus. In 2014 a small group of parents began meeting with their children in a nearby park — providing home cooked meals along with a Christian-themed, inspirational message. The small weekly gatherings in the fall and spring eventually morphed into a popular gathering spot for hungry kids — with nearly 500 turning out for all sorts of goodies — ranging from Chick-fil-A sandwiches and fresh fruit to hundreds of homemade brownies. “We show up every week just to show the love of Jesus,” parent Beth Williams told me. “Our mission statement for Jesus Lunch is ‘food for the body, nutrition for the soul.’”
    As students started inviting more friends to attend, the gatherings have brought as many as 400 hundred students to the lunches, which are held at a park directly next to the school campus.

    A career U.S. naval officer with an extensive background in signals intelligence has been accused of mishandling and passing on sensitive information to the Chinese and Taiwanese governments. A charge sheet released Friday revealed that Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin, 39, faces several counts of espionage and attempted espionage "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation." A native of Taiwan, Lin moved to the United States with his parents at age 14. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1999 after being naturalized as a citizen that same year.

    On Tuesday morning, Ted Cruz kicked off a Women for Cruz coalition in the liberal stronghold of Madison, Wisconsin. The senator was joined by his wife Heidi, mother Eleanor, and former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina for a conversation on issues considered important to women. In a change of pace from prior events, Cruz gave a shortened stump speech and focused on the meaning of the term "women's issue," itself:
    "This event this morning is a celebration of strong women. One of the most frustrating things about the Democrats is the Democrats love to pigeonhole women. Put 'em in a little box [and] you have a set of issues that are women's issues. Well, listen. I have news for the Democrat party: Women are not a special interest. Women are a majority of the United States of America and every issue is a women's issue."
    Cruz went on to say that his campaign is about three issues, those being jobs, freedom, and security. Despite the Democrat party's effort to deem only issues advancing the progressive cause as valid women's issues, Cruz made a point to emphasize that these three crucial issues are inherently women's issues just as they are men's.

    One day before Apple and prosecutors were to face off in court, the U.S. Department of Justice was granted a request to cancel the Tuesday hearing on whether Apple should assist the FBI in bypassing security measures in a locked iPhone used by a San Bernardino terrorist. The hearing was cancelled by U.S. Magistrate Sheri Pym at 5:30P.M. PDT. The earlier order requiring Apple to assist the FBI unlocking the phone was temporarily stayed. "On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook's iPhone," the government said in court documents filed on Monday. "If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. ("Apple") set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case." Department of Justice spokeswoman Melanie Newman said in a statement that the government only learned of the unlocking method this past weekend. "We must first test this method to ensure it doesn't destroy the data on the phone, but we remain cautiously optimistic. That is why we have asked the court to give us some time to explore this option," Newman said to Ars Tecnica.

    As the nation watches the FBI battle Apple in court over access to a terrorist's iPhone data, a conflict with another Silicon Valley company simmers in the background. With over a billion users, the Facebook-owned mobile app WhatsApp is one of the world's largest messaging platforms and allows users to send text messages and make phone calls abroad without incurring the international data costs associated with traditional text and voice communication. Similar to Telegram, an app popular with ISIS members, WhatsApp offers end-to-end encrypted text messaging and, according to the Guardian, will in the coming weeks be offering encrypted voice and group messaging. At present, the Department of Justice is unsure how to proceed in an ongoing criminal investigation in which a federal judge ordered a wiretap, as the department is unable to get access the ordered data thanks to WhatsApp's encryption.

    In his speech Thursday at CPAC, Rick Santorum spent much of his time describing to the crowd what he believes everyday, blue-collar Republican is feeling. While much of the party as a whole is frightened over the possibility of a Trump nomination, Santorum stressed to CPAC that the blue-collar conservative has been worried about not just the party, but the country for decades. "They're seeing the conservative movement, the Republican party potentially being torn up. They're nervous as all heck as to what they're going to do," Santorum said. "Well, now you know how the American public has been feeling over the past ten, twenty, thirty years. " Santorum centered his speech around two statistics, one being that 90% of Americans aged 25-65 are working and the other that almost 70% Americans aged 25-65 do not hold a college degree. Bringing back themes similar to his 2012 presidential campaign, Santorum stressed that conservatives among the above groups have significant worries about their jobs, families, and the trajectory of the country since. They have had these concerns since the end of the Reagan presidency afterglow.

    In early 2014, the Internal Revenue Service launched a new feature on its website referred to as 'Get Transcript.' This feature allowed taxpayers to view and download their transcript, or a document that lists most line items on a tax return and includes accompanying forms and schedules. In May of last year, the IRS announced its Get Transcript feature had been hacked by criminals using taxpayer information that was obtained by different means. At this time, the IRS had determined that a little over 114,000 taxpayers' returns were accessed and the Get Transcript feature was taken offline. By August, the IRS revised the original number to 334,000 breached or targeted tax returns. As of last Friday, however, the IRS added another 390,000 taxpayers to the list, upping the number of accounts effected to over 700,000. Not included in this number are 500,000 accounts the hackers targeted but were unable to obtain.

    On Fox News Tuesday, U.S. officials announced China has deployed a series of fighter jets to a contested island in the South China Sea known as Woody Island. The news comes little more than a week after surface to air missiles were spotted via satellite on the same island. Officials said U.S. intelligence has seen both Chinese Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7 jets on Woody Island for the past few days. One official estimated that there were as many as nine of these jets deployed to the island.

    China has deployed an advanced anti-aircraft missile system to a contested island in the South China Sea, Pentagon officials confirmed on Tuesday. The news came as President Obama concluded a two-day conference at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sunnylands, California. Satellite images from February 14 show several HQ-9 missile launchers lined along the beach of Woody Island of the Paracel Island chain. The HQ-9 is a medium to long-range surface-to-air missile system with advanced radar homing capabilities. It can shoot down missiles as well as aircraft up to 125 miles away. That the missiles were discovered at the same time President Obama met with ten other ASEAN world leaders is likely no coincidence. Obama said the leaders convened to "discuss the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions, including a halt to further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas."

    With the help of the FBI, British officials arrested a teen they believe may have ties to a series of hacks targeting the U.S. government and high level officials. The 16-year-old was arrested in the East Midlands, U.K. on Tuesday and has been accused of having connections to the hack of CIA Director John Brennan's personal email account in October of last year, along others. The identity of the teen has not been released, but he is believed to be the pro-Palestinian hacker known as "Cracka" that leads the hacktivist group known as "Crackas With Attitude," or CWA. Officials with the Thames Valley Police confirmed the arrest in a statement, saying that it had arrested a 16-year-old boy, "on suspicion of conspiracy to commit unauthorised access to computer material contrary to Section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990, conspiracy to commit Unauthorised access with intent to commit further offenses contrary to Section 2 Computer Misuse Act 1990 and conspiracy to commit unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing operation of a computer contrary to Section 3 Computer Misuse Act 1990."

    Following through with a threat made last week, a group of hackers released data pertaining to as many as 30,000 federal government employees. Hacktivists released the information in two waves via a Twitter account by the name of @DotGovs. The data was posted on the encrypted text-sharing website by the name of Cryptobank. The first release took place place shortly after kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday and included a directory of names, job titles, and contact information of 9,355 employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The second directory was released on Monday and contained subsequent information on 20,000 employees of the FBI. This is more than half of FBI personnel. Tweets from the @DotGovs account were filled with pro-Palestine hashtags. One tweet was directed towards the U. S., saying the hackers would not stop "until they cut relations with Israel."

    A security breach discovered at a California-based software and hardware company has many officials worried, including U.S. Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. Rep. Hurd expressed his concerns over the breach in a Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining that foreign hackers may "have been reading the encrypted communications of U.S. government agencies for the past three years." Juniper Networks provides network equipment and routers to the U.S. government that are believed to be used by the Defense Department, FBI, Justice Department, and Treasury Department.
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