Justice For All

‘Do Everything They Ask So They Don’t Shoot Me’ (VIDEO)

by Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU – On a May morning in 2015, Xiaoxing Xi, a physics professor at Temple University, woke up to violent banging on the door of his home in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia. He raced downstairs. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a group of armed federal agents. Within minutes, he was handcuffed and under arrest, and his wife and daughters, in their pajamas, were held at gunpoint with their hands up. In the subsequent hours, he was strip-searched, interrogated, and charged before being released on bail. “From the very beginning, I was telling myself,” he said, “do everything they ask me to do so that they don’t shoot me.” Professor Xi had no idea what the agents wanted with him, until they told him during questioning that he was suspected of spying for China. It became clear over the course of...

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Killer Cop Michael Slager Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Killing Walter Scott

by Alan Pyke – Slager and colleagues initially lied about the killing of an unarmed black motorist who fled from a traffic stop. Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager will spend 20 years in federal prison for killing unarmed motorist Walter Scott and trying to blame the incident on the dead man, a judge ruled Thursday. Slager may receive time-served credit that would leave him to serve about 18 years further. There is no parole in the federal prison system. Prior to issuing his final ruling, Norton said he saw no perfect solution. “No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to like it or think it’s right,” he said, according to Post and Courier reporter Andrew Knapp. Norton could have sentenced the former officer far more harshly. Slager’s fate is governed by a federal civil rights law rather than directly by a homicide...

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31 House Republicans Say They Want DACA Action This Year. They Can Do it With One Signature

by Josh Israel – Just 22 would have to sign a discharge petition to bring the Dream Act of 2017 to the floor. Last week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said it was unlikely that Congress would act on protecting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as kids before the end of the year. On Tuesday, 33 Republican Representatives and (plus the non-voting Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), released a letter calling for action before the end of December. But if these lawmakers are serious about making that happen, there is an easy way they could do so. A seldom-used procedure, known as a “discharge petition” could bring the Dream Act of 2017 to the floor within days. When the Trump administration announced in September that it would end DACA, the Obama administration’s executive action that gave undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children temporary deportation relief and work authorization in...

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A Dubious Arrest, a Compromised Prosecutor, a Tainted Plea: How One Murder Case Exposes a Broken System

by Megan Rose – One innocent man’s odyssey through the justice system shows the cascading, and enduring, effects of a bad conviction. The case of Demetrius Smith reads like a preposterous legal thriller: dubious arrests, two lying prostitutes, prosecutorial fouls and a judge who backpedaled out of a deal. It also delivers a primer on why defendants often agree to virtually inescapable plea deals for crimes they didn’t commit. ProPublica has spent the past year exploring wrongful convictions and the tools prosecutors use to avoid admitting mistakes, including an arcane deal known as an Alford plea that allows defendants to maintain their innocence while still pleading guilty. Earlier this year, we examined a dozen such cases in Baltimore. Smith’s troubling ordeal, Alford plea included, is a road map of nearly every way the justice system breaks down — and how easily a cascade of bad outcomes can be triggered by one small miscarriage of...

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The Anti-LGBTQ Baker is Actually Trying to Convince the Supreme Court That Homosexuality Isn’t Real

by Zack Ford – The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is about delegitimizing homosexuality. As the Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, there will be a lot of discussion about the First Amendment rights of the baker Jack Phillips, the artistry and expression of cake-baking, and “religious freedom.” At its core, however, this is a case in which conservatives are still arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and that gay and bi people are not worthy of protection under the law. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the anti-LGBTQ hate group defending Phillips for having refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, argues insistently that his concern was not the couple’s identity, but the nature of the event. As ADF states in its reply brief, the last document filed before oral arguments, “Phillips serves LGBT individuals; he simply declines to create art that celebrates same-sex marriage.” They contend that “a wedding cake...

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Has Trump’s Presidency Triggered the Movement Against Sexual Harassment?

by Ashwini Tambe – For many, Trump represents the ultimate unpunished sexual predator. The cascade of sexual harassment accusations over the past month has moved from high-profile men to lesser-known people in sectors such as higher education and the restaurant industry. In an important and fundamental way, the ground beneath us has shifted: Victims everywhere have lost their patience and their fear, and are finding willing listeners. A question worth asking is: Why has it shifted now? #Metoo and beyond The current outpouring of allegations may seem sudden, but it isn’t surprising if you’ve been tracking the massive swell in women’s activism over the past year, as women’s studies scholars like me are doing. Yes, the viral #MeToo campaign has been instrumental in raising this issue. According to Facebook, nearly half the people in the United States are friends with someone who posted a message about experiences of assault or harassment. But #MeToo draws its steam from...

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US Withdraws From UN Global Compact on Migration

US President Donald Trump‘s administration said it was withdrawing the US from an international pact aimed at improving global migration and refugee issues, prompting criticism from the United Nations. The US has been a part of the non-binding New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly last year. The declaration called for negotiations on a Global Compact for Migration, aimed at protecting the rights of refugees and migrants and helping them resettle. It also seeks to fight xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards refugees and migrants. But late on Saturday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the declaration’s “approach is simply not compatible with US sovereignty” and that the US will instead define its own migration plan. “No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue,” Haley said in a statement. “But our decisions on immigration policies must...

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The New Book of Revelations — America After Weinstein

by Todd Gitlin – Making distinctions is part of the fine art of justice. A new Book of Revelation is streaming into the collective psyche, chapter by chapter, verse by verse — a saga of men mauling, manhandling, exploiting, raping, battering and diminishing women, commandeering their lives, making them doubt themselves, driving them out of their jobs and even careers. I doubt that what we are seeing is simply a gush of headlines, a scandal du jour. Two or three scandals by media standards may qualify as a “trend,” but 10 or 20 or 50, complete with public meetings and multiple ethics investigations(however perfunctory they may turn out to be), are a whole culture trembling. The outpouring of women’s stories of male abuse is moving and powerful. Speaking for myself, I had no idea how many women have been humiliated, damaged and derailed as the result of a whole range of abuses. A man...

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Mulvaney’s In, Bankers Win, and Trump Shafts Americans Again

by Richard Eskow – A Trump-appointed judge has issued his ruling. Mick Mulvaney – the Tea Party Congressman turned Trump apparatchik – will run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The political extremist who once said the CFPB was “extremely frightening,” who called it “a joke… in a sick, sad kind of way”  and said he would “like to get rid of it,” is now its Acting Director. Mulvaney didn’t wait for the judge’s ruling before taking the helm. He showed up at the office bearing doughnuts for the staff. Were the condemned being served their last meal? A quick review of the CFPB website on Monday showed that he had already placed himself at the top of the org chart: On his first day on the job, Mulvaney froze all hiring and rule-making, bringing the bureau’s critical work to an effective standstill. The banks had won the first round. And Trump proved once again that,...

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St. Louis Police are Now Under Federal Investigation for Violating Protesters’ Civil Rights

by Jeffrey Mittman – This week, the FBI and the Justice Department opened investigations into the conduct of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers for unconstitutional actions during protests in September. The federal investigation is just the latest in a string of actions by courts and community leaders to hold the St. Louis police accountable for its systemic abuses of power. The federal investigation centers on allegations of civil rights violations by law enforcement officers when the community expressed its outrage, pain, and grief in protests after the September acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. Police pepper-sprayed protestors and bystanders without warning, even spraying some people in the face when they were sitting on the ground with their hands zip-tied. Officers interfered with people recording police activities in photos and on video. Police also unlawfully detained people during a kettling incident in downtown St. Louis....

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In These States, Past Marijuana Crimes Can Go Away

by Sophie Quinton – When Californians voted to legalize marijuana last year, they also voted to let people petition courts to reduce or hide convictions for past marijuana crimes. State residents can now petition courts to change some felonies to misdemeanors, change some misdemeanors to infractions, and wipe away convictions for possessing or growing small amounts of the drug. “We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped write the California ballot initiative. Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and Oregon also have made it easier for people convicted of some crimes of marijuana possession, cultivation or manufacture to get their records sealed or expunged, which generally means removing convictions from public databases. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a criminal justice bill that would, among other changes, allow people to expunge any conviction that’s no...

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Judge Strikes Down Texas Ban on Common Abortion Procedure

by Shannon Najmabadi for The Texas Tribune – A federal district judge handed a victory to abortion rights groups Wednesday when he struck down part of a Texas law curbing access to the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation.   A federal district judge handed a victory to abortion rights groups Wednesday when he struck down part of a Texas law curbing access to the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation. In a decision that will be appealed before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision imposes an “undue burden” on women seeking second-trimester abortions in the state. It had been slated to go into effect Sept. 1 as part of Senate Bill 8, a law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year. But the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed suit in July on behalf of several women’s health providers in the state....

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White House Efforts to Cut Off Funding for Sanctuary Cities Slapped With Permanent Block

by E.A. Crunden – What the Trump administration is doing is “unconstitutional on its face,” Judge William Orrick wrote. A federal judge has permanently blocked President Trump’s efforts to bar cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration forces from receiving funding, the most decisive blow yet to the White House’s efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick ruled Trump’s January executive order seeking to cut off sanctuary cities from federal funding unconstitutional. The same judge put a hold on the executive order in April. “The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Executive Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” Orrick wrote in the latest decision. “Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that they not...

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The Drag Show Must Go On!

by Mandy Strickland Floyd, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Tennessee – On Monday night, the attempt by the town of Portland, Tennessee, to ban drag shows came to an end. For months, the town’s aldermen have been searching for a way to regulate drag shows out of existence. But the First Amendment got in their way. It all started in August, when performers with Elite Productions put on a drag show at Envy Restaurant Bar & Grill in downtown Portland. The show was sold out, and the performers went on to hold several more successful performances. Though popular with the public, the show became a target for the Portland board of aldermen, which has spent much of the past several months trying to find a way to ban drag shows. In September, board members introduced an ordinance that sought to classify drag shows as “adult cabaret,” which the town described as a...

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An Arkansas Town Agrees to Criminal Justice Reform to Ensure That the Poor Are Not Jailed

by Rita Sklar, Executive Director, ACLU of Arkansas – For years, the city of Sherwood, Arkansas, home to about 30,000 people, had a practice of jailing people who could not afford to pay court costs incurred from bounced checks. Thousands of Arkansans were locked up—sometimes after bouncing checks in small amounts—when they could not pay crushing fees, fines, and other costs that compounded their debt by as much as 10 times the original amount. Today, thanks to litigation brought by the ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Sherwood has agreed to stop jailing people for being poor. Under this week’s settlement, the city agreed that it will not jail or issue arrest warrants for people because they can’t afford to pay their debts. Sherwood also agreed to clearly advise defendants of their rights before sentencing, ensure that defendants have access to counsel,...

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The Trump White House’s Actions Recall the Most Divisive Eras of the American Past

by Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program – One of the most striking, and dispiriting, aspects of the actions and pronouncements coming from the White House over the last year is the way that they seem to echo the most divisive and damaging eras of the country’s history. Chief of Staff John Kelly’s recent description of the Civil War as a disagreement that could have been resolved through more compromise was a revisionist attempt to trivialize the enormous injustice of slavery and white supremacy in much the same way as President Trump’s efforts to find equivalencies between Nazi demonstrators and those opposing white supremacy. Kelley’s statement harks back to efforts in the early 20th century to advance a racist agenda by recasting the Civil War. That effort was embodied in the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” which portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as gallant warriors in the battle to save...

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‘State-Sponsored Torture’: Ohio Grants Temporary Reprieve After Botched Execution

by Jessica Corbett – Human rights advocates censured the state for making “a spectacle of a man’s life,” declaring “the cruel and unusual practice of lethal injection must end”. After poking and prodding at a sickly inmate, 69-year-old Alva Campbell Jr., for about 25 minutes, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections temporarily called off his execution. Medical staff “spent at least 25 minutes in an unsuccessful effort to find a suitable vein in Campbell’s arms and right leg,” for lethal injection, the Dayton Daily News reports. “While this was happening, Campbell lay in a partially sitting position on a prison gurney in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Campbell shed tears and shook hands with two of the medical staffers attending to him after they were unable to proceed with the execution process.” Prison officials had been warned about Campbell’s numerous health issues, and even used a wedge-shaped pillow to help him...

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Australians Overwhelmingly Expressed Support for Marriage Equality. Now What?

by Zack Ford – The big survey has come to a conclusion, but no outcome is guaranteed. Around 79 percent of all eligible voters participated in Australia’s national postal survey on marriage equality, and now the results are in. As projected, there was very strong support for legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, with 61.6 percent calling for it to be legalized and 38.4 percent percent opposing it. Every state and territory recorded a yes vote, and only New South Wales’ yes result fell below 60 percent (57 percent). But because it was a survey, not a referendum, the results have no immediate effect. The government promised, if the “yes” vote prevailed, that it would allow the Parliament of Australia to hold a conscience vote on a marriage equality bill. But nothing requires the MPs to vote according to the survey. Multiple versions of marriage equality legislation have also been proposed that...

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Meet the Spiritual Shepherd of Black Lives Matter

by Jack Jenkins – “We came with a Bible in one hand, and a protest sign in the other.” When Rev. Traci Blackmon took the stage in mid-October at the Prophetic Resistance Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana, she was technically slated to give a “keynote address,” a phrase that brings to mind Powerpoint presentations and break-out sessions. But what she actually delivered to 350-odd clergy was, well, a sermon. The Missouri native, well known for her skills as a preacher, did not disappoint. Over the course of 25 minutes, her voice cracked with passion as she invoked the biblical story of Moses, using the instance of God speaking through a burning bush as a metaphor to explain the world’s many ills. But Blackmon, a pivotal spiritual voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, did not speak in generalities. She listed the tragedies impacting communities of color by name. “Bushes were burning in Ferguson long...

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U.S. Silent as Egypt Considers New Law Outlawing Homosexuality — and it’s Worse Than You Think

by D. Parvaz – In order to score political points with Islamists, the government has stepped up its horrifying crackdown on LGBTQ community, accusing them of endangering national security. Egypt is considering a draft of a new law officially criminalizing same-sex relations, as part of a wider crackdown on LGBTQ rights after a concert in late September, when a few audience members waved rainbow flags. Reuters reported on Thursday that the proposed law, if passed, would introduced up to a decade in prison for “people engaging in or promoting same-sex relations.” While the White House has refrained from condemning the arrests and the proposed law (the United States provides Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid each year), rights groups have been calling out the Egyptian state on this issue. Amnesty International said that the law would “further entrench stigma and abuse against people based on their perceived sexual orientation.” Human Rights Watch has also spoken out...

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The 2017 Elections Show Criminal Justice Reform Can Be a Winning Issue

by Udi Ofer, Deputy National Political Director and Director of Campaign for Smart Justice, ACLU – On Election Day 2017, candidates in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York won on platforms that proactively embraced criminal justice reform or rejected fear-mongering attempts by opponents to label them as soft-on-crime. Their victories send a strong signal to politicians running in 2018 elections that they do not need to hide from supporting issues like bail and sentencing reform, ending the death penalty, and restoring the rights of people living with a criminal record. They also represent the continuation of a shifting narrative that rejects the old tough-on-crime politics for a new approach that is rooted in civil rights and redefining community safety. Philadelphia By far the biggest criminal justice reform victory came with the election of Larry Krasner as Philadelphia’s next district attorney. Until 2010, Philadelphia had a district attorney known as America’s “Deadliest...

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Laughing at Jeff Sessions, Previously Deemed Criminal by His Prosecutors, is Now Officially OK Again

by Alan Pyke – Federal prosecutors finally give up the ghost in absurd unlawful conduct prosecution of Code Pink member. After nearly 10 months, Desiree Fairooz is a fully free woman. Federal prosecutors backed off their plans to prosecute her a second time this week on charges stemming from her reflexive chuckling at Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings last winter. Fairooz’s crime was finding it funny that someone would describe Sessions as “treating all Americans equally under the law” throughout his three-decade public career. A rookie cop from the Capitol Police immediately cuffed Fairooz and dragged her out of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room in January after she chuckled at Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) characterization of Sessions’ civil rights record. Sessions was previously kept off the federal judiciary after former colleagues from his days as a prosecutor alleged he had made racist jokes and misused investigative resources to punish...

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Meek Mill’s Sentencing is Stark Proof of a Broken Criminal Justice System

by Kay Wicker – The rapper continues to be punished for a near decades-old charge. Rapper Meek Mill was sentenced on Monday to two to four years in state prison for violating his probation from a 2008 charge that has been dragged out for several years. Mill’s attorney claims that the judge who has handled his case from the beginning may have a personal vendetta against him. Others, including Jay Z, who signed the rapper to his label, are calling this for what it is — unjust. Philadelphia-native Meek Mill, born Robert Williams, whose career began in the early aughts was in the mainstream sphere by 2012 with the critically-acclaimed song “Young & Gettin’ It.” He has released three studio albums, including one earlier this year titled “Wins & Losses” — a concept with which the rapper is extremely familiar. Mill, as it seems, has been plagued with bad luck. In recent history,...

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More Than Two Dozen House Democrats Tell Speaker Ryan They are Set to Throw Down for Dreamers

by Gabe Ortiz – This is what leadership looks like. More than two dozen House Democrats say they are prepared to thrown down for Dreamers who face being torn from the only country they’ve ever known as home, telling Speaker Paul Ryan in an op-ed to either pass a clean DREAM Act free of poison pills, or risk losing their support for the end-of-year spending bill. Democrats appear to have the upper hand here. As Politico noted last week,“Republicans will need Democratic votes—definitely in the Senate and almost certainly in the House, too—to pass legislation to keep the government funded.” In their op-ed, the House members say they are prepared to use that hand to protect undocumented immigrant youth: Nobody except for a small extreme faction in the Republican Party thinks deporting DREAMers is a good idea. Every poll indicates that the American people favor legal status for these young immigrants by a 4-to-1 margin. The overwhelming support...

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Detention of Amnesty Official by Israel Raises Alarm

by Dalia Hatuqa – The Population Authority’s interior ministry also confirmed to media that Jarrar was barred from entering Israel due to “his activities”. A leading human rights group has raised the alarm over an incident that it fears is an indication of the Israeli authorities’ growing intolerance of dissent. Last week, Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Amnesty International USA, was stopped at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the West Bank while on a personal visit to his family following his father’s death. Jarrar, who is an American citizen of Palestinian origin, was detained and questioned for hours before being denied entry into the West Bank. Prior to joining Amnesty International, Jarrar had been allowed into the West Bank on at least four occasions in the past. According to an Israeli spokeswoman, the office of Public Security and...

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‘Systemic Failure’: Study Details Black Americans’ Experiences of Discrimination

by Julia Conley – African-Americans report that they avoid calling the police, attending political events, and driving for fear of encountering discrimination. A new study reveals black Americans’ views of the discrimination they experience in their daily lives, detailing some of the lengths people of color go to in order to avoid racism perpetrated by their fellow citizens as well as government institutions. The report, based on survey results compiled last year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explores the day-to-day reality of the racism black Americans face when interacting with the healthcare sector, law enforcement, and even when completing ordinary tasks like driving or participating in social events. “While many surveys have explored Americans’ beliefs about discrimination,” the study’s authors note, “this survey asks people about their own personal experiences with discrimination.” Sixty percent of the 802 African Americans surveyed reported that they...

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White House Chief of Staff Praises Robert E. Lee, Expresses Sympathy for the Confederacy

by Aaron Rupar – John Kelly thinks “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” not slavery. During an interview on the debut edition of Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News show Monday night, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and openly expressed sympathy for the Confederate cause. Asked about a Virginia church’s decision to remove a plaque honoring Lee, Kelly said, “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man.” “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days,” Kelly continued. “Now it’s different today.” Kelly went on to offer an odd analysis of the cause of the Civil War, attributing it to a “lack of an ability to compromise” rather than the...

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The Sad State of Disaster Relief

by Jill Richardson – Former presidents are cajoling individual Americans to donate for relief. Maybe they should lobby Congress instead. Five former U.S. presidents recently came together to raise money for hurricane relief for the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This generous, bipartisan act is one of true generosity and statesmanship. And yet, as former presidents, all five men know that there’s another way to help hurricane victims, or victims of any natural disaster. The federal government can quickly provide far more in money, personnel, and resources to help disaster victims than even the most generous outpouring of donations by Americans. Congress recently approved $36.5 billion for disaster relief. That’s nowhere near enough given the scale of the crises from California to Puerto Rico. And further funding is going to run up against a GOP plan to cut $1.5 trillion worth of taxes — about 80 percent of which will go to the...

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‘Floodgates Are Opening’ as Allegations Against Powerful Men Reveal Scope of Sexual Assault and Harassment

by Jake Johnson – “Every sexual predator in every walk of professional life is—and should be—nervous that they will be exposed by this uprising.” As a slew of powerful and influential men—from former President George H.W. Bush to MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin to filmmaker James Toback—are facing hundreds of new sexual assault and harassment accusations in the aftermath of the explosive and horrifying Harvey Weinstein revelations, activists and commentators are increasingly coming to believe that something of a “culture-rattling revolution” is underway, one that many hope will change the way such behavior is perceived, discussed, and addressed in the United States and around the world. “There is Harvey Weinstein-like behavior in every industry,” wrote Buzzfeed journalist Alex Berg. “The floodgates are just opening up.” “Harvey Weinstein will go down as an historic figure, just not for the reasons he assumed,” added Axios‘s Mike Allen. “His outing as a sexist, dangerous pig triggered an uprising rarely seen: Abused women feel liberated to bring down powerful...

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GOP House Bill Bans Abortion Before Women Know They’re Pregnant

by Rmuse – The horrendous saga known as the evangelical Republican war on women continues unabated with a simply horrific bill rapidly advancing in the theocratic House of Representatives. Every week there has been a new development informing the Vatican-influenced “Personhood” movement and evangelicals led by Mike “preacher” Pence have made their raison d’être banning all forms of birth control as well as bestow full constitutional rights on a single-celled organism that supersedes those of the impregnated woman. None of these vicious evangelical attacks on women are unexpected, and it is the primary reason a few journalists are heartsick after writing prolifically for years on the dangers of allowing theocratic-minded Republicans to take control of the government. It is with no satisfaction that those journalists can legitimately say “we told you so.” The latest abomination is a bill banning abortion at six weeks, before most women know their egg was fertilized...

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NFL Owner Compares His Players to ‘inmates,’ Says They Should not be Permitted to Protest

by Lindsay Gibbs – An explosive ESPN report details the ongoing conflicts between NFL owners and players over protests. Earlier this month, after a select group of NFL owners, players, and executives met for a much-anticipated meeting in New York City about the protests during the national anthem, the 12 owners in attendance met with the rest of the NFL owners to debrief them. During that meeting, a small group of owners who feel that NFL players should be required to stand during the anthem expressed their frustration with the way the league as a whole was handling the divisive topic. “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said, according to an explosive report by Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN’s Outside the Lines. ESPN says that McNair’s statement “stunned some in the room.” Troy Vincent, who had a 14-year NFL career and...

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Turkey’s Western Allies Silent as 11 Human Rights Activists are Dragged to Court

by D. Parvaz – The rights activists, including two who work for Amnesty International, are facing “politically motivated” terrorism charges. Turkey’s unabated march towards authoritarianism continues this week with the trial of 11 human rights workers there facing terrorism-related charges and up to 15 years in prison. Two of the defendants, Idil Eser and Taner Kilic, work for Amnesty International and are among the thousands who have been swept up in the crackdowns the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have instituted since the attempted coup against him July 2016. Recent visa-related spat aside, President Donald Trump has been largely supportive of Erdogan and his policies. According to Erdogan, Trump even apologized for a May fight between his security staff and protesters in Washington, D.C. in which arrest warrants were issued for twelve members of Erdogan’s security team. (The White House denies that Trump issued an apology for the fight.) Eser, director of Amnesty International (AI) in Turkey, was among...

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Census Funding Shortages Could Negatively Impact Minority and Poor Communities

by Elham Khatami – The Trump administration isn’t doing enough to address the Census Bureau’s needs. And it could have disastrous results. The Trump administration and Congress have overlooked the U.S. Census Bureau’s financial needs in preparing for the 2020 Census, and it could result in significant undercounts of the historically hard-to-count populations — including African-Americans, Asian Americans, the Latinx community, and the poor. The Census, which was first implemented more than 200 years ago, surveys every person in the country and uses the data to distribute government resources to states and localities, draw congressional districts, and provide vital investment information to businesses. Shortly after the 2010 Census, Congress mandated that the 2020 Census must not exceed the $12.5 billion spent on the previous one. The bureau’s former director John Thompson, who left the agency in June and whose post is still vacant, had ensured that the bureau would not go over the...

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NFL Row Intensifies as Players Kneel and Raise Fists

by Patrick Strickland – Professional American football players continued their protests against police brutality on Sunday despite ongoing blowback from right-wing US President Donald Trump and other politicians. At least 22 players across the National Football League (NFL) participated in the protests, according to the Associated Press’ count. On Monday morning, Trump tweeted his latest in a series of verbal attacks on the protesting athletes, accusing the players of “showing total disrespect” to the country and its flag. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL! 7:53 AM – Oct 23, 2017 During the San Francisco 49ers-Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday, at least eight players from the 49ers knelt during the anthem, while no player from the Cowboys participated in the protest. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has vowed bench any player on his team...

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How to Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

by Jocelyn Frye – The most recent revelations about sexual harassment perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, the prominent movie producer, are the latest in a seemingly endless string of blockbuster stories about high-profile figures and allegations of sexual harassment, pay-offs, and cover-ups. With each story, there are sordid, troubling accounts from victims—many of whom were ignored or dismissed at the time the incident occurred—followed by outrage and disbelief from co-workers, professional colleagues, and the media. But, the reality is that the prevalence of sexual harassment should no longer be surprising. Sexual harassment—such as unwanted sexual advances and other actions of a sexual nature used as a condition of employment, to interfere with an individual’s work, or to create a hostile or intimidating work environment—has been an unfortunate part of the workplace for years. Most cases occur out of sight or behind closed doors; most victims are not famous and never have their stories told....

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NYPD Cops are Smearing a Victim Accusing Them of Rape to Avoid Indictment

by Adrienne Masha Varkiani – “Without commenting on this ongoing investigation, defense counsel’s characterization of how a rape victim should behave is inaccurate, inappropriate and demeaning.” Two New York Police Department officers accused of raping a teenager while on duty are smearing the victim’s credibility over her social media posts and ideas of how a rape victim should behave, according to a letter obtained by the New York Post. The teenager, who goes by the name “Anna Chambers” online and isn’t using her legal name in press, said she was raped by Brooklyn narcotics detectives Richard Hall and Edward Martins on September 15. Chambers said she was driving with two of her friends, and after being pulled over by the detectives, her car was searched. The cops found a bag of drugs next to Chambers, and one on her friend’s person. Chambers says they then handcuffed her and drove her to a Chipotle...

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Why We Must All Fight for the Dream Act

by Robert Reich – By repealing DACA – Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals – Trump has endangered both these young immigrants and the economic security of America. In 2012, the Obama  administration created DACA as a temporary way to address the needs of young people who came to America as infants or toddlers, and know no other country. To apply and qualify for DACA, these young people had to risk entering the system by giving their identifying information. Once approved, they were granted two years of “deferred action” on deportation, with the promise that they could reapply every two years indefinitely. This allowed “dreamers” to go to college, get a job, and pay taxes without fear of deportation. DACA was never perfect, but for 800,000 immigrant youth it meant freedom from fear and an opportunity to fully contribute to the country they were raised in. But now these young people are threatened with...

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NFL Tells Trump to Stick It. Why Wouldn’t They? Ad Revenue is Up

by durrati – Yesterday’s decision Tuesday by the NFL owners to leave standing (heh) the NFL’s policy of not compelling players to stand for the National Anthem did not sit well with der Furor, prompting an early morning tweet today. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump  The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country! 7:06 AM – Oct 18, 2017 You see, despite shit for brain’s best efforts, football is doing just fine. While some attendance and ratings numbers show a slight decline… “According to Nielsen data, the various NFL telecasts—including the Sunday regional and national games and the prime-time Sunday, Monday and Thursday night packages—are averaging 15.6 million viewers through Week 6, which is down just 5 percent from a year earlier. Household ratings are also down 5 percent to a 9.1 rating, off a half-point versus from...

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Trump Being Subpoenaed for All Documents Related to Accusations of Sexual Assault

by Mark Sumner – Buzzfeed reports that the streak of powerful men being called to account for their sexual assaults on women is not over. A high-stakes legal showdown is brewing for President Donald Trump, as a woman who said he groped her has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” Successful businesswoman and restaurant owner Summer Zervos appeared as a contestant on Donald Trump’s television show, The Apprentice, during it’s 2007 season. Zervos was the first person “fired” from the season — but only after, according to Zervos, Trump sexually assaulted her. In addition to twice forcing her into a kiss, Zervos says that Trump  … “Came at me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.” Zervos’ subpoena was made in March,...

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Federal Judge Halts the Third Version of Trump’s Muslim Ban

by Ian Millhiser – Turns out, banning Muslims isn’t a thing that a president can do. President Donald Trump has now revised his Muslim ban twice, both times in efforts to rescue the ban from court decisions halting at least some of its provisions. On Tuesday, however, a federal judge held that Trump’s latest efforts are not good enough. According to Judge Derrick Watson’s opinion in Hawaii v. Trump, the latest round of changes to Trump’s ban are not significant enough to rescue it from the same legal attacks that placed the previous version of the ban in legal jeopardy. Watson handed down a temporary order on halting the ban. This round of litigation concerns the provisions of the ban restricting citizens of certain nations from entering the United States. Though the Supreme Court has not fully considered any version of these provisions on the merits, it handed down a temporary order...

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Federal Court Dismisses RICO and Defamation Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

by Jessica Corbett – “These cases don’t seek justice,” says Greenpeace USA’s general counsel. “They intend to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation.” In a decision that could set a powerful precedent for protecting activists from legal attacks, a federal judge on Monday dismissed all claims in a lawsuit filed by a major Canadian logging company against Greenpeace, Stand.earth, and individual activists, which included claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Resolute Forest Products Inc. filed the $300 million CAD lawsuit in response to the environmentalists’ advocacy work in protest of deforestation that results from logging. The activists celebrated the decision, and called for future collaboration between environmental advocates and corporations to protect natural resources. “The judge’s decision to dismiss the case affirms that Resolute’s divisive and bullying tactics are a waste of time and resources,” said Greenpeace USA senior forest campaigner Daniel Brindis. “It is time for Resolute...

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‘The People of Puerto Rico are Dying’: Action is Needed Now

by Bonnie Castillo – Volunteer nurses describe deadly conditions and demand federal action immediately. Crowd funding. A Costco Card. The water in a nurse’s own backpack. These are the resources to which volunteer nurses on the ground in Puerto Rico—where 85 percent of the island is still without power and where the official death toll has risen to 48 (with the real toll expected to rise much higher)—have been forced to turn in recent weeks, to keep hurricane victims alive, even for a few additional days. “The people over here in Puerto Rico are dying. We have a healthcare crisis right now,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president and Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) volunteer Cathy Kennedy, RN. “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water—we shouldn’t have to...

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Trump’s Bullying Backfires – NFL To Take Up Protester’s Cause

by Rmuse – Donald Trump epitomizes incompetence that he attempts to conceal with his big mouth as if bloviating nonstop lies and absurdities will convince Americans he is anything other than a monumental douchebag. When the Oval Office oaf took up the cause of defining patriotism as denying other Americans their Constitutionally guaranteed rights, not only did he reveal his fascist tendencies, he pushed an American institution to declare that they would not join his tyranny against mostly African-American athletes. The fascist Trump was certain he could “force” the NFL to restrict its players’ constitutional rights by running his mouth and calling socially conscious players “sons-of-bitches” and demand they be “thrown off the field.” There were even rumors that next week the NFL was convening a meeting with owners to do as Trump ordered and punish mostly African-American players who are unwilling to forfeit their constitutional rights. However, the only thing Trump running...

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Taxpayers are Picking up the Tab for White Nationalists’ ‘free speech’ Rallies

by Luke Barnes – Security for Richard Spencer’s latest speech will cost half-a-million dollars. Campus officials at the University of Florida are preparing for white nationalist Richard Spencer to visit their campus next month — and are being forced to spend upwards of $500,000 to provide him with security. It’s the latest in a series of right-wing rallies which taxpayers and beleaguered universities are picking up the bill for. Spencer, fresh off leading another torch rally at Charlottesville, will travel to Gainesville, Florida on October 19th, despite the University not inviting him or wanting him to host his event there. “People are concerned for their well-being and safety,” senior Dwayne Fletcher told the Washington Post. “Gainesville will definitely have a different atmosphere in the days to come, and afterward, because of his presence.” According to the Washington Post, the university is also being forced to close several key medical centers, including surgery centers and...

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Salt Lake Police Fire Cop Who Arrested Nurse Over Blood Draw

by Scott Shackford – Body camera footage has consequences. Remember the Salt Lake City cop caught on body camera footage roughly arresting a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient? He’s been fired. His shift commander, who oversaw the encounter and ordered her arrest, has been demoted. The July confrontation between Detective Jeff Payne and University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels was captured by police body cameras. A month later, Wubbels received a copy of the footage from the city and publicly released it to highlight what she believed to be a serious problem of police attempting to intimidate nurses. The video went viral over Labor Day weekend, and the public was outraged. Payne had demanded that Wubbels bring him to a patient to draw blood, but he did not have a warrant and the patient was unconscious and could not consent. The man wasn’t even a suspect in a crime:...

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S.F. 49ers Safety Eric Reid on Pence’s Publicity Stunt: “This is What Systemic Oppression Looks Like.”

by durrati – San Francisco 49s Safety Eric Reid had something to say after his team lost to the Indy Colts in overtime — 26-23 — the game which Vice-President Mike Pence staged a planned publicity stunt walk out on to whine protest players exercising the first amendment rights to protest the extra judicial executions of young black men by bad police officers. Talking to reporters in the locker room Reid said: “My honest reaction: … Does anybody know the last time he’s (Pence) been to a football game? With that being said, he tweeted out a three-year-old photo of him at a Colts game, so with the information I have, the last time he was at a Colts game was three years ago. So this looks like a PR stunt to me. He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what...

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LGBTQ and Abortion Advocates Have Found an Unlikely Champion: The Satanic Temple

by Brianna Acuesta – The Satanic Temple is an organization that is stepping up to help others. Tempers are running high this year, with arguably the most controversial president to date in the White House and the push for equality between a number of groups based on race, gender, and sexual orientation becoming even more heated than usual. Though the usual organizations are taking up the issues and organizing marches, their numbers have increased as support has flared since President Trump first announced his run for office. People say that politics makes strange bedfellows, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that LGBTQ activists and pro-choice groups have found an unlikely ally in their fight for rights. That ally is The Satanic Temple (TST), which, contrary to what your instinct may tell you about people who ‘follow Satan,’ is an ethical group that just wants to lend a hand. “The mission of The Satanic Temple is...

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White House Demands Border Wall Funding in Exchange for DREAMer Protections

by E.A. Crunden – The Trump administration’s new hard-line list includes draconian demands that seemingly contradict early agreement with Democratic leadership. Funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a crackdown on children fleeing Central America are among the demands laid out by President Donald Trump’s administration in exchange for protecting hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. According to a list released late Sunday night, the White House will ask Congress to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities in addition to funding Trump’s long-sought border wall and accelerating the deportations of children back to countries like Guatemala and Honduras — even if their safety is at risk from escalating violence. Family members of immigrants in the United States will also be barred from joining them. Other measures include hiring thousands of new immigration officials to oversee the proposed measures and appointing 370 additional...

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Judge Grants Rapist Joint Custody of Victim’s Child

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The victim was only 12 years old when Christopher Mirasolo raped her and impregnated her. Despite also threatening her life, Mirasolo only spent six months in prison, only to spend four more years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. That being said, Mirasolo should NOT be allowed anywhere near a child and should still be rotting in prison. But a Michigan judge has decided that Mirasolo should have joint custody of the child his victim gave birth to eight years ago. According to The Detroit News, county officials surveyed the victim’s use of food stamps, aid she relies on to take care of her eight-year-old son. For some reason, the county connected her to Mirasolo and a DNA test was taken. It appears the county was searching for a reason to kick her and her son off the food stamp program so they did...

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California Sends Strong Rebuke to Trump Administration, Becomes ‘sanctuary state’

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – “The passage of SB54 has been the answer to our prayers for our community.” California on Thursday became a so-called “sanctuary state,” limiting who the state and local law enforcement agencies can detain and transfer on behalf of the federal immigration agency. Named the California Values Act (or SB 54) and set to take effect in January 2018, the law would provide discretion to state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when they detain a suspected undocumented immigrant. The law, in part, strictly limits local law enforcement agencies’ collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency officials to only conviction cases and not during arrests. It also ensures immigrants are notified about their civil rights before ICE can interview them, stops law enforcement agencies from contacting ICE for translation services for monolingual immigrants, prevents the deputization of local law enforcement officers as immigration law enforcers,...

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