Saturday, May 6, 2017

President Trump's Weekly Address

White House Press Briefing

President Trump Meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia

This video was published on YouTube on May 4, 2017.

McMaster Meets with Venezuelan National Assembly President

National Security Advisor McMaster met with Venezuela's National Assembly President Julio Borges at the White House yesterday afternoon. They discussed the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and the need for the government to adhere to the Venezuelan Constitution, release political prisoners, respect the National Assembly, and hold free and democratic elections. They agreed that there is a strong need to bring the crisis to a quick and peaceful conclusion. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

GOP Health Care Bill Fight is Far From Over

'Massive' Hack Attack Targeted French Election Frontrunner Emmanuel Macron's Emails

Putin Backs Chechnya Gay Hate Crime Probe

Source: euronews (in English)

India's Top Court Upholds Death Sentences for Gang-Rape Attackers

Source: euronews (in English)

Battle for Mosul: Iraqi Army in 'Final Push'

Source: euronews (in English)

Russia: No Access for US-Led Coalition Warplanes Over Syria Safe Zones

Source: euronews (in English)

FCC to Investigate Stephen Colbert Over Controversial Donald Trump Joke


FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that his agency will be looking into complaints made against Stephen Colbert for what some labeled a homophobic joke about President Donald Trump.

“I have had a chance to see the clip now and so, as we get complaints — and we’ve gotten a number of them — we are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action,” Pai told Philadelphia’s Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

“Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,” he continued. “A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.” Pai was appointed to the FCC in 2012 by President Barack Obama. He was elevated to the chairmanship of the commission by Trump in January.

Pai’s comments on Colbert are surprising as “The Late Show” airs outside the FCC’s long-established “safe harbor” time frame of 6 am to 10 pm in which the commission has the authority to police allegations of indecent and obscene material on the airwaves. They would also seem to clash with Pai’s vow to maintain a lighter regulatory environment for media overall. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Variety

Transgender Woman Found Badly Hurt on Manhattan Sidewalk Dies

A transgender woman found badly hurt, apparently severely beaten, on a Manhattan sidewalk late last month has died of her injuries, law enforcement sources close to the investigation tell NBC 4 New York.

The 59-year-old woman was found with head trauma outside a Five Guys on Seventh Avenue around 10:30 p.m. April 25. She was unconscious when she was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where she died 10 days later, on Thursday. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: NBC News 4 New York

Cuomo Says NY Will ‘Lead The Resistance’


Speaking before a raucous union crowd on Friday in Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged New York will “lead the resistance and opposition” against Republican-backed policies in Washington.

But the governor — who teasingly sidestepped chants that he run for president — did not mention President Donald Trump’s name, choosing instead to lambaste Republicans in Congress for efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and end state and local deductions on the federal income tax.

Repeatedly in the speech, Cuomo referred to a “they” in Washington that wants to weaken unions and the middle class.

“New York is going to lead the resistance and opposition against what they’re doing in Washington, D.C.,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo held the event with the Hotel Trades Council ostensibly to ceremonially sign legislation for state tax deductions for union dues.

But the governor launched into an extended critique of Republican policies in Washington, saying they are trying to derail the labor movement and the rights of unions to organize.

“Make it even worse, it’s not just the labor movement that’s being attacked, the state of New York is being attacked by these forces in Washington,” Cuomo said. “You see, we’re not their kind of people and I’m proud of it.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Spectrum News/State of Politics

Friday, May 5, 2017

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Allowing Full Union Dues to Be Deducted from New York State Taxes

Source: NYGovCuomo

Cuomo Seeks to Fill Court of Appeals Vacancy

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo

"Last month, New York State lost a pioneering legal mind. We continue to mourn the passing of Judge Abdus-Salaam, an exceptionally talented and beloved member of the state’s highest court.

The Court of Appeals is a pillar of our judicial system, and it is unacceptable for the court to go months without a full bench.

"Today, I am calling on the Commission on Judicial Nomination to accelerate the process to fill the new vacancy to allow for the State Senate to take up confirmation before the conclusion of this year’s legislative session at the end of June.” 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

President Trump Remarks in New York City

President Trump delivers remarks in New York City at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. 

The coverage was broadcast on May 4, 2017.

Source: C-SPAN

Congressional Leaders Speak Out on Health Care Bill

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrap up the day’s debate on the American Health Care Act, which would replace the Affordable Care Act.

The coverage was broadcast on May 4, 2017. 

Source: C-SPAN

'Flashback Friday': Donald Trump - "I Don't Want to Be President" (1987)

In a September 2, 1987, interview with CNN's Larry King, Donald Trump says he has no interest in being president and explains why he took out an ad ripping the George H.W. Bush administration.

Source: CNN

Trailblazers in Black History: The Flamingos

The Flamingos are a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted doo-wop group from the United States, most popular in the mid- to late 1950s and best known for their 1959 cover version of "I Only Have Eyes for You". 

Billboard magazine wrote: "Universally hailed as one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop music history, the Flamingos defined doo-wop at its most elegant and sophisticated."

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Al Sharpton to Attend Burial for Queens Village Fire Victims

By Naeisha Rose

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Cambria Heights) will be among the many mourners expected at the funeral Saturday for four of the five victims who died April 23 in a fast-moving house fire in Queens Village.

Managing the funeral is family member Sheener Bailey-Briggs.

“Everything happens for a reason, but I don’t know about this one,” Bailey-Briggs said.

A three-alarm fire took the lives of four family members and a friend on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Queens Village when the frame house at 112-16 208th St. burst into flames. No calls were made from the house and the Fire Department was alerted by a passing motorists six minutes after the fire first broke out. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Times-Ledger

Alton Sterling Case Seen as Bellwether of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department

In just 90 seconds, Alton Sterling was dead, with three police bullets in his chest and three more in his back.

From the time the officers barked their first orders to the crackle of their final gunshot— and Sterling's last breath — a minute and a half had gone by. Each second of the fatal encounter was captured on video for the world, and Sterling's family, to cringe at.

In the 10 months since his death, Sterling's name has been added to the long list of black men whose lives have been taken under questionable circumstances by law enforcement. Fiery protests have filled the streets. Politicians have invoked his name while pushing for police reform. And the outpouring of support and love for his family from well-wishers across the country has at times overwhelmed them.

But what they've really wanted, prayed and fought for, is something more elusive— justice. 

Click here for the full article. 

Christian Abortion Doctor Makes Moral Case for His Work

Birth Control Mandate Next Up On Trump’s HHS Agenda

The Trump administration, fresh off one anti-Obamacare victory, plans to target another controversial provision of the law: the birth control mandate.

The House voted to approve a bill that would replace much of the Affordable Care Act, but the birth control moves come from another action: President Donald Trump's executive order on religious freedom.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Thursday he welcomed the executive order. "We will be taking action in short order to follow the President's instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees," Price said in a brief statement.

He did not say what that action would be. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

GOP Health Care Bill Faces 'A Long Path' Before It Can Become Law

U.S. Service Member Killed, 2 Hurt in Somalia Exchange of Gunfire

An American service member was killed during a gunfight in Somalia that also left two others injured late Thursday, a U.S. defense official told NBC News.

The attackers were "neutralized" and the wounded service members were taken to neighboring Djibouti, the official added.

The U.S. service members were conducting an operation with Somali Army Commandos to go after extremist group al-Shabab when they were ambushed by fighters, a second U.S. military official in the region told NBC News. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

North Korea Accuses CIA of Failed Kim Jong Un Assassination Plot


North Korea on Friday accused the U.S. and South Korean spy agencies of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on leader Kim Jong Un involving bio-chemical weapons.

In a statement carried on state media, North Korea's Ministry of State Security said it will "ferret out and mercilessly destroy" the "terrorists" in the CIA and South Korean intelligence agency for targeting its supreme leadership. 

North Korea frequently lambasts the United States and South Korea, but its accusation Friday was unusual in its detail. 
Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Le Pen and Macron Clash in Crucial French Election Debate

David Davis: "British People Will Not Be Bullied"

The Brexit Secretary David Davis has told Question Time the European Commission was "trying to bully the British people" with "deliberately misleading briefing" after the dinner last week in which the Commission President Jean Claude Juncker met the Prime Minister in Downing Street.

Merkel Presses Putin on Gay Rights

North Korea Warns China

Source: GONEWS

US Intercepts Russian Warplanes Near Alaska

Source: euronews (in English)

Assembly Member, DNC Vice Chair Blake Calls Passage of AHCA 'Inhumane'

Bronx, NY - On Thursday, in response to the passage of the American Health Care Act, New York State Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake released the following statement:

“The passage of the American Health Care Act by House Republicans is a tragic betrayal of public trust. Today​, ​the House acted irresponsibly by passing a bill that will lead to a loss of coverage for 24 million people, raise costs and severely weaken coverage for pre-existing conditions. It is inhumane and an international embarrassment by Congressional Republicans to choose politics over saving lives. As a baby, ​I was born with a heart murmur; my mother is a breast cancer survivor,​ and​ I represent an Assembly District with a disproportionate number of residents facing health inequities. It is personal when access to health care is denied to those who are most vulnerable.

"Congressional Republicans continue to play politics with the lives of close to 24 million Americans, and if this bill becomes law, hundreds of thousands of people who have relied on the Affordable Care Act to detect and treat serious illnesses will be at risk for more serious illness and a more difficult quality of life. This is one of few instances where the US Congress has shown a clear disregard for the welfare of American people.

"Trumpcare is not a replacement for Obamacare but rather a tax break for the top one percent disguised as an attempt to lower costs while giving drug and insurance companies the bulk of nearly $600 billion in new tax breaks. This bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act's subsidies based on a person's income and cost of coverage and replaces them with lower subsidies based mainly on a person's age. Currently, more than 80% of A.C.A. enrollees benefit from these subsidies. It loosens the age-band so that insurance companies can charge older people at least five times more than younger people. Equally despicable, it weakens the protections for those with pre-existing conditions and especially targets women by denying protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, C-section, and postpartum depression.

"These are not the values of the American people, and we must continue to hold our representatives in Congress accountable. We must continue to make our voices heard and actions seen. As it goes before the Senate, we must demand that our leaders shut this bill down.
​  ​
"Universal health care is a right, not a privilege, and our leaders should act accordingly. Today ​reminds us ​why we must continue to​ #Resist and reject this unjust and unconscionable behavior by Congressional Republicans. If they want to take away our health care, then​​ we should take away their jobs in Congress.”

NYPD Closes Probe of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s Seath, Official Says


The NYPD has completed its investigation into the death of state Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an official said Wednesday.

Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found in the Hudson River on April 12. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the NYPD has turned over all evidence of the case to the medical examiner’s office.

“At some point the Chief Medical Examiner will provide a cause of death or a statement in regards to that,” he said.

Detectives had found video of Abdus-Salaam walking alone the evening before her body was found. In one video, she’s inside Riverbank State Park, which is believed to be the last time she was seen.

Click here for the full article. 


Sharpton Distances from De Blasio, Says Reelection Support Not a Given

Reverend Al Sharpton, the national civil rights leader, radio and television host, and founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), is emphatically disinterested in the nitty-gritty of local politics and says that his support for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is not unconditional.

Gotham Gazette sought comment from Sharpton on his relationship with de Blasio, a first-term Democrat who is running for reelection this year, and how he gauges the mayor’s leadership and record on police reform, a focus issue for the reverend. When de Blasio came into office in 2014, the two appeared especially close, but while de Blasio continues to make appearances at NAN, there has been evidence of distancing in recent years. Indeed, greater distance is something Sharpton reinforced in a Tuesday interview with Gotham Gazette.

In an energetic 16-minute phone conversation, as he took a break from recording his radio show, Sharpton explained his past support for the mayor and the current dynamic between the two, while also refuting analysis by political observers relayed to him by Gotham Gazette. Those observers, long-time chroniclers of city politics, said Sharpton and de Blasio’s relationship was one of mutual benefit, with Sharpton maintaining both access to the mayor and distance enough from which to criticize him. Meanwhile, Sharpton’s support for the mayor, multiple experts argued, provides cover for the mayor’s record on police reform, which many say has been less than satisfactory, while bolstering support in the African-American community. At the same time, the perceived daylight between the two allows de Blasio to maintain a better relationship with the NYPD, many members, union leaders, and supporters of which see Sharpton as an antagonist. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Gotham Gazette (via The Empire Report)

Fracking Supporters Make Appeal to Trump

By Brian Nearing

Albany - A group of Southern Tier landowners angered that the state closed the door on natural gas hydrofracking is appealing to President Donald J. Trump to end New York's authority over the issue.

Last week, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York wrote to President Trump urging that the federal government assert sole control over gas pipeline projects, rather than allow states to retain jurisdiction over required environmental protection permits.

The letter by coalition President Daniel Fitzsimmons said the 2014 decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo was based on his "political aspirations" and pushed by "well-funded environmental extremists." Fitzsimmons also accused the governor of "illegally (taking) our private property rights for his political gain."

The coalition claims to represent 70,000 property owners in the Southern Tier who want to sell access to tens of thousands of acres in the so-called Marcellus Shale region to natural gas companies to drill and build a network of pipelines.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: (via The Empire Report) 

Court Says Police Can Run License Plates Without Suspicion of Wrongdoing

ALBANY – Police can routinely run license plate checks of motorists even if they have no suspicion that any wrongdoing has been committed, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday.

In a case involving a 2014 stop of a motorist by a SUNY Buffalo State police officer in 2014, the Court of Appeals rejected an initial Buffalo City Court ruling that dismissed a driving while intoxicated arrest against a motorist pulled over in the circular driveway into the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

“To ensure the safety of our roads, a police officer may run a license plate number through a government database to check for any outstanding violations or suspensions on the registration of the vehicle. We hold that such a check, even without any suspicion of wrongdoing, is permissible, and does not constitute a search,’’ Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote in the 6-0 decision upholding the charges against motorist Andrew Bushey.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Buffalo News (via The Empire Report) 

In Democratic NYC, at Least Some Cops Are on the Trump Train


Donald Trump’s administration may have picked a fight with leaders of the New York Police Department when Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the city “soft on crime” last month. But Trump cast himself as a friend to police officers on the campaign trail — and as he returns to his overwhelmingly Democratic hometown of New York City for the first time as president Thursday, some GOP officials say he’s got plenty of friends on the force.

“They love him,” says Republican state Sen. Marty Golden, a former cop who now represents Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, when asked what he hears from police officers about Trump. “I was at a police function, they went crazy.” 

“There seems to be, regardless of what we see in the press ... an overwhelming support among our law enforcement, and our military units, for Donald Trump,” Golden says.
Click here for the full article. 

Source: Politico (via The Empire Report) 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trayvon Martin To Receive Honorary Aviation Degree


An aviation school in Florida is honoring Trayvon Martin with a posthumous degree at its commencement this month. 

Florida Memorial University, a historically black college, announced in a Facebook post Wednesday that the 17-year-old, who was gunned down by a neighborhood watchman in 2012, will receive a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science with a concentration in flight education on May 13.

The degree will honor the “steps he took during his young life toward becoming a pilot.” His parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, will accept the degree on his behalf.

The university’s president, Roslyn Clark, said that awarding the posthumous degree is important for the school and noted that Fulton is an alumna of the HBCU. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

Witnesses Warn Electromagnetic Pulse Attack Could Damage U.S. Electric Grid

Witnesses, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, testify on the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse, a short burst of electromagnetic energy which can damage electronic equipment, and the development of weapons that create EMP.

Source: C-SPAN

President Trump on Passage of Affordable Care Act Replacement Bill

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

House Republicans Defend Revised Health Care Bill Ahead of Vote

Source: C-SPAN

House Democrats on Affordable Care Act Replacement Bill Passage

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) and several of her colleagues reacted to the passage of the Republican health care replacement bill shortly after the vote. The Democratic leader reiterated her criticisms of the legislation and said those Republicans who voted for it are now on record and will be judged by the American people. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The Atlantic Slave Trade: What Too Few Textbooks Told You

Source: TED-Ed

Obama: "I Am a Black Man Who Grew Up Without a Father"

This video was published on YouTube on May 13, 2015.

Saving Our Youth: "I AM A MAN" -- The Continuing Work of One Hundred Black Men

This video was published on YouTube on April 20, 2017.

Trailblazers in Black History: Dustin Byfuglien

Dusty Byfuglien is an American professional ice hockey player currently playing and serving as an alternate captain for the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League (NHL). 

Drafted as a defenseman, he has played both forward and defense in his career, although he has generally played defense in recent years.

He played a major role in the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup winning season in 2010, scoring 11 goals with five assists in the playoffs, including three goals in the Finals. He was the first African American player to win a Stanley Cup. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

First Look: What Obama’s Presidential Center Has in Store for Chicago

In their first joint appearance since leaving the White House, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama offered the first glimpse of the planned Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

President Obama said he and his wife chose to locate the center in Chicago's South Side in an effort to give back to the community that helped shape some of their most formative memories. But Obama also stressed that he wanted to create a living hub for political and social activism that would outlive him. 

Click here for the full article.

Trump Signs Religious Liberty Order, Day of Prayer Proclamation

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo

"The President's Executive Order is a blatant and unabashed attempt to, among other things, attack the fundamental right that women have to control their own health. Under the guise of promoting free speech and protecting individual liberties, it tramples on women's rights and undermines our values of freedom and equality. 

"As Washington seeks to limit the rights of women, New York continues to protect them. New York has long-standing protections against discrimination based on gender or personal choices regarding family and health, including the first Human Rights Law in the nation, and we will continue to stand up for the rights of all New Yorkers.

"Earlier this year, my administration took strong action to ensure that the full range of contraceptive drugs and devices are covered by commercial health insurance policies without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles. New York will remain a state where all women have cost-free access to reproductive health care."  

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Trump Announces First Overseas Trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome

'Vive la France': Obama Endorses Macron for French President

Iraqi Army Opens New Front in the Battle for Mosul

Source: euronews (in English)

UK's Prince Philip to Stop Public Engagements from Autumn

Source: euronews (in English)

Russia's Lavrov in Finland to Discuss NATO and Ukraine

Source: euronews (in English)

South Koreans Vote Early in Presidential Poll

Source: euronews (in English)

Violence in Venezuela as Protesters Condemn Maduro Decree

Source: euronews (in English)

Japan-Russia Cooperation Paves Way for Peace Treaty

Source: euronews (in English)

Mayor de Blasio Holds Press Conference Regarding Crime Statistics

Governor Cuomo on the House Passing the American Health Care Act

"Ultraconservatives in Washington have pushed through the House an unconscionable piece of legislation that threatens to tear apart our health care system. Far from improving our health care, the Republican plan will strip millions of Americans of their coverage, raise costs for the sick, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions, and penalize progressive states that protect the rights of women.

"Sadly, some representatives in New York have sold their vote and turned their backs on the very constituents they represent. This bill is a targeted assault against our values, punishing New Yorkers because we support women's reproductive rights and including the Collins/Faso amendment which would devastate the state’s health care industry, put millions of New Yorkers at risk, and increase the total cost of this bill on New York to $6.9 billion.

"Despite the vocal opposition of the American people, radical conservative ideologues are still advancing a disastrous bill. I urge all Americans to call their Senators and tell them to stand with the people they represent by voting no on this reprehensible legislation." 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

Note: Details on the passage of the legislation are available here.