Saturday, January 9, 2016

President Obama's Weekly Address: America Can Do Anything

In this week's address, the President remarked on the incredible progress that has been made in the American auto industry.

Friday, January 8, 2016

President Obama's Veto Message

The House reading clerk reads President Obama’s veto message for the reconciliation bill that would repeal parts of the 2010 health care law and defund Planned Parenthood. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Bring the MTA into the 21st Century

January 8, 2016, Brooklyn - Governor Cuomo unveiled the eighth signature proposal of his 2016 agenda: modernize and fundamentally transform the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, dramatically improving the travel experience for millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the metropolitan region. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest responds to reporters' questions on a variety of topics, including the arrest of two Iraqi refugees on terrorism-related charges and President Obama’s veto of a bill repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul on Iraqi Refugee Arrests

Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) and members of the committee speak with reporters about the arrest of two Iraqi refugees on terrorism-related charges. They also call on the Senate to pass the American SAFE Act. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Hearing on Cybersecurity

Representatives from several internet security companies testify at a hearing on ways private sector cybersecurity practices could be adopted by government agencies. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Prime Minister Turnbull to Visit the White House

President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia to the White house on January 19, 2016, on his first trip to Washington since assuming office.  During the meeting, they will highlight the extraordinary breadth of the U.S.-Australian alliance, and discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including our cooperation in Iraq and Syria, our trade relationship, the successful conclusion of negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and other developments in Asia and the Pacific. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

National Security Council Notes: U.S. Government Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism

The following statement was issued today by National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price.

Over the course of President Obama’s Administration, and particularly since the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in February 2015, the United States Government has focused on strengthening our effort to prevent violent extremists from radicalizing and mobilizing recruits at home and abroad. The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino this winter underscored the need for the United States and our partners in the international community and the private sector to deny violent extremists like ISIL fertile recruitment ground.  

Today the U.S. Government is announcing new initiatives to improve our international and domestic efforts to counter violent extremism. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will announce the establishment of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, a new organization that will integrate and harmonize domestic CVE efforts here at home. The State Department will establish the Global Engagement Center, which will allow us to place an intensified focus on empowering and enabling the voices of international partners, governmental and non-governmental, and shift away from direct messaging. Additionally, today some of the most senior officials from the White House and across the President’s national security team are meeting in Silicon Valley with representatives from a number of leading technology companies, to follow up on the President’s call in his address on December 6 for the government and private sector to work together to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism online.

Today’s developments reflect President Obama’s commitment to take every possible action to confront and interdict terrorist activities wherever they occur, including online. 
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Sharpton Responds to the Filing of Charges Against NYPD Sergeant in Garner Case

(NEW YORK, NY) – The following is a statement from Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network: 

“This is a glimmer of hope but certainly just a first step on the road to real justice. In order to truly grasp how meaningful this is, we must know exactly what departmental charges this officer is facing. 

But we must be clear, everyone involved should be held accountable, all those responsible ought to pay for their actions. We will address this in detail at the Saturday action rally.” 

The rally will be held on January 9, at 10 a.m., at the National Action Network headquarters, located at 106 West 145th Street in Harlem, New York. 

Source: The National Action Network

New York Police Sergeant to Face Internal Charges in Eric Garner Confrontation


By Al Baker

A sergeant in the New York Police Department has been served with internal disciplinary charges for her role in the confrontation that led to the death in 2014 of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after an officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest on Staten Island.

Mr. Garner’s death, which has been under investigation by the United States Justice Department, illuminated the aggressive tactics of police officers in New York in confronting people suspected of minor offenses. A grand jury’s decision not to charge any of the officers involved fueled protests in New York and elsewhere and, along with several other police-involved deaths around the country, led to calls for an array of criminal justice reforms.

Police supervisors at the scene were faulted for never gaining control of the situation, in which Officer Daniel Pantaleo mounted Mr. Garner’s back and threw an arm around his neck, taking him to the ground as plainclothes officers tried to arrest Mr. Garner for selling loose cigarettes.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times

Statement on the Employment Situation in December

 Jason Furman

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in December.

Summary: The economy added 292,000 jobs in December, marking the strongest two years of job creation since 1998-2000.

The robust pace of job growth continued in December as the unemployment rate held at its lowest level since April 2008 and labor force participation ticked up. Our economy has now added more jobs over the past two years than in any two-year period since 1998-2000. In fact, the annual average unemployment rate has seen its fastest two-year decline in thirty years. Most importantly, wages have risen faster over the past year than at any time since the recovery began. Nevertheless, we still have more work to do to drive further job creation and faster wage growth. That’s why the President will continue to push for policies including approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership to open our exports to new markets, investing further in infrastructure, and raising the minimum wage.


1. Our businesses have now added 14.1 million jobs over 70 straight months, extending the longest streak on record. Today we learned that private employment rose by 275,000 jobs in December, while private employment growth in October and November was revised up by a combined 51,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent in December while the labor force participation rate edged up to 62.6 percent. Average hourly earnings for all private employees have now risen 2.5 percent over the past year, the fastest pace since the recovery began. Overall, our businesses have added 5.6 million jobs over the past twenty-four months—the most in any two-year period since 1997-1999.

 Click on graph to increase its size.

2. Our economy added 221,000 jobs per month on average over the course of 2015, continuing the strong labor market recovery. 2015 was the second-best year of job growth since 2000, extending the robust job gains observed earlier in the recovery. However, many of the global headwinds our economy faces—including the slowing foreign demand that weighed on our manufacturing sector and reduced oil and gas investment—contributed to a pace of job growth somewhat below that observed in 2014. In addition, as the strong recovery brings our economy closer to full employment, job growth will likely moderate. This effect may also have contributed to the lower pace of employment growth in 2015 compared with 2014.

Going forward, our aging population will continue placing downward pressure on the labor force participation rate, further reducing the pace of job growth necessary to keep the unemployment rate constant. In fact, CEA estimates the breakeven rate of employment growth—the rate needed to maintain a constant unemployment rate over the next year if the labor force participation rate moves in line with demographic trends—at only 77,000 jobs per month. Of course, there is still more room for the labor market to improve—especially with respect to faster wage growth. But as the unemployment rate normalizes, the pace of job growth would be expected to start normalizing as well.

3. The annual average unemployment rate declined 0.9 percentage point between 2014 and 2015. This is consistent with a range of indicators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) household survey that show the labor market strengthened considerably in 2015. In particular, the broader measures of labor underutilization published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics—including some people who have withdrawn from the labor force or who are working part-time for economic reasons—fell faster than the official unemployment rate in 2015. Additionally, declining long-term unemployment accounted for about two-thirds of the decline in the overall unemployment rate in 2015, a disproportionate share given that less than one-third of the jobless are long-term unemployed. The labor force participation rate ticked down in 2015 as the baby boomers continued to retire. But despite this demographic trend, the strong pace of job growth over the past year drove an uptick in the share of the population that is currently employed.

4. The unemployment rate has fully recovered to its pre-recession average for many demographic groups, although the broadest measure of labor market slack remains slightly elevated. The unemployment rate is fully recovered for both genders and across all racial and ethnic groups reported by BLS. In particular, the African-American unemployment rate is at its lowest level since September 2007, 15 percent below its pre-recession average. The unemployment rate for women is at its lowest level since April 2008, 7 percent below its pre-recession average. Like all labor market indicators unemployment rates for particular demographics tend to be volatile, and it is important to focus on long-term trends in these and other data.

Despite the broad-based recovery, the broadest measure of slack—the “underemployment rate,” or U-6, which includes discouraged workers, those marginally attached to the labor force, and those working part-time for economic reasons—is 90 percent recovered but remains somewhat elevated. Such data indicate that more work remains before the labor market is fully recovered. 

5. December was a strong month for employment growth in most sectors, although global headwinds continue to restrain job growth in certain industries. Especially strong gains relative to the past year were seen in industries such as transportation and warehousing (+23,000), information services (+16,000), and construction (+45,000). Manufacturing (+8,000) also had a stronger-than-average month, although slowing foreign demand continues to weigh on growth in that sector relative to 2014. Mining and logging employment, which includes oil extraction, continued to decline (-8,000) as low oil prices have slowed investment. Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months was 0.82, somewhat above the average correlation over the previous three years. 

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Carly Fiorina in Meredith, New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina holds a town hall meeting in Meredith, New Hampshire. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

"Flashback Friday": President Eisenhower on 'The Military Industrial Complex'

Trailblazers in Black History: Redd Foxx

Today in History: January 8th

New Documentary Series Uncovers 'Hate in America'

U.S. Tech Giants Warn U.K.'s Proposed Spying Bill Would Weaken Encryption

Major U.S. Internet companies have urged the British government to reconsider a plan to make telecommunications firms help spies hack into computers and phones. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill would require telecoms companies to keep records of customers' Web histories for up to a year, and to help security services gain access to suspects' electronic devices.

In a joint submission to a committee of British lawmakers, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said that "to the extent this could involve the introduction of risks or vulnerabilities into products or services, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set." They urged the government to reconsider, and warned against changes that would weaken online encryption, which they called a "fundamental security tool." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Color Barrier: Segregation Images Resonate 60 Years On

Quiet moments from everyday life in segregated Alabama speak loudly almost 60 years later.

Feds Say Terrorism-Related Arrests Made in 2 States

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Authorities said Thursday that two people with ties to ISIS have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria who is charged with lying to federal investigators about his travels to the civil war in that country.

The arrests feed a national debate over whether the United States is doing enough to screen refugees from Syria for terrorists from that nation.

Court documents say the men wanted to aid terrorist organizations affiliated with ISIS. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Hungarian PM to David Cameron Over EU Reform: “We Are Not Parasites”

By Seamus Kearney

Source: Euronews

Death Trade: Turkish Police Seize Fake Life Jackets Destined for Migrants

Source: Euronews

China: Trading Rallies After Volatile Start to 2016

Source: Euronews

Double Suicide Attacks Kill More Than 70 in Libya

Source: Euronews

Iran to Complain to UN About ‘Damage’ to Embassy in Yemen

Source: Euronews

South Korea Resumes Propaganda Broadcasts into the North

Source: Euronews

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Message from the President on the Celebration of Orthodox Christmas

Michelle and I wish a blessed Christmas to Orthodox Christians in the United States and around the world.  During this holy season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and pray for peace on Earth.  This day gives us a special opportunity to commemorate the contributions of American Orthodox leaders to our progress.  It also gives us a chance to reaffirm our commitment to protect religious minorities, including Christian minorities, who too often face violence and persecution throughout the world.  Today and every day, we stand with all those who suffer attacks and discrimination – because we believe that the freedom to practice your religion as you choose is a birthright of every person and part of the bedrock of a just society.  So we join with our Orthodox brothers and sisters in celebration, and in hopeful prayer for peace and justice the world over. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of topics, including North Korea’s claim that they successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and gun control. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

State Department Briefing

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement on several issues on the international front, including the North Korean nuclear test and Syria, and responds to reporters questions ahead of the daily press briefing with Spokesman John Kirby. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Defense Department Briefing

Spokesman Peter Cook briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of military-related topics. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) briefed reporters and responded to questions on his party’s legislative agenda. He praised Republican efforts to pass legislation that would repeal the the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. Speaker Ryan said Republicans in 2016 would put forward an agenda that would give Americans a choice on what party should run the country. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) briefed reporters on a number of issues at her weekly briefing. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

National Governors Association Annual State of the States Address

National Governors Association Chair Governor Gary Herbert (R-UT) and Vice Chair Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) deliver the NGA’s annual State of the States address on priorities in the new year. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

Former Chief Judge Judith Kaye Passes Away


Statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye. Throughout her more than 25 year career in public service, Chief Judge Kaye was a force for progress who had a profound impact on our state. When she was appointed to the Court of Appeals by my father in 1983, she became the Court’s first female judge, and later continued her trailblazing legacy as the first female Chief Judge, serving in that role for more than 15 years. Over the course of that distinguished career, she was an exemplary role model for women everywhere. She was an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, believed in the fundamental promise of equal rights for all New Yorkers, and dedicated herself to strengthening our judicial system and our juries, along with many other worthy causes.

“After her tenure on the Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Kaye continued to serve New Yorkers as my independent special counsel in public integrity matters while I was Attorney General. And she continued to serve the court as Chair of the Commission on Judicial Nomination.

“She stood for justice and equality for all people, and embodied the spirit of integrity in public service like none other. Chief Judge Kaye’s passing is a true loss to our state, and I have no doubt that her legacy will continue to be felt for years to come. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones.”

Governor Cuomo has directed that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff tomorrow, January 8, 2016 in honor and memory of Chief Judge Kaye. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gerald Whalen Chosen to Lead the Fourth Appellate Department


Governor Andrew Cuomo today designated the Honorable Gerald J. Whalen as Presiding Justice for the Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department. The Fourth Department encompasses 22 Upstate counties.

"I am proud to select the Honorable Gerald J. Whalen as the Presiding Justice for the Fourth Judicial Department's Appellate Division," Governor Cuomo said. "Justice Whalen has always sought to uphold the principles of our justice system and ensure that every New Yorker is treated fairly before it. His strong legal background and even more impressive character is a prime example of what we look for on the bench."

Justice Whalen said, "I am grateful to the Governor for this opportunity to serve. It is an honor to accept the position of Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division Fourth Department. I look forward to working with the exceptional Judges and staff in the Fourth Department as we continue providing the people of our state with fair, transparent and accessible courts."

Justice Whalen was elected New York State Supreme Court Justice in 2005 in the 8th Judicial District, and was appointed to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department in 2012. Prior to taking the bench, Justice Whalen was in private practice for 21 years, handling complex civil and criminal cases. He was a litigation partner with Hiscock & Barclay, LLP and served on the firm's Diversity Committee and was the firm's Associate and Hiring partner for the Buffalo office. He was awarded the Trial Justice of the Year award by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Western Region Affiliate, in 2012.

Justice Whalen has also been a dedicated advocate to expanding the inclusiveness of the legal profession. He has been an adjunct professor at Canisius College and was a member of the Canisius Pre-Law Advisory Committee. For twenty-five years, Justice Whalen was a member of the Judge John J. Hillery Memorial Scholarship Foundation and was the Hillery Foundation's Man of the Year in 1997. The Foundation provides scholarships for students in need.

Justice Whalen served as President of the Supreme Court Justices Association, Eighth Judicial District, in 2012, and has also served as Chair of the Bar Association of Erie County Judges' Committee, and on the Fourth Department, Eighth Judicial District Committee on Character and Fitness. He has also lectured at SUNY Buffalo on Constitutional Law and is a frequent lecturer on civil matters at New York State and Erie County Bar Association events. He is a graduate of Canisius College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979, and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1983 from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Under the New York State Constitution and Judiciary Law, the Governor has the authority to appoint Presiding Justices to each Appellate Division from among those who have been elected as Justices of the Supreme Court. These appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.

The 22 counties in New York State's Fourth Judicial Department are: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

2016: An Especially Decisive Year

By Ted Glick
Presidential election years are always seen, or hyped, as “decisive” for the direction of the country. Sometimes they are, and sometimes not so much.
It was decisive when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and proceeded to drastically slash taxes for the rich and corporations, destroy needed social services and programs, step up union-busting, dramatically increase militarism and foreign military interventions, and more. It was decisive when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000, leading, among other things, to the illegal and disastrous March, 2003 US invasion of Iraq. And it was decisive when Barack Obama bested John McCain in 2008, temporarily setting back the extreme rightist and other less-reactionary elements within the Republican Party.
It was not so decisive when Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole and Ross Perot in 1992. Clinton’s tenure as president was marked by more than a few Republican-type policies and the growing power over government of the corporate/billionaire class.
2016 looks to be very decisive, for three main reasons:
-The most important, in my view, is the climate crisis. Time is running out to turn this crisis around before climate tipping points kick in that will make it extremely hard to avoid worldwide catastrophe as this century unfolds, hitting the poorest of the world the hardest. This decade is absolutely the critical decade when that turn needs to happen, when the political power of the fossil fuel industry is significantly weakened. The election of a Republican climate denier to the Presidency would be a political catastrophe for the entire world.
-It is essential that the mass movement that has emerged in support of Bernie Sanders be more than a Presidential election period, one-and-a-half-year thing. Progressives should be supporting Bernie and doing all we can to get him elected, but whether Bernie wins or loses, the movement that his candidacy has generated must continue. Bernie himself has said that his election alone won’t fundamentally change the power dynamics in the country, that he would use the Presidency to help the people exert their rightful power, enact a political revolution to end corporate control over the government. Best would be Bernie in the White House following through; if it’s Hillary, an independent, multi-issue, mass movement will be absolutely needed to pressure her and her establishment Democrat administration.
-Independent of any particular Presidential campaigns, there are critical, issue-based, national mass movements that are visible, have deep roots and are winning victories, in particular: the Black-led movement against racism within police departments, the “criminal justice” system, at universities and elsewhere; the grassroots-based climate/climate justice movement; the working class-based movement to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour; the lgbt rights movement; and the movement against the Trans Pacific Partnership and other pro-corporate trade deals. These and other important though less visibly active movements (right now), like the immigrant rights and women’s movements, can’t let their energies be sucked up in a major way into electoral activity, though without question some work in that arena will happen. Demonstrative and direct action in the streets and elsewhere is the lifeblood of difference-making movements, while absorption into electoralism can undercut, weaken or destroy them. The work, visible actions and increasing mutual support of these movements must continue to develop in 2016.
What about demagogue Donald Trump and the other extreme rightist Republican Presidential candidates (almost all of them)?
It is amazing, and worrying, that Trump’s overtly racist, misogynistic, ignorant, violence-supporting and abusive statements have resonated with millions of people the way that they have. It is disturbing that in hypothetical polling match-ups Trump currently receives support almost equal to Sanders and Clinton, as do most of the others.
What is new about Trump is not so much the policies he is supporting; it is the overt language he is using which, without question, encourages similarly overt racist, sexist, ignorant and violent language and actions by those with similar politics. He’s in the tradition of Huey Long, George Wallace and Patrick Buchanan, but up two or three notches.

Clearly, progressives must engage and struggle with these reactionary and backwards-looking ideas wherever we come into contact with them. As Bernie Sanders talked about on CBS’s Face the Nation last Sunday, we need to identify with the popular anger against the two-party establishment that Trump is using in a twisted and despicable way, stand up to the verbal bullies, and put out our independent and progressive perspectives about who the real target of their rage should be: the billionaire class and its control of government.
As we enter 2016 there is much that is in flux, in motion. That is a good thing. People are looking for new options to address the crises they experience in their daily lives and/or the major issues facing the planet and its struggling peoples. It’s a good time to be alive and active for justice, peace, human rights and our Mother Earth.

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968, the last 12 years primarily working to build a strong climate/climate justice movement. Past writings and other information can be found at, and he can be followed on Twitter at

Exclusive: Lawyers Went to Rahm Emanuel, Then Quashed the Laquan McDonald Video

The mayor’s men demanded that dashcam video be kept confidential for at least several years as part of a $5 million settlement with the teenager’s family.

CHICAGO — City of Chicago lawyers, after meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, demanded the Laquan McDonald family bury the video showing the killing of their son by a police officer.

Emanuel said last month that Stephen Patton, Chicago’s corporation counsel, briefed him “towards the end of March” about what the dashboard-camera video showed and about the proposed $5 million settlement with McDonald’s estate. After that briefing, Patton’s second-in-command, Thomas Platt, drafted settlement language to keep the dashcam video hidden for at least several years, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast (PDF).

Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald estate, balked at the demand. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast

Avoiding Gangs & Alternatives to Gangs & Violence


Avoiding Gangs

How do you avoid gangs when they exist throughout your community? Answer: any way you can.

Avoid places where gang members hang out. 
Avoid alleys and dangerous shortcuts. 
Never travel alone. Always travel with a trusted friend, family member, or a group of friends. 
Walk on well-lighted, safe streets at night. 
Join a team sport. 
Have a teacher, coach, parent or sibling drive you home from school. 
Never hitchhike. 
Never carry large sums of money. 
Never carry expensive looking watches, jewelry, or other items that would be attractive to a mugger. 
When you're at home or when you're alone some place else, never open doors for strangers. 

Click here for more important tips


Trailblazers in Black History: Dianne Durham, Gymnast

Dianne Durham, a two-time Junior National Champion and one-time Senior National Champion, was Bela Karolyi’s first elite gymnast in the United States. She and Mary Lou Retton were close rivals in the gym and in competition; while Dianne won the 1983 Nationals, Mary Lou won the 1984 Nationals. Interestingly, Dianne was supposed to compete in the 1983 American Cup, but was injured at the last moment and was replaced by Mary Lou. Mary Lou, a virtual unknown at the time, seized the opportunity and won the American Cup title. 

Click here for more information on the iconic gymnast. 


Today in History: January 7th

Grand Jury Indicts Trooper in Sandra Bland Traffic Stop for Perjury

A Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland after a contentious traffic stop last summer was fired Wednesday after being charged with perjury for allegedly lying about his confrontation with the black woman who died three days later in jail.

Trooper Brian Encinia claimed in an affidavit that Bland was "combative and uncooperative" after he pulled her over and ordered her out of her car. The grand jury identified that affidavit in charging Encinia with perjury, special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday night. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

The Lid: Trump's Big General Election Problem

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Donald Trump is feuding on Twitter with Samuel L. Jackson over their golf skills. Which we can only assume with end with the two of them doing an elaborate re-enaction of the "Big Kahuna Burger" scene from Pulp Fiction.

'16 from 30,000

Even though it might not feel like it in this crazy news cycle, (see: arguing about Marco Rubio's shoes), we're getting close to actual voters making actual, consequential decisions about candidates. Our big sib First Read wrote this morning about how *unacceptable* most of the establishment GOP candidates are to their own electorate. The flip side of that coin is just how much Donald Trump has traveled from being unacceptable to being, well, pretty okay, actually. In March 2015, only 23 percent of GOP voters said they could see themselves supporting Trump. Now? Fifty-eight percent. National Journal's Ron Brownstein makes a great point today noting how the "Trump Gap" is increasing. Meaning: As Republicans increasingly view Trump as a conceivable nominee, Democrats and independents view him as LESS acceptable. It sets up a scenario where, if Trump actually wins the party nod, he'll need to win back really significant ground with these groups fast to have a prayer of being successful in the general election. And he'd probably start in a deeper hole than any GOP nominee in recent memory. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

After A Shake Up, Ben Carson Sees Signs of Enthusiasm in Iowa

PELLA, Iowa Amid tanking poll numbers and a campaign shake-up, supporters swarmed three Ben Carson events on an icy Wednesday in Iowa, suggesting that the retired-pediatric-neurosurgeon-turned-Republican-presidential-candidate may still have what it takes to do well in the state's kingmaker caucuses.

More than 150 supporters showed up in Panora, a small town of just 1,100, and so many supporters gathered at a small Winterset cafĂ© that Carson gave a second, shorter town hall for those who couldn't fit in the room for the scheduled event. More than 350 attended an event in Pella on Wednesday evening, filling dozens of seats and standing in the aisles to hear the candidate speak. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

NYPD Settles Lawsuits Over Muslim Surveillance by Police

The NYPD has agreed to increase oversight of its counterterrorism programs as part of a settlement of two civil cases alleging the nation’s largest police force unfairly targeted Muslims in the decade following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The New York Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday that the police department agreed to several new guidelines for investigations involving political or religious elements – including the appointment of a civilian representative who has never worked with the NYPD who can review the department’s terrorism investigations. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News