Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male: Miscarriage of Justice

The following was submitted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

In rural Alabama, the men were told they were being treated for rheumatism, bad stomachs, or "bad blood." They were promised free meals and free health care.

They didn't get the health care they needed most.

Hundreds of men — mostly poor, all of them black — were recruited in 1932 for the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. They were never told they were to be the subjects of a secret U.S. Public Health Service experiment. They were never informed that they had been diagnosed with syphilis. And they never received treatment.

Instead, they were "simply being watched until they died and their bodies examined for the ravages of the disease," as DeNeen L. Brown wrote for The Washington Post this week. The study continued for 40 years and ended only when Peter Buxtun, an investigator for the health service, blew the whistle in 1972.

"Their faces were so red; they told me, 'We're learning a lot of important information, and then waited for me to apologize," said Buxtun, recalling his superiors' reactions to his whistleblowing. "But I had copies of the CDC reports, and I knew they were treating people like cattle."

Earlier this week, an SPLC staffer went to Tuskegee to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of President Clinton's apology to the then-eight remaining survivors of the study. "The United States government did something that was wrong — deeply, profoundly, morally wrong," Clinton said. "What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can look you in the eye and say what the United States government did was shameful."

It wasn't the first shameful act of medical injustice the government had perpetrated. Beginning in the 1920s, countless women were forced to undergo sterilization under threat of losing welfare benefits. Some young women, like the Relf sisters of Montgomery, Alabama – just 40 miles from Tuskegee – were simply sterilized without their knowledge or consent.

Minnie Lee Relf was 14 and her sister Mary Alice was 12 when doctors working with a federal welfare agency told their mother that they were going to be given routine shots. Instead, the doctors performed tubal ligations on both girls.

The SPLC sued the federal government in 1972, forcing it to halt the sterilization program and prompting a federal judge to prohibit the use of federal funds for this purpose.

It took a lawsuit to halt the Tuskegee syphilis study, too, even after Buxtun leaked information about it to the press. Fred Gray, the civil rights lawyer who defended Rosa Parks, desegregated Alabama public schools and forced the state to let civil rights activists march from Selma to Montgomery, filed a class action lawsuit in 1973 on behalf of the men who were the study's unwitting participants.

"The federal government thought enough to get pictures [of the participants] as subjects," said Gray, speaking at this week's ceremony in Tuskegee to mark the anniversary of the presidential apology. "It didn't think enough to get their names as men."

Many of the subjects of the syphilis experiment, in fact, remain unknown. The Tuskegee History Center is launching a new initiative to try to identify every man.

"We have to continue to tell their story," said Gray, "so that such injustices never happen again."

You can see some pictures from this week’s ceremony here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

East Village Event: The 41st Annual Saint George Ukrainian Festival

East Village, Manhattan – The annual Saint George Ukrainian Festival in the East Village's "Little Ukraine", featured on the Emmy-winning NYC Media's "Bare Feet" highlight of immigrant cultural life in the City, holds the distinction of being the oldest and largest Ukrainian folk dance festival outside of Ukraine.

The festival routinely draws several thousand down to the East Village every year. The festival has been featured in books such as The Suburbanization of New York as an example of a city festival that "still reflects any sense of place".

This year's festival will run from Friday evening, May 19, through late afternoon Sunday, May 21, with stage performances featuring folk dancing and singing beginning on: May 19 - 6:00 p.m., May 20 - 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and May 21 - 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.

A KidsZone will be active on Saturday and Sunday, with activities for children including Ukrainian art-making stations and face painting.

Tens of thousands of sought-after Ukrainian dumplings have been prepared in advance by church volunteers.  in addition to these 'varenyky', there will also be plenty of cabbage rolls (holubtsi), beet soup (borsch), sausage (kobasa) and sauerkraut for sale. NYC favorite Veselka Restaurant will also be on hand all weekend long with some of their favorite Ukrainian menu items.

The festival will occupy all of East 7th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, bordered at its West end by Taras Shevchenko Place, a small street connecting East 6th and East 7th Streets. In the United States, it is the only such street officially named after Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), the "National Bard of Ukraine".

Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church, located at 30 East 7th Street, was founded in the East Village in 1905. The church has sponsored an annual festival since the very first one in 1976, then officially a co-celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial and 100 years of Ukrainian immigration to America.

Additional information on the customs and origins related to the festival is available through the following links: and

Source: The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

President Trump's Weekly Address

NAACP Chairmen: ‘Today is the First Day of Our Next 100 Years’

When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909, there were a number of undeniably stark realities facing black Americans that the creation of the NAACP sought to overcome.

We worked to create a future in which a black American could walk down a street without the fear of being lynched.

We wanted black Americans to be able to exercise their right to vote efficiently and effectively, without being beaten, jailed or persecuted for doing so.

We dreamt of a world in which black children would be able to receive the same education as their white peers, one that would permit their parents the opportunity to fulfill the great American Dream of leaving the next generation better off than they.

President Trump Denies Pressuring Comey to Halt Russia Probe

Asked by a reporter at a joint news conference with the Colombian leader if he pressured former FBI Director James Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn, President Trump says, "No, no, and no." He then goes on to explain his reasons for Comey's removal, including his performance on the job and how he was viewed by people at the agency. 

Source: C-SPAN

Senator Graham Suggests Russia Probe Now a Criminal Investigation

Senator Lindsey Graham tells reporters that he believes the Russia probe is moving toward becoming a criminal investigation. He makes the comments following a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on the firing of James Comey as FBI director.

Source: C-SPAN

Special Counsel Mueller a Welcome Choice Among Lawmakers

The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says members approve of the choice of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia probe and that he is considered a "straight shooter." Mr. Cummings says it's now time for people to let the process play out, but adds that Congress still has a role to play in the ongoing investigation of Russia's hacking of the 2016 election. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Bye-Bye, Bob Beckel: FOX News Fires Co-Host of 'The Five'


Fox News announced on Friday it has terminated Bob Beckel, co-host of “The Five.”

The network released this statement to Variety: “Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.”

Beckel’s comment has not yet been made public, but TheWrap is reporting that Fox News’ human resources department learned of the incident on Tuesday evening.

After a “thorough” 48-hour investigation, network officials determined Beckel had to go immediately, an unnamed source told TheWrap.

The comments reportedly happened off the air, but Beckel has a long history of making offensive on-air statements since coming to Fox News in 2000.

In July, 2014, he used the racial slur “Chinamen” on live TV, which caused his co-workers to gasp. In January of the same year, Beckel told viewers all Nigerians are scam artists and that Iranians threaten to feed their children to dogs. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

Trump Appoints Hate Group Figures to Voter Fraud Commission

By Ryan Lenz and Stephen Piggott 

In an executive order signed in private, President Trump named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who moonlights as an attorney for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to serve as vice-chair of a commission to review claims of voter fraud, which will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.

The panel will “look at allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation,” The New York Times reported on Thursday. The commission’s formation follows Trump’s false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, costing him the popular vote.

Trump’s action was viewed by civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a vehicle to promote voter ID laws and other restrictions that suppress the votes of minorities and the poor.

As early as October, three weeks before Election Day, Trump questioned the legitimacy of the presidential vote, prompting many far-right extremists to warn of violence if Hillary Clinton were to win. Since then, the president has claimed, without any evidence, that as many as 5 million “illegals” voted.

All available research demonstrates that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Trump’s claims have received no support from experts and little or none even from GOP politicians.

The White House said Kobach will co-chair the commission along with Vice President Mike Pence. Kobach has long advocated for highly restrictive voting laws.

“I’ve followed Kris Kobach’s career for 20 years. He is seriously dangerous, a xenophobic threat to democracy,” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University, tweeted on May 11. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center

'Flashback Friday': Judiciary Committee Vote to Impeach Nixon (1974)

Source: AP Archive

Trailblazers in Black History: Butler R. Wilson

Butler Roland Wilson was an attorney, civil rights activist, and humanitarian based in Boston. Massachusetts. From Georgia, he came to Boston for law school and stayed. For over fifty years, he worked to combat racial discrimination in Massachusetts. 

He was one of the first African-American members of the American Bar Association. Wilson was a founding member and president of the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Protesters Swarm Mayo Hotel in Tulsa After Betty Shelby Verdict

Cosby Trial Gears Up With Jury Selection in Pennsylvania

They call it the "magic question."

When jury selection opens Monday in the Bill Cosby trial, the judge will likely ask the men and women in the pool whether they can set aside anything they've heard about the case and render a verdict based only on the evidence.

The problem, according to one legal scholar, is that people are terrible at judging whether they can be impartial.

"Jurors almost always say yes," said Christopher Robertson, associate dean at Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. "It's an impossible question to ask. It's scientifically junk." 

Click here for the full article. 

Republican Carlos Curbelo Wants You to Know He Called for Impeachment First

As a rule, Republicans don't usually discuss impeaching their own president. But these are not usual times.

One of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, is so intent on getting credit for being the first GOP lawmaker to discuss impeaching President Donald Trump that his office called up Mother Jones magazine and got them add a correction to a recent story.

"Following publication, a spokeswoman for Curbelo contacted Mother Jones to point out that 'Congressman Curbelo was actually the first Republican to mention impeachment,'" reads the correction.

The article originally stated that Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian who often breaks with his party, was the first. Neither congressman has advocated impeaching Trump, but both have noted publicly it is a possible outcome of Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey. 

Click here for the full article. 

President Trump Sets Off On International Trip Amid Domestic Controversies

Rape Charges Dropped Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Roger Ailes’ Death Stirs Some To Mourn, Others To Heap Scorn

British PM Theresa May Pledges to Clamp Down on Soaring CEO Salaries

Source: euronews (in English)

Syria and Russia Condemn US Strikes in Tanf

Source: euronews (in English)

Iranians Vote in Hard-Fought Presidential Election

Russian Foreign Minister Denies Trump Handed Over Classified Information

Source: euronews (in English)

Half The People Awaiting Trial In NYC Jails Are There Because They Can't Afford Bail

New York City is still imprisoning tens of thousands of people each year because they can't afford bail, according to data released today by the city's Independent Budget Office. In addition to exposing people who are presumed innocent to the many hazards of Rikers Island, pretrial detention disrupts people's ability to work, pay rent, and take care of their families, and drastically increases the chances that one will be found guilty of a crime.

On an average day in 2016, the city's pretrial jail population is 7,633—2,157 more are serving short sentences after being convicted—and 52 percent of those pretrial detainees are unable to post bail, according to the IBO data. The remainder were being held without the option of bail, or had other outstanding holds or warrants.

"There really is no good explanation for detaining a poor New York simply because they can’t afford bail," said Joshua Norkin, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society focused on bail reform. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Gothamist

Anthony Weiner to Plead Guilty to Resolve Sexting Inquiry

Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose sexting scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton before the election, is to appear in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Friday to enter a guilty plea.

The information has not been made public but was related by two people who have been briefed on the matter and asked not to be identified.

Mr. Weiner will plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, one of the people said. Mr. Weiner surrendered to the F.B.I. early Friday morning.

The federal authorities have been investigating reports that, beginning in January 2016, Mr. Weiner, then 51, exchanged sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times 

UPDATE: 12:42 PM (EST) - "I Have a Sickness": Weiner Cries While Pleading Guilty to Sexting Teen

AG Schneiderman, Federal Prosecutor Probe Into Controversial Stipends for State Senators

By Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY — The state attorney general's office and a federal prosecutor are both looking into the payouts of thousands of dollars in questionable stipends to state senators who were identified in pay records as committee chairs when they weren't, the Daily News has learned.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office and the U.S. Attorney Eastern District office each have requested documents from state Controller Thomas DiNapoli related to the matter, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

“Both requests happened very rapidly after the news of the payments in question broke,” the source said. 

In order for Schneiderman to launch a criminal investigation, it would need a formal referral from the controller's office. It's unclear whether such a referral was made.

Click here for the full article. 

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

Thousands of Time Warner Cable Customers Flee Spectrum's Higher Prices

Syracuse, N.Y. -- As they get hit with higher prices, legacy Time Warner Cable television customers are dropping Charter Communications' Spectrum brand by the tens of thousands.

Connecticut-based Charter lost 100,000 cable television customers, mostly in the company's legacy Time Warner Cable markets, in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016, according to Charter's latest earnings filing. During the same period in 2016, Charter and Time Warner Cable combined gained 24,000 video customers, it said.

The company attributed the loss to elevated customer "churn" as Time Warner Cable promotional pricing plans, which contained significant discounts, expired and customers were asked to transition to higher-priced Spectrum plans.

"The year-over-year decline in customer relationship ... net additions was primarily the result of elevated churn from legacy TWC historical pricing and packaging," the company said.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: (via The Empire Report)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crutcher Family Speaks After Betty Shelby's Not Guilty Verdict

This video was published on YouTube on May 17, 2017. 

The family and attorneys of Terence Crutcher spoke Wednesday night after a not guilty verdict came down for Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby.

Mayor Bynum, Chief  Jordan Speak Following High Profile Trial 

Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo to Cost $10 Million, WHO Says

A fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will cost $10 million to fight, and it could take months because victims are in such a remote and disrupted part of the country, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

At least 20 people are sick and three have been killed by the virus, WHO officials said. They are the first case — a 39-year-old man — a person who cared for him and a man who drove him on a motorcycle to get help. 

"There are only 20 kilometers (12 miles) of paved roads in this area and virtually no functioning telecommunications," WHO's Dr. Peter Salama told a news conference.

"As of now we do not know the full extent of the outbreak." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

Press Conference: Car Rams Into Pedestrians in NYC’s Times Square, Killing at Least 1

Cuomo, Schneiderman and Becerra Take Legal Action to Protect Health Care Access for Millions

Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today took legal action to protect health care access for millions of Americans - including hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers. Leading a coalition of 16 Attorneys General, Schneiderman and Becerra moved to intervene in the ongoing appeal of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans that undercuts the affordability of health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.
The case, House of Representatives v. Price, is a legal challenge brought by the Republican-majority House of Representatives to block billions of dollars in Affordable Care Act subsidies that reduce co-payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans. These payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, are specifically required by the Affordable Care Act. Experts predict that simply the threat to end this funding could destabilize the healthcare market and increase premiums by as much as 21 percent.
"Every man, woman and child deserves access to affordable health care. As millions of Americans face the prospect of losing their health care coverage, it is critical that we stand together to protect this basic right," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "The actions of the federal government are a direct assault on New York and our values, and we will do everything in our power to stand up to the ultra-conservative agenda and ensure that all New Yorkers continue to receive the affordable, high quality care they deserve."
"No parent should worry if they can afford to take their child to a doctor or hospital," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. "President Trump’s unpredictable behavior and lack of defense of the healthcare coverage of millions of Americans under the ACA threatens to resurrect those fears of every parent. Here in California, more than 5 million people now receive quality, affordable health care, many for the first time. No one wants to return to the days when a child was denied care because of a preexisting condition, when a woman was charged more than a man for the same health care plan, when you needed care the most and found you were capped at your lifetime limit. My fellow attorneys general and I seek to intervene in House v. Price to defend each of these Americans."
"Millions of families across the country - including hundreds of thousands right here in New York - rely on these subsidies for their basic health care. We're talking about people's lives – and for President Trump and the Republicans to use them as pawns in a political game is simply unconscionable," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "No family should have to choose between protecting their child's health and putting a roof over their heads. That's why we're taking legal action now, and I won't stop fighting to protect New Yorkers' right to affordable, quality health care."
The motion to intervene is supported by the affidavits of the New York State Department of Health, which administers the State's Affordable Care Act Exchanges, and the Department of Financial Services, which regulates state insurance markets. Taken together, the affidavits establish the many ways the Trump Administration's failure to pay the cost-sharing reductions will damage insurance markets, disrupt insurance coverage across the state, and negatively impact New York State's ability to offer affordable healthcare to its residents.
Since the inception of the ACA, the number of New Yorkers without health insurance has fallen from 10 percent of the population in 2013 to 5 percent in 2016, a historic low.  In New York alone, the state offered roughly 730,000 residents $900 million in cost-sharing reduction payments in 2017, principally through the Essential Plan, which is administered by the State with the assistance of private insurers.
Over the last several months, the Trump Administration has threatened to stop cost-sharing payments and – along with the Republican-majority House of Representatives – has put the federal government’s appeal of the legal challenge on hold.
The resulting uncertainty in the insurance markets necessitated action by the States, which issue health plans, administer health insurance markets, and approve insurance rates. The Attorneys General are seeking to intervene in this case to protect low-income residents in their states, as well as the States themselves.
The motion to intervene, filed today, was brought on behalf of individual States and was signed by a total of 16 Attorneys General: New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
The motion to intervene argues that the States have a concrete interest in the litigation and that circumstances required action to intervene on appeal. Specifically, the States’ motion argues that the District Court’s ruling, if it stays in place, will result in direct financial loss to some of the States, harm consumers, increase the number of uninsured, create additional uncertainty in the health insurance markets, and cause difficulty for State rate approval processes. The States’ motion further argues that the Administration’s various threats about whether this funding will continue and the President’s own comments show that the States cannot rely on the Administration to defend this funding.

Click here to read the motion to intervene.
In House of Representatives v. Price, the House of Representatives, controlled by a Republican majority, challenged billions of dollars in legally-required payments under the Affordable Care Act.  These payments, which total $9 billion in 2017 and are expected to rise to $16 billion by 2026, are required by the Affordable Care Act to reduce low-income consumers’ co-payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs.
A District Court Judge ruled that the Republican-majority House of Representatives has standing to bring this lawsuit, a ruling that the Obama Administration contested and that the States filing today intend to contest as well. That Court’s ruling allowed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit to occur before the ruling would take effect. That appeal has not yet concluded. The Obama Administration filed its appellate brief in October 2016, but subsequently the Trump Administration and Republican-majority House of Representatives have held the case in abeyance, subject only to status reports to be provided to the Court. The next status report is due later this month.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo