Justice For All

Seven Things You Need to Know About the G7 Summit (VIDEOS)

What does the G7 stand for, who are the key players and what are the potential bust-ups this year? The leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – countries collectively known as the Group of Seven (G7) – are meeting on Friday for a two-day summit in the resort town of Taormina, Italy. The bloc meets annually to discuss a wide range of issues, including global economy, security and energy – and this year will be no exception. But with four out of seven leaders sitting at the G7 table for the first time, including US President Donald Trump, experts will be looking for signs about potential policy shifts amid growing global challenges. Syrian conflict tops G7 summit agenda Trump, in particular, is likely to face peer pressure over his protectionist and climate-sceptic stance, which has put him at odds with some of the...

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‘From Laughable to Inevitable’: $15 Minimum Wage Hits Congress

by Lauren McCauley – Responding to grassroots labor movement, Democratic lawmakers show that they are ready to join the pro-worker fight. Answering the call from millions of underpaid American workers who for years have pounded the pavement demanding a living wage, progressive lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation in both the House and Senate that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, “reversing the growing trend of income inequality between the top and everybody else,” as stated by Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who made the $15 minimum wage a pillar of his 2016 presidential bid, said as he introduced the bill alongside Scott and others that he knows the idea “is a radical concept for our Republican friends, but we believe in the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, that if you work 40 hours a week or...

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A Court Just Blocked Trump’s Muslim Ban Because Trump Couldn’t Keep His Mouth Shut

by Ian Millhiser – Authoritarianism for Dummies. Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. At least, that’s the biggest takeaway from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an injunction against the most recent version of Trump’s Muslim ban. Ten of the thirteen judges who heard International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump ruled against Trump’s policy, although there was some disagreement as to why among the judges in the majority. As Chief Judge Roger Gregory explains in the court’s primary opinion, the court may have reached a different outcome had Trump and his aides simply kept their big mouths shut. As was the case in several other decisions halting the Muslim ban, Trump lost in large part because he spent months traveling around the country bragging about his plan to violate the Constitution. The primary tension in the Muslim ban cases is between the First Amendment’s prohibition...

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CBO: Trumpcare Would Strip Coverage From 23 Million, Make It Worse for the Rest

by Deirdre Fulton – In their rush to push the American Healthcare Act through the chamber this month, Republicans did not wait for a revised report from the CBO. The cruel and destructive bill known as Trumpcare would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million, according to the revised Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score released Wednesday afternoon. The GOP-controlled House passed the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) by just two votes earlier this month, after adding an amendment gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing states to get waivers on the essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare—including maternity and mental health care. In their rush to push the bill through the chamber, Republicans did not wait for a revised report from the CBO. That assessment, published late Wednesday afternoon, found that 14 million more people would be uninsured under Trumpcare next year. Nineteen...

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Of Confederate Monuments, NOLA’s Mayor Asks: “Is This Really Our Story?” (MUST SEE VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.’ Last week, as New Orleans completed the controversial and long-awaited task of taking down Confederate monuments from its public spaces, Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the occasion by delivering a speech that has since been lauded as “stunning,” “incredible,” “powerful,” and “a clear-eyed view of our past as well as our present.” Many said the speech would go down in history. Jamelle Bouie ✔@jbouie This may rank with LBJ’s Howard commencement as 1 of the most honest speeches on race given by a white Southern pol. http://pulsegulfcoast.com/2017/05/transcript-of-new-orleans-mayor-landrieus-address-on-confederate-monuments … 11:04 PM – 22 May 2017 Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu’s address on Confederate monuments | The Pulse Just hours before workers removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee — the fourth Confederate monument to be...

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Palestinian Basic Rights ‘not on the agenda’ for Trump (VIDEOS)

by Farah Najjar – As US President Donald Trump arrives in Israel, analysts say efforts to revive peace talks are a ‘charade’. US President Donald Trump has arrived in Israel as part of his first foreign trip since taking office in January, but critics have already dismissed as lip service his vows to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The trip will include bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was in Washington earlier this month to pledge his support to a renewed peace process. But experts note that the Trump administration’s “unwavering support” for the state of Israel will render any potential negotiations futile. “They will fall over themselves loving Israel to get elected, come to their senses a bit when in office, then pay lip service to peace while serving the strategic alliance between the US and Israel by blindly supporting Israel,” Sam...

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Supreme Court Strikes Down North Carolina’s Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Maps

by Ian Millhiser – A small victory, but better than the alternative. The Supreme Court held Monday that North Carolina’s congressional maps — or, at least, those of two congressional districts — are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. In an unusual move, Justice Clarence Thomas joined with the Court’s liberal bloc to produce a 5–3 decision. Yet, while Cooper v. Harris is a victory for voters who don’t want lawmakers manipulating districts to determine electoral outcomes, it is a small victory. And there is much in Justice Elena Kagan’s opinion for the Court that highlights how fundamentally broken the law governing gerrymandering will continue to be even after Monday’s decision. Harris involved two congressional districts, the First and the 12th, which the state’s Republican-controlled legislature packed with additional black voters — despite the fact that these districts routinely elected the candidate preferred by African-Americans. By cramming more black voters into district that already elected black-preferred candidates, the legislature prevented...

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Global Study Shows Americans Dying from Preventable Causes at Shocking Rates

by Nika Knight – ‘Having a strong economy does not guarantee good healthcare’ Americans are dying at a shockingly high rate from preventable causes, found a first-of-its-kind global health study published last Thursday. The new research demonstrates that despite the fact that the U.S. has the largest economy in the world, healthcare for many of its residents is woefully inadequate. The U.S. was tied with Estonia and Montenegro, far below other wealthy nations such as Norway, Canada, and Australia, in the study’s ranking of 195 countries. “America’s ranking is an embarrassment, especially considering the U.S. spends more than $9,000 per person on healthcare annually, more than any other country,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, senior author of the study and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “Anyone with a stake in the current healthcare debate, including elected officials at the federal, state, and...

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Why Sheriff Clarke Will be a Disaster in His New Job, According to His Predecessor

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – ‘Just plain awful’ Sheriff David Clarke Jr.— a controversial law enforcement official known for his outlandish remarks and fatal detention practices — announced Wednesday that he would be appointed as an Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in June. According to various media outlets, former DHS personnel, and Clarke himself, Clarke will oversee the Office of Partnership and Engagement, which functions as a liaison between the Department of Homeland Secretary and state and local officials. The official DHS Twitter handle, however, tweeted out that no official decisions have been announced. After news broke of Clarke’s new role, former DHS officials — who held the position he will soon take — strongly condemned the decision. Phil McNamara, who was appointed to the position between April 2013 until President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017, called Clarke’s potential appointment “just plain awful.” As the former assistant secretary of the...

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

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

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The Birth of the Living Constitution

by Damon Root – Should we interpret the Constitution as a living document? What’s the proper method for interpreting the U.S. Constitution? Should it be viewed according to its original meaning? Or should the document be viewed in the light of contemporary conditions? If you answered no to the second question and yes to the third, you may be a living constitutionalist. As Georgetown law professor Larry Solum explains in a fascinating new article at his Legal Theory Blog, “living constitutionalism is the view that the legal content of constitutional doctrine does and should change in response to changing circumstances and values.” This view has been around for a long time. According to Solum, the phrase itself apparently dates back to a 1927 book titled The Living Constitution, though it was the influential progressive historian Charles Beard who first took the phrase and really ran with it. “Since most of the...

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Louisiana Lawmakers Vote to Make it Harder to Remove Confederate Monuments

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

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We’re Demanding Records on Comey’s Dismissal. Here’s Why

by Patrick Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project – The ACLU on Monday submitted a request to the Department of Justice and the FBI asking for the release of all documents relating to President Donald Trump’s decision to remove FBI Director James Comey from office. The cloud of uncertainty swirling over Comey’s dismissal, along with indications that the president may have gravely abused his power, demands a public accounting. At the time of his dismissal, FBI Director Comey was responsible for overseeing an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. According to initial White House statements — by most accounts hastily assembled with little coordination — the president dismissed Comey on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The two, we learned, had prepared a pair of memoranda asserting...

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

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

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Trump Escalates Attack on Healthcare, Women With Rebranded and Expanded Global Gag Rule

by Andrea Germanos – “The Global Gag Rule doesn’t protect lives; it destroys them.” President Donald Trump spent part of his first Monday in office following in the footsteps of other Republican presidents by reinstating the Global Gag Rule, officially known as the Mexico City Policy. The Reagan-era rule bars U.S. aid from going to international NGOs that offer abortion services or even provide information about it as an option—even when they use non-U.S. funds to do so. It’s been criticized for devastating not only reproductive healthcare services but primary healthcare services as well, as clinics, faced with budget shortfalls, are forced to cut back or shut down completely. And it was made clear, from that January memorandum, that Trump’s order would mark an expansion of the rule, as it directed the Secretary of State “to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance...

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After Seven Years in Custody, Chelsea Manning Will Soon Be Free

by Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project – Chelsea Manning almost died on our watch. She suffered at the hands of our government, and the toll of her incarceration nearly killed her. But she survived. Through long stretches of solitary confinement, the systemic denial of health care, relentless abuse, and a lifetime of consequences, she will have a chance to live. On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea’s 35-year prison sentence to time served plus 120 days. With the commutation, 28 years were cut from her sentence, and her life was saved. Instead of an anticipated release date in 2045, Chelsea’s prison term will end on May 17, 2017. When she steps out of prison this week, she will walk into a different world than the one she left behind when she was arrested in 2010. And she will walk as a different person than...

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Death Row Inmate Asks to be Executed by Firing Squad Instead of Lethal Injection

by E.A. Crunden – He argues the process would be less painful. An inmate on death row in Atlanta, Georgia has asked to be executed by firing squad rather than by lethal injection, arguing that being shot will be a less painful way to die. J.W. Ledford Jr. is scheduled to die on Tuesday and made the request via his lawyers. Ledford takes the drug gabapentin for nerve pain, which alters brain chemistry. Once the drug used for lethal injection kicks in, Ledford’s lawyers say, pain levels will be higher than normal. “Mr. Ledford proposes that the firing squad is a readily implemented and more reliable alternative method of execution that would eliminate the risks posed to him by lethal injection,” Ledford’s attorneys argued in court papers filed last week. Thirty-one states and the federal government allow for the death penalty, and all provide lethal injection as the primary execution method. But...

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America’s Worst Voter Suppression Law Dies in the Supreme Court

by Ian Millhiser – Sometimes, democracy wins. The most aggressive voter suppression law in the nation — possibly the most aggressive such law since Jim Crow — is dead. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would not hear North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a challenge to North Carolina’s omnibus voter suppression law. As the law was struck down by the lower court, that means this law is finally staked, dead, and buried. So that’s the good news for supporters of voting rights. The bad news is that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a brief opinion strongly implying that laws like this one could survive review before the Republican-controlled Supreme Court. Indeed, it is likely that the only reason why North Carolina’s law lies in the ground today is because the states’ voters elected a Democratic governor and a Democratic attorney general who maneuvered to kill this appeal to...

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Krugman: Yes, Republicans are Perfectly Willing to Betray This Country

by Dartagnan – It is difficult to say which is more appalling—the thoroughly bizarre, flailing behavior of the current Occupant of the White House in attempting to justify this week’s shocking actions, or the stone-cold silence of the political Party that is backing him. Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times has some choice words about the Republican members of the Congress and Senate who have chosen to stand mute while an unbalanced, self-styled tyrant attempts to tear down our country’s institutions with his agitated Twitter fingers.  Krugman specifically singles out Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both of whom actually rose to defend Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey to thwart the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, a collusion that may have determined the outcome of last year’s Presidential election: Everyone understands that Mr. Comey was fired not because of his misdeeds during the campaign — misdeeds...

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

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

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Five Truths About Voter Suppression

by Connor Maxwell and Danielle Root – The United States has a troubled history of voter suppression. Prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many states used policies such as poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent African-Americans from voting. Even after the voting barriers of the Jim Crow era were removed more than 50 years ago, some lawmakers continue to pursue policies that would undermine our nation’s progress. Under the guise of tackling voter fraud, 14 states adopted measures to restrict voting ahead of the 2016 election. These measures, including strict voter ID requirements and reductions in early voting opportunities and polling places, created barriers for tens of thousands of low-income citizens and citizens of color. Alarmingly, five of the 14 states have a history of racial discrimination in voting and previously had to seek federal approval before changing their voting laws and procedures. Even though...

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Trump Wants Anti-immigrant Hardliner Kris Kobach to Prove His Lies About ‘Voter Fraud’

by Alan Pyke – He’s forming a commission to “investigate” his claim that he really won the popular vote because 3 million ballots were fraudulent. The notorious anti-immigration vote-suppression specialist Kris Kobach will join the President Donald Trumps’s new commission on election integrity, White House staff announced Thursday. The Kansas Secretary of State and longtime immigration consigliere to national Republicans will be second to Vice President Mike Pence, the panel’s official chairman. Trump has promised for months to create a standing body that will investigate his oft-repeated lie that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. The exact shape of that body and the identities of its members — save for Pence — have been a mystery until today. For a president bent on finding some kind of proof for his absurd, innumerate claims about voter fraud, Kobach is both a natural choice and a doomed one. Kobach has made similar claims himself,...

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‘Huge Victory’ in Seneca Lake: After Years of Protest, Gas Storage Project Abandoned

by Nika Knight – “Don’t think people can’t make a difference. People can prevail.” After a years-long popular resistance against a proposed fracked gas storage project in Seneca Lake, N.Y., the people have emerged victorious. The Arlington Storage Company announced Wednesday that it was finally abandoning a contentious plan to store fracked gas in unlined salt caverns along the pristine lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. “This has been a long drawn out battle to protect a world class region from a Texas-based oil and gas corporation. They only see dollar signs, where we see tranquil beauty, clean air, and fresh water,” said Joseph Campbell, president of the Gas Free Seneca coalition of businesses, in a statement. Ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber, who has been involved with the protests led by We Are Seneca Lake since they began in 2014, reported for EcoWatch: The news broke Wednesday in the most...

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States Have Green Light to Drug Test the Unemployed

by Bryce Covert – An Obama-era rule that restricted drug testing for unemployment insurance is now history. Since the 1960s, federal law has banned states from drug testing jobless people who apply for unemployment benefits. After the recession, however, Republicans wanted to allow states to institute tests for the benefits. They’ve gotten their wish. On Wednesday, the Department of Labor (DOL) officially did away with a regulation it had issued under President Obama that sharply limited states’ ability to implement drug tests. Earlier this year, Congress voted to use the Congressional Review Act to undo the rule issued by the Obama administration in 2012 that kept any potential drug testing of those who apply for unemployment insurance very narrow. President Trump signed Congress’ repeal measure into law in March, and the final step was the DOL removing it from public record. Now Congress is free to either write its own rule or...

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

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

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

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

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How We Can Make House Republicans Pay for Their Health Care Vote

by LeeAnn Hall – Republicans in the House of Representatives last Thursday voted to repeal the health care of 24 million people. The only people celebrating are the politicians who have put party above constituents, and advanced a giant tax giveaway for corporations and the super-rich. These politicians voted to kill the people they are supposed to represent. We must never let them forget that vote. We must make them regret it every day of their lives. There’s no overstating the cruelty they’ve perpetrated or damage they will cause. Trumpcare doesn’t just roll back the Affordable Care Act by cutting support for coverage, in ways that hit those who are older, poorer, and live in rural areas the hardest. It doesn’t just end the nationwide protections that bar insurance companies from jacking up premiums based on health status or denying coverage of essential care. It also dismantles Medicaid, which now...

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Message to House GOP After Trumpcare Vote: ‘See You at the Ballot Box’

by Lauren McCauley – President Trump celebrated with House Republicans in the White House Rose Garden amid growing call to ‘make them pay’. As Republicans joined President Donald Trump for a victory photo op and beer bash at the White House following the passage of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives on Thursday, the overwhelming response from progressive organizations and voters furious over the prospect of losing their healthcare coverage was: “See you at the ballot box.” With much fanfare, members of the GOP gathered at the Rose Garden to hail the bill—which will strip millions of Americans of their coverage and raise the premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions—that passed the House with a slim 217-213 margin of victory. Meanwhile, the condemnations poured in, with vows that voters will seek retribution come 2018, when many of them will be up for re-election. Others focused on the...

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How the “People’s Budget” Can Help Redress Inequality

by Robert Borosage – The Congressional Progressive Caucus released “The People’s Budget” this week, which it dubs a “roadmap for the resistance.” Maybe the mere mention of a federal budget plan makes your eyes glaze over, but the “People’s Budget” is a dramatic document. Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin at a press conference for the “People’s Budget” on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Photo via Congressional Progressive Caucus) It presents a compelling alternative to Donald Trump’s “skinny budget.” Unlike Trump’s fanciful promises, it offers a sensible path out of the hole that we are in. Its values and priorities reflect those of the majority of Americans. The Progressive Caucus frames its budget around the central challenge of our time: how to make this economy work for working people, and redress the savage inequality that is undermining our democracy. It offers a strategy to get there, and a budget framed to...

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Jeff Sessions’ Department of Injustice

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Report – Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons. Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.” Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration fearmongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low:...

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Judge Orders Georgia to Re-Open Voter Registration Ahead of Major Runoff

by Nadia Prupis – Democrat Jon Ossoff will face off with Republican Karen Handel, and voters will now have until May 21 to register. A federal judge on Thursday ordered the state of Georgia to temporarily re-open early voter registration as a tense special election approaches. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten ruled in favor of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group that accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the registration period ahead of the 6th District congressional runoff on June 20. Voters will now have until May 21 to sign up, after the state tried to cut off registration after March 20. “Would-be voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District were denied a full and fair opportunity to register and vote under the prior law,” said the committee’s president and executive director, Kristen Clarke, in a statement following the ruling. “Today’s decision extending the voter...

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Protest Expert Says Anti-Trump Resistance Is Not Slowing Down

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

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Woman Arrested for Laughing During Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing Heads to Trial

by wagatwe – Desiree Fairooz, a woman who laughed when Republican Senator Richard Shelby (AL) introduced now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions by saying his record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” is now on trial for laughing at such a blatant lie. Huffington Post reports:  Fairooz was seated in the back of the room, and her laugh did not interrupt Shelby’s introductory speech. But, according to the government, the laugh amounted to willful “disorderly and disruptive conduct” intended to “impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct” of congressional proceedings. The government also charged her with a separate misdemeanor for allegedly parading, demonstrating or picketing within a Capitol, evidently for her actions after she was being escorted from the room.  The hypocrisy of the U.S. Capitol Police officer who arrested Fairooz and the prosecutors trying her case is easy to find. Fairooz’s lawyer has footage of other times folks...

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5 Facts About Illegal Immigration in the U.S.

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

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Sanctuary Cities Explained

by GAIL ABLOW – The administration can’t define “sanctuary cities,” but it’s ready to punish them anyway. Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions targeted nine jurisdictions — New Orleans; Philadelphia; Las Vegas; Miami; Milwaukee; New York City; the state of California; Chicago and Cook County, IL — demanding proof, by the end of June, that they have not illegally blocked communications between local law enforcement and federal officials regarding the immigration status of inmates, or they stand to lose federal funds for police force equipment, training and data collection. The demand implies they are all “sanctuary cities,” but no one in the administration has provided a clear definition of what that designation means. A number of mayors from across the country headed this week to the Justice Department in Washington, DC to ask Sessions directly. From what we have learned, there may still be no clear answer. What is a sanctuary...

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The Democratic Party Officially Supports a $15 Minimum Wage

by Bryce Covert – It’s now the party consensus. Nearly five years ago, a group of fast food workers went on strike in New York City, demanding they be paid at least $15 an hour. The demand seemed pretty idealistic at the time. But the movement that one-day strike spawned experienced another huge victory on Wednesday: Democratic Party leaders announced that they will soon introduce a bill to raise the minimum wage across the entire country to $15 an hour. Just two years ago, that was not the party line. In 2015, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) put forward a bill to raise the wage to $12 an hour. It was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (MN) and Raúl Grijalva (AZ) who introduced a $15 minimum wage a few months later. While Sanders backed a $15 wage in his bid for the party’s...

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5 Facts About the Death Penalty

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

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‘Oh, come on’: Supreme Court Justices Incredulous at Justice Department Immigration Argument

by Laura Clawson – It, uh, doesn’t sound like the Trump-Sessions Justice Department is going to prevail in its argument to the U.S. Supreme Court that citizenship can be revoked over any misstatement or failure to disclose at all, however minor, that a person included (or didn’t include) on their citizenship application. Yes, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were all vocally skeptical. But there was also this, from Chief Justice John Roberts: “Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, adding that he had not been caught. The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, he added, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest. “If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door...

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Ivanka’s Factory In China Pays $62 For a 57-Hour Week — Busted, Ivanka!

by ursulafaw – Karma does seem to be amusing itself at Ivanka Trump’s expense this week.  Here she is in Germany touting what a great feminist and family man her father is, while being booed and hissed — and you can add to that that Ivanka’s just gotten busted for paying sweatshop wages in China. The Washington Post reports that inspectors with the Fair Labor Association found dozens of violations of international labor standards during an audit of a factory in China owned by the G-III Apparel Group — which owns the rights to manufacture and distribute Ivanka’s fashion line. The newspaper noted the timing of the inspectors’ report, “comes as the president’s daughter has sought to cast herself as both a champion of workplace issues and a defender of her father’s “buy American, hire American” agenda.” Workers at a factory in China used by the company that makes clothing for...

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Teens Who Engage in ‘Sexting’ Should Not Be Prosecuted as Sex Offenders

by Amy Roe, Senior Writer, ACLU of Washington – In an early episode of the television series “Girls,” Adam sends Hannah a photo of his penis and then a text message: “SRY that wasn’t for you.” Hannah and her friends debate the intention of Adam’s actions, but one thing is clear: The explicit photo he sent isn’t unusual, and it certainly isn’t criminal. Had he lived in the state of Washington, been under 18 — and, of course, been a real person — Adam might have been branded a sex offender. In Washington, minors who engage in the common teen behavior known as sexting can be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography law. To suggest that a juvenile who sends a sexually explicit selfie is a victim of his own act of child pornography is absurd, but that’s exactly what a trial court in Spokane County has done. When...

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Cities, States Seek to Protect Immigrants’ Data from Federal Officials

by Jen Fifield – In the face of stepped-up deportation efforts, many unauthorized immigrants worry that state and local programs that are designed to help them could instead be used by federal agents to identify and expel them from the country. About a dozen states have created special driver’s license programs for people who can’t prove U.S. citizenship, and more than a dozen cities have started identification programs so that unauthorized immigrants and others can complete tasks such as opening bank accounts, enrolling their children in school and receiving government services. Under the programs, most of which were created in the last five years, state and local government agencies have reviewed and perhaps retained millions of documents with personal information about the applicants, such as their names, addresses and foreign identification numbers. Although there has always been a risk that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could request the documents, immigration...

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

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

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This Earth Day, Defeating Trump is Job One

by Libero Della Piana – This Earth Day, we face a climate threat greater than ever before. And he lives in the White House. On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump consistently mocked climate science and promised to gut policies protecting our communities, natural resources and the environment. He called climate change “a hoax” invented by the Chinese government. In and out of office, Trump has been consistently at odds with scientific evidence and consensus on climate change. His is also at odds with public opinion, which increasingly acknowledges and understands the threat of global climate crisis. Despite its failures to advance a legislative agenda, the Trump Administration has successfully used executive orders, rule changes in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, and the use of the Congressional Review Act to undo crucial protections of air, water and the environment. Trump’s greatest achievement thus far may very well be turning...

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Massachusetts: 21,000 Drug Cases Could be Dismissed

Ex-police chemist falsified tests, which could lead to the ‘largest dismissal of criminal convictions in US history’. More than 21,000 convicted drug offenders in Massachusetts may have their cases dismissed because a former police chemist tampered with evidence and falsified tests. If the cases are thrown out, the event would mark the largest dismissal of criminal convictions in US history, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts. The state’s highest court had ordered district attorneys in seven counties to produce lists by Tuesday indicating how many of approximately 24,000 cases involving Annie Dookhan they would be unable or unwilling to prosecute if the defendants were granted new trials. The cases would be formally dismissed by court action, expected Thursday, the ACLU said. “Today is a major victory for justice and fairness, and for thousands of people in the commonwealth who were unfairly convicted of drug offences,” Matthew Segal,...

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Bill O’Reilly’s Lawyer Blames ‘Brutal Campaign of Character Assassination’ for His Plight

by Aaron Rupar – The scorched-earth statement comes as Fox News reportedly prepares to cut ties. As numerous reports swirl that Fox News is preparing to cut ties with Bill O’Reilly before he returns from his “vacation,” his attorney signaled that cable news’ top-rated host won’t go down before he scorches the earth behind him. In a statement released Tuesday evening, Marc E. Kasowitz wrote that his client “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.” O’Reilly, who has spent months battling a wave of sexual harassment allegations, was hit with a fresh harassment claim on Tuesday — the same day a group of protesters delivered 480,000 petitions calling for O’Reilly’s termination to Fox News headquarters. His attorney’s reference to former U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), whose name has become synonymous with making unfounded accusations, hearkens back to the words President Donald Trump used last month...

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5 Questions the Trump Administration Needs to Answer About the Border Wall

by Jenny Rowland and Philip E. Wolgin – In the U.S.-Mexico border region, an area that stretches nearly 2,000 miles, decisions about border security affect the daily lives of roughly 12 million people. The United States already has 653 miles of border fencing, and much of the rest of the border is comprised of the Rio Grande or located in some of the country’s most inhospitable locations, where a wall would be impractical and unnecessary. In addition to fencing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, uses an array of surveillance and technology to monitor the border in real time. Yet both as a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the construction of a “big, fat, beautiful wall” along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. The administration recently concluded a request for proposals from firms to construct the wall, and it has already started to send out notices...

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This Court Ruling may have Been More Important than the Federal Halt to the Arkansas Executions

by Christian Dem in NC – By now, you know that a federal judge in Little Rock called a halt to Arkansas’ execution marathon. But that may not have been the most important ruling issued in this affair. A day earlier, a state court judge rapped the state Department of Correction hard for tricking a drug distributor into selling it one of the drugs it used in its lethal injection cocktail. Arkansas uses three drugs to carry out executions. Midazolam is intended to sedate the inmate, vecuronium bromide stops his breathing, and potassium chloride stops his heart. While most of the current furor over lethal injections centers around questions about whether midazolam will really knock someone out, Arkansas is under fire for how it obtained its supply of vecuronium bromide from McKesson. Vecuronium bromide is made by Pfizer. As I noted at Liberal America, that drug is one of several Pfizer now monitors all...

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Sanders and Perez to Launch Nationwide ‘Come Together & Fight Back’ Tour

by Nadia Prupis – ‘At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans.’ Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez will kick off a multi-state tour in Maine on Monday, where they are expected to outline the progressive plan to strengthen the party, bolster grassroots activism, and resist President Donald Trump. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multi-national corporations, and the top 1 percent,” Sanders and Perez said in a joint statement. The circuit is officially named the “Come Together and Fight Back” tour. Sanders won Maine’s presidential caucuses by nearly two-thirds when he ran in the 2016 primaries against Hillary Clinton. The tour is expected to take him and Perez through Maine,...

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DHS Secretary John Kelly: A Single DUI Could Lead to Deportation Proceedings

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – During an interview on Sunday’s Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly affirmed that the Trump administration will aggressively convict immigrants as criminals and deport people previously deemed as non-priorities under the Obama administration. Now, even a single conviction for driving under the influence could be considered a serious enough offense that triggers the deportation proceeding, Kelly said in response to Todd’s question to “define a criminal.” SEC. JOHN KELLY: It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed. CHUCK TODD: So can you give me an example of somebody that wasn’t deported before that you’re deporting now? SEC. JOHN KELLY: Well, someone, as an example, with multiple DUIs. Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the...

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

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

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Dept of Ed Hires Anti-Civil Rights Crusader to Protect Student’s Nonexistent Civil Rights

by Steven Singer – Candice Jackson is a victim of oppression. When she was attending Stanford University in the mid-1990s, a minority calculus tutoring group refused to help her because she was white. Sure she could probably afford to pay for private tutoring, but it was the point of the  thing. She came from a family where both parents ran medical practices. Her dad, Dr. Rick Jackson, even unsuccessfully ran for Congress. You know – just like black families redlined into the ghetto and struggling to find work because of their African-sounding names. Why shouldn’t the limited amount of tutoring spaces serve her as well as people from traditionally less privileged backgrounds? White lives matter, ya’ll. “I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs,” she wrote in the Stanford Review. “We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming...

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Drug Makers Join Lawsuit Against Arkansas’ “Conveyor Belt” of Executions

by Nika Knight – “The companies are understandably appalled at the prospect of their medicines being used in America’s largest mass execution since the civil rights era.” As Arkansas moves forward with its brutal plan to execute seven prisoners within 11 days, the makers of the drugs Arkansas plans to use to put the prisoners to death have joined a lawsuit to stop the “conveyor belt of death.” Pharmaceutical manufacturers develop drugs to save and improve lives, and the companies are understandably appalled at the prospect of their medicines being used in America’s largest mass execution since the civil rights era,” said Maya Foa, director of the human rights organization Reprieve, in a statement. In their brief (pdf) filed Thursday, the companies Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward argue that “he use of their medicines for lethal injections violates contractual supply-chain controls that the Manufacturers have implemented” and “he use of their medicines...

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Anti-Defamation League Offers to Teach Spicer About the Holocaust

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

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Malala Yousafzai Made an Honorary Canadian Citizen

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – The advocate for girls’ right to education worldwide is only the sixth person to ever receive the symbolic title. Ottawa, Canada – Pakistani human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has become only the sixth person, and the youngest, to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada bestowed the title on Yousafzai, 19, during an honorary citizenship ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday. “I’m humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country,” she said in the House of Commons, where she received several standing ovations from parliamentarians and members of the public that packed the gallery. Malala and Satyarthi receive joint Nobel “While I will always be a proud Pashtun and a proud citizen of Pakistan, I’m grateful to be an honorary member of your nation of heroes,” Yousafzai said. “Though I still require a visa, but that’s another discussion,” she added, with a laugh. Yousafzai...

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

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

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

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

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Maryland Will Protect Planned Parenthood from Congress’ Efforts to Defund it

by Tara Culp-Ressler – It’s the first state to pass a law that will reimburse Planned Parenthood if Congress cuts its federal funding. Maryland has become the first state in the country to enact a law that will protect Planned Parenthood from federal cuts by using state dollars to reimburse the organization’s clinics for its services. The new state law, which was enacted on Thursday, does not have the explicit support of Gov. Larry Hogan (R). It was one of 15 bills that the governor allowed to move forward this week without his signature; they became law because he also did not take action to veto them. The bill reallocates $2 million from the state’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 from its general fund to help cover the cost of providing family planning services at Planned Parenthood’s nine Maryland clinics. Those funds would kick in if the federal government, in an effort to...

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With Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, a New Conservative Era Begins

by Deirdre Fulton – Neil Gorsuch could immediately make an impact on cases dealing with religious freedom, gun rights, and immigration. After a bruising Senate confirmation battle, former federal judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, restoring a 5-4 conservative balance to the nation’s high court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath at 9:00am in a private ceremony; later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy—for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked—will ask his new colleague to take a second oath in a public ceremony at the White House. Watch below: Gorsuch “is widely expected to shift the ideological balance of the court to the right,” wrote Lydia Wheeler for The Hill, “with his views seen as mostly in line with the man he is replacing: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.” However, she continued, “some court watchers say Gorsuch may be even more conservative than Scalia, his mentor...

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Six States Leading the Charge on Second-Chance Policies

by Eliza Schultz and Rebecca Vallas – Bipartisan criminal justice reform efforts in Congress may be on ice for now, but red, blue, and purple states alike are moving full speed ahead with their own reforms. In particular, state policymakers are leading the way when it comes to second-chance policies. These measures give people with criminal records a fair shot at making a decent living and providing for their families—a recipe for cutting poverty, boosting public safety, and saving taxpayer dollars through reduced recidivism. Following decades of mass incarceration and overcriminalization, as many as 1 in 3 Americans now have some type of criminal record. Having even a minor record—such as a misdemeanor or even an arrest that never led to conviction—can stand in the way of getting a job, securing stable housing, and more. As a result, millions of people with records face bleak prospects for moving on with...

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Court Slams Policy Banning Gay Foster Parents: Indistinguishable From a Sign Reading “Whites Only”

by First Amendment – Strong words from Nebraska’s Supreme Court affirming a Judge’s 2015 ruling striking down discriminatory policy against prospective Gay foster parents. Of course, Nebraska’s Republican Attorney General’s Office was appealing the initial 2015 ruling. Republicans couldn’t explain why they were appealing it, if they weren’t seeking to reinstate the policy. Let me answer that for them, they wanted to reinstate it. They are always seeking to infringe on the rights of Americans. The Judge also upheld that the state has to pay plaintiffs’ legal fees. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office defending discriminatory policy cost Nebraska taxpayers $174,000. The policy that was akin to a discriminatory “White’s Only” sign. Great victory for equal rights! apnews.com/… OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court says a former state policy banning same-sex couples from serving as foster parents or adopting wards of the state was akin to hanging a “Whites Only” sign on a hiring-office door. The court on Friday ruled that a...

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Federal Judge Just Gave Attorney General Jeff Sessions A Huge Fuck You

by April Hamlin – A federal judge just proudly gave Jeff Sessions the middle finger by approving Baltimore’s police reforms even after the attorney general had voiced his opposition. The Justice Department began investigating the Baltimore Police Department in 2014 after news reports that they had paid out millions to settle upwards of 100 lawsuits over police brutality and misconduct. Following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, the investigation intensified. The DOJ, which was still under former President Obama at the time, found widespread unconstitutional and discriminatory practices. Mother Jones reports: “Earlier this week, Sessions ordered a review of all consent decrees between police departments and the Justice Department. Department lawyers asked the US district court in Baltimore to put off approving the consent decree for at least 30 days so the new administration could review it.” “I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers...

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Like Father Like Daughter: Ivanka Trump’s Failed Planned Parenthood ‘Outreach’

by Joan McCarter – You can’t run a government like a business. You can’t expect someone with no policy experience to be able to translate “deal-making” to governing. The Trump regime is demonstrating, though, that you can expect inexperienced business people to completely fuck up when they try to venture into policy. Case in point, Ivanka Trump toddling off in secret to make nice with Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, not understanding that PP would then be pissed off when her father betrayed them. Their under-the-radar meeting—a rarity between a well-known Democratic activist and a close adviser to a Republican president—has not been previously reported.“The purpose of the meeting, from Cecile’s point of view, was to make sure that Ivanka fully understood what Planned Parenthood does, how it is funded, and why it would be a terrible idea for Planned Parenthood to be removed from being able to see Medicaid patients,” said...

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Six Weeks Later, Trump Refuses to Denounce Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theorists

by Nika Knight – Six weeks after Newtown school board asked President Donald Trump to denounce Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory about deadly 2012 school shooting, the president remains silent. President Donald Trump has remained silent about his relationship with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, refusing to denounce the right-wing radio show host who has used his popular platform InfoWars to push the theory that the deadly 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton, Conn., was a vast government plot to enact stricter gun control laws. Trump’s silence comes despite a letter sent by the Newton School Board six weeks ago requesting that the president publicly denounce Jones and the conspiracy theory that has resulted in stalking, death threats, and harassment of victims’ families, the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday. “We are asking you to intervene to try to stop Jones and other hoaxers like him,” the board wrote in its...

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

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

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US Ends Funding for United Nations Population Fund

UN Population Fund rejects state department’s claim that agency backs “coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation”. The state department has announced it is ending US funding for the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), the international body’s agency focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries. The state department said it was withholding $32.5 in funding for the fiscal year of 2017 because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation”. The cut marks US President Donald Trump’s first move to curtail funding for the United Nations and is likely to raise further questions about how deep those cuts will eventually go throughout the organisation, where the United States is the top donor. It comes after Trump in January reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy that withholds US funding for international organisations that perform...

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Jeff Sessions Moves to Freeze Barack Obama’s Legacy on Police Accountability

by Alan Pyke – Accountability for abusive and racist police conduct is now at the whim of Sessions. After months of hints, Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the first concrete action to roll back Obama-era oversight of local police forces on Monday. Sessions’ team will review each of the 14 active legal agreements between the federal government and city police departments, known as “consent decrees,” with an eye to tweaking the hard-won deals to fit the new administration’s more militant approach to law enforcement. As part of that review, civil rights lawyers from the Justice Department also asked the judge in charge of enforcing a consent decree in Baltimore to delay the next hearing on that agreement indefinitely. Baltimore’s deal, the product of nearly two years of investigation, consultation, and broad community engagement, was the final consent decree completed before President Donald Trump was sworn in. Sessions’ memo announcing the review...

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

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

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Russia’s New Protest Generation (VIDEO)

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

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Inside the Rotten Repeal of HB2

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

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

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

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

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

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‘We’re Just Getting Started’: Trumpcare Slain, Resistance Eyes Next Battles

by Jon Queally – Spectacular failure of Republicans to pass Trumpcare is time to ‘double-down’ on resistance, not gloat. While President Donald Trump on Saturday used a single tweet to tell the American people both “Do not worry!” and “Obamacare will explode,” the Trump resistance movement was being urged not to gloat over Friday’s “epic failure” of the Republicans’ attempt to pass their ‘slash and burn’ healthcare law but instead focus on organizing for the crucial battles ahead. Acknowledging their defeat on healthcare (while fecklessly trying to blame Democrats), Trump and his team on Friday said they would now place their focus on passing a controversial budget package and moving ahead with a major tax reform plan. And with the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch still unattained, the president’s opponents—both in Congress and in the streets—were balancing their elation over Friday’s healthcare outcome with acknowledgement that much hard work...

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James Jackson Charged with Murdering Timothy Caughman (VIDEO)

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

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Leading Opponent of LGBT Civil Rights to Lead Civil Rights Office

by Ian Millhiser – Earlier this week, according to a statement by several progressive groups*, President Donald Trump appointed Roger Severino, a leading anti-LGBT activist, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. In doing so, Trump potentially gives Severino an opportunity to dismantle civil rights protections he criticized as a staffer at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Although Severino apparently was appointed without a formal announcement, his bio page at Heritage now states that he “is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.” In 2016, for example, Severino co-authored a Heritage report criticizing proposed Obama administration rules preventing discrimination against transgender patients within the health care system. Protecting trans people against such discrimination, Severino warned, would “penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to...

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

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

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