Thursday, May 25, 2017

Miss Black Texas: I Was Arrested Over 'Color of My Skin'

The winner of Miss Black Texas 2016 says she was harassed and berated by a North Texas police chief who called her a "black b----," and then was unlawfully detained and arrested.  

Carmen Ponder recounted her alleged interaction with Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews in a Twitter post Tuesday. She is calling for police accountability and wants charges filed against Crews. 

In her account, Ponder wrote that she was driving to a Wal-Mart in Commerce Saturday when a black truck cut in front of her car and began driving erratically, braking and accelerating. Ponder said she turned on her blinker, pulled around to pass the truck and then drove into the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Click here for video. 


Trump Paved The Way For Montana Politician’s Body Slam

GOP candidate Greg Gianforte

Donald Trump set a hostile precedent for how to treat journalists during his campaign. 

By Nida Khan

Journalists have long been the target of attacks, harassment, acts of intimidation, arrests and even death around the world. In this country however, most journalists and most Americans for that matter, have been shielded from some of the harsher realities the press faces in other parts of the globe. That all may be changing now – and it’s not a good thing.

Wednesday night, news broke that Guardian’s reporter Ben Jacobs was allegedly body-slammed by House GOP candidate Greg Gianforte on the eve of Montana’s special election. According to Fox News reporters who were in the room when the attack reportedly happened: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” They go on to say that they watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.

Perhaps the most damning part of the entire account is when the eyewitnesses say: “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

Prior to the release of the Fox News account, Gianforte’s office put out a defensive statement which included the following: “Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

This framing of a ‘liberal journalist’ or ‘liberal media’ is nothing new. We’ve heard it time and again from conservative politicians, pundits and the right’s echo chamber for years now (despite the fact that most media isn’t liberal by any stretch of that word). 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

President Trump Participates in the NATO Unveiling of the Article 5 and Berlin Wall Memorials (Full Video)

This video was published on YouTube on May 25, 2017.

2017 Cybersecurity Conference Opening with Ted Koppel

This video was published on YouTube on March 20, 2017. 

Ted Koppel, legendary anchor, journalist, and author of "Lights Out," opens the 2017 Energy Grid Cybersecurity conference. Co-hosted by the Siebel Scholars program and the Siebel Energy Institute, the conference examined the frequency, nature, sources, and potential impact of cyber-attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, with a concentration on the power grid. 

Source: Siebel Scholars

U.S. Warship Sails Within 12 Miles of China-Claimed Reef

Source: Wochit News

Steven Mnuchin Testifies on FY 2018 Budget and Tax Reform

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified before the Senate Finance Committee regarding the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget request for the department, as well as his plans to overhaul the tax code.

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds his weekly briefing with reporters at the Capitol and responds to questions on a range of topics including the CBO score of the American Health Care Act.

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

House Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly briefing with reporters at the U.S. Capitol and fields questions on a range of issues including the CBO score on the American Health Care Act and the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

The President Just Made a Titanic Foreign Policy Shift. The Media Missed It.

By Newt Gingrich 

Newt Gingrich, a Republican from Georgia, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He served as vice chair of the Trump transition team and is the author of the book “Understanding Trump,” which is scheduled to be released in June.

This newspaper’s legendary former publisher, Philip Graham, famously described journalism as the business of writing the “first rough draft of history.” This week, as President Trump gave a historic speech in Saudi Arabia before the leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority nations, journalism’s first draft missed the history almost entirely.

While the media focused on the ephemeral questions — whether the president would use campaign rhetoric in a diplomatic setting, or how the trip would affect the Obama legacy — they largely missed the real drama of the moment: a titanic shift in U.S. foreign policy occurring right before their eyes.

Trump stood before an unprecedented gathering of leaders to do something far more significant than utter a single phrase or undermine his predecessor’s record. He was there to rally the Muslim world, in his words, “to meet history’s great test” — defeating the forces of terrorism and extremism. He did so in a way that no American president ever had before. While extending a hand of friendship to Muslim nations, he also issued them a clear challenge: to take the lead in solving the crisis that has engulfed their region and spread across the planet. “Drive out the terrorists and extremists,” he urged them, or consign your peoples to futures of misery and squalor.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Washington Post

Saving Our Youth: S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth

This video was published on YouTube on December 18, 2013. 


Black Man Found Not Guilty of Crime, Still Sentenced to 7 Years In Prison


In today’s example of how the American justice system treats black bodies, we take a look at Ramad Chatman, a 24-year-old man who was found not guilty by a jury of his peers but will serve seven years in prison because ...

Come on, you know why. Read the first two words of the headline again.

According to The Independent, in 2012 Chatman was convicted of breaking and entering for stealing a television worth $120. It was his first offense, but because he was—again, you know why—Chatman was sentenced to five years’ probation. You read that right. He was 19, and a judge thought it necessary to make him property of the state for half a decade.

During his probation period, court papers show that he paid his restitution, attended every meeting, finished his community service and even kept himself employed.

Unbeknownst to Chatman, he was identified as a suspect in a convenience store robbery in 2014. Although he was on probation, which means that he was required to submit his whereabouts to law-enforcement officials monthly, Chatman was never arrested for the robbery. 

Click here for the full article.


Trailblazers in Black History: Alexander Augusta

Four African-American Mothers File Lawsuit Against Mississippi for Education Equality

The paint on the walls of Raines School in Jackson, Mississippi, is chipped and litters the floor, snakes roam around the playground and only 15 out of the school's 376 students are at grade level for math but Precious Hughes says it's the only option for her 6-year-old kindergartner.

"The school is dark, gloomy and uninviting. It feels like a prison," she said. "Not even the teachers want to show up because the school has nothing, but that's where we live."

Raines School, which is over 99 percent African-American, is part of 19 school districts that got an "F" from the Mississippi State Department of Education.

The other 18 school districts with failing assessments have a majority African-American student populations topping over 81 percent.

The pattern is not coincidental, says the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit watchdog group. 

Click here for the full article. 

Ronald Gray, on Military Death Row, Loses Latest Appeal

A serial rapist and murderer who could be the first inmate put to death by the military in more than 50 years has lost his latest appeal.

Private Ronald Gray asked the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to vacate his death sentence, claiming he was incompetent to stand trial and had ineffective lawyers. He also challenged the whole notion of capital punishment and argued the death penalty is racially biased. 

Click here for the full article. 

Health Care Bill Impact on Premiums, Uninsured, Pre-existing Conditions

WASHINGTON — The GOP health care bill would insure 23 million fewer people than current law after a decade, while potentially impacting many with pre-existing conditions, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The bill would spend $1.1 trillion less on health care and use the savings primarily to finance large tax cuts for high-income earners and medical companies. Overall, it would reduce deficits by $119 billion over ten years.

While some Americans would see lower premiums, CBO concluded that many people with pre-existing conditions would no longer be able to afford insurance and that many who received coverage would pay thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses. 

Click here for the full article. 

Trump Slams NATO Allies: 23 of 28 Nations ‘Still Not Paying’ Fair Share

During a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, President Trump faults NATO allies for not making full contributions to the alliance for common defense measures, especially against terrorism.

Manchester Bombing: Trump Calls Alleged Intel Leaks ‘Deeply Troubling’

President Donald Trump said Thursday that alleged intelligence leaks that have surfaced after the Manchester Arena bombing are "deeply troubling" and has ordered the Justice Department to review who's behind them.

Trump's statement, released by the White House during a summit with world leaders, didn't mention Monday night's terror attack in Manchester by name, but comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would tell her American counterpart that security intelligence must remain tightly held between the longstanding allies. 

Click here for the full article.

Ryan Calls on Gianforte to Apologize for Assault, Says Election Up to Montana Voters

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday called on Republican Greg Gianforte to apologize after he was charged with assaulting a reporter, but said he will leave it up to Montana voters to decide whether they want him to serve in Congress.

"I do not think this is acceptable behavior, but the choice will be made by the people of Montana," Ryan said during a press conference in Washington.

"There is no time when a physical altercations should occur with the press and just between human beings. So that is wrong and it just should not have happened…I think he should apologize."

Click here for the full article.

In a Lonely Corner of Coney Island, a Fight Over Care for the Vulnerable

Life at Oceanview Manor Home for Adults is at the center of the latest court battle involving the New York State Department of Health.

The knifing happened the night of May 2, just inside the “smoking room” at Oceanview Manor, home to dozens of mentally ill adults in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A dispute between two residents had ended with one slashed on the neck and hand. Police officers, regulars at the address off Surf Avenue, soon arrived. The victim was taken to a hospital; the assailant was questioned, and he gave up the knife. No one was arrested.

Emergency responders were back at Oceanview Manor at least five times over the following week. On May 11, the city’s coroners were required when a man was discovered dead in Room 406. The arrival of the medical personnel set off a mix of curiosity and bickering among the home’s residents, some of whom did not like having the weekly movie interrupted. It took several hours before the resident was taken out in a body bag, but information about the death was scarce.

Three days later, shortly after dawn on Mother’s Day, Diane Jenkins, 57, was dead, as well. She had been at the home for just two weeks. Residents barely knew her. None knew how she’d died.

Homes such as Oceanview have been the subject of scandal and promised reform for years. Newspaper exposes and a federal lawsuit nearly two decades ago revealed that the homes, once envisioned as humane alternatives to New York’s troubled psychiatric hospitals, had effectively devolved into places of neglect and misery.

Conditions in some of the largest homes were unsanitary and dangerous. Residents were often exploited by the owners of the for-profit homes as well as by a variety of unscrupulous medical providers eager to bilk government health care programs. People incapable of giving their consent were forced into needless surgery. Podiatrists billed hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing little more than trimming toenails. 

Click here for the full article. 


SUNY Student Assembly Reacts to Federal Budget Proposal

The following was submitted by the Student Assembly of the State University of New York. 

Student leaders from public colleges and universities across New York stand united against the massive cuts to education and research spending in the FY18 executive budget proposal.

The president’s budget proposes cutting Federal Work Study (FWS) by more than half of its current funding. In 2015-16, twelve thousand SUNY student received FWS aid packages at a combined value of $23 million. Additionally, the elimination of the Perkins and subsidized Stafford loan programs would be severely detrimental to the students of the State University of New York and our peers across the nation.

It would also be irresponsible and reckless of the federal government to eliminate the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program. While the Office of Management and Budget justifies cutting PSLF as a program that “unfairly favors some career choices over others,” the Student Assembly strongly opposes this unnecessary reduction and urges bicameral and bipartisan leadership to restore funding to previous levels.

The president’s budget proposes eliminating the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program, support for international education and foreign language education, and the phasing out of the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additionally, the budget calls for an 18% reduction in funding to the National Institutes of Health, a 27-institute consortium that provides crucial biomedical research funding for colleges and universities and is responsible for some of this country’s greatest research breakthroughs.

The Student Assembly implores congressional leaders to reject these harmful cuts in their budget negotiations and hopes that the legislature will restore funding to these crucial programs.

"Cuts of this nature would be detrimental to students across our state and nation," said Student Assembly President and SUNY Trustee Marc J. Cohen. "The administration's attempts to provide even more obstacles to attaining a higher education is reprehensible and the 600,000 students of the State University of New York won't stand for it. I urge congressional leaders in the strongest possible terms to reject the current budget and demand support for our students and our future."

Mark-Viverito Defends Puerto Rican Day Parade, Blaming 'Ultra-Right-Wing' Groups for Controversy


City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Wednesday she disagrees with New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill's decision not to march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and she blamed "ultra-right-wing" forces for trying to "discredit" the event.

O’Neill, along with several law enforcement groups and major corporate sponsors, plans to boycott the event after the parade’s organizing committee announced it would honor Oscar Lopez Rivera — a formerly jailed Puerto Rican nationalist.

“I disagree with the commissioner’s statements and his decision to not march. We can’t re-litigate a case that has already been litigated,” Mark-Viverito told reporters during an unrelated press conference at City Hall. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Politico (via The Empire Report) 

Schumer and Gillibrand Slam Trumpcare After Congressional Budget Office Report


Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand lashed out at the American Healthcare Act—the House GOP’s proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act—on Twitter after independent Congressional Budget Office revealed the act would trim the deficit but could leave millions uninsured.

The CBO found that the iteration of the bill that cleared the House earlier this month would leave fewer people without care and depress individual premium prices more than the version that foundered without a vote in March. The measure’s cuts to Medicaid and elimination of Obamacare subsidies would save the federal government $119 billion between now and 2026, the report found.

But those savings would come at the expense of an additional 23 million people lacking any form of coverage—which Schumer and Gillibrand highlighted on social media.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Observer (via The Empire Report)  

Democrats Seek Unity with Breakaway Pols to Give the Party Control of New York State Senate

By Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY — With the Democratic Party on Tuesday night having again claimed a majority of the state Senate, national Dems are urging warring factions to reconcile to give the party actual control of the chamber.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who is also the Democratic National Committee deputy chairman, and other national progressive leaders called for the mainline state Senate Democrats and nine breakaway Dems aligned with the GOP to unify.

Democrat Brian Benjamin won a special election Tuesday night for a Harlem state Senate seat that gives the party a numerical majority of 32 members in the 63-seat chamber.

"Americans are seeing threats to their health care, fair wages and access to the ballot box," Ellison said. "If this assault is going to be stopped, then Democrats must come together and fight for working people together. That's why I am willing to do whatever might be helpful to bring together a Democratic majority in the New York State Senate.”

Click here for the full article. 

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

Black Officers Feel 'Blackballed' for Taking Buffalo Police Promotions

Six African-American police officers who were promoted by the Buffalo Police Department earlier this year say they've been harassed and "treated like criminals" by their police union and fellow officers for accepting provisional promotions from the commissioner against their union's directive.

Officer Deidre Carswell recalled how excited and honored she felt when the administration offered her a temporary promotion to lieutenant. The police academy instructor said she was proud to participate in the promotion ceremony, attended by the mayor, police commissioner and chiefs. Since then, however, she said she and her five fellow officers have been ostracized by other union members.

"We were blackballed," she said.

In January, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association brought union charges against the six officers who accepted lieutenant and detective promotions. The union had urged its members to reject the promotions because of an ongoing civil service dispute with police administrators. Before then, other officers were provisionally or temporarily promoted without the union objecting.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Buffalo News (via The Empire Report)  

Emotional Call for Unity at Vigil for Manchester Bombing Victims

Source: euronews (in English)

NATO to Stiffen Fight Against ISIL at Summit to Open New HQ and Welcome Donald Trump

Source: euronews (in English)

Philippine Troops Battle Islamists in Besieged City

Source: euronews (in English)

Venezuela Clashes: Prosecutor Accuses Security Officials of 'Excessive Force'

Source: euronews (in English)

Hollywood Mourns Bond Legend Moore

Source: euronews (in English)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The 'I Am Woman' Series: Charlene Diggs, Beckley Police Department

This West Virginia Town Just Welcomed Its First Black Female Cop 

By Zahara Hill

Out of the 53 officers in the Beckley Police Department in West Virginia, Patrolman Charlene Diggs is the only black woman ― and the first to serve in the town’s history. 

Diggs, who is 25 years old, graduated from the State Police Officer training academy in 2016. She told The Register Herald that she always wanted to work within law enforcement in an interview published online Sunday. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post 

Governor Cuomo on the Federal Budget: 'This is the Niagara Falls of Trickle Down Economics'

Source: NYGovCuomo

Arkansas Inmate Who Died in Private Jail Had Civil Rights Violated, Family Claims

When he was alive, Michael Sabbie was a doting stay-at-home dad, who cooked every meal for his children before and after shuffling them to practices and school, his widow Teresa said.

Now, his 13-year-old son has had to take on many of the day-to-day chores his father once managed while Teresa works at a juvenile detention center to provide for her family.

"Without his help, I don't think I could've made it through this," Teresa Sabbie, Michael Sabbie's widow, told NBC News.

Teresa Sabbie said in the two years that have passed since Michael's death, their son has been catapulted into adulthood.

Click here for the full article. 

An Open Letter to the DNC Chair: ‘There’s Too Much at Stake to Ignore Black Women’

Today Black women activists, civic and community leaders, and elected officials penned an open letter to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez calling for a meeting to discuss the state of Black women and the Party. 

Dear Chairman Tom Perez:

Black women have consistently shown up for Democrats as a loyal voting bloc, demonstrating time and again that we are crucial to the protection of progressive policies such as economic security, affordable healthcare and criminal justice reform.

We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic Party for voter mobilization efforts. We have shown how Black women lead, yet the Party's leadership from Washington to the state parties have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections — with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure.

Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are "sick and tired of being sick and tired." 

Click here to read the letter in its entirety. 

Source: NBC News