Culture

The DoJ Temporarily Shut Down a Legal Services Group that Opposed the Muslim Ban

by Lauren C. Williams – A judge eventually issued a restraining order to prevent the Justice Department crackdown. The Justice Department temporarily shut down a non-profit group in Seattle that provides free pro se, or temporary, legal representation to immigrants for nearly a month on a technicality, the Nation reported. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), which offers legal services to upwards of 10,000 immigrants each year, helped immigrants at Seattle-Tacoma International airport avoid deportation under the Trump administration’s Muslim ban executive order earlier this year. But federal authorities shut down the group’s operations via a cease-and-desist letter in April, warning the group to close its asylum program and drop its clients or face disciplinary action. The NWIRP is accused of breaking an obscure law meant to punish fraudulent, predatory immigration lawyers, also known as “notarios” who will take on a case, collect a fee, and then drop it before seeing...

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Notre Dame Students are Protesting the Vice President’s Commencement Speech

by Casey Quinlan – Students say they deserve a commencement that respects LGBTQ and undocumented graduates. Notre Dame seniors will stage a walkout to protest Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement speech at the Indiana university on Sunday. Students say they are expressing solidarity with LGBTQ, undocumented, low-income, and female students affected by Pence’s policies. Students plan to stand up when Pence begins speaking and quietly leave the ceremony. Fifty to 100 people could walk out on Sunday, student organizers say. Protesters are using the hashtag #WalkOutND to bring attention to the protest on social media. “During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities,” said the student activist group organizing the protest, We StaND For,...

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Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Make it Harder to Remove Confederate Monuments

by Aviva Shen – “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen done in this building.” They’ve lost in state, federal, and civil court. Two New Orleans statues have already been removed. But now, Confederate monument champions are escalating their appeals to the more conservative state government to intervene. On Monday, the Louisiana House passed a bill that would require an election before any war memorial is removed or even altered. The legislation was approved by a House committee earlier this month, after the first Confederate monument in New Orleans came down. The fraught debate over the bill quickly turned to its authors’ conception of Civil War history, or the “War Between the States,” as the bill calls it. After being questioned by Rep. Sam Jones (D), Rep. Thomas Carmody (R) said he did not believe slavery was the reason for the Civil War, and that the South had a legal...

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How I Always Win the Abortion Argument

by SemDem – This past Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the deceptively named “Tennessee Infants Protection Act,” a bill that does nothing for infants but prohibits physicians from performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Tennessee Republicans blocked all efforts from Democrats to include exceptions for incest, mental health, or even rape. (After all, if a woman is raped, GOP lawmakers say it must be God’s will.) The “pro-life” movement has never been about “life,” it has, and always will, be about control. Control over a woman’s reproduction—taken from the individual and given to GOP legislators, like Republican Billy Long.  The entire movement has been a scam from its inception: it all began with a single disingenuous conference call to come up with ways to gin up support for segregationist Bible colleges. Up until that point, churches didn’t have any problem with it. Why should they? The Bible says nothing about it. Even though abortion was practiced way back in...

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Rev. Barber: America Needs a New Poor People’s Campaign

by William J. Barber, II – The future of our democracy depends on us completing the work of a Third Reconstruction. In a spectacle of religious hypocrisy last week, preachers who say so much about what God says so little — and so little about what God says so much — stood in the Rose Garden as a backdrop for President Donald Trump’s executive order on “religious liberty.” As they celebrated this administration’s willingness to let them use religious freedom as an excuse to force their “values” on someone else, Trump pointed to the legacy of the African-American church as an example of faith in public life. In every con, there’s a grain of truth, whether the person who is speaking knows it or now. I know the prophetic African American church tradition that grew up on the edges of plantations and spoke clearly for the first time into this nation’s public life when Harriet...

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What do Bullets Really do to Bodies? Changing the Conversation on Gun Violence

by Kelly Macias – How can we possibly talk about guns in a way that hasn’t been talked about before? If we didn’t change the debate after Sandy Hook when 20 children were killed, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever actually do it. That’s been my story and I’ve largely stuck to it for the last five years—until I read this piece about trauma surgeons at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia. As a country,” Goldberg said, “we lost our teachable moment.” She started talking about the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Goldberg said that if people had been shown the autopsy photos of the kids, the gun debate would have been transformed. “The fact that not a single one of those kids was able to be transported to a hospital, tells me that they were not just dead, but really really really really dead. Ten-year-old...

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Amid Rising Anti-Semitism, a Synagogue Burns in Manhattan

by Jack Jenkins – The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A historic synagogue in Manhattan’s Lowest East Side went up in flames over the weekend, possibly heightening anxiety among American Jews as they continue to wrestle with an uptick in anti-Semitism. According to NBC New York, the 120-year-old historic Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol succumbed to a three-alarm blaze that erupted at around 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening, burning late into the night. The 19th century synagogue once served as the oldest worship space for orthodox Russian Jews in the country, but has been vacant since 2007. Representatives from the New York Fire Department told ThinkProgress the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and it is unclear if the building was subject to arson or set aflame in another fashion. According to the Forward, the same building was also subject to a small blaze inside the walls earlier last week....

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Is America Dying or is it Being Born Again? (VIDEOS)

by Hamid Dabashi – Behind the vulgarity and racism of Trump’s America, a different vision of what it means to be an ‘American’ is rising. In a characteristically timely and insightful essay for The New York Times, Pankaj Mishra has recently mapped out the tortuous passage of the United States from exceptionalism to what he now sees as a turn towards nihilism. He rightly identifies that “extravagant promises by ruling elites, and their unexamined assumptions, are at least partly to blame for this moral breakdown in the world’s most powerful country”. Mishra shrewdly narrows in on the moment when the eminent American public intellectual “Walter Lippmann worried that the promise of private wealth creation was a weak moral basis for a national community. For many mid-century thinkers, nihilism, a catastrophic breakdown of faith in national ideology and institutions that had occurred in Europe, was also a possibility in America”. Mishra’s conclusion...

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Are We Monsters?

by NEAL GABLER – We are a failed country because we have lost our compassion and sense of community. Warner Brothers and Universal have both been dusting off an inventory of classic monsters — King Kong, Godzilla, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, etc. — which prompted New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott to speculate whether this was a reaction to a contemporary America, where monstrousness now seems to run rampant. When you add a film like the mega hit Get Out, about human monsters, you get the feeling that maybe Hollywood is onto something. Monster films have always dealt with anxieties — the Depression in the ‘30s, the Soviet threat and nuclear threat in the ’50s, technological change in the ‘60s and ’70s. But today, the  danger is different. Today the danger is us. Are we monsters? I know it is a distinctly odd question to ask, the...

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Sessions Strips Federal Prosecutors of Flexibility, Demands Harshest Sentences in All Drug Cases

by Alan Pyke – The move puts prosecutors back in a straitjacket they had only just begun to loosen. Federal prosecutors should resume the old practice of pursuing the sternest possible charges and longest available sentences for all drug crime suspects, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered on Friday. The new instructions reverse a memo issued in 2013 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder which sought to radically change America’s prison problem through simple changes to prosecutor behavior. Holder had ordered U.S. attorneys to drop the across-the-board tough-guy act Sessions is reviving and instead reserve the harshest sentencing enhancements and multi-layered indictments available in the law for offenders with clear links to violent crime and organized criminal syndicates. The aim was to end a common absurdity in American law enforcement: small-time drug busts that lead to decades-long prison terms for people who do not fit the profile of a dangerous, hardened criminal. The old...

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‘Nazi Posters’ at South African University Spark Outrage

Posters for ‘Anglo-Afrikaner’ event, which copy Nazi propaganda images, cause public outcry after appearing on campus. A South African university on Wednesday said three people were being questioned after it opened an investigation into Nazi-inspired posters promoting an “Anglo-Afrikaner Student” event on its campus. The posters, which copied Nazi propaganda images, sparked immediate complaints and public outcry when they appeared on noticeboards at Stellenbosch University, outside Cape Town, on Tuesday. “The posters and advertised event promoting racial polarisation (and) superiority combined with highly offensive references to Nazi propaganda and Neo-Nazism are totally unacceptable,” the university said in a statement on Wednesday. “We cannot condone views, events, publicity campaigns or innuendo that undermine our innate equality as human beings.” The university said it “has so far identified three individuals linked to the planning of the ‘Anglo-Afrikaner Student’ event … and the related posters that surfaced on the Stellenbosch campus”. Andrei...

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Vermont Legislature Becomes First in Nation to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

by Mike Riggs – Bill now heads to Gov. Phil Scott. The Vermont House passed legislation today that would remove all criminal and civil penalties for adults over 21 who possess one ounce or less of marijuana, making Vermont the first state in the nation to pass a legalization measure through its legislature rather than by ballot initiative. The law, passed by the Vermont Senate earlier this month, would also allow adults to grow their own plants. It does not allow for taxation and regulation, which means no selling and no buying. If Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signs the legislation, a prohibition on public consumption would also remain in place. “I’ll take a look at the bill, but I’ve been pretty clear I’d like to see some improvements to ensure a structure in place to protect public safety in Vermont,” Scott told MyNBC5. He also said the bill is not “a...

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Jordan Edwards’ Shooter Has Been Charged. How Likely Is a Conviction?

by Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – Texas Police Officer Roy Oliver has been fired and charged with murder for fatally shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in the head with a rifle, following intense public pressure. The warrant for Oliver’s arrest and the speed with which it came — only six days after Oliver shot into a car full of teens as they were leaving a Saturday-night party this month — is extremely unusual for a police officer in the state of Texas and nationally. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department issued the warrant Friday for Oliver’s arrest, saying evidence “suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of the individual.” Oliver turned himself in that night at the Parker County Jail, posted a bond of $300,000 and was released before 10 pm. If convicted, he faces up...

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With Muslim Ban 2.0 in Court, Trump Campaign Website Scrubs Call for Ban

by Deirdre Fulton – Statement calling for “total and complete shutdown on Muslims” entering U.S. removed from Trump campaign website Monday afternoon. Minutes after a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why President Donald Trump’s campaign website still broadcast his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” that page went blank, according to reports on Monday afternoon. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban figures prominently in arguments against his second executive order blocking entry to the United States for people from six majority-Muslim countries. Opponents like Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, say statements like that one “made absolutely clear that wanted to target Muslims.” Lawyers for both sides argued their cases “en banc” on Monday afternoon, before a panel of all active and eligible judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers...

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It’s Becoming More Common for Young Adults to Live at Home – and for Longer Stretches

by RICHARD FRY – Through both recession and recovery, the share of young adults living in their parents’ home continues to rise. Today’s young adults are also more likely to be at home for an extended stay compared with previous generations of young adults who resided with their parents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. census data. As of 2016, 15% of 25- to 35-year-old Millennials were living in their parents’ home. This is 5 percentage points higher than the share of Generation Xers who lived in their parents’ home in 2000 when they were the same age (10%), and nearly double the share of the Silent Generation who lived at home in 1964 (8%). It doesn’t appear that a lack of jobs is keeping Millennials at home. As of the first quarter of 2016 (when the living arrangements data were collected), only 5.1% of older young adults...

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The World Will Be Watching as Muslim Ban 2.0 Goes to Court

by Cody Wofsy – Monday marks a critical next stage in the legal battle against President Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, will hear legal arguments in a case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, brought by the ACLU and National Immigration Law Center (NILC). This will be the first argument in front of a court of appeals, which reviews orders from trial courts, addressing the revised executive order (also known as Muslim Ban 2.0). The stakes are enormous — for the plaintiffs, for Muslim and immigrant communities around the country, and for vital constitutional principles. A quick refresher on where things stand: The president rolled out the original Muslim Ban 1.0 on January 27. The impact was immediate and devastating, as families across the country were separated from their loved ones and thousands of people flooded the airports with messages of...

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‘Kratom Is the Cure for the Opioid Epidemic.’ Q&A With Filmmaker Chris Bell (VIDEO)

by Justin Monticello – Yet the DEA wants to ban it. “I think kratom is the cure for the opioid epidemic,” says Chris Bell, the acclaimed documentary filmmaker behind 2008’s Bigger, Stronger, Faster and 2015’s Prescription Thugs. A plant native to Southeast Asia, kratom can relieve pain and provide a caffeine-like boost. Its most exciting application, however, is weaning addicts off heroin and prescription painkillers. Though the scientific literature is thin, users have been safely ingesting the plant for centuries. Despite kratom’s promise, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) claims that it poses an “imminent hazard to public safety” and tried to prohibit most clinical research on it. In August 2016, the DEA sought to ban the plant without public input by listing it as Schedule I drug alongside the likes of heroin, though it backed off after the community rose up in protest, apparently taking the agency by surprise. Chris Bell...

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Protest Expert Says Anti-Trump Resistance Is Not Slowing Down

by Nadia Prupis – President Donald Trump’s election may have changed the way many average Americans participate in democracy. A scientist who studies protests said this week that the resistance to President Donald Trump is building momentum, not losing it, and the movement’s continued existence could be a signal that Americans are changing how they participate in democracy. Sociologist Dana Fisher told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday that she hadn’t seen major protests in the nation’s capital in the five years she’d lived in the area, but that demonstrations have now become an almost-weekly occurrence. Few of her students at the University of Maryland used to participate in activism, but these days “everybody has to get out of class to go downtown because they’re chaining themselves to something or they’re marching,” she told the Post‘s Sarah Kaplan. Fisher found that there was a lot of crossover between events, with 70 percent...

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5 Facts About Illegal Immigration in the U.S.

by JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD, JEFFREY S. PASSEL AND D’VERA COHN – For the first time, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was lower in 2015 than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. The origin countries of unauthorized immigrants also shifted during that time, with the number from Mexico declining and the number from other regions rising, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates. Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S. 1 There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2015, a small but statistically significant decline from the Center’s estimate of 11.3 million for 2009. The Center’s preliminary estimate of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2016 is 11.3 million, which is statistically no different from the 2009 or 2015 estimates because it is based on a data source with a smaller sample size and larger margin...

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Police Now Say Car was Driving Away when Black Ninth Grader was Shot and Killed

by E.A. Crunden – Camera footage reveals car was not driving in “an aggressive manner.” Police now say the car carrying a black ninth grader was driving away from them when they shot into it, rather than towards them. At a press conference on Monday, Jonathan Haber, the police chief for the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas, walked back earlier comments made by the police department about the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The vehicle, Haber told the Associated Press, was “moving forward as the officers approached,” rather than moving backwards towards officers. Edwards, a freshman football player at Mesquite High School, was leaving a house party over the weekend when he was fatally shot by police. Accounts of the story initially differed, with police officers asserting that Edwards and his companions had backed down the driveway “in an aggressive manner” towards them. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Edwards’ family,...

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Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Greek Mosaics In Pristine Condition, There’s Nothing Like It

by Jake Manning/Shareably – Imagine the thrill of unearthing three ancient greek mosaics dating back 2,220 years ago. Back in 2014, Professor Kutalmış Görkay of Ankara University and his team of archeologists discovered three ancient greek mosaics in the Turkish city of Zeugma near the border of Syria. Imagine the thrill of unearthing three ancient greek mosaics dating back 2,220 years ago. Back in 2014, Professor Kutalmış Görkay of Ankara University and his team of archeologists discovered three ancient greek mosaics in the Turkish city of Zeugma near the border of Syria. For some context, back in 2007, Zeugma was expecting a flood due to constructions of a dam. The archeologist team feared that they would lose the ancient treasures of Zeugma to this flood and immediately began their expeditions. Upon their search for ancient treasures, they stumbled upon three ancient greek mosaics belonging to the 2nd century BC. The mosaics, shockingly,...

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Key Facts About the U.S. H-1B Visa Program

by NEIL G. RUIZ – President Donald Trump has ordered a comprehensive review of the H-1B visa program, the primary way that companies in the United States hire high-skilled foreign workers. The multiagency review is expected to result in suggested changes to ensure that the most skilled and highest-paid applicants receive H-1B visas. Though the order may be the first step in an overhaul of the program, only a handful of changes have been made for now to the way H-1B visas are awarded. Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows employers to hire foreigners to work on a temporary basis in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher. Visas are awarded to employers on a first-come, first-served...

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White House to ‘Roll Out Red Carpet’ for Murderer Duterte

by Deirdre Fulton – President Donald Trump reportedly spoke with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday. Just a few weeks after he congratulated autocratic Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a controversial referendum win, U.S. President Donald Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte—who has presided over a violent “war on the poor” in his country and is the subject of a mass murder complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC)—to the White House. A statement from the White House Press Office said the two leaders spoke on Saturday but gave no indication of when the visit might occur. Since his inauguration in June 2016, Duterte has overseen an anti-drug campaign dubbed “Operation Double Barrel” that, according to Human Rights Watch, “has targeted suspected drug dealers and users ostensibly for arrest but in practice has been a campaign of extrajudicial execution in impoverished areas of Manila and other urban areas.” The rights group said last month that “Duterte’s...

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Roger Goodell Says Medical Marijuana Might Not Be Safe Enough For Grown Men Who Hurt Each Other For a Living

by Mike Riggs – Football is more dangerous than pot. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t ready to take medical marijuana off the league’s list of banned substances because the drug might be “negative to the health of our players,” he told ESPN on Friday. More from the man who suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson–who’s undergone two surgeries related to Crohn’s disease–for 10 games as a result of his medical marijuana use: “I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? “Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. “And...

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Facebook Releases Plan to Halt Government Manipulation of the Platform

by Lauren C. Williams – The social network is working around the clock to stop the spread of misinformation and manipulation of public discussions. Facebook is taking a hard stance against the weaponized use of fake news. In a security report the social network released Thursday, the company named “information operations” or strategic actions governments and individuals use to distort public opinion as one of the platforms biggest challenges. Unlike clicks-for-pay scams and hacks, information operations, which can amplify false news through fake accounts, are complex and not easily deterred. But Facebook said it will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to better identify and eliminate fake accounts that amplify false stories for political influence. The 2016 presidential election, which saw multiple controversies around fake news and politically motivated hacks, was the impetus for the cybersecurity report and revealed evidence that larger disinformation campaigns were in play. “During the 2016 U.S....

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5 Facts About the Death Penalty

by DAVID MASCI – Capital punishment is legal in a majority of U.S. states, including in two states – California and Nebraska – where voters decided to retain it in the 2016 election. Nationally, however, public support for the death penalty has fallen in recent years, as has the number of executions. The death penalty has been back in the news recently as Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 – one of eight inmates the state originally planned to put to death over the course of 11 days this month. Courts have since intervened and temporarily halted some of the executions. As the debate over the death penalty continues in the U.S. and worldwide, here are five facts about the issue: 1 The annual number of U.S. executions peaked at 98 in 1999 and has fallen sharply in the years since. In 2016, 20 inmates were executed, according to the...

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New Poll has Very Bad News for the NRA

by Alyson Chadwick – While it may not come as much of a surprise that the leadership at the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a different opinion on gun control than the average American, what is surprising is that same leadership holds a different opinion than the American gun owner. According to a new poll, at least 67 percent of gun owners in the United States believe that the organization has changed its mission from one promoting gun safety to one dominated by professional lobbyists. They say the NRA has been “overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission.” The NRA of today looks very different from what it looked like before. In fact, for most of its history, it supported, and even wrote, gun control legislation. Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: the Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, wrote, “Historically, the leadership...

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Why We Can’t Ever Compromise Over Controlling Women’s Bodies

by SemDem – To state the obvious:  with the GOP in power, it has been a very rough time for women. A misogynistic, serial sexual predator won the White House. Hard-fought rights that all of us thought were settled decades ago are suddenly in peril.  Attacks on birth control, reproductive freedom, and women’s health care were just the beginning.  Trump even recently found time to revoke the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, which means the return of those awful forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment. (Fox News rejoiced.) The attack is on all fronts, from the president, from Congress, and now, a new Supreme Court Justice who said women are manipulators and wants to away their rights.  It gets worse at the state level.  Unchecked rightwing zealots in state legislatures—who openly admit believing that rape is God’s will and that women should regard their bodies as nothing more than hosts–have flooded the docket with bills regulating uteri. Yet through the nonstop parade of the outrageous, there has been...

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Hate Group Leader: Our allies ‘are now very well placed’ in the Trump Administration

by Gabe Ortiz – Yes, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign emboldened white supremacists and extremists, with a wave of hate crimes sweeping the nation in the immediate days following his popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton. White nationalists like Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have found a new home in the administration, and as the New York Times recently noted, a number of lesser known but equally deplorable anti-immigrant voices have joined right alongside them: Mr. Trump’s senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, worked tirelessly to defeat immigration reform as a staff member for Senator Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Gene P. Hamilton, who worked on illegal immigration as Mr. Sessions’s counsel on the Judiciary Committee, is now a senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Border Patrol and ICE, where Mr. Feere is working. Julia Hahn, who wrote about immigration for Breitbart — with headlines like “Republican-Led...

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Rush Limbaugh and iHeart Radio in Financial Jeopardy. The End is Nigh!

by pentupnrgy – Limbaugh may finally be history! After all the consumer boycotts of products airing on Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated hate filled spew show, they may finally have worked: The parent company of iHeartCommunications, which syndicates programs by conservative talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, appears to be headed toward bankruptcy.  In a statement filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency charged with regulating companies that offer investments to the public, iHeartCommunications’ parent company, iHeartMedia Inc., said that it had “substantial doubt” that it would be in business by the middle of next year. www.salon.com/… Being in an expensive, dying and controversial industry isn’t good for stock prices, which is why in 2008, iHeartCommunications became a wholly owned subsidiary of iHeartMedia in a $24 billion stock buyout transaction initiated by Bain Capital, the investment firm for which past GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney labored for...

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In Its Rush to Kill, Arkansas May Have Executed an Innocent Man

by Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project – Ledell Lee’s first hard-knock moment came even before he was born. His mom, 16 and on her third pregnancy by a man years older than she was, drank and smoked through his pregnancy. Because of her substance abuse, Ledell was born with a fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, a medical condition that left him with brain dysfunction and intellectual disability. Twenty-eight years later in 1993, Ledell Lee was arrested for the murder of Debra Reese. And on Thursday night, just before midnight, the state of Arkansas killed Ledell in a gross miscarriage of justice. From the beginning, Ledell proclaimed his innocence and wrote to everyone he could think of, beseeching lawyers to fight for him. His journey through the legal system consisted of an unbroken chain of drunk, conflicted, and grossly incompetent attorneys. No one who represented Ledell ever looked at...

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2016 was a Horrible Year for Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes. 2017 is Much Worse

by Jack Jenkins – 2016 was a banner year for anti-Jewish hatred. New data suggests incidents of anti-Semitic hatred have spiked compared to this time last year, an ominous shift that advocates say signals a multi-year increase of vitriol directed at American Jews. According to a report published on Monday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 541 anti-Semitic incidents have occurred so far this year — an 86 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. This includes 161 highly-publicized bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers and schools beginning in January. The FBI and foreign authorities recently arrested two different men — one in Missouri and one Israel — suspected to be the main culprits behind the various waves of threats that sparked mass evacuations at Jewish institutions across the country. But even excluding the bomb threats, the numbers for 2017 are unsettlingly high. Overall, the report says 380 “harassment incidents” have already occurred this year...

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Trump Abruptly asks Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General to Resign

by Bryce Covert – His views may have clashed with Trump’s extreme gun rhetoric on the campaign trail. The Trump administration asked U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, an Obama administration appointee, to resign his role on Friday and quickly moved his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, into the role. The resignation is somewhat unusual. A White House spokesperson told the New York Times that Murthy was asked to leave “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” But employees at the Department of Health and Human Services told the Times they were surprised by the unusually abrupt departure. While it’s not unprecedented, Murthy’s four-year term would have normally ended at the end of this year. The full reasons for the Trump administration’s request that he step down aren’t clear. But one clue may lie in Murthy’s views on gun control. These views were immediately apparent after President Obama...

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SPLC Sues Nazi Website ‘The Daily Stormer’ For Terrorizing Jewish Woman By Internet Trolls

by ursulafaw – The Nazi movement in this country, since the election of Donald Trump, has gotten completely out of hand. The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with its Montana co-counsel, filed suit in federal court Tuesday against Andrew Anglin,  founder of a major neo-Nazi website, “The Daily Stormer,” for orchestrating a vicious online  harassment campaign that has relentlessly terrorized a Jewish woman and her family with anti-Semitic threats and messages, via an army of online trolls. The harassment of this family is beyond belief and it is sick. Take a look: Thanks for demonstrating why your race needs to be collectively ovened. You have no idea what you are doing, six million are only the beginning. We are going to keep track of you for the rest of your life. You will be driven to the brink of suicide & We will be there to take pleasure in your pain...

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Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Executive Order has no Weight Without Congress

by Lauren C. Williams – President Donald Trump signed his 23rd executive order Tuesday, which aims to overhaul one of the most contentious parts of the American immigration system: high-skilled visas. The “Buy American, Hire American” executive order emphasizes enforcement of “Buy American laws” that will encourage government agencies and Americans to buy and hire American. The main thrust of the order calls on cabinet secretaries to implement administrative changes and produce reports that identify potential abuses of the H-1B visa program, which awarded 85,000 work visas this year to foreign knowledge workers through a lottery system, and look for ways the government can only award contracts to American business owners. Regarding immigration, the order doesn’t address the administration’s main criticisms of the H-1B program, such as exploitatively low pay and replacing the lottery system to guarantee recipients are the best candidates for the positions. It also carries little weight on...

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Proposes Fewer Pot Arrests in Drug War

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – More than 260,000 immigrants were deported for drug offenses in a five-year period. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is not a “factor in the drug war” and that the solution is “not arresting a lot of users.” The “War on Drugs”— one that has largely focused on the cross-border import of controlled substances such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine produced in Latin American countries and transported into the United States — has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of thousands of people for marijuana possession. In turn, these arrests have triggered severe immigration consequences because of the punitive legislation that grew out of this country’s “War on Drugs” policies. During an appearance on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd, Kelly de-emphasized the role marijuana plays in the “drug war,” instead placing the blame on Mexican-produced methamphetamine and heroin, and cocaine...

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Archaeologists Make Major Discovery in Egypt’s Luxor

A 3,500-year-old tomb with several mummies, sarcophagi and statues was found in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis. Egyptian authorities have hailed an “important discovery” after archaeologists unearthed several mummies, 10 colourful wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor. The 18th Dynasty tomb, discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as the city judge, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “There are 10 coffins and eight mummies. The excavation is ongoing,” Mostafa Waziri, the head of the archeological mission, told the AFP news agency. The tomb was opened to add more mummies during the 21st Dynasty, about 3,000 years ago, to protect them during a period when tomb-robbing was common, Waziri said at the site. “It was a surprise how much was...

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Who Could’ve Known a Muslim Ban Would Devastate U.S. Tourism?

by Kerry Eleveld – Too bad Chinese president Xi Jinping didn’t get 10 minutes to explain the complications of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban to him before he decided to wreck the U.S. tourism industry. Trump’s ban isn’t just depressing travel from the 6-7 majority-Muslim nations his order targeted, it’s also inspired a drop off in travel from Europe and Asia as well as our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Abha Bhattarai writes: The cancellations came quickly and in rapid succession. Within days of President Trump’s first executive order restricting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, a number of European travel groups pulled their plans, amounting to a loss of 2,000 overnight stays for Hostelling International USA. The result was a wave of withdrawals. “Getting those cancellations all at once, that was startling,” said Russ Hedge, chief executive of HIU, which oversees 52 hostels across the country. “We’ve never seen something like that.” ...

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Israeli Government Is Petrified of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

by Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview – The following is an interview with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the editor of On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Mark Karlin: How is the charge of antisemitism used to smear critics of the Israeli government and its ignoble policies toward Palestinians? Rebecca Vilkomerson: As Tony Lerman’s contribution to the On Antisemitism book explores, Israel and its advocates have worked hard to portray criticism of the state of Israel as the “new antisemitism.” However, using the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli policies diminishes the meaning of the term and makes it harder to combat the real thing. In our advocacy work for Palestinian rights, we must always be vigilant for cases of real antisemitism directed against Jewish people — as opposed to protest against the Israeli state — just as...

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Report: To Expand Substance Abuse Treatment, Embrace Obamacare

by Casey Quinlan – A new report on substance abuse treatment recommends building on the successes of the ACA. A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released on Tuesday makes the case for why states and the Trump administration should build on the Affordable Care Act’s’s success, rather than tear it down. The ACA expanded treatment by requiring that both Medicaid and individual marketplace plans cover basic mental health and addiction services. More than 1 million people receive treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, according to a recent estimate from professors at New York University and Harvard Medical School. The share of people with substance use or mental health disorders who were hospitalized but uninsured fell from 20 percent to 5 percent from 2013 to mid-2015, according to Health and Human Services data. Medicaid expansion helped many of the states most affected...

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Anti-Defamation League Offers to Teach Spicer About the Holocaust

by Ned Resnikoff – In an open letter, the group says they can do a training at his convenience. The premier U.S. organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism has offered to clear up any lingering confusion White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer might have over what occurred during the Holocaust. Earlier this week, Spicer said during a White House press briefing that Adolf Hitler never used chemical weapons against “his own people.” When stunned reporters pointed out that Hitler’s regime slaughtered Jews en masse using lethal gas, Spicer amended his remarks to acknowledge Nazi Germany’s use of “Holocaust centers” — a strange, apparently novel euphemism for the death camps. In an open letter to Sean Spicer, the Anti-Defamation League offered to conduct a Holocaust education training “at your convenience for you, your staff, and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.” Kyle Griffin ✔@kylegriffin1 .@ADL_National has sent...

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‘F-ing Horrifying’: Sessions Outlines Immigration Crackdown in ‘Trump Era’

by Deirdre Fulton – Meanwhile, Trump appoints immigration hardliners to key agency posts. In “the Trump era,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it on Tuesday, immigration officials will undertake a harsh crackdown on undocumented migrants—a campaign one veteran federal prosecutor described as “fucking horrifying.” In his speech at a border port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, “he nation’s top law enforcement official outlined a series of changes that he said mark the start of a new push to rid American cities and the border of what he described as ‘filth’ brought on by drug cartels and criminal organizations,” the Associated Press reported. “This is a new era,” the immigration hardliner told Customs and Border Protection personnel. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.” Mother Jones reported: In his remarks, Sessions said nonviolent immigrants...

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Dan Rather Says What Every Person With a Moral Compass is Thinking Regarding Sean Spicer & Trump

by Sarah – It’s gotten to the point where if Donald Trump doesn’t fire Sean Spicer for his egregious remarks about the Holocaust, Assad and Syria, he should be seen as agreeing with Spicer’s sentiment as well as condoning it. It’s disgusting, to say the least, and the legendary Dan Rather just released a statement that should summarize what every person with a decent moral compass is thinking right now. Rather wrote: “It is with sadness that I do not know where to begin. Today in a briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement that is so far beyond the pale, so tone deaf and blind to history and our precarious moment in world affairs, that it is with only a heavy heart that I even bring attention to it. There can be no joy in such incompetence. In trying to make the case for the Administration’s policy...

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The Trump Team’s History of Flirting With Holocaust Deniers (VIDEO)

by Laurel Raymond – This White House has a long history of thinly veiled anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, the first day of Passover, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a series of statements about Hitler that parallel conspiracy theories common among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. It’s hardly the first time that Trump officials have sent veiled signals to neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white supremacists. Spicer began on Tuesday by comparing Hitler favorably to the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad — alleging that Hitler, who used poisonous gas to kill millions of Jews, “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” When given a chance to clarify, Spicer said that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” and that Assad, unlike Hitler, was dropping chemical weapons “down to innocents in the middle of town.” In a subsequent clarification, Spicer repeated that Assad used chemical weapons on “innocent...

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China, Iran, Saudi Arabia Executed the Most People in 2016

Number of executions drop worldwide, Amnesty International says, attributing decrease mainly to fewer hangings in Iran. The number of executions worldwide dropped by 37 percent in 2016 compared to the year before, mainly because Iran hanged fewer people, Amnesty International said in its 2016 global review of the death penalty published on Tuesday. China executed more people than all other countries in the world put together, Amnesty said. But it is difficult to get a clear number as Beijing classifies most information related to the death penalty as “state secrets”. It is estimated to be in the 1,000’s each year. “China wants to be a leader on the world stage, but when it comes to the death penalty it is leading in the worst possible way – executing more people annually than any other country in the world,” said Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International. “The Chinese government has...

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Bill O’Reilly’s Survival Strategy

by Judd Legum – How O’Reilly is trying to weather a sexual harassment scandal. The O’Reilly Factor, which has aired for 20 years, is the highest-rated and most profitable show in cable news. But in just a week, the show has become a shell of itself. On April 1, the New York Times reported that host Bill O’Reilly had paid $13 million to five women to settle claims of sexual harassment. That O’Reilly had an issue with his treatment of women wasn’t a shock. It was already public that, in 2009, O’Reilly had paid $9 million to one woman who says he sexually harassed her. But the additional allegations come after Fox News ousted its chairman, Roger Ailes, over charges of serial sexual harassment and has pledged to clean up its act. In the week that followed, advertisers have left the show in droves. At the beginning of the week, the...

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The Opioid Overdose Epidemic Hypocrisy of Donald Trump

by Denise Oliver Velez –  As both a former drug researcher, and former user, I am not in denial about the rising number of overdose deaths in the U.S. To sit and watch the Orange Killer in the oval office hold a “listening session” using the families of overdose victims and tearful recovering addicts as a front for his public relations scam made me want to puke. His announcement at the end of March that he is launching “The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis,” flies in the face of his attempts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in collusion with Republicans in the House and Senate—which would have dropped the addiction treatment mandate covering 1.3 million Americans. Mother Jones has been on his case like white on rice. In “Remember When Trump Said He Cared About the Opioid Crisis? Fast Forward to Now” they point...

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Federal Judge Blocks Indiana Law that Pence Signed Mandating Ultrasounds 18 Hours Before an Abortion

by Meteor Blades – A federal judge has blocked an Indiana law signed by Mike Pence in 2016 when he was still governor to force women to obtain an ultrasound at least 18 hours before getting an abortion. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the first African American ever appointed to the federal court in Indiana, ruled in the case that the state made no compelling argument that requiring an ultrasound “makes it any more likely that a woman will choose not to have an abortion.” As in many cases where new restrictions are placed on abortion, the defenders of this law claim it protects women’s health. Foes argue that this is bunk and that this law, like others, places an “undue burden” on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. That’s language from the Supreme Court ruling in (Pennsylvania) Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and elaborated upon in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016). The case was filed by Planned Parenthood...

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Resurrecting Another ‘Big Lie’: The Myth of Social Security as ‘Ponzi Scheme’

by Bernard Weisberger – This especially ugly lie resurfaces periodically like the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman and is just as devoid of proof, but at least those fakes are harmless. In these pestilent, perilous times, when the very idea of distinction between truth and falsehood is under siege, it’s more critical than ever to keep a sharp lookout for destructive false analogies. Without an anchor in provable fact it’s dangerously easy to get taken in by them. So I am particularly exasperated by a sample dished up by scaremongers, namely that the Social Security program, our rock of security and stability for an aging population for the last 80 years, is a Ponzi scheme — a swindle designed to cheat Americans out of their money with false promises. This especially ugly lie resurfaces periodically like the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman and is just as devoid...

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Texas Rep’s Bill to Fine Men for Masturbatory Emissions has Made its Way up the Legislative Ladder

by Walter Einenkel – Texas’ House Bill 4260, which relates “to the regulation of men’s health and safety; creating civil penalty for unregulated masturbatory emissions,” has moved from being filed to being handled by the Texas State Affairs Committee. Written by Houston Democrat state Rep. Jessica Farrar in response to the slew of anti-women’s rights bills regarding medical choice, the bill is in the perfect place for discussion. The committee is typically the panel that hears abortion-related legislation and it will now address Farrar’s House Bill 4620, which is named the “Men’s Right to Know Act.” The bill was filed about three weeks ago and at the time state Rep. Farrar had this to say: “A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar said in a phone interview. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access...

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Trump says Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Bill O’Reilly are all Lies

by Zack Ford – Happy National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month! In a new interview with the so-called “failing” New York Times, President Trump came to the defense of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. According to an investigation by the Times, Fox News and O’Reilly have paid at least five women a total of about $13 million to quell sexual harassment claims. Though dozens of advertisers have abandoned the his show over the claims, Trump apparently has his back. “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump told the Times. O’Reilly has interviewed Trump many times over the years. The President went on to say, “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” It’s unclear whether Trump has ever discussed the accusations with O’Reilly...

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The Supreme Court Decision to Protect People with Intellectually Disabilities from Execution Was Long Overdue

by Brian Stull – \In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that the government could no longer execute people with an intellectual disability, then called “mental retardation,” because the practice violated the Eighth Amendment. Texas skirted the ruling by creating wholly unscientific criteria to determine intellectual disability, based on, of all things, the fictional character Lennie from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. A new ruling last week by the court in Moore v. Texas should put an end to that and other unscientific measures states have used to execute people with intellectual disabilities. This is a victory. But as with many victories in modern Supreme Court jurisprudence, they come after many defeats that saw a great human toll. I think of my executed client, Robert Ladd. He had an IQ of 67, and had been identified by the Texas Youth Commission as “fairly obviously” intellectually disabled. As...

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The Dallas Cowboys’ Owner Is Right: NFL Should Change its Nonsensical Marijuana Prohibition

by Eric Boehm – Jerry Jones is as unlikeable as an NFL owner could be, but he’s right about this. Football’s prohibition on weed makes no sense for players or teams. If a recent lawsuit filed by former National Football League players is to be believed, professional football teams hand out powerful painkillers by the handful on the sidelines before games, after practices, during halftimes, and just about any time a player complains of any injury or nagging pain. But while America’s most popular sports league is awash in opioids, the NFL maintains a strict rule against players’ use of marijuana—either for recreational purposes or as an alternative way to treat aches and pains. Sports are a mirror for the culture that watches them, and the NFL’s contradictory positions on those two types of pain treatments certainly reflects both the rising opioid crisis in America and the ongoing effort to come...

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UN: Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger Under Trump

by Common Dreams staff – At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attacks the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president. At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attacks the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president, an “alarming and undemocratic” trend, U.N. human rights investigators said this week. Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. “The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech,” they said in a statement, calling for action to reverse such legislation. “From the Black Lives Matter movement, to the environmental and Native American movements in opposition to the Dakota Access oil...

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New York Times Exposes Bill O’Reilly’s Pattern of Sexual Harassment and Cover Ups by Fox

by News Corpse – The New York Times published an article online that is certain to rattle the executive suites at Fox News. It revealed new information about Bill O’Reilly’s long history of sexual harassment and abusive behavior. The hostile work environment at Fox has been the subject of recent news reports due primarily to the scandals surrounding its now ex-CEO, Roger Ailes. Following allegations from several female Fox employees Ailes was forced to resign. But Ailes was not alone. Bill O’Reilly has had his own problems with accusations of harassment. One of the more infamous involved a producer who accepted a multimillion dollar settlement to end her legal proceedings. But that didn’t end the boorish behavior by O’Reilly toward the women with whom he worked. While rumors of promises and threats were rampant, details were often hard to nail down. And that’s where the new investigation by the Times comes in....

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Forget Fascism. It’s Anarchy We Have to Worry About

by NEAL GABLER – We are not barreling toward fascism. Fascism requires a program and unity of purpose. So many of us were wrong, myself included, about Donald Trump. We saw in the jut-jawed, brow-furrowed Mussolini-like posturing, in the blatant narcissism, in the reckless disregard for truth, the anger and incitement to hatred, the declamations that he would fix everything single-handedly on Day One of his presidency, his disdain for democracy and hints that he would lock up his opponents — we saw in all of these things incipient fascism. After the inauguration, I began reading Victor Klemperer’s chilling diaries on the rise of Nazism, I Will Bear Witness, and Sebastian Haffner’s memoir of the early days of Hitler, Defying Hitler. The analogies were all too close. Others on these pages have made similar observations. We were on the verge of something unprecedented, something horrifying. We were on the verge of...

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Russia’s New Protest Generation (VIDEO)

by Roman Dobrokhotov – In Russia a new generation of discontented youth has come of age. Last Sunday mass demonstrations took place in almost 100 Russian cities. They were the biggest since the 2011-2012 protest wave, called the “snow revolution”. But if the last time election fraud was what provoked the people’s anger, this time it was an investigation into Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged corruption practices. The investigation was conducted by the Anti-Corruption Foundation headed by Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition figure who has announced his intention to run in the 2018 presidential elections. Russian police detain hundreds at anti-corruption demonstrations Just a few months ago, no one would have believed that a corruption investigation could provoke mass protests across the country. Not expecting such a massive turnout, the authorities tried to stop the protesters from gathering. State media and law enforcement warned against going out into the streets,...

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Inside the Rotten Repeal of HB2

by Lindsay Gibbs – HB2 is dead, but its anti-LGBT legacy lives on in North Carolina. On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate voted 35–12 to repeal House Bill 2, the anti-LGBT legislation that most notably banned transgender individuals from using the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. Hours later, after a rousing debate, the House of Representatives also confirmed the repeal by 70–48; hours later, it landed on Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) desk, and the simple stroke of a pen, the controversial legislation that had cost North Carolina millions of dollars, made it one of the most anti-LGBT states in the country, and directly led to the demise of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, was dead at long last. But notably, none of the legislators or advocacy groups that had been fighting for the bill’s repeal for over a year were celebrating. “It’s a disappointing day,” Rep. Price Harrison (D) told ThinkProgress....

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With House GOP Vote, Internet Privacy Is Officially Kaput

by Lauren McCauley – With Trump poised to sign into law, resolution will dismantle ‘years of privacy protection that people have had in this country’. Despite widespread popular outcry, House Republicans on Tuesday voted to strip citizens’ of their right to privacy online, selling out the American public to the deep-pocketed telecom industry. With 215 voting for and 205 against, 15 GOP representatives joined the Democrats in opposing the S.J. Res. 34, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) privacy provision. Six Republicans and three Democrats abstained. Roll call here. Open internet and privacy advocates immediately condemned the resolution, now poised to become law pending a likely signature President Donald Trump. Laying out the implications of the vote, Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, declared, “Congress today voted to sell off your privacy and your security online.” “Your internet service provider can see...

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Sanctuary Cities ‘Stand Resolute’ in Face of Threatened Funding Cut-Off

by Nadia Prupis – Officials from country’s largest urban centers strategized on sheltering undocumented immigrants after White House announced plan to withhold federal aid. Sanctuary cities are refusing to back down in the face of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, which was codified on Monday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to cut off funding for states and cities that shelter undocumented residents. Officials from many of those jurisdictions met in New York on Tuesday to discuss how to fight the plan—the second consecutive day of brainstorming from leaders of some of the country’s biggest urban centers, as Reuters noted. The strategy session brought in attendees from California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. It was preceded by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a left-leaning advocacy group, releasing a guide and toolkit on protecting undocumented immigrants. The blueprint, published last week, aims to help local-level policymakers “create...

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With a Daily Dial, Police Reach Out to Seniors

by Jenni Bergal – Living alone can be tough for seniors. Some don’t have family nearby to check on them, and they worry that if they fall or suffer a medical emergency and can’t get to the phone to seek help, no one will know. That’s why hundreds of police agencies in small towns, suburbs and rural areas across the country are checking in on seniors who live alone by offering them a free automated phone call every day. Police officials say the computerized calling systems, which are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, provide an important service to a growing senior population that is expected to reach 65 million by 2025. Already, nearly half of women age 75 and older live alone. And advocates for older adults say telephone check-in programs can help seniors remain independent in their homes and give them — and their family members — peace of...

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Complications of the Border Wall Project Increasingly Apparent

by Abstract668 – As the deadline for initial concept papers for Trump’s wall approaches (Wednesday, March 29, 4 pm without specifying the time zone),  we are finally starting to read about some of the problems that will be encountered if an actual contractor tries to build an actual wall. The Washington Post today listed three obstacles to the wall project: money, geography, and legal challenges. You can read the full story by Alicia Caldwell here. To those of us familiar with federal contracting procedures and federally-funded construction projects, the Post story just scratches the surface of the barriers facing this pipe-dream. Money. As Caldwell points out, Trump promised that Mexico will pay for the wall. We all know that was a five-Pinocchio lie. Let’s assume that Trump himself is not going to pay for it (he doesn’t even pay the carpet companies who outfit his hotels!) In order for federal funds...

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DOJ to Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities by Denying and Clawing Back Federal Grants

by Zack Ford – At Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer turned the podium over to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced a plan to cut Office of Justice Programs grants to sanctuary cities — those that choose not to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials for deportation. “Today I’m urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S. Code § 1373,” Sessions explained. That law states that no government entity can restrict sharing information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding individuals’ citizenship or immigration status. “Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.” Not complying with 1373, Sessions warned, could “result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.” He added that the Department of Justice...

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James Jackson Charged with Murdering Timothy Caughman (VIDEO)

Baltimore resident with ‘intent to kill as many black men as he could’ plunged sword into 66-year-old Timothy Caughman. A white supremacist who stabbed a 66-year-old black man to death with a sword in New York has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. James Harris Jackson, who killed Timothy Caughman on Monday, was charged on Thursday after he told police that he had hated black men for at least 10 years. “His intent was to kill as many black men here in New York as he could,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said as the 28-year-old was arraigned. “The defendant was motivated purely by hatred.” Caughman was bent over a rubbish bin around the corner from his home, gathering bottles, when Jackson plunged a two-foot sword into his chest and back and walked off, prosecutors said. A bleeding Caughman staggered into a police station and later died at a hospital....

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J&J Pulls Ads From YouTube Over ‘Offensive’ Videos

Johnson & Johnson the latest company to drop ads over fears content may appear alongside ‘terrorism’ and hate videos. US healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has become the latest company to suspend all digital advertising on YouTube over concerns its ads may have appeared on channels that broadcast offensive videos. J&J said on Thursday it wanted to ensure that its product advertising did not appear on channels that promote “offensive content”, a day after AT&T, Verizon, and several other major advertisers suspended their digital ads after discovering their brands had been appearing alongside videos promoting violence and hatred. “We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” AT&T said in a statement. “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.” Google, YouTube’s parent company, has come under intense scrutiny for ads appearing alongside videos...

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Two Months In, Trump Breaking Every Vow to ‘Drain the Swamp’: Report

by Nadia Prupis – President ‘has shown himself to be everything that on the campaign trail he expressed to hate about Washington—a self-dealer more interested in helping his friends and big donors than creating a democracy’ Surprising no one, a new report out Wednesday finds that President Donald Trump has broken his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” at every turn, and has instead turned the government over to corporate interests and enriched his bottom line. The joint report from advocacy groups Public Citizen and Every Voice analyzes the two months since Trump took office and concludes that the new administration is mired in corruption and conflicts, while the president himself has hired the very figures he claimed he would fight—big-money donors, lobbyists, and Wall Street executives. In fact, the administration has failed to live up to even its own “painfully inadequate” ethics standards, the groups said. That includes refusing to...

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US Ditches Human Rights Hearing in ‘Unprecedented Show of Disrespect’

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU had planned to drill officials on immigration, DAPL, and Muslim ban, but representatives from various departments never showed. The U.S. failed to show up to a human rights hearing in an “unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Tuesday. In a surprise move, the government ditched a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States, where the ACLU had planned to drill officials on the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration; its ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries; and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), among other issues. The civil rights group had filed an emergency request for the meeting in February, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order, as well as its follow-up mandate, issued last month, have since...

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Eccentric Millionaire Returns Manhattan Building to American Indians

by Amelia Kinney – Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois plans to return his small part of Manhattan to the Lenape Indians by transforming the building into prayer house. Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, 76, plans to transfer the deed of his $4m West Village House to the Lenape American Indian tribe, also known as the first Manhattanites. The house was purchased under the Goldwater Bourgeois family name in 2006 for $2.2m. An architectural historian and activist, Goldwater Bourgeois told the NY Post “I have a romance with the history of the city, and I have been generally appalled that the land that the city is on has been taken by whites.” He went further to say, “This building is the trophy from major theft. It disgusts me.” Goldwater Bourgeois is referring to the Lenape’s original inhabitation of Mannahatta, meaning “land of many hills”. Original correspondences show Dutch traders purchased the land from the Indians...

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How Slashing the NEA Would Damage the US Economy

by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez and Charlotte Channing, Truthout | Op-Ed – Despite the National Endowment for the Arts’ vital role in the US economy, in February, Trump announced that his proposed 2018 budget would eliminate the agency. While the NEA has been on the target list for the right wing for ages, with so much else at stake, it’s hard to imagine that the left wing will take this on as a priority in its resistance efforts. The final budget proposal is promised to be out within weeks, which leads us to ask, what would life be like without the NEA? Fifty years ago, Congress voted to authorize the National Endowment for the Arts based, in part, on a notion that a great US followed from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry. The authorizing legislation observed that: “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the...

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ICE Agency is Publicly Calling out Counties that don’t Detain Immigrants for Deportation

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – It’s a ‘name and shame’ game. The Trump administration is beginning to fulfill its promise to name and shame so-called “sanctuary cities” where local law enforcement officials arrest immigrants and do not turn them over to the federal immigration agency for potential deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security publicly released its first-ever weekly report showing that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued a total of 3,083 detainer requests between January 28 and February 3 to detain arrested immigrants for deportation proceedings. The report included a list of all the counties and jurisdictions that had declined a total of 206 federal detainer requests. ICE criticized the lack of cooperation as an assault to public safety. “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,”...

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Former Police Chief Detained at JFK. Meet the 21st Century Gestapo

by Sidof79 – Hassan Aden, former Police Chief of Greenville, NC, arrived at JFK airport on his way back from Paris with his family.  This is where the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, aka Trump’s Gestapo) allegedly detained him, telling him that “someone on the watch list was using his name as an alias.” “On all of my prior trips, I was greeted by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers with a warm smile and the usual, ‘Welcome home sir’,” he said.  … “I was in a room with no access to my mobile phone to communicate with my wife and family about what was happening, my movements were restricted to a chair, and they had my passport, and he had the audacity to tell me I was not being detained,” Aden said. You are free to go, but we have your passport, your phone…and you can’t...

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Meet Julia, the First Muppet on ‘Sesame Street’ with Autism (VIDEOS)

by Jessica Goldstein – “Sesame Street’ stands for inclusion and acceptance.” The first thing children watching Sesame Street might notice about Julia, the new Muppet on the block, is that she doesn’t want to make eye contact with Big Bird. Sesame devotees — which is to say, toddlers, kids, and their parents — might recognize Julia from her previous appearances on digital Sesame platforms, including ebooks. They’ll already know that Julia is a four-year-old with autism. But for viewers who will meet Julia for the first time when she makes her broadcast debut on April 10, Julia might seem unusual. Then again, maybe not: One in 68 children is diagnosed with autism. Maybe Julia will not seem unusual at all. Maybe she’ll seem totally, completely familiar. “When something is this prevalent, it’s something we have to step up to,” Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President for Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said by phone....

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The Management of Unleashed Insanity

by TODD GITLIN – Trump perfects the role of Propagandist-in-Chief. Richard Nixon lied about wars and cover-ups, but otherwise his evasions and spins were in the mainstream of American political discourse. He was not in the regular practice of calling black white. By the end of his second term, Ronald Reagan was so mentally impaired as to make it unclear what he knew and when. But the present situation, a regime that systematically assaults truth, is unprecedented. One critical mass of citizens, Trump’s true believers, live in a mental universe composed of falsehoods poured steadily into their eyes and ears by a kept propaganda system, a system of untruth which they either affirm or, one way or the other, make their peace with. A second critical mass, the systematic resisters and doubters, is troubled beyond measure, but they are, for the moment, after years of default, powerless. Trump’s gamble is that...

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RIP: Chuck Berry, Dead at 90

Here are the opening paragraphs of The Washington Post’s obituary: Chuck Berry, the perpetual wild man of rock music who helped define its rebellious spirit in the 1950s and was the sly poet laureate of songs about girls, cars, school and even the “any old way you choose it” vitality of the music itself, died March 18 at his home in St. Charles County, Mo. He was 90. St. Charles County police announced the death in a Facebook post on its Website, saying officers responded to a medical emergency at Mr. Berry’s home and administered lifesaving techniques but could not revive him. No further information was available. “While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together,” reads Mr. Berry’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...

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Public Support for Modern-Day Jails is Remarkably Low

by Carimah Townes – Very few people believe jail should be punitive. Approximately 12 million people are held in jail each year in the United States. The majority of them are nonviolent offenders and people detained for their inability to pay bail. But as the country braces for President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crackdown on crime, few Americans agree with how jails are being used. According to a new poll conducted by Zogby and released by the MacArthur Foundation on Thursday, the public widely favors alternatives to jail. Out of 3,007 people surveyed across the country, 62 percent of respondents support rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders instead of locking them up to prevent future crimes or using jail as a form of punishment. About 75 percent preferred rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders with mental illness. The poll also found that few Americans support pretrial detention for people who can’t afford bail....

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