Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rep. Darrell Issa Suggests Trump-Russia Inquiry Needs Special Prosecutor, Not Jeff Sessions


Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said during an interview on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Friday night that the investigation into Russia’s ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the U.S. election hacking needs a special prosecutor ― not Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The conservative congressman, who supported Trump during his 2016 campaign, also seemed to agree with host Bill Maher that Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation.

Maher posed a question to Issa about the FBI’s investigation Trump-Russia by flipping the controversy on its head.

Maher asked Issa if, in 2012, he “would let it slide” had Russians hacked Mitt Romney’s campaign and been in talks with former President Barack Obama’s campaign.

“No,” Issa said quickly. When asked if he’d let it slide in Trump’s administration, Issa said again, just as quickly: “No.” 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Huffington Post

Transgender Woman Shot to Death in Englewood

Second Transgender Woman Killed in Chicago in Less Than Six Months

A 24-year-old transgender woman was shot to death Tuesday morning in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

Family and friends knew her as Tiara Richmond, but she also went by the name Keke Collier, said LaSaia Wade, an advocate for transgender rights with Brave Space Alliance.

Richmond was in a vehicle with a male at 6:14 a.m. in the 7300 block of South May Street when the male fired shots, Chicago Police said. When officers arrived, they found Richmond lying on the ground nearby with gunshot wounds to her chest, arm and hand.

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC 5 Chicago and the Chicago Sun Times

Muhammad Ali Jr. Detained at Airport, Asked About Being Muslim: Lawyer

The son of global boxing legend Muhammad Ali was detained for about two hours on arrival at a Florida airport and questioned about his religion, his lawyer said.

Muhammad Ali Jr. was returning from Montego Bay, Jamaica, with his mother — Ali's first wife, Khalilah — on Feb. 7 when immigration officers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport held him, said Chris Mancini, a former federal prosecutor and a friend of the family.

Like his father, Ali Jr. is Muslim.

Khalilah showed officers a picture of herself with her ex-husband, who died June 3, and she was not detained, Mancini said. But Ali Jr. had no such photo.

"It is a very interesting twist in history," Mancini told NBC News. "His father fought for his religious rights, and now that Trump is president, he has to fight." 

Click here for the full article.

Incarcerated Vets Finding Healing Through Shared Space

President Trump's Weekly Address

CPAC LIVE Stream - Day 3

Friday, February 24, 2017

White House Bars Times and Other News Outlets From Briefing

WASHINGTON — Journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Times

President Trump Delivers Remarks at CPAC

President Trump Signs an Executive Order Involving Federal Regulations

CPAC LIVE Stream - Day 2

President Trump Leads a Listening Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking

This video was published on YouTube on February 23.

A Song for the Soul: War (Edwin Starr)

'Flashback Friday': The Killing of Malcolm X

This video was published on YouTube on April 15, 2015.
On February 21, 1965 bullets ripped through the body of human rights leader Malcolm X. This is the most comprehensive film about the events leading up to his assassination, what steps the assassins took to end his life and the aftermath of the murder trial. Was Malcolm's death the result of his internal conflicts with the Nation of Islam or was there a larger force behind those who pulled the trigger? 

Source: Shareef Nasir

Trailblazers in Black History: Charles Mingus

Bill Cosby Sex Assault Case: Judge Will Let One Other Accuser Testify

A judge ruled Friday that only one of 13 women prosecutors hoped to have testify at the Bill Cosby sex-assault trial — to show a pattern of behavior — can take the stand.

The defense had fought hard to keep all the women out of the case, but the judge decided the jury can hear only from the woman referred to as Prior Alleged Victim Six in court papers.

Wes Oliver, the criminal justice program director at Duquesne University and an NBC News analyst, said the ruling is a victory for Cosby, who could have been damaged by a parade of women telling similar stories under oath.

"It's better than nothing for the prosecution. If you're Bill Cosby, you would rather the number be zero. But this is a game-changer," Oliver said.

"If there are 13 women testifying, it looks like it's part of a real profile for him," he added. "But it's much easier to discredit one than 13." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News  

Policing the Schools: Minority Students More Likely to Be Suspended or Arrested

Araceli Quintero says she was trying to be a peacemaker in her New York high school last year when trouble erupted.

“I was basically trying to help my friend and another girl at school to not fight, because I didn’t want my friend to get suspended,” she told the I-Team.

But when the 18-year-old’s attempts failed, a brawl broke out and she was caught up in the fight. That triggered a 60-day suspension, and a temporary transfer to an alternative school.

Araceli told her story at Make the Road New York, a non-profit group that mentors minority students who have run into trouble at school.

“Predominantly young people of color are the ones who are being suspended,” said Adilka Pimentel, Youth Police Accountability Organizer for Make the Road.

Kesi Foster, a coordinator with another non-profit, the Urban Youth Collaborative, said he sees the same thing with students being arrested.

“There’s still a system that’s very much in place that’s criminalizing their behavior,” he said. “And it has almost intentionally replaced guidance counselors, social workers and supportive help – with prosecutors, police officers and judges.”

The I-Team found minority students are indeed more likely than other students to be suspended or arrested. Along with the NBC News Investigative Unit and the NBC-owned stations, the I-Team analyzed data collected from all public schools in the nation by the U.S. Department of Education.

Click here for the full article.

California Schools Call Police on Black Students with Disabilities Far More Often Than Other Children

A nearly two-year long NBC Bay Area investigation revealed schools call the police on black students and children with disabilities at disproportionately higher rates than their peers. Following the series of Investigative Unit reports, California Assemblywoman Shirley Nash Weber (D-San Diego) is now proposing legislation that would require school districts to define the role and responsibilities of their campus based officers. Bigad Shaban reports on a story that first aired on Feb. 21.

Source: NBC Bay Area

Republicans in Congress Are Still Looking for Direction from Trump

The good news for the Trump White House is that it's experienced its least controversial week over the last few days. Yes, that's a low bar, but there's been no bombshell Russia-related story (though check out the CNN report below), and the president has tweeted less (though there's this one from this morning). But here's the bad news for Team Trump: In this honeymoon phase, the GOP's most significant legislative priorities are, well, in trouble. On Obamacare, former House Speaker John Boehner dropped this truth bomb: "[T]hey'll fix Obamacare. I shouldn't call it repeal and replace because that's not what's going to happen. They're basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it." And on tax reform, President Trump seemed to warm to House Speaker Paul Ryan's plan in a Reuters interview, but those encouraging words from Trump might be a little too late given this solid GOP opposition (see here, here and here). 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

Is Trump’s Tax Plan Actually a Windfall for the Richest Americans?

"We don't really know what the Trump team will propose," said Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "It'll be someplace between Trump's campaign statements and the Ryan-Brady plan."

Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC Thursday the administration was working on "very significant" tax plans it hoped to have ready by Congress's August recess.

He said middle-income tax cuts would be a focus, along with lower taxes and fewer regulations on businesses, but provided little in the way of new details or more clarification about what that would look like for the average American taxpayer. 

Click here for the full article. 

Iraqi Forces Push Into Western Mosul in Battle with ISIL

Iraqi security forces have advanced deeper into the western half of Mosul, a day after launching attacks on several fronts against the self-styled Islamic State’s last main stronghold in the city.

Troops captured the airport on Thursday, an important prize in the battle to end ISIL’s control of territory.

A military spokesman said security forces took over an army base as they pushed further into southwestern districts. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews.

Senior US Officials Get a Frosty Reception in Fiery Mexico

By Catherine Hardy

Two of the US’ most senior officials have been given a frosty reception in Mexico due to a controversy brewing over the deportations of undocumented migrants.

The new US immigration guidelines were likely to top the agenda of meetings in Mexico City attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The visit, which includes meetings with military, financial and interior officials, is focusing on border security, law enforcement and trade, according to the US State Department. 

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews.

Topless Femen Activist Heckles French Far-Right's Marine Le Pen

France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen has been heckled by a topless Femen activist at a news conference intended to outline her views on foreign policy ahead of the presidential election.

The protester managed to chant “Marine, fake feminist” several times before being physically removed from the Paris venue.
It’s not the first time this has happened to Le Pen, a self-styled feminist and the only woman running in the presidential race.

A group of Femen activists also disrupted a speech of hers in May, 2015.

Click here for summary/video.

Source: euronews. 

What is VX, the World's Deadliest Nerve Agent Used by North Korea?

By Pierre Bertrand

Malaysian police revealed they’ve discovered traces of a highly toxic nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who was murdered in Kuala Lumpur earlier in February.

The toxic nerve agent, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), “is the deadliest nerve agent ever created.”

Clear, odourless, tasteless and with the consistency of motor oil, the toxic nerve agent is commonly known under its US military code name “VX”. It is so fast acting, says the CFR, that a known antidote to the toxin would have to be administered “almost immediately to have a chance at survival.”

VX, also known as O-ethyl S-diisopropylaminomethyl methylphosphonothiolate, is 100 times more toxic than the nerve gas Sarin. Sarin, depending on the dosage, can kill within minutes causing convulsions, paralysis and extreme pain. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: euronews. 

Megyn Kelly, Matt Lauer, and the Battle for the Future of NBC

In his high-profile, high-priced hire of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, NBC News chief Andy Lack placed a major bet on star power. But Lack’s biggest, priciest talent, Today’s Matt Lauer, provides something of a cautionary tale. With morning news being one of the last mass television markets, its personalities can draw fire as well as ratings.

By Sarah Ellison

ndy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, is seen by many of his peers as an old-school newsman in the mold of the late Roone Arledge, the famed ABC News president. Arledge played a major role in establishing ABC News as one of the leading evening newscasts in the 1980s and 90s. He did so in part by hiring big names and high-profile talent—for instance, wooing Diane Sawyer away from CBS News, even though ABC already employed the very visible Barbara Walters. Lack is currently on his second tour at NBC. He joined NBC News in 1993, rose to the top of the news division, then left in 2003 to head up Sony Music. He returned in 2015 in the wake of the scandal involving news anchor Brian Williams, who was revealed to have embellished, among other stories, his experience during an incident in Iraq in 2003.

Recently, Lack pulled an Arledge: wooing away Megyn Kelly from Fox News. The move generated a flurry of headlines not only for its audacity but also because it was initially unclear just what Kelly would be doing at NBC. More than anything, the idea seemed to represent an act of faith in what high-profile talent, rather than mission or content, can accomplish: star power as business model. Until her hiring by NBC, Kelly was the wildly successful host of Fox News’s The Kelly File, a political and current-events show on weeknights that was one of the highest-rated cable-news programs in the country. NBC is paying Kelly more than $15 million, far less than the $25 million a year she was offered to stay at Fox. NBC went to her with a blank slate, according to a person close to Kelly. “Everyone else came to her with an idea of what they wanted.” 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Vanity Fair (via The Empire Report)

Hoosick Falls Settlement Vote Delayed

HOOSICK FALLS — The village board decided on Thursday to postpone discussion of a revised settlement with two companies held responsible for polluting the water here with PFOA.

Mayor David Borge said a village trustee had a family health emergency and would not be present at the meeting. That's why he wanted to postpone any action on the $1 million settlement with the two companies, Saint Gobain and Honeywell. 

Residents had gathered in the Hoosick Armory in anticipation of the meeting, with some holding cardboard signs that read, “Deeply Polluted Village, Deeply Flawed Settlement” and “Clean Water Doesn’t Come Cheap.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Politico (via The Empire Report) 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's Office to Grill Mayor de Blasio Over Fund-Raising Probe

By Erin Durkin, Greg B. Smith, John Annese and Denis Slattery

Prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s public corruption unit will sit down Friday with Mayor de Blasio face to face and question him about whether he traded government favors for political donations, sources told the Daily News.

The mayor, who spent hours this week with his lawyers gearing up for the imminent showdown with the feds, requested the Midtown tete-à-tete, City Hall sources said.

De Blasio has been haunted by the shadow of several probes being conducted simultaneously by state and federal authorities into various aspects of his fund-raising and attempts to throw his political weight around.

The feds are focusing on whether de Blasio or his aides used their official standing in City Hall to help out donors in exchange for contributions made either to his 2013 mayoral campaign or his now-defunct nonprofit, law enforcement sources tell the Daily News. 

Click here for the full article. 

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

‘It Won’t Be Long’—Brooklyn Congresswoman Predicts Donald Trump’s Impeachment Is Near


Thursday, February 23, 2017

White House Press Briefing

Oval Office Chat: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

President Trump spoke today with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reiterate America’s strong bilateral cooperation with Canada.  President Trump underscored the importance of America’s relationship with Canada for addressing the problems facing both countries, as well as the opportunities for both countries.  To that end, President Trump emphasized the importance of working closely with Canada on cross-border issues, including implementation of his Administration’s actions to protect America from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals and others.  The two leaders noted their desire to continue building on the countries’ deep partnership, which has been strengthened by their meeting on February 13. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 

The Anti-Semitism of Breitbart Under Stephen Bannon

As President Trump is pressured to substantively respond to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents since his election, a new analysis reveals that Breitbart News under Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon fostered a comment section — a sample of Breitbart’s readership — that increasingly reflected language specific to the white nationalist “alt-right” movement, including anti-Semitic sentiment.

Comparing the language of Breitbart commenters to the language of the most aggressive far-right extremists online — e.g. language used by Twitter users who advocate for violence against minorities and are openly pro-Nazi — we can see a clear trend of increasing similarity over a three-year period, the bulk of it under Bannon. Bannon left Breitbart to join the Trump campaign in mid-August 2016 but the editorial focus of the site stayed the course he set it on. 

Click on the graph to increase its size.

Diving deeper into anti-Semitic sentiment we see a similar trajectory. In early 2013, the term “Jewish” was used in a similar way as “white” or “black” as a racial/ethnic descriptor, which is similar to how "Jewish" is used in the mainstream press. By 2016 on Breitbart, however, “Jewish” had morphed into an epithet, used in similar contexts as “socialist” or “commie.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center 

Bonus report: Trump Adviser Bannon Assails Media at CPAC

New York Takes Action to Combat Hate Crimes and Anti-Semitism

Date of Governor Cuomo's presentation: February 23, 2017

CPAC 2017 LIVE Stream

Source: Right Side Broadcasting

President Trump Leads a Listening Session with Manufacturing CEOs

DNC Race: Jaime Harrison Drops Out, Endorses Tom Perez for Chair

ATLANTA - Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, dropped out of the race for Democratic National Committee chairman to endorse front-runner Tom Perez Thursday, potentially putting victory within the former labor secretary's reach.

Harrison announced his move on MSNBC and in an email to DNC members.

 "Tom and I have dedicated our careers to helping people through public service," Harrison said in the email. "With so much at stake, our next Chair will lead the fight of a generation. We must all fight side by side. I'm standing by Tom Perez's side, and I hope you will join me in doing the same."

Harrison was said to have had the third largest number of votes committed to him in a crowded field of eight candidates, and he could bring as many as 20 votes into Perez' column, according to a source familiar with the situation.

That might be enough to put Perez over the top on the first round of voting Saturday in his struggle against his closest rival, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

Cuomo Issues Directive: School Districts Must Protect Transgender Students

Statement from the Governor 

“As the federal government seeks to roll back the progress we have achieved toward equality, we in New York will never stop fighting to ensure the LBGTQ community and all Americans are afforded the equal protections guaranteed to them by the United States constitution.

“The misguided action taken by the federal government last night runs contrary to the New York Promise of individual freedoms. With the stroke of a pen, they seek to move this country backwards.

“Today, I am urging the State Education Department to issue a directive to all school districts making it clear that – regardless of Washington's action – the rights and protections that had been extended to all students in New York remain unchanged under state law.

“In New York, whether you are gay, straight or transgender, Muslim, Jewish or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people – and we will continue to enforce our laws and stand united against those who seek to drive us apart.”

​The Governor issued the following letter to the State Education Department: 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew Cuomo 

Denzel Washington and Constanza Romero Wilson Discuss "Fences" and the Brilliance of August Wilson

This video was published on YouTube on January 28, 2017. 

Air Date:: 01/16/2017

A look at the film adaptation of August Wilson's 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Fences," with the film's producer and star, Denzel Washington, and Constanza Romero Wilson, the wife of August Wilson. 

Source: tv guidetrap

Saving Our Youth: The SAVE Organization

Through a cadre of volunteers and the resourcefulness of student members, SAVE chapters are growing and making a positive difference across the nation.  SAVE is a unique and powerful approach to youth safety because it recognizes the role that young people can take in making schools and communities safer.   Because SAVE chapters are established and operated by students, the opportunity to spread the message of nonviolence to young people and their communities is enhanced when SAVE chapters exist.  Focusing on crime prevention, conflict management and service projects, SAVE students are providing positive peer influences in violence prevention efforts. 

Click here for additional information. 


Rev. Al Sharpton to Speak at the New School

National civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton will discuss key issues impacting civil rights, economic and social justice and criminal justice reform at The New School on February 28 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be hosted by Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President, and Henry Cohen, Professor at The New School.

As an internationally renowned civil rights leader, activist, and founder of National Action Network (NAN), Rev. Al Sharpton has dedicated his life to the fight for justice and equality.  For decades, he has turned the power of dissent and protest into tangible legislation impacting the lives of ordinary people.  As former President Barack Obama once stated, Rev. Sharpton is a “voice for the voiceless” and a “champion for the downtrodden”. As head of NAN, which currently operates hundreds of chapters across the country including a Washington, D.C. bureau and headquarters in Harlem, NY, Rev. Sharpton has taken the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and applied them to a modern civil rights agenda.  He has been a tireless advocate for everything from police reform and accountability to protection of voting rights and education equality.  A 2016 Vanity Fair profile described him as “arguably the country’s most influential civil rights leader.” 

The event will be hosted by Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President and the Henry Cohen Professor of Urban Policy and Management at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. Under her leadership, The New School and key constituencies are advancing the university’s social justice agenda both inside and outside of the university. Wiley’s role as Senior Vice President of Social Justice dovetails with her position as the Henry Cohen Professor of Urban Policy and Management. As a teacher, Wiley will provide a new generation of leaders with the educational and practical training to tackle pressing issues related to social justice. She will also work to initiate public policy discourses with outside partners such as governments, businesses, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. “They’re separate roles, but there’s a lot of interaction between them,” Wiley says. Wiley’s appointments mark the latest turn in a career defined by social advocacy. A civil rights attorney and policy advocate, she has litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the United States and in South Africa.

The New School’s Henry Cohen Lecture Series has been devoted to advancing social equity in America. This year, the series will examine how we can advance political, social and economic inclusion in the context of a Trump Presidency.  The series has a long tradition of bringing together the best minds to examine how policy efforts manifest over time as political and social environments change. The series is named after Henry Cohen, the founding dean of the Milano School, who served in that position from 1965 through 1983.

Doors open at 6 p.m. 

Source: Mercury