Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mr. President, Apologize to the Families of Daniel Pearl, Chauncey Bailey and Other Slain Journalists

On February 17, the New York Times reported the following: 

"President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.”

"Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks."

From The G-Man is respectfully requesting that President Trump, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer review the videos that have been posted. FTG is also requesting that President Trump issue a public apology to the wives, families, friends and colleagues of slain journalists. 

Mr. President, let the videos and link that have been provided serve as a reminder that journalists in the United States, as well as hundreds abroad, have been and will continue to be killed in their effort to expose the truth.... and preserve and protect freedom of the press. 

On January 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted while working on a story in Karachi, Pakistan.

Additional Murder Charges Expected in Killing of Oakland Journalist Chauncey Bailey

7 Journalists Killed in USA since 1992/Motive Confirmed 

Source for the '7 Journalists Killed' link: Committee to Protect Journalists

Russian Spy Whistleblowers Turn on Putin—But Can They Be Trusted

A husband and wife who were members of the Russian parliament have defected to Ukraine. The Kremlin calls them ‘enemies of the people.’ Enemies of Putin is more like it.

By Anna Nemtsova

KIEV—Only a few months ago Denis Voronenkov and Maria Maksakova were two of the brightest stars in Moscow’s political firmament, trying to improve the system from inside, but very much a part of it. They rode in luxurious cars, dined with the Kremlin’s elite at expensive restaurants, vacationed in Paris and Cannes. Both were members of the Russian parliament, the Duma. He was a colonel in the Russian military—a veteran of the military prosecutor’s office—as well. She, a classic Russian beauty, was a diva at the Mariinsky (Kirov) opera. The couple lived the good life in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But then the system chewed them up and spat them out.

Now they are whistleblowers—defectors hunted by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, who have found asylum in Ukraine. And they say they are ready to open up in court about the inner workings of the Putin establishment.

For the moment, at least, they say they do not know about Russia’s dealings with Donald Trump or his associates, even if the information they supply to the Ukrainians might help indirectly to find out more about the many questions surrounding the new American president and his team and their contacts with Russian intelligence. As intel analysts like to say, building a full picture is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; sometimes the holes can tell you as much as the pieces.

“Americans should realize that Putin and his guys are convinced that he spins the planet with his feet”—like a soccer ball, Voronenkov told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “The FSB cyber forces are quiet powerful globally. Now they do not just listen to you (they listened and recorded all my phone calls for eight years). They also attack other states.”

Col. Voronenkov said he and his wife had no choice but to flee Russia late last year to “defeat the designs of the FSB,” which had begun to investigate them on a number of alleged criminal charges related to a contentious real estate deal. A favorite strategy for silencing suspected troublemakers is to charge them with corruption in a system rife with it.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

Friday, February 17, 2017

Army Formally Ends Study of Disputed Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing

BISMARCK, N.D. — The Army on Friday formally ended further environmental study of the Dakota Access oil pipeline's disputed crossing beneath a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota.

Meanwhile, its Corps of Engineers branch continued efforts to accelerate cleanup at a protest camp near the drilling site that's threatened by spring flooding. 

The Corps launched the study on Jan. 18 in light of concerns from the Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American tribes that a pipeline leak beneath Lake Oahe would pollute drinking water.

President Donald Trump a week later pushed to advance pipeline construction, and the Army gave Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners permission for the crossing on Feb. 8. Work quickly began on the final chunk of construction.

Pope Francis insisted on Wednesday at a U.N. agricultural meeting with representatives of indigenous peoples that indigenous groups must give prior consent to any economic activities affecting their ancestral lands. The key, he said, is squaring economic development with the protection of cultures and territories.

"In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail," he said. "Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

NY Tax Scam Alert! Tax Preparers and HR Professionals Being Targeted

New York tax preparers and human resources professionals are being targeted in new scams aimed at stealing confidential client and employee information after the New York State Tax Department identified at least 37 companies in New York City, the Capital Region, Central New York and Western New York that have been impacted, affecting thousands of taxpayers.

"As technology continues to advance, cyber thieves and scammers are using more and more sophisticated methods to try and steal personal information to defraud hardworking New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "There must be zero tolerance for these schemes and I encourage everyone – especially those in these fields – to remain vigilant and immediately report any suspicious inquiries to state and local authorities."

Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion said, "Now that the income tax filing season is underway, criminals are eager to file bogus claims for tax refunds using stolen personal information. It’s critical that anyone handling someone’s personal information remain mindful of common scam techniques to avoid becoming victims."

Governor Cuomo warned New Yorkers of several scams emerging this tax season, including the following:

Scammers Renew Scheme Targeting Payroll and HR Professionals - Cybercriminals posing as company executives are emailing payroll and HR professionals to request lists of employees and their personal information. This time, the scammers are expanding their reach to other industries, including school districts, tribal organizations, and nonprofits.

These emails may appear legitimate because they contain the name of the company’s chief executive officer. However, if you receive such an email, don’t include any payroll data, such as W-2 forms and Social Security numbers, in a response.

The Tax Department is aware of at least 37 businesses with New York employees that have fallen for this scam and believes more than 5,000 Social Security numbers may have been compromised. The Tax Department is in contact with those businesses and is working with them to protect their employees.

If you’re an employer that has been a victim of this scam and, in response, released any payroll data, such as W-2 information and Social Security numbers, see Guidance for employers affected by a W-2 phishing scam for instructions.

Spear-Phishing Scheme Targeting Practitioners - This scheme is present throughout the tax practitioner community. It’s committed by scammers who represent themselves as or They’re contacting practitioners after they’ve identified which IRS-authorized e-file provider, or Electronic Return Originator, the practitioner uses to transmit returns.

The caller, falsely claiming to work on behalf of the ERO, suggests the need to reinstall or correct problems with the practitioner’s software. The caller asks the practitioner to connect to their website and provide the passcode and access to the practitioner's computer. If the practitioner complies, the scam artist can steal sensitive client information to commit fraud.

An ERO is an e-file provider authorized by the IRS to submit tax returns for processing.

Cybercriminals Pose as Clients to Solicit Services from Tax Professionals - In a nationwide phishing scheme, scammers are targeting tax professionals to obtain their preparer information and prepare fraudulent returns. These scammers typically send tax professionals two emails: in the first, a “client” requests tax preparation assistance; in the second, scammers provide a link or attach a PDF that contains a link that allows them to steal the tax preparer’s email address and password.

If you receive a suspicious email, such as one from an unknown sender, don’t select any links or open any attachments contained in the email. This is the scammer’s entry into your computer, exposing you to malware. This could allow the cybercriminal to capture sensitive information without you even knowing that you’ve been compromised.

Phishing Email with the Subject Line “Mails on Hold!” Targets Tax Professionals
- Some tax professionals have received emails that appear to be from the IRS or the IRS e-Services team with the subject line “Mails on Hold!” These emails may include references to IRS personnel or PTINs, but they aren’t from the IRS.

If you receive an email with this subject line, don’t select any links or open any attachments contained in these emails. Again, this could provide access into your computer, exposing you to malware and leaving private information vulnerable.

Protecting Yourself and Your Clients - Tax professionals must protect their clients’ personal information by only providing it to trusted sources such as the IRS and the NYS Tax Department. This includes shredding documents containing private data before discarding, and filing a client’s tax return early to reduce the timeframe an identity thief would have to claim a fraudulent tax refund using their information.

The NYS Tax Department and the IRS will never make threats over the phone and will never request personal or financial information by email.

Report It - If you’ve been contacted by a scammer posing as an IRS agent, you must contact the IRS. Learn how to report the incident here.

If you’ve been contacted by a con artist claiming to be from the New York State Tax Department, visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage to learn how to report it. The Tax Department promptly reviews each complaint and takes corrective action when appropriate.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

President Trump's Weekly Address

 (Click on the photo to increase its size.)

Vice President Pence Hosts African American
Economic Opportunity Listening Session

On February 16, Vice President Mike Pence, along with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, hosted an African American economic opportunity listening session with small business owners, and community and finance industry leaders. The Vice President underscored President Trump's commitment to remove barriers that hinder entrepreneurship and economic growth. The Vice President emphasized the need to create more access to capital for small businesses, reduce regulatory burdens from Dodd-Frank, expand access to better education via school choice and vocational education, and dedicate more resources to law enforcement to keep our communities safe. Overall, the group discussion focused on ways to empower and revitalize distressed communities through economic development so that all Americans, including African Americans, can improve their quality of life.

The list of participants is as follows:

Walter Davis – Co-founder/Managing Partner, Integrated Capital Strategies

Dr. Dexter Easley – CEO of (DEM) Dexter Easley Ministries, New Life Salon, The Good News Christian Store, and is the Founder and CEO of New Life Christian Academy 

Robert Greene – President & CEO, National Association of Investment Companies
Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins USAF (Ret) – Director, Defense Information Systems Agency and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Networks

Gary Hobbs – CEO of Black and White Investments (BWI)

Jessie Knight – Philanthropist and former EVP of External Affairs for Sempra Energy 

Dan Martin – Owner of Dan Martin Allstate Insurance Agency and Financial Advisor

Doyle Mitchell – President/CEO of Industrial Bank

Bob Woodson – Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

April Ryan: 'I Don't Want to Believe the Worst About Yesterday'

During his Thursday press conference, President Donald Trump asked reporter April Ryan if she would set up a meeting between him and the CBC. Ryan joins Morning Joe to discuss the moment.

Capitol Hill Reacts to Trump’s News Conference

NBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Republicans and Democrats on the Hill their one word reactions to Donald Trump’s news conference on Thursday.

Donald Trump Interview on the 'Central Park Five' (1989)

This video was published on YouTube on November 14, 2016. 

In 1989, five teens were arrested and accused of brutally raping of a woman in Central Park. Real estate mogul Donald Trump took out a full page ad in The New York Times demanding the teens be given the death penalty. The teens were convicted and imprisoned, but they were released after a serial rapist confessed to committing the crime. DNA evidence substantiated his claim. 

In this segment, Trump is questioned about the ad, its tone and the businessman's "rush to judgment" by CNN's Larry King.

'Flashback Friday': JFK Orders Blockade of Soviet Ships Traveling to Cuba

Trailblazers in Black History: Dorothy Dandridge

Bigger Than Basketball: How the NBA is Supporting Social Justice

Anyone watching or attending an NBA game during Black History Month, can see evidence of the league's commitment to celebrating black lives of the past through merchandise, video campaigns and activations in their arenas around the country.

Nonetheless, in light of players' responses to the tragedies that stemmed from tense police-community relations that made national headlines recently, some may wonder what the NBA is doing to honor black lives and show they matter in the present and future. 

Click here for the full article.

Lawsuit: St. Louis County Officer Told to ‘Tone Down’ Gayness

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, a 22-year veteran of the department, also alleges he was passed over for promotions and reassigned after he filed a discrimination complaint in April 2016, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Wildhaber said in the lawsuit that nearly all of his peers were promoted even though he ranked third in promotions tests and received "superior" ratings in all categories in performance reviews.

Click here for the full article.

Mark Zuckerberg Posted a 5,700-Word Letter on the Dangers of Isolationism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reframing his platform — at times a cesspit of political outrage — for the Trump era.
In a long letter on his Facebook page Thursday, Zuckerberg lamented the rise of isolationism and the backlash against globalization. When Facebook first launched in 2004, supporting a more connected, global community was not controversial, he wrote.

Trump’s First Month Has Been Anything But a ‘Fine-Tuned Machine’

The last 24 hours perfectly summed up President Trump's first month in office. In a 77-minute news conference Thursday to voice a series of grievances, Trump declared that his administration was running "like a fine-tuned machine," saying: "I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos! Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine." Then, just a few hours later, the frontrunner to replace his ousted national security adviser declined to take the job.

Folks, that's anything but a fine-tuned machine (though the White House did finally hire a communications director). Indeed, perhaps the best way to describe Trump's first month is with three Cs — conflict, chaos, and constant. The conflict, of course, has involved the courts, the news media, Mexico, Nordstrom, and even Australia. The chaos? Try the travel ban, "alternative facts," and the very slow start to Trump's government. And constant describes how unrelenting the news and Trump's presence has been over the past month. Sure, there have been good moments (the Gorsuch pick, the meetings with business and union leaders). And, yes, all new White Houses have their struggles. But we've never, ever seen a first month like this. 

Click here for the full article.

Susan Rice Calls Donald Trump’s Black Caucus Remarks ‘Offensive’

President Donald Trump's exchange with a black journalist during Thursday's whirlwind press conference has been branded "notably offensive" by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. 

The president was asked by reporter April Ryan whether he planned to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in conversations on his urban agenda.

Ryan, who is White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks in Baltimore, initially referred to the Congressional Black Caucus by its acronym, the CBC, prompting Trump to ask: "Am I going to include who?" 

Click here for the full article. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings on Bill to Investigate Russian Hacking

How to Deliver Vital Aid in Remote DR Congo

By Monica Pinna

The fight for control of natural resources and ethnic conflict in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have created one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises. Access is a key challenge to those trying to manage emergencies. The country’s infrastructure is limited and often under the control of militias. The EU humanitarian air service ECHO Flight brings NGO workers to where help is needed the most.

Click here for the full article/video.

Source: euronews

Sanctions 'Hurt' Russia and the EU, Says Bulgaria President Rumen Radev

Bulgaria’s new president was elected on a wave of discontent. After 10 years in the EU his country is still the poorest in the bloc and considered the most corrupt. Some in the international community are concerned that President Rumen Radev’s mandate could mark a step towards Russia, but the president contends this does not entail a step away from Europe.

To discuss these issues and more Isabelle Kumar spoke with the president at the Presidential Palace in Sofia. 

Click here for video.

Source: euronews. 

Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah Threatens to Hit Israel's Dimona Nuclear Facility

The Leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has reportedly threatened to strike Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor in the south of the country.

In a televised address, Nasrallah claimed the armed group was capable of hitting any strategic target inside Israel, including the atomic facility. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews. 

Tony Blair Urges Britons to ''Rise Up'' Against Brexit

Brexit ‘‘is not inevitable’‘ and can be stopped by the will of the people.

That is the view of former British prime minister Tony Blair who has said he will make it his ‘‘mission’‘ to persuade Britons to ‘‘rise up’‘ and change their minds about leaving the EU.

Speaking in the city of London, Blair accused Theresa May’s government of pursuing ‘‘Brexit at any cost’‘ and insisted it must be challenged.

“Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe and I agree the will of the people should prevail. I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to rethink. But the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so,” Blair said. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews. 

Hundreds of Events Planned Nationwide for Friday's 'General Strike'

Tens of thousands of people across the United States are expected to skip work and attend rallies and marches Friday as part of a "general strike" to "get our democracy back," NBC News reported. 
Strike4Democracy, one of the groups organizing the nationwide event, which is called the "#F17 General Strike," said more than 100 public protests are expected. Event pages on Facebook indicate the potential for high participation: Nearly 20,000 people have responded to the page for a New York City march alone.

Click here for the summary/video.

Source: NBC News 

RCSD to Observe Black Lives Matter at School Day

By Kaci Jones

Rochester City School District (RCSD) will join dozens of other school districts across the county observing Black Lives Matter at School Day on Friday, February 17th. It’s the first time the district will participate.

Chris Widmaier is an instructional coach and science teacher at World of Inquiry School (School #58) and he looks a lot different than the majority of his students.

"As a white teacher I can't relate at all to the experience of being black so my job is to listen to students and their families and understand the bigger picture,” Widmaier said.

According to the most recent demographics, students in RCSD are 59 percent Black, 27 percent Latino, and 10 percent Caucasian. The teachers however are a different story. The district says most of the teachers are white. 

Click here for the full article/video.

Source: News10 WHEC (via The Empire Report)

Congressman Re-Issues Subpoena to Schneiderman for Climate Change Communications

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas reissued a subpoena Thursday for communications between New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office and a host of environmental activists and federal agencies on the subject of climate change.

The move renews a showdown between the two politicians over congressional authority and what Schneiderman’s office views as retribution for its continued pursuit of a fraud investigation into energy giant ExxonMobil.

Smith began demanding access to communications from the A.G.’s office in May of last year, saying that he sought evidence of coordination to “stifle scientific discourse, intimidate private entities and individuals, and deprive them of their First Amendment rights and freedoms.”

Click here for the full article.

Source: Politico (via The Empire Report) 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Congressional Black Caucus Says Trump Ignored Letter Asking for Cooperation

President Donald Trump and members of the Congressional Black Caucus both say they are eager to meet and talk about Trump's pledge to help America's urban centers.

But why that meeting hasn't taken place yet depends on whom you ask.

"I would love to meet with the black caucus, I think it's great," Trump said Thursday when asked by American Urban Radio Networks' White House Correspondent April Ryan if the president planned to speak with the group about his campaign pledge.

A short time later, CBC responded on Twitter saying the White House ignored a letter sent the day before Trump's inauguration.

Click here to read the tweet and full article. 

President Trump News Conference (Full Video)

President Trump announces Alexander Acosta as his new nominee to be Labor secretary following Andrew Puzder’s decision to withdraw his nomination. He also fields questions on a range of issues, including Russia, relations with the press, and taxes.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

President Trump Signs Resolution Rolling Back Coal Mining Waste Regulation

Chance The Rapper: I’m ‘Tired’ Of Chicago Being Seen As A ‘Third World Country’

By Brennan Williams

Chance the Rapper has a few thoughts regarding President Donald Trump’s plans to fix the “horrendous situation” in Chicago.

During a joint interview with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler for ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” the Grammy Award winner responded to Trump’s tweet that he’d “send in the Feds” over the city’s soaring homicide rate ― which he tweeted last month ― by expressing his frustrations with the city’s frequent negative perception.

“I hope he’s coming in to do some type of federal overturn of our state and city budgets in terms of schooling and housing,” he said. “I’m tired of n***as talkin’ about Chicago like it’s a Third World country. Like, that it’s not a place of booming business with a very successful downtown and all types of new development.”

Click here for summary/video. 

Source: The Huffington Post