Crime & Legal

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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‘Follow the Facts’: Top Dem Demands Independent Trump-Russia Commission (VIDEO)

by Jon Queally – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says credibility must be restored. Matching a growing popular demand, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday urged Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the possible role that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign or transition teams may have had with alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. In a video message released on Twitter, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) informed his colleagues why he believes new revelations—coupled with the recent troubling behavior of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee—make a nonpartisan, independent commission necessary. Watch: The American people demand – and deserve – the truth. Congress must create an independent commission to #FollowTheFacts on Russia. pic.twitter.com/aa3SmJ7pRI — Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 25, 2017 Though serious questions remain regarding the depth and veracity of the government’s...

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Abruptly Cancels Open Hearing on Russia

by Judd Legum – Key Democrat calls it an effort to “choke off public info.” Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has abruptly canceled a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday with former DNI director James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. The hearing is part of the committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, including whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives. The ranking member of the Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), characterized Nunes’ decision as an effort to choke off public information about the inquiry. Adam Schiff ✔@RepAdamSchiff BREAKING: Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in attempt to choke off public info. 11:16 AM – 24 Mar 2017 Tuesday’s hearing was a continuation of a hearing on Monday which featured FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike...

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Memo to FBI: If Team Trump and Putin Colluded, any Money Trail Likely Involves Oil

by Joe Romm – Russia sold off one-fifth of its state-owned oil giant in December, but we still don’t know who bought it all. As the FBI investigates possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, one aspect merits closer examination: the $11 billion post-election sale of 19.5 percent of the Kremlin-controlled oil giant Rosneft. If there was an actual quid pro quo between Trump officials and the Russian government, it may well involve that sale for two reasons. First, prior to the election, “most industry watchers had written off the chances of a foreign investor being found for Rosneft,” as Fortune explained at the time. But electing someone who had vowed to improve relations with Russia appears to have changed the economic landscape. Second, as Reuters has detailed, Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sell off this “oil jewel without saying who bought it.” In this post, I’ll attempt to connect...

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Growing a Spine? Schumer Sets Stage for Gorsuch Filibuster (VIDEO)

by Nika Knight – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced opposition to right-wing Supreme Court nominee, setting stage for filibuster showdown. After weeks of outcry and public calls for Senate Democrats to “grow a spine” and filibuster President Donald Trump’s right-wing Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Democrats finally appear to be listening. On Thursday, after three days of Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he could not support Gorsuch’s nomination and indicated that he would join a filibuster against the nominee. “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” Schumer said. “My vote will be no.” “His career and judicial record suggest not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” Schumer said: Democrats have complained throughout Gorsuch’s testimony that the conservative judge has been eliding questions and refusing to explain his judicial philosophy in concrete terms. When pressed...

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‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – FBI and NSA chiefs verify a Russia probe and refute the president’s claims as Republicans scramble to pretend the “drip, drip, drip” hasn’t started. Monday’s hearing of the House Intelligence Committee was proof positive of the absolute need for both a special prosecutor and an independent, bipartisan commission with subpoena power to conduct a full investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian intelligence — as well as Russia’s multipronged attack on our elections and Trump’s business connections with that country’s oligarchs. And it’s proof more than ever that even if we get that prosecutor and inquiry, a free and independent press may be the only real way to ever get to the bottom of what ranking committee member Adam Schiff said may represent “one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.” Just as FBI Director James Comey officially revealed for the very first...

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UK Police: Eight Arrests Over Westminster Attack

Prime minister says suspect was born in Britain, as police arrest eight in probe into deadly attack near UK parliament. The suspect of a deadly attack outside the UK parliament in London was British-born, Prime Minister Theresa May has said, as police arrested eight people after several overnight raids across the country. In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, May said the attacker was once investigated by intelligence officers over concerns of “violent extremism”. “He was a peripheral figure,” she said. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.” Earlier on Thursday, police said eight people had been arrested after raids on six homes in London, Birmingham and other parts of the country in their probe into the attack, in which a man ploughed into pedestrians in a car and then went on a stabbing spree before being shot dead. Mark Rowley, acting deputy...

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Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia last week that legalizing marijuana would not make the United States “a better place,” and he is “astonished” by the suggestion that cannabis could be used to combat the nation’s “heroin crisis.” Two days later, New Mexico — which has suffered from by high rates of opiate-related deaths for years — moved to do just that. On Friday, New Mexico’s legislature approved a bill that would make patients diagnosed with opiate disorders eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. The idea already has the blessing of the state’s Medical Advisory Board, and if approved by the governor, New Mexico would become the first state to specifically to put opiate disorders on its list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis products. A growing field of research suggests...

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Climate Kids Demand Feds Turn Over ‘Wayne Tracker’ (aka Rex Tillerson) Emails

by Andrea Germanos – “When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson’s pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see.” Lawyers representing youth in a landmark climate lawsuit are demanding to see the emails Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent using the alias “Wayne Tracker” while serving as CEO of ExxonMobil. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office made the claim of the email alias last week in a court filing as part of its investigation into the oil giant’s climate cover-up. The filing said Tillerson used the “Tracker” account to discuss climate change and other matters from at least 2008-2015. In the youths’ case, as Common Dreams wrote, the 21 “co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources.” Their legal...

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‘Beyond Irregular’: GOP Intel Chair, Devin Nunes, Under Fire for Bizarre Trump Briefing

by Jon Queally – Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excoriated by colleagues and intelligence experts for skirting protocols and taking newly obtained information straight to Trump. The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said the “beyond irregular” behavior of the committee’s Republican chairman has “underscored the imperative of an independent investigation” into Russian interference in last year’s election—comments that capped off a series of explosive Capitol Hill developments surrounding a controversy that refuses to die. “The chairman needs to think about which role he wants to play here. Is he going to play a role as surrogate for the administration or is he going to play a role of leading an independent investigation? He can’t do both.” —Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came under fire later by congressional colleagues after he went outside normal protocols by...

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Roger Stone’s Russian Alibi Falls Apart

by Laurel Raymond – Stone keeps referencing ‘independent’ information he had on Podesta — but the article he says proves it is based on Wikileaks. Trump ally Roger Stone is one of the more colorful characters in the President’s arsenal. He wore a top hat and morning coat to Trump’s inauguration. He has a Nixon tattoo between his shoulder blades. He’s a weekly guest host on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show. And now, he’s under FBI scrutiny for possibly colluding with the Russian election hacking to help boost President Donald Trump’s campaign — a charge he vehemently denies. The allegations stem from a series of actions of Stone’s, but chiefly rest on a prediction Stone made in August that it would “soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Roger Stone @RogerJStoneJr Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary 10:24 AM – 21 Aug 2016 A little over a month...

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A White House Without Rules

by ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY – The Trump administration’s most troubling conflicts involve the president’s closest advisers, employees the White House argues operate entirely outside the ethics laws. So many ethics complaints have now been lodged against the Trump administration that it’s getting hard to keep track. The billionaires running Cabinet agencies, the White House advisers accused of self-dealing, and the president’s own failure to divest from his increasingly lucrative business holdings have all drawn so much notice that Americans may be tempted to tune out. But the story of Trump administration ethics conflicts is not going away, and every new revelation sheds disturbing light on a White House culture that celebrates self-enrichment, and that treats the president’s inner circle as literally exempt from the rules that lay out a precise code of conduct for executive branch officials. The White House’s freewheeling attitude toward presidential advisers, in particular, poses special dangers and...

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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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FBI Investigating Breitbart and InfoWars for Possible Russian Collusion

by ericlewis0 – From McClatchy, via Raw Story: WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who...

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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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Five Reasons Moderate Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court

by Richard Eskow – After a contentious start to Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination hearings, Senate Democrats are struggling with what the New York Times calls “two options: Get out of the way or get run over.” But Democrats have a third option, one that should attract moderate “centrists” as well as more liberal senators: Fight. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, received some criticism for introducing Gorsuch to the Senate at the start of today’s hearing. Bennet’s action was defensible: in normal times, it’s Senate protocol for senators to introduce nominees from their home state. Colorado’s other senator, Republican Cory Gardner, also introduced Gorsuch. But these are not normal times, and Democrats need to recognize that. Donald Trump, and the Republican Party in general, have succeeded by ignoring “normal” behavior and the protocols of the past. Nobody’s suggesting that Democrats should behave like Republicans, but it’s no longer...

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New York Attorney General Hires Attorney to go After Trump Full Time

by Mark Sumner – While Donald Trump is busy live-tweeting fresh outbreaks of paranoia to the intelligence committee hearing, he might want to check out the other news. New York state’s attorney general, to date one of the most vocal antagonists of President Donald Trump, is preparing to escalate his office’s litigation against the president’s administration. New York AG Eric Schneiderman isn’t just a ‘vocal antagonist’ of Trump, he’s the guy who brought Trump to heel over Trump University. The guy who caught multiple violations at the Trump Foundation. The guy kos declared one of the most important resistance leaders over the next four years. Schneiderman joined in the case against Trump’s Muslim ban, and it’s not all he has in mind. In addition to challenging White House policies in court, Mr. Schneiderman’s office is expected to explore whether it has any standing to pursue cases that hinge on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to people familiar...

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A Lawyer Sues President Trump Over His Financial Disclosure

by Casey Quinlan – A lawyer filed a case in federal court on March 14 which claims that Americans have not received accurate information about President Donald Trump’s debts. Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky, based in Washington, D.C., said Trump’s May 2016 financial disclosure mixes personal liabilities with business liabilities, Politico reported. Lovitky wrote in the complaint: The purpose of these disclosure requirements is to allow members of the public to make informed judgments as to whether candidates for federal office have financial conflicts of interests that may impair their ability to faithfully execute their duties as public servants. In an interview with Politico, Lovitky said, “If you just look at the statement on its face, all those liabilities are assumed to be personal liabilities, but I just do not think that’s the case. I have information that says otherwise.” Lovitky is not seeking damages. He asked the court to declare last year’s...

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No Charges for Florida Prison Guards who Allegedly Locked Mentally Ill Black Man in Scalding Shower

by Natasha Geiling – Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, died in 2012. In June of 2012, 50-year old Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, died in the Dade Correctional Institution. According to prison witnesses and civil rights groups, Rainey died after guards locked him in a shower for two hours with water at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Nurses who examined Rainey said that he had burns over 90 percent of his body — and that his skin fell off at the touch. According to an autopsy report released in January by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner, Rainey died from “complications of schizophrenia, heart disease and ‘confinement’ in the shower.” On Friday, more than four years after Rainey’s death, the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated that they would not be seeking charges against the four correctional officers allegedly involved in Rainey’s death. “The shower...

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Rep. Adam Schiff’s Short Speech Crisply lays out the Evidence Connecting Trump and Russia

by Laurel Raymond – Think of it as congressional SparkNotes. When news began trickling out, months ago, that Russia may have tried to influence the American election, the actual news in the U.S. quickly became something akin to a Cold-war era spy novel. There’s now a vast web of circumstantial evidence and questions surrounding the Trump administration’s alleged contacts with Russian state actors during the campaign, most of which leaked out over months. And for many people, the web of allegations and the Trump administration’s frequently shifting official story has been very difficult to follow. On Monday, FBI director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence committee as part of Congress’ ongoing investigation in the matter. Before his testimony, the committee’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) laid out of all of the circumstantial evidence that has built up so far connecting the Trump campaign to Russian state actors...

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Why Trump won’t Quit. He can’t

by Otteray Scribe – There has been widespread speculation, complete with polls and betting pools, whether Trump will last six months or a year. There has been speculation whether he might resign, or be removed from office by Congress. I do not have any inside information, and even if I did, I would not reveal it. However, I am not an amateur armchair analyst.  I have been doing what I do for more than four decades, and in that time, I have met some interesting people.  The word “interesting” is used in the broadest sense of the word.  Suffice it to say that in some circles, they don’t care for me at all. During my almost half century of forensic work, I have encountered some of the most dangerous and cunning people you never want to meet. I have learned a lot from them. That leads up to what I am...

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Paul Ryan’s Role in Russian Espionage Against Democrats in 2016 House Races

by SemDem – Paul Ryan is everywhere these days hocking Trumpcare.  It infuriates me because there is almost no one politician I have as little respect for as Ryan. He is smarmy, but thinks of himself as a stud.  He tells everyone he’s a “policy wonk”, but doesn’t understand fundamental concepts–like how insurance works.  He fancies himself a master politician, but has never once been able to build a coalition to get, well, anything passed.  If I count that one post office he named in 2000 or that one tax modification on hunting arrows in 2004, I can bring his grand legislative successes to….. two.  Somehow I doubt Trumpcare will be his third. As a politician, Paul Ryan is a complete and utter failure. But he’s so much more than just another failed politician.  And it’s way past time for Democratic politicians to start calling him what he truly is: Paul Ryan is damn...

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Department of Justice to Appeal Maryland Ruling Against Muslim Ban 2.0

by Nadia Prupis – ‘We look forward to defending this careful and well-reasoned decision in the appeals court,’ said ACLU’s Omar Jadwat. The Trump administration on Friday filed papers to appeal a ruling that blocked the president’s revised travel ban, setting up a new legal showdown over the executive order that opponents have called “Muslim ban 2.0.” Attorneys for the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed federal papers in Maryland, one of the two states that issued rulings against President Donald Trump’s executive order this week. Judges in that state and Hawaii both found that the memo, which blocks entry to the U.S. for travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, was unconstitutional and violated the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. The DOJ only appealed Maryland’s decision. Had the department challenged the ruling in Hawaii, the appeal would have gone to the same San Francisco court that rejected the original version of...

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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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The Unfixable Problem with Trump’s Muslim Ban

by Ian Millhiser – If you’re going to flout the Constitution, don’t brag about it. Wednesday evening, a federal judge in Hawaii temporarily halted President Trump’s latest attempt to keep many foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. Judge Derrick Watson’s temporary restraining order is the first chapter in a long saga of litigation that is likely to end at the Supreme Court. Should Judge Watson’s reasoning be embraced by higher courts, however, it is far from clear that Trump can fix the fundamental error Watson identifies with Trump’s efforts to keep many Muslims out of the United States. If you plan to unconstitutionally target a group of people because of their faith, it’s a good idea not to run around the country announcing this fact. Trump lawyer’s, as Watson notes, relied heavily on the fact that Trump’s executive order restricting travel from six Muslim nations is...

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Can Customs and Border Officials Search Your Phone? These Are Your Rights

by Patrick G. Lee – Recent detentions and seizures of phones and other material from travelers to the United States have sparked alarm. We detail what powers Customs and Border Protection officials have over you and your devices. This story has been updated to add that Customs and Border Protection agents must have probable cause of wrongdoing to make stops outside the 100-mile border zone within which they have broad search powers. A NASA scientist heading home to the U.S. said he was detained in January at a Houston airport, where Customs and Border Protection officers pressured him for access to his work phone and its potentially sensitive contents. Last month, CBP agents checked the identification of passengers leaving a domestic flight at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport during a search for an immigrant with a deportation order. And in October, border agents seized phones and other work-related material from...

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White House Apologizes to Britain for False Wiretapping Allegations

by Zack Ford – Noooooo, British intelligence didn’t bug Trump Tower either. The White House has apologized to Britain and promised it will no longer reiterate conspiracy theories about British intelligence working against President Trump. During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read through a litany of news stories that he argued gave credence to President Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama wiretapped — or “wiretapped” — Trump Tower during the election. The corroborating “evidence” included remarks made by Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, who — humoring Trump’s claims — suggested that Obama could have used a foreign intelligence service to avoid a paper trail — and that, if he did, he “more likely than not” used the British intelligence agency GCHQ to conduct that supposed surveillance. The GCHQ, like U.S. intelligence agencies, rarely comments on its own activities, but in this case, it responded that such allegations are “utterly ridiculous” and “should be ignored.” U.S. National Security Adviser...

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Michael Flynn Took Money from Russia While He Held a Top-Secret Clearance

by Frank Vyan Walton – Following up on a previously reported story that the doubly fired Michael Flynn took $40,000 from Kremlin funded RT News in 2015, it now appears that he also took that and even more Russian money while he held a Top-Secret Security Clearance. RT paid $45,386 for Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., to fly to Moscow to speak at the English-language network’s 10th anniversary celebration, where he dined at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Flynn’s speaking agency, Leading Authorities, took a 25 percent commission for the payment, which left $33,750 for the retired U.S. Army general. Other documents obtained by the congressional committee show Flynn was paid $11,250 each by a Russian air cargo company and a Russian cybersecurity company, reported the Wall Street Journal. The cargo company had been suspended as a United Nations vendor...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Top Sens on Intel Committee: ‘No Indication’ Trump Tower was Bugged

by Nadia Prupis – “Now that you’ve acknowledged that Trump falsely accused a former president of a felony, what are you going to do about it?” asked ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum. The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday there is no indication that Trump Tower was ever the “subject of surveillance” by the U.S. government. Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking Democrat Mark Warner (Va.), who are also leading an investigation into Russia’s alleged involvement with the presidential election, issued a one-sentence statement that read, “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.” President Donald Trump earlier this month accused former President Barack Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower. Burr and Warner’s conclusion follows a similar statement by House Intelligence Committee...

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Judge Temporarily Halts Trump’s Revised Muslim Ban Hours Before it Goes into Effect

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “Nothing of substance has changed.” A Hawaii judge ordered a temporary restraining order on President Donald Trump’s revised Muslim ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was set to go into effect. The ban, which is a revised version of a similar executive order Trump signed just one week into office, suspends all refugee resettlement for 120 days and blocks the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for at least 90 days. It also limits the number of refugees the United States will accept in 2017 to 50,000–60,000 less than originally planned under Obama. The ban was set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson heard Hawaii’s case, which the state filed by itself. The state argued that the ban violates the First Amendment’s establishment, as it is essentially a Muslim ban, and it also hurts...

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Former Virginia Mayor Could Get 40 Years After Pleading Guilty to Trading Meth for Sex (VIDEO)

by April Hamlin – The former mayor of Fairfax City in Virginia is facing up to 40 years in prison after he pled guilty to trading crystal meth for sex. Richard “Scott” Silverthorne entered a guilty plea to one charge of distributing methamphetamine on Monday. This shocking story began in August of 2016 when Silverthorne was arrested. Police say they got a tip that he was using a website to set up casual sexual encounters and distribute meth. An undercover officer set up a fake profile on the site and Silverthorne took the bait. In just days he had responded to the undercover officer and arranged to meet him at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in McLean, Virginia. The police set up a sting operation and busted him when he gave the undercover cop two grams of meth. During the raid, police arrested Silverthorne and two other men. Silverthorne was released on his own...

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Top Trump Aide Accused of Breaking Criminal Conflict of Interest Law

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘This marks the latest in an already too-long list’ of potential violations, says ethics watchdog. Another member of President Donald Trump’s inner circle may have blurred ethical lines, this time by breaking criminal conflict of interest laws. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint Tuesday with White House counsel Don McGhan, accusing assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives Christopher Liddell of improperly participating in meetings that took place between Trump and companies in which Liddell held millions of dollars in stock. According to CREW: Criminal law prohibits a federal employee like Liddell from participating personally and substantially in any particular matter to which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest. On January 23rd, Liddell participated with Trump in a meeting with business leaders from 12 companies, including 10 in which Liddell appears to have held stock worth approximately $2.1 million:...

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A Timeline: Russia and Trump

by STEVEN HARPER – Investigative reporters have begun to flesh out the Trump/Russia timeline. To keep everything in one location, here’s an updated summary (so far). Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir, a Russian immigrant born in the Republic of Georgia who left the Soviet Union in 1973. 2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testified that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a...

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What do States Owe People Who are Wrongfully Convicted?

by Scott Rodd – In April 2000, 23-year-old Floyd Bledsoe sat in an Oskaloosa, Kansas, courtroom awaiting the verdict in his first-degree murder trial in the death of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Zetta “Camille” Arfmann. Throughout the trial, he maintained his innocence. But the jury entered the courtroom and declared him guilty. Bledsoe was sentenced to life in prison plus 16 years, but doubts about his involvement in the murder lingered. The crime scene yielded little physical evidence, and Bledsoe’s brother, Tom, 25, had originally confessed to the murder before recanting and pinning the crime on Floyd. After years of fruitless court challenges, Bledsoe was vindicated in a gut-wrenching twist: In 2015, Tom Bledsoe confessed to the murder in a suicide note before asphyxiating himself. Within a month, a judge vacated Bledsoe’s conviction and he was released from prison. The day of his release, Bledsoe recalls, was a mixture of...

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New York AG: SoS Tillerson Used Email Alias for Climate Messages While CEO of ExxonMobil

by Neapolitan – Well, isn’t this special. Bloomberg is reporting that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly used an email alias account for many years to discuss climate change matters while he was CEO of ExxonMobil in what appears to be an effort to keep sensitive communications out of the eyes of the public, Exxon’s shareholders, and, possibly, investigators. New York says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.: Wayne Tracker. Tillerson sent messages from the account to discuss the risks posed by climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said. Schneiderman made the claim in a letter Monday to Justice Barry Ostrager...

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

by Adam Hudson, Truthout | Report – Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president. “I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu,...

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Cops Told This Uber Driver It’s Illegal to Film Them. Surprise, He’s a Lawyer

by Anthony L. Fisher – Wilmington (N.C.) police imagined a ‘new law’ prohibiting recording police in public during a traffic stop. Jesse Bright was driving an Uber customer in Wilmington, North Carolina last month when he was stopped by police. His passenger was ordered from the car and searched on suspicion of drug violations. Bright decided to turn on his camera and record whatever might happen next. But the officers on the scene did not take kindly to being filmed, with one officer telling Bright, “Be careful because there is a new law. Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.” Bright demanded to know what new law the officer was speaking of, but instead he was ordered out of the car. Bright replied, “What are you arresting me for? I’m sitting here in my car. I’m just recording in case anything happens. I’m surrounded by five police officers.” Bright...

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Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned: Your Smart TV is Spying On You

by MICHAEL PRICE – It appears the CIA is exploiting Americans TVs to collect information, and it’s a safe bet they’re not the only ones. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about this one: your “smart” TV may be spying on you. Really. According to classified documents leaked this week, the CIA found a way to hack the microphone on televisions equipped with voice control and send the audio back to headquarters. It can even record in “Fake-Off” mode — when the TV looks like it’s off but isn’t, according to notes on project “Weeping Angel.” See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Way back in 2014, we noticed a rather ominous waring in the novella-length privacy policy that came with our new smart TV: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted...

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Trump’s China Trademarks Violate the Constitution

by Dave Johnson – During the campaign Donald Trump pledged that “on day one” as president, he would label China a currency manipulator. Then he didn’t. Then China granted Trump’s businesses lucrative trademarks he has been seeking. Coincidence? “On Day One“ On the campaign trail, Trump repeated again and again that if elected president he would label China a currency manipulator “on day one.” For example, in an August, 2016 speech in Tampa, he outlined a seven-point plan that included this promise: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator… Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States will face tariffs to stop the cheating. China’s currency manipulation has often brought the “price” of their currency down, which means things made in China cost less in international markets than things made in the U.S. Of course, the U.S....

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Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to Walk Free in Coming Days

Public prosecutor orders release of former president as early as tomorrow following court acquittal. Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown as president of Egypt in an uprising in 2011, will be released from detention in a military hospital after a six-year legal battle over accusations of involvement in the killing protesters. “He will go to his home in Heliopolis,” Mubarak’s lawyer Farid el-Deeb said, adding the ageing former president would likely be released Tuesday or soon after, but would be barred from leaving the country pending an ongoing corruption investigation. The prosecutor’s decision came on Monday, days after an appeals court acquitted Mubarak on March 2 of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ousted him. Egypt’s court acquits former president Hosni Mubarak His acquittal, which is final, has angered relatives of those killed in 2011. “Our son’s blood was spilled for nothing,” said Mostafa Morsi,...

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Highest Canadian Court Confirms Trump Scammed Investors

by Conover Kennard – Donald Trump, the businessman who conservatives thought would be an ideal choice to become president of the most powerful country in the world, has scammed a lot of people along the way. As president-elect, Trump had to fork over $25 million to settle three lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University and after he was sworn in, lawsuits are still coming in. The newest lawsuit alleges that the former reality show star and a real estate development firm misled investors, and that has now been upheld by Canada’s highest court. The Independent reports: Sarbjit Singh and Se Na Lee alleged they were sold units in Toronto’s, Trump International Hotel, under false pretenses. The pair claimed they were misled to believe their investments would see returns ranging from 7.7 per cent to 20.9 per cent. Instead, they said they lost a combined C$1.2m (£732,810). Instead of the promised returns, the...

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US Attorney in New York Fired After Refusing Trump’s Abrupt Request to Resign

by Deirdre Fulton – The Trump administration demanded the resignation of 46 U.S. attorneys on Friday afternoon, with little warning. Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was fired Saturday after refusing to comply with the Trump administration’s request to resign, according to the New York Times. Bharara’s firing adds another layer of controversy to the episode, which was already raising eyebrows—and in some cases, ire. Preet Bharara  ✔@PreetBharara I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life. 2:29 PM – 11 Mar 2017 Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for the resignations of 46 U.S. attorneys on Friday, “igniting anger from officials who say they were given no warning about their dismissals,” as CNN reported. “It is common for administrations to ask holdovers to step down, but what is less common...

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Unfairness in Class Action: A New Attack on Civil Rights

by Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – President Donald Trump’s budget proposal may eliminate the single greatest funder of civil legal aid in the United States, the Legal Services Corporation—a long-standing goal of Vice President Mike Pence. At the same time, Congress is working to block Americans from seeking justice on their own with the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017. This bill was drafted to address an imaginary problem; if it passes, it will have very real, devastating consequences. For those who face systemic corporate abuses and failures of government, class action lawsuits are a critical tool for seeking justice. Through a class action, a few people or organizations can represent a larger group that has been harmed in a lawsuit against the perpetrator to seek a remedy, whether a change in practices or monetary damages. Actions that aim to force actors to change their behavior—for example, to follow the law...

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Muhammad Ali’s Family Takes to Capitol Hill to Oppose Trump’s ‘Insulting’ Muslim Ban

by Lindsay Gibbs – “Someone needs to turn the humanity switch on.” Last month, Muhammad Ali Jr. and Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the son and ex-wife of the late Muhammad Ali, were detained by immigration officers for several hours at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on their way back from Jamaica and questioned explicitly about their religion. On Thursday afternoon, the devout Muslims — both of whom are U.S. citizens and had all the proper documentation with them while traveling — spoke about this experience at a House of Representatives forum on Capitol Hill. “I was so violated,” Camacho-Ali, the second wife of the boxing legend and mother of four of his children, said. “This is not acceptable. I’ve never felt this uncomfortable being in this country.” The mother and son had no qualms tying their experience directly to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, the executive order — now in its second iteration — banning nationals from several majority-Muslim countries and preventing all...

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Decades of Exoneration Stats Show Blacks More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted

by Scott Shackford – Everything from official misconduct to bad eyewitness identifications to false confessions played roles. National Registry of Exonerations America saw another record year for the number of prisoners being exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society, University of Michigan Law School, and Michigan State University College of Law. For 2016, 166 people were exonerated of crimes and released from prison, 52 of them for murder. Of all the exonerations, 70 cases involved official misconduct of some sort, and in 74 of the cases, convictions came from guilty pleas. And in 94 cases (also a record) it turned out that no actual crime occurred at all. These were mostly drug cases but also some child sex abuse cases. Most famously, the San Antonio Four, four women convicted in 1998 in a fabricated satanic child sex abuse...

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Trump and Pence were Warned About Michael Flynn’s Lobbying, but now Claim They Never Knew

by Mark Sumner – It’s not immigrants who need “extreme vetting,” it’s members of the Trump regime. Not only do they have numerous ties to Russian oligarchs, mob figures, and shady investment schemes (and that’s just Trump) apparently no one even bothers to check on what they did for a living. On Thursday, Donald Trump claimed he didn’t know that Michael Flynn had formerly worked as an agent of Turkey. President Donald Trump was not aware that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had worked to further the interests of the government of Turkey before appointing him, the White House said Thursday. That Flynn had worked for multiple interests in Turkey was common knowledge, but common knowledge, like common sense, doesn’t matter with the chaos corps. And now Mike Pence is shocked—shocked—to find out what pretty much anyone who bothered to read an article about Flynn already knew. In an interview with...

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Senate Must Demand Answers About Gorsuch’s Work for Scandal-Plagued DoJ

by Billy Corriher and Michele L. Jawando – After Judge James Robart halted Donald Trump’s first travel ban, the president “lashe out” at him and suggested that his ruling was somehow illegitimate. Stephen Miller, a White House adviser, said on television that the president’s executive orders “will not be questioned.” The courts are charged with interpreting the Constitution, including the limits on executive power, but the president does not seem to accept this fundamental principle. With these constitutional questions looming, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some have asked for more information about Gorsuch’s work for the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, in 2005 and 2006, at a time when the agency faced alarming scandals involving abuse of power. At his confirmation hearing on March 20, Gorsuch should be asked about his work at the DOJ. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)...

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Ethics Office Tells Trump & Co.: Sorry, You’re Not Above the Rules

by Deirdre Fulton – The No TRUMP Act, introduced this week, seeks to address at least some of President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest. The head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has taken issue with the Trump administration’s grasp of ethics rules, expressing deep concern that the executive branch apparently thinks it is above such regulations. In a letter sent Thursday to deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, OGE director Walter Shaub admonished the administration for failing to censure advisor Kellyanne Conway for her February endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products on the television program “Fox & Friends.” The OGE had previously told the White House that there was “strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted.” But Passantino let Shaub know earlier this month that the White House would not discipline Conway, saying she acted “inadvertently” when...

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‘Corrosive to Democracy’: ACLU Files Ethics Complaint Against Jeff Sessions

by Nadia Prupis – ‘False testimony made under oath is one of the most serious ethical offenses a lawyer can make.’ The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Thursday, asking the Alabama State Bar to investigate a potential rules violation after the former senator was revealed to have lied to Congress during his confirmation testimony. “False testimony made under oath is one of the most serious ethical offenses a lawyer can make and one any state bar should investigate vigorously,” said ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir. “Alabamians and Americans from all walks of life should be assured that the organizations responsible for regulating lawyers in their state take ethical violations seriously—no matter how powerful that lawyer may be.” Sessions has been a member of the Alabama State Bar since 1973. The legal association states that engaging in behavior “involving dishonesty, fraud,...

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More States Sue to Block “Muslim Ban By Another Name”

by Nadia Prupis – “It’s my expectation that we will continue to prevail, and certainly my expectation that the president will continue to respect the decision of the court.” At least three more states are suing President Donald Trump over his new travel ban, as Washington state—whose legal action suspended the original executive order—said Thursday that it would renew its request to block the revised one. Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson said both Oregon and New York are joining his state’s legal challenge to the new order, which blocks travelers from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and blocks refugees for 120. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also said that Minnesota would be taking part in the lawsuit. Ferguson said the court will decide whether the new ban, which affects travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, exempting current visa holders, is similar enough...

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Report: Trump Adviser Communicated with Russian Hackers Before Election

by Aaron Rupar – Roger Stone appeared to know about documents the hackers had stolen before they were published. Roger Stone, a longtime confidant and adviser of Donald Trump, exchanged direct messages on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0 before the presidential election, according to a report published Wednesday by The Smoking Gun. In a joint statement released in October, U.S. intelligence community officials said they had concluded that Guccifer 2.0 is a front for hackers directed by the Russian government. Emails Guccifer 2.0 hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were later shared with and published by Wikileaks, with the DNC emails hitting the internet just before the Democratic National Convention in July and Podesta’s emails trickling out in installments beginning in October. The report simply cites “a source,” but reached for comment by TSG, Stone didn’t deny anything. He also indicated he’s been afflicted with...

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South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, Fired as Court Upholds Impeachment

Constitutional Court unanimously rules to formally remove impeached President Park Geun-hye from office. South Korea’s top court has ruled to formally end impeached President Park Geun-hye’s rule. Eight judges from the Constitutional Court assembled on Friday to issue a verdict to remove Park from office over a corruption scandal. The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of her supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court. It marks the first time a South Korean president has been ousted before the end of their term since democracy replaced dictatorship in the late 1980s. South Korea: Rival rallies held over President Park scandal Park’s action had “seriously impaired the spirit of … democracy and the rule of law,” said constitutional court chief justice Lee Jung-Mi. “President Park Geun-hye … has been dismissed.” Election law now requires a snap poll to be held within 60 days. In anticipation...

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Majority of Voters: Special Prosecutor Needed to Probe Alleged Trump Campaign-Russia Ties

by Andrea Germanos – Fifty-seven percent back special prosecutor, new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows. A majority of registered voters are in favor having a special prosecutor investigate potential ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign aides and Kremlin officials, a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday shows. Fifty-seven percent say they are in favor of such a probe, compared to 31 percent who say they are not. Thirteen percent say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion on the matter. The online poll of 1,992 registered voters was conducted from March 2—when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from federal investigations into such potential interference—to March 6. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. As to whether Russia influenced the outcome of the 2106 presidential elections, the results are more evenly divided: 41 percent say it did, compared to 42 percent who say it did...

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Donald J. Trump

by Michael Winship – A stroll through this past weekend’s craziness tells us more than we care to know about the state of the presidential mind. Assume for a moment, as many have suggested, that the whole Trump/Putin/Russia calamity is a deliberate distraction, a deflection to shift our gaze from the destruction of government and democratic principles that Trump, Bannon and their cohort — aided and abetted by a compliant Congress — seem intent on implementing. What then to make of this weekend’s flurry of tweets from our commander-in-chief, first bellowing that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in Manhattan and then demanding a congressional investigation? A distraction from a distraction? Or worse? CNN’s Jake Tapper succinctly summed it up in a Sunday morning tweet of his own: Jake Tapper  ✔@jaketapper POTUS makes wild accusation w/zero evidence WH searches for evidence & cant find any WH tells Congress to find evidence/no further...

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Republican Senator to Call Trump’s Bluff on Obama Wiretapping Accusation

by Aaron Rupar – Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’ll subpoena information from the FBI and DOJ if he has to. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to call President Trump’s bluff regarding the baseless allegation he made Saturday morning about President Obama tapping his phones — an allegation the White House has since asked Congress to investigate. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election! 6:52 AM – 4 Mar 2017 The Trump administration has provided no evidence to substantiate the president’s explosive claim, but on Wednesday, Graham and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) — chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively — sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente asking them for any information they might have about a warrant being issued to surveil Trump...

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LGBT Community Centers See Wave of Vandalism Across the Country

by Zack Ford – It’s part of the broader wave of hate that has spread across the country since the election. Over the past two months, various LGBT centers have been targeted with vandalism. Fortunately, the attacks on these important resource spaces and gathering places have not resulted in anyone being hurt, but the damage is real. The latest pair of incidents took place this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Shortly after midnight Monday morning, a white four-door truck drove past the center and fired multiple shots across the front door and windows of the center. Tulsa police recovered 13 pellets, but fortunately they did not penetrate the reinforced glass. It was the first time in the center’s 12-year history that it was targeted for a serious act of vandalism. Monday afternoon, a man then entered the Equality Center and began yelling at the staff,...

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When the Supreme Court Stopped a Government-Led Attack on Freedom of the Press

by Damon Root – Revisiting a landmark First Amendment case.   In 1934 the Louisiana legislature passed a law requiring all newspapers, magazines, and periodicals with a circulation of 20,000 or more to pay an annual licensing tax of 2 percent on all gross receipts “for the privilege of engaging in such business in this State.” Ostensibly justified as just another run-of-the-mill tax, the measure’s true purpose was plain for all to see. The governor at that time was the notorious populist demagogue Huey P. Long, also known as the “Kingfish.” The Long administration was famously rife with corruption and criminality and the state’s biggest newspapers just happened to be some of the governor’s most outspoken critics. So the Kingfish told his allies in the legislature to use the state’s vast taxing powers to harass and punish his enemies in the press. The American Press Company, along with eight other newspaper...

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20 Editorials (so far) Calling for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Trump-Russia Connections

by RandomNonviolence – Members of the Trump administration keep lying about their mysterious connections to Russia. Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns or the financial books for the Trump Organization that might provide clarity. And Republicans in Congress refuse to seriously investigate. Clearly something unsavory is going on, so a growing chorus of newspaper editorial boards are now calling for an independent investigation. Here are 20 of those editorials: New York Times, Editorial: When One President Smears Another … His accusation is so sensational — so explosive if it turned out to have some basis in fact and so corrosive if not — that Congress has no credible option but to convene a bipartisan select committee to investigate all questions related to Russian interference in the election. And if Mr. Trump has confidence in his claim, he should have no reluctance about the appointment of an independent counsel to get to...

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Majority of Americans Want Special Prosecutor, and So Do Senate Dems

by Nadia Prupis – New poll seems to reflect increasing anxiousness in Senate for independent prosecutor to operate probe into Trump team’s Russia ties. A majority of Americans want a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, according to a new poll (pdf) out Monday. The poll by CNN/ORC finds that about two-thirds of Americans support that call, and 55 percent say they are at least somewhat concerned by reports that President Donald Trump’s team communicated with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Only 32 percent said Congress would be capable of handling the investigation itself. The results are closely tied to political party, with 71 percent of Democrats saying they are “very concerned” about the reports of the Trump team’s communication with the Russians, and 54 percent of Republicans saying they have no concerns “at all” on that subject. The poll also seems to reflect...

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We’ll See You in Court, 2.0: Once a Muslim Ban, Still a Muslim Ban

by David Cole – If a Muslim Ban is cleaned up to exclude Iraq, exempt lawful permanent residents and other current visa holders, is it still a Muslim ban? That’s the question presented by President Donald Trump’s decision to replace his original executive order, enjoined by the courts, with a new one. The administration’s decision to abandon the old order is wise — every judge but one who had reviewed it found it raised grave constitutional concerns. The new order will be less catastrophic in its roll-out than the first, both because it exempts those who already have visas and because it will not go into effect until March 16. But it’s still religious discrimination in the pretextual guise of national security. And it’s still unconstitutional. As I’ve written before, Donald Trump has repeatedly made crystal clear his intent to ban Muslims from entering the United States. As a candidate, he repeatedly stated...

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This Presidential Memorandum is Ominous. Everyone Missed it Today Including Me

by kavips – While all eyes were focused on the “Muslim Ban 2” coming out today, hidden from all the hoopla was this item buried in a Memorandum to several heads of departments… Sec. 3.  Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States.  I direct the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the heads of all other relevant executive departments and agencies (as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security) to rigorously enforce all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission.  The heads of all relevant executive departments and agencies shall issue new rules, regulations, or guidance (collectively, rules), as appropriate, to enforce laws relating to such grounds of inadmissibility and subsequent compliance.  To the extent that the Secretary of Homeland Security issues such new rules, the heads of all other relevant executive departments and agencies...

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Trump Spreads Lie About Obama Releasing Gitmo Prisoners

by Laurel Raymond – Trump doesn’t just get his news from Fox News. He takes it and runs with it. President Donald Trump began his Tuesday by live tweeting statistics from Fox News — and embroidering the media coverage on Fox to spread a falsehood about how which Guantanamo detainees former President Barack Obama released. While the statistic had appeared on Fox shortly before, the falsehood was Trump’s own extrapolation. At 6:13 a.m. during a news rundown, Fox News mentioned the death of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yasir al-Silmi, who was killed in an air strike on Yemen on March 2nd. “A win in the war on terror, the Trump administration just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama, Yasir al-Silmi,” the segment went. “He had been released back in 2009 even though the department of defense recommended that he stay behind bars. 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to...

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Senator Suggests FBI has Transcripts that Might Point to Collusion Between Trump and Russia

by Adam Peck – And he wants the agency to turn them over to congressional intelligence committees. During an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Friday, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) expressed frustration that the intelligence community has so far resisted congressional requests to be forthcoming with their investigations into the Trump administration’s communication with Russian officials. He also suggested there were transcripts detailing what the FBI and other agencies know. For months now, the intelligence community has been looking into whether senior officials within the Trump campaign (and now Trump White House) communicated or colluded inappropriately with Russian officials. The administration has already lost one cabinet official for his failure to disclose inappropriate communication with Russian diplomats, and on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from all ongoing and future investigations involving Russia after he too failed to disclose communications with Russian officials. Democrats—and more than a few Republicans—on...

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Gold Star Dad Forced To Cancel Canada Trip After Being Told His ‘Travel Privileges Are Being Reviewed’

by John Prager – Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American gold star dad who made an enemy of Donald Trump during the campaign, seems to be facing the bigot-in-chief’s wrath now that The Donald has the power to mess with him. On Monday, it was announced that Khan’s planned speech in Toronto has been canceled after he was notified that his “travel privileges are being reviewed.” Rosa Hwang, a senior producer at CTV National News, tweeted the rather disconcerting news: Rosa Hwang‏ @journorosa JUST IN: Gold Star father Khizr Khan cancels scheduled speech in Toronto after being told his “travel privileges are being reviewed.” 1:17 PM – 6 Mar 2017 Though some initially questioned the legitimacy of the announcement, this was confirmed by RamsayTalks, who was hosting the Khan event, who assured those who would be attending that they would be refunded the $89-per-ticket cost: “This turn of events is not just of deep concern...

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Confirmation Hearing for Deputy AG Turns into Proxy War for Special Prosecutor on Russia

by Laurel Raymond – Polling indicates a vast majority of the American public is behind Sen. Blumenthal’s position. Last Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would recuse himself from investigations into alleged connections between Russian government operatives and the Trump campaign. Absent a special prosecutor, however, Sessions will be handing the baton to a subordinate — the deputy attorney general, another politically appointed position. The nominee for that position, Federal Prosecutor Rod Rosenstein, is slated to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation on Tuesday. Unless Rosenstein goes one step further than his future boss and pledges to appoint a special prosecutor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is vowing to make the confirmation hearing a fight. Blumenthal elaborated at a press conference in Connecticut on Monday morning. “I believe strongly that a special prosecutor is necessary, in fact it is vital to not only uncover the truth about Russian interference into our...

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New York Times: FBI’s James Comey Requests the DOJ Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claims

by Leslie Salzillo – Michael S. Schmidt and Michael D. Shear with The New York Times reported Sunday afternoon, that James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reject Donald Trump’s wiretapping claim. “The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.” The White House has shown no signs of backing down, saying an inquiry is needed. “In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the president, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, issued a statement on Sunday that said, ‘President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise...

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Trump Signs Muslim Ban 2.0

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – Here’s all you need to know. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning nationals from six Muslim-majority countries and halting all refugee resettlement. The order comes a little over a month after Trump first signed a similar ban, which has since faced multiple legal challenges. Under the new order, nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will not be able to obtain visas to the United States for 90 days. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will determine whether the governments of the targeted countries are providing enough information about their nationals who wish to enter the United States, and reassess whether they should stay banned after the first 90 days. The order also suspends all refugee resettlement for 120 days, while the DHS reviews “screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to...

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If Sessions Had Nothing to Hide, Why Did He Try to Hide It?

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – There’s something out there that has a lot of people scared, but no one’s telling the full story. Yet. For months and weeks, bits and pieces of the continuing saga of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence and its influence on the 2016 elections have been dribbling out, thanks to leaks and solid reporting by a free and independent press. Eventually we may get to the whole truth, but already it seems clear that deep down, all these secrets coming to light, one by one, are part of a greater, as yet unrevealed, wrong. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo had just the right metaphor: “Astronomers can’t see black holes directly. They map them by their event horizon and their effect on nearby stars and stellar matter. We can’t see yet what’s at the center of the Trump/Russia black hole. But we can tell a lot about...

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Man Behind Trump’s Claim That Obama Tapped Him Just Admitted He Made Shit Up (VIDEO)

by John Prager – Donald Trump is now demanding that any probe into his administration’s connections to Russia also include a probe into his wild allegation that President Obama tapped his “wires” in Trump Tower. This dubious claim seems to have originated with a Breitbart article that had been circulating among White House staff. The article in question claimed that President Obama had ordered a wiretap under the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows a secret court to authorize surveillance in cases that involve agents of foreign powers — in this case, Trump and two Russian banks. The article heavily referenced claimed made by conspiracy theorist Mark Levin on his far-Right radio show that “we absolutely know this is true” that Obama was monitoring Trump’s team during the campaign. But now that his ridiculous allegations are being scrutinized by people who aren’t completely batsh*t insane, Levin is doing everything he can to walk them...

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Baby Remains Found in Mass Grave at Ex-Irish Orphanage

Remains of children ranging from new-born to three-years-old discovered in sewers of a former Catholic Church-run home. A mass grave containing the remains of babies has been found in the sewers of a former Catholic orphanage in western Ireland, according to investigators, confirming a local historian’s suspicions of the unmarked burial of hundreds of children. Excavations found “significant quantities of human remains” in an underground structure divided into 20 chambers at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, a report from a government-appointed inquiry said on Friday. The judge-led Mother and Baby Homes Commission said DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 weeks to 3 years old. The investigators did not say how many babies’ remains were recovered, or how many might still be buried in what are believed to be the home’s sewage or waste water...

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‘Visa War’: EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

by Nika Knight – Since US won’t allow visa-free entry for citizens of some Baltic countries, EU parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans in Europe. United States citizens traveling to Europe will soon have to pay for a visa to enter the continental bloc, thanks to an escalating “visa war,” as the Telegraph puts it, between the U.S. and the European Union. The European Parliament, “by a show of hands, urged the Commission to adopt restrictive measures against U.S. citizens ‘within two months,'” reports Reuters. The U.S. has long forced citizens of some E.U. countries—namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania—to purchase visas in order to enter the country, denying the E.U. complete reciprocity when it comes to visa-free travel. The E.U. gave U.S. officials notice in 2014 that the country need to enact reciprocity or the visa-free travel for U.S. citizens would come to an end,...

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Congressman Tells Trump He’s In ‘Deep Shit’ If Wiretapping Conspiracy Is True — And He’s Right

by Ryan Denson – Donald Trump may have just inadvertently admitted guilt during his bizarre and conspiracy riddled claim that President Obama ordered the Trump Tower to be wiretapped. In a flurry of early morning tweets (how’s that pivot going, Republicans), President Trump accused President Obama, as early as October, with launching a Nixonian-McCarthy-esque witch hunt against his campaign in order to undermine him. Once again, President Trump has shown a complete lack of understanding about the separation of powers enshrined in the United States Constitution. Contrary to popular (right-wing) belief, the President of the United States does not have the authority to order a wiretapping of an individual’s house, phone, or place or business. But don’t take our word for it. Let Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California explain it: Ted Lieu ✔@tedlieu Mr. President: If there was a wiretap at Trump Tower, that means a fed judge found probable...

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Leaked Doc Puts “Stake in the Heart” of Trump’s Travel Ban Rationale (VIDEO)

by Lauren McCauley – MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow revealed a telling internal document which proves that extreme vetting is ‘bull-pucky’. In a major scoop said to put a “stake in the heart of the Muslim ban,” MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow reported Thursday evening on a new leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) analysis which essentially shreds the Trump administration’s rationale for banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. The document, prepared by DHS’ internal intelligence agency, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, concludes that the majority of foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists were radicalized several years after their entry into the U.S.. Following the “unbelievably chaotic rollout,” as Maddow put it, of President Donald Trump’s travel ban—which was subsequently and roundly rejected by the U.S. court system—the White House has repeatedly sworn that a replacement plan was in the works, with an eventual release planned for Wednesday. “Well now, it’s Thursday,” Maddow quipped. “Where’s the...

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List of Sexual Predators Protected by Pope Francis Grows and Grows

by Betty Clermont – The Catholic Church has long been known for gut-wrenching sex abuse scandals. But this personal involvement by a pope is unprecedented. ____ Fr. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second Vatican trial after new evidence emerged against him as reported on Feb. 25. The Vatican found the Italian priest guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing young boys and he was defrocked. But Inzoli is friends with Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who “intervened on behalf of Inzoli and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to ‘a life of humility and prayer.’” Inzoli was later seen at a conference on the family. In June 2016, a civil court convicted Inzoli of eight incidents of sexual violence between 2004 and 2008 against five children aged 12-16. Fifteen more crimes were barred by the statute of limitations. (Two out of three sexual assaults in the U.S. go unreported. An Australian report found a 33...

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