Arizona Democrats Received $10K From NBA Team Owner Who Defended China’s Uyghur Genocide

Arizona Democrats Received $10K From NBA Team Owner Who Defended China’s Uyghur Genocide

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Democratic Party accepted $10,000 ahead of the 2020 election from Chamath Palihapitiya — co-owner of California’s NBA team, the Golden State Warriors — who made viral remarks over the weekend that neither he or anybody else cares about the Uyghur genocide, and that the United States is no better than China. He further stated that he doesn’t believe China is a dictatorship, and dismissed claims that the Uyghur concentration camps are comparable to the Holocaust. Palihapitiya explained that he defends the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because he doesn’t believe in moral absolutism. 

AZ Free News inquired with the Arizona Democrats about Palihapitiya’s remarks and his donation. They didn’t respond to us by press time.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay?” said Palihapitiya. “The rest of us don’t care. I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

Palihapitiya said that if an issue isn’t at the forefront of someone’s mind, then it isn’t considered caring. He said he cared more about the supply chain crisis, climate change, our flagging health care infrastructure, and how China’s potential plan to invade Taiwan may capsize our economy. He insisted that prioritizing human rights over tactical, strategic issues and believing that every individual is entitled to a basic set of human rights is a “luxury belief.”

“If you’re asking me, do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country? Not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them over us. And I think a lot of people believe that, and I’m sorry if that’s a hard truth to hear, but every time I say that I ‘care about the Uyghurs,’ I’m really just lying if I don’t really care. It’s not a priority for me.” said Palihapitiya. “The reason I believe it’s a luxury belief is because we don’t do enough domestically to actually express that view in real, tangible ways. So until we actually clean up our own house, the idea that we step outside of our borders with us sort of morally virtue signaling about somebody else’s human rights track record is deplorable. Look at the number of black and brown men that are incarcerated for absolutely ridiculous crimes.”

Palihapitiya is also the CEO of Social Capital, a California-based venture capital company, and the board of directors chairman of Virgin Galactic, a California-based spaceflight company founded by Virgin Group founder and business mogul Richard Branson.

Following Palihapitiya’s remarks, Virgin Galactic’s stock price was halved.

Since 2020, Palihapitiya has increased the frequency of his sizable campaign contributions. Prior to that, he gave selectively. While working for Facebook in 2011, Palihapitiya donated $5,000 to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). From 2011 to 2019, Palihapitiya would go on to donate to various Democratic candidates, giving $30,700 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016 and $5,000 to Florida Democrats in 2018. Then in 2020, Palihapitiya decided to give nearly $180,000 to Democrats’ state organizations. Over $5,300 each went to Alabama, West Virginia, Kansas, Vermont, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Delaware, New Jersey, New York. 

The Arizona Democratic Party was just one state to receive the bigger $10,000 allotments of Palihapitiya’s 2020 donations to state parties, alongside North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and New Hampshire.

President Joe Biden’s campaign received a total of $255,600 from Palihapitiya. 

Following outcry, Palihapitiya walked back on his remarks. He tweeted a brief explanation sans apology, and insisted that he believes in the importance of human rights. Palihapitiya didn’t mention the Uyghurs in his explanatory statement. 

“In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely,” wrote Palihapitiya. “As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.”

Although the entire scope of the Uyghurs’ situation remains shrouded in secrecy under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), evidence has surfaced that the Uyghurs have been subjected to a myriad of nearly all conceivable human rights abuses while imprisoned in concentration camps for “re-education,” including: forced sterilization and abortion, torture, sexual abuse and rape, forced labor, and even death. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

U.S. Commerce Trade Agency Adds To Arizona Staff, Announces International Trade Missions

U.S. Commerce Trade Agency Adds To Arizona Staff, Announces International Trade Missions

By Terri Jo Neff |

One of the riskiest business plans for U.S. business owners is entering a new global market or contracting with an international trade partner. But the process does not have to be fraught with stress if you know what to look for, which is where the U.S. Commercial Service comes in. 

The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) is the promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The agency has trade professionals in more than 100 U.S. cities, including Phoenix and Tucson, as well as U.S. embassies and consulates to help American companies get started in exporting and to support other companies hoping to increase global sales.

On Feb. 2, the USCS is hosting a free webinar about the ABCs of export due diligence. The no-obligation event will provide useful tools which business owners can utilize to quickly and confidently screen prospective international partners. 

Then in late March, the U.S. Commercial Service is hosting a Central America Trade Mission & Business Conference in Guatemala for American businesses ready to expand into -or ramp up- business far south of the border.

The conference will explore markets in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama, and will include region-specific sessions, market entry strategies, export compliance, legal, logistics, disaster resilience and recovery, and trade financing resources.

Attendees can also prearrange one-on-one consultations with officials of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service or the U.S. Department of State with expertise in commercial markets throughout the region. More information on the Central America Trade Mission is available at https://www.trade.gov/central-america-trade-mission

In May, USCS is hosting Trade Americas – Business Opportunities in the South America Conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The conference offers U.S. companies the opportunity to explore eleven South American markets: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay.

According to USCS, the South America region’s nearly 400 million potential customers make the area a natural commercial partner for U.S. companies due to its close proximity and closely-tied history and culture. In addition, several trade agreements between the U.S. and various South America countries aim to enhance cooperation on trade and investment.

Information about the May conference is available at https://www.trade.gov/south-america-trade-mission

The USCS office in Phoenix recently added a new member to its team of trade professionals. Colin Hudson joins USCS following several years with FedEx, where he held multiple roles in international business development. 

Hudson, who is originally from England, has lived and worked in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. He relocated to Arizona from Florida, and brings experience to USCS in assisting clients from different sized companies and industries in managing and growing their global presence. In his most recent position as a FedEx Worldwide Account manager, Hudson helped companies open new markets in diverse locations such as India and Poland. 

Personalized assistance is available to Arizona companies engaged in global trade or considering an expansion into an international market.  The USCS staff is assigned based on industry or location:

Leandro Solorzano (Director) Industries: General Services, Franchising, Travel and Tourism. Leandro.Solorzano@trade.gov

Christina Parisi (Tucson office) All Industries in Southern Arizona   Christina.Parisi@trade.gov

Fernando Jimenez  Industries: Aerospace & Defense, Safety & Security, Sporting Goods, Textile, Chemicals, Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive, Transportation   Fernando.Jimenez@trade.gov

Ruth Soberanes Industries:  Education, Energy, Environmental Technology, Information & Communication Technology, Marine Technology   Ruth.Soberanes@trade.gov

Colin Hudson Industries: Architecture / Engineering / Infrastructure, Design and Construction, Processed Foods, Agribusiness/ Processed Foods, Cosmetics, Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Mining   Colin.Hudson@trade.gov

Bill Would Bar Use Of Taxpayer Funds For School Board Association Dues

Bill Would Bar Use Of Taxpayer Funds For School Board Association Dues

By Terri Jo Neff |

A state senator has introduced a bill to prohibit public school districts from using taxpayer dollars to pay for membership in a state or national school board association.

Current state law allows a school district governing board to budget and spend funds for membership in an association of school districts within Arizona. But a school district board is not permitted to spend taxpayers’ dollars to join an association which attempts to influence the outcome of an election. 

“The Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) has a consistent pattern of lobbying with a clear bias,” Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16) said Tuesday. “This constitutes political activity and is often against the very taxpayers that funded them.”

ASBA “should be serving the parents, and not working hard against them,” Townsend added.

As a result, Townsend is sponsoring Senate Bill 1011, which would still allow a school district to join ASBA or another state association, as long as the membership dues are not paid by taxpayer funds. That leaves ASBA the option, Townsend suggested, of pursuing 501(c)(4) tax exempt status so it can fundraise for operational money “without relying on the taxpayer.”

SB1011 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday via a 5-3 partisan vote.

The Arizona Association of County School Superintendents has come out against Townsend’s bill, as has the Arizona School Administrators Association. Among those supporting SB1011 include the Center for Arizona Policy and Diane Douglas, who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2015-2018.

School boards and associations have come under scrutiny the last two years due to COVID-19 protocols which have frequently pitted educators and administrators against the wishes of parents. It has led to a groundswell of parental interest in school operations and curriculum, as well as in how school boards spend funds.

Last September, the National School Boards Association got sideways with many school district governing boards and parents after sending a letter to President Joe Biden complaining about purported threatening and aggressive behavior on the part of parents toward school board members.

NSBA claimed such actions amounted to domestic terrorism which warranted federal law enforcement intervention. The fallout led several state school board associations to withdraw from NSBA.

And in Arizona, it resulted in the creation last year of the Arizona Coalition of School Board as an alternative to ASBA, which is still a member of NSBA.

Townsend recently requested records from ASBA about its expenditures for legal fees in connection with  any litigation involving the state. She said her intent is to determine whether those expenditures came from dues paid by any Arizona school board.

ASBA did not comply with her public record request, Townsend said.

“I would hate to know the dues this organization receives from school boards are being used to pay attorneys to sue our state and overturn legislation we’re crafting on behalf of these constituents,” she said. “This is completely inappropriate, and I will be looking into whether or not taxpayer money has been used in this fashion to undo our laws.”

House Committee Passes Bill To Ban Critical Race Theory From K-12 Schools

House Committee Passes Bill To Ban Critical Race Theory From K-12 Schools

By Corinne Murdock |

The struggle over the presence of critical race theory continues with a new bill proposing to ban the controversial academic concept from K-12 classrooms. State Representative Michelle Udall (R-Mesa) introduced the bill, HB2112, which passed 6-4 in the committee that Udall chairs, the Education Committee, on Tuesday.

State Representative Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen), Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson), Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler), Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix) voted against the bill.

The bill would prohibit educators from using public money on instruction that blames or judges based on race, ethnicity, or sex. The bill would also prohibit teaching that one race, ethnic group, or sex is inherently moral or intellectually superior; that an individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive either consciously or unconsciously; that an individual should be discriminated against or treated poorly because of their race, ethnicity, or sex; that individual’s moral character is determined by their race, ethnic group, or sex; that an individual is responsible for actions committed by other members of their same race, ethnic group, or sex; that an individual should feel negative emotions because of their race, ethnicity, or sex; and that academic achievement, meritocracy, or traits like hard work are racist or sexist and created to oppress others.

Violation of the bill’s provisions may result in revocation of the educator’s teaching certificate and the charge of a $5,000 fine. School attorneys would confer with the attorney general or county attorney to determine whether a violation occurred. 

Critical race theory (CRT) proposes that the U.S. was inherently and systemically racist from its founding and that racism persists through oppressive systems such as capitalism and Christianity. The theory claims that American meritocracy is a myth. 

CRT relies on a concept of hierarchies called intersectionality, which asserts that personal traits such as race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, etc. determine one’s oppression and privilege. CRT presents a dichotomy: the inherent evil of “whiteness,” and the inherent goodness of “blackness.” In order to fully accept these perspectives, individuals must assume a “race-conscious” outlook on the world and reject the idea that racism comes from beliefs and actions rooted in the intentional hatred of race. 

The ultimate goal of CRT is to overthrow this country and remake it in another image. 

In the most informal sense of the word, CRT may qualify as a religion. Credit for popularization of the theory is often awarded to Kimberlé Crenshaw, a legal scholar and current law professor at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School. In 1995, Crenshaw authored the book “Critical Race Theory: the key writings that formed the movement” in an effort to explain CRT’s nature and purpose. 

“Critical Race Theory is an intellectual movement that is both particular to our postmodern (and conservative) times and part of a long tradition of human resistance and liberation,” wrote Crenshaw.

The concepts that make up CRT may be presented independently or under different names, like: social-emotional learning (SEL), culturally responsive education (CRE), and anti-racism. Crenshaw acknowledged these superficial disparities in her 1995 book, assuring readers that unity exists behind these apparent differences. 

“Although [CRT] scholarship differs in object, argument, accent, and emphasis, it is nevertheless unified by two common interests. The first is to understand how a regime of white supremacy and its subordination of people of color have been created and maintained in America and, in particular, to examine the relationship between that social structure and professed ideals such as ‘the rule of law’ and ‘equal protection.’ The second is a desire not merely to understand the vexed bond between law and racial power but to change it,” wrote Crenshaw. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Federal Agency Seeks Comments To Advance More Productive Tech Economy

Federal Agency Seeks Comments To Advance More Productive Tech Economy

By Terri Jo Neff |

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking comments about eight emerging technology areas: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things in Manufacturing, Quantum Computing, Blockchain Technology, New and Advanced Materials, Unmanned Delivery Services, Internet of Things, and Three-dimensional Printing, to assist in the preparation of a report to Congress.  

A Request for Information (RFI) was announced in the Federal Register under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who is directed to coordinate with the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies to complete a study of the eight emerging technology areas.

The RFI seeks comments about public and private sector marketplace trends, supply chain risks, legislative, policy, and the future investment needs of the technology areas to help identify, understand, refine, and guide the development of the eight emerging technologies. Those eight areas are, more specifically:

  • Artificial Intelligence—on the state of the artificial intelligence industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Internet of Things in Manufacturing—on the use of internet-connected devices and internet-connected solutions in manufacturing in the United States,
  • Quantum Computing—on the state of the quantum computing industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Blockchain Technology—on the state of the blockchain technology industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • New and Advanced Materials—on the state of the new and advanced materials industry, including synthetically derived materials or those with enhanced natural properties, and the impact of such industry on the United States economy,
  • Unmanned Delivery Services (air or ground)—on the impact of unmanned delivery services on businesses conducting interstate commerce and the impact of such industry on the United States economy, rules and regulations,
  • Internet of Things—on the state of the internet-connected devices industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy, and
  • Three-dimensional Printing—on the state of the three-dimensional printing industry and the impact of such industry on the United States economy.

For each emerging technology area, NIST needs input useful to the fostering of  economic growth and competitiveness across the United States for benefit all Americans.

As a result, the NIST is inviting stakeholders throughout the scientific research, standards, advocacy, industry, and non-scientific communities, as well as the general public, to provide comments. From the comments, a Congressional report will be developed “in a manner consistent with its mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness,” according to the RFI.

Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 31. To submit comments electronically, go to www.regulations.gov and enter NIST-2021-0007 in the search field. Click on the “Comment Now” icon and complete the required fields, and then enter or attach your comments.

More information about the RFI is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/22/2021-25428/study-to-advance-a-more-productive-tech-economy

Bill Would Require Health Care Entities, Insurers to Disclose Religious Denial Of Services

Bill Would Require Health Care Entities, Insurers to Disclose Religious Denial Of Services

By Corinne Murdock |

The “Patient’s Right to Know Act,” HB2196, would require both health care facilities to disclose any religious denial of services, and then require insurance providers to relay that information to their enrollees. The first half of the bill described how health care providers must offer a list of those services, while the second half described how insurance providers must give enrollees those services denied by the list of facilities within their network.

State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson) introduced the bill. Others that sponsored the bill included Representatives Richard Andrade (D-Glendale), Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren (D-Red Mesa), Kelli Butler (D-Phoenix), Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), Andrea Dalessandro (D-Sahuarita), Brian Fernandez (D-Yuma), Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), Christopher Mathis (D-Tucson), Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix), Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix), Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix), and State Senator Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita). 

The bill offered an expansive definition of religious beliefs to include philosophical beliefs or anything that deviates from the consensus within the health care community. The bill didn’t disclose how those “legal, peer-reviewed, or scientifically accepted standards” were determined. 

“‘Religious beliefs’ means any set of philosophical or religious beliefs, guidelines, decrees or directives or other instructions determining patient care that are not based on legal, peer-reviewed or scientifically accepted standards of health care and that may be imposed on a health care entity through employment or clinical privileges,” read the bill.

If passed, the bill would give health care facilities one year to come up with a complete list of services they don’t provide due to their religious services. They would also have to inform state and federal agencies that license or enroll facilities in reimbursement programs. 

Insurance providers, on the other hand, would have 18 months to comply. They would be helped along by another provision of the bill requiring health care facilities to give insurance providers a list of the denied services, and post that list online publicly. 

This is the sixth year in a row that Powers Hannley has brought forth her “Patient’s Right to Know Act.” Powers Hannley sits on the Health and Human Services Committee. According to Powers Hannley, the intent of her bill is to eradicate all influence of religious beliefs in the health care sector for good. 

In a blog post published a year before the infamous Capitol Hill riot and several months before the emergency state declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic — January 6, 2020 — Powers Hannley explained that she introduced the bill originally with abortion and birth control in mind. However, she began to envision other health care service denials, citing the denial of a hormone prescription to a transgender woman.

At the time, Powers Hannley characterized the increasing number of Catholic-owned hospitals as “very scary.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.