Supreme Court Overrules Local Governments For Seizing Homes

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed court rulings in which local governments seized two homes over unpaid tax debts and kept sale proceeds that far exceeded the tax owed.

Critics call the practice “home equity theft.”

The case came after Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), which represented the homeowners in both cases, released a report late last year saying that 12 states and the District of Columbia allow local governments and private investors to seize dramatically more than what is owed from homeowners who fall behind on property tax payments. PLF is a national nonprofit public interest law firm that takes on governmental overreach.

The U.S. Supreme Court released unsigned orders (pdf) on June 5 summarily reversing two rulings of the Supreme Court of Nebraska.

The nation’s highest court did not explain why it was issuing the orders. No justices dissented.

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San Francisco mayor asks for $63 million more for police amid crime wave

San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s budget request for the upcoming 2023-24 fiscal year calls for a $63 million increase in spending for the police compared to the previous one.

Breed’s requested budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $14.6 billion, a record high for both San Francisco county and the city. The $63 million increase marks a 9% increase from what police would get from the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The requested budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year will likewise see police receive a higher amount than the previous fiscal year, going up by $11 million. In total, police would receive $787.9 million under Breed’s requested fiscal budget.

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SCOTUS Allows IRS to Carry Out Secret, Warrantless Searches of Innocent Taxpayers’ Bank Accounts

In a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the IRS to go on secret, warrantless fishing expeditions through innocent taxpayers’ bank records in order to identify and collect unpaid taxes from family members and associates who have no legal interest in those bank accounts.

Despite acknowledging that “the authority vested in tax collectors may be abused, as all power is subject to abuse,” and that “Congress has given the IRS considerable power,” the Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling in Polselli v. IRS declined to restrict the IRS’s authority. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and Cato Institute had filed an amicus brief in Polselli arguing that the sweeping investigatory power wielded by the IRS—to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by carrying out warrantless searches of the bank accounts and records of innocent people, who are given no notice or right to object to the search, merely because they may be associated with a delinquent taxpayer—offends every constitutional sensibility on the right to privacy.

“This practice of investigating the bank records of innocent taxpayers because they may have family members or associates who are delinquent on their taxes is merely a perverse form of guilt by association,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “At a minimum, Fourth Amendment protections should not disappear just because sensitive information is shared with third parties, such as banks and attorneys.”

The case arose after an IRS Revenue Officer, seeking to collect underpaid federal taxes by Remo Polselli, served summonses on the banks of Polselli’s wife and attorney in order to find account and financial records concerning Polselli. The IRS agent did not notify Polselli’s wife or attorney of the summonses, but the banks voluntarily did so. Polselli’s wife and attorney subsequently filed motions in federal district court to quash the IRS’s summonses. In siding with the IRS, the district court held that Polselli’s wife and attorney are not entitled to notice of the summons and have no right to even be heard on their motions to quash the summonses.

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Minnesota to provide illegal immigrants with free college tuition

Illegal immigrants will be eligible for free college tuition in the state of Minnesota, according to Axios.

Under Minnesota’s free tuition program, dubbed the “North Star Promise,” illegal immigrants will have their full tuition paid for if they enroll in a two or four-year program within the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State systems and come from a household with an income of $80,000 or less, according to Axios. To be eligible for the free tuition, applicants must have either graduated from a Minnesota high school or have lived in the state for a year without being enrolled in college full-time.

“We want to make sure that when we’re expanding opportunities for everybody, we’re doing it for all Minnesotans, regardless of background, regardless of their documentation status,” Democratic state Senate Higher Education Chair Omar Fateh told the outlet.

Applicants must also submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which helps determine which students need financial aid, Axios reported.

The program will begin in the 2024-2025 school year and is expected to cost $117 million in its first fiscal year, according to the Associated Press.

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When Your Own Government CONFIRMS It Paid Censors to Silence You…

It’s hard to believe that I’m writing this about the government of the United States of America, but here we are in 2023 with our own government striving to make at least half the country out to be terrorists and second-class citizens. An exclusive report by the Washington Examiner states:

The State Department “stands by” its widely scrutinized grant to a group the Washington Examiner revealed is blacklisting conservative media outlets, according to a letter to Congress.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) put the State Department’s Global Engagement Center on blast in a March letter to the agency and demanded an investigation into its $100,000 grant in 2021 to the Global Disinformation Index, which has fed conservative website blacklists to advertisers to defund disfavored speech. The agency issued a response to the congressman on Friday, telling him in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner that it has no regrets over the taxpayer-backed award…

…As the Washington Examiner has reported since February 2022, the GDI was awarded $100,000 through the government’s U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge, which sought to “advance the development of promising and innovative technologies against disinformation and propaganda across the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom,” according to the Atlantic Council, a think tank that partnered for the challenge.

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Surprised? Debt Ceiling Deal Puts No Limits on Ukraine Aid

The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans places no constraints on spending on the war in Ukraine, a White House official told Bloomberg.

The $113 billion that has been authorized to spend on the war in Ukraine so far was passed as supplemental emergency funds, which is exempt from the spending caps that are part of the debt ceiling deal.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, funding “designated as an emergency requirement or for overseas contingency operations would not be constrained, and certain other funding would not be subject to the caps.” The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025.

Hawks in Congress are looking to use emergency spending to increase the $886 billion military budget that was agreed to as part of the deal. The emergency funds could go beyond Ukraine and might be used to send weapons to Taiwan or for other spending that hawks favor as part of their strategy against China.

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L.A. County Gives Crack Pipes to Homeless to Prevent Fentanyl Deaths

Los Angeles County has begun distributing pipes used for smoking crack, methamphetamine, and opioids to the homeless population, hoping to discourage them from overdosing by injecting themselves with fentanyl.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the grim phenomenon Tuesday, which has divided homeless advocates:

By a line of ragged RVs slung along 78th Street in South Los Angeles, a seven-member team passes out glass pipes used for smoking opioids, crack and methamphetamine.

Part of the front line of Los Angeles County’s offensive against the deadly fentanyl epidemic, the group hands out other supplies: clean needles, sanitary wipes, fentanyl test strips and naloxone, medication that can reverse an overdose.

Fentanyl, which is laced in everything from weed to heroin and meth, was present in more than half of the nearly 1,500 overdose deaths of homeless people in 2020-21. In response, Los Angeles County this year increased its harm reduction budget from $5.4 million to $31.5 million. Most of the money covers staffing and programs; officials said that only a fraction of county funds — no state or federal money— goes to pipes.

Some believe that the pipes merely facilitate addiction; others argue that they slow the rate of drug intake.

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US to build regional CIA hub in Lebanon, report says

The US is working on building a new regional hub for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Lebanon, within a huge embassy complex with an area of 93,000 square meters on a 27-hectares (about 64 acres) site in the capital, Beirut, intelligence sources reported yesterday.

The complex, which is estimated to cost $1 billion, will also include an arts centre, a hospital, a swimming pool, residential towers and a data collection centre, according to the French Intelligence Online website.

The sources added that the US intelligence sees Lebanon as a safe and strategic location for the deployment of intelligence agents.

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Taiwan Receives Stinger Missiles as Part of Free Military Aid Package from US

Taiwanese media has reported that Taiwan received delivery of Raytheon-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from the US as part of a $500 million package of free military aid that Washington has been preparing for Taipei.

According to Taipei Times, the Stingers arrived in a Boeing 747 on Thursday night. So far, the US and Taiwanese governments have not confirmed the delivery, but both sides said recently that the $500 million in weapons would be sent soon.

The $500 million in free weapons is being pulled from US military stockpiles using the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), the primary way the Biden administration has been arming Ukraine. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $1 billion in PDA for Taiwan.

The military aid for Taiwan is unprecedented as the US has sold weapons to the island since severing relations with Taipei in 1979 to open up with China but hasn’t provided arms free of charge.

The NDAA also included $2 billion for Taiwan under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program, which gives foreign governments money to purchase US arms. But the FMF funds did not make it past the appropriations committee.

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Parents Of Christian Glass Getting $19 Million Settlement

The family of a man from Colorado who was shot and killed by a deputy last year will be awarded a $19 million settlement, marking the largest payout of its kind in the state’s history.

The incident occurred in Silver Plume on June 11 when 22-year-old Christian Glass, a resident of Boulder, contacted 911 for assistance after his SUV became stuck in a rock pile.

Based on body camera footage and an autopsy report provided by the family’s legal representatives, it was observed that Glass appeared to be holding a knife at the time of the shooting. Despite nearly 70 minutes of negotiations and requests, Glass refused to exit his Honda Pilot, resulting in him being shot five times.

On Tuesday, his parents, Sally and Simon Glass, reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Clear Creek County, the state of Colorado, the city of Georgetown, and the town of Idaho Springs.

This settlement represents the largest amount awarded for a police-related killing in the history of Colorado. As part of the agreement, Clear Creek County has committed to establishing a public park in memory of Glass. Additionally, they will establish a dedicated crisis response team by January 1 of the following year. The state of Colorado will also implement changes in training for law enforcement agencies, which will include the development of a virtual reality scenario focused on de-escalation, designed to reflect the circumstances surrounding Christian Glass’s tragic death.

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