Tuesday, January 24, 2017

News and opinions in brief

In Trump's America, 'Felony Riot' Charges Against Inauguration Protesters Signal Dangerous Wave of Repression

More than 200 people mass arrested in Washington, D.C. facing up to 10 years in prison.

By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet January 22, 2017

More than 200 people who were mass-arrested at the Washington, D.C. protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump have been hit with felony riot charges that are punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Those picked up in the sweep—including legal observers and journalists—had their phones, cameras and other personal belongings confiscated as evidence, a lawyer confirmed to AlterNet.

Demonstrators warn that the crackdown signals a new wave of repression against the protesters, whose mass mobilization was met with riot police violence, National Guard and Department of Homeland Security deployments, heavy surveillance and law enforcement snipers positioned on rooftops.

“These charges are absolutely horrifying. They are just trying to stop any resistance to the Trump administration,” Samantha Miller, an organizer with the Disrupt J20 Collective, told AlterNet. “Many of these demonstrators were showing rage and fear of what’s coming. It’s going to take a lot more than asking nicely to create change and stop the threats from the Trump administration.”

The vast majority of the roughly 230 people who were kettled and mass-arrested at the anti-capitalist bloc during Friday’s protests have been charged under the felony riot act, said Mark Goldstone, a National Lawyers Guild-affiliated attorney who has defended protesters in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years. Washington, D.C. authorities put this number at 217. Goldstone confirmed to AlterNet that legal observers and journalists were among those detained in the sweep, explaining that, throughout his career in Washington, D.C., he has never seen mass charges of this kind.

Jeffrey Light, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who provided legal support to the Disrupt J20 Collective, agreed with this assessment. “I have been representing protesters for 13 years now, and I have never seen felony rioting charges in Washington, D.C. It is not one of the standard laws that they tend to use. This is unusual. It is rare to use that charge.”

“Across the board, all phones and cameras are being held as evidence, and they are also detaining gloves and cell phone chargers as evidence,” said Light. “They are giving people their wallets back generally, but that’s it. It is extremely troubling.”

According to a class-action lawsuit filed by Light on Friday, those picked up in the sweep and hit with felony riot charges already endured abuse at the hands of the police. “Our class action lawsuit charges that the police were rounding up everyone on the street without warning and putting them under arrest and using excessive force,” said Light. “There were a number of weapons we haven't seen Washington, D.C. police use in recent memory, flash bang grenades and tear gas. In addition to chemical irritants, they were assaulting people with batons. They were beating people.”

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Lawsuit against Trump's foreign payments was filed Monday

Rss@dailykos.com (laura Clawson) · Sunday, January 22, 2017, 6:56 pm

The first of what’s likely to be a slew of lawsuits over Donald Trump’s massive conflicts of interest between his job as president and his lifelong first priority of personal profit will be filed on Monday:

The suit, which will not seek any monetary damages, will ask a federal court in New York to order Mr. Trump to stop taking payments from foreign government entities. Such payments, it says, include those from patrons at Trump hotels and golf courses, as well as loans for his office buildings from certain banks controlled by foreign governments, and leases with tenants like Qatar Airways, a government enterprise.

The plaintiff in the suit will be Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which means it may have a problem with legal standing. However, this is not the only such suit in the works:

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was separately looking for plaintiffs to file a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause. It hopes to find a hotel or bed-and-breakfast that might compete against a Trump hotel as a party that might have standing to sue.

The A.C.L.U. filed an extensive Freedom of Information Act request on Thursday asking the Justice Department, the General Services Administration and the Office of Government Ethics for all legal opinions and memos they have prepared addressing potential financial or ethical conflicts that Mr. Trump might face. It could perhaps use those documents in litigation against the Trump administration.

Trump’s lawyers must be celebrating the steady flow of business coming their way.


Israel just approved hundreds of new settlement homes in East Jerusalem

Jennifer Williams · Sunday, January 22, 2017, 1:05 pm

Early Sunday morning, Israel approved building permits for nearly 600 new homes in three settlements in East Jerusalem — just two days after Donald Trump took his oath of office. A few short hours later, the Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just informed the members of his inner security cabinet that he has decided to lift all restrictions on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

Back in December, the Obama administration took the unprecedented step of allowing an extremely controversial UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to pass, sparking a major diplomatic fight with Israel. But though he was outraged, Netanyahu ordered the Jerusalem municipality to wait on approving new housing units in an attempt to avoid further inflaming US-Israeli relations.

That is, to wait until Trump took office.

Meir Turgeman, the chairman of the municipality's Planning and Building committee, told Israel Radio on Sunday, "I was told to wait until Trump takes office because he has no problem with building in Jerusalem," Turgeman said, adding there were hundreds more units waiting for approval.

Trump has broken with longstanding US policy on settlements

For nearly half a century, American presidents of both parties have joined the rest of the international community in condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands and labelling them one of the main obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

But Trump has completely upended that longstanding policy. He publicly slammed the Obama administration for its decision to abstain on the UN settlement vote. His pick to be the next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman is staunchly pro-settlement, as is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

The Times of Israel reports that Friedman has raised millions of dollars for the West Bank settlement of Beit El. They also note that “the foundation run by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has also supported Beit El, and Trump himself has donated money to a Jewish seminary in the settlement through his foundation, tax records show.”

Trump has also promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a highly controversial and symbolic move that the US Congress supports but that every previous US president has avoided actually doing out of concern for the potential impact it could have on the future of the peace process.

Trump even invited three prominent leaders of Israel’s settler movement to his inauguration ceremony and ball — a highly symbolic gesture meant to send a clear signal that he’s serious about his stance on Israel, and that things really are going to change under his administration.

Sunday’s announcements on new settlement construction in East Jerusalem suggest that his message has come through loud and clear.


The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump The Election Is In Plain Sight

 01/17/2017 11:19 pm ET | Updated 4 days ago

On November 4, Erik Prince used Breitbart to spread disinformation domestically. Mr. Trump rewarded him for it.

Seth Abramson Attorney; Assistant Professor at University of New Hampshire; Poet; Editor, Best American Experimental Writing; Editor, Metamodern Studies.

Information presently public and available confirms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump conspired to intimidate FBI Director James Comey into interfering in, and thus directly affecting, the 2016 presidential election. This conspiracy was made possible with the assistance of officers in the New York Police Department and agents within the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All of the major actors in the conspiracy have already confessed to its particulars either in word or in deed; moreover, all of the major actors have publicly exhibited consciousness of guilt after the fact. This assessment has already been the subject of articles in news outlets on both sides of the political spectrum, but has not yet received substantial investigation by major media.

While a full summary of the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy would require a longer discourse, the actions of these men, along with multiple still-anonymous actors, can be summarized in five paragraphs. It will be for journalists with more resources than this writer to follow up on these leads—and, moreover, to see how this domestic conspiracy dovetails with the Trump-Russia controversy, though this too is briefly addressed below.

In addition to the paragraphs here, this article incorporates its three predecessors (I, II, III).

1. As reported by the New York Times, FBI Director James Comey released his now-infamous October 27th letter in substantial part because he had determined that “word of the new emails [found on Anthony Weiner’s computer]...was sure to leak out.” Comey worried that if the leak occurred at a time when the nature and evidentiary value of the “new” emails was unknown, he “risked being accused of misleading Congress and the public ahead of an election.” By October 27th, the FBI had had access to Weiner’s computer—which it originally received from NYPD—since October 3rd, during which interval the Bureau had both the time and IT know-how to determine that the “new” emails in its possession were in fact duplicate emails from accounts already revealed to the Bureau by Clinton, her aide Huma Abedin, and the State Department. However, when Comey was briefed on the case by agents from the New York field office on October 26th, he discovered that not only had this IT work not been done, but in fact no warrant to seize the full emails had been sought, no permission to read the emails had been requested from cooperating witnesses Weiner and Abedin, and indeed nothing but a summary of the emails’ “meta-data” (non-content header information) had been prepared by his agents. The result of this investigative nonfeasance was that Comey feared he would not be able to get a warrant for the emails and confirm them as duplicates prior to Election Day—a fact that would allow anti-Clinton elements within NYPD and the FBI, and Trump surrogates and advisers with sources in these organizations, to mischaracterize the “new” emails in a way that would swing the election to Trump. As long as the Clinton investigation remained open, Comey would not be able to respond to such misinformation; his only hope of keeping public discussion of the “new” emails within the sphere of reality was to use the cover of a prior promise to Congress to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation—and then close that investigation in short order.

2. The effort to intimidate Comey into publicly commenting on the Clinton case—a win-win scenario for Trump, as either a comment from Comey or silence from Comey (the latter coupled with inaccurate, Hatch Act-violative leaks by the FBI, NYPD, and/or the Trump campaign) would sink Clinton—began concurrent to Comey’s October 26th briefing on the Clinton case. In an October 25th Fox & Friends appearance and an October 26th appearance on Fox News with Martha McCallum, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, began teasing an October “surprise” which, Giuliani said, would turn the tide against Hillary Clinton. He refused to say what the forthcoming surprise would be, but he indicated that it would be coming in just a few days. Meanwhile, Erik Prince—the founder of Blackwater private security, one of Trump’s biggest donors, a conspiracy theorist who’d previously accused Huma Abedin of being a terrorist in the employ of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a man who blamed Clinton family friend and former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta for outing him as a CIA asset in 2009—was positioning himself to play an important role. Just as Giuliani had boasted on the Mark Larson radio program on October 28th that he had sources within the FBI—active agents—who had told him of virulent anti-Clinton sentiment in the New York field office and an internal rebellion against Comey’s July decision not to indict Clinton, Prince claimed to have sources within the Weiner investigation who were illegally leaking information to him. In Prince’s case, the sources were within NYPD, and the information he relayed from them to Breitbart News on November 4th—when it was not yet known that Comey, the next day, would reveal the “new” Clinton emails to be duplicates—turned out to be almost entirely false. The full extent of Prince’s lies on November 4th, all of which were Trump campaign disinformation delivered by an adviser and major donor to the campaign, are too numerous and spectacular to list here. Two brief quotes from Breitbart’s interview with Prince should suffice:

Prince claimed he had insider knowledge of the investigation that could help explain why FBI Director James Comey had to announce he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s email server last week....”[NYPD] found a lot of other really damning criminal information [on Weiner’s computer], including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than twenty times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times,” he said. “The amount of garbage that they found in these emails, of criminal activity by Hillary, by her immediate circle, and even by other Democratic members of Congress, was so disgusting they gave it to the FBI, and they said, ‘We’re going to go public with this if you don’t reopen the investigation and you don’t do the right thing with timely indictments,’” Prince explained. “I believe—I know, and this is from a very well-placed source of mine at One Police Plaza in New York—the NYPD wanted to do a press conference announcing the warrants and the additional arrests they were making in this investigation, and they’ve gotten huge pushback, to the point of coercion, from the Justice Department.”
Virtually all of this is untrue. Prince continued:

“So NYPD first gets that computer. They see how disgusting it is. They keep a copy of everything, and they pass a copy on to the FBI, which finally pushes the FBI off their chairs, making Comey reopen that investigation, which was indicated in the letter last week. The point being, NYPD has all the information, and they will pursue justice within their rights if the FBI doesn’t. There is all kinds of criminal culpability through all the emails they’ve seen of that 650,000, including money laundering, underage sex, pay-for-play, and, of course, plenty of proof of inappropriate handling, sending/receiving of classified information, up to Special Access Programs....The point being, fortunately, it’s not just the FBI; five different offices are in the hunt for justice, but the NYPD has it as well....From what I understand, up to the commissioner or at least the chief level in NYPD, they wanted to have a press conference, and DOJ, Washington people, political appointees have been exerting all kinds of undue pressure on them to back down....This kind of evil, this kind of true dirt on Hillary Clinton—look, you don’t have to make any judgments. Just release the emails. Just dump them. Let them out there. Let people see the light of truth.”
Prince’s statements of November 4th—whether given with the knowledge that they were untrue or without any knowledge of their accuracy whatsoever—underscore the sort of disinformation Comey feared would be given to voters, and, more importantly, believed by voters, if he did not complete his investigation into the duplicate emails and announce his findings before Election Day. This alone explains his deviation from FBI protocol prohibiting discussion of open cases (and announcements regarding major investigations within two months of a general election).

3. It seems clear that Giuliani, who was the top surrogate for the Trump campaign and in near-daily contact with the candidate, acted under orders from Trump, and that Prince either acted under orders from Trump or Steve Bannon—well-known to Prince from their mutual association with, and financial investment in, Breitbart and its ownership, including Robert Mercer—and, moreover, that all those associated with the conspiracy were subsequently rewarded. Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, was named Education Secretary by Trump, despite having no experience for the job other than advocating sporadically for charter schools in Michigan. Prince himself was named a shadow adviser to Trump, even though, by November 8th, the fact that his statements to Breitbart had been part of a domestic disinformation campaign was clear. Prince is so close to Trump that he appears to have been present at the election-night returns-watching party to which Trump invited only close friends and associates; Prince’s wife posted pictures of the event. Giuliani, originally assured a Cabinet position and then separated from the Trump team entirely—perhaps as punishment for his carelessness on Fox News—was then given a highly lucrative but substance-free position within the administration on the same day, January 12th, that the DOJ announced that the Inspector General would be investigating the sequence of events comprising the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy. Inspector General Horowitz noted that within his brief was investigation of the series of leaks that occurred between the NYPD, the FBI, and outside entities—including, we can surmise based on context, the Trump campaign.

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These are not normal times.

Dan Rather

These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase "alternative facts”…

When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…

When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….

These are not normal times.

The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.

What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. "A lie, is a lie, is a lie!" And if someone won't say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar's malignant reach into our society.

There is one group of people who can do a lot - very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump's presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be "what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?" If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.

Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.


News and opinion pieces in brief

Religiously speaking

You want better gun laws? You can't have better gun laws - your Congress is bought and paid for.

You want the guns> You can't handle the guns. GunFail in America

Gun Recovered In Accidental Shooting
State Police say the gun involved in last weekend's accidental shooting of a 12 year old boy at a Centre County shooting range has been recovered.

Inmate moved off death row off after appeal
"Mr. Bowen felt that this was at most manslaughter, an accidental shooting, a reckless shooting," Gorham said. "He never intended to kill his friend.".

Accidental shot lands man in Stamford jail
The Advocate
STAMFORD-A convicted felon was charged Friday with accidentally firing a gun and striking a female friend in the leg while committing the first ...

Man accidentally shoots, kills wife mistaken for burglar
GOLDSBORO, NC (WRAL/CNN) – A man accidentally shot and killed his wife Friday when she returned home from work early and he assumed she ...

Two people dead after NLR shooting, suspect arrested
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – North Little Rock Police Department are investigating a double shooting on Division Street that left two people dead.

Argument at former popular night club ends in shooting, 2 women
San Antonio police investigate following a shooting Saturday morning, Jan. 21, 2017, on the North Side that sent two people to the hospital in stable ...

Man fatally wounded in Carson shooting
The Daily Breeze
CARSON >> A man was fatally wounded in a shooting in Carson, sheriff's deputies said Sunday. The shooting occurred at 7:30 p.m. Saturday ...

Man shot to death inside bar near US 287 in east Fort Worth
Fort Worth Star Telegram
A 35-year-old man is dead after a shooting inside a bar early Saturday in east Fort Worth. Tujuan McIntosh died a few hours after he was shot inside ...
Male shot by security overnight near the Stockyards - Fort Worth Star Telegram
Argument leads to shooting at Fort Worth bar - FOX 4 News

2 teens taken to Harborview after Federal Way shooting
The News Tribune
Kent police were originally dispatched to a shooting call, which was on the border between Kent and Federal Way. They arrived to find the two boys ...
Two teens seriously injured in Kent shooting - KING5.com
'All hell broke loose': Police investigate overnight shooting in Kent - KOMO News
Shooting in Kent leaves two teens with life-threatening injuries - Q13 FOX

Staffing cuts left area of Fort Lauderdale airport shooting unguarded
Years before gunman Esteban Santiago killed five people and wounded six others at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the local ...

Man critically wounded in Austin shooting
Chicago Sun-Times
A man was critically wounded in a shooting early Sunday in the West Side Austin neighborhood. The shooting happened about 3:40 a.m. in the 500 ...
2 wounded in East Garfield Park shooting - Chicago Sun-Times
3 wounded in South Side shooting - Chicago Sun-Times
Man in critical condition after Austin shooting, crash - Chicago Sun-Times

Police free man who claims self-defense in UW shooting
The Seattle Times
The man who surrendered to police in connection with a University of Washington shooting Friday night was released after telling investigators he ...
UW Police Release Suspect In Shooting At Yiannopolous Protest - Patch.com
2 released after shooting outside Breitbart editor's UW speech - seattlepi.com
Suspect In Shooting Outside MILO Event Claims Self Defence, Released Without Charges - Breitbart News

Judge others on their actions, not their culture...

Things to fear...

I dread each day of this new America - what's coming next?

Whjat good has come from the GOP in modern times? Name something - anything.

News and opinions in brief