Monday, October 31, 2016

News and opinion pieces in brief

Despite Repeated Claims, Trump Now Won't Commit To Spending $100M

By CAITLIN MACNEAL Published OCTOBER 28, 2016, 11:16 AM EDT

For the past month, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that he will personally contribute more than $100 million to his own campaign by Election Day, but now Trump will not commit to reaching that goal.

"We'll see what's needed," Trump told Fox News' Bret Baier when discussing whether he's meet his pledge to spend $100 million of his own money in an interview set to air Friday evening.

Trump had been boasting that he would donate $100 million by the end of the election cycle. But according to FEC reports filed Thursday night, Trump only donated about $31,000 to his campaign in the first half of October, bringing his total contributions to a little over $56 million.

The most recent FEC filing covers through Oct. 19. So in the three weeks between then and the election, Trump will have to cough up somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 percent of the total he's given for the whole campaign to reach his $100 million vow. Again, roughly $44 million in about three weeks.

Trump told Baier that he plans to write a $10 million check to his campaign on Friday, but that would still fall short of his lofty $100 million pledge.

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The verdict for those armed militants who took over a federal building is white privilege in action

German Lopez · Thursday, October 27, 2016, 10:06 pm

They armed themselves and took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon. They were found not guilty.

The verdict is completely absurd.

Eight months after the nation watched an armed militia take over a wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest federal land ownership, a jury has come back and said that they’re “not guilty.” This includes not guilty of a charge that describes what everyone knows these militants did, considering that they live streamed themselves doing it: conspiracy to prevent Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife employees from doing their jobs at the wildlife refuge.

Again, this is literally what they did. They armed themselves and took over wildlife refuge, preventing federal workers from going into the facility and doing their jobs. Ammon Bundy, the militants’ leader, even participated in interviews in which he called for more people to join him in his cause.

In fact, the militants staged their protest because they want to get federal employees out of these lands. The Bundys and other militants would like to see the federal government give up federal lands to locals. This, they argue, would free the territory of environmental regulations that they see as burdensome — but are meant to preserve endangered animals and nature — and enable more exploitation of the lands’ resources by allowing, for example, more unfettered farming, mining, and hunting.

The defense argued there was no intent to keep federal employees off the refuge. But come on. An armed group occupied a federal building. Your imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to realize what was happening.

Yet a jury found them not guilty.

It is impossible to ignore race here. These were a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?

One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.

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Acquittal of Bundys is proof of racial double standards — and a greenlight for right-wing terrorism

28 OCT 2016 AT 04:18 ET                  

When the Raw Story visited the Bundy bunch inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge they were calling for a revolution against the federal government. Rifle-toting supporters said, “ I’m here to fight for freedom and get our Constitution back,” and “I would support this to the death, literally.”

Now eight months after their occupation came to an end the government case has ended in a jury acquitting the two Bundy brothers and five other supporters on all charges but one, including the main one of conspiracy. The government failed to prove the Bundy Bunch “had engaged in an illegal conspiracy that kept federal workers — employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — from doing their jobs.”

The jury’s logic is not known yet, but it is a double standard that almost certainly turns on race. If a group of heavily armed Muslim Americans or Black Lives Matter activists seized public facilities and land, the government would have rushed in with all guns blazing and anyone who survived would be locked up for life. The record of post-9/11 terror prosecutions is littered with hundreds of cases of entrapment, paid informants, and “fake terror plots.”

For more than a decade the feds have also prosecuted similarly flimsy cases against environmental, animal-rights, and Occupy Wall Street activists, known as the “Green Scare.” Numerous peaceful activists have been sentenced to prison for more than a decade for little more than conversations egged on by paid FBI provocateurs. Even in cases where violence was planned, no one was ever injured and it was often completely instigated and organized by the government.

But when it comes to the Bundys, they actively planned the illegal armed takeover. At least two months before the refuge occupation began Jan. 2, 2016, the Bundys visited local sheriff Dave Ward and warned him to prevent two local ranchers convicted of arson from going to federal prison. According to Ward, the Bundys said they would “bring hundreds of people to town [and] attempt to overpower or overthrow my authority as sheriff.”

Inside Malheur, in a two-hour conversation with Ammon Bundy in his pickup truck, when this reporter pointed out their intent was to spark a violent uprising against the government, he did not deny it. Militia members openly carried weapons on federal land, which is illegal, and the Raw Story witnessed the militia stealing and damaging government equipment, violating the law in tearing up sensitive archeological sites, and building barricades and bunkers for an apocalyptic showdown. The Bundys also set up a kangaroo court to indict, try, convict, and remove government officials from office.

Yet according to the jury the government did not prove a conspiracy. Meanwhile, halfway across the country in North Dakota, a huge force of police and private security are viciously attacking Native Americans peacefully protecting their land from the ravages of the oil and gas industry.

The Bundy case is more proof of the well-documented racial bias embedded in the jury system. The notion that an armed militia with snipers stationed in the watchtower, blockading all road into the refuge and vowing to die for their cause did not impede federal workers from doing their job is as absurd as it sounds and is an indictment of the deep racial biases in America.

The silver lining is the Bundy brothers and their father still face trial for their violent confrontation in Nevada with government officials in 2014 over their refusal to pay $1 million in overdue grazing fees on federal lands.

The Bundy acquittal will embolden violent right-wing militias to seize other public lands, especially West of the Rockies where there is a movement funded by the Koch Brothers to undermine federal control of huge swaths of land.

Undoubtedly these violent militias will be aided and abetted by legions of Trump’s supporters calling for a “violent revolution” if Clinton wins the presidency as expected. The government’s hands-off approach toward the militia movement is a failure. This isn’t a call for more repression as used against Muslims, African-Americans, and left-wing activists. It’s a demand the government protect the public and its lands from the growing threat of right-wing terrorism.

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Trump Campaign Brags About Its Ongoing “Voter Suppression Operations”

By Ben Mathis-Lilley

Bloomberg has a big story Thursday about the Trump campaign's data targeting operation and how it could be used to continue to make Donald Trump a political/media force after the election's over. For immediate purposes, though, this is probably the most newsworthy section of the piece:

Instead of expanding the electorate, [campaign chairman Steve] Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.

Sounds very sinister! What this turns out to mean in practice, though, is that the campaign is targeting specific Trump sound bites and negative Facebook posts about Clinton toward specific demographic groups.

"Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters."

"The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women."

And some black Americans will see a Facebook post about Clinton discussing "superpredators" in 1996. (Clinton used the term in the context of a speech praising the racially controversial 1994 crime bill but did not use it to describe black citizens in particular.)

That's less ominous, and doesn't even seem particularly novel. Nonetheless, "don't brag about committing 'voter suppression' " is probably a pretty good rule of politics.

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Re-post of a favorite: The power of Jesus

Re-post of a favorite: Overcoming our problems

Five OBG political cartoons: Reliving 2007

Religiously speaking

And this is how religions begin - ignorance

Standing up for religious freeedom. Why in HELL did they schedule the competition for a Muslim nation?

God's defenders

Let me out!

Joel Osteen

NRA takes their stand!

You want the guns? You can't handle the guns. GunFail

Creating the police state

Political posters