By Team DML

DML Morning Briefing Mon. Dec. 21: Statue removed overnight from U.S. Capitol, Major companies infiltrated in foreign hack, plus more…

By  Team DML

Today is December 21 and I am Dennis Michael Lynch.

1 – Robert E. Lee statue removed from US Capitol
The Hill reports: A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. Capitol overnight.

The statue has stood with one of America’s first president, George Washington, as the state of Virginia’s contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection at the Capitol for more than 100 years.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced on Monday the state will seek to have it replaced with a statue of civil rights icon Barbara Johns.

“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Northam said. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”

DML: Done in secret, during the night – erasing more U.S. history.

2 – Congress to approve $1.375 billion for border wall in 2021
The Hill reports: Congress will approve $1.375 billion for a wall along the southern border as part of the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the next fiscal year, according to GOP sources.

Congress is expected to pass the measure on Monday along with a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. The White House signaled Sunday evening that President Trump would sign it.

Funding for the wall has been a regular sticking point in annual spending bills, and led to the nation’s longest government shutdown in December 2018.

Budget law requires the government to spend appropriated funds, but it is unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden will seek a way to circumvent the law or whether Congress would take action to enforce the law.

The funding for the wall in this measure would continue after Trump leaves office.

DML: Prediction: Biden will kill it if he can.

3 – Report identifies at least 24 organizations that installed software laced with malicious code by Russian hackers
Fox Business reports: The suspected Russian hackers behind breaches at U.S. government agencies also gained access to major U.S. technology and accounting companies, at least one hospital and a university, a Wall Street Journal analysis of internet records found.

The Journal identified infected computers at two dozen organizations that installed tainted network monitoring software called SolarWinds Orion that allowed the hackers in via a covertly inserted backdoor. It gave them potential access to scores of sensitive corporate and personal data.

Among them: technology giant Cisco Systems Inc., chip makers Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp., accounting firm Deloitte LLP, cloud-computing software maker VMware Inc. and Belkin International Inc., which sells home and office Wi-Fi routers and networking gear under the LinkSys and Belkin brands. The attackers also had access to the California Department of State Hospitals and Kent State University.

The victims offer a small window into the sweeping scope of the hack, which could have ensnared as many as 18,000 of Austin-based SolarWinds Corp.’s customers, the company said, after hackers laced a routine software update with malicious code.

SolarWinds said that it traced activity from the hackers back to at least October 2019 and that it is now working with security companies, law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate the attack.

DML: Very disturbing, and this is the tip of the iceberg.

4 – President Trump is going back to Georgia for one more rally
President Trump announced in a Twitter post over the weekend that he’s still fighting to help Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate, and will be going back to Georgia for one last rally the day before the Georgia runoff election.

“As badly as we were treated in Georgia by the “Republican” Governor and “Republican” Secretary of State, we must have a massive victory for two great people, @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue, on January 5th. I will be having a big Rally for them on Monday night, January 4th. WIN!” Trump tweeted.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler responded, “THRILLED that President @realDonaldTrump will be coming back to Georgia to rally for @Perduesenate and me on January 4th!  I couldn’t be prouder to have our President’s full support — and together we’re going to SAVE OUR COUNTRY! 🇺🇸”

DML: Saving the Senate is critical to saving the country!

5 – Andrew Yang Calls for ‘Barcode’ to Prove Coronavirus Vaccination
Breitbart reports: Former Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed a “barcode” program Friday for Americans to prove they have received a coronavirus vaccination.

“Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated – like a barcode they can download on their phone? There ought to be. Tough to have mass gatherings like concerts or ballgames without either mass adoption of the vaccine or a means of signaling,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve been tested at a photo shoot or interview and gotten a bracelet showing I was negative. Then we could interact more freely,” he added.

DML: This is going down a DANGEROUS path!

6 – Struggling movie theaters, entertainment venues to get $15B in federal aid
The Hill reports: Movie theaters and live entertainment venues, which have been devastated by closures for most of the year, will receive $15 billion in the coronavirus aid deal Congress reached this weekend.

As part of its small business relief provisions, the final package “includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement.

“[T]his bill will provide money for bars and restaurants, and $15 billion in … grants for theatre operators and small venue owners through the Save Our Stages Act,” Schumer said in a separate statement. “These venues are so important to my state and many states across the country —they are the lifeblood of our communities. They were first to close, and will be the last to open. The bill gives them a fighting chance.”

DML: No, it’s NOT giving them a “fighting chance.” It’s just throwing them a bone. Open up the country and let people get back to work!

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