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Sunday, February 17, 2019

People Power Action Event | PeoplePower.org LOCATION: Outside Federal Immigration Court 180 Ted Turner Dr SW Atlanta, GA 30303 DATE AND TIME: Monday, February 18, noon

 

LOCATION: Outside Federal Immigration Court 180 Ted Turner Dr SW Atlanta, GA 30303 DATE AND TIME: Monday, February 18, noon HOST: Stephanie Ali ATTENDEE COUNT: 11 attendees EVENT CATEGORIES: Other SIGN UP Email address* First name* Last name* ZIP Code* Mobile phone* SIGN UP FOR EVENT By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive periodic updates from People Power and other ACLU channels.

SHARE TWEET EVENT DESCRIPTION:

ACLU of Georgia is joining Georgia Alliance for Social Justice and a coalition of concerned organizations for a rally protest the unjust and likely illegal emergency declaration. This is being done as a part of a nationwide collaboration. ACLU of Georgia's Legal Director, Sean Young, will be speaking.

We will protest the immigration policies and the entire concept of the alleged need for a wall. We presently have over a dozen partners for this action that will center on the voices of our immigrant communities.

People Power Action Event | PeoplePower.org:

Trump Press Conference Cold Open - SNL

Lucy McBath On Gun Control Bill HR 8: “I Refuse To Let Anyone In This Ro...

Cuomo and Lemon blast GOP hypocrisy 'on steroids'

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Kaepernick Beat The NFL

Democratic party elites silence Ilhan Omar at their peril | Trita Parsi and Stephen Wertheim | Opinion | The Guardian

 

"This week Democrats plunged into two controversies that portend danger for the party as the 2020 election season begins. Both centered on freshman representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who, not coincidentally, came to America as a Somali refugee and is now one of the two first Muslim women in Congress. Absent an open debate about the party’s values on foreign policy, Democrats are hurtling toward an election more divisive than the one in 2016.

First, on Monday, Omar criticized the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists on Capitol Hill, tweeting that Congress’s stance was “all about the Benjamins”. She was swiftly rebuked by the party leadership in tandem with Republicans, prompting her to apologize. Then, less than 48 hours later, Omar grilled America’s new envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, over his well-documented materialsupport for multiple Central American governments that committed mass killings and genocide in the 1980s. She also questioned his credibility, noting that Abrams had pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress as part of his participation in the Iran-Contra scandal.

How did Democratic elites respond? Several pounced again – to defend the Trump administration’s backer of death squads against Omar’s pointed questioning. Kelly Magsamen, a senior official at the Center for American Progress, defended Abrams on Twitter as a “fierce advocate for human rights and democracy”. Likewise, Nicholas Burns, a 27-year diplomat who most recently advised former secretary of state John Kerry, praised Abrams as a “devoted public servant”. “It’s time to build bridges in America,” Burns wrote, “and not tear people down.”

If Democratic leaders were incredulous at Omar’s statements, rank-and-file Democrats were just as incredulous at their party leaders. Why, many asked, is it routine to criticize the influence of NRA money but almost forbidden to question the influence of Aipac money? On top of that, how could Trump’s neocon criminal be lauded as some sort of ally while Omar was treated as a pariah? A Twitter torrent caused Magsamen to delete her tweet and apologize.

Personalities aside, however, the episode is charged with significance for the Democratic party as a whole. Omar is not going away. She represents the party’s younger generation, a more diverse and progressive cohort that came of age in the war on terror. In the election of 2016, such voters balked at Hillary Clinton’s hawkish record and her courting of Never Trump neoconservatives. Now the divide is only wider and more entrenched. Democrats need to have a real conversation, immediately, about the party’s values and goals in foreign policy. Squelch it now and watch it resurge in 2020, with Trump the beneficiary.

...
“We share goals,” Magsamen wrote of Abrams. Do we? The outrage over her claim proved its falsity. What goals Democrats wish to promote in the world is now an open question, not settled dictum that thinktankers can impose from Washington. The Democratic base is no longer deferential, especially not when it is told that it has some obvious affinity with the man who covered up one of the bloodiest massacres in Latin American history, and went on to push the Iraq war inside the George W Bush administration.

Just what are the goals, and values, of those who have implemented decades of fruitless forever war and then close ranks when their worst members are asked accurate and relevant questions? The American people are wondering. The manifestations are everywhere, among young people in particular. Start with the sacred cow of American exceptionalism: millennials are the first age group to split evenly on whether the US is the world’s greatest country or no greater than others. They are increasingly ready to reckon with America’s past actions and confront hard choices going forward.


Young Democrats are not likely to agree that one violent misdeed after another is somehow acceptable as long as it is performed by the US or in the name of democracy or humanitarianism. Those were the rationales, now revived in defense of Abrams, that produced impunity for the Iraq war, a disastrous war of aggression. Ordinary citizens consistently display more skepticism of military intervention than do foreign policy elites. They are pushing their representatives to express the goal of peace. The election of Omar herself reflects this sentiment. And as a result of grassroots mobilization, the House this week, driven by progressives like Representative Ro Khanna, passed historic legislation to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

The shift in the Democratic base is not limited to one episode. Democrats increasingly favor cutting the defense budget and imposing restraint on America’s military power. While elites assume that the US must maintain global military superiority as a matter of course, less than half of millennials deem it to be a very important goal. That is the lowest support on record, continuing a steady erosion since the second world war. Will political leaders engage the rising generation’s doubts, or will they insist that armed domination is a self-evident virtue for a country that is hurting at home and often spreads violence abroad?

On the Israel-Palestine conflict, it was Omar, more than her party elders, who represented the values of Democratic voters when she criticized the influence of money in politics and applied the point to America’s virtually unconditional support for Israel. The overwhelming majority of Democrats, about 82%, now say the US should lean toward neither Israel nor Palestinians. Even more dramatically, 56% of Democrats favor imposing sanctions or harsher measures against Israel if its settlements keep expanding. The mounting disaffection with Israel comes as the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, scorned Barack Obama and embraces Trump and other authoritarians. Yet Democratic leaders leapt to denounce Omar, giving her no benefit of the doubt for a poorly worded tweet. Critics must take care not to play into anti-Semitic tropes, but concern about lobbyist influence is legitimate and poised to intensify.

...
Democratic voters seek genuine alternatives, not the continuation of a one-party DC elite that assumes its right to rule and rules badly to boot. But the Democratic establishment is moving in the opposite direction. It has chosen to “build bridges,” all right – with the neoconservatives most directly responsible for calamitous policies and most diametrically opposed to the base. This decision has now culminated in the defense of criminals like Abrams who embody both the worst of American foreign policy and the impunity of those who make it.

More important is the bridge that is not being built. Years after neocons have been exposed to lack a popular constituency, actual voters in the party are being shut out and talked down to, as exemplified in the badgering of Omar. What are the progressives who put Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and dozens of others into office to conclude about party leaders who would rather spurn them to make common cause with architects of the war on terror? Why are some in the party prioritizing bridge-building to washed-up neocons (in the Trump administration, no less) and not to new, mobilized voters?

The party’s divide is not insurmountable. Open dialogue can go a long way toward establishing the mutual respect that a party needs to maintain basic unity despite internal disagreements. The new generation of Democrats is, after all, the future of the party. But 2020 is fast approaching, and the bridge that needs building just got longer.

Trita Parsi is the author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. Stephen Wertheim is a visiting assistant professor of history at Columbia University"

Democratic party elites silence Ilhan Omar at their peril | Trita Parsi and Stephen Wertheim | Opinion | The Guardian:

David Gergen: There's no border emergency, it's a fake

Black Inventors of the 20th and 21st Century

Colin Kaepernick’s settlement with the NFL was a big win for the leader of the league's protest movement.

"On Friday, the NFL and representatives for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid announced that they had settled a grievance suit with the two players over alleged collusion to keep them out of the league because of their protests during the anthem.



“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances,” the NFL and Kaepernick and Reid’s attorneys said in a joint announcement. “The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”



Although the precise details of the settlement are as of yet unknown, it’s difficult to view the resolution as anything but a victory for Kaepernick and Reid. It will certainly be a win for the players financially. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported that NFL teams were speculating the settlement with Kaepernick alone could have been in the $60 million to $80 million range."



Kaepernick filed his grievance against the league in October 2017, alleging that one or more teams had colluded with each other and/or the league to keep him out of the NFL because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem in the 2016–17 season as a protest against police brutality and systemic racism.



Reid, who was the first player to join Kaepernick’s protest movement when they played together on the San Francisco 49ers, alleged in his grievance that he’d been blackballed for continuing to protest following Kaepernick’s exclusion from the NFL. Reid, who did not drop his grievance (and continued to protest) after signing a deal with the Carolina Panthers this season, recently re-signed with the team, getting a three-year contract worth more than $21 million. The 31-year-old Kaepernick, meanwhile, still does not have a job in the NFL after two seasons without a contract.



Kaepernick’s collusion case was strong enough to get past a summary judgment dismissal request by the league. In August, arbitrator Stephen Burbank announced that he had rejected that dismissal request, which meant the case would go forward before Burbank in essentially a trial format. Burbank’s decision was an indication that Kaepernick’s attorneys had gathered evidence in the proceeding’s initial discovery phase that was “sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact” over whether the league had blackballed Kaepernick.



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The ruling based on the initial evidence—which was reported to have included many pages of electronic communications records, as well as several depositions with key NFL owners and executives—set up the potential for a major loss by the league.



Both the Kaepernick and Reid grievances cited President Donald Trump’s role in pressuring NFL owners to bar any players who protested during the national anthem. The New York Times reported that NFL owners held a closed-door meeting in October 2017 in which a number of them appeared terrified of Trump. The Wall Street Journal further reported that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had been asked by Trump to deliver a message to the owners about the protest movement. “This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Trump said, according to the Journal’s account of Jones’ deposition. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”



Now it appears that listening to Trump on the issue may have cost owners—and won Kaepernick—many millions of dollars without doing anything to stop the years-long discussion around police brutality and systemic racism that Kaepernick, Reid, and other NFL protesters helped generate.





Meanwhile, Kaepernick has been honored by multiple human rights organizations for his stand for social justice, and in September was made the face of a new Nike campaign that used his status as a modern-day civil rights icon to sell sneakers.



At the same time, the NFL has backed down in the face of other legal challenges from attempts to create rules blocking protests. It’s unclear what will happen in the future on that front, but it seems as though that question will now be answered in negotiations between the league and the NFL Players Association and not unilaterally by Roger Goodell and the NFL’s owners.



It’s also unclear whether Kaepernick will ever get another chance to play in the NFL. If this settlement proves anything, though, it’s that there was no good reason for him to be kept off NFL rosters in the first place—and there’s still no good reason for him to be kept from playing in the NFL going forward.



 Colin Kaepernick  Donald Trump  Football  NFL"



Colin Kaepernick’s settlement with the NFL was a big win for the leader of the league's protest movement.

Lucy McBath On Gun Control Bill HR 8: “I Refuse To Let Anyone In This Ro...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trump Plans National Emergency to Build Border Wall as Senate Passes Spending Bill - The New York Times #ImpeachTrump







Trump Plans National Emergency to Build Border Wall as Senate Passes Spending Bill - The New York Times

Opinion | When Judges Defy the Supreme Court - The New York Times

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"No, I wasn’t surprised last week, as most people apparently were, when Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding fifth vote to preserve access to abortion in Louisiana for at least a little while longer. In fact, I had predicted it (and I have witnesses).

Why? Not because I think the chief justice has developed a soft spot in his heart for the right to abortion. He has not. Not because he wants to minimize the Supreme Court’s role as a combatant in the culture wars. I think he does, but that’s not the point.

Rather, circumstances compelled the chief justice to stand up to a stunning act of judicial defiance.

The phrase summons the image of Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. What Chief Justice Roberts had on his hands was something less tangible but equally threatening to the rule of law: not defiance of judges but defiance by judges.
The voluminous commentary on what happened at the court last week has for the most part not fully conveyed the blatant nature of the lower court’s decision, on which the Supreme Court put a temporary hold to afford the plaintiffs — an abortion clinic and its doctors — the chance to file a formal appeal.

The court is the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans and covering Texas and Mississippi along with Louisiana. Not surprisingly given its territory, it has been the location of numerous legal battles over abortion. The Trump administration has been spectacularly successful in filling seats on the Fifth Circuit. Five of the 16 active judges are Trump appointees. That places the Fifth Circuit at the leading edge of the coming wave of Trump judges (sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, I’m afraid that’s what they are), so it’s important to understand what is going on there.

The Louisiana law at issue, June Medical Services v. Gee, was enacted in 2014 as the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. It requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location where they practice.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Texas had passed the same law, part of the legislative arsenal amassed by a leading anti-abortion organization, Americans United for Life. These laws are enacted with the knowledge that doctors who perform abortions can almost never get admitting privileges, either because of objections to abortion by the hospital or the surrounding community or because so few abortion patients ever need hospitalization that the doctors can’t meet the minimum number of hospital admissions that some credentialing committees require. (It’s 50 per year in the case of one Louisiana hospital, while the doctors involved in the case went years without needing to hospitalize a single abortion patient.) The whole point of these laws is to destroy the abortion infrastructure — in the name of protecting women’s health.

The Texas law, upheld by the Fifth Circuit, succeeded in closing half the abortion clinics in the state before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, decided in June 2016 by a vote of 5 to 3. While the Louisiana law was being drafted, one anti-abortion leader in the state observed in an email to the bill’s sponsor that the Texas law was having “tremendous success in closing abortion clinics and restricting abortion access.” In signing the bill into law, Gov. Bobby Jindal declared it part of the effort “to make Louisiana the most pro-life state in the nation.”
Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health was a pointed rebuke to the Fifth Circuit for failing to subject the Texas law to adequate scrutiny. The appeals court had simply deferred to the Legislature’s claimed objective of protecting women’s health and had in fact barred any consideration of whether the law would actually do so. In fact, Justice Breyer wrote, the law conveyed minimal if any health benefit and would actually harm women by forcing longer waits and more crowded conditions in the remaining clinics that could meet the needless admitting privileges requirement.

Judge John W. deGravelles of Federal District Court in Baton Rouge applied the reasoning of Whole Woman’s Health in issuing a permanent injunction against Louisiana’s identical law. His ruling followed a six-day trial at which he took testimony on the sustained but fruitless efforts by the doctors to get admitting privileges; evidence on this point takes up 14 of the 63 pages of his opinion, issued in April 2017. Observing that it “provides no benefits to women and is an inapt remedy for a problem that does not exist,” Judge deGravelles concluded that this law, like the Texas law, placed an undue burden on women’s access to abortion.

The Fifth Circuit’s 2-to-1 decision overturning that ruling is a breathtaking piece of work. “We are of course bound by Whole Woman’s Health’s holdings, announced in a case with a substantially similar statute but greatly dissimilar facts and geography,” Judge Jerry Smith wrote for himself and Judge Edith Clement. What can that sentence — indeed, that premise — possibly mean? That Whole Woman’s Health concerned Texas while this case was about Louisiana? That’s like saying that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, applied only to male couples and not to lesbians because it was a male couple who brought the case. (It’s worth noting that in the immediate aftermath of Whole Woman’s Health, the Alabama attorney general dropped the state’s appeal of its admitting privileges law, which had been struck down in Federal District Court. “While I disagree with the high court’s decision, there is no good faith argument that Alabama’s law remains constitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling,” was the state’s lawyer’s honest appraisal of the situation.)

The Fifth Circuit’s contorted explanation for why the Supreme Court’s “close fact-bound balancing analysis” in Whole Woman’s Health wasn’t relevant to Louisiana succeeded only in showing that Louisiana women would in fact be worse off than the women in Texas, where most major cities still have at least one abortion clinic (many Texas clinics did not reopen after the Supreme Court’s ruling). The two judges who formed the Fifth Circuit majority also tried to show that the doctors could have obtained admitting privileges if only they had tried harder, a conclusion flatly refuted by the findings at trial but embraced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his opinion last week, dissenting from the Supreme Court’s vote to grant a stay of the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Justice Kavanaugh said the doctors should keep trying.

The dissenter on the Fifth Circuit panel, Judge Patrick Higginbotham, dissected the majority’s opinion and said the appeals court was repeating the very mistakes for which the Supreme Court had called it out in the Texas case. When the full Fifth Circuit took up the question of whether to rehear the case as a full court, six judges said yes and nine said no. Four of the nine were recent Trump appointees (the fifth Trump appointee on the court, Kyle Duncan, was recused). The law was scheduled to take effect last week. It will remain on hold for some months, as least, as the plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, file their formal Supreme Court appeal and the state gets the chance to respond.

While it takes the votes of five justices, a majority of the court, to grant a stay, as it did in this instance, adding a case to the court’s docket for a decision on the merits requires only four votes. It’s highly likely the court will grant review; if it doesn’t, the stay dissolves automatically and the law takes effect.

How will the Supreme Court decide the case?Despite my boast at the start of this column, I don’t claim omniscience about what comes next. The chief justice voted to grant the stay, in my estimation, because to have silently let the Louisiana law take effect without Supreme Court intervention would have been to reward the defiance that I’ve described here. When it comes to a full review on the merits, it’s a different game.
Chief Justice Roberts was in dissent in Whole Woman’s Health, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas (Justice Antonin Scalia having died four months before). The deciding vote in the majority was cast by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Kennedy’s successor, Justice Kavanaugh, chose sides last week. He might have provided some cover for the chief justice, but chose not to. We now know all we need to know about him.

We still don’t know all we would like to know about John Roberts, who remains an ambiguous figure after more than 13 years at the head of the American judicial system. With the lower courts moving rapidly even to his right, and the Trump administration beating at the Supreme Court’s door in one high-profile case after another, Chief Justice Roberts is entering a time of great testing, both of himself and of the institution he heads. Maybe his vote last week was a harbinger. Maybe it will come to be seen as an anomaly. In the space between those two possibilities, the country waits, holding its breath."

Opinion | When Judges Defy the Supreme Court - The New York Times:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Black Inventors of the 20th and 21st Century

Ilhan Omar should be more radical about Israel, not less | Barnaby Raine | Opinion | The Guardian

Ilhan Omar<br>In this Feb. 5, 2019 photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., arrives for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)



"Representative Ilhan Omar is not a vicious antisemite, she is one of few good things about Congress. But she was wrong to suggest this week that America only supports Israel because a powerful lobby buys off US politicians. Far from being too radical, the problem with that view is that it lets America off the hook. The American state needs no conspiracy or blackmail to encourage it to do damage around the world. It is because her worldview can entertain this very possibility – so rarely contemplated in Washington – that Omar represents an enormously hopeful step in national politics. That critical instinct can enable opposition to the American-Israeli alliance and to antisemitism too.



When Democrats dissent on foreign policy, they usually insist that America is a gorgeous dream poorly applied by foolish leaders. Barack Obama sang this tune in complaining that the invasion of Iraq was a “dumb” war, pleading instead for the intelligent practice of American power. Bernie Sanders labels imperial adventures like the Iraq escapade “counterproductive”, echoing the assumption that America’s intentions are basically benign. Hillary Clinton’s response to MAGA in 2016 went noticeably further: “America never stopped being great!”



Since her election last year, Omar has opened the door to a different, a taboo argument. Her interventions over Venezuela and the southern border broke from the Democratic script and caused controversy by hinting that the aims and not only the means pursued by the American state frustrate the achievement of human freedom. The likes of James Baldwin and Malcolm X knew this all too well, and it has long been intuitive to many millions beyond America’s shores too. By endorsing the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS), Omar moved well beyond those Americans who criticize Benjamin Netanyahu’s excesses confident that Israel, their old ally, remains a noble endeavor now in need of wise and moderating counsel from Washington. She flew a different flag, supporting Palestinians as a people dispossessed by the facts of might and conquest familiar to victims of colonization everywhere.



This is why Omar’s recent tweet was disappointing, blaming American support for Israel on lobbyists’ cash. The ultimately conservative, reassuring effect of concentrating on the Israel lobby is this: it suggests that American interests are fundamentally good, but that they are corrupted and distorted by some small clique. Antisemites take their cue from this supposition.



The deeper, tougher truth is that America supports Israel because at some level America is Israel; these are two settler-colonies born in violence, condemned by their original sins and by their later crimes to paranoias about the revenge of the wronged. America needs no monied lobby to see its common cause with Israel. Ilhan Omar should be better placed than most Democrats to see this, given that she seems less enamored of American greatness than they are. The distressing thing about her tweet was its inconsistency, it failure to live up to the promise she has tentatively begun to sketch.



There is an important Israel lobby in America, and it does a great deal of harm, though treating the problem as indigenous to a culture of Puritanism and genocide helps even here: America’s biggest pro-Israel lobby group is not the largely Jewish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) but the Evangelical organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which was much more important than AIPAC in pushing Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The lobby makes a just peace harder, and we should not fear condemning it; Democrats lining up to suggest even mentioning it is intrinsically antisemitic show just how cynically, how dangerously Israel’s supporters sometimes see antisemitism as cheap political football. But America does not need a lobby to back Israel.



Rightly Omar has shown some contrition over this and a previous, similar tweet. That should surprise nobody. Nor should we be surprised that the Republican House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy has never acknowledged the antisemitic connotations of his tweet claiming that George Soros and two other Jews were seeking to “buy” America’s elections. The tweet was posted days after a bomb was sent to Soros’s home last October. Neither Omar’s quick retreat nor McCarthy’s avoidance are surprising because the deeply defensive antisemitic instinct – that America has a fundamentally healthy body politic whose problems all stem from an alien infestation – really belongs on the right and not the left, even though it can appear in both places. Now McCarthy leads the charge against Omar, accusing her of bigotry.



The Palestinian people do not inspire the world simply because they suffer. What we see through the cracks in Palestine is what many once saw in Nicaragua, in South Africa, in Vietnam: against the violence produced by fear, against anxious states killing in the defense of privilege, the best traditions of the oppressed offer a universal message. They prize dignity. Israel fills the land with walls and checkpoints, and Palestinians seek a future beyond that architecture of human misery. They know that it damages the jailor almost as much as it injures the jailed. This is a valuable lesson for Americans too, caught in their own forever war. Palestinians call not just for peace, but for a world in which free people can flourish, where words like “occupation”, “Apartheid” and “settler-colonialism” exist only in museums. Almost alone in Congress, this is the spirit that Ilhan Omar might be willing to champion. It is not a threat to Jews. In the end, it is the only thing that might offer hope to any of us."



Barnaby Raine is a PhD student in History at Columbia University





Ilhan Omar should be more radical about Israel, not less | Barnaby Raine | Opinion | The Guardian

Trump administration still separating families at border, advocates say | US news | The Guardian

A Central American woman walks along the border in El Paso, Texas on 1 February.



Trump administration still separating families at border, advocates say | US news | The Guardian

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BBC cameraman attacked at Trump rally

Sunday, February 10, 2019

WaPo: Trump Org fires at least 18 undocumented workers from golf courses - CNNPolitics

"Washington (CNN)The Trump Organization has fired at least 18 undocumented workers over the past two months, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The purge of workers reported by the Post followed repeated reports about President Donald Trump's company employing undocumented immigrants despite the President's near-constant focus on the issue of immigration.
Trump's son Eric confirmed to the Post that the firings took place. The newspaper reported the dismissals took place across five New York and New Jersey golf courses.
The Trump Organization said in a statement to CNN that the company would institute "E-Verify at all applicable properties and will continue to take swift and appropriate action where necessary."
    The statement said the company "initiated a comprehensive review of employee eligibility across all of our properties" last month after reports about undocumented workers and fired employees who had "provided falsified documents."
    "Obviously, terminating one's employment is never something we wish to do," the statement read. "Many of our employees have been with us for years and are an extension of our family. Still, after being confronted with this issue, we had no choice."
    The Post reported previously on about a dozen undocumented employees at Trump National Golf Club in New York who hailed from Latin America and were fired during the government shutdown last month.
    Some fired workers have spoken out since their firings, with a group asking Congress for support last month and one woman, Victorina Morales, slated to attend Trump's State of the Union speech on Tuesday after New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman extended an invitation.
    The Washington Post reported Monday the Trump Organization had also fired undocumented workers at another golf club in New York and three clubs in New Jersey.
      Anibal Romero, an attorney who represents several of the fired workers, told CNN's Sarah Jorgensen that one of his clients, Juan Quintero, worked at Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley for 18 years.
      Romero described Quintero as "one of the most trusted employees of Eric Trump" and called the employees "material witnesses of a federal crime."


      WaPo: Trump Org fires at least 18 undocumented workers from golf courses - CNNPolitics

      Julian Castro on how he'll be Trump's nightmare opponent

      Video shows cops use stun gun on unarmed man mulitple times

      Saturday, February 09, 2019

      Do New York prosecutors pose the greatest threat to Donald Trump? | US news | The Guardian

      Donald Trump arrives for his inauguration as president in Washington on 20 January 2017.



      "For almost two years, Donald Trump has laid down fire at Robert Mueller, calling the special counsel’s work a “witch-hunt”, a partisan charade and now “presidential harassment”.



      The bigger threat to Trump, however, may have just walked up and tapped him on the shoulder.



      Trump did not tweet about or otherwise acknowledge the revelation on Monday night that prosecutors from the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York (SDNY) had issued a subpoena seeking a mountain of documents from his inaugural committee.



      But former prosecutors and others familiar with the Manhattan-based prosecutors’ work allowed their jaws to drop at the news of the subpoena or – in the case of former SDNY chief Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired early on – their virtual eyes to bulge.



      On Friday, ProPublica and WNYC reported further eye-popping news: that the inaugural committee paid the Trump International hotel in Washington a rate of $175,000 a day for event space.



      The implications of the subpoena and what followed were clear,and they were all bad for Trump, worse even than the threat posed by the special counsel’s investigation of ties between his campaign and Russia, said the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, an erstwhile member of Trump’s inner circle, once in charge of transition planning, and a former US attorney himself.



      “I’ve always thought that was the much more problematic thing,” Christie told MSNBC of SDNY. “People are focused on Mueller and that’s appropriate. But people should not take their eye off the ball.”



      In interviews with the Guardian, former SDNY prosecutors spelled out why investigations run out of New York of Trump-linked interests could dog the president, his family and his associates for years, including after his departure from office.



      Unlike Mueller, Trump cannot as a practical matter fire the entire southern district, which comprises about 150 career prosecutors, as distinguishable from political appointees. Unlike Mueller, the southern district is not constrained in what it might investigate by a narrow authorization. And unlike Mueller, the southern district does not report, on most matters, directly to the attorney general, who is appointed by the president and who might act at the president’s bidding, though norms of justice department independence proscribe that.



      The SDNY is also full of lawyers who are known for being talented, independent and feisty. Alumni regularly go on to judicial appointments, top corporate posts, top justice department jobs (for example, FBI directors James Comey and Louis Freeh, attorney general Michael Mukasey) and other prominent work (Rudy Giuliani, once New York mayor, now the president’s lawyer). Wags refer to the office as the “sovereign” district of New York and joke that it’s the only US attorney’s office, of 93 nationwide, to have its own foreign policy.



      “Both in terms of courtroom skill and particularly with respect to investigative and legal acumen, the southern district has long prided itself on the firepower it brings to its cases,” said the Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, a former assistant attorney in the district.



      Elie Honig, who helped dismantle the Sicilian mafia as a prosecutor with the district, echoed the observation.



      “The southern district has a long history,” he said, “and a reputation, I think well deserved, of being tenacious and always seeking to take an investigation wherever it goes, including to the top of an organization.”



      ‘The inaugural investigation seems important’

      Owing to its location in Manhattan – a global intersection for business, finance, terrorist plots and organized crime – the SDNY, which celebrated its 225th birthday in 2014, has deep experience in prosecuting the most complicated and significant cases. Those include the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, work related to the 9/11 attacks of 2001, the 1988 bombings of US embassies in Africa, organized crime and mafia cases, the Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and major financial crimes and public corruption cases.



      The Manhattan location also makes the SDNY a prime venue for prosecuting entities tied to Trump, potentially including his business, his campaign, his inaugural committee and more, said Harry Sandick, a former assistant US attorney in the district.



      “Since the Trump Organization is located in New York, since many of Trump’s advisers and business partners are also located in New York and took actions in New York,” he said, “they have the ability in the US attorney’s office to look at essentially any crime that they believe may have been committed. And they can just move from one subject to another to another as they find connections.”



      So far as is publicly known, the SDNY was first brought in on a Trump-related prosecution with a referral from Mueller of evidence of crimes committed by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. The SDNY directed a raid on Cohen’s apartment and office last April, seizing documents and devices. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank fraud and criminal tax evasion, and is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence next month.



      The Cohen case may have given rise to the investigation of the Trump inaugural committee, which prosecutors are investigating for alleged conspiracy against the US, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, inaugural committee disclosure violations, and laws prohibiting contributions by foreign countries.



      “The inaugural investigation seems important,” said Sandick. “People have long wondered why they raised more than $100m, which is twice what was raised for prior inaugurations.”



      But in a sign of how extensively prosecutors have penetrated Trump’s network – and of how saturated that network is with alleged criminal conduct – the inaugural committee investigation may have a different primary source: the testimony of the former Trump aide Rick Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Gates was deputy chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee.



      “They’re gathering large amounts of data,” said Richman of the SDNY team. “They are speaking to a broad array of witnesses, some who have already been implicated, some who are just witnesses. And I would suspect they have adequate people on the case, both at the agent and the prosecutor level, to pursue all directions.”



      Prosecutors will have to make a judgment call about what potential cases to bring, said Sandick, adding: “When I was in that office, we were always taught that sometimes the most important cases you have are the ones you don’t indict. Because you made a decision that the evidence wasn’t there.



      “These are professional prosecutors, it’s not an inquisition.”



      The threat of a presidential move against the district, or a similar move out of the justice department, is not likely to deter SDNY, Honig said.



      “I know southern district is not afraid to have a real dispute, a real disagreement with the Department of Justice and at times prevail,” said Honig. “I think the fact that southern district issued this subpoena tells you that they are able to carry on in a fairly aggressive manner.”



      Do New York prosecutors pose the greatest threat to Donald Trump? | US news | The Guardian

      Opinion | Which Way to the North Pole? - The New York Times





      "The north magnetic pole is moving eastward at an accelerating pace. Is doomsday nigh?



      The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.





      It was hard to see the headlines proclaiming that the north magnetic pole is speeding toward Russia and not feel a pang of anxiety. Vladimir Putin annexing the North Pole? Climate change threatening more global chaos? Malevolent cosmic rays about to burst through Earth’s magnetic shield?



      The stories under the headlines proved less alarming. The sudden (in cosmic terms) lurch of the north magnetic pole turned out to be a phenomenon for which humans bore no responsibility and for which responsible institutions and monitors (well, when the United States government was not shut down) had effective solutions.



      The magnetic pole is the spot a compass points to as north; it is distinct from the geographic North Pole, which is where all the lines of longitude meet at the top of the world (and where Santa Claus maintains his workshop). For now, it is situated four degrees south of the geographic North Pole.



      The Earth’s magnetic poles, it seems, have always been on the move, and have even swapped places several times over the eons. The reason is that the molten iron deep inside our planet sloshes around, shifting the magnetic field with it. And since compasses point to the north magnetic pole wherever it happens to be at any given time, the United States and Britain collaborate in issuing an updated World Magnetic Model every five years to make sure everyone’s on the same map.



      The next update was due in 2020. But in early 2018, scientists found that the north magnetic pole had picked up speed and was heading eastward at a lively clip, about 35 miles a year. They decided to move up a new model, which became available soon after the partial government shutdown ended.



      It’s out now, which is good news for planes flying over the North Pole, for airports that name runways in relation to the magnetic north, for GPS providers and for anyone else in need of precise directions. For most everyone else there’s little difference. South, say, of the northern tip of Scotland, the correction amounts to only a small fraction of a degree.



      That has not prevented online tabloids from having an apocalyptic field day. The part that feeds their doomsday scenarios is the possibility that the poles are preparing for another polarity reversal, which would cause a compass to point south instead of north. The quirk is normal — over the past 20 million years, it has occurred, on average, every 200,000 to 300,000 years. The last one was about 780,000 years ago, so another may be overdue.



      That could lead to a temporary weakening of the magnetic field that protects Earth from cosmic radiation. And that’s where the doomsday scenarios pile in. An article in Undark Magazine declared, “It’s time to wake up to the dangers and start preparing,” evoking a world in which a devastating stream of malevolent cosmic radiation would wreak havoc on lives and power grids.



      The specter of an Earth left without a magnetic shield has come up before, notably during the Mayan apocalypse that predicted the world would end in 2012. Back then, NASA posted a response that explained the science of pole reversals and concluded that “there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the 2012 doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously.”



      As it turns out, the geographic North Pole, the location of the planet’s spin axis, is also shifting east, not as strikingly as its magnetic cousin, but for the wrong reasons. The North and South Poles always wander a bit, but the movements have increased, and scientists theorize that the redistribution of mass on Earth as glaciers and ice sheets melt is one of the major reasons.



      We have caused the Earth to wobble, and it’s getting worse. Several recently published studies warn that ice at both ends of the Earth is melting far faster, and oceans are warming far faster, than previously thought, suggesting that scientific estimates of a warming planet have been too conservative. Those are the headlines that should be causing real concern.



      Opinion | Which Way to the North Pole? - The New York Times

      Rep. Ocasio-Cortez On The Democratic Party, Green New Deal, 2020 Candida...

      Friday, February 08, 2019

      SCOTUS let a Muslim prisoner die without access to his imam.





      SCOTUS let a Muslim prisoner die without access to his imam.

      Three Trump officials were warned about family separation.





      " White testified about exactly which Trump appointees he warned and that those warnings came in the form of in-person conversations but also multiple emails and memos. Those appointees were HHS officials: Scott Lloyd, Steven Wagner, and Maggie Wynne. (Lloyd and Wynne, for their parts, have well-reported histories of using their positions in HHS as platforms to fight abortion access.)



      As White testified, “Separating children from their parents poses significant risk of traumatic psychological injury to the child.” He also said that for many children that trauma would be “lifelong,” even if the government is able to reunite them with their parents. The government has argued in court, though, that it will not be able to reunify many of these families: An internal report estimated that thousands of separated children were placed with sponsors—not reunited with parents—and remain unidentified.



      White now says he warned Lloyd, Wagner, and Wynne that separations would be traumatic for these children and probably unlawful. “[I warned] that this would be inconsistent with our legal requirement to act in the best interest of the child and would expose children to an unnecessary risk of harm,” he told the committee.





      When he brought this up with his department’s leadership, White says he “received a respectful hearing [and] was advised that there was no policy.”



      Three Trump officials were warned about family separation.

      Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use' a Bullet on Jamal Khashoggi



      Wednesday, February 06, 2019

      Word for Word: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Voting Rights (C-SPAN)

      Democrats kept throwing shade at Trump during the State of the Union

      Opinion | In State of the Union Speech, Trump Comes Out as a Feminist - The New York Times





      "And this is just one of many fictitious alter egos to emerge.



      So Donald Trump is a champion of women. Who knew?



      He’d been hiding that facet of himself diabolically well all these years, as he grabbed them by parts of their bodies that newspapers try not to mention and showed them special derision on Twitter, comparing Stormy Daniels to a horse and Omarosa Manigault to a dog. A shallow, casual observer might rush to judgment and conclude that he didn’t fully respect the opposite sex.



      But his remarks and bearing during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night surely corrected that impression.



      He beamed at the rows of women in white, female House members who were seated together and dressed in a single hue to make a statement about their progress and their strength.



      It was to them that he targeted his assertion that “no one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.”



      He then addressed them even more directly: “Exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.”



      Indeed we do. There are 102 in the House. But here’s the thing: That group includes 89 Democrats and just 13 Republicans. History was made courtesy of the party that he worked hard in the midterms to defeat, that he works hard all the time to diminish and that he repeatedly trolled in the rest of his remarks on Tuesday night. If he’d had his way and sway, those rows of white would have been sparser. But he neither exhibited any awareness of that nor made any resolution to improve his party’s stubbornly miserable record of recruiting and promoting female candidates.



      Instead he basked in the women’s — and the Democratic Party’s — accomplishment as if it were his own. “That’s great,” he told them. “Really great. And congratulations.”



      Opinion | In State of the Union Speech, Trump Comes Out as a Feminist - The New York Times

      State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong - The New York Times





      "President Trump leaned hard on the strength of the American economy during his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, but with a blend of precise statistics and gauzy superlatives that are much more difficult to measure.



      He also returned to a theme that dominated the second year of his presidency — a quest for a border wall with Mexico to cope with what he said is a crisis of crime and drugs in the United States caused by illegal immigration.



      The two issues dominated his address, which in tone was more measured than his biting Twitter feed, but in substance contained numerous claims that were false or misleading.



      Here is what Mr. Trump said and how it stacked up against the facts.



      The economy

      “The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.”



      This is false.

      The American economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018. Growth in Latvia and Poland was almost twice as fast. Same for China and India. Even the troubled Greek economy posted stronger growth. And a wide range of economic analysts estimate that the growth of the American economy slowed in the fourth quarter, and slowed even further in the first month of 2019.



      “We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions and billions of dollars.”



      This is true.

      Since Mr. Trump imposed tariffs on certain imports from China — and imported steel and aluminum from around the world — federal tariff revenues have increased. Revenues from customs duties, which include tariffs, rose by $13 billion in the third quarter of 2018 compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department reported. Technically, that money is paid by Americans who bring the goods across the border, and it is often passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices.



      “My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure.”



      This is false.

      The Trump administration has slowed the pace of adopting new rules, and it has moved to roll back some existing or proposed federal regulations, particularly in the area of environmental protection. The White House claimed that as of October, a total of $33 billion worth of future regulator costs had been eliminated. But experts say the scale of the rollbacks in the Trump era still does not exceed extensive cuts in federal rules during the Carter and Reagan administrations, when rules governing airline, truck and rail transportation were wiped off the books, among other changes.



      “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.”



      This is false.

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since January 2017, when Mr. Trump took office, the economy has added 4.9 million jobs, including 454,000 jobs manufacturing jobs. Far from being “impossible,” that is closely comparable to the pace of job creation during some two-year periods during the Obama administration, and significantly slower than the pace of job creation in manufacturing in the 1990s.



      Wages were “growing for blue-collar workers, who I promised to fight for. They are growing faster than anyone thought possible.”



      This is true.

      Wages are rising faster for construction and manufacturing workers than workers in service occupations, according to the Labor Department.



      “More people are working now than at any time in our history.”



      This is misleading.

      While the total number of people working in the United States is higher than ever, it is not because of the president’s policies. It is because more people than ever live in the United States.



      Immigration

      “The border city of El Paso, Tex., used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.”



      This is false.

      El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and crime has been declining in cities across the country — not just El Paso — for reasons that have nothing to do with border fencing. In 2008, before border barriers had been completed in El Paso, the city had the second-lowest violent crime rate among more than 20 similarly sized cities. In 2010, after the fencing went up, it held that place.



      “San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in our country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”



      This is misleading.

      Border apprehensions decreased by 91 percent in the San Diego sector between the 1994 fiscal year, right after the original border fencing was completed, to the 2018 fiscal year. But, according to the Congressional Research Service, that fence alone “did not have a discernible impact” on the number of immigrants crossing the border into the United States illegally.



      “As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States.”



      This is exaggerated.

      At the end of January, a new caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America was headed north, and some of the travelers said they intended to try to cross into the United States. But many in the caravan have said they plan to remain in Mexico, thanks in part to policies put in place by the new Mexican government. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it easier for Central Americans to get visas and work in Mexico. President Trump’s warnings of an imminent invasion from new caravans is overstated.



      “I hope you can pass the U.S.M.C.A. into law, so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in even greater numbers, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with the four beautiful words: Made in the U.S.A.”



      This is exaggerated.

      The revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, does include provisions that are intended to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States — like minimum wage provisions for some auto manufacturing. But some economists have said those provisions could ultimately push more manufacturing — and jobs — outside North America. The deal does allow American farmers to sell more dairy products to Canada. But the trade pact has yet to be approved by Congress, and both Democrats and Republicans say that is unlikely to happen without significant changes.



      Foreign policy

      "When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Just two years ago. Today, we have liberated virtually all of the territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters.”



      This is true.

      The Defense Department reports that the Islamic State now controls only around 20 square miles of territory in Syria, down from 34,000 in 2014. But many of the gains against the Sunni extremist caliphate began under President Barack Obama, with the Trump administration continuing Obama administration policy. And the top American military commander in the Middle East told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the Islamic State could return if the United States and its allies abandoned the fight. In December, Mr. Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from Syria.



      “We condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”



      This is misleading.

      This has become a popular talking point among American conservatives. It is true that the rule of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has brought that country to economic ruin. Inflation is at astronomical rates, and ordinary people are struggling to get basic food and health supplies. Three million citizens have fled. Some of the collapse can be traced to Mr. Maduro’s economic policies, which do fall under the broad label of socialism. But analysts say that corruption, the lack of rule of law and the absence of democracy — all the hallmarks of a dictatorship — have played just as big or larger roles.



      “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea."



      There is no evidence.

      In 2016, at the end of the Obama administration, there was no sign that the United States and North Korea were about to go to war, though Pyongyang had been conducting nuclear tests and Mr. Obama had continued economic sanctions. In Mr. Trump’s first year in office, he increased tensions with North Korea by attacking its leader, Kim Jong-un, in a series of Twitter posts, which prompted hostile statements from Pyongyang. Mr. Trump wrote that North Korea’s actions would be met with “fire and fury” and called Mr. Kim “Little Rocket Man.” Analysts said at the time that the chances of war between the two nations had grown because of these exchanges.



      Abortion

      “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.”



      This is misleading.

      On Jan. 22, the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision Roe v. Wade, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democrat of New York, signed the Reproductive Health Act. The new law ensures a woman’s right to an abortion in New York if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned. It does not broadly allow abortions until shortly before birth, as Mr. Trump suggested. Instead, it will allow for an abortion after 24 weeks to protect the mother’s health or if the fetus is not viable. Under the prior law, abortions were allowed after 24 weeks only if the woman’s life was in jeopardy.



      “We had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”



      This is false.

      In an interview last month, Gov. Ralph Northam said that he supported a late-term abortion bill that would loosen restrictions on the procedure, and allow women to consult with a doctor on an abortion up to, but not including, the time of birth.



      The governor, a pediatric neurologist, also talked about some of the dangerous medical emergencies that pregnant women could face, such as carrying a nonviable fetus. He said that in such a case, the mother would deliver the infant and then, “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” While Mr. Northam was talking about an end-of-life care discussion in the case of a child that would not live, Republicans seized on his remarks as evidence that Mr. Northam supported killing babies after their birth.



      Reporting was contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Michael Tackett, Linda Qiu, Edward Wong, Eric Lipton, Eric Schmitt, Adam Liptak, Binyamin Appelbaum, Caitlin Dickerson, Charlie Savage, Coral Davenport, Glenn Thrush, Helene Cooper, Jim Tankersley, Julian E. Barnes, Katie Benner, Matt Phillips, Robert Pear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff."



      State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong - The New York Times

      Stacey Abrams, in Democrats’ Response, Calls for Ballot Fairness - The New York Times



      Stacey Abrams, in Democrats’ Response, Calls for Ballot Fairness - The New York Times

      Monday, February 04, 2019

      Super Bowl Ratings Hit Decade Low

      Jim Acosta calls out Sarah Sanders' 'spin' on Trump's executive time

      Sorry, Republicans. You can’t call out Northam for racism and give Trump a pass. - The Washington Post





      "By Tom Nichols, www.washingtonpost.com  February 2nd, 2019



      House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

      Photo by: R-Calif.



      Finally, the GOP is calling out a chief executive for his appalling insensitivity on an issue of race: Saturday, via Twitter, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) decried that chief executive’s “past racist behavior” and said “He should resign.” In two tweets posted on Saturday, Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel listed off what she sees as that same chief executive’s callousness on race, including, apparently, his appearance in a photo, 35 years ago in which one person is in blackface and the other is wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. The conduct that these Republicans denounced clearly deserves condemnation, no matter how or when it occurred.



      Unfortunately, they’ve reserved their scorn for one chief executive, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and have held back when it comes to criticizing a chief executive from their own party, President Trump, for his racially divisive statements and public positions. That is naked hypocrisy.



      Northam, without doubt, brought this criticism on himself: Friday he released a statement apologizing for appearing in a 1984 medical school yearbook photo “in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” saying, “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made.” Then on Saturday, he went before live cameras to say, “I believe then, and now, that I am not either of the people” in the photo in question. A risible, flimsy explanation, unacceptable for anyone, let alone the governor of a state.



      Republicans, sensing a relatively rare moment when, for once, the other party had to own a race-relations debacle, joined Democrats in calling for Northam’s ouster. In addition to McCarthy and McDaniel, Virginia GOP chair Jack Wilson called on Northam to step down, saying the governor has “lost the moral ability” to lead. Ever since Election Day 2016, when Trump’s supporters promised he wouldn’t be as awful as his critics — including me — warned he would be, Republicans have longed for a moment when they could at least pretend to gain the high moral ground.



      But while Democrats, and decent people everywhere, have a right to demand that Northam step down, Republicans who continue to support a party dominated by Trump can’t be taken seriously on this point.



      [The troubling history behind Ralph Northam's blackface Klan photo]



      Trump’s record on race-related issues is abysmal. For years, he fueled birtherism to attack President Barack Obama. He once argued that a federal judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, couldn’t be impartial in a case involving Trump because, as Trump said, “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.” Early in his presidential candidacy, Trump called for a “total and complete ban on Muslims entering the country.” In office, he ruminated on the United States needing more immigrants from places such as Norway and fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries, referencing Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.



      Despite polls taken at various times during his presidency that show significant percentages of Americans either see Trump as racist or, at a minimum, someone who has “emboldened” racists, the president still enjoys the support of Republicans in Congress and 78 percent approval among Republicans in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. For the most part, the party has indulged his race-baiting comments and his crude handling of racial issues. But somehow party leaders, who stand firmly behind him, and a national party that just passed a resolution expressing “undivided support” for him, seems to have no qualms about calling out Northam.



      How Northam got all the way to the Virginia statehouse without the yearbook photo being discovered will wind up as a case study in future training for political opposition researchers and for reporters. Regardless of how it happened, it’s fair to view his inconsistent statements and conclude that he never thought he would have to explain any of this until after it became public. That disingenuousness is damning in itself, and if the voters and elected leaders of Virginia decide that this episode disqualifies him from serving honorably in office — it appears they do — that’s their choice. (I happen to agree with them.)



      Democrats don’t have completely clean hands on race issues; if nothing else, the Northam episode illustrates that. But when commentators such as David Limbaugh ask if Trump supporters must “forfeit the right to pass any moral judgments” because of their continual excuse-making for him, the only reply is: yes. Criticizing Northam for “past racist behavior” and his present equivocation after more than two years of overlooking an astonishing record of divisiveness reflects little more than a self-serving, morally repellent double standard. There are plenty of good arguments for kicking Northam out of his job. The newfound racial piety of a party that sold its soul to Trump isn’t one of them."



      Sorry, Republicans. You can’t call out Northam for racism and give Trump a pass. - The Washington Post

      The Governor Who Partied Like It’s 1884 - The New York Times





      "Let’s say you’re on your way to a dance contest in the early-to-mid 1980s in Texas, and you’re young, like mid-20s young, and you know you’ve got what it takes to win. You know this because you’re basically going to dance like Michael Jackson. You’ve seen “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller,” and like rest of the entire planet, you just kind of know.



      Now it’s almost time to head out to this thing, and you’ve got a loose plan. You’re going to fling up your leg up like it’s a lit match to flick out, and make a tippy-toe statue of yourself, and do that move where you pull your hip up and down and very gently hump the air, like Fred Astaire, only kind of dirty. You’re going to try the triple axel of popular dance: You’re going to moonwalk.



      But you’re just not sure about something. How are people going to know I’m him? You’re wearing the single glove and probably a pair of pennyloafers. But, see, because you kind of forget somehow that Michael Jackson wasn’t just some musician, he was an earthquake — to conjure a TV ad for an M.J. doll, he’s Mi-chael. Mi-chael. And in, say, 1984, one thing that most made him Michael was a wedding of grace and violence, a little bit ballet, a little bit Al Capone.



      Anyway, you don’t trust whoever’s doing the judging to recognize this. So you dab your face with shoe polish. Costume complete. Now it’s clear. You’re Mi-chael. Mi-chael.



      And you probably never thought you’d have to tell the folks of the state that you’d eventually govern that you did this. But there on Saturday was Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, telling the people of Virginia (and everybody else) about the time he really did compete in a dance contest dressed, with his face blacked, in what he described as a Michael Jackson costume.



      And the reason Mr. Northam had to disclose this to anybody — in a news conference, on a weekend — was because a different photo had come to light, from his personal page of the 1984 yearbook of Eastern Virginia Medical School. It’s of two people. One’s in a parody of country-club casual (plaid pants, blazer, shades, fedora, bow tie, beer can, megawatt grin). The other’s dressed for a Ku Klux Klan meeting — mask, robe, pointy hat and everything. And: The country club guy has these unnatural, uncanny tar-black face and hands.



      Even though he says it was he who allowed the picture to adorn his yearbook page, Mr. Northam swears neither of the people in it is him. But he does totally get how we’d conclude something else. And that’s why he’s telling this Michael Jackson story — at a news conference on a Saturday.



      According to him, back when such a photo would have been taken, he would have known what a problem blackface is because of the time he tried to be Michael Jackson. It wasn’t that he knew because someone more historically aware and actually black filled him in on the long, objectionable tradition of American blackface minstrelsy — an art form in which, initially, white people dressed as black ones as entertainment, on one hand, and as proslavery propaganda on the other (actually, both hands tended to be clasped for that).



      It wasn’t that anybody had told young Ralph Northam about the glorious Virginia Minstrels, the four men whose blackface act caused a foundational sensation in the 1840s; or how the Virginia Minstrels were but one of an endless parade of acts that delighted white audiences — with songs, dances, skits and more — on both sides of the Atlantic for most of a century. The governor wasn’t arguing that his young self came to see that blackface was wrong because he had learned how minstrelsy wasn’t some cultural niche but was once America’s popular culture and how that popularity helped cement the nation’s perception of black people as hideous and stupid and freakish and dumb and lusty and unworthy of more than torture, exploitation, derision, oppression, neglect and extermination.



      The governor didn’t say that he’s ashamed now for having partaken in a 19th-century American blackface tradition that’s extended into the 21st — for Halloween, at frat parties, in the nostalgic costuming philosophy defended by a former morning-show host.



      Nope. That’s not how Mr. Northam knows it just couldn’t have been him grinning alongside the person in the K.K.K. outfit. He knows — having taken a day to reflect on this — because to go full blackface, like in that picture? Oh man. Do you know how hard it is to get that stuff off? This is why he put only some shoe polish on his face. (Most blackface minstrels used the purer burned cork — and sometimes a greasy base.)



      For now, any proof of that Michael Jackson costume resides only in the governor’s memory, as it might in other people’s memories that he was any kind of dancer at all. We might never see how much shoe polish is “a little bit” of shoe polish.



      And yet the introduction of process into this defense of his struck me as, I don’t know, strange. The process here matters. Mr. Northam seems to have applied the polish with a prior awareness of what a pain it is to remove, not with any pre-emptive care. It was as if he was speaking from experience. The nightmare wasn’t blackface’s uncomfortable, immoral connection of him to an American ancestry. It was the tedious expunging of the blackness.



      Nearly everything Mr. Northam said on Saturday seemed sincere. We’re at a point where a politician’s acknowledging even an unwitting participation in racism seems radically honest. So does welcoming his residents basically to ask him anything about the photo as part of some conversation about racism. And yet it all made sense only as farce — of race, of memory (just the day before he appeared in a rueful statement acknowledging it was him). The idea that a Michael Jackson costume would need shoe polish to read as “Michael Jackson” seems simultaneously to misread the racial tragedy of Michael Jackson and to practice upon him some very classic blackface-minstrel critique that puts him in his racial place — as a puppet for some white dude.



      With the news conference’s atonement portion behind him, the farce reached its ceiling — or its cellar. The governor told us that he had once confessed to a black staffer that he had blacked up and the staffer made him see that blacking up is wrong. Mr. Northam had opened the room to questions by then, and the press asked about the dance contest.



      Did he perform the moonwalk? He did, he said. Can he still moonwalk? He can! But “in appropriate circumstances,” advised his wife, Pam, who was standing to his left. Or maybe “inappropriate circumstances” is what she said. It was just that kind of event. A reporter asked whether the governor thought it’d be less distressing to make himself look like Michael Jackson — whose alleged pedophilia, thanks to an upcoming HBO documentary, is on the verge of #MeToo-era scrutiny



      And so what should have been a moment for a man accused of shamefulness to soak in actual shame flirted with becoming something queasily funny, something fit for “Chappelle’s Show” or “The Dukes of Hazzard.” “The reason I used a very little bit is because, I do not know if anybody has ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off,” Mr. Northam said. He needed to tell us that he knows he shouldn’t have blacked up that one time. But, amazingly, he also needed us to know that he won that dance contest, too. Victory can be plucked from the jaws of chagrin, and the bliss of ignorance can trump an ignoble blight.



      At that same news conference, in his opening statement, the governor said, “In the place and time where I grew up, many actions that we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace,” as though that time and place were 1884. But to live in this country in this century, and still be talking about white men impersonating black people, is to suspect that it’s probably always 1884 somewhere."



      The Governor Who Partied Like It’s 1884 - The New York Times

      Opinion | Calamity at a Brooklyn Jail - The New York Times





      "A vivid display of the Trump administration’s callousness toward vulnerable people.



      The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.





      The Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where inmates had been forced to remain in their cells without reliable heat, hot food or showers for the better part of a week.

      Photo by: Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

      Locked away in dark and freezing cells with little heat for days, left to languish alone in the dead of winter — this is how the federal government of the United States thinks that it can treat the people in its care.



      No, this isn’t some C.I.A. black site overseas. It is a federal detention center in Brooklyn, where inmates were being held in abominable conditions in America’s largest city.



      Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, after touring the Metropolitan Detention Center in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Sunday, reported that it was much warmer, and power would be restored on Monday. But this after some 1,600 inmates had been forced to remain in their cells without reliable heat, lights, hot food or showers for the better part of a week, a week of freezing temperatures.



      Inmates told local elected officials — who after demanding to be let in, toured the facility Saturday — that they had been on lockdown in their cold cells for days. Jail officials told the visiting lawmakers that a power outage sparked by a fire had made it unsafe to allow the prisoners out of their cells. Visiting hours and communication with family members were also cut off.



      The wider public only learned of the horrific conditions at the detention center thanks to the family members of those incarcerated at the jail and the tireless group of public defenders in this city who represent them. It took a court order before the legal advocacy group Federal Defenders of New York was allowed to enter the facility on Friday. David Patton, the group’s executive director, described the inmates as “scared and frantic,” and as having “no idea if the outside world knows what’s going on with them.”



      The federal officials in charge of the jail have responded to concerns about the welfare of their charges with little more than a shrug, even initially rejecting the city’s offer to send emergency generators and blankets to the facility, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Twitter feed.



      Councilman Brad Lander, who visited the jail on Saturday, said the warden and facilities manager were dismissive about concerns over the welfare of inmates. They told Mr. Lander and his colleagues that a contractor working on the electrical system had gone home for the day and couldn’t return until Monday.



      The Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement Saturday night that “a work ticket has been submitted by the electrical contractor to schedule a work crew to restore power to the new temporary service switch,” and they hoped electrical service would be restored by Monday. They said the inmates had access to hot showers and hot water in their cells, and that medical attention was continuing to be provided. They offered no acknowledgment of the human suffering they had caused when they failed to do their jobs.



      The history of abuses in federal jails, prisons and detention centers, whose populations are disproportionately black and Hispanic, long predates the Trump administration — and rarely draws much attention. Maybe current officials thought they could treat people callously at the Metropolitan Detention Center because they were mostly poor, and black and brown.



      Maybe they assumed no one would notice or care.



      Not this time. Once news of the prisoners’ plight spread on Friday, New Yorkers in large numbers showed up at the jail to protest. Politicians like Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Lander rallied to the inmates’ cause. “Just because you’re incarcerated does not mean that we don’t treat you with dignity and respect,” Mr. Nadler tweeted. “Heat and hot water is not a luxury.”



      He is, of course, right. (Though one is forced to wonder whether the mayor also plans to send blankets to the 10,000 residents of public housing in the city without heat.)



      The prisoners, who could see the protest from their cells, responded by banging against the metal bars on their windows, a haunting call and response that hinted at the mass of humanity inside, and out."



      Opinion | Calamity at a Brooklyn Jail - The New York Times

      Sunday, February 03, 2019

      Long Live Colin Kaepernick!

      Trump Won’t Commit to Making Mueller Report Public - The New York Times

       

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      WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump would not commit in an interview aired Sunday to making public the results of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s ties to his campaign, adding that it was time to “get rid” of the inquiry.

      In the interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Trump reiterated his belief that the attorney general would determine whether the public would see the results of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But he would not say whether he would be comfortable with the results being made public.

      “I don’t know,” the president said. “It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.”

      The law does not require the Justice Department to release a report, and Mr. Mueller has been silent on the issue. Last month, Trump advisers were pleased that William P. Barr, Mr. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, opened the door to the possibility that the special counsel’s report could be shielded from the public during a Senate confirmation hearing.

      Trump Won’t Commit to Making Mueller Report Public - The New York Times: