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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Author Alice Walker: Trump has 'inferiority complex', envied Obama

Va. 6th District Rep. Goodlatte Blocking Bill Aimed at Helping A - WVIR NBC29 Charlottesville News, Sports, and Weather

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FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A departing Republican congressman from Virginia who's blocking a bill by a departing senator from North Dakota intended to help abused Native American women says the measure is unfair to law enforcement.

Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte tells The Roanoke Times that he agrees with the intent of North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's plan to improve the federal government's response to violence against American women. However, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says it hurts agencies that have no link to tribal communities and therefore cannot fulfill requirements for grants.

The Senate unanimously passed the initiative. With the House adjourned until further notice, the measure known as Savanna's Act will likely expire at the end of the year.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she will reintroduce the bill when lawmakers return to Washington.

Va. 6th District Rep. Goodlatte Blocking Bill Aimed at Helping A - WVIR NBC29 Charlottesville News, Sports, and Weather:

 

 

 

Opinion | None of Us Deserve Citizenship - The New York Times

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"On what moral grounds can we deny others rights, privileges and opportunities that we did not earn ourselves?

Members of the caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, at the border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, last week.Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Members of the caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, at the border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, last week.Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Late last month, 19-year-old Maryury Elizabeth Serrano-Hernandez reportedly scaled a wall along the United States-Mexico border while eight months pregnant and gave birth within hours of placing her feet on American soil. She was part of a widely publicized Central American caravan and traveled more than 2,000 miles from Honduras propelled by the dream of giving her new baby, as well as her 3-year-old son, a life free from the violence and grinding poverty she endured back home. She views her child’s birth in the United States as a “big reward” for her courage, perseverance and faith. As she explained to Univision, which documented parts of her family’s journey, “With faith in God, I always said my son will be born there.”

For some Americans, Ms. Serrano-Hernandez’s story is nothing short of heroic, given the suffering she endured and the extraordinary obstacles she overcame to give her children a chance at a better life. For others, her story represents everything that’s wrong with our immigration system. The Border Patrol said that Ms. Serrano-Hernandez and her family were released on their own recognizance. Her newborn is, for many, just another “anchor baby,” proof that a more aggressive and unforgiving approach to illegal immigration is warranted and that Trump is right to call for an end to birthright citizenship.

No matter what side of the debate one gravitates toward, stories like Ms. Serrano-Hernandez’s highlight the moral quagmire that we’ve created by treating the migration of desperately poor people as a problem that can best be addressed by border walls, tear gas, detention camps, militarized policing and mass deportation — except, of course, for the relative few, truly “deserving” individuals who may be granted legal citizenship (typically after years of waiting and hundreds or thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees) if they can win asylum.

Questions abound: Does Ms. Serrano-Hernandez’s baby son deserve citizenship because he was born here but not his 3-year-old sibling? Does everyone in the family deserve citizenship now that one member has been born here? Or does no one in the family deserve citizenship, even the baby, because the parents crossed the border illegally?

Answering these questions may be easy legally, but they’re more difficult morally. After all, none of us born here did anything to deserve our citizenship. On what moral grounds can we deny others rights, privileges and opportunities that we did not earn ourselves?

Jose Antonio Vargas’s powerful book “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” wrestles with the moral, emotional and psychological dimensions of America’s perennial question: Who deserves citizenship? With remarkable sensitivity to the extraordinarily wide range of people whose lives are affected by our nation’s immigration policies, he writes from the perspective of someone who was brought to this country illegally at the age of 12 to live with his grandparents, leaving his mother in the Philippines. Ever since his grandfather confessed to him, at age 16, that “you are not supposed to be here,” he has battled deep feelings of unworthiness and has striven to earn the right to belong. Yet no matter how much he achieved or contributed — indeed, even after winning a Pulitzer Prize for journalism — he still had the nagging feeling that he didn’t deserve to be here. Only after being arrested near the border and held in a cell with a group of terrified undocumented boys who had been separated from their families did he have an awakening: It was suddenly obvious to him that the boys huddled near him deserved safety, security and a place they could call home — a place where they could not only survive but also thrive. If they deserved such a thing, he did too. “Home is not something I should have to earn,” he wrote. It’s something we all have a right to.

Many people will sympathize with Mr. Vargas’s story but recoil at his bold conclusion, as it seems to imply support for open borders — a position that no Republican or Democratic member of Congress supports or even takes seriously. This reaction seems misplaced. The deeper question raised isn’t whether our borders should be open or closed (generally a false dichotomy) but rather how we ought to manage immigration in a manner that honors the dignity, humanity and legitimate interests of all concerned.

Reaching for a radically more humane immigration system is not pie-in-the-sky, utopian dreaming. But it does require a certain measure of humility on the part of those of us who have benefited from birthright citizenship. Rather than viewing immigrants as seeking something that we, Americans, have a moral right to withhold from them, we ought to begin by acknowledging that none of us who were born here did anything to deserve our citizenship, and yet all of us — no matter where we were born — deserve compassion and basic human rights.

It’s tempting to imagine that our position as gatekeepers is morally sound — since we’re frequently reminded that “all nations have a right to defend their borders” — but our relationship to those who are fleeing poverty and violence is morally complex. Not only does birthright citizenship bestow upon us a privileged status that we haven’t earned; our nation’s unparalleled wealth and power, as well as our actual borders, lack a sturdy moral foundation. But for slavery, genocide and colonization, we would not be the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world — in fact, our nation would not even exist. This is not hyperbole; it’s history. There’s good reason some Mexicans say: “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.” That is, in fact, what happened.

Of course, it can be argued that virtually all modern nation-states were created through violence, exploitation and war. But we claim to be unlike most nation-states; indeed, we insist that we’re “exceptional.” We are the only nation that advertises itself as “a nation of immigrants” and the “land of the free,” an advertising campaign complete with a Statute of Liberty whose pedestal includes a plaque of a poem that reads in part:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The founders of our nation did not merely wax poetic about the virtues of liberty; our nation was birthed by a Declaration of Independence, a document that insists that “all men are created equal” with “certain inalienable rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” After centuries of struggle, including a Civil War, we now claim to understand that all people — not just propertied white men — are created equal with basic, inalienable human rights. If this is true, on what moral grounds can we greet immigrants with tear gas and lock them in for-profit detention camps, or build walls against the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? After all, what was Ms. Serrano-Hernandez doing if not pursuing life, liberty and happiness for herself and her family? Did she not display a level of courage, fortitude and determination to win freedom for herself and those she loved comparable to that of those who helped birth our nation?

Even if we’re tempted to treat as irrelevant the circumstances of our nation’s founding, we cannot ignore the fact that our recent and current foreign policies, trade agreements and military adventures — including our global drug wars — have greatly contributed to the immigration crisis that our nation is now trying to solve through border walls and mass deportation. Would Ms. Serrano-Hernandez and her family even be knocking at our door today if it weren’t for the disastrous policies our government has pursued in Honduras for decades?

The anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Today a relatively small group of courageous noncitizens — people like Mr. Vargas, Ms. Serrano-Hernandez, the Dreamers and the thousands who joined the caravan — are challenging us to see immigrants not only as fully human, created equal, with certain inalienable rights but also morally entitled to far greater care, compassion and concern than we have managed to muster to date."

Opinion | None of Us Deserve Citizenship - The New York Times:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Hotel Earl": Employees who called cops on black guest put on leave

Opinion | Portraits From a Caravan - The New York Times













"Has any other word in 2018 been as responsible for so much as “caravan”?



By definition, a caravan is a company of people traveling through a hostile region. You travel in a caravan for protection. When you feel powerless, traveling in a group gives you some sense of power. But there is no protecting the caravan of migrants who have journeyed to Donald Trump’s America.



To President Trump and his supporters, a caravan is made up of invaders and criminals. A caravan carries drugs and diseases. A caravan must be stopped at all costs, even if it means shutting down the United States government.



Jennifer left Honduras with her daughter, Lucia. She said that life there was very hard and had become increasingly difficult because of the persistent violence.



Jennifer left Honduras with her daughter, Lucia. She said that life there was very hard and had become increasingly difficult because of the persistent violence.



As a word, “caravan” is a politically expedient bludgeon, part of a decades-long project started by anti-immigrant groups (NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform, to name a few) using dehumanizing vocabulary to describe immigrants in nefarious, fear-inducing ways. “Illegal aliens” having “anchor babies” arriving in a “caravan.” At its most effective, this is language as a barrier. It says: “You’re an alien — you’re nothing like me.” It’s also a source of misinformation, as it is not illegal to apply for asylum. This is language as a weapon.



Junior sat with his mother, Maria, behind him in front of a police blockade during a migrant protest. His father was said to have been killed by by the maras, or gangs, in Honduras.



Stanley, from Honduras, and Elsa, from Guatemala, met on the road to Tijuana, Mexico. Stanley recalled how dangerous and difficult life was for him and his family in his country.



Defending the use of tear gas on the caravan that trekked up from Central America this year, which included children, President Trump said, “First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself — it’s very safe.” Then he asked, “Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child?”



Because as long as parents love their children, they will run toward anything that may, just may, give them a shot at a better life, even if it means hurting them.



The history of the United States is a history of caravans arriving from different parts of the world. Why did they have to leave? What did they leave behind when they left what they had to leave? What did they take with them? How do they hold on to hope?



Maeli, 17, said she joined the caravan with her young son because she feared for their safety in Honduras. They’ve been largely met with kindness on the long journey north, but things have been tense in Tijuana. She and other migrants had been staying in a makeshift camp on the beach when a crowd of local residents threw stones at them. She and the child later moved to the another camp.



Maeli, 17, said she joined the caravan with her young son because she feared for their safety in Honduras. They’ve been largely met with kindness on the long journey north, but things have been tense in Tijuana. She and other migrants had been staying in a makeshift camp on the beach when a crowd of local residents threw stones at them. She and the child later moved to the another camp.



Juan Carlos, 16, selling cigarettes near Tijuana. The maras, or gangs, who he said killed two of his uncles, were pressuring him to join and he fled Honduras to save his own life.



Joenne, from Honduras, slept outside the migrant camp at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in Tijuana, which the government closed because of unsanitary conditions.



Juan, a former agricultural worker in Honduras, hoped to find a job across the border and send back money to his family. “I'm good,” he said in a call home. “God will look after me.”



Juan, a former agricultural worker in Honduras, hoped to find a job across the border and send back money to his family. “I'm good,” he said in a call home. “God will look after me.”



Walter, from El Salvador, holding a Mexican newspaper that published a photo of him with his eyes blacked out. He had been accused of aggravated robbery, but was later found to be innocent, he said. His goal was to cross legally into the United States, but he heard a rumor that Canada was going to give 3,000 visas to the migrants. “Now there’s a place I would like to go!” he said.



Walter, from El Salvador, holding a Mexican newspaper that published a photo of him with his eyes blacked out. He had been accused of aggravated robbery, but was later found to be innocent, he said. His goal was to cross legally into the United States, but he heard a rumor that Canada was going to give 3,000 visas to the migrants. “Now there’s a place I would like to go!” he said.



Ernesto, his wife, Yesenia, and their youngest daughter, Rachel, on the Chaparral bridge crossing at the Mexico-United States border. They said they had learned about the caravan on Facebook and made the journey to Tijuana from Guatemala. Ernesto said that if they didn’t make the cut legally, a relative in Los Angeles had offered to pay someone to take them across the border.



Ernesto, his wife, Yesenia, and their youngest daughter, Rachel, on the Chaparral bridge crossing at the Mexico-United States border. They said they had learned about the caravan on Facebook and made the journey to Tijuana from Guatemala. Ernesto said that if they didn’t make the cut legally, a relative in Los Angeles had offered to pay someone to take them across the border.



At 52, Nelson is older than many of the migrants on the long and arduous trip from Honduras. He said he has three children in Philadelphia and is legally allowed to enter the United States. But Nelson said he wanted to experience the solidarity of the caravan, so he was traveling with them. He will wait until the rest are able to cross, he said, before he does.



At 52, Nelson is older than many of the migrants on the long and arduous trip from Honduras. He said he has three children in Philadelphia and is legally allowed to enter the United States. But Nelson said he wanted to experience the solidarity of the caravan, so he was traveling with them. He will wait until the rest are able to cross, he said, before he does.



Marina and Kenny are from Honduras. Kenny said the maras in Honduras had insisted that he join the gang and threatened him. Refusing would risk being hurt or even killed, he said, so he decided to leave with the caravan. Marina chose to come with him. When asked if they were in love, they responded, “Si...mucho!” A lot!Photographs by Russell Monk for The New York Times



Marina and Kenny are from Honduras. Kenny said the maras in Honduras had insisted that he join the gang and threatened him. Refusing would risk being hurt or even killed, he said, so he decided to leave with the caravan. Marina chose to come with him. When asked if they were in love, they responded, “Si...mucho!” A lot!Photographs by Russell Monk for The New York Times."



Opinion | Portraits From a Caravan - The New York Times

A Day, a Life: When a Medic Was Killed in Gaza, Was It an Accident? - The New York Times

KHUZAA, Gaza Strip — A young medic in a head scarf runs into danger, her only protection a white lab coat. Through a haze of tear gas and black smoke, she tries to reach a man sprawled on the ground along the Gaza border. Israeli soldiers, their weapons leveled, watch warily from the other side.

Minutes later, a rifle shot rips through the din, and the Israeli-Palestinian drama has its newest tragic figure.

For a few days in June, the world took notice of the death of 20-year-old Rouzan al-Najjar, killed while treating the wounded at protests against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Even as she was buried, she became a symbol of the conflict, with both sides staking out competing and mutually exclusive narratives.

A Day, a Life: When a Medic Was Killed in Gaza, Was It an Accident? - The New York Times

Trump's New Jersey golf club accused of giving fake green cards, Social Security numbers to undocumented employees

"New Jersey’s attorney general allegedly has evidence that President Donald Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed immigration crimes by handing out fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers to undocumented employees.

Anibal Romero, counsel to several undocumented immigrants who worked at the Trump National Golf Club, told the New York Daily News about the evidence in a reportpublished on Saturday. He said that special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI are also aware of the evidence and have been involved in the state’s probe into the golf club.
Romero is the attorney for Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, two women who worked at Trump’s golf course as undocumented immigrants. They made headlines earlier this month for coming forward and revealing their illegal status, showcasing the hypocrisy in the president’s antagonistic immigration remarks. Morales is still an undocumented immigrant, but Diaz became a U.S. resident after working for the Trump golf course."
Trump's New Jersey golf club accused of giving fake green cards, Social Security numbers to undocumented employees

Trump's New Jersey golf club accused of giving fake green cards, Social Security numbers to undocumented employees

"New Jersey’s attorney general allegedly has evidence that President Donald Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed immigration crimes by handing out fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers to undocumented employees.

Anibal Romero, counsel to several undocumented immigrants who worked at the Trump National Golf Club, told the New York Daily News about the evidence in a reportpublished on Saturday. He said that special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI are also aware of the evidence and have been involved in the state’s probe into the golf club.
Romero is the attorney for Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, two women who worked at Trump’s golf course as undocumented immigrants. They made headlines earlier this month for coming forward and revealing their illegal status, showcasing the hypocrisy in the president’s antagonistic immigration remarks. Morales is still an undocumented immigrant, but Diaz became a U.S. resident after working for the Trump golf course."
Trump's New Jersey golf club accused of giving fake green cards, Social Security numbers to undocumented employees

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Why Fights Over Immigration Keep Shutting Down The Government | FiveThirtyEight

"We’re facing the third government shutdown in less than a year this Friday thanks, in part, to a fight over immigration policy. President Trump wants $5 billion for a border wall — an amount that is unlikely to make it through the Senate. Back in January, a disagreement over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program caused a partial government shutdown.1 So it’s worth taking a step back and asking: Why is immigration such a stumbling block?



After all, it wasn’t always like this. Conservatives once backed more liberal immigration policies, and liberals have at times backed more restrictionist ones. In 1986, for example, Ronald Reagan signed a law that granted amnesty to nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants. Reagan and George H.W. Bush both used their executive powers to declare that children of undocumented immigrants affected by the Reagan-era law could not be deported. In 2006, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who were both then senators, voted for 700 miles of additional fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a provision to satisfy conservatives concerned about a rise in illegal immigration.2



But over the past couple of decades — as the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. rose steeply and then began to decline — immigration policy has come to symbolize the two parties’ broader values and electoral coalitions. The battle over immigration policy is about way more than just immigration, in other words, in the same way that the tensions between the two parties on health policy reflect deeper fault lines. The politics of immigration today are notably more divided and partisan than they were 10 or 20 years ago, and there are a few reasons why.



First, there are the party coalitions. Compared to the mid-2000s, the Democratic Party of today includes fewer non-Hispanic white voters: 67 percent people who are or lean toward being Democrats were non-Hispanic whites in 2007, but that number had dropped to 59 percent in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Forty percent of self-identified Democrats are now nonwhite. Republicans too have grown more racially diverse, but only barely, and they are still overwhelmingly white: 88 percent in 2007, compared to 83 percent in 2017. About 12 percent of Democrats are Hispanic, roughly double the percentage of Republicans who are of Hispanic descent.



So the Democrats have a huge bloc of people in their party who have racial, ethnic and cultural ties to America’s most recent immigrants, who are largely Asian- and Latino-American. And while “minorities” and “people of color” are fraught terms that often ignore differences both between and within racial and ethnic groups, the Democrats are essentially now the home party for Americans who might feel that U.S. society treats them as “other.”



Secondly, while both parties have undergone ideological shifts, Democrats have shifted more dramatically. Pollsters ask a variety of questions to measure public opinion on immigration, but they all show the same thing: Democrats have become far more pro-immigration in recent years.



According to Pew, in 2006, 37 percent of Democrats3 said that legal immigration to the U.S. should be decreased, compared to 20 percent who said it should increase.4 Pew found a huge reversal in those numbers earlier this year: 40 percent of Democrats back higher immigration levels, compared to 16 percent who want them lowered. According to Gallup, 85 percent of Democrats now feel immigration is a “good thing” for America, compared to 69 percent who said the same in 2006. Republicans haven’t actually become more anti-immigration, according to Pew and Gallup. But, per Pew, there are more Republicans5 who want immigration decreased (33 percent) than who want it increased (22 percent).



As a result, the gap between the parties on questions about immigration has become a chasm:





And immigration is indicative of a broader shift: Democratic voters have grown more liberal on issues of race, gender and identity generally. That includes white Democrats.



The voters are not alone. Elites in each party have moved toward the ideological poles on immigration policy. Liberal-leaning activists and Democratic politicians argue that policies like the wall aren’t just bad or ineffective, they are immoral and racist. Trump and other conservatives have suggested that more immigration could both hurt the U.S. economy and lead to more crime.



Let me avoid making this a both-sides story: For the most part, Democrats are more aligned with overall public opinion on immigration. The majority of voters want undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children to be protected from deportation, and Democrats’ demand for that provision that led to last winter’s shutdown. Likewise, most voters don’t support a border wall, but Trump is driving toward a shutdown in pursuit of a wall, an idea that many congressional Republicans are fairly lukewarm about.



That said, America did elect a president (in 2016) and a Senate majority (in 2016 and 2018) who belong to the party that is generally less supportive of immigration, so either there is some appetite for a middle ground or immigration is not a deal-breaker issue for many Americans. Either way, it would be logical for the two sides to find a compromise. But the shifts the parties have undergone in the last 10 or so years make such a compromise hard to execute. Democratic leaders can’t easily sign on to any funding for a wall that their base thinks is a physical monument to racism, particularly since the top Democratic leaders are white but much of the party base is not. Trump can’t easily give up on the wall, since he basically campaigned on the idea that America needs a wall to remain a great nation.



So we’re already at two shutdowns involving immigration policy in the Trump era — and I would not rule out a few more."



Why Fights Over Immigration Keep Shutting Down The Government | FiveThirtyEight

Thursday, December 20, 2018

'A moral disaster': AP reveals scope of migrant kids program




"Decades after the U.S. stopped institutionalizing kids because large and crowded orphanages were causing lasting trauma, it is happening again. The federal government has placed most of the 14,300 migrant toddlers, children and teens in its care in detention centers and residential facilities packed with hundreds, or thousands, of children.

As the year draws to a close, about 5,400 detained migrant children in the U.S. are sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 other children. Some 9,800 are in facilities with 100-plus total kids, according to confidential government data obtained and cross-checked by The Associated Press."


'A moral disaster': AP reveals scope of migrant kids program

US passes first anti-lynching law after Senate vote - BBC News. My great aunt Blanche Armwood crusaded across this nation in a failed attempt to get Congress to pass this legislation starting a 100 years ago.



US passes first anti-lynching law after Senate vote - BBC News

NAACP Launches Boycott of Facebook: Platform Is Unhealthy for African Am...

Monday, December 17, 2018

Robert Mueller releases memo summarizing FBI's interview with Michael Flynn

Russian propagandists targeted African Americans to influence 2016 US election | US news | The Guardian

Some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the American political process during the 2016 election campaign.



"Russian online propagandists aggressively targeted African Americans during the 2016 US election campaign to suppress votes for Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, according to new research.



Analysts found that Russian operatives used social media to “confuse, distract, and ultimately discourage” black people and other pro-Clinton blocs from voting, using bogus claims such as Clinton receiving money from the Ku Klux Klan.



Black turnout declined in 2016 for the first presidential election in 20 years, according to the US census bureau, falling to less than 60% from a record high of 66.6% in 2012. Exit polls indicated that black voters strongly favoured Clinton over Trump.



The new findings on the secret activities of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), known as the Russian government’s “troll factory”, were revealed on Monday in a pair of reports to the US Senate’s intelligence committee. One was led by experts from Oxford University and the other by New Knowledge, an American cybersecurity firm.



New Knowledge said Russia had waged a five-year “propaganda war” against the US public. The Oxford researchers said that while the propaganda was meant to “push and pull” Americans in different directions, “what is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican party – and specifically, Donald Trump”.



Both reports faulted the major social media companies – Facebook, Twitter and Google – for what they said were ongoing failures to turn over exhaustive data to US authorities investigating the Russian campaign. They said some executives had “misrepresented or evaded” and “dissembled” in statements to Congress.



Mark Warner, the committee’s senior Democrat, said new laws were needed to tackle a crisis around social media. “These attacks against our country were much more comprehensive, calculating and widespread than previously revealed,” said Warner.



More than a dozen Russians have been criminally charged with hacking and other online activity by special counsel Robert Mueller and other US prosecutors investigating Moscow’s interference in the 2016 campaign.







"The new reports said that while it was well known that Russian trolls flooded social media with rightwing pro-Trump material, their subtler efforts to drive black voters to boycott the election or vote for a third-party candidate were under-appreciated.



One popular bogus Facebook account created by the Russians, Blacktivist, attracted 4.6 million “likes”. It told followers in the final weeks of the campaign that “no lives matter to Hillary Clinton”, that black people should vote for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and that “not voting is a way to exercise our rights”.



Some black Americans were even weaponised as unwitting “human assets” for the Russian campaign, according to the researchers, who said operatives in St Petersburg worked to recruit people in the US to attend rallies and hand out literature.



The Oxford researchers found black Americans were also targeted with more advertisements on Facebook and Instagram than any other group. More than 1,000 different advertisements were directed at Facebook users interested in African American issues, and reached almost 16 million people.



The material was intended to inflame anger about the skewed rates of poverty, incarceration and the use of force by police among black Americans to “divert their political energy away from established political institutions,” the report said, adding that similar content was pushed by the Russians on Twitter and YouTube.



The New Knowledge researchers agreed that the “most prolific IRA efforts” on Facebook and Instagram were aimed at black Americans in what they called an “immersive influence ecosystem” connecting many different pages posting information and reinforcing one another.



In addition to the online posts telling black people their votes would not matter or urging them to vote third-party, Russian operatives tricked people with “vote by text message” scams and tweets designed to create confusion about voting rules, according to New Knowledge.



New Knowledge said the social media propaganda campaign should be seen as the third front in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, together with the hack and theft of Democratic party emails that were passed to WikiLeaks, and the attempt to hack online voting systems across the US.



The Oxford researchers said the lack of human editors on platforms such as Facebook was enabling propagandists. “Obviously, democracies need to take computational propaganda seriously as a threat to their public life,” they said."



Russian propagandists targeted African Americans to influence 2016 US election | US news | The Guardian

‘They're a joke’: Rudy Giuliani steps up attack on Mueller

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Debate Over Europe’s Stolen African Art | The Daily Show

Anger grows after death of Guatemalan migrant girl held in US | World news | The Guardian

Jakelin Caal Maquin, seven, died in Texas in the custody of US border officials last week.







"The family of the young Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of US border officials after crossing the border is disputing the American government’s claim that she had not had food or water for days beforehand.



Anger is growing over the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, seven, which emerged last week and immediately sparked uproar about harsh immigration and border policies being pursued by the Trump administration.
On Saturday, lawyers for the family released a statement insisting that the girl had been fed and hydrated and appeared to be in good health as she traveled through Mexico to the US southern border with her father, intending to seek asylum.
She had not been traveling through the desert for days, the family asserted, before being taken into custody by US officials along with many other migrants on 6 December. Jakeline died less than two days later, according to immigration officials."

Anger grows after death of Guatemalan migrant girl held in US | World news | The Guardian

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Migrants wait at US border with numbers written on their arms | The Times of Israel. The American government is following Donald Trump's America First pro-Nazi policy. This is a violation of American and International Law. Why are the majority of Americans not protesting this inhumanity?

Wilson Romero, left, and Daniel Montes, both from Honduras, arrive at a bus terminal early  June 27, 2018, in El Paso, Texas (AP Photo/Matt York)



"Migrants waiting in Mexico to have their asylum claims processed at the US border are reportedly being given numbers, which are written on their arms with permanent marker.

The migrants were spotted with the numbers while waiting to be questioned by Grupos Beta, the humanitarian branch of Mexico’s federal immigration agency, Yahoo News reported Friday."
Migrants wait at US border with numbers written on their arms | The Times of Israel

Video shows border agents dumping water left for migrants. This is the type of American terrorism which leads to the death of a dehydrated child. This is pure evil.



Video shows border agents dumping water left for migrants

Opinion | A Partisan Ruling on Obamacare - The New York Times





"After sitting on a ruling for months, a federal judge in Texas has given the Trump administration and a group of Republican-led states exactly what they asked for, and then some: the invalidation of the entire Affordable Care Act.



Don't panic. The ruling, issued late on Friday and only one day before the end of the law’s annual open enrollment period, is not a model of constitutional or statutory analysis. It’s instead a predictable exercise in motivated reasoning — drafted by a jurist with a history of ruling against policies and laws advanced by President Barack Obama.



The reason the judge, Reed O’Connor, gets these cases isn’t a mystery: Texas and its allied states know the game and shop these lawsuits right into Judge O’Connor’s courtroom.



Another thing that isn’t a mystery? The genesis of this latest attack on Obamacare. Disenchanted that a Republican-controlled federal government wouldn’t repeal every word of the law, Texas and a coalition of states tried a sleight of hand: They leaned on President Trump’s 2017 tax bill, known officially as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — which zeroed out the tax penalty of the health care law’s individual mandate — and argued that the mandate itself was unconstitutional.



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That argument has a certain flair to it, but the states didn’t stop there. Their lawyers suggested that, because the individual mandate is a linchpin of the A.C.A. as a whole — in fact, the one thing that holds the law together — the law cannot stand without it. If the mandate falls, the logic went, the entire statute falls with it.



Shocking even conservative legal experts, the Trump administration fell for this spurious argument and lent its support to the Texas lawsuit — which, if successful, would render all of the marquee provisions of Obamacare, like protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, null.



This all-out assault on health care is one reason Democrats did so well in the midterm elections, as voters rejected anti-Obamacare candidates at the polls. They included several lawmakers who had gleefully voted for Mr. Trump’s tax bill less than a year earlier.



Except the tax bill did not invalidate the Affordable Care Act — it did away only with the penalty for not being insured. Congress left the rest of the law intact.



Instead of respecting that legislative choice, Judge O’Connor proceeded to find all the operative provisions of the A.C.A. “inseverable” from the hollowed-out individual mandate. The whole law must fall. He gave the Texas-led challengers precisely what they wanted.



This partisan, activist ruling cannot stand. If it’s not reversed by the conservative United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, then it’s off to the Supreme Court, where all five justices who, in 2012, already determined that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional will still be there.



One of them is Chief Justice John Roberts, who made a splash last month when he appeared to rebuke Mr. Trump’s criticism of judges who don’t rule as the president likes. The president this time around is rejoicing over Obamacare’s apparent demise — and is heaping praise on the “highly respected judge” who was itching to do Republicans’ bidding. (The White House, in a modicum of decency, has said the law will stay put as the appeal moves through the courts.)



But as Chief Justice Roberts said when he cast the decisive vote that upheld Obamacare, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” Here the American people, through their elected representatives, made their choice, both in 2010 and 2017: Obamacare is the law of the land. It will remain that way.



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Opinion | A Partisan Ruling on Obamacare - The New York Times

Friday, December 14, 2018

7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion - The Washington Post. This is America in 2018. We are back the way America used to be. "EVIL"





"A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

The child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States.
According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in.
More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”
7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion - The Washington Post

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stephen Has A Prison Tip For Michael Cohen

National Enquirer publisher AMI strikes deal in Cohen probe

Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment

"WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump's public declaration that he isn't concerned about impeachment, he has told people close to him in recent days that he is alarmed by the prospect, according to multiple sources.

Trump's fear about the possibility has escalated as the consequences of federal investigations involving his associates and Democratic control of the House sink in, the sources said, and his allies believe maintaining the support of establishment Republicans he bucked to win election is now critical to saving his presidency.
On Wednesday Trump was delivered another blow when federal prosecutors announced an agreement with American Media Inc, in which the publisher of the National Enquirer admitted to making a $150,000 payment in 2016 to silence a woman alleging an affair with Trump, in coordination with his presidential campaign, to prevent her story from influencing the election.
The agreement with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York follows the admission by the president's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments to women in 2016 at the direction of Trump.
“The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation," a close Trump ally told NBC News."
Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment

Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment. Despite public declarations that he's unconcerned, the president has told people close to him he's alarmed about the prospect of impeachment.

"WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump's public declaration that he isn't concerned about impeachment, he has told people close to him in recent days that he is alarmed by the prospect, according to multiple sources.

Trump's fear about the possibility has escalated as the consequences of federal investigations involving his associates and Democratic control of the House sink in, the sources said, and his allies believe maintaining the support of establishment Republicans he bucked to win election is now critical to saving his presidency.
On Wednesday Trump was delivered another blow when federal prosecutors announced an agreement with American Media Inc, in which the publisher of the National Enquirer admitted to making a $150,000 payment in 2016 to silence a woman alleging an affair with Trump, in coordination with his presidential campaign, to prevent her story from influencing the election.
The agreement with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York follows the admission by the president's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments to women in 2016 at the direction of Trump.
“The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation," a close Trump ally told NBC News."
Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment

Opinion | ‘His Dirty Deeds’ - The New York Times





"By The Editorial Board, www.nytimes.com  December 12th, 2018

Michael Cohen said President Trump led him into darkness. The courts brought him into the light.



The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.





Michael Cohen at the Federal Courthouse in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday.

Photo by: Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

There have been some dark days in America in recent months, days when its astonished citizens have had reason to wonder whether its institutions and even its ideals — the Congress, the electoral process, the notion that honesty matters — had become too brittle to withstand what could seem like relentless assault.



Wednesday was not one of those days.



A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, to three years in prison over what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord” of crimes, most important, paying hush money to two women who said they slept with his ex-boss. Those payments enabled Mr. Trump to conceal the accusations from voters in the closing weeks of the campaign. United States District Judge William Pauley said this violation of campaign finance laws created “insidious harm to our democratic institutions.” In so ruling, he demonstrated that those institutions have some life in them yet.



Mr. Trump has called the payments to the two women “a simple private transaction.” But prosecutors made clear that the payments were illegal campaign contributions because their purpose was to help win the election. This was reinforced shortly after Mr. Cohen’s sentencing, when federal prosecutors disclosed that, in a deal to avoid prosecution, the publisher of The National Enquirer admitted that, to help elect Mr. Trump president, and with his cooperation, it had paid $150,000 to buy the silence of one of the women, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she’d had a 10-month affair with Mr. Trump.



With prosecutors already having said in their sentencing memo for Mr. Cohen that “he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1" — that’s President Individual-1 to you — this is even more evidence they believe Mr. Trump conspired to commit a felony.



In pleading for mercy, Mr. Cohen told the judge a sad tale of a starry-eyed man led astray by “a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”



“Time and time again,” he said of his ex-employer, “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.”



Lest a tear come to your eye, let’s be clear that Mr. Cohen’s “path of darkness” began with a sleazy legal practice years before meeting Mr. Trump. Prosecutors have made a persuasive case that the moral compass of Mr. Cohen, who also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud, didn’t locate true north until he was caught and his home, office and hotel room were raided by the F.B.I.



Mr. Cohen, once just an example of one kind of person Mr. Trump draws close to him, is now also a case study in where that association can leave them.



It started out so hopefully. “He’s a very smart person,” Mr. Trump told The New York Post in 2007, after Mr. Cohen began buying units in Trump buildings. That was around the time, according to prosecutors, Mr. Cohen got a condo board ousted after its members tried to take the Trump name off a building in which he lived. Soon Mr. Cohen, who had been earning about $75,000 a year, became the $500,000-a-year executive vice president and general counsel of the Trump Organization.



It was an interesting time for Mr. Trump, and perhaps for the Russia investigation. By then Mr. Trump was being shunned by virtually all American banks that did not have his daughter on the board of directors. The Washington Post said almost all his deals after that time were in cash. And around then, there were more deals with shady Russian characters, with Donald Trump Jr. saying that money was “pouring in from Russia.”



In 2015, while Mr. Trump was running for president, he had Mr. Cohen reach out to see if President Vladimir Putin of Russia could help seal a Moscow real estate deal that could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the special counsel’s office.



Meanwhile, in the presidential campaign, Mr. Cohen continued showing the boss what a tough guy he could be, playing attack dog on TV and with the media.



When reporters asked him about a claim years ago by Mr. Trump’s first wife that Mr. Trump had tried to rape her, he warned them off, gangland style. Tread lightly, Mr. Cohen said, “because what I'm going to do to you is going to be … disgusting.”



Then, before Mr. Cohen could truly savor his boss’s electoral victory, it all came crashing down.



Mr. Cohen also faced repercussions for his lies to Congress about his role in the Moscow deal, to which he also pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Wednesday to a two-month term concurrent with that for the other charges.



He has extensively cooperated with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. American justice and rule of law have recalled Michael Cohen to the path of light, and it was a fine thing, on Wednesday, to witness their resilience, and be reminded of their majesty."




Opinion | ‘His Dirty Deeds’ - The New York Times

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Integration of NYC Schools Part III, A Personal Narrative

Opinion | Surviving a Criminal Presidency - The New York Times





"No one is above the law in America.



Charles Blow Opinion Columnist





President Donald Trump arrives at Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to deliver remarks at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference.

Photo by: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

It is very possible that the president of the United States is a criminal. And it is very possible that his criminality aided and abetted his assumption of the position. Let that sink in. It is a profound revelation.



Last week, prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo for Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump himself had directed Cohen to break campaign finance laws.



Stop there.



Yes, there is still information dribbling out about Trump’s efforts to build a tower in Moscow during the election and about his campaign’s ties with Russians during the campaign. Yes, there is the question of obstruction of justice, which I believe has already been proven by Trump’s own actions in public. Yes, there are all the people in Trump’s circle who have been charged with or have admitted to lying about any number of things, including their contacts with Russians.



But beyond all that, we now have an actual, and one assumes provable, crime. A federal crime. And the president is its architect.



Trump likes to say on the issue of immigration that if we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. I say that if we don’t have justice, we also don’t have a country.



America is a country of laws, and if we are to believe that, and not allow that to become a perversion, no man or woman can be above the law.



As Thomas Paine wrote in his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense”:



“In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”



And yet, Trump, his team and to some degree his supporters in Congress seem to view Trump as very much above the law — or at least some laws. The defense is bizarre: Since he is the president, there are laws he isn’t obliged to obey. In other words, it is permissible for him to break some laws, but not others.



Last year, one of the president’s lawyers went even further, claiming that 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.”



This all holds the potential to further make a mockery of a system of justice that already privileges power.



America’s jails are already filled to the brim with people who have been charged with a crime but not yet convicted of one. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “70 percent of people in local jails are not convicted of any crime.” Their primary infraction is that they are poor and powerless. The justice system doesn’t coddle them; it crushes them.



And yet, people keep making excuses for Trump: “We haven’t yet seen evidence of collusion.” “Yes, he lies, but that’s mostly rhetoric.” “So what; he paid off a porn star to spare his family shame.”



No, no, no.



According to prosecutors, Trump directed Cohen to commit a felony. Then he lied about it and either allowed or instructed others to lie about it on his behalf. He misled the American people through a conspiracy of lies, and he did so to help attain, and then maintain, his presidency.



As The New York Times pointed out on Saturday, prosecutors have “effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.”



There simply must be consequences for such a brazen act of lawlessness.



Now, I am under no illusion that Trump will be indicted as a sitting president or that any efforts to impeach him will prove successful.



But at some point his term will end, and at that point the statute of limitations may not have expired. As The Times put it, “The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.”



As New York magazine put it in a headline, “Trump 2020 Shaping Up to Be a Campaign to Stay Out of Prison.”



The statute of limitations for campaign finance violations is five years. Re-election may well be Trump’s only hope of evading justice.



But that also gives voters enormous power in 2020. They won’t just be selecting the next president and determining the direction of the country. They may also be deciding whether or not a president will be tried, convicted and imprisoned for the first time in the country’s history.



This is a weighty responsibility, but it is a necessary one. We have to prove that our institutions are more important than our ideologies, that the dream, the whisper, the precious possibility of America cannot be trampled by the corrupt and the fraudulent, the venal and the lecherous.



America has to prove that it can indeed survive a criminal presidency."




Opinion | Surviving a Criminal Presidency - The New York Times

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Courts likely to strike down Republican lame-duck power grabs, experts say, After Democrats won governor’s races in Wisconsin and Michigan, GOP-controlled legislatures have tried to limit executive power | US news | The Guardian

Tony Evers won the recent governorĂ¢€™s race in Wisconsin but Republican legislators are attempting to curb his powers before he takes office.



Courts likely to strike down Republican lame-duck power grabs, experts say | US news | The Guardian

It’s not just the number of Trump-Russia contacts. It’s the timing. - The Washington Post



It’s not just the number of Trump-Russia contacts. It’s the timing. - The Washington Post

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants.



Environmentalists say the proposal represents a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The proposed new rule would chip away at safeguards put in place a quarter century ago, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, who implemented a policy designed to ensure that no wetlands lost federal protection.



“They’re definitely rolling things back to the pre-George H.W. Bush era,” said Blan Holman, who works on water regulations with the Southern Environmental Law Center. Wetlands play key roles in filtering surface water and protecting against floods, while also providing wildlife habitat.



President Trump, who made a pledge of weakening a 2015 Obama-era rule one of his central campaign pledges, is expected to tout his plan as ending a federal land grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit."



Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections - The New York Times

Opinion | The Presidency or Prison - The New York Times





"Donald Trump — or, as he’s known to federal prosecutors, Individual-1 — might well be a criminal. That’s no longer just my opinion, or that of Democratic activists. It is the finding of Trump’s own Justice Department.



On Friday, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York filed a sentencing memorandum for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who is definitely a criminal. The prosecutors argued that, in arranging payoffs to two women who said they’d had affairs with Trump, Cohen broke campaign finance laws, and in the process “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”



The filing emphasized the way Cohen’s actions subverted democracy. “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” prosecutors wrote. And he didn’t act alone, but “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.” In other words, lawyers from the Justice Department have concluded that Trump may have committed a felony that went to the heart of the process that put him in office.



[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]



Trump’s potential criminality in this case, which raises questions about his legitimacy as president, creates a dilemma for Democrats. Assuming prosecutors are right about Trump’s conduct, it certainly seems impeachable; a situation in which a candidate cheats his way into the presidency is one the founders foresaw when they were designing the impeachment process. As George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, “Shall the man who has practiced corruption, and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment by repeating his guilt?”



But in our current moment, removing the president through impeachment is essentially impossible, given that at least 20 Senate Republicans would have to join Democrats. Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who will soon lead the House Judiciary Committee, told me he wouldn’t consider impeachment proceedings without at least some Republican support. There is certainly no appetite among congressional Democrats to pursue impeachment over a campaign finance case, particularly while the special counsel investigation into Russian collusion chugs on."



Opinion | The Presidency or Prison - The New York Times

Monday, December 10, 2018

The LSAT is going digital exclusively on Microsoft Surface Go tablets - The Verge





"Whether you’re applying to law school, are a lawyer, or just have a great love for the show Suits, it might interest you to know that the LSAT is going digital next year and the chosen tablets are Microsoft’s Surface Go.

The organization behind the LSAT, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), says it went through hundreds of tablets to choose the winner. Some well known devices just didn’t have enough going for them. Apple’s iPads were too pricey and their proprietary ecosystem made it difficult to modify, while cheaper Chromebooks were not of high enough quality.
“You just can’t have a test that is this important and end up with something that isn’t really reliable. If somebody takes the test, and the device fails on them, that’s additional stress coupled with the stress of test day,” says Troy Lowry, LSAC’s senior vice president of technology products and chief information officer. The move has curiously turned the LSAC into a group of Surface Go fans. Lowry says, “I get made fun of for it, but I love the kickstand that lets you put it in all different positions.”
The move away from pen and paper test-taking (although some test takers in 2019 will still have the option) means that LSAT administrators have to be re-trained on how to give the exam, and there are other changes to infrastructure that are sure to cost money. Neither the LSAC nor Microsoft would disclose how much money went toward the transition.
When asked whether going digital meant the $190 application fee for the LSAT would be lowered or perhaps increase due to the cost of the tablets, LSAC also didn’t have a definite answer. “We evaluate the fees annually, because we’re working to help candidates be able to apply and not be pushed out due to raised fees,” says Kellye Testy, the president and CEO of LSAC. “The cost is still in flux because we’re reevaluating the number of students applying to law school every year.”
The LSAT is going digital exclusively on Microsoft Surface Go tablets - The Verge

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Carl Bernstein: This could make the world tremble

Nadler: Trump payments likely impeachable

School Segregation in 2018

Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean? - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — The latest revelations by prosecutors investigating President Trump and his team draw a portrait of a candidate who personally directed an illegal scheme to manipulate the 2016 election and whose advisers had more contact with Russia than Mr. Trump has ever acknowledged.



In the narrative that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and New York prosecutors are building, Mr. Trump continued to secretly seek to do business in Russia deep into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made more efforts to influence him. At the same time, in this account he ordered hush payments to two women to suppress stories of impropriety in violation of campaign finance law.



The prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo filed on Friday that they viewed efforts by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to squelch the stories as nothing less than a perversion of a democratic election — and by extension they effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.



On Saturday, Mr. Trump dismissed the filings, and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, minimized the importance of any potential campaign finance violations. Democrats, however, said they could lead to impeachment.



In the memo in the case of Mr. Cohen, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York depicted Mr. Trump, identified only as “Individual-1,” as an accomplice in the hush payments. While Mr. Trump was not charged, the reference echoed Watergate, when President Richard M. Nixon was named an unindicted co-conspirator by a grand jury investigating the cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic headquarters.



“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” the prosecutors wrote.



“He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1,” they continued. “In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”



The exposure on campaign finance laws poses a challenge to Mr. Trump’s legal team, which before now has focused mainly on rebutting allegations of collusion and obstruction while trying to call into question Mr. Mueller’s credibility.



“Until now, you had two different charges, allegations, whatever you want to call them,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Saturday. “One was collusion with the Russians. One was obstruction of justice and all that entails. And now you have a third — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.”



The episode recalled a criminal case brought against former Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, who while running for president in 2008 sought to cover up an extramarital affair that resulted in pregnancy. He was charged with violating campaign finance laws stemming from money used to hide his pregnant lover, but a trial ended in 2012 with an acquittal on one charge and a mistrial on five others.



Mr. Giuliani pointed to that outcome on Saturday to argue that the president should not be similarly charged.



“The President is not implicated in campaign finance violations because based on Edwards case and others the payments are not campaign contributions,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter. “No responsible prosecutor would premise a criminal case on a questionable interpretation of the law.”



But Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty under that interpretation of the law, and even if Mr. Trump cannot be charged while in office, the House could still investigate or even seek to impeach him. The framers of the Constitution specifically envisioned impeachment as a remedy for removing a president who obtained office through corrupt means, and legal scholars have long concluded that the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” does not necessarily require a statutory crime.



If the campaign finance case as laid out by prosecutors is true, Mr. Nadler said, Mr. Trump would be likely to meet the criteria for an impeachable offense, and he said he would instruct his committee to investigate when he takes over in January.



But he added that did not necessarily mean that the committee should vote to impeach Mr. Trump. “Is it serious enough to justify impeachment?” he asked. “That is another question.”



The strategy of Mr. Trump’s lawyers has been predicated on the assurance by senior Justice Department officials that if Mr. Mueller found evidence that the president broke the law, he would not be indicted while in office. But the hush money investigation is being led by a separate office of prosecutors in New York, and far less time has been spent publicly or privately trying to protect Mr. Trump from that inquiry.



And while the prevailing view at the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, that does not mean a president cannot be charged after leaving office. The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.



Mr. Trump’s lawyers view that as unlikely if it is based solely on the current charges.



At the White House on Friday evening, staff members gathered for a holiday dinner with Mr. Trump and the first lady as if nothing were wrong. Mr. Trump’s advisers have told him that the latest filings do not present a danger to him legally, although they cautioned him that the political risks were hard to calculate, according to people familiar with the discussions.



One adviser said the president’s team had concluded that Mr. Trump was not likely to face a threat from prosecution in the New York case because if Mr. Cohen had more to deliver, then prosecutors would not be bringing him to court for sentencing in the coming week or requesting substantial prison time. Another adviser said that the Cohen threat appeared to be over.



For public consumption, at least, Mr. Trump and his Republican allies chose to focus on the Russia matter on Saturday, arguing again that no wrongdoing had been proved.



“On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign. You should ask Hillary Clinton about Russia.”



American intelligence agencies have said the Russians were in fact trying to aid Mr. Trump’s candidacy.



Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who will be the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress, which begins next month, said he saw no reason conservatives should walk away from Mr. Trump given his record of policy achievements and questions about the impartiality of the president’s investigators.



“I always come back to the facts,” he said in an interview. “To date, not one bit of evidence of any type of coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election.”



If prosecutors have conclusive evidence of conspiracy, they have not shown their hand. But the filings in recent days made clear that while Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted he had no business dealings in Russia, it was not without trying.



Mr. Trump’s business was pursuing a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow until June 2016, while Mr. Trump was locking up the Republican nomination and long after Mr. Cohen had previously said the project was dropped.



At the same time, Mr. Cohen, starting in November 2015, was in contact with a well-connected Russian who proposed “synergy on a government level” with the Trump campaign and proposed a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The Russian said such a meeting could grease the way for the tower, telling Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than consent” by Mr. Putin.



In his own court memo, Mr. Mueller said that Mr. Cohen’s false account that the deal had collapsed in January 2016 was designed “in hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election — an issue of heightened national interest.”



The president’s lawyers have been deeply concerned that Mr. Trump could be portrayed as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents. As he was preparing to submit written responses to questions from Mr. Mueller last month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers learned about language the special counsel wanted to include in a plea agreement with a conservative conspiracy theorist, who was under investigation for his links to WikiLeaks, which released Democratic emails that intelligence agencies said were stolen by Russian agents.



The document said that the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, understood that one of Mr. Trump’s associates, Roger J. Stone Jr., was “in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump,” when Mr. Stone asked Mr. Corsi to find out from the head of WikiLeaks what he had in store for the Clinton campaign.



Mr. Trump’s lawyers feared that Mr. Mueller was trying to cast Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Mr. Trump’s lawyers held off sending the answers and demanded a meeting with Justice Department officials and Mr. Mueller’s team, according to one person close to the president.



In a meeting at the Justice Department that was presided over by the principal associate deputy attorney general, Ed O’Callaghan, Mr. Trump’s lawyers — including Mr. Giuliani and Jay Sekulow — expressed concern to Mr. Mueller’s team. It was unclear what Mr. Mueller’s team said in response, but shortly thereafter Mr. Trump sent in his answers.



Mr. Corsi has declined to accept a plea deal and has not been charged with a crime.



Although Mr. Trump asserted on Saturday that he was “happy” with the latest filings, others did not agree. The Cohen information alone “puts impeachment on the table, and I can’t help but think that that is what this is barreling toward,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “Any other presidency at this point would have been done when their own Department of Justice filed something like that.”



But while the House can impeach a president on a majority vote, conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, meaning that unless at least 20 Republican senators abandon Mr. Trump, he is safe from removal. Despite the losses in the House last month, Republicans, if anything, have moved closer to the president.



While liberals are pressing Democrats to move on impeachment, party leaders remain wary, fearing a backlash. Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said the standard set during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying under oath certainly puts Mr. Trump “in impeachment territory” because of the campaign finance issue.



“On the other hand,” he added, “in the compendium of Donald Trump’s offenses against the rule of law and the Constitution, this may not be in the top five.”



Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean? - The New York Times