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Friday, March 22, 2019

Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General - The New York Times



"Only a handful of law enforcement officials have seen the report, a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said. She said a few members of Mr. Mueller’s team would remain to close down the office. Mr. Mueller will not recommend any new charges be filed, a senior Justice Department official said.

Mr. Barr told congressional leaders that he would decide what to release after consulting with Mr. Mueller and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who has overseen the investigation from the start. A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course.” She added that the White House had not seen or been briefed on the report, although officials were notified that Mr. Mueller had delivered it shortly before Congress was notified.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Senate Democrat, warned Mr. Barr not to allow the White House a “sneak preview” of the report before the public views it. They said that he should both make the full report public and share Mr. Mueller’s underlying evidence with Congress.
“The White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public,” they said.
Even though Mr. Mueller’s report is complete, some aspects of his inquiry remain active and may be overseen by the same prosecutors once they are reassigned to their old jobs within the Justice Department. For instance, recently filed court documents suggest that investigators are still examining why the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort turned over campaign polling data in 2016 to a Russian associate whom prosecutors said was tied to Russian intelligence."
Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General - The New York Times

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died





"FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.



Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.



Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.



But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown’s death, citing threats — mostly anonymous — that protest leaders continue to receive.



The Rev. Darryl Gray said he found a box inside his car. When the bomb squad arrived, no explosives were found but a 6-foot (1.8-meter) python was inside.



“Everybody is on pins and needles,” Gray said of his fellow activists.



No arrests have been made in the two homicides. St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said witnesses have simply refused to come forward, leaving detectives with no answers for why the men were targeted.



“We don’t believe either one was connected to each other,” McGuire said, but adding, “It’s tough to come up with a motive without a suspect.”



Ferguson erupted in protests in August 2014 after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown during a street confrontation. Brown was unarmed, but Wilson said he fired in self-defense when the black teenager came at him menacingly.



A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in November 2014, prompting one of the most violent nights of demonstrations, and one of the first activist deaths.



Deandre Joshua’s body was found inside a burned car blocks from the protest. The 20-year-old was shot in the head before the car was torched.



Darren Seals, shown on video comforting Brown’s mother that same night, met an almost identical fate two years later. The 29-year-old’s bullet-riddled body was found inside a burning car in September 2016.



Four others also died, three of them ruled suicides.



— MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, shot himself in February 2016 outside the front door of the Ohio Statehouse, police said. He had been active in Ferguson.



— Edward Crawford Jr., 27, fatally shot himself in May 2017 after telling acquaintances he had been distraught over personal issues, police said. A photo of Crawford firing a tear gas canister back at police during a Ferguson protest was part of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.



— In October, 24-year-old Danye Jones was found hanging from a tree in the yard of his north St. Louis County home. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, was active in Ferguson and posted on Facebook after her son’s death, “They lynched my baby.” But the death was ruled a suicide.



— Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American who frequently livestreamed video of Ferguson demonstrations, was found unresponsive on a bus in November and couldn’t be revived. Toxicology results released in February showed he died of an overdose of fentanyl.



The Ferguson protests added momentum to the national Black Lives Matter movement, but they also generated resentment from people angered by TV footage of protesters hurling rocks and insults at police. Amid lingering anger, activists and observers say that while they see no clear connection between the deaths and the protests, they can’t help but wonder about the thoroughness of the investigations.



“These protesters and their deaths may not be a high priority for (police) since there is this antagonistic relationship,” Washington University sociologist Odis Johnson said. “I think there is a need for them to have a greater sense of urgency.”



Activists say that in the years since the protests, they have been targeted in dangerous ways.



“Something is happening,” said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests. “I’ve been vocal about the things that I’ve experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts.”



Bush said her car has been run off the road, her home has been vandalized, and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time.



She suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers. Living under constant threat is exhausting, she said, but she won’t give in.



“They shut us up and they win,” Bush said.



It’s unclear if residual stress from the protests or harassment contributed to the suicides, but Johnson said many activists feel a sense of hopelessness.



“This has to have a big impact on their mental health,” Johnson said. “For many, law enforcement is not a recourse. Many times law enforcement is not on their side.”



Experts say the deaths also are indicative of a concern at the core of the protests — the underlying difficulty of life for young people of color. Five of the men who died were blacks in their 20s.



Black St. Louis County residents are three times more likely than whites to be poor, often meaning they lack adequate health insurance that could allow them to better address not only physical ailments but mental health issues like depression and anxiety.



They also tend to live in areas with higher crime rates. The 2010 U.S. census showed that while people who live in wealthy and mostly white western St. Louis County can expect to live well into their 80s, life expectancy in parts of mostly black north St. Louis County reaches only into the 60s. Life expectancy in Kinloch, a few miles from Ferguson, is 56.



Forty-five of the county’s 60 homicide victims last year were black in a county where less than a quarter of the population is black, according to police statistics.



“Here in St. Louis, unfortunately, we have allowed the culture of crime and violence to morph into dimensions that anybody’s at risk any day, any time,” said James Clark of the nonprofit Better Family Life."



Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died

Friday, March 08, 2019

Opinion | Ilhan Omar’s Microaggression - The New York Times

Image result for ilhan omar



Even some of her critics have to admit that the attacks on her are ridiculous and no one is saying what she is saying is not true.

"The identity politics fiasco surrounding Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been excruciating. Half of me is angry at her. The other half is furious for her.

Among the most basic anti-Semitic tropes are these: Jews employ semi-occult powers to control world events; they manipulate hapless gentiles with their money; and Jews in the diaspora are disloyal to the countries in which they live. Omar, in the course of making perfectly valid criticisms of Israel and its most powerful American lobby, has invoked each of these tropes.

Twice now, she has publicly expressed regret for saying things that many Jews — including some who are quite far to the left on Israel — see as freighted with anti-Semitism, only to reignite public controversy with new insensitive comments. Most recently, while speaking on a panel last week, she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Writers I respect, including Paul Waldman at The Washington Post, have argued that there was nothing wrong with what Omar said, because she was criticizing those who demand that she show more fealty to Israel, rather than accusing Jews of dual loyalties. But even if you interpret her words that way, she’s committed what might be called, in another context, a series of microaggressions — inadvertent slights that are painful because they echo whole histories of trauma. I assume Omar has been reckless rather than malicious, but it is incumbent on her, as on any public person who wades into fraught sectarian debates, to speak with care. This doesn’t mean she should temper her criticism of Israel, just that she needs to stop giving ammunition to those who want to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

So I think Omar deserves criticism. Criticism, however, is not the right word for what she’s faced. As one of the first two Muslim women in Congress — and the first to wear a hijab — Omar has been subject to a terrifying campaign of racist vilification, including a poster in the rotunda of the West Virginia Capitol linking her to 9/11. She is treated as a dangerous foreign interloper in American politics and the embodiment of anti-Semitism, even though her Republican colleagues routinely demonstrate far worse anti-Jewish bigotry.

Earlier this week, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, accused Representative Jerry Nadler of doing the bidding of the wealthy liberal donor “Tom $teyer,” whose father was Jewish. (To be clear, this tweet counts both as inane AND anti-Semitic,” Nadler responded.) Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of Trump’s fiercest defenders, once brought an internet troll who’d denied the Holocaust to the State of the Union. Omar gestured at the idea of dual loyalty, but Donald Trump, speaking to American Jews last December, referred to Israel as “your country.” Indeed, no president has done more to mainstream classically anti-Semitic ideas about an authentic volk at war with parasitical globalists. It’s maddening to watch men who’ve flirted with outright fascism — like former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who wore the medal of a Nazi-aligned Hungarian group to one of Trump’s inaugural balls — act like sanctimonious defenders of the Jews.

The point is not to excuse Omar by comparison. It’s to say that Omar said things that are offensive and that she’s the victim of a double standard. She’s been held up for unique opprobrium because, breaking with America’s foreign policy consensus, she empathizes with Palestinians more than Israelis. Representative Juan Vargas, a Democrat of California, gave the game away earlier this week when he tweeted, “It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”

House Democratic leaders have been widely panned for their handling of the Omar affair, but its contradictions put them in a near-impossible bind. To ignore her words would be to tolerate mild anti-Semitism, an unsavory proposition at any time, but especially now, when many Jews feel newly vulnerable in a country that’s long been a haven. To publicly rebuke her would mean joining in the over-the-top demonization of a black Muslim woman facing death threats. Ultimately, Democrats on Thursday settled on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and “bigotry against minorities,” a blandly inoffensive document that didn’t seem to satisfy anyone.

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As that resolution was being hashed out, The Hill published an interview with House Majority Whip James Clyburn that poured gasoline on a trash fire. Defending Omar, who spent four years of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp, he seemed to describe her suffering as more visceral than that of Jews. “There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’” Clyburn said. “It’s more personal with her. I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”

More from Opinion on Ilhan Omar and anti-Semitism:
Opinion | Bret Stephens: Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is DoingMarch 7, 2019
Opinion | Thomas L. Friedman: Ilhan Omar, Aipac and MeMarch 6, 2019
Opinion: Anti-Semitism Charges Roil DemocratsMarch 7, 2019
I don’t doubt that Omar is living through a lot of pain, but minimizing the legacy of the Holocaust is never a good idea, particularly when your party is managing an internal crisis over anti-Semitism. For a moment I was frightened: with the country in the hands of a repugnant white nationalist, this is not the moment for Democrats to tear themselves apart over race and religion.

Then the voting on the anti-bigotry resolution started. Every Democrat present backed the resolution, but 23 Republicans voted against it. It was a reminder that while Democrats sometimes fail to live up to the ideals of multiethnic democracy, Republicans don’t seem to recognize those ideas at all. Omar needs to do better, but right now there’s still only one political party in America that is a safe place for hate.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women’s rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn"

Opinion | Ilhan Omar’s Microaggression - The New York Times

Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to Less Than 4 Years in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him - The New York Times

Paul Manafort got off with far to easy a sentence given the scope of his wrongdoing and his unrepentant attitude.  Young kids of color have are regularly sentenced for longer for swelling and ounce of marijuana.  This is a disgrace but sadly not surprising.  This is a central case of how color and economic privilege work together in America. 







Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to Less Than 4 Years in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him - The New York Times

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Trump Is Against America! #ResistanceIsNotFutile

Sexism in the media continues to be a problem as "The Hill" engages in one of the oldest tropes known to womankind in American culture.


House delays resolution seen as subtle rebuke of Democratic Congresswoman

Opinion | What if the Mueller Report Demands Bold Action? - The New York Times





By J.T. Smith II

Mr. Smith served as executive assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson in 1973.



"If Mueller’s findings compel legal action, the attorney general should reconsider the policy against indictment of a sitting president.



Mr. Smith served as executive assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson in 1973.



Reports that Robert Mueller will soon issue the findings of his investigation have brought a new urgency to the question of whether, assuming sufficient evidence exists, a president can be indicted while in office.



Most people take for granted that both Mr. Mueller and the new attorney general, William Barr, accept the current Justice Department legal position — reached in a 2000 opinion — that a sitting president cannot be indicted. In a June 2018 memo, Mr. Barr said that under “the Framers’ plan,” the “proper mechanism for policing the president’s” actions “is the political process — that is, the People, acting either directly, or through their elected representatives in Congress.”



Yet since 1973, the Justice Department has revisited its position five times on the question of indicting a sitting president and reached different conclusions. In fact, as executive assistant to President Richard Nixon’s attorney general, Elliot Richardson, I can speak to the circumstances that delivered that first opinion: The principal purpose of the 1973 Watergate-era legal opinion — which concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted — was to aid in removal from office of a criminally tainted vice president, who, the memo concluded, could be indicted.



But it was not intended to set an ironclad precedent that would forever shape how a president might be treated.



My experience makes me believe that Attorney General Barr should reconsider Justice Department policy. If the evidence gathered by the Mueller investigation on the actions of the president and his advisers indicates a crime, an indictment might be the proper course to hold the president accountable. Further, the indictment policy does not stand in isolation: It has repercussions for a Mueller report and access to it for Congress and the American public.



The durability of the Office of Legal Counsel’s 1973 opinion is curious. It was prepared under extraordinarily stressful and unique circumstances — borne from the investigations that led to the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew that year and President Nixon in 1974.



In 1973, Vice President Agnew faced a grand jury investigation, mostly stemming from his tenure as governor of Maryland, into alleged bribery, extortion and tax evasion. Mr. Agnew resisted pressure to resign. Attorney General Richardson sought guidance on the indictment question in an effort to bring pressure on the vice president.



When the legal opinion was written, it was a very close question and was ultimately shaped by Mr. Richardson’s goal to remove the vice president from his office. The Office of Legal Counsel determined “there is no express provision in the Constitution which confers such immunity upon the President,” even though Article I, Section 6 provides for limited immunity for members of the legislature. (It also said, in reaching its conclusion, that there were “a number of policy factors that weigh heavily against” indicting a sitting president.)



Following the determination on vice presidents, Mr. Richardson obtained the indictment of Mr. Agnew, and rather than face a prolonged legal battle, the vice president pleaded no contest and resigned in 1973.



An often-overlooked facet of the Agnew case — but highly relevant to our circumstances today — was Mr. Richardson’s insistence that the vice president’s resignation and plea on a single count be accompanied by an extraordinary, publicly available 40-page summary of the criminal behavior involving Mr. Agnew that the Justice Department was prepared to prove at trial. Mr. Richardson believed, correctly, that a full recounting of Mr. Agnew’s shameful behavior would put to rest any contention by his supporters that he had been made a political victim.



Ten days after Mr. Agnew’s resignation, though, Mr. Richardson himself resigned, as part of the events leading up to the Saturday Night Massacre. In an effort to end the Watergate investigation, Mr. Nixon called for the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Mr. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned rather than carry out that order.



Mr. Richardson, Mr. Cox and their successors also insisted upon access to White House evidence. They deeply appreciated the right and responsibility of Congress to exercise reasonable stewardship regarding the behavior of leadership of the executive branch.



Mr. Mueller’s investigation has brought us to face similar questions of institutional integrity and transparency for the American public. If Mr. Barr determines that Mr. Mueller’s findings compel legal action, he should reconsider the policy against indictment of a sitting president.



But if Mr. Barr holds to the view that a president’s actions should be policed by the political and not criminal process, it will be imperative that he share a Mueller report with Congress and, to the extent practicable, with the public, redacting only information that is classified or otherwise prohibited by statute.



In light of the gravity of our circumstances, it would be timely and appropriate for the Justice Department to reconsider the shaky policy regarding indictability of a sitting president and provide Congress and the public with the Mr. Mueller’s full findings and conclusions. Only through sunlight and transparency can we preserve confidence in our national institutions and leadership."



Opinion | What if the Mueller Report Demands Bold Action? - The New York Times

Why Did Four Top Democrats Just Say No to 2020? - The New York Times





"Call them the announcements that weren’t.



Over the past two days, Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor; Eric H. Holder Jr., the former United States attorney general; and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon officially declared … drumroll, please … that they would not be running for president in 2020. A fourth Democrat, Hillary Clinton, also said “I’m not running” to a New York City television station.



Such is the state of Democratic fervor to challenge President Trump that the party now has a subset of politicians: the almost-rans.



Mr. Bloomberg said he felt his time and personal fortune would be better used promoting immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Mr. Holder wants to continue focusing on ending gerrymandering. Mrs. Clinton, who never seriously pursued a third primary bid, said she would keep “standing up for what I believe.” And Mr. Merkley will seek a third term in the Senate in 2020, after the State Legislature rejected his request to allow him to run for both positions simultaneously.



[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]



“I have felt like I’m sitting on a fence, and I’m getting really uncomfortable sitting on those pickets,” said Mr. Merkley in an interview. “At some point, you just have to say, ‘O.K., I’ve weighed it and reweighed and here’s the right thing to do.’”



But there are also other challenges and obstacles facing potential 2020 candidates right now.



The Oxygen Problem

There are already 14 Democrats running for president, and there is a good chance that a 15th one could enter in the coming weeks: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who would take up a significant share of the ever-thinning oxygen in the packed race. Another big name, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, is also expected to announce his presidential intentions soon.





Mr. Biden and Mr. O’Rourke would add enormous pressure to the competition among the candidates for aides, donations, volunteers, media attention and voter support. The primary race has already created at least one star, with Senator Kamala Harris, of California, attracting enthusiastic admirers who regularly express the hope that they are witnessing the party’s “next Obama.” While the four Democrats who just said no to 2020 did not appear intimidated by a Harris, Biden or O’Rourke candidacy, building an organization and commanding attention only gets harder amid multiple star candidates.



There’s also the looming deadline of March 31, when candidates must report their first quarter finances to the Federal Election Commission. Those returns will be scrutinized as an early show of relative strength — or weakness — in the race.



“There is a sense that if you’re going to build a presidential team, if you’re going to build the fund-raising base, you’re going to have to work night and day, and you can’t wait forever to do that,” said Mr. Merkley. “There’s a compelling sense of many people feeling like you’ve got to decide by the end of the first quarter.”



Candidates who can self-finance their campaigns, like Mr. Bloomberg, would still face a fierce competition to be heard, not only among others in the race but amid intensifying efforts by Democrats on Capitol Hill to investigate the Trump administration.



Even the first Democratic debate in June doesn’t hold the promise of much airtime: Depending on how many candidates qualify, the event could become a two-night affair, with candidates assigned a spot based on a random drawing.



The Billionaire Problem

It didn’t go unnoticed by Mr. Bloomberg that he was the last billionaire considering a bid for the Democratic nomination. Tom Steyer, the California liberal activist, opted against running earlier this year, and if the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz runs, he has said he would do so as an independent.





Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general, said he wants to focus on his efforts to end gerrymandering.

Photo by: Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

“I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election,” Mr. Bloomberg wrote in a column published Tuesday. “But I am cleareyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”



Populist progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have made combating the influence of money in politics a core message of their presidential candidacies — arguments that might have proved challenging for Mr. Bloomberg, whose aides said he would spend at least $500 million of his own fortune to defeat President Trump in 2020.



Mr. Bloomberg’s moderate, pro-business record and generally favorable view of Wall Street would likely also have posed problems in a party that has shifted left on economic issues like taxing the rich and regulating big banks. Some of those arguments could have posed challenges for Mrs. Clinton, too, who spent decades cultivating a network of high-dollar donors and close relationships with Wall Street to fund her campaigns.



The Party Problem

Democrats lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures and governorships during President Barack Obama’s two terms in the Oval Office, and those defeats found increased scrutiny once Mr. Trump ascended into the presidency and the Democrats held diminished political power.



In the three years since, grass-roots organizations and Democratic Party leaders have pledged to take recruitment and support for nonpresidential races more seriously, leading some candidates who had considered a run for president to look further down the ticket. In Mr. Merkley’s video announcing that he would not run, he said, “We need both strong leadership in the Oval Office and strong leadership in the Senate,” a sentiment that was met with applause on social media. Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who lost her bid for governor in 2018, is being heavily recruited for another statewide race in Georgia. . Mr. O’Rourke, the charismatic Texas Democrat who is expected to run for president after losing a Senate bid in 2018, has also faced several calls to focus his energy at home.



[Who’s in? Who’s out? Keep up with the Democratic field with our candidate tracker.]



Jeff Hauser, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, tweeted that other Democrats should take a page from Mr. Merkley’s “principled and realistic playbook” and run for Senate. “We need to address the climate crisis, confirm judges & Justices, and in general begin the process of De-Trumpification,” he wrote.





Senator Jeff Merkley will run for re-election in 2020. Oregon’s State Legislature rejected his request to allow him to run for both president and Senate simultaneously.

Photo by: Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

Mr. Bloomberg’s non-announcement announcement included plans to invest further in climate activism, which is another way Democrats are choosing to focus on the party’s overall health. Mr. Steyer decided he would instead put his money behind efforts to impeach Mr. Trump.



Both Mr. Steyer and Mr. Bloomberg said that, unlike Mr. Schultz, they would not consider a third-party run, which could risk helping Mr. Trump win re-election by siphoning votes from the Democratic candidate.



The Newness Problem

Another thing the four non-candidates have in common: They all represent the back end of a rapidly changing Democratic Party.



After their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, a more liberal, more uncompromising wing of the party begin to emerge, desperate to throw off the institutional connections to more centrist figures like the Clintons and Mr. Obama. It was this wing that has helped move presidential candidates further to the left, pushing them to embrace policies like “Medicare for all,” the Green New Deal and the rejection of corporate PAC money.



The new crop of Democrats are also more keen to talk about the importance of a candidate’s identity, particularly millennials and nonwhite activists who are driving grass-roots changes among Democrats — “Anybody But a White Guy 2020,” reads a popular sign at presidential rallies. And youth-led social movements about sexual harassment, racial justice, and gun control in recent years have forced Democrats to answer uncomfortable questions about the lack of equitable representation among their caucus in terms of race, gender, and class.



Figures such as Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Holder would have been an ideological mismatch for this emerging leftist voice. Mrs. Clinton already struggled to appease the party’s left flank during her 2016 run, and the litmus test issues have only moved further from her core policy center since. Social justice activists were raring to challenge Mr. Holder on his record on police reform as head of Department of Justice.



Even Mr. Sanders seemed caught off guard during a recent appearance on The Breakfast Club, the urban radio show targeted to millennials, when a host asked him, “Do we need another white guy as president?”



Why Did Four Top Democrats Just Say No to 2020? - The New York Times

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Uncle Ruckus Preaches MAGA, His Dislike For 2020 Candidates + More

Endangered species face 'disaster' under Trump administration | Environment | The Guardian

The bald eagle is often touted as a conservation success story, having been brought back from the brink, but other species now face a new threat from a change of emphasis in Washington.



Endangered species face 'disaster' under Trump administration | Environment | The Guardian

Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went. - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — President Trump dismissed on Tuesday an expansive document request by House Democrats scrutinizing whether he obstructed justice or abused power as nothing more than a political sideshow — and he suggested the White House might not cooperate.

Citing 81 document request letters dispatched Monday to Trump associates by the House Judiciary Committee, the president called Democrats’ efforts “a disgrace to our country” and seemingly implied — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama refused to comply with Congress’s demands under similar circumstances.
“Essentially what they are saying is the campaign begins,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing health care, instead of doing so many things they should be doing, they want to play games.”
Mr. Trump can instruct executive branch agencies to shield key evidence if he chooses. But it is unlikely that he alone can shake off the dragnet stretched across Trump world by Democrats, most systematically by the House Judiciary Committee this week. Detailed requests were made by the panel’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, not just to the White House and key government agencies, but to private companies and individuals tied to Mr. Trump’s businesses, campaign and administration. More will follow."


Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went. - The New York Times

In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — On a busy day at the White House, President Trump hosted senators to talk about tax cuts, accused a Democratic congresswoman of distorting his condolence call to a soldier’s widow and suffered another court defeat for his travel ban targeting Muslim countries.

And at some point on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, Mr. Trump took the time to sign a $35,000 check to his lawyer, who had made hush payments to prevent alleged sexual misconduct from being exposed before the 2016 presidential election. It was one of 11 occasions that Mr. Trump or his trust cut such checks, six of which were provided this week to The New York Times..."


In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen - The New York Times

Monday, March 04, 2019

House Democrats open sweeping corruption probe into Trump’s world - POLITICO

Jerry Nadler



House Democrats open sweeping corruption probe into Trump’s world - POLITICO

Trump’s Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, conceded on Monday that he could not stave off final passage of a resolution overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration, setting up a rebuke to Mr. Trump amid signs that the president’s grip even on his own party in Congress may be slipping.



With Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joining three other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — in announcing he would support the measure, Democrats now have the 51 votes they need to secure passage and to force Mr. Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.



Mr. McConnell is exploring whether he can amend the House-passed resolution of disapproval, to send it back to the House and slow its trip to the president’s desk. Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski are both sponsors of a separate resolution, virtually identical to the House resolution, introduced in the Senate last week.



And while a veto is highly unlikely to be overturned, the congressional majority that forces it will stand as a powerful rejection of the tactics Mr. Trump has used to fulfill his top campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border — and will apparently be the first time since passage of the National Emergencies Act of 1976 that Congress has voted to overturn an emergency declaration."



Trump’s Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency - The New York Times

Cohen lawyer reveals new Trump hush money check on live TV




Cohen lawyer reveals new Trump hush money check on live TV

Opinion | Reckoning With Violence - The New York Times





"By Michelle Alexander, www.nytimes.comView OriginalMarch 3rd, 2019



We must face violent crime honestly and courageously if we are ever to end mass incarceration and provide survivors what they truly want and need to heal.



When Chicago’s police chief, Eddie Johnson, looked out at the sea of journalists to share the breaking news that Jussie Smollett, a well-known and beloved actor, had allegedly staged a violent racist and homophobic attack against himself, he said with great emotion: “Guys, I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention.”



Chicago is besieged by horrific levels of violence, including thousands of shootings and hundreds of homicides each year. More than 500 people were killed in 2018, down from 664 in 2017. This ongoing tragedy cannot be blamed on any lack of aggressiveness on the part of law enforcement. Indeed, if wars on crime and drugs, militarized policing, “get tough” sentencing policies, torture of suspects, and perpetual monitoring and surveillance of the poorest, most crime-ridden communities actually worked to keep people safe, Chicago would be one of the safest cities in the world.



Despite the abysmal failure of “get tough” strategies to break cycles of violence in cities like Chicago, reformers of our criminal justice system in recent years have largely avoided the subject of violence, instead focusing their energy and resources on overhauling our nation’s drug laws and reducing penalties for nonviolent offenses.



It’s not difficult to understand why. After all, violent crime was used by politicians for decades to rationalize “get tough” rhetoric, declarations of war, harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, and a prison-building boom unlike anything the world has ever seen. The tide has turned somewhat, but reformers are proceeding cautiously, reaching first for the low-hanging fruit.



Drug law reform has never been an easier sell — especially now that opioid addiction is perceived as ravaging primarily white communities, generating far more compassion than black communities ever experienced during the crack epidemic in the late 1980s. The opportunity to curb the drug war is critically important for many communities of color, especially in places like Chicago where it has caused catastrophic harm. Nationally, the drug war helped to birth our system of mass incarceration, which now governs not only the 2.2 million people who are locked in prisons and jails in this country, but also the 4.5 million people that are under correctional control outside prison walls — on probation or parole. More than 70 million people now have criminal records that authorize legal discrimination against them, relegating them to a permanent second-class status. The overwhelming majority ensnared by this system have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and drug offenses.



And yet, as Danielle Sered points out in her profoundly necessary book, “Until We Reckon,” if we fail to face violence in our communities honestly, courageously and with profound compassion for the survivors — many of whom are also perpetrators of harm — our nation will never break its addiction to caging human beings.



Fifty-four percent of the people currently held in state prisons have been convicted of a crime classified as violent. We will never slash our prison population by 50 percent — the goal of a number of current campaigns — much less get back to levels of incarceration that we had before the race to incarcerate began in the early 1980s, without addressing the one issue most reformers avoid: violence.



Reckoning with violence in a meaningful way does not mean “getting tough” in the way that phrase has been used for decades; nor does it mean being “smart on crime” to the extent that phrase has become shorthand for being “tough” on violent crime but “soft” on nonviolent crime — a formulation that continues to be embraced by some so-called “progressive prosecutors” today.



As Ms. Sered explains in her book, drawing on her experience working with hundreds of survivors and perpetrators of violence in Brooklyn and the Bronx, imprisonment isn’t just an inadequate tool; it’s often enormously counterproductive — leaving survivors and their communities worse off.



Survivors themselves know this. That’s why fully 90 percent of survivors in New York City, when given the chance to choose whether they want the person who harmed them incarcerated or in a restorative justice process — one that offers support to survivors while empowering them to help decide how perpetrators of violence can repair the damage they’ve done — choose the latter and opt to use the services of Ms. Sered’s nonprofit organization, Common Justice.



Ms. Sered launched Common Justice in an effort to give survivors of violence — like herself — a meaningful pathway to accountability without perpetuating the harms endemic to mass incarceration. As a restorative justice program, it offers a survivor-centered accountability process that “gives those directly impacted by acts of violence the opportunity to shape what repair will look like, and, in the case of the responsible party, to carry out that repair instead of going to prison.” The people who choose to participate are victims of serious violent felonies — people who have been shot, stabbed or robbed — and who decide that they would prefer to get answers from the person who harmed them, be heard in a restorative justice circle, help to devise an accountability plan, and receive comprehensive victim services, rather than send the person who harmed them to prison.



Ninety percent is a stunning figure considering everything we’ve been led to believe that survivors actually want. For years, we’ve been told that victims of violence want nothing more than for the people who hurt them to be locked up and treated harshly. It is true that some survivors do want revenge or retribution, especially in the immediate aftermath of the crime. Ms. Sered is emphatic that rage is not pathological and a desire for revenge is not blameworthy; both are normal and can be important to the healing process, much as denial and anger are normal stages of grief.



But she also stresses that the number of people who are interested only in revenge or punishment is greatly exaggerated. After all, survivors are almost never offered real choices. Usually when we ask victims “Do you want incarceration?” what we’re really asking is “Do you want something or nothing?” And when any of us are hurt, and when our families and communities are hurting, we want something rather than nothing. In many oppressed communities, drug treatment, good schools, economic investment, job training, trauma and grief support are not available options. Restorative justice is not an option. The only thing on offer is prisons, prosecutors and police.



But what happens, Ms. Sered wondered, if instead of asking, “Do you want something or nothing?” we started asking “Do you want this intervention or that prison?” It turns out, when given a real choice, very few survivors choose prison as their preferred response.



This is not because survivors, as a group, are especially merciful. To the contrary, they’re pragmatic. They know the criminal justice system will almost certainly fail to deliver what they want and need most to overcome their pain and trauma. More than 95 percent of cases end in plea bargains negotiated by lawyers behind the scenes. Given the system’s design, survivors know the system cannot be trusted to validate their suffering, give them answers or even a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Nor can it be trusted to keep them or others safe.



In fact, many victims find that incarceration actually makes them feel less safe. They worry that others will be angry with them for reporting the crime and retaliate, or fear what will happen when the person eventually returns home. Many believe, for good reason, that incarceration will likely make the person worse, not better — a frightening prospect when they’re likely to encounter the person again when they’re back in the neighborhood.



As one woman whose 14-year-old son had been badly beaten and robbed explained to Ms. Sered, “When I first found out about this, I wanted the young man to drown to death. And then I wanted him to burn to death. And then I realized as a mother that I don’t want either of those things. I want him to drown in a river of fire.” But when she reflected on the fact that the young man who harmed her son would eventually return home from prison and cross paths with her children again, she said, “I have to ask myself: When that day comes, do I want that young man to have been upstate or do I want him to have been with y’all?”





People gathered in Garfield Park and other Chicago neighborhoods in May 2016, as a plea against violence.

Photo by: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

The restorative circle, a meeting during which responsible parties sit with those they have harmed (or surrogates who take their place), a trained facilitator, and people who support both parties, is central to the process. It offers those affected by a crime with the power and opportunity to ask questions, as well as describe their needs and the ways they've been harmed. Ultimately, the parties strive to reach agreement about what the responsible party can do to make things as right as possible. The circle can be transformative for both survivors and those who’ve caused harm. In Ms. Sered’s experience, survivors not only want answers to factual questions, they want acknowledgment of their suffering and the moral wrongs. They want to be able to say: “How dare you? My brother was killed the year before you stabbed me. Can you imagine how it felt to my mother to get the call from the hospital that I was unconscious in the E.R. and had been stabbed?” Sered explains.



Witnessing the pain and anguish of survivors, and taking full responsibility for what they’ve done by committing to specific actions to repair themselves and others, has a far greater impact on those who’ve committed harm than we might imagine. One young man, who had been a gang member since he was 8 years old, could not leave the building after participating in a restorative circle with Common Justice because he was shaking so badly after admitting the harm he had done. He asked staff members, “Can I stay in your office for a few minutes before I leave?” When asked to explain, he said, “You know, for all I’ve done and all that’s been done to me, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a real apology before. Do you think I did all right? Pardon my language, that is the scariest shit I ever did.”



A growing body of research strongly supports the anecdotal evidence that restorative justice programs increase the odds of safety, reduce recidivism and alleviate trauma. “Until We Reckon” cites studies showing that survivors report 80 to 90 percent rates of satisfaction with restorative processes, as compared to 30 percent for traditional court systems.



Common Justice's success rate is high: Only 7 percent of responsible parties have been terminated from the program for a new crime. And it’s not alone in successfully applying restorative justice principles. Numerous organizations — such as Community Justice for Youth Institute and Project NIA in Chicago; the Insight Prison Project in San Quentin; the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore; and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth — are doing so in communities, schools, and criminal justice settings from coast-to-coast.



In 2016, the Alliance for Safety and Justice conducted the first national poll of crime survivors and the results are consistent with the emerging trend toward restorative justice. The majority said they “believe that time in prison makes people more likely to commit another crime rather than less likely.” Sixty-nine percent preferred holding people accountable through options beyond prison, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, community supervision and public service. Survivors’ support for alternatives to incarceration was even higher than among the general public.



Survivors are right to question incarceration as a strategy for violence reduction. Violence is driven by shame, exposure to violence, isolation and an inability to meet one’s economic needs — all of which are core features of imprisonment. Perhaps most importantly, according to Ms. Sered, “Nearly everyone who has committed violence first survived it,” and studies indicate that experiencing violence is the greater predictor of committing it. Caging and isolating a person who’s already been damaged by violence is hardly a recipe for positive transformation.



That said, Ms. Sered makes clear that she doesn’t believe that having been a victim of crime excuses acts of violence in any way: “When we hurt someone, we incur an obligation. Period.” In fact, it seems her greatest complaint about our system of mass incarceration is that it fails to take accountability seriously. Our criminal injustice system lets people off the hook, as they aren’t obligated to answer the victims’ questions, listen to them, honor their pain, express genuine remorse, or do what they can to repair the harm they’ve done. They’re not required to take steps to heal themselves or address their own trauma, so they’re less likely to harm others in the future. The only thing prison requires is that people stay in their cages and somehow endure the isolation and violence of captivity. Prison deprives everyone concerned — victims and those who have caused harm, as well as impacted families and communities — the opportunity to heal, honor their own humanity, and to break cycles of violence that have destroyed far too many lives.



Ms. Sered acknowledges that we, as a society, are not yet prepared to apply restorative and transformative justice principles to all crimes of violence. Some people do need to be separated in order to keep others safe. But if we invest our resources in the healing, restoration and rebuilding of relationships and communities — and stop pretending that caging people on a massive scale makes our communities safer — we just might discover that we are capable of reckoning with one another."



Opinion | Reckoning With Violence - The New York Times

Opinion | Reckoning With Violence - The New York Times





"By Michelle Alexander, www.nytimes.comView OriginalMarch 3rd, 2019



We must face violent crime honestly and courageously if we are ever to end mass incarceration and provide survivors what they truly want and need to heal.



When Chicago’s police chief, Eddie Johnson, looked out at the sea of journalists to share the breaking news that Jussie Smollett, a well-known and beloved actor, had allegedly staged a violent racist and homophobic attack against himself, he said with great emotion: “Guys, I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention.”



Chicago is besieged by horrific levels of violence, including thousands of shootings and hundreds of homicides each year. More than 500 people were killed in 2018, down from 664 in 2017. This ongoing tragedy cannot be blamed on any lack of aggressiveness on the part of law enforcement. Indeed, if wars on crime and drugs, militarized policing, “get tough” sentencing policies, torture of suspects, and perpetual monitoring and surveillance of the poorest, most crime-ridden communities actually worked to keep people safe, Chicago would be one of the safest cities in the world.



Despite the abysmal failure of “get tough” strategies to break cycles of violence in cities like Chicago, reformers of our criminal justice system in recent years have largely avoided the subject of violence, instead focusing their energy and resources on overhauling our nation’s drug laws and reducing penalties for nonviolent offenses.



It’s not difficult to understand why. After all, violent crime was used by politicians for decades to rationalize “get tough” rhetoric, declarations of war, harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, and a prison-building boom unlike anything the world has ever seen. The tide has turned somewhat, but reformers are proceeding cautiously, reaching first for the low-hanging fruit.



Drug law reform has never been an easier sell — especially now that opioid addiction is perceived as ravaging primarily white communities, generating far more compassion than black communities ever experienced during the crack epidemic in the late 1980s. The opportunity to curb the drug war is critically important for many communities of color, especially in places like Chicago where it has caused catastrophic harm. Nationally, the drug war helped to birth our system of mass incarceration, which now governs not only the 2.2 million people who are locked in prisons and jails in this country, but also the 4.5 million people that are under correctional control outside prison walls — on probation or parole. More than 70 million people now have criminal records that authorize legal discrimination against them, relegating them to a permanent second-class status. The overwhelming majority ensnared by this system have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and drug offenses.



And yet, as Danielle Sered points out in her profoundly necessary book, “Until We Reckon,” if we fail to face violence in our communities honestly, courageously and with profound compassion for the survivors — many of whom are also perpetrators of harm — our nation will never break its addiction to caging human beings.



Fifty-four percent of the people currently held in state prisons have been convicted of a crime classified as violent. We will never slash our prison population by 50 percent — the goal of a number of current campaigns — much less get back to levels of incarceration that we had before the race to incarcerate began in the early 1980s, without addressing the one issue most reformers avoid: violence.



Reckoning with violence in a meaningful way does not mean “getting tough” in the way that phrase has been used for decades; nor does it mean being “smart on crime” to the extent that phrase has become shorthand for being “tough” on violent crime but “soft” on nonviolent crime — a formulation that continues to be embraced by some so-called “progressive prosecutors” today.



As Ms. Sered explains in her book, drawing on her experience working with hundreds of survivors and perpetrators of violence in Brooklyn and the Bronx, imprisonment isn’t just an inadequate tool; it’s often enormously counterproductive — leaving survivors and their communities worse off.



Survivors themselves know this. That’s why fully 90 percent of survivors in New York City, when given the chance to choose whether they want the person who harmed them incarcerated or in a restorative justice process — one that offers support to survivors while empowering them to help decide how perpetrators of violence can repair the damage they’ve done — choose the latter and opt to use the services of Ms. Sered’s nonprofit organization, Common Justice.



Ms. Sered launched Common Justice in an effort to give survivors of violence — like herself — a meaningful pathway to accountability without perpetuating the harms endemic to mass incarceration. As a restorative justice program, it offers a survivor-centered accountability process that “gives those directly impacted by acts of violence the opportunity to shape what repair will look like, and, in the case of the responsible party, to carry out that repair instead of going to prison.” The people who choose to participate are victims of serious violent felonies — people who have been shot, stabbed or robbed — and who decide that they would prefer to get answers from the person who harmed them, be heard in a restorative justice circle, help to devise an accountability plan, and receive comprehensive victim services, rather than send the person who harmed them to prison.



Ninety percent is a stunning figure considering everything we’ve been led to believe that survivors actually want. For years, we’ve been told that victims of violence want nothing more than for the people who hurt them to be locked up and treated harshly. It is true that some survivors do want revenge or retribution, especially in the immediate aftermath of the crime. Ms. Sered is emphatic that rage is not pathological and a desire for revenge is not blameworthy; both are normal and can be important to the healing process, much as denial and anger are normal stages of grief.



But she also stresses that the number of people who are interested only in revenge or punishment is greatly exaggerated. After all, survivors are almost never offered real choices. Usually when we ask victims “Do you want incarceration?” what we’re really asking is “Do you want something or nothing?” And when any of us are hurt, and when our families and communities are hurting, we want something rather than nothing. In many oppressed communities, drug treatment, good schools, economic investment, job training, trauma and grief support are not available options. Restorative justice is not an option. The only thing on offer is prisons, prosecutors and police.



But what happens, Ms. Sered wondered, if instead of asking, “Do you want something or nothing?” we started asking “Do you want this intervention or that prison?” It turns out, when given a real choice, very few survivors choose prison as their preferred response.



This is not because survivors, as a group, are especially merciful. To the contrary, they’re pragmatic. They know the criminal justice system will almost certainly fail to deliver what they want and need most to overcome their pain and trauma. More than 95 percent of cases end in plea bargains negotiated by lawyers behind the scenes. Given the system’s design, survivors know the system cannot be trusted to validate their suffering, give them answers or even a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Nor can it be trusted to keep them or others safe.



In fact, many victims find that incarceration actually makes them feel less safe. They worry that others will be angry with them for reporting the crime and retaliate, or fear what will happen when the person eventually returns home. Many believe, for good reason, that incarceration will likely make the person worse, not better — a frightening prospect when they’re likely to encounter the person again when they’re back in the neighborhood.



As one woman whose 14-year-old son had been badly beaten and robbed explained to Ms. Sered, “When I first found out about this, I wanted the young man to drown to death. And then I wanted him to burn to death. And then I realized as a mother that I don’t want either of those things. I want him to drown in a river of fire.” But when she reflected on the fact that the young man who harmed her son would eventually return home from prison and cross paths with her children again, she said, “I have to ask myself: When that day comes, do I want that young man to have been upstate or do I want him to have been with y’all?”





People gathered in Garfield Park and other Chicago neighborhoods in May 2016, as a plea against violence.

Photo by: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

The restorative circle, a meeting during which responsible parties sit with those they have harmed (or surrogates who take their place), a trained facilitator, and people who support both parties, is central to the process. It offers those affected by a crime with the power and opportunity to ask questions, as well as describe their needs and the ways they've been harmed. Ultimately, the parties strive to reach agreement about what the responsible party can do to make things as right as possible. The circle can be transformative for both survivors and those who’ve caused harm. In Ms. Sered’s experience, survivors not only want answers to factual questions, they want acknowledgment of their suffering and the moral wrongs. They want to be able to say: “How dare you? My brother was killed the year before you stabbed me. Can you imagine how it felt to my mother to get the call from the hospital that I was unconscious in the E.R. and had been stabbed?” Sered explains.



Witnessing the pain and anguish of survivors, and taking full responsibility for what they’ve done by committing to specific actions to repair themselves and others, has a far greater impact on those who’ve committed harm than we might imagine. One young man, who had been a gang member since he was 8 years old, could not leave the building after participating in a restorative circle with Common Justice because he was shaking so badly after admitting the harm he had done. He asked staff members, “Can I stay in your office for a few minutes before I leave?” When asked to explain, he said, “You know, for all I’ve done and all that’s been done to me, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a real apology before. Do you think I did all right? Pardon my language, that is the scariest shit I ever did.”



A growing body of research strongly supports the anecdotal evidence that restorative justice programs increase the odds of safety, reduce recidivism and alleviate trauma. “Until We Reckon” cites studies showing that survivors report 80 to 90 percent rates of satisfaction with restorative processes, as compared to 30 percent for traditional court systems.



Common Justice's success rate is high: Only 7 percent of responsible parties have been terminated from the program for a new crime. And it’s not alone in successfully applying restorative justice principles. Numerous organizations — such as Community Justice for Youth Institute and Project NIA in Chicago; the Insight Prison Project in San Quentin; the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore; and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth — are doing so in communities, schools, and criminal justice settings from coast-to-coast.



In 2016, the Alliance for Safety and Justice conducted the first national poll of crime survivors and the results are consistent with the emerging trend toward restorative justice. The majority said they “believe that time in prison makes people more likely to commit another crime rather than less likely.” Sixty-nine percent preferred holding people accountable through options beyond prison, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, community supervision and public service. Survivors’ support for alternatives to incarceration was even higher than among the general public.



Survivors are right to question incarceration as a strategy for violence reduction. Violence is driven by shame, exposure to violence, isolation and an inability to meet one’s economic needs — all of which are core features of imprisonment. Perhaps most importantly, according to Ms. Sered, “Nearly everyone who has committed violence first survived it,” and studies indicate that experiencing violence is the greater predictor of committing it. Caging and isolating a person who’s already been damaged by violence is hardly a recipe for positive transformation.



That said, Ms. Sered makes clear that she doesn’t believe that having been a victim of crime excuses acts of violence in any way: “When we hurt someone, we incur an obligation. Period.” In fact, it seems her greatest complaint about our system of mass incarceration is that it fails to take accountability seriously. Our criminal injustice system lets people off the hook, as they aren’t obligated to answer the victims’ questions, listen to them, honor their pain, express genuine remorse, or do what they can to repair the harm they’ve done. They’re not required to take steps to heal themselves or address their own trauma, so they’re less likely to harm others in the future. The only thing prison requires is that people stay in their cages and somehow endure the isolation and violence of captivity. Prison deprives everyone concerned — victims and those who have caused harm, as well as impacted families and communities — the opportunity to heal, honor their own humanity, and to break cycles of violence that have destroyed far too many lives.



Ms. Sered acknowledges that we, as a society, are not yet prepared to apply restorative and transformative justice principles to all crimes of violence. Some people do need to be separated in order to keep others safe. But if we invest our resources in the healing, restoration and rebuilding of relationships and communities — and stop pretending that caging people on a massive scale makes our communities safer — we just might discover that we are capable of reckoning with one another."



Opinion | Reckoning With Violence - The New York Times

Pressed by Climate Activists, Senate Democrats to ‘Go on Offense’ - The New York Times





WASHINGTON — Facing a showdown vote as early as this month over the embattled “Green New Deal,” Senate Democrats are preparing a counteroffensive to make combating climate change a central issue of their 2020 campaigns — a striking shift on an issue they have shied away from for the past decade.



Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, outlined the new strategy in an interview last week, casting it as a way to mobilize millennial voters, a key part of the Democratic constituency that the party will need to turn out to win in swing states.



With progressives pushing Democrats to embrace the Green New Deal — and Republicans ridiculing the idea as socialism — Mr. Schumer is effectively trying to turn a weakness into a strength. He is planning daily floor speeches attacking Republicans for inaction and a proposal for a special Senate committee focused on the issue, which he intends to announce this week.



And while there is virtually no chance of passing climate change legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate with President Trump in office, Mr. Schumer said he wanted legislation to run on next year — and bring to a vote in early 2021, should his party win the White House and the Senate.



“This is the first time Democrats have decided to go on offense on climate change,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview in his office. Asked about a bill, though, he conceded that “it’s going to take us a little while to come up with a consensus that works.”



But even one of the most ardent evangelists for climate action, former Vice President Al Gore, conceded that it could be difficult for the party to come together around actual legislation. “This is a heavy lift politically,” he said.



Despite that, Democrats see fighting climate change as a winning issue on the campaign trail — a way to mobilize not only young voters but also progressives, who are increasingly talking about the environment in terms of economic and social justice, given the outsize effect pollution has on minority communities.





Protesters for the Sunrise Movement, which encourages young people to combat climate change, outside Representative Steny Hoyer’s office last year.

Photo by: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Climate change has for the first time emerged as a front-and-center issue in national political campaigns. On Friday, Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, announced that he would campaign for president on the signature issue of fighting climate change. Other Democratic presidential candidates regularly make campaign speeches about the subject, and most initially rushed to back the Green New Deal, the liberal social policy proposal made famous by its author, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Students around the world are “striking” from school this spring to demand action.



But the rise of climate change as a rallying cry has come with huge downsides for Democrats. The ambitions of its youthful advocates have clashed with the caution of Democratic veterans, memorably caught in a viral video of middle and high schoolers confronting Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.



And in a speech to conservative activists on Saturday, President Trump appeared to salivate at the chance to confront Democrats on the issue. “I encourage it,” he mockingly said of the Green New Deal. “I think it’s really something that they should promote.”



Republicans see a political advantage in tying Democrats to the most contentious Democratic proposals, like linking climate change policy to universal employment.



Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, plans to put the Green New Deal to a vote, without a single hearing or legislative language, as a way of daring Senate Democrats, especially those running for president, to go on record in favor of it.



“Whether or not they agree with everything in the Green New Deal, they are going to be lumped into what that proposal was,” said Antonia Ferrier, a Republican strategist and former top aide to Mr. McConnell. “To be charitable to them, they care about this issue and think it’s important. But they also do run a risk of alienating a lot of independent-minded voters in some of those states that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.”



Democrats have been skittish about embracing the “green activist” label at least since 2000, when Mr. Gore lost his bid for the White House. Their unease worsened in 2010, when President Barack Obama’s effort to push a climate change bill through Congress crashed in the Democratic Senate and helped sink the careers of some Democrats who voted for it.





Flooded homes and roads in Elizabeth City, N.C. after Hurricane Florence last year.

Photo by: Hilary Swift for The New York Times

“Climate change, to our frustration, was never an issue that rung a bell with voters, particularly in the throes of coming out of an economic crisis,” said David Axelrod, the former chief political strategist to Mr. Obama. “But now we’re a decade down the road, and the road is surrounded by floods and fires in a way that is becoming more and more visible.”



Polls show that millennial voters, the largest voting demographic, consistently rank climate change as an issue of top concern — something older generations never did. A 2018 poll by the Pew Research Center found that millennials are the only generation in which a strong majority — 65 percent — says both that there is solid evidence of global warming and that this is attributable primarily to human activity.



Mr. Schumer said that he believed voters now saw climate change as an issue that affected them in their daily lives, as scientific reports link climate change to damaging extreme weather, such as stronger storms, flooding and drought.



He pointed to “the energy of the young people” on the issue and added, “We want to take that energy and channel it into something more constructive.”



Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist, said that if Democrats talked about the issue correctly — using phrases like “transitioning to green energy,” rather than the more polarizing “climate change” — they could win over Trump voters, who associate words like “transition” and “energy” with jobs.



“Trump’s weakest issue is the environment,” Ms. Lake said. “As a Democrat, you’re mobilizing our side, you’re cross-pressuring his voters and you’re talking about the economy and the environment at the same time.”



But Democrats are likely to run into trouble when it comes time to propose serious policy solutions. Already, supporters of the Green New Deal have been met with criticism that the proposal is chiefly a set of broad-strokes outlines, rather than concrete legislative language.





Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, introducing the Green New Deal last month.

Photo by: Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The Green New Deal immediately won the embrace of multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.



But it was also hit by a backlash, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s website mistakenly published a draft summary of the document that included contentious provisions not endorsed by those candidates, like language that called for economic security “for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”



Other Democrats shied away, including Ms. Feinstein, who told the group of student protesters, “there’s no way to pay for it,” and “it wouldn’t pass the Senate.”



Mr. Schumer called the episode “a little hiccup, nothing more.”



Republicans saw an opportunity.



“Do our Democratic colleagues really support this fantasy novel masquerading as public policy?” Mr. McConnell asked last week on the Senate floor, discussing his plan for the coming vote. “Do they really want to completely upend Americans’ lives to enact some grand socialist vision?”



Mr. Schumer’s plan to protect Democrats from going on the record in support of the Green New Deal is to have all members of his caucus simply vote “present” when Mr. McConnell brings the proposal to the Senate floor.



Mr. Schumer said he would then counter with a more detailed policy solution, but that may prove just as risky. Such a solution to climate change is the same as it was in 2010, when Mr. Obama failed to pass a bill that required polluters to pay for their carbon emissions.



Policy experts say the solution to climate change is still to put a price — ideally, a tax — on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, essentially creating an energy tax that would raise the price of gasoline and electricity generated from fossil fuels. That idea is likely to remain a tough sell with many voters, even as it energizes the liberal left wing of the Democratic Party.



Veterans of the 2010 debacle say the political risk will not be as great as it was then.



“There has been a lot of change since then,” said Rick Boucher, a former Democratic congressman from a coal-rich quarter of southwest Virginia, whose constituents voted him out of office for backing the Obama-era climate change bill."



Pressed by Climate Activists, Senate Democrats to ‘Go on Offense’ - The New York Times