The Atlanta NAACP is calling on the U.S. Senate to reject Price’s nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to local NAACP President Richard Rose, the objection is centered on Price’s history of support for the “Confederate States of America”. Rose says it makes Price “unfit to serve in any capacity in government.”
One of the very first appointments President Trump announced shortly after his victorious second-place finish in the 2016 election was Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions, who was denied a federal judgeship in the 1980s due to concerns that he is too racist, once prosecuted a former aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after that aide helped African Americans cast a ballot.
A second appointment, revealed shortly before Trump’s inauguration, suggests that the Sessions nomination is not a fluke.
John Gore, who Trump appointed as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, is not a civil rights lawyer. Until recently, he was a partner at Jones Day, a large law firm employing many prominent Republican lawyers, where he litigated business cases ranging from antitrust to product liability.
Gore, has, however, worked on some civil rights-related issues — on the side of people who were accused of violating civil rights laws — including several cases alleging illegal racial gerrymanders.
Among other things, Gore was one of the lawyers who defended North Carolina’s HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that locked transgender individuals out of public restrooms that corresponded with their gender identity. The backlash against HB2 is widely viewed as a major reason why former Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) lost his reelection bid last November. [MORE]
April Ryan: You’ve talked a long time yesterday on the issue of race and I wanted to ask you a couple of things. I’ve spoken to the current head of the NAACP who’s accusing this current administration of something called stereotyping by omission, saying that the president has met with athletes and entertainers, but yet has not met with civil rights leaders. And during his inauguration speech, he talked about inner cities, urban areas being riddled with gang violence and drugs. What is the agenda, what are you planning when it comes to…
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: April, I mean just the other day, he sat down with Martin Luther King Jr…
Ryan, who is the Washington bureau chief of American Urban Radio Networks, politely reminded Spicer that King Jr. and King III, the man Trump actually met with, are two different people. But so far, Spicer’s press strategy has been the real life equivalent of tweeting through it, and so he ignored Ryan’s correction and continued onward with his answer, even as Ryan’s colleagues in the room continued to point out in disbelief that, again, Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther King III are not the same person
On Friday, the official White House website was also completely replaced, with nearly every reference to climate change erased from the site. The only remaining reference to climate change on the new WhiteHouse.gov website appears on the first of his six "issues" pages, which reads, "President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan." The Trump administration also took down the White House website’s pages on civil rights and a fact sheet on the Violence Against Women Act. The civil rights page was replaced by a page entitled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community," which calls for "more law enforcement," "building a border wall" and "ending sanctuary cities." It also reads, "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it."
Asset forfeiture programs in the majority of states across the country suffer from a lack of transparency and accountability, leaving the public in the dark about how much property police seize from citizens and where those proceeds go, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, said in a report released Tuesday.
According to the report, 26 states have little to no transparency requirements surrounding asset forfeiture, and 14 of those states "do not appear to require any form of property tracking, leaving in doubt even such basic questions as what was seized and how much it was worth, who seized it, when it was seized, where it was seized, and why it was seized." The rest of the states aren't much better.
In recent years, there has been a bipartisan push to roll back civil forfeiture laws, which allow police to seize property suspected of being connected to a crime without ever convicting, or sometimes even charging, the owner. Law enforcement organizations say the laws allow them to target the illicit profits of drug traffickers and organized crime. However, civil liberties groups say the practice is heavily weighted against property owners, who must pay to challenge seizures in court, and creates perverse profit incentives police.
How much money police departments seize, and what they do with it, is a critical question for anyone trying to get a handle on the scope of asset forfeiture. However, while many states have passed bipartisan laws strengthening due process protections for property owners and limiting how police's ability to use forfeiture revenue to fund their departments, transparency requirements appear to have fallen by the wayside.
"Given the vast power forfeiture confers on law enforcement to take and keep property—often without a criminal charge, let alone a conviction—states should hold agencies to high standards of transparency and accountability," Angela C. Erickson, senior research analyst at IJ and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, most states fail at one or more basic elements of forfeiture transparency." [MORE]
Shittalk: Assange reneges on promise to accept extradition if Chelsea Manning’s sentence is commuted
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is reneging on the promise he made last week to accept extradition to the United States if President Barack Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning.
“Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, in an email to The Hill on Wednesday.
“Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.”
Assange initially suggested that he would accept extradition in return for Manning’s commutation in September. His standing offer, which was tweeted on Thursday, did not mention anything about Manning being released immediately.
He followed this up on Tuesday with a tweet that reiterated his belief he would be tried and acquitted if extradited.
After Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence was announced, Assange first proclaimed victory and indicated that he would come to the United States so long as his constitutional rights were respected. Neither of these tweets made any reference to wanting Manning released immediately or that this was a precondition to Assange’s accepting extradition. [MORE]
The Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday unveiled revised rules for collecting, analyzing and storing information on American citizens, updating the rules for the information age and publishing them in full for the first time.
The guidelines are designed "in a manner that protects the privacy and civil rights of the American people," CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass told a briefing at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The new rules were released amid continued public discomfort over the government's surveillance powers, an issue that gained prominence following revelations in 2013 by former government contractor Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) secretly collected the communications data of millions of ordinary Americans.
The guidelines were published two days before President elect-Donald Trump is sworn into office and may be changed by the new administration. Trump has said he favors stronger government surveillance powers, including the monitoring of "certain" mosques in the United States.
The CIA is largely barred from collecting information inside the United States or on U.S. citizens. But a 1980s presidential order provided for discrete exceptions governed by procedures approved by the CIA director and the attorney general.
Known as the "Attorney General Guidelines," the original rules over time became a "patchwork of policies and procedures" that failed to keep pace with the development of technology that can store massive amounts of digital data, said Krass.
In 2014, legislation gave U.S. intelligence agencies two years to develop procedures limiting the storage of information on U.S. citizens.
The new procedures, under development for years, were signed on Tuesday by CIA Director John Brennan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
While the 1982 guidelines were made public two years ago, sections were blacked out. The updated procedures were posted in full for the first time on the CIA's website on Wednesday.
The updated procedures include what the CIA must do when it clandestinely obtains a computer hard drive holding millions of pages of text, hours of videos and thousands of photos containing information on foreigners and U.S. citizens.
Because extensive time and many analysts are required to assess such large volumes of data, the new rules regulate the handling of material whose intelligence value cannot be promptly evaluated.
They also regulate how such data can be searched and create strict requirements for dealing with unevaluated electronic communications, which must be destroyed no later than five years after the are first examined.
The rules were unveiled a week after civil liberties groups decried new guidelines approved by the Obama administration expanding the NSA's ability to share communications intercepts with other U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA.
Passwords used by Trump’s moronic cyber security advisor Rudy Giuliani & 13 other top staff members have been Leaked in Mass Hacks
Passwords used by Donald Trump’s incoming cyber security advisor Rudy Giuliani and 13 other top staff members have been leaked in mass hacks, a Channel 4 News investigation can reveal.
Passwords are publicly available for key members of Trump’s cabinet, White House policy directors and aides and some of his most senior advisors, this programme has discovered.
Digital security issues – including allegations of Russian hacking to try to influence the outcome of the US presidential elections – have dominated the headlines as Trump’s team prepares to take command of the world’s most powerful country.
The appointment of Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, has been criticised by people in the cyber security community, who have highlighted exploitable security flaws on his own website.
But Giuliani says he has given “over 300 speeches” on digital security, and told Fox News earlier this month: “American corporations and the American government is not paying attention to ubiquitous hacking that is now going on.”
Lt Gen Michael Flynn has also been hacked in the past – and Channel 4 News has seen a number of passwords used by the former military intelligence officer.
He will become President Trump’s national security advisor from Friday; a crucial role stationed inside the White House itself and reporting directly to Trump. [MORE]
From [HERE] US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday, only hours after being sworn in, signed an executive order [text] aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The order commands government agencies to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement" to avoid costs to individuals, insurers, health care providers and others. Trump vowed to repeal the ACA in his campaign, and although much of it is in regulation thereby preventing an expeditious repeal, Trump's first executive order is seen as a clear message that repeal is coming. Trump's order also made clear that his administration favors a policy of state control by giving more discretion to the states in regulating insurance. Until such time as the ACA is repealed, however, the order urged that
in the mean time ... it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the act, and prepare to afford the states more flexibility and control to create a more free and open health care market.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed [filing, PDF] a request under the Freedom of Information Act for "records pertaining to financial and other ethical conflicts of interest in connection with the presidential transition of President-Elect Donald J. Trump" on Friday. The ACLU is asking [ACLU report] for legal opinions, policy advisories, communications and a wide variety of additional documents relating to "ethics-related issues" of the new administration. Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, has stated that "Trump took the oath, but he didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family's business interests..
The White House is now in the hands of a pathological liar, a mutation spawned of our celebrity culture
For those of us who believe in core progressive American values – multiculturalism, civil liberty and civil rights, free speech, a free press, truth in government, economic fairness, environmental protection, inclusiveness, equal justice, a humane society, the list goes on – today marks the first day of a disaster on a scale that until a few months ago was beyond our imagination.
The White House is now in the hands of a pathological liar and megalomaniac, a mutation spawned of our celebrity culture, a thin-skinned authoritarian whose only real constituent is himself, and whose intentions, to the extent we can discern them, are to destroy a lot of the things that make this country (truly) great.
Plus he has no idea what he’s doing. He’s slowly collecting corrupt and venal misfits who hate government and thrusting them into positions of power, with the sickly acquiescence of a self-serving Republican leadership that until recently saw him as a madman. But even they don’t know what they’re saying yes to.
No matter what you may hear in the coming days from the mainstream press and other elite institutions, this is not normal. This is aberrational. This is crazy. [MORE]
Black Lives Matter Activists Chain Themselves Together to Block Inauguration Checkpoint in Front Of Police Headquarters
300 Indiana Avenue NW is the address of the D.C. Central Cell Block and the D.C. Police headquarters. The cell block is where all persons arrested by DC Police are initially detained.
Massachusetts high court orders prosecutors to drop Weak Drug Cases [24,000] which Used Fabricated Evidence from Drug Lab
The state’s highest court on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to drop a large portion of the more than 24,000 drug convictions affected by the misconduct of former state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan, issuing an urgent call to resolve a scandal that has plagued the legal system since 2012.
The Supreme Judicial Court declined to order a wholesale dismissal of the cases potentially tainted by Dookhan’s mishandling of drug evidence, as lawyers for the defendants had sought. But in the ruling, the justices acknowledged that the state’s handling of the cases so far has been inadequate.
The court said district attorneys across the state must “exercise their prosecutorial discretion and reduce the number of relevant Dookhan defendants by moving to vacate and dismiss with prejudice all drug cases the district attorneys would not or could not reprosecute if a new trial were ordered.” The cases affected by the ruling include people who pleaded guilty, were convicted, or admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them. By vacating the cases, the convictions would effectively be erased.
In the ruling, the court acknowledged the enormity of the task before prosecutors, giving them 90 days to decide which cases to throw out and which are supported by other evidence.
The court’s remedy “maintains the fairness and integrity of our criminal justice system in the wake of a laboratory scandal of unprecedented magnitude,” the court ruling states.
Before Wednesday’s decision, defendants were responsible for appealing their cases if they thought they should be dismissed. Though the court had earlier directed prosecutors and defense attorneys to set up a system for appeals, the justices ruled that the case-by case approach was moving at an unacceptable crawl — with only 2,000 cases addressed.
Civil liberties advocates said they expected thousands more Dookhan cases to now be scrubbed from the record.
Dookhan, who was a chemist in the state-run drug lab in Jamaica Plain, admitted that she tampered with drug evidence and served more than three years in prison.
“This has been a years-long saga, and this is really a crucial breakthrough for the thousands of people who were convicted based on tainted evidence,” said Matt Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which worked on the case.
The court said defendants whose cases aren’t dismissed should receive a notice that their cases had been affected by Dookhan’s misconduct. Then, any indigent defendants would receive public counsel to explore requests to vacate their pleas or get new trials.
In a statement, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, who leads the state District Attorneys Association, said her office was reviewing the decision in advance of a Monday meeting with a judge.
“Today the court recognized the longstanding principle that prosecutors should determine the cases appropriate for trial,” she said. “We are already beginning to implement the court’s directive about the evaluation of cases.”
There was no estimate of how many cases might be dropped as a result of the decision, but the SJC noted that 90 percent of the affected convictions occurred in district courts, which handle less serious crimes. The justices also noted that a majority of the defendants were convicted of possession alone, and that “virtually all of these defendants have already served the entirety of their sentences.”
Randy Gioia, deputy chief counsel of the public defender division of the state Committee for Public Counsel Services, said he hopes that fact will move prosecutors to aggressively abandon tainted convictions.
“The vast majority of the cases are finished,” he said. “People have completed their sentences, they’ve done their probation, so it’s not a question of public safety.”
Associate Justice Geraldine S. Hines wrote the only dissent, arguing that the court should have thrown out all affected convictions. The court had also considered dismissing all the convictions and allowing prosecutors the option to retry those cases, but Hines rejected even that prospect.
“The need to adopt a swift and sure remedy for the harm caused by [Dookhan’s] deceit presents itself with palpable urgency. The time has come to close the book on this scandal, once and for all, by adopting a global remedy,” Hines wrote.
Peter Elikann, a criminal defense lawyer and spokesman for the Massachusetts Bar Association, said the court walked a fine line with its majority opinion.
“Much of it hinges on relying on the prosecutors to cull the good from the bad cases and reduce the number of cases out there,” he said.
When Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States, millions of American families will be watching. Many of those families will be waiting to see how Trump deals with the more than 750,000 immigrants who entered the country as children and who have now come forward, passed background checks, and received temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
As a candidate, Trump promised to end DACA. But as president-elect, Trump has said — without offering specifics — that he’ll “work something out that’s gonna make people happy and proud.” So what exactly will he do?
As early as his first day in office, President Trump could rescind the memorandum that created DACA and announce that he is revoking the deportation protection these young people have been offered. He could similarly rescind the memorandum that now guides the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration enforcement actions and go after Dreamers using the identifying information that they provided to the government.
But another and more likely possibility is that, in the days and weeks after the inauguration, the Trump administration could rescind the DACA memorandum but say that DACA recipients who do not commit crimes will remain low priorities for enforcement, and will be permitted to retain DACA until their current grant expires. Alternatively, the administration could remain silent about the DACA program or issue a combination of half-baked statements that only create more uncertainty.
Such an approach would almost certainly be described in the media as an act of moderation — however, it’s anything but. In the absence of a clear statement that DACA will remain in place until Congress passes legislation to resolve the issue appropriately, and that new applications and renewals will be processed in accordance with the program’s existing guidelines, tens of thousands of recipients will begin losing protection each month.
Without DACA, nearly 650,000 young people who are estimated to be working lawfully under the program eventually will lose work authorization and be driven out of the workforce. This would rob the country of at least $433.4 billion in gross domestic product over a 10 year period, and would be enormously disruptive to businesses that would face substantial turnover costs. Meanwhile, those people who would continue working without authorization would be subject to the heightened risk of wage theft and workplace violations that disproportionately affect unauthorized workers, but ultimately harm all workers.
Such an approach would almost certainly be described in the media as an act of moderation — however, it’s anything but.
The ripple effects of rescinding DACA without a replacement and instead allowing the program to phase out over time would be felt widely, as hundreds of thousands of recipients would lose access to driver’s licenses and health insurance and face significantly greater financial instability.
In every state, young people with DACA are now able to obtain driver’s licenses, but only a small number of states grant licenses to unauthorized immigrants without DACA. In many parts of the country — particularly rural areas with little to no public transportation — having a driver’s license is an absolute necessity. Having a license not only expands opportunities for persons who are licensed, but also increases the percentage of people on public roads who have been trained, tested, and insured.
Furthermore, half of DACA recipients — like most Americans — receive health insurance through their employer. Ending DACA means that hundreds of thousands of young people will lose their health insurance. This will not only interfere with their ability to access necessary health care, but will also have public health consequences and will unnecessarily place strain on emergency rooms that already provide the least cost-effective form of care possible. Under current law, DACA recipients are not eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and are prohibited from purchasing insurance on the individual exchanges.
DACA also plays a key role in expanding access to higher education. In a handful of states, many DACA recipients can afford to enroll in college only because they are eligible for in-state tuition. If DACA were repealed, many would have to drop out of their courses of study. A recent survey found that DACA recipients are majoring, specializing, and training in a wide array of disciplines, including early childhood education, biochemistry, computer science, neuroscience, nursing, and social work.
Because DACA has enabled recipients to gain an education and find employment that better matches their skills and training, it has increased financial independence. One in eight DACA recipients has bought a home since participating in the program, and most are able to pay their mortgages through wages they earn. Ending DACA and allowing work authorizations to expire would put nearly 100,000 DACA recipients in danger of foreclosure.
All of these harms can be avoided with virtually no effort.
President-elect Trump said recently that he is working on a “very firm” plan with “a lot of heart” to address the situation facing Dreamers that will be ready in two to three months. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House, hoping to prevent DACA recipients from losing work authorization and to buy time for Congress to act on more a lasting solution, recently introduced the BRIDGE Act, which largely mirrors the qualifications of DACA and offers similar protections for three years from the date of enactment.
Millions of families will be watching particularly closely in the coming days to see how President Trump addresses this situation — and the entire country will feel the consequences of his decision.
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Mr. Trump does have a lot to say because he is in a unique position. There are powerful forces in America committed to destroying him, and the national media is a big part of that.
So, Talking Points believes that tomorrow, President Trump should not only say what his vision for America is, but why he feels his policies will help the folks. The only way to overcome the hatred arrayed against him is to communicate directly to the people. The new Fox News poll asked, "Does Donald Trump listen to people like you? 40 percent say Trump does a good job in that regard, 50 percent, a bad job.
So, the more the new president can direct his remarks to the folks, the stronger his position will become, and on that note, I have changed my opinion.
I used to think all of this tweeting hurt Donald Trump, but now, it is a necessity because he can expect to be attacked every day. He must have a rapid defense mechanism in his own words, and Twitter provides that.