Crime & Legal

State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation. Waterboarding, which involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning, has long been considered torture, which is a war crime under US and international law. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding as a war crime after World War II. In late November 2016, Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out torture in the Trump administration. Torture Is Always Illegal What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that...

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SEC Launches Yahoo Investigation Over Improper Handling of Cyberattacks

by Lauren C. Williams – The agency is looking into whether the tech company waited too long to tell investors of the breaches. After unveiling a newer, smaller corporate identity following the sale of most of its holdings to Verizon, Yahoo is facing a federal probe for how it handled its massive data breaches, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Yahoo to determine whether the company kept investors in the dark regarding its two mega-breaches that exposed more than a billion consumers’ data in two major breaches since 2013. Yahoo previously mentioned it was cooperating with international, state, and federal agencies regarding the 2014 breach, including the Federal Trade Commission and SEC, the Journal reported. The investigation will likely focus on the 2014 hack, which wasn’t publicly disclosed for two years. Even in the face of mounting criticism, Yahoo hasn’t given any reason for...

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Here Is the ACLU’s 7-Point Plan of Action to Take on the Trump Administration

by Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director – After it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president, the ACLU got to work digging into his policy statements. In July, we released “The Trump Memos,” which was the first comprehensive constitutional analysis of his public statements and policy proposals regarding immigration enforcement, Muslim rights, torture, and freedom of the press. Our conclusions were alarming. According to our analysis, then-candidate Trump articulated policies that would flagrantly violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. That man is now on the verge of swearing a solemn oath  to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” While it’s true that all presidents swear this oath and inevitably go on to abuse their powers, we believe the Trump administration poses the single greatest threat to civil liberties, civil rights, and the...

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In Meeting with Congressional Leaders, Trump AGAIN Claims he Won the Popular Vote After All

by Hunter – Amazing. The man just cannot let this lunacy go. In his first meeting with congressional leaders of both parties since taking office, President Donald Trump on Monday reiterated a debunked claim that he only lost the national popular vote because of widespread voter fraud. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) confirmed that Trump made the voter fraud claim, but added, “I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. I was ready to move onto some policy issues. I didn’t anticipate that discussion.” It’s further evidence of Trump’s fixation with his narrow victory, in which he captured an Electoral College handily despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. The Washington Post is more specific: Trump told our nation’s top legislators that “between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.” The premise Trump went with immediately after...

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Border Chief Just Gave Trump A Brutal Reality Check About His Border Wall (VIDEO)

by Vera – During his presidential campaign, former reality television star Donald Trump received a lot of criticism for his highly controversial (and completely wasteful and illogical) U.S.-Mexican border wall — a concept his supporters latched onto despite the fact that it was shot down by several experts. Just days after officially becoming the 45th President of the United States, Trump is getting another brutal reality check about why this stupid wall won’t work. Now, the outgoing chief of the Customs and Border Protection agency is speaking out against the idea, crushing every racist’s hopes and dreams. In an interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross, border chief Gil Kerlikowske basically said that Trump’s border wall was a massive waste of both time and money, and not a viable solution to tackling illegal immigration. Completely humiliating Trump for being an ill-advised moron, Kerlikowske said: “I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the...

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Trump Faces Lawsuit for Violating Constitution Two Days After Taking Oath

by Ian Millhiser – Turns out, he’s not supposed to use his office to enrich himself. An all-star team of lawyers, including two leading experts on presidential ethics and two of the most prominent constitutional scholars in the nation, have filed a lawsuit this week challenging President Trump’s ongoing violation of an anti-corruption provision in the Constitution. The suit alleges that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal office holders from receiving “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, does regular business with foreign governments, presenting them with an opportunity to launder unconstitutional gifts to the president. A bank controlled by the Chinese government, for example, rents office space in Trump Tower. And the Embassy of Kuwait reportedly moved an event from the Four Seasons hotel to a hotel owned by Trump “after members of the...

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Reinstating ‘Global Gag Rule,’ Trump Attacks Women Worldwide

by Andrea Germanos – “To be clear, this policy is an attack on women’s bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result.” President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order reinstating a policy critics call the Global Gag Rule, further cementing reproductive rights advocates’ warning that 2017 would entail an uphill battle for women’s healthcare. Officially known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule, as Nonprofit Quarterly explained, “specifically prohibits international charities from promoting abortion as a method of family planning even if that ‘promotion’ simply entails a physician engaging in a conversation about the option of abortion with a patient.” As such, Kiersten Gillette-Pierce and Jamila Taylor write at Center for American Progress, it “infringes upon women’s fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health.” Since it was first signed by President Ronald Reagan...

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The New York Times had the Trump-Russia Story in Early Fall and were too Timid to Publish

by kat68 – As a former Washington-based journalist, I have always had it in…just a bit…for the New York Times. They are lordly and pompous with the anachronistic adherence to style and titles (Mr. and Mrs,), their longtime and ridiculous refusal to go to color and revamp their old-fashioned design, and, most of all, their awful Iraq War coverage, and subsequent lame attempts to cover their well-heeled Ivy League-educated, access-obsessed asses. I will admit the NYT is often capable of amazing journalism. But they are a proud—overly proud—and tend not to advance stories they don’t break themselves.  So when Mother Jones’  David Corn broke the story of the former MI6 officer with a thick dossier on Trump’s nefarious dealings with Russia in late October,  I was dismayed, but not surprised that the NYT immediately stifled him with an Oct. 31 story entitled “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Trump.” Here is the lede from...

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Pot Protesters Welcome President Trump With 4,200 Joints (VIDEO)

by Todd Krainin & Joshua Swain – “We’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is “waiting in line for marijuana,” says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation’s capital. Eidinger and his colleagues spent the day handing out thousands of free joints to anyone in D.C. who wanted one. It’s a way of “welcoming Donald Trump to Washington,” he says, “and letting him know we’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” Produced by Todd Krainin and Josh Swain. Camera by Swain, Mark McDaniel, and Todd Krainin, who also edited.   Reprinted with permission from Reason.com

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Texas Panel on Wrongful Convictions Calls for Ending Use of Unverified Drug Field Tests

by Ryan Gabrielson – A commission established by lawmakers to help end the conviction of the innocent says field tests are too unreliable to be trusted without lab confirmation. Drug field tests are too unreliable to trust in criminal cases, according to a Texas courts panel, which has called on crime laboratories across the state to confirm drug evidence actually contains illegal drugs for every prosecution. State lawmakers created the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission in 2015 to research wrongful convictions in Texas and suggest ways to prevent future injustices. The commission named field tests as a significant concern in its final report, released last month, due to their “questionable reliability.” In Houston over the past decade, the crime lab found that the alleged drugs in more than 300 convictions were not drugs at all. Police had used inexpensive test kits to identify the substances as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, or...

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Freshman Congressman with Guts is Ready to File Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

by Christian Dem in NC – If Congressman Jamie Raskin hadn’t already established himself as a freshman to watch, he definitely did when word got out about one bill that he thinks he will introduce very soon—articles of impeachment against soon-to-be President Trump. Last weekend, Raskin spoke at an Obamacare rally at Bowie State University. However, he drew the biggest cheers when he said that he may be voting to impeach the Donald very soon. Watch here, via The Young Turks: Raskin says that he already has grounds for impeachment—the fact that Trump hasn’t even begun to unwind “tens or hundreds of millions of dollars” worth of foreign business interests. He has come to the same conclusion as a number of ethics experts and constitutional law experts from both parties—it would be a flagrant violation of the Emoluments Clause, which bars federal officials from taking gifts from foreign governments. As we...

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Eerie Echo of Nixon as Trump Camp Declares President ‘Has No Conflicts By Law’

by Lauren McCauley – However, Zephyr Teachout argues that by keeping his extensive business ties, the president-elect will be in violation of the U.S. Constitution “on day one”. Following Spicer’s press conference, Eisen also took to Twitter to chide the soon-to-be-press secretary for his glowing endorsement of Trump’s D.C. hotel. Seemingly adhering to the Nixonian adage that “if the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” the Trump team continues to stand by the legitimacy of the incoming president keeping his business ties. When asked by MSNBC‘s Katy Turr during his first official news conference on Thursday if President-elect Donald Trump would release, if not his tax returns, at least a list of those people or institutions to whom he is indebted, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer made clear that information would not be forthcoming. “I think that question has been asked and answered a hundred times,” Spicer said....

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Oklahoma Considers Extreme Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by Zack Ford – The conservative state fell behind on anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 and is trying to catch up. In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any...

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Trump Nominee Admits Personally Directing Suspicious Stock Purchases (VIDEOS)

by Laurel Raymond – “That was a decision I made, yes,” Price said regarding bio industry purchases, though he denied wrongdoing. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, is under fire for allegations of potential insider trading. Several recent reports suggest Price traded medical stock while making decisions about legislation in Congress that directly impacted the medical industry. And at his hearing before the Senate HELP committee on Wednesday, questions about whether Price made unethical and possibly illegal stock trades got even murkier. Price told Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that he is personally involved in making some decisions about his stocks in the biotech field, and said he made a decision about purchasing stock in a company after talking to another member of Congress who sits on that company’s board. His comments seem to contradict a defense the Trump transition team has offered to brush aside...

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Report: 6 Federal Agencies Investigating Possible Kremlin Financial Support of Trump

by Aaron Rupar – But with Trump about to be sworn in, how long will they stay on the case? On Wednesday, the McClatchy Washington Bureau, citing multiple unnamed sources, broke news that “the FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump.” According to McClatchy, the involved agencies are the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Justice Department, Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and representatives of the Director of National Intelligence. The news is not altogether unexpected. During a hearing before a Senate panel last week, FBI director James Comey refused to answer questions about whether the bureau has investigated links between the Trump campaign and Russia. A day later, Trump himself dodged a reporter’s question about whether he or his campaign had any contact...

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Former Intelligence Official: Trump Conflict With Spy Agencies Creates ‘Dangerous Moment’

by Sebastian Rotella – Matthew Olsen, a senior national security official in both Democratic and Republican administrations, says the ongoing conflict between President-elect Trump and the U.S. intelligence community poses grave risks. The conflict between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community could have profound repercussions. We spoke recently about the issue to Matthew Olsen, who spent two decades working in senior posts in intelligence and national security for Democrat and Republican administrations. Olsen, 54, served most recently (from 2011 to 2014) as director of the intelligence community’s National Counterterrorism Center. Before that, he was the general counsel of the National Security Agency. In 2009, he was executive director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force for the Justice Department. A longtime federal prosecutor, Olsen has been an associate deputy attorney general overseeing national security and criminal cases; acting assistant attorney general for national security; chief of the national security division...

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We Cannot Wait for History to Judge. We Need the Truth About Trump and Russia Now.

by BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP – For the sake of democracy, an independent commission or special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate Russian influence. Over the holidays, John Farrell, author of an upcoming biography of Richard Nixon, wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times confirming what many of us have known for nearly 50 years: In the fall of 1968, Nixon, the Republican candidate for president, deliberately torpedoed President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to cease the bombing of North Vietnam and begin peace talks to end the Vietnam war. Johnson was not running for re-election, but his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, was the Democratic candidate for the White House — and Nixon was determined to keep Humphrey from reaping the benefits of good news from Southeast Asia.  In the course of researching his Nixon book, Farrell found a cache of notes from Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman showing “that Nixon...

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Trump Nominee, Tom Price, Faces Multiple Allegations of Insider Trading

by Zack Ford – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) bought stock, then introduced legislation that boosted its value. This week, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Monday evening, CNN reported that Price may have used his position in Congress for profit in what appears to be insider trading, a new allegation among many that are now clouding his nomination. Last March, Price bought as much as $15,000 in stock in a company called Zimmer Biomet, one the world’s largest manufacturers of knee and hip implants. Within a week of that transaction, he introduced the HIP Act, a bill that would have saved Zimmer Biomet a significant amount of money by delaying implementation of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) payment model for hip and knee replacements. After Price introduced the bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee...

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Congress and Ethics

by Christopher Brauchli – When Socrates and his two great disciples composed a system of rational ethics, they were hardly proposing practical legislation for mankind…They were merely writing an eloquent epitaph for their country. —George Santayana, The Life of Reason It all happened within hours after the 115th Congress convened in January 2017. There was considerable anticipation that the first thing members of the House would do was introduce legislation to rid themselves and the country of the Affordable Care Act. To everyone’s surprise, however, that was not the first item on the agenda. The first item of business was to draw the public’s attention to the existence of a non-partisan ethics board that many of the 20 million people who had gotten insurance under Obamacare (and millions of others) did not even know existed — the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE is an independent board which is charged with...

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President Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence, Along with Sentences of 273 Others

by Joan McCarter – President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who leaked American military and diplomatic activities in 2010. The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction. Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045. In addition to Manning’s commutation, Obama gave another 273 individuals a shot at new lives today. Today, 273 individuals learned that the President has given them a second chance. With today’s...

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Istanbul Reina Club Suspect ‘Confesses’: fficial

Governor of Istanbul says Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was captured on Monday, admitted to killing 39 on New Year’s Eve. Istanbul’s governor has said a New Year’s Eve nightclub attack that killed 39 people was carried out on behalf of ISIL and that the suspect, an Uzbekistan national, has confessed. Vasip Sahin told a new conference on Tuesday it was “clear that this was carried out in the name of Daesh,” using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, also known as ISIS. Sahin said that Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was arrested on Monday, was believed to have entered Turkey in January 2016, and that he had trained in Afghanistan. The governor said Masharipov’s fingerprints matched those of the attacker. Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara that Masharipov was being questioned by police and expressed hope that the interrogation...

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Netanyahu’s Media Scandal: Who Bribed Whom? (VIDEOS)

by Jonathan Cook – The smell of scandal has swirled around the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for years. But only now is the smell starting to turn to a stench, say analysts. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have long been known for cultivating close relations with Israel’s leading business families. Those ties, many Israelis assumed, explained why the famously parsimonious couple managed to indulge such expensive tastes. Past investigations have looked into first-class transatlantic flights and stays at top hotels, but foundered on a lack of evidence that the Netanyahus had traded the high life for favours. Until recently, most of the Israeli public had been amused, rather than outraged, by stories of astronomical bills at the prime minister’s residence for wine, ice-cream and hairstyling. But the latest revelations have the potential to be far more damaging. This week one Israeli commentator suggested Netanyahu’s conduct risked being compared to the...

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Former Mayor of ”Nazi City USA” Pushes Legislation to Defund Sanctuary Cities

by Shane Ralston, Truthout | News Analysis – Donald Trump offered Congressman Lou Barletta the post of secretary of labor in his new administration. Surprisingly, Barletta declined. The reason is now clear: Barletta will champion the cause of slashing funding to sanctuary cities in his next term, a cause that is near and dear to Trump’s heart. From 2000 to 2011, Barletta was the divisive mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who championed the “Illegal Immigration Relief Act” (IIRA), an ordinance that would have penalized landlords and business owners for transacting with undocumented immigrants, if it had not been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional. Barletta rose to national prominence as a hardline “law-and-order” mayor, a so-called “small town defender,” Tea Party Republican and virulent critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policy. After two failed attempts at securing a congressional seat, he finally achieved success during his third campaign in...

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A Rare Murder-Free Day Recorded in El Salvador (VIDEO)

One of the world’s deadliest countries recorded its first day without a single killing since January 2015. El Salvador, one of the world’s deadliest countries, has recorded a rare day without a single homicide. National Civil Police commissioner Howard Cotto said at a news conference on Thursday that no murders were reported the previous day in the gang-plagued Central American nation. The last time the country went a full day without any killings was January 22, 2015, according to records kept by the Associated Press. It also happened once in 2013 and on two days the year before that. The nation of about six million people averaged 14.4 murders a day last year. READ MORE: A murder an hour – El Salvador’s gang violence soars Killings peaked at 104 per 100,000 residents in 2015, the highest rate for any nation not in open war that year. At least 6,657...

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Dissent Is Patriotic. It’s Also a Powerful Antidote to Propaganda

by Bethany Woolman, ACLU of Northern California – “If you’re to be called a communist every time you stand up for basic American rights and freedoms, what’s likely to happen? Will you be silent? And if so, is this what the House Committee on Un-American Activities is really after — a silent, submissive, un-protesting America?” -Ernest Besig, “Operation Correction,” 1961 Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America. In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those...

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Former MI6 Agent says FBI Ignored Trump’s Alarming Russia Ties for Months…UPDATED with Video

by kat68 – We heard that Congressional Democrats came out of a meeting with FBI Director James Comey incensed and questioning his integrity and ability to lead the organization. Here may be one of the reasons why: According to a new exclusive report in the UK’s Independent newspaper, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele became so alarmed at the national security threat Donald Trump’s Russian ties posed to the US and the UK, he turned over copies of his findings to both British and American intelligence way back in July and continued working on the case without pay even after the election in November. But after months of inaction, the report says …Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into...

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We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room

by Andrew Beck, Reproductive Freedom Project – The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears. Lawmakers then took the extraordinary step of attaching an emergency clause to have the law take effect immediately. Just days after this insulting bill was introduced, Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law. That very day, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it from taking effect. The law unconstitutionally comes between a woman and her doctor by requiring that a doctor recite a state-mandated speech while providing an ultrasound — even...

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Comparing Administrations by Arrests and Convictions: A Warning for Trump Appointees

by RoyalScribe – Will the Most Scandal-Free Administration be Followed by the Most Scandal-Ridden? In May of 2015, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks mentioned on PBS’ Newshour that the Obama Administration has been remarkably scandal-free: “President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him. He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free.” — David Brooks, May 31, 2015 As Obama’s Administration winds to a close in just over a week, that remains true. Not one criminal indictment for anyone in the Obama Administration over the entire eight years of his tenure. In fact, it is the only Presidential Administration since Watergate to end with zero criminal indictments. The GOP leadership in the Senate is trying to ram through as many as Trump’s controversial nominees as quickly as possible. Most of them have not yet completed FBI Security Clearance Checks or ethics reviews by...

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Chicago Police Regularly Use Excessive Force in Violation of Fourth Amendment, says DOJ Report

by Josie Duffy Rice – The Chicago Police Department regularly violates the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” uses of force, an investigation by the Justice Department has found. The Department has released a 161-page report of its investigation and findings. According to the Department: This pattern or practice includes: Shooting at fleeing suspects who presented no immediate threat; Shooting at vehicles without justification; Using less-lethal force, including tasers, against people who pose no threat; Using force to retaliate against and punish individuals; Using excessive force against juveniles; In addition, the following practices contribute to the pattern or practice of excessive force: Failing to effectively de-escalate situations or to use crisis intervention techniques to reduce the need for force Employing tactics that unnecessarily endanger officers and result in avoidable shootings and other uses of force; and Failing to accurately document...

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Chelsea Manning on Obama’s “Short List” for Commutation, DOJ Source Says

by Nika Knight – ‘President Obama has nine days to do the right thing and commute her sentence.’ Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is on President Barack Obama’s “short list” for a potential commutation, a Department of Justice source told NBC News, which adds that the president’s decision could be announced as early as Wednesday. Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking evidence of military crimes, has faced solitary confinement for attempting twice to take her own life in the past year. Human rights and LGBTQ advocates have harshly condemned the U.S. military for denying Manning, who is transgender, appropriate healthcare. And the whistleblower, whose leaks exposed evidence of war crimes, has already served more time in prison than any other whistleblower in U.S. history. Moreover, despite many letters and hundreds of thousands of signatures on multiple petitions asking Obama to pardon Manning before president-elect Donald Trump begins his right-wing administration...

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Guilty VW to Pay Record $4.3B over Emissions Scandal

Penalty is largest ever levied by the US government against an automaker as Volkswagen admits guilt to three charges. German car giant Volkswagen (VW) will admit guilt and pay a record $4.3bn in fines to settle a diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to US officials. The US justice department also charged six VW executives for their roles in the conspiracy, five of whom are believed to be in Germany while one was arrested in Miami on Saturday. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, to protecting the environment and our financial system, and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday. She also said the size of the penalty, the largest ever for a car company in US history, reflects the unusual level of premeditation of wrongdoing at high levels of Volkswagen. “The knowledge and choices they made went to the executive...

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Government Ethics Office says Trump Keeps Ignoring Warnings to Sell his Assets

by Jack Jenkins – The ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off.” New emails reveal that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reportedly “lost contact” with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the ongoing transition to power, despite efforts to warn officials about ethical issues posed by nominees and “blind trusts.” According to emails uncovered by MSNBC, OGE director Director Walter Shaub contacted Trump aides in November expressing deep frustration with the lack of cooperation between his organization and the president-elect’s team. Shaub reportedly cautioned Trump against creating a blind trust of his business holdings without speaking to the OGE first, noting that the ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off”—a very different standard that the “half-blind” trust floated by Trump’s own team. (To date, Trump has not suggested that he will sell off his assets.) MSNBC...

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Donald Trump was Bailed out of Bankruptcy by Russian Crime Bosses

by Mark Sumner – In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. attended a real estate conference, where he stated that Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet dissidents, has gone through a series of studies by the Financial Times to show how funds from Russian crime lords bailed Trump out after yet anther bankruptcy. The conclusions are stark. Among the powerful facts that DNI missed were a series of very deep studies published in the that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. … The money to build these projects flowed...

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Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

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New Data Proves How Effective Gun Control Laws Are

by Ryan Denson – The liberal “third-world hell hole” (as Ann Coulter calls it) that is California has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the United States, far surpassing Illinois and New York. Naturally, Republicans will use these facts to somehow smear the liberal state as being one that exhibits the most gun violence around — even though red states produce more gun violence per capita than blue. Surprisingly, what many people may not know — and what they won’t hear on Fox News — is that California has experienced a sharp decline in gun violence over the last 20 years, putting a fatal dent in the right’s scare tactics when it comes to guns and the Second Amendment. Gavin Newsome, California’s current Lieutenant Governor, recently spoke at a press conference regarding Prop 63, which limited magazine sizes, banned the sale of assault weapons, and conducted background checks on...

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Trump to Appoint Son-in-Law to White House Post in Apparent Violation of Federal Nepotism Law

by Hunter – The Trump transition team has let it be known that Donald Trump will be appointing his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a White House post. Specifically, he’ll be a “Senior Advisor to the President.” There’s just one problem: for the last five-plus decades, there’s been a federal law prohibiting exactly that. A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. Where “relative” means “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.” Hey look—they even defined it right there in the law. Trump’s team, therefore, will...

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Jewish Centers in at Least Six States all Receive Bomb Threats on the Same Day

by Jack Jenkins – “It seems to be an unfortunate trend.” Jewish centers in at least six states all received bomb threats on Monday, adding to a growing wave of anti-Semitism across the country. As first reported by Haaretz, several Jewish centers were forced to evacuate after anonymous callers phoned in with bomb threats. Although no one was harmed, the threats occurred in New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, and possibly others, according to local news sources and ThinkProgress reporting. Paul Goldenberg, who helps coordinates security for the Jewish Community Centers across the country, said a total of 16 centers received threats. “We have a preschool with almost 200 children, and probably another 30 or 40 staff,” Michael Feinstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center in Rockville, Maryland, told ThinkProgress. “Everyone was evacuated calmly and quickly.” Feinstein said the threat was the first the center had ever received,...

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Thousands Of Free Joints Will Be Passed Out In DC On Inauguration Day

by Amanda Froelich – For the 58th Presidential Inauguration, 4,200 free “legally grown cannabis” joints will be passed out to activists who support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. In case you missed it, the real winner of the 2016 U.S. election was marijuana. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote and Hillary Clinton the popular vote, but more Americans supported the recreational legalization of cannabis than either main Presidential contender.  Now, approximately 20% of all Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and 28 states have approved medical marijuana. This development is expected to bring $7 billion in annual sales to the cannabis industry, which will positively benefit the country’s economy. Not only is the herb safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, as it kills 0 people per year, it is an effective anti-anxiety and pain-relieving substance. Additionally, CBD oil (which doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound)...

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Young Black Men Still Overwhelming Victims of Police Violence

by Lauren McCauley – Efforts by the Justice Department under President Barack Obama to improve accountability are likely to be dashed under Trump administration. Despite the protests, media scrutiny, and all around heightened national attention, young black men in 2016 continued to be the predominant victims of police violence in the United States. According to year-end figures published Sunday by the Guardian database The Counted, “lack males aged 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers last year,” and were “killed at four times the rate of young white men.” Overall, the number police killings fell slightly—1,091 last year, according to the Guardian tally, from 1,146 in 2015—but the pattern of brutality has remained consistent. Of those, “officers were charged with crimes in relation to 18 deaths from 2016, along with several others from the previous year,” the report noted. “These charges included the...

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5 Things You Need to Know About Sen. Jeff Sessions (MUST WATCH VIDEO)

by Andrew Satter, Billy Corriher, and Jake Faleschini – President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) to be the next U.S. attorney general—the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws and constitutional rights. Sessions has a long history of opposing rights for people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans. Here are five things you need to know about Sen. Sessions. Andrew Satter is the Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. Billy Corriher is the Director of Research for Legal Progress at the Center. Jake Faleschini is the Director of the Courts Program for Legal Progress at the Center. Reprinted with permission from The Center for American Progress

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Declassified: Russian Campaign to Undermine Faith in Democratic Process, Harm Hillary Clinton

by Mark Sumner – The declassified version of the intelligence report on Russian activities related to the 2016 election was made available to the public on Friday. At about half the length of the full report, it’s clear the public isn’t seeing all the evidence, or all the conclusions, but what is there points a finger straight at Putin. We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.  For those who would be satisfied with nothing less than Putin’s digital fingerprint all over DNC servers, or a nice “we done it” note, this report isn’t going to clear the 110% proof hurdle. The first three pages are devoted...

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Black Lives Matter Is Not Responsible for Four Black People Abusing a White Man in Chicago

by Robby Soave – The #BLMKidnapping is another frustrating example of assigning moral culpability to an entire group. To state more strongly what I wrote earlier, Black Lives Matter—the social change movement focused on racial equality and criminal justice reform—has nothing to do with the attack on a mentally disabled white teenager in Chicago. The incident, which was streamed on Facebook Live, is horrific in its own right, regardless of the motive. The four perpetrators, who are black, made comments like “fuck Donald Trump, fuck white people,” as they terrorized a defenseless white victim, who was tied up with tape over his mouth. They cut his hair until his scalp bled, and even threatened to kill him, apparently amused by his confusion and pain. The attack has provoked all sorts of over-the-top analysis, given that it confounds the usual media narrative: racist white people harassing black people. “If this had been...

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One of the Biggest Legal Guns in the Country is Coming for Partisan Gerrymandering

by Ian Millhiser – Help is on the way. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the fate of the American Republic rests on how Justice Anthony Kennedy votes in Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case that is all but certain to be heard by the Supreme Court. And now, that case is set to be argued by the single most qualified lawyer in the country to present such a case to the justices. Last November, a three-judge federal court struck down Wisconsin’s state assembly maps, saying they were unconstitutionally drawn to advantage Republicans. That alone is a big deal. The Supreme Court has been highly skeptical of gerrymandering suits in the past. Though Kennedy refused to slam the door entirely shut to such suits, many obstacles remain in front of any attorney who seeks a federal court order against a gerrymandered map. But the legal team behind Whitford is seeking...

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In the Best Interest of Justice: Former Peltier Prosecutor Joins Urgent Activist Calls For Clemency

by Abby Zimet – In a “truly extraordinary” and evidently unprecedented act, a former prosecutor of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, now 72, ill, and in his 41st year in prison for a shooting he has unceasingly denied committing, has joined the decades-long demands of legal experts, indigenous leaders and rights advocates to free one of this country’s most high-profile political prisoners. Peltier’s  conviction stems from the American Indian Movement’s 1973 siege at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, site of the Wounded Knee massacre of Lakota in 1890. After a long occupation protesting the federal government’s unjust treatment and broken treaties, two FBI agents and one Native American were killed. Peltier was eventually found guilty of shooting the agents, and sentenced to two life sentences. Peltier remains in prison despite years of legal battles and repeated claims that federal agents lied, coerced witnesses and withheld evidence at his trial; ultimately, the...

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Netanyahu Calls for Pardon of Convicted Soldier Azaria (VIDEO)

Israeli prime minister calls for pardon after military court convicts soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier found guilty of manslaughter after he shot and killed a wounded Palestinian last year. “This is a difficult and painful day – first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel’s soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me … I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria,” Netanyahu said Wednesday on his Facebook page. The country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who has the authority to issue pardons, said he will wait for the legal process to run its course before making a decision. “In the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the president in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities,” he said in presidential statement. The remarks were...

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White House Expects More Guantanamo Transfers

The White House ignores President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze transfers from the Guantanamo Bay. The US government has pledged to move ahead with the transfer of inmates out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze. With President Barack Obama set to leave office on January 20, White House spokesman Josh Earnest put Trump on notice on Tuesday that more inmates would be moved. “I would expect, at this point, additional transfers,” he said. Earnest’s comments come just hours after Trump tweeted that “there should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”  Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield. There are 59 prisoners remaining at the controversial detention...

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The Most Incarcerated City in the Most Incarcerated State Considers Expanding Notorious Jail

by Aviva Shen – The New Orleans’ sheriff wants to solve the jail’s mental health crisis by adding more beds. A 15-year-old boy found dead in his cell, asphyxiated by his mattress cover. A suicidal 63-year-old man hanging from a showerhead. A 24-year-old who wrapped a telephone cord around his neck. Awaiting trial at New Orleans’ jail has been likened to a “death sentence.” Now, the “most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated country in the world” is considering spending millions of dollars to expand the troubled facility. A federal judge set a deadline of Tuesday for the city to come up with a plan to house mentally ill inmates. Sheriff Marlin Gusman is pushing a proposal to construct a new building, with hundreds of new jail beds. The expansion would cost an estimated $97 million to build. The city, which has one of the highest incarceration...

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Trump Transition Seeks Info About Undocumented Immigrants

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – The nightmare is coming true. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security for documents relating to the biographic information of some undocumented immigrants, Reuters reported Tuesday. The publication’s report found that Trump’s team requested copies of every executive order and directive relating to immigration in December, a request that would likely include a 2012 executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative which granted temporary deportation protection and work authorization. According to Reuters, the transition team “asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties,” which DHS officials took to mean that Trump’s team wanted to make sure that they didn’t tamper with DACA records. The transition team also asked the agency for information relating to immigration detention and an aerial surveillance program, named Operation Phalanx,...

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About Seven in Ten Americans Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade

by HANNAH FINGERHUT – More than 40 years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, 69% of Americans say the historic ruling, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, should not be completely overturned. Nearly three-in-ten (28%), by contrast, would like to see it overturned. Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago. In January 2013, 63% said this, which was similar to views measured in surveys conducted over the prior two decades. Democrats have long been more likely than Republicans to say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, but the partisan gap has grown wider over time.  Today, 84% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the Supreme Court should not completely overturn the ruling, up 9 percentage points...

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North Carolina Republicans Sue to Preserve Racial Gerrymandering

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – They have asked the Supreme Court to cancel the 2017 election. Just before New Year’s Eve, North Carolina Republicans filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Justices to block a lower court ruling that found the GOP guilty of racially gerrymandering the state in order to stay in power. If their bid succeeds, the state legislature elections that were supposed to be held this year could be canceled. A federal district court found in November that 28 of North Carolina’s 100 districts were unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered — drawn in a way that packs African American voters into as few seats as possible in order to make the surrounding districts easier for Republicans to win. That gerrymandering has allowed North Carolina Republicans to maintain a veto-proof supermajority in the state assembly even as the state’s popular vote is been split nearly evenly between the Republicans...

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Istanbul: ISIL Claims Responsibility for Reina Attack (VIDEO)

Group says it carried out New Year’s Eve raid on Istanbul nightclub where “Christians celebrate their apostate holiday”. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group released on Monday a statement claiming responsibility for the raid. “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” the statement said. The announcement came as a manhunt was under way in Turkey for at least one assailant who attacked those celebrating New Year at the Reina nightclub. Shortly after the ISIL claim, AFP news agency citing local media said that police have detained eight suspects over the...

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Vegas Prosecutors Seek Help in Identifying Convictions Won With Faulty Drug Tests

by Ryan Gabrielson – Request to defense attorneys suggests concern about integrity of guilty pleas won via $2 police tests known to be prone to error. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Nevada established a conviction review unit in October. In what appears to be one of its first efforts, the unit has been seeking information about problematic convictions resulting from one of the office’s routine practices: accepting guilty pleas in drug cases that rely largely on the results of field tests done by police that can be unreliable. Daniel Silverstein, head of the newly formed unit, in November asked a statewide organization of defense lawyers for any information they had on cases that might have involved inaccurate field tests, and thus resulted in potentially wrongful convictions. Police place suspicious material into a pouch of chemicals that are supposed to change color to indicate the possible presence of illegal drugs....

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Criminal Probe Reportedly Targets Netanyahu for Illegally Accepting Gifts

by Jack Jenkins – Similar problems could soon haunt President-elect Trump. In what possible preview of similar issues that stand to mar President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly dodging investigators who want to question him over allegations that he used his office for personal financial gain. According to Israeli paper Haaretz, Netanyahu has been dogged by controversy since July, when Israel Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his office would begin examining various allegations against the Prime Minister—including reportedly receiving gifts from business tycoons. Mendelblit maintained for months that the probe was only an inquiry, but announced Wednesday that he is upgrading it to a full-fledged criminal investigation, saying police will now be allowed to question Netanyahu. For his part, Netanyahu has denied the alleged improprieties, which include reports that he took gifts while in office worth “hundreds of thousands of shekels (Israeli currency)” — including suits allegedly...

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New York Governor Celebrates New Year’s by Denying Effective Counsel to the State’s Poor

by Kira Lerner – Advocates called it “the most important criminal justice reform legislation in memory.” Hours before the start of the new year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) vetoed legislation that would have required the state to provide legal assistance to poor defendants in all New York counties. The legislation, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, would have given the state seven years to take over indigent defense from local jurisdictions, including many that have been accused of violating the Constitution by failing to provide effective counsel. But Cuomo’s office said in a statement late Saturday that the governor would not be enacting the bill, citing the high cost to taxpayers and the failure of last-minute attempts at a compromise with the legislature. “Unfortunately, an agreement was unable to be reached and the legislature was committed to a flawed bill that placed an $800 million burden on taxpayers — $600 million of...

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Trump’s Plan to Warm Relations with Russia is Getting Harder

by Justin Salhani – Trump wanted to improve relations with Putin, but Senate Republicans may complicate his plans. President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to warm relations with Russia are set to be complicated by new sanctions placed on Russia’s top intelligence agencies and Obama’s decision to expel a number of Russian emissaries. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he will not expel American diplomats, despite the Obama administration’s jettison of 35 Russians from the United States over accusations of hacking and election interference. “While we reserve the right to respond, we will not drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy, and we will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of Trump will pursue,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website. Putin said the expulsion was a provocation but chose not to immediately retaliate, despite suggestions to do so from Russian...

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Setting Stage for Major Climate Battle, Dem AGs Put Trump on Alert

by Lauren McCauley – Letter from coalition of Democratic attorneys general say that Trump should ignore advice to scrap Clean Power Plan. If President-elect Donald Trump goes ahead with his plan to destroy U.S. climate regulations, he’s going to face a whole heap of trouble, a coalition of Democratic attorneys general is warning the incoming president. In a letter (pdf) dated Wednesday, AGs from 13 states and five additional localities advised Trump against plans to renege on President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), saying that such a course of action “would assuredly lead to more litigation.” The warning is in response to a letter (pdf) sent earlier this month by a number of Republican AGs to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan which declared the CPP “unlawful,” and encouraged the GOP lawmakers to issue an executive order “on day one” that would...

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Climate Kids Demand Testimony From Exxon’s Tillerson in Landmark Lawsuit

by Deirdre Fulton – “As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” The group of young people suing the federal government for failing to protect their constitutional right to a stable climate is seeking testimony in their landmark case from Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Attorneys representing the 21 young people in their federal climate lawsuit served the notice of deposition (pdf) on Thursday, demanding Tillerson’s testimony on January 19, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. They claim that “s CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” What’s more, they add, Tillerson and Exxon have been leaders in the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)—the trade associations that joined the...

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Netanyahu, Obama, and the United Nations

by Gwynne Dyer – Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is very, very cross about last Friday’s United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the creation of illegal Jewish settlements all over the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem. He called in the ambassadors of all the Western countries that voted for the resolution to tell them off: Britain, France, Spain, even New Zealand. He also had the US ambassador on the carpet, although Washington merely abstained in the Security Council vote. But, Netanyahu said, Donald Trump’s incoming administration has promised to fight “an all-out war” against the resolution. The resolution is only words, of course, but they are words that have not found their way into any UN Security Council resolution since 1979, because the United States always used its veto to kill any resolution that contained them. Words that describe the settlements as having “no legal validity” and constituting a...

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There were 61 Victims of Gun Violence in Chicago During Christmas Weekend

The number of homicides in the city skyrocketed this year. Gun violence killed 11 Chicago residents and injured 50 more, including two teenage girls, during Christmas weekend. The shootings came just days after a Brennan Center report concluded the homicide rate in the nation’s biggest cities jumped 14 percent in 2016 — due in large part to gun violence spiraling out of control in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, which closely tracks shootings in the city, seven people were killed on Christmas Day. The total number of shootings over the holiday weekend was also significantly higher than on the past two Christmas holidays. There were 29 people gunned down in 2015 and 35 people shot in 2014. Fourteen of them died. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson attributed the recent shootings to gang violence in the “South and West sides of the city.” “These were deliberate and planned shootings by one gang against...

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Under Pressure, Trump to Dissolve Charitable Foundation

Attorney General says foundation cannot close because it remains the subject of an ongoing investigation. US President-elect Donald Trump says he will be dissolving his philanthropic foundation – the Donald J Trump Foundation – to avoid conflicts of interest once he takes over at the White House. However, the move has been dismissed by the attorney general office which, in a statement released to US media on Saturday, said Trump could not yet close the foundation because it was still under investigation by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. “The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said. How Trump may change US foreign policy Trump’s portfolio of US and overseas business interests and holdings, as well as his his philanthropic foundation, have come under increased scrutiny since his election. “The foundation has done enormous good...

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Ted Cruz to Introduce Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans Nationwide

by Hunter   – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republicans will be wasting no time in their efforts to roll back civil rights for LGBT Americans. would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The intentionally broadly-written law would, in other words, enshrine the “right” of any private business to deny service to gay Americans outright if they are personally opposed to marriage equality. It would not merely allow businesses to deny their services in same-sex marriage ceremonies themselves: it would allow any business to...

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Taking Weapon Out of Trump’s Arsenal, Obama Finally Kills Bush-Era Muslim Registry

by Jon Queally – ACLU applauds end of “completely failed counter-terrorism tool and massive profiling program that didn’t yield a single terrorism conviction in nearly a decade” With a President Donald Trump on the horizon, civil liberties advocates applauded President Barack Obama on Thursday after his administration announced the end of a federal registration program for Muslim and Arab immigrants. Established by the George W. Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was criticized since its inception as regressive attempt to profile individuals based on their national heritage and religion. Though the provision has been dormant since enforcement of it was blocked in 2011, Thursday’s announcement signals the government’s official cancellation of the policy. According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security, “the regulatory structure pertaining to NSEERS no longer provides a discernible public benefit as  the program has been...

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Berlin Truck Attack Suspect Amri Shot Dead in Milan

Suspect in Berlin Christmas market truck attack killed in shootout in a Milan suburb, Italian minister says. Anis Amri, the main suspect in the Berlin Christmas market lorry attack, has been killed in a shootout in a suburb of the northern Italian city of Milan, the Italian authorities said. Interior minister Marco Minniti told a news conference in Rome that Amri had been fatally shot after firing at police who had stopped his car for a routine identity check around 3am (02:00 GMT). Identity checks had established “without a shadow of doubt” that the dead man was Amri, the minister said. The shootout took place in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni neighbourhood. Minniti added that the suspect, a 24-year-old Tunisian, pulled out a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his identity papers. A police officer was injured in the shootout. The minister gave very few details of the...

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The U.S. Executed Fewer People in 2016 than in any Other Year Since 1991

by Carimah Townes – Support for capital punishment is at its lowest point in decades. Capital punishment in the U.S. is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Twenty death row inmates were executed in 2016 — the lowest number in 25 years, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a non-profit organization that collects and analyzes data on capital punishment. The DPIC projects that 30 new death sentences will have been handed down this year, a 37 percent drop from 2015. Public support for executions is also waning among people of all political and social backgrounds. The DPIC’s annual findings, published on Wednesday, included an analysis of death penalty trends since the 1970s, when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished and then reinstated capital punishment. The number of executions skyrocketed in the 1990s and peaked in 1999, when 98 people were put to death; since then, there’s been a...

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Austerity on Trial as Flint Emergency Manager Slammed With Criminal Charges

by Lauren McCauley – “All too often, there’s been a fixation on finances and balance sheets,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “This fixation cost lives.” Putting austerity on trial, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday announced criminal charges against four high-level officials for their role in causing the Flint water crisis, including former city manager Darnell Earley, who made the budget-driven decision to switch the city’s water supply to the dangerously corrosive Flint River. “There are some who would simply wish that the problems in Flint would go quietly away, and there are voices out there who hope the poisoning of the water would be swept under the rug,” Schuette said during a Tuesday morning press conference. “These voices hope to simply blame nameless bureaucrats, call it a day and move on.” “That’s not how I operate,” he continued, “that’s not how we operate. Flint deserves better. The people...

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Dylann Roof was not ‘Self-Radicalized.’ He was Part of a Racist Community

by Casey Quinlan – The group that radicalized Dylann Roof isn’t that different from the “alt-right.” Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who shot nine African Americans at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston last June, was found guilty of 33 separate federal charges last week. He faces the death penalty. Roof acted alone, but the massacre he committed was not an isolated incident. Other white supremacist shooters from the past five years included Wade Michael Page, who fatally shot six people and wounded four others in a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in 2012; and Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., who killed three people at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas in 2014. News reports have often described Roof and the perpetrators of similar massacres as “self-radicalized” “lone wolves.” But these attacks don’t emerge out of vacuums. Page got involved in neo-Nazi activities at a U.S. Army base. Miller was the leader of...

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Merkel says Christmas Market Incident a ‘Terrorist Act’

It would be “sickening” if the driver of a lorry that hit crowd was a refugee, German chancellor says. Germany’s chancellor called the Berlin Christmas market carnage a “terrorist act” most likely committed by an asylum seeker who drove a lorry into people, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens of others. Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, a day after the event in he German capital, that it was “a very difficult day for Germany”. “We have to assume that this was a terrorist attack,” Merkel said. Merkel said it would be “particularly sickening” if the attacker was in fact a refugee. READ MORE: Lorry ploughs into Christmas market crowd in Berlin “Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was intentionally driven into the crowd at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz,” Berlin police said. Police detained a 23-year-old from Pakistan, a German security source told Reuters...

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CEO of Opioid Company that Funded Arizona’s Anti-Pot Campaign Charged with Bribing Doctors

by Mother Mags – Can you say hypocrisy? Of all the states that had marijuana propositions on the ballot this year, either legalization or medical weed, only Arizona rejected the measure. The state passed a medical pot referendum in 2010, and Prop 205 was an initiative similar to Colorado’s decriminalization law. Until a few weeks before the election it appeared 205 would pass by about 10 points. Then a well-funded anti-205 campaign kicked into gear, with 24/7 TV commercials and state officials, including the governor, attorney general, and other GOP leaders, going on their Reefer Madness tour (the Democratic Party supported 205). The TV spots said Colorado’s experience with legal pot was terrible: schools didn’t get the money they were promised and many more students were getting high. All of it was a lie. The fear-mongering ads were so dishonest that Colorado legislators sent a letter to Arizona’s anti-205 officials telling them to quit lying about Colorado....

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Duterte’s Drug War: Death Toll Goes Past 6,000 (VIDEOS)

by Ted Regencia – More than 1,000 people have been killed every month during the first six months of Duterte’s term. Manila, Philippines – “Ma, tulong,” Jason Babierra, 32, cried out for his mother’s help as he dragged his bullet-ridden body on the concrete pavement in the Bernabe neighbourhood of Paranaque, a Manila suburb. Those were Jason’s last words before he died, according to a witness. This was two days before the Day of the Dead last November. Jason, a street seller, was cycling outside the house where he lived with his parents and siblings. Suddenly, shots rang out. People ducked for cover. Moments later, they heard a motorcycle speed away. The attacker disappeared into the night. Jason was dead. I was standing around the next corner, waiting for a taxi, when I saw the commotion. As I arrived at the scene, a police officer was still setting up the yellow tape....

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The Coat Hanger Comes of Age

by Jessica Goldstein – Evaluating the power — and limitations — of a pre-Roe symbol in a post-Roe world. The foundation of the Ohio Statehouse is more than 18 feet deep and was constructed by inmates from the Ohio Penitentiary. The Statehouse itself, a limestone Greek revival in downtown Columbus, took 22 years to build. Construction started on Independence Day, 1839, and it wasn’t until after the foundation and ground floors were built that skilled tradesmen complained about the missed opportunity for work and replaced prison laborers at the site. If, as 2017 dawns, a new Statehouse were to be constructed, and were prison labor employed for this task, among the fourth-degree felons pouring the foundation could be any doctor who provided an abortion to a woman who was more than 20 weeks along in her pregnancy — this thanks to the one-two punch of an abortion-restriction bill Governor John Kasich signed on Tuesday and a 2013 bill that...

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Trump Must Sell His D.C. Hotel, Federal Officials Tell Congressional Democrats

by Laurel Raymond – Giving it to his children isn’t good enough. President-elect Donald Trump is very proud of his new downtown Washington, D.C. hotel. He repeatedly bragged on the campaign trail about how it was the most sought-after location in Washington (after, of course, the White House), hijacked political events for free press when it opened, and often boasted of the great deal he made in procuring the lease for the property from the U.S. government. Now that he’s the head of that government, though, the validity of that lease is in question. When Trump takes office he will effectively be both tenant and landlord of the multi-million dollar property. According to a briefing given to lawmakers by the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the lease, Trump must therefore give up all ownership of the hotel or be in clear violation of his government contract. That view was publicly relayed...

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CPJ: Journalist Arrests in 2016 at 30-Year High (VIDEOS)

Mass arrests in various countries have pushed number to 259 so far, says annual census of imprisoned journalists by CPJ. More journalists have been jailed this year by governments around the world than at any time in nearly three decades, according to a media rights watchdog. The report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit group that works to defend press freedoms, says a total of 259 journalists have been jailed in 2016, compared with 199 at the same time last year. That is the highest number since the group began keeping detailed records in 1990. The numbers do not include journalists who have disappeared or are held captive by non-state groups. After Turkey and China, Egypt, with 25 journalists incarcerated, is listed in third place by the report – the CPJ’s annual census of imprisoned journalists. This year marked the first time since 2008 that Iran was not among the top five...

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Ties to Putin Are Nothing Compared to Rex Tillerson’s Vast Climate Crimes

by Lauren McCauley – “Does Rex Tillerson understand that democracy, the Earth’s climate, and human rights matter more than profits and petroleum?” In a scene straight from a “dystopian movie script,” President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday officially tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State, thus elevating someone whose “lifelong mission is to crash the climate” to one of world’s most influential and powerful government positions. While many pundits and mainstream media outlets are objecting to Tillerson due to his business dealings and reported friendliness with Russian President Vladimir Putin, environmentalists and social justice advocates made it clear the threat posed by his nomination is far more menacing. In the official press statement, Trump’s transition team says that as head of the State Department, the career oil tycoon “will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign...

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Talking Back to Hate Speech, Explained

by GAIL ABLOW – The outbreak of racist, sexist and xenophobic harassment across the US is alarming. People have reported almost 900 instances of hate speech since Nov. 8, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many are on high alert, wondering how they might respond to a hate crime. “I am extremely concerned about all the hate crimes I am reading about. What can I do if I witness a bias attack?” Short answer: We reached out to experts to devise a strategy. Here’s what they recommend: 1) Be a good witness, record and identify the incident. 2) Be prepared to speak out, but don’t escalate the conflict. 3) Be an ally. 4) Find a safe space. 5) Learn more. 1. Be a good witness Report it. “First of all,” said J. Thomas Manger, police chief of Montgomery County, Maryland, “be a good witness. Call 911 so the police can...

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John Kasich’s Anti-Abortion Bait and Switch

by Casey Quinlan – More extreme abortion bans distract from anti-abortion lawmakers’ real strategy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a bill that would ban abortion at six weeks on Tuesday. On the same day, he signed a 20-week abortion ban into law. Although some Ohio Republicans, buoyed by the prospect of a Donald Trump administration, argued that a six-week ban would survive the courts, the 20-week ban was always the main goal for pro-life groups and conservative lawmakers. Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers have debated over whether to fight hard for more extreme bans or the more politically viable 20-week ban, but 20-week bans are the most popular restriction pushed by conservative lawmakers. The powerful pro-life group, National Right to Life Committee, is pushing for a 20-week ban on the federal level. Under Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court can’t ban an abortion before 24 weeks — when the fetus is viable — but Republicans...

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