Friday, May 4, 2018

Trump’s Appointees Pledged Not to Lobby After They Leave. Now They’re Lobbying.

Despite agreeing to five-year bans, at least six former administration officials are registered lobbyists and others are doing similar work without registering.

by Derek Kravitz and Alex Mierjeski

Lobbyists who joined the Trump administration and now want to return to their old trade have a problem: President Trump said they can’t.

Days after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring every political appointee to sign a pledge as a condition of taking office. The appointees agreed not to lobby the agencies they had worked in for five years after they left government service. Nor would they lobby anyone in the White House or political appointees across federal agencies for the duration of the Trump administration.

But never doubt the ingenuity of the Washington swamp class. At least eight former Trump officials have found ways around the so-called ethics pledge.

Using staffing lists compiled for ProPublica’s Trump Town, the first exhaustive database of current political appointees, we found at least 184 people who have left the Trump administration. Of those, at least six former officials are now registered lobbyists and several others work at firms in roles that resemble lobbying in all but name. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: ProPublica

Trump Addresses NRA’s Annual Convention in Dallas

Source: NBC News

Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Point Since 2000

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein on Foreign Corruption

This report was broadcast on May 3. 

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addressed a group of attorneys gathered in Washington, DC for a Lawyers for Civil Justice meeting. He talked about corporate compliance and the rule of law in his keynote address.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

David Horowitz on His Critique of Progressives

The author discusses his latest book and his critique of the American progressive movement.

Click here for video.

Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

Former ACLU President Nadine Strossen talks about her book, Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, which examines the line between hate speech and free speech.

Click here for video.

'Flashback Friday': Skit Shows Giuliani in Drag, Trump Sexually Assaulting Him (2000)

The following excerpt was published on Jezebel's The Slot on October 17, 2016.

More than 15 years ago, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani recorded what was at the time billed as a “comedic skit” but ultimately turned out to be a chilling public service announcement, as more than ten women can now attest. The main takeaway? Let Donald Trump get too close, and he’ll probably try to grope you.

The short video was recorded for the 2000 Mayor’s Inner Circle—a sort of Harvard Lampoon-styled fundraiser put on by the New York City government and the press that covers it, except generally less funny—and features a cross-dressing Giuliani flirting with Trump in a department store.

Click here to read the full article, which was written by Gabrielle Bluestone. 

From The G-Man suspects that the MeToo movement, as well as the women who alleged they were sexually assaulted by Trump, will not find this video amusing.    

Governor Cuomo Advances Bill to Prohibit Offshore Drilling

Earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo advanced the 'Save Our Waters' bill to prohibit the leasing of lands, including underwater lands, for offshore drilling and exploration, and drilling infrastructure, in New York State waters. The Governor's action to protect New York's waters from oil and gas exploration was prompted by the Trump administration's plan to vastly expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

Click here for additional information. 

Source: NYGovCuomo

Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Police Memorial Day Event

Coverage begins at the 10:20 point. 

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Evangelicals Keep Faith in Trump to Advance Religious Agenda

This report was broadcast on May 3.

Source: PBS NewsHour

What to Expect in the Upcoming Florida Primaries

Source: CBS News

War in Yemen: UAE Increases Army Presence in Socotra Island

Kenya Floods: 200,000 Made Homeless by Tana River Surge

Egypt’s Government Targeting Journalists in Media Crackdown

Hope and Disillusion Ahead of Local Elections in Tunisia

Source: FRANCE 24 English

ETA Disbands: Can Spain Heal After Decades of Bloodshed?

Source: FRANCE 24 English

South Africa: Miners Get Historic Lung Disease Payout

This report was published on YouTube on May 3. 

Source: FRANCE 24 English 

Eric Adams Previews Vision for Becoming City’s CEO

“I’m working towards City Hall,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said on Tuesday, explaining during a wide-ranging interview that he has begun planning his run for mayor.

It’s no secret that Adams, 57, who was elected borough president in 2013 and reelected last year, wants to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who will be term-limited out of office at the end of 2021 -- he has made that clear for years. But on Tuesday, during an appearance on the Max & Murphy podcast from Gotham Gazette and City Limits, Adams for the first time publicly offered insight into his vision for running the city and what part of his campaign pitch will be.

“What we’ve been able to do here in Brooklyn, and my perception of where I believe the city needs to go, I think it’s different from all the candidates who are running and thinking about running,” he said, sitting in the vast conference room of Brooklyn Borough Hall.   

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Gotham Gazette (via Empire Report New York)      

Sinclair Preps to Challenge Fox News

By Jason Schwartz

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which for months has denied any interest in challenging Fox News while awaiting approval of a merger with Tribune Co., is gearing up to do just that.

Sinclair executive chairman David Smith has been holding meetings with potential future employees, including former Fox News staff members, and laying out a vision for an evening block of opinion and news programming that would compete with Fox’s top-rated lineup, according to a person familiar with the meetings. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Politico (via Empire Report New York) 

Bail Reform Could Be Coming to New York State

This report was broadcast on May 3. 

Source: WNYT News Channel 13  (via Empire Report new York)

New York Senator Offers Free Computers for Non-Profits

Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) has a very limited amount of computers to donate to non-profit organizations located in his district who are in need.

Your organization must be located within Senator Sanders’ District to apply.

You can check your location here: 

How to Request Free Computers

Requests must be made in writing on your organization’s official letterhead and signed by an officer of the organization.

Your request letter should state your equipment needs and briefly describe the planned use of the computers.

You must include a copy of your organization’s federal tax exemption Letter of Determination, 501(c)(3), with your request.

If the Letter of Determination does not include your Employer Identification Number (EIN), please include your EIN on the request letter.

Requests that do not include the 501(c)(3) and EIN can not be honored.

Be sure your request includes a contact person’s name, phone number and e-mail address, so that we can contact them to confirm your request and obtain any additional information or clarification.

Send your completed request letter and 501(c)(3) to Senator Sanders' Office.

NYS Senator James Sanders Jr.

142-01 Rockaway Boulevard

South Ozone Park, NY 11436

If you have any questions, call 718-523-3069 or 718-327-7017.

Requests will take a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks to process. 

Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

President Trump Attends the National Day of Prayer

Source: The White House

White House Press Briefing

Source: The White House

Report: Women Claim They Warned CBS Managers About Charlie Rose Misconduct

Source: CBS News

Washington Journal: The Asylum Process in the U.S.

Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association talked about the asylum process and the backlog of immigration cases facing the court system.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Dana White Briefs Reporters at the Pentagon

Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White fields questions from reporters on a range of issues confronting the Defense Department.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

Saving Our Youth: Former neo-Nazi Explains His Radicalization

This video was published on YouTube on June 23, 2015. 

How can an average teenager suddenly become a hate-filled white supremacist? Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who has since reformed himself, explained how he was radicalized as a teenager. Picciolini shared his story to CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds. 

Source: CBS Evening News

Trailblazers in Black History: Rev. Albert Cleage, Jr.

This video was published on YouTube on September 22, 2011. 
The documentary celebrates the contributions and life of Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman (Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr.), founder of the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church.

Source: Shrineonline

Cady McClain Presents....The 'Women Direct' Newsletter

Cady McClain's documentary "Seeing is Believing: Women Direct" won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the SOHO International Film Festival in New York City. The short version won a Jury Award in the Best Documentary category at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The following statement was provided by the Emmy-winning actress. 

Hi friends!

Thanks for checking back in to the Women Direct Newsletter! More exciting news to share this month, so lets get right to it!

History was made this month when Victoria Mahoney was named director of the next Star Wars film AND it was announced that Cathy Yan will be the director of the new Harley Quinn spinoff! FEMALES ARE KICKIN' ASS AND TAKING NAMES!

In Seeing is Believing: Women Direct news, we have finished color and sound edit/mix on the new 84 minute version of the documentary and are finalizing our new animations and titles by the amazing Xaviera Lopez (check out some cool GIFS she created below!)

In other news, thanks to Women in Film I was invited to shadow on a commercial being directed by Lucy Walker, who is a terrific filmmaker. It was an honor to be there and watch her in action!

I'm also now volunteering for the Alliance of Women Directors as their festival outreach chairperson. I’m excited to be able to help more film festivals have a connection to the amazing female directors who are members of AWD, and to continue the awesome work that has helped make 2017 a banner year for female filmmakers!

Click here to read the full newsletter. 

Intro and photo source: IMDb  

Africatown and the 21st-Century Stain of Slavery

The descendants of Cudjo Lewis, the final survivor of the last slave ship to land in America, fight for respect and environmental justice.

By Nick Tabor

On a sunny afternoon in April, Joe Womack drove me through the north end of Mobile, Alabama, past several chemical factories. We went down a highway hedged by tall yellow grass and slowed down in front of a power plant, where dark smoke was chuffing out of the highest tower. Womack parked beside a creek; the air as we stepped out smelled faintly noxious.

“This is called Hog Bayou,” he said with a sweep of his arm. He was wearing a Nike T-shirt and wraparound sunglasses. In the 19th century, the area was a dense forest, and the former slaves who lived there gave it that name, Womack said. “You could walk right across the street and kill a deer, kill a hog, catch some fish, and bring them back. You’d have food for a week.” Womack, I’d been told, was the best possible guide for a tour of the waterfront; his family has lived in the area for more than a century, and at age 67, he’s become both a shrewd activist and a repository of neighborhood history. “So according to folklore, this is where the African slave taught the American slave how to live. The Africans hadn’t been slaves for long, and they knew more about being free than being slaves.”

By “the Africans,” he meant the last known group of people brought here to be slaves, in 1860 from modern-day Benin. The slave trade had been illegal by then for half a century, but a Mobile businessman reportedly sponsored a voyage to Africa on a bet that he couldn’t pull it off without being caught. [Read an excerpt from Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston’s 1928 interview with the last living survivor here.] When the Africans were freed, just five years later, they still spoke minimal English and were far less acclimated to American society than native-born slaves. So they took refuge in this area north of town, which was marshy at the time, separated from the Mobile city limits by a swamp. They established an independent society — “the first continuously controlled by blacks, the only one run by Africans,” as the scholar Sylviane Diouf puts it in her 2007 book Dreams of Africa in Alabama — and shared their belongings, built one another’s homes, and governed according to tribal law. Many of their descendants still live there.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: New York Magazine

Ranks of Notorious Hate Group Include Active-Duty Military

A Marine took part in the violent assaults in Charlottesville last summer and later bragged about it online with other members of Atomwaffen, an extremist group preparing for a race war. The involvement of current or former service members — often with sophisticated weapons training — in white supremacist groups has long been a concern.

By A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, Ali Winston, special to ProPublica, and Jake Hanrahan, special to ProPublica

This story was co-published with Frontline PBS.

The 18-year-old, excited by his handiwork at the bloody rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, quickly went online to boast. He used the handle VasillistheGreek.

“Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself,” the young man wrote on Aug. 12, 2017.

Vasillios Pistolis had come to the now infamous Unite the Right rally eager for such violence. He belonged to a white supremacist group known as Atomwaffen Division, a secretive neo-Nazi organization whose members say they are preparing for a coming race war in the U.S. In online chats leading up to the rally, Pistolis had been encouraged to be vicious with any counterprotestors, maybe even sodomize someone with a knife. He’d responded by saying he was prepared to kill someone “if shit goes down.”

One of Pistolis’ victims that weekend was Emily Gorcenski, a data scientist and trans woman from Charlottesville who had shown up to confront the rally’s hundreds of white supremacists. In an online post, Pistolis delighted in how he had “drop kicked” that “tranny” during a violent nighttime march on the campus of the University of Virginia. He also wrote about a blood-soaked flag he’d kept as a memento.

“Not my blood,” he took care to note.

At the end of the weekend that shocked much of the country, Pistolis returned to his everyday life: serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Click here for the full article.

Source: ProPublica 

With Labor and Immigrant Rights Under Attack, May Day Protesters Rally in New York City

Source: Democracy Now!

Top Republicans Concerned About Losing the Senate, But Should They Be?

This report was published on YouTube on May 2.

Source: CBS News

Trump Hires Clinton's Impeachment Lawyer Emmet Flood to Replace Ty Cobb

This report was published on YouTube on May 2.

Source: CBS News

Celebrities Criticize Kanye West's Slavery Comments

Syrian Rebels Surrender Enclave in Northern Homs

US Releases Saudi Guantanamo Prisoner Ahmed al-Darbi

World Press Freedom Day: Afghan Media Defiant After Deadly Attack

Low Expectations for US Trade Visit to China

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Eye on Africa: At Least 80 Killed in Nigeria Suicide Blasts

This report was published on YouTube on May 2. 

Source: FRANCE 24 English 

UPDATE: 2:19 P.M. (EST)

Statement from the White House Press Secretary 

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the craven terrorist attacks Tuesday against a mosque in Mubi, Nigeria. These attacks, which deliberately targeted people at a place of worship, are a stark reminder of the depravity of those who commit mass murder against innocents. As President Donald J. Trump reaffirmed with President Buhari of Nigeria on Monday, the United States stands firm with Nigeria in its fight against the scourge of terrorism. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Abbas anti-Semitism Controversy

Source: euronews.

Explosion at Jewish Festival, 10 Injured

This report was published on YouTube on May 2. 

Multiple people have been injured in an explosion at a Jewish festival in Stamford Hill, north London, according to police.

Source: euronews.

Macron Concerned the US Will U-Turn Over Iran

This report was published on YouTube on May 2. 

Source: euronews.

Mayor de Blasio Makes Announcement About NYC Ferry Service

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sessions Announces DOJ Steps to Address 'Caravan' of Migrants

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new measures to handle asylum cases along the southern border as a "caravan" of migrants has reached the U.S. He stressed that those looking to enter the country must do so "lawfully."

Source: CBS News 

Military Cargo Plane Crashes in Savannah, Georgia

Source: CBS News

Cambridge Analytica Shutting Down After Facebook Data Scandal

Source: CBS News

Class on Online Privacy Teaches Kids the Dangers of Tech

Source: CBS News

State of Emergency Declaration for NYCHA Renewed

Statement from
Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor 

"Today, pursuant to its original terms, Executive Order 180 declaring a state disaster emergency for NYCHA is being renewed. The federal government has conducted a two-year investigation of New York City and its management of the housing authority, which is expected to be resolved shortly. Depending on the conclusion of that investigation, the City may face significant financial penalties and have new management reforms applied to the system. We will conform our Executive Order to the findings of the federal investigation and accommodate any mandated management changes or financial liabilities New York City may face." 

 Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

The Delicate Dance Toward Korean Peace May Have Just Begun

By Charles Armstrong

Last Friday’s historic summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade and only the third since the nation was divided after World War II, was arguably long on symbolism and short on substance. But the symbolism was extraordinary. Kim came to the meeting across the heavily fortified boundary dividing the Korean Peninsula, the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South. He and Moon shook hands at the concrete curb that marked the boundary, and—in an apparently unscripted moment—Kim took Moon’s hand and the two stepped briefly into the North, then back again.

The two leaders’ little unification dance showed the division between two bitter foes as something arbitrary and absurd, a meaningless imaginary line easily crossed and re-crossed. The meeting in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, where peace talks have been held on and off since the Korean War raged in 1951, was the first inter-Korean summit not held in Pyongyang. It was the first summit with North Korea represented by Kim Jong Un and not his father, Kim Jong Il. Perhaps most important, it was the first inter-Korean summit in the era of a nuclear-armed North Korea and an American president willing, even eager, to talk to the North Korean leader.

As for substance, the summit produced a “Panmunjom Declaration” that was the longest and most detailed joint statement the two Koreas have issued in the decades since the first North-South Communiqué of July 4, 1972. Some of it was boilerplate: vague commitments to “a new era of peace,” ceasing “hostile acts” against each other, reducing military tension and confirming the common goal of a “nuclear free Korean Peninsula” without any specific timetable or reference to North Korea’s nuclear program.

At several points, the declaration referred to earlier agreements by which both sides agreed to abide. The agreement reached in the previous summit, in October 2007, was evoked as a basis for economic cooperation. The two sides reaffirmed the Non-Aggression Agreement of December 1991, which precludes each side using force against the other. The declaration’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula evoked an earlier joint declaration on denuclearization signed in January 1992.

But some elements of the Panmunjom Declaration were unprecedented and called for concrete actions to be taken within a defined time frame. Such actions included reunions of separated families by August of this year, high-level military meetings beginning in May and the establishment of liaison offices in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, home to a joint industrial complex established during a thaw in relations in 2002 and shuttered since 2016. Whether or not these specified and near-term goals are realized will be the first test of whether this declaration will have more substance and staying power than earlier ones. The Moon-Kim summit now sets the stage for Kim’s landmark meeting with President Donald Trump, which will presumably take place sometime later this spring.

But the inter-Korean conversation and resulting declaration show that the Korean problem goes much deeper than North Korea’s nuclear program, which has been the focus of much of the world’s attention. North Korea’s rapid advances in nuclear and missile technology, especially since Kim Jong Un came to power at the end of 2011, have been recognized as dangerous and destabilizing even by China, North Korea’s sole ally. Pyongyang’s military ambitions have evoked stringent international sanctions and seemed to be leading the United States and North Korea to the brink of war just a few months ago.

Current tensions on and around the Korean Peninsula have many proximate causes, but ultimately arise out of the division of Korea by the U.S. and the Soviet Union after World War II, and the war that erupted between the two Koreas five years later. The failure of the 1953 armistice to overcome the division of Korea and establish a permanent peace did not just lead to geopolitical stalemate, with a divided peninsula throughout the Cold War and beyond. It also preserved a confrontation between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the U.S. that, as evidenced in late 2017, threatens at any time to break out into catastrophic conflict.

The unfinished war on the Korean Peninsula is indeed a “Cold War relic,” as the Panmunjom Declaration states. So perhaps its most important part was the two Koreas’ agreement to “actively pursue” meetings with the U.S., and possibly China as well, in order to end the Korean War and replace the armistice with a peace treaty that would establish “a permanent and solid peace regime.”

Needless to say, achieving this goal will be complex and difficult, and the three or four parties to any new Korean peace agreement come with diverging interests and aims. But Pyongyang has made it clear that it will not unilaterally disarm as long as it faces the “hostile policy” of the United States. Therefore, North Korean denuclearization is only likely to happen within the context of a broader arrangement that offers North Korea security guarantees it has long demanded. Even if the parties involved agree to such a peace agreement in principle, the details of a deal and the sequence of steps toward reaching it will require a high degree of diplomatic skill and patience.

Critics of the proposed Trump-Kim summit have rightly pointed out that near-term North Korean denuclearization is not in the cards. North Korea under Kim Jong Un has repeatedly said that nuclear weapons are essential to the defense of the state, and that denuclearization cannot come about until after the US has dropped its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang. Depending on how one defines “hostile policy,” which may include US troops stationed in South Korea and US nuclear weapons aimed at the North, it would take considerable time and political will for the US to satisfy North Korea’s demand. It is not entirely clear how the US defines North Korean denuclearization and what it is willing to offer Pyongyang in exchange. It seems that Trump agreed to the meeting without much foresight or planning, unless then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s recently disclosed secret visit to Pyongyang worked out more details than previously known. If Trump expects Kim to immediately offer to give up his nuclear arsenal when they meet, he will be sorely disappointed, and the talks will fail. But if the U.S. approaches denuclearization as the two Koreas have done, as part of a larger and long-term process of peace-building in Northeast Asia, there is a chance that U.S.-North Korea talks will be the start of a long, belated process of unwinding the Korean War.

It took 70 years of confrontation, war and near-war to get to the prospect of a diplomatic breakthrough today, and dismantling these structures of conflict will take time. The delicate dance toward peace may have just begun.

Charles K. Armstrong is the Korea Foundation professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University. He is the former director of Columbia’s Center for Korean Research and former Acting Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. He is the author, editor or co-editor of five books, including most recently “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992” and “The Koreas.”

Deadly Attack Hits Libya's Election Headquarters

China's Foreign Minister Heads to North Korea for Talks

Puerto Rico's May Day Protest Turns Violent Over Austerity Cuts

Can Older Workers Salvage Japan's Pension System?

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Cuomo Signs Legislation to Remove Guns from Domestic Abusers

This video was published on YouTube on May 1. 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York State P-Tech Award Winners Announced

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced six winners in the fourth round of the New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) partnership awards. These newly awarded public-private educational partnerships add to the growing number of New York high school students currently preparing for high-skill jobs in technology, manufacturing and healthcare-related fields. Students will earn an associate degree at no cost to their families and will be first in line for jobs with participating companies when they graduate.

"This nation-leading program is transforming our education system by providing students the tools and experience they need to succeed in the competitive global workforce," Governor Cuomo said. "These P-TECH awards are enabling New York's young, bright minds to develop and grow, and I am proud to support these innovative partnerships as they prepare the next generation of leaders for the opportunities of the future."

"I have visited students who are benefiting from the P-TECH program all over the State, and I have seen firsthand how it changes their view of their own potential," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "As New York's economy continues to grow, the number one concern I hear from employers is the need for more skilled workers. With this latest round of P-TECH Awards, New York is investing in our workforce by preparing high school students for jobs of the future in technology and manufacturing. Providing our students with the resources they need to succeed in the job market is a smart strategy for continued economic progress." 

Click here for the list of winners.

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

Newark to Provide Free Legal Aid for Low-Income Renters Facing Eviction

This video was published on YouTube on April 30. 

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Mayor de Blasio Holds Public Hearing and Signs Intro. 241-B

The video was published on YouTube on April 30.

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Cops Respond to ‘Burglary in Progress’, but Find Black Tenant, Former White House Staffer Moving In

Source: PIX 11 (via Empire Report New York)

Legal Action Taken Against Spectrum Media Company

Statement from Press Secretary Dani Lever 

"The New York State Public Service Commission has commenced legal action against Spectrum Media Company for potential violations of its franchise agreement. The State approved Spectrum's acquisition and its ability to operate in New York based on the fulfillment of certain obligations, including providing broadband access to underserved parts of the State and preserving a qualified workforce. 

 "The Governor believes it is essential that corporations doing business with the State uphold their commitments, and we will not tolerate abusive corporate practices or a failure to deliver service to the people. 

"Large and powerful companies will be held to the same standard as all other businesses in New York. The Spectrum franchise is not a matter of right, but is a license with legal obligations and if those are not fulfilled, that license should be revoked." 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Robert Mueller Questions May Have Been Leaked To Warn Donald Trump, Analyst Says

NBC national security analyst Jeremy Bash tells TODAY that if the questions that special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly has ready for President Trump are “softballs,” they are “of the slow pitch variety,” intended to get the president “into the batter’s box.” He says he doubts the questions were leaked from Muller’s office; instead, he speculates, they may have been leaked as a warning to Trump to be on his guard.

Malaysia Issues First 'Fake News' Conviction

Bangkok, April 30, 2018--In a verdict with grave implications for press freedom, a Malaysian court today handed down the nation's first conviction under its recently enacted "fake news" law, according to press reports.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, a Danish citizen, was sentenced to one week in prison and fined 10,000 ringgit (US$2,500) for posting to the Internet a two-minute video criticizing police's response to the April 21 assassination of a member of the militant group Hamas in Kuala Lumpur.

Click here for the full article. 


Committee to Protect Journalists Joins Call for Russia to Revoke Order Banning Telegram


A coalition of 26 international human rights, media and internet freedom organizations, including CPJ, today called on Russian authorities to revoke a court order that blocks access to the Telegram messaging app.

A Moscow court on April 13, granted a request filed by Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications regulator, to block access to Telegram on the grounds that the company had not complied with a 2017 order to provide decryption keys to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). In the days following the court ruling nearly 20 million Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, including for Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, were ordered to be blocked as Roskomnadzor attempted to restrict access to Telegram, the statement said.

Thousands of people protested in Moscow today in response to the ban and other restrictions on internet freedom, media reported.

As space for independent media shrinks in Russia, Telegram has become a popular way for outlets to communicate with sources and distribute news, and the app is used as a publishing platform for many media outlets and journalists.

Click here for the full article. 


CBS News: Investigation Exposes Abuses in Federal Program for Flood Victims

Toni Morrison: 'Tell New York City Leaders to Fund Libraries'

The following statement was issued today by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. Morrison serves as a New York Public Library Lifetime Trustee. 

The Power of Your Words

My second job as a teenager was shelving books at the only library in Lorain, Ohio. Every shift started with a tall stack of returned books—fiction, history, drama, poetry, everything. It didn't pay much, but it was magical. Then I got fired.

The trouble was that instead of replacing the books on the shelves, I kept reading them. A title would catch my eye, I'd crack the book open for just a quick look, and pretty soon I'd forget the stack of returns. I didn't get far in my career as a librarian, but that experience opened my eyes and shaped my future.

That's what libraries do. Here in New York, libraries connect people to resources that are life-changing. Lifesaving. Citizenship classes, story times for kids, job searches, and so much more.
City Hall is deciding right now on the budget that will go to libraries in the next year. Your help is urgently needed to make sure it's clear just how many of us love and depend on our libraries.

Tell the Mayor and City Council that New Yorkers need libraries and want more public funding for these magical places. 

Words have power. And specifically, your words have power. In the past, your letters have convinced City Hall to invest in libraries—the places where all of us can retreat into a world of learning and books.
Libraries are essential to communities, and no other place comes close. Every week within these walls, children attend story time, immigrants come to ESOL and citizenship classes, job seekers update their skills, and many more discover books that change their lives.
The library staff workers, who are far more dedicated than I was as a teenager, are huge repositories of knowledge. They are also the champions of their communities who make sure the library remains a safe and welcoming space for all who enter.
I wrote to our City leaders because without their funding and support, our libraries cannot afford to continue providing their many vital services and many of our older buildings cannot get the repairs they urgently need.
I can think of no better place for my tax dollars to go than investing in the libraries that make New York City an incredible place to live.
If you feel the same, don't wait. Act. Sign your name.  

Thank you for all your support and for your active citizenship.

Source: The New York Public Library

Mumia Abu-Jamal Case Update: Report from the Courtroom of Judge Leon Tucker

The following assessment was provided by Noelle Hanrahan, a private investigator and the director of Prison Radio. It is based on a hearing that was conducted on April 30, 2018. 

"In its failure to recognize that Ronald Castille played an active role in pursuing the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal the new District Attorney's office headed by Larry Krasner, is failing to do what justice requires.  It is continuing the position of his predecessors, to the satisfaction of the Fraternal Order of Police." Bret Grote, Esq. Abolitionist Law Center Legal Director

Yesterday Tracey Kavanaugh, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to Mumia's case  appeared before the court.  She represented to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker that the District Attorney's Office has conducted an extensive search and still has been unable to find the missing memo from then-DA Ronald Castille in which he sought updates on the status of every capital case from Philadelphia in early 1990. She also made clear that the new District Attorney for Philadelphia (sworn in January 2018), Larry Krasner, has kept the same position as his predecessor: that former District Attorney Castille did not have personal involvement in a critical decision in Abu-Jamal's case, and that the Philadelphia DA's office lead by Krasner opposes the pending Post Conviction Relief Application (PCRA) seeking reinstatement of Abu-Jamal's appellate rights. If these rights were reinstated he would be granted a hearing on whether there was sufficient cause to issue an order for a new trial on his criminal conviction. Mumia has spent 37 years in prison for the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia in 1981, a crime for which he has maintained his innocence.  He is currently serving a life sentence at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA. 

Abu-Jamal's counsel, Sam Spital from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued forcefully in court today that Ronald Castille did in fact make a critical decision in the Abu-Jamal case when he advocated to Governor Robert Casey in 1990, that the Governor should expedite the litigation in all capital cases by signing the death warrants at the soonest possible time.
Castille explicitly asked the Governor to do this in the case of Leslie Beasley, who was convicted of killing a police officer, to show to "all police killers that the death penalty means something in Pennsylvania." Mumia was still on direct appeal when Castille made this policy decision to enlist the Governor's support in expediting the litigation by signing of death warrants, meaning that it was the policy of Castille's office to seek the immediate signing of a death warrant upon completion of Abu-Jamal's appeal.  We know Castille was actively tracking every capital case in his office, including Abu-Jamal's, and vigorously defending the convictions and sentences and pushing for execution of each capital case defendant, including Abu-Jamal.
Counsel for Abu-Jamal are now permitted to take the deposition of former ADA Gaele Barthold McLaughlin, and will file an amended PCRA by July 9. The DA has been ordered to respond to that filing by August 9. The next hearing in this matter is scheduled for August 30 in Judge Tucker's courtroom.