You are browsing the archive for 2018 May 25.

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Trump Says Cops Have a 'Right to Legally Protest' — But Kneeling Black Athletes Should Leave the Country

May 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president is very about whose lives he values and those he doesn't care about.

President Donald Trump endorsed the demands of Chicago police officers in their conflict with the city's mayor in a tweet Friday night, saying they have “have every right to legally protest” — a sentiment seeming to conflict with his push to punish black athletes in the NFL who protest silently during the national anthem.

“Chicago Police have every right to legally protest against the mayor and an administration that just won’t let them do their job,” Trump wrote. “The killings are at a record pace and tough police work, which Chicago will not allow, would bring things back to order fast…the killings must stop!”

In addition to revealing his hypocrisy of Trump's view on the right to protest, the tweet was factually wrong. As Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale noted: “Trump's claim that Chicago homicide is at a record pace is wildly wrong. In fact, it is down 22% from last year. Shootings are down 27%. Police say gun violence has been down year-over-year for 14 consecutive months.”

Just the day before, Trump had attacked the practice of protest, at least as engaged in certain ways and by certain people. 

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing,” Trump said in the interview with Fox News about NFL player's protests on Thursday. “You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump has long opposed the protests of players like Colin Kaepernick, who brought attention to police brutality against black Americans by kneeling during the national anthem. This week, the NFL announced that players could be fined for engaging in these protests, a move Trump cheered.

But when Chicago cops protest Mayor Rahm Emmanuel over contract disputes, Trump apparently has no problem with these protests. 

While some might see a contradiction here, Trump is actually consistent in his own way. He sees cops as the legitimate protectors of Americans against racial minorities. So while the former's protests are praiseworthy, the latter's are condemnable.

As MSNBC's Chris Hayes put it in a recent …read more


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Stephen Miller Tried to Publicize a Lie So Obvious That Anti-Immigrant DHS Secretary Had to Shut It Down

May 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos

It's hard to push this dishonest administration too far, but Miller manages to do it.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, who willingly went to work for Donald Trump’s fact-free administration, is suddenly very concerned about the facts. One alleged interaction reported by The Washington Post included some head-butting with the White House’s No. 2 white supremacist, adviser Stephen Miller, over some anti-immigrant lies he wanted to spread:

When Trump’s advisers were writing a report on terrorism earlier this year, Miller had a suggestion. Language saying that children of foreign-born nationals were more likely than non-foreign-born nationals to commit acts of terrorism should be inserted into the report and the accompanying press materials, according to three people with knowledge of his wishes.

But Miller’s move was opposed by Nielsen and her top aides, these people said. They said such language was not substantiated in fact and that a report would not go out from her agency claiming such.

How truly noble of Nielsen to stand up for “the children of foreign-born nationals,” and clearly, if the administration proposed other reprehensible policies, like tearing children from the arms of “foreign-born nationals” before criminally prosecuting them, Nielsen would surely oppose that as well. Oh, wait:

The Trump administration announced Monday that it is dramatically stepping up prosecutions of those who illegally cross the Southwest border, ramping up a “zero tolerance” policy intended to deter new migrants with the threat of jail sentences and separating immigrant children from their parents.

America’s Voice reported that Nielsen has defended the administration’s shameful policy, and she has also had zero answers about the federal government losing track of 1,500 migrant kids it placed with U.S. sponsors. And now, a semi-sympathetic piece on her has turned up, just as her job could be up in the air. Gimme a break. The only thing Nielsen does seem concerned about is losing her job.

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'I've Done Nothing Wrong': Former Trump Aide with Extensive Ties to Russia Insists There's Nothing to See

May 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“I no more worked for Vladimir Putin than I did Rocky Balboa.”

MIchael Caputo is developing a major business venture with many Russian associates. He has personally entertained Russian President Vladimir Putin. He worked on President Donald Trump's campaign. And he has been intensely interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

And yet, Caputo insists he's done nothing wrong in a new interview with Wired, and he dismisses any suggestion otherwise as pure bias.

To be clear, there doesn't appear to be any conclusive public evidence that Caputo has broken any laws or major norms with regard to American elections or politics, even as other campaign aides have been indicted. In the '90s, he worked under the Clinton administration at the US Agency for International Development in Russia, and he left the country after Putin came into power. 

“I plead guilty to living an interesting life—lock me up,” he told Wired. “But at the end of the day, I’ve told the truth and I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Caputo by himself may not have raised any red flags if he had been a part of any other campaign in 2016. But his extensive connections to Russia have raised questions — and deep suspicions — given Russia's support for Trump in the election and the extensive ties, some of which have been tied to criminal activity, between Trump staffers and the Kremlin.

Caputo has a long history with Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, both of whom appear to be central figures in the Russia investigation, as well.

Mueller's evident interest in Caputo is also noteworthy, though it is certainly not evidence of guilt on its own. Caputo describes being interviewed by the special counsel as a “colonoscopy.”

As far as his ties to Putin go, Caputo describes them as no more than a lark: “I no more worked for Vladimir Putin than I did Rocky Balboa.”

And as Trump's defenders will point out, it's always possible that the ever-growing number of Trump staffers with ties to Russia is merely one giant coincidence. But that is getting harder and harder to believe.


<h3 …read more


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Virginia Republican Congressman Running for Reelection Reportedly Treats Staffers As Personal 'Servants'

May 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos

The troubled campaign is facing a mounting scandal.

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Tom Garrett gave a strange and rambling press conference to tell everyone that he was indeed planning on running for a second term in Virginia’s 5th district. The press conference came after Politico had reported Garrett was considering retiring. On Friday, Politico added another piece of the puzzle to the last few days of strangeness and speculations.

Freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) and his wife turned the congressman’s staff into personal servants, multiple former aides told POLITICO — assigning them tasks from grocery shopping to fetching the congressman’s clothes to caring for their pet dog, all during work hours.

POLITICO has spoken with four former staffers who detailed a deeply dysfunctional office, where the congressman and his wife, Flanna, often demanded that staff run personal errands outside their typical congressional duties. The couple called on staff to pick up groceries, chauffeur Garrett’s daughters to and from his Virginia district, and fetch clothes that the congressman forgot at his Washington apartment. They were even expected to watch and clean up after Sophie, their Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix, the aides said.

The aides seem to say that Rep. Garrett’s wife, Flanna, is a fixture in Rep. Garrett’s office. Aides told Politico they weren’t sure who they were working for; and feared losing their station if they didn’t accommodate even the least professional of requests. According to Politico’s sources, the servitude to the Garretts began slowly: shopping for groceries here and there, picking up clean clothes forgotten at home, those sorts of things. They then graduated to more important political tasks, like taking care of the Garrett’s dog as well as playing uber-drivers to Garrett’s children.

Aides also grew acquainted with the couple’s dog, Sophie, who often came to the office with Garrett and Flanna. Staffers were expected to watch the dog during office hours, and one aide did so over a weekend. Several aides said the couple would sometimes seem to forget the dog was in the office. When that happened, at the end of the day, aides were responsible for transporting it …read more


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Not Quite Back to the Drawing Board with North Korea

May 25, 2018 in Economics

By Eric Gomez

Eric Gomez

Donald Trump withdrew from his upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un
scheduled for June 12th, citing “the tremendous anger and open
hostility” that North Korea displayed in recent days as the reason
for his decision. The end of the summit creates a host of questions
and uncertainties about what happens next for Northeast Asia..
There is ample reason to be pessimistic, but thankfully a war
between the United States and North Korea is not a foregone

Trump and Kim clearly had wildly different expectations about
both the reasons for and the outcomes of the summit. Senior Trump
administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
and National Security Advisor John Bolton, publicly claimed that
“maximum pressure,” had forced Kim to the negotiating table and
called for North Korea to take significant steps towards
denuclearization before receiving any sanctions relief. Kim’s
rhetoric about the summit was very different. Instead of being
forced to the table, Kim felt confident in his nuclear deterrent
and probably viewed the summit as a way to improve the U.S.-North
Korea relationship. North Korean statements did not take
denuclearization off the table, but rather treated it as a
long-term outcome that depended on normalization of relations with
the United States.

Given this vast gulf in expectations there was a good chance
that the summit would have spectacularly failed if it took place as
scheduled. Delaying the summit in order to work out differences and
keep expectations manageable would have been a better decision than
withdrawing from the summit entirely, but withdrawal is still
better than a failure of high-level diplomacy.

While Trump’s decision to cancel the summit doesn’t represent
the worst possible outcome, the current situation has much more
cloud than silver lining. The relative stability of the past few
months could quickly unravel, and whether or not it does will
largely depend on how other actors, especially China and South
Korea, react to Trump’s move.

No Trump-Kim summit is
better than a failed one, but Trump’s decision to pull out of the
summit still carries more risks than benefits.

One of the Trump administration’s major foreign policy
accomplishments in its first year was the broad international
support it was able to get for tightening sanctions against North
Korea. Getting China’s support for UN Security Council sanctions
was especially important given Pyongyang’s economic dependence on

Trump’s decision to pull out of the summit with Kim risks
turning the United States from a marshal of international sanctions
to an “odd man out.” China is unlikely to support new U.S. efforts
to pressure North Korea given Beijing’s own diplomacy push and
growing tension with the United States over trade …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Cosmic Legal Collision: The Engineer vs. the Border Patrol

May 25, 2018 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

For a quarter of a century, Terry Bressi, staff member and chief
engineer for the Spacewatch Project at the University of
Arizona’s Lunar & Planetary Lab, has had two constants in
his life. The first is driving to and from the Kitt Peak National
for work, a part of which involves trying to
identify asteroids that might threaten Earth. The second is having
the federal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents or their
local law enforcement counterparts harass or even arrest him
regularly during those drives on Arizona’s Route 86, the only
viable major road connecting Tucson and the observatory.

Americans living or
passing through these veritable Constitution-free zones remain at
risk of being needlessly detained or even physically assaulted by
federal or local law enforcement agents.

Bressi’s battle against the harassment, arrests, and
related tactics employed at the CBP internal checkpoint on SR 86
has entered its 16th year and a new phase. Recently, Bressi
launched a multi-pronged legal attack against CBP and Arizona local
government entities that represents the first head-on challenge to
the 1976 Supreme Court decision, US v Martinez-Fuerte, that allowed CBP to operate
internal checkpoints.

In that decision, the Court majority ruled that such internal
checkpoints did not violate the Fourth Amendment or require
probable cause for “brief questioning” (not further
defined) of motorists to determine citizenship status, but that
more prolonged stops would require probable cause that a crime had
been committed. Since then, no case involving alleged abuses at the
checkpoints has made it far enough in the federal courts to cause a
reexamination of the fundamental assumptions underpinning the
Martinez-Fuerte decision.

Bressi’s latest lawsuits—one, a federal tort claim against CBP, the other targeting
both Pima County and CBP officials, including a Bivens claim against CBP agents—may
change that. As outlined below, Bressi believes that a DHS grant
program known as Operation Stonegarden provides a financial
incentive for state or local law enforcement agencies to violate
the rights of American motorists. First, some background on
Bressi’s checkpoint-related battles, which he has chronicled
online under the rubrics of Checkpoint USA (CPUSA) and, more
recently, Roadblock Revelations.

The checkpoint stop that triggered his first, decade-plus
confrontation with federal and local law enforcement agents
occurred on Dec. 22, 2002 around 5:00pm. As Bressi approached the
SR 86 checkpoint driving a University of Arizona vehicle, he noted
tribal police from the local Tohono O’odham Reservation were
present, along with Border Patrol and U.S. Customs personnel.

It was the tribal police who began the encounter, as Bressi
noted in a contemporaneous account of …read more

Source: OP-EDS