Friday, February 10, 2017

Russia is Considering Offering Snowden as a 'Gift' to Trump


President Trump's Weekly Address

Veep Talk: Mauricio Macri and Juan Manuel Santos

Vice President Pence spoke by telephone today with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. The two leaders agreed that the United States and Argentina need to redouble their efforts to enhance job creation and economic growth in both countries. The Vice President underscored that Argentina's decision to host the G-20 Summit in 2018 provides a key opportunity to enhance Argentina's role in the global economy. The two leaders committed to maintaining an ongoing conversation on bilateral and hemispheric issues, and the Vice President noted that the President looks forward to speaking with President Macri soon.

Vice President Pence also conducted a phone conversation with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia. The two leaders discussed the important bilateral relationship between the United States and Colombia that has existed for many years, and they pledged to maintain and deepen their cooperation on security issues. The Vice President congratulated President Santos for the initial steps in implementing the Colombian peace accord. The two leaders vowed to remain in close communication on bilateral and regional priorities.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

U.S. Attorney General Sessions Calls Rev. Al Sharpton

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions placed a call to Rev. Al Sharpton, and the two engaged in a candid discussion about Rev. Sharpton's concerns about President Trump's travel ban, voting rights, the Walter Scott case, and the ongoing federal inquiry into the Eric Garner case.  

Rev. Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) opposed the attorney general's nomination, and NAN has made it abundantly clear that it will continue to aggressively pursue justice and criminal justice reform. 

Rev. Sharpton willl provide details on the discussion on February 11, at 9:45 a.m., during a rally at the House of Justice, 106 West 145th Street at Malcolm X Boulevard. 

The event will be broadcast on WLIB AM 1190 and streamed live at

Source: Mercury

Bronx School Lead Levels 16 Times Higher Than Flint, Michigan

‘The Rock’ Joins Misty Copeland in Criticism of Under Armour’s Trump Praise

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has joined ballet dancer Misty Copeland and basketball star Stephen Curry in criticizing Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank in his praise of President Donald Trump.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Plank — whose company sponsors the three stars — said, "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country."

His comments quickly came under fire with some calling for a boycott of the brand.

Referring to Plank's description of Trump as an "asset," NBA star Steph Curry said: "I agree with that description, if you remove the 'et.'"

The Rock posted a message on his Facebook page on Thursday saying Plank's words "were divisive and lacking in perspective." He went on to slam the CEO further, writing, "A good company is not a single person. A good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve."

"Great leaders inspire and galvanize the masses during turbulent times, they don't cause people to divide and disband," Johnson wrote. 

Click here for the full article. 

Oval Office Chat: Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabir Al-Sabah

On February 9, President Trump spoke with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabir Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait. The President reaffirmed the strong defense partnership between the United States and Kuwait and expressed appreciation to Kuwait for hosting U.S. military personnel. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen cooperation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist groups. They exchanged views on mechanisms to address Iran’s malign regional activities. More broadly, both leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening bilateral economic and education cooperation, building on the progress achieved at the 2016 U.S.‑Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact on these and related issues. 

Prime Minister Haider-al-Abadi of Iraq 

February 9 - President Trump also spoke with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq to underscore the support of the United States for the Iraqi people in our shared fight against the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). President Trump emphasized the buildup of the United States military.  President Trump also congratulated Iraqi forces on their recent progress in Mosul, thanked Prime Minister al-Abadi for his leadership, and expressed condolences for the many Iraqi lives lost in the counter-ISIS campaign. The two leaders discussed the strong partnership between the Iraqi and United States militaries, as well as the great sacrifice by both countries.  Both leaders spoke to the threat Iran presents across the entire region. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq grounded in the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Oscar-Nominated Director Ava DuVernay's Provocative Message for President Trump

Source: ABC News

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Blocked by Protesters From Entering DC Public School

Source: ABC News

Cable News Sure Could Talk To More Muslims About The Muslim Ban

The three major U.S. cable news channels rarely invited Muslim guests on air to talk about President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, a new report shows. 

On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order that indefinitely bans Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S., shuts down the whole refugee program for 120 days and bars all immigrants and visitors from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen ― all Muslim-majority countries ― from entering the U.S. 

From Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 ― while heartbreaking stories surfaced of border officials detaining and deporting people or stranding them at airports overseas ― CNN, Fox News and MSNBC invited just 12 Muslims as on-air guests during primetime hours, according to the report from the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters. 

CNN hosted seven Muslim guests, MSNBC hosted two, and Fox News hosted five (all during a single episode of “The First 100 Days”). Two of the guests appeared on programs twice, meaning there were 14 total guest appearances by 12 Muslims.  

Those 14 guest appearances represented a small fraction of the 176 guest appearances on the news networks from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on those five nights, when Trump’s Muslim ban dominated the national conversation. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post 

President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

Swearing-In of HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price

'Flashback Friday': The Negro Sailor

Source: US National Archives

Trailblazers in Black History: 'The Golden Thirteen'

The Golden Thirteen were the thirteen African American enlisted men who became the first African American commissioned and warrant officers in the United States Navy.

Throughout the history of the United States until the end of World War I, the Navy had enlisted African Americans for general service, but they were barred from joining from 1919 to 1932. From 1893 onwards, African Americans could only join the Navy's Messman's and Steward's branches, which not only segregated African Americans from the rest of the Navy community, but also precluded them from becoming commissioned officers.

In June 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order (8802) that prohibited racial discrimination by any government agency. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

White House Rewriting Trump’s Controversial Travel Ban Order: Sources

Still regrouping from a federal appeals court's refusal to reinstate President Trump's controversial ban of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries, White House lawyers are working on a rewrite of his executive order that could pass legal muster, NBC News has learned.

The work began several days before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the White House's bid to lift a temporary restraining order on Trump's plan to bar nationals from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, a senior administration official told NBC.

Trump's legal team still believes it will be eventually proven correct on the merits of the current executive order, the official said. And they are looking into several options, including continuing the court battle as well as signing a new immigration EO "very soon." 

Click here for the full article.

Obama-Aligned Organizing for Action Relaunches for Trump Era

After a long period of withdrawal from the public eye, Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, is ramping back up for the Trump era with a focus on defending the Affordable Care Act and training grassroots organizers, officials tell NBC News.

Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, OFA was likely headed for a wind-down. But with Trump in the White House, the relaunched OFA will claim a spot in the increasingly crowded marketplace of groups looking to fight the new president's agenda.

OFA has hired 14 field organizers in states home to key senators as part of its campaign to defend Obama's signature healthcare law. To run that campaign, the group hired Saumya Narechania -- the former national field director at Enroll America, which worked to sign people up for Obamacare -- and a deputy campaign manager. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

Putin Hails Slovenia’s Offer to Host Summit With Donald Trump

Is a summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin in the offing? Quite possibly.

Slovenia — birthplace of First Lady Melania Trump — offered to host such a meeting in its capital, Ljubljana, and the Kremlin on Friday welcomed the idea.

"I would like to express my gratitude for Slovenia's willingness to organize this meeting," Putin said, according to the Interfax news service. 

Click here for the full article. 

Official: Flynn Discussed Sanctions With Russians Before Taking Office

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn discussed hacking-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador before the Trump administration took office, contrary to the public assertions of Vice President Mike Pence and White House spokesman Sean Spicer, a U.S. intelligence official told NBC News.

The official said he was told there was no quid pro quo and that there has been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal.

But he said he was surprised when Flynn initially denied to the Washington Post, which first reported this 
story, that he discussed the sanctions on Russia with the ambassador. His spokesman later said he didn't recall whether he did, according to the Post. 

Click here for the full article. 

How EU's Vaccine Doubts Are Harming Global Measles Fight

By Chris Harris

Measles is on the rise in parts of Europe amid a trend of high scepticism towards vaccines in some rich countries, research shows.

According to data collected by research group Civio in partnership with Euronews, Germany alone (2,464) had four times as many incidents of the disease as the entire American continent (611) in 2015.

Italy and the United Kingdom both suffered fresh outbreaks of the disease in 2016, official data shows.
Europe is a world leader when it comes to lacking confidence in vaccines.

In France 40 percent of respondents to the Vaccine Confidence Project’s 2016 survey said they didn’t think vaccines are safe, while in Italy, one-in-five of those questioned mistrusted them. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: euronews.

Germany's Merkel Pushes for Faster Deportations of Failed Asylum Seekers

The aim is to get more failed asylum seekers out of Germany – and faster. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors have agreed to push for a stepping up of deportations of those who do not have the right to stay in the country.

State governments are in charge of deportations at the moment, but it has become clear the federal government now wants more of a say.

“We believe this is necessary and we should do this because we want to be able to maintain the ability to help those who are entitled to humanitarian protection, who have also been legally recognised,” said Merkel. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews.

South Africa: Brawls Break Out During Zuma's State of the Nation Address

Brawls have broken out inside South Africa’s parliament after opposition MPs were thrown out of the chamber during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address.

Zuma was repeatedly stopped from speaking by opposition members, notably those from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters Party and its firebrand leader Julius Malema.

Addressing Zuma, Malema said: “Sitting in front of us here is a man who is incorrigible, an incorrigible man. Rotten to the core. And that has been found by the constitutional Court.”

Eventually ordered to leave by the speaker, there were violent scenes as security teams moved in to eject the EFF’s red clad members. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews. 

Le Pen Sets Out Stall as the FN Climbs to First Place in French Presidential Polls

By Robert Hackwill

The frontrunning candidate in France’s May presidential election, the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, has been grilled on TV with her National Front party polling some 25%.

This should ensure she wins the first round and goes into the second. She was questioned on her controversial policy measures. Would she, like the newly-elected Donald Trump, impose a travel ban?  

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews.

Trumps's Potential Ambassador to the EU Calls Out the Bloc's 'Blatant anti-Americanism'

By Emma Beswick

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, US President Donald Trump’s frontrunner to become ambassador to the European Union, has commented in an interview with Associated Press that the bloc is anti-American and that he would prefer for the country to trade bilaterally with European countries.

Click here for video.

Source: euronews. 

France: Catholics Lose Court Case Against 'Extramarital' Dating Website Gleeden

By Sarah Joanne Taylor

A Paris court has ruled against a Catholic group hoping to call to task the Gleeden extra-marital dating site.

The National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations (CNAFC) brought the case against BlackDivine, the start-up and capital venture company supporting Gleeden, claiming that the business model was illegal and anti-social, and in direct violation of the civil code.

BlackDivine criticised what it said was the use of the French justice system to argue a moral point.

During the court case, the Catholic association called for an end to Gleeden’s advertising campaigns, claiming they preached infidelity. It also demanded the cancellation of contracts between the site and its customers.
Initially expected on January 26, the ruling was postponed at the last minute to today (February 9). 
Click here for the full article.
Source: euronews. 

Commentaries from the Community: The Legacy of Fidel Castro

By Raymond Delgado

To some he was a tyrant, a dictator who abused human rights. To others he was a hero who bought equality to many and helped shape a country that was once ruled by racist, capitalist, mobsters and a dictator who had pockets full of Mafia money. He stood up to the most powerful nations of the world. When embargos and blockades were placed on Cuba, he still managed to feed and educate his people while providing medical assistance through one of the world's best healthcare systems. His revolution inspired many across the globe, and his small nation assisted in many wars. He was respected by many world leaders and criticized by others. He inspired young men and women to organize communities in the inner cities of the United States. He was a leader in his own right. Agree with him or not, at one time or another you mentioned his name in conversation. 

Fidel Castro you left a mark on the global community. Whether you were hated or loved, you will always be remembered. 

"Condemn me, it does not matter: history will absolve me."
Raymond Delgado is a New York native who resides in Harlem. In the early 1970​s, he was a sympathizer of "The Young Lords", a Puerto Rican activist group that addressed social and political issues in the community. Having recently retired, he worked in the substance abuse counseling and human services field for many years. He also served as a shop steward in the National Organization of Industrial Trades Union-IUJAT. As the leader of "The Ray Delgado Project", an acclaimed band that performs throughout the five boroughs, he collaborates with local Salsa groups on special events

Brooklyn State Senator 'Would Rather Work With The Party Of Trump' Than His Fellow Democrats

More than two years before a Brooklyn state senator named Jesse Hamilton defected to a conference of breakaway Democrats now infuriating rank-and-file progressives, one of their co-founders considered the move a fait accompli.

“Jesse Hamilton was successful in Brooklyn and Jesse Hamilton will be a member of the IDC,” State Senator Diane Savino predicted at Hamilton’s election night party in September of 2014.

The startling claim, made just after Hamilton triumphed in a Democratic primary, was largely forgotten until he defected from the mainline Democrats last November, bolstering an Independent Democratic Conference that would, by 2016, grow to eight members. Savino, perhaps the IDC’s boldest and brashest defender, was proven correct. The IDC, which has an indefinite power-sharing agreement with the Senate Republican majority, had won again.

But Hamilton, along with two new members of the IDC, made the mistake of joining the conference in the age of President Donald Trump, when New York Democrats are rightfully desperate for novel and meaningful ways to resist Republican incursions. Queens State Senator Jose Peralta, who joined the IDC just last month, was repeatedly heckled at a raucous town hall and is all but guaranteed a primary challenge. Manhattan State Senator Marisol Alcantara, if not yet the target of the type of wrath Peralta endured in Queens, could struggle against a single, strong primary challenge. 

Now Hamilton may get the Peralta treatment. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Village Voice (via The Empire Report)  

Retired New York City Educators are Receiving Average Annual Pensions as High as $88G, Report Shows

By Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY — Newly retired New York City teachers and administrators took home average annual pensions of as much as $87,945 last year, according to a report released Thursday.

The data released by the Empire Center for Public Policy said the average pension payments for all 79,742 retirees in New York City public schools was $43,701 in 2016.

By comparison, the average pension for those who retired with at least 25 years' experience in 2015 — and were paid in 2016 — was $68,796. It was even higher for those with at least 30 years of experience — $87,945.

The largest city school pension in 2016, according to the Empire Center, went to Patricia Filomena, who retired in 2015 and a year later collected $290,686 after accruing 52 years of service credit in a since-closed benefits tier. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Daily News (via The Empire Report)

Sen. DeFrancisco Has 7 Questions for Gov. Cuomo on 'Free' College Tuition (Commentary)

Sen. John A. DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, is the deputy majority leader of the New York State Senate. He represents the 50th Senate District.

By Sen. John A. DeFrancisco

This letter is in response to the Jan. 29, 2017, letter to the editor from Jim Malatras, Director of State Operations for Gov. Andrew Cuomo ("Cuomo aide: Critics of free college tuition plan are wrong"), wherein he claims he "wants to clear up the white noise and false information" aimed at the governor's free college tuition plan. For me, he didn't.

First of all nothing is "free," especially something of the magnitude of a college education. Someone has to pay for it, and in this case, it is obviously the taxpayer who will have to do so. The taxpayer who, in many cases, has already helped pay for the college education of either a child or grandchild, and the taxpayer who is barely getting by, living in a state that leads virtually all other states in its appetite to tax its residents.

The governor claims that this "free" tuition will only cost approximately $160 million. Malatras claims that 900,000 families will be eligible. What? If only one child in one-half the eligible families were to take advantage of the program, each student would receive only some $350. Tuition alone for a four-year SUNY or CUNY college is at least $6,300 per year. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: (via The Empire Report)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oval Office Chat: President Xi Jinping

President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China had a lengthy telephone conversation on Thursday evening. The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our "one China" policy.  Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest. The phone call between President Trump and President Xi was extremely cordial, and both leaders extended best wishes to the people of each other's countries. They also extended invitations to meet in their respective countries. The President and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Halt on Trump Executive Order Remains in Effect, Court Rules

White House Press Briefing

Andrew 'The Ice-Man' Cuomo Helps Rescue Stranded Motorist!

Earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo held storm briefings with senior administration officials in New York City and on Long Island on how powerful weather conditions are impacting the state.

The Governor also stopped to help a stranded motorist on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Hawthorne, NY. 

The latest storm information and updates from the Governor’s Office are available here

Photos of Governor Cuomo helping a stranded motorist on the Sprain Brook Parkway are available here

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

'I Can’t Just Sit and Not Speak Up Against Injustice'

By Shae Harris

I was brought on board to help guide the policies and practices of the District’s criminal justice system. Before I was hired as Policy Advisor, l served as the Deputy Director at the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs where I ran day to day operations. What I learned through my daily interactions with the people directly impacted by the system prepared me to serve as a committed advocate. I see my career as doing what I can to create equal justice for all the residents of D.C., regardless of their zip code.   I want to leave the world a better place than how I inherited it. I have a genuine love for Black people and culture, and because I care about my people, I can’t just sit and not speak up against injustice.

I have cared deeply about these issues since I was a child. When I was home in Columbus, Ohio for Thanksgiving, I came across an old scrap book of mine. In it was an essay I had written in 8th grade when there had been a spike in crime in the city. The schools were being patrolled by police officers, and students had to pass through metal detectors. I described the school-to-prison pipeline before that term was coined and wrote that it was not only discriminatory, but it created an atmosphere that undermined our right to a quality education. That essay won a prize and the experience taught me an important lesson: I had a voice and I could make an impact and a difference.  

Years later, when I was in college in North Carolina, I had a summer internship with the NAACP Washington Bureau. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project, Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums and other leaders. Those conversations were transformative. I walked away from that summer knowing I wanted to change the criminal justice system. I saw that our laws were extremely unjust and led to the disproportionate incarceration of Black and brown people. And when I went home to Ohio, I saw how the collateral consequences of involvement with the system were absolutely destroying the community I was from. So many people I know and love were damaged. The more I learned, the more I knew what my path would be.

My participation in JLUSA’s Leading with Conviction training is yet another step on what I see as my life’s path. Being among other leaders who have been affected by the criminal justice system affirms my purpose and reenergizes me. Having just completed the first training session, I am truly excited about the experience and looking forward to the next one. 

Source: JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA)

Emmett Till’s Family Wants His Murder Case Reopened

By Taryn Finley

It took more than six decades for the lie that led to Emmett Till’s lynching to be exposed. Now, Till’s family is calling for his case to be reopened.

Till, 14, was abducted by two white men in 1955 after 21-year-old Carolyn Donham accused him of making sexual advances at her. Donham’s first husband, J.W. Milam, and his half-brother, Roy Bryant, beat, shot and mutilated Till’s body. He was later found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. 

Milam and and Bryant stood trial for Till’s murder. During the trial, Donham claimed that Till made sexual advances and grabbed her hand. The suspects were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Just months later, the duo admitted to killing Till in a paid interview for Look magazine.

In January, The Blood of Emmett Till was published and revealed that Donham committed perjury. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Huffington Post 

Governor Cuomo Gives Storm Briefing in New York City

Executive Order on a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety



     By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to reduce crime and restore public safety to communities across the Nation, it is hereby ordered as follows:

     Section 1Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to reduce crime in America.  Many communities across the Nation are suffering from high rates of violent crime.  A focus on law and order and the safety and security of the American people requires a commitment to enforcing the law and developing policies that comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.  The Department of Justice shall take the lead on Federal actions to support law enforcement efforts nationwide and to collaborate with State, tribal, and local jurisdictions to restore public safety to all of our communities.

     Sec. 2Task Force.  (a)  In furtherance of the policy described in section 1 of this order, I hereby direct the Attorney General to establish, and to appoint or designate an individual or individuals to chair, a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety (Task Force).  The Attorney General shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide administrative support and funding for the Task Force. 

     (b)  The Attorney General shall determine the characteristics of the Task Force, which shall be composed of individuals appointed or designated by him.

     (c)  The Task Force shall:

(i)    exchange information and ideas among its members that will be useful in developing strategies to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime;

(ii)   based on that exchange of information and ideas, develop strategies to reduce crime;

(iii)  identify deficiencies in existing laws that have made them less effective in reducing crime and propose new legislation that could be enacted to improve public safety and reduce crime;

(iv)   evaluate the availability and adequacy of crime-related data and identify measures that could improve data collection in a manner that will aid in the understanding of crime trends and in the reduction of crime; and

(v)    conduct any other studies and develop any other recommendations as directed by the Attorney General.

     (d)  The Task Force shall meet as required by the Attorney General and shall be dissolved once it has accomplished the objectives set forth in subsection (c) of this section, as determined by the Attorney General.

     (e)  The Task Force shall submit at least one report to the President within 1 year from the date of this order, and a subsequent report at least once per year thereafter while the Task Force remains in existence.  The structure of the report is left to the discretion of the Attorney General.  In its first report to the President and in any subsequent reports, the Task Force shall summarize its findings and recommendations under subsections (c)(ii) through (c)(v) of this section.

     Sec. 3General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

                                 DONALD J. TRUMP
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary