Sunday, December 10, 2017

NY Times -- Video Shows Daniel Shaver Pleading for His Life Before Being Shot by Officer (VIDEO)

Former Mesa, Arizona police officer Philip Brailsford was acquitted Thursday of a murder charge in the January 2016 fatal shooting of Daniel Shaver, who was unarmed outside his hotel room. The police were responding to a call that someone was pointing a gun out a window.

The unedited video clearly shows Brailsford killing Shaver, who was obeying what the officer was directing him to do.

Mark Geragos, lawyer for the widow and the 5- and 8-year-old daughters of Shaver, said, “This, to me, is the most horrific shooting I’ve ever seen,” and it’s “the criminal justice system at its worst.”

Here's the story:

By Vivian Wang

CNN -- At Pensacola Rally, Trump Says 'Get Out and Vote for Roy Moore'

Donald Trump at a campaign-style rally in Florida encouraged Alabama voters to "get out and vote for Roy Moore" in Tuesday's Senate special election.

"We cannot afford -- this country, the future of this country -- cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate. We can't afford it, folks. We can't. We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it," Trump said.

Trump even ridiculed Beverly Nelson, who has accused Moore of pursuing a sexual relationship with her when he was in his 30’s and she a teenager. As evidence of their relationship, Nelson said she had added notes under Moore's notation and signature in her high school yearbook. Trump said, “So did you see what happened today, you know, the yearbook? Did you see that?" Trump said. "There was a little mistake made, she started writing things in the yearbook. Ah, what are we gonna do -- Gloria Allred [Nelson’s lawyer], any time you see her, you know something's going wrong."

This is the President of the United States going after a woman who has had the courage to accuse a powerful man of sexual abuse, and her lawyer. Can you imagine the heat these women are now taking? Beverly Nelson and Gloria Allred are not politicians or celebrities with their own followings. Nelson is simply a private citizen of the United States, and Allred is representing her. Who in the future will have the courage to stand up to Trump and his powerful political allies when he mocks and attacks individuals like this?

This is how tyranny begins. This is how democracy ends. Friends, we must stand up to this,” -- Robert Reich.

By Eric Bradner

Reuters -- U.S. tax revamp still incomplete as Republicans eye social program cuts

Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have indicated they will be considering cuts next year in entitlement programs in order to tackle the problem of federal spending.

“Next year, we’re going to have to get back to entitlement reform,” Ryan said on a radio talk show on Wednesday.

Entitlement programs mean food stamps, housing assistance, Medicare and Medicaid health insurance for the elderly, poor and disabled, and other programs to assist lower-income Americans.

Berkeley’s professor Robert Reich:

Last week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan described what will happen after Trump signs into law the Trump-Republican tax cut for big corporations and the wealthy: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” he said, referring to programs like Medicare and Medicaid which “are the big drivers of debt,” requiring that “we spend more time on the health-care entitlements, because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

Trump said that the goal after the tax cuts will be “welfare reform.” But since there’s no longer any welfare program in the United States (I was there when Bill Clinton and the Gingrich Republicans put an end to FDR’s Aid for Families with Dependent Children), presumably Trump is taking aim at Medicaid and Medicare, as well as whatever remains of the Affordable Care Act, and the relatively small Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. All provide help to people who are sick or elderly or children.

In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan and his budget director David Stockman openly talked of “starving the beast” by cutting taxes so much that federal spending cuts would be necessary. But in those days, it was possible to cut spending without doing irreparable damage to needy Americans. Trump and Ryan, by contrast, have set their sights on what remains of the social safety nets that came into being under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. They want to make the rich far richer, the poor more destitute, and everyone in between, more insecure.

What's their motive? For Ryan, it's purely ideological. For years he has wanted to roll back the New Deal and the Great Society. For Trump, it's about money and power -- more to him and his friends in order to live as well as other global oligarchs and rule the world.

By Amanda Becker

Friday, December 8, 2017

AP -- Palestinians say They Won't Meet with Pence, More Unrest Feared

By Josef Federman
A senior Palestinian official says the Palestinians will not meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the region because of Donald Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and his plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. The announcement has sparked outrage across the region.

The Palestinians are asking the United Nations Security Council to take urgent action and demand that Donald Trump's decision be rescinded.

In response to Trumps decision, there has been an increase of border violence with Israel. Leaders all over the globe are condemning Trump’s decision and calling for calm and restraint.

Thousands of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demonstrators in the Gaza Strip burned U.S. flags and pictures of Donald Trump in a show of rage Thursday over the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israeli forces were bracing for the possibility of even stronger violence on Friday, when tens of thousands of Palestinians attend weekly prayers at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, the city’s most sacred Islamic site. In Gaza, the supreme leader of the Hamas militant group called on Palestinians to launch a new uprising against Israel.

Although Trump had pledged during the 2016 campaign to recognize Israel's claim to Jerusalem and to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv, the Palestinians nevertheless were caught off guard by Trump’s move to depart from decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and upend longstanding international assurances that the fate of the city would be determined in negotiations.

Palestinian Charge d'Affaires Feda Abdelhady-Nasser said in a letter to the council president that Trump's declaration violates numerous council resolutions and could lead to "a never-ending religious war.” He warned [It] could lead to the "exacerbation of religious sensitivities that risk transforming this solvable political-territorial conflict into a never-ending religious war, which will only be exploited by religious extremists, fueling radicalism and strife in the region and beyond."

The United Nations Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting on Trump's announcement on Friday.

Clashes in Bethlehem and Ramallah after Trump names Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

NY Times --House Votes to Sharply Expand Concealed-Carry Gun Rights

The Republicans and their President are putting our country in danger at home and abroad.

Instead of working to improve the safety and well-being of Americans, they are working to bring our country back to darker times.

The House on Wednesday, effectively at the behest of the National Rifle Association, passed an expansion of the right to carry concealed firearms virtually anywhere in the United States.

Democrats said the measure would jeopardize public safety and set a dangerous precedent for overriding states’ rights to determine their own laws. Law enforcement officials say an expansion of the right to carry concealed weapons in the United States would force states with strict gun laws to bow to places with lax gun restrictions.

The House bill would not force states to change their own laws but would treat a concealed-carry permit like a driver’s license, allowing individuals permitted by any one state to carry a concealed weapon with them into any other state.

The legislation is headed to the Senate. Passage in the Senate would almost certainly require 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster. If it passes in the Senate it will head to Trump’s desk for his signature, which he will unquestionably sign.

More guns and more people carrying guns concealed on our streets is not the answer to the problem of gun violence. That should be obvious. Yet to the Republicans it’s apparently not. With our experience of so many mass murders, you would think legislators would be looking at ways to tighten gun ownership and make efforts to marginalize gun violence, or even better, eliminate the possibility altogether. What they are doing is “reprehensible.”

By Nicholas Fandos

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

NY Times -- Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Orders U.S. Embassy to Move

Donald Trump on Wednesday initiated a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City of Jerusalem. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel brought condemnation from world leaders, who warned it would destroy the peace process, strengthen extremists and weaken the standing of the US in the world.

In an address to reporters after Trump finished his announcement, UN secretary general António Guterres said he opposed “any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Robert Reich writes, “The Old City of Jerusalem does not belong to any one religion or people, because it is a holy site for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Of course Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel -- but it is also the capital of the State of Palestine, currently occupied by the Israeli army and unable to exercise its sovereignty in the Arab parts of Jerusalem.

By endorsing Israel's claims on the future status of Jerusalem, Trump weakens the hand of Palestinians who want to reconcile with Israel and strengthens the hand of Palestinians who refuse to achieve peace through negotiations. It’s a gift to Hamas and to the most reactionary of Israeli's.

Why do this? For the same reason Trump recently retweeted misleading right-wing extremist videos of Muslims. For the same reason he has tried to prevent Muslims from entering America. It’s much the same for why he equated white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville last summer with those who protested against them, why he pardoned Joe Arpaio, and why he’s supporting Roy Moore for the Senate.

Trump thrives on division, bigotry, and chaos. Sane people know where all this leads – to violence and the strengthening of strongmen who sacrifice democracy and human rights for power. Decent people – Arabs, Jews, Americans of all religions and races – will continue to stand up to this.

Here’s the story:

By Mark Landler

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Axios -- Trump lawyer claims the "President cannot obstruct justice"

Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, claims the "President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case."

Berkeley professor of public policy Robert Reich’s writes on his Facebook page:

As tyrants take control of democracies, they place themselves above the law. With evidence mounting that Trump obstructed justice in the Michael Flynn investigation, his legal team has done just that.

[Dowd’s claim was in response] to a tweet Trump put out over the weekend suggesting that he was aware Flynn had lied to federal agents before firing FBI director James Comey. If true, this would be an astonishing admission of guilt.

Let's be clear: The federal crime of obstruction of justice applies to “[w]hoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law” in a proceeding or investigation by a government department or agency or Congress. Obstruction of justice was also the primary charge that led to Richard Nixon's resignation.

We cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the Trump presidency. He and his enablers are threatening the basic principle that guides our legal system -- that no person is above the law. We must stay vigilant, organized and mobilized to protect our democracy from these power grabs.

NBC News

By Mike Allen

Intercept -- Trump White House Weighing Plans for Private Spies to Counter “Deep State” Enemies

The Trump Administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer, with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.

The creation of such a program raises the possibility that the effort would be used to create an intelligence apparatus to justify the Trump administration’s political agenda,” according to the Intercept.

In reality, it would give Trump his own private global spy network.

Professor Robert Reich writes that it is “Another sign of Trump's increasingly unhinged paranoia.

It would enable Trump to circumvent U.S. intelligence agencies, in order to counter assumed enemies in the intelligence community that want to undermine his presidency.

As he's shown before, Trump never lets facts get in his way. When he doesn’t like official facts, he blames the messengers and creates a new apparatus to manufacture facts he likes.

But a private global spy network is truly nuts – and dangerous. It wouldn’t be answerable to the American people; it would be answerable to Trump. Another step toward tyranny.

Oliver North testifying before Congress in 1986,
Erik Prince testifying before the  
on Oversight and Government Reform Committee 
in 2007

Photos: AFP/Getty, AP

By Matthew Cole, Jeremy Scahill

NY Times -- Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That (VIDEO)

In a complete turnaround from what he has previously admitted to, Donald Trump now tries to cast doubt on the authenticity of the infamous hot mic recording made on the Access Hollywood Bus in 2005, calling it ‘fake.’

Rejecting Trump’s claim, Billy Bush, in an op-ed for The New York Times, wrote Donald Trump did boast about groping women. That he is indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me

This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct. Its leader is wantonly poking the bear.

Bush writes in part:

He said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

In 2005, I was in my first full year as a co-anchor of the show “Access Hollywood” on NBC. Mr. Trump, then on “The Apprentice,” was the network’s biggest star.

The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it. My segments with Donald Trump when I was just a correspondent were part of the reason I got promoted.

NBC tripled my salary and paid for my moving van from New York to Los Angeles.

Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it. With Mr. Trump’s outsized viewership back in 2005, everybody from Billy Bush on up to the top brass on the 52nd floor had to stroke the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings.

None of us were guilty of knowingly enabling our future president. But all of us were guilty of sacrificing a bit of ourselves in the name of success.

In the days, weeks and months to follow, I was highly critical of the idea of a Trump presidency. The man who once told me -- ironically, in another off-camera conversation -- after I called him out for inflating his ratings: “People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you,” was, I thought, not a good choice to lead our country.

Here’s the Access Hollywood video:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Guardian -- Joe Biden: 'We're walking down a dark path' under Trump (VIDEO)

By David Smith
In October, Joe Biden, in receiving the Zbigniew Brzezinski annual prize at the Center for Strategic and International Studies thinktank, warned that Donald Trump is taking Americans down a 'very dark path,' and that Trump poses an “existential threat” to the postwar international order.

We’re walking down a very dark path that isolates the United States on the world stage and, as a consequence, endangers – not strengthens – endangers American interests and the American people.”

Rarely does a vice president or president from a previous administration speak out against the President who currently holds the office. Nevertheless, in a scathing speech, the former Vice President, “In a dig at Trump’s past career as a New York property developer, said: Rather than building a shared narrative of freedom and democracy that inspires nations to unite in common goals, this administration casts global affairs in a dog-eat-dog competition, like it’s a competition: who gets that plot to build the new high-rise building.

He said, the foreign policy establishment in this country, have to start to speak out.

Extracting two other notable remarks from the many, Biden said:

“Trading insults. Deploying taunting nicknames. Promising to ‘totally destroy’ a country of 25 million people. Such erratic action only worsens the crisis and rejects the possibility of diplomacy.”

“So far President Trump has been unwilling to call out Putin for Russia’s meddling, even in our own democratic process, or criticise his action. Think of that. Think of the signal it sends around the world, for God’s sake.”

Here, too, are parts of his speech: