Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro Dead: Cuban Revolutionary Leader Dies At 90

By Dominique Mosbergen

Fidel Castro, the controversial revolutionary leader and former head of state of Cuba, has died at the age of 90, Cuban state television announced.

One of the world’s longest-serving political leaders, Castro ruled Cuba for 49 years after playing a central role in the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. He cut a divisive figure during his lifetime, transforming Cuba into the Western Hemisphere’s first communist country and becoming a thorn in the side of the United States during the Cold War.

Hailed by supporters as a hero who fought for socialist ideals by standing up to the U.S. and the world’s other political giants, Castro was seen by critics as a ruthless dictator guilty of subjecting his people to countless human rights abuses, devastating Cuba’s economy and forcing more than a million Cubans to flee the island. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

Friday, November 25, 2016

First Lady Michelle Obama Welcomes the Official White House Christmas Tree

This year’s White House Christmas Tree, which will be on display in the Blue Room, is a 19 foot Douglas Fir donated by a tree farm in Pennsylvania. The tree will be presented to Mrs. Obama by Dave and Mary Vander Velden of Oconto, Wisconsin, the 2016 winners of the National Christmas Tree Association national tree contest.

West Wing Week: 11/25/16

The Future of the Affordable Care Act

Former Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey (R-NY) discusses possible changes to the Affordable Care Act in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The Trump Administration: Immigration Proposals

Los Angeles Times National Security Correspondent Brian Bennett discusses President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to remove undocumented immigrants from the U.S., a central promise over the course of his campaign. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The Trump Administration Environmental and Energy Policy Agenda

Benjamin Schreiber, climate and energy program director at Friends of the Earth, discusses President-elect Donald Trump’s environmental and energy policy agenda.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

'Flashback Friday': President Eisenhower Address on Little Rock Integration Problem

Executive Order - - Little Rock 1957 - - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Trailblazers in Black History: John Stewart Rock

John Stewart Rock was an American teacher, doctor, dentist, lawyer and abolitionist, historically associated with the coining of the term "black is beautiful" (thought to have originated from a speech he made in 1858, however historical records now indicate he never actually used the specific phrase on that day).

Rock was one of the first African-American men to earn a medical degree. In addition, he was the first Black person to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

President-elect Trump Announces Two Key Staff Members

People Have Donated Millions To Jill Stein's Recount Campaign. Is It Worth It?

By Laura Wagner

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's effort to force general election recounts in certain swing states continues to gain steam — and money.

Stein announced Wednesday she would demand recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and Michigan is still too close to call.

To cover the cost of the recounts, Stein launched a fundraising campaign, which has — so far — raised more than $5 million in less than three days.

Stein's fundraiser website explicitly says the campaign is not an effort to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but to "ensure the integrity of our elections." Clinton has not commented on the efforts. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NPR

K-9 Overdoses on Fentanyl During Police Raid

Trump's Victory Has Fearful Minorities Buying Up Guns

After Donald Trump's win, Yolanda Scott is upgrading the crowbar she keeps in her purse to a small-caliber pistol.

Scott, an African-American, is one of many minorities who have been flocking to gun stores to protect themselves, afraid Trump's victory will incite more hate crimes.

"You feel that racists now feel like they can attack us just because the president is doing it," Earl Curtis, the owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia, told NBC News.

Gun store owners told NBC News that since November 8 they're seeing up to four times as many black and minority customers — and black gun groups are reporting double the normal number of attendees at their meetings since the election. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Judge: Dylann Roof Competent to Stand Trial in Charleston Church Shooting

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The white man charged in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church last year is competent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's decision clears the way for jury selection to restart Monday in the hate-crimes trial of 22-year-old Dylann Roof. 

The judge had delayed the process of narrowing the final jury pool on Nov. 7 when Roof's lawyers suggested their client either didn't understand the charges against him or couldn't properly help them with his defense. The lawyers did not say what led them to question Roof's fitness for trial. 

Click here for the full article. 

Wildfires Spreading in Northern Israel

Wildfires raged across Israel for a third consecutive day, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in what officials described as an act of "arson terrorism." CNN's Oren Liebermann has more.
Source: CNN

Colombia, FARC Rebels Sign Revised Peace Deal

CNN's Isha Sesay talks with journalist Oliver Griffin about the new peace deal between Colombia and FARC rebels. 

Source: CNN

China Recalls Millions of Passports

Millions of people in northwestern China are being ordered to turn in their passports in a move being blasted by human rights groups.
Source: CNN

The Israelis and Palestinians Uniting for Peace

Christiane Amanpour speaks to Shifa al-Qudsi and Chen Alon from Combatants for Peace, a group of Israelis and Palestinians working for peace together. 

Source: CNN

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

President Obama Meets with His Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Team

This morning the President convened members of his national security team to review our comprehensive domestic and international efforts to protect the American people during this holiday season. The President commended the continued cooperation between federal, state, and local authorities to ensure public safety and directed that all agencies maintain vigilance to ensure we are best postured to defend the homeland and prevent attacks by individuals radicalized to violence. The President was also briefed on recent successful military operations against ISIL and al-Qa'ida that targeted key external operations plotters. He instructed the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to maintain our relentless pressure on terrorists seeking to harm Americans. Finally, the President expressed his deep appreciation for U.S. personnel deployed around the world and the countless security personnel standing watch at our borders, ports, and facilities across the nation while their fellow Americans come together for the holidays. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Veep Talk: Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci

The Vice President spoke by phone today with President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci. The Vice President encouraged the leaders to continue negotiations and expressed his confidence in the leaders' ability to secure a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation to the benefit of all Cypriots. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

National Security Council Notes: Japan and the Republic of Korea Sign GSOMIA

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

The United States welcomes the news that the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan have signed a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). This agreement will allow the ROK and Japan, two of our closest allies in the region, to significantly strengthen bilateral, and with us, trilateral cooperation on deterring and defending against the North Korean threat.  The United States will continue to pursue efforts toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, in close coordination with our allies in the Asia Pacific. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

On Thanksgiving Week, Native Americans Are Being Tear-Gassed in North Dakota

By Laura Bassett

WASHINGTON ― Thanksgiving began in the fall of 1621 when a group of Native Americans joined with newly arrived English settlers to create a harvest feast together and protect each other from violence.

This year, as Americans pick out their turkeys and count their blessings, members of the Sioux Nation in Standing Rock, North Dakota, reported being attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in subfreezing temperatures as they protested an oil pipeline that threatens to contaminate their water and disrupt their sacred sites. Approximately 300 Native American and non-native protesters were injured in one 10-hour clash with law enforcement on Sunday evening, according to the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, and 26 were taken to hospitals with severe head and limb wounds, eye trauma, internal bleeding and hypothermia from being doused with water in 22-degree weather.

“Basically, it’s an act of war,” said Frank Sanchez, a delegate from the Yankton Sioux Tribe, in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

Rev. Al Sharpton and NAN to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving Day

Click on the image to increase its size.

Source: Mercury

Jamie McIntyre on Donald Trump's National Security Agenda

Washington Examiner National Security and Defense Reporter Jamie McIntyre discuss President-elect Donald Trump’s national security agenda. He also examines the choice of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to be national security adviser. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Roundtable on Donald Trump's Infrastructure Proposals

Veronique de Rugy, with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, and the Brookings Institution’s Aaron Klein analyze President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposals, as well as the current state of U.S. infrastructure.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

A Song for the Soul: 'For What It's Worth', Buffalo Springfield

'Saving Our Youth': Why Chicago Hasn’t Escaped the Epidemic of Gun Violence

This video was published YouTube on September 7, 2016.  

Source: PBS NewsHour

Voices from the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Trailblazers in Black History: Fats Domino

This video was published on YouTube on December 2, 2013. 

Source: Historic Films Stock Footage Archive

Medal of Freedom Recipients Do Star-Studded Mannequin Challenge

Promising Alzheimer's Drug Doesn't Help Dementia Patients

A once-promising Alzheimer's drug did not help patients remember better or think more clearly, and the company said Wednesday it had dropped plans to market it for people with mild dementia.

The drug, called solanezumab, was designed to clear the brain-clogging amyloid plaques that are one main physical symptom of Alzheimer's. But patients with early dementia due to Alzheimer's didn't seem to get much benefit from the drug, the company that makes it said. 

Click here for the full article. 

Alfre Woodard's New Film 'Knucklehead' Shines Light on Mental Health Issues

43.8 million. That is the number of adults who suffer from mental illness in a given year.

However, only less than half of those people receive help for their mental health condition. When Gbenga Akinnagbe read the script for the feature film "Knucklehead" he couldn't get it out of his head.

Set in Brooklyn, "Knucklehead" is the story of a young man who suffers from a mental disorder and is convinced that prescription drugs can cure him. Although it took years for this movie to come to fruition, Gbenga persisted on bringing his vision to the big screen.

Recognized for his breakout role in HBO's "The Wire," Gbenga stars alongside Emmy Award winner Alfre Woodard who plays his abusive mother. The movie takes an alternate point of view from the eyes of someone who severely suffers from a mental disability. 

Click here for the full article.

Tamir Rice's Mom Speaks out on 2nd Anniversary of Killing

Father of Daughter Injured at Dakota Protest: Police Threw Grenade at Her

A Thanksgiving Message from State Senator James Sanders Jr.

On Thanksgiving, let us pause to remember our blessings - family, friends, food, health, and the gift of living in a free country. I would like to wish everyone a happy, safe and joyous holiday. May you enjoy an abundance of all the wonderful things life has to offer, not only at Thanksgiving, but throughout the year. As always, I am humbled and grateful to be able to serve as your senator.

Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr. 

Senator Ruben Diaz’s Church Invites Families from Local Shelter to Thanksgiving Day Dinner


Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz and the Christian Community Neighborhood Church will celebrate Thanksgiving Day service on November 24, 2016 at 10 a.m. at 1437 Longfellow Avenue (between Jennings and Bryant Avenues) in Bronx County.  

As a  gesture of good will, church members have invited families from one local shelter to attend enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner at 1 p.m.

Senator Reverend Diaz, who presides as Pastor stated: “My Church Members and I delighted the families have accepted our invitation to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner. We look forward to gathering at the table with local families and sharing a warm meal with all present.”

The press is welcome.

For further information, please contact Ann Noonan at (646) 251-6069.

Source: The Office of State
Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz 

NYC Mayor Can’t Say Exactly How He’ll Resist Trump—Or Make Up Lost Federal Dollars


A day after Mayor Bill de Blasio promised legal action to block President-elect Donald Trump‘s proposed Muslim registry plan if implemented, he refused to give specifics on what that action would look like—or how the city would handle a retaliatory cut to federal funding to the New York City Housing Authority, the public hospital system or the NYPD.

At his anti-hate address at Cooper Union yesterday morning, de Blasio vowed that if Trump were to move forward with a proposal to require Muslims to file their personal information with the federal government, he would fight it in court, echoing an assertion he made to the incoming commander-in-chief during a private meeting last week. He also said the city would provided undocumented New Yorkers with lawyers to protect them and their families if the government tries to deport them, and said New Yorkers should keep applying for the municipal identification program because the city won’t turn over their records to Washington. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Observer (via The Empire Report) 

With State Senate in the Balance, One Democrat Plans to Run for City Council


As State Senate Democrats cling to the last vanishing wisps of hope they might gain majority and control the agenda this year, one of their number is preparing to abandon the body and pursue a soon-to-be-vacant seat in the City Council.

Harlem State Senator Bill Perkins revealed to the Observer he intends to run to replace Councilwoman Inez Dickens, who won election to the Assembly earlier this month—a move that could leave Democrats a vital vote short on core issues facing the upper house of the State Legislature. Perkins held that Council seat from 1998 until 2005, and ascended to the State Senate in 2006.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Observer (via The Empire Report) 

Election Surprises Shake Up the 2017 State Legislative Session – with More Shocks to Come

By Jonathan Lentz 

In the spring of 2014, Donald Trump travelled to Albany to join a rally against the SAFE Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s landmark gun control law. Trump, who was being floated as a potential challenger to Cuomo at the time, tore into the governor’s record on energy policy, job creation and combating government corruption. 

“Obviously, we know our country’s not doing so well, our country’s in trouble, but our state, likewise, is doing very, very poorly,” Trump told the cheering crowd. “So I just wanted to be here to support you.”

Two and a half years later, Trump is instead heading to the White House, where he’ll arguably pose an even greater threat to Cuomo and his agenda. As president, Trump will have far more power and influence in Washington, D.C., as well as in Albany and in state capitals all across the country. On the campaign trail, Trump promised the reversal of dozens of policies, laws or regulations, most of them Democratic priorities, that would reverberate around the nation. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: City & State (via The Empire Report)

Six Electors Have Vowed to Cast Ballots Against Their State’s Popular Vote

By Adam Edelman 

At least six electors — members of the Electoral College whose votes actually elect the President — have vowed to cast ballots that don't align with the popular vote results of their states, Politico reported Tuesday.

If they carry out their intentions — in effect, becoming "faithless electors" — they would narrow Donald Trump's margin-of-victory in the Electoral College over Hillary Clinton.

One elector, Michael Baca said in a statement that he wouldn’t vote for Trump.

“The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as the last line of defense, and I think we must do all that we can to ensure that we have a Reasonable Republican candidate who shares our American values,” he said. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Daily News

Election Results May Have Been Hacked in Three Swing States Trump Won

By Leonard Greene

Not so fast.

A prominent group of election lawyers and computer scientists said presidential election results in three swing states that Donald Trump won may have been manipulated or hacked, and are pressing Hillary Clinton to seek a recount, according to a report.

The group held a conference call last week with Clinton's top campaign lieutenants and lobbied for a challenge after finding something fishy in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, according to New York Magazine

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Daily News

Computer Scientists Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results

The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday.
The scientists, among them J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, told the Clinton campaign they believe there is a questionable trend of Clinton performing worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners, according to the source. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Message from President-Elect Donald J. Trump

This video was published on YouTube on November 21, 2016. 

The President-elect shares an update on the Presidential Transition, an outline of some of his policy plans for the first 100 days, and his day one executive actions.

Source: Transition 2017

Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 recipients, including basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Blackfeet tribal community leader Elouise Cobell, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and actors Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of topics, including the presidential transition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran nuclear deal, and Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Defense Department Briefing

Director of Press Operations Captain Jeff Davis briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of military-related topics. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Rudy Giuliani Speaks to Reporters at Trump Tower

Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower about the presidential transition. He declines to discuss if he is interested in being the next director of national intelligence. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Hollywood & Race: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Trailblazers in Black History: Marshall "Major" Taylor

Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor was an American cyclist who won the world 1 mile (1.6 km) track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Taylor was the first African-American cyclist to achieve the level of world champion and only the second Black man to win a world championship in any sport, after Canadian boxer George Dixon. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Percoco, Kaloyeros, Six Others Indicted


Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President and CEO Alain Kaloyeros and six business executives were named in a 14-count indictment that was released Tuesday afternoon.

The indictment adds two charges of wire fraud to the crimes alleged in a Sept. 22 criminal complaint against the same eight men. No additional individuals were named, and the indictment does not reveal that any of the defendants have decided to cooperate with prosecutors.

The new charges aside, the document contains few details that were not revealed in the complaint, which ran past 80 pages and included extensive excerpts from emailed communications traded among many of the defendants.

The indictment — handed up a day before a pushed-back deadline that had been agreed to last month by all parties — lays out what prosecutors describe as two overlapping schemes devised to enrich development companies and the public officials who were doing their bidding. Percoco was joined at the center of the alleged effort by Todd Howe, a lobbyist and consultant who has been a decades=long associate of both Percoco and Cuomo.

The favors allegedly doled out by the state officials included pressure applied to state agencies, a raise for the son of one of the executives who was working for the governor’s office, and details on upcoming contracts that provided a competitive advantage to the firms.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: TimesUnion (via The Empire Report) 

U.K. Foreign Minister: Judge Trump Administration on Actions in Office

Boris Johnson warned fellow British lawmakers against "hostile judgments," saying the U.K. has influence that can "help the United States to see its responsibilities."

Why Donald Trump's Business Dealings Matter

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter. 

You can add another example to the list of actions that President-elect Trump has taken that mixes his business interests with his new office. Just days after defeating Hillary Clinton, Trump told British nationalist politician Nigel Farage to "oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses," the New York Times reported. Soon after the publication of that article last night, Trump suggested that the conversation with Farage wasn't a big deal. "Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!" he tweeted. But here's why Trump's post-election business dealings matter: They could potentially violate the Constitution's little-known Emoluments Clause. 

Click here for the full article. 

'Hail Trump!' Video of Alt-Right Group Celebrating Trump's Victory Spurs Controversy

Sources: Trump Won't Pursue Clinton Investigations

Ohio Prosecutor Will Retry Ex-Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing in Driver's Death

An Ohio prosecutor says he will try again for a murder conviction against a white University of Cincinnati police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist during a 2015 traffic stop.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says he will prosecute since-fired officer Ray Tensing on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, after a Nov. 12 mistrial on those charges because of a hung jury. He also plans to seek a change of venue. 

Click here for the full article. 

BET Founder Robert L. Johnson Pitches Trump Economic Strategies

As President-elect Donald Trump builds his White House team, one of America's most powerful black moguls was among the high-profile names who visited him on Sunday at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The private club, set on nearly 600 acres complete with a helipad, was the setting for a discussion that Robert L. `Bob' Johnson— chairman of The RLJ Companies, and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET)—had with Trump and several members of his inner circle. 

"I've known him for a number of years, and he knew who I was. He's attended BET events in the past and we both have homes in Florida," said the business magnate, who said the sit-down was facilitated via a mutual friend. 

Click here for the full article.