Friday, August 12, 2016

Veep Talk: President Poroshenko of Ukraine

Vice President Biden spoke today with President Poroshenko of Ukraine. The two leaders discussed recent tensions on the Crimean Peninsula, which is occupied by Russian forces in contravention of international law. The Vice President urged President Poroshenko to do his part to avoid escalating tensions. The Vice President noted that we have urged the Russian side to do the same. Both leaders reiterated their strong support for political and diplomatic means to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in particular through full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The leaders also reviewed recent progress towards fulfilling IMF conditions for disbursing the next tranche of financial assistance, and agreed on the importance of recent Ukrainian efforts to continue critical anti-corruption reforms. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Russians Suspected of Hacking Democrats Also Went After Republicans, Researchers Say

By Shane Harris

For weeks, Democratic politicians have been bracing for the release of more embarrassing emails that U.S. officials believe were stolen by Russian hackers and then handed over to WikiLeaks.

But Republicans have reason to worry, too. Computer security researchers are linking one of the Russian groups that stole emails from the Democratic National Committee to a campaign that hacked the staff of at least three GOP lawmakers, as well as state-level party officials across the country.

Back in June, a little noticed website called DCLeaks published the emails of various political and military figures. Most public attention focused on emails written by retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, formerly the supreme allied commander of NATO.

But the DCLeaks cache also included emails from hundreds of Republican politicos, including of campaign staff for Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who ran for president this year, as well as Republican Michele Bachmann, a former member of Congress who ran for president in 2012. The lawmakers had served on sensitive committees including Armed Services and Intelligence. DCLeaks also published messages from party officials in Wyoming, Illinois, Connecticut, and Texas. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

Hillary Clinton Economic Policy Speech

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at a campaign event in Warren, Michigan. She outlined her economic policies and job-creation proposals, saying that her opponent, Donald Trump, offered a pessimistic view of America and had not offered any “credible solutions” on tackling the economy. Regarding trade, Secretary Clinton said she would oppose any deal that takes advantage of American workers, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and that she would appoint a chief trade prosecutor who could impose targeted tariffs on countries who break the law.  

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Morality in U.S. Politics


North Carolina NAACP President Reverend William Barber discusses his effort to mobilize people of faith to engage in U.S. politics. He has focused on issues including the minimum wage, voting rights, and LGBT rights. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Trailblazers in Black History: David George and the Silver Bluff Baptist Church

The Silver Bluff Baptist Church was originally founded in 1750' in Beach Island, South Carolina, by several enslaved African Americans who organized under elder David George.

The historian Albert Raboteau has identified it as the first separate black congregation in the nation, although others contend for that distinction, including the First Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia. After the British captured Savannah in 1778 during the American Revolutionary War, George and his congregation of 30 slaves went to that city, seeking freedom, which the British had promised to slaves who escaped from rebel masters. Those church members who stayed in Savannah after the end of the American Revolutionary War evolved as the First African Baptist Church. 

George was highly influential in the early Black Baptist movement. Resettling by the British with his family and other Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia, he founded a congregation there. George and his family chose to migrate to Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1792, when the British founded this new colony in West Africa. He founded a congregation and Baptist church there as well. 

Click here for additional information. 

Source: Wikipedia

Flashback Friday: 'The Polar Bear Marines' of WWII

This video was published on YouTube on Aug 9, 2015. 

This historic WWII Marine Corps. newsreel shows the activities of the USMC in the early stages of American involvement in the war. The newsreel starts with a segment showing Marines in Iceland keeping an eye out for German aircraft. 

The Marines are also shown parading for relief funds in New York City. The retirement ceremony is shown for Quartermaster Sgt. Frank W. Wright. 

The film ends with President Franklin Roosevelt speaking in front of a joint session of Congress, paying tribute to the USMC and the service of its members on Wake Island, Guam and other Pacific locations attacked by the Japanese.

Source: PeriscopeFilm

Polls: Clinton Running the Table in Key Battlegrounds

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump in some of the most diverse battleground states - including by double digits in two of them - according to four brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

In the key battleground of Florida, which President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, Clinton is ahead of Trump by five points among registered voters, 44 percent to 39 percent, with the rest saying neither, other or they're undecided. (In the same poll before the conventions last month, it was Clinton 44 percent, Trump 37 percent.) 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Meet the Republicans Opposing GOP Nominee Donald Trump

By NBC News

Donald Trump's march to the Republican nomination has forced a crisis in the party. Opposition to the billionaire front-runner began boiling over in February when Trump's initial refusal to denounce former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke in an interview led a growing list of GOP elected officials and top strategists to step forward and declare their opposition to Trump's candidacy. On Twitter, #NeverTrump became a way for party stalwarts to voice their dissatisfaction.

But that was before Trump eliminated closest rival Ted Cruz, who dropped out of the race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed suit. Calls for unity within the fractured GOP began.

Some GOP lawmakers, like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and vulnerable New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, have tried to walk a fine line by saying they would support the party nominee without offering an official endorsement, and in some cases, without mentioning Trump by name. House Speaker Paul Ryan, after initially withholding an endorsement, gave his support via an an op-ed.

Politicians supporting the Republican nominee have had to grapple with how to address both Trump's more vexing policy positions, such as his murky proposal to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States, and personal attacks, like Trump's charge that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit alleging fraud against Trump University, has an "absolute conflict" of interest in the case due to Curiel's Mexican heritage. The Republican Party devolved into all-out civil war in June as Trump defended his racially tinged criticism. One Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk, rescinded his endorsement. Ryan called Trump's comments "textbook" racism, yet reiterated his support. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Opinion: Protect Our Voting Machines From Hackers

Editor's Note: The author is the deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

In the last two weeks, there have been credible reports that Russia is attempting to influence our elections by hacking into the Democratic Party's email server and other campaign files. These reports are troubling. But an attack on our country's voting machines, once deemed far-fetched, is even more disturbing.

In response, the Obama administration is considering designating America's electronic voting system as "critical infrastructure," which would likely bring more federal resources to protecting these systems from attack.

But with just three months before the presidential election, what can be done? In truth, making big changes to election machinery before this November isn't realistic. There isn't enough time. Fortunately, security experts and activists have worked for several years to shore up election integrity, and there is much we can do to secure the technology currently in place. 

Click here for the full article.

Opinion: Daily Beast's Grindr Article Reinforces Need for LGBTQ Voices In Newsrooms

BBC Aired Simone Manuel’s Historic Gold Medal Win in Real Time, Not Official Olympics Channel NBC

NBC didn’t air Simone Manuel’s gold medal ceremony as it happened, instead preferring to air footage of Russian gymnasts from hours earlier, Deadspin reported. Manuel’s win was historic as she became the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event when she tied Canadian Penny Oleksiak for the gold. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Your Black World News

Mayor de Blasio Dishes Out $2M in Raises to Staff, as His Poll Numbers Continue to Sink


Hizzoner cooked up something nice for his entire staff.

Mayor de Blasio doled out raises to 358 of 360 staffers in fiscal year 2016. That came to a total of $2 million, which included a generous $13,000 raise to the executive chef at Gracie Mansion, who now earns $115,000.

Data compiled by the Empire Center also show 56 City Hall staffers — including 35 who got new job titles — received raises of more than 20%.

“(De Blasio) should be spreading the wealth. There are so many families living check to check, and you’re giving employees that already make a nice chunk of change a raise,” said Shaun Williams, 30, a messenger from East New York, Brooklyn. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Daily News

The Donald Set to Return to Western NY: Trump to Stump in Buffalo

By TWC News Web Staff

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo-area Donald Trump supporter Carl Paladino is making a last second push to get people across New York to Donald Trump's speech in Pennsylvania.

"It's only in Erie, which is an hour and a half from Buffalo, but those in Chautauqua County, it's a 45 minute ride," Paladino said.

Paladino believes when Trump speaks Friday afternoon, his message will resonate with New Yorkers.

"In Pennsylvania, it's the same thing as in New York," he said. "I mean, you've heard Trump talk about the devastation of upstate New York, the horror of our economy."

At the same time, the honorary co-chair of Trump's New York campaign has plans to get the candidate back in his home state soon.

"New York has never been a battleground state because it's been so blue, but I think the blue is shading over to red right now and times are changing," Paladino said. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Time Warner Cable News (via The Empire Report)

EXCLUSIVE: Joint FBI-US Attorney Probe Of Clinton Foundation Is Underway

By Richard Pollock

Multiple FBI investigations are underway involving potential corruption charges against the Clinton Foundation, according to a former senior law enforcement official. 

The investigation centers on New York City where the Clinton Foundation has its main offices, according to the former official who has direct knowledge of the activities.

Prosecutorial support will come from various U.S. Attorneys Offices — a major departure from other centralized FBI investigations.

The New York-based probe is being led by Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Caller (via The Empire Report) 

Cuomo Directs Immediate Cuts to State Energy Usage Amid This Weekend's Heatwave

Governor Andrew Cuomo today directed state agencies to take immediate steps to lower electricity usage in New York State due persistent high temperatures and humidity expected today and through the weekend. All state agencies have been directed to immediately lower energy usage by turning off lights, raising air conditioning temperatures, closing window shades, and powering down unused computers, printers and other electrical devices; other regions were put on notice that they might have to do the same later in the day.
"This extreme heat has led to near-record electricity usage and has placed significant demands on our entire grid," Governor Cuomo said. "As temperatures remain high, I'm once again directing state agencies to take steps to conserve energy and reduce demands on the system. I encourage all New Yorkers to do the same."
During heat waves, increased usage of electric devices such as air conditioners place a considerable demand on the state's electricity system and instances of low voltage or isolated power outages can result. The record for such usage was set on July 19, 2013 when it reached 33,955 MWs (One megawatt of electricity is enough to power up 1,000 average-sized homes). As a result of yesterday's high temperatures, the state's peak load approached the record with 32,076 MWs. Today’s peak load forecast is 32,800 MWs.
The Governor also strongly encouraged local public officials, municipalities and the public to follow suit. Consolidated Edison, the State's largest utility, implemented its commercial demand reduction program at 12 PM. This Department of Public Service-approved program is put in place to reduce electricity demand when it begins to rise rapidly.
Department of Public Service CEO Audrey Zibelman said, "It's important for the public to lower their electricity use. It is also important for residents to stay cool and stay hydrated. By taking action now, we can lower electricity usage during this heat wave and stay healthy."

Information on how to stay safe during periods of excessive heat is available here and here.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

Cuba Celebrates Fidel Castro's 90th Birthday

Cuba is celebrating the 90th birthday of it's revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana. 

Click here for video. 

Source: CNN

'This is Hell': Clarissa Ward Addresses U.N. on Syria

CNN's Clarissa Ward addresses the U.N. Security Council on the state of Syria and the people left living in Aleppo. 

Source: CNN

Children Killed in Syria Gas Attack

Doctors in Syria say that the victims of a suspected chemical gas attack are two children and their mother. CNN's Arwa Damon reports. 

Source: CNN

Putin is Saber-Rattling to the International Community

By Matthew Dubas

The following commentary is in response to a recent NBC News report entitled Ukraine Puts Army on Alert as Russia Heats Up Crimea Stalemate. 

Cool heads prevail.

Most of the experts on the ground are saying this is simply a provocation, and a show of force (and speedy deployment) in the face of NATO in the Black Sea. Russia has also accused Ukraine of fomenting an attack on Crimea, but there is no evidence to support Russia's claims.

As Russia courts Turkey, Crimea is on the table, and Turkey, for its proclaimed alliance with the Crimean Tatars, would prove to be an additional sticking point to Russia-Turkey relations, as Russia dangles Gazprom pipelines through Turkey to EU. Turkey is not on the same page as Russia with regard to the Assad regime, and Turkey's support for anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Meanwhile, ISIS  and Russia continue aggression in the region. A stalemate in Syria is the motivator for new action in Crimea, as it appeals more to the Russian public's nationalistic pride that Putin is manipulating through propaganda media.

Putin is saber-rattling to the international community (NATO, EU, UN specifically) for them to forget that Crimea was ever part of Ukraine or ever will be. While Putin is alive, the idea of retaking Crimea would be a bloody one. But we can also confirm Putin's military plans for Crimea are long term for Russia (that is until the money really dries up, and Putin becomes increasingly desperate to maintain power).
Matthew Dubas is editor of the nationally-distributed publication The Ukrainian Weekly. The newspaper is also distributed throughout Canada and serves as a major source of news and information for the Ukrainian community in America and abroad. He has reported on many of the country’s political and social conflicts and worked with ambassadors, politicians, policy advisors, activists and scholars on a range of issues concerning Ukraine. The views expressed by Mr. Dubas do not necessarily reflect those of the publication's management or editorial staff.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ukraine Puts Army on Alert as Russia Heats Up Crimea Stalemate

Ukraine's president put his army on combat alert Thursday along the country's de-facto borders with Crimea and separatist rebels in the east as a war of words between Russia and Ukraine threatened to heat up the largely frozen conflict over the Black Sea peninsula.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued the order after Moscow accused his country of sending in "saboteurs" to carry out attacks in Crimea.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 following a hastily called referendum, a move that sparked fighting between Russia-backed separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine. The conflict in the east has killed over 9,500 people and is still ongoing. 

Click here for the full article. 

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Calls DNC Hack an 'Electronic Watergate'

House Democratic leaders call out Republicans for taking a summer recess without reaching a deal on Zika virus funding. Representative Nancy Pelosi also blames Russia for the DNC email system hack, calling it an “electronic Watergate.” 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Roundtable on Jobs and the Economy

Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen and the Washington Post's Jim Tankersley discuss the U.S. economy and candidates' proposals to increase job growth, reverse wage stagnation, and narrow the gap between earnings and inflation.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Saving Our Youth: Gang Member-Turned-Ph.D. Mentors Youth on the Fringes

Source: PBS NewsHour

Trailblazers in Black History: Lincoln Perry, Film Star

The following is from the article Stepin Fetchit, Hollywood's First Black Film Star. It was written by Roy Hurst.

Although he never won an Oscar, Lincoln Perry was America's first black movie star. But for that distinction, Perry paid a heavy price — he is best known as the character of Stepin Fetchit, a befuddled, mumbling, shiftless fool.

Seen through a modern lens, Perry's "laziest man in the world" character can be painfully racist. Perry, a veteran of the vaudeville "Chitlin Circuit," got his break in Hollywood in 1927 when he was cast in the silent film In Old Kentucky. According to film historian Mel Watkins, Perry created the character to make himself stand out from other actors vying for the role.

"He acted as though he didn't know where he was, and he immediately got the attention of the producers and the director of the film," says Watkins, author of the biography Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry. "He was chosen for the part on that basis — they didn't know what to think of him. They were astounded by him." 

Click here for the full article. 

Clinton Foundation Emails Raise Questions of Ties to State Department

Trump Denies Comments Were Meant to Incite Violence Against Clinton

Donald Trump defended his comments about Hillary Clinton, saying he was talking about votes, not violence — as new polls in battleground states showed that his numbers are falling.

Arianna Huffington Announces She Is Leaving Huffington Post

Media mogul Arianna Huffington announced Thursday she is stepping down as editor-in-chief of her namesake online news site to launch a health and wellness start-up.

"I thought HuffPost would be my last act," she tweeted. "But I've decided to step down as HuffPost's editor-in-chief to run my new venture, Thrive Global."

She also thanked her employees of The Huffington Post and tweeted: "I'm filled with gratitude." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Millions of VW's Cars Can Be Hacked With a Cheap Device, Experts Show

Tens of millions of vehicles sold by Volkswagen over the past 20 years are vulnerable to theft because keyless entry systems can be hacked using cheap technical devices, according to European researchers.

Computer security experts at the University of Birmingham in England have published a paper outlining how they were able to clone VW remote keyless entry controls by eavesdropping nearby when drivers press their key fobs to open or lock up their cars. 

Vehicles vulnerable to this attack include most Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda models sold since 1995 and many of the approximately 100 million VW Group vehicles on the road since then, the researchers said. The flaw was found in car models as recent as the Audi Q3, model year 2016, they added.

"It is conceivable that all VW Group (except for some Audi) cars manufactured in the past and partially today rely on a 'constant-key' scheme and are thus vulnerable to the attacks," the paper argues. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Commentary: Is Gun Control Next Step for LGBTQ Movement?

LGBTQ activists from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles took to the streets last week to raise awareness about the lack of national gun control legislation. With more events planned for the coming months, is the issue of gun control becoming the next queer cause? And if so, what does this mean in the run-up to the November election?
From Orlando to November

For many of the organizers behind recent demonstrations, the shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse catalyzed their interest in gun control and their determination to make change. Kevin Herzog started the group Gays against Guns (GAG) in New York City in the wake of the Orlando massacre, and since then, chapters have sprung up in across the country. 

Click here for the full article. 

Maryland Apartment Explosion: 30 Hurt, 7 Missing in Rubble

Man Killed by L.A. Sheriff’s Deputies Was Innocent, Not Carjacking Suspect

An unarmed 27-year old man who was gunned down by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy last month was innocent, officials confirm. Donnell Thompson was originally identified by police as a carjacking suspect but the sheriff’s department admitted this week that he was innocent. 

“We have determined that there is no evidence that Mr. Thompson was in the carjacked vehicle, nor that he was involved in the assault on the deputies,” LASD said in statement provided to The Huffington Post. 

Robert Alexander is the actual suspect who allegedly stole a Honda Civic, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Your Black World News

Ashton Kutcher Asks Governor Cuomo to Veto Airbnb Regulatory Law


In June, both houses of the NYC legislature passed a bill that would impose fines of up to $7,500 on advertisers of illegal short-term Airbnb rentals. Current state law dictates that an apartment can’t be rented out for less than 30 days if the lease holder isn’t present, and a recent report estimated that 56 percent of the site’s 2015 listings fell into this category. Though the law has been this way since 2010, it has yet to be seriously enforced. But ahead of the Governor’s January deadline to sign the bill into law, big names in the tech sector, including actor, venture capitalist, and Airbnb investor Ashton Kutcher, are asking Cuomo to veto the bill.  

Click here for the full article. 

Source: 6sqft

Christine Quinn: New Yorkers Need to 'Get Over Themselves' and Welcome Homeless Shelters


New Yorkers who routinely oppose homeless shelters in their neighborhoods "just need to get over themselves," according to Christine Quinn, the former City Council speaker now running a homeless services nonprofit.

Crime is down and property values are up surrounding her organization's newest shelters in Queens and Brooklyn, she said, countering common fears about the effects of homeless shelters.

"People have go to learn the facts and they've also got to dig down into themselves and find the gratitude for what they have and realize they need to help other people," said Quinn, the president and CEO of Manhattan-based Win, at a press availability Monday. "And when the politics gets tough and people are against it for no valid reason, then the elected officials, and I say this as a former elected official, need to plow ahead. 'Cause nobody's going to agree on everything in New York City."

Proposals for new shelters tend to incite local outrage akin to that triggered by waste transfer stations and methadone clinics. Crain's routinely receives press releases from politicians opposing homeless facilities proposed for their districts but has never received one supporting such a plan.

As a City Council member, Quinn herself opposed one Chelsea shelter. She still thinks it is too large for the population it serves, she said. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Crain's New York Business

Weakened de Blasio May Be Vulnerable to 3rd-Party Bid by a Democrat

Maybe it was Mayor Bill de Blasio’s rough week at the Democratic National Convention, when he was relegated to a daytime speaking slot and upstaged by his archrival, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Maybe it was the drumbeat of bad news related to the multiple federal and state investigations swirling around City Hall. Or maybe it was a recent poll suggesting that half of New York City voters believe Mr. de Blasio does not deserve to be re-elected to a second term.

Whatever the reason, members of New York’s political class have turned their attention to the 2017 mayoral race, or more precisely, to the question of whether Mr. de Blasio will even face a serious challenge when he seeks re-election. 

While the recent poll, released this month by Quinnipiac University, found that a majority of respondents disapprove of Mr. de Blasio’s performance as mayor, none of his obvious potential opponents fared well against him in hypothetical matchups. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times

Cuomo Huddles with Dems for Session on 'Winning' State Senate


ALBANY — A week after Democrats held their national convention in Philadelphia, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a mini-summit with several fellow Democrats in the state Senate to discuss winning strategies in November.

The conference took place on Aug. 4 at the Harvard Club in midtown, and involved the Democratic governor, Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris, leader of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. A top Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, was also present, as were 
Sens. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo and Todd Kaminsky of Long Island, sources said.

A spokesman for Senate Democrats declined to comment. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi confirmed the meeting but declined to elaborate on what was discussed. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Politico